If my parents raised me today, they might be arrested

I’m sometimes amazed that I survived childhood. At a very young age—6 or so—I wandered the neighbourhood. I hung out with my older sisters and their friends. We went to parks. We went to convenience stores. We went to a nearby ravine, where someone in our group knocked herself out swinging on a rope. Contrast […]

Multitasking-induced capacity overestimation: the “I’ll do it over lunch” problem

Okay, imagine this. You have an end-of-day deadline for a project. You’re nowhere near done. You also have a backlog of emails to process. It’s lunch time. You need to eat. What do you do? If you’re like many people, you multitask. You respond to email on your phone while walking to get food. You […]

Age reversal: first movies, now real life

I flew home to Toronto from Basel yesterday. It gave me time to indulge in a guilty pleasure: watching Hollywood blockbusters. Particularly superhero movies. I managed Blade Runner 2049, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Watching Captain Marvel, I kept wondering who played Nick Fury. In recent Marvel movies, it’s Samuel L. Jackson. But […]

Detecting deepfakes only makes them better

Those of you interested in my parenting posts: this one’s a bit technical. It’s not about parenting. But it’s important nonetheless. And the topic will affect children. “Deepfakes” is a term that describes sophisticated fake artifacts generated by AI. You can read a good overview on Wikipedia. You can also see images, facial videos, and […]

Rules of thumb often beat complex models

Infectious diseases used to spread from city to neighbouring city. But as the world grew more connected, this changed. Diseases now spread globally by long-distance travel. Epidemiologists have tried to model this using complex algorithms and powerful computers. It hasn’t been easy. And the results look almost random, as seen in this video:But instead of […]

Yes, air travel is getting worse. What can we do?

I just arrived in Basel from Toronto after a 14-hour trip full of delays. First, a freak storm delayed my flight from Toronto to Munich. (“Looks like clear skies and we’re expecting a smooth flight,” the pilot said. A few minutes later, lightning.) So I missed my connection from Munich to Basel. I got rebooked […]

My son loves to learn. So why did he cry going to school?

Today was the first day back at school for my kids. My daughter is going to grade four. My son to grade one. I expected lots of excitement. But my house was quiet at 6:30 this morning. Usually, the kids are up by 6:15. They get ready and battle over the bathroom. But not today. […]

If underpopulation is a real threat, unfettered capitalism has only itself to blame

I’m writing this from a train somewhere between Montreal and Toronto. I took my six-year-old son on a three-day train adventure. Train there, train back, and train museum between. We had fun. But it wasn’t easy. So I read with some amusement Jack Ma and Elon Musk’s recent discussion of underpopulation. Both entrepreneurs lament declining […]