Mashable: The practical guide to mid-pandemic sex, because abstinence isn’t cutting it. “It is, of course, true that solo play or virtual sex are the safest routes right now, but for many that simply is not a realistic or sustainable solution. Telling sexual adults to not have sex at a time when we’re not only socially isolated but also increasingly anxious and depressed is only going to result in shame — and perhaps even drive people to engage in riskier behavior if they feel the need to be dishonest for fear of ‘being found out.'”
The Editorial Board: Anti-maskers are not rugged individualists. “America does not have too much rugged individualism. It has too little. The more we think rugged individualism is the problem, the bigger the real problem will be. People who refuse to wear masks are not reflecting the American frontier mentality. They are not rejecting commonsense out of the nobility of self-reliance. They are not harming themselves, literally, due to outrage against government overreach. They are acting in the interest of the groups they identify with. More importantly, they are acting out of fear of being punished by their group. They’re not individualists. They’re collectivists.”
EurekAlert: Extent of India’s COVID nudge campaign revealed. “India has reported nearly five million COVID-19 cases and well over 80,000 deaths (as of 16 September 2020), making the country one of the worst hit in the world. But an even greater tragedy may have unfolded had India’s government not used nudge theory to maintain one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns in the first quarter of the year. This is the view of a new study by Ramit Debnath and Dr Ronita Bardhan from Cambridge’s Behaviour and Building Performance Group, Department of Architecture.” Never heard of nudge theory? Here’s a quick explanation.
Earth Institute, Columbia University: What Social Media Can Teach Us About Human-Environment Relationships. “Recent ecological research used Instagram posts to analyze the preferences of visitors to natural areas around the world. Researchers deduced the activities and feelings that people associated with different environments, including Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The study explores the potential of using social media data to understand cultural ecosystem services—the intangible benefits that people receive from nature—and interactions between people and their environments.”
Arizona State University: Testing human teammates in Minecraft. “The Center for Human, Artificial Intelligence, and Robot Teaming (CHART), part of the Global Security Initiative, built an entirely virtual training environment in Minecraft as part of an approximate $3 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The goal of the project is to improve the social intelligence of artificial intelligence and make it better able to assist teams of humans working in complex environments, including in national security missions.”
PsyPost: Sociopathic traits linked to non-compliance with mask guidelines and other COVID-19 containment measures. “New research from Brazil has found that people who are unconcerned with adhering to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 tend to display higher levels of traits associated with antisocial personality disorder, also known as sociopathy. The findings have been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.”
Washington Post: How our brains numb us to covid-19’s risks — and what we can do about it. “Social scientists have long known that we perceive risks that are acute, such as an impending tsunami, differently than chronic, ever-present threats like car accidents. Part of what’s happening is that covid-19 — which we initially saw as a terrifying acute threat — is morphing into more of a chronic one in our minds. That shift likely dulls our perception of the danger, risk perception expert Dale Griffin said.” While those of us who remain vigilant because we have people to protect get mocked and derided.
Phys .org: How consumer expectations are evolving throughout the COVID-19 crisis. “From savings and job security to staying safe in the age of social distancing, there’s a lot for consumers to worry about during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Raphael Schoenle and a team of researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland are doing their part to track public opinion in real time. By compiling daily survey data throughout the pandemic, they hope to aid policymakers by shining a light on how the perceptions of every-day Americans are evolving.”
Phys .org: Study suggests optimal social networks of no more than 150 people. “New rules of engagement on the battlefield will require a deep understanding of networks and how they operate according to new Army research. Researchers confirmed a theory that find that networks of no more than 150 are optimal for efficient information exchange.”
MakeUseOf: 5 Ways to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Habits With Technology . “Self-improvement is a difficult path and you can use all the help you get. These free tools are here to help you break a bad habit or build a good habit, as easily as possible. Productivity experts have several theories on how we form a habit. Some people believe it takes 21 days doing a task repeatedly, others think it takes 66 days. And there’s the science of willpower, emotions, feedback loops, and other factors involved. But the bottom line is to stick with it, and that’s what these websites, apps, and online courses will help you do.”
San Francisco Chronicle: Humans are notoriously bad at assessing their risk. In a pandemic, that’s a problem. “In the first few weeks of the pandemic, the familiar options of everyday life narrowed to almost nothing. The Bay Area largely hunkered down and stayed home while the coronavirus numbers climbed. Decisions had been made for us: School and work were closed, travel and socializing designated unsafe by health officials. The framework for decision-making was limited. But it was also more clear. Now, as reopening has begun, life has become more expansive but in many ways far more complicated and confusing. There are more things to do, but risk is ever present.”
BBC: Coronavirus: Why are Americans so angry about masks?. “In the midst of the pandemic, a small piece of cloth has incited a nationwide feud about public health, civil liberties and personal freedom. Some Americans refuse to wear a facial covering out of principle. Others in this country are enraged by the way that people flout the mask mandates.”
Mashable: Don’t shame people who don’t wear masks. It won’t work.. “When properly harnessed, anger can lead to transformational change, channeling people’s energy and resources into holding the powerful accountable. But, as the writer Charles Duhigg masterfully laid out in The Atlantic last year, contempt can turn into poisonous revenge-seeking. That anger is a dead end. It quashes compassion and empathy, further erodes our sense of connection and community, and pits family members against each other.”
The Next Web: A beginner’s guide to the AI apocalypse: Artificial stupidity. “In this edition we’re going to flip the script and talk about something that might just save us from being destroyed by our robot overlords on September 23, 2029 (random date, but if it actually happens your mind is going to be blown), and that is: artificial stupidity. But first, a few words about humans.”
CNN: I attended a virtual conference with an AI version of Deepak Chopra. It was bizarre and transfixing. “I was reacting to the fact that Chopra, Stone, Banister and two other people I’d been viewing via Zoom — Laura Ulloa, a peace activist, and Lars Buttler, cofounder and CEO of the AI Foundation and moderator of this panel discussion — were all digital personas created with artificial intelligence. That is, each one of them looked and sounded a lot like the person they were meant to represent. But these ersatz versions of their flesh-and-blood counterparts were built by Buttler’s AI Foundation, a San Francisco company and nonprofit that promotes the idea that each of us should have our own AI identity.”