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What Is Humanizing Technology?
Big Think is excited to announce Humanizing Technology, a virtual expo in partnership with Bing, whose goal is to identify new technologies that integrate themselves seamlessly into our lives, capitalize on our unique strengths, and amplify the best of human nature.
We have all experienced “dehumanizing” technology – software or hardware that seems to diminish our ability to communicate with others or to function effectively in the world. Technology that creates new boundaries between people rather than erasing old ones.
With this in mind, Big Think is excited to announce Humanizing Technology, a virtual expo in partnership with Bing. The goal of Humanizing Technology – which will culminate in June, 2012 with a live event and prize ceremony in New York City – is to identify new technologies that integrate themselves seamlessly into our lives, capitalize on our unique strengths, and amplify the best of human nature.
In accordance with psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, we believe that humanizing technologies are those that meet one of three core human needs:
- Safety and Security
- Human Relationships
- Personal Growth
In addition, new technologies nominated for the Humanizing Technology Prize must demonstrate significant, unique potential for improving our lives, individually and collectively.
The 10 week virtual expo on Big Think will present the contest nominees, gather submissions from you, our readers, and feature video interviews with leading technologists, ethicists, entrepreneurs, and artists who are passionately engaged in the evolving relationship between man and machine. Our extraordinary lineup of experts and contest judges includes Peter Diamandis, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Jeff Jarvis, Sonia Arrison, and many more. Among them:
Clay Johnson, Author of The Information Diet:
These are the tools that you use in order to get the word out and I think these tools are empowering people like to me to stay closer to my family. They’re empowering people in Egypt to help make revolutions happen and help organization better. They’re empowering millions of people to seek better justice and I think that’s vital, this idea that we can form communities out of thin air.
Paul Root Wolpe, Senior Bioethicist, Emory University:
...Eventually the conversations around these technologies will reach an equilibrium and we will understand as a society how to use them responsibly. But both, again, both extremes of this problem; ban everything or just let everybody buy everything over the counter and take it, both extremes are irresponsible.
Jonathan Harris, Artist and Creator of Cowbird, an alternative social network:
I think the more interesting thing that's happening is we’re evolving into a kind of meta organism, which is the whole species on the planet connected through the Web, sharing information, sharing thoughts, sharing ideas. But more interesting than those things is also sharing empathy and sharing emotions.
From life-saving apps to cutting-edge military defense, Humanizing Technology will explore and expand the boundaries of what it means to be human, today and far into the future.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
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"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.