Friday Links

  • Live in the future, then build what’s missing” is a fantastic way to think about innovation/entrepreneurship, as Paul Graham notes. It’s also a pretty cool way to think about the life one wants to lead (like in the Avvett Brothers song, “Decide what to be, and go be it.”) If you click on just one of these links, make it this one
  • Do you want to learn about zombie-making organisms? Of course you do! If you aren’t kept awake at night by the knowledge that a wasp can cause a spider to build a “radically-different [nest], a home not for the spider but for a parasitic wasp that has been living inside it,” you don’t have an expansive-enough imagination (as an aside, Carl Zimmer – the author of this article – is a fantastic raconteur: listen to a heart-wrenching story of his – from Radiolab, naturally – here)
  • A sort-of silly article on computer-aided diagnosis (partially through the lens of Watson, the program that famously kicked Ken Jennings’s ass in Jeopardy) and a real-life Doctor House from UCSF Medical Center (Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal). Look: Watson is neat, and however society can use technology to aid diagnosis and allow physicians to focus on other items (like patient care) is wonderful… but physician diagnosis isn’t likely to completely disappear. There will always be a Dr. Dhaliwal – he or she will probably just consult Watson the same way he/she uses Epocrates (an app encyclopedia of pharmaceuticals) or Shots (similar to Epocrates but for injections) today: as an assistant
  • Connecting back to my post on Chapter Seven of The White Man’s Burden, the new PEPFAR plan explicitly disallows funding for family planning.   This is… unfortunate – family planning has been shown to be integral to reducing the fertility rate of a country (see: Bangladesh), which leads to higher economic growth, which is a good thing (something which – ostensibly – is part of the purpose of aid). Frustrating
  • Interesting emerging theory on dopamine’s role in the brain: it has more to do with motivation than pleasure. Whenever I hear about dopamine I think back to a great Radiolab segment on “Seeking Pleasure” and the micro-level workings of dopamine as an “expectations engine.” Fascinating stuff
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