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

Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin introduce “human downgrading”

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Anne says: Last week, the Center for Humane Technology was launched. The founders, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, have made regular appearances in previous Friday Faves across the whole team. If you’re not familiar with Tristan Harris’ work in particular, the Wired article will give you some good background. He was a former Google employee, as their Digital Ethicist. He left because he wasn’t comfortable with how technology was being used to manipulate our behaviour. He also coined a number of terms that are used regularly: time well spent and attention economy are just two examples. Aza Raskin, former creative lead at Mozilla (developers of the Firefox browser), is credited as the designer of infinite scrolling – something he’s not necessarily proud of!

The two have joined forces to create the Center for Humane Technology. Their objective: 

“…calls on all technology creators to approach innovation to protect a deeper understanding of our basic human nature and focus on benefitting rather than “downgrading” humanity.”

Recently (see the Wired article for more background), Tristan Harris has been working on developing terminology that better describes the current human-technology experience. In doing so, he’s attempting to create a shared language that can empower users while drawing the attention of the platform creators to take responsibility. A task not for the faint-hearted! 

The uptake of his previous terminology like attention economy and time well spent have both spawned their own industries. From advertisers and marketing trying to capture our attention right through to the technology addiction types providing self-help programs that tell us to leave our phones at home! While this was not the intention, arriving at a shared understanding of how technology can impact our lives, he maintains that language shapes our reality. To this end, he struggled with our current situation; fake news, algorithms, addiction etc etc.. The result? 

Human Downgrading

While our technology has been feverishly and profitably upgraded, humanity has been downgraded.

The Center for Humane Technology intends to focus its efforts on technology that shortens our attention spans, rewards outrage, polarises political views, and creates competition for likes and sharing analytics.

Are they crusaders or evangelists? Regardless, the intention to better inform the general population and provide mechanisms for technology companies to take responsibility is impressive. The challenge: can we really get these tech companies to change? Can we stop this human downgrading?

There’s also a video that describes more background into the thinking behind Human Downgrading on Wiredin an interview with Tristan Harris and Yuval Noah Harari, historian and best-selling author of Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (about 60 minutes).

Read: https://www.wired.com/story/tristan-harris-tech-is-downgrading-humans-time-to-fight-back/

Watch: https://www.wired.com/story/artificial-intelligence-yuval-noah-harari-tristan-harris/

Notre Dame update

Anne says: A valuable reminder about Notre Dame and its role in significant historical events – “its never been the same, it’s always been changing” – a reminder that although there has been great loss, there have also been many times when the cathedral was derelict and rebuilt. This is just another phase in its history. 

Watch: https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/hidden-histories?vpid=p076qf3p (only 1 minute)

Astronomers record meteorite hitting the Moon at 61,000kph during the full lunar eclipse — and leaving a big crater

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Joel says: If you have followed my pieces on our Friday Fave’s blog for a while it wouldn’t be hard to pick out the types of topics that I find interesting. I love reading about advancements in VR, Artificial Intelligence, animals and robotics and gaming. But one subject that fascinates me beyond any of those I just mentioned is space. Space travel, new findings in space-junk, spotting things light-years away, investigations into the potential of sustaining life on Mars, it’s all fascinating to me because it’s all new and there’s so much out there that is still unknown. 

This week I’ve actually picked 2 articles that I found interesting that focus on recent discoveries in space and hopefully you’ll find them interesting too.

If you remember the rare Super Blood Wolf Moon that was visible in late January of this year, it turns out that a second rare event happened on the moon at the same time. During the eclipse, Spanish astronomers found that a fragment from a comet weighing 45kg and travelling at 61,000 kmph crashed into the Moon causing a visible flash of light and leaving a new crater on the Moon nearly 15 metres in diameter. 

The thing I found interesting was the line:

Unlike the Earth, the Moon has no atmosphere to protect it — so even tiny rocks can hit its surface.

And it turns out the heavily cratered surface of the moon is actually caused by other events just like this one.

The explosion can actually be seen in the following video at the 2:11:01 mark.

Readhttps://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-01/space-rock-left-big-crater-on-moon-during-full-lunar-eclipse/11061662?section=technology

The second article: The rapid rotation of the black hole likely warps spacetime

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hAlso observed this week for the first time was a black hole jet spewing plasma in rotating directions rather than the typical straight up and down fashion. When a black hole’s gravity pulls gas from a nearby star it expels some of that material back into space in what was a pretty standard pattern. This week though researchers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) witnessed black hole V404-Cygni rapidly rotating while consuming the nearby star resulting in a visible display of it warping spacetime. 

You can read more about the phenomenon or check out a video explaining the science behind what occurred.

Readhttps://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-30/black-hole-swirling-jets-in-space-as-star-ripped-apart/11050396?section=technology

Watchhttps://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-30/the-spinning-black-hole/11057610

You’re not getting enough sleep and it’s killing you

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Helen says: This article reviews a recent TED talk given by a neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, on the importance of sleep. My hubby is not a great sleeper, which is the reason this topic sparked my interest. Most of us have experienced sleep deprivation at some point in time and know first-hand just how difficult it can be to focus on a task when tired. A lack of sleep impacts our productivity and worse, can result in accidents that are otherwise avoidable. I was less aware that a lack of sleep can also lead to a lower immune system, prevent us from learning, reduce our memory and increase our risk of heart failure. If this concerns you too, some tips on how to improve sleep are shared: they include

  • establishing a routine bedtime;
  • sleeping in a cool room (as in temperature, not hip);
  • reducing screen time before bed;
  • dropping caffeine and alcohol;
  • and, interestingly, if your mind is racing and you just can’t switch off, don’t toss and turn in bed, get up!

This TED talk is not yet available, but I am interested to view it in full when it is. Also of interest might be Matthew Walker’s book – Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

Readhttps://www.wired.com/story/youre-not-getting-enough-sleep-and-its-killing-you/

Are you a chronic complainer? Here’s how a ‘complaint cleanse’ can help

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Some griping is healthy, but too much can cause constant stress. It can also infect those around us with our negativity.

Jakkii says: My first question to you all was actually asked in the title of the article – are you a complainer? We all moan and groan and gripe from time to time, but too much of it only feeds our own negativity – and brings everyone else down as well.

I appreciated this piece because, save for the most blissfully optimistic amongst us, I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. It’s a good reminder not only about why constant complaining can be bad for our health – stress is bad for our physical health as well as our mental health – but it’s also an important reminder of the effect our behaviours and attitudes have on those around us. This is true in all aspects of our lives, but of course, can be particularly problematic in the workplace. A constant complainer can bring the whole team down, and increase the negativity in everyone around them. Worse, in organisations with poor cultures generally or those who are going through significant and difficult upheavals, this type of constant complaint and pervasive negativity can take root across the company and be very difficult to shift without concerted action.

Ultimately though, we’re all in charge of our own emotions, behaviours and attitudes. Sometimes that means being very honest with ourselves and assessing whether we’re complaining too much and having a negative effect on those around us. And if we find we are, then the ‘complaint cleanse’ technique proposed in this article might just be worth a shot.

Aspects of the technique include:

  • Learning to complain constructively
  • Asking yourself “is it worth it?”
  • Understanding your feelings behind your complaint

Time for some honest self-assessment, everyone – and if you think you could use a complaint cleanse, make sure you read this article (or even send it to someone you know!).

Readhttps://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/are-you-chronic-complainer-here-s-how-complaint-cleanse-can-ncna994031?

This week in social media

Federal election

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR

Facebook F8 coverage

Platforms

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: #996 working long hours, predicting work and who dies on Game of Thrones. 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: 

00:45 – China’s ‘996’ work culture comes under scrutiny

15:50 – UK businesses use artificial intelligence to monitor staff activity 

23:52 – An algorithm tells us which characters die during the final Game of Thrones season (DA DAAAA DADADA DAAA DADADAAA) 

Other stories we bring up: 

996.icu  

Jack Ma defends the ‘blessing’ of a 12-hour working day  

Richard Liu’s letter to JD.com’s employees  

CNN covers Jack Ma 996 comments  

Jack Ma says he requires 996   

Is 996 truly a blessing?  

India has already been working even longer hours 

Our previous conversation of Elon Musk’s couch  

Elon Musk says Tesla employees have to work harder   

Our previous long conversation of four hour work week   

Rory Sutherland on John McDonnell’s the four-day week  

IBM’s secret patent to predict when employees will quit 

The ISAAK People Analytics System 

Listenhttp://sbi.sydney.edu.au/the-future-this-week-19-apr-19-996-futureofwork-got/


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