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The Age of the Wolf Warrior: China’s Post-Pandemic Strategy

The younger diplomats take their cue from a Chinese Rambo-style movie and the rewritten history they learned at school

While countries around the world have been dealing with the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), China has claimed disputed areas in the South China Sea, taken over the Hong Kong government, and flown planes over Taiwan. One result was a standoff between warships from the U.S., Australia, and China. A 2016 international tribunal in The Hague ruled that China has no legal sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. China, saying that the ruling was void, claims areas that are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Japan. The Chinese Liberation Army has also increased the number of troops at its border with India (the Line of Actual Control) disputed since the Sino-Indian war in 1962 (below Read More ›

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rfid tags

What You Need to Know About The Tactile Web

It’s a user-directed integration of technology into life

Many people have heard the term RFID, “radio frequency identifier,” a technology pioneered in the 1980s for creating tracking chips that needn’t be powered to work. This technology has improved quite a bit over the years. The technology area in which RFID originated is called NFC, for “Near-Field Communication.” In themselves, NFC chips are small and unpowered, but they can receive power from nearby devices, thus enabling them to communicate. The amount of work that modern NFC chips can do is amazing. The NXP firm, for instance, manufactures chips that can do full-blown data encryption and signing. These chips are not only powerful, they are also very inexpensive. NFC tags are available as label stickers at prices as low as Read More ›

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medical statistics and graphic charts with stethoscope

Making Sense of the Numbers Behind COVID-19

Media and politicians put statistics before us to sway our opinions. But what do they really mean?

Numbers can frighten or enlighten. The secret is making them explain themselves. Here’s a quick primer.

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Asian business woman talking to her colleagues about plan in video conference. Multiethnic business team using computer for a online meeting in video call. Group of people smart working from home..

Online Conferences, Part 3: Conference Documents and Technology Tests

Before we go live, what documents should we provide? What tests should we do?

Coordinating online events requires several important documents. Four packets of information are absolutely critical to running an online conference well.

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Online Conferences, Part 2: Conference Personnel

How the people who make it happen work their magic

Understanding various roles like Room Host and Master of Ceremonies, and finding the right people for them, will go a long way to making the conference a success.

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Photo by Gabriel Benois

Online Conferences, Part 1: Conference Technology

The COVID-19 crisis has sparked a demand for online conferences. Here’s how to make it work

The COVID-19 response has plunged many people who have never used online meeting software into the world of virtual meetings. One challenge that comes up is running an entire conference online. I’ve been doing that on and off since 2016 so I can outline some things you need to think about if you try. This three-part series covers 1) Conference Technology (below), 2) Conference Personnel, and 3) Conference Documents and Technology Tests. Part 1. Conference Technology Most of the meetings I have organized were on a tight budget so the solutions I will be suggesting are all free or extremely low cost. However, the main thing to recognize is that, as of right now, no one system has everything that Read More ›

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The Dragon’s Deception: Conspiracy Theories and False Numbers

China’s global attempt to rewrite the history of coronavirus (COVID-19) is running up against incriminating evidence

The Chinese Communist Party has touted the superiority of an authoritarian government over a democratic one in handling the virus outbreak. But American intelligence sources say that it was the punishment that local officials might receive from the authoritarian system that led to the initial coverup of the outbreak.

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AI Is Not Ready to Moderate Content!

In the face of COVID-19 quarantines for human moderators, some look to AI to keep the bad stuff off social media

Big social media companies have long wanted to replace human content moderators with AI. COVID-19 quarantines have only intensified that discussion. But AI is far, far from ready to successfully moderate content in an age of where virtual monopolies make single point failure a frequent risk.

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We Will Never Go Back to the Pre-COVID-19 Workplace

The virus forced us to realize: Staying together apart has never been so easy

While many people (myself included) have railed against the excesses of technology and its tendency to weaken community spirit and understanding, it turns out that, in the present crisis, it is having the opposite effect. We aren’t really alone in the same way any more.

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Is Transhumanism Uncomfortably Tempting?

An ethicist asks us to stop and reflect

Jacob Schatzer identifies three issues in the essay, “The Allure of Transhumanism,” that might prompt some queasy recognitions in all of us, at times.

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The Danger AI Poses for Civilization

Why must Google be my helicopter mom?

If I have a coffee cup with “AI inside,” it’s probably connected to the Internet, which is just another way of saying that my coffee cup is transmitting data to some company’s servers about my coffee drinking habits. Whatever benefit the app provides will come at a cost to my autonomy, privacy, and competence as a person.

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Rest in Peace Posters of Dr Li Wenliang, who warned authorities about the coronovirus outbreak seen at Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. Hosier Lane is known for its street art.

Censorship? But Coronavirus Doesn’t Care!

Back when SARS was a threat, social media wasn’t the giant it is today. Censorship, secrecy, and detention are less effective tools of control now

Coronavirus provides a test. The Chinese Communist Party offers mainland Chinese people security and prosperity in exchange for the sacrifice of personal freedom. But when the government cannot uphold its end of the agreement—security—the people may become less tolerant of the human rights violations. And the age of information makes it much easier to discover them.

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Do Bots Spreading False News Really Threaten Democracy?

Researchers found that humans spread more false news than bots

The fact that humans outdo bots in spreading false news creates a huge practical problem for would-be reformers. If they want to rub out false news, banning bots from social media would be less effective than banning people.

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Can a Totalitarian State Be an Information Society?

Beijing’s clumsy social media campaigns against democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan have failed but attempts to control local media are ramping up

Xi believes that the Western values of a free press, free speech, and separation of powers contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and that China must avoid them so as not to succumb to the same fate. But the Soviet Union fell just before the internet became today’s information superhighway.

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The Feed: A Mind Matters TV Series Review

I started out thinking that the show was just the usual ho-hum tyrant-AI-takes-over flick and it is so good to be wrong!

Imagine a world where your mind is stored on social media. Now, what happens if someone steals, then abandons it. What will you do?

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So Many Selfies, So Little Self

The collage of images on social media so often doesn’t add up to a single self

Consider the way in which the phrase: “That’s your truth— my truth is different,” has expanded in scope. It’s now: “That’s your truth—my truth, right now, and on this social media platform, is different!”

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Beautiful Male Computer Engineer and Scientists Create Neural Network at His Workstation. Office is Full of Displays Showing 3D Representations of Neural Networks.

How Algorithms Can Seem Racist

Machines don’t think. They work with piles of “data” from many sources. What could go wrong? Good thing someone asked…

Some of the recent conflicts around algorithms and ethnicity are flubs that social media entrepreneurs will regret. Others may endanger life.

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May Name is, Free Hong Kong.

Tiananmen Square 30 Years On: Words Still Have Power

Back then, students fought oppression via the fax. They depended on free media in Hong Kong to tell the world

The Chinese government has described the Hong Kong protests as violent riots by extremists. And, as with mainland China’s reports on Tiananmen Square, the abuses by police in Hong Kong have been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, while violence by protesters has been highlighted.

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India’s Social Media Content Removal Order Is a Nail in the Coffin of the Internet As We Know it

The High Court of Delhi ordered Facebook, Google, and Twitter to remove content globally if it is considered defamatory locally

In reaching its decision, the Indian court relied on a string of recent decisions from around the world. For example, it drew from the Canadian approach in Equustek, where the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to remove content globally. 

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How Much Google Do You Really Need?

As more people are becoming concerned about Big Tech’s snooping and apparent political ambitions, practical responses are emerging

Getting away from constant surveillance and dangerous little bubbles of manipulated information is easier than some users may realize, tech pioneers and experts say. You can make simple changes today.

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