Meet the Dogged Researchers Who Try to Unmask Haters Online | MIT Technology Review

We’ve come up with the menacing term “troll” for someone who spreads hate and does other horrible

things anonymously onthe Internet. Internet trolls are unsettling not just because of the things they say

but for the mystery they represent: what kind of person could be so vile?

Oneafternoon this fall, the Swedish journalist Robert Aschberg sat on a patio outside a drab

apartment building in a suburb of Stockholm, face to face with aInternet troll, trying to answer this question.

The troll turned out to be a quiet, skinny man in his 30s, wearing a hoodie and a dirty

baseball cap—a sorry foil toAschberg’s smart suit jacket, gleaming bald head, and TV-trained baritone.

Aschberg’s research team had linked the man to a months-long campaign of harassment against

a teenage girl born with a shrunken hand. After meeting her online, the troll tormented her obsessively,

leaving insulting comments about her hand on her Instagram page, barraging her with

Facebook messages, even sending her taunts through the mail.

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Meet the Dogged Researchers Who Try to Unmask Haters Online | MIT Technology Review.


A Virtual Social Assistant to Help You Maintain Relationships | MIT Technology Review

Virtual assistant apps, such as Apple’s Siri or Google Now, focus mostly on providing factual info such as search results and flight times. A new assistant called Contax, developed by researchers at AT&T, tries to be more genuinely “personal,” by actively helping you organize your social life.

Contax analyzes your call logs and text messaging patterns to work out your most important relationships. The app then uses that information to reorganize your address book, and actively suggest, for example, that you should call or text your tennis buddy like you do every week the day before your game.

AT&T’s app tries to get a measure of who matters to you by rating contacts on qualities including the strength of your relationship, physical proximity, and the patterns of your communications with them. You can also assign contacts to important categories, like “family,” “friends,” “project team,” or “fishing buddies.

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A Virtual Social Assistant to Help You Maintain Relationships | MIT Technology Review.

9 jobs robots could replace in 2015

Walking through the city, I find myself thinking about all the jobs a robot could do.

A robot could probably stand in for my coffee truck guy, though I doubt he’d smile, call me “buddy” and ask if I said “three sugars” or “no sugar.”

A robot could probably take over for that guy spraying down the street every morning — though I often wonder why we need anyone doing that at all.

Could a robot drive that taxi, which just deposited a woman on Fifth Ave.? Probably, though I bet it wouldn’t be as good at multi-tasking. I’ve watched taxi drivers snack, take a call and quiz me about my work all while driving above the speed limit. A robot might simply drive at 25 MPH.

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9 jobs robots could replace in 2015.

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Wristband notices when you fall asleep and records your TV show

Wearable technology is great, but so much of it is obsessed with getting you fit. Apps can track your heartbeat, encourage you to hit the gym, and remind you just how many calories were in that last donut. But what about a product designed for more relaxed individuals?

Wouldn’t it be helpful, say, if a wristband could tell if you doze off while watching the TV, then automatically record the rest of the show?

As it happens, two young tech prodigies have created exactly that. KipstR was developed by teenagers Ryan Oliver, 15, and Jonathan Kingsley, 14, students at Manchester Creative Studio, in conjunction with TV and broadband provider Virgin Media.

The pair have come up with a 3D-printed wristband that uses a pulse oximeter, a clinical device for diagnosing sleep disorders, to sense when the user has drifted off. The KipstR band then mimics the user’s TiVo remote to pause and record the TV show that was playing.

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Wristband notices when you fall asleep and records your TV show.

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The Rise of Instagram | Andrew Katz | LinkedIn

One of the more fascinating things in 2014 for social media has been watching the rise of Instagram. Brands are establishing a strong presence there, are posting more media, and the engagement metrics are tremendous (especially considering there is no native engagement tool equivalent to a “share”, “retweet” or “reblog” which help create that halo effect on other networks). But brands who aren’t utilizing Instagram to regularly engage with their audience are missing out on a large part of the overall engagement pie (see graphic above). Today, leading social media benchmarking and audience engagement analysis firm, Shareablee Inc, wrote about that rise of Instagram:

The Rise of Instagram | Andrew Katz | LinkedIn.

Ibuprofen boosts some organisms’ life spans | Science/AAAS | News

Ibuprofen can banish headaches and soothe throbbing joints, but the drug may have another benefit. A new study shows that it increases longevity in lab organisms, raising the possibility it does the same thing in people.

Researchers used to scoff at the idea of extending life span, but it turns out to be surprisingly easy—at least in organisms such as mice and worms. Drugs that prolong survival of these creatures—aspirin and the antidiabetes compound metformin, for example—are already in many of our medicine cabinets. Several studies suggest that ibuprofen is also worth a look. Ibuprofen suppresses inflammation, which underlies many age-related diseases and might contribute to aging itself. In addition, people who take ibuprofen for a long time have a lower risk of developing two age-related illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, several analyses found.

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Ibuprofen boosts some organisms’ life spans | Science/AAAS | News.

HP Will Release a “Revolutionary” New Operating System in 2015 | MIT Technology Review

Hewlett-Packard will take a big step toward shaking up its own troubled business and the entire computing industry next year when it releases an operating system for an exotic new computer.

The company’s research division is working to create a computer HP calls The Machine. It is meant to be the first of a new dynasty of computers that are much more energy-efficient and powerful than current products. HP aims to achieve its goals primarily by using a new kind of computer memory instead of the two types that computers use today. The current approach originated in the 1940s, and the need to shuttle data back and forth between the two types of memory limits performance.

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HP Will Release a “Revolutionary” New Operating System in 2015 | MIT Technology Review.

Cost-Saving Innovation Needed in Health Care | MIT Technology Review

Moore’s Law predicts that every two years the cost of computing will fall by half. That is why we can be sure that tomorrow’s gadgets will be better, and cheaper, too. But in American hospitals and doctors’ offices, a very different law seems to hold sway: every 13 years, spending on U.S. health care doubles.

Health care accounts for one in five dollars spent in the United States. It’s 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product, up from 4 percent in 1950. And technology has been the main driver of this spending: new drugs that cost more, new tests that find more diseases to treat, new surgical implants and techniques. “Computers make things better and cheaper. In health care, new technology makes things better, but more expensive,” says Jonathan Gruber, an economist at MIT who leads a heath-care group at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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Cost-Saving Innovation Needed in Health Care | MIT Technology Review.

Global Alliance for Genomics and Health Plans Internet for DNA | MIT Technology Review

A coalition of geneticists and computer programmers calling itself the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health is developing protocols for exchanging DNA information across the Internet. The researchers hope their work could be as important to medical science as HTTP, the protocol created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, was to the Web.

One of the group’s first demonstration projects is asimple search engine that combs through the DNA letters of thousands of human genomes stored at nine locations, including Google’s server farms and the University of Leicester, in the U.K. According to the group, which includes key players in the Human Genome Project, the search engine is the start of a kind of Internet of DNA that may eventually link millions of genomes together.

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Global Alliance for Genomics and Health Plans Internet for DNA | MIT Technology Review.