from the world's big
The Future of Virtual Currencies
Question: What is the future of virtual currencies?
Jesse Schell: At Schell Games, we're doing a lot of work with virtual currencies and virtual economies right now because so many of the games we do are online and are working on social networks and are working off of micro-transactions. You end up having to think about these things, and it's a very curious space. It's a space that we're all kind of finding our way in and kind of learning how it works. There's some basic things that we certainly know. A lot of people assume that Oh, I'll create some kind of virtual economy and people will spend money on it, but that's certainly not true. What you have to do is you have to create a situation where people are going to want to put money in. So you have to find a way that people are going to feel invested, and if you look at the way a lot of the successful online games are created – particularly the free ones – they create a situation where they work hard to get you psychologically invested, and then they find exactly the appropriate time to kind of say, “You know, this game could be a little better if you would just put five bucks or if you would just put ten dollars in.” Or maybe they'll even mask it: “If you would just contribute eight Facebook credits” – that kind of thing – “then you could suddenly make this better.”
We're not used to this as game designers. Game designers are used to we're gonna make the best game possible, and we're gonna want people to know about it because they're gonna pay up front, and then we're gonna deliver a game that they think is great; then we don't have to think about that anymore. Now it's like we're all designing the point-of-purchase display at Wal-Mart, and we're trying to figure out How do we position the racks of gum that's gonna make people buy more than one pack of gum? That ends up being how you have to think about it. So very often now one of the big changes is: we design games around a psychological moment where people are willing to spend money, and we figure Well, how do we make that moment as exciting and as engaging as possible? We're not used to that. We're used to kind of having fun be at the core, but now funding is at the core, and we have to kind of build out that way, which is very different.
Question: Do you foresee the virtual currency model spreading to other industries, like advertising?
Jesse Schell: What's going to happen with virtual currencies is interesting because the advertising folks, just like everybody else, are really kind of trying to struggle to figure out What does this new digital media mean? Interactive advertising is problematic because when you say Here's an advertisement. Now you can interact with it. Your first interaction is "Make it go away," because you don't want advertising. That's the whole point of advertising: you don't want it.
Advertisers are going to realize the incredible power that... the ways they can tap into these virtual economies as we become more and more connected. People think that these virtual economies... they think that they're isolated, that they're off somewhere, but everyone's going to start to realize that it's just information on the Internet. If you want to give me 100 gold if I buy a 24-pack of Coca-Cola at the grocery store, you could do that now. There's no technological barrier to keep you from doing that. The grocery store already has a unique bar code that you swipe when you exit, they already know your email address, most likely; all you have to do is give them one more piece of information about your World of Warcraft account and BANG – you could start doing that right there. And the same goes for Farmville or any game that has an online or virtual currency. The advertisers are going to start to see that Wow. These currencies mean something to people. People put in hours and hours of their lives trying to build up this currency. How can we have them engage with our brand... purchase our products, spread the word about our new products, give reviews to our products, etc. and reward them with these virtual currencies? We're starting to see it happen already. On Facebook we've seen quite a bit of this, and I think we're gonna see it kind of branching out into the real world quite a lot.
They're starting to get the idea. They're trying to figure out how to begin. There's a kind of a priming the pump problem that they have right now, but all it's gonna take is a couple successes in this space, and you're gonna see just a huge ocean of… experiments. And some of them are gonna succeed.
Recorded on June 21, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
Game designers are having to think more like marketers: "We're used to having fun be at the core, but now funding is at the core," says Schell. "Now we design games around a psychological moment where people are willing to spend money."
If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.
- Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
- Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
- One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Duke researchers have developed the first gel-based synthetic cartilage with the strength of the real thing. A quarter-sized disc of the material can withstand the weight of a 100-pound kettlebell without tearing or losing its shape.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.
- 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
- Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
- Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.
The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.
In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.
That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
70 data points and machine learning
Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash
Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:
"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."
The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.
Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."
Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.
Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.
On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.
Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash
Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."
"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.
The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.