Updated: Chatbots — propaganda is being taught how to speak

Bots–“simple computer scripts–were originally designed to automate repetitive tasks … sparing humans hours of tedium.”  But, bots “can also be used to operate large numbers of fake [social media] accounts, which makes them ideal for manipulating people.” As became evident after the 2016 election in the United States and from many other examples, not only do bot-operated fake social media accounts “broadcast extremist viewpoints,” but…

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Electric vehicles: benefits, technology, obstacles

Vehicles (cars and trucks) can be powered partially or wholly by electricity. “All-electric vehicles (EVs) have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The vehicle uses a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged in to a charging station or wall outlet to charge. Because it runs on electricity, the vehicle emits no exhaust from a tailpipe and does…

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Facial recognition: technology and privacy

Quick bibliography: Reviews/recent articles on facial recognition–the technology and privacy concerns. Classic reviews: Bowyer, K. W. (2004). Face recognition technology: security versus privacy. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 23(1), 9-19. [PDF] [Cited by] “Video surveillance and face recognition systems have become the subject of increased interest and controversy after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. In favor of face recognition technology, there…

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Save money, do good–change your light bulbs (quick post)

Switching light bulbs in your home to LED is a simple, relatively inexpensive way to cut your energy bill (the amount of electricity used with LED bulbs is 80+% less compared to traditional incandescent bulbs). The increasingly wide use of more efficient light bulbs has helped electricity use by Americans to decline since 2010–after rising steeply for decades. The current U.S. Administration may not like…

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Misinformation and trust

News: “Social media has facilitated the proliferation of false belief at an unprecedented scale.” Why? Humans are social learners. “We develop most of our beliefs from the testimony of trusted others”–parents, friends, relatives, clergy, politicians, work colleagues, etc. And, sometimes, the ideas and information that they pass on to us are just plain wrong. But, we hear it from a friend, we believe it, we…

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Advances in solar water purification

News: Here is some potentially very positive news … It’s estimated that nearly 800 million people globally today lack access to safe drinking water–that’s not positive; it’s a huge, dangerous problem. Existing technologies “for purifying contaminated water and desalinating seawater” often are very expensive and use large amounts of energy–beyond the ability of many communities to put into place. Solar stills are an existing lower-tech…

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