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Do Nudges Work? Debate over the effectiveness of ‘nudge’ provides a salutary lesson on the influence of social science

What the competing narratives do show, however, is that the behavioural public policy community has perhaps neglected the discipline’s core message for policy: “it is complicated”.

#political_science

When Cities Treated Cars as Dangerous Intruders

City people saw the car not just as a menace to life and limb, but also as an aggressor upon their time-honored rights to city streets. “The pedestrian,” explained a Brooklyn man, “as an American citizen, naturally resents any intrusion upon his prior constitutional rights.” Custom and the Anglo-American legal tradition confirmed pedestrians’ inalienable right to the street. In Chicago in 1926, as in most cities, “nothing” in the law “prohibits a pedestrian from using any part of the roadway of any street or highway, at any time or at any place as he may desire.” So noted the author of a traffic survey commissioned by the Chicago Association of Commerce. According to Connecticut’s first Motor Vehicle Commissioner, Robbins Stoeckel, the most restrictive interpretation of pedestrians’ rights was that “All travelers have equal rights on the highway.”

New York police magistrate Bruce Cobb in 1919 defended the “legal right to the highway” of the “foot passenger,” arguing that “if pedestrians were at their peril confined to street corners or certain designated crossings, it might tend to give selfish drivers too great a sense of proprietorship in the highway.” He assigned the responsibility for the safety of the pedestrian — even one who “darts obliquely across a crowded thorofare” — to drivers.

#auto_industry #law #history

Scientists use dead spider as gripper for robot arm, label it a 'Necrobot'

Scientists from Rice University in Texas have used a dead spider as an actuator at the end of a robot arm – a feat they claim has initiated the field of “necrobotics”.

The article also notes that evolution has perfected many designs that could be useful in robots, and that spiders have proven especially interesting. Spiders' legs “do not have antagonistic muscle pairs; instead, they have only flexor muscles that contract their legs inwards, and hemolymph (i.e., blood) pressure generated in the prosoma (the part of the body connected to the legs) extends their legs outwards.”

The necrobot gripped strongly. “The necrobotic gripper is capable of grasping objects with irregular geometries and up to 130 percent of its own mass,” the article states. Other virtues include biodegradability and excellent camouflage when used in outdoor settings. Disadvantages include being creepy as all get out as shown in the video below that depicts one dead spider lifting another.

The article does consider the ethics of offing spiders, but notes “there are currently no clear guidelines in the literature regarding ethical sourcing and humane euthanasia of spiders.”

#tech #robotics

One to watch: Open-source code that measures your exposure to CCTV

To help people understand when they're on camera and how ubiquitous cameras affect their privacy, computer scientists affiliated with the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland have released open-source software called cctv-exposure “for quantifying human exposure to CCTV cameras from a privacy perspective.”

#executive_mentions #tech

What exactly is “content”? Who produces it? Why and how did it come to be viewed as “essential”?

Does a classic film streamed online rather than projected in a movie theater become content simply because of the context? It seems that content isn’t just context specific but also subject to the eye of the beholder. A film studies scholar would likely not refer to French New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda’s vast trove of films as content, but I suspect many executives at Netflix and Amazon Prime would.

Put simply, while a lot of content is produced simply to circulate (e.g., an article written for a website built solely to generate revenue from advertisements), the content industry is also adept at appropriating existing texts, images, moving images, and recordings. This is also what makes content potentially dangerous. Many classifications we have long taken for granted—for example, those used to understand genres and formats—are quickly coming undone. Perhaps most troubling, however, is the extent to which the all-encompassing concept of content is also dismantling the even more critical boundary between fact and fiction, information and disinformation, and what is true and fake. To appreciate the far-reaching impacts of this shift, one need only consider how the rise of content has already affected journalism, and by extension, the media sphere that supports any functioning democracy.

#mediaentertainmentindustry #cinema

Nepal: Return of the tigers brings both joy and fear

“There are two feelings when you come head to head with a tiger,” says Captain Ayush Jung Bahadur Rana, part of a unit tasked with protecting the big cats.

“Oh my God, what a majestic creature. And the other is, oh my God, am I dead?”

#animals #preservation #tigers