It's a curious piece. At first the author, Ryan Avent, seems to be treading the familiar games-are-evil line, with stories of young men opting out of work, relationships, and the rest of life.
There is addiction... And games become the destructive vice of choice for some sets of players, taking the place of drugs or alcohol in a tragic but familiar narrative.
Then he turns to what he sees gamers escaping from, and becomes either more sympathetic or more depressing:
A life spent buried in video games, scraping by on meagre pay from irregular work or dependent on others, might seem empty and sad. Whether it is emptier and sadder than one spent buried in finance, accumulating points during long hours at the office while neglecting other aspects of life, is a matter of perspective.
The article has some odd gaps and weaknesses, like not exploring the role of people only having a high school education, or misogyny. But it's more important as an unusual piece, one that takes the scary digital meme seriously, then turns that hostile, anxious gaze back on the rest of the world.
"Dead, IRL" updates us on technologies for recreating human identity after death. Laurie Segall looks into several methods, including postmortem tweets, video recordings, and bots using social media to imitate a dead person's self.
By hewing to the present, movies like these lay out the ways our lives have already merged with our machines, and they’re able to do so without succumbing to the built-in moralism of dystopia as a genre. Whether modern communication is good or bad is almost irrelevant — even if there were a definitive answer to the mystery of technology’s effect on human behavior, would we care enough to actually stop using the devices that bind us?
Fauxcellarm, phantom ringing, and ringxiety are new to our lexicon, thanks to the universal presence of our buzzing, pinging smartphones. These terms refer to the perception that one's mobile device is ringing (or, more precisely, vibrating) when, in fact, it is not. David Laramie, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, studied this phenomenon for his dissertation. Among the 320 adult mobile phone users he polled, two-thirds of them reported experiencing phantom ringing. That is, they "heard" their phone ringing when it actually wasn't.
Two British scientists have gone the Infocult route in recommending a new way to handle artificially grown human tissue. They recommend attaching the new meat to robots, so the machines can work it into flexibility.
What would this humanoid-bioreactor system look like? It could possibly be built on top of a humanoid robot with "soft robotics" muscles made from electroactive polymers, and the growing muscles could piggyback on those to get their exercise. It would also need to be covered in soft, stretchable sensors to monitor the health of the growing tissues. The result might look a bit like the University of Tokyo's Kenshiro robot, whose actuators make realistically human movements. Its body would be covered in squishy, fluid-filled bags of engineered tissue. Patients needing tendon replacements in their hands might be able to shake hands or play piano with a robot who is wearing their future tendon grafts.
Annalee Newitz concludes:
Looking to the future, Mouthuy and Carr suggest that this could be the first step toward "biohybrid humanoids" with "cell-based actuators." In other words, this robot would be like the Terminator, whose metal endoskeleton is covered in human muscles, tendons, and skin. Obviously, if we want to create truly humanoid robots, it would make sense to eventually create ones whose musculoskeletal systems are made from cellular tissue rather than stretchy polymers. After all, this tissue is self-repairing and perfectly designed to stretch and contract.
(thanks to Steven "the flesh is all mine, I promise" Kaye)