ROBOTICS: Robots Don’t Just Want to Be Your Helper, They Want to Be Your Friend
Patrick St. Michel | Motherboard
“People lined up to get a chance to see it up close, and it hinted at the state of the emotional machine on display at the convention: The idea intrigues many, but nobody knows just how this new type of bot will ultimately appeal to consumers. Will having a robot buddy you can talk to be enough, or will it need to have some other useful function (like being a phone) to make a dent?”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Now AI Machines Are Learning to Understand Stories
Technology Review
“The key insight behind their project is that the ability to answer questions about a story or movie is an important indicator of whether or not it has been understood. So the goal of the research is to create multiple choice quizzes about movies that consist of a set of questions along with several feasible answers, only one of which is correct.”

VIRTUAL REALITY: How virtual reality is going to change our lives
Will Knight | Technology Review
“News reporters from the BBC to ABC News in the United States are trying out a new type of ‘immersive journalism’ using virtual reality – a way to bring the viewer right into a moment with them. The practice was pioneered by journalist and researcher Nonny de la Pena, who created an immersive VR video of a bomb explosion in Aleppo, Syria for the World Economic Forum – the video literally puts you right in the middle of the square, when the explosion goes off.”

INTERNET: Most of the information we spread online is quantifiably “bullshit”
Nathaniel Barr | Quartz
“Intuitive thinkers—those who are more likely to rely on their initial impressions when reasoning—rated meaningless statements as more profound. Reflective thinkers, who are more likely to reconsider their initial impressions after giving a subject analytic thought, saw through the bullshit. The participants in our study didn’t seem to be thinking deeply about seemingly vacuous statements and constructing meaning from them. Instead, they were uncritically accepting the (rather blatant) bullshit as meaningful based on how it felt when they first encountered it. Therefore one’s tendency to believe bullshit might well be considered a mental shortcut.”

3D PRINTING: Overwhelmed by the Amount of Processes and Materials Involved in 3D Printing? Check Out This Helpful Chart
Clare Scott | 3DPrint
“To start familiarizing oneself with additive manufacturing, it’s important to understand the different types of materials used. Fram-Schwartz’s chart breaks it down into three broad categories: liquids, powders and sheets. Liquids can be comprised of melted plastic, glass or metal.  Plastic resins are the cheapest and most common material used in 3D printing. Solid plastics are fed into the printer in either pellet or filament form, melted, and extruded in liquid form, layer by layer.”

CYBERSECURITY: Fact-checking the debate on encryption
Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin | Ars Technica
“As politicians and counter-terrorism officials search for lessons from the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, senior officials have called for limits on technology that sends encrypted messages. It’s a debate that has repeatedly recurred for more than a decade.”

GOVERNANCE is the Global Grand Challenge
for the Month of December

Learn more about Global Grand Challenges in Singularity University’s 2015 Impact Report

OPEN GOVERNMENT: The open-data revolution has not lived up to expectations. But it is only getting started
The Economist
“Given the astonishing scale of the data deluge, though, it is reasonable to ask why more has not been achieved. There are four answers to that. First, the data that have been made available are often useless. Second, the data engineers and entrepreneurs who might be able to turn it all into useful, profitable products find it hard to navigate. Third, too few people are capable of mining data for insights or putting the results to good use. Finally, it has been hard to overcome anxieties about privacy.”

Image Credit: Patrick Metzdorf/Flickr

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.

Follow David: