The Matrix is already here: Social media promised to connect us, but left us isolated, scared and tribal
The more you like, follow and share, the faster you find yourself moving in that political direction.
These nine courses introduce you to the future of programming.
- Python is one of the world's most popular general-purpose programming languages.
- Programmers love Python's features, including clear code with significant use of whitespace.
- Python is often used in fields like AI, artificial neural networks, and data science.
A Stanford study explores the effect of multitasking on memory in young adults.
- The study explores the effect on memory of media multitasking as one's attention flits from place to place onscreen.
- Participants' focus was tracked by observation of their pupil size and brain activity.
- Remembering something is less likely when you're not really paying attention to your experience with it.
Information in, duh out<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDY2NjMwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjI4NDQxMX0.iwr1xedE88W5eEGwWAwHBKrDL4HX-vVzwdDORMFSjb4/img.jpg?width=980" id="af038" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd80682889039e8a09fa4625f280af02" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: F8studio/Adobe Stock<p>The Stanford study looked specifically at the effect of "media multitasking" on memory. Media multitasking is moving continually between screen-based activities: texting, checking Instagram, or watching a TikTok video, for example. The research suggests that these experiences may not quite stick.</p><p>Even though we continually devour information, "As we navigate our lives, we have these periods in which we're frustrated because we're not able to bring knowledge to mind, expressing what we know," the study's senior investigator <a href="https://profiles.stanford.edu/anthony-wagner" target="_blank">Anthony Wagner</a> tells <a href="https://news.stanford.edu/2020/10/28/poor-memory-tied-attention-lapses-media-multitasking/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Stanford News</a>. "Fortunately," he adds, "science now has tools that allow us to explain why an individual, from moment to moment, might fail to remember something stored in their memory."</p>
Apt pupils<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDY2NjMwMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDgxMTAyOH0.tT97wTJZUzrAjvw6hYijEEGYVirTRmehE8bipfc3ffU/img.jpg?width=980" id="a318c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d0344ec128dad485c617090f33ab1367" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Human green eye supermacro closeup background" />
Credit: H_Ko/Adobe Stock<p>The researchers recruited 80 subjects, ages 18 to 26. As these individuals participated in experimental exercises, researchers tracked their lapses in attention by monitoring their posterior <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_wave" target="_blank">alpha power brain wave</a> activity and changes to the sizes of their pupils.</p><p>Lead author Kevin Madore explains, "Increases in alpha power in the back of your skull have been related to attention lapses, mind wandering, distractibility and so forth. We also know that constrictions in pupil diameter — in particular before you do different tasks — are related to failures of performance like slower reaction times and more mind wandering."</p><p>As participants viewed a set of object images onscreen, they were tasked with classifying each image according to pleasantness or size. This was followed by a 10-minute break, after which they were presented with another set of images. They were asked to identify these images as either being new or having already been seen. This allowed the researchers to assess each individual's memory.</p><p>Participants also filled out questionnaires that described their media multitasking habits, and they were asked to state the degree to which they could successfully engage with multiple activities simultaneously.</p><p>Taking all this information together, the researchers found that people less able to sustain attention and those who reported being heavy media multitaskers both performed more poorly at memory tasks.</p><p>Says Madore, "We can't say that heavier media multitasking causes difficulties with sustained attention and memory failures, though we are increasingly learning more about the directions of the interactions."</p>
Strengthening your memory<p>Wagner notes the key to all this may lie in other research that looks at how we prepare to remember what we wish to learn. He suggests remembering occurs most successfully when it's goal-oriented, when we're ready to store something in our minds.</p><p>"While it's logical that attention is important for learning and for remembering, an important point here is that the things that happen even before you begin remembering are going to affect whether or not you can actually reactivate a memory that is relevant to your current goal," says Wagner.</p><p>With this in mind, he says, paying attention to your attentiveness may help you stay aware and prepared to store new memories of what you're currently experiencing.</p><p>Likewise, he suggests it may be possible to develop memory hacks that can enhance our capacity to remember. He cites the idea of attention training in which eye sensors alert their wearer to attention lapses as they occur, allowing the person to consciously refocus each time their mind wanders.</p><p>While the current study explores the memories of young people, its insights may broadly apply. "We have an opportunity now," Wagner concludes, "to explore and understand how interactions between the brain's networks that support attention, the use of goals and memory relate to individual differences in memory in older adults both independent of, and in relation to, Alzheimer's disease."</p>
Opportunistic agility is running rampant among hackers and scammers.
- McAfee's user base has been seeing an average of 375 new threats per minute during the pandemic.
- Once everyone got situated in their home offices and their company's security teams started taking the appropriate measures, how did the attackers adjust?
- Ransomware on cloud servers, hijack attempts on IoT gadgets and business email compromise (BEC) attacks increased in volume as well as sophistication over the course of Q3 2020.
Credit: McAfee<p>But beyond the many reports that cybercrime has surged, there's been proportionately little talk about how it's changed. Once everyone got situated in their home offices and their company's security teams <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/work-from-home-cybersecurity" target="_self">started taking the appropriate measures</a>, how did the attackers adjust?</p> <p>Here are four ways that cybercrime has visibly adapted to the changing conditions of 2020. </p>
Deploying pandemic-related attack strategies<p>One of the notable ways that attacks were especially effective at the start of the pandemic was the manner in which they directly took advantage of the confusion caused by the situation. COVID-19 related phishing emails <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/hackers-cyber-attacks-now-evolving-faster-ever-subex-063924287.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">raised phishing attacks overall by 68 percent</a>. There was also a marked uptick in business email compromise (BEC) attacks, where the criminal masquerades as a legitimate company and attempts to convince the victim that the coronavirus chaos forced them to change their banking details. </p><p>Cybercriminals have adjusted their targeting and tactics to follow the spread of COVID-19, with the spike beginning in Asia before shifting to Europe and the U.S. Now, as people are returning to work, phishing emails and malware have switched gears. Instead of claiming to educate you about the virus, they are disguised as guides to helping workers return safely to the office. </p><p>"What's clear is that hackers are hoping to capitalize on public fear," <a href="https://www.techradar.com/news/how-cybercrime-has-changed-in-the-wake-of-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">says Dr. Alex Tarter</a>, Chief Cyber Consultant and CTO at Thales. "As a global population we have proactively sought out as much information as we can find to help inform our day-to-day lives, but also make us feel safe. Many of instances of cybercrime in the wake of COVID-19 have been designed with this fear in mind." </p><p>In this vein, malware, mobile malware and fileless malware have skyrocketed, using pandemic-related topics to play on people's fears and lure them to malicious URLs. Tarter estimates that half of all COVID-19-related domain names created since December 2019 were set up with the purpose of injecting malware, with many of these domains spoofing content from genuine websites in order to mask their intent.</p>
Aiming at broader targets<p>Another distinct trend is the shift to a broader attack surface. As work moved out of "on-premises" network environments, bad actors have followed us onto the cloud, so cloud-related breaches have increased. Protecting your server isn't sufficient; you need to connect all the dots and cover every connected device, because your cloud-connected printer is the backdoor to your entire organization. </p><p>Cybercriminals have long since woken up to the fact that IoT devices are often the weakest links in any system. IoT-focused attacks have grown in number and in impact, with a <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/hackers-cyber-attacks-now-evolving-faster-ever-subex-063924287.html" target="_blank">46 percent rise</a> in the number of attacks on smart homes, smart enterprises, and control systems that are connected to critical infrastructure.</p>
Taking advantage of urgency and pressure<p>Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the pressure that organizations are under to remain operational by expanding ransomware attacks, which doubled from <a href="https://ciso.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/cyberattacks-get-more-nuanced-as-covid-drags-on/77816357" target="_blank">200,000 in Q1 2020 to 400,000 in Q2</a>. Health centers are a popular target, because hackers know that they are overwhelmed with critical patients and can't afford the time it will take to resolve the attack, so they are more likely to give in and pay the ransom than struggle to combat and cure it.</p> <p>A few weeks ago in Germany, a patient was unable to receive care when a ransomware attack on Düsseldorf University Hospital disrupted the emergency care unit, forcing them to transfer her to another hospital to receive critical care. <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/18/1008582/a-patient-has-died-after-ransomware-hackers-hit-a-german-hospital/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The patient died</a> during the journey, a cybercrime first. </p>
Credit: Trend Micro<p>New ransomware families are emerging, using more sophisticated, phased attack strategies that are more difficult to rectify. Trend Micro has identified <a href="https://documents.trendmicro.com/assets/rpt/rpt-securing-the-pandemic-disrupted-workplace.pdf" target="_blank">a 36 percent jump</a> in new ransomware families, compared with the same period in 2019. Hackers know that IT and security teams are operating remotely, without access to their usual tools and processes and often without experience in dealing with an attack remotely, which handicaps their ability to resolve it quickly. </p>
Exploiting remote work vulnerabilities<p>Hackers have been quick to respond to the sudden rush to remote working. In the urgency of the moment, many companies implemented <a href="https://neilpatel.com/blog/best-vpn-services/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">trusted VPN services</a> for employees working from home, or set up a remote desktop, without configuring them properly, thereby opening the doors to hackers. In March, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) <a href="https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-073a" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alerted businesses</a> to elevated risks of VPN abuse.</p> <p>A number of cloud tools are poorly protected. Zoom, for example, has become a lifeline for businesses and schools, but it has serious security vulnerabilities. It's no coincidence that individuals and educational organizations have been the targets of so many cyber attacks during the pandemic; they are (rightly) perceived as the most vulnerable. </p> <p>Shadow IT use rose when employees sent home from the office had no choice but to use their personal laptops for sensitive work-related tasks, but these devices are rarely protected as well as an office computer. </p> <p>Phishing attacks rose in part because many employees switched to work remotely almost overnight, without any training to independently recognize phishing scams. The average employee isn't equipped to deal with them, and at home there's no security team on hand to immediately respond to questions and defuse the threat.</p>
Cybercrime adapted quickly to COVID-19 chaos<p>The coronavirus pandemic increased chaos in the world, and that presented a golden opportunity to malicious actors and hackers of all types. COVID-19 saw cybercrime shift to cynically exploit fears about the pandemic, take advantage of hasty shifts to remote working, attack overstretched critical infrastructure like health industries, and aim at broader targets across organizations. IT teams can't afford to fall behind as the ongoing struggle with cybercrime enters a new phase. </p>
Confirmation bias is baked into the DNA of America, but it may soon be the nation's undoing.
- From America's inception, there has always been a rebellious, anti-establishment mentality. That way of thinking has become more reckless now that the entire world is interconnected and there are added layers of verification (or repudiation) of facts.
- As the great minds in this video can attest, there are systems and mechanisms in place to discern between opinion and truth. By making conscious efforts to undermine and ignore those systems at every turn (climate change, conspiracy theories, coronavirus, politics, etc.), America has compromised its position of power and effectively stunted its own growth.
- A part of the problem, according to writer and radio host Kurt Andersen, is a new media infrastructure that allows for false opinions to persist and spread to others. Is it the beginning of the end of the American empire?