Thursday, October 26, 2017

Friday Thinking 27 Oct. 2017

Hello all – Friday Thinking is a humble curation of my foraging in the digital environment. My purpose is to pick interesting pieces, based on my own curiosity (and the curiosity of the many interesting people I follow), about developments in some key domains (work, organization, social-economy, intelligence, domestication of DNA, energy, etc.)  that suggest we are in the midst of a change in the conditions of change - a phase-transition. That tomorrow will be radically unlike yesterday.

Many thanks to those who enjoy this.
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Jobs are dying - work is just beginning.

“Be careful what you ‘insta-google-tweet-face’”
Woody Harrelson - Triple 9



The so-called cognitive revolution started small, but as computers became standard equipment in psychology labs across the country, it gained broader acceptance. By the late 1970s, cognitive psychology had overthrown behaviorism, and with the new regime came a whole new language for talking about mental life. Psychologists began describing thoughts as programs, ordinary people talked about storing facts away in their memory banks, and business gurus fretted about the limits of mental bandwidth and processing power in the modern workplace.

This story has repeated itself again and again. As the digital revolution wormed its way into every part of our lives, it also seeped into our language and our deep, basic theories about how things work. Technology always does this. During the Enlightenment, Newton and Descartes inspired people to think of the universe as an elaborate clock. In the industrial age, it was a machine with pistons. (Freud's idea of psychodynamics borrowed from the thermodynamics of steam engines.) Now it's a computer. Which is, when you think about it, a fundamentally empowering idea. Because if the world is a computer, then the world can be coded.

Code is logical. Code is hackable. Code is destiny. These are the central tenets (and self-fulfilling prophecies) of life in the digital age. As software has eaten the world, to paraphrase venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, we have surrounded ourselves with machines that convert our actions, thoughts, and emotions into data—raw material for armies of code-wielding engineers to manipulate. We have come to see life itself as something ruled by a series of instructions that can be discovered, exploited, optimized, maybe even rewritten.
The End of Code


“But in the end, humans aren’t ‘100%’ either…  In fact, I think that errors are actually the foundation of creativity,” she said.  

“The most interesting challenges don’t have a ‘100%’ answer -- like, which [job] candidate should you pick as CEO?  That depends on what kind of company you want.”

Many AI technologies are getting better in real time. Dyson uses the example of automated spelling correction, which has now morphed into word and even phrase or sentence prediction, because the algorithms pick up on patterns in the way people write.

At some point our writing platforms moved past spellcheck and started correcting grammar and predicting what else we want to write. Did you notice when this happened?  Dyson noted, “The point of AI is to not be noticeable.”

Think about that and try to identify where AI shows up in your daily life. AI technology is often working in the background; you may take the conveniences for granted and never recognize them as AI.  
The other reason you may not think about this is because,“once AI is successful, we usually call it something else: facial recognition, for instance. We don’t say ‘AI facial recognition.’”

We need to be very aware of the influence of the data used by the algorithms in our lives.  People make the decisions; AI just makes us more efficient in reapplying the criteria and biases of people’s decisions in new but similar situations,” she said.  

“The most important thing to consider is that much of what happens is under our control, but ‘our’ is an ambiguous concept….”
Who exactly is the “we” whose behavior the system models?   The problem is not the algorithms; it’s the data the algorithms use -- and that data reflects the decisions or behavior of thousands or even millions of normal, flawed individuals.

Esther Dyson Talks About AI, Real-World Issues

Automation is not mere labour automation
We tend to mostly focus on the automation of labour, since we are dependent on the wages we earn and are concerned about potential job losses, the rule of robots and a universal basic income.

Even though labour is highly important, automation should be seen more broadly, since automation can and currently does permeate our private lives, how we communicate, where we eat, what we buy, whom we date, which party we choose at an election and much, much more. Thus, automation should be discussed in a more holistic sense, addressing the economic, environmental, political, ethical, cultural, legal and social dimensions. So far, this happens only on the fringe.

The relationship between artificial intelligence and automation
Currently, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the intelligence enabler for robots, is rather narrow (some might argue limited), which is why automation is very nuanced and focused on certain tasks. Yet, in the future, AI is likely to develop more general capabilities, which will translate into multidisciplinary robotic labour and more software solutions with human-like reasoning. This development is accelerated by other fields of research such as sensor technologies, super-computing, neuroscience, 3D-printing or the usage of new materials such as graphene.

Automation is more complex than people think. Here’s why

This is a must read article - discussing ancient and current issues of Oligarchy and its reliance on economic inequality. All of us must be vigilant that fairness, and economic equality are fundamental to democratic open societies and to unleashing the ‘wealth of people’.

How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece

The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.
One of the primary threats to oligarchy was that the oligarchs would become divided, and that one from their number would defect, take leadership of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy.

To prevent this occurrence, ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. Among other things, they passed sumptuary laws, preventing extravagant displays of their wealth that might spark jealously, and they used the secret ballot and consensus building practices to ensure that decisions didn’t lead to greater conflict within their cadre.

Appropriately for a scholar of the classics, Simonton focuses on these specific ancient practices in detail. But his key insight is that elites in power need solidarity if they are to stay in power. Unity might come from personal relationships, trust, voting practices, or – as is more likely in today’s meritocratic era – homogeneity in culture and values from running in the same limited circles.

While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.

In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city.

They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods.

At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power. Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space. The result: the people would appreciate elite spending on those projects and the upper class would get their names memorialized for all time. After all, who could be against oligarchs who show such generosity?

This is a good article exploring the possibilities of a ‘smart society’.

The society of the future looks nothing like you might imagine

What is a “smart” society? While flights of imagination from science-fiction writers, filmmakers, and techno-futurists involve things like flying cars and teleportation, in practice smart technology is making inroads in a piecemeal fashion, often in rather banal circumstances. In Chicago, for example, predictive analytics is improving health inspections schedules in restaurants, while in Boston city officials are collaborating with Waze, the traffic navigation app company, combining its data with inputs from street cameras and sensors to improve road conditions across the city. A city-state such as Singapore has a more holistic idea of a “smart nation,” where the vision includes initiatives from self-driving vehicles to cashless and contactless payments, robotics and assistive technologies, data-empowered urban environments, and technology-enabled homes.

More broadly, we might define a smart society as one where digital technology, thoughtfully deployed by governments, can improve on three broad outcomes: the well-being of citizens, the strength of the economy, and the effectiveness of institutions.

The potential for technologies to enable smart societies is rising. For example, internet-of-things sensor applications are envisioned to deliver a wide range of services, from smart water to industrial controls to e-health. The market for smart technologies is predicted to be worth up to $1.6 trillion by 2020, and $3.5 trillion by 2026. Surely, given the size of the opportunity, increasing interest among governments and policy makers, and the explosion of relevant technologies, we can start to understand what smart societies are and establish standards and ideals to aim for.

The Fletcher School at Tufts University and Microsoft Digital have launched an initiative to explore this issue

What is not emerging is a truly different business model for 21st Century media. Clay Shirkey said Society doesn't need newspapers. What we need is journalism.
Real 'fake news' is just simply lying - it is shaping the concept of what is 'news' based on what the purpose of publishing news is for. For at least a century - news has been published based on what will sell - and most importantly then deliver reader’s attention to the real media clients - Advertisers and Marketers.

Cryptocurrency mining affects over 500 million people. And they have no idea it is happening.

This autumn the news spread that some websites had been making money by mining cryptocurrencies in their users’ browsers. We have been among the first to add protection from this hidden activity. AdGuard users now receive warnings if a website has been trying to mine, and the users are given the option to let it continue or to block the mining script from running.

We decided to research the issue more so that we could understand its scale and impact. On the Alexa list of the top one hundred thousand websites, we looked for the codes for CoinHive and JSEcoin, the most popular solutions for browser mining in use now.

We found 220 sites that launch mining when a user opens their main page, with an aggregated audience of 500 million people. These people live all over the world; there are sites with users from the USA, China, South American and European countries, Russia, India, Iran… and the list goes on.

220 sites may not seem like a lot. But CoinHive was launched less than one month ago, on the 14th of September.

How much money have these websites made? We estimate their joint profit at over US $43,000. Again, right now it’s not millions, but this money has been made in three weeks at almost zero cost.

Examining the website list more closely, we discovered that many of them are from the “gray zone”, mostly pirate TV and video sites, Torrent trackers and porn websites. Judging from these characteristics, we begin to wonder if browser mining is a bad thing and if it should be banned from the Internet.

While this is not a signal about ‘cryptocurrency’ it is a powerful signal related o the ‘Blockchain’ - ‘distributed ledger’ technologies.
"Fraud is rampant and disputes over titles often end up in court. Matters related to land and property make up about two-thirds of all civil cases in the country."

An Indian state wants to use blockchain to fight land ownership fraud

The government of India's Andhra Pradesh state has partnered with Swedish start-up ChromaWay to build its blockchain-based solution

It is estimated that $700 million is being paid in bribes at land registrars across India

ChromaWay has already piloted a blockchain project in Sweden focused on the process of buying and selling real-estate

India's land ownership system is apparently fraught with fraud — so one state is exploring the application of blockchain technology to make it more transparent.
The government of Andhra Pradesh has partnered with Swedish start-up ChromaWay to build its blockchain-based solution.

Distributed ledger technology allows data to be stored in vast groupings, which are encrypted and tamper-proof. It is maintained across a network of computers around the world and has no central authority to oversee it.

This is another important signal in the transformation of our banking and finance sectors - these new technology are being taken up at an accelerating rate in the developing world.
The ease of opening an account was not the only selling factor, KakaoBank also offered loans with interest rates that were as low as 2.86% compared to the 6-19% range of traditional banks. The approval process was also as quick and easy as the account opening.

How a Messaging App Challenged Traditional Banks and Captured 45% of the Market

How KakaoBank is bringing innovation to the banking industry, at last
Messaging platform KakaoTalk has successfully entered the banking industry in Korea after obtaining a license from the regulator FSC in April this year. It was designated as one of the two online-only banks in the nation. This will likely be a critical disruption to a sector that has enjoyed a long period of stability but has lacked innovation.

KakaoBank was established in January 2016. It is led by chat platform KakaoTalk which has a 10% stake but the major shareholder is Korea Investment Holdings, a major financial group in Korea. It has positioned itself as a mobile only bank with no physical branches. All activities occur over the app which is a natural extension from its main messaging app KakaoTalk. KakaoBank fully leveraged the advantage of being linked to the leading messaging platform in Korea, KakaoTalk which is used by 42 million users out of the 50 million population in Korea.

Within just 24 hours of opening on July 27th 300,000 new accounts were opened with KakaoBank (this is more than what all other Korean banks got in 2016 through online channels). The number continued to rise throughout August. We estimate KakaoBank took close to 45% market share in all new bank accounts opened in August – including both offline and online. If we only count the mobile internet based accounts it was almost a 70% share. It extended US$1.2 billion in credit loans during August and this again accounted for 40% of the country’s total loans during the month.

This is a very strong signal of the emerging capabilities of the digital environment.

China to build giant facial recognition database to identify any citizen within seconds

Project aims to achieve an accuracy rate of 90 per cent but faces formidable technological hurdles and concerns about security
The goal is for the system to able to match someone’s face to their ID photo with about 90 per cent accuracy.

The project, launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 2015, is under development in conjunction with a security company based in Shanghai.

The system can be connected to surveillance camera networks and will use cloud facilities to connect with data storage and processing centres distributed across the country, according to people familiar with the project.

This is very important signal - one suggesting that a new ‘Unicorn’ (a $billion company) may be looming to become a sort of Facebook for genetic data. The wealth of our common gene pool should not become appropriated by a private for-profit company so the can become rent seekers regarding our personal and common genetic knowledge.
“They have quietly become the largest genetic study the world has ever known,” says cardiologist Euan Ashley at Stanford University, California.

The rise and fall and rise again of 23andMe

How Anne Wojcicki led her company from the brink of failure to scientific pre-eminence.
23andme has always been the most visible face of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, and it is more formidable now than ever before. In September, the company announced that it had raised US$250 million: more than the total amount of capital raised by the company since its inception. Investors estimate that it is worth more than $1 billion, making it a 'unicorn' in Silicon Valley parlance — a rare and valuable thing to behold. But for scientists, 23andme's real worth is in its data. With more than 2 million customers, the company hosts by far the largest collection of gene-linked health data anywhere. It has racked up 80 publications, signed more than 20 partnerships with pharmaceutical firms and started a therapeutics division of its own.

But as it matures, 23andme faces new challenges. It must sustain customers' trust, fight off competition and prove that it can use genetic data to make new medicines — a notoriously difficult goal. And 23andme still has a long way to go with the FDA, which won't allow it to tell customers many genetic results directly relevant to human health, such as those for the BRCA genes, which are linked to breast cancer.

And a growing crop of genetic-analysis companies are now competing for 23andme's customers. They include firms offering inexpensive, targeted medical sequencing (Color Genomics in Burlingame, California); ancestry testing (Ancestry DNA, based in Salt Lake City, Utah); whole-genome sequencing, either on its own (Veritas, based in Danvers, Massachusetts) or in combination with medical testing (Craig Venter's Human Longevity in San Diego, California) or with apps for interpreting genomic data (Helix of San Carlos, California).

The Human Genome Project started in 1990 with an aim to sequence the human genome for the first time within 15 years - by 1996 (almost half-way through) the project had only sequenced 1% of the genome. The project was completed by 2003 (a few years ahead of schedule). We are still in the at the very threshold of an acceleration of our knowledge. Now another fundamental project is underway.

Inside the Moonshot Effort to Finally Figure Out the Brain

AI is only loosely modeled on the brain. So what if you wanted to do it right? You’d need to do what has been impossible until now: map what actually happens in neurons and nerve fibers.
Here’s the problem with artificial intelligence today," says David Cox. Yes, it has gotten astonishingly good, from near-perfect facial recognition to driverless cars and world-champion Go-playing machines. And it’s true that some AI applications don’t even have to be programmed anymore: they’re based on architectures that allow them to learn from experience.

Yet there is still something clumsy and brute-force about it, says Cox, a neuroscientist at Harvard. “To build a dog detector, you need to show the program thousands of things that are dogs and thousands that aren’t dogs,” he says. “My daughter only had to see one dog”—and has happily pointed out puppies ever since. And the knowledge that today’s AI does manage to extract from all that data can be oddly fragile. Add some artful static to an image—noise that a human wouldn’t even notice—and the computer might just mistake a dog for a dumpster. That’s not good if people are using facial recognition for, say, security on smartphones

To overcome such limitations, Cox and dozens of other neuroscientists and machine-learning experts joined forces last year for the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) initiative: a $100 million effort to reverse-engineer the brain. It will be the neuroscience equivalent of a moonshot, says Jacob Vogelstein, who conceived and launched MICrONS when he was a program officer for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. intelligence community’s research arm. (He is now at the venture capital firm Camden Partners in Baltimore.) MICrONS researchers are attempting to chart the function and structure of every detail in a small piece of rodent cortex.

It’s a testament to the brain’s complexity that a moonshot is needed to map even this tiny piece of cortex, a cube measuring one millimeter on a side—the size of a coarse grain of sand. But this cube is thousands of times bigger than any chunk of brain anyone has tried to detail. It will contain roughly 100,000 neurons and something like a billion synapses, the junctions that allow nerve impulses to leap from one neuron to the next.

This is a good signal from RAND Corporation - hinting at new ways of engaging citizens to create value - using the digital environment as a platform of near costless coordination. Jobs may be getting automated - but the universe of work that people can engage in to create value is expanding super-exponentially.

The Promise of Community Citizen Science

Citizen science is public participation in research and scientific endeavors. Citizens volunteer as data collectors in science projects; collaborate with scientific experts on research design; and actively lead and carry out research, exerting a high degree of control and ownership over scientific activities. The last type — what we refer to as community citizen science — tends to involve action-oriented research to support interventional activities or policy change. This type of citizen science can be of particular importance to those working at the nexus of science and decisionmaking. The authors examine the transformative potential of community citizen science for communities, science, and decisionmaking. The Perspective is based on the authors' experiences working in collaboration with community groups, extensive readings of the scientific literature, and numerous interviews with leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of citizen science and participatory research. It first discusses models of citizen science in general, including community citizen science, and presents a brief history of its rise. It then looks at possible factors motivating the development of community citizen science, drawing from an exploration of the relationships among citizens, science, and decisionmaking. The final section examines areas in which community citizen science may exhibit promise in terms of outcomes and impacts, discusses concerns that may hinder its overall potential, and assesses the roles different stakeholders may play to continue to develop community citizen science into a positive force for science and society.

Key Findings
At Its Core, Citizen Science Is Public Participation in Research and Scientific Endeavors
  • Citizens volunteer as data collectors in science projects, collaborate with scientific experts on research design, and actively lead and carry out research.
  • It is part of a long tradition of rebirth of inventors, scientists, do-it-yourselfers, and makers at all levels of expertise.
  • Instead of working alone, today's community citizen scientists take advantage of new technologies for networking and coordination to work collaboratively; learn from each other; and share knowledge, insights, and findings.
The Democratization of Science and the Increasingly Distributed Nature of Expertise Are Not Without Concern
  • There is some tension and conflict between current standards of practice and the changes required for citizen science to achieve its promising future.
  • There is also some concern about the potential for bias, given that some efforts begin as a form of activism.
Yet the Efforts of Community Citizen Science Can Be Transformative
  • Success will require an engaged citizenry, promote more open and democratic decisionmaking processes, and generate new solutions for intractable problems.
  • If its promise holds true, the relationship between science and society will be profoundly transformed for the betterment of all.

Every light produces shadows - there is not technology that can’t be weaponized (even narrative the technology of language and story). This is a very important signal of a universal and ubiquitous human characteristic - curiosity and exploration. The role of the amateur ‘Do-It-Yourselfer’ in developing science and invention tends to be forgotten. Then again - we have to remember that the Darwin Awards are often well deserved.
“I want to live in a world where people get drunk and instead of giving themselves tattoos, they’re like, ‘I’m drunk, I’m going to CRISPR myself.’”

This Guy Says He’s The First Person To Attempt Editing His DNA With CRISPR

Biohacker Josiah Zayner is injecting himself with DNA at home. Now he’s providing the instructions and equipment for you to do it, too.
Josiah Zayner, CEO of the biohacking-promoting startup The Odin, held up a syringe. “This will modify my muscle genes to give me bigger muscles,” he told a packed room at a biotech conference in San Francisco in early October.

In front of dozens of onlookers, he leaned against a table and jabbed the long needle into his left forearm. Then he took it out, wincing a little, and added, over applause and chuckles of disbelief, “I’ll let you know how it works out.”

Zayner has made headlines for pushing the boundaries of do-it-yourself genetic experimentation, whether by trying to clean up his gut by inoculating himself with a friend’s poop or brewing glow-in-the-dark beer. This time, the biohacker claims he’s the first person trying to modify his own genome with the groundbreaking gene-editing technology known as CRISPR. And he’s providing the world with the means to do it, too, by posting a “DIY Human CRISPR Guide” online and selling $20 DNA that promotes muscle growth.

But editing your DNA isn’t as simple as following step-by-step advice. Scientists say that injecting yourself with a gene for muscle growth, as Zayner’s done, won’t in fact pump up your arms. Zayner himself admits that his experiments over the last year haven’t visibly changed his body. There are safety risks, too, experts say: People could infect themselves, or induce an inflammatory reaction.

But to Zayner, whether or not the experiment actually works is besides the point. What he’s trying to demonstrate, Zayner told BuzzFeed News, is that cutting-edge biology tools like CRISPR should be available for people to do as they wish, and not be controlled by academics and pharmaceutical companies.

This is another significant signal about human relationships - how they form and how they dissolve.
Today, more than one-third of marriages start online.

First Evidence That Online Dating Is Changing the Nature of Society

Dating websites have changed the way couples meet. Now evidence is emerging that this change is influencing levels of interracial marriage and even the stability of marriage itself.
For more than 50 years, researchers have studied the nature of the networks that link people to each other. These social networks turn out to have a peculiar property.
One obvious type of network links each node with its nearest neighbors, in a pattern like a chess board or chicken wire. Another obvious kind of network links nodes at random. But real social networks are not like either of these. Instead, people are strongly connected to a relatively small group of neighbors and loosely connected to much more distant people.

These loose connections turn out to be extremely important. “Those weak ties serve as bridges between our group of close friends and other clustered groups, allowing us to connect to the global community,” say Josue Ortega at the University of Essex in the U.K. and Philipp Hergovich at the University of Vienna in Austria.

Loose ties have traditionally played a key role in meeting partners. While most people were unlikely to date one of their best friends, they were highly likely to date people who were linked with their group of friends; a friend of a friend, for example. In the language of network theory, dating partners were embedded in each other’s networks.

Indeed, this has long been reflected in surveys of the way people meet their partners: through mutual friends, in bars, at work, in educational institutions, at church, through their families, and so on.

Online dating has changed that. Today, online dating is the second most common way for heterosexual couples to meet. For homosexual couples, it is far and away the most popular.

The continuation of medical sciences bring new wonders

Scientists Have Discovered a Drug That Fixes Cavities and Regrows Teeth

A new discovery about a drug developed for Alzheimer's patients might replace fillings for cavity repair. Tideglusib stimulates stem cells in the pulp of teeth, promoting new dentine production and natural tooth repair.
Dental fillings may soon be left in the ash heap of history, thanks to a recent discovery about a drug called Tideglusib. Developed for and trialled to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the drug also happens to promote the natural tooth regrowth mechanism, allowing the tooth to repair cavities.

Tideglusib works by stimulating stem cells in the pulp of teeth, the source of new dentine. Dentine is the mineralized substance beneath tooth enamel that gets eaten away by tooth decay.

Teeth can naturally regenerate dentine without assistance, but only under certain circumstances. The pulp must be exposed through infection (such as decay) or trauma to prompt the manufacture of dentine. But even then, the tooth can only regrow a very thin layer naturally—not enough to repair cavities caused by decay, which are generally deep. Tideglusib changes this outcome because it turns off the GSK-3 enzyme, which stops dentine from forming.

In the research, the team inserted small, biodegradable sponges made of collagen soaked in Tideglusib into cavities. The sponges triggered dentine growth and within six weeks, the damage was repaired. The collagen structure of the sponges melted away, leaving only the intact tooth.

According to 23andMe - I’m 2.6% Neanderthal. This article seems to explain my inherent predisposition to guard the clan fire throughout the night. Which in the world of bureaucracy is seen with suspicion and perhaps an invisible ‘disability’ or ‘non-functional difference’.
Being a self-described night owl and being prone to daytime napping were both traits positively influenced by Neanderthal variants, as were loneliness, low mood, and smoking.

Effects of Neanderthal DNA on Modern Humans

A new study reveals how Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of present-day British people influences their traits.
People of Caucasian descent have, within their genomes, small amounts of Neanderthal DNA. Previous studies have shown this ancient DNA may influence a person’s health, but a new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics (October 5) reveals that the effects of one’s inner Neanderthal are even more wide-reaching.

“[This study] is looking at a huge cohort and at a different set of traits than have been directly analyzed before, many of which are nonmedical,” says evolutionary and computational geneticist Tony Capra of Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the current study but performed a similar analysis of Neanderthal-influenced medical traits last year. “And what’s really exciting is that even though there was this broader scope of traits that was considered, they point to effects of Neanderthal DNA on similar systems to what’s been seen previously.”

After the 2013 discovery that Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of modern Europeans, says Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, “one of the questions that came up was what effect does that have on the genomes of people today, what effect does it have on their phenotypes?”

To answer such a question, Kelso explains, “you need really large sample sizes” as well as both phenotype and genotype data. “That kind of data really hasn’t been available until the last couple of years,” she says, and those datasets that are available tend to be based on medical phenotypes, meaning “you couldn’t look at normal phenotypes, like height and weight, what you eat, and the color of your hair.”

This is a nice summary of current research on the origins of humanity. There is also a 5 min video.
Paleogenetics is transforming our understanding of ancient human history. Explain how it works and share with us a few Wow! Moments.
The emergence of farming as our dominant technology 10-12,000 years ago fundamentally changed human behavior and our own biology. The best-understood example of that is what is referred to as lactase persistence. Most Europeans drink mother’s milk and, after weaning, continue to drink cow’s milk.

Why Race Is Not a Thing, According to Genetics

Scientists are unlocking the secrets to how we’re all related—to each other and to the species that came before us.
Today, scientists routinely map the genomes of the long dead, from Neanderthals to medieval kings. What they’re finding out, says British geneticist Adam Rutherford in A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, rewrites the story of human life on Earth—with some unexpected twists.

Speaking from the BBC studio in London where he hosts the weekly radio program Inside Science, Rutherford explains how the development of farming changed human biology; why the most important story our genes tell is that we are all family, despite race or tribe; and why it's not genes that turn people into mass shooters.

This story is so close to magic that I almost can’t believe it. When you analyze the amount of DNA of the three species that we know interbred (Denisovans, Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens), they don’t quite add up, which makes us confident that we also carry the DNA of another human species for which we have no bones and no DNA. The shadow of another human species—its trace—is inside us all right now. That’s pretty special!

Under the file of Shameless self-promotion - here's my first pumpkin for 2017 Halloween.