William Softky

William Softky is a biophysicist who was among the first neuroscientists to understand microtiming, and among the first technologists to build that understanding into algorithms. Thousands have cited his scientific work, his PhD in Theoretical Physics is from Caltech, his name is on 10 patents and two of the companies he inspired were acquired for $160 million total.

Can We Build Social Trust in an Online World?

Nov 27, 2020

For every reader who bothers to write to the author, there must be a hundred others. One reader, Paritosh, wrote to Fair Observer regarding one of my articles that invoked well-understood principles of neuroplasticity to explain how any learning system, child or artificial intelligence (AI) can be damaged by artificial...

Monetizing Children’s Brains Means the End of Our Species

Aug 24, 2020

Fair Observer’s Atul Singh told me of his own friend, Pankaj, a father of three daughters. Pankaj was concerned that his daughters have been subjected to around three to seven hours a day of online classes, and he felt it was deeply wrong. I was invited by Fair Observer to...

Hate Makes More Money Than Love… and Moves Faster

Jul 17, 2020

Everyone in business knows that as a general principle, the fastest-spreading, most revenue-positive ventures and messages wind up having the most influence. That’s true not just for individual people, but for businesses, business models, technologies, communications protocols, you name it. Fast replication and copious resources have always been the keys...

Is This Column a Coherent Perspective?

Jul 03, 2020

In a previous article on Fair Observer, I describe an unusual new way of communicating the most important parts of “scientific truth” through potentially noisy, biased news media. The key innovation is to consider them together, all at once, as a kind of jigsaw-puzzle about scientific truth, or a “jigsaw...

Ideal Science for an Ideal Reader

Jun 06, 2020

What is science doing next to news, anyway? Is “science” whatever a scientist says? Is it just another buzzword politicians use to mask their motives? “News” comes from “new,” just like “information” comes from “inform,” both terms over 500 years old. In print, news usually means information about current events,...

A Better Way to Connect in Lockdown

May 11, 2020

Easter Sunday morning and the three Sundays since, I’ve sheltered at home on my sofa between my wife and adult son, both Catholics, to listen to Holy Mass livecast from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I play the sound through stereo speakers carefully arranged to create a 3D...

Does COVID-19 Kill People Who Tend to Hold Their Breath?

Apr 27, 2020

Let’s call my type “sympathetic breathers” because we often interrupt our breathing using the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze). We tend to hold our breath when we concentrate. Coaches and choreographers have to remind us to breathe and to inflate our entire belly, back and sides, not just the chest. Making...

How Zoom Can Make Videoconferencing More Human-Friendly

Apr 12, 2020

The good news about COVID-19 is that being forced into physical social separation and remote interaction is teaching people how precious real life is, and which remote technologies preserve reality best. Of those, videoconferencing has the most potential to do good, or harm, because it merges our highest-bandwidth external senses...

Making the Best of Social Distancing

Mar 27, 2020

It is terrible to be sick, and more terrible to be sick and alone. Ten years ago, my mother’s hospice unit was in quarantine for E. coli. In her last week of life, none of her friends were allowed to visit.  Now everyone gets to taste that isolation in what...

Anti-Quarantine to Stop an Anti-Epidemic

Mar 06, 2020

I’ve changed my mind. Loneliness isn’t so much an epidemic as an anti-epidemic. Just now, COVID-19, a regular coronavirus, is spreading like a regular epidemic. So far only tens of thousands are affected, not tens of millions, but already public health is a top priority. Stopping viral spread trumps profit,...

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