SA Forum is an invited essay from experts on topical issues in science and technology. This column was produced in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Justine Cassell is director of the Human–Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Read the full article here, and read more about Cassell here.
Imagine you have a great-aunt, a vibrant woman in her 70s who refuses to be trapped in a rocking chair. In fact, she holds a full-time job and insists on walking there and back, a couple of miles each way. She says it keeps her young, but you can’t help worrying. No one is healthy forever.
Like many people her age, your great-aunt follows a set routine. Before her trip to work, she stops at a nearby café for a cup of
tea, and as she walks she phones a friend on her mobile phone. After work, she likes to call another friend to ask about a visit. She picks up a small cake or a few cookies at a shop on the way. Afterward she buys groceries to take home for supper.
A big departure from this pattern could mean your great-aunt is having problems. If you had access to her cell phone records and GPS data, you could see that something was up. It could even help you tell how urgent the situation might be. If she’s quit socializing and is just shuttling to work and back, it might signal depression—you’d make a note to drop by and make sure she’s okay. If she stops leaving the house entirely and doesn’t answer her phone, you know the problem is urgent. If you can’t get over there immediately, you’d better call a neighbor to look in on her. Read the rest of this entry »
Erika Johnsen writes: Their triumphant return to positive economic (if only just) earlier this year was met with plenty of self-congratulatory optimism on which Socialist President Hollande’s government proclaimed they were fairly confident they’d be able to build, but interestingly enough, it seems that their high-tax, high-regulatoryregime is in fact preventing them from making any additional progress (weird, right?). Earlier this week, we learned that the euro economy grew by “less than expected” at a mere 0.1 percent, while France’s economy contracted by a tenth of a point. Now, more bad news in the form of slackened businesses activity and weakened consumer confidence across the zone in general and in certain places especially:
Hopes that the euro zone could be emerging from years of torpor suffered another setback on Thursday when an indicator of economic activity in the region slipped unexpectedly and suggested that France could be sliding back into recession.
The indicator, a survey of purchasing managers published by the research firm Markit, fell to 51.5 in November from 51.9 in October, according to preliminary data, as the decline in France offset further improvement in Germany. Economists had expected the composite index for the euro zone, which tracks both manufacturing and service sectors, to rise to 52, according to Barclays.
A reading above 50 is considered a sign that the euro zone economy is growing. But the index for France fell to 48.5 in November from 50.5 in October, the latest sign of shrinkage in the French economy…