It’s the smartphone conspiracy theory that just won’t go away: Many, many people are convinced that their phones are listening to their conversations to target them with ads. Vice recently fueled the paranoia with an article that declared “Your phone is listening and it’s not paranoia,” a conclusion the author reached based on a 5-day experiment where he talked about “going back to uni” and “needing cheap shirts” in front of his phone and then saw ads for shirts and university classes on Facebook.
(For what it’s worth, I also frequently see ads for shirts on Facebook, but I’m past the age of the target audience for back-to-school propaganda.)
Some computer science academics at Northeastern University had heard enough people talking about this technological myth that they decided to do a rigorous study to tackle it. For the last year, Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes ran an experiment involving more than 17,000 of the most popular apps on Android to find out whether any of them were secretly using the phone’s mic to capture audio. The apps included those belonging to Facebook, as well as over 8,000 apps that send information to Facebook.
Sorry, conspiracy theorists: They found no evidence of an app unexpectedly activating the microphone or sending audio out when not prompted to do so. Like good scientists, they refuse to say that their study definitively proves that your phone isn’t secretly listening to you, but they didn’t find a single instance of it happening. Instead, they discovered a different disturbing practice: apps recording a phone’s screen and sending that information out to third parties.
Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley this year set themselves an audacious new goal: creating a brain-reading device that would allow people to effortlessly send texts with their thoughts.
In April, Elon Musk announced a secretive new brain-interface company called Neuralink. Days later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that “direct brain interfaces [are] going to, eventually, let you communicate only with your mind.” The company says it has 60 engineers working on the problem.
It’s an ambitious quest—and there are reasons to think it won’t happen anytime soon. But for at least one small, orange-beaked bird, the zebra finch, the dream just became a lot closer to reality.
That’s thanks to some nifty work by Timothy Gentner and his students at the University of California, San Diego, who built a brain-to-tweet interface that figures out the song a finch is going to sing a fraction of a second before it does so.
“We decode realistic synthetic birdsong directly from neural activity,” the scientists announced in a new report published on the website bioRxiv. The team, which includes Argentinian birdsong expert Ezequiel Arneodo, calls the system the first prototype of “a decoder of complex, natural communication signals from neural activity.” A similar approach could fuel advances towards a human thought-to-text interface, the researchers say.
Some divination methods are more intimate than others :/
Big data is predicting things about your life almost every minute of your day — whether you’re aware of it or not.
Amazon is predicting what else you might like to buy every time you shop. Netflix is predicting what you might want to watch. Google is predicting how you will respond to your emails. And Match.com and other dating sites are even trying to predict who you might fall in love with.
These predictions have become so ubiquitous that we don’t always even notice them any more. But data analysts are working on predicting much more important outcomes than the next show you’ll binge watch, with some very exciting results…
For years, fashion industry has had previous data and intuition at its disposal to predict customer demands which is now becoming quite irrelevant considering the fast-changing fashion trends and the tough competition in the market. More so, with more and more people getting brand conscious, it is becoming tougher for aspiring fashion designers to make a place on the mannequins. But they need not worry; Big Data is here to save the budding talent!
Unbelievable but true, Big Data is becoming an important part of one of the most intuition-based and unpredictable industry. In a world where clothes become outdated with the release of a new movie or the latest fashion week, even biggies like Burberry and Ralph Lauren have resorted to Big Data analysis. The runway at the fashion week, the latest edition of Cosmopolitan — are all losing their charm; designers these days release photos of their exclusive collections on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) which helps them know the trends and people’s response much before the curtain-raiser. Sentiment analysis through collection of the responses (likes, shares, comments, re-tweets) helps the industry to analyse every aspect of consumers demand— from the most loved colour to the most acceptable fit…
If ants, birds, fish, and bees can pool their collective intelligence to make decisions, why can’t humans? The collective intelligence manifests itself in colonies, flocks, schools, and swarms, something that biologists refer to as “swarm intelligence.” So, why can’t humans form their swarms? That’s the question that guides Louis Rosenberg, founder and CEO of Unanimous A.I.
The basic technology that underlies the platform is what we call swarm A.I., because it’s modeled after swarms in nature. There are two forms of intelligence in nature: There’s neurological intelligence, and there’s swarm intelligence. Neurological intelligence is a system of neurons where an intelligence emerges that’s way smarter than any of the single neurons, and a swarm intelligence is one level up. It’s a system of brains that work together and are smarter than any of the individual participants. We model systems after how swarms work in nature and we enable groups of people to amplify their intelligence by thinking together as a system.