New rules say that Santa Claus can deliver gifts this year, but what AI tech might help him get the job done faster?

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Recently, all four UK nations were offered a sip of well-deserved Christmas cheer as the Government announced a temporary relaxation of Covid restrictions for the festive period. The decision permits three households to bubble-up between the 23rd and 27th of December. Naturally, the move has its critics, but most appear happy. Whatever side of the Christmas tree you sit on, the burning question on everyone’s lips is…can Santa Claus swing by?

A little birdie (a snow-dusted Robin redbreast, to be precise) tells me the official line is that, yes, good old Saint Nick can indeed do his usual rounds this year. Our jolly friend will be permitted to leave isolation in the chilly North Pole and make his way around the globe to put smiles on kids’ faces — but you won’t see the smile on his own face, as he will, of course, be wearing a mask. …

How Ambient Intelligence looks set to replace Human-Computer Interaction with Human-Environment Interaction

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Thanks to the media, sci-fi films like Ex Machina and I, Robot, and a few outspoken visionaries like Elon Musk, most people now have at least a basic understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI), its various subsets, and their many potential applications.

But what about Ambient Intelligence (AmI) — have you heard of that? Don’t worry, very few have, despite this emerging field being around for over a decade at this point.

As a discipline, AmI relies on advances in AI, particularly Machine Learning (ML), pervasive/ubiquitous computing, and contactless sensors. …

What do Barbra Streisand, an environmental activist & a failed censorship attempt have in common? Information & the web!

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Barbra Streisand’s Malibu mansion

I don’t often read articles on the British Royal Family, especially in the tabloids, but one news story caught my eye a few weeks back. Whether true or not, apparently the Duchess of Sussex was told by experts to abandon her ongoing privacy court case against one of the UK’s best-known red tops before she falls victim to the Streisand Effect.

If this guidance is prudent, and I’d say it is, the Duchess would be well advised to pay heed. And that’s because the Streisand Effect is no laughing matter — especially in today’s increasingly privacy-unfriendly digital landscape.

If you know nothing of this social phenomenon, other than its obvious association with Barbra Streisand, let me bring you up to speed. Spoiler alert: there will be more references to Babs’ music in this post than you can shake a microphone at. …

Gone are the days of relying on recommendation engines to customise UX. This is personalisation 2.0, courtesy of Salesforce

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I’m just as passionate about automation as I am about user experience (UX) design, in much the same way as most mothers and teachers care for their children and pupils equally. But the tricky thing about automation and UX design (or design of any kind, for that matter) is that they don’t always get along so well — not unlike siblings or peers. That, sadly, can make for the thorniest of problems.

As with kids, both automation and UX design are extraordinary in their own ways, while both also have their distinct flaws. Each, when left in peace to go about their very different business, goes about that business just fine. Often though, when the two are thrust together, personalities and goals clash wildly. Never the twain shall meet, as they say of things too dissimilar to exist in harmony alongside one another. …

UK paramedics are set to use jet-packs in remote areas, but are they safe? What about human error? Could AI make for a stronger caped crusader?

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Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man…the old-school lot. They can all knock back their whisky sours, grab their capes from the cloakroom, and share a taxi home. Because a new superhero just rocked up at the party and it’s all eyes on him.

Say hi to Medi-Man, taking a rare night off from whooshing across fields, over lakes, and up mountains, intrepidly defying gravity to rescue injured damsels in distress.

Ok, let’s put all the overt superhero sexism to bed — because the caped cohort can rescue damoiseaux in distress too, you know — and get on with the blog. Medi-Man does exist though (sort of), flying right into the headlines at the end of summer. …

What can Japanese public toilets teach us about User Experience and trust in technology?

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If you’ve ever been to East London’s bustling Broadway Market, you might have seen the outdoor men’s ‘bathroom’ next to London Fields green space. Each time I pass this al fresco “delight,” I try everything to avoid making awkward eye contact with a tipsy hipster using the facilities.

While everything important is hidden from sight — and I do get that when nature calls, she’s in charge — I also wonder how anyone can feel at ease doing what they’ve got to do out in the open like that. After living in Paris, I know outdoor conveniences are pretty passé in France, but there was me thinking British people are pretty self-conscious. …

New Netflix documentary is compelling, telling us why we’re addicted to social media and how its creators got us there— it just doesn’t tell us how to stop it.

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Skyler Gisondo in The Social Dilemma

Just about everyone I know who has seen The Social Dilemma agrees that it is one of the most important documentaries of our time. If you haven’t caught it yet, drop what you’re doing and get on the case fast.

The Social Dilemma ventures into some deep and murky waters to explore the adverse and mostly under-reported human impacts of smartphones and social networks. It tells us that big tech’s algorithms exploit psychological techniques to trick our sub-conscious minds, so we become unknowing digital drug addicts. And they’re doing this to our children too.

It’s pretty revealing stuff, featuring senior staffers who have worked at some of the most amazing technology companies on the planet, including Tristan “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” Harris. They bravely step up to blow the whistle on the highly addictive systems they helped build in the first place. …

Google recently announced its algorithm will take UX into account, so if your website isn’t optimized for a great user experience, get on the case now.

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You have no idea how often I’m faced with someone “kindly” informing me UX is pointless and has little effect on either customer engagement or understanding of information.

Of course, the cynics always know better than me, a lowly pioneer in the field who should clearly keep schtum. And who am I to argue? Oh yes, that’s right: a pioneer in the field!

They’ll ask me:

“Why would I waste time on UX when I already know my users inside out?”

And, as I politely parrot one of many elevator pitches I have saved for such occasions, I’ll ask myself:

“Why am I wasting time listening to you when I know UX inside out?” …

It might seem all fun and games to prank your kids online, but these videos are more damaging than you might think.

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Patrick Lenton says:

“If there is one thing that I enjoy, it is bewildered children, being mildly inconvenienced and scared, all for my own personal viewing pleasure.”

I’m sure there are millions of other meanies lining up around the proverbial block to high-five the Australia-based writer on his 2019 Junkee article toasting a “sadistic TikTok mother” who literally can’t stop pranking her “gormless progeny.” And I’m also sure that same lot would happily queue for a little longer to blow a raspberry in my face. Why? Because I can’t stand it.

I’m not just a giant party pooper though. I’ve seen plenty of videos by the likes of Felicity Kane, the focus of Lenton’s article, and I’d be lying if I said some of them hadn’t managed to raise the tiniest of smiles — I am human, after all. But I always quickly move beyond any amusement because, ultimately, I abhor parents using pranks on their kids. …

Today I take a look at Channel 4’s heartbreaking documentary on Peter Scott-Morgan — half human, half robot, full hero.

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I rarely come away from a film or TV show without a single complaint, but that’s exactly what happened after watching Peter: The Human Cyborg this weekend. If I had to name two minor quibbles about this new Channel 4 documentary, they’d be:

(1) I didn’t have a box of tissues large enough to soak up all the tears

(2) A 45-minute runtime wasn’t nearly long enough

Then again, neither was the short few years Dr. Peter Scott-Morgan had to prepare for rapidly advancing Motor Neurone Disease (MND) to lock his sharp mind into a dysfunctional body. But against all odds, the roboticist pulled it off at the eleventh hour, adapting himself and merging with cutting-edge technology, including Artificial Intelligence, before losing the power to breathe, eat, speak and express himself. …


Catriona Campbell

Behavioural psychologist, EY-Seren founder, EY UK&I Client Technology & Innovation Officer. Views my own & don't represent EY’s position.

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