Male or female? How many categories for “people” will we need?

September 5th, 2016

Gender is not a fact about persons that we must take as fixed and essential (and then build our social institutions around that fact). Gender, for humans, is socially constructed; an externally imposed hierarchy: male or female. The human personality is a spectrum – and allows us to more or less conform to the gender norms associated with our gender, or not.

But, we do not need gender. We would be better off without it. Gender as a hierarchy with two positions operates to naturalize and perpetuate the subordination of female people to male people, and constrains the development of individuals of both sexes. And reconceiving of gender as an identity spectrum represents no improvement!

The solution is to not categorize it at all.

How the FBI could Unlock the Apple iPhone without the Encryption Key

March 20th, 2016

Here’s my recipe for unlocking the iPhone 5c used by the San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook:

  • the phone is already owned by and in possession of the government
  • there are only 10.000 possible combinations to try (the PIN is a 4 digit number)
  • it will take about 7 months to try all combinations (due to the programmed delays) if the phone does not have the “delete all content after 10 failed attempts” option turned on
  • we should assume that that feature is turned on
  • the content is stored on the device only in 0 and 1 bits
  • those can be read without changing them (non-invasive and non-destructive)
  • thus a duplicate of the exact data can be made
  • the hardware has an embedded unique identifier, that part needs to be isolated in a way that all device duplicates can interact with it
  • we should probably assume that the wrong PIN code has already been tried (a few) times
  • the maximum is 9 times out of 10, so if we err on the side of caution, 10.000 device duplicates need to be made
  • the cost of the hardware is significant (the retail price is around 650 USD)
  • however, the hardware can be virtualized
  • that makes duplication cost about zero, but the reverse engineering rather costly
  • but once that is done, the government can “unlock” all devices of that same type by just duplicating all the bits into the virtual model

References:

Getting to inbox zero.

May 27th, 2015

Many years ago when gmail was just launched in beta, my first email was the welcome email from Google. Over time I had an inbox in the thousands. In the last few years I tried to get to 0 again, but failed. Now I have learned about GTD and also a thing our two from The Behavioral Science Guys, so I decided to actually track my, uhm, progress publicly.

Gmail Inbox Chart

PS: This is done by having a Google Script write to a Google Spreadsheet that generates a public Google Spreadsheet Chart. Here is the code:

function WriteInboxCountToSpreadSheet()
{
  var ss = SpreadsheetApp.openById("TheCodePartFromTheSpreadsheetUrlHere");
  var sheet = ss.getSheets()[0];
  sheet.appendRow([Utilities.formatDate(new Date(), "Europe/Amsterdam", "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss"), MyGmailInboxCount()]);
}

Are your customers satisfied?

November 20th, 2014

Customer satisfaction research might be a waste of time if you only try to find the areas you want to improve for existing customers: they are still customers! You can probably be more effective in improving the aspects that cause existing customers to go elsewhere – or, even more importantly, not even come to you!

Curated Audio Streams

January 4th, 2014

Video is a growing and popular medium. But audio is, and will remain, very important, because: when watching video, one can not do anything other than stationary routine tasks that do not require constant visual attention and/or communication (like eating a meal). With audio, one has much more freedom. But when the audio contains human voice(s), one is limited to semi-routine tasks (like driving a car) that exclude communication, except, some light (non-complex) tactile communication like typing a simple email.

We have many ways to ingest music, but we need more services that allow one to stream non-music audio. We lost the #ConversationsNetwork (thanks @DougKaye1 for the many years of great curated content), but the internet still needs a new service that allows one to choose curated or categorized non-music audio (including functionalities to track history, so we do not have duplicates in the users playlist).

Podcasts are a great temporary solution, but #podcasts filter per producer (or, sometimes, per curator), not per episode. And they are still not easy to manage in a multi-device environment (think: resume and suggest, like @Netflix).

Could @SoundCloud become that player? Anyone any ideas/suggestions?

Will 3D printing a human become possible?

December 16th, 2013

I was on the phone. I am in love. I miss her. I wanted to crawl through the wire and be with her.

I explained that one day – sooner than we might think – it will be possible. Our body (and even our mental state) is basically just energy. We can already measure a lot of the state of energy at the subatomic level; just not yet at the large scale needed for instantly “scanning” the state of the energy of a human being. And, since we are already making progress with 3D printing, just like that we can store that state of our body and, eventually, be able to recreate that elsewhere on demand.

For now I will have to miss my girl, but for how long? What are your ideas?

Research News on Brain-Measured Learning to Save Time

November 15th, 2012

The following article explains that studying-results can be significantly improved not only by the brain-based methods I am a strong proponent for, but also by actual retention qualifiers.

Using Brain Scans to Predict Future Test Performance

Will a brain scan reveal how well you’ve studied for a big test? Researchers at Sandia National Laboratory have demonstrated that the brain’s electrical activity, detectable via electroencephalogram (EEG), predicts how well studied material has been incorporated into memory, and, thus, how well subjects performed on memory tests.

The researchers asked 23 people to attempt to memorize a list of words while undergoing brain scanning. The average subject recalled 45% of the words on the list. The EEG data correctly predicted which five of the 23 subjects would beat the competition, remembering 72% of the words on average.

“If you had someone learning new material and you were recording the EEG, you might be able to tell them, ‘You’re going to forget this, you should study this again,’ or tell them, ‘OK, you got it and go on to the next thing,’ ” chief researcher Laura Matzen said in a statement.

Matzen presented her findings at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society conference in Chicago. This second phase of research will determine the effectiveness of various types of research and training methods.

Source: Sandia National Laboratories

Voting in the USA

October 30th, 2012

I strongly urge all Americans to vote strategically. Don’t vote Republican or Democrat. Polling proves most Americans (and world citizens) do not agree with the actual decisions they actually make. Vote Libertarian.

Cookies

June 22nd, 2012

Regarding the new (European) law about cookies on websites I have this to say: while I am pro transparency, I believe that one should not force transparency. In order to deal with the problem of having to opt-in users I suggest you write a good disclaimer and wait until browsers solve the cookie opt-in problem by for example keeping a list of pre-authorized sites (like Google Analytics) or by subscribing to public or paid white/black lists that are auto-updated in the browser. This should not be a human choice on every site, but a general “setting” and/or trusting an intermediary source to help users make that decision in an automated way.

Attention

June 8th, 2012

Because attention is so closely connected to our brain’s basic wiring, it can be difficult to recognize our own patterns of giving attention – patterns we’ve been absorbing since birth. Yet different cultures do allocate attention differently. For example: psychologist Richard E. Nisbett concluded (in his underwater scene study) that East Asians focus on relationships while Westerners tend to see isolated objects rather than the connections between them. What is your brain (not) wired for? What do you “see” and are you aware off what you miss?