Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 8, 2020

in STEMGeekslast year

Microsoft applies for cryptocurrency patent using human's activity-related brainwaves for proof of work; Twetch, a BSV based social media platform, rolls out peer to peer payment on the command line; IQ2 discusses methods for distinguishing information from misinformation during times of crisis; Researcher recognizes mistake and corrects it, instead of burying it; and a Steem post with an embedded video discussing the history and science of anesthesia


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First posted on my Steem blog: StemGeeks, SteemIt, SteemPeak*, SteemSTEM.


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  1. Microsoft wants to use your body to process digital currencies - A Microsoft patent application, titled, Cryptocurrency system using data on body activity describes the idea of using data from human bodies while they exercise as a mechanism for distributing digital currencies. The technique would make use of data like brain waves that are associated with the execution of specific tasks in order to demonstrate proof of work by a human "miner".

  2. Bitcoin SV’s Social Platform Twetch Streamlines P2P Payments - In a step towards a vision expressed by nChain chief scientist, Craig Wright, Twetch appears to be something like Twitter that stores its data on the Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) blockchain. In order to disincentivize bots and spam, it costs $0.02 per post, and stores the content on the BSV blockchain, but users apparently get paid according to a post's visibility. Now, the platform has added a new option so that users can send payments to each other using the "/pay" command line.

    Here is the video from where Wright introduced his Metanet vision:

  3. How to Fight an Infodemic - I am listening to the 50+ minute audio now, so I can't summarize the talk, but in this interview, John Donvan conducts an interview with Angie Drobnic Holan and Kate Starbird on the topic of "crisis informatics" or, "how to be discerning communicators during a time of crisis". Holan is a journalist and editor-in-chief at Politifact, and Starbird is a researcher in the field of crisis informatics. In early parts of the interview, Starbird notes that her research began with a look at the positive effects of social media during crises, but over the years the balance has shifted to its growing negative impacts. Holan agrees with the World Health Organization characterization that we have an information epedimic or infodemic, and adds that there's no good way to measure the magnitude of the ratio of disinformation and misinformation vs. total information, so it's not totally clear whether the problem is growing, shrinking, or staying the same, although many people have a subjective sense that the problem is growing.

  4. “I was shocked. I felt physically ill.” And still, she corrected the record. - Julia Strand is a woman with integrity. She published a paper two years ago in the journal, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review which covered the topic of how people strain to listen in crowded rooms. According to her, "The data were 'gorgeous,'... initially replicable and well-received." However, she secured a grant for follow-up study, and could not replicate her results. As she investigated the discrepancy, it became clear that the original work had an obscure error that invalidated her findings. She could have swept it under the rug, and most likely, no one would ever have noticed. Instead, despite fears about how it would affect her career, she notified her collaborators, the journal, and the NIH granting agency. The paper has now been retracted, but so far, the personal and professional responses to Strand's error appear to be positive and supportive.

  5. Steem @answerswithjoe: We Still Don't Know How Anesthesia Works | Answers With Joe - This post contains a youtube embed that discusses the science of anesthesia. In the video, Joe points out that the use of anesthesia was discovered by accident, when Dr. William Morton realized that ether could be used to eliminate all pain and recollection for a period of time, and thereby created the "etherization" technique. That has evolved into four different types of anesthesia, procedural, local, regional, and general. Procedural anesthesia makes a patient pain-free and calm, and impairs cognition, but doesn't cause unconsciousness. Local and regional anesthesias numb an area so the patient doesn't feel pain, but don't impair consciousness. General anesthesia eliminates all memory of pain, and puts the patient into a state of apparent unconsciousness. At this point, the effects of different types of anesthesia are understood fairly well, but according to the narrator, the mechanism is still poorly understood. It is believed that the anisthetics prevent pain signalling from reaching the brain, but the full mechanism can't be understood because science doesn't fully understand consciousness and the formation of memories.

    Here is the video (but click through to give @answerswithjoe an upvote.):

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