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Why humans run the world

History professor Yuval Noah Harari — author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind — explains why humans have dominated Earth. The reason is not what you might expect.

70,000 years ago humans were insignificant animals. The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were unimportant. Their impact on the world was very small, less than that of jellyfish, woodpeckers or bumblebees.

Today, however, humans control this planet. How did we reach from there to here? What was our secret of success, that turned us from insignificant apes minding their own business in a corner of Africa, into the rulers of the world?

We often look for the difference between us and other animals on the individual level. We want to believe that there is something special about the human body or human brain that makes each individual human vastly superior to a dog, or a pig, or a chimpanzee. But the fact is that one-on-one, humans are embarrassingly similar to chimpanzees. If you place me and a chimpanzee together on a lone island, to see who survives better, I would definitely place my bets on the chimp.

The real difference between us and other animals is on the collective level. Humans control the world because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. Ants and bees can also work together in large numbers, but they do so in a very rigid way. If a beehive is facing a new threat or a new opportunity, the bees cannot reinvent their social system overnight in order to cope better. They cannot, for example, execute the queen and establish a republic. Wolves and chimpanzees cooperate far more flexibly than ants, but they can do so only with small numbers of intimately known individuals. Among wolves and chimps, cooperation is based on personal acquaintance. If I am a chimp and I want to cooperate with you, I must know you personally: What kind of chimp are you? Are you a nice chimp? Are you an evil chimp? How can I cooperate with you if I don’t know you?

Only Homo sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. One-on-one or ten-on-ten, chimpanzees may be better than us. But pit 1,000 Sapiens against 1,000 chimps, and the Sapiens will win easily, for the simple reason that 1,000 chimps can never cooperate effectively. Put 100,000 chimps in Wall Street or Yankee Stadium, and you’ll get chaos. Put 100,000 humans there, and you’ll get trade networks and sports contests.

Cooperation is not always nice, of course. All the terrible things humans have been doing throughout history are also the product of mass cooperation. Prisons, slaughterhouses and concentration camps are also systems of mass cooperation. Chimpanzees don’t have prisons, slaughterhouses or concentration camps.

Yet how come humans alone of all the animals are capable of cooperating flexibly in large numbers, be it in order to play, to trade or to slaughter? The answer is our imagination. We can cooperate with numerous strangers because we can invent fictional stories, spread them around, and convince millions of strangers to believe in them. As long as everybody believes in the same fictions, we all obey the same laws, and can thereby cooperate effectively.

This is something only humans can do. You can never convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising that after he dies, he will go to Chimpanzee Heaven and there receive countless bananas for his good deeds. No chimp will ever believe such a story. Only humans believe such stories. This is why we rule the world, whereas chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

It is relatively easy to accept that religious networks of cooperation are based on fictional stories. People build a cathedral together or go on crusade together because they believe the same stories about God and Heaven. But the same is true of all other types of large-scale human cooperation. Take for example our legal systems. Today, most legal systems are based on a belief in human rights. But human rights are a fiction, just like God and Heaven. In reality, humans have no rights, just as chimps or wolves have no rights. Cut open a human, and you won’t find there any rights. The only place where human rights exist is in the stories we invent and tell one another. Human rights may be a very attractive story, but it is only a story.

The same mechanism is at work in politics. Like gods and human rights, nations are fictions. A mountain is something real. You can see it, touch it, smell it. But the United States or Israel are not a physical reality. You cannot see them, touch them or smell them. They are just stories that humans invented and then became extremely attached to.

It is the same with economic networks of cooperation. Take a dollar bill, for example. It has no value in itself. You cannot eat it, drink it or wear it. But now come along some master storytellers like the Chair of the Federal Reserve and the President of the United States, and convince us to believe that this green piece of paper is worth five bananas. As long as millions of people believe this story, that green piece of paper really is worth five bananas. I can now go to the supermarket, hand a worthless piece of paper to a complete stranger whom I have never met before, and get real bananas in return. Try doing that with a chimpanzee.

Indeed, money is probably the most successful fiction ever invented by humans. Not all people believe in God, or in human rights, or in the United States of America. But everybody believes in money, and everybody believes in the dollar bill. Even Osama bin Laden. He hated American religion, American politics and American culture — but he was quite fond of American dollars. He had no objection to that story.

To conclude, whereas all other animals live in an objective world of rivers, trees and lions, we humans live in dual world. Yes, there are rivers, trees and lions in our world. But on top of that objective reality, we have constructed a second layer of make-believe reality, comprising fictional entities such as the European Union, God, the dollar and human rights.

And as time passes, these fictional entities have become ever more powerful, so that today they are the most powerful forces in the world. The very survival of trees, rivers and animals now depends on the wishes and decisions of fictional entities such as the United States and the World Bank — entities that exist only in our own imagination.

Online dating tips for women

Everyone tried online dating, and what many women don’t realize is how important choosing the right pictures for their profiles is. Online dating tips for women have been compiled by men, so you know what guys think when looking at your dating profile.

1) Don’t post photos of you and your friends on a dating web site.
– Unless of course you want to show me how attractive your friends are, which is weird.
– Seeing photos of you in a line of 10 women It tells me that you can’t stand on your own or that you lack confidence.
– If I’m looking at YOUR profile, I want to see photos of YOU.
2) Don’t post a photo in which you’ve cropped out your last boyfriend.
– You’re not fooling anyone; I know that’s his arm behind your neck.
3) Don’t post scenery photos
– Talk about the trips you’ve taken, favorite and/or dream destinations.
4) Don’t post pics of your kids (if you have them)
– It’s a dating web site, keep that in mind.
5) Don’t post pics of you with someone ELSE’S kids (if you don’t have kids)
– It looks like you have one, or you desperately want one.
6) Don’t post solo pics of your pets
– Just tell me you like/have pets and let it be part of the conversation.
7) Don’t post for the ‘silly face’ pose
– it’s usually NOT a flattering photo
8) Don’t post a pursed-lipped (duck-bill) photo
– It’s not flattering and it just looks you’re either arrogance, or a follower
9) Don’t post bikini photos.
– While sexy photos will catch a guy’s eye for sure but you will get the creeper element’s attention. And they don’t require much encouragement to creep on.
10) I know you love to laugh.
– Check your profile, check your friend’s profiles.
– I guarantee at least ONE of you in your group has stated this obvious fact.
– A joke is made with friends on how many women “love to laugh”.
– Ironically, your arrogant, duck-billed, pursey-lipped photos suggest otherwise.
– Me? I’m a fan of frowning.

Profile Suggestions:
– if you look miserable, guys will think you are.
2) See #1
3) Post a few photos, not just one.
– I want to see what you REALLY look like.
– Your photos should be CURRENT.
– Post one of your full body (not a sexy shot, but one that says “this is me, i’m not trying to hide”)
– Post one of you doing something you love.

RoboUniverse 2015: Rethink Robotics Baxter

Rethink Robotics Baxter robot is introduced by Eric Foellmer. This is an affordable robot that can be easily trained to perform repetitive tasks and flexible enough for many industries.

RoboUniverse is the first professional buyer – seller conference and exposition dedicated to the service robotics industry. The mission of this expo is to accelerate the adoption of modern robotics – service, collaborative and co-worker robots for business, manufacturing, healthcare, education, personal and home based applications.

Roomba inventor invents LVL 1 Drone

Drones may have gone mainstream, but it’s not everyday that you see an entry to that marketplace from a veteran technologist with a history of popularizing clever little robot vacuum cleaners. Having already built a pair of industry-oriented drones, Roomba co-designer Helen Grainer’s startup CyPhy Works has made its first flirt with the consumer space with a moderately priced six-rotor drone that takes flight with a swipe of the smartphone screen.

Just as Parrot made the idea of piloting a drone more palatable to beginners with smartphone controls with its AR Drones, CyPhy Works too is looking to put the intuitive thumbs of iOS and Android users to work. Users can control the CyPhy LVL 1 Drone through simple on-screen swipes, with a first person view streamed back to the user through a Wi-Fi network over an impressive 20 minute flight time.

With six rotors as opposed to the customary four found on most consumer drones, CyPhy says it has designed the LVL 1 so it doesn’t need to tilt in order to move. The company calls this its Level-Up technology, claiming it will enhance handling and allow for smoother, more stable captures.

Photos are snapped at eight megapixels and video shot at 1080p HD. The app also enables users to share these captures over social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter in real-time while the drone is still in the air.

In keeping with the anyone-can-fly-this-thing mantra, CyPhy has also built in a geofencing feature to give users a little peace of mind. Through the app, a maximum and minimum height can be configured and a geofence created literally by pacing out the boundaries with the smartphone in hand, a feature that’s sure to save a few rotors from the trash heap as users get a grip on things.

CyPhy Works has taken to Kickstarter to get its first consumer-facing drone off the ground. Looking to raise US$250,000 to enter commercial production, the company has raised around half of this at the time of writing. Early pledges of $445 still remain and will have a CyPhy LVL 1 Drone headed your way next February if everything goes to plan.

Japan robot receptionist welcomes shoppers

She can smile, she can sing and this robot receptionist who started work in Tokyo on Monday never gets bored of welcoming customers to her upmarket shop.

“My name is ChihiraAico. How do you do?” she says in Japanese, blinking and nodding to customers in the foyer of Mitsukoshi, Japan’s oldest department store chain.

Clad in an elegant traditional kimono, ChihiraAico—a name that sounds similar to a regular Japanese woman’s name—breaks into a rosy-lipped smile as would-be shoppers approach.

Unlike her real-life counterparts—almost always young women—who welcome customers to shops like this, ChihiraAico cannot answer questions, but simply runs through her pre-recorded spiel.

The android, with lifelike skin and almost (but not quite) natural-looking movements, was developed by microwaves-to-power stations conglomerate Toshiba, and unveiled at a tech fair in Japan last year.

“We are aiming to develop a robot that can gradually do what a human does,” said Hitoshi Tokuda, chief specialist at Toshiba.

Deric Atienza (Seoul, Korea 2014)

This is “Spontaneously Yours” with Deric Atienza, who is a Philippine diplomat living and working in Seoul, Korea. Here is his story.

Sesame lock opens doors without a key

Sesame lock follows the same basic idea as August and other smart locks. You attach it to the lock on the inside of your door and, when in range, pull out your smartphone to quickly get inside. There’s also an accelerometer inside that can open up when it detects a unique knock pattern, a convenient (though not terribly safe) entry method. Sesame’s creators claim their product (now on Kickstarter aiming for a funding goal of $100,000) is superior to August in numerous ways. First, the setup process is basically instant. Whereas August comes with an installation kit, Sesame is attached to your existing deadbolt using a strip of 3M adhesive — and that’s it. Candy House, the company behind Sesame, says that a patent-pending, self-adjusting design allows the smart lock to adapt to nearly any deadbolt you’d find in the US.


Like August, the actual unlocking process uses Bluetooth, and Sesame lock has its own companion smartphone app for keeping track of who’s come and gone or giving your friends remote access. To get the most out of the deal, you’ll need a separate Wi-Fi access point to keep Sesame connected to the internet at all times. That’s the only way you’ll be able to check if the door’s locked when away from home, for instance. Sesame’s founders claim it makes the link to your smartphone in just one second versus the “7 seconds” they’ve clocked August at. They believe Sesame has superior battery life (500 days) and point to its cheaper price ($89 for the lock itself, or $139 with the Wi-Fi dongle) as the obvious selling point.

Sesame lock does seem to cross off some of the complaints and hassles that people have experienced with the August lock. But then again, August is a real product right now, and Sesame needs to rally smart home enthusiasts to execute on its vision. Plenty of questions remain about how it will all come together. If successful, Sesame will start shipping units out to Kickstarter backers in late April.


Noemie Goudal : The Armory Show 2015 (New York)

This is an interview with Noemie Goudal at the 2015 Armory show in New York city.

Inspired by her travels, the old-school titans of black-and-white photography such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, and the novels of Haruki Murakami, photographer Noemie Goudal creates images that occupy a space between surrealistic fantasy and modern life. Having once written stories to inspire her photographs, Goudal is now drawn to abandoned and obsolete structures and locations around the world, such as brutalist buildings and dilapidated barns, which she photographs before Photoshopping them into idiosyncratic environments and often enlarging them into life-size prints. She uses traditional chromogenic Lambda printing, adding a nostalgic element to compositions that are at once stark, romantic, and uncanny.

The Armory Show, a leading international contemporary and modern art fair and one of the most important annual art events in New York, takes place every March on Piers 92 & 94 in central Manhattan. The Armory Show is devoted to showcasing the most important artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. In its sixteen years the fair has become an international institution, combining a selection of the world’s leading galleries with an exceptional program of arts events and exhibitions throughout New York during the celebrated Armory Arts Week.

Bollywood Dancer in Copenhagen Denmark (2013)

The City of Copenhagen hosts cultural dancing in the open air in Fælledparken (The People’s Park) that happens every Summer. In 2013 it was Bollywood Dancing.

Rachael Champion: The Armory Show 2015 (New York)

This is an interview with Rachael Champion at the 2015 Armory show in New York city.

The Armory Show, a leading international contemporary and modern art fair and one of the most important annual art events in New York, takes place every March on Piers 92 & 94 in central Manhattan. The Armory Show is devoted to showcasing the most important artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. In its sixteen years the fair has become an international institution, combining a selection of the world’s leading galleries with an exceptional program of arts events and exhibitions throughout New York during the celebrated Armory Arts Week.