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

How does photography affect you?

Anne says: I’m still distracted by last week’s topic: Digital Distraction. And I’m finding more and more information that points to the value of our devices, but, with the caveat that we need to use them more effectively, to manage the how and why we use them. This video from Wired is in a series about how technology affects us – in particular, this one about photography related to last week’s article where we were being encouraged (told) to leave our devices at home, go out and experience the world without them. But… I use the camera in my phone – almost exclusively now. My DSLR and mirrorless digital cameras are gathering dust in a cupboard. So – to challenge leaving my phone (and that means my camera) at home, for me, means missing opportunities to take photos.

The video explores the research that asks how is the increase in the use of photography (through our devices) changing the way we see the world and our phones? And it’s fascinating!

Let’s start with the selfie! Why do we take selfies?

One of the comments suggests:

“It’s about what you want to look like. The best representation of you”

I’m not a huge selfie taker, so perhaps I’m naive or just not that fussed, but I had NO idea about all the selfie editing apps available and how people spend time “fixing” how they look!! What I also wasn’t aware of was that taking a photo about 1 foot (~30cms) away from your face creates a fisheye effect that can make your nose look about 30% wider!! Selfies distort your face!! You don’t really look like that!! (There’s some great research and comments from a facial plastic surgeon…). This effect is negative – it’s causing Instagram Anxiety in people who take a lot of selfies. (Warning – the studies are still very new and we need more data).

And next – how does taking a photo effect our memory?

The research is indicating that it can interfere with our experience, then we post it, then we start looking at what others have posted (see articles from Tristan Harris) and then we become anxious or have “self-representational concern”.  There’s more detail about the differences highlighted through researching how professional photographers look at the world and how they use their devices.

The conclusions are powerful. They recommend separating the sharing of photos until later – not in the moment. Make yourself more engaged by looking at the scene and trying to capture the experience. Avoid looking at the scene you’re photographing through the lens of your camera/phone – look at the scene, experience it, then try to capture the essence of that experience. If we do this, it is indicating that the memory is more powerful and meaningful.

So – I’m not going to be leaving my phone (camera) at home anytime soon – I’m going to be taking it everywhere. But I’m going to try and look at scenes and experiences differently. If I think of it as a communication tool, what is it in my photo that I want you, my Instagram viewer, to experience?

The video above is about 10 minutes long – I recommend watching all of it!


A New Tool Protects Videos From Deepfakes and Tampering

Helen says: The subject of deepfakes has been mentioned more than once in our Friday Faves, and so too has blockchain. This week I came across an encouraging article about the development of a tool to counter one using the other. Video footage is often vital in law enforcement, but difficult-to-detect video manipulation is increasingly undermining the integrity of this form of evidence. A cryptographic authentication tool, Amber Authenticate, is designed to run in the background on a recording device; it effectively stamps the video at nominated intervals and records the data on blockchain. This information can then be compared by external experts, with the original data, to establish its authenticity. The tool has the interest of government departments and it also appeals to “human rights activists, free speech advocates, and law enforcement watchdogs wary of potential abuse coverups.” The importance of re-establishing community confidence in this form of evidence cannot be understated and it is great to learn that one solution could be market-ready sooner than later.


Why astronauts can struggle to drive a car after a space mission

Joel says: It’s hard to argue that astronauts aren’t the most highly trained pilots in the world. If you don’t mind a nice pun you could even say their skills are out of this world (wink). But it seems a new study has proven that upon returning to Earth after a space mission, their driving ability reverts to those of a learner driver.

A study accepted by Nature’s Scientific Reports Journal has found that after returning from a long-term space mission astronauts appear to have a ‘disastrous breakdown’ when it comes to their ability to drive a car or pilot a plane once they get back home.

The study tested eight astronauts between 2012-2015 and had them use a driving and flying simulator within a day of returning to Earth. Although they had all passed the test prior to leaving it became very clear that the extended time in space had hindered their ability to do the same tasks now, with driving ability being the motor skill most significantly impacted.

Although the test just required them to drive through a winding mountain road and maintain lane control the participants had a lot of difficulty doing so and mentioned that:

During the six months in space they’d lost the sense of how big a car was around them

The good news is that on subsequent attempts the ability to control the car for the astronauts improved quite quickly.

Professor Moore said once the astronauts were integrated back into gravity, it took a while for their brains to work out just how to move [their bodies] around.

Professor Moore believes that the issue lies with the gravitational reference for maneuvering around turns in space being vertical rather than horizontal as it is for the rest of us here on Earth.

To see an example driving test performed by an astronaut that lived in space for 6 months check out the video below.

The main reason I found this article interesting was because it got me thinking, what other daily activities are we doing that may be affecting existing skills we had and aren’t even aware of? Has sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day somehow limited my ability to hula hoop for example? It’s likely something I’ll never know.


10 breakthrough technologies 2019: How we’ll invent the future, by Bill Gates

Jakkii says: I’m not going to spoil the whys of each tech that Bill Gates has chosen in this piece, but I will give you a list of them to whet your appetite.

  • Robot dexterity
  • New-wave nuclear power
  • Predicting preemies
  • Gut probe in a pill
  • Custom cancer vaccines
  • The cow-free burger
  • Carbon dioxide catcher
  • An ECG on your wrist
  • Sanitation without sewers
  • Smooth-talking AI assistance

Pretty amazing list, right? It’s well worth having a read through the whole piece where Gates provides his insights about each technology and why he believes it will be so impactful. Interestingly, though unsurprisingly, the technologies can be grouped into three main buckets: health, environment, and human assistance (i.e. via robots & AI).

Given the title of the piece, it probably goes without saying that the article is overwhelmingly optimistic, so in sections such as robot dexterity the focus is on how this helps us, without consideration for what other impacts there may be, such as displacing human workers, that may, in turn, present their own challenges to be overcome.


This Week in Social Media

Politics and regulation

Privacy and data

Society and culture

Cybersecurity and safety

Moderating social networks


Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: looking ahead, looking back and looking to see what looking means. 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:

The NYT predicts what devices will invade your life in 2019

MIT’s biggest technology failures of 2018

25 years of Wired predictions

Other stories we bring up:

Washington Post Tech Predictions 2019

CNBC tech predictions for 2019

IBM predicts 5 innovations will change our lives in 5 years

MIT’s biggest technology failures of 2017

MIT’s biggest technology failures of 2015

MIT’s biggest technology failures of 2014

Naughty parrot caught ordering from Alexa

Our previous discussion about self-driving cars

Our interview with NSW Chief Scientist, Hugh Durrant-Whyte

Our previous discussion about Juicero

Our interview with Dan Ariely

1999 AD: House of Tomorrow


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