From Pambazuka News, a special issue on AU/OAU at 50, celebration and reflection. Morten Jerven (Simon Fraser): Africa's Accidental Advancement: How New Statistics Are Boosting the Continent's GDP. Rosa Brooks (Georgetown): Reflections on Kony 2012. Ogunrotifa Ayodeji (Edinburgh): Democratic Deficit: The Dark Side of Weberian Bureaucracy in Nigeria. How can Ghana avoid an oil curse? Michael Yamoah on lessons from Nigeria. East Africa is the world's latest hotspot for oil and gas exploration — will this be a boon or a curse in arid Turkana? Michael Pesek on regime change in African history. The African Century: The unlucky continent finally seems to be on a real path to growth, but is democracy essential to sustain Africa’s rise? Josh Kron on Mahmood Mamdani, an intellectual leader in African higher education. In a time of crisis, why are academics so quiet? Isaie Dougnon wants to know.
A new issue of Hoover Digest is out. Keith E. Schnakenberg (WUSTL): Group Identity and Symbolic Political Behavior. Thirst for knowledge: Robert J. Bliwise on tapping into drinking water, a substance that’s been variously treated, distributed, regulated, consumed, and — unfortunately — taken for granted. All for one and one for all: Gillian Gillison responds to Marshall Sahlins. From n+1, the uncertainty of risk: Nick Werle reviews Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise, Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile and James Owen Weatherall’s The Physics of Wall Street. Christy Wampole on the essayification of everything: Why has the form invented by Montaigne — searching, sampling, notoriously noncommittal — become a talisman of our times? Lawrence Klepp reviews Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem by Peter Lamont.
Neil M. Richards and William Smart (WASTL): How Should the Law Think About Robots? Stop killer robots: Simon Makin on how autonomous weapons systems could lead to disaster. How will a mass influx of robots affect human employment? Illah Nourbakhsh on how it’s time to talk about the burgeoning robot middle class. Hi, I’m a robot and I’m here to take your job. Computers could take some tough choices out of our hands, if we let them — is there still a place for human judgement? Thought experiment: Jonathon Keats on building a supercomputer replica of the human brain. David Pearce on the Biointelligence Explosion: How recursively self-improving organic robots will modify their own source code and bootstrap our way to full-spectrum superintelligence. Luke Muehlhauser on how predicting AI is more difficult than many people think. The robot revolution is for the birds.
Brett Michael Carmouche (Manchester): The Personifying of the Narrative: How Barack Obama Used Rhetoric to His Advantage in the 2008 US Election Campaign. From Distilled magazine, Bram De Ridder on the flawed modernity of foreign policies; and Christopher Edelman on a roadmap to an arms trade treaty. Eliot’s politics in context: Benjamin G. Lockerd reviews Dreams of a Totalitarian Utopia: Literary Modernism and Politics by Leon Surette. Consciousness; it's a science thing: Jon Butterworth never expected a talk by a philosopher to be the most memorable TEDxCERN talk — but John Searle made it so. Jonathan Turley on the rise of the fourth branch of government. Sean Beaudoin breaks down the characters of St. Elmo’s Fire, making it clear how each is, in fact, an unerring reflector of Reaganology. What’s wrong with MSNBC? Alex Pareene wonders.
From Secular Web, Ryan Stringer on Mavrodes' moral argument for adopting religious belief. Michael Blume on four paths to atheism. An interview with Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels. In search of the ungodly: A review of The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism by A.C. Grayling and The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates by Frans de Waal. Jonathan Ree on the rationalist way of death: Given that it has historically been annexed by religion, how should the non-believer mark death? The Death-Positive Movement: Meet three young women who want to teach our repressed society how to explore its relationship with death. Atheists are still going to Hell, says Vatican spokesman. Even for committed non-believers, it’s difficult to totally erase the idea of God from one’s psyche. Here’s a surprising map of where the world’s atheists live.