Posts Tagged: Researchers

Personalized warnings could reduce hate speech on Twitter, researchers say

A set of carefully-worded warnings directed to the right accounts could help reduce the amount of hate on Twitter. That’s the conclusion of new research examining whether targeted warnings could reduce hate speech on the platform.

Researchers at New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics found that personalized warnings alerting Twitter users to the consequences of their behavior reduced the number of tweets with hateful language a week after. While more study is needed, the experiment suggests that there is a “potential path forward for platforms seeking to reduce the use of hateful language by users,” according to Mustafa Mikdat Yildirim, the lead author of the paper.

In the experiment, researchers identified accounts at risk of being suspended for breaking Twitter’s rules against hate speech. They looked for people who had used at least one word contained in “hateful language dictionaries” over the previous week, who also followed at least one account that had recently been suspended after using such language.

From there, the researchers created test accounts with personas such as “hate speech warner,” and used the accounts to tweet warnings at these individuals. They tested out several variations, but all had roughly the same message: that using hate speech put them at risk of being suspended, and that it had already happened to someone they follow.

“The user @account you follow was suspended, and I suspect this was because of hateful language,” reads one sample message shared in the paper. “If you continue to use hate speech, you might get suspended temporarily.” In another variation, the account doing the warning identified themselves as a professional researcher, while also letting the person know they were at risk of being suspended. “We tried to be as credible and convincing as possible,” Yildirim tells Engadget.

The researchers found that the warnings were effective, at least in the short term. “Our results show that only one warning tweet sent by an account with no more than 100 followers can decrease the ratio of tweets with hateful language by up to 10%,” the authors write. Interestingly, they found that messages that were “more politely phrased” led to even greater declines, with a decrease of up to 20 percent. “We tried to increase the politeness of our message by basically starting our warning by saying that ‘oh, we respect your right to free speech, but on the other hand keep in mind that your hate speech might harm others,’” Yildirim says.

In the paper, Yildirim and his co-authors note that their test accounts only had around 100 followers each, and that they weren’t associated with an authoritative entity. But if the same type of warnings were to come from Twitter itself, or an NGO or other organization, then the warnings may be even more useful. “The thing that we learned from this experiment is that the real mechanism at play could be the fact that we actually let these people know that there's some account, or some entity, that is watching and monitoring their behavior,” Yildirim says. “The fact that their use of hate speech is seen by someone else could be the most important factor that led these people to decrease their hate speech.”

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Researchers blame YouTube for the rise in Flat Earthers

Despite steps taken to counteract problematic material YouTube is still a hotbed of hoaxes and fake news — a problem that's become so prevalent the site recently announced it is changing its AI in a bid to improve matters. But now the scope of the p…
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Researchers create flexible battery that can run on salt water

When it comes to making batteries for wearables or implantable medical devices, there are a few features that have to be incorporated. The batteries need to be flexible and remain functional while being bent or twisted, and ideally, they'll be absent…
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Researchers find a more effective way to test self-driving cars

It's tricky to test self-driving cars. Even if you have hundreds of thousands of miles under your belt, it's still difficult to account for every possible real-world peril. Researchers think they can fast-track that experience, however. They've devel…
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Researchers develop a drone that swoops and lands like a bird

Watch out, birds. The drones are coming for your jobs. Researchers at BMT Defence Services (BMT) and the University of Bristol in Britain have built a fixed-wing UAV that can land as well as its avian counterparts, reports Popular Mechanics. Although…
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Tough as scales: Researchers create protective material inspired by fish skin

In a bid to build flexible and durable protective wear, researchers from McGill University turned to nature for inspiration and frequented a fish market to find test subjects.

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Wearables–Digital Trends

U.K. researchers tie the world’s tightest knot — half a nanometer wide

Researchers at the U.K.’s University of Manchester have tied the tightest and smallest knot in the known universe. Made up of just 24 atoms, the nanoscale knot could help lead to breakthroughs in materials.

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Cool Tech–Digital Trends

Machine learning is helping researchers decipher bat speech

Egyptian fruit bats are widespread throughout Africa and often roost together in colonies of 1,000 or more individuals. With that many neighbors packed together, it's no wonder they're such a noisy bunch. And thanks to some exciting machine learning…
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Researchers successfully make an OLED screen out of fabric

We are still far from having truly wearable displays, but thanks to Korean researchers, that future isn’t as far off as we thought. They have created the first OLEDs that are truly wearable.

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Wearables–Digital Trends

Small furry mammals inspired researchers to create groundbreaking wetsuit material

Could your next wetsuit be fashioned after the fur of hairy, semiaquatic mammals like beavers and sea otters? Quite possibly yes, if these researchers have anything to say about it. Here’s why their work is exciting.

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Wearables–Digital Trends

Researchers develop ‘liquid wire’ that acts like spider silk

The properties of spider silk that make it so intriguing are also what makes it so difficult to recreate in a lab, but a team of researchers now believes they have cracked one puzzle about spider silk: how does it remain taut when even when stretched…
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Researchers discover the key to OLED efficiency – a firefly’s butt

Although a lightbulb might be the traditional cartoon symbol for an idea, perhaps it should be fireflies instead, as they’ve provided the inspiration for a new type of OLED light source.

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Mobile–Digital Trends

Researchers develop nanowire battery that lasts “thousands” of charges

A new nanowire-based lithium-ion battery pioneered by University of California researchers can withstand thousands more charges than most batteries currently on the market.

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Cool Tech–Digital Trends

Researchers at Brown University are growing disembodied brains for experimentation

A group of researchers at Brown University just published a scientific paper detailing how to successfully build working miniature brains from a small living tissue of just one rodent.

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Apple Introduces ResearchKit, Giving Medical Researchers New Tools

Apple today announced ResearchKit, an open-source software framework designed for medical and health research that can help doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. World-class research institutions have already developed apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. “iOS apps already help millions of customers track and improve their health. With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”
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Apple Announces ResearchKit Available to Medical Researchers

Apple today announced that ResearchKit, a software framework designed for medical and health research, is now available. Medical researchers will be able to use ResearchKit to develop their own apps, and developers can also contribute new research modules to the open source framework. “We are delighted and encouraged by the response to ResearchKit from the medical and research community and the participants contributing to medical research. Studies that historically attracted a few hundred participants are now attracting participants in the tens of thousands,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “Medical researchers all over the world are actively exploring how ResearchKit can help them study even more diseases, and we believe the impact on global understanding of health and wellness will be profound.”
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Researchers find Android factory reset faulty and reversible

Android’s factory reset function isn’t as effective as we’d all like it to be, according to a team of Cambridge University researchers. The group estimates that as many as 500 to 630 million Android devices might not be capable of completely wiping t…
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