Hot People are More Likely to be Depressed

There’s a popular theory that hot people have it easier in life, and that might be true for looks but not for temperature. People were asked to self report their levels of depression and it turns out that there’s a correlation between their body temperature and mood. The results revealed that people with higher body temperatures were more likely to be depressed. This connection can help researchers better understand depression and how we can treat it better.

The study data showed that as self-reported depression symptoms became more severe, body temperature averages got higher. There was also some association between higher depression scores and lower daily temperature fluctuations, but not to a statistically significant level.

With around 5 percent of people around the world thought to be living with depression, efforts to understand and effectively treat it are now more urgent than ever. Each new discovery brings more hope in tackling the problem.

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Beautiful Books from Standard Ebooks


Reading is cool, and it can look cool too! The volunteers over at Standard Ebooks have collected public domain books which they polish up with fancy covers to look more appealing. That’s not all though. They also clean up the scans of books that exist and also fix any formatting and typos that exist. If you’ve read a book from Project Gutenberg you might notice misspelled words or odd line breaks due to the inaccuracies with character recognition software. With Standard Ebooks you can read knowing that you’re getting well edited material.

Standard Ebooks is a volunteer-driven effort to produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, accessible, open source, and free public domain ebooks that meet or exceed the quality of commercially produced ebooks. The text and cover art in our ebooks is already believed to be in the U.S. public domain, and Standard Ebooks dedicates its own work to the public domain, thus releasing the entirety of each ebook file into the public domain. All the ebooks we produce are distributed free of cost and free of U.S. copyright restrictions.

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YOLO: Throw Away Your Phone

We only have one life so use it wisely. It feels like a lot of pressure, but maybe we should focus on the small wins like using out mobile phones less. If you’re one of those people with new year’s resolutions than you may want to consider reducing your phone usage to help you achieve your goals. Go ahead and try whatever technique you want to reduce your phone usage as one of them is going to work, of course, it’s worth noting that the act of using your phone isn’t the problem it’s what you are using it for.

The consequences, from a global level, are shocking. As Harris writes: “Never before have a handful of tech designers had such control over the way billions of us think, act and live our lives.”

What’s more, we’ve become so conditioned, thanks to dopamine, to believe that checking our phones is a behavior worth repeating that when we can’t check our phones, we often feel anxious, and start to experience Fomo, the “fear of missing out”. Anxiety is, of course, unpleasant, and so what do we do to alleviate it? We check our phones. And when we do, we encounter a dopamine trigger, which reinforces the idea that checking phones is a behavior worth repeating. And the cycle continues.

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Adfree Cities for Happier and Healthier Cities

blank billboard

Billboards are a plight on the environment that also negatively impact our mental health – so why do let them exist? In Sao Paulo they banned billboards a long time ago and their local economy wasn’t negatively impacted while the wellbeing of the people in the city increased. It seems so obvious that we should ban billboards, and that’s what Adfree Cities is all about. The UK-based organization is trying to empower locals to get their politicians to agree with a billboard ban. Let’s do it!

Billboards promote large corporations over local businesses

The majority of adverts we see on billboards and bus shelters are for big brands. This kind of advertising is expensive, and means that local businesses are not able to compete. Local businesses return more money back into the local economy, supporting high streets and local employment. But the messages which dominate our streets are billboards ads telling us to buy from Tesco and McDonalds.

But the biggest spenders on outdoor advertising in 2022 included corporations like Amazon, KFC, McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Sky and Samsung. Hardly your local mom-and-pop business.

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Figuring Out AI Consciousness

AI generated image

Artificial Intelligence keeps popping up everywhere from generative AI which created the image above to the financial sector. What AI is currently doing is copying and reformatting data into new patterns (but still using the inputted patterns), meaning that currently AI is not conscious and is not “thinking”. This could easily change in the next decade, only time will tell. To prepare for when AIs seem to express consciousness we need to think about what consciousness actually is and how we can confirm its existence.

What might we ask a potential mind born of silicon? How the AI responds to questions like “What if my red is your blue?” or “Could there be a color greener than green?” should tell us a lot about its mental experiences, or lack thereof. An AI with visual experience might entertain the possibilities suggested by these questions, perhaps replying, “Yes, and I sometimes wonder if there might also exist a color that mixes the redness of red with the coolness of blue.” On the other hand, an AI lacking any visual qualia might respond with, “That is impossible, red, green, and blue each exist as different wavelengths.” Even if the AI attempts to play along or deceive us, answers like, “Interesting, and what if my red is your hamburger?” would show that it missed the point.

Of course, it’s possible that an artificial consciousness might possess qualia vastly different than our own. In this scenario, questions about specific qualia, such as color qualia, might not click with the AI. But more abstract questions about qualia themselves should filter out zombies. For this reason, the best question of all would likely be that of the hard problem itself: Why does consciousness even exist? Why do you experience qualia while processing input from the world around you? If this question makes any sense to the AI, then we’ve likely found artificial consciousness. But if the AI clearly doesn’t understand concepts such as “consciousness” and “qualia,” then evidence for an inner mental life is lacking.

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