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Saudi Arabia gave a robot named Sophia full citizenship

(TECH NEWS) Saudi Arabia awarded full citizenship to a robot named Sophia and there are so many questions.

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The future is here, complete with robots and all. Saudi Arabia just became the first country to grant citizenship to a robot. Some people are already worried about machines taking over large sectors of industrial jobs. Now we have to figure out what rights should be afforded to technology.

The beloved robot, named Sophia, does not look like the average Saudi woman. Sophia made her debut at the Future Investment Initiative summit and was introduced as the most recent development from Hanson Robotics.

At her debut appearance, Sophia did not dress in an abaya, the traditional head covering and cloak, worn by Saudi women. Many refer to her as an Audrey Hepburn look alike with soft features, a slender nose and porcelain skin.

They call her “the most beautiful and celebrated robot,” though of course, we can assume they are somewhat biased.

Sophia now has Saudi Arabian citizenship, though no one is sure exactly what that means. It seems to be more of a publicity stunt rather than a giant leap forward for technological progression.

Does Sophia have the same rights as humans? Does she have the same rights as other Saudi women? It has been noted by others that Sophia’s citizenship in Saudi Arabia seems ironic considering the basic rights that are denied to a lot of women living in the country.

Saudi Arabia still faces much criticism in regards to their slow progression. Not until recently were women granted the right to drive. Will a robot be denied the same rights or treated differently because she is one-of-a-kind?

Technological influencers like Elon Musk are unaffected by the robotic innovations coming out of Saudi Arabia for the time being. Musk referenced Sophia in his recent tweet joking to “just feed it The Godfather movies as input.

What’s the worst that can happen?” Other people consider Sophia’s citizenship to be just another PR stunt. Granting a life-like robot citizenship has brought publicity to Saudi Arabia and Hanson Robotics.

Here’s to hoping that Saudi Arabia will take this act as a step in the right direction to granting equal rights to all citizens of their country.

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Natalie is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

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Yell ‘Marco,’ this app makes your phone yell ‘Polo’

(TECH NEWS) New iPhone app helps find your iPhone so you can find your phone to phone a friend. Are you ready to play Marco Polo on land?

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Do you ever find yourself taking your phone too seriously? Is your phone more of a business tool than anything else? Do you honestly not mind when you lose it?

When you think of your phone, what comes to mind first – April Nardini’s “silent German films,” or Rory Gilmore’s jaunts with the Life and Death Brigade? Consider spicing up your relationship with your phone with role playing! And yes, don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

It’s called Marco Polo, and you may have already guessed what it does, which in my book means it’s a pretty darn good name.

Once you install the app, you can literally shout the word “Marco” into oblivion and your phone will sing out “Polo” at the top of its smart little lungs.

Those who are looking to get themselves and their phones out of deep relationship ruts can endlessly customize the way they address their phone, and choose how it responds.

The customization possibilities seem endless. I suggest terms of endearment: when screamed into the darkness of your early morning bedroom, words like “Dearest!” and “Honeybunch!” are likely to open up a healthy dialogue between you and your phone by making it feel safe and appreciated.

It will then respond in one of thirty preset character voices with the words you’ve instructed it to say. Because phones don’t have free will yet, duh.

The Marco Polo app is extra handy when you don’t have a real live friend around you to call your phone for you, and when you’ve left your phone on silent or very low volume to block out the outside world.

It’ll boost your phone’s volume and light up its screen against its (not-free) will, no matter how carefully you’ve stifled it.

Basically, whenever you’re lonely or stressed and can only find solace in your misplaced phone, this app will be there for you like no one else can be.

The website doesn’t specify how nearby your phone needs to be, or how loudly you need to shout at it, so a little friendly trial and error will get your spicy new relationship up and running.

Marco Polo is only available on Apple devices but it's so worth it.Click To Tweet

Because it definitely isn’t 2018, and most of the entire world definitely doesn’t use Android. Come on, guys.

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The semantic argument of the phrase ‘Full Stack’

(TECH NEWS) As the tech industry knows, being able to classify your job qualifications is paramount.

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Semantics

A new debate is emerging in the web development world and it’s not about which framework is best, or which language is most marketable.

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In fact the debate isn’t a matter of code, it’s a matter of words.

It’s Not Just About Experience Level

“Full Stack Developer” is the title developers both new and old often use to describe themselves. According to a Stack Overflow developer survey touted as the “most comprehensive developer survey conducted” the title is among the top five respondents used to describe themselves.

However, not everyone thinks newer developers should adopt the title.

It would be easy to distill the debate to a matter of experience level, veterans earned the “full stack” title, while newer programmers haven’t. However, there’s way more layers to this debate.

What Exactly is Full Stack

First of all, a simple google search reveals several different definitions of “full stack.” There’s general consensus when it comes to the high-level definition. CodeUp sums up this definition, “The term full stack means developers who are comfortable working with both back-end and front-end technologies.”

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of what exactly falls under back-end and front-end, there’s some disagreement.

Mastery level also matters, but again there’s disagreement over what’s acceptable. In one camp, are the proficiency pushers who require not only a breadth of understanding, but also a depth of understanding in multiple areas.

In this camp, it’s not just good enough to have exposure to SQL, one must have proficiency in SQL.

In the other camp, are the generalist. They also require a breadth of knowledge, but are happy with a basic familiarity of each stack element. When it comes to debating whether newer developers should adopt the full stack title, the lack of clarity on what full stack means in the first place is a major stumbling block.

Why Full Stack?

Besides clarifying the what behind “full stack” some folks are also clarifying the why. According to Indeed’s job trends, the number of postings and searches matching “full stack developer” on average has trended upwards since 2012 . The title’s popularity causes some to believe that new developers are adopting the title as a buzzword with no real care put into understanding what “full stack” means.

Android Programmer Dan Kim from Basecamp warns, “Just don’t fall back to labeling yourself with a bullshit buzzword that everyone else uses.”

For others, adopting the full stack title is a matter of mindset. As Web developer Christian Maioli over at TechBeacon writes: “To me, a full stack developer is someone who has the curiosity and drive to test the limits of a technology and understand how each piece works generally in various scenarios. Having this mindset will give developers more value and more power in dealing with new situations.”

In both cases, understanding why a new developer adopts the full stack title is connected to understanding whether they’re overselling their skills and how valuable their skills are to a potential employer.

Beyond Job Titles

Finally, this debate about whether new developers should use the “full stack” title brings up the need for alternative methods of measuring proficiency. This need isn’t limited to the web development world, as technology innovates job titles become convoluted.

A job title won’t be the most reliable way to communicate what you bring to a job or what you expect.Click To Tweet

Quantifying what you’ve accomplished in the past, along with what tools you used will be critical in a time where job titles aren’t trusted.

This story was first published here on April 7, 2017.

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We’ve all seen job listings for UX writers, but what exactly is UX writing?

(TECH NEWS) We seeing UX writer titles pop up and while UX writing is not technically new, there are new availabilities popping up.

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The work of a UX writer is something you come across everyday. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints UX writers work on are interface copy, emails and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find a UX writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must have. Excellent communication skills is a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post.

But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater UX design team. In larger companies some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User centered design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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