The average sex life appears to be dwindling - and it may reflect some troubling anxieties at the heart of modern society, says Simon Copland.

We live in one of the most sexually liberated times of human history. Access to new technologies over the past 40 years, whether it is the contraceptive pill, or dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder, have opened a new world of possibilities. As the sexual revolution of the 1970s matured, societal norms shifted with it, with increasing acceptance of homosexuality, divorce, pre-marital sex, and alternative relationships such as polyamory and swinging.

Despite this, research suggests that we’re actually having less sex now than we have for decades.

On average, Americans had sex nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s compared to the late 1990s – a 15% drop

In March, American researchers Jean Twenge, Ryne Sherman and Brooke Wells published an article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior showing that Americans were having sex on average nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s compared to the late 1990s – a 15% drop from 62 times a year to just 53. The declines were similar across gender, race, region, educational level and work status, with married people reporting the most significant drops.

While it could be easy to dismiss this as a one-off, or a symptom of the challenges of researching people’s sex lives, this is another point in a growing trend across the world. In 2013, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) found that British people between ages 16 and 44 had sex just under five times per month. This was a drop from the previous survey, released in 2000, where men were recorded to have sex 6.2 times a month, and women 6.3 times. In 2014 the Australian National Survey of Sexual Activity showed that people in heterosexual relationships were having sex on average 1.4 times per week, down from 1.8 times 10 years earlier. The situation is perhaps most severe in Japan, where recent data has shown that 46% of women and 25% of men between the ages of 16 and 25 ‘despise’ sexual contact.

Why is this happening?

While there are many simple conclusions available, BBC Future dug deeper and found a situation that is quite complex.

Porn blame

An easy first conclusion to make is that increased access to technology is to blame. Two technologies are usually targeted: online pornography and social media.

With the growth of online pornography, researchers have focused on its addictive potential, with some trying to label ‘internet sex addiction’ as an official psychiatric disorder. As an addiction, it is argued that porn acts as a replacement for real-life sex, limiting our sexual desire in the bedroom.

p0522blz

Social media and pornography are often blamed for damaging our sex lives - yet the evidence is far from clear cut (Credit: Alamy)

Porn is also blamed for its unrealistic imagery, with researchers arguing this can create symptoms such as ‘sexual anorexia’, or ‘porn induced sexual dysfunction’. In 2011, a survey of 28,000 porn viewers in Italy found that many engaged in an “excessive” consumption of porn sites. The daily use of porn, researcher Carlo Foresta argued, means that these people became inured to “even the most violent” images. According to this theory, these unrealistic images found in porn make it difficult for men in particular to get aroused when encountering the real thing, resulting in them becoming ‘hopeless’ in the bedroom.

Some researchers have even argued there is a link between porn and marriage rates. In a study in 2014, researchers Michael Malcolm and George Naufal surveyed 1,500 participants in the United States to analyse how 18 to 35 year-olds used the internet, and what impact this had on their romantic lives. The results, published in the Eastern Economic Journal, found a strong correlation between high levels of internet use and low marriage rates, a factor that was even more significant for men who viewed online pornography on a regular basis.

And it’s not just pornography. Social media in particular has been blamed as a distraction, with people obsessing over their screens instead of their sexual lives. This is an extension of research that previously suggested having a TV in a couple's bedroom significantly reduces sexual activity. It would make sense that the intrusion of social media devices into all aspects of our lives could have a similar effect. 

But there are good reasons to question both of these conclusions. Researchers are split on the impact of pornography on our sexual lives, with many debating the existence of ‘internet sex addiction’ in the first place. Others have noted the potential for pornography to enhance sexual activity. For example, in 2015 an article in the journal Sexual Medicine found that watching at least 40 minutes of porn at least twice a week boosted people’s libido and desire to have sex. This study tested the libido of 280 men measured against their use of pornography. The research found a strong correlation between the amount of time spent viewing porn and the desire to have sex, with those who watched over two hours of porn per week having the highest levels of arousal. These results were noted as well by Twenge, Sherman and Wells in their research, who, despite finding overall drops in sexual activity, found no difference in sexual activity amongst those who frequently watched pornography.

p0522c2b

Dating apps should make it easier than ever to find a sexual partner - yet millennials appear to be having less sex than previous generations (Credit: Getty Images)

The same can be said for social media. While social devices can certainly provide a distraction they also provide increasing avenues to access ‘sex on tap’. In fact research has shown that apps such as Grindr and Tinder may speed up people's sexual lives, enabling sex on dates earlier and more regularly.

While technology definitely impacts our sexual lives, it cannot be blamed solely for the noted reductions in sexual activity.

Chained to the desk

Despite early dreams of a population liberated from work, our jobs seems to be intruding even further into our lives. Work hours remain extremely high across the Western world, with data recently showing that the average full-time employee in the US works 47 hours per week. It may seem logical to conclude that the fatigue and stress of work may lead to drops in sexual activity.

However it is not quite as simple as that. In 1998 for example Janet Hyde, John DeLamater and Erri Hewitt found in their research, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, that there was no reduction in sexual activity, satisfaction or desire between women who were homemakers and women who were employed either part-time or full-time. Contrary to the rest of their findings, Twenge, Sherman and Wells actually found that a busy work life correlated with higher sexual frequency.

p0522bbr
Life in the fast lane can leave people feeling anxious, exhausted, and depressed - all of which may take a toll on their sex lives (Credit: Alamy)

But that does not mean work does not have an impact; instead, it’s the quality, rather than the quantity, of our work that matters. Having a bad job can be worse for your mental health than having no job, and this extends to our sexual lives as well. Stress in particular is increasingly being seen as the core indicator of drops in sexual activity and sexual happiness.

In 2010, for example, Guy Bodenmenn at the University of Zurich and his research team studied one hundred and three female students in Switzerland across a three month period, finding that higher self-reported stress was associated with lower levels of sexual activity and satisfaction. There are multiple impacts of stress, including changing hormone levels, contributing to negative body image, making us question relationships and partners, and increasing levels of drug and alcohol use. All of these have correlations between drops in sexual activity and sexual drive.

It’s about modern life

There are many other reasons to think that changes in our mental health and wellbeing may be damaging our sex lives. While Twenge, Sherman and Wells discounted both pornography use and work hours as causes behind the drops in sexual activity, the researchers argued the drops may be due to increasing levels of unhappiness. Western societies in particular have seen a mental health epidemic in the past few decades, focused primarily around depression and anxiety disorders.

There is a strong correlation between depressive symptoms and reduction in sexual activity and desire. Conducting a review of relevant studies for the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Evan Atlantis and Thomas Sullivan at the University of Adelaide found significant evidence that depression leads to increases in sexual dysfunction and reductions in sexual desire. Bringing this evidence together with the noted increases mental health issues, Twenge, Sherman and Wells argue there is a causal link between drops in happiness and average drops in sexual activity.

Research connects these mental health epidemics with the increasingly insecure nature of modern life, particularly for younger generations. It is this generation that has shown the highest drops in sexual activity, with research from Jean Twenge showing millennials are reporting having fewer sexual encounters than either Generation X or the baby boomers did at the same age. Job and housing insecurity, the fear of climate change, and the destruction of communal spaces and social life, have all been found to connect to mental health problems. 

A mixture of work, insecurity and technology is leading us all to feel slightly less aroused

Drops in sexual activity could be argued, therefore, to reflect the nature of modern life. This phenomenon cannot be equated with one problem or another, but is in fact the culmination of many things. It is the creation of the stresses of modern life – a mixture of work, insecurity and technology.

Diagnoses of depression and anxiety have continued to rise during the last decade (Credit: Alamy)

Some may celebrate drops in sexual activity as a rejection of loosening sexual mores. But sex is important. It increases happinessmakes you healthier, and even makes you more satisfied at work. Most importantly, for the vast majority of people, sex is fun. 

It is for these reasons that people around the world are trying to find ways to deal with this issue. In February this year Per-Erik Muskos, a councilman from the town of Overtornea in Sweden, introduced a proposal to provide the municipality’s 550 employees a subsidised hour each week to go home and have sex. Muskos talked up the benefits of sex, saying his proposal could “be an opportunity for couples to have their own time, only for each other.”

Japan has been trying to deal with this issue for a long time, particularly over fears of a plummeting birth rate. Parents in Japan are now being provided cash for having children, while for years companies have been encouraged to give citizens more time off work to procreate. This has involved one of the country’s large economic organisations, Keidanren, encouraging its 1,600 corporate members to allow their employees to spend more time with their families. Meanwhile, local authorities have encouraged procreation through a range of measures, including providing shopping vouchers to larger families and launching government-sanctioned matchmaker websites. The Australian government pursued something similar for many years, providing a ‘baby bonus’ to new parents up until 2014.

The problem with these proposals is that they are inevitably just a band-aid. While additional time off work and government incentives may have short-term effects, they do not deal with the structural problems behind the drops in happiness that may be dampening sex drives.

Just as this problem is multi-dimensional, so the solutions must be multi-dimensional as well. Tackling the sexual decline will require dealing with the very causes of the mental health crisis facing Western worlds – a crisis that is underpinned by job and housing insecurity, fears of climate change, and the loss of communal and social spaces. Doing so will not just help people with their sex lives, but benefit health and wellbeing overall. 

Source : This article was published bbc.com By Simon Copland

Categorized in Others

Mobile has changed everything, but it's only Act One. Machine learning in marketing is set to drive the industry's next revolution. Google's Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, reflects on the implication of this change and how leading brands will navigate the shift.

What's the next big thing? What comes after mobile? Where is marketing headed?

I often get asked these types of questions. Many of us who work in ad tech do. And while fortune teller is a job title most of us wouldn't claim, I am increasingly confident about what the future will hold because it's coming so clearly into view.

Here's why: The future coming into view is an acceleration of what we see today. It's unfolding before our eyes. And if we press pause and reflect for a moment on what's happening, it's as exciting as anything I've witnessed or worked toward during my 14 years at Google.

For consumers and marketers alike, mobile has forced a rewriting of the rules.

Reflecting on the big picture reveals—in an equally obvious and striking way—just how much of a game-changer mobile really is. For consumers and marketers alike, mobile has forced a rewriting of the rules. Consumers have become more empowered than ever to get what they want, when they want it. Waiting has become a thing of the past. That translates into today's pervasive micro-moment behavior—immediately turning to a device to know, go, do, and buy. To capitalize on that behavior and win over consumers, marketers have been forced to rewrite the rule book. You've had to double down on addressing the needs of consumers in the moment, committing to being there and being useful each and every time you can help advance the journey. In short, marketers have had to start being a lot more assistive.

But mobile isn't just an epic game-changer. It's a prerequisite, Act One. Just one critical leg of the journey. Pick your analogy, but I like to think of mobile as the force that's accelerating a train we're all now aboard. It's critical to get it right—because strategic shifts made today lay the groundwork for what's coming.

As new smart devices continue to emerge and as consumers embrace new, more natural ways to interact with those devices (like voice commands), the micro-moment behaviors mobile kick-started will only multiply. And as data and machine learning become more sophisticated in enhancing everyday consumer experiences, the expectations for relevant, personalized, and assistive experiences will continue to skyrocket. We're heading toward an age of assistance where, for marketers, friction will mean failure, and mass messages will increasingly mean "move on."

We're heading toward an age of assistance where, for marketers, friction will mean failure, and mass messages will increasingly mean "move on."

In this new age, it won't be enough just to be present across more micro-moments. We'll all be expected to stay a step ahead of consumers—to know their needs even better than they do. Successful marketers will have a much deeper understanding of their customers at every encounter. They'll focus on acquiring a detailed, data-driven view to really know them and help them along their individual journeys. That's the assistive mindset that will be required to win.

If I didn't believe so much in the role of technology, I might get worried. How can we as marketers possibly scale relevant messages and experiences across all devices at all moments? How can we possibly deliver smart marketing that recognizes each customer is unique, while simultaneously driving the bottom line? But I'm not worried. I'm thrilled. It is precisely technology—specifically the promise of data and machine learning—that will enable us to get this right.

Some organizational change will be required. And it will be necessary to embrace new standards for business as well as invest for the future. Here are three things to focus on as we navigate this shift together:

Raising the bar on mobile: To delight and be useful, we need to deliver fast, relevant, assistive experiences. It's important to lay the groundwork early with incredible mobile experiences.

Being smarter with data: A better understanding of consumers, coupled with smart automation, will enable personalization at scale. The ability to connect first-party data to media execution will be foundational to success.

Embracing omnichannel assistance: Leading brands will bridge online and offline, delivering seamless experiences throughout the consumer journey.

There's much work to be done. But in many ways, this future is what we at Google have been building toward for the last 18 years with Search. We can apply our data, intelligence, and scale to help marketers deliver the most useful messages for each and every micro-moment. I'm no fortune teller, but I believe the future is going to be pretty exciting, and I'm thrilled to be on this ride with all of you.

Source : This article was published thinkwithgoogle.com by Sridhar

Commentary: A darts player says his hand was speared with glass after his Apple device blew up, according to a report.

He swiped right. And then boom.

That's the story told by Brit Lee Hayes of his unfortunate encounter with his iPhone 7.

He told the Sun that he'd only had it for three days and was answering a call when it allegedly just blew up on him.

"It was on the bench in the kitchen and I heard it ringing. As soon as I touched the screen to answer it the phone just exploded," he reportedly said.

His description of a loud bang and a sizzling noise is consistent with many reports of phones spontaneously combusting.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hayes, 42, of Southport, England, reportedly told the Sun that he had many small shards of glass embedded in his hand and that the phone had left burn marks on the kitchen bench where it had been sitting.

Hayes is a semi-professional darts player who calls himself "The Scorpion." He told the Sun his injuries have prevented him from competing and he's thinking of suing Apple.

It's appears that Hayes, himself, has been involved in legal issues before. As the Southport OTS News reported, a Lee "The Scorpion" Hayes was convicted last year of perverting the course of justice. Hayes didn't respond to two requests for comment.

 

When phones explode, blame often lies with the batteries -- as was the case with Samsung's now infamous Galaxy Note 7. In that case, one customer sued Samsung because he alleged that the phone exploded in his pants.

It doesn't seem to matter which brand it might be or even the age of the phone. Phones are electronic devices and they can go wrong.

Hayes told the Sun he considers himself relatively lucky.

"It was a nasty injury -- my hand was bleeding quite heavily -- but it could have been so much worse. I could have lost my hand," he said.

Technically Incorrect: Bringing you a fresh and irreverent take on tech.

Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."

Source : This article was published cnet.com By Chris Matyszczyk

Categorized in Others

As newsroom jobs decline, we analyze the main problems facing modern journalists, and how new technology is lightening the load.

The news industry has changed dramatically since it was hit by a ‘media downturn’ at the end of the 2000s. Leading publications were forced to cut newsroom jobs and pursue more hi-tech methods of gaining income such as digital subscriptions, paid advertising, and sponsored video content.

Between March 2006 and September 2014, “the number of newsroom jobs fell by 33 percent,” according to the Pew Research Center and “daily and weekly newspapers shuttered their doors with increasing frequency”.

The trouble goes right to the top, with even the most well-known, well-funded publications slicing staff. In early 2016, the New York Times announced it would be laying off hundreds of journalists by the end of the year.

Catastrophic newsroom cuts across the globe have pushed many journalists to follow careers in more stable industries like PR, or to try and support themselves by ‘freelancing’ for multiple publications as a means of making ends meet. But for those who are still in the industry, there are some new tools which are softening the blow, and making aspects of the day-to-day lives of modern journalists and editors easier.

So what are the main problems facing modern journalists, and how is new technology lightening the load?

Getting scoops

One of the main problems facing journalists now, is surviving in the face of competition from millions of ‘citizen journalists’ around the world. Advances in smartphone technology, and the ever growing popularity of social network giants like Instagram and Facebook means that people can ‘break’ news at a seconds notice. As a result, smartphones have become journalist’s most important tool, and greatest enemy.

Oliver Griffin, British freelance journalist and contributor for The I and The Raconteur states: “Technology has facilitated the rise of citizen reporting and made life more difficult for foreign correspondents. Papers can now source stories from local reporters, who know more, but on the flipside face greater danger in their home countries and have less protection from the paper.”

Due to the added competition, keeping up with trends and writing stories which will engage readers is extremely important. Tools like BuzzsumoFeedly and Newswhip Spike allow busy journalists to check which topics are trending where and what time, and use analytics to assess the strength of a potential story in real time.  

Vikas Shukla, former journalist and co-founder of Education publication Quantov writes: “As a busy journalist you need to stay one step ahead of trends. There is no point spending hours each day reading the leading papers to see what the top stories are. You need to use technology to push you in the right direction, so it’s your story on the front page. I use Buzzsumo to find the trending topics, analyse content, and find influencers in my niche.”

Working in difficult environments

An age old problem for journalists has been taking notes, and ‘first hand’ documentation of what is going on, while in stressful or life threatening situations. In the aftermath of a disaster, or when in a dangerous environment, it is not always feasible –or safe– to start jotting down notes or do interviews.

Oliver Griffin continues: “Smartphones have killed shorthand as instead of frantically scribbling notes journalists can now just record voice messages. They can also shoot films and take photos from the scene, and then post them ‘live’ on leading social media sites.”

New technology is also offering journalists a means of using real people on the ground to shoot videos and photos and offer comments which can be used in the media. Apps such as Periscope and WhatUSee allow journalists who cannot make it in person, to search for users in a particular geographical zone, and request that they send photos and videos live from the scene.

Communication

With ever diminishing static newsrooms, editors are forced to work with a number of freelance or remote writers at any one time, which poses an organizational challenge. Writers and editors are often spread amongst different time zones and geographical regions which further complicates matters.

It is important for writers to be able to communicate with each other for tips and suggestions, and also with editors about trends, deadlines and edits. As a result, many remote teams are turning to tools such as Slack and Google chat to take up the strain.

Elizabeth Tenety, a former Washington Post editor and co-founder of Motherly writes: “We have a story ideas channel on Slack where editors and writers are encouraged to write down random ideas as they come to them, and help one another to brainstorm. We also have a “Flare” box—a channel for any crazy ideas that come to our writers about how we can best grow and engage our users. We encourage our team to use technology not just to stay organized, but to get inspired and feel free to bring really out-of-the-box ideas to the table.”

Organization

When running an efficient publication, organization and meeting deadlines is extremely important. Timing is everything in the news, and missing a deadline by even one day could make your story redundant. As a result, editors and journalists use a range of new tools to organize their workflow, assign tasks and manage deadlines.

Sergio Ramos, editor of Social Geek, writes: “I have writers working all over Latin America and the States in a range of different time zones. Trying to tie them down via phone or email is a nightmare, so I use tools like Trello to assign tasks and manage workflow.”

CRM tools like Trello, Kanban Flow, Contently and Basecamp add a visual element which allows editors and writers to keep up to date with the progress of different tasks, monitor deadlines, and save notes and drafts on a central database, so that other colleagues can access them if need be.

Elizabeth Tenety writes: “We are currently leveraging Slack, Trello, Google calendar and our CMS scheduling tool, but we’re always open to new options that more seamlessly integrate our team into planning processes. These tools are lifesavers for the modern editorial team.”

Saving time  

Just because there are fewer journalists employed in newsrooms does not mean that there are fewer stories to be covered. Journalist’s often find themselves up against a wall with deadlines, and need to turn to technology to help them cut corners and meet their editor’s demands.

Oliver Griffin said that he turned to popular messaging app Whatsapp to submit a story from central America when under tight time restrictions. Instead of spending time listening to long video or audio excerpts to gather quotes, journalists and editors can turn to tools such as Cogi to cut the exact information they need from large files. Others turn to online transcription services to get the information they need on paper when in a bind.

Elizabeth Tenety writes: “I’ve had a lot of success using Rev.com—it’s not an inexpensive solution for transcriptions, but in a time crunch they do a great job at turning around copy quickly.”

Advances in technology and changes in the way that the public consumes the media have totally changed the media landscape, but with every cloud comes a silver lining. As a perfect example, smartphones have brought extra competition from ‘citizen journalists’ but they have also become an all-in-one swiss army knife for journalists in the field.

More so than ever, journalists and editors need to keep their ear to the ground for new technology or risk becoming redundant.

Source : This article was published sociable.co by Amit Rathore

Categorized in Science & Tech

Fermat, a collaborative, open-source technology project, has announced the launch of the Internet of People (IoP) Consortium, an initiative aimed at boosting academic research and encourage university-led pilot projects related to the “person-to-person economy.”

The IoP is meant to allow people to hold direct control and ownership of their data and digital footprint. The project seeks to develop and provide individuals with the tools to freely interact electronically, both for social and commercial purposes, “without unnecessary third party interferences.”

The newly formed consortium will provide opportunities to universities and research institutions to develop and participate in innovative projects in that field. Current members include ELTE, Infota, Virtual Planet and Cyber Services PLC.

First pilot project

In March, the consortium launched its first pilot project through a research lab at ELTE, the largest and one of the most prestigious universities in Hungary, in cooperation with the EIT Digital Internet of Things Open Innovation Lab.

Focusing on the shipping industry, the pilot project found that with disintermediating technology, multinational companies in a wide range of verticals can significantly increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Technology which removes unnecessary intermediaries and creates a decentralised system, improves privacy for both senders and receivers, allows on-demand contractors to better monitor failure situations, and helps smaller shipping companies enter the market.

“Our first project has already delivered important findings on the power of IoP technology,” Csendes said. “Though the study focused on the shipping industry, the technology developed could improve the logistics industry as a whole.”

The Internet of People

Fermat's Internet of People projectFermat, an organization based in Switzerland, is in charge of building the decentralized infrastructure for the IoT, which includes an open social graph, a direct, peer-to-peer access channel to individual people, and a direct device-to-device communication layer.

The IoT intends to be an information space where people’s profiles are identified by a public key and interlinked by profile relationship links. Profiles can be accessed via the Internet.

The project aims to empower people by allowing them freedom to administer their online privacy, protect themselves from spying, censorship or data mining, by establishing direct person-to-person interactions.

Speaking to CoinJournal, Fermat founder Luis Molina explained:

“The information on the Internet of People is controlled by end users using their profile private key, in the same way they control their bitcoin balances using their bitcoin private keys. This means that only them can modify the information of their profiles and the relationship with others profiles as well.”

Similarly to Facebook, an individual is able to configure the privacy level of his or her profile and choose which information is public.

“A profile uploaded to the IoT does not mean that everyone can access all the information on it,” Molina said.

“The main difference is that when you upload your info to Facebook, Facebook is in control and they monetize your information using it for their own profit. On the other hand the Internet of People allows you to sell pieces of your private data or digital footprint on a global marketplace to whoever you choose and as many times you want, even the same piece of data.”

The IoP uses a new type of cryptographically secured data structure called the graphchain. The main difference between a graphchain and a blockchain is that the first acts as a cryptographically secured data structure in which no blocks or transactions have to be stored.

According to Molina, Fermat’s graphchain technology enables a global mapping of everybody with verified proof of how they are related, and also people-to-people and company-to-people interactions without going through intermediaries.

Csendes said that the graphchain technology brings “endless business opportunities because of the additional network components and methodologies added on top of blockchain technology.”

“The IoP Consortium was formed in response to the need for concrete and developed use cases demonstrating this value,” he concluded.

Source : This article was published in coinjournal.net By Diana Ngo

Categorized in Online Research

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Because companies will soon be able to recognize your face.

As you may already be aware, we know a lot about you. Yes, you! We know whether you clicked here from Facebook or if you came via our home page. We will know how long you spend reading this article and what you click to read next. That information enables us to figure out what interests you, which may affect what shows up next time you visit our site. If OZY were as big a part of your life as Facebook or Google is — if not yet, then soon! — we would know so much about you that we could show you advertisements targeted to your every interest.

But what if we could recognize your face? If so, we might adjust our messages to you depending on whether you look happy or sad, distracted or engaged. We’d adjust if you were looking to the left of the screen, or to the right. We’re not watching you read us, at least not yet, but the capability might not be too far away.

Indeed, facial recognition technology is almost ready for the mainstream. “Computer vision” is “moving very fast” toward the creation of browsers of the visual world, says Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and CEO of Blippar, an app that scans and recognizes images and faces and then shows you search and social-network results on your screen, combining two of the tech world’s current favorite functionalities — machine learning and augmented reality (AR). The dream, so it seems, is to become like a real-time, image-based search engine, a face-based social network and Pokémon Go, all rolled into one. Blippar is not the only “facial network” out there. The Russian website FindFace generated controversy last year when its search-by-faces function was used to reveal the identities of porn actresses. And just as a website to connect college students created by a fresh-faced Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room eventually revolutionized the news media and advertising industries, these technologies could change how companies market products — and a whole lot more — in untold ways.

“We’re producing a paradigm shift in thinking in marketing and advertising,” says Mitra. His superlatives aren’t entirely unjustified: The Blippar logo has appeared on 12 billion products in the past four years through the company’s marketing partnerships with more than 1,500 brands, including Heinz, Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch. These “Blippable” products can be scanned in Blippar’s smartphone app, but rather than just linking to a webpage the way QR codes do, the phone displays interactive AR marketing features. “And why should I need to recognize an ugly square,” Mitra asks, referring to QR codes, “when I can recognize something on its own?”

WHAT [APPLE’S] SIRI IS TRYING TO BE FOR THE AUDIO WORLD, BLIPPAR IS TRYING TO BE FOR THE VISUAL WORLD.

Imagine scanning the face of a billboard model to see an AR version of you wearing the same necklace, or scanning the car in front of you through your screen to get information on where you can buy the same model at local dealerships. (If this sounds like something from Netflix’s dystopian satire Black Mirror, it is — check out the first episode of the third season.) And what about a future where you walk into a store that recognizes your face and then offers you bespoke deals based on the shopping habits you revealed during your previous visit? That’s possible, says Dr. Gary Wilcox, a leading expert on social media and advertising. Indeed, it’s only an extension of existing geolocated marketing techniques that ping deals to your phone when you’re near a certain brand’s store — or its competitor’s.

“There’s a history of advertising staying pretty close to technological developments,” says Wilcox. But as technologies have evolved from print to radio to TV to the internet, marketers have largely relied on trial and error to find the techniques that work best, so “some of these early ideas” for virtual and augmented reality ads “are kinda silly,” he says. For Mitra, one medium remains to be conquered — the visual world: “What a lot of CMOs do not understand is that the biggest [form of] media in the world is actually products themselves. … We will reach a stage where if someone is curious about something, that’s the exact point [where] advertisers will put a very contextual message.”

Somewhat ironically, the personalization of technology that enables marketers to know everything about you essentially brings us back to the pretechnology era of personalized commerce when you were friends with the local store manager, says Harikesh Nair, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. If you’re a little freaked out by the idea of companies recognizing your face, “the market will determine” how much of this intrusion society will accept, says Nair — humans will probably never be comfortable having medical, family or financial details digitally attached to their faces as they walk down the street, he thinks. But as far as he’s concerned, if it makes it easier for him to find a suit he likes, it’s all good. “I think we as a society have already implicitly accepted that trade-off,” he says.

To be sure, Blippar isn’t the new Facebook or Google — at least not yet. “You would have to have a [new piece of] hardware that aids these sorts of applications,” says Dokyun Lee, a professor of business analytics at Carnegie Mellon University, insisting that people aren’t going to walk around viewing the entire world through smartphone cameras all the time. Facial-recognition software was banned from Google Glass because it was considered too creepy, and even then the product never made it to market. The future would certainly be more awkward than most sci-fi films suggest if we have to view everything — and everyone’s faces — through our phone screens.

But for the Blippar CEO, the Pokémon Go mania wasn’t some alienating dystopia; it was the start of an enlightened future. “Mark my words,” says Mitra, “computer vision and AR will go mainstream well before head-mounted devices take off, and it’s gonna happen through phones.” Just be sure to watch where you’re going when some irritating ad pops into your AR universe.

This article was  published in ozy.com by James Watkins

Categorized in Others

Amigo, a white robot the size of a person, uses information gathered by other robots to move towards a table to pick up a carton of milk and deliver it to an imaginary patient in a mock hospital room at the Technical University of Eindhoven, Netherlands, Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014. A group of five of Europe’s top technical universities, together with technology conglomerate Royal Philips NV, are launching an open-source system dubbed “RoboEarth” Thursday. The heart of the mission is to accelerate the development of robots and robotic services via efficient communication with a network, or “cloud”. AP

VANCOUVER, Canada — Intelligent machines of the future will help restore memory, mind your children, fetch your coffee and even care for aging parents.

It will all be part of a brave new world of the not-so-distant future, in which innovative smart machines, rather than being the undoing of people — as some have long feared — actually enhance humans.

That was the vision outlined at the prestigious TED Conference by experts who say technology will allow people to take on tasks they might only have dreamed of in the past.

“Super-intelligence should give us super-human abilities,” Tom Gruber, head of the team responsible for Apple’s Siri digital assistant, said during an on-stage talk Tuesday night.

Smarter machines, smarter humans

“As machines get smarter, so do we,” Gruber said.

“Artificial intelligence can enable partnerships where each human on the team is doing what they do best,” he told the popular technology conference.

Gruber, a co-creator of Siri and artificial intelligence research at Apple, told of being drawn to the field three decades ago by the potential for technology to meet people’s needs.

“I am happy to see that the idea of an intelligent personal assistant is mainstream,” he said.

Now he has set his sights on smart machines, and is turning the thinking about the technology on its head.

“Instead of asking how smart we can make our machines, let’s ask how smart our machines can make us,” Gruber said.

Already smart personal assistants are taking hold, pioneered by the likes of Apple’s Siri.

South Korean giant Samsung created Bixby to break into the surging market for voice-activated virtual assistants, which includes Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Amazon appears to have impacted the sector the most with its connected speakers using Alexa. The service allows users a wide range of voice interactions for music, news, purchases and connects with smart home devices.

Remembering everything

Gruber envisions artificial intelligence — AI — getting even more personal, perhaps augmenting human memory.

“Human memory is famously flawed — like, where did the 1960s go and can I go there too?” Gruber quipped.

He spoke of a future in which artificial intelligence remembers everyone met during a lifetime and details of everything someone read, heard, said or did.

“From the tiniest clue it could help you retrieve anything you’ve seen or heard before,” he said.

“I believe AI will make personal memory enhancement a reality; I think it’s inevitable.”

Such memories would need to be private, with people choosing what to keep, and be kept absolutely secure, he maintained.

Surefooted robots

Boston Dynamics robotics company founder Marc Raibert was at TED with a four-legged SpotMini robot nimble enough to frolic amid the conference crowd.

He smiled but would not comment when asked by AFP about the potential to imbue the gadget with the kind of artificial intelligence described by fellow speakers.

Raibert did, however, note that the robots are designed to be compatible with new “user interfaces.”

Current virtual assistants have been described as a step into an era of controlling computers by speaking instead of typing or tapping screens.

“I think it won’t be too long before we’re using robots to take care of our parents, or help our children take care of us,” Raibert said.

The ‘gorilla problem

Not everyone at TED embraced the idea of a future in which machines are smarter and more capable than humans, however.

Stuart Russell, a University of California at Berkeley computer sciences professor, referred to the situation as the “gorilla problem” in that when smarter humans came along it boded ill for evolutionary ancestors.

“This queasy feeling that making something smarter than your own species is not a good idea,” said Russell, co-author of the book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.

As an AI researcher he supported research in the technology.

Russell now advocates programming machines with robotic laws to govern their behavior — and ensure cannot end up working against human interests.

He gave the example of a robot being told to simply fetch coffee.

A machine not constrained by proper principles might decide that accomplishing the task required it to defend against being shut down and remove all obstacles from its path by whatever means necessary.

Russell counseled robot principles including altruism, humility, and making a priority of human values.

“You are probably better off with a machine that is like this,” Russell said.

“It is a first step in human compatibility with AI.” CBB

This article was  published in technology.inquirer.net

Categorized in Science & Tech

Over the course of the last decade, many companies have tried to make the smartphone-to-desktop dream a reality with varying degrees of success.

Microsoft, for example, launched Continuum alongside the Lumia 950 to considerable fanfare a few years ago, though most users felt limited by its less feature-rich version of Windows. Looking even further back, Motorola also attempted a similar Android-based solution with the ill-fated Motoblur. Even Samsung has dabbled in the space before with Galaxy S4 and Note 2 mobile docks, though these devices just mirrored Android’s standard user interface on a larger screen.

The DeX dock itself can be plugged into any HDMI compatible monitor and connects to USB or Bluetooth-enabled (as long as it includes a Bluetooth dongle) or standard USB mouse or keyboard. Strangely, DeX does not include an HDMI cable or power cord, instead relying on the Galaxy S8’s USB-C cable and the owner to provide the HDMI cable. In total, DeX features two USB 2.0 ports, an ethernet port and a USB-C port for power.

Samsung also says that while the S8 is connected to DeX, the device is protected by the company’s Knox security platform, which means that no data is transferred between the smartphone and the company’s new desktop-friendly version of Android.

In some ways, using DeX reminds me of the Nintendo Switch, mostly due to its plug-and-play nature. Similar to Nintendo’s console, as soon as you drop the S8 on the dock, DeX instantly activates, switching to a Windows or macOS-like desktop user interface. Unlike the Switch, however, some apps close when DeX is removed from the dock. While a minor issue, this is something I hope Samsung fixes in the future.

Mobilesyrup

MobilesyrupSamsung's DeX interface.

On a basic level, those that are familiar with desktop browser staples such as re-sizable windows and contextual menus, will feel right at home with DeX. Samsung has completely redesigned Android’s UI to be optimized for use with a keyboard and mouse, a task that likely wasn’t easy given the operating system’s inherent focus on touchscreen devices.

App support is one of DeX’s most significant issues currently, though given that the underlying code of every app likely remains similar to its stock Android counterpart, in theory a simple user interface shift shouldn’t be that difficult for developers. Still, it remains to be seen how many developers are willing to put in this extra work, especially with DeX only supporting the S8 and the S8+.

While DeX may support more Samsung devices in the future, it’s likely that it only currently works with the S8 and S8+ because of its powerful Snapdragon 835 processor.

It’s worth noting that any Android app can be opened with DeX, even it hasn’t been optimized for desktop. These apps appear in a smaller window and moving the mouse around mimics the functionality of the S8’s touchscreen. Compatibility with this form of interacting with an app is hit or miss, with some app user interfaces being more suited to a mouse and keyboard than others.

Further more, it’s strange that pressing enter on an external keyboard doesn’t send a message with apps that don’t support the DeX’s full desktop mode.

Looking at specific apps that don’t currently support DeX, Google Chrome actually crashed on me quite frequently. If you’re able to navigate its cumbersome interface, Samsung’s internet browser features a relatively solid full-screen DeX mode. As someone who uses Chrome to sync their personal and work life across multiple devices however, it’s disappointing that the web browser isn’t compatible with DeX at launch, though it’s possible that could change in the future.

Mobilesyrup

The main question surrounding DeX is whether or not the S8’s 10nm Snapdragon 835 processor has the power to push apps to a full-sized desktop. While I’ve only spent a few hours with DeX, the device seems capable of consistently running a light-weight desktop OS, though I’ve only dabbled with Word documents and browsed the internet via Samsung’s proprietary browser app for a few hours.

The only moments of slowdown I encountered were when I was opening more resource intensive websites that feature large images or high-resolution video.

The most compelling thing about DeX is that it’s capable of handling almost 80 to 90 percent of what the average person uses a PC for. So while I may not be able to do my day-to-day job with an S8 and DeX, if I worked in another industry, or was simply just interested in owning a very basic PC, the dock effectively turns Samsung’s latest flagship into a handy 2-in-1 device.

Author: Patrick O'Rourke
Source: business.financialpost.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

LOS GATOS, Cali. — As Netflix continues to produce billions of dollars’ worth of original content, it’s easy to forget that the company’s business model is firmly rooted in the delivery of digital content, served with as little friction as possible.

For Los Gatos, California-based Netflix Inc., frequent improvements to how all of its content is delivered — both original and licensed — is not just for subscriber convenience or benefit.

Retaining the company’s 94 million paid subscribers is crucial, but growth is the name of the game and — when reading between the lines of its latest technology improvements — the company has its sights set on emerging markets.

Netflix uploads multiple versions of shows or movies to its cloud servers, encoded in different file sizes. When a subscriber starts watching content, Netflix will know which file to serve, based on the device being used.

A big screen TV on fast home internet service will be served a higher bitrate — the number of bits transmitted per second — more information makes the picture quality better, while someone watching on a cellphone will get a lower bitrate to reduce the amount of bandwidth being used.

Netflix has been trying to refine the way they encode their videos to push significantly better quality video at a lower bitrate, so as more people move to mobile devices, the video they consume won’t take up as much of their bandwidth limits.

But, more importantly, it also means the company can grow its subscriber base in emerging markets where smartphones and data plans are more common than home Internet service. 

“I’m originally from the Philippines, where the main access to the Internet is actually people’s cell phones,” Anne Aaron, Netflix’s director of video algorithms, told a small group of journalists at the company’s headquarters. 

“Every bit counts. So the role of my team is to make sure every bit actually adds to the video quality of what people watch, and our main goal is to have a great viewing experience where you enjoy the TV show or movie at any bit rate.”

Part of the way this is achieved is through efficiency. Netflix’s encoding process was once done on a per-title basis, meaning its algorithms would look at scenes with the most action and use that as a basis for how much to compress the quality of the video.

But Aaron’s team has moved the encoder algorithms to a “per chunk” basis, which would look at one-to-three minute segments at a time, which means they can compress higher quality into smaller bitrate because action moments often aren’t as frequent and the threshold is lower. 

“But why stop there? Let’s go even further and optimize per shot of the video,” Aaron said, adding that Netflix has brought in experts from around the world, including two professors that specialize in encoding, to help make their algorithms even more efficient. 

So now video looks equally as good at half the bitrate — and in some cases, it’s even lower. That drives down the bandwidth costs for subscribers, and potential new users in emerging markets are more likely to be attracted to video that looks good on any device, even at slower speeds.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“Every bit counts”

Language accuracy

Quality video that doesn’t take up a lot of bandwidth is half the battle. Netflix is also innovating when it comes to localization — the subtitles and dubbing done in other languages.

“In 2012, we launched Lilyhammer… in seven languages and 96 language assets,” said Denny Sheehan, Netflix’s director of content localization and quality control. “Cut to (this year) where we’ve launched Iron Fist in 20 languages and we have 572 language assets. And by language assets, I mean subtitles, audio dubs and audio description.” 

For Netflix and Sheehan’s team, the way to nail localization is by focusing on context. In some cases, the company bypasses local companies that offer people for hire and hires translators directly, in case there are questions on things like cultural jokes, voice inflection and other contextual elements that might be missed in a straight translation.

Netflix also uses style guides and glossaries of terminologies or key phrases to make sure there is consistency across shows or movies as well as in the marketing materials and elsewhere in the company. All departments can access an internal Wiki with the up to date style guide.

“To achieve the highest quality we also have to have really high bar for quality control, and so for our originals this is a very through and rigorous approach,” said Sheehan.

“Every subtitle event is gone through by the same quality control evaluator that has done every episode of every season of a series, so the person working on House of Cards season five for Japanese also worked on season one and that way we know that nothing is going to be lost season-to-season.”

To expand into more languages and markets with a high level of accuracy, Netflix launched its own translator program in March called Hermes. Anyone can register and choose a language they speak, then take a quick test.

Those who score in the highest percentiles will be contacted by Netflix and interviewed to become a paid translator. If eventually accepted, they’ll get a unique ID in the system and their history (including accuracy) can be seen both by Netflix or exported to show other companies if someone is looking for a full-time position in the field. 

“Everybody in the process (including quality control) is measured,” said Chris Fetner, Netflix’s director of media engineering partnerships. “If we start to see a trend where we feel like that person is not performing we’ll either coach them up to a new level, up to the level that we expect or we’ll discontinue using them.”

With Netflix’s eyes on new markets to keep its subscriber base growing, these kinds of technological innovations and focus on localization will already be in place during expansion to help bring new countries on board.

“Even if you think about India and places in Latin American, there are places that either the fixed line bandwidth is quite constrained,” said Ken Florance, Netflix’s vice president of content delivery.

“In Africa, India, parts of Asia, parts of Latin America where there wasn’t this huge build out of fixed lines to people’s homes, in a lot of cases some cellular networks are substituting for the last mile. So any of the benefits from a 200 kilobits stream looking great on a cell network in New York City will also be seen and look fantastic on an old copper DSL in Bogota (Colombia).”

Author: Josh McConnell
Source: business.financialpost.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

When it comes to smartphones, there are so many key areas that are important to users. Design, software, apps, battery life, price, and performance are all key factors, as is speed. And when it comes to speed, Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the two fastest Android phones that have been released to date. They utilize new 10nm octa-core processors, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 in the US and Samsung’s Exynos 8895 elsewhere. They also sport the most optimized version yet of the Samsung Experience, formerly known as TouchWiz.

But there’s another factor that contributes to smartphone speed, and a new report suggests Samsung’s just-released Galaxy S8 will smoke the iPhone 8 when it’s released later this year.

There’s plenty we think we know about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8, which is expected to be announced this September alongside new iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus models.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone’s release, Apple will reportedly give the iPhone a complete design overhaul. The home button will be removed from the phone’s face, and the screen-to-body ratio is expected to be even more impressive than the 83% achieved by Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+. We can also likely look forward to a new Touch ID scanner embedded in the display, new cameras on the front and back, nifty new augmented reality features, 3D scanning features, and a lightning-fast A11 processor.

But where speed is concerned, it appears as though there’s one thing we shouldn’t expect: Gigabit LTE.

In a speculative piece published this week, CNET noted that Apple’s upcoming new iPhones may not support the new faster wireless standard carriers are currently working to roll out. Dubbed “Gigabit LTE” because of its theoretical 1Gbps top data transfer speed, the new standard is already being tested by wireless carriers in the United States.

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ include support for the new faster wireless standard, and several other Android phones that launch in 2017 will also be compatible with Gigabit LTE. Apple’s iPhone 8, however, may not support the faster download and upload speeds offered by Gigabit LTE.

As CNET pointed out, Apple uses modems built by both Qualcomm and Intel in its current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. Should Apple continue to utilize both suppliers, only one of the iPhone 8’s modems — the Qualcomm model — will support Gigabit LTE. As a result, Apple may intentionally slow the Qualcomm model to match the performance of the Intel model, as it has allegedly done with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

“This is not an area where Apple should want to cede competitive ground to Google and Samsung,” GlobalData analyst Avi Greengart told CNET.

Operating on the assumption that this speculation turns out to be accurate, does it really matter? Does it matter if Apple decides to “cede competitive ground” to it Android rivals in 2017? Probably not

Smartphone data connections aren’t like home internet connections, where capacity is important because multiple devices are utilizing available bandwidth. If you run a speed test on your smartphone right now, you might see speeds of 30Mbps, 40Mbps or even more. Those are blazing-fast speeds, but it’s only important to a degree.

First, there aren’t very many mobile services that are even capable of using speeds that fast — just like how large file downloads on your home computer might only hit 5Mbps even though you have a 100Mbps connection. Beyond that, any service that actually does utilize faster Gigabit LTE speeds would devour data caps in no time. What about unlimited plans? Sorry, but they’re all capped as well. The amount of full-speed data varies from one carrier to the next, but all unlimited plans include soft-caps of less than 30GB per billing period. After that, data speeds are likely to be throttled.

Down the road, next-gen technologies like Gigabit LTE and 5G will be crucial because more data-hungry services like live-streamed VR will roll out, and soft caps on “unlimited” data plans will be adjusted to accommodate them. But we’re not there yet, and we won’t get there anytime this year. Keep that in mind when Apple unveils the iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition, or iPhone Pro, or whatever Apple decides to call it) this coming September.

Author: Zach Epstein
Source: bgr.com

Categorized in Others

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.

Follow Us on Social Media

Book Your Seat for Webinar GET FREE REGISTRATION FOR MEMBERS ONLY      Register Now