Scientists are building Earth’s virtual twin / Humans + Tech - #69

+ Human Rights Centered AI Design + Stanford study into “Zoom Fatigue” explains why video chats are so tiring + Other interesting articles from around the web

Hi,

I hope you had a great week. Let’s get into this week’s articles.

Scientists are building Earth’s virtual twin

The European Union's new Destination Earth project aims to have a sort of practice Earth to simulate climate change solutions to see if they will be effective before deploying them. Climate scientists and computer experts are attempting to create Earth's digital twin — A virtual Earth close enough to our planet to be able to see how effective planet-changing geoengineering proposals will be [Robby Berman, Big Think].

The basic idea of the digital twin is that it will allow scientists to observe climate change in motion as it progresses. "If you are planning a two-meter high dike in The Netherlands, for example," says Bauer in an ETH press release, "I can run through the data in my digital twin and check whether the dike will in all likelihood still protect against expected extreme events in 2050."

Most important will be trying out geoengineering ideas and seeing how they track over time. The press release specifically notes the value the twin will bring to "strategic planning of fresh water and food supplies or wind farms and solar plants."

It’s hard for me to imagine how they will factor in all the variables to simulate Earth accurately, but I sincerely hope they are successful. We are running out of time to combat climate change. If they can realistically simulate the effects of different proposals, it gives humanity a much better chance of deploying successful solutions.


We need a new approach to designing for AI and human rights should be at the center

Caroline Sinders is a machine-learning-design researcher, artist, and online harassment expert. She has been examining the intersections of technology’s impact on society, interface design, artificial intelligence, abuse, and politics in digital, conversational spaces. In the article, Sinders explains why AI should be designed around Human Rights [Caroline Sinders, UX Magazine].

AI will radically change society. The process may have already started. It’s going to bring both positive and negative changes. Although several entities are working on creating ethical standards for AI, Sinders says that AI designers should go beyond that, as design often impacts and perpetuates bias in technology.

“We need a new framework for working with AI, one that goes beyond data accountability and creation. We need Human Rights Centered Design. 

Here’s why we need this: AI is technology, and technology is never neutral. How we make technology, how we conceptualize it, how we imagine where it fits into culture, and what problems it will solve when placed into product design—these are design choices that can have a deep impact on society.”

She explains in detail what a Human Rights Centered Design Methodology or Framework should look like. One of the questions that she suggests Human Rights Centered Design should ask, which I liked most, is, “Do the benefits outweigh the consequences?”


Stanford study into “Zoom Fatigue” explains why video chats are so tiring

Communications expert Jeremy Bailenson from Stanford University studied “Zoom Fatigue,” a unique kind of exhaustion after a day of videoconferencing that didn’t make sense [Rich Haridy, New Atlas].

People were reporting a unique kind of exhaustion at the end of whole days of videoconferencing, which seemed counter-intuitive. After all, we could spend our entire day in the comfort of our own home instead of trekking around town from meeting to meeting. Why were we seemingly more exhausted after six or eight hours of videoconferencing compared to a regular long day of in-person interactions?

His study highlighted four key reasons:

  1. Everyone is staring at you ... all the time.

  2. Video interactions require a higher cognitive load.

  3. One’s reflection constantly staring back from the screen.

  4. Video calls remove the locomotive factors like walking around the room in traditional meetings that promote better and more creative thinking.

I encourage you to read the article and detailed explanations of why each factor contributes to fatigue. It’s fascinating and insightful in understanding human behaviour.


Other interesting articles from around the web

🏫 The world's first 3D printed school will be built in Madagascar [Vanessa Bates Ramirez, Singularity Hub]

3D printed houses have been popping up all over the map. Some are hive-shaped, some can float, some are up for sale. Now this practical, cost-cutting technology is being employed for another type of building: a school.

A school can be built within a week using this 3D printing technology, including the foundation, electrical, and plumbing work. That’s incredible.

🧬 Why are prosecutors keeping a huge secretive DNA database in Orange county? [Emma Ockerman, VICE]

The way law enforcement has gone about collecting this data is highly unethical.

“You could have a couple of traffic offenses, a DUI,” said Morgan Peterson, one of the law students at the University of California, Irvine, who assisted on the case, which seeks to end the database. “Those can still be very serious things, but the fact that you are giving up your DNA for a relatively smaller misdemeanor crime—forever—is pretty scary, when you think about it.” 

😗 Whistleblowers: Software bug keeping hundreds of inmates in Arizona prisons beyond release dates [Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ]

Inmate management software that cannot interpret current sentencing laws has led to hundreds of inmates being stuck in prison instead of being released. The software developers begged their seniors not to push the software rollout, but department leadership did not listen to them, citing they had spent too much money and couldn’t go back.

Even if inmates are identified and they are able to complete the required programming for SB 1310 releases, department sources say the software is preventing the prisoners from getting the time they deserve taken off their sentences.

“We can't find people to get them into the programs, and after they complete the programs, we still can’t get them out the door,” a source said. “These people are literally trapped.”


Quote of the week

“We need a new framework for working with AI, one that goes beyond data accountability and creation. We need Human Rights Centered Design. 

Here’s why we need this: AI is technology, and technology is never neutral. How we make technology, how we conceptualize it, how we imagine where it fits into culture, and what problems it will solve when placed into product design—these are design choices that can have a deep impact on society.”

—Caroline Sinders, machine-learning-design researcher, artist, online harassment expert, and founder of Convocation Design + Research, from the article, “We need a new approach to designing for ai and human rights should be at the center” [UX Magazine]

I wish you a brilliant day ahead :)

Neeraj