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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

“One of the most mesmerizing and important books I’ve read in quite some time. Alter brilliantly illuminates the new obsessions that are controlling our lives and offers the tools we need to rescue our businesses, our families, and our sanity.” —Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take

Welcome to the age of behavioral addiction—an age in which half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. Half of us would rather suffer a broken bone than a broken phone, and Millennial kids spend so much time in front of screens that they struggle to interact with real, live humans.

In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today’s products are irresistible. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.

By reverse engineering behavioral addiction, Alter explains how we can harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play—and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, and the health and happiness of our children.

Adam Alter’s previous book, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave is available in paperback from Penguin.


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10 musical highlightings from the first episode of ‘The Get Down’

Image: Netflix

The Get Down isn’t like other musicals.

It’s got the pace and the patter of a staged production, but no one actually sings in the 90 -minute first episode of the new Netflix series. One character does, but it’s a facet of the narrative: she wants to be a singer.

Music is integral to the DNA of this narrative about growing up in The Bronx during the late 1970 s. Co-creator Baz Luhrmann infuses The Get Down with his trademark sense of operatic sight, and the music which is largely background soundtrack is a critical component.

Part 1 of the series the first six episodes, out of 12 premieres Friday. We thought it would be fun to look at the opening episode through the lens of some of its musical selections and consider the role that music plays.

“Rule the World( I Came from the City) “/ Michael Kiwanuka ft. Nas

The Get Down opens on Madison Square Garden’s stage in 1996 as Mr. Books one of the reveals starrings, all grown up steps up to the mic to perform “Rule the World( I Came from the City ). “

A collaboration between Michael Kiwanuka and Nasir “Nas” Jones generated especially for the series, Mr. Books’ rap defines up the stories as scenes from the opening episode play behind it. In capital-M Musical terms, this is our overture.

“The Rubberband Man”/ The Spinners

Welcome to 1977 New York City. The Spinners anthemic 1976 hit provides the backbeat for our first real glimpse of The Get Down ‘s Bronx streets.

We’ve already fulfilled two of our leads in the preceding scene, where Zeke( Justice Smith) records a demo of his friend and crush Mylene( Herizen Guardiola) singing in her father’s church. Mylene wants to get out of the Bronx and make it big, and she sees this tape as her way out.

The Spinners track follows immediately after, setting up the stage this story will play out on. It’s a colorful, astonishingly authentic recreation of the Big Apple’s northernmost borough during one of the most turbulent periods in its real history.

“Shining Star”/ Earth, Wind& Fire

Zeke wants to be with Mylene but she isn’t interested. Her intellect is on the future, and get out of New York. That’s why Mylene and her girlfriends have evening plans to visit Les Inferno, a shady, gangster-owned disco club where the evening’s starring DJ, Malibu, might give her the breach she’s been looking for.

Earth, Wind& Fire’s legendary classic “Shining Star” plays while Mylene rebuffs Zeke’s advances. The song’s memorable refrain “You’re a shinig starring , no matter who you are/ Shining bright to ensures what you can truly be” speaks directly to Mylene’s hoped-for future.

“Bad Girls”/ Donna Summer

Donna Summer’s# 1 make single from 1979 pops up a couple days during the same episode, and always for similar reasons: Mylene and her two besties are up to no good.

The first time we hear “Bad Girls, ” it’s behind a scene in which Mylene’s pastor father, Ramon Cruz( Giancarlo Esposito ), grumbles his daughter for bringing her “Devil music” into his church when she recorded her demo.

The song continues as Mylene heads out to the street to commiserate with her friends about her Les Inferno plan-killing penalty: a 10 pm curfew. But such is “bad girls, ” right? She’s going to break that curfew.

“Vitamin C”/ Can

Another of the recurring “theme songs” in The Get Down ‘s first episode, “Vitamin C” represents a infringe from the rest of the rap, funk and R& B-heavy soundtrack. Can, the band behind “Vitamin C, ” was one of the early Krautrock greats, known for its psychedelic and often funky sounds.

In the context of The Get Down , the anthem seems have a connection with Marcus ‘Dizzee’ Kipling( Jaden Smith ), one of three friends in Zeke’s circle of friends. Dizzee is an up-and-coming graffiti artist, and “Vitamin C” opens into a subway station huddle he’s having with a group of fellow artists.

The subject of their chat? Shaolin Fantastic( Shameik Moore ), a legendary( fictional) tagger. “His Pumas are always pristine. His hands are samurai swords, ” Dizzee says. “And his pieces? They’re all fireworks.”

Shaolin is mysterious figure through most of the first episode, but he’s integral to Zeke’s story. This first episode details the origin of their friendship.

“Wild in the Streets”/ Garland Jeffreys

“Wild in the Streets, ” a bouncing 1973 tune from singer/ songwriter Garland Jeffreys, was directly inspired by crime in the Bronx. It’s used in The Get Down to be established Zeke and Shaolin’s first encounter.

Zeke visits a hole-in-the-wall record store to pick up a rare remix of Mylene’s favorite song. He wants to bring it to Les Inferno and persuade Malibu to play it, hoping to sweep Mylene off her feet in the process with the romantic gesture.

Unfortunately for Zeke, the record is also same one Shaolin’s mysterious mentor who turns out to be Grandmaster Flash( Mamoudou Athie) has sent his protg to retrieve.

The two don’t so much fulfill as cross routes. Zeke arrives at the store just moments before the local Savage Warlords gang shows up to shake down the owner. Shaolin uses the distraction to snatch the record out of Zeke’s hands and run, but loses the record back to Zeke when he drops-off it off the side of a building.

“Cadillac”/ Miguel

One of the newer anthems featured in The Get Down , Miguel’s “Cadillac” introduces the man it is named for: the gangster, Cadillac( Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ), whose crime boss mom Fat Annie owns Les Inferno.

Cadillac is a sharp-dressed smooth talker who has a reputation for anointing the winners of the club’s regular dance-offs. They dance with him, they win. Then Cadillac takes them to a hotel for a different kind of dance.

He’s also Mylene’s best opportunity of get her tape into the hands of Malibu, whose music label is funded by Cadillac.

While much of “Cadillac” is a bit too modern for The Get Down , Miguel’s disco infringes mesh seamlessly with the crowded, clubby ambiance of Les Inferno.

“Devil’s Gun”/ CJ& Company

The lengthy Les Inferno scene is filled with classic disco cuts including an extended dance sequence to The Fatback Band’s “Are You Ready( Do the Bus Stop) “ but we’re giving the nod here to “Devil’s Gun.”

The 1977 disco hit by CJ& Company initially provides the beat for Les Inferno’s dance-off, with Zeke playing for Mylene’s affections while Cadillac makes his own move. The scene promptly devolves into chaos, however, when the Barbarian Warlords arrive to shoot up the place.

The parallels between music and tale are somewhat surface-level here: the scene needs a disco way, and CJ& Company’s song overtly references the violence that caps off our time in Les Inferno.

“Apache( Grandmaster Flash Mix) “/ Incredible Bongo Band

Finally we get to the moment the series is named for: the Get Down.

This secret Bronx party serves as the decided of the opening episode’s climax, where Shaolin introduces Zeke and his friends to the dawning hip-hop culture that will eventually roll over New York’s disco scene.

And the first thing we hear? The famed Grandmaster Flash mixture of “Apache” by Incredible Bongo Band, one of the most recognizable and widely sampled cuts in hip-hop history. There’s actually nothing else that would fit for this introduction to The Get Down ‘s true focus: the human side of the birth of hip-hop.

“Rule the World”/ Michael Kiwanuka

The first episode closes with a journey back to 1996. Mr. Books has his back to the crowd, and he’s crying after performing the intensely personal cut that opened the episode.

Michael Kiwanuka’s original version of “Rule the World” plays behind the scene, providing the episode with a powerful coda that beckons immediately back to the opening moments.

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Why Meghan Markle Might Be Perfect for Prince Harry

Could Meghan Markle being an actress, and knowing ways and means of the media, be advantageous when it is necessary to her and Prince Harry crafting their relationship? “>

The blurry cellphone photographs snapped by a passerby of Prince Harry sauntering down Piccadilly with his new girlfriend Meghan Markle on Wednesday evening were a breath of fresh, winter air.

Looking like any other couple, wrapped up in wintertime coats, the two chuckled and gesticulated as they constructed their wayat a fair clip it must be saidthrough some of the most crowded shopping streets in central London, with nothing more than woolly hats for disguises.

Both were grinning, and in their wake can be seen groups of pedestrians casting them a glance and carrying on their way.

We know from Harrys letter that this relationship is serious, but its striking just how differently he is conducting it to any romance that has gone before.

Its hard to believe that just over two years ago Harry was in an intensely paranoid relationship with British aristocrat Cressida Bonas .

Harrys relationship with Cressida was marked by what at first was nothing more than a charming desire on his part to protect her from “members attention” of the press. The strategy worked for as long as the secret was kept, but once their relationship became public knowledge, the romance fell apart under the strain with shocking alacrity.

It was just days after Cressida attained her first public appearance by Harrys side, that the two broke up.

It turns out that a secret relationship lived exclusively behind the closed doors of a tiny circle of friends homes wasnt the best part of the preparations for current realities of dating the worlds most eligible bachelor.

What a difference a bit of star power makes.

Unlike Cressida Bonas, Chelsy Davy or any other of Harrys girlfriends, Meghan Markle has actively attempted notoriety , not simply for its own sake, of course, but as a necessary coefficient in her selection of career.

You cant be a big actor without being famous these days.

Admittedly, dating Harry is her biggest portion yet, by a long way.

And being Harrys girl has multiplied Meghans name recognition by an exponential factor; its not her part in Suits, which attracts a mere two million viewers per episode or so, that has attained her the most Googled actress of 2016 .

And while there is some nervousness among many commentators that Harry should be dating, as one sets it, a advertising attempting sort with millions of followers on Instagram, Harry has often talked about discovering the right person for the role.

Inadvertently, subconsciously perhaps, Harrys choice of words reveals that being his wife is indeed a part to be played, and who better to play it than someone who he loves who also espouses renown, rather than a privacy-obsessive who dreads and loathes public attention?

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Will I ever finish my TBR pile( let’s be real, mountain is a better term to describe it )?? Will I ever get out of this reading slump ??? STAY TUNED for a hopefully …

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Using ‘cooperative perception’ between intelligent vehicles to reduce risks

Networked intelligent vehicles (credit: EPFL)

Researchers at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have combined data from two autonomous cars to create a wider field of view, extended situational awareness, and greater safety.

Autonomous vehicles get their intelligence from cameras, radar, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, and navigation and mapping systems. But there are ways to make them even smarter. Researchers at EPFL are working to improve the reliability and fault tolerance of these systems by sharing data between vehicles. For example, this can extend the field of view of a car that is behind another car.

Using simulators and road tests, the team has developed a flexible software framework for networking intelligent vehicles so that they can interact.

Cooperative perception

“Today, intelligent vehicle development is focused on two main issues: the level of autonomy and the level of cooperation,” says Alcherio Martinoli, who heads EPFL’s Distributed Intelligent Systems and Algorithms Laboratory (DISAL). As part of his PhD thesis, Milos Vasic has developed cooperative perception algorithms, which extend an intelligent vehicle’s situational awareness by fusing data from onboard sensors with data provided by cooperative vehicles nearby.

Milos Vasic, PhD, and Alcherio Martinoli made two regular cars intelligent using off-the-shelf equipment. (credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL)

The researchers used  cooperative perception algorithms as the basis for the software framework. Cooperative perception means that an intelligent vehicle can combine its own data with that of another vehicle to help make driving decisions.

They developed an assistance system that assesses the risk of passing, for example. The risk assessment factors in the probability of an oncoming car in the opposite lane as well as kinematic conditions such as driving speeds, the distance required to overtake, and the distance to the oncoming car.

Difficulties in fusing data

The team retrofitted two Citroen C-Zero electric cars with a Mobileye camera, an accurate localization system, a router to enable Wi-Fi communication, a computer to run the software and an external battery to power everything. “These were not autonomous vehicles,” says Martinoli, “but we made them intelligent using off-the-shelf equipment.”

One of the difficulties in fusing data from the two vehicles involved relative localization. The cars needed to be able to know precisely where they are in relation to each other as well to objects in the vicinity.

For example, if a single pedestrian does not appear to both cars to be in the same exact spot, there is a risk that, together, they will see two figures instead of one. By using other signals, particularly those provided by the LIDAR sensors and cameras, the researchers were able to correct flaws in the navigation system and adjust their algorithms accordingly. This exercise was even more challenging because the data had to be processed in real time while the vehicles were in motion.

Although the tests involved only two vehicles, the longer-term goal is to create a network between multiple vehicles as well with the roadway infrastructure.

In addition to driving safety and comfort, cooperative networks of this sort could eventually be used to optimize a vehicle’s trajectory, save energy, and improve traffic flows.

Of course, determining liability in case of an accident becomes more complicated when vehicles cooperate. “The answers to these issues will play a key role in determining whether autonomous vehicles are accepted,” says Martinoli.

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) | Networked intelligent vehicles

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It’s a riot: the stressful AI simulation built to understand your feelings

Inspired by global upheaval, Riot uses artificial intelligence, film and gaming technologies to help unpick how people react in stressful situations

An immersive movie project is attempting to understand how people react in stressful situations by using artificial intelligence( AI ), movie and gaming technologies to place participants inside a simulated riot and then detecting their emotions in real time.

Called Riot, the project is the result of a collaboration between award winning multidisciplinary immersive filmmaker Karen Palmer and Professor Hongying Meng from Brunel University. The two have worked together previously on Syncself2, a dynamic interactive video installation.

Riot was inspired by global upheaval, and was specifically inspired by Palmers experience of watching live footage of the Ferguson protests in 2015. I felt a big sense of annoyance, fury and helplessness. I needed to create a piece of work that would encourage dialogue around these types of social issues. Riots all over the world now seem to be[ the] last kind of[ community] expression, she said.

Whereas Syncself2 employed an EEG headset to place the user in the action, with Riot Palmer wanted to try and achieve a more seamless interface. Hongying and I discussed AI and facial recognition; the tech came from creating an experience which simulated a riot it needed to be as though you were there.

Designed as an immersive social digital experience, the objective is to get through a simulated riot alive. This is achieved through interacting with a variety of characters who can help you reach home. The video narrative is controlled by the emotional state of the user, which is monitored through AI software in real hour.

Machine learning is the key technology for emotion detection systems. From the dataset collected from audiences, AI techniques are used to learn from the data and build the computational model which can be integrated into the interactive cinema system and detect the feelings in real-time, explained Meng.

The programme in development at Brunel can read seven feelings, but not all are appropriate for the experience created by the Riot team. Currently, Riots pilot interface can recognise three emotional states: anxiety, rage and pacify.

Karen Palmer introduces Dr Erinma Ochu to the Riot interface. Photo: Katy Vans

I tried it along with Dr Erinma Ochu, a lecturer in science communication and future media at the University of Salford, whose PhD was in applied neuroscience.

Riot is played out on a large screen, with 3D audio sound surrounding us as a camera watches our facial expressions and computes in real hour how “weve been” reacting. Based on this feedback, the algorithm decides how the story unfolds.

We see looters, anarchists and police playing their parts and interacting directly with us. What happens next is up to us: our reactions and replies decide the narrative, and as the screen is not enclosed in a headset, but open for others to see, it also makes a public narrative.

Ochu reacted with jumps and gasps to what was happening around her and ultimately didnt make it home. Its interesting to try something you wouldnt do in real life so you can explore a part of your character that you might suppress if you were going to get arrested, she said.

As a scientist and storyteller she felt Riot was ahead of the curve: This has leapfrogged virtual reality, she said.

According to the Riot team, virtual reality( VR) developers have struggled to create satisfy stories in an environment in which, unlike movie, you cant control where the user looks or what road they take through the narrative.

In order to overcome these issues and create a coherent, convincing storyline, the team from Brunel re-trained their software versions of facial recognition technology to work for Riot.[ This] provides a perfect platform to prove our the investigations and growth. Art induces our run easier to understand. We have been doing research in emotion detecting from facial expression, voice, body gesture, EEG, etc for many years, said Meng. He hopes the projects success will attain people watch the added benefit of AI, leading to the development of smart homes, building and cities.

For now, the emotion detection tool being worked on at Brunel can be used in clinical defines to measure pain and emotional states such as depression in patients. Similar tech has already been used in a therapeutic decided; a study last year at the University of Oxford employed VR to help those with persecutory hallucinations. Those who trialed real life scenarios combined with cognitive therapy watched significant improvement in their symptoms.

Onlookers observing a players journey through Riot. Palmer hopes technology will advance so that future versions of Riot will support multiple players. Photo: Katy Vans

But can Riots current AI facial recognition tech work for everyone? People with Parkinsons, sight or hearing issues might require an EEG headset and other physical monitors to gain the same immersive experience unless tech development rapidly catches up with Palmers ultimate vision of a 360 degree screen, which would also allow a group of participants to play together.

Perhaps Riot and its tech could herald a new empathetic, responsible and responsive future for storytelling and gaming in which the spectator or player is encouraged to bring about change both in the narrative and in themselves. After all, if you could truly assure a story from the another persons point of view what might you learn about them and yourself? How might you carry those insights into the real world to make a difference?

The V& A is likely to be exhibiting Riot as part of the Digital Design Weekend September 2017. The project is currently shortlisted for the Sundance New Frontier Storytelling Lab .

Read more: www.theguardian.com