Cyborg Lives
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Cyborg Lives
Understanding our Cyborg lives, redescribing our reality
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Man-machine collaboration at heart of new Artificial Intelligence XPrize

Man-machine collaboration at heart of new Artificial Intelligence XPrize | Cyborg Lives |
Registration has just opened up for an all new US$5 million XPrize, this time focusing on getting humans collaborating better with artificial intelligence to solve major global issues. Unlike previous competitions, this XPrize, sponsored by IBM's Watson division, doesn't feature a set of pre-determined goals, but instead challenges teams to come up with their own.

You might be familiar with XPrize from its ongoing Google Lunar effort, which is seeing small teams from around the world compete to successfully land a robot on the Moon. It's a seriously ambitious project, and one that has seen rivals team up in the hope of winning out against the competition.

This new project is totally different to the Lunar XPrize, but it's no less ambitious. Aside from the different focus, the big difference here is that the competition is "open," with teams being given the opportunity to pick their own direction. Each participant will be deciding which issues to tackle, and working out how to reach their own goals.

Participants could focus on anything from fixing healthcare or improving education, to taking on major green energy and environmental issues, to any other issue they choose to tackle. XPrize thinks the competition could have a big impact, harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence to solve some of humanity's greatest challenges.

"The IBM Watson AI XPrize will stir innovation and empower a global group of developers, entrepreneurs, and organizations to push the boundaries of human-machine collaboration, forever changing for the better the way in which we live and work." said IBM Watson vice president Stephen Gold.
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Apple will soon sell energy alongside its iPhones and iPads

Apple will soon sell energy alongside its iPhones and iPads | Cyborg Lives |
Apple has quietly announced it will soon start selling solar energy alongside its iPhones and Macbooks.

The company has created a subsidiary called 'Apple Energy' LLC, registered in Delaware but run from its Cupertino headquarters.

While it's not clear exactly what Apple is planning to do with this subsidiary, the firm's latest Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filing, spotted by 9to5Mac, suggests it is thinking of selling surplus solar electricity generated by hundreds of solar projects in its farms in Cupertino and Nevada. However, this should all become clear soon, as the firm requested permission from FERC to begin operations just 60 days after it filed its application on June 6.

Apple showing a green side is by no means anything new. The company announced in 2013 that its data centres have moved onto 100 per cent renewable energy rather than coal. The firm's data centre in Maiden, North Carolina which hosts Apple's iCloud service, now gets its energy from a 100-acre solar farm and fuel cell installations.
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This £600 Foldimate robot folds your clothes in 30 seconds

This £600 Foldimate robot folds your clothes in 30 seconds | Cyborg Lives |
Neatly folding clothes into organised piles is a time-consuming and often frustrating task. This machine claims to be able to do it for you.

Produced by a San Francisco startup, the FoldiMate is said to be able to fold clothes as soon as they come out of a washing machine.

The machine, which is currently in the prototype stage, will be released in 2017 and is expected to cost around $850 (£590).

It is claimed the machine can complete three different processes - folding, streaming, and de-wrinkling. This is possible for shirts, trousers and towels.

The firm said it takes up to 10 seconds to fold each item, while de-wrinkling will take 20 to 30 seconds per time. Depending on fabric thickness, it is possible for the machine to take 10 to 30 items per load.

"FoldiMate is like having a friend that folds the laundry for you," the company explains on its website.

"Even if you fold faster than clipping, folding a full load of laundry is akin to using a dishwasher over doing the dishes by hand."

Naturally, as with all new products, the machine will come Wi-Fi enabled.

However, it won't be able to solve all clothes-folding woes. The specifications on the company's website say that it will not be able to automatically fold smaller or larger items. It also won't be able to replace ironing of dress shirts.

The website adds: "FoldiMate will fold and treat most of your laundry (e.g. shirts, pants, towels). Except for large items like linen or small items like underwear or socks."
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Next Big Future: Neural Dust - ultra small brain interfaces - is being used to make cyborg insects

Next Big Future: Neural Dust - ultra small brain interfaces - is being used to make cyborg insects | Cyborg Lives |
As the computation and communication circuits we build radically miniaturize (i.e. become so low power that 1 picoJoule is sufficient to bang out a bit of information over a wireless transceiver; become so small that 500 square microns of thinned CMOS can hold a reasonable sensor front-end and digital engine), the barrier to introducing these types of interfaces into organisms will get pretty low. Put another way, the rapid pace of computation and communication miniaturization is swiftly blurring the line between the technological base that created us and the technological based we’ve created. Michel Maharbiz, University of California, Berkeley, is giving an overview (june 16, 2016) of recent work in his lab that touches on this concern. Most of the talk will cover their ongoing exploration of the remote control of insects in free flight via implantable radio-equipped miniature neural stimulating systems.; recent results with neural interfaces and extreme miniaturization directions will be discussed. If time permits, he will show recent results building extremely small neural interfaces they call “neural dust,” work done in collaboration with the Carmena, Alon and Rabaey labs.

Radical miniaturization has created the ability to introduce a synthetic neural interface into a complex, multicellular organism, as exemplified by the creation of a “cyborg insect.”

“The rapid pace of computation and communication miniaturization is swiftly blurring the line between technological base we’ve created and the technological base that created us,” explained Dr. Maharbiz. “These combined trends of extreme miniaturization and advanced neural interfaces have enabled us to explore the remote control of insects in free flight via implantable radio-equipped miniature neural stimulating systems.”
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Prosthetic foot designed for really high heels - Futurity

Prosthetic foot designed for really high heels - Futurity | Cyborg Lives |
Lots of prosthetic feet are available, but most are built to fit men’s shoes, and none can adjust to a heel more than 2 inches high. That’s less than the average women’s heel height in the US, according to the creators of a new, taller option.

Five mechanical engineering students from Johns Hopkins University and their advisors have developed what would be the first non-custom-made prosthetic foot on the market that can adapt to heels 4 inches or higher.

Some 2,100 American women have lost a leg or foot in military service, and more are entering combat assignments, so the demand for a prosthesis that accommodates a range of shoes is expected to grow. The team—who created what they call the Prominence as their senior project—hope their work can help.
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Too fat for Facebook: photo banned for depicting body in 'undesirable manner'

Too fat for Facebook: photo banned for depicting body in 'undesirable manner' | Cyborg Lives |
Facebook has apologized for banning a photo of a plus-sized model and telling the feminist group that posted the image that it depicts “body parts in an undesirable manner”.

Cherchez la Femme, an Australian group that hosts popular culture talkshows with “an unapologetically feminist angle”, said Facebook rejected an advert featuring Tess Holliday, a plus-sized model wearing a bikini, telling the group it violated the company’s “ad guidelines”.

After the group appealed against the rejection, Facebook’s ad team initially defended the decision, writing that the photo failed to comply with the social networking site’s “health and fitness policy”.

“Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable,” Facebook wrote. “Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike.”

In a statement on Monday, Facebook apologized for its original stance and said it had determined that the photo does comply with its guidelines.

“Our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads,” the statement said. “This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ad.”
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How to design trustworthy robot butlers that we won't want to treat like humans

How to design trustworthy robot butlers that we won't want to treat like humans | Cyborg Lives |
Does your car “not want” to start on cold mornings? And does your toaster “like” burning your toast? This kind of intentional language is natural to us and built into the way we interact with the world – even with machines. This is because we have evolved to become extremely social animals, understanding others by forming mental models of what they are thinking. We use these skills to understand the behaviour of anything complicated we interact with, especially robots.

It’s almost like we believe that machines have minds of their own. And the fact that we perceive them as intelligent is partly why they have such potential. Robots are moving beyond industrial, commercial and scientific applications, and are already used in hospitals and care homes. Soon it will be normal to interact with robots in our daily lives, to complete useful tasks. Robots are also being used as companions, particularly for elderly patients with cognitive impairment such as dementia. After years of scientific study, this has proven very successful at improving long-term quality of life.

However, there are ethical concerns about vulnerable people forming relationships with machines, in some cases even believing them to be animals or people. Are robot designers intending to deceive patients? As robots become more important to us, how can we trust them not to mislead us, indeed should we trust them at all?
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Why do we hate humans?

Why do we hate humans? | Cyborg Lives |
Chat bots are the tech du jour, and for good reason. No one likes the frustrating parts of customer service: the long hold times, multiple transfers, repeated requests for information, and unresolved issues. Bots offer the promise of personalized service — at lower cost and larger scale — by removing humans from the equation.

There’s huge potential upside for brands and consumers alike, especially now that Facebook is in the game, bringing with it the developer ecosystem and user base to make chatbots mainstream. That said, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking chatbots, and more broadly, AI, will replace humans — despite dystopian fantasies that machines will soon rule the world. If you’ll recall, mobile apps were going to kill the Web, just as email and online forms were going to kill the phone call. Neither has proven true.

Chatbots will change how consumers and brands do business, but they won’t make humans obsolete. In fact, I believe quite the opposite: that bots have the potential to help us improve the customer experience precisely by letting humans do what we do best.
There’s a time and a place for bots

For the foreseeable future, bots will be most useful as shortcuts for simple interactions — for example, to get a quick response with limited input-output options. So, we might chat with a bot to check when a package will arrive, to buy a toaster based on recent user reviews, or to set up a recurring snack delivery for the office. We’ll knowingly talk to brands via Facebook Messenger (or LINE, WhatsApp, and so forth), but only for specific actions.
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Google's neural network to compose email responses for you

Google's neural network to compose email responses for you | Cyborg Lives |
Gmail users are set to benefit from Google's machine learning research with Smart Reply. The system will use a deep neural network to not only analyze incoming emails for what information is required to form an appropriate response, but to propose three likely replies, with the end result enabling mobile users to respond quickly to emails.

Google's research blog details the initial challenge and the science that went into creating the technology. Crucial is a concept called sequence-to-sequence learning, already used in Google translation and a chatbot the search giant released earlier this year.

In sequence-to-sequence learning, two neural networks fuse both understanding a language and synthesizing language. The decoding network creates a thought vector by transcribing each word individually into a number, based on its context within the rest of the text. This grants the network the "idea" of the email.

The encoding network then generates potential responses, obviously not knowing which the human user might be partial to, but all of them making sense in the context of the decoded message and presenting suitable alternatives.
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A realistic bio-inspired robotic finger | KurzweilAI

A realistic bio-inspired robotic finger | KurzweilAI | Cyborg Lives |
A realistic 3D-printed robotic finger using a shape memory alloy (SMA) and a unique thermal training technique has been developed by Florida Atlantic University assistant professor Erik Engeberg, Ph.D.

“We have been able to thermomechanically train our robotic finger to mimic the motions of a human finger, like flexion and extension,” said Engeberg. “Because of its light weight, dexterity and strength, our robotic design offers tremendous advantages over traditional mechanisms, and could ultimately be adapted for use as a prosthetic device, such as on a prosthetic hand.”

Most robotic parts used today are rigid, have a limited range of motion and don’t look lifelike.

In the study, described in an open-access article in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Engeberg and his team used a resistive heating process called “Joule” heating that involves the passage of electric currents through a conductor that releases heat.

How to create a robotic finger

The researchers first downloaded a 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) model of a human finger from the Autodesk 123D website (under creative commons license).
With a 3-D printer, they created the inner and outer molds that housed a flexor and extensor actuator and a position sensor. The extensor actuator takes a straight shape when it’s heated and the flexor actuator takes a curved shape when heated.
They used SMA plates and a multi-stage casting process to assemble the finger.
Electric currents flow through each SMA actuator from an electric power source at the base of the finger as a heating and cooling process to operate the robotic finger.

Results from the study showed a rapid flexing and extending motion of the finger and ability to recover its trained shape accurately and completely, confirming the biomechanical basis of its trained shape.
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Teen romance usually digitally enhanced, says US study - BBC News

Teen romance usually digitally enhanced, says US study - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
Technology plays a key role in teenage romance from initial encounters to eventual break-ups, says a US study.

Teenagers rarely meet online but do use technology for flirting, asking out, meeting up and parting, American think tank, the Pew Research Center, found.

A survey of 1,060 US teenagers aged 13 to 17 revealed that technology brings them closer but also breeds jealousy.

"Digital platforms are powerful tools for teens," said Amanda Lenhart, lead author of the report from Pew.

"But even as teens enjoy greater closeness with partners and a chance to display their relationships for others to see, mobile and social media can also be tools for jealousy, meddling and even troubling behaviour."
Digital romance, broken down

Of the 1,060 teenagers surveyed:

35% said they were currently dating and 59% of that group said technology made them feel closer to their partner
For boys who were dating, 65% said social media made them more connected to a significant other while it was 52% for girls
27% of dating teenagers thought social media made them feel jealous or insecure in relationships
50% of all teens surveyed, dating or not, said they had indicated interest by friending someone on Facebook or other social media and 47% expressed attraction by likes and comments
Texting is king - 92% of teens who were dating said they texted a partner, assuming the partner would check in with "great regularity"
Jealousy happens, but not as much as flirting does - 11% of teenage daters reported accessing a partner's online accounts and 16% reported having a partner asking them to de-friend someone

What gets discussed during all those frequent social media enabled check-ins?

According to the survey, it is mostly "funny stuff" followed by "things you're thinking about" as well as other information such as where they are and what their friends have been doing.

And forget having to meet up to resolve a conflict - 48% of dating teenagers said that could be done by texting or talking online.
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In the Future, How Will We Talk to Our Technology?

In the Future, How Will We Talk to Our Technology? | Cyborg Lives |
One of the best scenes from Larry David’s tour-de-neuroses Curb Your Enthusiasm opens with Larry sitting at a restaurant. As cheesy music plays, the camera pans out, revealing the guy at the table next to him. He’s sitting alone, but jabbering loudly, reminding someone we can’t see that “on no planet is a shoe caddy a good gift.”

Then comes the reveal: Cut to the other side of this joker’s head, and there’s his Bluetooth headset. Larry, tired of his crap, starts talking loudly to himself. Eventually he fights with the guy next to him, and then they both go back to complaining to the empty chairs in front of them. Jerks.

The episode aired in 2007. Mercifully, the “Bluedouche” problem went away for a while after that—it was replaced by people sitting in silence, staring into their screens, which is at least easier to sit next to. Things are changing again: As we become more reliant on Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and the world of virtual assistants and voice-based apps and platforms, we’re starting to talk to our phones again. But this time, it should be way better.

Right now, we really only had one way to talk to our gadgets: We tap a button, bring the bottom half of our phone to our mouth, and speak extra-clearly into it. But few believe that’s how it’ll always be—and they have plenty of pop culture examples of this future. The earbud from Her, the screens-everywhere world of Total Recall, or the computer in Star Trek. But mostly it’s the earbud from Her.

Everywhere you turn, there’s a company working on this kind of wireless, unobtrusive, forget-it’s-in-there earpiece. Bragi’s Dash is probably the most commonly-cited example, but there’s also the Pearbuds, the OwnPhones, the Motorola Hint, the HearNotes, the Earin buds, the Truebuds, and countless others from companies big and small.
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Intelligent Machines: Chatting with the bots - BBC News

Intelligent Machines: Chatting with the bots - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
One of the ultimate aims of artificial intelligence is to create machines we can chat to.

A computer program that can be trusted with mundane tasks - booking our holiday, reminding us of dentist appointments and offering useful advice about where to eat - but also one that can discuss the weather and answer offbeat questions.

Alan Turing, one of the first computer scientists to think about artificial intelligence, devised a test to judge whether a machine was "thinking".

He suggested that if, after a typewritten conversation, a human was fooled into believing they had talked to another person rather than a computer program, the AI would be judged to have passed.

These days we chat to machines on a regular basis via our smart devices.

Whether it be Siri, Google Now or Cortana, most of us have a chatbot in our pockets.
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Is tech addiction making us far more stressed at work? - BBC News

Is tech addiction making us far more stressed at work? - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
We are the distracted generations, wasting hours a day checking irrelevant emails and intrusive social media accounts.

And this "always on" culture - exacerbated by the smartphone - is actually making us more stressed and less productive, according to some reports.

"Something like 40% of people wake up, and the first thing they do is check their email," says Professor Sir Cary Cooper of Manchester Business School, who has studied e-mail and workplace stress.

"For another 40%, it's the last thing they do at night."

The Quality of Working Life 2016 report from the Chartered Management Institute earlier this year found that this obsession with checking emails outside of work hours is making it difficult for many of us to switch off.

And this is increasing our stress levels.

So what can we do about it?
Smarter working

The more enlightened firms have been stepping in to help. In 2012, Volkswagen began shutting off employees' email when they are off shift.

Daimler has allowed its workers to have all the work emails they receive while on holiday automatically erased. And France's new labour law, enacted a few weeks ago, encourages all companies to take similar measures.

Dave Coplin, Microsoft UK's chief envisioning officer, believes artificial intelligence tools will learn when we are busy and block alerts, waiting until we're less busy before bringing us the most relevant or interesting messages.
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Artificial lights brightening nights across world - BBC News

Artificial lights brightening nights across world - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
More than 80% of the world's population lives under light-polluted skies, a study suggests.

Scientists explain in Science Advances how ground measurements and satellite data were used to create an atlas of a world brightened by artificial lights.

It reveals that the population of Singapore, Kuwait and Qatar experience the brightest night skies.

Conversely, people living in Chad, Central African Republic and Madagascar are least affected by light pollution.

Dr Christopher Kyba, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, said: "The artificial light in our environment is coming from a lot of different things.

"Street lights are a really important component, but we also have lights from our windows in our homes and businesses, from the headlights of our cars and illuminated billboards."

The brightness map reveals that 83% of the world's population, and 99% of Europeans and people in the US, live under skies nearly 10% brighter than their natural starry state.

For some though the artificial glow was even greater, said Dr Kyba.

"About 14% of the world's population don't even use their night-time vision," he explained.

"The night is so bright that they use their colour daytime vision to look up at the sky."

In Singapore, the entire population lives under this extreme level of artificial night-time brightness, and it is a problem affecting many other parts of the world.

"Twenty percent of the people in Europe and 37% of the people in the US don't use their night vision," said Dr Kyba. "It's really an enormous number."
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Meet Zenbo, the Asus robot that costs no more than a smartphone

Meet Zenbo, the Asus  robot   that costs no more than a smartphone | Cyborg Lives |
The Taiwanese electronics manufacture Asus has unveiled a home robot called Zenbo that can talk, control your home and provide assistance when needed – all for the cost of a top-end smartphone.

The $599 (£410) robot rolls around on two wheels in the shape of a vacuum cleaner ball with cameras an oblong head extruding from the top with a colour touchscreen displaying a face with emotions. It is capable of independent movement, can respond to voice commands and has both entertainment protocols for keeping kids amused and home care systems to help look after older people.

Jonney Shih, the Asus chairman, said: “For decades, humans have dreamed of owning such a companion: one that is smart, dear to our hearts, and always at our disposal. Our ambition is to enable robotic computing for every household.”
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No pain no gain: Hurting robots so they can save themselves

No pain no gain: Hurting robots so they can save themselves | Cyborg Lives |
It's probably not something you'd say to a person writhing in agony on the floor, but physical pain can have its benefits. It is after all how kids learn to be wary of hot surfaces and carpenters to hit nails on the head. Researchers are now adapting this exercise in self-learning to an artificial nervous system for robots, a tool they believe will better equip these machines to avoid damage and preserve their – and our – well-being.

We send robots into all kinds of situations we wouldn't dare set foot in ourselves. From Fukushima's melted down nuclear plants to landmine-littered conflict zones, their insensitivity to pain and danger is indeed what can make them so useful. Flipping this on its head and making them feel as we do seems counter-productive, but scientists from Leibniz University of Hannover believe it could make robots more durable and safer for us to be around.

Researchers Johannes Kuehn and Professor Sami Haddadin have developed a pain-reflex controller for a BioTac fingertip sensor fitted to a Kuka robotic arm. They built a nervous robot-tissue model that is based on human skin, which helps the system determine how much pain should be felt by the machine in response to differing levels of force.
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Personable Pepper robot gets a job in a pizza joint

Personable Pepper robot gets a job in a pizza joint | Cyborg Lives |
Visitors to a Pizza Hut in Asia will soon be able to place an order, ask about nutritional info and pay for their meal without even speaking to a member of staff, or at least a human one. A robot that can interact with customers, like a glorified self-checkout, is to be piloted at the restaurant.
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Self-charging battery stretches over skin to power wearables

Self-charging battery stretches over skin to power wearables | Cyborg Lives |
While we've seen promising prototypes of computers that conform to the contours of human wrists and forearms, the technology isn't quite ready for mainstream adoption yet. But this hasn't stopped one forward-thinking team of researchers from coming up with a new way to power these wearable electronics, developing a soft, millimeter-scale battery that can be stretched over the skin like a band-aid.
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SkinTrack could turn your skin into a touchscreen (Wired UK)

SkinTrack could turn your skin into a touchscreen (Wired UK) | Cyborg Lives |
Smartwatches are often criticised for their fiddly, hard to control interfaces. Now, a lab at Carnegie Mellon University has found a solution – a device that means the wearer's skin can be used as the touchscreen.

The Future Interfaces Group, part of the university, have created 'SkinTrack', which "enabled continuous tracking on the skin".

A ring, worn on the non-watch hand, emits a "high frequency AC signal" that connect to a sensing wristband, much like the strap of a traditional smartwatch, which is fitted with electrodes.

When the ring finger touches the watch-wearing hand, a signal is sent to the watch and allows wearers to navigate their device using their skin.

A number of commands are also possible - you can sign documents, for example, and tracing particular letters will bring up particular apps, for example ('E' for email or 'F' for Facebook). Users can also drag apps off of their device and onto their skin, creating "spatial shortcuts", as well as play games, using their finger and arm as controls.
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People's Deepest, Darkest Google Searches Are Being Used Against Them

People's Deepest, Darkest Google Searches Are Being Used Against Them | Cyborg Lives |
Google knows the questions that people wouldn’t dare ask aloud, and it silently offers reams of answers. But it is a mistake to think of a search engine as an oracle for anonymous queries. It isn’t. Not even close.

In some cases, the most intimate questions a person is asking—about health worries, relationship woes, financial hardship—are the ones that set off a chain reaction that can have troubling consequences both online and offline.

All this is because being online increasingly means being put into categories based on a socioeconomic portrait of you that’s built over time by advertisers and search engines collecting your data—a portrait that data brokers buy and sell, but that you cannot control or even see. (Not if you’re in the United States, anyway.)

Consider, for example, a person who googles “need rent money fast” or “can’t pay rent.” Among the search results that Google returns, there may be ads that promise to help provide payday loans—ads designed to circumvent Google’s policies against predatory financial advertising. They’re placed by companies called lead generators, and they work by collecting and distributing personal information about consumers online. So while Google says it bans ads that guarantee foreclosure prevention or promise short-term loans without conveying accurate loan terms, lead generators may direct consumers to a landing page where they’re asked to input sensitive identifiable information. Then, payday lenders buy that information from the lead generators and, in some cases, target those consumers—online, via phone, and by mail—for the very sorts of short-term loans that Google prohibits.
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Facebook's 'On This Day' now lets you edit out bad memories (Wired UK)

Facebook's 'On This Day' now lets you edit out bad memories (Wired UK) | Cyborg Lives |
Facebook has added options to its On This Day tool, giving users more control over things they'd rather not have dredged up from their past.

The new preferences tab lets users edit memories and decide which people, events and time periods the social network should serve up -- and which it should leave well and truly in the past.

Since launching in March, On This Day has come under fire for casually forcing its users to relive sad, and sometimes even traumatic, memories they thought they'd left behind. But now Facebook seems to be taking cues from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by giving its users more control over what they see.
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Digital dependence 'eroding human memory' - BBC News

Digital dependence 'eroding human memory' - BBC News | Cyborg Lives |
An over-reliance on using computers and search engines is weakening people's memories, according to a study.

It showed many people use computers instead of memorising information.

Many adults who could still recall their phone numbers from childhood could not remember their current work number or numbers of family members.

Maria Wimber from the University of Birmingham said the trend of looking up information "prevents the build-up of long-term memories".

The study, examining the memory habits of 6,000 adults in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, found more than a third would turn first to computers to recall information.

The UK had the highest level, with more than half "searching online for the answer first".
Outsourcing memory

But the survey suggests relying on a computer in this way has a long-term impact on the development of memories, because such push-button information can often be immediately forgotten.

"Our brain appears to strengthen a memory each time we recall it, and at the same time forget irrelevant memories that are distracting us," said Dr Wimber.
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Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. | Cyborg Lives |
COLLEGE students tell me they know how to look someone in the eye and type on their phones at the same time, their split attention undetected. They say it’s a skill they mastered in middle school when they wanted to text in class without getting caught. Now they use it when they want to be both with their friends and, as some put it, “elsewhere.”

These days, we feel less of a need to hide the fact that we are dividing our attention. In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone owners said they had used their phones during the last social gathering they attended. But they weren’t happy about it; 82 percent of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation.

I’ve been studying the psychology of online connectivity for more than 30 years. For the past five, I’ve had a special focus: What has happened to face-to-face conversation in a world where so many people say they would rather text than talk? I’ve looked at families, friendships and romance. I’ve studied schools, universities and workplaces. When college students explain to me how dividing their attention plays out in the dining hall, some refer to a “rule of three.” In a conversation among five or six people at dinner, you have to check that three people are paying attention — heads up — before you give yourself permission to look down at your phone. So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different times. The effect is what you would expect: Conversation is kept relatively light, on topics where people feel they can drop in and out.
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Claws-on with the self-balancing Miposaur robot

Claws-on with the self-balancing Miposaur robot | Cyborg Lives |
We first saw WowWee's Miposaur robot at the London Toy Fair in January where it was self-balancing on two wheels similar to its older android sibling MiP. We recently tested out this T-rex's new features, which include an indoor GPS system for its TrackBall, a new phone app that extends the robot's abilities, and backwards compatibility with the old MiP to duke it out, virtual-laser-style.
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