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A Guide to Global Internet Energy Usage

Why are the data centres that run the internet often sited close to cheap sources of power such as hydroelectric power stations? Because their energy consumption is so enormous.

Why are they increasingly located inside the arctic circle or even under the sea? Because much of the energy cost is due to the need to cool the thousands of hot web servers.

The pros and cons of working from home

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, professionals across various industries are conforming to the new normal of working from home. Zoom calls have replaced face to face meetings, daily commute has reduced to a few steps, and a flexible schedule stands in for a 9-to-5 routine.

But what does it all mean for productivity?

How to spot deepfakes: Reuters and Facebook release course

Deepfakes and other manipulated media are now easy to make. The tools are freely available and the results can be convincing. It is now possible to put one public figure’s words in the mouth of another by superimposing and lip-syncing the latter’s face. It is also possible to have anybody appear to say things that nobody ever said in reality except the faker. The technology is now mature enough to fool the casual viewer. And since the media are consumed almost entirely by casual viewers, deepfakes are a new and pernicious danger to the public’s perceptions of reality.

eLearning with chatbots: the new interface?

When it comes to the efficient transfer of knowledge into people’s heads, digital learning is still in its infancy. A student who sits clicking through the linear, restrictive activities in a typical LMS activity in 2019 is spending as much time complying with the demands of the technology as they are learning. Knowledge is dispensed in one direction in measured doses, like those internet-enabled cat feeders. Take this knowledge, says the LMS, pass the test, and be grateful. Just don’t ask me any difficult questions.

Everything’s haunted now

“The ghost in the machine” used to refer to humanity’s ineradicable tendency towards self-destruction. Arthur Koestler’s 1967 book of that name argues that our brains evolved very rapidly to make us the intelligent, talking creatures we are, but the new gray matter is built upon the original reptilian brain stem that we all still have, and which is capable of overpowering all our fine reasoning skills and propelling us towards catastrophic actions like nuclear war.