Category: insights

Algorithms associating appearance with criminality have a dark past


‘Phrenology’ has an old-fashioned ring to it. It sounds like it belongs in a history book, filed somewhere between bloodletting and velocipedes. We’d like to think that judging people’s worth based on the size and shape of their skull is a practice that’s well behind us. However, phrenology is once again rearing its lumpy head. In recent years, machine-learning algorithms have promised governments and private companies the power to glean all sorts of information from people’s appearance. Several startups now claim to be able to use artificial intelligence (AI) to help employers detect the personality traits of job candidates based…

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Cannabis is more effective at preventing and treating COVID-19 than hydroxychloroquine


A team of scientists from Canada have identified at least 13 strains of cannabis sativa they believe can aid in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The President of the United States of America has spent the past few weeks touting a dangerous drug called hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic treatment for COVID-19. Unfortunately, the president’s expertise is in reality TV, not medicine. Several studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine, a drug designed to treat malaria, has dangerous side-effects when used to treat coronavirus, including death. The quest for a COVID-19 drug that will both make Donald Trump and his friends in…

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This researcher explains what ‘life hacking’ is all about


TNW Answers is a live Q&A platform where we invite interesting people in tech who are much smarter than us to answer questions from TNW readers and editors for an hour.  You must have heard about ‘life hacks’: pieces of actionable advice that, if followed, claim to bring about noticeable improvement in someone’s quality of life. A life hack can be something small, like a particularly efficient way of folding laundry. Or it can take the form of an elaborate process, like John Walker’s Hacker Diet that approached weight-loss as an engineering problem. From personal-finance gurus to productivity experts to…

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The Boring Company finally finished digging Elon Musk’s silly tunnel under Vegas


After spending millions of dollars on years of R&D, Elon Musk‘s The Boring Company has finally ‘invented’ the tunnel. That’s right, the company that was going to solve traffic by building an underground mass-transit system that conveyed vehicles on a futuristic sled system at high speed… has finally finished digging the tunnels for its first commercial project: a “people mover” in Las Vegas. And not one of those fancy people movers like you might find at the airport. You won’t be standing on a swift moving track that goes underground or anything futuristic like that. Per a press release published…

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Using ‘personalized AI’ to end coronavirus lockdown is a stupid, cruel idea


A trio of AI and business experts from INSEAD, a prestigious business school, recently penned a lengthy article in the Harvard Business Review extolling the virtues of “personalized AI” prediction models to end the coronavirus lockdown. It’s the kind of piece that politicians, academics, and pundits refer to when discussing how technology can aid in the world’s pandemic response. It’s also a gift to politicians who think we should ignore medical professionals and prioritize the economy over human life. In short, the article is a travesty of ambiguous information. It uses the generic idea of artificial intelligence as a motivator to…

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China’s CEOs are making millions by selling their products on livestreams


In the past few years, retail-streaming has become a rapidly growing ecommerce channel in China, with all manners of salespeople directly selling goods to consumers on an ecommerce livestream. While influencers and celebrities are the most familiar faces seen on retail-streams, recently, executives of major Chinese corporations have also appeared in front of the live camera.  Some of these efforts yielded lucrative results — Li Jing, president of the home accessories business Mendale Textile, for instance, achieved $3.5 million worth of sales for his company on a four-hour livestream in March. James Liang, the executive chairman & former CEO of the…

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Re:Brand online event: How to achieve better business outcomes through social contribution


Whether scrolling Instagram or browsing our email inboxes, the current crisis has us tuned in to what brands do and say. In stride, our personal values are running close to the surface: is that letter from the CEO out of touch, or appropriately optimistic? Marketing campaigns that don’t skip a beat while the world is rapidly changing can feel brash, and tone-deaf sentiments can quickly spur an unsubscribe. But it’s not all blunders and missteps! Brands that assert a strong mission and communications strategy can engender pride and loyalty in their communities, driving financial objectives in the longer term. While…

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How to play Dungeons & Dragons while you’re stuck in quarantine


Dungeons & Dragons is an ageless gaming classic that’s as relevant today as it was in 1974 when it was first released. The central themes of heroism, fantasy combat with evil monsters, and pretending to be someone else haven’t changed at all. Everything else, however, has. For starters, back in the mid 1970s you could go outside pretty much whenever you wanted and social distancing was just something people did when they didn’t like you. If you wanted to play D&D back in the day, you just invited your friends over and shared some snacks while you role-played as warriors…

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Amazon VP quits after ‘chickenshit’ management fires employee activists


Amazon‘s PR nightmare today intensified as one of the company’s VPs abruptly resigned after several employees were fired for questioning work policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tim Bray, a VP and senior engineer at the company’s Amazon Web Services division, published a scathing take-down on his blog aimed squarely at senior Amazon leadership. His post opens: May 1st was my last day as a VP and Distinguished Engineer at Amazon Web Services, after five years and five months of rewarding fun. I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.…

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Trump’s ‘disinfectant injections’ idea comes straight from internet conspiracy theories


US President Donald Trump yesterday sent the mainstream media and partisan social media into a Godzilla-sized tizzy after floating the idea of treating COVID-19 patients with UV lights and “disinfectants.” The president claimed he’d gotten his information during a briefing with medical experts and said it would be “interesting” for doctors to “check that.” But it’s painfully obvious that he’s conflating actual science with online conspiracy theories. Trump’s comments during the briefing provoked instant rebukes from the medical community at large and all but the most partisan right-wing pundits. Per the usual, the president’s defenders claimed those attacking his words were…

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