Google Plus losing to Facebook: what it says about Internet privacy — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

From Fortune

When Google joined the social networking space in 2011 with Google+, more than 25 million people joined in the first month. Now the number of true users on Google+ is less than 1% of the total 2.2 billion users on Google, according to a report by Stone Temple Consulting.

What happened?

Some of the decline may be explained by the fact that a Google+ profile was created automatically when people registered for Google. That alone would generate an impressive number of profiles, but wouldn’t necessarily lead to active use of the social media platform. According toForbes, just 6.7 million users have 50 or more posts ever, and only 3.5 million have 50 or more posts in the last 30 days.

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Robots add real value when working with humans, not replacing them — Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

From TechCrunch

In the popular media, we talk a lot about robots stealing jobs. But when we stop speculating and actually look at the real world of work, the impact of advanced robotics is far more nuanced and complicated. Issues of jobs and income inequality fade away, for example — there aren’t remotely enough robots to affect more than a handful of us in the practical sense.

Yet robots usually spell massive changes in the way that skilled work gets done: The work required to fly an F-16 in a combat zone is radically different from the work required to fly a Reaper, a semi-autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle, in that same zone.

Because they change the work so radically, robot-linked upheavals like this create a challenge: How do you train the next generation of professionals who will be working with robots

My research into the increasing use of robotics in surgery offers a partial answer. But it has also uncovered trends that — if they continue — could have a major impact on surgical training and, as a result, the quality of future surgeries.

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Umbrage against the machine — The return of humans — Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

From Re/code

As humans, we crave contact with one another. From tiny newborn babies who need their mothers, to the elderly who long for their children, throughout all stages of our lives, we reach for each other. It’s always been this way. Technology can’t replace the very thing that makes us human.

Many years ago, I was left to care for my dad, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. One of the first things I had to do was take away his car, as his driving had become dangerous. This was difficult. My Dad was a “car guy,” and he had taught me everything I know about cars — it was a love we shared together. Taking away his car left him incredibly isolated; he would try to call his friends during the day, only to be confused by answering machines that sounded like humans. Sometimes, Dad would even call companies who sent him bills, claiming he had questions, but really, I think he just wanted to reach out to another person. Again, he was foiled by the machines who told him to press 1 for this, and press 2 for that, always finding ways to keep him from connecting with an actual human.

As a response to this, I started GetHuman, a website that allows customers to call real people at big companies without having to wait on the line or go through a million robots. Today, GetHuman.com receives millions of visitors a month, helping people with customer service issues at places like Verizon and Comcast.

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