Google's former "design ethicist" on "How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds"

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Tristan Harris was Google's "Design Ethicist" where he studied how design choices directly affect people's behavior in conscious and unconscious ways. He's also a practicing magician! As he says, "Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it." Over at Medium, Harris wrote a fascinating post about persuasive technology and how design can "exploit our minds’ weaknesses." From Medium:

Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t question in the first place.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize enough how deep this insight is.

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

• “what’s not on the menu?”

• “why am I being given these options and not others?”

• “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”

• “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

"How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist" (Medium)

Harris's piece supports the essay that my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler recently posted about the incredibly high stakes of on-demand platform design: "Design It Like Our Livelihoods Depend on It" (WTF?) Read the rest

A Gift for You From Jacob Frey

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Watch this (please, the whole thing). Its title is "The Present," and it's a gift to you from Jacob Frey. Read the rest

Tiny, 8-bit console designed for hackability and homebrew game development

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Pocket CHIP is a tiny, $50, ARM-based pocket games console with a full keyboard and a Bluetooth interface. Read the rest

New study: Air rage triggered by walking through First Class

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A new scientific study reveals that air rage is much more likely on airplanes where inequality is obvious -- that is, airplanes where there's economy and first class sections. The University of Toronto researchers published their results in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. From CNN:

It found that passengers in economy seating were 3.84 times more likely to have an incident of air rage if they were on a plane that had a first-class section. They were 2.18 times more likely to have an outburst if they had to walk through first class to board the plane, as opposed to boarding in the middle of the plane, directly into the economy section....

"Psychology (research) tells us that when people feel a sense of deprivation and inequality, they are more likely to act out," said Katherine A. DeCelles, associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto....

There was also a nearly 12-fold increase in the rate of air rage among first-class passengers on flights where all passengers boarded through the first-class section, compared with flights that had separate entrances for first class and economy.

"When people from higher social class backgrounds are more aware of their higher status, they are more likely to be antisocial, to have entitled attitudes and to be less compassionate," DeCelles said.

"Air rage triggered by walking past first-class seating, study says" (CNN) Read the rest

Watch these bulldozers battle over turf, for real

In China's Hebei Province, bulldozers from competing construction companies battled it reportedly over a business opportunity. According to ABC News, police finally put a stop to the insanity and two drivers were injured. Perhaps the operators have been watching too many Survival Research Labs performance videos.

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Japanese teen girl metal band Babymetal performs on Colbert

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Babymetal made their US TV debut when they performed their song "Gimme Chocolate!!" on Colbert's Late Show last night. Read the rest

Nixon's war on drugs was a war against blacks and the antiwar left

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In Dan Baum's excellent article in Harper's about the devastating consequences of the US government's war on drugs, there's a revealing quote from John Ehrlichman, Nixon's Watergate co-conspirator:

I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

I must have looked shocked.

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The Republican Munsters

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Chuck Ungar did a terrific job pasting the heads of Cruz, Rubio, and Trump onto Grandpa, Eddie, and Herman. Great lettering, too.

Here's the original for comparison:

[via] Read the rest

Hackers demand $3.6m bitcoin ransom to unlock Los Angeles hospital medical records

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A cyberattack on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center's computer system has locked up access vital patient data, and the hackers responsible are demanding payment of over 9000 bitcoins ($3.6 million) to unlock the data.

From IBT:

An unnamed doctor has admitted that the hospital's computer system was hacked and is currently being held for ransom, adding that departments are now communicating through fax machines because they have no access to email. Furthermore, a number of patients have been transferred to other hospitals.

Meanwhile, a separate report by Fox (Los Angeles) reaffirmed that the cyberattack has directly affected the 'day-to-day' operations of the hospital.

Image: Shutterstock Read the rest

Space tourism posters from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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What a delight: NASA itself published a series of retrofuturistic tourism posters for other worlds. Better yet, the images are less unfree, though they also sell prints. I'm off to the exoplanets, see ya!

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New York village to keep seal depicting man choking Native American

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The residents of the small New York village of Whitesboro voted last night to keep this emblem that appears to show a man choking a Native American. From the Associated Press:

In a non-binding vote Monday night, residents voted 157-55 to not change their current seal, according to Patrick J. O'Connor, mayor of the Village of Whitesboro.

Whitesboro's website says the emblem dates to the early 1900s and depicts a friendly wrestling match between village founder Hugh White and an Oneida Indian. It says White won the match and the lasting respect and goodwill of the Oneidas...

After a notice of claim was filed in the 1970s calling the picture offensive, a new version was drawn with White's hands on the Indian's shoulders instead of on his neck, (village clerk and historian Dana) Nimey-Olney said.

"New York village votes to keep logo that shows man choking Native American" (AP) Read the rest

Man loves bear, and bear loves man right back. For now.

Медведь играет с человеком ("Bear Plays with a Man"). Indeed. (YouTube)

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NZ police broke the law when they raided investigative journalist's home

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The New Zealand High Court has ruled that the NZ police broke the law in 2014 when they raided the home of Nicky Hager, an investigative journalist whose work was sharply critical of the NZ government, and who was working on Snowden-related disclosures. Read the rest

Watch The Munsters... in color!

Pop Colorture hand-colorized 1,300 frames of The Munsters title sequence, turning the grimly fiendish and funny family into the full color characters that were originally black-and-white only due to budgetary reasons. From Pop Colorture:

As I learned from (Addams Family colorizer) Stuart Manning’s blog post, early color television programs often chose yellow in place of white to add an extra pop of color, while still registering as a white object on black and white sets. The dress that we see Marilyn wearing in the Munsters opening was white, and this can be seen in a few color promo photos featuring the first actress to play Marilyn, Beverley Owen. Yellow seemed like the natural choice for several reasons. It adds necessary color to the shot and I have no doubt that the wardrobe department would have chosen something similar, had it been shot in color. Yellow also fits with the grayscale values of the dress, so it looks very natural. Had I tried to color the dress red, green or any other color, it would not “stick” to the gray values as easily and would not look very good. My final reasoning in choosing yellow was because recent Munsters memorabilia items feature the character of Marilyn wearing a yellow dress that looks similar to the one seen in the opening. Although it has nothing to do with the show’s original creative team, I feel that it supports my choice. The second artistic decision I made was the color of The Munsters’ drippy, melted wax logo and title cards.

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Free Stanford course on surveillance law UPDATED

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Aw, crap, this was last year

Stanford is offering a free online course by computer scientist/law professor Jonathan Mayer that surveys the baroque, interleaved world of US surveillance law through the Coursera MOOC platform. Read the rest

Policeman who wanted photos of teen penis in sext case kills self

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A cop who convinced a judge to let him take photos of a 17-year-old boy's erect penis has killed himself after being accused of having an "inappropriate relationship" with another underage teen.

David Edward Abbott, a member of a Crimes Against Children taskforce, obtained a warrant to "inject a young boy with a drug that would cause an erection" after the teen sent a dick pic to his 15-year-old girlfriend. The ostensible plan: to match one pic to the other to prove they were the same penis.

Amid a public outcry, the Manassas City police eventually decided against doing that. The 17-year-old boy got a year of probation for sexting his teen girlfriend… The authorities went to arrest Abbott, 39, on Tuesday. [...] Abbott had an inappropriate relationship with a boy, now 13, police alleged. He was accused of soliciting sexual acts on the phone, via text messages and social media. Abbott was also accused of having an "inappropriate relationship with a second male victim" affiliated with the Prince William County hockey league.

If you're wondering whether Manassas is a safe environment for children, it's best you know that the Manassas City Police Department is standing by their man, to whom they remain "grateful."

This is a tragic and sad day for the Abbott family, the juvenile victims and their families, the Manassas City Police Department, and our community. In spite of these recent developments regarding the serious allegations against him, we are grateful for the contributions Det. Abbott made during his time with Manassas City Police, to include the prosecution and conviction of hundreds of criminals.

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HOAX

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It's a hoax!

This isn't the first time that a remix of the silent track's been targeted for copyright enforcement, but it never gets old. Read the rest

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