Weekly Digest

Weekly Digest 5/24/18

Radiolab episode titled “More or Less Human” – The episode starts with audience members trying to distinguish a chatbot from a real person and then moves to toys with some emotions encoded. The Furby, for example, would cry for help when it was held upside down, and in an experiment, kids that held it upside down put it right-side up much faster than a Barbie doll, which they put right-side up only when their arm grew tired. The episode also talks about a disturbing video of people abusing a toy that had emotions programmed into it to fulfill sadistic desires or simply for amusement. And, it concludes by describing a virtual therapy session in which the patient and therapist are the same person. By understanding our interactions with technology infused with human behavior, we can understand more about ourselves. All of Radiolab’s episodes are fantastic but this one is a cut above the rest; must listen. (64 min.)

Alex Tabarrok and The Economist on paying for vs. donating blood plasma – They argue why blood plasma donors should be paid and point out how perverse it is to ban payment for plasma while at the same time importing plasma from the U.S. that came from paid donors. (600 words)

Ira Glass’s Commencement Speech at Columbia’s Journalism School – Creator of This American Life (TAL) Ira Glass talks about the many paths available in journalism and gives examples on how to create a moving, engrossing story using previous TAL episodes. (5,500 words)

New article by Richard Thaler – Thaler discusses many of behavioral economics’ key contributions including loss aversion, sunk costs, fairness principles, the endowment effect, nudging, and rejection of the efficient markets hypothesis. (10,600 words)

Russ Roberts interviews David Skarbek about prison gangs – Skarbek describes how prisons were completely different decades ago when the prison populations were smaller and when everyone knew each other’s reputations. Nowadays, however, the population is too large and Skarbek describes how a hierarchy has arisen among the prisoners to manage each other. (76 min.)

The Guardian on the biggest merger in the eyewear industry – The eyewear industry is dominated by two companies, Luxottica and Essilor, and they’re merging. The article digs into the history of the two companies and how they grew so dominant and talks about the possible consequences of the upcoming merger. (8,600 words)

 

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