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How a Defense of Christianity Revolutionized Brain Science - Facts So Romantic

Nautilus

Presbyterian reverend Thomas Bayes had no reason to suspect he'd make any lasting contribution to humankind. Born in England at the beginning of the 18th century, Bayes was a quiet and questioning man. He published only two works in his lifetime. In 1731, he wrote a defense of God's--and the British monarchy's--"divine benevolence," and in 1736, an anonymous defense of the logic of Isaac Newton's calculus. Yet an argument he wrote before his death in 1761 would shape the course of history.


Is Singularity Near?

#artificialintelligence

Truls Unholt is the founder of the consulting firm Theory & Practice. OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company, announced itself to the world on December 11, 2015. With 1 billion in funding from high-profile investors, such as Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel, the company put forward an ambitious research agenda to keep artificial intelligence beneficial to humanity. Both the research agenda and the objective of the company are based on the premise that machines, in the future, can reach beyond human-level intelligence and potentially turn against humankind. This scenario is thoroughly explained in Ray Kurzweil's books The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near, as well as in numerous essays and articles.


Putting bigger brains down to our social nature is half-baked

New Scientist

In the past two million years, humans have experienced a massive increase in brain size, one not seen in any other species. This rapid evolution gave us brains roughly triple the volume of those of our pre-human ancestors. But the intelligence we enjoy as a result would seem to be advantageous for all sorts of species, not just us. So why was ours the only line to go down this route? The social brain hypothesis was a popular answer.


Why did humans evolve big brains? We don't know, but math can help

PBS NewsHour

Our brains have a finite capacity for processing information and for remembering, and the bigger the brain, the more oxygen and sugar it takes to maintain. Math may solve why people are such eggheads. A new model published Thursday in PLOS Computational Biology mathematically illustrates what led to the evolution of humans' abnormally large brains. Evolutionary biologists devised these equations to tease apart the relationship between human brain size and the cost of maintaining a large brain. Over the last few decades, the pace and stages of brain growth in humans have become clearer.


Whales and dolphins have rich 'human-like' cultures

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Whales and dolphins live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, and talk to each other - much like human societies, new research has revealed. These intelligent creatures are even more sophisticated than we thought and have regional group dialects, look after friends' children and teach each other how to use tools, the study found. Researchers found dolphins sometimes use a call associated with an individual when they're not there - suggesting they gossip about each other too. However, unfortunately for them they don't have opposable thumbs so they will never be able to mimic our great metropolises and technologies, researchers said. These creatures have regional group dialects, they look after friends' children and they teach each other how to use tools, the study found.