Summary of “Exclusive: Inside Twitter’s secret plan to kill “dunking””

So a year ago, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced plans for a somewhat idealistic solution, not just for minimizing Twitter dunks but also for minimizing all kinds of angry, vile, and abusive user behaviors that don’t necessarily violate its rules: He wants to invent a new metric that measures Twitter’s health, and then optimize for it.
It’s a nice idea, though measuring Twitter’s health is taking much longer than expected, according to exclusive interviews with both Twitter employees and company partners.
Twitter is sick The idea to measure Twitter’s health was planted in Jack Dorsey’s ear by Deb Roy, an MIT researcher and one-time Twitter employee.
12 months after Dorsey first tweeted out the plan – and roughly eight months since Twitter introduced those academic partners – Twitter hasn’t unveiled or implemented any new metrics.
Lawyers for Twitter and Leiden haven’t been able to solidify the data-sharing and privacy details for the partnership, which means the researchers are simply waiting, according to interviews with Twitter and the company’s partners.
A Twitter spokesperson says the humans reviewing and rating these conversations are paid, and make up a “diverse group of people who use Twitter at least once a month.
Twitter executives like to use the word “incentives” – as in, how can Twitter incentivize people to behave a certain way?
Then there are social rewards such as “Likes” and retweets – i.e. incentives for dunking – that Twitter is also thinking about.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Dark chocolate is now a health food. Here’s how that happened.”

Cadbury Jr.’s newest confection loaded just about every buzzy health trend into a fresh green-and-white package: vegan, ethically sourced, organic dark chocolate and creamy, superfood avocado.
So how in the world could a chocolate bar be convincingly sold as a health food? You can thank a decades-long effort by the chocolate industry.
Here at Vox, we examined 100 Mars-funded health studies, and found they overwhelmingly drew glowing conclusions about cocoa and chocolate – promoting everything from chocolate’s heart health benefits to cocoa’s ability to fight disease.
Big Chocolate’s investment in health science was a marketing masterstroke, catapulting dark chocolate into the superfood realm along with red wine, blueberries, and avocados – and helping to sell more candy.
To find out what kind of conclusions Mars-sponsored studies come to, Vox searched the health literature and identified 100 original cocoa health studies funded or supported by the chocolate maker over the past two decades.
Among the findings in the Mars-sponsored health studies: Regularly eating cocoa flavanols could boost mood and cognitive performance, dark chocolate improves blood flow, cocoa might be useful for treating immune disorders, and both cocoa powder and dark chocolate can have a “Favorable effect” on cardiovascular disease risk.
“Premium chocolate,” like the vegan dark chocolate avocado bar, is helping drive growth in the chocolate market, Euromonitor found in an analysis of the US chocolate industry.
“The idea that dark chocolate is healthy has worked its way into the mainstream psyche,” said NYU food historian Amy Bentley, adding that even the very restrictive Paleo dieters sanction dark chocolate because of its “Numerous health benefits.”

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Summary of “The Six Main Arcs in Storytelling, as Identified by an A.I.”

This may not seem like anything special, Vonnegut says-his actual words are, “It certainly looks like trash”-until he notices another well known story that shares this shape.
Vonnegut had mapped stories by hand, but in 2016, with sophisticated computing power, natural language processing, and reams of digitized text, it’s possible to map the narrative patterns in a huge corpus of literature.
That’s what a group of researchers, from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide, set out to do.
First, the researchers had to find a workable dataset.
Using a collection of fiction from the digital library Project Gutenberg, they selected 1,737 English-language works of fiction between 10,000 and 200,000 words long.
They did this by training the machine to take all the words of the book, section by section, and measure the average happiness of a given bag of words based on how an individual word scored.
The researchers assigned individual happiness scores to more than 10,000 frequently-used words by crowdsourcing the effort on the website Mechanical Turk.
This portion of the research is fascinating in and of itself: The 10 words that people ranked as happiest were laughter, happiness, love, happy, laughed, laugh, laughing, excellent, laughs, and joy.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Weekend ‘catch-up sleep’ is a lie”

The negative health effects of skimping on sleep during the week can’t be reversed by marathon weekend sleep sessions, according to a sobering new study.
Despite complete freedom to sleep in and nap during a weekend recovery period, participants in a sleep laboratory who were limited to five hours of sleep on weekdays gained nearly three pounds over two weeks and experienced metabolic disruption that would increase their risk for diabetes over the long term.
While weekend recovery sleep had some benefits after a single week of insufficient sleep, those gains were wiped out when people plunged right back into their same sleep-deprived schedule the next Monday.
“If there are benefits of catch-up sleep, they’re gone when you go back to your routine. It’s very short-lived,” said Kenneth Wright, director of the sleep and chronobiology laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who oversaw the work.
“These health effects are long-term. It’s kind of like smoking once was – people would smoke and wouldn’t see an immediate effect on their health, but people will say now that smoking is not a healthy lifestyle choice. I think sleep is in the early phase of where smoking used to be.”
Michael Grandner, director of the sleep and health research program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said the study reinforces that people need to stop thinking of sleep as a balance sheet.
Even when people don’t have a choice about losing sleep due to child-care responsibilities or job schedules, they should think about prioritizing sleep in the same way they would a healthy diet or exercise.
As for understanding the long-term effects of short weekday sleep and long weekend bouts, it will be important to extend the research beyond the artificial conditions and short time frame of a laboratory experiment.

The orginal article.

Summary of “AI is reinventing the way we invent”

What if our pipeline of new ideas is drying up? Economists Nicholas Bloom and Chad Jones at Stanford, Michael Webb, a graduate student at the university, and John Van Reenen at MIT looked at the problem in a recent paper called “Are ideas getting harder to find?” Looking at drug discovery, semiconductor research, medical innovation, and efforts to improve crop yields, the economists found a common story: investments in research are climbing sharply, but the payoffs are staying constant.
The numbers look bad. Research productivity-the number of researchers it takes to produce a given result-is declining by around 6.8% annually for the task of extending Moore’s Law, which requires that we find ways to pack ever more and smaller components on a semiconductor chip in order to keep making computers faster and more powerful.
Might an AlphaGo-like breakthrough help the growing armies of researchers poring over ever-expanding scientific data? Could AI make basic research faster and more productive, reviving areas that have become too expensive for businesses to pursue?
So while we continue to increase the number of researchers overall and to turn incremental advances into commercial opportunities, areas that require long-term research and a grounding in basic science have taken a hit.
“A 10x acceleration is not only possible, it is necessary,” says Buonassisi, who runs a photovoltaic research lab at MIT. His goal, and that of a loosely connected network of fellow scientists, is to use AI and machine learning to get that 15-to-20-year time frame down to around two to five years by attacking the various bottlenecks in the lab, automating as much of the process as possible.
The idea is to infuse artificial intelligence and automation into all the steps of materials research: the initial design and synthesis of a material, its testing and analysis, and finally the multiple refinements that optimize its performance.
To really change materials research, you need to attack the entire process: “What are the bottlenecks? You want AI in every piece of the lab.” Once you have a proposed structure, for example, you still need to figure out how to make it.
The Vector Institute, Toronto’s magnet for AI research, sits less than a mile away.

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Summary of “Are Cyborg Warriors a Good Idea?”

Journalist Michael Joseph Gross reports on efforts of the Pentagon’s think tank, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to create technologies that result in “Merging minds and machines.” The most dramatic are brain chips, arrays of electrodes that, when implanted in the brain, can receive electrical signals from and send them to neural tissue.
Officially, Darpa intends brain chips to help paralyzed and otherwise disabled veterans-for example, by allowing them to control computers and robotic limbs.
In principle, brain chips could boost soldiers’ cognitive and physical functions.
Later, the researchers removed Scheuermann’s implant because skin was pulling back from the port in her skull, putting her at risk of a “Deadly brain infection.”
Darpa is continuing to fund a program, Mind Flight, in which patients control one or more drones via brain implants.
Khatchadourian raises the possibility that brain chips can be used to control as well as empower implantees.
Another researcher, Robert Heath of Tulane, claimed in 1972 that he had used a brain chip to make a gay man sexually responsive to a woman.
Attempts to use brain implants to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders has been disappointing.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Explainer: What is a quantum computer?”

A quantum computer harnesses some of the almost-mystical phenomena of quantum mechanics to deliver huge leaps forward in processing power.
The secret to a quantum computer’s power lies in its ability to generate and manipulate quantum bits, or qubits.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits, which are typically subatomic particles such as electrons or photons.
Thanks to this counterintuitive phenomenon, a quantum computer with several qubits in superposition can crunch through a vast number of potential outcomes simultaneously.
Quantum computers harness entangled qubits in a kind of quantum daisy chain to work their magic.
It’s the point at which a quantum computer can complete a mathematical calculation that is demonstrably beyond the reach of even the most powerful supercomputer.
Some businesses are buying quantum computers, while others are using ones made available through cloud computing services.
Where is a quantum computer likely to be most useful first?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook paid people $20 monthly for access to their digital activity. Why did they sign up?”

Notably, the Research app seemed to be a repackaging of the Onavo Protect app, a different Facebook program that Apple banned last year for violating its rules on data collection by developers.
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted, “Wait a minute. Facebook PAID teenagers to install a surveillance device on their phones without telling them it gave Facebook power to spy on them? Some kids as young as 13. Are you serious?” Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal sent TechCrunch a statement noting, “Wiretapping teens is not research, and it should never be permissible.”
Many seemed perfectly aware of all the digital activity they would be giving up, and that Facebook would be benefiting from it.
In a statement to CNBC, a Facebook spokesperson claimed that “Less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens,” though it’s not clear how many underage individuals that might represent, or if it was possible that some lied about their age.
Facebook also isn’t the only tech giant in the game: Google had, until Wednesday, been running a data-hoovering program similar to Facebook Research called Screenwise Meter, which offered participants the opportunity to earn gift cards in exchange for allowing the company track various forms of their digital activity via an app or Google-provided router.
The dollar sign that programs like Facebook Research put in front of its exchange made it easier to see the kinds of bad deals users are being offered.
As security expert Will Strafach, speaking about the Facebook Research VPN, told TechCrunch, “[M]ost users are going to be unable to reasonably consent to this regardless of any agreement they sign, because there is no good way to articulate just how much power is handed to Facebook when you do this.
To me, this is the most startling thing about the Facebook Research VPN and many of the other digital privacy trade-offs we make.

The orginal article.

Summary of “ahead of the science. Here’s why.”

Fasting proponents will also note that there’s a long tradition of religious fasting, though the focus there tends to be more spiritual than health-oriented.
“Many religious groups incorporate periods of fasting into their rituals,” this article points out, “Including Muslims who fast from dawn until dusk during the month of Ramadan, and Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus who traditionally fast on designated days of the week or calendar year.”
Much of the science on fasting focuses on disease prevention and longevity, not weight loss But here’s something important to note about what we know from science about fasting: Though a lot of the popular interest is in weight loss, many of the key researchers who study fasting aren’t focusing on that at all.
The first group was crossed over into the fasting group, so the researchers could gather even more data on fasting.
As this 2017 review of the science found, the studies on fasting to control Type 2 diabetes come to contradictory results, and there’s “Minimal data” comparing the effects of fasting to plain old calorie restriction in overweight or obese people with the disease.
The researchers looked at randomized controlled trials of intermittent fasting and found that the people who fasted lost about 4 to 8 percent of their original bodyweight, on average.
There are some people who should never fast Debra Safer, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, told me in 2016 that people with troubled relationships with food should think twice before fasting to lose weight.
Fasting studies have not been done in children, very elderly people, or people who are underweight – so it’s possible fasting could be harmful in these cases.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How the Ketogenic Diet Went Mainstream”

A classic keto diet consists of 90 percent of calories from fat, 6 percent from protein, and 4 percent from carbs.
The first weeks of his eponymous diet centered on eating fat and very little carbs to induce ketosis, a “Happy state . . . [in which] your fat is being burned off with maximum efficiency and minimum deprivation.” That was how keto blipped on the radar of Stephen Phinney, Ph.D., an MIT-trained nutritional biochemist, who began researching this way of eating for endurance sports.
“One day she opened her show pulling a red wagon that contained 67 pounds of pig and beef fat. And she points to it and says, ‘That’s how much weight I’ve lost.’ ” The Oprah Effect was soon in full effect: Optifast immediately received more than 200,000 inquiries, and keto research surged in the early ’90s. That’s when the diet was adopted by the hard-core bodybuilding underground.
With the rediscovery of the Atkins diet in the 2000s, new generations of Americans warmed to the idea that low-carb could be a safe diet tool.
The keto diet could, as the press release put it, “Slow the aging process and may one day allow scientists to better treat or prevent age-­related disease, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and many forms of cancer.” Nutritionally woke biohackers-interested in keto for fat loss, athletic performance, productivity, and longevity in equal parts-began to self-experiment.
Recent research by Phinney showed that those who followed a ketogenic diet and received diet counseling for a year significantly decreased diabetes-medication usage and lost an average of 30 pounds.
Consider the results of an influential 2018 study in JAMA. It found no significant difference in the amount of weight loss at one year between people who ate a low-fat diet and those on a low-carb diet.
“And the conclusion was that the best diet is whatever diet works for you. Keto works for me.”

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