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Are algorithms hacking our thoughts?

Adriana Stan Contributor Share on Twitter Adriana Stan is the public relations director of W magazine and a writer on media, culture and technology. She is also the co-founder of the Interesting People in Interesting Times event series and podcast. More posts by this contributor Social media, politics, and the bubble of distraction Patterns, Predictability, and the Rise of Donald Trump  Mihai Botarel Contributor Share on Twitter Mihai Botarel is the co-founder of RXM Creative and a writer on society and technology. As Facebook shapes our access to information , Twitter dictates public opinion , and Tinder influences our dating decisions , the algorithms we’ve developed to help us navigate choice are now actively driving every aspect of our lives. But as we increasingly rely on them for everything from how we seek out news to how we relate to the people around us, have we automated the way we behave? Is human thinking beginning to mimic algorithmic processes? And is the Cambridge Analytica debacle a warning sign of what’s to come–and of happens when algorithms hack into our collective thoughts? It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Overwhelmed by choice–in products, people, and the sheer abundance of information coming at us at all times–we’ve programmed a better, faster, easier way to navigate the world around us. Using clear parameters and a set of simple rules, algorithms help us make sense of complex issues. They’re our digital companions, solving real-world problems we encounter at every step, and optimizing the way we make decisions. What’s the best restaurant in my neighborhood? Google knows it

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Call of Duty Black Ops IIII adds battle royale mode while taking the game back to boots on the ground

In recent releases,  Activision has taken its Call of Duty franchise into space (with its Infinite Warfare ) and back in time (with the World War II release); now it’s looking to its past to bring it back to glory, while adding the massive multi-player Battle Royale mode. The new Black Ops game is set within a narrative universe between Black Ops II and Black Ops III and stresses multi-player gaming like the battle royale, improved league play and collaborative features for gamers. Critical to that is the franchise’s introduction of Battle Royale mode, bringing favorite characters, favorite weapons and the most iconic parts of players’ favorite maps along with the ever-popular zombies into a winner-take-all competitive landscape. It’s a nod to the new ways gamers are playing and a pitch to rejuvenate Call of Duty — one of the world’s most popular game titles, with Black Ops as perhaps the most compelling title in the company’s arsenal. Previous releases have failed to capture the imagination in the same way as its early releases. Black Ops IIII is returning to the complete boots on the ground game play, and stressing the multi-player functionality that made the first games such a hit. The game will launch in October and will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Black Ops IIII doesn’t have a traditional campaign, but weaves narrative into each of the game’s modes. “This is a game that’s built to last for years to come,” said Treyarch chairman Mark Lamia. The game developers stressed more nuanced game play, with improved sound and graphics capabilities like more refined muzzle flashes and better audio for improved orientation. Weapons mods are getting an upgrade; each weapon will get its own set of attachments. There are operator mods and better, more realistic recoil. For players familiar with the game, Treyarch developers stressed changes to make the game more tactical, including a new healing mechanic and better situational awareness for more measured, strategic play. “Tactical players can choose when to disengage and look for a better opportunity to survive,” said one of the Treyarch developers presenting onstage in a cavernous hangar at the Jet Center Los Angeles for the Call of Duty IIII community reveal

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Fantasmo is a decentralized map for robots and augmented reality

“Whether for AR or robots, anytime you have software interacting with the world, it needs a 3D model of the globe. We think that map will look a lot more like the decentralized internet than a version of Apple Maps or Google Maps.” That’s the idea behind new startup Fantasmo , according to co-founder Jameson Detweiler. Coming out of stealth today, Fantasmo wants to let any developer contribute to and draw from a sub-centimeter accuracy map for robot navigation or anchoring AR experiences. Fantasmo plans to launch a free Camera Positioning Standard (CPS) that developers can use to collect and organize 3D mapping data. The startup will charge for commercial access and premium features in its TerraOS, an open-sourced operating system that helps property owners keep their maps up to date and supply them for use by robots, AR and other software equipped with Fantasmo’s SDK. With $2 million in funding led by TenOneTen Ventures, Fantasmo is now accepting developers and property owners to its private beta . Directly competing with Google’s own Visual Positioning System is an audacious move. Fantasmo is betting that private property owners won’t want big corporations snooping around to map their indoor spaces, and instead will want to retain control of this data so they can dictate how it’s used. With Fantasmo, they’ll be able to map spaces themselves and choose where robots can roam or if the next Pokémon GO can be played there. “Only Apple, Google, and HERE Maps want this centralized.   If this data sits on one of the big tech company’s servers, they could basically spy on anyone at any time,” says Detweiler. The prospect gets scarier when you imagine everyone wearing camera-equipped AR glasses in the future. “The AR cloud on a central server is Big Brother. It’s the end of privacy.” Detweiler and his co-founder Dr. Ryan Measel first had the spark for Fantasmo as best friends at Drexel University. “We need to build Pokémon in real life! That was the genesis of the company,” says Detweiler

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