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Can Science Ever Be "Settled?" 497

StartsWithABang writes "From physics to biology, from health and medicine to environmental and climate science, you'll frequently hear claims that the science is settled. Meanwhile, those who disagree with the conclusions will clamor that science can never be 'settled,' and then the name-calling from 'alarmist' to 'denier' ensues. But can science legitimately ever be considered settled, and if so, what does that mean? We consider gravitation, evolution, the Big Bang, germ theory, and global warming in an effort to find out."

Rice Professor Predicts Humans Out of Work In 30 Years 808

kkleiner writes "Rice University professor Moshe Vardi has been evaluating technological progress in computer science and artificial intelligence and has recently concluded that robots will replace most, if not all, human labor by 2045, putting millions out of work. The issue is whether AI enables humans to do more or less. But perhaps the real question about technological unemployment of labor isn't 'How will people do nothing?' but 'What kind of work will they do instead?'"

Does US Owe the World an Education At Its Expense? 689

An anonymous reader writes "'Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities,' President Obama explained to the nation Tuesday in his pitch for immigration reform. 'They are earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science...We are giving them the skills to figure that out, but then we are going to turn around and tell them to start the business and create those jobs in China, or India, or Mexico, or someplace else. That is not how you grow new industries in America. That is how you give new industries to our competitors. That is why we need comprehensive immigration reform." If the President truly fears that international students will use skills learned at U.S. colleges and universities to the detriment of the United States if they return home (isn't a rising tide supposed to lift all boats?) — an argument NYC Mayor Bloomberg advanced in 2011 ('we are investing millions of dollars [actually billions] to educate these students at our leading universities, and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors – for free') — then wouldn't another option be not providing them with the skills in the first place?"

Beware the King of the Patent Trolls 286

superapecommando writes "If you haven't heard of Intellectual Ventures, you may want to check this out. Set up by ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold, with investments from Microsoft among others, it is basically a patenting machine – filing and buying them in huge quantities. Note that it doesn't actually use these patents – except to threaten people with. In other words, Intellectual Ventures is a patent troll – or, rather the King of the Patent Trolls. So I was interested to come across this extremely positive blog post on the company. That it is so positive is hardly surprising, since the blog is called 'Tangible IP,' and subtitled 'ipVA's blog on adding value through intellectual property.' Nonetheless, it provides valuable insights into the mindset of fans of intellectual monopolies. Here's what it says about Intellectual Ventures: 'They are an invention house, and have adopted and reinvented leading edge patent strategies to create a portfolio of their own IP which, in its own, would be of high high worth.' They don't invent anything in the proper, deep sense of the word; they merely file and buy patents – with no intent of ever making stuff or solving real-life problems."

Politically Incorrect Observations About Human Nature 613

gsa writes "Why do men prefer blonds? Why are most suicide bombers Muslim? Psychology Today analyzes some of these non-politically-correct questions in this essay about ten politically-incorrect truths about human nature. It turns out there may be an evolutionary or psychological explanation for all of these observations. For example, 'Sociologists and demographers have discovered that couples who have at least one son face significantly less risk of divorce than couples who have only daughters. Why is this? ... There is relatively little that a father (or mother) can do to keep a daughter youthful or make her more physically attractive. The continued presence of (and investment by) the father is therefore important for the son, but not as crucial for the daughter. The presence of sons thus deters divorce and departure of the father from the family more than the presence of daughters, and this effect tends to be stronger among wealthy families.'" Update: 07/08 05:51 GMT by Z :Removed sentence that misquoted article.

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