The Simulation Hypothesis: are we living in a video game? | Vox

Are we living in a computer simulation?

The question seems absurd. Yet there are plenty of smart people who are convinced that this is not only possible but perhaps likely.

In an influential paper that laid out the theory, the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom showed that at least one of three possibilities is true:

  1. All human-like civilizations in the universe go extinct before they develop the technological capacity to create simulated realities;
  2. if any civilizations do reach this phase of technological maturity, none of them will bother to run simulations; or
  3. advanced civilizations would have the ability to create many, many simulations, and that means there are far more simulated worlds than non-simulated ones.

Source: The Simulation Hypothesis: are we living in a video game? – Vox

Bureaucracies as learning organizations | FCW


My unusual source is Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance 1950-1963, the penultimate volume of a great series of eight books on the history of California by Kevin Starr, which I have been plowing through over the years with great enjoyment.

One part of the book discusses the development of California’s highway system.

Source: Bureaucracies as learning organizations — FCW

Why are millennials burned out? Capitalism. | Vox

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“If Millennials are different, it’s not because we’re more or less evolved than our parents or grandparents, it’s because they’ve changed the world in ways that have produced people like us.”

That’s how Malcolm Harris, an editor at the online magazine the New Inquiry, begins his book Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials. It’s a smart, contrarian look at the social and economic problems plaguing millennials — defined as people born between 1980 and 2000.

But it’s not a typical defense of millennials. Harris, who is a millennial (as am I), makes no attempt to undercut the complaints of baby boomers — namely, that millennials are anxious, spoiled, and narcissistic.

Instead, he asks: What made millennials the way they are? Why are they so burned out? Why are they having fewer kids? Why are they getting married later? Why are they obsessed with efficiency and technology?

And his answer, in so many words, is the economy.

Millennials, he argues, are bearing the brunt of the economic damage wrought by late-20th-century capitalism.

Source: Why are millennials burned out? Capitalism. – Vox

My personal journey through polarized America


America’s polarization has unfolded over a long period of time. There have been many developments from Reaganomics to Obamacare that have divided people and intensified political conflict. I know because it has been the story of my life.

I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Ohio, taught political science at Brown University, and ended up in Washington, D.C., at one of the leading think tanks.

My two sisters are Christian fundamentalists who love President Donald Trump, while my brother is a liberal who sees the chief executive as a menace.

I recount our country’s political history as well as that of my family in my forthcoming memoir, “Divided Politics, Divided Nation: Hyperconflict in the Trump Era.”

Source: My personal journey through polarized America

Steven Brill explains what killed the American dream | Vox


These facts, and many others, are cataloged in a new book by Steven Brill about America’s gradual decline over the last half-century. Brill has been writing about class warfare in the US since 2011, and the picture he paints is as depressing as it is persuasive.

The book argues the people with the most advantages in the American economy have used that privilege to catapult themselves ahead of everyone else, and then rigged the system — to cement their position at the top, and leave the less fortunate behind.

Source: Steven Brill explains what killed the American dream – Vox

‘It Will Be Everywhere’: David Wallace-Wells on Climate Change and Hard-Won Optimism | Pacific Standard


It’s true that The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming—Wallace-Wells’ new book, which reports on what life will look like under two to four degrees Celsius of warming—is a difficult, sometimes terrifying read.

But that doesn’t mean that general readers should avoid the book.

In fact, Wallace-Wells argues that fear is necessary as a motivator—because with a crisis this serious, every sort of motivator is necessary. As Wallace-Wells tells Pacific Standard, he takes a “let all flowers bloom approach.” Fear may drive some readers away, but it could also inspire others to take action.

Source: ‘It Will Be Everywhere’: David Wallace-Wells on Climate Change and Hard-Won Optimism – Pacific Standard

Luck shapes every human life. That has radical moral implications. | Vox


These recent controversies reminded me of the fuss around a book that came out a few years ago: Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, by economist Robert Frank. (Vox’s Sean Illing interviewed Frank last year.)

It argued that luck plays a large role in every human success and failure, which ought to be a rather banal and uncontroversial point, but the reaction of many commentators was gobsmacked outrage.

On Fox Business, Stuart Varney sputtered at Frank: “Do you know how insulting that was, when I read that?”

It’s not difficult to see why many people take offense when reminded of their luck, especially those who have received the most. Allowing for luck can dent our self-conception.

It can diminish our sense of control. It opens up all kinds of uncomfortable questions about obligations to other, less fortunate people.

Source: Luck shapes every human life. That has radical moral implications. – Vox

Library of Congress Needs Volunteers to Digitize Its Records | Nextgov


The Library on Congress renewed a call for contractors to help digitize millions of manuscripts, photos and other materials—for free.

The library on Thursday started accepting bids for “no-cost contracts” to copy and scan numerous records to be posted online. The offer is open to both commercial and non-commercial groups involved in digital publishing.

While digitization efforts are already underway, the additional help is needed “to respond to increasing expectations for collections materials and related items to be made available on the Library’s website,” officials wrote in the solicitation.

The library solicited similar volunteer digitization services in 2013.

Source: Library of Congress Needs Volunteers to Digitize Its Records – Nextgov

A new Horizon for Europe’s Media, Cultural and Creative industries | EURACTIV.com


Acknowledging the strategic importance of the media industries, the EU has developed a strong tradition of multifaceted investments in media research and innovation. However, in today’s European programs, these investments are scattered and dispersed, and the technological aspects of innovation are predominant in comparison to those related to content creation.  

This unbalance is reflected in the mismatch between the two main investment programs: Horizon 2020, addressing mainly technological innovation, and Creative Europe, addressing mainly content and innovation in content.

With the new Multi-annual Financial Framework to arrive in 2021, it is now time to propose an integrated vision of European policies, investments and actions for a truly coherent, sustainable, innovative and successful European media ecosystem.

Source: A new Horizon for Europe’s Media, Cultural and Creative industries – EURACTIV.com

How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals


Corporations are increasingly building sustainability into their business strategies, and linking outcomes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as seen in the 7,500 companies issuing annual sustainability or corporate responsibility reports in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative.

Given this evolution in corporate thinking and action, the pertinent questions are “why” and “how.”

To investigate, we studied 40 companies with a strong record on sustainability.

Source: How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals