Summary of “How ‘smart’ email could change the way we talk”

Predictive text algorithms, which use what we have typed in the past to suggest the next words in a sentence as we write, already feature on most smartphones.
One study found that secondary school children who used predictive text on their mobile phones made more spelling errors than non-users.
One year-long study found that secondary school children who used predictive text on their mobile phones made more spelling errors than non-users, but university students who used the technological writing aid made fewer grammatical errors.
A predictive text system that has been trained using text from positive online reviews might tend to suggest words that are more positive as a result.
“Predictive text systems are starting to offer suggestions that are longer, more coherent, and more contextual than ever before,” says Ken Arnold, a researcher at at Harvard’s school of engineering and applied sciences who was involved in the study.
“It’s exciting to think about how predictive text systems of the future might help people become far more effective writers, but we also need transparency and accountability to protect against suggestions that may be biased or manipulated.”
“For children whose reading may be stronger than their spelling ability, autosuggest will facilitate their ability to communicate effectively online, thereby opening up texting to a younger age group, or to children who may be struggling with more conventional literacy.”
Others are using the technology which underpins predictive text to write new forms of fiction.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Birth of the Semicolon”

One of these humanists, Aldus Manutius, was the matchmaker who paired up comma and colon to create the semicolon.
The Bembo typeface’s tall semicolon was the original that appeared in De Aetna, with its comma-half tensely coiled, tail thorn-sharp beneath the perfect orb thrown high above it.
The semicolon in Poliphilus, relaxed and fuzzy, looks casual in comparison, like a Keith Haring character taking a break from buzzing.
Garamond’s semicolon is watchful, aggressive, and elegant, its lower half a cobra’s head arced back to strike.
Gill Sans MT’s semicolon has perfect posture, while Didot’s puffs its chest out pridefully.
The semicolon had successfully colonized the letter cases of the best presses in Europe, but other newborn punctuation marks were not so lucky.
Some of the printed texts that appeared in the centuries surrounding the semicolon’s birth look as though they are written partially in secret code: they are filled with mysterious dots, dashes, swoops, and curlicues.
Why did the semicolon survive and thrive when other marks did not? Probably because it was useful.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Birth of the Semicolon”

One of these humanists, Aldus Manutius, was the matchmaker who paired up comma and colon to create the semicolon.
The Bembo typeface’s tall semicolon was the original that appeared in De Aetna, with its comma-half tensely coiled, tail thorn-sharp beneath the perfect orb thrown high above it.
The semicolon in Poliphilus, relaxed and fuzzy, looks casual in comparison, like a Keith Haring character taking a break from buzzing.
Garamond’s semicolon is watchful, aggressive, and elegant, its lower half a cobra’s head arced back to strike.
Gill Sans MT’s semicolon has perfect posture, while Didot’s puffs its chest out pridefully.
The semicolon had successfully colonized the letter cases of the best presses in Europe, but other newborn punctuation marks were not so lucky.
Some of the printed texts that appeared in the centuries surrounding the semicolon’s birth look as though they are written partially in secret code: they are filled with mysterious dots, dashes, swoops, and curlicues.
Why did the semicolon survive and thrive when other marks did not? Probably because it was useful.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Reading Lessons”

Then comes the twist: these are all metaphors for internal activities of the mind, and especially for the discipline of reading Scripture.
What Aldhelm noticed – and I suspect he would have thought of all reading this way, not just of the Bible – was that reading was a bundle of related abilities, each of which needed precise training.
We had been reading other Romantic poets in the course; next to Byron and Shelley and Keats, Wordsworth was dry as dust.
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My crash course in reading dramatic texts made me, ironically, a terrible student for an entire semester.
My reading lessons could be purely cognitive, curiously embodied, or startlingly emotional.
These were perhaps the most literal reading lessons I received in undergrad. When I took Toronto’s year-long course in Old English, I had not started a new language in any kind of serious way for over a decade.
Most of my reading lessons ended with my undergraduate education.

The orginal article.

Summary of “7 Tips for How to Read Faster”

If you want to read faster while maintaining reading comprehension, check out these seven tips.1.
If your goal is more limited in scope than the author’s, plan to only find and read the pertinent sections.
Vary your plan of attack based on the type of material you’re about to read. If you’re going to read a dense legal or scientific text, you should probably plan to read certain passages more slowly and carefully than you’d read a novel or magazine.
Many readers read a few sentences passively, without focus, then spend time going back and re-reading to make sure they understand them.
According to Dartmouth College’s Academic Skills Center, it’s an old-fashioned myth that students must read every section of a textbook or article.
Reading selectively will make it possible for you to digest the main points of many texts, rather than only having time to fully read a couple.
Your job shouldn’t end when you read the last word on the page.
If you want to improve your reading speed, use a timer to test how many words per minute you can read. As you’re able to read faster and faster, check in with yourself to make sure you’re happy with your level of comprehension.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Trash Talk: On Translating Garbage”

After stints in both copywriting and teaching, I stumbled upon freelance translation almost by accident, and for a while I thought I’d figured out the magic formula, that I’d found the ideal side gig for a writer.
To add existential insult to material injury, what you often end up having to translate is writing that makes you hate writing, that bears no resemblance to “The medium you love.”
“How dare they permit themselves the freedom and authority to write when I have kept myself in check for so many years, producing writing by drips and drops, terrified of being thought lacking, or of awakening the same disdain I feel when reading a text such as this?”.
The best thing I can say about it is that wading through the trash heap of language is often quite a revealing process, just like rifling through the neighbor’s garbage can give you insight into the inner workings of their lives.
In my own writing, in other people’s writing, this translates into the pleasure that arises from the unknowable, from being trusted with questions that are in themselves answers.
Bad writing intensifies the pleasure I get from good writing.
Makes good writing easier to recognize, because I get to keep refining my own definition of what it is not.
Lina Mounzer is a writer and translator living in Beirut.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Text Messaging Works, a Love Story”

So there my wife is, typing “I love you” into a text message, all the while the phone converts those letters into this 7-bit encoding scheme, called GSM-7.
It’s essentially a switchboard: my wife’s phone sends out a signal to the local cell tower and gives it the number of the SMSC, which forwards her text message from the tower to the SMSC. The SMSC, which in our case is operated by AT&T, routes the text to the mobile station nearest to my phone.
The next byte encodes some basic housekeeping on how the phone should interpret the message, including whether it was sent successfully, whether the carrier requests a status report, and whether this is a single text or part of a string of connected messages.
I’m upstairs and my phone is on, so I receive the text in a handful of seconds, but what if my phone were off? Surely my phone can’t accept a message when it’s not receiving any power, so the SMSC has to do something with the text.
If the SMSC can’t find my phone, my wife’s message will just bounce around in its system until the moment my phone reconnects, at which point it sends the text out immediately.
It’s either a timestamp or a duration, and it basically says “If you don’t see the recipient phone pop online in the next however-many days, just don’t bother sending it.” The default validity period for a text is 10,080 minutes, which means if it takes me more than seven days to turn my phone back on, I’ll never receive her text.
She’s on AT&T and I’m on AT&T, and our phones are connected to the same tower, so after step 4 the 279-byte packet of love just does an about-face and returns through the same mobile service center, through the same base station, and now to my phone instead of hers.
An index works in a computer much the same way it works in a book: when my phone wants a specific pixel to light a certain color, it looks that pixel up in the index, and then sends a signal to the address it finds.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Grant Your Child an Inner Life”

So many of the worst nightmares of parenting start with a phone call: a child out of arm’s reach, not in the house, not in her bed.
There probably are teen-agers out there who could face an existential fear without a single Internet search, without texting or posting or sharing, who could cover their tracks sufficiently to prevent a determined parent from snooping, but I haven’t met any.
A motivated parent can give their young driver a car that shuts off the radio, won’t go above a certain speed, and sends text alerts home if the car goes outside a pre-approved area.
A movement for “Free-range parenting” has pushed back against this culture of obsessive supervision, which also criminalizes the dilemmas faced by single parents, two-career parents, and parents who don’t earn enough to pay for constant childcare.
Its leaders point out, among other things, that U.S. crime rates have fallen dramatically over the last twenty years, and it’s safer for children to be alone now than it was in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, when today’s parents were young.
Kids her age seem to accept, reluctantly, that the price of having a social life is having their parents one step away from everything they do, sharing the same accounts, playlists, search histories.
Anxious parenting is an optimization economy with no upper limit, which turns every second of a child’s life, in and out of school, into a commodity: from nanny-cams to high-impact strollers to Kumon to internship consultants to college-essay tutors, and it privileges those who have the least to worry about.
That kind of laissez-faire parenting, bordering on neglect, seems diametrically opposed to the hyperattentive parenting of my generation, but these approaches share one instructive point: they’re primarily concerned with how to succeed and how not to die.

The orginal article.

Summary of “An AI that writes convincing prose risks mass-producing fake news”

The researchers set out to develop a general-purpose language algorithm, trained on a vast amount of text from the web, that would be capable of translating text, answering questions, and performing other useful tasks.
“We started testing it, and quickly discovered it’s possible to generate malicious-esque content quite easily,” says Jack Clark, policy director at OpenAI. Clark says the program hints at how AI might be used to automate the generation of convincing fake news, social-media posts, or other text content.
Fake news is already a problem, but if it were automated, it might be harder to tune out.
Clark says it may not be long before AI can reliably produce fake stories, bogus tweets, or duplicitous comments that are even more convincing.
OpenAI does fundamental AI research but also plays an active role in highlighting the potential risks of artificial intelligence.
The OpenAI algorithm is not always convincing to the discerning reader.
A lot of the time, when given a prompt, it produces superficially coherent gibberish or text that clearly seems to have been cribbed from online news sources.
“You don’t need AI to create fake news,” he says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators”

The creators of a revolutionary AI system that can write news stories and works of fiction – dubbed “Deepfakes for text” – have taken the unusual step of not releasing their research publicly, for fear of potential misuse.
OpenAI, an nonprofit research company backed by Elon Musk, says its new AI model, called GPT2 is so good and the risk of malicious use so high that it is breaking from its normal practice of releasing the full research to the public in order to allow more time to discuss the ramifications of the technological breakthrough.
The AI system is fed text, anything from a few words to a whole page, and asked to write the next few sentences based on its predictions of what should come next.
When used to simply generate new text, GPT2 is capable of writing plausible passages that match what it is given in both style and subject.
The vast collection of text weighed in at 40 GB, enough to store about 35,000 copies of Moby Dick.
The amount of data GPT2 was trained on directly affected its quality, giving it more knowledge of how to understand written text.
GPT2 is far more general purpose than previous text models.
By structuring the text that is input, it can perform tasks including translation and summarisation, and pass simple reading comprehension tests, often performing as well or better than other AIs that have been built specifically for those tasks.

The orginal article.