Category Archives: VARIOUS IN THE NEWS

DARPA psychotherapy (or MDMA?)

Capture d’écran 2014-07-07 à 11.56.25

If mindfulness training fails at reducing anxiety, depression, and treating PTSD amongst the Marines, they will still have the possibility to consult with Ellie, “an avatar, a virtual therapist developed at USC with funding from DARPA, the Defense Department’s advanced research center.” Loopy.

Read: Would You Want Therapy From a Computerized Psychologist ? by Megan Garber in The Atlantic.

Alternative:

MDMA ? Not only PTSD might pass in just a few assisted sessions, but who knows, the whole idea of going to war or exerting violence against other life forms could very well pass FOREVER. More about PTSD & MDMA assisted psychotherapy research conducted by MAPShere.

The tech community needs compassion and inclusivity to fight surveillance, by Jillian York

Jillian York (EFF) In the Guardian today : “We are living amidst a crisis of conscience, politics and action. We must approach surveillance from all angles, taking care not to shame or dismiss people in the process”

She describes the harm reduction approach applied to the epidemic of surveillance she and jacob Appelbaum talked about last week at re:publica 14.

Read her article HERE

Journalists Sarah Harrison and Alexa O’Brien @ re:publica 14

SARAH HARRISON, who, on top of her great work with Wikileaks as an investigative journalist and legal researcher, has provided whistleblower Edward Snowden with some ultimate form of care last year, from Hong-Kong to his asylum in Russia,

and ALEXA O’BRIEN, the journalist to whom the world owes an extensive searchable archive of the only available transcripts of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning’s closed trial,

together put a few facts straight about Wikileaks, Manning and Snowden in their conversation @ re:publica 14.

Watch it HERE.

TOR against cyberstalkers and the extension of domestic violence

TOR IS BEING USED AS A SAFE HAVEN FOR VICTIMS OF CYBER-STALKING, an article by Meghan Neal

“For several years, Tor, spearheaded by Tor Project executive director Andrew Lewman, has been tackling cyberstalking, working with domestic violence groups to set up countersurveillance programs to help victims evade online surveillance, just as dissidents, whistleblowers, or cybercriminals use the onion router to mask their identity.

“Tor Browser and Tails [an incognito operating system] help keep victims anonymous, so they can browse without being watched, at least for a moment in time,” Lewman told me in an email.

The onion router can hide a victim’s identity long enough for them to research where to find help, and look up what data they can find about themselves without tipping off their stalker that they’re online, he said.”

“If you want to connect to me, you have to do it safely” – Jacob Appelbaum & Jillian York @ re:publica 14

Like people didn’t give up on sex because of STDs, they are not going to give up using the Internet or today’s communication devices because they are bugged. There are however (transitive) risks in exposing our lives to constant capture / monitoring by third parties, and these could be minimized if the variety of us become better informed and start to adopt know-better behaviors, like in safer sex. Could we then learn how to use crypto tools like we learnt how to place condoms on bananas ? Drawing analogies with public health campaigns, environmental education for children and other social movements, Jacob Appelbaum (TOR) and Jillian York (EFF) lay out the principles of what could be a harm reduction campaign against the epidemic of mass surveillance and erosion of privacy, in their talk @ re:publica 14. Note that in a salutary queering of the debate, Appelbaum and York also point to the fact that opting out of the problem today saying “I have nothing to hide” is pretty much equivalent to (dominant white male) hetero saying AIDS is a gays thing and doesn’t concern them : false of course, and irresponsible. True, not everyone exposed to mass surveillance in their countries is exposed to the same risks (as of now white westerners might not risk to be put in jail or drone striked overnight for expressing their thoughts or gathering together on a regular basis), but understanding the interconnectedness is a vital key for all across the globe.

Watch the talk here : LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX BABY, LET’S TALK ABOUT PGP 

A woman hid her pregnancy from Big data

A woman hid her pregnancy from the Internet, using TOR, cash not cards, personal server, local lockers instead of house mailbox, and of course, not feeding uncle Facebook the happy news. Educational.

“My story is about big data, but from the bottom up,” she said. “From a very personal perspective of what it takes to avoid being collected, being tracked and being placed into databases.”

READ How one woman hid her pregnancy from big data. 

Electronic health records pose challenges to privacy

Published in May 2011 in The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, here is a read for health-care professionals who care about privacy

To serve and to protect ? Electronic health records pose challenges for privacy, autonomy and person-centered medicine 

ARTICLE ABSTRACT:

“This paper highlights potential challenges to privacy posed by electronic health records and proposes to increase patient involvement in maintaining the privacy of their data. Electronic health records are heavily promoted in the United States, rendering sensitive health information accessible and potentially jeopardizing patient privacy. Yet certain HIPAA regulations are consistently violated, suggesting that the Federal Government is unable to fully enforce privacy standards. On the other hand, proportionately there are few civilian complaints to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), implying that patients are unaware of privacy breaches, the means to report them, or both. Without permitting patient control over information, the proposed privacy system assumes that leakages will occur and offers to notify patients of breaches after the fact. This deprives patients of the right to defend their intimate details, which are more available to caretakers, employers, and insurers than ever. Our proposed solution is to render usage of patient information transparent by default, so that patients can monitor and control who is privy to what input. This will enhance patient empowerment, feeding into improved governmental control over health data.”

by

Talya Miron-Shatz MA PhDa and Glyn Elwyn MB BCh MSc FRCGP PhDb

a Founding Director, Center for Medical Decision Making, Ono Academic College, Israel; Lecturer, Marketing Department, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
b Professor of Primary Medical Care, Clinical Epidemiology Interdisciplinary Research Group, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Caring for the commons with OUR!Netmundial

It’s raining cats and unicorns on the Internet and we hope this will positively influence the climate and conditions for life there.

Some salutary raindrops come in the shape of signatures to OUR!NETmundial’s message to the governments of the world.

A global response to the successful failures of Internet Governance Meetings, the letter calls for strong principles and actions in order to End Global Surveillance and Protect a Free Internet, Internet being envisioned here as a common good.

This is also stated by Jérémie Zimmerman’s in a publication presenting the campaign “The Internet Governance’s Farce and its Multi-Stakeholder Illusion

Those interested to learn/reflect more about “the commons” can search the Digital Library of the Commons, which “provides free and open access to full-text articles, papers, and dissertations (…) relevant to the study of the commons.”

This is your brain on mobile

Power down

 

 

When is the last time you powered down. All the way down. Not asleep. Not in airplane mode but ON | OFF. Try it with me now. Take your phone out, if you’re not already futzing with it, and turn it off (note: this is not advised if you are reading this on your mobile. In this case you are probably too far gone). Fair warning, you will experience a short stint of anxiety and emptiness. These mobile withdrawals are unpleasant (and slightly pathetic) but the sobering and liberating experience is worth more than your 25th snapchat today. I promise.

I was a mobile junkie. The phosphorescent glow left me mesmerized and needing more. Each Snapchat or push notification fueled my need for news, updates, and winning the battle against boredom. At my worst, most conversations with friends and family would start with “do you have a charger?”

I remember the turning point. I had just returned from a camping trip where I ‘witnessed’ a beautiful sunset. As I was reminiscing over the dozens of photos I took, I barely had any recollection of ACTUALLY being there. I was so focused on eternalizing the moment through my phone, that I hadn’t taken the time to eternalize it in my brain. I accepted my addiction and decided to make a change.

Full disclosure: I’m a technologist that works almost exclusively on mobile. I’ve had the opportunity to build some really neat things (thing 1 and thing 2) alongside very talented people. So my telling you to put your phone down is a little bit like a girl scout telling you only to buy 2 boxes. We (as app makers) want them to be addicting. Like a potato chip manufacturer, we try to put just the right crunch and the perfect amount of salt so you can’t help but have just one more. We want you to get addicted. It puts the potato chips on our table.

read the rest on : https://medium.com/medium-long/15308056cfae

The Effects Of Negative Emotions On Our Health

by JOE MARTINO

Humans experience an array of emotions, anything from happiness, to sadness to extreme joy and depression. Each one of these emotions creates a different feeling within the body. After all, our body releases different chemicals when we experience various things that make us happy and each chemical works to create a different environment within the body. For example if your brain releases serotonin, dopamine or oxytocin, you will feel good and happy. Convexly, if your body releases cortisol while you are stressed, you will have an entirely different feeling associated more with the body kicking into survival mode.

What about when we are thinking negative thoughts all the time? Or how about when we are thinking positive thoughts? What about when we are not emotionally charged to neither positive nor negative? Let’s explore how these affect our body and life.

Read more at : http://www.realfarmacy.com/the-effects-of-negative-emotions-on-our-health/

Big Doctor will care ?! Privacy for the weak !

The possibilities and dangers -closing in on us- of “pseudonymized” health records central databases, with police backdoors, scientists, insurers, and other third parties authorized to mine the “care.data” are exposed in this guardian article “Police will have backdoor access to health records despite opt-out”, by Randeep Ramesh.

This puts into light an architecture of biopower (as conceptualized by french philosopher Michel Foucault) where control over people’s destinies can technically and easily be exerted via the subjugation of their own bodies.

Let’s not forget that today, people’s personal health informations ALREADY are used against them and negatively affect their fundamental freedoms, for example of movement and/or economic interaction, whether it is a matter of crossing a border when you’re HIV+ and/or getting/keeping a job when you’re a smoker.

Overall it is a particularly aching reminder of the importance of protecting the personal data of the weak, in that it concerns the very place where people are the most vulnerable (that’s when we go to a doctor, right?), and a place that is still considered a safety and confidentiality haven – with privacy being a component of good care.

“PRIVACY FOR THE WEAK, TRANSPARENCY FOR THE POWERFUL”

as advocated and enabled by Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange,

really sounds like the right line.

Extract:

Phil Booth of medConfidential, which campaigns on medical privacy, told the Guardian: “This is precisely the danger when you create a giant database of highly sensitive information about people – all sorts of other people want to go rifling through it, including the government.” There’s always another good reason to go digging, but no one thinks of the catastrophic breach of trust this represents.”

“The lack of independent oversight and transparency is what’s most worrying. People trust their GP, but who’s heard of the Health and Social Care Information Centre or the four people who sign off on access to all our medical records?”

The Pink Side Of Dark: about sexist tech products

Good points made about “macho-dominated technology landscape”, sexist marketing, “pink coding” and other “dumbing down” of tech products in Casey Johnston’s article on Ars Technica.

“The poorly thought-out tech product for women hardly needs an introduction. Rare is the week that goes by without a company (or a Kickstarter) deciding that there just aren’t enough products for women amid the macho-dominated technology landscape and rolling out a new pink monstrosity.

It’s probably unfair to say that many of the most offensive products targeted at women cropped up because someone’s wife, girlfriend, or mom casually complained once that her smartphone wouldn’t do what she wanted, and suddenly she needed a solution tailored to her feminine ways—but it’s easy to envision that backstory for many of them.

Products that target women tend to fall into three basic problem categories through flaws of logic and, in some cases, morality.

Problem 1: Looks like a “woman’s product”

The simplest tactic used to target women is giving the product a stereotypically feminine design—pink, purple, sparkly, curvy, and so on. Contrary to popular belief, women are not biologically wired to like stuff that is pink or tiny or pretty. Some, however, are culturally wired for these things, as history and research on product segmentation show. They’ve been conditioned to believe pink and delicate things are made for them because the two are so often linked, and eventually this conditions what they choose for themselves. But that does not necessarily make it okay to reinforce this coding through your product marketing.

Continue reading (and have Santa read): FLOWCHART: HOW NOT TO DESIGN A “WOMAN’S” TECH PRODUCT

“How do we encourage more people to develop their renegade muscle or energy?”

Interviewed about her book IN THE BODY OF THE WORLD, in which she describes her battle with cancer, writer and activist Eve Ensler speaks about violence (more specifically against women), separation (mind/body, self/others, wo.men/nature…), and puts personal traumas into perspective with the ongoing world wars. She shares thoughts on how to overcome these failures of humanity, towards a revolution which she believes people are ready for. To “consuming” she opposes “connecting”, to “transaction”, “transformation”. She has inspiring words about empathy and embodiment “of intelligence” as collective empowerment tools, and gives a big up to truth tellers good doers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. She also salutes Terence Mc Kenna, and defines miracles not as magic, but as powerful leaps into positive change, created by vision, audacity, strong will, and community.

I like and find inspiring the way she puts that question : “How do we encourage more people to develop their renegade muscle or energy?”

And the interview ends with these words:

“It’s an amazing time to be alive right now— the stakes are so extreme and obvious—the creative possibilities are astounding and the possibilities for darkness are astounding, too.”

Read the interview by Michael Klein HERE on Guernica

About hackers and depression

Some material related to hackers’ psychological well being/health in the article CRACKING SUICIDE: HACKERS TRY TO ENGINEER A CURE FOR DEPRESSION, By Adrianne Jeffries. Full text here.

EXTRACTS :

WHAT’S IN A HACKER ?

(…)Bernadette Schell, vice-provost at Laurentian University, studied hackers for more than a decade. (…) She wanted to know whether hackers matched their portrayal in the media, which at the time considered them maladjusted cyber-psychopaths. ”I kept looking for everything that would support these myths,” she said. 

“What I found was that the hacker community was a very well-adjusted group of individuals.“ At the time, the perception was that hackers were computer addicted, high-strung type A personalities. But the hackers in Schell’s study turned out to be emotionally balanced, “self-healing” type B personalities. They were a bit more introverted than the average population, but still socially connected. Most were employed and made more than the median income level. Incidence of depression was not higher than in the general population. (In fact, some studies have shown that engineers, a group that has a lot of overlap with hackers, have one of the lowest depression rates compared to other occupations.) The hackers were so resilient that even being sent to jail or charged for hacking crimes did not affect their reported stress levels long term.

JUST FIX IT 

(…)The roboticist, hacker, and Discovery Channel personality Zoz, also known as Andrew Brooks, served as a student mentor while getting his PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. He ended up counseling a lot of depressed undergrads who tried to reverse-engineer a solution rather than seek help. Many hackers even refer to their strategies for dealing with depression as “hacks.” 

(…)Of course, depression can be difficult to synthesize into a math problem. The cause is usually a combination of cascading factors that are often difficult to trace. The solution can be even harder to pin down.

“It can be incredibly frustrating to be sitting there, looking at your own brain, and going, ‘right, I entirely understand that something is not quite right with the way that my neurotransmitters are communicating with the receptors in my brain,’” Patterson said. “‘I recognize that I can tinker with this balance and otherwise engage in manipulations of my own mental state to try to resolve this situation. I understand all of this, and why is it not working?’”

HACKING TOWARDS SOLUTIONS 

(…)The popular impression that hackers have a high suicide rate could be because many of the hackers who killed themselves were at the top of their fields, and the highly gifted are statistically more likely to suffer from depression. The community’s facility for dissecting, analyzing, and communicating on the internet — a medium that naturally amplifies its message — has also contributed to the perception that there is a hacker suicide crisis.

In reality, the situation is getting better. While there are still some negative associations with mental health issues among hackers, that’s true of most cultures. Like the broader public, awareness of mental health issues is growing, and resources like BlueHackers.org, which has information about depression geared to hackers, and IMAlive, an instant message version of a suicide hotline, have helped countless hackers through their issues. Hackers are also eager to help each other; the line for Baldet’s talk started forming 20 minutes before it was set to start, and she was mobbed by questioners afterward.

Six months after Sassaman died, Patterson appeared on a panel called “Geeks and Depression” at the 2011 Chaos Communication Congress (CCC), an international hacker conference.

 

(this article was first published 28th August 2013 by Le massage en images)

Le ventre notre deuxieme cerveau

Le ventre notre deuxieme cerveau

– Marie-Odile Monchicourt, France info, info science – 11 Juin 2012

S’il réagit aux antidépresseurs, il peut aider à prévenir la maladie de Parkinson… Depuis quelques années, la recherche accumule les indices qui font de cet organe rien de moins qu’un deuxième cerveau. Avec Michel Neunlist, directeur de l’unité 913 de l’INSERM. “Il possède autant de neurones que la moelle épinière et pourtant, il ne loge pas sous notre crâ^ne, mais dans notre ventre ! Lui, c’est le “système nerveux entérique” ou SNE, un réseau dense de neurones étroitement connectés entre eux, qui enveloppe tout l’intestin.