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Every week we read tons of articles, browse through a variety of editorials and long reads to find the 10 most interesting pieces you can’t miss on any occasion. This week you’ll find out how AI reinvents the job interviews, what stands behind the ‘VSCO girl’ phenomena, and why McDonald’s CEO wants to bring tech innovations to the company. You’ll learn if robots really threaten the US workers and why your premeeting chatter matters. Read all of this and more in our new weekly digest of 10 articles we’d like you to like.
Why Scientists Are so Excited About “Quantum Supremacy”. — Vox
‘Scientists at Google on Wednesday declared, via a paper in the journal Nature, that they’d done something extraordinary. In building a quantum computer that solved an incredibly hard problem in 200 seconds — a problem the world’s fastest supercomputer would take 10,000 years to solve — they’d achieved “quantum supremacy.” That is: Google’s quantum computer did something that no conventional computer could reasonably do.
Computer scientists have seen quantum supremacy — the moment when a quantum computer could perform an action a conventional computer couldn’t — as an elusive, important milestone for their field. There are many research groups working on quantum computers and applications, but it appears Google has beaten its rivals to this milestone.
According to John Preskill, the Caltech particle physicist who coined the term “quantum supremacy,” Google’s quantum computer “is something new in the exploration of nature. These systems are doing things that are unprecedented.“‘ Read the article.
Google Is Improving 10 Percent of Searches by Understanding Language Context. — the Verge
“Google is currently rolling out a change to its core search algorithm that it says could change the rankings of results for as many as one in ten queries. It’s based on cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) techniques developed by Google researchers and applied to its search product over the course of the past 10 months.
In essence, Google is claiming that it is improving results by having a better understanding of how words relate to each other in a sentence. In one example Google discussed at a briefing with journalists yesterday, its search algorithm was able to parse the meaning of the following phrase: “Can you get medicine for someone pharmacy?”
The old Google search algorithm treated that sentence as a “bag of words,” according to Pandu Nayak, Google fellow and VP of search. So it looked at the important words, medicine and pharmacy, and simply returned local results. The new algorithm was able to understand the context of the words “for someone” to realize it was a question about whether you could pick up somebody else’s prescription — and it returned the right results.” Read the article.
What Publishers Like Buzzfeed, Hearst and Vice Are Learning From Being on Tiktok. — Digiday
“TikTok is attracting a small but growing group of publishers eager to master the short-form video platform and its young and growing audience.
While most are still in an experimentation phase when it comes to using TikTok, they’re learning what works and what doesn’t on an app that doesn’t yet have publisher-friendly resources like discovery tabs or the sharing of ad revenues. For now, few have dedicated resources to the platform, choosing instead to treat it as an experimental channel.” Read the article.
The Online Popularity of the “VSCO Girl.” — Columbia Journalism Review
“If you spend any time on social media, your head can spin at some of the acronyms being thrown around. Especially when you don’t know a term has become an insult.
Take “VSCO girl.” You can find hundreds of thousands of tweets, Instagram hashtags, YouTube videos, and TikTok posts tagged “#VSCO girl.”
Dictionary.com says the term “VSCO girl” first appeared in 2017: “Some of these instances apply the term to describe a young woman who is a loyal user of the app. Other instances use VSCO girl, likely with an ironic tone, for a young, white woman who posts perfectly—and enviably—attractive pictures online.”
Keep that racial reference in mind.
This past year, “VSCO girls” have generated dozens of media stories. It’s a testament to how quickly language and slang change that the news coverage includes contradictory articles on whether being a “VSCO girl” is a good thing or bad thing.” Read the article.
The Ripple Effect — Your Premeeting Chatter Matters. — rAVe [PUBS]
“The science of meetings is fascinating. How do we best communicate with one another when we find ourselves sitting across from each other in a conference room? How do we solve problems, build confidence in one another, share? It’s an interesting area of our lives to explore — particularly because the workday is composed of a series of meetings where (I hope) we’re trying to have meaningful impact.
Anyone who designs, deploys or supports technology for the workplace should take the time to really understand what’s happening when we “meet” in the workplace.
Here’s a homework assignment — next time you’re early to a meeting, take a look around the space. Breakdown what’s happening. If there are other people in the room — there is almost certainly the ubiquitous pre-meeting talk already underway. While most of us don’t consider this an important part of a meeting — it turns out it absolutely is.” Read the article.
Fact Check: Do Robots or Trade Threaten American Workers More? — NPR
“Are robots stealing workers’ jobs? At last week’s Democratic presidential debate, CNN moderator Erin Burnett dove into the thorny issue.
“According to a recent study, about a quarter of American jobs could be lost to automation in just the next 10 years,” she said, asking candidates how they would respond to this problem.
The question ultimately pitted two divergent worldviews against each other. One came from entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has centered his campaign on what he perceives as a massive employment threat from automation. His prescription is a universal basic income program.
The other point of view came from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who took issue with Burnett’s premise.” Read the article.
The 3 Types of Knowledge Workers, and How to Work With Each. — Dropbox
“Are you the kind of person who craves focus? Maybe you do your best work when you can avoid meetings, grab some headphones, and ignore all your emails. Or perhaps you’re more of an organizer. You love calendars and know exactly how to get nine people in the same room at the same time—even if some of your coworkers bristle at your attention to detail.
Tendencies like these can make the workplace difficult to navigate. You have your preferred way of working, your colleagues have theirs, and sometimes the two just don’t match. What’s worse, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You might find a great stylistic compromise with one coworker, only to learn it doesn’t work at all for the next.
Look a little more closely, however, and the chaos gets a little clearer. We reached out to a dozen Dropbox employees across a variety of roles, then did six in-depth, follow-up interviews. A pattern began to emerge: among the dozen employees, each tended to fit—at least loosely—into one of three primary categories: content, coordination, and communication. Simply knowing which category a colleague is in can give you a big head start toward finding the right way forward—even if you work in completely different ways.” Read the article.
The Evolution of Human-Computer Interaction and Digital Signage. — Sixteen:Nine
“If you want to use a computer or other digital device, you have to interact with it in some way. There’s a whole discipline devoted to this, called Human-Computer Interaction, or HCI (though sometimes it’s called CHI, putting the computer first).
HCI is really the place where communication between person and machine takes place, generally a display of some kind and then various other tools for sending data to and getting data from the computer. This interaction between person and machine is called the “loop of interaction”. Today, the most commonplace tools for maintaining this loop are keyboards and some sort of pointing device like a mouse. And, of course, touchscreens are everywhere these days, especially on laptops, tablets and smartphones.” Read the article.
McDonald’s CEO Wants Big Macs to Keep up With Big Tech. — Bloomberg
“Three years ago, Steve Easterbrook ran out of patience. Before flying home to Chicago for the Christmas holidays, he stopped in Madrid to meet with Spanish executives from McDonald’s. In a conference room at the company’s local office off the A6 highway, the mood soured as managers lamented heavy losses on the evenings when FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F. competed. Diners were staying home and ordering from archrival Burger King for delivery—a service McDonald’s didn’t offer.
Conceding to Burger King in any circumstance is an indignity, but losing hundreds of thousands of customers to the enemy’s modernized tactics during one of Spain’s most important weekly fixtures was the final straw. It represented everything that was defective at the business Easterbrook had been running for 22 months—McDonald’s Corp. was just too analog. A week before he was named chief executive officer, the company announced it had suffered one of its worst years in decades as dejected U.S. customers abandoned the brand for Chipotle burritos and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. In the U.K. hundreds of artisanal burger competitors had appeared seemingly overnight on the food-delivery mobile app Deliveroo, which indulged the couch potato demographic with an unprecedented ease of access that felled the appeal of McDonald’s drive-thrus. The time had come to address a weakness that stretched far beyond the company’s Iberian territories.” Read the article.
A Face-Scanning Algorithm Increasingly Decides Whether You Deserve the Job. — The Washington Post
“An artificial intelligence hiring system has become a powerful gatekeeper for some of America’s most prominent employers, reshaping how companies assess their workforce — and how prospective employees prove their worth.
Designed by the recruiting-technology firm HireVue, the system uses candidates’ computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated “employability” score.
HireVue’s “AI-driven assessments” have become so pervasive in some industries, including hospitality and finance, that universities make special efforts to train students on how to look and speak for best results. More than 100 employers now use the system, including Hilton, Unilever and Goldman Sachs, and more than a million job seekers have been analyzed.” Read the article.