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Phone use while driving is still a huge problem, but this is helping

Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature appears to be having a positive affect on driver safety, but the lure of the smartphone is still leading to plenty of dangerous driving a new study has concluded. While speeding remains the number one unsafe driving behavior, phone use while at the wheel is right behind it.

Indeed, 38-percent of trips across the US involve drivers speeding, while 37-percent see drivers use their phone in some way while they ought to be paying attention to the road. The new figures come from EverQuote, maker of the EverDrive app. It uses a phone’s GPS and other sensors to track how aggressively drivers corner, accelerate, and brake, as well as what other activities they do, while on the road.

It’s been downloaded enough for EverQuote to have 781 million miles worth of data to play with, in fact. From that, the company says that on average 6-percent of time on trips are spent on the phone; in trips recorded with unsafe driving, more than a third of them involved phone use. It’s no small issue, either, with 1,000 accidents each day believed to be caused by distracted driving, according to the CDC.

One thing that can help, despite initial skepticism, is Do Not Disturb While Driving. Launched by Apple on the iPhone back in September 2023, it prevents notifications like text messages and calls from sounding while the vehicle is in motion. Only those contacts who have been whitelisted are allowed to break through the block.

According to EverQuote, 70-percent of iPhone users it looked at kept the Do Not Disturb While Driving features enabled after the iOS 11 update. For the month or so following its release, those users were on their iPhone 8-percent less. Not a huge amount, perhaps, but considering the amount of phone use while at the wheel overall, anything is clearly better than nothing.

Android, meanwhile, has added its own Do Not Disturb mode for driving use. Launched on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, it also uses sensor data to decide when the phone is in a moving vehicle, and trim the number of alerts and notifications that are permitted during that time. Rather than needing to be manually activated at the start of each journey, the Android system figures out intelligently whether or not to allow notifications. This year, there’ll be an API for third-party developers and device-makers to use, to integrate the same features into their own apps and phones.

75-percent of people surveyed by EverQuote said that they felt the Do Not Disturb features made them safer drivers. Still, the EverDrive app suggests there’s plenty of work still to be done, particularly among younger users. Those aged 18-20 use their phones on almost half of all their trips, it was found; drivers 21 or over use them on 38-percent of trips.

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What Is Textalyzer And How Can It Prevent People From Texting While Driving

Many an accident has happened over the past couple of decades because of people’s blatant disregard for repeated warnings about not using mobile phones while driving cars, riding bikes, or operating any kind of heavy machinery in general. Over the better part of the past decade, most states in the U.S. and indeed, most jurisdictions around the world, have banned texting by drivers. Public awareness campaigns have also tried to persuade people to get off their phones while they are in the driver’s seat. The problem, however, is only getting worse by each passing year, and reports about serious injuries and even fatalities from cellphone-related vehicular mishaps are becoming all too common.

What is Textalyzer and How Does it Work?

Textalyzer is an electronic device that is said to have the ability to check if a driver was using their phone or tablet while operating a vehicle. To determine whether a particular device was in used at a given point in the time, it will need to be plugged into the textalyzer, which will then scan the device to report the exact time when the phone was swiped or tapped. While the textalyzer is yet to be officially unveiled, it is said to look like a tablet about the size of an iPad. Made by an Israeli tech company called Cellebrite that was in the news last year for reportedly helping the FBI hack into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Farook, the technology has its own share of critics, who are fighting proposed legislation that would enable police officers to legally use the device to charge motorists with distracted driving.

Why is the Textalyzer Controversial?

While proponents of the textalyzer claim that it will help bring down the rampant usage of mobile phones while driving, opponents are up-in-arms over what they perceive to be yet another attack on their privacy by the government. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union and other privacy rights groups, the device is way too invasive and may prove to be a serious threat on an individual’s right to privacy if implemented without clear and unambiguous safeguards. In a statement released a few weeks ago, the NYCLU even argued that the proposed bill to empower police officers to use the textalyzer to examine the phones of drivers is a serious violation of privacy and is as such, unconstitutional.

What Does the Textalizer Law Propose and When Will it Come into Effect?

The legislation to implement the use of textalyzers was introduced in the New York Senate last year, and was promoted by lobby group ‘Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs)’, whose co-founder, Ben Lieberman, lost his son, Evan, a few years ago in a vehicular accident caused by a distracted driver. The proposed law, which has received support and faced opposition in equal measure, was approved by the New York Senate Transportation Committee and in currently waiting for the approval of the finance committee. Similar legislative action is also being considered actively by lawmakers and administrators in Tennessee, New Jersey and Illinois.

In case the proposed law comes into effect, the police will be required to inform motorists involved in an accident that their license is liable to be suspended with immediate effect pending a textalyzer scan of their mobile device(s). In case the driver “refuses to acquiesce to such field test”, the license can even be revoked. The proposed law also states that, every driver “shall be deemed to have given consent” to the scanning of his or her mobile device to determine whether they were using it in the seconds leading up to the mishap.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last month that the state’s Traffic Safety Committee would examine the textalyzer to see if it’s ready for prime time. As of now, there’s no concrete date for the technology to be implemented, but Cellebrite says that it is ready to bring its device to the market early next year.

SEE ALSO: What is 5G? Everything You Need To Know

Can the Textalyzer Really Reduce Distracted Driving?

As mentioned earlier, the use of phones while driving is not just frowned upon, but also banned in most countries around the world. However, as we know all too well, those rules are widely flouted by people everywhere. While the scourge of DUI has been successfully tackled to a large extent by the use of the breathalyzer, proponents of the textalyzer are hoping that the use of the new technology will help the law enforcement fight the problem of driving while using a phone. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but hopefully, we’ll have a balanced system that will help us cut down on distracted driving without infringing on our privacy and civil liberties.

Why Is Everyone Still Giving Instagram A Free Pass?

Instagram recently turned 10. Throughout the years, the platform has transformed from an app for photography enthusiasts into a social media juggernaut. However, one of the biggest milestones in its history is undoubtedly its acquisition by Facebook. Although many of the incremental changes made by the new owner weren’t always easy to spot, today’s Instagram is undeniably a Facebook product.

Yet, Instagram hasn’t been put under nearly as much scrutiny as its parent company. Facebook has lost the trust of many consumers thanks to endless data breaches and privacy scandals. Instagram, on the other hand, has seen its userbase grow to over one billion monthly users in the last couple of years, despite Facebook’s ever-worsening reputation. But are the two platforms really that different, and is it time to stop giving Instagram a free pass?

Related: The best apps like Instagram for Android

If rumors are to be believed, this is because Instagram founders Systrom and Krieger made few compromises with their vision for the platform. As time went on, however, they were forced to agree to more and more changes, succumbing to pressures from Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg himself. When the two parties could no longer reconcile, Systrom and Krieger ultimately left Instagram in 2023. Their absence has been felt in many of the changes made to the platform since.

Two platforms, one philosophy: collect data

Today, Instagram and Facebook are more alike than ever. You just have to look at the recent integration of Messenger in Instagram to see how blurred the lines between the two have become. This is part of Facebook’s larger effort to keep users inside its ecosystem, while its privacy problems remain unaddressed.

Instagram might not have found itself in hot water as many times as its parent company, but that hardly makes it a paragon of privacy. In fact, its data practices today are much closer to those of Facebook than many might realize. Recently, the company came under fire for allegedly collecting facial recognition data without consent. The lawsuit leveled against Instagram claims that included the facial data of non-users whose pictures were uploaded to the platform. Instagram claims it does not use facial recognition, but it’s hard to trust what the company says with Facebook’s past violations in mind.

Related: How to tweak your Instagram privacy settings

Facebook was among the first to deploy facial recognition for tagging selfies, making users opt-out rather than opt-in. The FTC called this practice “deceptive” when it sued Facebook in 2012. The company was subsequently forced to pay a record-breaking $5 billion settlement for that and other privacy violations. With that in mind, it’s hard to trust any privacy claims coming from a Facebook-owned company.

Instagram’s privacy policy

But you don’t even have to look at alleged cases to be worried about Instagram’s privacy practices. You only have to sit down and read its Data Policy and Terms of Use. The social network collects vast amounts of data on your activity, including all actions you take on the platform as well as, “the time, frequency and duration of your activities.” Financial information and shipping details (your address) are collected any time you make a transaction on any of Facebook’s products. Device attributes and operations are harvested too, including unique identifiers, device IDs, mouse movement, and, “Bluetooth signals, and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers,” to name a few.

Cell tower and Wi-Fi information are particularly worrying since the social network can likely discern your approximate location even when you haven’t granted it location permissions on your phone.

Why are we still giving Instagram a free pass?

So, why has Instagram managed to avoid being put under the privacy microscope for so long? Its demographics tend to skew younger than those of Facebook, which should hopefully mean that its users are more tech-literate and privacy-conscious.

Perhaps Instagram has managed to stay under the radar because it’s a much less outwardly toxic platform compared to its parent company. It has received its fair share of criticism for promoting unrealistic beauty standards and other issues, but privacy has been on the backburner. Instagram managed to skirt by unnoticed when Facebook was plagued by major scandals like Cambridge Audio Audio Analytica.

Read next: How to delete your Instagram account

Nevertheless, it is a platform we all need to keep a close eye on. Instagram is an integral part of the Facebook family, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. If privacy concerns you, it’s time to ask if using any Facebook-owned product is really worth it.

How Ai Is Leading Advances In Helping Dementia Suffers

If fiction is to believe, we should be wary of artificial intelligence. Even the world’s biggest innovators believe that AI is a beast that we shouldn’t poke too much with a stick: Elon Musk calls the technology, “summoning the demon”.

Dementia is one particular field that doctors have struggled to find a cure for. Given how little is known about the brain – and given that dementia is difficult even to diagnose in some patients, let alone treat – the disease is a scientific grey area in more ways than one. Thanks to artificial intelligence however, technology is helping to revolutionise the way that we fight this debilitating condition.

Diagnosis of dementia starts early: in fact, there are traceable changes made in the brain up to two decades before the noticeable signs of the disease become apparent. Science is helping to develop computer programs in order to notice these signs. Perhaps most impressively, AI has been known to detect Alzheimer’s from brain scans from an average of six years before a subject’s diagnosis confirming the condition.

Machine learning principally relies on data and statistical algorithms. Supposing that data scientists can ascertain huge datasets that contain the information of many sufferers of dementia, the algorithms can notice patterns and similarities between them. The idea with machine learning is that the AI learns for itself, producing results without being told to. in the case of diagnosis, machine learning can analyse differences between the physical structure of different brains in deeply detailed scans. The algorithms are capable of seeing chemical changes that can’t otherwise be spotted by doctors.

So if you can see the indications of such a horrific condition, surely you can predict the patterns of the suffers and eliminate future cases?

Either way, there are plenty of ways that predicting how a brain could mature can aid a sufferer of dementia. Brain conditions might not always be treatable: despite all the progress that science is making in being able to spot the signs and eradicate diseases, it’s not certain that a definitive cure of Alzheimer’s or dementia could be found in the next few years. The care and preparation that goes into looking after those afflicted with the condition are key though; if doctors can at least notice when a subject is showing signs, then at the very least, a sudden and shocking diagnosis can be softened, like living arrangements, care packages and potential treatment can be planned.

Also read: – A Guide to Make Your Own Logos Through AI Based Logo Maker Tools

It’s not just Alzheimer’s, dementia and related brain conditions that machine learning can help to diagnose and treat. AI is a big tool for neurologists to explore, thanks to research in artificial neural networks (ANN) that act in a similar way to a biological brain, however AI is also being used in other medical fields.

Cancer is still one of the most lethal diseases worldwide and one that claims the lives of millions every year. With millions being pumped into looking for cures and treatments, there is a lot of research and investment currently in artificial intelligence. In a similar way to dementia, huge datasets of patients can be analysed to diagnose the signs of cancer even sooner and provide immediate attention. Equally, the treatment offered to patients is improving thanks to machine learning too.

Artificial intelligence is of course, something that we should approach with caution. But whilst AI can have us question our own humanity, it may end up helping us to connect with it in ways deeper than we ever expected. Throughout human history, technology has helped to save lives and progress medical science: why should AI be any different? The future is bright when it comes to looking for a cure for dementia. In a few years’ time, as the technology evolves, perhaps it will open doors to find more treatments for other diseases too.

Mark White

Mark White is the editor of Top Business Tech, a title that focuses on AI, IoT, blockchain and emergent technology.

Transforming The Battlefield: How Ai Is Driving Military Tactics

The world has seen unprecedented technological change over the past few decades, impacting every aspect of human life. One area where it is expected to have far-reaching implications is military strategy and weapons manufacture. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Autonomy are transforming how nations wage war, and their impact will be profound.

AI-enabled systems can revolutionize where and how wars are fought. Small, cheap, and increasingly capable uncrewed systems will replace large, expensive, crewed weapon platforms. This revolution is already underway in many parts of the world. For example, Ukraine has developed sophisticated armed drones that strike with precision, while Russia is using AI “smart” mines that respond to nearby footsteps. Australia has a range of autonomous weapons and vessels that can be deployed in conflict, including uncrewed Ghost Bat aircraft and Bluebottle surveillance vessels.

Major powers around the world recognize the importance of AI in shaping the future of warfare. The House of Lords in the UK is holding a public inquiry to study the use of AI in weapons systems, while Luxembourg recently hosted an important conference on autonomous weapons. The United States has adopted a “third offset strategy” that will invest heavily in AI, autonomy, and robotics. Meanwhile, China has already announced its intention to become the world leader in AI by 2030.

In this article, we will examine how AI and autonomy fit into the larger strategic picture and why it is crucial for countries to incorporate them into their defense strategy.

AI and Autonomy: The Future of Warfare

AI and autonomy will change the way wars are fought in different ways. Autonomous systems can function independently or with minimal human intervention, allowing militaries to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ground robots, and uncrewed ships. In contrast, artificially intelligent systems can help decision-makers analyze vast amounts of data generated by sensors and other sources to provide a more accurate and timely picture of the battlefield.

The use of autonomous systems in warfare is not new. Drones have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan, while underwater drones have been used by navies worldwide for years. However, the increasing sophistication of AI-enabled systems is expected to revolutionize this field. These systems can act faster than human decision-makers, react with greater accuracy, and adapt to changing circumstances in real time.

The Role of AI and Autonomy in Military Strategy

Also Read: China Develops AI-Powered Artillery to Target Taiwan

One area where AI has shown its value is in identifying targets in satellite images. In 2014, the US Air Force demonstrated how machine learning algorithms could identify a T-90 main battle tank in a satellite image with an accuracy rate of 91%. Another area is facial recognition technology, which can help military personnel identify high-value targets in a crowd accurately. Additionally, AI-powered text generation can help create information operations to influence public opinion or deceive enemy forces.

AI and Autonomy: The Risks and Challenges

Despite the potential benefits of AI and autonomy in military strategy, there are risks and challenges we must address. One significant concern is the possibility of an arms race involving autonomous weapons. As AI specialist Steve Omohundro warned in 2014, “An autonomous weapons arms race is already taking place.”

The proliferation of autonomous weapons could lead to an escalation of violence as countries race to develop ever more sophisticated systems. There is also the risk of autonomous weapons malfunctioning or being hacked, thereby leading to unintended consequences.

Another challenge is the ethical concerns surrounding autonomous weapons. The use of artificial intelligence in warfare raises several questions about accountability and responsibility. For example, who is accountable if an autonomous weapon causes collateral damage or malfunctions? How do we ensure that these systems are used ethically and comply with international law?

Also Read: ChaosGPT: Just a Mischief or Bot with a Plan to Destroy Humanity

Our Say

AI and autonomy are transforming military strategy at an unprecedented pace, and their impact will be profound. Countries worldwide recognize the importance of artificial intelligence in shaping the future of warfare. They are hence investing heavily in research and development to stay ahead of the curve.

However, there are risks and challenges involved in the use of AI in designing and deploying war weapons. The proliferation of autonomous weapons could lead to an escalation of violence, and there are concerns about accountability and responsibility. Therefore, it is essential for countries to incorporate ethical considerations into their decision-making around AI-enabled systems.


Convincing Someone To Wear A Mask Is Hard, But Not Impossible

Colin Marshall is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Washington. This story originally featured on The Conversation.

Multiple studies have shown that masks reduce the transmission of virus-loaded droplets from people with COVID-19. However, according to a Gallup poll, almost a third of Americans say they rarely or never wear a mask in public.

This raises a question: Can the anti-maskers be persuaded to wear masks?

To some, it might appear that such a question has no ethical dimension. Wearing masks saves lives, so everyone should do it. Some even believe anti-maskers are simply selfish.

But as a philosopher who studies ethics and persuasion, I argue that things are more complicated than that.

Kant on love and respect

To start, consider one of the most influential ethical frameworks in Western thought: that of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.

According to Kant, morality is ultimately about respect and love. Respecting someone, Kant claims, is “limiting our self-esteem by the dignity of humanity in another person.” In other words, we should refrain from undermining others’ dignity.

Alongside respect, for Kant, we should also show others a certain type of love. To love others in the moral sense, he writes, is not about having a feeling, but is rather to “make others’ ends my own (provided only that these are not immoral).”

That is, moral love requires that we help others achieve their aims, as long as those aims aren’t immoral.

Altogether, this means that treating others well requires an understanding about what gives them their dignity and what things they are ultimately trying to achieve.

What is social dignity?

One could ask why trying to persuade someone to wear a mask would threaten their dignity.

Consider one type of dignity in particular: social dignity. According to ethicist Suzy Killmister, social dignity consists in someone living up to the standards that her community holds her to. The specific standards that matter are those which the community sees as being “shameful” to violate.

Someone’s social dignity can be damaged whether or not she accepts her society’s standards. One way this can happen is if she is a member of different social groups with conflicting standards.

For example, imagine a teenager from a conservative religious community who attends a secular public school. According to her religious community’s standards, it’s shameful to dress immodestly. According to the standards of her classmates, however, it’s shamefully unfashionable to dress conservatively. She faces a dilemma of dignity: No matter how she dresses, she cannot achieve full social dignity.

Shame and social standards

Because a significant majority of Americans do wear masks, and because of its importance in protecting public health, mask-wearing has become a social standard connected to shame.

In response, epidemiologist Julia Marcus has recently cautioned that it’s not effective to shame people who do not wear masks. Instead, she proposed approaching anti-maskers with empathy.

To see the ethical importance of Marcus’ suggestion, consider another finding from a Gallup poll: While most groups do report always or often wearing masks in public, that’s not true for Republicans. Over 50 percent of Republicans say they never, rarely, or only sometimes do. Similarly, other studies have found sharp regional differences in mask-wearing.

People in such communities are subject to anti-mask standards, even as their larger society’s standards require masks. Their dignity is therefore in a precarious position. Ethically speaking, then, any respectful engagement with them calls for a recognition of that fact, not a blunt attempt at persuasion.

Making small efforts

Remember that Kant says that, alongside respecting others’ dignity, we must also help them achieve their aims, provided those aims aren’t immoral. Refusing to wear a mask might well be immoral.

However, trying to maintain one’s social status by living up to society’s standards isn’t intrinsically immoral. If that’s what is driving anti-maskers’ refusals, then Kant’s framework could help pro-maskers see the ethical nuance of the situation.

Appreciating this ethical challenge could also help those who are seeking to persuade anti-maskers. They might need to offer anti-maskers some way of maintaining their dignity in their anti-mask social groups while wearing a mask in other settings.

For example, they might find examples of conservatives, including President Trump, who wear a mask in some contexts but not others. After all, even small efforts in mask-wearing can save lives.

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