Technology

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High tech shortages in the future as coronavirus shuts down manufacturers

<p>There are now <a href="https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200212-sitrep-23-ncov.pdf?sfvrsn=41e9fb78_2">more than 45,000</a> confirmed cases of the coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, and the disease has caused at least 1,115 deaths. The impact of the virus is now reaching way beyond public health: China is at the heart of global manufacturing, and as supply chains suffer, <a href="https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/coronavirus_and_the_global_supply_chain_rising_panic_part">panic</a> is beginning to set in.</p> <p>In many provinces across China the government has urged hundreds of millions of workers to <a href="https://www.afr.com/world/asia/virus-death-toll-above-900-as-workers-told-to-stay-home-20200210-p53zbr">stay home</a> to help reduce the spread of the virus. As a result, many factories have stayed closed since the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, halting the production of products and parts destined for countries around the world, including Australia.</p> <p>Apple is one of the most high-profile companies affected, with its <a href="https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/rapid-spread-of-coronavirus-tests-apples-china-dependency-11580910743">manufacturing partner Foxconn hitting a lengthy production delay</a>, but they are far from alone.</p> <p><strong>Global supply chains, global problems</strong></p> <p>The sectors hit hardest <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebanker/2020/02/10/global-high-tech-supply-chains-disrupted-by-the-coronavirus/amp/">appear to be</a> high-tech electronics, pharmaceuticals and the automotive industry.</p> <p>Globalised supply chains and just-in-time manufacturing mean many seemingly unrelated products are vulnerable to pauses in the flow of goods from China.</p> <p>It only takes one small missing part to bring entire supply chains to a standstill. If a tyre manufacturer in the United States doesn’t receive valves from a supplier in China, a car plant in Germany won’t receive any tyres, and therefore can’t ship finished cars to its customers.</p> <p>Something similar happened to automotive giant Hyundai, which had to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/business/hyundai-south-korea-coronavirus.html">suspend all operations</a> at its manufacturing plant in South Korea due to a lack of parts from China.</p> <p>Even tech companies such as Samsung, Google and Sony, which have moved their factories out of China in recent years, are <a href="https://qz.com/1800540/how-coronavirus-is-upending-the-tech-industrys-supply-chain/">being affected</a>. They still rely on China for many components such as sensors or smartphone screens.</p> <p>It is not just large businesses that will feel these effects. Many small businesses around the world also source products and parts from China.</p> <p>The supply of these is now uncertain, with no sign yet as to when normal service may resume. For products and parts that are still being manufactured in China, new enhanced screening measures at all Chinese border crossings are likely to cause further delays.</p> <p><strong>How will Australia be affected?</strong></p> <p>The effects of the coronavirus are also being felt in Australia. China is our largest trading partner for both imports and exports. According to the United Nations Comtrade database, <a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/imports/china">Australian imports from China</a> were valued at A$85.9 billion in 2018. The biggest product categories were electronics and electrical equipment, making up A$19.8 billion, and machinery, which accounts for another A$15.7 billion.</p> <p>Moreover, <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook44p/China">90% of all Australia’s merchandise imports</a> are from China, and half of those are engineering products such as office and telecommunications equipment.</p> <p>Besides the well-publicised impact on airlines, universities and tourism, Australian construction companies are warning clients of upcoming project delays as a result of forecast disruptions in materials sourced from China. Aurizon, Australia’s largest rail operator, has said the coronavirus will delay the arrival of <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/coronavirus-fallout-hits-australian-companies-20200210-p53zfc">66 new rail wagons</a> being made in Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the outbreak.</p> <p><strong>Expect shortages of high-tech goods</strong></p> <p>Product shortages could also soon be visible on retailers’ shelves, with electronics stores such as JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman expected to experience <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/12/coronavirus-fallout-could-leave-australian-tourism-and-retail-sector-in-the-doldrums">significant disruption</a> to their supply of computers, televisions and smartphones.</p> <p>When shortages like this occur, customers will struggle to buy the products they want, when they want them. The only channels available might be third-party resellers offering highly inflated prices. In extreme cases, supply shortages like these can also lead to <a href="http://personal.cb.cityu.edu.hk/biyishou/Consumer_panic_buying.pdf">panic buying</a> and stockpiling.</p> <p><strong>More uncertainty ahead</strong></p> <p>It is commonly said that “when China sneezes, the world catches a cold”. So what is the long-term diagnosis for the coronavirus breakout, and what will the economic symptoms be?</p> <p>As so much is still unknown about COVID-19, with no vaccine or formal means of preventing it spreading having emerged yet, it’s too early to predict what the full impact will be.</p> <p>For many industries the next few months will bring high levels of uncertainty, with disruptions certain to continue, before recovery programs can start to gain traction.</p> <p>This is obviously a worry for many organisations, but could also be a period of new opportunity for others, as the world comes to terms with this latest global health crisis. Supply chains that are agile enough to react quicker than their competitors’, or those with more robust risk management plans, might find themselves gaining greater market share as a result of this crisis.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/131646/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-l-hopkins-255434">John L Hopkins</a>, Theme Leader (Future Urban Mobility), Smart Cities Research Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/high-tech-shortages-loom-as-coronavirus-shutdowns-hit-manufacturers-131646">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Charging your phone using a public port is dangerous

<p>Have you ever used a public charging station to charge your mobile phone when it runs out of battery? If so, watch out for “juice jacking”.</p> <p>Cybercriminals are on the prowl to infect your mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers and access your personal data, or install malware while you charge them.</p> <p>Specifically, <a href="https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/2732198.2732205">juice jacking</a> is a cyber attack in which criminals <a href="https://securelist.com/wired-mobile-charging-is-it-safe/74804/">use publicly accessible USB charging ports or cables</a> to install malicious software on your mobile device and/or steal personal data from it.</p> <p>Even a <a href="https://media.blackhat.com/us-13/US-13-Lau-Mactans-Injecting-Malware-into-iOS-Devices-via-Malicious-Chargers-WP.pdf">60-second power-up</a> can be enough to compromise your phone’s data. This is because USB cables allow the transmission of both power and data streams simultaneously. Victims can be left vulnerable to identity theft, financial fraud, and significant stress.</p> <p>USB charging stations are a common sight in shopping centres, airports, hotels, fast-food restaurants, and even on public transport. While juice jacking is neither <a href="https://securelist.com/wi-fi-security-and-fake-acdc-charges-threaten-your-data-at-the-2014-world-cup/63759/">new</a> nor particularly widespread so far, it was recently highlighted by <a href="http://da.lacounty.gov/about/inside-LADA/juice-jacking-criminals-use-public-usb-chargers-steal-data-ff">Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office</a> as a significant threat, especially to travellers who can easily find themselves caught short and in need of a battery boost.</p> <p><strong>How does it work?</strong></p> <p>First, the attackers tamper with the charging stations or cables in public areas, and install malicious software on them. This software then infects the phones of unsuspecting users who subsequently plug into the tampered charger.</p> <p>The software can invade, damage or even disable your phone. It can also steal or delete data from your phone and possibly spy on your usage activity, to the extent of transmitting your personal information such as account numbers, usernames, passwords, photos, and emails to the perpetrator.</p> <p><strong>How can I tell if I’ve been juice jacked?</strong></p> <p>Hacked mobile devices will often go undetected. But there are a few telltale signs that your device may have been hacked. These include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>a sudden surge in battery consumption or rapid loss of charge, indicating a malicious app may be running in the background</p> </li> <li> <p>the device operating slower than usual, or restarting without notice</p> </li> <li> <p>apps taking a long time to load or frequently crashing</p> </li> <li> <p>excessive heating</p> </li> <li> <p>changes to device settings that you did not make</p> </li> <li> <p>increased or abnormal data usage.</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>How do I protect myself?</strong></p> <p>The tampering of USB charging stations or USB cables is almost impossible to identify. But there are some simple ways to guard against juice jacking:</p> <ul> <li> <p>avoid USB power charging stations</p> </li> <li> <p>use AC power outlets rather than USB ports</p> </li> <li> <p>use a portable battery power bank (your own, not a borrowed one!)</p> </li> <li> <p>carry your own charging cable and adaptor</p> </li> <li> <p>use a data-blocker device such as <a href="http://syncstop.com/">SyncStop</a> or <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/Juice-Jack-Defender-Security-purchased-employees/dp/B00XYTQ4Q8">Juice-Jack Defender</a>. These devices physically prevent data transfer and only allow power to go through while charging</p> </li> <li> <p>use power-only USB cables such as <a href="https://www.4cabling.com.au/portapow-fast-charge-micro-usb-cable-300cm.html">PortaPow</a>, which don’t pass any data.</p> </li> </ul> <p>And finally, if you must use a charging station, keep your phone locked while doing so. USB ports typically don’t sync data from a phone that is locked. Most mobile phones will ask your permission to give the USB port access to your phone’s data when you plug in. If you’re using an unknown or untrustworthy port, make sure you decline.</p> <p><strong>I think I might have been juice jacked – what can I do?</strong></p> <p>If you suspect you have fallen prey, there are several things you can do to protect your device’s integrity:</p> <ul> <li> <p>monitor your device for unusual activity</p> </li> <li> <p>delete suspicious apps you don’t recall installing</p> </li> <li> <p>restore your device to its factory settings</p> </li> <li> <p>install anti-virus software, such as <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avast.android.mobilesecurity&amp;hl=en_AU">Avast Antivirus</a> or <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.antivirus&amp;hl=en_AU%22">AVG AntiVirus</a></p> </li> <li> <p>keep your mobile device’s system software up to date. Developers continually release patches against common types of malware.</p> </li> </ul> <p>A lot of data is stored on our mobile devices these days, and protecting our privacy is crucial. While juice jacking may not be a widespread threat, it is important to ensure the safety of our mobile devices. So, the next time you consider using a public USB charging station or cable, ask yourself if it is worth it, particularly as your personal information is at stake.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130947/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ritesh-chugh-162770">Ritesh Chugh</a>, Senior Lecturer/Discipline Lead – Information Systems and Analysis, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/charging-your-phone-using-a-public-usb-port-beware-of-juice-jacking-130947">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Chinese residents threatened with jail for sharing news about coronavirus on social media

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chinese people are being threatened with seven years in prison if they share news about what is happening in their country about the killer epidemic of the coronavirus on social media.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The punishment has been introduced as a measure to stop information and images being leaked that show the true extent of the virus as well as the desperate attempts to keep it under control.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The ruling Chinese Communist Party wants to control just what the world knows about their attempts to control the coronavirus.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The country’s state-controlled </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">People Daily</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> newspaper ran an article warning people against spreading “rumours” on social media.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The article said that those who “disrupt social order” by posting information that doesn’t come from official sources risked up to seven years behind bars.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">China’s massive censorship system is used to block any information that the government deems to be a “rumour” or not from an official government source.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, footage has been leaking out with hospital workers posting traumatic clips where they are struggling to cope with the outbreak.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other footage has been filmed by concerned citizens that shows people violently being forced to wear masks as well as being barricaded inside their own homes to stop the spread of the bug.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The whistleblowers from Wuhan have since been detained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another man who showed the true scale of the coronavirus as body bags piled up inside a Wuhan hospital has also been tracked down and arrested for posting the video on social media.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Human Rights Watch said that police across China have detained dozens of people for posting what is really happening in the country and their response to the coronavirus on social media.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Authorities should recognise that censorship only fuels public distrust, and instead encourage civil society engagement and media reporting on this public health crisis,” Human Rights Watch China researcher Yaqiu Wang said to </span><em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/censorship/china-cops-threaten-to-jail-people-for-seven-years-for-sharing-news-on-social-media-about-coronavirus-spread/news-story/de61e5b20f32ddf2b2f7fa6f878db51b"><span style="font-weight: 400;">news.com.au</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The coronavirus outbreak requires a swift and comprehensive response that respects human rights.”</span></p>

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7 hidden iPhone hacks you never knew about

<p>It can be really frustrating when it seems to take forever to write a text message, not to mention finding there’s no available space for that quick snap you want to take. Luckily, there are lots of little tricks and tips to make things that littler bit quicker.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/17-hidden-iphone-hacks-you-never-knew-about"><strong>1. Get a faster charge</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/17-hidden-iphone-hacks-you-never-knew-about"> <p>Few things are worse than watching your phone charge at a glacial pace – especially when you’re short for time. For a faster way to top up, turn on Airplane Mode. Doing so will temporarily pause your phone’s background noise (such as random notifications and GPS roaming), which tend to drain the battery as it charges. While the extra juice won’t be much, a little can go a long way.</p> <p><strong>2. Set a timer for your music</strong></p> <p>Long gone are the days when you nodded off to your favourite snoozing tunes, only to wake up at 3am with the music still blaring. Believe it or not, your phone’s timer can turn off the music whenever you want. Go to Clock &gt; Timer &gt; When Timer Ends, tap the ‘Stop Playing’ option, and select the amount of time you want the music to play. Your phone will automatically turn off the tunes (on both Apple Music and Spotify) when the timer runs out.</p> <p><strong>3. Take a hands-free photo</strong></p> <p>You don’t need two empty hands to snap a photo on your phone. Just plug in a pair of compatible headphones and hit the volume button, and your iPhone will capture the moment.</p> <p><strong>4. Shave seconds off your typing time</strong></p> <p>If you still shift back and forth between keyboards to type numbers and symbols, you’re wasting your time. All you need to do is hold your finger down on the ‘123’ button, drag it over the number or symbol you want, and then let go. Voilà! No screen-switching necessary.</p> <p><strong>5. Make the screen smaller</strong></p> <p>If you’re a one-hand texter, you probably know the struggle of stretching your thumb across the phone’s wide screen. Try moving the keyboard closer to your left or right palm by holding on the Globe icon and selecting one of the keyboards that are positioned to either side. You can also get to this by going Settings &gt; General &gt; Keyboard &gt; One-Handed Keyboard. Or, tap (not press) on the home button twice to shift the entire top of the iPhone screen down. Both tricks will make the entire screen much more accessible for the average-sized hand.</p> <p><strong>6. Press one button to make a call</strong></p> <div id="page15" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Don’t waste time digging around your contacts for the last person you chatted with on the phone. Simply tap the green call button, and your phone will redial the last number you called.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/17-hidden-iphone-hacks-you-never-knew-about"><strong>7. Get more storage space</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/17-hidden-iphone-hacks-you-never-knew-about"> <div id="page17" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Storage space is a hot commodity for the average iPhone user. To make the most of yours, hold down the ‘Power’ button, wait until you see the option to slide and power off your phone, and then hold down the ‘Home’ button. Doing so will clean out your phone’s RAM, which reduces the amount of space your apps might be taking up.</p> <p><em>Source: <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rd.com/culture/iphone-hacks/" target="_blank">RD.com</a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Written by Brooke Nelson. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/17-hidden-iphone-hacks-you-never-knew-about"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> </div>

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Juries need to be told how they're allowed to use the internet to ensure fair trials

<p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jemma-holt-940717">Jemma Holt</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-gogarty-146584">Brendan Gogarty</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></span></p> <p>Juries are supposed to consider evidence without influence or bias from the outside world. However, the <a href="https://www.consultancy.com.au/news/616/9-out-of-10-australian-citizens-now-own-a-smartphone">widespread access to and use of the internet and social media</a> threatens to undermine this, with significant consequences for our criminal justice system and those within it.</p> <p>Given courts cannot effectively police smart-phone use they must adapt to it. This week the <a href="https://www.utas.edu.au/law-reform">Tasmania Law Reform Institute</a> completed its <a href="https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/842/Jurors_and_Social_Media_FR_A4_04_secure.pdf?1579503016">year long inquiry</a> into courts and the information age, and has recommendations as to how they can adapt.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RxmrZ7y9cwg"></iframe></div> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><strong>The right to a fair &amp; unbiased trial by your peers</strong></div> <p>An accused person’s right to a fair trial is the most fundamental principle of our criminal justice system. It is a phrase that describes a system that affords an accused person many protections. That system relies on jurors being impartial and returning a verdict that is based solely on the evidence that is presented within the courtroom.</p> <p>In the past this was readily easy to achieve. Juror communications during trial hours and even after them could be controlled. News about the trial was generally a local affair, and even when it attracted national attention, the journalists needed to be in the court’s jurisdiction to report, so they and their employers were subject to the court’s authority.</p> <p>The shift in the way people access news, information and communications in the modern age has changed this reality.</p> <p>Almost every Australian has access to the internet via their smartphone or other devices, social media use is habitual among much of our population, and the internet is a ubiquitous source of information for most people.</p> <p>Jurors are no different – in fact, they represent the wider Australian community these statistics describe. While jurors’ smart phones are removed from them during trial, they cannot be before or after the trial period, nor at the beginning or end of the day. As a result jurors may intentionally, or simply by habit seek out or communicate information about the trial.</p> <p><strong>Use and misuse of social media</strong></p> <p>Between 2018 and 2020 the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute conducted an inquiry into juror misuse of the internet and social media during trials. The institute concluded there is likely to be a high, but unquantifiable and undetectable level of misuse.</p> <p>However, there is evidence across Australian jurisdictions that jurors have used their internet connected devices to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>research legal terms or concepts or other information relevant to the trial. A West Australian juror in a drug-related trial obtained information online about <a href="https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/calls-to-overhaul-wa-jury-system-after-juror-dismissed-for-facebook-post-20161012-gs0wwa.html">methylamphetamine production</a></p> </li> <li> <p>research the accused, witnesses, victims, lawyers or the judge. Two South Australian jurors sitting in a blackmail trial against multiple defendants conducted online searches about the accused which disclosed <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-22/jurors-fined-for-contempt-of-court/7533472">past outlaw motorcycle gang affiliations</a></p> </li> <li> <p>communicate with people involved in the trial. Multiple New South Wales jurors on a long-running fraud trial <a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/jury-getting-off-their-facebooks/news-story/26e2549a7d9063ae9dae0e2a27683dce">became Facebook friends</a>, sharing posts such as a digitally altered photo of one of the jurors wearing a judge’s wig</p> </li> <li> <p>publish material about the trial on the internet or social media. A NSW juror sitting in a sexual offending trial posted on Facebook <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/facebook-post-sparks-probe-into-jury-conduct-in-sex-crime-trial-20190414-p51dz4.html">the day before the guilty verdict was returned</a>: “When a dog attacks a child it is put down. Shouldn’t we do the same with sex predators?” This post was accompanied with a photograph that showed images of rooms and implements by which lawful executions are carried out.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Misuse is under-reported. In those few instance where reports are made, fellow jurors, rather than court officers, tend to be the ones who raise the issue. Indeed, it is an important part of their role.</p> <p>While jurors across Australia are currently told not to conduct online research, wilful disobedience is only part of the problem. It can also involve unintentional acts by jurors who believe they are doing the right thing.</p> <p>For instance, jurors accessing online news, entertainment or social media sites can be passively influenced by information relevant to the trial. Jurors often misunderstand their role and conduct independent research in the genuine belief their actions are in the pursuit of “fairness” or discovering the truth.</p> <p><strong>Educate, inform &amp; encourage self-regulation</strong></p> <p>The law reform institute ultimately concluded it is impossible for, and beyond the capacity of courts to completely police juror internet use. It has thus recommended not reforming the law, but rather strengthening and standardising juror education and directions. These recommendations are divided across two stages of jury selection, as part of an overall strategy:</p> <ul> <li> <p>pre-selection: prospective jurors should receive improved training and information about the role of the juror and the risks of internet use</p> </li> <li> <p>post-selection: once a jury has been selected, judges need to explain to jurors what dangers arise from using the internet to access and publish on social media, seeking information about the case, parties, court officers, lawyers, and self-conducted research into legal concepts or sentences. The report has recommended the court adopt minimum standard directions, but also have the flexibility to make specific directions relevant to any particular trial.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The report recommended certain current practices and laws should remain unchanged, including:</p> <ul> <li> <p>removing phones from jurors while they are in court (even though the effect is limited it avoids juror distraction)</p> </li> <li> <p>leaving contempt (punishment) laws in place for those jurors who intentionally ignore court training and directions. That might include monetary fines and, in severe cases, imprisonment.</p> </li> </ul> <p>This process is aimed at encouraging self-regulation among jurors, by educating them how to curtail their internet use and why it’s so important.</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jemma-holt-940717">Jemma Holt</a>, Research Fellow/ Acting Executive Officer (Research), Tasmania Law Reform Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-gogarty-146584">Brendan Gogarty</a>, Senior Lecturer / Clinical Director / Director (Acting) Tas Law Reform Institue, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/juries-need-to-be-told-how-theyre-allowed-to-use-the-internet-to-ensure-fair-trials-130127">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Social media might make us lonely, but it depends on how you use it

<p>Humans are <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/471264/iot-number-of-connected-devices-worldwide/">more connected to each other than ever</a>, thanks to smartphones, the web and social media. At the same time, loneliness is a huge and growing social problem.</p> <p>Why is this so? Research shows social media use alone can’t cure loneliness – but it can be a tool to build and strengthen our genuine connections with others, which are important for a happy life.</p> <p>To understand why this is the case, we need to understand more about loneliness, its harmful impact, and what this has to do with social media.</p> <p><strong>The scale of loneliness</strong></p> <p>There is great concern about <a href="https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/letter/articles/vh-letter-47-loneliness">a loneliness epidemic</a> in Australia. In the 2018 Australian Loneliness Report, more than one-quarter of survey participants <a href="https://psychweek.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Psychology-Week-2018-Australian-Loneliness-Report.pdf">reported feeling lonely</a> three or more days a week.</p> <p>Studies have linked loneliness to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25910392">early mortality</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21044327">increased cardio-vascular disease</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8930743_Popularity_Friendship_Quantity_and_Friendship_Quality_Interactive_Influences_on_Children's_Loneliness_and_Depression">poor mental health and depression</a>, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0044118X03261435">suicide</a>, and increased <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31119308">social and health care costs</a>.</p> <p>But how does this relate to social media?</p> <p>More and more Australians are becoming physically isolated. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1440783316674358?journalCode=josb">My previous research</a> demonstrated that face-to-face contact in Australia is declining, and this is accompanied by <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1440783316674358?journalCode=josb">a rise in technology-enabled communication</a>.</p> <p>Enter social media, which for many is serving as a replacement for physical connection. Social media influences nearly all relationships now.</p> <p><strong>Navigating the physical/digital interface</strong></p> <p>While there is evidence of more loneliness among heavy social media users, there is also evidence suggesting <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691617713052">social media use decreases loneliness among highly social people</a>.</p> <p>How do we explain such apparent contradictions, wherein both the most and least lonely people are heavy social media users?</p> <p>Research <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691617713052">reveals</a> social media is most effective in tackling loneliness when it is used to enhance existing relationships, or forge new meaningful connections. On the other hand, it is counterproductive if used as a substitute for real-life social interaction.</p> <p>Thus, it is not social media itself, but the way we integrate it into our existing lives which impacts loneliness.</p> <p><strong>I wandered lonely in the cloud</strong></p> <p>While social media’s implications for loneliness can be positive, they can also be contradictory.</p> <p>Tech-industry enthusiasts highlight social media’s benefits, such as how it offers easy, algorithimically-enhanced connection to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. But this argument often ignores the <em>quality</em> of these connections.</p> <p>Psychologist Robert Weiss makes a distinction between <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Loneliness_the_Experience_of_Emotional_a.html?id=KuibQgAACAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">“social loneliness”</a> – a lack of contact with others – and <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Loneliness_the_Experience_of_Emotional_a.html?id=KuibQgAACAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">“emotional loneliness”</a>, which can persist regardless of how many “connections” you have, especially if they do not provide support, affirm identity and create feelings of belonging.</p> <p>Without close, physical connections, shallow virtual friendships can do little to alleviate emotional loneliness. And there is reason to think many online connections are just that.</p> <p>Evidence from past literature has <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691617713052">associated heavy social media use with increased loneliness</a>. This may be because online spaces are often oriented to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563219303073">performance, status, exaggerating favourable qualities</a> (such as by posting only “happy” content and likes), and frowning on expressions of loneliness.</p> <p>On the other hand, social media plays a vital role in helping us stay connected with friends over long distances, and organise catch-ups. Video conferencing can facilitate “meetings” when physically meeting is impractical.</p> <p>Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be used to engage with new people who may turn into real friends later on. Similarly, sites like <a href="https://www.meetup.com/">Meetup</a> can help us find local groups of people whose interests and activities align with our own.</p> <p>And while face-to-face contact remains the best way to help reduce loneliness, help can sometimes be found through online support groups.</p> <p><strong>Why so lonely?</strong></p> <p>There are several likely reasons for our great physical disconnection and loneliness.</p> <p>We’ve replaced the 20th century idea of stable, permanent careers spanning decades with flexible employment and gig work. This prompts regular relocation for work, which results in disconnection from <a href="http://rpatulny.com/2017/04/06/flexible-work-and-gender-inequities-in-work-and-care-lets-fix-the-incentives/">family and friends</a>.</p> <p>The way we build <a href="http://rpatulny.com/2017/04/20/the-mcmansion-the-small-idea-with-the-big-cost/">McMansions</a> (large, multi-room houses) and <a href="http://rpatulny.com/2017/05/05/australias-east-coast-exopolis-the-post-sustainable-sprawl/">sprawl our suburbs</a> is often antisocial, with little thought given to developing <a href="http://rpatulny.com/2017/05/27/utopia-can-we-plan-future-cities-for-tomorrows-families/">vibrant, walkable social centres</a>.</p> <p>Single-person households are <a href="https://mspgh.unimelb.edu.au/ageing-industry-network/newsletter-issue-12-may-2019/the-challenge-of-social-isolation-and-loneliness">expected to increase</a> from about 2.1 million in 2011 to almost 3.4 million in 2036.</p> <p>All of the above means the way we <em>manage</em> loneliness is changing.</p> <p><a href="https://www.routledge.com/Emotions-in-Late-Modernity-1st-Edition/Patulny-Bellocchi-Olson-Khorana-McKenzie-Peterie/p/book/9780815354321">In our book</a>, my co-authors and I argue people manage their feelings differently than in the past. Living far from friends and family, isolated individuals often deal with negative emotions alone, through therapy, or through connecting online with whoever may be available.</p> <p>Social media use is pervasive, so the least we can do is bend it in a way that facilitates our real-life need to belong.</p> <p>It is a tool that should work for us, not the other way around. Perhaps, once we achieve this, we can expect to live in a world that is a bit less lonely.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/128468/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/roger-patulny-94836">Roger Patulny</a>, Associate Professor of Sociology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-social-media-make-us-more-or-less-lonely-depends-on-how-you-use-it-128468">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Apps may soon be able to predict your life expectancy, but do you want to know?

<p><em>When will I die?</em></p> <p>This question has endured across cultures and civilisations. It has given rise to a plethora of religions and spiritual paths over thousands of years, and more recently, <a href="https://apps.apple.com/us/app/when-will-i-die/id1236569653">some highly amusing apps</a>.</p> <p>But this question now prompts a different response, as technology slowly brings us closer to accurately predicting the answer.</p> <p>Predicting the lifespan of people, or their “Personal Life Expectancy” (PLE) would greatly alter our lives.</p> <p>On one hand, it may have benefits for policy making, and help optimise an individual’s health, or the services they receive.</p> <p>But the potential misuse of this information by the government or private sector poses major risks to our rights and privacy.</p> <p>Although generating an accurate life expectancy is currently difficult, due to the complexity of factors underpinning lifespan, emerging technologies could make this a reality in the future.</p> <p><strong>How do you calculate life expectancy?</strong></p> <p>Predicting life expectancy is not a new concept. <a href="http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170807-living-in-places-where-people-live-the-longest">Experts do this</a> at a population level by classifying people into groups, often based on region or ethnicity.</p> <p>Also, tools such as <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23534-9">deep learning</a> and <a href="https://mipt.ru/english/news/scientists_use_ai_to_predict_biological_age_based_on_smartphone_and_wearables_data">artificial intelligence</a> can be used to consider complex variables, such as biomedical data, to predict someone’s biological age.</p> <p>Biological age refers to how “old” their body is, rather than when they were born. A 30-year-old who smokes heavily may have a biological age closer to 40.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-7080/6/3/74/htm">Calculating a life expectancy reliably</a> would require a sophisticated system that considers a breadth of environmental, geographic, genetic and lifestyle factors – <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/oatsih-hpf-2012-toc%7Etier1%7Elife-exp-wellb%7E119">all of which have influence</a>.<span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/healthy-lady-run-away-angel-death-329261456" class="source"></a></span></p> <p>With <a href="https://builtin.com/artificial-intelligence/machine-learning-healthcare">machine learning</a> and artificial intelligence, it’s becoming feasible to analyse larger quantities of data. The use of deep learning and cognitive computing, such as with <a href="https://www.ibm.com/watson-health">IBM Watson</a>, helps doctors make more accurate diagnoses than using human judgement alone.</p> <p>This, coupled with <a href="https://www.cio.com/article/3273114/what-is-predictive-analytics-transforming-data-into-future-insights.html">predictive analytics</a> and increasing computational power, means we may soon have systems, or even apps, that can calculate life expectancy.</p> <p><strong>There’s an app for that</strong></p> <p>Much like <a href="https://www.mdanderson.org/for-physicians/clinical-tools-resources/clinical-calculators.html">existing tools</a> that predict cancer survival rates, in the coming years we may see apps attempting to analyse data to predict life expectancy.</p> <p>However, they will not be able to provide a “death date”, or even a year of death.</p> <p>Human behaviour and activities are so unpredictable, it’s almost impossible to measure, classify and predict lifespan. A personal life expectancy, even a carefully calculated one, would only provide a “natural life expectancy” based on generic data optimised with personal data.</p> <p>The key to accuracy would be the quality and quantity of data available. Much of this would be taken directly from the user, including gender, age, weight, height and ethnicity.</p> <p>Access to real-time sensor data through fitness trackers and smart watches could also monitor activity levels, heart rate and blood pressure. This could then be coupled with lifestyle information such as occupation, socioeconomic status, exercise, diet and family medical history.</p> <hr /> <p><em> <strong> Read more: <a href="https://theconversation.com/your-local-train-station-can-predict-health-and-death-54946">Your local train station can predict health and death</a> </strong> </em></p> <hr /> <p>All of the above could be used to classify an individual into a generic group to calculate life expectancy. This result would then be refined over time through the analysis of personal data, updating a user’s life expectancy and letting them monitor it.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/308303/original/file-20191230-11891-nswi58.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">This figure shows how an individual’s life expectancy might change between two points in time (F and H) following a lifestyle improvement, such as weight loss.</span></p> <p><strong>Two sides of a coin</strong></p> <p>Life expectancy predictions have the potential to be beneficial to individuals, health service providers and governments.</p> <p>For instance, they would make people more aware of their general health, and its improvement or deterioration over time. This may motivate them to make healthier lifestyle choices.</p> <p>They could also be used by insurance companies to provide individualised services, such as how some car insurance companies use <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/16/motoring-myths-black-boxes-telematics-insurance">black-box technology</a> to reduce premiums for more cautious drivers.</p> <p>Governments may be able to use predictions to more efficiently allocate limited resources, such as social welfare assistance and health care funding, to individuals and areas of greater need.</p> <p>That said, there’s a likely downside.</p> <p>People <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/11/the-existential-slap/544790/">may become distressed</a> if their life expectancy is unexpectedly low, or at the thought of having one at all. This raises concerns about how such predictions could impact those who experience or are at risk of mental health problems.</p> <p>Having people’s detailed health data could also let insurance companies more accurately profile applicants, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-08/fitness-tracker-used-to-set-health-insurance-premiums/11287126">leading to discrimination against groups or individuals</a>.</p> <p>Also, pharmaceutical companies could coordinate targeted medical campaigns based on people’s life expectancy. And governments could choose to tax individuals differently, or restrict services for certain people.</p> <p><strong>When will it happen?</strong></p> <p>Scientists have been working on ways to <a href="https://towardsdatascience.com/what-really-drives-higher-life-expectancy-e1c1ec22f6e1">predict human life expectancy</a> for many years.</p> <p>The solution would require input from specialists including demographers, health scientists, data scientists, IT specialists, programmers, medical professionals and statisticians.</p> <p>While the collection of enough data will be challenging, we can likely expect to see advances in this area in the coming years.</p> <p>If so, issues related to data compliance, as well and collaboration with government and state agencies will need to be carefully managed. Any system predicting life expectancy would handle highly sensitive data, raising ethical and privacy concerns.</p> <p>It would also attract cybercriminals, and various other security threats.</p> <p>Moving forward, the words of Jurassic Park’s Dr Ian Malcolm spring to mind:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129068/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </blockquote> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-jin-kang-903030">James Jin Kang</a>, Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paul-haskell-dowland-382903">Paul Haskell-Dowland</a>, Associate Dean (Computing and Security), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-die-wondering-apps-may-soon-be-able-to-predict-your-life-expectancy-but-do-you-want-to-know-129068">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to change your phone number in Facebook or get rid of it entirely

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can easily change a phone number in Facebook if your original number connected to the social media platform has become outdated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Facebook asks for a user’s phone number for a few reasons, which are: </span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A phone number can be used to reset a forgotten password</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">It can be used to suggest people you may know so that you can connect with them on Facebook</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The phone number can keep your account safe with two-factor authentication and you can also receive text alerts for potentially unauthorised logins</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, if you want to remove the number entirely or change it, it’s an easy fix.</span></p> <p><strong>How to change your phone number on Facebook</strong></p> <ol> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Log into Facebook on a computer and click on the arrow in the top-right corner of your home page. Click on “Settings”.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Select “Mobile” on the left side.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If your account isn’t connected to a phone number, you can add one from this section via the “+ Add a Phone” section.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you already have a phone number, you can click on “+ Add another mobile phone number” to add another number.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Enter your number and select if you’d like Facebook to confirm the number with a text message or with a call and click “Continue”.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Enter the confirmation code you receive from Facebook and click “Confirm”.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can remove a phone number on Facebook by clicking the “Remove” button below the number you want to delete.</span></li> </ol> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Easy!</span></p>

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Scientists create first ever living programmable organism

<p>A remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology has produced the world’s first “living robots”.</p> <p>This week, a research team of roboticists and scientists <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/01/07/1910837117">published</a> their recipe for making a new lifeform called xenobots from stem cells. The term “xeno” comes from the frog cells (<em>Xenopus laevis</em>) used to make them.</p> <p>One of the researchers <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonchandler/2020/01/14/worlds-first-living-robot-invites-new-opportunities-and-risks/#379ef46c3caf">described the creation</a> as “neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal”, but a “new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism”.</p> <p>Xenobots are less than 1mm long and made of 500-1000 living cells. They have various simple shapes, including some with squat “legs”. They can propel themselves in linear or circular directions, join together to act collectively, and move small objects. Using their own cellular energy, they can live up to 10 days.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/M18nPjLZrMA"></iframe></div> <p>While these “reconfigurable biomachines” could vastly improve human, animal, and environmental health, they raise legal and ethical concerns.</p> <p><strong>Strange new ‘creature’</strong></p> <p>To make xenobots, the research team used a supercomputer to test thousands of random designs of simple living things that could perform certain tasks.</p> <p>The computer was programmed with an AI “evolutionary algorithm” to predict which organisms would likely display useful tasks, such as moving towards a target.</p> <p>After the selection of the most promising designs, the scientists attempted to replicate the virtual models with frog skin or heart cells, which were manually joined using microsurgery tools. The heart cells in these bespoke assemblies contract and relax, giving the organisms motion.</p> <p>The creation of xenobots is groundbreaking.</p> <p>Despite being described as “programmable living robots”, they are actually completely organic and made of living tissue. The term “robot” has been used because xenobots can be configured into different forms and shapes, and “programmed” to target certain objects – which they then unwittingly seek.</p> <p>They can also repair themselves after being damaged.</p> <p><strong>Possible applications</strong></p> <p>Xenobots may have great value.</p> <p><a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/f/615041/these-xenobots-are-living-machines-designed-by-an-evolutionary-algorithm/">Some speculate</a> they could be used to clean our polluted oceans by collecting microplastics.</p> <p>Similarly, they may be used to enter confined or dangerous areas to scavenge toxins or radioactive materials.</p> <p>Xenobots designed with carefully shaped “pouches” might be able to carry drugs into human bodies.</p> <p>Future versions may be built from a patient’s own cells to repair tissue or target cancers. Being biodegradable, xenobots would have an edge on technologies made of plastic or metal.</p> <p>Further development of biological “robots” could accelerate our understanding of living and robotic systems. Life is incredibly complex, so manipulating living things could reveal some of life’s mysteries — and improve our use of AI.</p> <p><strong>Legal and ethical questions</strong></p> <p>Conversely, xenobots raise legal and ethical concerns. In the same way they could help target cancers, they could also be used to hijack life functions for malevolent purposes.</p> <p>Some argue artificially making living things is unnatural, hubristic, or involves “playing God”.</p> <p>A more compelling concern is that of unintended or malicious use, as we have seen with technologies in fields including nuclear physics, chemistry, biology and AI.</p> <p>For instance, xenobots might be used for hostile biological purposes prohibited under international law.</p> <p>More advanced future xenobots, especially ones that live longer and reproduce, could potentially “malfunction” and go rogue, and out-compete other species.</p> <p>For complex tasks, xenobots may need sensory and nervous systems, possibly resulting in their sentience. A sentient programmed organism would raise additional ethical questions. Last year, the revival of a disembodied pig brain <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01216-4">elicited concerns about different species’ suffering</a>.</p> <p><strong>Managing risks</strong></p> <p>The xenobot’s creators have rightly acknowledged the need for discussion around the ethics of their creation.</p> <p>The 2018 scandal over using CRISPR (which allows the introduction of genes into an organism) may provide an instructive lesson <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614761/nature-jama-rejected-he-jiankui-crispr-baby-lulu-nana-paper/">here</a>. While the experiment’s goal was to reduce the susceptibility of twin baby girls to HIV-AIDS, associated risks caused ethical dismay. The scientist in question <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/30/gene-editing-chinese-scientist-he-jiankui-jailed-three-years">is in prison</a>.</p> <p>When CRISPR became widely available, some experts called for a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/mar/13/scientists-call-for-global-moratorium-on-crispr-gene-editing">moratorium</a> on heritable genome editing. Others <a href="https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/crispr.2019.0016?utm_source=miragenews&amp;utm_medium=miragenews&amp;utm_campaign=news&amp;">argued</a> the benefits outweighed the risks.</p> <p>While each new technology should be considered impartially and based on its merits, giving life to xenobots raises certain significant questions:</p> <ol> <li>Should xenobots have biological kill-switches in case they go rogue?</li> <li>Who should decide who can access and control them?</li> <li>What if “homemade” xenobots become possible? Should there be a moratorium until regulatory frameworks are established? How much regulation is required?</li> </ol> <p>Lessons learned in the past from advances in other areas of science could help manage future risks, while reaping the possible benefits.</p> <p><strong>Long road here, long road ahead</strong></p> <p>The creation of xenobots had various biological and robotic precedents. Genetic engineering has created genetically modified mice that become <a href="http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/news/research-medical-benefits/glowing-mice/">fluorescent</a> in UV light.</p> <p><a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/4/e1500077">Designer microbes</a> can produce drugs and food ingredients that may eventually <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/">replace animal agriculture</a>.</p> <p>In 2012, scientists created an <a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/brainwaves/what-would-it-take-to-really-build-an-artificial-jellyfish">artificial jellyfish</a> called a “medusoid” from rat cells.</p> <p>Robotics is also flourishing.</p> <p>Nanobots can <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2013/nanotechnology-could-help-fight-diabetes-0516">monitor people’s blood sugar levels</a> and may eventually be able to <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/tiny-robots-can-clear-clogged-arteries-180955774/">clear clogged arteries</a>.</p> <p>Robots can incorporate living matter, which we witnessed when engineers and biologists created a <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/robotic-stingray-powered-light-activated-muscle-cells">sting-ray robot</a> powered by light-activated cells.</p> <p>In the coming years, we are sure to see more creations like xenobots that evoke both wonder and due concern. And when we do, it is important we remain both open-minded and critical.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129980/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/simon-coghlan-108606">Simon Coghlan</a>, Senior Research Fellow in Digital Ethics, School of Computing and Information Systems, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kobi-leins-939980">Kobi Leins</a>, Senior Research Fellow in Digital Ethics, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-bot-not-beast-scientists-create-first-ever-living-programmable-organism-129980">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to unfollow a page on Facebook using your phone or computer

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unfollowing a page on Facebook is easy as you don’t have to unlike the page either.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unfollowing the page means that notifications and updates won’t appear in your News Feed, but you’ll be able to access the page and its posts if you go to it manually.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are two ways to unfollow a page on both mobile and desktop.</span></p> <p><strong>How to unfollow a page on Facebook on your computer</strong></p> <ol> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Log in to Facebook on a browser on your computer.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Get to the page you want to unfollow.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hover over the “Following” button on the page and select “unfollow this page”.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">You will receive a notification that says “You have unfollowed [page] and will no longer see posts from this page in your News Feed”. Click on “Done”.</span></li> </ol> <p><strong>How to unfollow a page on Facebook from your News Feed</strong></p> <ol> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Select the three dots in the upper right hand corner on the page’s post in your News Feed. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Select “Unfollow [page].</span></li> </ol> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">See? Simple! Onto mobile devices.</span></p> <p><strong>How to unfollow a page on Facebook from your mobile device</strong></p> <ol> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Open the Facebook app on your iPhone or Android phone.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Go to the page that you want to unfollow.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Select the three dots in the top right corner and hit “Following”.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Select the “Unfollow” option under the “In Your News Feed” section. You are also able to turn off page notifications in this section by tapping on “Edit Notification settings”.</span></li> </ol> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unfollowing a page on Facebook from your News Feed on mobile is the same as it is on a computer.</span></p>

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Apple could be forced to change charger cables for iPhone AGAIN

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Apple could be forced to change the iPhone cable again under new rules that will be enforced in Europe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The tech giant might have to switch to USB-C cables and ditch the well-known Lightning connector in Europe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The company would only have to use this charger in EU countries but would likely do the same globally.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The EU is set to vote on the matter “at a future session”, but no date has been confirmed as of yet, according to </span><em><a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/10737203/apple-iphone-charging-cable-usb-c-lightning-forced-eu/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Sun</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></a></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The switch would force Apple users to buy a new lead if they upgrade their phone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new cable would be Apple’s third in 13 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The EU has previously called for common chargers on phones, but now wants to enforce the ruling.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“To reduce electronic waste and make consumers’ lives easier, MEPs want binding measures for chargers to fit all mobile phones and other portable devices,” the EU explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“A common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices, MEPs will insist.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“According to estimates, old chargers generate more than 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, Apple has previously spoken out against proposals to force common chargers across the industry.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it,” Apple’s Claire Darmon told the EU in 2019.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.”</span></p>

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Winning at social media is easier than you think

<p>The world is starting to see <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-lost-15-million-us-users-in-the-past-two-years-report-says/">the gradual decline of Facebook</a>, with 15 million US users dropping off between 2017 and last year.</p> <p>Nonetheless, Facebook remains <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/#:%7E:targetText=How%20many%20users%20does%20Facebook,network%20ever%20to%20do%20so.">the largest social network</a> in the world. As of late last year, almost 60% of <a href="https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-january-2019/">Australians</a> had a Facebook account, half of whom logged-on daily.</p> <p>And while most of us intuitively understand what others find interesting, there’s a growing body of research on online engagement and the characteristics of viral content.</p> <p><a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/facebook-and-conversation-analysis-9781350141612/">For my research</a>, I studied more than 1,200 posts from 266 Facebook users - everyday people aged 21-40 – to identify the common denominator among “successful” Facebook posts.</p> <p><strong>Share if you agree</strong></p> <p>For the study, I decided to create a distinction between “likes” and comments. I treated likes as a simpler form of acknowledgement, and comments as a more active mode of engagement – they require time, effort and a deeper understanding of the content.</p> <p>I found posts which performed relatively well in terms of engagement (more than five comments), could be characterised by certain linguistic features.</p> <p>Successful posts tended to prompt further action from readers, or used humour to engage.</p> <p>Conversations on Facebook feeds generally start by “tellings”, meaning posts which contain narratives. For example, what a friend is doing, a video, or a selfie.</p> <p>Among the content I studied, the more popular posts requested a response of some kind, usually through questions, or requests such as “click on this funny link”.</p> <p>Simply adding “what do you think of this?” at the end of a post was likely to increase engagement - and this was true for posts with varying subject matters.</p> <p>I also found posts that were simple to understand performed better, as opposed to those which were vague or confusing - sometimes referred to as <a href="https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/imbecilic-art-vaguebooking/">vaguebooking</a>, like this example:</p> <p><strong>Laughter is the best medicine</strong></p> <p>Humour also increased engagement.</p> <p>Research has shown conversations driven by jokes <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0378216694901171">encourage involvement and inclusion</a>.</p> <p>I observed this too, with funny posts securing more responses. Similarly, posts that were not overtly funny were more likely to do well if they received funny comments.</p> <p>Ongoing conversations also stimulate further engagement. Successful Facebook users didn’t just post content, they also responded to comments on their posts.</p> <p>The take home message?</p> <p>Although the success of Facebook content also relies on privacy settings, the number of friends a user has, how active the user is and how popular they are outside Facebook, strategically designed posts can give any user a quick upper hand.</p> <p>And it’s likely you can use the same principles on other platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matteo-farina-908782">Matteo Farina</a>, Adjunct Lecturer, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/winning-at-social-media-is-probably-simpler-than-you-think-128704">original article</a>.</em></p>

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App used by 1.5 billion has "crucial" flaw

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A surprising flaw in the popular app WhatsApp allows hackers to crash the app by sending a simple text message.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The flaw is so serious that the text can force users to reinstall WhatsApp to fix the issue and group chats impacted by the issue disappear forever.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cyber experts at security firm Check Point discovered the flaw, saying that one text can crash multiple phones in one go. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The impact of this vulnerability is potentially tremendous, since WhatsApp is the main communication service for many people,” Check Point researchers </span><a href="https://research.checkpoint.com/2019/breakingapp-whatsapp-crash-data-loss-bug/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">explained</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Thus, the bug compromises the availability of the app which is a crucial for our daily activities.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With as many as 65 billion messages being sent via WhatsApp every day, bugs in the system can impact massive numbers of people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once you’ve received the message in a group chat, the app crashes for everyone in the chat and will require you to uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After the app has been reinstalled, you will be unable to return to your group chat or access the chat history.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When a user sends a message inside a group chat, the app examines the data to discover who sent the message.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Check Point have since created a tool that accesses this data and edits it, replacing it with a message that causes the app to crash.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The bug will crash the app and it will continue to crash even after we reopen WhatsApp, resulting in a crash loop,” Check Point explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Moreover, the user will not be able to return to the group, and all the data that was written and shared in the group is now gone for good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The group cannot be restored after the crash has happened and will have to be deleted in order to stop the crash.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Naturally, WhatsApp have already fixed the bug, but you’ll need to update the app to make sure you’re safe. If the app is updated to the latest version already, it’s impossible for your phone to be attacked by this bug.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B4i4kG1FH5o/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B4i4kG1FH5o/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Avoid being added to a group chat with people outside of your inner circle. 👯‍♀ Now you can have more control over who can add you to a group. To enable this setting, update to the latest version of #WhatsApp! https://blog.whatsapp.com/10000661/New-Privacy-Settings-for-Groups</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/whatsapp/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> WhatsApp</a> (@whatsapp) on Nov 6, 2019 at 5:02pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“WhatsApp greatly values the work of the technology community to help us maintain strong security for our users globally,” said WhatsApp software engineer Ehren Kret in a statement sent to </span><a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/10569563/whatsapp-bug-crash-app-reinstall-text/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Sun</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Thanks to the responsible submission from Check Point to our bug bounty program, we quickly resolved this issue for all WhatsApp apps in mid-September.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We have also recently added new controls to prevent people from being added to unwanted groups to avoid communication with untrusted parties altogether.”</span></p>

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4 inventions that have changed the world in the last decade

<p>When we think about major inventions, most of us jump right to things like the telephone or electricity. And sure, those completely changed the world, but new products and services are being launched every year that also have major impacts. The past decade has seen a significant-tech boom and an increase in products featuring smart technology. Here are some of the most important and influential inventions since 2010.</p> <p><strong>1. Apple iPad</strong></p> <p>Given the ubiquity of Apple iPads – especially where kids in restaurants are concerned – it’s hard to believe that they’ve only been around since 2010. This tablet computer is a hybrid of a smartphone and laptop, providing a larger touchscreen interface that is used to control the device.</p> <p>“It’s a tech innovation that without a doubt changed our lives during this decade,” Mike Satter, interim president at OceanTech and president at WipeOS tells Reader’s Digest. “The iPad completely changed our lives with a cross between having a mobile device that could be used for personal downtime to a hard-working machine that essentially replaced the business workhorse laptop computer. If you look around today you will notice children, coworkers, friends, family and/or a stranger next to you on a plane that depends on their iPad to help them through the day.”</p> <p><strong>2. Air fryers</strong></p> <p>Fried food is delicious, but unfortunately, it’s not very healthy. That’s what makes the invention of the air fryer such a food game-changer. The first air fryer as we know it hit the market in 2010 when Philips introduced what it coined “Rapid Air Technology.” The idea behind the device is to achieve the same crispiness as frying food in oil, but using extremely fast-moving air instead. The air fryer really started appearing on kitchen counters across the country when Oprah named it one of her “Favourite Things” in 2016. Though the food cooked in an air fryer doesn’t taste exactly like it would from a fast food shop, it is a decent option for those looking to eat healthier.</p> <p><strong>3. Squatty Potty</strong></p> <p>Though we have become accustomed to sitting on a toilet when doing our business, many places around the world squat over a latrine on the ground. And when Bobby Edwards’ mother became chronically constipated, her doctor suggested that she try using a footstool to raise her knees while she sat on the toilet. She tried it and it worked wonders, and in 2011, the Squatty Potty was born. This seemingly simple plastic stool that is stored at the base of a toilet has made Edwards and her family multimillionaires. Though sales were initially slow – $17,000 in 2011 – they hit $19 million in 2016 and continued to rise from there. Not only has the Squatty Potty changed the way many people use the toilet, it has also helped spark a wider conversation about digestive health and bathroom habits.</p> <p><strong>4. Smart speakers</strong></p> <p>Though different forms of voice recognition software and devices have been around since the 1970s, it wasn’t until the 2010s that the technology truly entered our homes. Well, first it came to our phones, when Apple introduced Siri, an electronic assistant, as a regular feature on iPhones in 2010.</p> <p>At that point, people got used to pressing a button on their phone and asking a faceless woman all sorts of questions. Though Siri felt (and was) futuristic, the trend really took off with the invention of smart speakers, which had the ability to answer the same kinds of questions as Siri but also control certain elements of your home, like lighting and heating.</p> <p>The most common smart speaker – Amazon’s Alexa – launched in 2014, and was soon followed by Google Assistant. Today, 66.4 million people — or 26.2 percent of the U.S. adult population—have a smart speaker in their home. Of course, with this technology came a new set of ethical issues regarding companies being able to listen in to your home and what happens to all the data this device collects.</p> <p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.rd.com/culture/inventions-that-changed-the-world-in-the-last-decade/">RD.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Written by Elizabeth Yuko. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/18-inventions-that-have-changed-the-world-in-the-last-decade"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p>

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Robots and drones: The new age of toys

<p>I’m a geek. And as a geek, I love my tech toys. But over time I’ve noticed toys are becoming harder to understand.</p> <p>Some modern toys resemble advanced devices. There are flying toys, walking toys, and roving toys. A number of these require “configuring” or “connecting”.</p> <p>The line between toy, gadget and professional device is blurrier than ever, as manufacturers churn out products including <a href="https://www.t3.com/features/best-kids-drones">drones for kids</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Spy-Nanny-Camera-Wi-fi/dp/B07P7BCYZT">plush toys with hidden nanny cams</a>.</p> <p>With such a variety of sophisticated, and sometimes over-engineered products, it’s clear manufacturers have upped their game.</p> <p>But why is this happening?</p> <p><strong>The price of tech</strong></p> <p>Toys these days seem to be designed with two major components in mind. It’s all about the smarts and rapid manufacture.</p> <p>In modern toys, we see a considerable level of programmed intelligence. This can be used to control the toy’s actions, or have it respond to input to provide real time feedback and interaction – making it appear “smarter”.</p> <p>This is all made possible by the falling price of technology.</p> <p>Once upon a time, placing a microcontroller (a single chip microprocessor) inside a toy was simply uneconomical.</p> <p>These days, they’ll <a href="https://au.rs-online.com/web/c/semiconductors/processors-microcontrollers/microcontrollers/">only set you back a few dollars</a> and allow significant computing power.</p> <p>Microcontrollers are often WiFi and Bluetooth enabled, too. This allows “connected” toys to access a wide range of internet services, or be controlled by a smartphone.</p> <p>Another boon for toy manufacturers has been the rise of prototype technologies, including 3D modelling, 3D printing, and low cost CNC (computer numerical control) milling.</p> <p>These technologies allow the advanced modelling of toys, which can help design them to be “tougher”.</p> <p>They also allow manufacturers to move beyond simple (outer) case designs and towards advanced multi-material devices, where the case of the toy forms an active part of the toy’s function.</p> <p>Examples of this include hand grips (found on console controls and toys including Nerf Blasters), advanced surface textures, and internal structures which support shock absorption to protect internal components, such as wheel suspensions in toy cars.</p> <p><strong>Bot helpers and robot dogs</strong></p> <p>Many recent advancements in toys are there to appease our admiration of automatons, or self operating machines.</p> <p>The idea that an inanimate object is transcending its static world, or is “thinking”, is one of the magical elements that prompts us to attach emotions to toys.</p> <p>And manufacturers know this, with some toys designed specifically to drive emotional attachment. My favourite example of this is roaming robots, such as the artificially intelligent <a href="https://www.anki.com/en-us/vector.html">Anki Vector</a>.</p> <p>With sensors and internet connectivity, the Vector drives around and interacts with its environment, as well as you. It’s even <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Vector-Robot-Anki-Hangs-Helps/dp/B07G3ZNK4Y">integrated with Amazon Alexa</a>.</p> <p>Another sophisticated toy is Sony’s Aibo. This robot pet shows how advanced robotics, microelectronics, actuators (which allow movement), sensors, and programming can be used to create a unique toy experience with emotional investment.</p> <p><span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/ho-chi-minh-city-vietnam-apr-1095006827" class="source"></a></span><strong>Screens not included</strong></p> <p>Toy manufacturers are also leveraging the rise of smartphones and portable computing.</p> <p>Quadcopters (or drones) and other similar devices often don’t need to include their own display in the remote control, as video can be beamed to an attached device.</p> <p>Some toys even use smartphones as the only control interface (used to control the toy), usually via an app, saving manufacturers from having to provide what is arguably the most expensive part of the toy.</p> <p>This means a smartphone becomes an inherent requirement, without which the toy can’t be used.</p> <p>It would be incredibly disappointing to buy a cool, new toy - only to realise you don’t own the very expensive device required to use it.</p> <p><strong>My toys aren’t spying on me, surely?</strong></p> <p>While spying may be the last thing you consider when buying a toy, there have been several reports of talking dolls <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/20/506208146/this-doll-may-be-recording-what-children-say-privacy-groups-charge">recording in-home conversations</a>.</p> <p>There are similar concerns with smart-home assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, which store <a href="https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/may/31/ro-khanna/your-amazon-alexa-spying-you/">your voice recordings in the cloud</a>.</p> <p>These concerns might also be warranted with toys such as the Vector, and Aibo.</p> <p>In fact, anything that has a microphone, camera or wireless connectivity can be considered a privacy concern.</p> <p><strong>Toys of the future</strong></p> <p>We’ve established toys are becoming more sophisticated, but does that mean they’re getting better?</p> <p><a href="https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020/">Various</a> <a href="https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/technology/technology-trends-2019">reports</a> indicate in 2020, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will continue to be pervasive in our lives.</p> <p>This means buying toys could become an even trickier task than it currently is. There are some factors shoppers can consider.</p> <p>On the top of my list of concerns is the type and number of batteries a toy requires, and how to charge them.</p> <p>If a device has <a href="https://theconversation.com/nearly-all-your-devices-run-on-lithium-batteries-heres-a-nobel-prizewinner-on-his-part-in-their-invention-and-their-future-126197">in-built lithium batteries</a>, can they be easily replaced? And if the toy is designed for outdoors, <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-batteries-have-started-catching-fire-so-often-68602">can it cope with the heat?</a> Most lithium-ion batteries degrade quickly in hot environments.</p> <p>And does the device require an additional screen or smartphone?</p> <p>It’s also worth being wary of what personal details are required to sign-up for a service associated with a toy - and if the toy can still function if its manufacturer should cease to exist, or the company should go bust.</p> <p>And, as always, if you’re considering an advanced, “connected” toy, make sure to prioritise your security and privacy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/127503/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-maxwell-561482">Andrew Maxwell</a>, Senior Lecturer, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/robots-ai-and-drones-when-did-toys-turn-into-rocket-science-127503">original article</a>.</em></p>

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New research shows playing with old phones teaches children good habits

<p>Screens are everywhere, including in the palms of our hands. Children see how much time we adults spend on our smartphones, and therefore how much we seem to value these devices – and they want to be a part of it.</p> <p>Children see us constantly looking up information we need to know, and being continuously connected. It’s only natural that they should want to copy this behaviour in their <a href="https://theconversation.com/imitation-and-imagination-childs-play-is-central-to-human-success-7555">play</a>, and “practise being an adult”.</p> <p>Most people have an opinion about children and technology, and the media regularly present stories of their potential for learning, or horror stories of the damage they can cause. My <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjet.12791">research</a> takes a slightly different tack.</p> <p>Rather than studying children’s screen use per se, I looked at how they play with old and discarded devices, such as a hand-me-down phone handset or an old and defunct laptop that has otherwise outlived its usefulness.</p> <p>Many early childhood education centres contain play spaces set up to mimic situations in everyday adult life. Examples include “home corner” containing kitchen equipment, of other situations such as offices, hairdressing salons, doctors’ surgeries, and restaurants. These spaces might also let children play at using mobile phones, computers, iPads, EFTPOS machines, or other electronic devices.</p> <p>I observed classes of 4 and 5-year-olds at two early education centres as they played imaginatively using technologies, to find out how they use devices in their play.</p> <p><strong>Facebook aficionados</strong></p> <p>Some of the children’s behaviours were fascinating and eye-opening.</p> <p>Four-year-old Maddie, for example, “videoed” her educator dancing, and then said she was going to post it to Facebook. She knew the process involved, even though she had only ever watched her mother post, and had never done it herself.</p> <p>Four-year-old Jack made a “video camera” from cardboard boxes and pretended to film other children. It even had a screen where you could watch the footage he had shot.</p> <p>Another educator told me her two-year-old child knows the difference between her work phone and her personal phone, and uses a different voice while pretending to talk on each.</p> <p>In my research, children put phones in pockets or handbags before they went off and played, one child stated “I can’t go out without my phone!”</p> <p><strong>Practise and pretend</strong></p> <p>During <a href="https://theconversation.com/making-up-games-is-more-important-than-you-think-why-bluey-is-a-font-of-parenting-wisdom-118583">pretend play</a>, children are often acting at a higher level to practise new skills.</p> <p>The children in my study had seen grown-ups doing “grown-up” things with their devices, and wanted to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09575146.2016.1167675">recreate them in their play situations</a>.</p> <p>Early childhood educators can use this kind of play to help children understand complex concepts and situations. For example, I have observed preschool children acting out tsunamis in the sandpit, discussing X-rays and broken bones, and showing a child how to care for a doll to practise interacting with a new sibling.</p> <p>Technologies are no different. Parents and educators can use pretend play with technologies to teach children useful life lessons, such as how to behave appropriately with mobile phones, and when it is appropriate to use them.</p> <p>In the Facebook example above, the educator could have had a conversation with Maddie about asking permission before taking a video of someone else and posting it to Facebook. They could ask questions like “how would you feel if someone took a video of you dancing and then posted it to Facebook?”</p> <p>When the children were playing restaurants, one child declared: “no screens at the table!” The children then negotiated that it was okay when the call was very important, or if they needed to look something up to help with whatever the group was discussing. In this way, the children displayed their understanding of the importance of social interactions.</p> <p>Not only can educators teach children through play, they can also model appropriate behaviour with technologies. By asking children if it is alright to take a photo or video of them, showing the child their image before it is shared with others, and being present and not looking at a screen when a child is speaking, we can show children we respect them and behave ethically towards them.</p> <p>So before you throw away your broken laptop or your old mobile, consider donating it to your local early childhood centre or, if you have children in your own home, give it to them to use as a toy. You might be surprised at what they will teach you.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/127727/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jo-bird-817807"><em>Jo Bird</em></a><em>, Lecturer, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-new-england-919">University of New England</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/playing-with-old-phones-teaches-children-good-habits-and-reflects-our-bad-ones-back-at-us-127727">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How one month at sea taught me to steal my life back from my phone

<p>A survey this year revealed that Australians, on average, spend <a href="https://wearesocial.com/au/blog/2019/02/digital-report-australia">10.2 hours</a> a day with interactive digital technologies. And this figure goes up every year.</p> <p>This is time we don’t get back. And our analogue lives, which include everything not digital, shrink in direct proportion.</p> <p>I recently decided to spend four weeks at sea without access to my phone or the internet, and here’s what I learnt about myself, and the digital rat race I was caught in.</p> <p><strong>Cold turkey</strong></p> <p>Until a year or so ago, I was a 10.2 hours a day person. Over the years, dependence on technology and stress had destroyed any semblance of balance in my life – between work and home, or pleasure and obligation.</p> <p>I wanted to quit, or cut down, at least. Tech “detox” apps such as the time-limiting <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/17/17870126/ios-12-screen-time-app-limits-downtime-features-how-to-use">Screen Time</a> were useless. Even with these, I was still “on”, and just a click away from unblocking Instagram.</p> <p>So I thought: what about going cold turkey? No screen time at all, 24/7. Was that possible, and what would it feel like?</p> <p>My commute to work passed the Footscray docks, where container-ships come and go. Passing one day, I wondered if it was possible to go on one of those ships and travel from Melbourne to … somewhere?</p> <p>Turns out it was. You can book a cabin online and just go. And in what was probably an impulse, I went.</p> <p>For about four weeks I had no devices, as I sailed solo from <a href="http://www.cma-cgm.com/products-services/line-services/Flyer/AAXANL">West Melbourne to Singapore</a>.</p> <p>I wanted to experiment, to see what it felt like to take a digital detox, and whether I could change my habits when I returned home.</p> <p><strong>What I learnt</strong></p> <p>Cold turkey withdrawal is difficult. Even in prison, <a href="https://aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi560">many inmates have access of some kind of device</a>.</p> <p>The time on that ship taught me there is a whole other side to life, the non-digital side, that gets pushed aside by the ubiquitous screen.</p> <p>Real life contains people, conversations, flesh and textures that are not glass or plastic.</p> <p>It also contains whole worlds that exist inside your head, and these can be summoned when we have the time, and devote a bit of effort to it.</p> <p>These are worlds of memory and imagination. Worlds of reflection and thought. Worlds you see differently to the pallid glare of a screen.</p> <p>I took four books with me and read them in a way I hadn’t before: slower, deeper and with more contemplation. The words were finite (and therefore precious).</p> <p>I’d never spent time like this in my whole life, and was inspired to write about it in <a href="https://grattanstreetpress.com/new-releases/">detail</a>.</p> <p>Of course, we all have our own commitments and can’t always do something like this.</p> <p>But away from the screen, I learned a lot about our digital world and about myself, and have tried to adapt these lessons to “normal” life.</p> <p>Since I’ve been back, it feels like some sense of balance has been restored. Part of this came from seeing the smartphone as a slightly alien thing (which it is).</p> <p>And instead of being something that always prompts me, I flipped the power dynamic around, to make it something I choose to use - and choose when to use. Meaning sometimes it’s OK to leave it at home, or switch it off.</p> <p>If you can persist with these little changes, you might find even when you have your phone in your pocket, you can go hours without thinking about it. Hours spent doing precious, finite, analogue things.</p> <p><strong>How to get started</strong></p> <p>You could begin by deleting most of your apps.</p> <p>You’ll be surprised by how many you won’t miss. Then, slowly flip the power dynamic between you and your device around. Put it in a drawer once a week - for a morning, then for a day - increasing this over time.</p> <p>If this sounds a bit like commercial digital detox self-care, then so be it. But this is minus the self-care gurus and websites. Forget those.</p> <p>No one (and no app) is really going to help you take back your agency. You need to do it yourself, or organise it with friends. Perhaps try seeing who can go the furthest.</p> <p>After a few weeks, you might reflect on how it feels: what’s the texture of the analogue world you got back? Because, more likely than not, you will get it back.</p> <p>For some, it might be a quieter and more subjective pre-digital world they half remember.</p> <p>For others, it might be something quite new, which maybe feels a bit like freedom.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/127501/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-hassan-197946"><em>Robert Hassan</em></a><em>, Professor, School of Culture and Communication, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-month-at-sea-with-no-technology-taught-me-how-to-steal-my-life-back-from-my-phone-127501">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Celebrities pose with their younger selves in stunning art series

<p>Dutch graphic designer<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6Bmadul1H9/" target="_blank">Ard Gelinck</a><span> </span>has spent his time for the last ten years creating pictures of celebrities posing with their younger selves.</p> <p>Gelinck uses Photoshop to create the iconic masterpieces, which are perfectly edited to appear side by side the older celebrity.</p> <p>He spoke to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.unilad.co.uk/celebrity/artist-creates-incredible-pictures-of-celebrities-posing-with-their-younger-selves/" target="_blank">UNILAD</a></em><span> </span>about his hobby, saying that he has been creative since he was a child.</p> <p>“I often challenge myself to create a certain series of images, including the ‘then and now’ series that you see a lot now,” he explained.</p> <p>“The ideas come up and the celebrities that I choose are often random.”</p> <p>Gelinck has received a lot of attention for his creations, with many of his celebrity subjects sharing his creations on their social media pages. However, he stays humble.</p> <p>“I was pleasantly surprised when it was picked up by various media worldwide. [It’s] nice to see that you can entertain people and show something that makes them think and laugh,” he said.</p> <p>Some of the creations that Gelinck is most proud of include David Bowie and Lady Gaga but added there were “too many” to choose from.</p> <p>With examples like Harrison Ford and Han Solo, Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker as well as beloved Madonna with her younger self, it’s easy to see why he has a hard time choosing a favourite.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see some of these iconic creations.</p> <p><em>Photo credits: Instagram @<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/ardgelinck/" target="_blank">ardgelinck</a></em></p>

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How the use of lasers and small satellites helps information get through space

<p>Satellites are becoming increasingly important in our lives, as they help us meet a demand for more data, exchanged at higher speeds. This is why we are exploring new ways of improving satellite communication.</p> <p>Satellite technology is used to navigate, forecast the weather, monitor Earth from space, receive TV signals from space, and connect to remote places through tools such as satellite phones and <a href="https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn/network-technology/sky-muster-explained">NBN’s Sky Muster satellites</a>.</p> <p>All these communications use radio waves. These are electromagnetic waves that propagate through space and, to a certain degree, through obstacles such as walls.</p> <p>Each communication system uses a frequency band allocated for it, and each band makes up part of the <a href="https://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/toolbox/emspectrum1.html">electromagnetic spectrum</a> – which is the name given to the range of all types of electromagnetic radiation.</p> <p>But the electromagnetic spectrum we are able to use with current technology is a finite resource, and is now completely occupied. This means old services have to make room for new ones, or higher frequency bands have to be used.</p> <p>While this poses technological challenges, one promising way forward is optical communication.</p> <p><strong>Communication with lasers</strong></p> <p>Instead of using radio waves to carry the information, we can use light from lasers as the carrier. While technically still part of the electromagnetic spectrum, optical frequencies are significantly higher, which means we can use them to transfer data at higher speeds.</p> <p>However, one disadvantage is that a laser cannot propagate through walls, and can even be blocked by clouds. While this is problematic on Earth, and for communication between satellites and Earth, it’s no problem for communication between satellites.</p> <p>On Earth, optical communication via fibre optic cables connects continents and provides enormous data exchanges. This is the technology that allows <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/4/30/11562024/too-embarrassed-to-ask-what-is-the-cloud-and-how-does-it-work">the cloud</a> to exist, and online services to be provided.</p> <p>Optical communication between satellites doesn’t use fibre optic cables, but involves light propagating through space. This is called “free space optical communication”, and can be used to not only deliver data from satellites to the ground, but also to connect satellites in space.</p> <p>In other words, free space optical communication will provide the same massive connectivity in space we already have on Earth.</p> <p>Some systems such as the <a href="https://artes.esa.int/edrs-global">European Data Relay System</a> are already operational, and others like SpaceX’s <a href="https://www.space.com/see-spacex-starlink-satellites-in-night-sky.html">Starlink</a> continue to be developed.</p> <p>But there are still many challenges to overcome, and we’re limited by current technology. My colleagues and I are working on making optical, as well as radio-frequency, data links even faster and more secure.</p> <p><strong>CubeSats</strong></p> <p>So far, a lot of effort has gone into the research and development of radio-frequency technology. This is how we know data rates are at their highest physical limit and can’t be further increased.</p> <p>While a single radio-frequency link can provide data rates of 10Gbps with large antennas, an optical link can achieve rates 10 to 100 times higher, using antennas that are 10 to 100 times smaller.</p> <p>These small antennas are in fact optical lenses, and their compact size allows them to be integrated into small satellites called CubeSats.</p> <p>CubeSats are not larger than a shoebox or toaster, but can employ high speed data links to other satellites or the ground.</p> <p>They are currently used for a wide range of tasks including earth observation, communications and scientific experiments in space. And while they’re not able to provide all services from space, they play an important role in current and future satellite systems.</p> <p>Another advantage of optical communication is increased security. The light from a laser forms a narrow beam, which has to be pointed from a sender to a receiver. Since this beam is very narrow, the communication doesn’t interfere with other receivers and it’s very hard, if not impossible, to eavesdrop on the communication. This makes optical systems more secure than radio electromagnetic systems.</p> <p>Optical communication can also be used for <a href="https://qt.eu/understand/underlying-principles/quantum-key-distribution-qkd/">Quantum Key Distribution</a>. This technology allows the absolute secure exchange of encryption keys for safe communications.</p> <p><strong>What can we expect from this?</strong></p> <p>While it’s exciting to develop systems for space, and to launch satellites, the real benefit of satellite systems is felt on Earth.</p> <p>High speed communication provided by optical data links will improve connectivity for all of us. Notably, remote areas which currently have relatively slow connections will experience better access to remote health and remote learning.</p> <p>Better data links will also let us deliver images and videos from space with less delay and higher resolution. This will improve the way we manage our resources, including <a href="https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/community-safety/flood/wofs">water</a>, agriculture and forestry.</p> <p>They will also <a href="https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/earth-obs/case-studies/mapping-bushfires">provide vital real-time information in disaster scenarios such as bushfires</a>. The potential applications of optical communication technology are vast.</p> <p><strong>Banding knowledge together</strong></p> <p>Working in optical satellite communication is challenging, as it combines many different fields and research areas including telecommunication, photonics and manufacturing.</p> <p>Currently, our technology is far from achieving what is theoretically possible, and there’s great room for improvement. This is why there’s a strong focus on collaboration.</p> <p>In Australia, there are two major programs facilitating this - the Australian Space Agency run by the federal government, and the <a href="https://smartsatcrc.com/">SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre</a> (CRC), also supported by the federal government.</p> <p>Through the SmartSat CRC program, my colleagues and I will spend the next seven years tackling a range of applied research problems in this area.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/126344/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gottfried-lechner-877898">Gottfried Lechner</a>, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-using-lasers-and-toaster-sized-satellites-to-beam-information-faster-through-space-126344">original article</a>.</em></p>

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The problem of living inside a social media echo chamber

<p>Pick any of the big topics of the day – <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49560557">Brexit</a>, <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/03092019/hurricane-dorian-climate-change-stall-%20%20record-wind-speed-rainfall-intensity-global-warming-bahamas">climate change</a> or <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/12/us/politics/trump-immigration-policy.html">Trump’s immigration policies</a> – and wander online.</p> <p>What one is likely to find is radical polarization – different groups of people living in different worlds, populated with utterly different facts.</p> <p><a href="https://qz.com/933150/cass-sunstein-says-social-medias-effect-on-democracy-is-alexander-hamiltons-nightmare/">Many people</a> want to <a href="https://www.adweek.com/digital/arvind-raichur-mrowl-guest-post-filter-bubbles/">blame</a> the “social media bubble” - a belief that everybody sorts themselves into like-minded communities and hears only like-minded views.</p> <p>From my perspective as a <a href="https://objectionable.net/">philosopher</a> who thinks about <a href="https://philpapers.org/rec/NGUCAA">communities</a> and <a href="https://philpapers.org/go.pl?id=NGUCIA&amp;aid=NGUCIAv1">trust</a>, this fails to get at the heart of the issue.</p> <p>In my mind, the crucial issue right now isn’t what people hear, but whom people believe.</p> <p><strong>Bubble or cult?</strong></p> <p>My research focuses on <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/episteme/article/echo-chambers-and-epistemic-bubbles/5D4AC3A808C538E17C50A7C09EC706F0">“epistemic bubbles” and “echo chambers.”</a> These are two distinct ideas, that people often blur together.</p> <p>An epistemic bubble is what happens when insiders aren’t exposed to people from the opposite side.</p> <p>An echo chamber is what happens when insiders come to distrust everybody on the outside.</p> <p>An epistemic bubble, for example, might form on one’s social media feed. When a person gets all their news and political arguments from Facebook and all their Facebook friends share their political views, they’re in an epistemic bubble. They hear arguments and evidence only from their side of the political spectrum. They’re never exposed to the other side’s views.</p> <p>An echo chamber leads its members to distrust everybody on the outside of that chamber. And that means that an insider’s trust for other insiders can grow unchecked.</p> <p>Two communications scholars, <a href="https://www.asc.upenn.edu/people/faculty/kathleen-hall-jamieson-phd">Kathleen Hall Jamieson</a> and <a href="https://www.asc.upenn.edu/people/faculty/joseph-n-cappella-phd">Joseph Cappella</a>, offered a careful analysis of the right-wing media echo chamber in their 2008 book, <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/echo-chamber-9780195398601">“The Echo Chamber.”</a></p> <p>Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News team, they said, systematically manipulated whom their followers trusted. Limbaugh presented the world as a simple binary – as a struggle only between good and evil. People were trustworthy if they were on Limbaugh’s side. Anybody on the outside was malicious and untrustworthy.</p> <p>In that way, an echo chamber is a lot like a cult.</p> <p>Echo chambers isolate their members, not by cutting off their lines of communication to the world, but by changing whom they trust. And echo chambers aren’t just on the right. I’ve seen echo chambers on the left, but also on parenting forums, nutritional forums and even around exercise methods.</p> <p>In an epistemic bubble, outside voices aren’t heard. In an echo chamber, outside voices are discredited.</p> <p><strong>Is it all just a bubble?</strong></p> <p>Many experts believe that the problem of today’s polarization can be explained through epistemic bubbles.<span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/wroclaw-poland-april-10th-2017-woman-624572783?src=-1-15" class="source"></a></span></p> <p>According to legal scholar and behavioral economist <a href="https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/10871/Sunstein">Cass Sunstein</a>, the main cause of polarization is that <a href="https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10935.html">internet technologies</a> have made the world such that people don’t really run into the other side anymore.</p> <p>Many people get their news from social media feeds. Their feeds get filled up with people like them - who usually share their political views. Eli Pariser, online activist and chief executive of Upworthy, spotlights how the <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/309214/the-filter-bubble-by-eli-pariser/9780143121237/">invisible algorithms</a> behind people’s internet experience limit what they see.</p> <p>For example, says Pariser, Google keeps track of its user’s choices and preferences, and changes its search results to suit them. It tries to give individuals what they want – so liberal users, for example, tend to get search results that point them toward liberal news sites.</p> <p>If the problem is bubbles, then the solution would be exposure. For Sunstein, the solution is to build more public forums, where people will run into the other side more often.</p> <p><strong>The real problem is trust</strong></p> <p>In my view, however, echo chambers are the real problem.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/F2sFqWtZfpgU9nfK8u3E/full">New</a> <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Filter-Bubbles%2C-Echo-Chambers%2C-and-Online-News-Flaxman-Goel/9ece17d2915f65c66c03fa28820447199addec45">research</a> suggests there probably aren’t any real epistemic bubbles. As a matter of fact, most people are regularly exposed to the other side.</p> <p>Moreover, bubbles should be easy to pop: Just expose insiders to the arguments they’ve missed.</p> <p>But this doesn’t actually seem to work, in so many real-world cases. Take, for example, climate change deniers. They are fully aware of all the arguments on the other side. Often, they rattle off all the standard arguments for climate change, before dismissing them. Many of <a href="http://opr.ca.gov/facts/common-denier-arguments.html">the standard climate change denial</a> arguments involve claims that scientific institutions and mainstream media have been corrupted by malicious forces.</p> <p>What’s going on, <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/episteme/article/echo-chambers-and-epistemic-bubbles/5D4AC3A808C538E17C50A7C09EC706F0">in my view</a>, isn’t just a bubble. It’s not that people’s social media feeds are arranged so they don’t run across any scientific arguments; it’s that they’ve come to systematically distrust the institutions of science.</p> <p>This is an echo chamber. Echo chambers are far more entrenched and far more resistant to outside voices than epistemic bubbles. Echo chamber members have been prepared to face contrary evidence. Their echo-chambered worldview has been arranged to dismiss that evidence at its source.</p> <p>They’re not totally irrational, either. In the era of <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-great-endarkenment-9780199326020">scientific specialization</a>, people must <a href="https://doi.org/10.2307/2027007">trust</a> doctors, statisticians, biologists, chemists, physicists, nuclear engineers and aeronautical engineers, just to go about their day. <a href="https://philpapers.org/go.pl?id=NGUEAT&amp;aid=NGUEATv1">And they can’t always check</a> with perfect accuracy whether they have put their trust in the right place.</p> <p>An echo chamber member, however, distrusts the standard sources. Their trust has been redirected and concentrated inside the echo chamber.</p> <p>To break somebody out of an echo chamber, you’d need to repair that broken trust. And that is a much harder task than simply bursting a bubble.<em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/c-thi-nguyen-606694">C. Thi Nguyen</a>, Associate Professor of Philosophy, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/utah-valley-university-2123">Utah Valley University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-problem-of-living-inside-echo-chambers-110486">original article</a>.</em></p>

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