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Apple AI expert says computers should help human failings

(TECH NEWS) Apple AI expert says that computers should help the human condition not harm it.

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A new thought

When most people think of artificial intelligence (AI), they picture one of the movie versions: either a perfectly sculpted humanoid robot who can think, feel, and learn better than humans, or a voice in a machine that knows better than we do.

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In both cases, the AI is a separate entity, and we seem to have only two options for interaction: ask the infinitely wise AI for guidance, or be killed. Even in the real world, we often think of AI as a threatening, up and coming replacement for human workers: an enemy, rather than an ally.

AI advocates

But there’s a growing, vocal group of AI believers that advocate for collaboration. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has openly promoted the idea of a neural lace, which would merge human brains with AI power, and he even took the matter into his own hands by founding a new startup, Neuralink, devoted to achieving human-AI harmony.
And in a recent TED Talk, Siri co-founder Tom Gruber discussed his own vision for the future of artificial intelligence.

That future includes a positive symbiosis, rather than straight up world domination.

In Gruber’s view, computers should primarily be used to help out humans where we need help, as Siri is supposed to, which means the stuff we’re bad at and the stuff we could be better at. So, like, everything?

Memory

Specifically, Gruber pointed to memory as an area where humans have a lot of room for improvement. He envisions a future where an AI (maybe through that neural lace thing?) keeps track of all aspects of our lives. We could remember every person we’ve ever met, and everything we learn about them – from family members to food allergies.

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

Every time we hear the word “track” or “record” or “log” or anything else that means hoarding data, those privacy alarm bells inevitably go off, and with good reason. Let’s stick to the socializing example: if everyone you meet gets recorded, your boss could see that you’ve had lunch with a competitor; your spouse could see that you’ve been spending time with an ex; your annoying family members could see that you do have time to sit and visit, just not with them.

The possibilities for brand new social faux pas are endless, and serious privacy breaches are almost inevitable.

We’ve seen in recent years that no matter how impossible our passwords are to remember, there’s someone out there who can and will steal our info.
Gruber also imagines this memory enhancement as a cure, or palliative treatment of sorts, for those with diseases like dementia and schizophrenia. “It’s the difference between a life of isolation and one of dignity and connection,” he said.

Most importantly, he said that the use of AI-enhanced memories will be up to us.

“We get to choose what is and is not recalled. It’s absolutely essential that this be kept very secure.”

Does that mean we would turn the feature on, so to speak, when meeting someone new or attending a lecture or learning a language? And then turn it off and return to our now wimpy-feeling regular memory capacity? Or is everything recorded, and then it’s up to us to go in and wipe our memories, Eternal Sunshine-style, of anything we don’t want to remember?

AI future

One thing, at least, is clear. The wind is changing, and those who resist this kind of cyborg-y augmentation may face an impossibly steep curve when attempting to compete with AI-human fusions that think and act more efficiently.

How will we, as a global culture and as a race, deal with the creation of our own sub-species? Maybe we should ask Siri.

#AIMemory

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Tech News

Facebook starts handing out merit badges like we’re Girl Scouts

(TECH NEWS) Facebook offers merit badges to users, and it’s pretty neat, but we’re also rolling our eyes.

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According to some Facebook Group administrators, Facebook has today rolled out merit badges. So far in the wild, we’ve spotted “Conversation Starter” which praises the admin (or user) for starting engaging posts that got the conversation going.

We have asked numerous users if they’ve seen these badges, and so far it appears that only one badge has been rolled out, potentially with more on the way. Upon logging into the group where you have earned a badge, you’ll see a notification at the top of the feed informing you of your new badge (get out your vest, it’s time to start collecting them all)!

The merit badge that you’ve earned shows up in your profile when other group members (where you’ve earned the merit badge) click on your face:

Currently, when an Admin posts in the group, it still only has their Admin badge next to their name, not the “Conversation Starter” or other badges lined up next to it, but if a regular group member has posted something engaging, the badge appears next to their name (it may be a one-badge-limit so far, maybe hold off on buying a Girl Scout vest for your badge collection):

Lastly, users apparently do have control over the display of whichever neato merit badges we eventually earn or collect:

There is no word on what the ultimate plan is or what merit badges will be awarded, and it appears to be limited to Facebook Groups at the present.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment and will update the story as we learn more. For now, if you want a badge, you can at least get a “Conversation Starter” badge in Facebook Groups, so go get ’em – we’ll soon know which other badges we can earn slash collect slash compete for slash game.

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Tech News

Slack video messaging tool for the ultra lazy (or productive) person

(TECHNOLOGY) Courtesy of a company called Standuply, Slack’s notable lack of video-messaging options is finally addressed.

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Slack — the popular chat and workflow app — is still going strong despite its numerous technical shortcomings, one of which is its notable lack of native video or audio chat. If you’re an avid Slack user, you might be interested in Standuply’s solution to this missing feature: video and audio messaging.

While it isn’t quite the Skype-esque experience for which one might hope when booting up Slack, Standuply’s video messages add-on gives you the ability to record and send a video or audio recording to any Slack channel. This makes things like multitasking a breeze; unless you’re a god among mortals, your talking speed is significantly faster than your typing, making video- or audio-messaging a viable productivity move.

The way you’ll record and send the video or audio message is a bit convoluted: using a web browser and a private Slack link, you can record up to five minutes of content, after which point the content is uploaded to YouTube as a private item. You can then use the item’s link to send the video or audio clip to your Skype channel.

While this is a fairly roundabout way of introducing video chat into Slack, the end result is still a visual conversation which is conducive to long-term use.

Sending video and audio messages may feel like an exercise in futility (why use a third-party tool when one could just type?) but the amount of time and energy you can save while simultaneously responding to feedback or beginning your next task adds up.

Similarly, having a video that your team can circle back to instead of requiring them to scroll through until they find your text post on a given topic is better for long-term productivity.

And, if all else falls short, it’s nice to see your remote team’s faces and hear their voices every once in a while—if for no other reason than to reassure yourself that they aren’t figments of your overly caffeinated imagination.

At the time of this writing, the video chat portion of the Slack bot is free; however, subsequent pricing tiers include advanced aspects such as integration with existing services, analytics, and unlimited respondents.

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Tech News

This phishing simulator tests your company’s (lack of) readiness

(TECHNOLOGY) Phishero is a tool which tests your organization’s resistance to phishing attacks. Pro tip: Most companies aren’t ready.

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In the wake of any round of cyberattacks, many organizations question whether they’re prepared to defend themselves against things like hacking or other forms of information theft. In reality, the bulk of workplace data thievery comes from a classic trick: phishing.

Phishing is a catch-all phrase for a specific type of information theft which involves emailing. Typically, a phishing email will include a request for sensitive data, such as a password, a copy of a W-4, or an account’s details (e.g., security questions); the email itself will often appear to come from someone within the organization.

Similar approaches include emailing a link which acts as a login page for a familiar site (e.g., Facebook) but actually stores your account information when you sign in.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to test your business’ phishing readiness.

Phishero, a tool designed to test employee resistance to phishing attacks, is a simple solution for any business looking to find any weak links in their cybersecurity.

The tool itself is designed to do four main things: identify potential targets, find a way to design a convincing phishing scheme, implement the phishing attack, and analyze the results.

Once Phishero has a list of your employees, it is able to create an email based on the same web design used for your company’s internal communications. This email is then sent to your selected recipient pool, from which point you’ll be able to monitor who opens the email.

Once you’ve concluded the test, you can use Phishero’s built-in analytics to give you an at-a-glance overview of your organization’s security.

The test results also include specific information such as which employees gave information, what information was given, and pain points in your current cybersecurity setup.

Phishing attacks are incredibly common, and employees – especially those who may not be as generationally skeptical of emails – are the only things standing between your company and catastrophic losses if they occur in your business. While training your employees on proper email protocol out of the gate is a must, Phishero provides an easy way to see how effective your policies actually are.

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