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Author: Kendra Pierre-Louis and Nadja Popovich

Description: At one point this month (July 2018), “more than 100 million people” in the United States were under heat warnings or advisories. While high daytime temperatures and humidity were most noticeable, it was the nighttime temperatures that were having the greatest impact. “Nationwide, summer nights have warmed at nearly twice the rate of days." Most years, heat waves kill more people in the U.S. than any other natural disaster. “The combination of high daytime and high nighttime temperatures can be really lethal because the body doesn’t have a chance to cool down during the nighttime hours.” Older people, the sick, young children, outdoor workers, and the homeless are particularly at risk. In cities, where the heat island effect exacerbates high temperatures, it is often the poor and/or minority residents who are more likely to live in the hotter areas. Yes, air conditioning can help, but, they work by sending hot air outside–where it can add to the heat island effect. Plus, air conditioning is a major player in climate change globally, and increased use during heat waves is a factor in power failures.

Title: Nights Are Warming Faster Than Days. Here’s Why That’s Dangerous

Year: 2018

Publication: New York Times

Full text: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/11/climate/summer-nights-warming-faster-than-days-dangerous.html

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Serial Number: 6
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Author: Kevin Engel

Description: In a highly-cited study from 2003, DePaulo, et al. investigated if “people behave in discernibly different ways when they are lying compared with when they are telling the truth.” The quest for determining consistent and obvious behavioral cues for deception is longstanding. In the virtual world we live in today, separating falsehoods from the the truth is even more important. The cues that emerged as significant included:
*Liars provide fewer details in their accounts than do truth tellers.
*Lies make less sense than the truths; they are less plausible, less likely to be structured in a logical way, and more likely to convey ambivalence.
*Liars seem less involved verbally and vocally in their self-presentations than do truth tellers, and liars use fewer gestures when speaking.
*Liars sound more uncertain, evasive, unclear, and impersonal.
*Liars are more nervous and tense than truth tellers.
*Truth tellers are more likely to make spontaneous corrections to their stories, and are more likely to admit an inability to remember something.
Today, we arguably face more deception and much of that happens virtually–through social media and the Internet–where behavioral cues are harder to read. We are often remote participants watching video or hearing audio–both of which can be manipulated. And, opportunities for technological deception will only grow more sophisticated.
In the end, it is up to each of us to go the extra mile (to seek information) to gain understanding, reduce the effect of fear, and make our own independent decisions.

Title: Cues to deception

Year: 2018

Publication: Psychological Bulletin

Full text: https://bit.ly/2IpsfEb

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Serial Number: 57
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Author: Kevin Engel

Description: Soybeans are one of the major food crops globally. The midwestern U.S. may be the primary production area for soybeans on the planet. Rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have many negative climate change impacts. However, a long-held view has been that elevated CO2 may actually enhance production/yields in plants like soybeans. This finding had led some to conclude that climate change is not so bad for agriculture. However, more recent research does not support this view–including research involving wheat and grasses as well as soybeans. The yield stimulation effect of CO2 “may be far less than expected under future growing conditions that are characterized by concurrent increases in CO2 and drought intensity.” Research by Jin, et al. (2018) found that multiple climate models project that the frequency of drought in the U.S. Midwest will increase to once every other year by 2050. “The increased frequency of drought conditions poses a formidable challenge to maintaining soybean yield progress, in part by diminishing the potential benefits of elevated CO2.” While genetic engineering of soybeans and a major shift to irrigation could help “stabilize soybean yield,” the challenges are formidable and diverse. Will society accept more genetically-modified crops? And, as droughts become more frequent and more intense, where would the extra water come from for greatly-expended irrigation? And, what about heat stress? Greater heat, more frequent and intense droughts, rising CO2 levels happening at the same time–all these factors point to plateaus and declines in major food crop yields globally within the lifetimes of us and our children.

Title: Increasing frequency of drought and decreasing yields for soybeans

Year: 2018

Publication: Strategian Science

Full text: https://www.strategian.com/2018/12/01/increasing-frequency-of-drought-and-decreasing-yields-for-soybeans/

Dig deeper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.13946

Serial Number: 69
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Author: Lakshmi Supriya

Description: As climate change pushes temperatures higher, trees “are experiencing longer growing seasons, sometimes as much as 3 extra weeks a year.” That is helping trees grow faster, but research indicates that “higher temperatures–combined with pollution from auto exhaust and farms–are making wood weaker.” As a result, trees will break more easily in storms and lumber from the trees “is less durable.” This is occurring at a time when climate change is also playing a role in more frequent extreme weather events–stronger storms. “Increasing temperatures … probably account for some of the drop. But another factor … is more nitrogen in the soil from agricultural fertilizer and vehicle exhaust.” Other studies have also linked “increased fertilizer use to decreased wood density.” As wood density decreases so does its carbon content–“by about 50%.” This means the trees are absorbing less carbon dioxide “from the atmosphere every year."

Title: Climate change is making trees bigger, but weaker

Year: 2018

Publication: Science

Full text: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/climate-change-making-trees-bigger-weaker

Dig deeper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112718310600?via%3Dihub

Serial Number: 41
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Author: Layal Liverpool

Description: A recent clinical trial found that mTOR inhibitors–two experimental anti-aging drugs–reduced the number of respiratory infections and boosted “people’s responses to the flu vaccine.” mTOR inhibitors “appear to broadly rejuvenate immune function in healthy elderly people.” Other tests with these drugs in mice have shown that they can “extend lifespan and revitalize the immune system and organs which deteriorate in old age.” More research is needed; however, “this study raises the real possibility that most middle-aged adults could benefit from short-term treatments with mTOR inhibitors."

Title: Trial of anti-ageing drugs that rejuvenate immune system hailed a success

Year: 2018

Publication: Guardian

Full text: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jul/11/trial-of-anti-ageing-drugs-that-rejuvenate-immune-system-hailed-a-success

Dig deeper: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/10/449/eaaq1564

Serial Number: 5
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Author: Lisa-Maria Neudert

Description: Bots were originally designed to automate repetitive tasks sparing humans tedious work. 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 U.S., not only do bot-operated social media accounts “broadcast extremist viewpoints,” but they also amplify similar views from authentic human accounts by “liking, sharing, retweeting,” etc. They game the algorithms and give those posts and tweets more visibility. While current bot technology uses brute-force (large numbers of bots) to have influence, the next generation of bots will be harder to recognize and control. Just like Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant, the new bots (chatbots) will behave and talk a lot more like real people. These chatbots will present themselves as humans participating in online comment sections, group chats, message boards, and private chat channels. Will you be able to tell that you are talking to a machine? There’s still a ways to go before a bot will be able to spoof a human in one-on-one conversation. Yet as the algorithms evolve, those capabilities will emerge and probably sooner than we think.

Title: Future elections may be swayed by intelligent, weaponized chatbots: The AI advances that brought you Alexa are teaching propaganda how to talk.

Year: 2018

Publication: MIT Technology Review

Full text: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611832/future-elections-may-be-swayed-by-intelligent-weaponized-chatbots/

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Serial Number: 52
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Author: Matt Reynolds

Description: Some conservationists are "cautiously optimistic about the future of our planet." This belief is based on a shift toward thinking about the changes in the basic human condition that "will allow nature to recover." These conditions include stabilizing global human population so that it can begin to slowly decrease and alleviating extreme poverty. "Drawing reasonable inferences from current patterns ... a hundred years from now, the Earth may be inhabited by between 6 and 8 billion people, very few of whom live in extreme poverty, 70-90% of whom live in towns and cities." "These gains may be accomplished ... through the social dynamics of cities." Evidence indicates that as nations become "more urban and developed, fertility rates begin to drop ... per capita incomes increase dramatically with urbanization of society." Can the growth of cities and other urban areas actually benefit our planet?

Title: The ecologists who think moving to cities will save the planet: For decades, conservationists have warned that urbanisation is destroying the planet. But now a new wave of eco-optimists think that it might hold the key to ecological salvation

Year: 2018

Publication: WIRED

Full text: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/climate-change-optimism-ecomodernism-new-conservation

Dig deeper: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/68/6/412/4976422

Serial Number: 39
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Author: Matt Stevens

Description: The pitch of voices affects “our impressions of a person’s physical and social dominance, attractiveness, and trust.” Voice pitch has real-world consequences; it impacts how people are treated. A new study suggests “the pitch of babies’ cries at 4 months old may predict the pitch of their speech at age 5.” Previous research has shown that “the pitch of a person’s voice stays basically the same during adulthood and that how we sound as adults may be determined before puberty.” This new research takes the time back even farther; "a substantial proportion of the difference between how we sound in adulthood may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero."

Title: Babies’ Cries May Foretell Their Adult Voices, a Study Shows

Year: 2018

Publication: New York Times

Full text: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/science/baby-cries-pitch-speech-nyt.html

Dig deeper: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roybiolett/14/7/20180065.full.pdf

Serial Number: 4
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Author: Max Fisher and Amanda Taub

Description: “How do people determine right from wrong?” Social science research “suggests that people, to a significant degree, derive their sense of right and wrong from social cues.” “People form their own morality … according, in part, to what they think the people around them believe.” One piece of relevant research focused on school bullying. The researchers found that individual students used “social referrents” as a shortcut to make their decision about bullying behavior–that is, “people to whom they paid special attention in determining right or wrong.” Students focused “on a few individuals whom [they] perceive to be influential.” There are many studies like this one–looking at setting norms for behavior in many situations, not just with kids in school. So, what does this mean for social media and morality? Social media replaces “our traditional person-to-person social networks with artificial, algorithm-driven networks” focused on profit. Is social media better or worse as a way for people to test their social referrents as a barometer for determining internal morality? Could Facebook, Twitter, etc. “disrupt the processes by which we determine right from wrong?” “How would that change our morality?”

Title: The Surprising Truth About How Humans Determine Right and Wrong

Year: 2018

Publication: New York Times

Full text: https://static.nytimes.com/email-content/INT_4425.html?nlid=63151783

Dig deeper: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5186d08fe4b065e39b45b91e/t/568bf5af1c121066511d0792/1452012975057/PaluckShepherdAronow+2016.pdf

Serial Number: 21
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Author: Max Fisher and Amanda Taub

Description: Read this article for a clear-eyed assessment of social media--"everyday users, by following the incentive structures and social cues arranged by algorithm-driven social media, radicalized themselves and one another. Extremism emerges organically." The reporters look at the effect and use of Facebook in Sri Lanka. "Social media can amplify destructive elements of human nature." It's not just the developing world though, it's the U.S. as well. The American alt-right "needed social media to push into the mainstream. Algorithm-driven platforms ... move White supremacist talking points into the mainstream." "Increasingly, we live our lives--and encounter new ideas--through platforms like Facebook, which circumvent the usual societal filter against extremism." At the root, each of us can take control of the way we use social media--but we need the knowledge and the courage to do so.

Title: Are You Being Radicalized on Social Media?

Year: 2018

Publication: New York Times

Full text: https://static.nytimes.com/email-content/INT_1385.html

Dig deeper: https://contexts.org/articles/the-algorithmic-rise-of-the-alt-right/

Serial Number: 49





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