The Conversation, Author at Stuff

The Conversation

Technology doesn’t have to be lonely: encouraging dialogue over diatribe

Do you ever feel like when you post to Facebook, you’re publishing into a void where nobody is listening? You’re not the only one. A recent study reported that people are lonelier and more depressed due to technology – and it’s making us feel isolated. But, while technology is at the heart of it, we believe it’s not technology itself that’s the problem, rather it’s how we use it. Technology can ma...[Read More]

How quantum computers could steal your bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have recently captured the public’s imagination because they offer an exciting alternative to traditional monetary systems. Bitcoin transactions are essentially a series of puzzles stored in public on the blockchain. The puzzles used to protect bitcoin are so complex that current computer technology isn’t powerful enough to crack them. But quantum computers could crac...[Read More]

Do I want an always-on digital assistant listening in all the time?

The smart device market is exploding. Smart home kits for retrofitting “non-smart” houses have become cheaper. Earlier this year, Apple released the HomePod speaker, the company’s response to dominant smart devices Google Home and Amazon Echo. Amazon, too, is expanding its lineup. Recently, it debuted the Amazon Echo Look, promising to make users more stylish. All of these smart devices are equipp...[Read More]

Can’t focus? Addicted to your online world? There’s an app for that

We live in a distracted world. Our ability to focus on a single task or activity is dwindling, even though many people insist they’re good multi-taskers. Neuroscientist Earl Miller says these people are “deluding themselves”. All we are really doing is dividing our brain’s processing power between tasks as we switch from one to another. We are actually increasing the cognitive load on our brain. D...[Read More]

Even self-driving cars need driver education

What do self-driving cars and teenage drivers have in common? Experience. Or, more accurately, a lack of experience. Teenage drivers – novice drivers of any age, actually – begin with little knowledge of how to actually operate a car’s controls, and how to handle various quirks of the rules of the road. Their first step in learning typically consists of fundamental instruction conveyed by a teache...[Read More]

Three ‘living labs’ which show how autonomous robots are changing cities

Ready or not, autonomous robots are leaving laboratories to be tested in real-world contexts. With more and more people living in cities, these technologies offer ways to cope with ageing populations and poorly maintained infrastructures, while promoting safer transport, productive manufacturing and secure energy supplies. Urban “living labs” are one way scientists are trying to understand how aut...[Read More]

More of us are opting for ‘digital detox’ holidays

John Briggs, a 40-year-old on holiday, texted his wife Shirley: “Look at the glacier out there.” He waited for the reply, which came through on his mobile. At the time they were sitting next to one another on board the deck of their small cruise ship, along northern Alaska’s icy shores. This interaction was reported to us during our research on digital behaviour. Results to date show that for many...[Read More]

To improve digital well-being, put your phone down and talk to people

Apple and Google recently announced features in their forthcoming mobile operating systems designed to “reduce interruptions and manage screen time.” Android and iOS users alike will soon be able to guard their sleep against digital temptations, easily activate “Do Not Disturb” mode when needed, and get prompted to stop when they have used their favorite apps beyond a personally chosen time limit....[Read More]

How to get culture right when embedding it into AI

If, like Rip Van Winkle, you’ve been asleep for the last decade and have just woken up, that flip phone you have has become super-popular among retro technologists and survivalists alike, and, oh yeah, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is either going to kill you or save you. AI is the latest in a long line of technology buzzwords that have gripped society, and if we are to believe the people at the re...[Read More]

Robots can learn a lot from nature if they want to ‘see’ the world

Vision is one of nature’s amazing creations that has been with us for hundreds of millions of years. It’s a key sense for humans, but one we often take for granted: that is, until we start losing it or we try and recreate it for a robot. Many research labs (including our own) have been modelling aspects of the vision systems found in animals and insects for decades. We draw heavily upon studies li...[Read More]

Why technology puts human rights at risk

Movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Terminatorbrought rogue robots and computer systems to our cinema screens. But these days, such classic science fiction spectacles don’t seem so far removed from reality. Increasingly, we live, work and play with computational technologies that are autonomous and intelligent. These systems include software and hardware with the capacity for in...[Read More]

How everyday devices make you vulnerable to cyber attack – and what to do about it

If you run a business, you’re probably concerned about IT security. Maybe you invest in antivirus software, firewalls and regular system updates. Unfortunately, these measures might not protect you from malicious attacks that enter your systems through everyday devices. On the evening of Friday the 24th of October 2008 Richard C. Schaeffer Jr, the NSA’s top computer systems protection officer was ...[Read More]

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