News, Politics, Privacy, Social Media, Technology

Facebook gave data about 57bn friendships

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Before Facebook suspended Aleksandr Kogan from its platform for the data harvesting “scam” at the centre of the unfolding Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media company enjoyed a close enough relationship with the researcher that it provided him with an anonymised, aggregate dataset of 57bn Facebook friendships.

Facebook provided the dataset of “every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level” to Kogan’s University of Cambridge laboratory for a study on international friendships published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2015. Two Facebook employees were named as co-authors of the study, alongside researchers from Cambridge, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Kogan was publishing under the name Aleksandr Spectre at the time.

Read more from The Guardian. Image courtesy of The Guardian.

News, Social Media, Technology

Seattle Town Hall event: How to fix the future, with Andrew Keen and Alex Stonehill

The Internet has morphed from a tool providing efficiencies for consumers and businesses to an elemental force that is profoundly reshaping our societies and our world.

Former Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen was among the earliest to write about the potential dangers that the Internet poses to our culture and society. Now he takes our stage with his new book How to Fix the Future, looking to the past to learn how we might change our future. Keen discusses how societies tamed the excesses of the Industrial Revolution, which—like its digital counterpart—demolished long-standing models of living, ruined harmonious environments, and altered the business world beyond recognition. Keen is joined onstage by Alex Stonehill, Head of Creative Strategy at University of Washington’s Communication and Leadership Program.

This event will be held Thursday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. at University Lutheran Church.
Address is1604 NE 50th St, Seattle, WA 98105 in the Ravenna neighborhood.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

For more information and to buy tickets visit the Town Hall website.

Education, Entertainment, News, Technology

This app may be the future of bedtime stories

The other day, I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my daughter. When I got to the part where the caterpillar ate through one apple, I paused, surprised by an unmistakable munching sound coming from my coffee table.

The sound was actually emitted by an app called Novel Effect that uses voice-recognition technology to insert sound effects and music to books as you read them aloud—ideally, to make the experience of reading aloud more engaging for kids at home or in the classroom.

“You still get engagement, you still get interactivity,” says Matt Hammersley, Novel Effect’s CEO and one of its four cofounders. “But they’re not staring at a screen and you’re actually encouraging face-to-face personal communication.”

Read more at the MIT Technology Review.

Image courtesy of the MIT Technology Review.

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News, People, Social Media, Technology

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free — and it should’ve been a red flag

Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains.

Research has found that an eighth-grader’s risk for depression jumps 27% when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the US now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force.

But the writing about smartphone risk may have been on the wall for roughly a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, coauthors of the recent book “Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber.”

It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history — Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — seldom let their kids play with the very products they helped create.

“What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don’t?” the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.

Read more at Business Insider.

Education, News, Technology

An MIT psychologist explains why so many tech moguls send their kids to anti-tech schools

Technology moguls like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other high-powered entrepreneurs tend to share similar qualities: persistence, ingenuity, grit, just to name a few. But one of the more surprising traits is the philosophy that kids ought to be raised tech-free.

Gates, for example, didn’t let his kids use cellphones until they were 14. Jobs, the inventor of the iPad, prohibited his own kids from using the tech.

“We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs told the New York Times in 2011.

Sherry Turkle, an MIT psychologist and author of numerous books on the negative social effects of technology, including “Alone Together” and “Reclaiming Conversation,” has an explanation for this seeming hypocrisy: Those at tech’s bleeding edge know full well how dangerous products can be.

“When people are very sophisticated, they know what not to do,” Turkle told Business Insider.

Read more at Business Insider.

Health, News, Technology

A digital pill that can be tracked when swallowed was just approved by the FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it had approved Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s Abilify MyCite, the first drug with a digital ingestion tracking system to be approved in the United States.

The product, which uses digital tracking to record if the medication was taken, has been approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder and for use as an add-on treatment for depression in adults, the FDA said.

The system sends a message from the pill’s sensor to a wearable patch, which then transmits the information to a mobile application, so that patients can track the ingestion of the medication on their smartphone.

Abilify MyCite is not approved to treat patients with dementia-related psychosis and contains a boxed warning alerting health care professionals that elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.

The ingestible sensor used in Abilify MyCite was first permitted for marketing by the FDA in 2012.

This article is courtesy of Fortune.

A look at how this development has people worried about ethics can be read here in The New York Times.

Net Neutrality, News, Politics, Technology

FCC plans December vote to kill Net Neutrality rules

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission next month is planning a vote to kill Obama-era rules demanding fair treatment of web traffic and may decide to vacate the regulations altogether, according to people familiar with the plans.

 The move would reignite a years-long debate that has seen Republicans and broadband providers seeking to eliminate the rules, while Democrats and technology companies support them. The regulations passed in 2015 bar broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from interfering with web traffic sent by Google, Facebook Inc.and others.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, chosen by President Donald Trump, in April proposed gutting the rules and asked for public reaction. The agency has taken in more than 22 million comments on the matter.

Pai plans to seek a vote in December, said two people who asked not to be identified because the matter hasn’t been made public. As the head of a Republican majority, he is likely to win a vote on whatever he proposes.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Video courtesy of Bloomberg.

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Advertising, News, Technology

Speed and ease make “great” online experience

According to a new study from Cloud IQ, published by Marketing Charts, 47% of online shoppers in the US, UK and Australia deemed speed “critical” to a great online experience, with another 47% saying it’s “important.” Close behind 45% said it’s “critical” that the experience be seamless and easy, and 47% saying that it is “important”.

Other research from SUMO Heavy showed that US adults said the most important aspect of a great e-commerce website is its usability and functionality. Separately, research from the CMO Council said that for consumers, the most important attribute of a great customer experience was a fast response time to the customer’s needs and issues. And, in previous research from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), fast response times and a simple purchasing process emerged as by far the leading elements of an ideal customer experience.

Read more at Media Post.

Data chart courtesy of Media Post.

Contributers To A Great Online Experience (Online Shoppers)
Online Experience

Critical

Important

Speed (can find and buy what I need quickly)

47%

47%

Seamless/Easy (Smooth, continuous and effortless experience across different channels)

45

47

Sense of Control (can search for answers, ask for help, updated, sense of being in control

39

51

Individualized (Treated as an individual and offered products, discounts, communications, based on specific preferences and needs)

27

55

Interactive, Engaging (Interesting, fun to use)

24

55

Proactive (Anticipated needs, provides timely offers, alerts and reminders)

21

52

Source: Published on Marketing Charts 11/17; Data Source Cloud IQ
Education, News, Places, Social Media, Technology

How Silicon Valley plans to conquer the classroom

00BIGED2-superJumboThey call it the “Church Lane Hug.”

That is how educators at Church Lane Elementary Technology, a public school here, describe the protective two-armed way they teach students to carry their school-issued laptops.

Administrators at Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th-largest public school system in the United States, have embraced the laptops as well, as part of one of the nation’s most ambitious classroom technology makeovers. In 2014, the district committed more than $200 million for HP laptops, and it is spending millions of dollars on math, science and language software. Its vendors visit classrooms. Some schoolchildren have been featured in tech-company promotional videos.

And Silicon Valley has embraced the school district right back.

HP has promoted the district as a model to follow in places as diverse as New York City and Rwanda. Daly Computers, which supplied the HP laptops, donated $30,000 this year to the district’s education foundation. Baltimore County schools’ top officials have traveled widely to industry-funded education events, with travel sometimes paid for by industry-sponsored groups.

Read more at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

Advertising, News, Technology

It’s surprisingly easy for anyone to buy ads that track location and app usage, study says

app usageResearchers at the University of Washington have found a way to track a person’s location and app use through serving ads on mobile apps. The result opens the door for significant privacy invasions through the app-based advertising system.

The researchers obtained the information by purchasing a series of ads targeted to specific locations and apps, then checking which mobile subscribers fit the targeting. In experiments conducted on Android devices, the team was able to pinpoint a person’s location within eight meters through a targeted ad. They tested ads on 10 different apps, including Grindr, Imgur, Words with Friends, and Talkatone, all using widely available ad networks.

By serving ad content to a user’s apps, the ad buyers could learn what apps the user has installed. That information could be sensitive, revealing a user’s sexual orientation or religious affiliation. For instance, ads served on Grindr will tell the ad buyer that the user has Grindr installed.

Read more at The Verge.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

News, Politics, Technology

Success! Mattel announced that they were canceling the release of Aristotle

From Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood:

On October 4, Mattel announced that they were canceling the release of Aristotle. Thank you to the thousands of parents, caregivers, and experts who spoke out in support of kids’ privacy and well-being! We commend Mattel for doing the right thing and putting kids first. 

From The New York Times:

Mattel announced on Wednesday that it was canceling plans to bring to market a smart device called Aristotle, which was aimed at children from infancy to adolescence and was set to hit stores in 2018. The decision came after child advocacy groups, lawmakers and parents raised concerns about the impact the artificial intelligence device could have had on children’s privacy, development and well-being.

A petition asking Mattel not to release Aristotle, started in May by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Story of Stuff Project, garnered more than 15,000 signatures and argued that babies and older children shouldn’t be encouraged to form bonds with data-collecting devices.

Read more at The New York Times.

News, Resources, Technology

Great educator activity: Video mash-ups with Google Slides

Mash-Ups are a fun and popular way to express creativity whether you are combining different styles of music, or art, or memes, or such. Mash-ups can also be educational when the creator uses the two items to explain or express an idea, or for one of the items to complement or expand on the other.

One fun way to students to try this out is by using Google Slides to mash-up videos. Google Slides makes it easy to insert videos from either YouTube or Google Drive. Slides allows you to adjust your video options so that your videos automatically play when the slideshow runs. The end results is a presentation with two videos that play at the same time.

This could be used in several creative projects such as:

  • Adding music or popular songs to famous historical speeches, or science videos, or scenes from story.
  • Or having one video explain a concept, while the other shows examples or demonstrations of that idea.
  • Or the videos could be used to show contrast, by playing two videos that demonstrate different processes or ideas or time periods or such.

See below for directions on how students can do this activity, along with a free template they can copy and use, as well as an example mash-up to show what a final product might look like.

Read more at Control Alt Achieve.

Advertising, News, Technology

Oprah’s head, Ann-Margaret’s body: A brief history of pre-Photoshop fakery

Aug1989-OprahIn 1989, TV Guide put television’s celebrity-du-jour, Oprah Winfrey, on its cover, perching her upon a pile of money. The picture was exactly the kind of thing that tends to sell magazines on newsstands and in supermarket check-out lines: It was friendly, it was saucy, it was sparkly. The only problem was that it wasn’t, actually, Oprah. TV Guide had taken a picture of the talk show host’s face … and grafted it onto the body of ’60s star Ann-Margaret. The magazine had asked the permission of neither woman before it published its odd bit of Frankensteinery.

Photoshop was invented in 1987 and widely distributed, for the first time, in 1990; the TV Guide debacle would mark one of the last times that art editors had to physically splice images to create new manipulations. But a lack of Photoshop, while the software ushered in our present age of doctored photography, did nothing to stop would-be fakers from their, er, fauxtography.

Read more at The Atlantic.

Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

News, Social Media, Technology

AOL says farewell to AIM, its popular instant messenger service, after 20 years

1006-aim-coming-to-an-end-aol-instant-messenger-twitter-4AOL has posted their final away message in what could be considered the end of an era.

The tech company announced Friday it would be discontinuing its pioneering Instant Messenger chat platform after 20 years of service.

AOL’s website posted the statement saying AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) would be shutting down on Dec. 15. AOL said it was ending the service to better focus on “building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.”

After Dec. 15., AIM users won’t be able to sign into their accounts.

The statement also paid homage to its success in the late 1990s, including being referenced in HBO’s “Sex and the City” and the 1998 film, “You’ve Got Mail.”

Read more at Fox News.

Image courtesy of Fox News.

Entertainment, Health, News, Technology

Prescription video games may be the future of medicine

“Brain-training” games have been a controversial topic in recent years, especially after a group of scientists and researchers published an open letter in 2014 saying there is “very little evidence” that training your brain in one area or on one task offers improvement in other areas of cognitive function. Shortly afterward, another group of scientists wrote a rebuttal to that, claiming that a “substantial and growing body of evidence shows that certain cognitive-training regimens can significantly improve cognitive function, including in ways that generalize to everyday life.”

Which is what makes the efforts of a company called Akili — along with the University of California, San Fransisco’s Neuroscape lab — so interesting. Akili is a Boston-based tech company that has used Neuroscape’s core technology to develop a mobile game called Project: EVO. The goal is make Project: EVO so powerful, that it could potentially help treat children with ADHD — as a prescription-based video game.

Read more at The Verge.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

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Advertising, News, Technology

Roombas have been busy mapping our homes, and now that data could be up for sale

roombaOver the past couple of years, Roombas haven’t just been picking up dust and chauffeuring cats around, they’ve also been mapping the layout of your home. Now, Colin Angle, the chief executive of Roomba maker iRobot, has said he wants to sell the data from these maps in order to improve the future of smart home technology.

In 2015, iRobot introduced the Roomba 980, its first Wi-Fi-connected model. This meant that while a Roomba was quietly whirring around your floors, it was also collecting spatial data using visual localization, sensors, and more. This data helps the Roomba figure out how your home is laid out and adjust cleaning patterns on-the-fly to deal with things like moved furniture. But Angle thinks it could be put to use by more devices.

“There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared,” Angle told Reuters. Angle says that this data won’t be sold without permission, but Reuters says he thinks “most would give their consent in order to access the smart home functions.”

Read more at The Verge.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

News, Places, Technology

Tracey the robot helps passengers through Sea-Tac Airport security

A robot named Tracey is greeting passengers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, providing tips to get them smoothly through security checkpoints.

The red-and-white human-sized robot carries a large electronic sign and can speak to passengers in six different languages.

Airport officials say the robot isn’t designed to replace human workers, but to allow them to spend more time on critical security work.

Tracey was created by Advanced Robot Solutions. CEO Paul McManus says it is a demonstration model, but future versions could recognize when a traveler is wearing sunglasses or a hat and ask them to take it off before the security checkpoint.

The robot is temporarily on duty at the Seattle airport as it hosts a meeting of airport executives from around the country.

Article courtesy of KOMO News.

Image courtesy of KOMO News.

tracy

News, People, Technology

Wisconsin company to implant microchips in employees

A Wisconsin company is about to become the first in the U.S. to offer microchip implants to its employees.

Yes, you read that right. Microchip implants.

“It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it,” Three Square Market Chief Executive Officer Todd Westby said.

The company designs software for break room markets that are commonly found in office complexes.

Just as people are able to purchase items at the market using phones, Westby wants to do the same thing using a microchip implanted inside a person’s hand.

Read more at KSTP News.

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Education, News, Technology

JAXA lets us get a glimpse of the Space Station through its Internal Ball Camera

If you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to be inside the International Space Station through the lens of, say, a drone, look no further.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released images and video from its JEM Internal Ball Camera, known as “Int-Ball,” — a camera drone that can record images and video while moving in space — and the new footage gives us earth-dwellers a sneak peek of the happenings on the space laboratory.

The device itself is a tiny little ball (that looks like a Star Wars character, tbh) that can move autonomously in space, and take photos and video under remote control by the JAXA Tsukaba Space Center.

Read more at Mashable.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

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It’s so cute!
Fake News, News, Social Media, Technology

To test your fake news judgment, play this game

Fake news has been on Maggie Farley’s mind further back than 2016 when President Trump brought the term into the vernacular.

Farley, a veteran journalist, says we’ve had fake news forever and that “people have always been trying to manipulate information for their own ends,” but she calls what we’re seeing now “Fake news with a capital F.” In other words, extreme in its ambition for financial gain or political power.

“Before, the biggest concern was, ‘Are people being confused by opinion; are people being tricked by spin?’ ” Now, Farley says, the stakes are much higher.

So one day she says an idea came to her: build a game to test users’ ability to detect fake news from real.

Voilà, Factitious. Give it a shot. (And take it from us, it’s not as easy as you might think!)

Read more at NPR.

Image courtesy of NPR.

News, People, Technology

Nest founder: “I wake up in cold sweats thinking, what did we bring to the world?”

fadellTony Fadell’s wife likes to remind him when their three children’s eyes are glued to their screens that it’s at least partly his fault.

Hard to argue. Fadell, who founded the smart thermostat company Nest in 2010 and who was instrumental in the creation of both the iPod and later the iPhone as a senior vice president at Apple, has done more to shape digital technology than many of his peers. But in a recent conversation at the Design Museum in London, Fadell spoke with a mix of pride and regret about his role in mobile technology’s rise to omnipresence.

“I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, what did we bring to the world?” he says. “Did we really bring a nuclear bomb with information that can–like we see with fake news–blow up people’s brains and reprogram them? Or did we bring light to people who never had information, who can now be empowered?”

Read more at Fast Co. Design.

Image courtesy of Fast Co. Design.

News, Technology

Why you will one day have a chip in your brain

Bryan JohnsonImplanting a microchip inside the brain to augment its mental powers has long been a science fiction trope. Now, the brain computer interface is suddenly the hot new thing in tech. This spring, Elon Musk started a new company, Neuralink, to do it. Facebook, at its F8 developer’s conference, showed a video of an ALS patient typing with her brain. But earlier to the game was Bryan Johnson, an entrepreneur who in 2013 made a bundle by selling his company, Braintree, to Paypal for $800 million. Last year, he used $100 million of that to start Kernel, a company that is exploring how to build and implant chips into the skulls of those with some form of neurological disease and dysfunction, to reprogram their neural networks to restore some of their lost abilities.

But helping to restore a damaged brain is only an entry point for Kernel. Johnson, a 39-year-old from Utah, is looking forward—with almost unseemly enthusiasm—to the day that healthy people can get neural augmentation. He has emerged as one of the most eloquent evangelists of reinventing the human brain. Needless to say, this effort raises lots of questions—the very questions I raised to him in a conversation recently. (It’s been edited for clarity and brevity.) Will his answers make you sign up for a brain computer interface? (Warning: it’s kind of invasive, but Johnson hopes that we might figure out how to do it without major noggin demolition.) Read it and make your own decision—albeit with your obsolete, unmodified brain.

Read more in Wired.

Image courtesy of Wired.

Fake News, News, Social Media, Technology

Twitter may introduce feature to let users flag ‘fake news’

Twitter is considering a feature that would let users flag tweets that are false or inaccurate, in an attempt to combat the spread of disinformation on the platform.

The new feature, reported by the Washington Post, would allow Twitter users to report a post as misleading, in the same way they can currently report individual tweets as spam, or abusive or harmful.

The move would follow Facebook, which introduced a way for users to report “fake news” in December last year. That tool allows US users of the site to report “purposefully fake or deceitful news” to the site’s moderators. In the UK, however, the same option only allows users to block or message the poster, offering no way to bring the posts to the attention of the administrators.

Read more at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Entertainment, News, Technology

China’s Tencent to limit play time of top-grossing game for children

Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest gaming and social media firm by revenue, said it will limit play time for some young users of “Honour of Kings”, responding to complaints that children were getting addicted to the popular mobile game.

Parents and teachers have complained that children were becoming addicted to the multiplayer online battle game, which, according to the company, has more than 200 million users, mostly in China, and is the top-grossing mobile game in the world.

From Tuesday, users below 12 years of age will be limited to one hour of play time each day, while those aged between 12 years and 18 years will be limited to two hours a day, Tencent said. Tencent did not say whether the limits will be imposed only in China or elsewhere too.

The firm also plans to ban users under 12 years from logging in after 9 p.m. (1300 GMT) and will impose further restrictions on how much money younger users spend on the game, it added.

Read more at Reuters.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

Entertainment, News, Technology

Sony will start making vinyl records again in Japan, after a nearly 30-year hiatus

Sony Music is preparing to make its own vinyl records again in Japan, in another sign that albums are back from the brink of being obsolete. The company says it’s installing record-cutting equipment and enlisting the help of older engineers who know how to reproduce the best sound.

Vinyl sales have seen a resurgence since around 2008. And while records are still a small part of the market, the fact that in 2016, “a format nearly a century old generated 3.6 percent of total global revenues is remarkable,” as NPR’s Andrew Flanagan has reported.

Years of double-digit growth in record sales have left vinyl press plants in the U.S., Japan and elsewhere struggling to meet demand. Sony’s plan reportedly includes the possibility that it will press records on contract.

Read more at NPR.

Image courtesy of NPR.