Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week
Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.
New ideas and the adjacent possible
Anne says: This TED Talk is fascinating. Some might say it’s obvious, others may disregard the results – but for me, this is reinforcing a number of research concepts talking about diversity in teams, and being able to explore the opportunities with an open mind.
Enjoy – and start looking for adjacent possibilities!
Why I Left Academic Philosophy
Nat says: As a current industry-partnered PhD candidate, a lot of what this article talks about resonated with me. Earlier this week I was struggling with why it was I felt so ‘jaded’ by academia, and I think I have now arrived at the answer. In entering academia, it appears I was under the false impression that the goal of academia — of science — was the pursuit of learning and wonder; of searching for a type of ‘truth’ and accepting that truth wherever it may lead.
It turns out, however, that my assumption has been wrong. In actuality, the goal of academia is publications via adherence to method without much contemplation of the investigative self. In translation, the origins of academic practice were once all about wonder and awe through the philosophical ‘self’. These days, academia has become the pursuit of scientific rigour. Funnily enough, the origins of philosophical inquiry often lacked empirical evidence, whereas science these days promotes a staunch (almost religion-esque) belief in the ‘scientific method’, whilst lacking philosophical thought; resulting in the ironic displacement of learning and wonder through the accumulation of knowledge! When academia became a business, philosophy was the price to be paid.
What is happening in the world of academia, the land of research and the custodians of scientific inquiry, is that we are generating more and more knowledge at the cost of philosophical contemplation; whilst our cost of philosophical contemplation in turn means we fail to question the very idea of knowledge itself. In this vein, I am reminded of this brilliant quote by Carl Sagan:
We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
I find it astonishing how many people fail to realise that a philosophical ‘worldview’ stands behind all scientists and subsequently all scientific findings. So-called ‘objective’ science is conducted by subjective individuals. My point being that you might see my shared article as being about philosophy (and zone out), whilst I am here almost screaming from within the walls of academia saying, “Hey world… do you know there are people with doctoral degrees, even tenured professors, who have never questioned what knowledge is but they will gladly produce it and spout it back to the world from a position of authority?”
It is quite alarming, especially as Sagan notes, that we live in a world reliant upon science and technology and most of us know nothing about either. At its core, science and technology is nothing but humans + mathematics + nature (our own and mother nature herself). Science is the very mining of our identity as human beings, and our technology is the thing that allows us to self-reflect. So if you’ve always thought philosophy is just ‘meh’, it’s time you realised that the world itself is built upon ideologies (philosophical world views!) What matters is your ability to think, not what to think, and philosophy helps in this regard. In a recent Friday Fave I talked about organisational boards now wanting to hire chief philosophy officers. It seems I’m not the only one who thinks we need a resurgence for thinking itself.
It’s 2021 and Facebook is banned: Here’s how you’ll survive
“It took a while to figure out how to maintain connectivity with each other in the brave new safe-data world, but the natural ingenuity of the human race won out in the end…”
Emilio says: Can you imagine a privacy-protected utopian world where there is no Facebook?
This satirical piece imagined just that – which has piqued my interest, given all the world’s eyes right now are on the social media behemoth. As Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week testifies before the US Congress on Facebook’s damningly deepening breaches of user data, the imagined scenarios in this piece offer welcome, as well as ridiculous, reflections of a post-Facebook world.
The communications solutions existing in this world are hilariously inane: a new ultra-secure means of messaging one another through smoke signals called ‘FaceSmoke’, where user’s ‘personal data are burnt to provide fuel for the smoke’; a service called ‘FaceFolder’ which delivers paper print-outs of all the articles your friends wish to share with you, without traceable URL link click and device use history; and ‘FaceShop’ for businesses which sets up small stores outside the houses of potential buyers to sell businesses’ products and services, where ‘privacy is protected and the human right to shop is upheld’.
The piece closes with a sarcastically punchy ending to boot:
“The online world is finally safe for all, and now the only threats to our freedom are the rogue self-driving cars stalking our streets, the roving bands of unemployed ex-Facebook employees and Twitter’s recent purchase of the world’s largest motion-sensor camera firm.”
So much for privacy in 2021 and beyond. Even in a post-Facebook world, technology will rule and it will be up to us to gain mastery of it if we want to thrive.
Victorian student creates physio ‘smart socks’
Joel says: We love our wearables here at Ripple Effect, and we’ve been wondering for a while what the new wearable ‘fad’ was going to be in the near future. It seems we may have found it – socks. Not just any socks though, obviously. Smart socks.
Physiotherapists may soon be able to treat remote patients with a new form of wearable technology dubbed “smart socks”.
Developed by University of Melbourne PhD candidate Deepti Aggarwal, the socks send information on weight distribution, foot orientation and range of movement to physiotherapists who treat patients through video consultations.
“Lower limb movements are difficult to understand over video, the movements are so subtle,” said the computer science student, who submitted her thesis last week. When I was trialling these socks, the patients wanted to take the socks home and physiotherapists wanted to use them with other patients.”
The socks work by using three sensors embedded in the socks that patients wear while performing exercises as a web-interface displays the data in real time for physiotherapists.
The socks, which cost $300 to make, are not available for sale. But Ms Aggarwal has called on wearable technology companies to give her a call and consider mass producing them, thereby reducing the price.
This could be an industry breakthrough if it takes off. Imagine if in the future doctors’ consultations could be completed online via video conference and data sent by numerous wearables.
Is Friday 13 really an unlucky day?
Helen says: Fear of this date even has a name – paraskevidekatriaphobia – but does science lend some credibility to the assertions of increased bad luck being tightly linked to this date?
In this article Kylie Sturgess explores the origins of the stigma around Friday 13th and discusses human superstition. If you are feeling anxious about today, Kylie has good news for you. Fear of this date is not science based but is simply in our own minds, so why not download a wellbeing app, relax and enjoy this Friday 13th.
Evolution explains why we act differently online
The internet offers unparalleled promise of cooperation and communication between all of humanity. But instead of embracing a massive extension of our social circles online, we seem to be reverting to tribalism and conflict.
Jakkii says: This is an interesting long read on our online behaviour that explores behaviours such as cooperation and selfishness, and our evolution as cooperative social beings. It also touches on the role of social institutions in our behaviours and how institutional trust and societal norms affect how we interact with others.
…social media has weak institutions. It offers physical distance, relative anonymity and little reputational or punitive risk for bad behaviour. If you’re mean, no-one you know is going to see.
This is the online disinhibition effect, described by Suler well over a decade ago. It isn’t something we’ve just seen people start to exhibit – but what’s interesting to me is the scale of effect, both real and perceived. And it’s important we talk about what it is, and how we might address it. The article also talks about reputation and what I’ve long called “outrage culture,” in which posts using emotive and moralistic words are more likely to be shared, and though we infrequently see moral outrage in person, we see it every day online.
The piece then goes on to look at possible ways of changing the behaviour of a whole network, while only needing a few people – or bots. Influence and interconnectivity within the network play a significant role in this according the researchers quoted, and it makes for good thinking fodder. Community managers have long done this role online – guiding and influencing behaviours to set and keep the right community tone. So how might we be able to use AI to redirect our behaviours online and further support these efforts – both in the world, and perhaps even in our workplaces?
With all that in mind, I’d also like to recommend you watch this short video from Nas Daily: “How to win friends and influence people?” The themes of equality and respect are ones that I would hope resonate with us all (or at least most of us), and the positivity of the video is pretty infectious. Start your weekend off with a smile!
Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast
This week: big ships, rockets vs. cars, fake videos, Zuck’s cushion, and climate change in other news. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.
The stories this week:
Other stories we bring up: