The Conversation

How long will you keep playing? The game knows

We have a tendency to consider ourselves unique and unpredictable, but digital games research shows that this is far from the case. In fact, we can be categorised into groups of people who show the same behaviours, and what we do in the future is imminently predictable. For example, how you play a game will reveal what you are likely to do in the game next and how long you are going to stay intere...[Read More]

How the smartphone affected an entire generation of kids

As someone who researches generational differences, I find one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “What generation am I in?” If you were born before 1980, that’s a relatively easy question to answer: the Silent Generation was born between 1925 and 1945; baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964; Gen X followed (born between 1965 and 1979). Next come millennials, born after 1980. But wh...[Read More]

South African social media is giving consumers power to discipline corporations

More than 20 years after democracy it seems incredible that a leading South African insurance company, Outsurance would put out a Father’s Day advertisement which featured mostly white dads. If their marketing team didn’t see the problem, citizens on social media certainly did and helped the company to see the error of its ways – and fast. Within hours of screening the advertisement, a Twitter sto...[Read More]

Popularity of latest ‘honesty app’ Sarahah shows how much we desire validation, whatever the cost

A new app called Sarahah (which is Arabic for “honesty”) launched its English-language version this summer, promising an anonymous way of offering supportive criticism for teams in the workplace. It has since attracted 300m users and reached the top of Apple’s App Store download charts in more than 30 countries, but already users say they are receiving harassing and obscene messages. Sarahah’s des...[Read More]

End-to-end encryption isn’t enough security for ‘real people’

Government officials continue to seek technology companies’ help fighting terrorism and crime. But the most commonly proposed solution would severely limit regular people’s ability to communicate securely online. And it ignores the fact that governments have other ways to keep an electronic eye on targets of investigations. In June, government intelligence officials from the Five Eyes Alliance nat...[Read More]

Has Facebook finally given up chasing teenagers? It’s complicated

Facebook’s latest attempt to appeal to teens has quietly closed its doors. The social media platform’s Lifestage app (so unsuccessful that this is probably the first time you’ve heard of it) was launched a little under a year ago to resounding apathy and has struggled ever since. Yet, as is Silicon Valley’s way, Facebook has rapidly followed the failure of one venture with the launch of another on...[Read More]

The new industrial revolution: robots are an opportunity, not a threat

Invasion. Takeover. These are the kind of words that have been bandied about in news headlines about robotics and artificial intelligence in the last few years. The coverage has been almost relentlessly negative, focusing on the threat to jobs, squeezing out the human component. While such potential is there, if robotics and AI do become a threat, then we believe this would be a threat of society’...[Read More]

Why we don’t trust robots

Robots raise all kinds of concerns. They could steal our jobs, as some experts think. And if artificial intelligence grows, they might even be tempted to enslave us, or to annihilate the whole of humanity. Robots are strange creatures, and not only for these frequently invoked reasons. We have good cause to be a little worried about these machines. An advertisement for Kuka robotics: can these mac...[Read More]

The future of translation is part human, part machine

Imagine a world where everyone can perfectly understand each other. Language is translated as we speak, and awkward moments of trying to be understood are a thing of the past. This elusive idea is something that developers have been chasing for years. Free tools like Google Translate – which is used to translate over 100 billion words a day – along with other apps and hardware that claim to transl...[Read More]

Country rules: the ‘splinternet’ may be the future of the web

Both The Economist and WIRED are worried about the “splinternet”. The UK research organisation NESTA thinks it could “break up” the world wide web as we know it. What is this awkwardly named idea? It’s the concept that someone’s experience of the internet in Turkey, for example, is increasingly different from their experience of the internet in Australia. Travellers to China, in particular, will b...[Read More]

Inside the fight against malware attacks

When malicious software, or malware, attacks, computer scientists and security researchers want to know how the attackers got into what was supposed to be a secure system, and what they’re actually doing that’s causing problems for users. It’s a growing problem, affecting government projects, retail stores and individuals around the world. However, fighting malware is a cyclical arms race: As defe...[Read More]

Are robots taking over the world’s finance jobs?

The year is 2030. You’re in a business school lecture hall, where just a handful of students are attending a finance class. The dismal turnout has nothing to with professorial style, school ranking or subject matter. Students simply aren’t enrolled, because there are no jobs out there for finance majors. Today, finance, accounting, management and economics are among universities’ most popular subj...[Read More]

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