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When Machines Get Mean

(Picture credit: Carnegie Mellon University) Science has well established that a person’s ability to perform a task is affected by what other people say, but now a new study suggests we can extend this feedback circle to include robots. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University gathered 40 study participants and had them play against a robot in “Guards and Treasures,” a game used to study rationality. Each person played the game 35 times, either receiving encouragements from the robot, or almost hilariously mild trash talk. (One example: “I have to say you are a terrible player.” Another: “Over the course of the game your playing has become confused.”) Everyone playing understood that their

Why Today's Music Sounds Worse

When you were in high school or college, what did your parents think of the music you loved? While there are exceptions, statistically speaking, it’s likely they didn’t enjoy it. From disco to rock, the Greatest Generation frequently dismissed the hits of the day as “just a bunch of noise.” Now quick, what do you think of current popular music? If your kneejerk answer is that it’s “just a bunch of noise,” you might want to consider what Frank T. McAndrew has to say in The Conversation. McAndrew argues that there are a number of reasons why, as we age, our musical tastes tend to get encased in amber—and none of his theories involve a sudden downtick in the quality of contemporary music. Inste

Anxious? Here's One Thing You Need

It’s estimated that some 40 million American adults have an anxiety disorder, and the condition is also rising among children and teens, which doesn’t bode well for the future, either. While there are currently a variety of anti-anxiety medications on the market, the American healthcare system itself is an incredible stressor for many. If we can find an affordable non-pharmaceutical anxiety treatment, something appropriate for young people and hopefully without the possible side effects of a pill, we will improve countless lives. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, believe they might’ve found an answer, and it’s free, although unfortunately, not freely available to al