How To Mitigate The Harmful Effects Of Zoom Burnout

from Forbes During the pandemic, the amount of screen time for many people working and learning from home as well as binge-watching TV has sharply increased. And prolonged screen time is leaving a series of maladies in its wake. Researchers at Arizona State University published a study showing that heavy screen users—defined as those who use screens an average of 17.5 hours per day—reported the least healthful dietary patterns and the poorest health-related characteristics compared with moderate and light users, who averaged roughly 11.3 and 7 hours of screen use per day, respectively. More here.

Continue reading

A Covid-Fighting Tool Is Buried In Your Phone. Turn It On.

from WaPo Here’s a phone alert you wouldn’t want to miss: “You have likely been exposed.” The coronavirus surge is upon us, and your phone might be able to help. About 100 million Americans now have the ability to get pop-up notifications from local health authorities when they’ve personally spent time near someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus. But exposure notifications only work if you and the people around you turn them on. Yes, you! There’s early evidence this anonymous smartphone technology works — but so far isn’t helping very many Americans. In August, I wrote about the […]

Continue reading

Boston Dynamics’ Robots Won’t Take Our Jobs … Yet

from Wired IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO talk about Boston Dynamics robots without acknowledging two things: They’re a marvel of modern engineering, and their agility can be incredibly unnerving. A 46-second video of Spot the robot “dog” opening a door has more than 56 million views on YouTube. Atlas, the company’s headless humanoid robot, can go for a jog or do parkour. And just last week, the company released new footage of Spot the robot recharging on its own. (If it sounds like a Black Mirror episode, well, that’s because it sort of is.) But even as many observers joke about a […]

Continue reading

Big Business vs. Small Business

from Seth’s Blog Small companies create almost all the jobs. They are the insurgents, the agents of change. Big companies are a backbone, reliable providers of goods and services. Big companies operate at a scale that most of us can’t even imagine. The two points of view often conflict. And each can learn from the other. Net neutrality is an argument between freedom of innovation by small business vs. control from big business. Campaign finance reform is an argument against big companies and their leaders buying the outcomes of elections. It’s not always about capitalism vs. the alternative. It’s often […]

Continue reading

A 2.5 Gigapixel Image of the Orion Constellation

from Kottke Amateur astronomer Matt Harbison has been working for the past five years on capturing a detailed image of the Orion constellation. He recently completed the project and the result is this 2.5 gigapixel photo mosaic composed of 12,816 individual photos. From PetaPixel, which has a good writeup of the project, a taste of the challenges involved with constructing this image: Even after all the images were shot and each panel completed, the finished image did not come together smoothly. “I began in 2015 on a Mac Pro with 2 Xeon Processors and 64GB of RAM. This machine was […]

Continue reading

The Power Of Community And The Trap Of Opt-Out

from Seth’s Blog In Colonial America, they had private fire departments. If you didn’t voluntarily pay your dues, the firemen wouldn’t put out a fire–they’d watch your house burn and make sure it didn’t spread to your neighbor’s house. [or this!] While this is a vivid way to ensure that everyone pays their dues, it’s such an inefficient way to support the fire department that it was replaced with the smarter alternative: a smaller tax on everyone, automatically collected. Even if a few manage to avoid paying their share, the blanket protection, which also leads to fire inspectors and building […]

Continue reading

Self-Directed, Project-Based Learning

from Seth’s Blog Why do educated people too often fall for foolish scams and conspiracy theories? The problem is that no one taught us to understand. Instead, we are pushed to simply to memorize. To be educated enough to do well on the test, and then to forget what we were taught, because we never actually learned it. Understanding opens the door to insight and to comfort with the data. Understanding is the platform we need to go to the next level… memorizing is a fragile house of cards, with no foundation. And the compliance mindset of “will this be […]

Continue reading

‘We Were Shocked’: Rand Study Uncovers Massive Income Shift To The Top 1%

from Fast Company Just how far has the working class been left behind by the winner-take-all economy? A new analysis by the RAND Corporation examines what rising inequality has cost Americans in lost income—and the results are stunning. A full-time worker whose taxable income is at the median—with half the population making more and half making less—now pulls in about $50,000 a year. Yet had the fruits of the nation’s economic output been shared over the past 45 years as broadly as they were from the end of World War II until the early 1970s, that worker would instead be making […]

Continue reading

Why Online Voting Is Harder Than Online Banking

from ars technica For a feature last week, I talked to a number of election experts and computer security researchers who argued that secure Internet voting isn’t feasible today and probably won’t be for many years to come. A common response to this argument—one that came up in comments to last week’s article—is to compare voting to banking. After all, we regularly use the Internet to move money around the world. Why can’t we use the same techniques to secure online votes? But voting has some unique requirements that make secure online voting a particularly challenging problem. Every electronic transaction in the […]

Continue reading

The Case for Dumping the Electoral College

from The New Yorker In 1961, Estes Kefauver, the crusading Democratic senator from Tennessee, denounced the Electoral College as “a loaded pistol pointed at our system of government.” Its continued existence, he said, as he opened hearings on election reform, created “a game of Russian roulette” because, at some point, the antidemocratic distortions of the College could threaten the country’s integrity. Judging from Twitter’s obsessions, at least, that hour may be approaching. The polls indicate that Donald Trump is likely to win fewer votes nationally than Joe Biden this fall, just as he won fewer than Hillary Clinton, in 2016. […]

Continue reading

Welcome To Human-Computer Co-Creation: What GPT-3 Means For Education

from Forbes It’s a super auto-completer. With a little training, it’s a writer, coder, composer, translator, and puzzle solver. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of AI from OpenAI, a San Francisco R&D shop set up to guide a path to safe artificial general intelligence and funded by Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, and Vinod Khosla.  Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) is a deep learning language model that produces human-like text. The third-generation model “is the most powerful language model ever,” MIT Technology Review.   Trained by supercomputers with 175 billion parameters—an order of magnitude more than prior models—applications for GPT-3 have the potential […]

Continue reading

We Can Have Social Media As We Know It, Or We Can Have Democracy

from Fast Company In early September, President Trump retweeted a video allegedly showing an “black lives matter/antifa” activist pushing a woman into a subway car. The video is nearly a year old, and the man in question was mentally ill and had no connection to either group. As a researcher studying social media, propaganda, and politics in 2016, I thought I’d seen it all. At the time, while working at University of Oxford, I was in the thick of analyzing Twitter bot campaigns pushing #Proleave messaging during Brexit. As a research fellow at Google’s thinktank Jigsaw that same year, I […]

Continue reading

Eleanor Jacobs, 91, Dies; a Force Behind the Earth Shoe Phenomenon

from NYTs Eleanor Jacobs, who stumbled upon a pair of odd-looking shoes in Denmark and, with her husband, Raymond, created a short-lived phenomenon by selling them in the United States as Earth Shoes, died on Aug. 25 at her home in Litchfield, Conn. She was 91. Her daughter Susan Jacobs said the cause was congestive heart failure. In 1969, while she and her husband were vacationing in Denmark, Ms. Jacobs’s chronic back pain increased from all the walking she had been doing. She found unexpected salvation with a pair of negative-heel shoes she found at a store in Copenhagen. More […]

Continue reading

Cheating

from Seth’s Blog There are really only two ways to approach this: “We don’t cheat.” “We cheat when we can get away with it.” The posture of, “our side doesn’t cheat,” is the belief in the validity of the game itself. It’s a statement of moral authority, a promise of consistency and valor. It respects the process. The posture of, “cheat if you can,” is the belief in the ends at any cost. It degrades the system, because if everyone cheats, then there is no system left. Cheaters often brag about their exploits, because they want to normalize them. More […]

Continue reading

Together, You Can Redeem The Soul Of Our Nation

from NYTs While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity. That is why I had to visit Black Lives […]

Continue reading

Now Is the Time for Main Street Shops to Go Digital

from Wired AS MANHATTAN BRACED for lockdown in early March, the main street of Fredonia, New York, was still buzzing with activity. The town had been chosen as the location for season five of Small Business Revolution, a TV series hosted by Amanda Brinkman in which the shops in a particular community get a makeover, and filming was underway. “We wondered if Covid would end up showing up in the narrative of season five,” Brinkman mused. Now, “the entire season is going to be about how we were able to help these businesses through this crisis.” As the chief brand […]

Continue reading

A Different Kind of Civil-Service Organization

from The Atlantic The U.S. national government is failing in its response to the pandemic. One recent example: A month ago, on March 20, the United States and South Korea had about the same number of coronavirus deaths: nearly 100 in South Korea, versus somewhere over 200 in the U.S. Since South Korea has a much smaller population—about 50 million, versus more than 300 million for the U.S.—its per capita death rate was actually much higher. One month later, South Korea’s death total had risen to only 236—while that in the U.S. was rising quickly past 40,000. With adjustments for […]

Continue reading

Thoughts On “I’m Bored”

from Seth’s Blog If you’re under 14: “Good.” It’s good that you’re feeling bored. Bored is an actual feeling. Bored can prompt forward motion. Bored is the thing that happens before you choose to entertain yourself. Bored is what empty space feels like, and you can use that empty space to go do something important. Bored means that you’re paying attention (no one is bored when they’re asleep.) If you’re over 14: “That’s on you.” As soon as you’re tired of being bored at work, at home, on lockdown, wherever, you’ll go find a challenge. You don’t have to quit […]

Continue reading