Category: human

Human-like robots may have a disturbing impact…

Human-like robots may have a disturbing impact on actual humans:

Stuart Russell, vice chair of the World Economic Forum Council on robotics and artificial intelligence, called for a “ban of highly human-like humanoid robots” during the Milken Institute’s panel titled “Artificial Intelligence: Friend or Foe?”

“We’re just not equipped in our basic brain apparatus to see something that’s perfectly humanoid and not treat it as a human being,” he said. “So in some sense, a humanoid robot is lying to us using the lower levels of our brain we don’t get to control.”

“Particularly for young children, growing up in a household where there are humanoid robots and humans it could be extremely confusing,” he said. “And we could see psychoses developing as a result of machines not behaving as the child expects them to behave because they think its a human.”

A study done by various Japanese researchers actually found that children are likely to show “serious abusive behaviors” towards robots. The researchers concluded that the more human-like the robots looked (or more they approached the uncanny valley) the more likely it was for kids to start beating them up.

Little kids might just be evil though… it’s a distinct possibility…

The Digital Human, Series 13, Episode 3 – Visage

Silent, unseen but not forgotten: Poland’s res…

Silent, unseen but not forgotten: Poland’s resistance fighters honoured:

Senior officers and veterans from Polish and British special forces are to gather in London to mark the 75th anniversary of a little-known chapter of the secret war against the Nazis.

The soldiers will on Saturday be honouring the Cichociemni (the Silent and Unseen) – Polish guerrilla fighters trained in Britain. They were parachuted at night into occupied Poland from 1941 onwards, the first such air drops behind German lines, to lead the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation.

The Armia Krajowa (the “home army”) had 300,000 men and women fighting for it at its peak, by far the biggest resistance movement under the Third Reich, and it temporarily succeeded in liberating Warsaw in the summer of 1944. Many of its leaders were Cichociemni. However, their history was suppressed even before the war was over by Poland’s new Soviet occupiers, who saw them as British agents.

Of the 316 Cichociemni who parachuted into occupied Poland, 103 were killed in the war, either in combat or in camps or under Gestapo torture. Nine were killed by the Soviet secret police after the war, and many more were imprisoned. Some managed to avoid capture by melting back into postwar Polish life, either changing their names or keeping their wartime exploits a secret.

Just one of the 316 is still alive. Aleksander Tarnawski, who flew to London for this weekend’s event, is 95 but evidently still fit. Less than two years ago, he carried out a parachute jump.

Digital Human, Series 13. Episode 1 – Resist.

Now computers are writing pop songs

Now computers are writing pop songs:

“Ugh,” my dad used to grunt when I switched on Radio 1 . “This music sounds like it was written by a computer”.

It’s a criticism that’s been levelled at synthpop for years. But what if it was true?

Taryn Southern, a YouTube star and content creator, has just released a song she wrote with the help of artificial intelligence.

Called Break Free, it’s a brooding ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Hunger Games soundtrack.

Southern wrote the lyrics and melody, but the backing track was built by her laptop, after she punched in a number of settings for the song’s mood, tempo and instrumentation.

“My new collaborator is not human,” she grins. “It’s an AI algorithm”.

Digital Human, Series 8, Ep 6 – Imagine 

Women Who Eat On Tubes: ‘I was hurt and humili…

Women Who Eat On Tubes: ‘I was hurt and humiliated’:

A few weeks ago, I was on a Tube train eating an M&S pasta salad. It was a fairly inoffensive snack but even so, I’d purposefully moved somewhere quiet so that I could do it without disturbing anyone.

Halfway through munching it, I noticed a man get up out of his seat to move opposite me and take my photo. I knew that he’d done it – he’d pointed the phone at me and adjusted it for an angle. I moved away and didn’t think too much more about it. But then a friend noticed me on the Facebook group “Women Who Eat On Tubes” (20,000 members and counting) and texted me to let me know.

When I saw my photo, I felt vindicated and almost relieved that I hadn’t just been paranoid about what he was doing. But I also felt hurt and humiliated – especially by the comments mentioning my “gaping orifice” or sarcastically pondering, “I’d like to know the name of her finishing school.” I was the butt of a joke without my knowledge, in front of thousands of strangers. I’d been “stranger-shamed”.

And unlike other women who have since got in touch with me to say that they’ve been featured on similar sites and felt “helpless” to do anything, I wasn’t going to let it slide. Not only am I a journalist with time on my hands to sort this out, but with a few internet searches, I found the email address of the man who had uploaded the photo of me. I asked him to remove my picture, and although it’s now been taken down (by Facebook, not by him) hundreds of other women’s photos are still up there.

The thing is, I’m also of a generation whose default setting is “broadcast”. I tweet prolifically. I Instagram a new picture each day. I’ve perused blogs such as “Look At My F**king Red Trousers” and properly laughed at “Jeans and Sheuxs” (anonymous photos of the fashion crime of wide-legged denim with smart pointy shoes). I admit that I’ve taken photos of people without their permission and uploaded them to social networks or texted them to friends – although it’s never been broadcast to thousands of people and it’s never for something so basic as eating food on public transport.

It’s not illegal, but it is a bit odd when you think about it. When we’re in environments such as the Tube or on the web, we feel anonymised, and looking through the periscope of our cameras, we’re disconnected from the situation. Obviously, since my experience, I’ve decided that I’m never going to stranger-shame again.

Since I appeared on the Facebook group, dozens of people have been in touch, including creators of a women-eating-on-the-Tube flashmob set up with the intention of getting lots of women to eat on the Underground to overwhelm and defy any would-be photographer. There is also now a group setting out to shame men taking photos of women eating on the Tube.

But I do question whether e-vigilantism is the way of getting things done. Instead, I hope that by identifying the phenomenon of stranger- shaming, people will think twice before doing it. I don’t want anyone – female, male, old, young, wearing a diamante belt buckle reading “porn star” – to be shamed like this. Sure, it’d be lovely if Facebook closed down stranger-shaming groups or if the British Transport Police could ban people taking photos of strangers on public transport. And I have every faith that Project Guardian, a scheme from BTP which sets out to deal with harassment, will tackle stranger-shaming.

But to really stop this from happening, we need to police ourselves. Next time you see someone wearing or doing something weird, don’t get a phone out. Do your friends really want to see that picture of the guy in socks and sandals? Are you really going to be the equivalent of that old family friend who would come round to show you a slideshow of their holidays? Shame on you if so.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Psycho – How Alfred Hitchcock Manipulates An…

Psycho – How Alfred Hitchcock Manipulates An Audience 

Pretty good breakdown of Hitchcock’s methods by The Discarded Image

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas Digital…

Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

ROROTOKO : Deirdre Barrett On her book Supern…

ROROTOKO : Deirdre Barrett On her book Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose : Cutting-Edge Intellectual Interviews:

Most people don’t try to parse cuteness. Like pornography, we know it when we see it.  With a bit of examination, however, cuteness has easily quantifiable aesthetics. Take a moment to picture whatever you find cute—puppies, kittens, cartoon characters or your own children.  Cuteness is the type of attractiveness associated with youth; your “cute” objects no doubt have many youthful traits.

Infants of most species have a small body with a disproportionately large head, big eyes, small nose, chubby limbs and clumsy coordination.  Youthful behavior includes playfulness, affection, helplessness, and a need to be nurtured. A few characteristics such as dimples and baby-talk are unique to humans, but most are common across species.

Evolutionary biologists view “cuteness” as simply the mechanism by which infantile features trigger nurturing in adults—a crucial adaptation for survival.  Scientific studies find that definitions of cuteness are similar across cultures.  So are our responses.

Anyone disheartened by research demonstrating that attractive adults are better liked and better paid than their homelier peers will be further dismayed at studies on infant cuteness.  Articles such as “The Infant’s Physical Attractiveness: Its Effect on Bonding and Attachment” document that stereotypically cute babies receive the most attention from both strangers and their own parents.  They run less risk of abuse or neglect.  Cute children proceed to get better treatment from teachers. Fortunately, most babies are cute enough to attract sufficient nurturing from parents and the world around them.  The decline of cuteness normally coincides with the child’s diminished need for caretaking, which gradually shifts toward younger siblings.

Toy manufacturers are well aware of what’s cute.  Dolls have grown progressively cuter: first they looked like people, then like children, then like supernormal exaggerations of children.  In the 1990s, the Journal of Animal Behavior published a series of articles on a creature not of the wilderness but of the marketplace.

“The Evolution of the Teddy Bear” traced the origin to 1900 when President Theodore Roosevelt was photographed in the Rockies, after a hunt, with a brown bear in the background.  The early teddies looked like bears—with a low forehead and a long snout.  Over the years, the teddy “evolved” to become the cute popular creature of now, laden with infantile features, including a larger forehead and a shorter snout.  “It is obvious that the morphological changes that have occurred in teddies in the short span of a little over 100 years have contributed greatly to their reproductive fitness,” observed the authors.  “There seem to be teddies all over the place.”

With tongue in cheek, but metaphor firmly in mind, animal behaviorists continued publishing on the evolution of the teddy.  They pointed out that the changes might be likened to mutation, but are actually closer to “intelligent design,” diverting human resources to enable teddies to reproduce at a phenomenal rate.

And that, my dear Digihuman listeners, is why kittens won the internet.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

Supernormal Stimuli: This Is Your Brain on Por…

Supernormal Stimuli: This Is Your Brain on Porn, Junk Food, and the Internet:

What are supernomal stimuli?

Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize winning ethologist, is the father of the term supernormal stimuli. As noted:

He constructed plaster eggs to see which a bird preferred to sit on, finding that they would select those that were larger, had more defined markings, or more saturated color—a dayglo-bright one with black polka dots would be selected over the bird’s own pale, dappled eggs.

He found that territorial male stickleback fish would attack a wooden fish model more vigorously than a real male if its underside was redder.

He constructed cardboard dummy butterflies with more defined markings that male butterflies would try to mate with in preference to real females.

In a very quick span of time, Tinbergen was able to influence the behavior of these animals with a new “super” stimulus that they found themselves attracted too, and which they preferred over the real thing.

Instinct took over, and now the animals’ behaviors were a detriment to their livelihood because they simply couldn’t say no to the fake stimulus.

What are supernomal stimuli?

Nikolaas Tinbergen, a Nobel Prize winning ethologist, is the father of the term supernormal stimuli. As noted:

  • He constructed plaster eggs to see which a bird preferred to sit on, finding that they would select those that were larger, had more defined markings, or more saturated color—a dayglo-bright one with black polka dots would be selected over the bird’s own pale, dappled eggs.
  • He found that territorial male stickleback fish would attack a wooden fish model more vigorously than a real male if its underside was redder.
  • He constructed cardboard dummy butterflies with more defined markings that male butterflies would try to mate with in preference to real females.
  • In a very quick span of time, Tinbergen was able to influence the behavior of these animals with a new “super” stimulus that they found themselves attracted too, and which they preferred over the real thing.

    Instinct took over, and now the animals’ behaviors were a detriment to their livelihood because they simply couldn’t say no to the fake stimulus.

    Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

    The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People t…

    The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People to Play More – Extra Credits:

    The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People to Play More – Extra Credits

    Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

    Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident

    Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident:


    On February 9, 2009, Facebook introduced the like button. Initially, the button was an innocent thing. It had nothing to do with hijacking the social reward systems of a user’s brain.

    “The main intention I had was to make positivity the path of least resistance,” explains Justin Rosenstein, one of the four Facebook designers behind the button. “And I think it succeeded in its goals, but it also created large unintended negative side effects. In a way, it was too successful.”

    Today, most of us reach for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with one vague thought in mind: Maybe someone liked my stuff. And it’s this craving for validation, experienced by billions around the globe, that’s currently pushing platform engagement in ways that in 2009 were unimaginable. But more than that, it’s driving profits to levels that were previously impossible.

    “The attention economy” is a relatively new term. It describes the supply and demand of a person’s attention, which is the commodity traded on the internet. The business model is simple: The more attention a platform can pull, the more effective its advertising space becomes, allowing it to charge advertisers more. All this might seem a little underhanded, but it’s nothing compared to some of the design features currently showing up on Snapchat. Of these is the one causing the most concern, and uses elongating red lines to display the number days of since two users interacted. According to Adam Alter, this design feature is so effective that he’s heard of teens asking friends to babysit their streaks while on vacation.

    “It’s clear here that the goal—keeping the streak alive—is more important than enjoying the platform as a social experience,” he says. “This is a clear sign that engagement mechanisms are driving usage more than enjoyment.”

    Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable