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20 Nov 00:54

Glitch: write fun small web projects instantly

I just wrote about Jupyter Notebooks which are a fun interactive way to write Python code. That reminded me I learned about Glitch recently, which I also love!! I built a small app to turn of twitter retweets with it. So!

Glitch is an easy way to make Javascript webapps. (javascript backend, javascript frontend)

The fun thing about glitch is:

  1. you start typing Javascript code into their web interface
  2. as soon as you type something, it automagically reloads the backend of your website with the new code. You don’t even have to save!! It autosaves.

So it’s like Heroku, but even more magical!! Coding like this (you type, and the code runs on the public internet immediately) just feels really fun to me.

It’s kind of like sshing into a server and editing PHP/HTML code on your server and having it instantly available, which I kind of also loved. Now we have “better deployment practices” than “just edit the code and it is instantly on the internet” but we are not talking about Serious Development Practices, we are talking about writing tiny programs for fun.

glitch has awesome example apps

Glitch seems like fun nice way to learn programming!

For example, there’s a space invaders game (code by Mary Rose Cook) at https://space-invaders.glitch.me/. The thing I love about this is that in just a few clicks I can

  1. click “remix this”
  2. start editing the code to make the boxes orange instead of black
  3. have my own space invaders game!! Mine is at http://julias-space-invaders.glitch.me/. (i just made very tiny edits to make it orange, nothing fancy)

They have tons of example apps that you can start from – for instance bots, games, and more.

awesome actually useful app: tweetstorms

The way I learned about Glitch was from this app which shows you tweetstorms from a given user: https://tweetstorms.glitch.me/.

For example, you can see @sarahmei’s tweetstorms at https://tweetstorms.glitch.me/sarahmei (she tweets a lot of good tweetstorms!).

my glitch app: turn off retweets

When I learned about Glitch I wanted to turn off retweets for everyone I follow on Twitter (I know you can do it in Tweetdeck!) and doing it manually was a pain – I had to do it one person at a time. So I wrote a tiny Glitch app to do it for me!

I liked that I didn’t have to set up a local development environment, I could just start typing and go!

Glitch only supports Javascript and I don’t really know Javascript that well (I think I’ve never written a Node program before), so the code isn’t awesome. But I had a really good time writing it – being able to type and just see my code running instantly was delightful. Here it is: https://turn-off-retweets.glitch.me/.

that’s all!

Using Glitch feels really fun and democratic. Usually if I want to fork someone’s web project and make changes I wouldn’t do it – I’d have to fork it, figure out hosting, set up a local dev environment or Heroku or whatever, install the dependencies, etc. I think tasks like installing node.js dependencies used to be interesting, like “cool i am learning something new” and now I just find them tedious.

So I love being able to just click “remix this!” and have my version on the internet instantly.

19 Nov 22:23

Em 10 anos robôs podem substituir 4 milhões de trabalhadores na GB

by noreply@blogger.com (Ronald Sanson Stresser Junior)



Um novo estudo sugere que até 4 milhões de trabalhadores humanos podem ser substituídos por robôs na próxima década - isso apenas na Grã-Bretanha... A questão é: podemos encontrar novos papéis para essas pessoas preencherem?

Robôs para os negócios

Os robôs podem substituir trabalhadores humanos em até 4 milhões de empregos, na Grã-Bretanha na próxima década, de acordo com um estudo conduzido pela empresa britânica de pesquisa de mercado YouGov, em nome da Royal Academy of the Arts. Isso representa 15% da força de trabalho no setor privado do país.

Os pesquisadores questionaram os líderes empresariais sobre como eles vêem a automação e a inteligência artificial afetando suas indústrias nos próximos anos. Mais de 20% dos empregadores em finanças, contabilidade, transporte e distribuição declararam que esperam que mais de 30% dos empregos no campo sejam automatizados até 2027.

Já vemos mais robôs entrando para a força de trabalho, em funções que vão desde trabalhos robóticos em construção até drones que podem fornecer suprimentos médicos vitais. A nova tecnologia está oferecendo benefícios para o mundo do trabalho que simplesmente não podem ser ignorados, mas é crucial que consideremos o impacto que ela terá sobre a sociedade como um todo.

Principalmente, as empresas têm de garantir que os milhões de trabalhadores que são substituídos por robôs e outros sistemas automatizados não serão deixados para trás.

Nós e as máquinas

Muitos robôs simplesmente estão melhor equipados para realizar tarefas menores do que os humanos. Eles não se aborrecem, eles podem ser projetados para um propósito específico, e se eles quebram, geralmente podem ser consertados com relativa facilidade. Nós simplesmente não podemos competir em condições equitativas - mas podemos trabalhar junto com nossos colegas sintéticos.

Os robôs podem aumentar a produtividade geral fazendo os trabalhos sujos, difíceis ou desagradáveis ​​que os trabalhadores humanos prefeririam evitar. Isso liberta essas pessoas para executar tarefas que exigem um nível de julgamento ou pensamento original de que um robô não seria capaz de fornecer. Muitos especialistas argumentam que podemos ter o melhor de ambos os mundos.

"O Reino Unido deve aproveitar ao máximo as oportunidades econômicas que as novas tecnologias oferecem", disse Frances O'Grady, secretário-geral da federação sindical nacional britânica do TUC, falando ao The Guardian. "Robôs e AI (Inteligência Artificial) podem nos permitir produzir mais por menos, aumentando a prosperidade nacional. Mas precisamos falar sobre quem se beneficia - e como os trabalhadores conseguem uma parcela justa".

Houve várias soluções diferentes delineadas em resposta a esse problema. Alguns argumentam que um imposto sobre os robôs é a melhor maneira de garantir que ninguém seja incapaz de se sustentar, enquanto outros sugerem que a renda básica universal se torne a norma.

A maior questão é a rapidez com que a automação será adotada. Se for um processo estável, será mais fácil relocar os trabalhadores humanos para outros papéis, para ajudar a tirar proveito do aumento da produtividade. Se for repentino, isso será muito mais difícil - e até 4 milhões de trabalhadores na Grã-Bretanha, e milhões de pessoas em todo o mundo, ficam amarrados a uma situação muito indesejável.


Fonte:  Science | The Guardian, RSA (tradução livre)

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“Desde que nacen, hay que dotar a los niños de tecnología” | Mamás y Papás | EL PAÍS

by brandizzi

Ángel-Pablo Avilés, o Angelucho, como se hace llamar, se ha convertido en el guardián de Internet. Compagina su trabajo de guardia civil con talleres de seguridad en la Red para todos los públicos. "Para estar seguro en Internet no hace falta ser informático", repite constantemente en sus clases ante la incredulidad de sus oyentes, que suelen creer que es algo que se escapa a su entendimiento. Por ello, Avilés centra sus charlas en casos prácticos y con un lenguaje no técnico, para llegar al mayor número de personas y, sobre todo, de padres, que tienen que afrontar una era en la que los niños y niñas ya nacen con un smartphone bajo el brazo.

MÁS INFORMACIÓN

"La vida real de los niños ahora es la vida virtual, y los padres deben aprender a adaptarse para no dejarles huérfanos en Internet", subraya Angelucho. Según él, si no se participa en la vida virtual del niño, le están dejando solo ante el peligro. A veces, avisa, los padres se olvidan de que entre su hijo y los riesgos no hay un dispositivo que lo proteja, sino que el niño o niña está en contacto directo con ellos. "Les estamos dando un Ferrari sin ni siquiera tener carnet, es decir, les damos un móvil de última generación sin que sepan usarlo de verdad", explica. Para enseñar tanto a los padres como a los niños a conducir este bólido con seguridad, el agente colabora con la Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) en su nueva campaña, que incluye una guía práctica y varios vídeos, algunos enfocados para adultos y otros para menores, que abordan los problemas más habituales.

El concepto de amistad ha cambiado radicalmente desde que Internet se ha adueñado de las relaciones personales. “En los talleres con los menores me presento como personas diferentes a mí y todos se echan a reír porque me ven y saben que es mentira, pero, en cambio, sí que se lo creen cuando conocen a alguien por Internet”, apunta el guardia civil. "Los niños hoy en día buscan el like por encima de todas las cosas y no les importa de dónde provenga". Por ello, tienden a aceptar en sus redes sociales a todo el que le mande una petición de amistad, sin importarle quién está detrás de la pantalla. Para el experto, esto es tremendamente peligroso porque es cuando los ciberdepredadores se aprovechan, recaban toda la información posible sobre el niño o niña y comienzan el acoso, tanto virtual, como en la vida real, ya que pueden llegar a conocer hasta dónde viven o a qué colegio van gracias a las imágenes o comentarios que cuelgan en sus redes. Ante esta problemática, denominada grooming, la AEPD ha creado este vídeo como parte de los nuevos recursos enfocados a menores para que aprendan a proteger sus datos:

Para que los niños y niñas no compartan demasiada información en sus redes sociales, es necesario practicar con el ejemplo. “Si alguien que no conoces te para por la calle y te pregunta cosas sobre tu vida íntima, te incomodas. Entonces, ¿por qué vas a estar compartiendo todos los detalles de tu rutina en las redes ante millones de desconocidos?”, ejemplifica. Avilés recomienda tener el perfil privado y solo aceptar a los amigos de verdad.

Ante la eterna duda de a qué edad hay que comprarles un móvil, Angelucho lo tiene claro: "Desde el momento en el que nacen hay que dotarlos de tecnología porque es la manera de normalizar las cosas". El experto añade: “Si tu hijo no la tiene, la va a buscar en otro sitio y no va a tener protección alguna. Es mejor que haya un clima de confianza y que recurra a los padres si le pasa algo en Internet”. Por ello, los adultos no deben sucumbir al miedo, sino que deben acompañar a los niños en su vida virtual, aunque esto no puede confundirse con controlarlos. Según Avilés, no es bueno espiarles o que detecten ese control parental porque tienen derecho a su privacidad. “La solución es integrarnos con ellos en su rutina tecnológica”.

El ciberacoso es otro de los riesgos más comunes en la infancia y adolescencia. Angelucho recomienda que lo primero que hay que hacer cuando tu hijo o hija lo sufre es decirle que no tiene la culpa, que solo está siendo la víctima. Después, se tendría que hablar con el centro educativo si sucede en el ámbito escolar, pero, si el acoso es muy grave, se podría incluso denunciarlo a la policía porque a partir de los 14 años hay medidas penales para los ciberacosadores. Por ello, este vídeo, que la AEPD ha realizado para ser visionado en las aulas, aborda esta situación:

Además, hay otros dos vídeos ilustrativos para las escuelas que tratan sobre el sexting (Un vídeo muy especial) o la dependencia tecnológica (Un crack del BMX). La AEPD considera que la distribución de estos materiales en los colegios es imprescindible para llegar a los más de ocho millones de alumnos escolarizados, por lo que solicita la colaboración de todos los actores implicados en la educación de los menores para que contribuyan a prevenir y concienciar de estos peligros. “Los vídeos responden a situaciones que todos tenemos presentes y donde los datos personales que los menores comparten en las redes sociales son claves para que puedan acontecer estos problemas”, declara Julián Prieto, responsable del Área de Menores de la Agencia.

Para los padres, la AEPD ha extraído de uno de los talleres impartidos por el guardia civil varios vídeos con temáticas concretas, a los que se puede acceder desde la web de la agencia de manera libre y según sus intereses o preocupaciones, como por ejemplo, cómo conseguir una contraseña segura o qué pasa con los depredadores en Internet.

Por último, la organización ha creado una nueva guía de Protección de datos en centros educativos. “Surge de la necesidad de dar respuesta a las dudas más habituales que plantean ante el Canal Joven de la organización, tanto centros docentes como profesores o las propias familias”, explica Prieto. También incluye un decálogo simplificado con los aspectos más relevantes para realizar un uso adecuado de los datos personales de los niños en los centros educativos.

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12 Nov 09:31

The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies Is More Diabolical Than We Realized

by brandizzi
A dead spiny ant with fungal spores erupting out of its head. (Image: David Hughes/Penn State University)

Carpenter ants of the Brazilian rain forest have it rough. When one of these insects gets infected by a certain fungus, it turns into a so-called “zombie ant” and is no longer in control of its actions. Manipulated by the parasite, an infected ant will leave the cozy confines of its arboreal home and head to the forest floor—an area more suitable for fungal growth. After parking itself on the underside of a leaf, the zombified ant anchors itself into place by chomping down onto the foliage. This marks the victim’s final act. From here, the fungus continues to grow and fester inside the ant’s body, eventually piercing through the ant’s head and releasing its fungal spores. This entire process, from start to finish, can take upwards of ten agonizing days.

We’ve known about zombie ants for quite some time, but scientists have struggled to understand how the parasitic fungus, O. unilateralis (pronounced yu-ni-lat-er-al-iss), performs its puppeteering duties. This fungus is often referred to as a “brain parasite,” but new research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the brains of these zombie ants are left intact by the parasite, and that O. unilateralis is able to control the actions of its host by infiltrating and surrounding muscle fibers throughout the ant’s body. In effect, it’s converting an infected ant into an externalized version of itself. Zombie ants thus become part insect, part fungus. Awful, right?

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To make this discovery, the scientist who first uncovered the zombie ant fungus, David Hughes from Penn State, launched a multidisciplinary effort that involved an international team of entomologists, geneticists, computer scientists, and microbiologists. The point of the study was to look at the cellular interactions between O. unilateralis and the carpenter ant host Camponotus castaneus during a critical stage of the parasite’s life cycle—that phase when the ant anchors itself onto the bottom of leaf with its powerful mandibles.

Ants infected with late stage O. unilateralis infection. (Image: David Hughes/PLOS ONE)

“The fungus is known to secrete tissue-specific metabolites and cause changes in host gene expression as well as atrophy in the mandible muscles of its ant host,” said lead author Maridel Fredericksen, a doctoral candidate at the University of Basel Zoological Institute, Switzerland, in a statement. “The altered host behavior is an extended phenotype of the microbial parasite’s genes being expressed through the body of its host. But it’s unknown how the fungus coordinates these effects to manipulate the host’s behavior.”

By referring to the parasite’s “extended phenotype,” Fredericksen is referring to the way that O. unilateralis is able to hijack an external entity, in this case the carpenter ant, and make it a literal extension of its physical self.

For the study, the researchers infected carpenter ants with either O. unilateralis or a less threatening, non-zombifying fungal pathogen known as Beauveria bassiana, which served as the control. By comparing the two different fungi, the researchers were able to discern the specific physiological effects of O. unilateralis on the ants.

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Using electron microscopes, the researchers created 3D visualizations to determine location, abundance, and activity of the fungi inside the bodies of the ants. Slices of tissue were taken at a resolution of 50 nanometers, which were captured using a machine that could repeat the slicing and imaging process at a rate of 2,000 times over a 24-hour period. To parse this hideous amount of data, the researchers turned to artificial intelligence, whereby a machine-learning algorithm was taught to differentiate between fungal and ant cells. This allowed the researchers to determine how much of the insect was still ant, and how much of it was converted into the externalized fungus.

3D reconstruction of an ant mandible adductor muscle (red) surrounded by a network of fungal cells (yellow). (Image: Hughes Laboratory/Penn State)

The results were truly disturbing. Cells of O. unilateralis had proliferated throughout the entire ant’s body, from the head and thorax right down to the abdomen and legs. What’s more, these fungal cells were all interconnected, creating a kind of Borg-like, collective biological network that controlled the ants’ behavior.

“We found that a high percentage of the cells in a host were fungal cells,” said Hughes in a statement. “In essence, these manipulated animals were a fungus in ants’ clothing.”

But most surprising of all, the fungus hadn’t infiltrated the carpenter ants’ brains.

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“Normally in animals, behavior is controlled by the brain sending signals to the muscles, but our results suggest that the parasite is controlling host behavior peripherally,” explained Hughes. “Almost like a puppeteer pulls the strings to make a marionette move, the fungus controls the ant’s muscles to manipulate the host’s legs and mandibles.”

As to how the fungus is able to navigate the ant towards the leaf, however, is still largely unknown. And in fact, that the fungus leaves the brain alone may provide a clue. Previous work showed that the fungus may be chemically altering the ants’ brains, leading Hughes’ team to speculate that the fungus needs to the ant to survive long enough to perform its final leaf-biting behavior. It’s also possible, however, that the fungus needs to leverage some of that existing ant brain power (and attendant sensorial capabilities) to “steer” the ant around the forest floor. Future research will be required to turn these theories into something more substantial.

“This is an excellent example of how interdisciplinary research can drive our knowledge forward,” Charissa de Bekker, an entomologist at the University of Central Florida not affiliated with the new study, told Gizmodo. “The researchers used cutting-edge techniques to finally confirm something that we thought to be true but weren’t sure about: that the fungus O. unilateralis does not invade or damage the brain.”

de Bekker says this work confirms that something much more intricate is going on, and that the fungus might be controlling the ant by secreting compounds that can work as neuromodulators. Data gleaned from the fungal genome points to this conclusion as well.

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“This means the fungus might produce a wealth of bioactive compounds that could be of interest in terms of novel drug discovery,” said de Bekker. “I am, thus, very excited about this work!”

An authority on the zombie ant fungus herself, de Bekker also released new research this week. Her new study, published in PLOS One and co-authored with David Hughes and others, looked into the molecular clock of the Ophiocordyceps kimflemingiae fungus (a recently named species of the O. unilateralis complex) to see if the daily rhythms, and thus biological clocks, are an important aspect of the parasite-host interactions studied by biologists.

“In addition to confirming that the fungus indeed has a molecular clock, we found that this results in the daily oscillation of certain genes,” de Bekker told Gizmodo. “While some of them are active during the day-time, others are active during the night-time. Interestingly, we found that the fungus especially activates genes encoding for secreted proteins during the night-time. These are the compounds that possibly interact with the host’s brain! The fungus, therefore, does not just release bioactive compounds to manipulate behavior, but there seems to be a precise timing to it as well.”

There’s clearly still lots to learn about this insidious parasite and how it hijacks its insectoid hosts, but as these recent studies attest, we’re getting steadier closer to the answer—one that’s clearly disturbing in nature.

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[Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PLOS One]

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04 Nov 20:08

Defensive Profile

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