Linked from Pocket: Elon Musk launches Neuralink, a venture to merge the human brain with AI





SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is backing a brain-computer interface venture called Neuralink, according to The Wall Street Journal.

from Pocket

First thought on reading this is how sci-fi and how well this matched to some of the film clips we watched in our together tube sessions. However as the article highlights, we are already implanting devices in the brain, the most successful being a device that can stop tremors in Parkinson’s sufferers. Perhaps because this is not more widespread, it still seems like science fiction, but Musk’s area of interest goes that little further and it’s about writing and saving information to and from the brain. It’s all about cognition, about improving ourselves through a technology link.

In reading this article and reminding myself of the current extent of research in this field, it’s taking me back (in thought) to the beginning of our EDC journey, to the first few weeks where I battled to understand the concept of cyborg, not as in the sci-fi movie sense but from some of our readings like Miller(2011) and Hayles (1999) where I grappled with the concept of cyborg being much closer to home,  where Miller (2011) explains cyborg as “the growing number of ways that technological apparatuses have been used to fix and alter the human body”, which still sounds “out there”  but is actually talking about such mundane things as eyeglasses and prosthetic limbs, body modification and gym membership.

Hayles (1999) however is probably much more relevant to the intention of Musk in this article, in her paper she talked about her amazement that any scientist could genuinely consider the idea that the human consciousness could be separated fro the body. Even in reading this article and hearing that this is indeed the subject of research in 2017, I still find myself agreeing with Hayles on this one and thinking, come on get real!



Hayles, N. Katherine (1999) Towards embodied virtuality from Hayles, N. Katherine,  How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics pp.1-25, 293-297, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.

Miller, V. (2011) Chapter 9: The Body and Information Technology, in Understanding Digital Culture. London: Sage.

Linked from Pocket: The music video that changes each time you click play

The algorithm automatically pulls in short clips from video-sharing sites like YouTube when you hit play on Shaking Chains’ Midnight Oil. The short bits of footage are shown back to back with the band’s track playing over the top.

from Pocket

After all our talk of algorithms and education, I found this a really nice “smiler” so thought I’d share. A music group using an algorithm to change the experience for viewers watching their music video. A nice change from algorithms pulling information out, instead, algorithms creating art?

Linked from Pocket: Google tells invisible army of ‘quality raters’ to flag Holocaust denial

10,000 contractors told to flag ‘upsetting-offensive’ content after months of criticism over hate speech, misinformation and fake news in search results Google is using a 10,000-strong army of independent contractors to flag “offensive or upsetting” content, in order to ensure

from Pocket

This appeared at the perfect time as I was finishing reading “Algorithmically recognizable: Santorum’s Google problem, and Google’s Santorum problem” by Gillespe, where he talks about how easy it is to manipulate the google algorithm into ranking a preferred site or keyword search. The problem with this is that we blindly trust the google search algorithm that there is no ulterior motive for the results which are given to us on a search. We incorrectly assume that the page ranking we are met by is genuinely a list of pages which meet our search criteria in order of relevance and have not been falsely inflated.

If this is the case for search engine optimisation, is it also something to consider in terms of research?  We often chose which papers to read based on the order they appear from a search, again assuming this is a pure result, however, if search results can be affected,  maliciously or as a result of behaviour, should we be assessing our behaviour?

For instance, deciding on the “relevance” of a research paper, is that decided by how often that paper is cited, how often it is read or checked out of an electronic library system? How often it’s been shared or added to external referencing and storage tools like paperpile, or by the keywords the author or publisher has assigned to it?  Thinking back to the idea that a user may choose papers based on the return order of their search query, this may inappropriately inflate the search report, resulting in papers which meet the search criteria more appropriately listing further down and those which have been read more often, therefore cited more often and shared more often due simply to convenience then climbing the ranking further which in turn restarts the cycle. This, then, could affect the view of this work, where certain papers or academics become more highly associated with particular areas or ideas purely because their name is being seen more often.

I wonder how often, for example, citations of Knox or Bayne could be attributed to students on MSCDE versus students at the O.U. course? Are we falsely inflating the return status of papers?


Gillespie, T., 2017. Algorithmically recognizable: Santorum’s Google problem, and Google’s Santorum problem. Information, Communication and Society, 20(1), pp.63–80.

Linked from Pocket: What Is an Online Community?

An online community is a community that forms on the internet. A community is a group of people interacting, sharing, and working toward a common goal. Whereas neighbors may converse in their yards, in an online community, members interact via social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. via Pocket