First, AI came for our volunteer jobs

In 2007, while a researcher at Oxford, astrophysicist Kevin Schawinski co-founded what would become the largest online citizen science project to date. Galaxy Zoo involved several hundred thousand volunteers pouring over images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to classify galaxies. Significant discoveries were made, dozens of journal articles published the results, and another site, […]

Diary of a Human Zoo Animal

Last week I roamed the trails of the Zurich Zoo with my son. The new elephant exhibit, we heard, included an underwater window in which one could watch the elephantine legs paddling. As a tourist attraction, though, a world-class zoo is pretty much the same wherever you go, and it wasn’t exactly a thrilling day. More […]

“Precisely, Sir,” said Jeeves.

“I hear the carrots are delicious,” says 12-year-old Brian. “Would you like to try some?” The elderly lady across the table takes another bite and Brian smiles. They make some conversation and agree they should have lunch together again sometime. Meanwhile Casper, in the house next door, approaches a man. “It’s time for lunch. Let’s […]

The Last Word

March 6-10, 2017 This week at LWON: If it feels to you as if the world is losing its collective mind, perhaps some a history lesson can clarify the current political climate – specifically, the history of the Renaissance. We may be living through another version of it, says my friend Chris. What people are […]

Our déjà vu moment in history

Very few of my friends—I, least of all—correctly predicted Donald Trump’s victory in the polls. The handful who gave him a good chance of winning did so in the wake of Brexit, with a view to the parallel factors both elections shared. The exception in my life is my friend Chris Kutarna. Here he is […]

Redux: Reading Beyond the Shallows

A wave of books in the last couple of years has warned of the mentally-unhealthy click bait diet and what it means for our attention spans. We are enjoined to unplug, descend from the shallows and engage in “deep work.” After all, the creator of every great work of culture has been able–at minimum–to pay attention, and that […]

The Last Word

February 6-10, 2017 This week, Craig unplugs from the wired world during his travels, and it’s not the blissful state of nature he imagined it to be—at least, not entirely. “I’d like to tell you it was sweet silence, but I could feel the Pavlovian side of myself wanting to drool. The limb ached.” Ann interviews […]

The Last Word

January 16-20, 2017 On Martin Luther King day we posted one of the civil right’s leader’s speeches, The other America, delivered at Stanford in 1967. Along with a song from Billie Holiday. “Racism is evil because its ultimate logic is genocide.” Helen’s life has been punctuated by experiences involving tea, the common thread in an […]