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Offsite Article: Internet censorship: making the hidden visible...

Link Here17th October 2016
Censorship on the internet is rampant with 60+ countries engaging in state censorship. A Cambridge University research project is aiming to uncover the scale of this censorship, and how it affects users and publishers of information

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24th January

We're All Mad...

Internet social networking seen as a form of madness by a sanity challenged sociologist
Link Here

The way in which people communicate online via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be seen as a modern form of madness, according to a sociologist.

Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writes in her new book, Alone Together : A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological.

Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, technology is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world, she suggests.

We have invented inspiring and enhancing technologies, yet we have allowed them to diminish us, she writes.

Review: Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

From US Amazon

In Alone Together Sherry Turkle offers a fascinating and highly readable analysis of how increasingly intelligent machines and a highly networked world are impacting us socially and psychologically. The book is roughly divided into two parts: the first focuses on social robots, or autonomous machines that interact directly with us, while the second part delves into the increasingly networked world and the implications a tethered society in which many individuals are unable to break away from email, social networking and in some cases prefer online games like Second Life to the real world.

Some of the most fascinating material in the book involves Turkle's investigations of how children perceive these technologies and how their social world view is impacted. Early in the book, Turkle tells how children lined up at an exhibit that included live (but immobile) turtles felt that it would have been better to replace the live animals with robots -- both because robots would provide a more active display and because the captive animals could then be returned to their natural environment. This idea of children (and even adults) placing a low premium on authenticity comes up again and again. Robotic pets are seen as having important advantages over the real thing. Elderly patients indicate that, at least in some areas, they might prefer a robotic caretaker to a human one.

Turkle's conclusion is that our social preferences are evolving to include, and in many cases even prefer, technology over people. As she says, Our relationships with robots are ramping up; our relationships with people are ramping down. This is obviously something that should perhaps give us pause.


14th April

Pause for Thought...

Researchers claim that fast paced media affects morals
Link Here

Today's fast-paced media could be making us indifferent to human suffering and should allow time for us to reflect, according to researchers.

They found that emotions linked to moral sense are slow to respond to news and events and have failed to keep up with the modern world. In the time it takes to fully reflect on a story of anguish and suffering, the news bulletin has already moved on or the next Twitter update is already being read.

As activities such as reading books and meeting friends, where people can define their morals, are taken over by news snippets and fast-moving social networking, the problem could become widespread, researchers warn. Children are said to be particularly vulnerable because their brains are still developing.

If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality, said Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, from the University of Southern California, and one of the researchers.

Their work, published next week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition, involved studying the response of volunteers to real-life stories to induce admiration for virtue or skill, or compassion for physical or social pain.

Using brain imaging, they found that humans can sort information very quickly and respond in fractions of a second to signs of physical pain in others, but admiration and compassion - two of the social emotions that define humanity - take much longer.

The volunteers needed six to eight seconds to fully respond to stories of virtue or social pain, but once awakened, the responses lasted far longer than the volunteers' reactions to stories focused on physical pain.

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