Weekend Reading – Robot Uprising Edition

robots
flickr photo by jeffedoe shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license


“Quixote” Is Teaching Navy Robots How To Play Nice With Humans

“The game draws its scenarios of everyday life from the Internet. Each of them is turned into a story, which is read to the AI. Then the AI gets to play a virtual agent in a scenario based on the story, and scores points as it emulates the protagonist. So far Riedl’s team has run through half a million cycles, and the AI ‘displayed proper social interactions’ more than 90 percent of the time.”

Popular Mechanics cheerfully explains how it’s a good thing that robots are learning ethics and social skills from video games that model interactions drawn from the Internet — because that’s gone so well for us humans.


Report: Colleges Expel Students Seeking Mental Health Resources to Avoid “Bad PR”

“During the segment, four other students told similar stories of being strapped to gurneys and taken to the hospital against their will. Wooten told Today that when she returned, the university’s administrators told her she had to leave campus. ‘They just handed me this contract saying I had to move all of my stuff outside of my dorm in 48 hours,’ said Wooten. ‘And they just kept pressuring me to sign it.'”

This is stigma in action, especially if it’s as widespread as this Today report suggests. Perhaps universities should be more concerned about the bad PR that comes from failing some of their most vulnerable students.


The Name of the Game is Addiction

“Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) and Sleep Research Lab presented their findings this week at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting in Denver. Their survey of 963 gamers found that on average, gamers delayed going to bed 36 percent of the nights they played video games. Participants also stayed up an average of 101 minutes later than they would have in a dark, quiet, device-free room.”

Trading sleep for more game time might seem like a good bargain as long as you still feel coherant the next day, but it takes a serious toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Get enough sleep if you can, folks.


Thin Slices of Anxiety: An Illustrated Meditation on What It’s Like to Live Enslaved by Worry and How to Break Free

“Through a backdoor of disarming and almost lighthearted honesty, Lepage takes us on a guided tour of this heavyhearted prison of the psyche, its symptoms, and its side effects — from the trap of people-pleasing to the toxic allure of conformity to the sense of outsiderdom.”

The excerpted illustrations shared in this Brain Pickings review are delightfully relatable. This book is going straight onto my TBR list.


How Vanity Cured My Depression

“In my experience with depression, the enemy is not unwanted thoughts dancing for attention (as with anxiety), or even daggers of self-hatred. What you’re fighting is a nothingness set on sucking your ambition, and in later stages, a will to live. It’s a faceless enemy that fights dirty. For me, the act of self-care was retaliation. It helped me to feel alive. It wasn’t so much about the discovery of night cream—or the lasting power of Kat Von D’s liquid lip liner—it was the ‘Hey, you! I know you want to die right now, but still you’re beautiful, and worthy of being taken care of.'”

Self-care comes in many shades, and based on this Harper’s Bazaar piece, some of them can be found in a nice Urban Decay palette.


GamesBeat’s E3 Non-Awards: The VR game that induced an out-of-body experience

“Like before, it hit me out of nowhere. I was listening to a colleague and sipping my hot tea when it happened. It was as if I was another person staring at someone else’s body and holding someone else’s tea. For a second there, the place I was in — the booth, the people around me, E3 itself — didn’t seem real.”

GamesBeat writer Giancarlo Valdes talks about moments of disassociation he experienced after playing certain VR demos at E3. It’s a fascinating reaction, and more than that, a good reminder that VR might take a bigger adjustment for some of us than we expect. [Disclosure: I’ve written for GamesBeat in the past.]


And with that, we’re off for the weekend. Why not let us know on Twitter or Facebook what you plan to play this weekend? Personally, I’ll be deciding how much I can safely spend on the current Steam sale, playing a little FFXIV, and trying not to worry too much about the state of the world while I’m at it.

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