Articles about Tech, Science, Social, Culture

Every week ELK team picks the most captivating, forward-looking and inspiring articles from the best media around the globe to share with you in our Monday digest. Learn what the world is talking about today! Please vote for your favorite article in the comments (and also share articles that inspired you).

Digest curated by our teacher Svyatoslav Tugeev


How does youtube work?

Have you ever wondered how youtube works? How you really choose the videos you watch? What makes some videos suddenly get millions of views? What does it take to make sure that your video gets noticed? Usually presenting videos on subjects like black holes, plasma or micro robots, Veritasium turns his attention to Youtube after one of his videos goes viral, explaining how and why it happened, what it means for those watching and for the content creators. Like all systems that seem simple, youtube content suggestion has some surprising implications and unexpected results.

AI voice simulation reaches unprecedented levels.

Future is already here – that much is obvious. But specific examples continue to surprise us. AI seamlessly imitating someone’s face is old news, even if not so long ago it was difficult to even imagine. Now it seems the voice is next. Joe Rogan is a very popular podcaster. He is also now a glimpse into the next stage of voice simulation. An AI startup has used AI to imitate his voice and… it is uncanny. Think you can tell the difference? Read the article, listen to the simulation, or, better yet, take a short quiz.

Image credit: Shutterstock

What makes a kid say that a device is creepy?

And on a completely unrelated note – do you know what makes kids think technology is creepy? We always talk about the adult’s concern – privacy, addiction, etc. But what about the next generation? Turns out there are five deciding aspects: Obscurity, Ominous physical appearance, Lack of control, Unpredictability, and, finally, Mimicry. What does that mean precisely? Well, that is what the article is about.

AppStore is one small step closer to losing the monopoly on apps for iOS.

AppStore seems inseparable from iPhones, iPads, i-everything. Where else would you get the apps? Other companies are beginning to follow this example as well – more and more devices limit the users ability to get digital content in all ways but one – through the manufacturer itself. Now, there is a chance that might change. A recent court ruling, which states, that when people buy apps from AppStore they are actually buying them from Apple, has no immediate consequences. But might eventually lead to a global change, forcing the companies to give customers the same rights they would have, if they were buying real products, partially breaking up tech monopolies.

Being nice to an AR person.

And finally – AR. Augmented reality. It is quickly becoming something pretty familiar – those holographic videoconferences from sci-fi we read as kids are pretty much a reality. And yet we don’t really know a lot about how we interact with it, how we perceive it… So it is high time we learned a little bit more about how we react, when our world suddenly includes something not physically real. Do we subconsciously consider someone we see through AR goggles to be a real person? What about after we take the goggles off? If you find those questions interesting – this article is for you.



AI therapist is out. For a while.

The first study on the use of AI in the fields of psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy, has been completed. It outlines the required development and the conversations that need to be had before theory can become practice. To use the new tool, the medical field will need to create rules, defining the interaction between people and AI. Checks and guidelines need to be develop to utilize the new tool correctly in the field, where the mistake might have serious consequences.

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Nice associations work, no matter real or not.

Now let’s get a little more positive. Do you know, how what you think of a place can change, depending on your associations? How you can start liking a cafe you were pretty ambivalent about, and smile when thinking about it, because you met the love of your life there? Well, turns out the association does not even have to be real. You can imagine having a positive experience at a neutral place, and your brain will later associate this place with something positive. And we have the actual data to prove it.

Reward for using the knowledge might not always help to show it.

We all know how how to teach an animal some skill. It does well – give it a reward. It does poorly – no reward is given. Come to think of it, we do it a lot with people as well. Turns out it might be a little more complicated, and from certain point the rewards might prevent the learner from showing the knowledge. So far we are only talking about mice and ferrets, but the discovery could one day hold true for humans as well.

Helping species to move to a nicer neighborhood.

Climate change leads to a situation, where many species have to migrate in order to survive. They search for new environments, and wherever or not they get there becomes a truly vital question in the most basic sense of the world. We can certainly help by creating new, habitable environments, but what about helping species to get there? As the new study shows, there is a balance to be struck in developing new landscapes, to ensure they are hospitable enough for the species to survive the journey, but not so hospitable, that the species decides to stop there permanently.



What makes someone want to recycle more?

Recycling is good, right? But even when it is easy, not everyone does it, and so, after all the systems have been established, the question of encouragement becomes quite important. So, what can make a person more inclined to recycle? According to this study, positivity might be the key. When people know not just where and how the waste is recycled, but what is made of it, they have more of an incentive to join in.

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How to eliminate bias? Sometimes just by asking.

Bias is firmly planted in the center of attention these days, the conversation about the necessity and ways of solving it are ongoing and quite active. But perhaps the situation is not as dire as some think, or at least it might be – simply reminding people about the fact that their opinion can be biased, and asking to take a minute to consider it again, might have some serious potential.

Teaching students to explain why they are awesome.

The Issue of education lagging behind the requirements of the modern world is a familiar one. Solving it is an ongoing struggle, and even today many students, having finished the university discover, that what they know and can do, is not what is required by the job market. In an attempt to fix that issue at least partially, the University of Portsmouth is helping its students build a strong personal brand to increase their confidence and enhance their employability.

Echo chambers are not that bad.

The topic of echo chambers – environments, where you communicate only with people who more or less agree with you – has been raised quite actively, especially due to the recent rise in political polarization and extremism. Turns out, they might not the root of all evil after all. Even there, if people are willing to listen, they will find a way to learn, to discover the truth and find more common ground.



Minecraft is getting real.

You know what Minecraft is. You either spent hours, if not days, playing it yourself, or at least have heard about the sensational game, that allowed people to be creative together. Ok, you at least saw strange blocky and pixelated toys, that suddenly became really popular. And it looks like the story isn’t yet over: Minecraft is about to follow Pokemon GO in jumping onto the augmented reality. And after Pokemon GO became not just a game, but a way for people to connect and find new friends, Minecraft World might just be the next step.

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Changing the city through art and culture.

Power of art. As far as phrases go, this one has been used used a lot. And yet we continue to see the example of art not just being powerful emotionally, making us think or feel, but causing actual change in the real world. Medellín’s Comuna 13 was once ranked the most dangerous district in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. But through the power of art and culture and involving people in them, Daniel Carvalho managed to transform the no-go badlands into a tourist attraction. His next target? Suburbs of Paris.

Could we have an alternative to social networks?

Problems of social networks are well known. They are discussed on forums, in news, even in government meetings. So, could there could there be an alternative? The author of the 2016 TEDx talk, where he argued against social media as a concept (that talk, of course, went viral), examines the reasons those problems exist in the first place, as well as a possible solution: an IndieWeb. Is the concept viable? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no.

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