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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

Deploying disaster-proof apps may be easier than you think

“There's still a lack of clarity about who takes ownership of the resiliency issue when it comes to cloud,” he explained, adding that while the public cloud providers offer many tools for building resilient applications, the onus is on the user to implement them.

An analysis of these tools showed that achieving high degrees of resiliency was a relatively straightforward prospect – especially when the cost of lost business and cloud SLAs were taken into consideration.

#cloud_computing

You may not be interested in Clarence Thomas, but Clarence Thomas is interested in you

In the face of a state that won’t do anything about climate change, economic inequality, personal debt, voting rights, and women’s rights, it’s no wonder that an increasing portion of the population, across all races, genders, and beliefs, have determined that the best way to protect themselves, and their families, is by getting a gun. A society with no rights, no freedoms, except for those you claim yourself—this was always Thomas’s vision of the world. Now, for many Americans, it is the only one available.

#us_politics #scotus

What to do about climate change (1): Not too late

It doesn’t make for joyful reading, yet most of what I describe that made my colleagues gloomy was merely factual. The facts simply show that matters are very bad and the situation urgent

#climate

Democide: An Inside Job?

Chou points to two different categories of democide: when a “democracy boldly sanctions critical affronts to its current course,” and “situations where a democracy incrementally elects to limit the democratic rights and freedoms available to its citizens in order to safeguard itself from popular threats.” Both “too much democracy” and “too little democracy” have the potential to kill it off.

Expanding a notion from political theorist Nathalie Karagiannis, that “democracy is a tragic regime,” Chou argues that there is “no effective mechanism in a democracy which can prevent that democracy from paving the way for its antitheses, that is, without itself being a risk to democracy.”

#political_science

‘One wave after another’: Brigham and Women’s doctor predicts the foreseeable future for COVID

Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, said in an interview with Black Iowa News that there will be “surges of new variants for the foreseeable future.”

“But the meaning of those waves has changed, and this is why I want to make sure that people don’t get discouraged,” Faust said. “It’s bad that BA.5 is here and is causing cases and hospitalizations. But it’s not like 2020, where every single patient that I treat has terrible pneumonia and is starving for oxygen and is going to be on a ventilator.”

#medicine #covid19

What If the War in Ukraine Spins Out of Control?

In their adherence to invisible rules, Putin and Biden have recaptured an important Cold War dynamic. Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, the United States and the Soviet Union never formally agreed on how to fight proxy wars. Neither side, for instance, established ground rules for the Korean War—the first hot conflict of the Cold War era. Instead, over nearly four decades, both sides improvised their way to a sustainable way of doing business. There was the permissible: mutual denunciation, cultural and ideological competition, espionage, active measures such as propaganda and disinformation campaigns, the pursuit of spheres of influence, interference in the domestic politics of other countries, and support for the other’s adversaries in peace and war (usually sweetened by degrees of plausible deniability). And there was the impermissible: direct military clashes and the use of nuclear weapons.

#foreignpolicy #geopolitics #military #politicalscience

Why Elon Musk can’t get out of Twitter deal even if his lenders bail

When Elon Musk agreed to buy Twitter in April for $44 billion, he had a pitch to make the company better by adding new features, fending off spam bots and being more transparent about its algorithms. He won support from a consortium of banks who agreed to loan him more than half the total deal price to take over the company.

But now Musk wants out, blaming Twitter for not giving him more information and what he sees as the company’s dimming business prospects. Twitter is suing him to close the deal, saying his reasons for stepping away are excuses to get out of a financial commitment that he no longer wants to honor. His financial backers, meanwhile, are stuck.

#twitter #social_media #business #law #tech

Research underway to find Gaspee shipwreck — and Rhode Island’s claim to the start of the Revolution – The Boston Globe

But Gaspee proponents, like McNamara, say the search for Gaspee has ginned up more interest than the search for Endeavour in Newport Harbor. And diving into Rhode Island history beats talking about more modern problems.“This is a lot better than talking about how much the price of calzones has gone up,” McNamara said.

#rhode_island #history

Smart thermostat swarms are straining the US grid

“As we electrify the heating sector to decarbonize the grid, this so-called load synchronization will become a problem in the near future,” Zhang said.

America Is Growing Apart, Possibly for Good

When we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of Red and Blue people … But in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federated republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.

This doesn’t mean we will have another civil war, exactly but it does mean that the pressure on national cohesion will continue to increase.

#economy #foreignpolicy #politicalscience #politics

People who regularly talk to AI chatbots often start to believe they're sentient, says CEO

“We're not talking about crazy people or people who are hallucinating or having delusions,” the company's founder and CEO, Eugenia Kuyda, told Reuters. “They talk to AI and that's the experience they have.”

#executivementions #artificialintelligence #business #tech