Ex-Facebook president unloads on Mark Zuckerberg, says he’s exploiting vulnerable people

Ex-Facebook president unloads on Mark Zuckerberg, says he’s exploiting vulnerable people

Sean Parker shared strong words with Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, on Wednesday.

Parker, 38, is the founding president of Facebook and founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. At an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia he said that the largest social network on the planet is a behemoth that consumes people’s time, reported media outlets.

Parker was reportedly an early inspiration for Zuckerberg when Parker co-founded the music file-sharing site Napster in 1999 five years before Facebook. Parker was involved in the early days of Facebook, helping Zuckerberg raise institutional investment and maintain voting control of the company.

Referring to Facebook as “a social validation feedback loop”, Parker added, “That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever… It’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you’re exploiting vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators, it’s me, it’s Mark… understood this consciously and we did it anyway.”

“It’s a social validation feedback loop…. It’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you’re exploiting vulnerability in human psychology.” — Sean Parker

He said the thought process that went into building these applications — “Facebook being the first of them to really understand it” — was all about capturing your attention and never letting go. “That thought process was about how much do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible,” Parker said. “That means we need to give you a dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post, or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content.”

Zuckerberg, 33, has long maintained that Facebook brings people together. Now, the Facebook CEO says that connecting people online isn’t enough.

“We used to have a sense that if we could just do those things, then that would make a lot of the things in the world better by themselves,” Zuckerberg told CNN Tech. “But now we realize that we need to do more too. It’s important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together.”

Here’s some further reading on the evolution of social media and how it’s impacting society and our minds:

Check out what Jason Silva has to say about social media in the age of filter bubbles.


Stephen Hawking warns: Humanity may have only 600 years to leave Earth

Stephen Hawking warns: Humanity may have only 600 years to leave Earth

At a conference in Beijing earlier in the week, famous physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that humans probably have about 6 centuries to leave the planet if we are to have a chance to avoid extinction, according to media reports.

He declared that humans must “boldly go where no one has gone before” if we would like our species to continue for another million years.

If we don’t, according to Hawking, our species will be destroyed from the planet becoming overcrowded and increased energy consumption turning our world into a ball of fire as the population rises, according to The Sun.

Hawking was making a video appearance at the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing on Sunday and appealed to the investors present to back his plans to travel to the closest star outside our solar system, with the hope that a livable planet may be orbiting it.

Alpha Centauri is one of the closest star systems to our galaxy at just four light-years away, with scientists believing it may have exo-planets that could foster life, just like here on Earth.

Hawking highlighted the potential of Breakthrough Starshot to explore the star system. It is a $100 million project that aims to “tiny, unscrewed, sail-equipped probes that will be accelerated to 20 percent the speed of light by powerful lasers.”

It’s theoretically possible that the spaceship could get to Mars in less than an hour and fly to the closest exoplanet to Earth: the possibly habitable Proxima b which is 4.2 light-years from us. Breakthrough Starshot could get there after a space journey of just 20 years, according to Hawking.

“Maybe if all goes well, sometime a little after the middle of the century, we’ll have our first picture of another planet that may be life-bearing orbiting the nearest star,” Breakthrough StarshotExecutive Director Pete Worden, the former head of NASA’s Ames Research Center, said at the summit in Beijing, according to The Sun.

Hawking said: “The idea behind this innovation is to have the nanocraft on the light beam.

5 myths about baby sleep and SIDS, debunked by an expert

5 myths about baby sleep and SIDS, debunked by an expert

Few things in life are as heartbreaking as the sudden death of an infant. The sudden, unexplained death of an infant, known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), leaves parents in shock and tormented by unanswerable questions. Did they do anything that could have caused their baby’s death? Could they have done anything to prevent the tragedy?

SIDS is poorly understood and the cause is still unknown. Doctors think it might be associated with defects in the portion of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.

The Mayo clinic defines SIDS as the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old.

Part of what makes SIDS so terrifying is that it kills newborns who seem otherwise healthy. It does so without warning. And no one really knows how common it is.

Some measures have helped to reduce the numbers, but SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants between 1 month and 1 year of age.

The “Back to Sleep” public health campaign in the 1990s instructed mothers and other caregivers to place babies on their backs to sleep. This campaign is credited with cutting SIDS deaths in half, an astonishing decline, in just two decades. In 1993 nearly 4,700 U.S. infants died from SIDS.

Here’s the thing: it can happen to anyone, so it’s best inform yourself as best you can on the issue.

Because the exact cause of the sudden death of an otherwise healthy baby is unknown, doctors can only give advice on factors that might make an infant more vulnerable to the syndrome.

Debunking SIDS myths

As with anything that is ill-understood, SIDS has its own list of myths of do’s and don’ts that’s not always helpful. Here is well-known pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp, author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” in his article for CNN debunking some of the myths.

Myth 1: Baby must have silence to be able to sleep.

Not true. And the reason is so obvious that you can kick yourself for not realizing it yourself. As Dr. Karp points out, the womb is a noisy place: “…louder than a vacuum cleaner and running 24 hours a day.”  For nine months, the growing baby was lulled to sleep by the rhythmic whooshing of the blood flowing through the placenta. Silence is probably disconcerting to her.

The truth is, your baby will sleep best if you play loud, rumbly white noise during all naps and at night, says Dr. Karp.

Myth 2: Never wake your baby when she’s sleeping.

Nope. Dr. Karp advises parents to gently wake their baby from day one and leave them to drop off to sleep again. This will teach the baby to self-sooth. When putting the baby to bed, just tickle her neck or feet until her eyes drowsily open, she’ll soon drop off again. This the first step towards sleeping through the night, says the doctor.

Myth 3: Some babies don’t like to be swaddled because they want to feel free.

It’s more likely that the parent wants to feel free and can’t imagine that their baby doesn’t crave freedom too.

Babies don’t need freedom, they need the feeling of security they had in the womb, says Dr. Karp, and swaddling is the first step to calming a baby. A baby that’s not wrapped, will flail her arms and startle easily which doesn’t help her to drop off easily.

Myth 4: We should teach babies to sleep in their own rooms.

Just having your baby sleep with you in the same room can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, says Karp. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the parent’s room for at least six months (always on their back, in their own bed). Besides, it’s much more convenient for feedings and diaper changes remarks Dr. Karp.

Myth 5: Swaddling should be stopped after two months.

This advice was given by the pediatrics academy after a study found that swaddled babies who roll to the stomach have double the risk of SIDS compared to unwrapped babies. Dr, Karp points out that an eight-year review of data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found only 22 sudden unexplained infant deaths related to swaddling.

Since sudden unexplained infant death strikes one in 1,200 babies and thousands of babies were probably swaddled, swaddling may introduce a theoretical risk, but there is not a lot of proof it is causing an increase in sudden unexplained infant death, says Dr. Karp.

Two to four months after birth is the peak period for SIDS, so babies should still be swaddled during that time.

Researchers study more than 15,000 penises to figure out the average penis size around the world

Researchers study more than 15,000 penises to figure out the average penis size around the world

If you’re someone with a penis, you’ve undoubtedly wondered how large yours is in comparison to the average.

You don’t need to wonder any longer, as researchers publishing in BJU International have studied over 15,000 penises to figure out the average penis size.

The study was titled “Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men” and the objective of the study was to “systematically review and create nomograms of flaccid and erect penile size measurements.”

Noting that many men experience “small penis anxiety” or “small penis syndrome” despite their penis falling within a normal range, the researchers suggest their results will help to alleviate anxiety around the issue.

According to the researchers, the average penis length is just over 13 centimeters, or around 5 inches. Furthermore, there’s no strong correlation between hand size and penis length, so women can stop judging men by the size of their hands.

Previous research studies into average penis size have usually relied on self-reporting, which isn’t very accurate. To avoid this problem, the researchers compiled measurements taken by health practitioners who measured both girth (the circumference at the base and middle) and length (pubic bone to the tip of the glans). They compiled measurements from 20 different studies, eventually including 15,521 different penises in the study from countries around the world.

The results will be music to the ears of many men all over the world.

The average flaccid penis was found to be 9.16 cm (3.61 inches) long, while the average erect penis is 13.12 cm (5.16 inches) in length. As for girth, the average circumference of a flaccid penis turned out to be 9.31 cm (3.66 inches), and 11.66 cm (4.59 inches) for an erect one.

Moreover, it was found that those at extreme ends of the spectrum were more uncommon than expected. For example, only 5 men out of every 100 have an erect penis longer than 16 cm (6.3 inches).

The researchers looked for correlations between other body features such as testicular size, weight, and hand or foot size, but couldn’t find any meaningful correlations. They also couldn’t find any significant correlation between penis size and race, but the researchers noted that most of measurements were taken from Caucasian men.

What’s the key point of the research results?

Men, don’t be so hard on yourself. The penises you’re inevitably seeing in porn are extremely rare and are not an accurate representation of the average penis.

Small penis anxiety is a real thing, and these results will do much to combat it.

In a stunning first, surgeons remove mother’s uterus to operate on baby

In a stunning first, surgeons remove mother’s uterus to operate on baby

Lexi Royer and her unborn baby have made history even before they have met each other eye to eye.

When she was 24 weeks pregnant, the two of them were on an operating table each undergoing an operation: Royer’s womb was being removed so surgeons could operate on her unborn baby!

Isn’t that amazing?

The life-changing surgery was first reported by the New York Times.

Royer’s baby boy was diagnosed with a spina bifida, a condition where the spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.

The doctors lifted the woman’s womb out of her body and operated on the tiny baby without removing him from the womb.

Spina bifida occurs when the vertebrae don’t form properly around part of the baby’s spinal cord. Spina bifida can be mild or severe.

In the severe form of spina bifida, children may have little or no feeling in their limbs, and there can be fluid build-up in the brain, which may cause seizures, learning problems or visions problems and leave them unable to control their bladder or bowels.

Dr Michael Belfort, chairman of obstetrics and gynaecology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr William Whitehead, a paediatric surgeon, injected the baby with anaesthetic before moving skin over his exposed spinal cord and stitching it into place.

Spina bifida occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, at three to four weeks, when the tissue that forms the spinal column doesn’t close properly.

In the United States 1,500 to 2,000 of the more than 4 million babies born in the country each year are affected by the condition and there are an estimated 166,000 individuals living with the condition in the United States.

The exact cause of spina bifida is not known, but scientists suspect multiple factors including insufficient folic acid in the mother’s diet.

Pioneering an astonishing new treatment

Doctors have been performing foetal surgery to repair spina bifida since the 1990s, but those operations are difficult and risk premature birth.

This new procedure has come a long way. It was developed over two years by Dr Belfort and his colleague Dr Whitehead. They practiced on sheep and a rubber ball with a doll inside wrapped in chicken skin to mimic the defect in spina bifida, reports The Telegraph.

The new procedure allows the doctors to drain the womb of amniotic fluid, which eats away at the gap in the spinal nerve tissue.

This is how it all unfolded.

During the three-hour-operation Dr Belfort opened Royer’s abdomen and removed her whole womb through the hole. He then made two slits in the womb, one for a fetoscope – a tiny camera designed to light up and film inside – and another for surgical tools.

Once the womb was outside her body doctors could drain it of amniotic fluid, light it up and operate through tiny incisions after injecting the fetus with anesthetic. The womb was filled with carbon dioxide to keep the baby floating in the womb and anesthetic helped to keep it still.

The doctors pulled skin over the exposed spinal cord and stitched it in place. They then refilled the womb with saltwater and replaced inside the mother’s body it.

The team is now reporting on their work in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology following 28 successful operations in which no fetuses have died, and only a few have needed shunts to drain fluid from the brain. Some of the mothers have also not needed caesarean sections.

Royer was initially offered an abortion when she was told about her baby’s condition but chose to take part in the experimental surgery instead.

“It sounded like we were looking at brain damage, feeding tubes, a breathing tube, a wheelchair, just a bad quality of life,” she told the New York Times.

“It’s not done by any means, but I definitely feel it’s the right thing for us. Seeing the ultrasound and how good he’s doing, moving his ankles and feet, it’s such a happy moment.

“I can’t imagine going on further in the pregnancy not knowing every day what damage is being done and if he’s getting worse. It’s such a relief to move forward.”

Royer’s baby is due in January.