This week saw a slew of stories about how well computers are getting to know us and how that will be good for everyone…depending on your point of view, of course.

Enjoy this week’s stories!


FACIAL RECOGNITION: Computers are learning to read emotion, and the business world can’t wait
Raffi Khatchadourian | The New Yorker
“Our faces are organs of emotional communication; by some estimates, we transmit more data with our expressions than with what we say…There is good money in emotionally responsive machines, it turns out. For Kaliouby, this is no surprise: soon, she is certain, they will be ubiquitous.”

VOICE RECOGNITION: Here’s What’s Holding Back Your Universal Translator
Matthew Braga | Motherboard
“Part of the reason current speech recognition software, like Google’s voice search or Apple’s Siri, appears to recognize speech and convert it text so quickly, says Penn, is that its search space is limited. In other words, people tend to use a relatively restrained vocabulary when they search, and so Google’s language model is geared towards this.”

DATA MINING: Computer ‘Mines’ Facebook to Predict Personality
Clifron Parker | Stanford University
“The findings reveal that by mining a person’s Facebook ‘likes,’ a computer was able to predict a person’s personality more accurately than most of their friends and family. Only a person’s spouse came close to matching the computer’s results.”

SPACE: Using 3D Printing to Colonize Animals in Space: Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency Outlines Concept
Bridget Butler Millsaps | 3D Print
“What about animals that are used to living underwater and experiencing weightlessness on a constant basis? What about animals that aren’t as intelligent but are hearty, simple, and low maintenance? Perhaps there are Earth-dwellers more predisposed for life in space. Shocking, I know, but according to the Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency, manatees and chickens may be a better option.”

LONGEVITY: Live for ever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’
Zoë Corbyn | The Guardian
“Just as a vintage car can be kept in good condition indefinitely with periodic preventative maintenance, so there is no reason why, in principle, the same can’t be true of the human body, thinks de Grey. We are, after all, biological machines, he says.”

CULTURE: The Case for More Screen Time
Kevin Zawacki | Fast Company
“‘We tend to romanticize history and the past in thinking that before cell phones, we were actively talking to the person next to us on the bus or in the park…that was not the case at all. We have used media—whether it be newspapers, or books—as kinds of privacy shields historically.'”

COMPUTING: On the Origin of Circuits
Alan Bellows | Damn Interesting
“Today, researchers are just beginning to explore the real-world potential of evolving circuitry. Engineers are experimenting with rudimentary adaptive hardware systems which marry evolvable chips to conventional equipment. Such hybrids quickly adapt to new demands by constantly evolving and adjusting their control code.”

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I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

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