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- A former clandestine operative reveals a CIA method for reading an adversary's mind.
- Game theory exposes the two best tactics for winning a negotiation.
- If you're not a subscriber yet, join Big Think Edge today. Boost your analytical intelligence with our 7-day free trial.
This week, Big Think Edge is releasing three videos about getting inside the heads of people you need to understand better. Jamie Notter clears up what many people don't understand about millennials, Amaryllis Fox shares a great CIA technique for predicting an adversary's behavior, and Kevin Zollman puts you on top in negotiations.
Preparing for the millennial takeover: Understand the four trends that shaped a generation, with Jamie Notter
Maybe you're a millennial. Maybe you've been baffled by them. In either case, there's no denying the friction that often arises in the workplace between millennials and those who came before them. The insights of Jamie Notter, author of When Millennials Take Over, should resolve confusion and friction on all sides. Why are millennials the way they are? Notter's astute, eye-opening analysis of the world millennials know explains everything.
Available September 3 in Become a Better Manager
Win with red teaming: A case study in strategic empathy from inside the CIA, with Amaryllis Fox
To win in a conflict, it's imperative to see your adversary clearly. It's not always easy to do, especially when dealing with entrenched opposing mindsets, and in the 1980s the CIA developed "red teaming" to address this. Former clandestine CIA operative Amaryllis Fox explains how a "red cell" of CIA operatives were charged with getting inside the minds of Soviet leadership as deeply as possible, non-judgmentally assuming both their tactical and emotional perspectives. It proved to be an invaluable means of predicting their behavior. Stepping outside yourself to spend some time in an opponent's skin, explains Fox, is not only a great way to accomplish your goals — it's also a powerful personal-growth experience. Learn how to do it this week, at Big Think Edge.
"THE TRUTH IS, YOU ACTUALLY ARE FAR BETTER EQUIPPED TO GO AFTER THE PRAGMATIC, STRATEGIC WIN WHEN YOU KNOW HOW TO EXERCISE EMPATHY, AND CLIMB INTO THE PERSPECTIVE OF ANOTHER PERSON, PARTICULARLY YOUR ADVERSARY."
– AMARYLLIS FOX
Available September 4 in Boost Your Emotional Intelligence
The science of strategic thinking: Improve negotiation outcomes with 2 central principles from game theory, with Kevin Zollman
Game theorist and author of The Game Theorist's Guide to Parenting Kevin Zollman talks about how game theory tries to explain negotiations. It identifies simple principles that underlie what seems on the surface to be complex interaction. Two of these principles just happen to be the ones that typically determine whether you or the other person is going to win. Hint: They both involve positioning yourself to seem like the person who has the least to lose. Time to level-up your negotiating skills. Start your 7-day free trial of Big Think Edge to watch this lesson.
Available September 4 in Boost Your Analytical Intelligence
Big Think Edge releases Deep Dives!
This week marks a brand-new offering on the Big Think Edge platform: Deep Dives! Big Think Edge Deep Dives are four-step educational experiences that are made up of articles, videos, and activities. We'll be releasing three Deep Dives every week so there's more than ever to learn on Big Think Edge.
Our first three Deep Dives explain why Donald Trump, the "Disruptor in Chief", might be onto something when it comes to so-called dark emotional intelligence in negotiations; we look at how to welcome Gen Z into your strong intergenerational team; and you'll also learn how to use practical framework for making life's toughest decisions.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently issued $8 million in follow-up funding to a team of neuroengineers developing brain-to-brain and brain-to-machine technology.
- Brain-to-machine interfaces have existed for years, but wireless and non-invasive interfaces aren't yet precise enough to be useful in real-world applications.
- In experiments on insects, a team at Rice University has successfully used light and magnetic fields to both read and write brain activity.
- The team hopes to use the technology to restore vision to the blind, while DARPA hopes to use brain-machine interfaces on the battlefield.
Insects that have been injected with nanoparticles
Rice University<p><br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We spent the last year trying to see if the physics works, if we could actually transmit enough information through a skull to detect and stimulate activity in brain cells grown in a dish," Jacob Robinson, lead investigator on the MOANA Project at Rice University, <a href="https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-4-years-humans-could-don-magnetic-helmets-14432577.php" target="_blank">told</a> the university's Office of Public Affairs.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What we've shown is that there is promise. With the little bit of light that we are able to collect through the skull, we were able to reconstruct the activity of cells that were grown in the lab. Similarly, we showed we could stimulate lab-grown cells in a very precise way with magnetic fields and magnetic nanoparticles."</p><p>If rodent experiments prove successful, the team plans to conduct trials on blind patients, who would be injected with nanoparticles. Using ultrasound waves, the researchers would guide the nanoparticles to the brain's visual cortex. </p><p>There, the nanoparticles would be stimulated to activate specific neurons, which could potentially restore partial vision to the patients. For example, blind people may someday wear a camera that transmits visual data through the interface and enables them to see what the camera is looking at. </p>
Brain-machine interfaces in the battlefield<p>But while restoring vision to the blind is the near-term goal, DARPA has additional applications in mind. The MOANA Project is part of the agency's Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program, <a href="https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2018-03-16" target="_blank">first announced in March 2018</a>. The Rice University team and others have been working with DARPA to develop noninvasive brain-machine interfaces that soldiers could use to, say, control drones in the battlefield.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If N3 is successful, we'll end up with wearable neural interface systems that can communicate with the brain from a range of just a few millimeters, moving neurotechnology beyond the clinic and into practical use for national security," Al Emondi, the N3 program manager, said in a <a href="https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-05-20" target="_blank">statement</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Just as service members put on protective and tactical gear in preparation for a mission, in the future they might put on a headset containing a neural interface, use the technology however it's needed, then put the tool aside when the mission is complete."</p><p>If the human trials prove successful, it could greatly accelerate the development and adoption of brain-machine and brain-to-brain interfaces. After all, even if other types of brain-machine interfaces are effective, it's likely that many people won't want to have a device implanted into their skull.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"That's the big idea, this non-surgical interface," Robinson said. </p>
The platform experiments with letting users decide what content needs flagging.
- Birdwatch is a new effort by Twitter to crowdsource content moderation.
- Still in testing, volunteers can comment on tweets they find problematic.
- Reactions to the new experiment are predictably colorful and bird-brained.
Test flight<p><span></span>For now, Birdwatch is being tested from <a href="https://twitter.com/i/birdwatch" target="_blank">its own site</a> — it's not something Twitter users can currently see unless they volunteer to contribute to it. When someone signs up to test Birdwatch, a new option appears among the actions available for responding to a tweet on Twitter proper. Eventually, if it works out, Birdwatch labels and comments would appear publicly affixed to tweets.</p><p>Here's now Birdwatch works once you sign up:</p><ol><li>When you click on the three-dot menu to the right of a questionable tweet, a new option appears at the bottom of the actions presented: "Contribute to Birdwatch."</li><li>If you choose this option, you're brought to a list of reasons you might have for feeling the tweet should be tagged as iffy — you check the box that reflects your opinion.</li><li>Next, you tell Twitter the damage the tweet could potentially cause if it's left unflagged.</li><li>You're asked for a comment about your objection to the tweet.</li><li>Finally, you're asked to assess the current Birdwatch consensus regarding the tweet.</li></ol><p>Twitter intends to develop an algorithmic approach to collating Birdwatch responses, and is also planning review sessions with subject-matter experts, since, as one Twitter user <a href="https://twitter.com/MaceMoneta/status/1353769684718522368" target="_blank">posted</a>, "The plural of anecdote is not fact."</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🐦 Today we’re introducing <a href="https://twitter.com/birdwatch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Birdwatch</a>, a community-driven approach to addressing misleading information. And we want your help. (1/3) <a href="https://t.co/aYJILZ7iKB">pic.twitter.com/aYJILZ7iKB</a></p>— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) <a href="https://twitter.com/TwitterSupport/status/1353766523664531459?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 25, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Birdwatch reactions<p>So far, the Twitter community's response to Birdwatch covers the whole spectrum, with some people hopeful and many more, this being the internet, skeptical. (We'll talk about politicians' response to Birdwatch below.)</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU0MjU5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Njc1NDM1MX0.kOou0PkKLJSpS8-OEq8Y_y9NkQbrnj0ANoCePDpyTZ0/img.jpg?width=980" id="801d7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="05da8dc53a1d945ab11befee102b661e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1193" data-height="1343" />
How Donald Trump gave Twitter its wings<p>Birdwatch, um, flies in the face of what's made Twitter so central to the U.S. politics since, oh, about 2015. Prior to the entry of tweet-happy Donald Trump into the 2016 presidential race, Twitters seemed to many to be on its way out, yet another discarded novelty of the internet age.</p><p>Candidate Trump changed all that and continued to use his Twitter account as his primary platform throughout his presidency. In terms of the day-to-day drama that accompanied his time in office, the president's expulsion from Twitter felt more like the end of his term than did the official transfer of power on January 20.</p><p>That expulsion itself was apparently the end result of <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/16/how-twitter-banned-trump/" target="_blank">considerable turmoil and discord</a> internally within Twitter. That's because Donald Trump's artful deployment of Twitter has been the primary driver behind its resurgence and the reason it continues to play a significant role in U.S. politics.</p><p>What @realDonaldTrump understood was that a deliberately outrageous tweet is an easy way to immediately grab the public's attention, either for sheer publicity value or as a means of distraction. Truth and accuracy matter far less than what social media calls "<a href="https://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-answers/what-is-social-media-engagement/" target="_blank">engagement</a>." Post-Trump, other publicity-hungry politicians continue to follow the ex-president's playbook. Some of them are even doing so as they attack Birdwatch.</p><p>And herein lies Twitter's dilemma. When provocative content draws attention to a poster, it also draws attention to Twitter, and that benefits the platform by increasing the size of the audience it can sell to advertisers. At the same time, there's growing political pressure on the company to control the dissemination of content that's harmful to the public and American political process.</p><p>Birdwatch may let Twitter off the hook: Truth would be crowdsourced and enforced without Twitter, or its advertisers, having to get its hands dirty with endless controversies.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU0MjYxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODQwMDEyMX0.x77ubxMRqLiHDKj3DAG74-21GrLCR9Ghf5UQMmcsRto/img.jpg?width=980" id="c8651" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f2970b9e1d7a791c685d04e0a8db880a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="660" data-height="367" />
The tweet that probably did it.
Politics and politicians
Politics and politicians<p>The pressure to do better largely comes in the form of threats to repeal <a href="https://observer.com/2020/10/tech-ceo-testify-senate-social-media-content-moderation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Section 230</a> of the Communications Decency Act. This is the regulation that absolves a social media platform from legal liability for content its users post. Though the rule's purpose is to promote the use of unfettered expression on social media, there's an inherent problem — this kind of content tends to go viral and that increases audience size, which increases a platform's advertising sales and that means more profit.</p><p>Some of the loudest voices, ironically, are politicians who themselves use Twitter for spreading this very type of content. The former president, in fact, vetoed a defense bill because it didn't contain a repeal of Section 230 — it doesn't seem to have occurred to him that his own inflammatory tweets and posts wouldn't be published if platforms were concerned about being held responsible.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Note: If you're outraged at some politician's disingenuous behavior and tweet or retweet about their hypocrisy, that's perfectly fine with them since you'd only be helping them get more attention.</p><p>It may not surprise you that some politicians who want social media to step up are up in arms over Birdwatch, accusing Silicon Valley of making a power grab that will place Truth under their control and of violating their own First Amendment right to free speech. This last charge is a Constitutional canard, even though some of these folks have a law degree — <a href="https://www.talksonlaw.com/briefs/does-the-first-amendment-require-social-media-platforms-to-grant-access-to-all-users" target="_blank">legal experts agree</a> that Free Speech is about public speech and not about the ability to say whatever you want through a private company's platform.</p><p>No one knows if Birdwatch will work in the end, but if it does, let's hope that unscrupulous politicians find it more difficult to post outrageous tweets that draw them eyeballs and campaign contributions, the country's well-being be damned. Truth is always slippery worm. Let's hope Birdwatch bites down.</p>
Inequality in wealth, gender, and race grew to unprecedented levels across the world, according to OxFam report.
- A new report by global poverty nonprofit OxFam finds inequality has increased in every country in the world.
- The alarming trend is made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, which strained most systems and governments.
- The gap in wealth, race and gender treatment will increase until governments step in with changes.
People wait in line to receive food at a food bank on April 28, 2020 in Brooklyn.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Credit: Oxfam International
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