You’re not alone in having fake friends. Science researchers do too

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Whether they know it or not. But in some cases, it is not accidental. 

Recently, we saw that those friends and followers who think we are cool might not exist. But that’s just fluffy social media, right? Such a trend would never affect a stern discipline like science, right?

Well, as Canada’s CBC Radio tells it, recently some of the TV Simpsons gang got themselves a journal paper about "fuzzy" symmetries’s influence on the work of Japanese mad scientist Karthik Lakshminarayanan:

They recently received a bogus paper penned by Edna Krabappel, Maggie Simpson and Kim Jong Fun. The study is called "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations" and it makes absolutely no sense. Brent talks to materials scientist Alex Smolyanitsky, who submitted the paper to the two… click here to read whole article and make comments



The fantasy world of informed consent to violations of privacy

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We live in a world increasingly dominated by our personal data. Some of those data we choose to reveal, for example, through social media, email and the billions – yes, billions – of messages, photos and Tweets we post every day.

Still other data are required to be collected by government programs that apply to travel, banking, and employment and other services provided by the private sector. All of these are subject to extensive government data collection and reporting requirements.

Many of our activities generate data that we are not even aware exist, much less that they are recorded. In 2013, the public carried 6.8 billion cell phones. They not only generate digital communications, photos and video recordings, but also constantly report the user’s location to telephone service providers. Smartphone… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Internet: More informed is NOT necessarily better informed

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Recently, the Pew research group interviewed Americans on whether the Internet makes them better informed:

A large majority (87%) of American adult internet users say the internet has improved their ability to learn new things. This figure includes just over half (53%) who say it has improved their ability to learn new things “a lot” and 34% who say it has improved this “somewhat.” Just 13% see the internet and cell phones having little or no impact in this area.

Are we all better informed? Actually, we may just feel better informed.

We feel better informed because, on the Internet, it is easy to find out things we didn’t know. But there is another side to it.

An American defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, received criticism when he<a… click here to read whole article and make comments



Social media: Those friends and followers who think you are cool might not exist

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Traditional societies hold that gods create people who actually exist. But today, in new media, non-gods can create people who don’t exist. Some may be your followers or fans.

One such creator explains,

I am the ruler of worlds. Let me rephrase that: I am the ruler of one very small world of social media bots.
My Twitter bots resemble real people, with photos for avatars and bios. Meet Fabiola Shaffer: She is pretty, has long brown hair, is a writer and researcher in New York and loves chocolate. Karri B. Segal is a sophisticated woman in her mid-50s, works in advertising in New York and likes Etsy. Rick Engbarg is a tuxedo-wearing rocket… click here to read whole article and make comments



Social media: Is our every thought ready for prime time?

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The main trouble with social media is that it encourages us to think that way, sometimes with disastrous results.

But the most serious problems of social media are not the obvious ones. For example, the Internet is no friend to plagiarism (on the contrary, the Internet makes plagiarism quite easy to detect). And those who defend it do not thrive either.

No, the big problem is that social media are somewhat like a neighbourhood barbecue. Imagine a neighbourhood that includes the world. One can win friends and influence people—or lose friends and alienate people.

In my view, Jessica Barefield identified the key problem aptly:… click here to read whole article and make comments



Google vs. the government: Hard to know which side to back

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Further to issues around Net neutrality? Is it a good thing?

The best sentence Hugo Rifkind at Britain’s Spectator probably ever wrote is “It is too easy, sometimes, to forget that new media is media at all”. Yes, and that trouble is based on the assumption that media in general dictate to us from on high. No, they are just people with a pronounced leftish perspective who interpret the news for us. Usefully or otherwise. He goes on to say:

Imagine there was one newspaper that landed all the scoops. Literally all of them. Big news, silly news, the lot. When those girlfriendless, finger-wagging freaks in Syria and Iraq opted to behead another aid worker, it would be reported here first. Likewise when nude photographs of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Our transhuman kids

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Envisioning the future has proven to be an effective technique for children who are obsessed with present pursuits, such as playing video games every waking minute. So, as a paediatric occupational therapist working with these young warriors, I regularly ask them “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. A few years back, the response was “I want to design video games”; today it’s “I want to be ________ (a video game character)”.

The further and further children become immersed in the virtual world, the harder it is for them to cope with the problems and challenges of real life. Everyday life for today’s child is fraught with meaningless activity, endless challenges, and people who… click here to read whole article and make comments



Will the job bot eat your job?

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It will damage some job markets. The money question is, which ones and why?

We are told that the White House’s Christmas dogbots are an improvement over last year’s:

We had a ‘smoking-tail Bo’ last year,” Dowling reminded the team. The mechanized dog in the 2013 White House holiday extravaganza had a little mishap: Its ribbon tail got caught in its motor and started to smolder. (“Luckily, that was the end of the season,” Dowling noted.)

Conveniently, the current no-fire-hazard Bo Obamabot swivels its head caninely once a second, instead of setting fire to its tail.

Many assessments of bot technology swing between praise for the mere entertainment noted above and fear of bizarre developments… click here to read whole article and make comments



At least one reason why transhumanism will not translate into reality

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Transhumanism: a new way of thinking that challenges the premiss that the human condition is and will remain essentially unalterable. Clearing away that mental block allows one to see a dazzling landscape of radical possibilities, ranging from unlimited bliss to the extinction of intelligent life.

Last January, hplus Magazine, dedicated to all things futurist—transhumanism, AI, nano, neuro, and whatnot—offered us five forecasts to ponder, by futurist philosopher Gray Scott.

In this column, I will deal with only one of his predictions:

1. Transhumanists will outnumber Christians by 2035.
By 2035, even if a majority of humans do not self-identify as Transhuman, technically they will be… The future will be… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is spying on your kids the best way to keep them safe?

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Earlier, I introduced the problem that troubled teens can make social media friends who are a way bigger problem than their parents.

Parents can be misguided about what is good for their children but usually they want what is good, in principle. And in most communities, the resulting conflicts iron themselves out over time.

Strangers may not be so particular about what is good for the kid. So how can we help kids understand the risks of trusting interesting strangers (instead of the boring, oppressive ordinary folk one lives with in everyday life)?

Here's a site that offers to help us snoop on kids. (More than a monitoring service, uKnowKids is Parental Intelligence. We help you understand your child’s digital footprint so you can focus on what you… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist. 

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