[Popular STEM] Curating the Internet: STEM digest for January 18, 2021

2개월 전

The IEEE Spectrum weekly selection of awesome robot videos; Evidence suggests that COVID immunity is long lasting; The mixed legacy of eugenics pioneer, Francis Galton; A Harvard researcher argues that governments need to think more like entrepreneurs; and A Nature study suggests that facial recognition can distinguish between liberals and conservatives


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  1. Video Friday: Teleport Yourself Into This Robot Using VR (January 15, 2021; IEEE Spectrum) - Links this week in the IEEE Spectrum weekly selection of awesome robot videos include:

    Here is the Title video, a VR teleoperation application from Pollen Robotics

  2. More evidence points to long-lasting COVID-19 immunity (January 14, 2021; Popular Science) - Recent studies in Science and Public Health England suggest that COVID immunity lasts at least five to eight months, confirming that SARS-CoV-2 infection normally provides long-term protection against getting sick again. In summary, the article says:
    There’s pretty solid evidence at this point that once you get COVID-19, you’re unlikely to get a severe case of it again. Though some people have seemed to get reinfected and be seriously ill, these cases appear to be the rare exception to the rule.
    This is consistent with earlier studies that found antibodies remain in the body from four to seven months. Alessandro Sette is quoted as saying,
    we don’t know how long will it last beyond the eight months, but it looks like things are fairly stable, so I would not be surprised if the immune response would last for years.”
    When talking about large numbers of people, immunity is rarely a "binary" thing, so it is still unknown, to what degree people who have been vaccinated or infected can still carry and transmit the virus to others.

  3. Francis Galton pioneered scientific advances in many fields – but also founded the racist pseudoscience of eugenics (January 15, 2021; The Conversation) - Best remembered for launching the shameful pseudoscience known as "eugenics", Francis Galton also made a number of remarkable contributions to the actual sciences. In particular, he was the first to describe weather on the scale of continents, and he was an innovator in the field of statistics. His observations on "the wisdom of the crowd" led to the now commonplace notions of the mean, variation, and standard deviation. His observations that fingerprints are unique and stable over a time also launched the field of biometrics, which he termed, "dermatoglyphics". Finally, his research into measuring intelligence and other psychological faculties led to the modern field of psychometrics. All of these accomplishments, however, are overshadowed by Galton's contributions to eugenics. As a field, eugenics was scientifically erroneous because it rested on an oversimplified understanding of genetics, and it also led to the establishment of horrific policies by political actors around the globe.

  4. How Thinking Like a Startup Helps Governments Solve More Problems (January 18, 2021; HBS Working Knowledge) - In this article, Harvard Business School interviews Mitchell Weiss about his book, We the Possibility. In that book, Weiss describes how the entrepreneurial mindset can be used inside and outside of government to deal with problems
    by viewing them as opportunities, trying new ideas, scaling them up, and improving public life.
    Although Weiss argues that government cannot adopt all aspects of an entrepreneurial enterprise, he suggests that many entrepreneurial ideas could be useful for bureacrats. In particular, he suggests two major failings of government: failing projects don't get terminated, and successful projects don't get scaled up. Another adaptation that he suggests for policy makers is the notion of "possibility government", the incorporation of more projects that are higher risk and offer higher rewards, something that he argues can improve current trends with regards to trust in institutions and divided factions in society. Weiss says that these notions are relevant to private enterprise, as well, because it's no longer possible to rely entirely on the private sector for innovation. Finally, he makes the hiring suggestion that government should "Hire people with strong heads and strong hearts." and he quotes James March, who said, "the trick is to be impatient with old ideas and patient with new ideas."

  5. Facial recognition technology can expose political orientation from naturalistic facial images (January 11, 2021; Nature) - Color me skeptical on this one. Michal Kosinski reports the results from his research, observing that faces of liberals and conservatives differ in a consistent manner and that a facial recognition system was able to predict political orientation from 72% of liberal-conservative face pairs in a dataset of 1,085,795 images. The article reports that results were similar in the US, Canada, and the UK, and also that accuracy remained high (69%) after controlling for ethnicity, gender, and age. The paper notes that this capability has critical implications for civil liberties and privacy. -h/t Daniel Lemire

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How amazing what technology has come to today, it's fascinating, look at how the robot synchronizes with every movement! It's amazing.

My mother, my brother and I, we had Covid, I had no idea that we could have immunity for that amount of time. I'm afraid of getting infected again and it seems like a nightmare.

There are people who think that the covid was necessary for the overpopulation but it seems curious to me, because where I live, 4 people die in one day and about 100 women become pregnant. So those arguments don't make much sense to me.

I think that the people who believe that Covid19 is good for the world are selfish people :(