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What I'm Reading - 5/17/2018

What I'm Reading - 5/17/2018

Three to five links every weekday - 'three separate visions of the future' edition.

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MICROSOFT’S NEW XBOX CONTROLLER IS DESIGNED ENTIRELY FOR PLAYERS WITH DISABILITIES

The world of video games is not particularly welcoming to individuals with disabilities. Game makers and platform holders have made some strides in this area in recent years, but for the most part, they’ve left the hard work to third-party organizations. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the strongest, clearest expression yet of Microsoft’s commitment to reaching people with disabilities, and it sprang in part out of a controller that’s on the opposite end of the accessibility spectrum.

“We designed the controller to work around ecosystems that exist today, with peripherals that people who have limited mobility may already own today,” Kumar said. Kaufman noted that many third-party options people choose come from companies like AbleNet, which makes and sells a variety of these accessories already. Others include the QuadStick, a device that lets quadriplegic individuals sip or puff on a straw to control games.

The controller also supports Copilot. Players can pair it with a traditional Xbox One controller, mapping half of the functions to the standard gamepad and half of the functions to the Adaptive Controller. This can help players, Kumar explained, who may have typical functionality in one of their hands, but need a different solution to use the other side of the controller.


SWEDEN WILL BE CASHLESS IN 5 YEARS, ACCORDING TO THE COUNTRY'S LARGEST AND OLDEST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY

Sweden is at the forefront of the move towards a cashless society, with only 13% of payments being made using cash, according to Sweden's central bank, Riksbanken. This development has been a rapid one. The number of notes and coins in circulation fell by 30% between 2012 and 2014. It has more than halved in the past decade.

Over the next five years, the amount of payments involving cash could work its way down to zero, according to scientists at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, the largest and oldest technical university in Sweden. Riksbanken is a little more hesitant in their estimation and considers it more likely that a cashless society could become a reality in just over a decade.


GOOGLE’S 'SELFISH LEDGER' IS AN UNSETTLING VISION OF SILICON VALLEY SOCIAL ENGINEERING

The video was made in late 2016 by Nick Foster, the head of design at X (formerly Google X), and shared internally within Google. It imagines a future of total data collection, where Google helps nudge users into alignment with their goals, custom-prints personalized devices to collect more data, and even guides the behavior of entire populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease.

Titled The Selfish Ledger, the 9-minute film starts off with a history of Lamarckian epigenetics, which are broadly concerned with the passing on of traits acquired during an organism’s lifetime. Narrating the video, Foster acknowledges that the theory may have been discredited when it comes to genetics but says it provides a useful metaphor for user data. (The title is an homage to Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene.) The way we use our phones creates “a constantly evolving representation of who we are,” which Foster terms a “ledger,” positing that these data profiles could be built up, used to modify behaviors, and transferred from one user to another...

What I'm Reading - 5/18/2018

What I'm Reading - 5/18/2018

What I'm Reading - 5/16/2018

What I'm Reading - 5/16/2018