Think Inc. Thursdays #010

Why do we dream? AI could help explain it. If only it could also explain the concerning situation in Belarus where yet another journalist has been arrested for criticizing the government.

On happier news, we’re hyped that Dr Jane Goodall has won yet another award, the lab-leak hypothesis is being reconsidered, and Sam Harris, Ricky Gervais and Jesse Singal have provided us with more auditory pleasures to feast our ears upon. We’ve also included some info on the exciting new VIPER rover!

If you come across news that everyone should know about, send me a link to it via info@thinkinc.org.au and we might include it in the next edition!

Warm regards,
Suzi

THE AWARD GOES TO DR GOODALL

Dr Jane Goodall is probably the most famous ethologist and conservationist of our time. Her life’s work on animal intelligence and humanity was what made Think Inc. tour her around Australia in both 2017 and 2019.

Recently her incredible work has gained her the 2021 Templeton Prize, whose previous recipients include the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa. Dr Gooddall says the prize money will make a huge difference to her institution’s programmes which are helping over 130 communities worldwide.

Dr Goodall used the opportunity to discuss her concern about our disrespect of the natural world, including the way we force animals closer to people, therefore making it easier for pathogens, like COVID, to jump from an animal to a person. She said “Hopefully this pandemic has woken people up. We must develop a new relationship with the natural world.”

Do you think COVID is the wake-up call we needed?

Click here to learn more.

lab-leak hypothesis revisited

An undisclosed U.S. intelligence report says that three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the COVID pandemic.

This may add weight to calls for a further probe into whether COVID could have escaped from the laboratory, and not a wet market as initially alleged. A letter was published in the most recent issue of Science from a team of scientists, one being Ralph Baric whose lab, along with the Wuhan lab, is at the forefront of the study of bat-born coronaviruses.

To have one of the two leading experts in bat-born coronaviruses supporting the investigation of the lab-leak hypothesis is huge news, considering that many scientific journals and media outlets tried to cast it out months ago as being the stuff of conspiracy theorists.

Thanks to Bret Weinstein who has been covering this issue from the beginning.

Click here to learn more.

lukashenko critic arrested

The Lukashenko government of Belarus is being accused of hijacking a European jetliner and engaging in state terrorism by forcing a Ryanair flight to perform an emergency landing.

The government supposedly made a fake bomb threat so they could arrest a prominent critic of authoritarian Lukashenko. The critic, Roman Protasevich, is a 26-year-old blogger who works for a media company that helped coordinate protests last year against the leader, who they believe rigged the election.

Two days ago Roman appeared bruised and tired in a video recorded from Minsk Detention Center where Belarusian opposition leader, Sviatlana Thiskanouskaya, believes he was “pressured” into making a confession.

Roman is just the latest of a number of young journalists who have been arrested for reporting on the protests against Lukashenko.

Recently, even Eurovision had to get involved after Belarus tried entering a pro-Lukashenko band with highly political lyrics into the competition. Eurovision blocked them, and they ended up not competing.

Click here to learn more.

dream theory and AI

Dreams. We all have them but we only remember some of them, and scientists don’t really know why we do it.

Alas, there are many theories, but the most recent and interesting one comes from Erik Hoel, a research assistant professor at Tufts University.  His “overfitted brain hypothesis” can be explained by looking at how AI is trained.

A common issue with AI training is that the AI becomes too familiar with the data it’s trained on. Scientists fix this by introducing some chaos into the data. Well, our brains also get too familiar with the routine of our daily lives – this is called “over-fitting” – and it may be that our brains counteract this by making a strange version of our lives in our dreams.

The strangeness of dreams is also the topic of the latest episode of Absolutely Mental, Ricky Gervais, and Sam Harris’s podcast. Have you given it a listen yet?

Click here to learn more.

SINGAL & HARRIS

Speaking of Sam Harris, he had a great talk with heterodox journalist, Jesse Singal, on episode 250 of his Making Sense podcast. Jesse is co-host of the podcast Blocked and Reported, author of The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills and starting in June he’ll take on the role of media columnist for The Spectator USA.

In this ep you’ll get to hear Sam and Jesse talk about an array of juicy, controversial topics, including Jesse’s experiences with cancel culture, transgender activism, the JK Rowling incident, and the capture of cultural institutions by the far-Left.

Unless you’re a Patreon supporter of Making Sense you won’t be able to hear them talk about whether Jesse should try psychedelics.

Side note: if you’re a Lex Fridman or Sam Harris fan and you’ve got a spare couple of minutes, check this out. Name a catchier song about free will – I’ll wait…

Click here to learn more.

singer on cancel culture

Peter Singer has received a great write-up in News.com.au!

The article talks about Peter’s views on cancel culture, and how the Journal of Controversial Ideas was created in response to the climate we live in, where controversial but important topics can’t be discussed freely.

On the topic of freedom of speech, Peter is quoted as saying “It will need a larger shift in opinion, for people who support freedom of thought and discussion to come out in favour of it and say we’re not going to be intimidated by those trying to shut down discussion.”

We share this core belief at Think Inc., and that’s why we can’t wait to tour with Peter this August.

Click here to learn more.

Picture of the week

NASA has plans to release a new golf cart-sized rover on the Moon in late 2023. The rover will be called VIPER, which stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, and its role will be to map the location and abundance of water at the lunar South Pole over a period of 100 days.

This solar-powered robot will carry four instruments: Regolith and Ice Drill for Exploring New Terrains (TridentR) hammer drill, the Mass Spectrometer Observing Lunar Operations (MSolo) instrument, the Near Infrared Volatiles Spectrometer System (Nirvss) and the Neutron Spectrometer System (NSS).

Last week China’s Mars rover touched down, a first for the country. Will it cross paths with NASA’s Perseverance rover while it’s there?

Click here for more info.
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