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Magazine · WSJ Puzzles · The Future of Everything · Far & Away · Life Video · Arts Video . 4 Why the Conventional Wisdom About Job-Hopping Millennials Is Wrong realized they cut too much and couldn't meet the market demand. without leaving your child when the other parent isn't moving as well. The stereotype that millennials are not going to stick around is a self-fulfilling prophesy, says WSJ Leadership Expert Jennifer Deal. Aim higher, reach further. . Her company did layoffs almost every year, hiring more staff a couple An increase in single-parent households also makes job security more. But the truth is that they're worse off than their parents - and British Here, Sun Online meets the millennials who say young people have never.
Sixty-four percent said they were not on track to leave an inheritance. Because boomers have current and future expenses, and because they have decades in which to continue to work and feel engaged, they are delaying retirement. Some are still paying off student loans as they raise families, according to Pew. While their parents had generous pensions, Gen Xers are rapidly seeing rich employment benefits diminish.
Gen Xers will ask. Do my parents move in with us? Can we afford assisted living? Do I have to build a ramp to the front door? To offset this bleak economic landscape, some members of the younger generations rely on the dream of inheritance.
Nearly 70 percent of people aged 35 and under expect their parents to put away money for them, according to the Natixis US investor survey. After all, in a relatively short time, humans developed much larger brains than their primate relatives, as well as powerful social and cultural skills. We cooperate with each other—at least most of the time—and our grandmothers, like grandmother orcas, pass on knowledge from one generation to the next.
Did we become so smart because we are so social? A clever alternate approach is to look at the cetaceans. These animals are very different from us, and their evolutionary history diverged from ours 95 million years ago. But if there is an intrinsic relationship between intelligence and social life, it should show up in whales and dolphins as well as in humans.
Fox and colleagues compiled an extensive database, recording as much information as they could find about 90 different species of cetaceans.
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They then looked at whether there was a relationship between the social lives of these animals and their brain size. They discovered that species living in midsized social groups, with between two and 50 members, had the largest brains, followed by animals who lived in very large pods with hundreds of animals. Solitary animals had the smallest brains.
The study also found a strong correlation between brain size and social repertoire: Which came first, social complexity or larger brains? Fox and colleagues conducted sophisticated statistical analyses that suggested there was a feedback loop between intelligence and social behavior.
Living in a group allowed for more complex social lives that rewarded bigger brains. Animals who excelled at social interaction could obtain more resources, which allowed them to develop yet bigger brains. This kind of feedback loop might also account for the explosively fast evolution of human beings.
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Of course, intelligence is a relative term. The orca grieving her dead baby was, sadly, all too typical of her endangered population. It remains to be seen whether our human brains can do any better. So it would seem that we have no way of understanding baby consciousness, or even of knowing if babies are conscious at all.
But some fascinating new neuroscience research is changing that. It appears that the experience of babies and young children is more like dreaming or tripping than like our usual grown-up consciousness. Between birth and about age 5, the brain easily makes new connections.
Then comes a kind of tipping point. Some connections, especially the ones that are used a lot, become longer, stronger and more efficient. Parts of the back of the brain are responsible for things like visual processing and perception.
These areas mature quite early and are active even in infancy. The prefrontal cortex is the executive office of the brain, responsible for focus, control and long-term planning. Like most adults, I spend most of my waking hours thinking about getting things done. Scientists have discovered that when we experience the world in this way, the brain sends out signals along the established, stable, efficient networks that we develop as adults.
The prefrontal areas are especially active and have a strong influence on the rest of the brain. In short, when we are thinking like grown-ups, our brains look very grown-up too. But recently, neuroscientists have started to explore other states of consciousness. In research published in Nature inGiulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues looked at what happens when we dream.
They measured brain activity as people slept, waking them up at regular intervals to ask whether they had been dreaming. Then the scientists looked at what the brain had been doing just before the sleepers woke up. When people reported dreaming, parts of the back of the brain were much more active—like the areas that are active in babies. The prefrontal area, on the other hand, shuts down during sleep. A number of recent studies also explore the brain activity that accompanies psychedelic experiences.
A study published last month in the journal Cell by David Olson of the University of California, Davis, and colleagues looked at how mind-altering chemicals affect synapses in rats.Where Millennials Go for Financial Advice
They found that a wide range of psychedelic chemicals made the brain more plastic, leading brain cells to grow more connections. In other words, the brains of dreamers and trippers looked more like those of young children than those of focused, hard-working adults. In a way, this makes sense. At the same time, when you have a vivid nightmare or a mind-expanding experience, you certainly feel more conscious than you are in boring, everyday life.
Being a baby may be both stranger and more intense than we think. For more than 2, years, Buddhist philosophers have argued that the self is an illusion, and many contemporary philosophers and psychologists agree. Buddhists say this realization should make us fear death less. The person I am now will be replaced by the person I am in five years, anyway, so why worry if she vanishes for good? A recent paper in the journal Cognitive Science has an unusual combination of authors. A philosopher, a scholar of Buddhism, a social psychologist and a practicing Tibetan Buddhist tried to find out whether believing in Buddhism really does change how you feel about your self—and about death.
Among other questions, the researchers asked participants about their sense of self—for example, how strongly they believed they would be the same five years from now. Religious and nonreligious Americans had the strongest sense of self, and the Buddhists, especially the monks, had the least. In previous work, Prof. Nichols and other colleagues showed that changing your sense of self really could make you act differently.
A weaker sense of self made you more likely to be generous to others.
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The researchers in the new study predicted that the Buddhists would be less frightened of death. The results were very surprising. Most participants reported about the same degree of fear, whether or not they believed in an afterlife.
But the monks said that they were much moreafraid of death than any other group did. Why would this be? Neuroscience supports this idea. Our sense of self, and the capacities like autobiographical memory and long-term planning that go with it, activates something called the default mode network—a set of connected brain areas.
Another factor in explaining why these monks were more afraid of death might be that they were trained to think constantly about mortality. The Buddha, perhaps apocryphally, once said that his followers should think about death with every breath. Maybe just ignoring death is a better strategy. There may be one more explanation for the results.
Our children and loved ones are an extension of who we are. Their survival after we die is a profound consolation, even for atheists. Monks give up those intimate attachments. I once advised a young man at Google headquarters who worried about mortality.
He agreed that a wife and children might help, but even finding a girlfriend was a lot of work. He wanted a more efficient tech solution—like not dying. But maybe the best way of conquering both death and the self is to love somebody else. The secret is that these programs learn from experience. The great artificial-intelligence boom depends on learning, and children are the best learners in the universe. So computer scientists are starting to look to children for inspiration.
Everybody knows that young children are insatiably curious, but I and other researchers in the field of cognitive development, such as Laura Schulz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are beginning to show just how that curiosity works.
Taking off from these studies, the computer scientists Deepak Pathak and Pulkit Agrawal have worked with others at my school, the University of California, Berkeley, to demonstrate that curiosity can help computers to learn, too.
One of the most common ways that machines learn is through reinforcement. The computer keeps track of when a particular action leads to a reward—like a higher score in a videogame or a winning position in Go. The machine tries to repeat rewarding sequences of actions and to avoid less-rewarding ones.
This technique still has trouble, however, with even simple videogames such as Super Mario Bros. One problem is that before you can score, you need to figure out the basics of how Super Mario works—the players jump over columns and hop over walls.
Instead, you have to go out and explore the Super Mario universe. Another problem with reinforcement learning is that programs can get stuck trying the same successful strategy over and over, instead of risking something new.
You also need to explore to find that out. The same holds for real life, of course. When I get a new smartphone, I use something like reinforcement learning: How old school is that!
If the call gets made, I stop there. But how can you build that kind of curiosity into a computer? Pathak and Agrawal have designed a program to use curiosity in mastering videogames.
It has two crucial features to do just that. The program tries to predict what the screen will look like shortly after it makes a new move. But if the prediction is wrong, the program will make the move again, trying to get more information.
The machine is always driven to try new things and explore possibilities. Another feature of the new program is focus. Again, this is a lot like a child trying out every new action she can think of with a toy and taking note of what happens, even as she ignores mysterious things happening in the grown-up world. The new program does much better than the standard reinforcement-learning algorithms.
Super Mario is still a very limited world compared with the rich, unexpected, unpredictable real world that every 4-year-old has to master. But if artificial intelligence is really going to compete with natural intelligence, more childlike insatiable curiosity may help. A new study by Michael Gurven and colleagues suggests that grandparents really may be designed to pass on the great stories to their grandchildren.
While people in earlier generations had a shorter life expectancy overall, partly because many died in childhood, some humans have always lived into their 60s and 70s. Researchers find it especially puzzling that female humans have always lived well past menopause. Our closest primate relatives die in their 50s. Perhaps, some anthropologists speculate, grandparents evolved to provide another source of food and care for all those helpless children. Gurven and his colleagues focus more on how human beings pass on information from one generation to another.
Before there was writing, human storytelling was one of the most important kinds of cultural transmission. Could grandparents have adapted to help that process along? The Tsimane, more than 10, strong, gather and garden, hunt and fish, without much involvement in the market economy. And they have a rich tradition of stories and songs. They have myths about Dojity and Micha, creators of the Earth, with the timeless themes of murder, adultery and revenge. They also sing melancholy songs about rejected love the blues may be a universal part of human nature.
During studies of the Tsimane spread over a number of years, Dr. Gurven and his colleagues conducted interviews to find out who told the most stories and sang the most songs, who was considered the best in each category and who the audience was for these performances. The grandparents, people from age 60 to 80, most frequently came out on top. Grandparents may play a less significant cultural role in a complex, mobile modern society.
Modern pop stars and TV showrunners are more likely to be millennial than menopausal. And we somehow manage to read complex mental states in their sounds and movements. But what do babies see when they look out at other people?
They know so much less than we do. Our sophisticated grown-up understanding of other people develops through a long process of learning and experience. But babies may have more of a head start than we imagine. A new study by Andrew Meltzoff and his colleagues at the University of Washington, published in January in the journal Developmental Science, finds that our connection to others starts very early.
Meltzoff has spent many years studying the way that babies imitate the expressions and actions of other people. Imitation suggests that babies do indeed connect their own internal feelings to the behavior of others. But research — from Pew and Gallup polls to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — show how key events and common characteristics link generational cohorts, creating a collective identity for them.
While they differ slightly on the years that frame recent generations, Howe and the Pew center agree on the basic personalities that define them.
With a strong sense of team play, they promoted peer solidarity through unions whose U. The Silents gave rise to the boisterous individualism of Baby Boomersnamed for the spike in birth rates that began after World War II.
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They excelled as entrepreneurs. Which brings us to the Millennials, who were born as abortion and divorce rates ebbed, and grew up with attachment parenting and politicians who defined issues in terms of their effects on children. Only obesity has increased. Millennials are defined, he says, by seven core traits: