5G looks like it’s the next best thing in tech, but it’s really a Trojan horse for harming humanity


Image: 5G looks like it’s the next best thing in tech, but it’s really a Trojan horse for harming humanity

Many so-called “experts” are claiming that it’ll be a huge step forward for innovation in everything from manufacturing and transportation, to medicine and beyond. But in reality, 5G technology represents an existential threat to humanity – a “phony war” on the people who inhabit this planet we call Earth, and all in the name of “progress.”

Writing for GreenMedInfo, Claire Edwards, a former editor and trainer in intercultural writing for the United Nations (U.N.), warns that 5G might end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of the state of public health. Electro-hypersensitivity (EHS), she says, could soon become a global pandemic as a result of 5G implementation, with people developing severe health symptoms that inhibit their ability to live normal lives.

This “advanced” technology, Edwards warns, involves the use of special “laser-like beams of electromagnetic radiation,” or EMR, that are basically blasted “from banks of thousands of tiny antennas” installed all over the place, typically on towers and poles located within just a couple hundred feet of one another.

While she still worked for the U.N., Edwards tried to warn her superiors about the dangers of 5G EMR, only to have these petitions fall on deaf ears. This prompted her to contact the U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who then pushed the World Health Organization (WHO) to take a closer look into the matter – though this ended up being a dead end as well.

For more news about 5G and its threat to humanity, be sure to check out Conspiracy.news.

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Elon Musk is planning to launch 4,425 5G satellites in to Earth’s orbit THIS JUNE

Edwards worries particularly about 5G implementation in space, as existing space law is so woefully inadequate that countries all around the world, including the U.S., will likely blanket the atmosphere in 5G equipment, turning our entire planet into an EMR hell.

Elon Musk of Tesla fame is one such purveyor of 5G technology who’s planning to launch an astounding 4,425 5G satellites in to Earth’s orbit by June 2019. This means that, in a matter of just a few months, 5G will be everywhere and completely inescapable.

“There are no legal limits on exposure to EMR,” Edwards writes.

“Conveniently for the telecommunications industry, there are only non-legally enforceable guidelines such as those produced by the grandly named International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which turns out to be like the Wizard of Oz, just a tiny little NGO in Germany that appoints its own members, none of whom is a medical doctor or environmental expert.”

Edwards sees 5G implementation as eventually leading to a “catastrophe for all life in Earth” in the form of “the last great extinction.” She likens it to a “biological experiment” representing the “most heinous manifestation of hubris and greed in human history.”

There’s already evidence to suggest that 5G implementation in a few select cities across the United States, including in Sacramento, California, is causing health problems for people who live near 5G equipment. At firehouses where 5G equipment was installed, for instance, firefighters are reporting things like memory problems and confusion.

Some people are also reporting reproductive issues like miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as nosebleeds and insomnia, all stemming from the presence of 5G transmitters.

Edwards encourages folks to sign The Stop 5G Appeal if they care about protecting people, animals, insects, and the planet from this impending 5G assault.

“Our newspapers are now casually popularizing the meme that human extinction would be a good thing, but when the question becomes not rhetorical but real, when it’s your life, your child, your community, your environment that is under immediate threat, can you really subscribe to such a suggestion?” Edwards asks.

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How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist


“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” — Unknown.

I’m an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities. That’s why I spent the last three years as a Design Ethicist at Google caring about how to design things in a way that defends a billion people’s minds from getting hijacked.

When using technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But I want to show you where it might do the opposite.

Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?

I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.

That’s me performing sleight of hand magic at my mother’s birthday party

And this is exactly what product designers do to your mind. They play your psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against you in the race to grab your attention.

I want to show you how they do it.

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices

Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t choose in the first place.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize enough how deep this insight is.

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)
How empowering is this menu of choices for the need, “I ran out of toothpaste”?

For example, imagine you’re out with friends on a Tuesday night and want to keep the conversation going. You open Yelp to find nearby recommendations and see a list of bars. The group turns into a huddle of faces staring down at their phones comparing bars. They scrutinize the photos of each, comparing cocktail drinks. Is this menu still relevant to the original desire of the group?

It’s not that bars aren’t a good choice, it’s that Yelp substituted the group’s original question (“where can we go to keep talking?”) with a different question (“what’s a bar with good photos of cocktails?”) all by shaping the menu.

Moreover, the group falls for the illusion that Yelp’s menu represents a complete set of choices for where to go. While looking down at their phones, they don’t see the park across the street with a band playing live music. They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee. Neither of those show up on Yelp’s menu.

Yelp subtly reframes the group’s need “where can we go to keep talking?” in terms of photos of cocktails served.

The more choices technology gives us in nearly every domain of our lives (information, events, places to go, friends, dating, jobs) — the more we assume that our phone is always the most empowering and useful menu to pick from. Is it?

The “most empowering” menu is different than the menu that has the most choices. But when we blindly surrender to the menus we’re given, it’s easy to lose track of the difference:

  • “Who’s free tonight to hang out?” becomes a menu of most recent people who texted us (who we could ping).
  • “What’s happening in the world?” becomes a menu of news feed stories.
  • “Who’s single to go on a date?” becomes a menu of faces to swipe on Tinder (instead of local events with friends, or urban adventures nearby).
  • “I have to respond to this email.” becomes a menu of keys to type a response (instead of empowering ways to communicate with a person).
All user interfaces are menus. What if your email client gave you empowering choices of ways to respond, instead of “what message do you want to type back?” (Design by Tristan Harris)

When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications — it frames the experience of “waking up in the morning” around a menu of “all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.” (for more examples, see Joe Edelman’s Empowering Design talk)

A list of notifications when we wake up in the morning — how empowering is this menu of choices when we wake up? Does it reflect what we care about? (from Joe Edelman’s Empowering Design Talk)

By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones. But the closer we pay attention to the options we’re given, the more we’ll notice when they don’t actually align with our true needs.

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets

If you’re an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine.

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices?

How often do you check your email per day?

One major reason why is the #1 psychological ingredient in slot machines: intermittent variable rewards.

If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

Does this effect really work on people? Yes. Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined. Relative to other kinds of gambling, people get ‘problematically involved’ with slot machines 3–4x faster according to NYU professor Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction by Design.

Image courtesy of Jopwell

But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:

  • When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
  • When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.
  • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
  • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.
  • When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.

Apps and websites sprinkle intermittent variable rewards all over their products because it’s good for business.

But in other cases, slot machines emerge by accident. For example, there is no malicious corporation behind all of email who consciously chose to make it a slot machine. No one profits when millions check their email and nothing’s there. Neither did Apple and Google’s designers want phones to work like slot machines. It emerged by accident.

But now companies like Apple and Google have a responsibility to reduce these effects by converting intermittent variable rewards into less addictive, more predictable ones with better design. For example, they could empower people to set predictable times during the day or week for when they want to check “slot machine” apps, and correspondingly adjust when new messages are delivered to align with those times.

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI)

Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”

If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities — it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — because (aha, I win) you might miss something important:

  • This keeps us subscribed to newsletters even after they haven’t delivered recent benefits (“what if I miss a future announcement?”)
  • This keeps us “friended” to people with whom we haven’t spoke in ages (“what if I miss something important from them?”)
  • This keeps us swiping faces on dating apps, even when we haven’t even met up with anyone in a while (“what if I miss that one hot match who likes me?”)
  • This keeps us using social media (“what if I miss that important news story or fall behind what my friends are talking about?”)

But if we zoom into that fear, we’ll discover that it’s unbounded: we’ll always miss something important at any point when we stop using something.

  • There are magic moments on Facebook we’ll miss by not using it for the 6th hour (e.g. an old friend who’s visiting town right now).
  • There are magic moments we’ll miss on Tinder (e.g. our dream romantic partner) by not swiping our 700th match.
  • There are emergency phone calls we’ll miss if we’re not connected 24/7.

But living moment to moment with the fear of missing something isn’t how we’re built to live.

And it’s amazing how quickly, once we let go of that fear, we wake up from the illusion. When we unplug for more than a day, unsubscribe from those notifications, or go to Camp Grounded — the concerns we thought we’d have don’t actually happen.

We don’t miss what we don’t see.

The thought, “what if I miss something important?” is generated in advance of unplugging, unsubscribing, or turning off — not after. Imagine if tech companies recognized that, and helped us proactively tune our relationships with friends and businesses in terms of what we define as “time well spent” for our lives, instead of in terms of what we might miss.

Hijack #4: Social Approval

Easily one of the most persuasive things a human being can receive.

We’re all vulnerable to social approval. The need to belong, to be approved or appreciated by our peers is among the highest human motivations. But now our social approval is in the hands of tech companies.

When I get tagged by my friend Marc, I imagine him making a conscious choice to tag me. But I don’t see how a company like Facebook orchestrated his doing that in the first place.

Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat can manipulate how often people get tagged in photos by automatically suggesting all the faces people should tag (e.g. by showing a box with a 1-click confirmation, “Tag Tristan in this photo?”).

So when Marc tags me, he’s actually responding to Facebook’s suggestion, not making an independent choice. But through design choices like this, Facebook controls the multiplier for how often millions of people experience their social approval on the line.

Facebook uses automatic suggestions like this to get people to tag more people, creating more social externalities and interruptions.

The same happens when we change our main profile photo — Facebook knows that’s a moment when we’re vulnerable to social approval: “what do my friends think of my new pic?” Facebook can rank this higher in the news feed, so it sticks around for longer and more friends will like or comment on it. Each time they like or comment on it, we’ll get pulled right back.

Everyone innately responds to social approval, but some demographics (teenagers) are more vulnerable to it than others. That’s why it’s so important to recognize how powerful designers are when they exploit this vulnerability.

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

  • You do me a favor — I owe you one next time.
  • You say, “thank you”— I have to say “you’re welcome.”
  • You send me an email— it’s rude not to get back to you.
  • You follow me — it’s rude not to follow you back. (especially for teenagers)

We are vulnerable to needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it.

In some cases, it’s by accident. Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.

LinkedIn is the most obvious offender. LinkedIn wants as many people creating social obligations for each other as possible, because each time they reciprocate (by accepting a connection, responding to a message, or endorsing someone back for a skill) they have to come back to linkedin.com where they can get people to spend more time.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts. In other words, LinkedIn turns your unconscious impulses (to “add” a person) into new social obligations that millions of people feel obligated to repay. All while they profit from the time people spend doing it.

Imagine millions of people getting interrupted like this throughout their day, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, reciprocating each other — all designed by companies who profit from it.

Welcome to social media.

After accepting an endorsement, LinkedIn takes advantage of your bias to reciprocate by offering *four* additional people for you to endorse in return.

Imagine if technology companies had a responsibility to minimize social reciprocity. Or if there was an independent organization that represented the public’s interests — an industry consortium or an FDA for tech — that monitored when technology companies abused these biases?

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay

YouTube autoplays the next video after a countdown

Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore.

How? Easy. Take an experience that was bounded and finite, and turn it into a bottomless flow that keeps going.

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.

Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.

It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing.

Facebook autoplays the next video after a countdown

Tech companies often claim that “we’re just making it easier for users to see the video they want to watch” when they are actually serving their business interests. And you can’t blame them, because increasing “time spent” is the currency they compete for.

Instead, imagine if technology companies empowered you to consciously bound your experience to align with what would be “time well spent” for you. Not just bounding the quantity of time you spend, but the qualities of what would be “time well spent.”

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery

Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox).

Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system to interrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.

In other words, interruption is good for business.

It’s also in their interest to heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity. For example, Facebook automatically tells the sender when you “saw” their message, instead of letting you avoid disclosing whether you read it (“now that you know I’ve seen the message, I feel even more obligated to respond.”)

By contrast, Apple more respectfully lets users toggle “Read Receipts” on or off.

The problem is, maximizing interruptions in the name of business creates a tragedy of the commons, ruining global attention spans and causing billions of unnecessary interruptions each day. This is a huge problem we need to fix with shared design standards (potentially, as part of Time Well Spent).

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons

Another way apps hijack you is by taking your reasons for visiting the app (to perform a task) and make them inseparable from the app’s business reasons (maximizing how much we consume once we’re there).

For example, in the physical world of grocery stores, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.

In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front.

Tech companies design their websites the same way. For example, when you you want to look up a Facebook event happening tonight (your reason) the Facebook app doesn’t allow you to access it without first landing on the news feed (their reasons), and that’s on purpose. Facebook wants to convert every reason you have for using Facebook, into their reason which is to maximize the time you spend consuming things.

Instead, imagine if …

  • Twitter gave you a separate way to post a tweet than having to see their news feed.
  • Facebook gave a separate way to look up Facebook Events going on tonight, without being forced to use their news feed.
  • Facebook gave you a separate way to use Facebook Connect as a passport for creating new accounts on 3rd party apps and websites, without being forced to install Facebook’s entire app, news feed and notifications.

In a Time Well Spent world, there is always a direct way to get what you want separately from what businesses want. Imagine a digital “bill of rights” outlining design standards that forced the products used by billions of people to let them navigate directly to what they want without needing to go through intentionally placed distractions.

Imagine if web browsers empowered you to navigate directly to what you want — especially for sites that intentionally detour you toward their reasons.

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices

We’re told that it’s enough for businesses to “make choices available.”

  • “If you don’t like it you can always use a different product.”
  • “If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe.”
  • “If you’re addicted to our app, you can always uninstall it from your phone.”

Businesses naturally want to make the choices they want you to make easier, and the choices they don’t want you to make harder. Magicians do the same thing. You make it easier for a spectator to pick the thing you want them to pick, and harder to pick the thing you don’t.

For example, NYTimes.com lets you “make a free choice” to cancel your digital subscription. But instead of just doing it when you hit “Cancel Subscription,” they send you an email with information on how to cancel your account by calling a phone number that’s only open at certain times.

NYTimes claims it’s giving a free choice to cancel your account

Instead of viewing the world in terms of availability of choices, we should view the world in terms of friction required to enact choices. Imagine a world where choices were labeled with how difficult they were to fulfill (like coefficients of friction) and there was an independent entity — an industry consortium or non-profit — that labeled these difficulties and set standards for how easy navigation should be.

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies

Facebook promises an easy choice to “See Photo.” Would we still click if it gave the true price tag?

Lastly, apps can exploit people’s inability to forecast the consequences of a click.

People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click to see which tweet got retweeted”) and escalate from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick.

Imagine if web browsers and smartphones, the gateways through which people make these choices, were truly watching out for people and helped them forecast the consequences of clicks (based on real data about what benefits and costs it actually had?).

That’s why I add “Estimated reading time” to the top of my posts. When you put the “true cost” of a choice in front of people, you’re treating your users or audience with dignity and respect. In a Time Well Spent internet, choices could be framed in terms of projected cost and benefit, so people were empowered to make informed choices by default, not by doing extra work.

TripAdvisor uses a “foot in the door” technique by asking for a single click review (“How many stars?”) while hiding the three page survey of questions behind the click.

Summary And How We Can Fix This

Are you upset that technology hijacks your agency? I am too. I’ve listed a few techniques but there are literally thousands. Imagine whole bookshelves, seminars, workshops and trainings that teach aspiring tech entrepreneurs techniques like these. Imagine hundreds of engineers whose job every day is to invent new ways to keep you hooked.

The ultimate freedom is a free mind, and we need technology that’s on our team to help us live, feel, think and act freely.

We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first. People’s time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights.

Real learning in a virtual world How VR can improve learning and training outcomes


​How can corporate trainers prepare employees for dangerous or extraordinary workplace scenarios? VR technology offers immersive learning opportunities for an increasingly broad range of experiences.

Introduction: Total immersion

At THE oil refinery, emergency sirens begin to wail. A shift supervisor races to the scene of the emergency and sees smoke already billowing from the roof of a distillation unit. He needs to get the fire under control, but when he opens the door to the control room, a wall of flame greets him. The situation is worse than anything in his training manual. How can he locate the shut-off button when he can’t see through the flames? He hesitates—and in that moment, the pressure built up in the distillation tower releases in a massive explosion, ripping apart the building and scattering debris across the whole refinery.

 

A red message flashes before the supervisor’s eyes: Simulation failed. A voice comes over the intercom and says, “All right—let’s take two minutes, and then we’ll reset from the beginning.” He is covered in sweat as he takes off the headset. It had been a virtual reality (VR) simulation, but the stress was real; more importantly, the lessons on how to respond to a crisis had been real.

For decades, trainers have faced a difficult trade-off: How can you adequately prepare learners to make good decisions when facing dangerous or extraordinary situations? You can provide simple learning materials like books and classes, but these are likely inadequate preparation for stressful and highly complex situations. Or you can expose the learners to those situations in live training, but this can be extremely costly—not to mention hazardous. For many jobs and situations, training has long offered an unappealing choice between easy but ineffective, or effective but expensive and risky.

VR promises a third way: a method of training that can break this trade-off of learning and provide effective training in a safe, cost-effective environment.1 Certainly, the technology is not optimal for every learning activity. But VR has been shown to offer measurable improvement in a wide array of immersive learning outcomes, in tasks that range from flying advanced jets to making a chicken sandwich to handling dangerous chemicals.2

This article is intended to help trainers identify whether VR is right for their particular learning needs and chart a path toward successful adoption of the technology. Ultimately, learning-focused VR can turn novices into experts more swiftly, effectively, and smoothly than ever before.

It’s all about expertise

Success in business often rests on having the right expertise in the right places: having the IT expert on hand when the system goes down, or the best shift manager on duty when a huge order comes in. The more experts in an organization, the more likely an expert will be around when needed.

Of course, expertise can be purchased by hiring established experts. But their numbers are finite, and with needs constantly shifting, training often makes far more sense. Corporate learning, then, aims to create expertise as quickly and effectively as possible. We want people to learn better and more quickly. This begs a question: What exactly is expertise? Just what is it that we want people to be able to do after training?

Expertise is easiest to define in terms of what it is not. Expertise is not merely the number of years one has studied or how many academic degrees—or corporate training certificates—one has earned or even the results one has achieved. For example, simply tabulating wins and losses in tennis turns out to be a poor way of ranking the best players.3 And notwithstanding some popular theories, thousands of hours of practice don’t always generate expertise. For example, deliberate practice accounts for only 29.9 percent of the variance in expertise in music.4

Experts are not only better at executing particular tasks—they tend to think about things fundamentally differently than amateurs. In fact, they can execute better precisely because they think about things differently. Experts typically see more when looking at a situation than an amateur. Research comparing a world champion chess player with amateurs showed that the champion was better not only at playing chess but at knowing the game. The champion had a better understanding of a chessboard setup after viewing it for five seconds than a skilled amateur did after 15 minutes of studying the board.5

That result came about not because the chess champion was any smarter or had faster visual acuity than his amateur opponents—it was a product of expertise itself. Experts are able to recognize patterns behind the data we all see. Academic research has found a similar pattern-recognition story in nearly every industry from medicine to chess.6 Experts in diverse domains are better able to reorganize and make sense of scrambled information.7 Where knowledgeable amateurs rely on rules and guidelines to make decisions, experts are able to quickly read and react to situations by recognizing indicators that signal how a situation is behaving.8 A key to creating experts, it seems, is not the memorization of facts or knowledge but, rather, instilling flexible mental models that help explain why systems act the way they do.

How can we learn better?

In hindsight, trainers may have had it easy in offering certifications based on hours of study. Creating deeper expertise can be far more challenging. How can we train people to see deeper patterns in data? How do we know whether they are using flexible mental models?

For most people, experiences that expose trainees to tough or atypical cases force them to create more refined or specialized reasoning than that found in a book or procedure manual.9 The most effective learning may come from unexpected scenarios, a challenge to present in a book or classroom.10 But unpredictable, experience-based learning has obvious limitations: It is easy to learn from experience when failure simply means losing a chess match, but what about fighting a fire, unloading hazardous chemicals, or configuring a wind turbine—all tasks for which failure means huge costs or even death? The problem facing trainers is how to create the benefits of learning from experience without incurring the costs of facing rare or dangerous experiences. The answer is to re-create those experiences.

Take medical training, for example. A cardiologist may practice for years, continually training, before reaching the peak of her profession. One reason: Many of the most serious medical problems are extremely rare, meaning that a doctor must often work for years before encountering them and building expertise in how to recognize and treat them. With some procedures requiring doctors to practice on 100 patients before reaching a critical level of skill, this means that some doctors may retire before even having the opportunity to become an expert in treating certain rare conditions.11

VR training offers a shortcut. Given its ability to present immersive, realistic situations over and over again, the technology can give doctors the opportunity to potentially build expertise on conditions before they see them for the first time in real patients (see figure 1). VR can also offer the ability to learn in new ways—not only simulating what a doctor might see but presenting it in 3D or in more detail. For example, a cardiologist could see a heart defect, not just from symptoms or test results but as a 3D model, allowing her to peek inside the heart and understand the problem more deeply and how to treat it more accurately.12

Virtual reality: Better training faster, safer, and at less cost

VR technology can enable more effective learning at a lower cost and in less time than many traditional learning methods. This is because VR can allow for more training repetitions, especially when dealing with costly, rare, or dangerous environments. For example, the skills of aviation maintenance personnel can degrade when budget constraints limit flying hours; if jets are not in the air, there is nothing to be fixed. But without that practice, critical maintenance skills can slip, leading to increased accidents.13 VR can allow maintenance staffers to keep up their skills by learning from experience, at a fraction of the cost of putting an actual jet in the sky.

VR is not just about saving money—it can provide better outcomes than many traditional learning methods. Most research examining the technology’s effectiveness have found that it reduces the time taken to learn, decreases the number of trainee errors, increases the amount learned, and helps learners retain knowledge longer than traditional methods.14 These effects apply to the general population as well as specialists training for unique tasks. One experiment compared how prepared airline passengers were for an emergency from reading the ubiquitous seatback safety card versus completing a brief immersive game. Passengers who used the game seemed to learn more and retain their knowledge longer than those who merely read the safety card. These better outcomes are almost certainly linked to the fact that the game was more successful than the card at engaging passengers and arousing fear, both incentivizing participants to learn and providing the neurological surprise to support that learning.15

Beyond simply improving how well learners retain information, VR-based training can help learners when they get it wrong. The ability to track all of a trainee’s actions and inputs as he or she moves through a scenario can reduce the cost of providing individual feedback and giving tailored feedback. Experts need not sift through all the data and tell a trainee where he or she went wrong—the system itself may be able to determine likely causes of error and best strategies for avoiding those errors in the future.16

All of these capabilities mean that VR can be a valuable learning tool for a variety of tasks in any industry—and some real-world applications are already catching up to predictions that academic research has suggested:

  • Better learning. Some major retailers have begun training workers using VR simulations. Staff are able to repeatedly take on new tasks such as managing the produce department or annual challenges such as dealing with Black Friday.17 Working through these challenges is designed to help people directly see the impact of their actions on customer experience. And simulations can even allow staff to virtually travel to other stores to see how operations are managed there, spreading good ideas and offering paths to improvement.18 As a result, some companies have found that not only do people seem to retain more compared to traditional methods—they appear to learn more as well.19
  • Faster learning. In 2017, KFC debuted a VR training simulation to help trainees learn the chain’s “secret recipe” for preparing chicken. Using the simulation, trainees were able to master the five steps of making fried chicken in 10 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for conventional instruction.20

Linde’s experience with VR-based training illustrates the technology’s potential benefits. One of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial gases, Linde delivers hazardous chemicals to thousands of locations daily, meaning that truck drivers must handle materials that may be explosive or, at -320° F, cold enough to instantly freeze hands solid. When one slip-up can mean injury or death, how can new drivers build their skills and expertise? For Linde, VR-based training provides an answer. In the virtual environment, new drivers can get dozens of repetitions, building safe habits before stepping out on their first delivery.21 VR can even give drivers an X-ray view of what is happening inside the tanks as they work. Not only are drivers practicing the right skills—they are learning the underlying concepts of why they are the right skills. That is what can create expertise—allowing drivers to react to unexpected situations quickly and with confidence.

Linde is experimenting with more ambitious VR training environments as well. The company used CAD files for a plant currently under construction to create an immersive VR environment, aiming to train the operators who will eventually manage that plant.22 As with the earlier oil-refinery example, operators can practice emergency procedures or dangerous tasks, but they can also explore the environment, understand how all systems fit together, and even peek inside operating machinery to have a better view of the plant for which they will soon be responsible.23

When can VR enhance training?

As with any technology, VR is a tool, not a magic bullet. Incorporating VR into a training program hardly guarantees quality improvements; indeed, the coming years will doubtless bring anecdotes of VR disappointments along with successes. Trainers should bring the same careful planning in program design and learning goals to VR as to any other training effort—including focusing programs around understanding the knowledge that an organization needs learners to acquire and what they should then do with that knowledge.

The knowledge that learners must acquire can cover a wide range, but several factors are particularly relevant to VR technology: how rare the knowledge is, how observable, and how easily it can be replicated physically. A cardiologist may struggle to learn about uncommon heart defects exactly because they are rare, limiting learning opportunities. Many find organic chemistry challenging to learn partly because one can’t directly observe molecular bonds with human senses; landing on an aircraft carrier is tricky to perfect because repetitions are both costly and dangerous.

Another attribute to consider: what trainers expect learners to do with the knowledge once they have it. Do people simply need to recognize and apply it, as with reading the defense in football, or do they need to perform complicated actions such as synthesizing it with other knowledge and adjusting to context? All of these factors play into how best to present knowledge to learners.

By understanding the different factors that go into learning, a trainer can make informed decisions about when VR is appropriate and design the best training possible to maximize performance (see figure 2). For example, if learners need only acquire relatively simple information—that is, information that is common, obvious, or easy to represent—VR may be superfluous and no more effective than books, classroom instruction, or job aids.

Similarly, if learners need to do more complex tasks involving simple information, VR may help, but there may be easier, cheaper ways to accomplish the learning. Take the simple knowledge of a workflow: Workers need to understand the workflow and apply it in different contexts. VR might certainly help in learning such workflows, but it may not always be necessary. If the various contexts of the work are not rare, dangerous, or costly to recreate, using case studies or job aids may be cost-effective alternatives.

Where VR moves into a class of its own is when the knowledge that learners must acquire is complex: where trainees must try to grapple with difficult-to-observe phenomena that occur rarely or in dangerous situations. In these cases, VR-based training may well be an effective choice, offering the advantages of faster and better learning at lower cost.

Indeed, VR’s ability to allow for collaboration and for repeated simulation opens up entirely new learning possibilities:

  • Shared scenarios. Consider a military squad that needs its members not only to individually do the right thing but to coordinate and work together. Shared scenarios can allow members to practice individual actions and communication within the squad in a variety of combat situations they could not normally face.
  • Seeing the unseen. VR may be even more helpful for research scientists. Not only do they often need to collaborate within teams—they regularly struggle with concepts not easily visualized. But imagine if a team of scientists could share ideas while all looking at a 3D model of the molecules they are studying. They could come up with new ideas inspired by finally seeing the previously unseen—and they could then easily share those ideas with their colleagues.
  • Test and re-test. VR technology allows trainees to test ideas as well as share them. Many Formula 1 auto racing teams use VR extensively in preparation for races, going far beyond drivers simply learning the track—after all, they already know it by heart. Instead, the teams use simulations to test different setups for their car and different race strategies.24 The aim is to prepare team members for any eventuality during the race, helping them react swiftly. This type of virtual testing represents a deeper form of learning, one in which the drivers and the teams are using VR to see into the future and discover the deeper patterns in what is likely to happen. In short, they are building expertise.

Getting started is less daunting than it may seem

Many trainers no doubt find exciting the description of VR as a new technology that can bring revolutionary benefits, though CFOs and CTOs—worried about complex technical integration, high up-front costs, and years of headlines about VR hype—may express less initial enthusiasm. The good news: Implementing VR technology may be far less daunting than it might seem. With standardized development kits, training design and technical integration have never been easier, as the costs of hardware, computing power, and storage continue to fall. As a result, many will find the cost of VR-based training applications increasingly reasonable. Especially when companies consider the increases in performance and the cost savings from time lost to longer, traditional training methods, VR can show a rapid return on investment.

With technology improving and prices dropping, the major steps to consider for creating successful VR learning resemble those typically involved in designing any good learning program:

  • Understand your training needs. Determine the type of knowledge that learners must absorb and how they must use that knowledge during the job to help understand whether VR is right for your need and how it should be used.
  • Create your business case. Quantify the expected benefit from the training in terms of increased performance, decreased errors, and productivity gains from fewer days lost to training. Array those benefits against expected costs to understand the ROI for the project.
  • Pilot the training. Start small. Begin with a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of the VR training and its adoption within the organization.
  • Quantify the benefit and scale the program. Use the results of the pilot program to validate initial estimates of ROI, modify the program based on what worked and what did not, and scale in scope or size of deployment.

Following these steps, companies adopting VR should get more than a shiny new technology—they can get better learning at lower cost than other options. Ultimately, the applications of VR and its ROI are limited not by dollars or technology but purely by imagination.

Study suggests a direct link between screen time and ADHD in teens


Image: Study suggests a direct link between screen time and ADHD in teens

Adding to the list of health concerns associated with excessive screen time, one study suggests that there could be a link between the length of time teenagers spend online and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The two-year study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), observed more than 2,500 high school students from Los Angeles.

Digital media and the attention span of teenagers

A team of researchers analyzed data from the teenagers who had shorter attention spans the more they became involved in different digital media platforms for the duration of the experiment.

The JAMA study observed adolescents aged 15 and 16 years periodically for two years. The researchers asked the teenagers about the frequency of their online activities and if they had experienced any of the known symptoms of ADHD.

As the teenagers’ digital engagement rose, their reported ADHD symptoms also went up by 10 percent. The researchers noted that based on the results of the study, even if digital media usage does not definitively cause ADHD, it could cause symptoms that would result in the diagnosis of ADHD or require pharmaceutical treatment.

Experts believe that ADHD begins in the early stages of childhood development. However, the exact circumstances, regardless if they are biological or environmental, have yet to be determined.

Adam Leventhal, a University of Southern California psychologist and senior author of the study, shared that the research team is now analyzing the occurrence of new symptoms that were not present when the study began.

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Other studies about digital engagement have implied that there is an inverse relationship with happiness. The less people used digital media, the more they reported feeling an overall sense of happiness. (Related: The social media paradox: Teens who are always online feel more lonely.)

The researchers concluded that the teenagers might have exhibited ADHD symptoms from the outset due to other factors. However, it is possible that excessive digital media usage can still aggravate these symptoms.

Fast facts about ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is commonly diagnosed in children. However, it can also be diagnosed in older individuals. ADHD can be difficult to diagnose. Since several symptoms of ADHD are similar to normal childhood behaviors, the disorder itself can be hard to detect.

The symptoms of ADHD may include forgetting completed tasks, having difficulty sitting still, having difficulty staying organized, and having trouble concentrating or focusing.

  • Men are at least three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
  • During their lifetimes, at least 13 percent of men will be diagnosed with ADHD, as opposed to only 4.2 percent in women.
  • The average age of ADHD diagnosis is seven years old.
  • The symptoms of the condition will usually manifest when a child is aged three to six years old.
  • ADHD is not solely a childhood disorder. At least four percent of American adults older than 18 may have ADHD.

This disorder does not increase an individual’s risk for other conditions or diseases. However, some people with ADHD, mostly children, have a higher chance of experiencing different coexisting conditions. These can make social situations, like school, more difficult for kids with ADHD.

Some coexisting conditions of ADHD may include:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Bed-wetting problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders and difficulties (e.g., antisocial behavior, fighting, and oppositional defiant disorder)
  • Depression
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Tourette syndrome

Minimize your child’s ADHD risk by reading more articles with tips on how to manage their internet use at Addiction.news.

Sources include:

Lifezette.com

Healthline.com

How Soon Will You Be Working From Home?


Work today is increasingly tied to routine rather than a physical space. Unsurprisingly, more and more, companies in the United States allow their employees to work beyond a specifically designated space.

The number of telecommuters in 2015 had more than doubled from a decade earlier, a growth rate about 10 times greater than what the traditional workforce registered during the same period, according to a 2017 report by FlexJobs.com, a job search site specializing in remote, part-time, freelance and flexible-hour job positions.

Telecommuting might not just be a company perk in the next decade.

Experts, however, quickly point out that telecommuting’s growth faces numerous challenges. Cultural barriers in traditional companies, reliable technology, labor laws, tax policies and the public’s own perception about telecommuting will need adjusting to a more mobile workforce, say labor analysts.

Remote Work Still Considered a Perk

The Flexjobs.com report said the industries offering the greatest possibilities to work remotely included technology and mathematics, the military, art and design, entertainment, sports, media, personal care and financial services. Experts cite a couple of reasons why telecommuting is becoming more common in some industries: a more reliable internet connectivity and new management practices dictated by millennials and how they work.

Among the advantages that companies cite for remote work are cost savings in the absence of a work space, more focused and productive employees, and better work retention. Additionally, in 2015, figures showed that U.S. employers had saved up to $44 billion with the existing almost 4 million telecommuters (working half time or more), the Flexjobs.com report said.

“I’ve been able to see firsthand the increase in productivity by incorporating telecommuting into several companies,” says Leonardo Zizzamia, entrepreneur in San Francisco and co-founder of a productivity and collaboration tool called Plan. “With housing costs in Silicon Valley continuing to rise, telecommuting is the financially savvy way to work for your favorite company.”

Yet remote work is still considered a perk in the majority of workplaces. The greatest proportion of telecommuting positions fall under management, according to the FlexJobs.com report. Managers, however, struggled with overseeing remote workers.

“It used to be that everybody was in (an) office at set hours and if you were a manager you could look up and see your employees working or not,” says Susan Lund, partner at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. “Now it’s different. More companies are moving toward a more flexible work space environment and for managers it’s much more challenging because you need to know what each person is working on and whether they are reaching their goals.”

Workers in the beginning and early stages of their careers will be key to transforming today’s workplace to be more friendly to telecommuting, analysts say.

“Millennials have been working over computers and the internet since they were in early junior high and even younger,” says Brie Reynolds, a senior career specialist at FlexJobs.com. “For them it’s natural and when they come into the workforce they are really pushing it into the mainstream. They are letting employers know that remote work is something that they value, that it’s a way that they would want to work and that they don’t see it as a perk, but as another option for working.”

Working From Home as the Cross-Border Threat

According to a 2017 LinkedIn report, the number of positions filled in the United States in October was more than 24 percent higher compared to the previous year. The oil and energy sector, manufacturing and industrial, aerospace, automotive and transportation sectors reported the biggest growth in jobs, the report said.

“If you look at the data you will find that there are significant talent gaps in many industries,” says Tolu Olubunmi, entrepreneur and co-chairperson of Mobile Minds, an initiative advancing cross-border remote working as an alternative to physical migration. “Those jobs are going unfilled for a number of reasons, and one of them is not actually having available the skills that are needed to the organizations.”

Telecommuting options may help fill empty positions in the U.S., job analysts say.

“When you are hiring remotely it opens you up to a much wider pool of talent than if you are stuck in one geographic area and you are only hiring people who can physically get to your office on a daily basis,” says Reynolds, the Flexjobs.com career specialist.

Technology also can help recruit workers, potentially attracting qualified workers from other parts of the world, as telecommuting seems to be popular at a global scale as well. A 2012 Reuters/Ipsos report showed that about one in five workers telecommute, especially in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.

“Cross-border work allow companies to tap into a greater number of talent and diversity of talent that can help them meet their needs,” Olubunmi says. “It reduces brain drain in certain communities that are seeing their best and brightest leaving and that actually benefits those communities. They have the skill and the talent working elsewhere, but money and services are still being distributed within the community.”

Experts have mixed opinions over the continued increase in telecommuting positions. Some are convinced that technological advancement will allow people to better simulate face-to-face interaction, thus encouraging working remotely. Others say future technology could play a counter-intuitive role of bringing people together in an actual office space.

 

“One of the big advantages of telecommuting was avoiding congestion,” says Adam Millsap, senior affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center, a research center at George Mason University focusing on economics. “But autonomous vehicles catch on so that itself could eliminate congestion and encourage people to go into the office again even more. They will cut down commuting time, there will be less accidents which tend to hold up traffic, and the cars will be able to drive much closer together at higher speed, because they will all be communicating with one another, so you could fit more on the road.”

Regardless, opening up a world to U.S. companies should not scare American workers, experts say. “Telecommuting isn’t about taking jobs away from native-born citizens,” Olubunmi says. “This is about improving the economy by letting businesses have a broader pool of talent to pick from, in order to be able to achieve their goals and have better economic growth in general for all.”

At the same time, one shouldn’t assume that foreign workers will be willing to take on American jobs just because they become more accessible.

“If an American firm comes to India and says they will give relatively higher wages for people to work in a call center, those workers might be willing to stay awake through the night,” Millsap says. “But if I am Apple and I want to hire a new software engineer, there is a good chance that a software engineer in Japan, for instance, has already a pretty a good salary and is not going to be willing to take on a job that requires him to have meetings at midnight in his own country.”

Experts agree that people in the labor market need to be more agile at acquiring new skills later in life, including learning how to work remotely. Remote work, they say, should not necessarily be considered a perk, but rather a way of helping employees better manage work-life balance.

“When people are given the flexibility to live and work where they please, it really does increase productivity and allow a diversity of people to engage in the workforce,” Olubunmi says. “Because if in the 19th century, work was about where you went, now work is about what you do, not from where you do it.”

6 Potential Mental Health Benefits of Deleting Social Media


Thinking of going on a social media cleanse? Here’s what you need to know.
social-media-cleanse_feature

Social media cleanse”—a fancy term for deleting social media—has become something of a buzz-phrase in our increasingly plugged-in society. In December 2015, Ed Sheeran took an indefinite hiatus from Instagram after growing tired of “seeing the world through a screen.” (He’s since returned to the site.) In June 2016, Demi Lovato, who has a historically tumultuous relationship with the Twitterverse, stepped away from social media for 24 hours so she wouldn’t “have to see what some of y’all say.” Chrissy TeigenTaylor SwiftJustin Bieber, and a handful of other celebs have all followed suit—seeking respite from the realm of mirror selfies, nonstop notifications, and internet trolls, if only for a mere 24 hours.

In a world where we #DoItForTheGram and take more food porn photos than we know what to do with, it’s no surprise many of us have glamorized the idea of taking a break from the digital and getting back to our pre-technology roots. (I know I have.) But every time I step away from Twitter, or remove Instagram from my phone, or temporarily deactivate my Facebook account, the same questions arise: Is deleting social actually doing anything for my mental health? Are all those Snapchat stories, Instagram double-taps, and Facebook updates impacting my life that much? Or am I just making these periodical forays into the land of no social media for naught?

I combed the recesses of my brain for similar questions and posed them to a couple experts. Their consensus: Social media is associated with some bad stuff, but it’s associated with a bunch of good stuff, too. If you’re feeling fine about your technology habits, there’s no need to guilt yourself into a social media cleanse. But if your affinity for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat is causing you a ton of stress or is getting in the way of your life, then taking a break might be helpful. Here, six potential mental health benefits of a temporary social media cleanse.

1. It might help you sleep better.

A Bank of America-commissioned survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. (Let’s be real: I’m one of that 71 percent, and you probably are, too.)

But this can take a toll on your sleeping habits. According to the National Sleep Foundation, that blue light your phone screen emits can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin—the hormone responsible for helping you get to sleep. Looking into that blue-lit social media void right before you settle in for some shut-eye can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. (You’re not doing yourself any favors when you try to assuage your insomnia by checking Instagram or scrolling through your Facebook feed, either.) Needless to say, separating yourself from social media might lead you to spend less time on your phone—which might help you get to sleep faster.

2. It can force you to reprioritize in-person interactions.

Andreas Kaplan, a Europe Business School professor specializing in social media, tells SELF that excessive Facebook use is linked to things like social isolation, loneliness, and depression. And Jacqueline Nesi, a clinical psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina, backs that up. “Social media can be a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family,” she tells SELF. “But excessively using social media—at the expense of in-person interactions with friends or family—can negatively impact relationships and well-being.”

3. It *might* reduce your anxiety.

According to research, excessive social media and technology use is associated with a lot of bad stuff—like high anxiety, low quality of life, and depression. But experts warn these results are only correlational—meaning relationships exist between usage and this bad stuff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that technology and social media cause the bad the stuff.

Still, Jacob Barkley, Ph.D. and psychology professor at Kent State University, tells SELF taking a break from technology could help some people mitigate their anxiety. For one thing, it could lessen the obligations some people associate with constant communication. Responding to new texts, emails, and Facebook messages nonstop can become stressful, and getting away from that—even for just a day—can feel great. (Barkley suggests setting up an automatic email reply to give people a heads up that you’re on hiatus, so you don’t have to worry about missing any urgent messages.)

4. It can help curb your FOMO.

Another huge plus of getting off social media? Avoiding the oh-so daunting FOMO, or fear of missing out. “When you’re linked up to this huge network through this one device, [you can] feel that where you are isn’t where it’s at,” Andrew Lepp, Ph.D. and professor researching media use and behavior at Kent State University, tells SELF. “It’s almost natural to think that among all these other places there must be one that’s more interesting than where you are right now.” This, he says, drives the anxiety associated with cell phone use—and it also leads people to compulsively check their devices. “I always find that a bit ironic because they could be having a really nice time if they’d just put the device down,” Barkley says.

But obviously, FOMO goes both ways. For some people, actively avoiding social media can create a FOMO all its own—for example, worrying that you’ll miss a friend’s big life announcement on Instagram or forget to wish someone a happy birthday because you missed a Facebook reminder.

5. It might inspire you to get a little more exercise.

Getting out from behind a screen might inspire you to get on your feet a little more. And exercise is associated with a bunch of great things, including decreased anxiety.

6. It can help you remember all that other stuff you like to do.

The logic is simple: If you stop dedicating time to one thing, you free up for time for other things. Lepp says he and his family go tech-free every Sunday—spending their time hiking or enjoying a nice meal together, instead. You might prefer to spend your time painting, going to the park, hanging out with friends, volunteering, working out, cooking, or doing a whole range of other things. The social media-free world is your metaphorical oyster; do with it what you will.

A final reminder: There’s no need to give up technology altogether if you don’t want to.

This list of potential benefits is just that—a list of potential benefits. It’s not a point-by-point thesis urging you to sacrifice your social media accounts to the technology-free gods. If you feel good about your level of social media use, keep doing your thing. If you don’t, then you might consider changing things up—but even then, you don’t have to drop everything. You could take a break from social media once a week, or delete some apps from your phone, or take a trip somewhere isolated.

You have plenty of options. And the most important thing is that you do what makes the most sense to you.

21st-century healthcare: how technology is revolutionising the National Health Service


Nurse showing a tablet to a patient
Tech innovation: the NHS aims to provide a more personalised experience

A number of tech innovations within the NHS can help provide a more personalised and improved experience for patients.

The NHS is a cherished and vital institution across the UK – the average life expectancy has increased by 10 years since its introduction – yet it is under intense and increasing pressure.

Occasionally, referrals take longer than necessary, letters don’t arrive, or waiting times are greater than expected.

But this could all be about to change with the introduction of a number of tech innovations that should lead to a more personalised, improved experience for patients, thanks to a new partnership with leading communications company BT.

Scott Adams, director of integrated health and social care at BT says: “We have a great relationship with the NHS on a national, regional and individual level, from top-level solutions to those affecting individual GP surgeries. Not many organisations work with the NHS on this kind of scale.”

Personal access to health records

In a partnership between the NHS Islington Clinical Commissioning Group and Islington Council , more than 200,000 people will be given direct access to their health records via a digital database early next year.

“This will allow patients to participate in the management of their healthcare, leading to a more personalised outcome. Some other health economies have trialled similar initiatives, but never on this scale,” says Mr Adams.

<img src=”/content/dam/telegraph-connect/small-business/woman-doing-blood-sugar-test-at-home-small.jpg” alt=”Woman doing a blood sugar test at home” width=”320″ height=”200″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Woman doing a blood sugar test at home
Home treatments: patients are able to monitor their own healthcare

“The partnership team see the provision of a Person Held Record as a pivotal part of the overall transformation, changing the entire way patients interact.”

The initiative is also likely to have a major impact on the way referrals are managed. The current referral process works on a national basis by the local GP writing a letter to a Specialist at an Acute Hospital, who would in turn write a further letter to the patient offering them an appointment. The new system will digitise this process, making it more efficient and streamlined.

Improving the bed blocking challenge

Another big problem for the NHS is what’s known as “bed blocking”. This happens when people are admitted to hospital for a particular issue, which is treated and resolved.

But because they still require some care or monitoring, they’re not discharged, so they stay in the hospital longer than necessary. Assisted Living technology is helping to solve this problem.

<img src=”/content/dam/telegraph-connect/small-business/nurse-with-female-patient-small.jpg” alt=”Nurse with female patient” width=”320″ height=”200″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Nurse with female patient
Looking to the future: patients should get an improved experience

“Through the use of wearable technology, such as a push button, or fall sensors and alarm pendants worn around the neck, patients can safely go back to their own homes, rather than staying in hospital longer than necessary,” says Mr Adams. This can also be applied to individuals with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

“An individual may have specific health-monitoring equipment at home, which links up to a device that can send the information to a contact centre or a local care authority,” Mr Adams adds.

“For example, a diabetes patient could test their blood sugar at home and the information could be sent to their doctor. This means that if their blood sugar levels are getting to a position where they’re going to become problematic, they could receive a visit or a call to ensure the necessary precautions are taken to prevent further complications.”

Less repetition for patients

Currently individuals are having to tell their story over and over again every time they come into contact with a new department, which can be frustrating and upsetting.

BT and their partner Total Mobile have created a service allowing healthcare professionals to work remotely – taking notes and accessing patient information on-the-go.

While these are important steps in the evolution of the NHS, Mr Adams sees the availability of personal health records as key to future improvements in the service – and believes this is a model that can be transferred to other industries.

“In the banking sector, for example, companies have found ways for individuals to manage their own finances and self serve.

“Over the next five years, I think it’s going to be equally ubiquitous for us to come to expect having direct access to our own personal health records. Where we have started offering these services, the uptake is voracious. I’m confident this is the future of healthcare technology.”

Meet the Cyborg Beetles, Real Insects That Are Controlled Like Robots


The future is crawling towards us on six legs. Motherboard traveled to Singapore to meet with Dr. Hirotaka Sato, an aerospace engineer at Nanyang Technological University. Sato and his team are turning live beetles into cyborgs by electrically controlling their motor functions.

Having studied the beetles’ muscle configuration, neural networks, and leg control, the researchers wired the insects so that they could be controlled by a switchboard. In doing so, the researchers could manipulate the different walking gaits, speeds, flying direction, and other forms of motion.

Essentially, the beetles became like robots with no control over their own motor functioning. Interestingly, though the researchers control the beetles through wiring, their energy still comes naturally from the food they eat. Hence, the muscles are driven by the insects themselves, but they have no willpower over how their muscles move.

Moreover, turning beetles into cyborgs seems to not be that harmful to them. Their natural lifespan is three to six months, and even with the researchers’ interference, they can survive for several months. According to the researchers, a beetle has never died right after stimulation.

And while this technology may seem crazy, the implications are very practical. Sensors that detect heat, and hence people, can be placed on the beetles, so that they can be manipulated to move toward a person. This can be helpful when searching for someone, such as in a criminal investigation or finding a terrorist.

The researchers are very serious about ensuring that whatever the applications are for this technology, that they go toward peaceful purposes. And who knows how far it could go? With this much progress manipulating the motor functions of creatures as small as beetles, perhaps it can be used for even bigger animal targets.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/tgLjhT7S15U

Meet the Cyborg Beetles, Real Insects That Are Controlled Like Robots


The future is crawling towards us on six legs. Motherboard traveled to Singapore to meet with Dr. Hirotaka Sato, an aerospace engineer at Nanyang Technological University. Sato and his team are turning live beetles into cyborgs by electrically controlling their motor functions.

Having studied the beetles’ muscle configuration, neural networks, and leg control, the researchers wired the insects so that they could be controlled by a switchboard. In doing so, the researchers could manipulate the different walking gaits, speeds, flying direction, and other forms of motion.

Essentially, the beetles became like robots with no control over their own motor functioning. Interestingly, though the researchers control the beetles through wiring, their energy still comes naturally from the food they eat. Hence, the muscles are driven by the insects themselves, but they have no willpower over how their muscles move.

Moreover, turning beetles into cyborgs seems to not be that harmful to them. Their natural lifespan is three to six months, and even with the researchers’ interference, they can survive for several months. According to the researchers, a beetle has never died right after stimulation.

And while this technology may seem crazy, the implications are very practical. Sensors that detect heat, and hence people, can be placed on the beetles, so that they can be manipulated to move toward a person. This can be helpful when searching for someone, such as in a criminal investigation or finding a terrorist.

The researchers are very serious about ensuring that whatever the applications are for this technology, that they go toward peaceful purposes. And who knows how far it could go? With this much progress manipulating the motor functions of creatures as small as beetles, perhaps it can be used for even bigger animal targets.

Technology destroys people and places. I’m rejecting it.


From Wednesday, I’m going to live without my laptop, internet, phone, washing machine or television. I want my life back. I want my soul back
Mark Boyle: ‘Technology separates us from nature, while simultaneously converting life into the cash that oils consumerist society.’
Mark Boyle: ‘Technology separates us from nature, while simultaneously converting life into the cash that oils consumerist society.’ 

I’ll never know how many people liked this article, shared it or found it irrelevant, anti-progressive or ironic. Nor will I get to read comments about my personal hygiene, or suggesting that a luddite like me needs to embrace industrialism. And that is no bad thing, for the moment writing becomes a popularity contest – rewarding sensationalism, groupthink and deceit over honest exploration of complex matters – people and places lose, and those who need to be held to account win. Win, that is, for a shortsighted moment.

The reason I won’t see any web reaction is because I live in a cabin – built with spruce, oak, hands, straw, Douglas fir, stubbornness, earth and knees – without electricity or so-called modern conveniences (I’ve never found doing the work to buy and maintain them particularly convenient).

From Wednesday, I’m rejecting the world of complex technology entirely. That means no laptop, no internet, no phone, no washing machine, no tapped water, no gas, no fridge, no television or electronic music; no anything requiring the copper-mining, oil-rigging, plastics-manufacturing essential to the production of a single toaster or solar photovoltaic system.

Having already rejected these industrial-scale, complex technologies, I intend to move fully towards what is pejoratively called primitive technology. Insofar as engaging with civilisation allows, I’m also trying to resist the modern domination of what Jay Griffiths, in Pip Pip, calls clock time – and failing daily.

That probably sounds like I’ve given up a lot of stuff. But while I intend to be clear and honest about the difficulties involved over the coming months, especially in the digital age, I’m just as fascinated in exploring what lessons about life – myself, society, the natural world – I might learn; perhaps things my cyborg-mind cannot yet imagine. That was my experience of living without money for three fine years.

Rejecting technologies that my generation considers to be the basic necessities of life wasn’t done on a thoughtless whim. I already miss not being able to pick up the phone and talk to my parents. Writing is different, my pencil unaided by both copy-and-paste and the easy delete, two word-processing functions reflective of a generic, transient and whimsical culture; and it has been a while since the media and publishing worlds worked by snail mail.

I decided to eschew complex technology for two reasons. The first was that I found myself happier away from screens and the relentless communication they generate, and instead living intimately with my locale. The second, more important, was the realisation that technology destroys, in more ways than one.

It destroys our relationship with the natural world. It first separates us from nature, while simultaneously converting life into the cash that oils consumerist society. Not only does it enable us to destroy habitat efficiently, over time this separation has led us to valuing the natural world less, meaning we protect and care for it less. By way of this vicious technological cycle, we are consciously causing the sixth mass extinction of species.

When I walk to the spring to collect water in the morning I meet neighbours and we talk. Yes, it takes time, something I found frustrating at first, but slowness only became a bad thing when time became money. Walking four miles to the post office to send my letters takes time too, but it ties me to people and place in a way that sitting in my bedroom on my own, writing endless emails, could never do.

Technology destroys people. We’re already cyborgs (pacemakers, hearing aids) of a sort, and are well on our way to the type of Big Brother dystopia of the techno-utopians. And look at the state of us. Our toxic, sedentary lifestyles are causing industrial-scale afflictions of cancer, mental illness, obesity, heart disease, auto-immune disorders and food intolerances, along with those slow killers, loneliness, clock-watching and meaninglessness. We seem to spend more time watching porn than we do making love, relationships are breaking down because we stare into screens instead of eyes, while social media are making us antisocial.

Living without complex technology has its own difficulties, especially for people like me who were never initiated into those ways. But already I much prefer it. Instead of making a living to pay bills, I make living my life. Contrary to expectation, my biggest issue is not being bored, but how to do all the things I’d love to do. Of course hand-washing your clothes can be a pain sometimes, but that minor inconvenience is hardly worth destroying the natural world over.

Well-intentioned friends often try to convince me to go off-grid, but in using batteries, electrical cables and photovoltaic panels (as I once did), I would still be connected, by a peculiar sort of invisible cable, to the global network of quarries, factories, courtrooms, mines, financial institutions, bureaucracies, armies, transport networks and workers needed to produce such things. They also ask me to stay on social media to speak out about the technology issue, but I say I’m denouncing complex technology simply by renouncing it. My culture made a Faustian pact, on my behalf, with those devilish tyrants Speed, Numbers, Homogeneity, Efficiency and Schedules, and now I’m telling the devil I want my soul back.

We know that, at the very least, some technologies are harming our natural world, our societies and, ultimately, ourselves. Therefore we can recognise the need to reject some technologies. If we’re to avoid technological extremism we’re going to have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. I’ve drawn mine, and I will only move it in the direction of my home.

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