Showing posts from 2017

Thoughts on the Future of Technology and Well-Being

I just filled out a survey by Pew Internet and Elon College about the future of Internet technologies on well-being. Here are my responses:

Our question: Over the next decade, how will changes in digital life impact people’s overall well-being, physically and mentally?

Many years ago, the famed Nobel laureate Herb Simon pointed out that "[I]nformation consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." Simon presciently pointed this out in 1971.

However, back then, the challenge was information overload. Today, we now also have organizations that are actively vying for our attention, distracting us with smartphone notifications, highly personalized news, addictive games, Buzzfeed-style headlines, and fake news. These organizations also have a strong incentive to optimize their interaction loops, drawing on techniques from psychology and mass A/B testing to draw us in. Most of the time it's to increase clickthrough rates…

My Commencement Speech for SCGSSM 2017

I was recently honored with Alumni of the Year award from my high school alma mater, the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Math. For this award, I was also offered some time to give a short speech at this year's commencement ceremonies.

Note that the main speaker was Mick Mulvaney, who is Trump's budget director at the Office of Management and Budget. As you might know, Mulvaney is in charge of putting together the proposed US government budget, which essentially cuts... well, pretty much everything except the military.

Given that I am a scientist myself, and am an alum of a school for science and math, and would be speaking after someone who is proposing massive cuts to the National Science Foundation, EPA, National Institutes for Health, ARPA-E, Centers for Disease Control, NASA, and more, I felt I had to make a strong case for why science really matters, and to still encourage the graduating seniors that there is hope for the future.

And yes, I did consid…