November 24, 2015

Definitely not a human

Definitely not a human. Credit: Dave Mathis / Flickr Creative Commons

There’s a very high probability that you, the person reading this, are a human being. But what separates you, the discerning listener of Innovation Hub, from WALL-E or Johnny Five?

This week, we’re going to explore what makes us different from machines.

What makes us uniquely human.

First, there’s our creativity. Harvard’s Teresa Amabile explains what makes humans think outside the box when they’re inside their cubicle. A lax dress code, an open office, and awesome cafeteria food may not be necessary. But there's a secret workplace ingredient: kindness. Amabile explains what kinds of companies are best at being kind – and whether it's more important to be treated well by your colleague OR your boss.

If you’re thinking it’s only a matter of time before robots become creative and take our jobs, fear not. Author and economist James Bessen says that technology doesn’t necessarily displace employees. Sorry, Rick Deckard from Blade Runner, you’re not getting that corner office anytime soon. Bessen also explains what 19th-Century textile workers have in common with techies in Silicon Valley. 

Another uniquely human trait: stubbornness. It’s one of the reasons that disproven and discredited scientific studies are still being cited. Stanford’s John Ioannidis tells us about the crisis in scientific literature, and why you might want to avoid those clickbait-y, science-y headlines you read in the less reputable parts of the web.

Something that humans may not do for very much longer: drive. But until everyone has a self-driving car, we’re going to have traffic (even then, we may have some, though analyses suggest that they'll be milder). Reporter Daniel Gross delves into the underlying engineering behind traffic jams – and why WE are the drivers we dread.

One of the benefits of not being human is not having to worry about your weight. Nir Eyal looks at a new way of getting healthy, and finds that it doesn’t really work. Why fitness apps make us less happy and more flabby.

And finally, the story of one person with a spark of genius. How his discovery led us to the most human of activities: nuking a Hot Pocket because you’re too tired to make real food.

Teresa Amabile, John Ioannidis, James Bessen, Popcorn, Human, Microwave

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