WELCOME TO THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF SALIENCE

This week has been very difficult for many people around the world. Protests have continued in the United States, taken over social media and appeared in many other countries. If you’re interested in how some of America’s biggest tech companies are reacting to Black Lives Matter, read our first article below.

Also in this week’s newsletter are details of a potential new method of reversing the effects of global warming, how both Microsoft and Walmart are using artificial intelligence, and the science behind the selfie.

You can let us know your thoughts on other topics you would like covered by emailing rmorganevans@sapiencecomms.co.uk

 

#blackouttuesday

On Tuesday millions of people posted black squares on their social media accounts (Instagram in particular) using the hashtag #blackouttuesday. The posts were in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd in the United States. But how are some of America’s biggest tech companies reacting to the protests? Here’s is a list of what they are saying and what they are doing.

A revolutionary method of cooling the planet

Despite the efforts of governments and their citizens around the world, global temperatures continue to rise. Unfortunately, even if all carbon emissions were halted global temperatures and sea levels would keep rising. Nevertheless, there may be a way of rapidly, efficiently and cheaply eliminating global warming altogether. This method, discussed in this article from Bloomberg Green, is called solar geoengineering and involves releasing tiny reflective particles into the atmosphere to shield Earth from the Sun’s rays. Read more here

Microsoft lays off journalists to replace them with AI robots

It’s the news that has unsettled many journalists: Microsoft has announced that it is laying off dozens of editorial writers at its Microsoft News and MSN organizations, as part of a bigger push by the company to rely on artificial intelligence to pick news and content. The following article in The Verge details the changes, and notes that Microsoft had already been using AI to scan for content and then process and filter it and even suggest photos for human editors to pair it with. Who knows, perhaps this time next year, Salience will be written by robots too? Read more here

NeverSeen: Walmart’s use of AI is called into question

Sticking with artificial intelligence, Walmart’s use of the AI program Everseen has been questioned by a group of its own corporate employees, self-named the ‘Concerned Home Office Associates’. The program is used in thousands of Walmart’s stores to prevent shoplifting at registers by instantaneously detecting and alerting staff to theft-like behaviour. However, the program has been dubbed ‘NeverSeen’ by Walmart employees after numerous instances of misidentifications committed by the AI. The software has reportedly both falsely accused individuals of theft and been unable to detect actual theft. Walmart states there is no issue with the software. Read more here

And finally…The biological psychology behind what makes a good Instagram photo

We began this week’s Salience by discussing a serious use of social media with #blackouttuesday. By contrast, Instagrammers posting selfies seems positively trivial. But his article from The Next Web illuminates some of the psychological processes that are at work when others view the images people post online. The influence of design, the impact of colour on memory and attention, and how emotions stimulate memory are some of the factors discussed. Read more here