Category Archives: Communications Technology

ASIA PACIFIC DRIVES GLOBAL MOBILE COMMERCE, RECORDING 64 PERCENT GROWTH IN 2016 TO REACH US$ 328 BILLION

Thanks ; Press-release  / Euromonitor International
Published  ; 06 July, 2017

SINGAPORE – Euromonitor International and Retail Asia are proud to announce the launch of the
14th ‘Retail Asia Top 500 Retailers Ranking’. According to the report, mobile retailing represents the
fastest growing digital channel in Asia Pacific, with sales totalling US$328 billion in 2016, an increase
of 64 percent year on year. Mobile commerce accounts for over 50 percent of total digital commerce
in China, Indonesia and South Korea. Euromonitor expects the region to reach US$795 billion by
2021, almost tripling North America’s leading mobile commerce market size.
“The success of internet and mobile retailing is a response to the rising demand for convenience
driven by ageing populations, the rise of smaller households, urbanization and hyper connected
consumers,” says Michelle Grant, head of retailing at Euromonitor International. “As shoppers seek
more convenience-based offerings, retailers will meet this demand by developing methods to assist
frictionless shopping, including opening new convenience focused formats and enabling more
purchases via internet – connected devices. Digital commerce is a truly coming force, one that
retailers need to include in their strategy.” Grant added.
Euromonitor and Retail Asia announced that the region’s top 500 retailers recorded total sales of
US$940 billion in 2016. While China and Japan witnessed slowing growth, Southeast Asian
economies performed well in 2016 with many retailers in India, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam
experiencing double-digit sales growth.
The Retail Asia Top 500 ranking, based on Euromonitor International’s retailing data, ranks the top
retailers from 14 key economies across Asia Pacific in terms of total sales, number of outlets, sales
area and sales per square metres.
The top 5 Asia Pacific retailers in 2016 were:
1. AEON Group (Japan)
2. 7-Eleven Japan
3. Woolworths (Australia)
4. Wesfarmers (Australia)
5. Family Mart (Japan)
To download the free report, visit:
http://go.euromonitor.com/FR-170619-Retail-Asia-Top-500_Download-top-40.html

Canada: Consumer Lifestyles in 2017

THANKS;Jennifer Elster / EURO-MONITOR INTERNATIONAL

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In contrast to recent years, consumer confidence has strengthened based on an improving economy, supporting growth, albeit slow growth, in consumer spending. Rising levels of spending have also been reflected in greater comfort in consumer borrowing, but rising household debt has become a concern. High house prices have discouraged younger consumers from jumping on the property ladder and slowed demand for a wide range of household items. Younger consumers are driving growth in online shopping.CL2017-CA

Russia has reawakened 3 mystery satellites — and no one knows what they are for

Thanks;Daniel Brown

Published;May 20, 2017, 6:29 AM 1,583

An illustration of the SES-10 telecommunications satellite.

Three Russian satellites that were sent into low orbit in 2013 are on the move again, and no one knows what they are for, The Daily Beast reports.

Having been idle for more than a year, one of the satellites went hundreds of meters off its orbit last month to within 1,200 meters of a piece of a Chinese weather satellite that China smashed in a 2007 anti-satellite rocket test.

The maneuver, which is pretty impressive for such a small spacecraft, is also rather close by orbital standards.

No one quite knows what the satellites are for, but some experts say they could be “technology-demonstrators” or even “precursors to orbital weapons,” according to The Daily Beast.

Code named Kosmos-2491, Kosmos-2499 and Kosmos-2504, the three satellites maneuvered several times in the last three years to within a few dozen feet of their old booster shells.

This means that they could be inspection satellites that can scan and match the orbit of other spacecraft, possibly even interact with it physically for repairs, modifications or to dismantle it.

It’s also possible that these satellites could be used for warfare. “You can probably equip them with lasers, maybe put some explosives on them,” Anatoly Zak, an independent expert on Russian spacecraft, told The Beast in 2015. “If [one] comes very close to some military satellite, it probably can do some harm.”

In 2012, US intelligence completed a report analyzing “the growing vulnerability of US satellites that provide secure military communications, warn about enemy missile launches, and provide precise targeting coordinates,” anonymous sources told Reuters.

The report raised many concerns about China’s ability to disrupt satellites in higher orbits, possibly putting sensitive U.S. spacecraft at risk, the sources told Reuters.

But Russian space agency chief Oleg Ostapenko claimed in 2014 that the satellites were for peaceful purposes.

NINE HACKERS ARRESTED IN THAILAND OVER GOVERNMENT HACKING

Thanks;REUTERS 

Published; 12/26/16 AT 10:24 AM

Cyber attacks took down government websites following strict online surveillance legislation being passed.

Hackers Hijack ISIS Twitter Accounts, Post Gay Porn

https://d.europe.newsweek.com/en/full/59121/hackers-hijack-isis-twitter-accounts-post-gay-porn.jpg?w=400&h=225&l=50&t=50&q=30
Thai police have detained nine people suspected of hacking government websites to protest against amendments to a cyber security law that critics say strengthens the authorities’ oversight of the internet.

Parliament passed legislation this month amending a cyber crime law, which rights groups said would likely to lead to more extensive online monitoring by the state.
In response, hackers launched a wave of cyber attacks last week, shutting down dozens of government websites.

The government said the websites were only down temporarily and the attacks caused minimum disruption.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters nine people had been arrested in connection with the hacking.
One of those arrested has been charged with breaking the cyber crime law, police said.
“The rest remain in custody and are being processed in accordance with the law,” police spokesman Dejnarong Suthicharnbancha told Reuters.
Thailand’s military government has increased online censorship since it seized power in a 2014 coup, in particular to block perceived insults to the royal family.
Criticism of the monarch, the regent or the heir is a crime known by the French term lese majeste, which carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years.
Since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13 and the ascension of new King Maha Vajiralongkorn on December 1, authorities have shut down hundreds of websites carrying what they consider to be material critical of the monarchy.
The military government is also sensitive about criticism of the 2014 coup, and a new constitution subsequently drawn up.

The government has promised to hold an election in 2017. 

The First Satellite To Ever Perform Quantum Experiments

Thanks;Sneha Susan John

chinas-jiuquan-space-launch-center.jpg

The 600 kg QUESS craft is going to be launched sometime this August. This Chinese satellite is the first satellite that will be performing quantum experiments in space. The satellite will be launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. This US$100-million mission is a collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The satellite QUESS craft is going to generate entangled photons in pairs, and these photons will be blasted in China and Austria to test whether they stay together though they are distanced by 1200km. As per the quantum physics rules, these particles are linked and so even if they are a light years apart, altering the property of one changes the other as well. This quantum principle also negates with Einstein’s theory that states that nothing can travel faster than light. The team will also be performing a BELL test on the entangled photons in China and Austria. The Chinese researchers hope that transmitting photons through space where they travel more smoothly will allow communication over a greater distance.

Physicist Chaoyang Lu stated that “if the first satellite goes well, China will definitely launch more,” he added that nearly 20 satellites are required to create a quantum communications network. At this point, the QUESS craft is going to be in space for a duration of two years in order to test how it works, after which more satellites will be sent to space. If the satellite succeeds, then it might result in an encrypted, space-based internet within a decade.

As per earlier research, scientists have been able to prove the quantum communication for nearly 300kms. Now scientists are hoping that longer distance communication will also work as photons tend to travel faster in space.

Canada, Japan, Italy and Singapore are also making plans and preparing to perform quantum space experiments.

 

Thailand hospitality sector has best year for two decades | Bangkok is Asia’s most popular destination‏

THANKS;Bangkok Business Briefing/Centaur Management Co., Ltd. (Head Office)/Nicola Jones-Crossley
THAILAND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY HAS BEST YEAR IN TWO DECADES
Thailand’s hospitality industry reached new highs in 2015, enjoying its best year in over two decades, according to research revealed exclusively by leading research institute STR Global.
Thailand closed the year with an overall occupancy of 73.4%, an increase of 13.6% over 2014, as arrivals soared to near the 30 million mark, driven by the demand from the mainland China market. December was a particularly strong month as occupancy levels reached 77.4%, the highest levels since 1995.
Organised by C9 Hotelworks, in cooperation with Thailand’s American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and supported by the InterContinental Hotel Group, Thailand Tourism Forum, now in its fifth year, has emerged as an important platform for tourism news and discussion, attracting over 500 registered delegates this year.

Key announcements included global hotel chain InterContinental Hotel Group unveiling expansion plans of its Hotel Indigo brand in Phuket, following its Bangkok launch last year, and Southeast Asia.

“We are delighted to be expanding our boutique hotel brand, Hotel Indigo, after its successful debut in Bangkok with Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road in 2015. In Thailand, we are slated to open the 180-room Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong in 2018 with our partners Kebsup Group Company Limited,” said Clarence Tan, Senior Vice President, Development, IHG Asia, Middle East & Africa.

The hotel investment community was out in force, led by keynote speaker Kenneth Gaw, President and Managing Principal of Gaw Capital Partners, whose company handles over USD10 billion in hospitality and real estate AUM (Assets Under Management) across the world.

“As a destination for hotel investment, Thailand remains one of our preferred choices because it is one of the most attractive travel destinations in the region,” Gaw said.

“Operating costs are relatively low and there is an abundance of opportunities. Thailand will remain the preferred travel destination for ASEAN and all Asian markets for years and we wish to continue to grow and be part of that. But there is the opportunity for even higher potential if it can achieve long-term political stability and relax foreign ownership restrictions.”

Thailand’s unique position in ASEAN, its upcoming 30 million annual arrivals milestone, the China market and its economic woes and what is termed the “new normal” – a period of almost continual disruption and challenge in the destination – were all addressed – along with the future of the hospitality industry in Thailand.
… AND BANGKOK IS THE REGION’S MOST POPULAR CITY

Bangkok has increased its lead over the pack as the region’s most popular destination, with international overnight visitors breaking the 20 million mark for the first time, according to the results of the inaugural MasterCard Asia Pacific Destinations Index released. Second place was a close fight between Singapore and Tokyo.

The inaugural index provides a ranking of 167 destinations across Asia Pacific. Thailand dominated the top ten destinations, taking three of the top ten rankings, with Phuket securing fifth place (9.3 million) and the coastal city of Pattaya coming in at eighth place (8.1 million).

Half of the top 10 destinations saw 10 percent growth or more in international overnight visitor numbers between 2014 and 2015 – Osaka (54.0 percent), Tokyo (53.2 percent), Bangkok (28.6 percent), Phuket (15.5 percent) and Pattaya (10.0 percent).
The top 20 destinations of Asia Pacific represent around half of all international overnight arrivals to the 167 Asia Pacific destinations covered by the Index.
The top ten Asia Pacific destinations ranked by international overnight visitor numbers:
1.       Bangkok 21.9 million
2.       Singapore 11.8 million
3.       Tokyo  11.8 million
4.       Kuala Lumpur 11.3 million
5.       Phuket 9.3 million
6.       Seoul 9.2 million
7.       Hong Kong 8.3 million
8.       Pattaya 8.1 million
9.       Bali 7.2 million
10.     Osaka 6.5 million
Bangkok also ranked number one in total expenditure at US$15.2 billion, with Seoul (US$14.4 billion) coming in second place, followed by Singapore (US$14.1 billion), Tokyo (US$11.9 billion) and Kuala Lumpur (US$10.5 billion).Asia Pacific’s tourism industry is the largest in the world by total contribution to GDP, having overtaken Europe in 2014. Tourism contributed US$2.27 trillion to Asia Pacific economies and 153.7 million jobs in 2015
Matthew Driver, Group Executive, Global Products & Solutions, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, commented, “The tourism industry in Asia Pacific is continuing to show robust growth with an increasing number of destinations receiving well over five million visitors a year, driven by increased consumer wealth, particularly from China. Our Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI) 2015 reveals the continued resilience of the Thailand market for tourism led by a resurgent Bangkok, as well as the return to popularity of Japan for visitors as demonstrated by the more than 50 percent growth year on year in its top four destinations.”
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IMPACT SPENDS 500M BAHT ON EXPANSION

IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center has set aside a budget of 500 million baht to build a Sky Bridge connecting IMPACT Challenger 1 and the outdoor area at the side of IMPACT Arena and a 5-storey retail building with approximately 8,000 square meters of floor space that will feature retail stores, restaurants, food court, and outlet stores. The company has come up with this investment in response to exhibitors and organizers needs of expanding exhibition space to support the growing popularity of their events.

“Although IMPACT Challenger is the world’s largest column free hall with a combined space of 60,000 square meters and has always been chosen as a preferred venue for large-scale trade fairs and exhibitions at both national and international levels, some events need more space to support an increase in exhibitors, visitors and sales volume as they have become more successful,” said Paul Kanjanapas, Managing Director of IMPACT Exhibition Management.

For example, ThaiFEX and Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair have expanded their floor space to 70,000 square meters and 80,000 square meters respectively by including IMPACT Forum. Meanwhile, OTOP City has spread over IMPACT Exhibition Hall 1-4. And more recently, the Automotive Aftermarket International Trade Fair (AAITF), a part of Thailand International Motor Expo which was held at IMPACT Challenger, took place at IMPACT Forum.

Construction of the Sky Bridge is expected to be fully completed during the next ThaiFEX in May 2016. Meanwhile, the 5-storey retail building is scheduled to open in late 2016.

 

AIS, TRUE IN NATIONAL 4G WAR

 

AIS and True Move both announced intentions to deploy nationwide LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service over recently bought 4G spectrum.

AIS says it has already deployed in 42 provinces and is investing THB34 billionto take the service nationwide (72 provinces) by March, the Bangkok Post reported. It says it will deploy 7,000 new base stations in the next two months alone using 1.8GHz spectrum.

True plans to invest THB56 billion on 13,500 base stations in n the 1.8GHz band and up to 4,000 base stations on the 900MHz frequency.

AIS will spend THB20 billion to expand its 3G network on the 2.1GHz band and increase its 3G base station total to 27,000. AIS has 38 million mobile connections, giving it a 46 per cent market share.

But while Bangkok hotels might be booming, exports fell more than expected last month.

Exports account for over half the GDP but fell 8.73% in December from a year earlier with the export value of US$17.1 billion, the Commerce Ministry said. The biggest fall was the China market, down 9.5%,

The fall exceeded analyst expectations.

The Bangkok Post said the fall was the highest since the 2011 floods.

THAILAND’S BIGGEST DATA CENTRE BEGINS CONSTRUCTION

Construction has begun on the new THB11 billion SUPERNAP Thailand, located in Hemmaraj Industrial Estate in Thailand’s eastern province Chonburi. SUPERNAP Thailand will be the first Uptime Institute rated Tier IV Gold data center in Asia, as well as the largest data center in the Kingdom.  The facility, which is expected to open in the first quarter of 2017, will have capacity for more than 6,000 data server racks.

“The SUPERNAP Thailand data center is a mirror of Switch SUPERNAP U.S. facilities, which are the first Tier IV Gold carrier-neutral colocation data centers on the planet. This cutting-edge data center will meet the global demand for innovation in Asia Pacific,” said CEO of SUPERNAP International Khaled Bichara. “With the emergence of the AEC and with Thailand’s focus on digital growth, this data center will set a new precedent for quality, security and innovation in Asia Pacific. We look forward to working with Thailand to attract more investment and more growth to the Thai digital economy.”

SUPERNAP International is developing the project in partnership with a group of leading Thai organizations, including CPB Equity, Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and True IDC. Executives from Kasikorn Bank and Siam Commercial Bank say the development of the SUPERNAP Thailand data center will enhance the banks’ use of technology to better serve their customers and provide a homegrown solution for Thai companies that seek to expand their IT capabilities.

“SUPERNAP Thailand aims to generate significant benefits for Thailand’s economy. This unique data center design will not only bring innovative technology to the Kingdom, but will also attract international investors. The facility will play an important role to support the country’s business development by showcasing Thailand as a regional hub for data centers,” said Siam Commercial Bank Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and SUPERNAP Thailand Chairman Deepak Sarup.

The new SUPERNAP Thailand data center will cover an area of nearly 75 rai or 12 hectares and will be strategically built outside the flood zone, 110-meters above sea level and only 27 kilometers away from the international submarine cable landing station, which links the facility to national and international telecoms and IT carriers.

ONYX USES REVCASTER

 

Leading international hospitality provider ONYX Hospitality Group has switched to Rainmaker’s competitive rate shopping tool, Revcaster, citing Revcaster’s functionality, the incremental revenue it generates, and the Rainmaker team’s responsiveness. Revcasterâ?Ts compatibility with numerous regional channels also factored into ONYXâ?Ts decision.
“Most critical for me in selecting a technology vendor is the partnership aspect,” said Stefan Wolf, senior vice-president, revenue and distribution strategy for ONYX. “From first contact, Rainmaker was prompt in responding to our needs and its product and services have proven very flexible. Of the presentations we received, we determined Rainmaker’s Revcaster best served our needs and, in fact, included some unexpected useful extras.”

Collecting market-specific hotel price information from hundreds of branded sites and online agencies, Revcaster provides deep-dive local knowledge and analysis, giving property managers the market intelligence and control to make real-time decisions that optimize rates. Easy-to-use downloadable reports are available anytime online in daily, weekly and other formats. Pricing data downloads into any revenue management tool or PMS.

Headquartered in Bangkok, ONYX Hospitality Group operates four diverse yet complementary brands Saffron, Amari, Shama and OZO each catering to the distinctive requirements of todayâ?Ts business and leisure travellers.

FABRINET HIRES NEW CTO
Fabrinet, a Bangkok based provider of advanced optical packaging and precision optical, electro-mechanical and electronic manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers of complex products, said Dr Hong Q. Hou has joined the company as Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer. Dr. Hou brings to Fabrinet extensive technical and executive-level experience in the semiconductor and fiber-optic communication industries. In 1998 he co-founded EMCORE Corporationâ?Ts photovoltaic division and led the commercialization of high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell technology for space power applications.  Dr. Hou holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego, and he has completed executive management courses at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Early in his career he conducted research at the AT&T Bell Laboratories and the Sandia National Laboratories. He holds eight U.S. patents and has published more than 200 technical articles

GLOBAL MARKET ADVISORS HIRES NEW ASIA HEAD
Global Market Advisors, a leading consulting firm to the casino gaming, hotel, and airline industries, said Shaun McCamley has joined the company as head of its Asia regional office.  Due to the company’s growth, GMA recently moved to larger space in the central business district of Bangkok, Thailand, which is where Shaun will be based.  GMA continues to invest and expand in the Asian gaming and hospitality segment, providing clients with services such as financial feasibility reports, marketing strategies, internet/ social gaming, and government relations.
BANGKOK TO GAIN DIRECT FLIGHT FROM URUMQI
Bangkok has been chosen as the destination of the first direct flight linking northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to a Southeast Asian country, Urumqi Diwopu International Airport announced according to the China Daily.
The flight will be operated by China Southern Airlines between Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and Bangkok, the airport said in a statement. Flights will be on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week, with a stopover at Lanzhou, capital of northwestern China’s Gansu province.
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Horwitz Prize Awarded for Research Revealing How the Brain is Wired

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                   Columbia University will award the 2015 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to S. Lawrence Zipursky, PhD, for discovering a molecular identification system that helps neurons to navigate and wire the brain. Zipursky is a professor of biological chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator. The Horwitz Prize, first awarded in 1967, is Columbia University’s top honor for achievement in biological and biochemical research. Forty-three Horwitz Prize awardees have won Nobel Prizes.

“Dr. Zipursky’s research has helped illuminate one of science’s biggest mysteries: how do our brains work, and how did they develop such incredible complexity?” said Lee Goldman, MD, Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor of the University, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, and chief executive of Columbia University Medical Center.

“Forming a deep understanding of how our brains are wired is a vital step in revealing how complex neurological disorders develop. For this reason, Dr. Zipursky’s work is invaluable,” added Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, chair of the Horwitz Prize Committee, and chair of the department of genetics and development at Columbia University Medical Center.

How an organism behaves and makes decisions is largely determined by how the cells in its nervous system are wired together.  Since starting his lab at UCLA in 1985, Zipursky’s research has focused on identifying genes that guide the formation of connections between neurons into circuits. From this search, Zipursky’s team discovered a gene called Dscam, a fruit fly gene related to the human Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (DSCAM) gene, which helps neurons choose the right paths to take as they extend through the developing nervous system.

Zipursky’s lab found that Dscam harnesses a special genetic process called “alternative splicing,” which combines different stretches of code from the same gene. This mechanism allows Dscam to produce over 38,000 different versions of the same protein.  This finding led Zipursky’s group to propose that the protein diversity encoded inside the Dscam gene could underlie complex wiring decisions in the nervous system.

Precisely how Dscam accomplished this feat was unknown. Zipursky’s team showed that rather than directly instructing nerve cells how to wire together, Dscam helps a neuron distinguish between its own branches and the branches of other neurons.  Each neuron chooses to display a specific set of Dscam variants on its surface, with the result that each nerve cell has a unique identity. In effect, Dscam is the nervous system’s molecular ID tag.

Zipursky and colleagues showed that Dscam molecular barcoding is the basis for a process called “self-avoidance” in which neurons guide themselves through the wiring process by pushing away their own branches. The diverse ID tags provided by Dscam ensure that this repulsion happens only between branches from the same cell. This process of self-recognition followed by repulsion sculpts the complex branching pattern of neurons, and prevents neurons from making connections to themselves.

These discoveries, along with research from others, reveal how different processes work together to wire the brain. Cells leave trails of molecules for neurons to follow in the developing brain, deploy guide cells to chaperone wandering branches, or—as Zipursky discovered—use genetic name badges that allow neurons to distinguish between one another. These molecular mechanisms all weave together elegantly to organize a complex neural architecture.

“The Horwitz Prize is awarded annually for research that has transformed our fundamental thinking about how biology works,” says Michael Purdy, PhD, executive vice president for research at Columbia University. “Dr. Zipursky’s work is an excellent example of this as it is an important step toward revealing the mysteries of the most complex object in the known universe: the brain.”

Awardee Biography

                     Lawrence Zipursky, PhD is a professor of biological chemistry and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Zipursky was raised in Canada and obtained his BA in Chemistry at Oberlin College. He received his PhD in Molecular Biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he completed his thesis with Dr. Jerard Hurwitz, studying DNA replication in E. coli. In 1981, he moved to the California Institute of Technology to study neural development in Drosophila with Dr. Seymour Benzer as a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow. He joined the department of biological chemistry at UCLA as a faculty member in 1985 and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an investigator in 1991. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize

                      The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize was established under the will of the late S. Gross Horwitz through a bequest to Columbia University. It is named in honor of the donor’s mother, Louisa Gross Horwitz, who was the daughter of Dr. Samuel David Gross (1805–89), a prominent Philadelphia surgeon who served as president of the American Medical Association and wrote Systems of Surgery. Of the 93 Horwitz Prize winners to date, 43 have gone on to receive Nobel prizes. Most recently, the 2013 Horwitz Prize winners, Edvard I. Moser, PhD, and May-Britt Moser, PhD, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, and John Michael O’Keefe, PhD, of University College London, shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. For a list of previous Horwitz Prize awardees, please click here.

                          The 2015 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lectures will be held on Thursday, November 12, 2015, followed by an awards ceremony. Dr. Zipursky will present lecture #1, “A Fly’s Eye View of Neural Circuit Development” at 10 am in Davis Auditorium, 530 West 120th St., at Columbia University.  Lecture #2, “Molecular Diversity, Cell Recognition, and the Assembly of Neural Circuits”, will be presented at 3:30 pm in the Alumni Auditorium, College of Physicians & Surgeons, 650 West 168th St., at Columbia University Medical Center.

The Internet Makes You Think You’re Smarter Than You Are: An Interview with Matthew Fisher

THANKS;Scott Berinato
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The research: Yale doctoral candidate Matthew Fisher and his colleagues Mariel Goddu and Frank Keil asked people a series of questions that seemed answerable but were actually difficult. The questions concerned things people assume they know but actually don’t—such as why there are phases of the moon and how glass is made. Some people were allowed to look up the answers on the internet, while others were not. Then the researchers asked a second set of questions on unrelated topics. In comparison with the other subjects, the people who’d been allowed to do online searches vastly overestimated their ability to answer the new questions correctly.

The challenge: Does the internet make us overconfident? Are we unable to distinguish between what’s stored in our own heads and what’s in the cloud? Mr. Fisher, defend your research.

Fisher: We’ve zeroed in on access to this massive online database of information as the cause of an illusion of understanding. Even when people did searches and got irrelevant or no results, they were far more confident that they’d know the answers to unrelated follow-up questions.

HBR: What if those who got internet access just happened to know the answers to the follow-up questions better?
Randomly assigning participants to one of the two conditions took care of that worry. All the potential differences between the groups, such as previous knowledge, were then randomly distributed across the groups, so the only difference between the two groups was whether they used the internet to look up the answers to our initial questions.

In some ways this seems obvious. If I know I have access to a mechanic, I’ll be more confident that I can keep my car running.
We’re making a crucial distinction here. We didn’t see that people were more confident that they could find answers if they had access to search. We saw that people were more confident that they knew the answers—had the information in their heads—if they had access to search. It’s more like thinking you know how to fix a car if you have access to a mechanic.

How could you tell people thought they had the information in their heads? Couldn’t they have been more confident because they knew they could look things up?
In one experiment we simply asked them how well they could explain answers without using any outside sources. In another, instead of asking about their confidence, we told them that people who could give better answers would show more brain activity while answering. Then, instead of having them rank their confidence on a scale, we showed them a series of brain scans that depicted less to more brain activity. We asked them to indicate how much brain activity they’d use to come up with their answer. People who had been given access to search consistently chose images with more brain activity.

That’s clever.
Yeah, I think we made that technique up.

So what’s actually going on here?
There’s a lot of research about transactive memory partners. Take an old married couple recalling their first date. In isolation neither recalls much, but if you put their memories together, they can re-create a richer memory that’s more than the sum of each person’s fragments. Now it looks like a machine can be that transactive memory partner. You plus a search is more than you or the search. It’s just that we think it’s only us.

Plus, searching the internet is almost effortless, and it’s almost always accessible. You never face your ignorance when it’s there. Because we’re so deeply plugged into it, we misattribute the connection to knowledge to actually having the knowledge ourselves. It becomes an appendage. We like to use the term “cognitive prosthesis.”

But is it so bad to have this prosthesis? It’s like a bionic arm. Bionic arms are cool!
Except what happens when it doesn’t work? Or when you can’t access the knowledge? With some professions, we want people to be truly knowledgeable, not have a false sense of their knowledge. Surgeons, for example. At the very least we have to start structuring our world so that if such people rely on this appendage, they’re never cut off from it. Look, it’s obvious the internet has benefits. We think there’s an inherent trade-off between learning about the world yourself and storing information about the world somewhere else besides your head. The more we use the internet, the harder it will be to assess what people truly know. And that includes assessments about ourselves.

How have people reacted to your findings?
They’ve resonated a lot more than I anticipated. Because there are so few places now where we can’t access the internet, we do feel it when it happens. On a plane or in a conversation where it would be rude to pull out a mobile device, you run into this roadblock. Suddenly, we don’t feel as smart. But we never were smarter, really; we just thought that what we could search for was actually something we already knew.

So the internet makes us feel like know-it-alls? Didn’t I already know that?
Psychologists have actually studied this “I knew it all along” phenomenon. When someone with credibility explains something to a layperson, a common reaction they get is “That’s obvious” or “Oh yeah, I knew that.” So one common ploy of psychologists is to describe their findings as the exact opposite of what they are, and people will react with “Yeah, that’s right—that makes sense.” I could have played this game and said to you, “We found that people feel dumb when they use the internet, that they know nothing compared to this vast resource.” And you would have said, “Yeah, duh, of course.”

Wait, how do I know you didn’t actually do that? Which is the real finding?
You have the paper.

What made you want to study this?
It was a nice real-world way to look at what I’m most interested in: metacognitive awareness, or people’s ability to assess how well they can explain things around them. Emotional investments can give people the illusion of insight. This happens in politics a lot. You end up thinking you know arguments better than you do. Our research has shown that when college students are asked to assess their knowledge of topics, they are least accurate about how much they know about their own majors. When you’re invested in something, you like to think you know a lot more than you do.

I definitely know more about Q&As than most people!
I’m sure you think you do.

ISIS using Facebook, Twitter to recruit Muslim girls in UK

THANKS;

s2-reutersmedia

The three friends, two aged 15 and one 16, left their east London homes last week and caught a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul without telling their families.

Islamic State is using social media and the promise of adventure to lure British Muslim girls to join its cause, an anti-extremism think tank said on Monday, as police attempt to trace three London schoolgirls believed to be heading to Syria.

The three friends, two aged 15 and one 16, left their east London homes last week and caught a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul without telling their families.

The Quilliam Foundation said there had been a concerted effort from Islamic State to use websites like Twitter, Ask.fm and Facebook to groom young girls into believing they have a moral duty and obligation to join the militant group.

For girls from conservative Muslim families in Britain, who may be denied the same opportunities as their brothers and male peers, messages offering the chance to “do something with your life” can prove tempting, said managing director Haras Rafiq.

“Many of these girls are not allowed out, or to do certain things in society,” Rafiq told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“When they are online, they are being targeted with messages of empowerment… ‘Come and do your bit… Reject Western values — you’ll never get what you want there'”.

Islamic State, the militant Sunni Muslim group, declared an Islamic caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq last summer. It has killed thousands in what the United Nations has called a reign of terror.

The Quilliam Foundation estimates some 600 people from Britain, around 10 percent of them female, have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the conflict, mostly with Islamic State.

Rafiq said girls targeted by Islamic State recruiters were being misled by the promise of adventure and excitement abroad.

A manifesto attributed to an-all female branch of Islamic State and translated into English by the think tank said girls may marry at nine, the “most pure” will be wed by 17 and all women should consider motherhood the purpose of their existence.

“These girls are going abroad because they are not really achieving what they consider to be much in Britain,” he said.

“But we want to inform young girls that the way [Islamic State] are targeting them and the story they’re selling them is not reality.”

In a report released in November 2014, The Quilliam Foundation said female supporters of Islamic State were using social media to persuade European Muslims to travel to Iraq and Syria with “the promise of an Islamist utopia”.

authorities keeping an eye on LINE messages

Thanks;Jeerapong Prasertpolkrung
@The Nation
Publication Date : 23-12-2014

Thailand’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry is keeping its eye on LINE message exchanges – particularly those related to the monarchy and national security.

“We can monitor all the nearly 40 million LINE messages sent by people in Thailand each day,” ICT Minister Pornchai Rujiprapa said yesterday.

He said about 33 million Thais use the LINE chat programme.

“If you receive LINE messages that offend the monarchy and threaten national security, you can lodge a complaint with police. We can trace where the messages originally come from,” Pornchai said. He spoke at a press conference at Government House on a LINE Sticker campaign to promote 12 national core values.

Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Yutthawong, who was also present during the event, said the LINE sticker was in line with Prime Minister and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief General Prayut Chan-ocha’s policy.

They were based on His Majesty’s guidelines. For example, the values encourage filial piety towards parents, guardians and teachers, morality, integrity, generosity, and sharing.

Pornchai said people could download the stickers for the 12 core values for free between December 30 and January 28. They expected three million to 3.5 million downloads, he said.

“The sticker production cost is 6.6 million baht. With VAT, the cost reaches 7.1 million baht,” he said.