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The Conversation, on Open Source hardware

The Conversation, on Open Source hardware

Making hardware ‘open source’ can help us fight future pandemics – here’s how we get there elenabsl/Shutterstock Richard Bowman, University of Bath and Julian Stirling, University of Bath In factories and industrial estates across the world, exceptional efforts are being made to ensure hospitals have ventilators, and logistics firms have freezers and refrigerators. Behind the scenes, this manufacturing drive has been taking place on an epic, unprecedented scale. In some places, it’s also been horrendously inefficient. Some of that inefficiency

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The Conversation, on Fearing Robots

Robots were dreamt up 100 years ago – why haven’t our fears about them changed since? Pavel Chagochkin/Shutterstock.com Michael Szollosy, University of Sheffield This is a story you will have heard before. A genius but completely mad scientist – with the backing of a ruthlessly greedy corporation – creates a sentient robot. The scientist’s intentions for the robot are noble: to help us work, to save us from mundane tasks, to serve its human masters. But the scientist is over-confident,

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The Conversation, on Electricity use and Sustainability

Britain’s electricity use is at its lowest for decades – but will never be this low again Lukasz Pajor / shutterstock Grant Wilson, University of Birmingham; Joseph Day, University of Birmingham, and Noah Godfrey, University of Birmingham In 2020, Britain’s electrical use was the lowest it had been since 1983. This wasn’t entirely due to COVID – demand for electricity had been falling for more than a decade anyway, thanks to savings from energy-efficient appliances, moving industry offshore and consumers

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The Conversation, on personality profiling using VR

How we discovered that VR can profile your personality Mark Nazh/Shutterstock Stephen Fairclough, Liverpool John Moores University Virtual reality (VR) has the power to take us out of our surroundings and transport us to far-off lands. From a quick round of golf, to fighting monsters or going for a skydive, all of this can be achieved from the comfort of your home. But it’s not just gamers who love VR and see its potential. VR is used a lot in

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The Conversation, on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Agriculture

The fourth agricultural revolution is coming – but who will really benefit? kung_tom/shutterstock David Rose, University of Reading and Charlotte-Anne Chivers, University of Gloucestershire Depending on who you listen to, artificial intelligence may either free us from monotonous labour and unleash huge productivity gains, or create a dystopia of mass unemployment and automated oppression. In the case of farming, some researchers, business people and politicians think the effects of AI and other advanced technologies are so great they are spurring

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The Conversation, on how digital communication is less rich than in-person

Why our screens leave us hungry for more nutritious forms of social interaction Shutterstock/LukyToky mc schraefel, University of Southampton COVID-19 has seen all the rules change when it comes to social engagement. Workplaces and schools have closed, gatherings have been banned, and the use of social media and other online tools has risen to bridge the gap. But as we continue to adapt to the various restrictions, we should remember that social media is the refined sugar of social interaction.

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The Conversation, on Remote working and offices or city centres

Remote working is here to stay – but that doesn’t mean the end of offices or city centres Most people will return to offices but there’s no rush. Shutterstock Jane Parry, University of Southampton When coronavirus lockdowns were introduced, the shift to remote working was sudden and sweeping. Now the British government is hoping the return to the office will be just as swift – to help the economy “get back to normal”. But pushing everyone back to the office

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The Conversation, on loss of sleep during our working lives

We lose about 30 minutes of sleep each night of the working week, new study shows It’s recommended that most adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Andrey_Popov/ Shutterstock Johanna Garefelt, Stockholm University For many of us, work often competes for time with sleep – which is why many of us look forward to the weekend for a chance to “catch up” on sleep. But how much sleep is lost on days when we work? Our latest

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The Conversation, on china and quantum communications technology

China’s quantum satellite enables first totally secure long-range messages Andrey VP/Shutterstock Harun Šiljak, Trinity College Dublin In the middle of the night, invisible to anyone but special telescopes in two Chinese observatories, satellite Micius sends particles of light to Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link. Named after the ancient Chinese philosopher also known as Mozi, Micius is the world’s first quantum communications satellite and has, for several years, been at the forefront of quantum encryption. Scientists have

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The Conversation, on learning and development from digital video games

Crucible: the science behind why watching others playing video games has become so popular Crucible is the first release from Amazon’s games studio Relentless. Relentless Game Studios Craig Weightman, Staffordshire University Amazon has taken a step into the highly lucrative world of gaming by releasing its first title, Crucible. A team-based action shooter, it hopes to rival industry giants like Fortnite. What makes the game unique is that it was developed to be as fun to watch as it is

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