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- What If Social Media Could Tell You When You’re Mean?Years ago, when I still used Facebook a lot, I posted a really mean reply to a friend’s post. A real friend, too, not just a “Facebook friend.” The aftermath was ruinous. My friend forgave me, thank goodness, but I was so horrified at my gaffe that I purged my account, shedding thousands of friends. I stopped posting my own personal updates, mostly, too. The whole experience made me not trust myself with social media. I’ve had similar experiences on Twitter, where it’s easy to go off the rails and regret it later.Everyone who uses social media has probably had an experience like this. You say something that you regret, which hurts someone you know or—worse—upsets a whole mess of people you don’t.Rana el Kaliouby, the CEO of Affectiva, an artificial intelligence startup, has an idea that might help remedy that. What if when you posted something on Twitter or… ..... Read More.4 weeks ago
- The Problem With Diversity in ComputingWhen Amy Webb broke her ankle, she was forced to hobble around on a walking boot. That inconvenience spawned others: Among them, she couldn’t pass through the metal detector at airport TSA Precheck lines any longer. Instead she had to use the backscatter machines that produce X-ray images of passengers.Webb, who is a professor at New York University and the author of The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, took the inconvenience as a first-hand opportunity to watch how this technology, which uses computational methods to mark possible risks on the body, really works. “I’m looking at the screen,” she says of the image that appeared from her scan, “and my cast, head, and breasts were big blocks of yellow.” While waiting for the ensuing pat down, she watched a couple other women go through. Same thing: blocks of yellow across their breasts.It was… ..... Read More.4 weeks ago
- Amazon Ring Will Survive the Anti-Surveillance BacklashIn most cases, when police want to search your neighborhood, they need a warrant and a reason to believe something’s amiss. Now, “reasonable suspicion” is going the way of dial-up. Fifty police departments across the United States are partnering with Amazon to collect footage from people who use Ring, the company’s internet-connected doorbell. Some are offering discounted or free Ring doorbells in exchange for a pledge to register the devices with law enforcement and submit all requested footage. Amazon has also filed patents to expand its Ring line beyond doorbells and into cameras mounted on motor vehicles; inside baby monitors and wearable “smart glasses”; even atop security drones that circle your home and call the police if they detect a disturbance.In a statement to The Atlantic, a spokesperson for Amazon Ring said the company doesn’t endorse the giveaways that require users to hand over footage, and noted that most of… ..... Read More.4 weeks ago
- How a Bad Night’s Sleep Birthed the Sound ConditionerFor nearly six decades, a beige, dome-shaped apparatus has lurked in bedrooms, offices, and waiting rooms, where it is heard but not seen. In fact, not noticing is what the electromechanical sound conditioner is all about. This unobtrusive device helps millions of Americans sleep and concentrate by hushing the world around them. Manufactured by the North Carolina company Marpac, the device has had a number of names in its lifetime—among them the Sleep-Mate, the Sound Screen, and the Sound-o-Sleep.However, the sound it produces has never changed—a nimbus of noise opaque enough to mask intrusive sounds or private speech, but muffled and mellow enough to be forgotten. Today, rebranded as Dohm, the humble appliance holds its own in a crowded marketplace of digital comfort sounds, competing against ocean-wave machines and rainfall apps by being, well, more ignorable. This post is adapted from Hagood’s new book. The sound conditioner is one of the… ..... Read More.4 weeks ago