How to Stop Worrying and Love the Robot Apocalypse (Ep. 461)

It’s true that robots (and other smart technologies) will kill many jobs. It may also be true that newer collaborative robots (“cobots”) will totally reinvigorate how work gets done. That, at least, is what the economists are telling us. Should we believe them?

What Separates Humans From Other Animals? (NSQ Ep. 51)

Also: why do people pace while talking on the phone?

Memory Champion Nelson Dellis Helps Steve Train His Brain (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 26)

He’s one of the world’s leading competitors, having won four U.S. memory tournaments and holding the record for most names memorized in 15 minutes (235!). But Nelson Dellis claims he was born with an average memory and that anyone can learn his tricks. Steve gives Nelson’s techniques a shot, without much hope — and is surprised by the result.

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12 20 2016

Happy Everything, From Freakonomics

How can we at Freakonomics help you during the holidays? Here's a few ideas:

1. We can provide inspiration for gifts for the "homo economicus" in your life.

2. When you're making your year-end donations, we can help you consider the evidence for which programs work, and which don't.

3. No matter...

Are You as Observant as You Think? (NSQ Ep. 50)

Also: Angela accidentally discovers the secret to a good night’s sleep.

Sam Harris: “Spirituality Is a Loaded Term.” (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 25)

He’s a cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher who has written five best-selling books. Sam Harris also hosts the Making Sense podcast and helps people discover meditation through his Waking Up app. Sam explains to Steve how to become spiritual as a skeptic and commit to never lying again.

The True Story of the Minimum-Wage Fight (Ep. 460)

Backers of a $15 federal wage say it’s a no-brainer if you want to fight poverty. Critics say it’s a blunt instrument that leads to job loss. Even the economists can’t agree! We talk to a bunch of them — and a U.S. Senator — to sort it out, and learn there’s a much bigger problem to worry about.

“Someone Needs to Save the World from Silicon Valley” (SBTI Ep. 3)

If the big social-media companies are unable or unwilling to make major changes from within, it may be up to outsiders to create better, healthier digital communities. Whether it’s smaller platforms for like-minded people, a publicly owned social network, self-policing by user groups, or activist campaigns to pressure Twitter and Facebook to improve, Sudhir explores what’s next for social media — and what makes societies function or fail.

How Does Facing Death Change Your Life? (NSQ Ep. 49)

Also: why are we so bad at assessing risk?

Nathan Myhrvold: “I Am Interested in Lots of Things, and That’s Actually a Bad Strategy.” (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 6 Rebroadcast)

He graduated high school at 14, and by 23 had several graduate degrees and was a research assistant with Stephen Hawking. He became the first chief technology officer at Microsoft (without having ever studied computer science) and then started a company focused on big questions — like how to provide the world with clean energy and how to optimize pizza-baking. Find out what makes Nathan Myhrvold’s fertile mind tick, and which of his many ideas Steve Levitt likes the most.

Let’s Be Blunt: Marijuana Is a Boon for Older Workers (Ep. 459)

The state-by-state rollout of legalized weed has given economists a perfect natural experiment to measure its effects. Here’s what we know so far — and don’t know — about the costs and benefits of legalization.

The Garbage Can Model of Decision Making (SBTI Ep. 2)

What's it like to try and police millions of pieces of abusive content every day? Sudhir takes us inside Facebook, as he and his former colleagues recall how hard it was to encourage civility at a company obsessed with growth — especially when that growth was often driven by some of the most toxic behaviors.