for W3c validation
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.
Studying the behaviour of AI
Anne says: In previous Friday Faves I’ve raised the issues of algorithms – bias of coding and need for diversity through to how algorithms are manipulating our behaviours. This week it’s a slightly different angle. MIT Media Lab are addressing the need for a new field of research – the study of machine behaviour. The recommendation is to study:
“…artificial intelligence well beyond computer science and engineering into biology, economics, psychology, and other behavioral and social sciences.”
This introduces the next phase of machine development – it’s not just human-computer-interaction (HCI), a previous field of study that led to user-experience field of practice – this field of study requires a mindshift that machines are intelligent and how that will impact society. The article talks about “machines with agency” that are making decisions and acting autonomously. For me, this is exciting new territory, if I was starting out at Uni, this is what I’d be studying. The combination of intelligent machines and people is going to be fascinating – considering we still haven’t figured out why people do things (in general).
The article continues to explain why the new field of investigation is critical. While the studies are intended to understand the impact of algorithmic decisions on our lives, the challenges are many, including privacy of data, intellectual property of code, commercially sensitive code bases (like Amazon’s recommendations engine) will require all sorts of legal clearances. It may require the large tech companies to share their data and algorithms. But if the algorithms are learning from their interactions with other machines and people, this will require new and novel ways of researching.
As with other interdisciplinary fields of research, it will need siloed groups to come together and strive for shared goals and knowledge. Fascinating times ahead, indeed!
If you’re wanting to engage with the content further, what the YouTube interview (above 54 mins): “The benefits and limits of personal robots” with Cynthia Breazeal and Nick Obradovich.
This Bird Went Extinct, Then Evolution Recreated It
Joel says: Where Anne and Jakkii have written about some cool futuristic concepts this week discussing AI and Assistive Technologies, the piece I read this week that I found really interesting actually has to do with the past. Really far in the past.
My piece this week has to do with the white-throated rail bird. A species of bird that came back from the dead after being extinct for over 10,000 years.
Between 136,000 and 240,000 years ago a flock of rail birds flew from Madagascar and then colonised an island called Aldabra. Due to a lack of natural predators on the island, the birds eventually evolved to become flightless. Unfortunately for them around 136,000 years ago Aldabra was completely flooded causing the extinction of the white-throated tail bird.
But thanks to a process researchers from the University of Portsmouth and London’s Natural History Museum call ‘iterative evolution’ it seems that after Aldabra reemerged another flock of rail birds repeated the same process of flying from Madagascar, colonising the island and then over a long period of time evolved to become flightless. This discovery of a species colonising the same area and evolving in the same pathway as an extinct ancestor is a first.
The researchers were able to prove the species had essentially come back from the dead by comparing the rail birds to collected fossils of the original rail bird from the island.
I found this piece interesting because it had me wondering if anything is truly ever extinct for good. Sure they may be gone now but with everything evolving from something, who’s to say that under the right conditions whatever species evolved to birth the Tasmanian Tiger won’t one day bring them back again?
Green versus Blue – does it bother you?
Helen says: I was unaware of the emotion that can be aroused with the topic of blue versus green bubbles in iMessages. I really hadn’t given the distinction much thought, messages from Android users are green and iPhone users are blue? So, I was interested to find out what all the chat was about and listened to this 30 minute podcast.
Some Android users speak of being left out of iMessage chats or being ghosted if they respond via iMessage to a potential match from a dating site. For iPhone users, it seems they don’t like the unreliable and poor experience they have when chatting with Android users over iMessage. They can’t see the typing bubble, emojis don’t always translate correctly, image resolution is poor, you can’t see if the message has been read, messages are sometimes not delivered or are partially delivered and there may also be an element of snobbery – it was suggested that Androids are the poor people’s phone!
Some imply the distinction is more about Apple creating a group dynamic for iPhone users to the exclusion of all others. The colour distinction reinforces and strengthens this identity; effectively through your phone choice you are choosing your tribe.
There’s also debate around the choice of colour and its intent. According to Sarah Allred, a psychologist who specializes in colour perception, some colours have universal distaste or appeal. Darker yellows and tans get the thumbs down – think of puke and pooh! The desaturated blue used for the iPhone bubble is universally liked – think of sky and sea, then feel the calm. The Android green, unlike the greens found in nature, it saturated and artificial making it unpleasant to the eye. Is this intentional?
Messaging protocol expert Dieter Bohn suggests it is less about colour and conspiracy, and more about the limitation of SMS protocols. No global protocol exists that enables all carriers to provide the same iMessage features iPhone users currently enjoy. He explains that iMessage, like many chat products, is IP based. It checks iCloud accounts for iMessage capability and sends an encrypted message via the internet to avoid SMS fees. Without iMessage capability, the message must be sent using the traditional and limited SMS message format. A third protocol is being developed to replace SMS – Rich Communication Services (RCS), designed to move standard messaging to over the internet but the rollout of it is slow and we are not likely to see a global solution anytime soon. However, when it does come, will Apple resist any move to a global platform? There’s the privacy issue – RCS will not be encrypted – but a bigger consideration is whether the removal of iMessage exclusivity among iPhone users could in fact negatively impact iPhone sales.
Whatever the motivation for the distinction, I find it useful, not so that I can identify what phone a person has, but more so I can better understand the limitations some of those in my chat group might be experiencing.
The mouse of the future? Your eyeballs
Jakkii says: Assistive technologies for people with disability are amazing on their own, but one of the side benefits is that they often lead to improvements for abled people as well. As this article points out, eye-tracking has been used as an assistive technology for some time now, but some papers presented at the recent HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) Conference cover some potential ways this technology may be used more broadly.h
Proofreading emails – or any other chunk of text – with just your eyes
This was my favourite. ReType, the program in question presented by the University of Auckland and the University of Bath, allows you to simply look at the word you want to correct and type the replacement word, without ever having to physically highlight it first using a mouse (or even using the keyboard to highlight it first). It isn’t hard to imagine how over the course of a day, a week, a month or a year you’d pick up more and more time saved by being able to cut out a simple step like that.
Navigating through code without ever using a mouse
If you’ve ever worked even with HTML or CSS – nevermind more complex code – you can probably immediately imagine how much this could help!
Using eye tracking to communicate with colleagues
Eye tracking as a collaborative tool – who would’ve thought?
This is a short read to get the rest of the detail, but it’s well worth it. I find it fascinating to see what people are researching and what the findings are, extrapolating from there how they may – or may not – be useful in the workplace. The question often becomes, will this be commercially viable, and, importantly, will something else beat it to the punch – whether or not it’s a superior technology? And, how might these potential technologies work with other technologies? For example, voice interfaces – imagine using your eyes and voice to control your work, instead of your hands. It might make us more productive (and possibly louder – we might need some cones of silence in the office, too) – and maybe it’ll save us all some repetitive strain injuries.
This week in social media
Don’t forget to vote and earn your democracy sausage on Saturday May 18 (if you haven’t already voted)!
- To win our federal election vote, politicians should get to know the real Chinese-Australia
- Democracy sausages are coming to Instagram (for good reasons)
- Facebook cracking down on federal election content, but experts say more can be done
- Snapchat engages young people with Aussie politics with new creative tools
- Julie Bishop shared an Instagram Story of her being asked about Engadine Maccas (language/content warning)
Politics, democracy and regulation
- White House launches tool to report censorship on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter
- WeChat is ruining work-life balance, and one local government wants to fix it
- Sri Lanka has blocked most major social networks after a Facebook post sparked anti-muslim riots
- Facebook is a capitalism problem, not a Mark Zuckerberg problem
- Friend portability is the must-have Facebook regulation
- Breaking up (with) Facebook is hard to do. But not impossible
- Facebook says it needs more regulation, not a breakup
- Facebook, France haggle over hate controls
Privacy and data
- Facebook may face 20 years of privacy oversight by FTC
- PSA: Update WhatsApp now to prevent spyware from being installed on your phone
- Twitter bug shared location data for some iOS users
- Facebook sues analytics firm Rankwave over alleged data misuse
- It’s the algorithm’s world (we’re just living in it)
- US government requests for Twitter user data drop 6%
Cybersecurity and safety
- What parents need to know about the YOLO app for Snapchat
- The scammer tried to take over a YouTube channel by claiming to be from Support Team
Society and culture
- Imagine a Facebook without Facebook: how A.I. Will soon disrupt social media
- Behind Twitter’s plan to get people to stop yelling at one another
- Is YouTube also contributing in digital waste?
- An Instagram with no ‘likes’ could have a big impact on mental health
- Snapchat surgery: the doctors sending video updates mid-operation
- Existence precedes likes: how online behaviour defines us
- The flip phone is back. Have people had enough of constant connection?
Extremism and hate speech
- Facebook restricts Live feature, citing NZ
- YouTube’s newest far-right, foul-mouthed, red-pilling star is a 14-year-old girl
- Twitter, Facebook, and Insta bans send the alt-right to Gab and Telegram
- A new study claims Facebook is unknowingly generating terror content
- Twitter reports fall in extreme content
Moderation and misinformation
- Twitter launches new search tool to combat vaccine misinformation
- Better ways needed to bring facts to the fore
- Would forcing longer social media posts reduce online toxicity?
- Facebook raising pay and support services for thousands of contractors and content moderators
- Nearly half of social media users who share articles have passed on fake news, study suggests
- Instagram and Twitter updates stop people looking at anti-vaxx propaganda
- Agnotology and epistemological fragmentation
Marketing, advertising and PR
- Facebook’s ‘transparency’ efforts hide key reasons for showing ads
- YouTube is developing a tool that creates 6-second ads automatically
- TikTok has created a whole new class of influencer
- Tobacco giant suspends social media campaign as young ‘influencers’ exposed
- Facebook’s pivot to Groups could help it create privacy-protecting ads
- Facebook aims to boost Stories usage with Birthdays
- Facebook reenables ‘View as Public’ feature following 2018 security issue
- Spotify’s Storylines are like Instagram Stories for musicians
- UNFRIENDED: Here are all the Mark Zuckerberg allies who have turned on Facebook
- Instagram appears to be testing stickers with song lyrics
- TikTok is the new music kingmaker, and labels want to get paid
Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast
This week: a million species disappear: what that means, what we can do, and a swearing robot. 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:
Robot of the week:
Other stories we bring up:
The UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 40-page summary of its findings for policymakers of the upcoming 1,500-page report on the state of biodiversity on Earth