This Week’s Awesome Stories from Around the Web (Through Dec 6)

It’s a fairly universal truth that things can always get better. But gains in computing don’t guarantee that technological advances immediately translate into lifestyle improvements. In time, problems introduced with technology tend to sort themselves out, but in an age when everything is accelerating, we can get really impatient.

Enjoy this week’s stories!

MACHINE LEARNING: A Googler’s Quest to Teach Machines How to Understand Emotions
Daniela Hernandez | WIRED
“It would be wonderful if we could have an algorithm that can discover that—that can learn in the same way—because more practically, we have much more unlabeled data than labeled data.”

COMPUTING: How Bad Software Leads to Bad Science
Jordan Pearson | Motherboard
“‘It’s a terrible concern, because you can work your way through software development—researchers are intelligent people, they can work this stuff out—but you can’t build software that is reliable…If you’re producing your results through software, and your software doesn’t produce reproducible results, then your research results aren’t reproducible.'”

INTERNET: Project Loon – How Google’s Internet Balloons Are Actually Working
Will Oremus | Salon
“Some 75 Google balloons are airborne, hovering somewhere over the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere, automatically adjusting their altitudes according to complex algorithms in order to catch wind currents that will keep them on course. By next year, Google believes it will be able to create a continuous, 50-mile-wide ring of Internet service around the globe. And by 2016, Project Loon director Mike Cassidy anticipates the first customers in rural South America, Southern Africa, or Oceania will be able to sign up for cellular LTE service provided by Google balloons.’

WORKPLACE: Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time Meetings and Emails Kill Hours, but You Can Identify the Worst Offenders
Sue Shellenbarger | The Wall Street Journal
“New techniques that analyze employees’ email headers and online calendars are helping employers pinpoint exactly which work groups impose the most on employees’ time…individuals can see confidential weekly ‘dashboards’ showing how much time they spent on email or in meetings. They can also receive confidential reports on their ‘organizational load,’ measuring how the number of meetings they call and emails they generate compares with peers.”

FUTURE: Technology is making us blind: The dangerous complacency of the iPhone era
Charles Howarth | Salon
“The notion that technology is fearful relies upon three assumptions: First, that technology and humans are self-contained and separate from each other (the old dichotomy of man and machine). Secondly, that technology has its own nature — that it can determine human life….Thirdly, that this nature can direct technology against humans. However, the last 20 years have seen a dramatic erosion of all three assumptions. In particular, we no longer view technology as having any intrinsic meaning; the medium is no longer the message. Instead, its only meanings are those that we give it.”

SCIENCE FICTION: All William Gibson’s Futures
Andrew Leonard | Medium
“‘No imaginary science fiction future has anything to do with what the real future becomes,’ [Gibson] tells me when I reach him by phone in his New York hotel room. ‘It — science fiction — is really only about the moment in which it was created. No one is prescient.'”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

David J. Hill
David J. Hill
David started writing for Singularity Hub in 2011 and served as editor-in-chief of the site from 2014 to 2017 and SU vice president of faculty, content, and curriculum from 2017 to 2019. His interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but he'll always be a chemist at heart.
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