The worse your town was hit by austerity, the more likely you were to vote for Brexit

After the Brexit vote, a lot of people pointed out that the areas that voted most heavily in favour of separating from the EU were also the areas that relied most heavily on EU subsidies, and wondered why British voters would decide to slit their own throats. Read the rest

Joi Ito's dissertation, The Practice of Change: using networks, not markets, to solve problems

Joi Ito (previously) is the Director of MIT's Media Lab, an appointment that raised a few eyebrows because Joi never got an undergrad degree, much less a doctorate. Read the rest

Voice assistants suck, but they suck worse if you have an "accent"

Research into the shittiness of voice assistants zeroed in on a problem that many people were all-too-aware of: the inability of these devices to recognize "accented" speech ("accented" in quotes because there is no one formally correct English, and the most widely spoken English variants, such as Indian English, fall into this "accented" category). Read the rest

Half a billion IoT devices inside of businesses can be hacked through decade-old DNS rebinding attacks

In 2008, a presentation at the RSA conference revealed the existence of "DNS rebinding attacks," that used relatively simple tactics to compromise browsers; a decade later, Berkeley and Princeton researchers announced a paper on DNS rebinding attacks against consumer devices (to be presented at August's ACM SIGCOMM 2018 Workshop on IoT Security and Privacy), while independent researcher Brannon Dorsey published similar work. Read the rest

Voice assistants suck (empirically)

New research from legendary usability researchers The Nielsen (previously) Norman (previously) Group finds that voice assistants are basically a hot mess that people only use because they are marginally better than nothing. Read the rest

Higher ed and Wikipedia go great together

The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles LiAnna Davis, Wikipedia Education's director, who forges alliance with colleges and their faculty. Read the rest

China uses sewage surveillance to detect drugs in urine and feces

Across China, local governments have implemented mass surveillance of urine and feces in city sewers to detect drug use; in drug hotspots like Zhongshan, longitudinal assays of drug residues in human waste are used to evaluate the efficacy of anti-drug programs. Read the rest

Venmo's "public by default" transactions reveal drug deals, breakups, more

Because Venmo defaults to making all payments public, privacy researcher Hang Do Thi Duc was able to download and analyze 208,000,000 transactions, whose notes and other metadata revealed a wealth of personal, compromising information, including drug deals and breakups. Read the rest

Sky blue, water wet, porn filters don't work

In Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material, two researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute reveal their empirical findings on the efficacy of porn filters -- the online systems that are supposed to stop users from seeing sexual images, videos, and text. Read the rest

Yale's most popular course ever: Happiness

When Yale psych professor Laurie Santos offered a course in how to be happy -- based on the latest peer-reviewed science -- she hoped that a reasonable number of students would sign up (after all, the literature suggested that there is an epidemic of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among US college students); the course was the most successful in Yale's history, with one in four students enrolling Read the rest

3D printed origami robots that crawl and grab when activated by magnets

A team at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have created a set of foldable, 3D printed robots that are doped with magnetic particles that are precisely aligned during printing; when triggered by a control-magnet they engage in precise movements: grabbing, jumping, rolling, squeezing, etc. Read the rest

It's often cheaper to pay cash for your prescriptions rather than the co-pay, but the pharmacy is legally prohibited from suggesting it

America's health care is totally screwed up, Part Ten Gazillion: in many cases, the medicines your doctor prescribes are cheaper than the co-pay your health insurance charges, which means that if you just buy the meds instead of charging them to insurance, you save money. Read the rest

Employees who practice mindfulness meditation are less motivated, having realized the futility of their jobs

In the NYT, a pair of behavioral scientists describe a forthcoming Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes article (Sci-Hub mirror) that studied the effect of mindfulness meditation (a trendy workplace moral-booster) on workers' motivation and performance. Read the rest

Eye tracking and fMRI confirm that we don't even perceive security warnings before clicking past them

A team of computer scientists, psychologists and neuroscientists used eye-tracking and fMRI to measure how users perceived security warnings, such as warnings about app permissions and browser warnings about insecure pages and plugin installations. Read the rest

Frankenbook: collective annotations on Mary Shelley's 200 year old novel "Frankenstein"

Joey from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination writes, "Frankenbook is a collective reading experience of the original 1818 text of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. The project is hosted by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab. It features annotations from over 80 experts in disciplines ranging from philosophy and literature to astrobiology and neuroscience; essays by science fiction authors, scientists, and ethicists; audio journalism; and original animations and interactives. Readers can contribute their own text and rich-media annotations to the book and customize their reading experience by turning on and off a variety of themes that filter annotations by topic; themes range from literary history and political theory to health, technology, and equity and inclusion. Frankenbook is free to use, open to everyone, and built using the open-source PubPub platform for collaborative community publishing." Read the rest

Dank Learning: teaching a machine learning algorithm to generate memes

A physics student and an engineering student from Stanford fed 400,000 memes to a Long Short-Term Memory Recurrent Neural Network and asked it to generate more memes of its own. Read the rest

Which American cities have lowest herd immunity due to anti-vaxxers?

Parents of Seattle, Spokane, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Provo, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Plano, Detroit, Troy, Warren, Kansas City and Pittsburgh: beware. Read the rest

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