Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history. Walking helps us think. Weekend recovery sleep fails to prevent metabolic dysregulation during a repeating pattern of insufficient sleep. The hipster effect: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same. An interview with Javier Cercas. Alexander von Humboldt: the graphic novel. Is this really the best and highest use of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem? Eine Eurozentrische Geschichte des Kapitalismus. Denisovans may have mated with modern humans as recently as 15,000 years ago. Ancient switch to soft food gave us an overbite. A fungus has wiped out more species than any other disease. And more.
A world without clouds. Interview with Yngve Slyngstad, CEO of Norway's sovereign wealth fund. Why zebras have stripes. The universal decay of collective memory and attention. David Salle on Any Warhol. Gut bacteria linked to mental well-being and depression. The new needle skyscrapers in Manhattan. Patricia Lockwood travels through the internet. The mainlandization of Hong Kong. Review of Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World. Michael Freeden on the contemporary role of political theory. Harold Brodkey: yesterday’s genius. Sleep science. And more.
Is ancient DNA research revealing new truths or falling into old traps? Robots, like people, use ‘imagination’ to learn concepts. Nicolas Carr reviews The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Poons v. Koons: The art of ‘The Price of Everything’. Towards a general theory of neural networks. Emerging evidence suggests the brain encodes abstract knowledge in the same way that it represents positions in space. John Kay on the concept of the corporation. Millions of people around the world rely on water from retreating glaciers. A robot reveals how ancient reptile ancestor moved. Interview with philosopher Frederick Eberhardt about causality. And more.
Brief interview with Albert-László Barabási about the five universal laws of success. Ocean warming is accelerating. Steven Strogatz on AlphaZero and the future of AI. The conceptual limits of machine learning. A breakdown of the costs proves tickets in London's West End are not a rip-off. Tattoos are copyrighted. How radical 1960s architecture got it so wrong. Film footage from Paris from around 1890 with speed corrected, image stabilized and sound added. 180,000 forgotten photos reveal the future of Greenland’s ice. Longform's Best of 2018. And more.
As always this is a list of books that I read this year and includes recently published books as well as classics.