The Gray Area of Brain Training Can exercising the mind improve our abilities, or is it just another self-improvement fantasy? Through mental workouts, the thinking goes, we can recover from a deficit or injury, stave off decline as we age, or simply become sharper thinkers. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because, skeptics say, it is. Plus: some techniques that actually can boost certain cognitive functions, as well as the best way to physically keep your noggin in shape.
Of Beasts and Brainpower You think you’re so smart. Well, a wave of research into animal cognition reveals that just about anything you can do, they can (sometimes) do better. With AI poised to enter everyday life, anyone feeling anxious about what will happen when we’re outflanked by machines may be mollified by this: It turns out we’ve been sharing the planet with superior alien intelligence all along.
Last Year There Were 8,164 Fake News Stories You may have noticed: It’s a weird time for facts. On one hand, despite the hand-wringing over our post-truth world, facts do still exist. On the other, it’s getting really hard to dredge them from the sewers of misinformation, propaganda, and fake news. Can artificial intelligence solve the internet’s misinformation problem? PopSci contributor Brooke Borel went up against an AI fact-checker to find out.
Make the Grade Psychologists have tried to pin down exactly what it means to be smart since the turn of the 20th century (and haven’t quite nailed it). But that hasn’t stopped organizations from NASA to Mensa from adapting psych assessments into some really tricky exams. Ready to give ‘em a go? See if you would have had what it takes to join the US Army during WWI, be eligible for an entry-level technical role at IBM, or avoid time in a mental asylum.
Here’s Where We’re Looking For Intelligent Life Scientists are optimistic about finding alien life in the next century. Here’s where they’re looking. The scientists at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute think we could find alien life in the next 100 years. Some scientists even hope to send signals of our own out to the black, but it’s not easy to be seen and heard over all the stars, asteroids, and interstellar dust. We don’t have beacons powerful enough to reach the whole universe, nor receivers capable of monitoring the entire expanse. Other civilizations might, but there’s no way to tell until they finally hail us. Here’s where we’re searching—and where we fall short.