Triple-Decker Weekly, 148

Nick Knight, Transhuman After All, VMAN, 2013

Snoop Dogg employs a full-time blunt roller

Insufficient sleep lowers lifespan, but it means you spend more hours awake per day… could outweigh dying sooner?

OH (a former CTO of Autodesk): “I can walk through most buildings and tell you which version of AutoCad was used to design it.”

A standard response of both policy makers and private citizens to hardships—from natural disasters to mass shootings—is to offer “thoughts and prayers.” Critics argue that such gestures are meaningless and may obstruct structural reforms intended to mitigate catastrophes. In this study, we elicit the value of receiving thoughts and prayers from strangers following adversity. We find that Christians value thoughts and prayers from religious strangers and priests, while atheists and agnostics are “prayer averse”—willing to pay to avoid receiving prayers. Furthermore, while indifferent to receiving thoughts from other secular people, they negatively value thoughts from Christians. [PNAS]

Women and men perceived breasts in a similar way to each other: the bigger the breasts the higher the reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, and promiscuity attributed to the woman. Nevertheless, large breasts were not regarded more attractive than average ones, though small breasts were the least attractive. In addition, big-breasted women were perceived as less faithful and less intelligent than women with average or small breasts. [Archives of Sexual Behavior]

Extreme sea level events will hit once a year by 2050, no matter whether climate heating emissions are curbed or not

the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions

Would you give up Google for $17,000 a year? The Federal Reserve wants to know

Alphabet’s Wing Begins First Commercial Drone Delivery Service in U.S., Beating Amazon, Uber

The expansion by Amazon Web Services into state and local elections has quietly gathered pace since the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. More than 40 states now use one or more of Amazon’s election offerings. Amazon pitches itself as a low-cost provider of secure election technology.

what’s happening today is the very opposite of the dot-com bubble

Two mathmaticians developed a new method for multiplying giant numbers together

Temperatures in Qatar – one of the hottest places on Earth – have risen so much that authorities have installed air conditioning in the open air including in streets and outdoor markets.

Gravity is not 9.8 m/s^2. That is just the global average. On this globe it is stronger in the red areas and weaker in the blue areas. + Gravity map reveals Earth’s extremes

Kylie Minogue’s Come Into My World, directed by Michel Gondry

curing a migraine headache

Electricity consumption in Europe in 1507

Social media consumption plays an important role in everyday life and, thus, one would expect that this topic is reflected in dreams. […] Social media dreams were quite rare (two percent of all remembered dreams) [Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking]

Scientists disagree as to what extent dreams reflect subconscious desires, but new research [2009] reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concludes that dreams do influence people’s decisions and attitudes. [American Psychological Association ]

iBorderCtrl is an AI based lie detector project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020. The tool will be used on people crossing borders of some European countries. It officially enables faster border control. It will be tested in Hungary, Greece and Letonia until August 2019 and should then be officially deployed. The project will analyze facial micro-expressions to detect lies. We really have worries about such a project. For those who don’t have any knowledge on AI and CS, the idea of using a computer to detect lies can sound really good. Computers are believed to be totally objective. But the AI community knows it is far from being true: biases are nearly omnipresent. We have no idea how the dataset used by iBorderCtrl has been built. More globally, we have to remind that AI has no understanding of humans (to be honest, it has no understanding at all). It just starts being able to recognize the words we pronounce, but it doesn’t understand their meaning. Lies rely on complex psychological mechanisms. Detecting them would require a lot more than a simple literal understanding. Trying to detect them using some key facial expressions looks utopian, especially as facial expressions can vary from a culture to another one. As an example, nodding the head usually means “yes” in western world, but it means “no” in countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. […] The ‘iBorderCtrl’ AI system uses a variety of ‘at home’ pre-registration systems and real time ‘at the airport’ automatic deception detection systems. Some of the critical methods used in automated deception detection are that of micro-expressions. In this opinion article, we argue that considering the state of the psychological sciences current understanding of micro-expressions and their associations with deception, such in vivo testing is naïve and misinformed. We consider the lack of empirical research that supports the use of micro-expressions in the detection of deception and question the current understanding of the validity of specific cues to deception. With such unclear definitive and reliable cues to deception, we question the validity of using artificial intelligence that includes cues to deception, which have no current empirical support. [ActuIA | Security Journal]

Police databases now feature the faces of nearly half of Americans — most of whom have no idea their image is there

New starting-block cameras censored after female athletes protest. The cameras showed images of athletes’ intimate areas.

Man charged after deliberately farting during strip search, saying, “How do you like that?”

Japanese idol Ena Matsuoka was attacked outside her home last month after a fan figured out her address from selfies she posted on social media — just by zooming in on the reflection on her pupils. The fan, Hibiki Sato, 26, managed to identify a bus stop and the surrounding scenery from the reflection on Matsuoka’s eyes and matched them to a street using Google Maps. Tokyo Shimbun, a metropolitan daily, which reported on the stalking case, warned readers even casual selfies may show surrounding buildings that will allow people to identify the location of the photos. It also said people shouldn’t make the V-sign with their hand, which Japanese often do in photos, because fingerprints could be stolen. [Asia One | USA Today]

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has unveiled updated privacy legislation he says will finally bring accountability to corporations that play fast and loose with your private data. Dubbed the Mind Your Own Business Act, the bill promises consumers the ability to opt out of data collection and sale with a single click. It also demands that corporations be transparent as to how consumer data is collected, used, and who it’s sold to, while imposing harsh fines and prison sentences upon corporations and executives that misuse consumer data and lie about it. […] “Mark Zuckerberg won’t take Americans’ privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences,” Wyden said. “A slap on the wrist from the FTC won’t do the job, so under my bill he’d face jail time for lying to the government.” [Vice]

Starbucks plans to begin testing a new type of store that only takes orders via mobile app […] that’s more or less what’s happening right now at regular Starbucks stores: the company already accepts mobile orders, and has more than 16 million mobile users. The drawback is that those users crowd the stores and cause bottlenecks at peak times; in some outlets, the glut of mobile orders has gotten so bad that it’s discouraging walk-in customers. Thus, the mobile-only store model is presumably a response to problems already created by mobile ordering. [Bloomberg]

Traders Who Can’t Code May Become Extinct, Goldman’s Tech Pioneer Warns

Preference for high heels correlated with female self-perceived attractiveness

bullshitting frequency was positively associated with overclaiming and negatively associated with sincere self-presentation, honesty, cognitive ability, open-minded cognition, and self-regard

Smart TVs send private data to Netflix and Facebook

Google is reducing how much audio it saves for human review

North Korean hackers have new malware to target ATMs

The top 50 most-surveilled cities in the world

Piracy will Surge if More Legal Streaming Services Launch, Research Shows

Polling by phone has become very expensive, as the number of Americans willing to respond to unexpected or unknown callers has dropped. Back in the mid-to-late-20th century response rates were as high as 70%, according to SSRS, a market research and polling firm. But the Pew Research Centre estimates that it received completed interviews from a mere 6% of the people it tried to survey in 2018.

With more than 700 creations, Adrian Fisher is the world’s most prolific maze designer

CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus

The Pentagon notified Congress of its purchase of a microwave weapon system designed to knock down swarms of enemy drones with pulses of energy

Grumman X-29: The impossible fighter jet with inverted wings

Psycho was, and still is, a radical approach to serial killer films

Picasso’s The Old Guitarist is interesting for another reason. Art historians have long noted the presence of a ghostly woman’s face faintly visible beneath the paint.

How one stylist for Silicon Valley helps tech bros go “from boys to men.” “Many of her clients have zero fashion sensibility”

an ad blocker that works on podcasts and radio

Targeted Memory Reactivation During Sleep Improves Next-Day Problem Solving Many people have claimed that sleep has helped them solve a difficult problem, but empirical support for this assertion remains tentative. […] In the evening, we presented 57 participants with puzzles, each arbitrarily associated with a different sound. While participants slept overnight, half of the sounds associated with the puzzles they had not solved were surreptitiously presented. The next morning, participants solved 31.7% of cued puzzles, compared with 20.5% of uncued puzzles (a 55% improvement). […] These results demonstrate that cuing puzzle information during sleep can facilitate solving, thus supporting sleep’s role in problem incubation. [Sage]

Participants (N = 140) were formed into opposite-sex dyads and interacted three times during their ‘date’ (first impression, verbal and nonverbal interaction). Many of our findings were in line with previous research. Partner preferences seem to be in line with research; the Attractiveness Halo Effect occurred; participants were not accurate in guessing if they were liked by their partner; submissive behaviour reflected liking, sexual attraction and attraction to some degree, however results regarding affiliative behaviour contradicted previous research; only female sexual attraction is affected by submissive and affiliative behaviour; there is evidence that mimicry occurs; physiological synchrony affected females’ opinions, male date outcome and date outcome match. These results suggest that most dating theories and concepts to a certain degree hold up in real-life contexts. [Psychologie | PDF]

[S]ociologist Eva Illouz, in her 1997 book Consuming the Romantic Utopia, analyzes the trope of “the deserted beach”: “While the beach is primarily a construct of the tourist industry, in advertising it is detached from the crowded and highly commercialized vacation resorts. In fact, in advertisements beaches are invariably deserted.” Without the advertising clichés and conventions to frame our expectations, love itself would be incomprehensible. Illouz quotes an epigram of La Rochefoucauld’s: “There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing.” Presumably the problem with this is that such love that mimics the conventions is somehow inauthentic, or that we force what might have been an idiosyncratic and true love into false shapes that spoil it. Illouz suggests that modern romantic experience has a lot in common with tourist experiences: They are systematized in advance so that they may be readily desired, accessed, understood, consumed, disavowed. [Rob Horning/Real Life]

There’s an unwritten rule for taking escalators in Vancouver. People stand on the right side or walk on the left. Makes sense, right? Well it turns out this is a very inefficient, and possibly dangerous way to use an escalator. […] At their maximum capacity, with two people on each step, escalators can move about 13,500 people per hour. But in reality, this number is closer to 7,000-7,500 people and a big reason is because people who walk are taking up more room. On top of that, there just aren’t that many people walking up escalators. […] A study in London found 74.9 per cent of people choose to stand instead of walking, especially on the longer ones. With this ‘stand on the right, walk on the left’ rule, we’re giving up 50 per cent of the space on our escalators for roughly 25 per cent of our commuters. […] In 2017, the subway operator in Nanjing, China, reported 95 per cent of their escalators were experiencing severe wear and tear on the right side. […] Efficiency aside, there’s another reason why walking on escalators might be a bad idea—safety. Escalator accidents are much more common than you think. […] In the U.S., about 10,000 escalator-related injuries end in emergency room visits every year. [CBC]

Google has reportedly built a quantum computer more powerful than the world’s top supercomputers. A Google research paper was temporarily posted online this week, the Financial Times reported Friday, and said the quantum computer’s processor allowed a calculation to be performed in just over 3 minutes. That calculation would take 10,000 years on IBM’s Summit, the world’s most powerful commercial computer, Google reportedly said. Google researchers are throwing around the term “quantum supremacy” as a result, the FT said, because their computer can solve tasks that can’t otherwise be solved. “To our knowledge, this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor,” the research paper reportedly said. [CNet]

One brave outdoorsman will finally take a special shot of whiskey at a bar in Canada’s Yukon Territory containing his amputated, now-dehydrated big toe, which he donated to the establishment for their signature “Sourtoe Cocktail” after losing it to frostbite in February 2018. […] The legendary $5 drink, called the Sourtoe Cocktail, has been served at Yukon’s Downtown Hotel since 1973. Drinkers must touch their lips to the toe to earn a certificate of completion. To date, more than 90,000 have. […] “We have been without a big toe for some time, so his generous toe-nation will help ensure the tradition continues,” says the hotel’s general manager, Adam Gerle, in a statement. […] “It takes six weeks to mummify a new toe on rock salt before it’s ready to serve,” Lee says. [Fox News | [NY post]

You might (or might not) be surprised at how often in my work as a mortician I am asked whether a mourning family member can keep a dearly departed’s skull. […] In theory, people get to decide what happens to their body after death. In reality, it is near impossible to get legal permission to display a relative’s skeleton. […] As a funeral professional, I frankly have no idea what equipment a proper decapitation requires. The subsequent de-fleshing would probably involve boiling and/or dermestid beetles, incredible creatures used in museums and forensic labs to delicately eat the dead flesh off a skeleton without destroying the bones. Dermestids are happy to wade into a gruesome, sticky mass of decaying flesh and delicately clean around even the tiniest of bones. […] Abuse-of-corpse laws exist for a reason. They protect people’s bodies from being mistreated (ahem, necrophilia). They also prevent a corpse from being snatched from the morgue and used for research or public exhibition without the dead person’s consent. History is littered with such violations. Medical professionals have stolen corpses and even dug up fresh graves to get bodies for dissection and research. […] In the United States, no federal law prevents owning, buying, or selling human remains, unless the remains are Native American. Otherwise, whether you’re able to sell or own human remains is decided by each individual state. At least 38 states have laws that should prevent the sale of human remains, but in reality the laws are vague, confusing, and enforced at random. In one seven-month period in 2012–13, 454 human skulls were listed on eBay, with an average opening bid of just under $650 (eBay subsequently banned the practice). [The Atlantic]

When the world’s first cellular network was installed in Washington, D.C., in 1983, Gatt and Rwayitare knew instinctively that cellular could solve many of Africa’s communication problems. […] “How do you educate a government on what cellular is all about?” asked Gatt. […] You hand him a mobile phone and get him to call home, of course. […] On an official state visit to the United States, Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko was handed a Motorola mobile phone and urged to call home. It was 1985, so he had to be persuaded that the device — which weighed as much as a bottle of wine and boasted a retractable antenna — was not a walkie-talkie. But once he’d spoken to his family in Kinshasa, he needed no further convincing. Joseph Gatt and Miko Rwayitare’s plan was coming together. Telecel, the company they formally founded a year later, would soon have 3,000 subscribers in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) — well before mobile phones were ubiquitous in America. Zaire’s near-defunct fixed-line infrastructure meant that the country’s elite were willing to spend $5,000 on a handset and up to $16 per minute to remain connected. […] Despite being impressed, the dictator — like most people in 1985 — hadn’t fully grasped how life-changing the technology would be and he initially refused to grant Telecel an operating license. Gatt and Rwayitare knew they were onto a good thing, however, so they used their life savings to purchase an ailing U.S. mobile technology firm and obtained finance from Motorola to erect a small system in Kinshasa. All that remained was to buy a couple of hundred handsets — at $3,000 a pop — and give them to Mobutu and his inner circle. “These 200 Zairean officials called each other and overseas over the next year without paying for a single call.” […] At the end of the trial period, and faced with the prospect of losing what had now become an essential cog in the state machinery, Mobutu agreed to give them their license. [OZY]

A new drug, created to treat just one patient, has pushed the bounds of personalized medicine and has raised unexplored regulatory and ethical questions. The drug, described in The New England Journal of Medicine, is believed to be the first “custom” treatment for a genetic disease. It is called milasen, named after the only patient who will ever take it: Mila (mee-lah) Makovec, who lives with her mother, Julia Vitarello, in Longmont, Colo. […] Milasen is believed to be the first drug developed for a single patient (CAR-T cancer therapies, while individualized, are not drugs). But the path forward is not clear, Dr. Yu and his colleagues acknowledged. There are over 7,000 rare diseases, and over 90 percent have no F.D.A.-approved treatment […] Tens of thousands of patients could be in Mila’s situation in the United States alone. But there are nowhere near enough researchers to make custom drugs for all who might want them. And even if there were, who would pay? Not the federal government, not drug companies and not insurers, said Dr. Steven Joffe, professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “Unfortunately, that leaves it to families,” he added. “It feels awfully uncomfortable, but that is the reality.” That means custom drugs would be an option only for the very wealthy, those with the skills to raise large sums of money, or those who gain the support of foundations. Mila’s drug development was mostly paid for by the foundation run by her mother, but she and Dr. Yu declined to say how much was spent. [NY Times]

U.S. protects already extinct caribou herd

Nike Jesus trainers injected with ‘holy water’ from Jordan River, costing $3,000, sell out in minutes

Annoyed victim hacks back ransomware gang and releases all their decryption keys, along with a free decrypter.

Problematic sexual attraction research (Retraction of High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness)

When asked to answer questions quickly and impulsively, people tend to respond with a socially desirable answer rather than an honest one

Machine-vision systems use radio waves to see through walls and in darkness

How to weigh a whale without a scale

The World’s Most-Used Cryptocurrency Isn’t Bitcoin (Tether’s monthly trading volume is about 18% higher than that of Bitcoin)

Uber Technologies Inc. plans to buy a majority stake in online grocer Cornershop, a deal designed to extend its geographic reach and bolster profits by bundling food delivery with rides. + Uber scrambles into groceries with cornershop. Why?

The marketplace is sort of saying that after WeWork and Uber, there’s two types of companies in the unicorn space: ones that are overvalued and ones that are just going to zero.

Aliens may have bugged space rocks to spy on Earth, scientist says

Aliens will likely be discovered within 30 years, Nobel Prize-winning astronomer says

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit (e.g., “Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena”) PDF

Typing speeds on mobile devices are approaching those on physical keyboards, a new study shows

Hundreds of thousands of people read novels on Instagram

More than 250 people around the world have died taking selfies since 2011

Not a single child born in the U.K. in 2016 was named Nigel

Dior’s Kim Jones and Apple’s Jony Ive predict what our future will look like

Year 2038 problem

Meghalaya is a radical redesign of a train station, using a pile of dirt, Deleuzian theory, illegal plants, Xenofeminism, Dewey’s Aesthetics, and ionizing radiation.

Create a digital voice that sounds like you from a small audio sample [and then] replace recorded words and phrases with synthesized speech


me interpretive dancing to movie company intros and me improvising to Theresa May’s resignation speech [Thanks Tim]

Whatever goes down the sink, shower, washing machine and toilet is transferred to one of about 14,000 U.S. wastewater treatment plants. While those plants are good at neutralizing sewage microorganisms that can make people sick or pollute waterways, they can miss chemicals that are linked with our changing lifestyles. The biggest change since most treatment plants were designed? The explosion of pharmaceutical use by Americans. […] About 60% of American adults take at least one prescription pill every day. Residue from those pills travels to treatment plants and waterways. { Axios]