Building More Empathetic Communities with Technology

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How can we foster better, more empathetic communities? This is the question I brought with me a few weeks ago when I built “Conversation Kitchen” at the annual Civic Digital Fellowship Social Impact Hackathon.
Like many other recent college graduates, I’m daunted by the prospect of finding or creating communities outside of school. Today, more than ever, bonds between people are built online — whether that be through email listservs, Slack, or Facebook meme groups. While this online communication helps us keep in constant contact with faraway friends and coworkers, it’s difficult to build a deeper level of trust, empathy, and understanding through a computer screen. In creating “Conversation Kitchen,” our hackathon team sought to figure out the best way to foster these empathy-building, in-person interactions.
As a Civic Digital Fellow this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to see the benefits of being part of an empathetic community first hand. Living and working together with the other Fellows has given us many opportunities to learn more about each others’ experiences and perspectives both in civic tech, and in a broader context.
As someone who comes to the world of civic tech from the private sector, learning about how other folks have experienced technology through non-profits, startups, and government agencies has greatly broadened my own perspectives. Incorporating these ideas into my own set of beliefs has only been possible because of the trust I have for others in our community.
Fostering this underlying trust is essential in learning from, and empathizing with, other members of the cohort. Whether it be for an activist group, or a neighborhood association, creating stronger bonds between members results in a more empathetic and successful community.
Through our hackathon project “ Conversation Kitchen ,” we sought to apply this principle of trust building to create empathy between groups of people with opposing viewpoints. Our goal was to foster strong communities between folks who would not otherwise come together due to their opposing beliefs. Our application creates groups by ensuring a variety of viewpoints on a given topic, as well as a variety of personality traits that may impact the role individuals have in their groups (e.g. leadership or stubbornness).
We used current debates over DC Transit as a first dividing issue. We asked questions about people’s opinions on funding and accessibility of transit to form groups of people who disagree on these issues and build empathy between them. We imagine our web app being used in the future to connect folks on different sides of more contentious national political issues. Conversation Kitchen would be a useful tool in any situation in which there is a lack of empathy between folks who have differing perspectives.
We focused on blending online conversation with offline communities by organizing and encouraging small-group in-person meetups. We ask folks who join a group to first work on building rapport, then move onto more difficult conversations once trust has been built within the group.
Spending part of a weekend brainstorming and developing a community and empathy-building tool was an exciting and mind-opening experience. Working on this with other members of the Civic Digital Fellowship, each with their own expertise and passions, made that experience even better.
As I finish up the fellowship this summer and move onto my next adventure, I hope to build upon what I’ve learned from this project by helping to foster empathy and trust in whatever community I become part of next.
Alberta Devor is a 2019 Civic Digital Fellow working at the General Services Administration. She is a recent graduate of Brown University with a degree in Computer Science.

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IOTA Links with STMicroelectronics to Accelerate IoT Technology Integration

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BERLIN, GERMANY (July 23, 2019) — The IOTA Foundation , a not-for-profit organization delivering the world’s first scalable, feeless and fully-decentralized distributed ledger technology, is working with STMicroelectronics , a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, to create a new level of powerful, seamless and cost-effective access to Internet of Things (IoT) functionality.
The cornerstone of this cooperation is the integration of the IOTA Tangle, a fee-free, peer-to-peer technology solution, into ST’s STM32Cube expansion software for the industry-leading STM32 32-bit MCU ecosystem, the X-CUBE-IOTA1 .
The relationship will deliver Internet of Things integration capabilities to the ST user community, allowing customers to easily and quickly create and prototype new IoT solutions for single or multiple devices. As important, developers can work while enjoying the ability to develop systems, environments, products and services with IOTA functionality and the power of the Tangle’s distributed, highly scalable peer-to-peer network and feeless structure.
“By enabling IOTA functionalities via the X-CUBE-IOTA1 expansion software for STM32Cube software technology, developers can now easily include IOTA features and capabilities in their IoT devices and create valuable applications using the STM32 Open Development Environment, which combines the STM32 32-bit microcontroller family with other state-of-the-art ST components,” said Alessandro Cremonesi, STMicroelectronics VP System Research and Application.
The IoT-enhanced solution will give key industries such as energy, logistics and others advanced performance capabilities in critical areas, including sensing, power management, connectivity, and audio. Developers using STM32 will have the ability to transmit, buy and sell relevant data through embedded technologies like Bluetooth® LE at low cost, with an easy, robust solution.
“With specialized hardware playing such an integral role in the Internet of Things market adoption, it is exciting to work with such partners as ST to enhance IoT’s role as an innovation facilitator,” said Holger Köther, Director of Partner Management, IOTA Foundation. “The IOTA Foundation welcomes the opportunity to work with enterprise leaders like ST to expand our mission of moving beyond blockchain with the world’s first scalable, feeless and fully-decentralized DLT platform, partnered with the world’s leading technology firms.”
Watch a video about the collaboration
About IOTA Foundation
IOTA is a global not-for-profit foundation incorporated and headquartered in Germany. The IOTA Foundation’s mission is to support the research and development of new distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including the IOTA Tangle. The Foundation encourages the education and adoption of distributed ledger technologies through the creation of ecosystems and the standardization of these new protocols.
The IOTA Tangle moves beyond blockchain by providing the world’s first scalable, feeless and fully-decentralized distributed ledger technology. The Tangle uses its own unique technology to solve three fundamental problems with blockchain technology: high fees, scaling and centralization. It is an open-source protocol connecting the human economy with the machine economy by facilitating novel Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interactions, including secure data transfer, fee-less micropayments, and secure access control for devices.
Visit for more information. Follow IOTA on Twitter: @iotatoken and YouTube: IOTA Foundation .
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EU-Korea Conference on Science and Technology (EKC2019) | EUREKA

This science and technology conference held annually in different European countries has become the most important scientific and social event, bringing scientists and engineers from Europe and Korea together.

This year, the 12th edition, entitled Science, Technology and Humanity: Advancement and Sustainability will include multilateral programs:

  • Science and Technology discussions
  • Policy and business sessions
  • Industrial forums
  • Networking programs

Participants from industry, government policy makers, as well as academic scholars and researchers will present and discuss related scientific issues.
EUREKA will take part into the discussions.

EKC 2019 will especially promotes participation of young students to foster the next generation scientists.

The conference is hosted by the Korean Scientists and Engineers Association in Austria (KOSEAA) together with the Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies (KOFST) and eight other Korean Scientists and Engineers Associations in Europe.

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Zomato, Pune Eatery Fined Rs. 55,000 for Serving Chicken Instead of Paneer | Technology News

A consumer court here slapped a Rs. 55,000 fine on food delivery platform Zomato along with a hotel for delivering non-vegetarian food to a lawyer who had ordered a vegetarian dish.

According to media reports, the consumer court directed Zomato to pay the fine within 45 days to city-based lawyer Shanmukh Deshmukh who was delivered non-veg food not just once, but twice.

He had ordered paneer butter masala but was delivered butter chicken instead.

“Since the curries of both dishes look alike, he didn’t realise it was a chicken dish and ate it,” said the reports.

According to Zomato, the lawyer complained against the food delivery platform to defame it as it had refunded his amount.

Zomato told the consumer forum that the error lay with the hotel which supplied the wrong dish, but the forum considered it to be equally guilty.

The hotel, however, admitted its mistake.

Zomato and the hotel were directed to pay Rs. 50,000 for deficiency in service and the remaining amount for mental harassment.

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BSNL Preloaded ‘Yatra’ SIM of Rs. 230 Launched for Amarnath Yatra Pilgrims | Technology News

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has launched a preloaded “Yatra” SIM connection specifically for the pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra. To offer voice and data access to the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims, the new SIM brings 20,000 seconds (333.33 minutes) of talk time and 1.5GB of data usage along with 10 days of validity. The state-owned telco is offering the preloaded Yatra SIM connection through various tourist reception centres in Jammu and Kashmir. The pilgrims can avail the benefits of the latest development until August 15.

The preloaded BSNL Yatra SIM connection can be purchased by the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims from tourist reception centre located at Lakhanpur Base Camp, Bhagwati Nagar Jammu Base Camp, main exchange building at CSC Centre in Kachi Chawni in Jammu, main exchange building at CSC centre in Trikuta Nagar in Jammu, base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam, and tourist reception centre at Nowgam in Srinagar.

The customers will need to pay Rs. 230 to avail the preloaded Yatra SIM. The cost includes the cost of STV and the dedicated plan voucher. As we mentioned, it brings 20,000 seconds of talk time and 1.5GB data for 10 days.

For obtaining the preloaded BSNL Yatra SIM connection, the applicants need to submit their valid documents, including Proof of Address and Proof of Identity, and their recent photograph. The operator also requires a photocopy of the counterfoil pertaining to the registration slip issued by Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB).

Notably, BSNL isn’t the only telco that has brought an offering for Amarnath Yatra pilgrims. Reliance Jio also recently introduced its Rs. 102 prepaid recharge plan specifically for the pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra. The Jio prepaid plan brings unlimited voice calling benefits and 500MB daily data alongside 100 SMS messages per day for seven days. It is available for customers purchasing a local Jio connection in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Nokia 6.1 Price in India Cut, Now Starts at Rs. 6,999 | Technology News

Nokia 6.1 price in India has been dropped as low as Rs. 6,999. The price cut is currently reflecting on the Nokia India Online Store. To recall, the Nokia 6.1 aka Nokia 6 (2018) was launched back in April last year in two different variants — 3GB + 32GB and 4GB + 64GB. The mobile phone is based on Google’s Android One programme and sports a full-HD display. The Nokia 6.1 also has an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC onboard.

Nokia 6.1 price in India

According to the listing on the Nokia India Online Store, the Nokia 6.1 price in India now starts Rs. 6,999 for the base 3GB + 32GB variant. The 4GB + 64GB option of the Nokia 6.1, on the other hand, is available with a revised price tag of Rs. 9,999.

The latest price revision is yet to be reflected on e-commerce sites such as and Flipkart. Similarly, offline retailers may still offer the handset with its previous pricing.

The Nokia 6.1 was launched in India last year with a starting price of Rs. 16,999, though most recently it was seen on the Nokia Online Store with a price of Rs. 8,999 for the 3GB + 32GB variant, whereas its 4GB + 64GB model was available at Rs. 10,999.

We’ve reached out to HMD Global for clarity on the latest price cut and will update this space when we hear back.

Nokia 6.1 specifications

The Nokia 6.1 runs Android Pie and features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) IPS display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It is powered by the Snapdragon 630 SoC, paired with up to 4GB RAM.

For photos and videos, the Nokia 6.1 has a single 16-megapixel image sensor at the back — along with an f2.0 lens and an LED flash. An 8-megapixel sensor is available at the front with an f/2.0 fixed focus lens.

The Nokia 6.1 has 32GB and 64GB of onboard storage options that both are expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB). Connectivity options on the phone include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS/ A-GPS, FM radio, USB Type-C (v2.0), and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is Nokia’s spatial audio technology. Also, the phone has a fingerprint sensor at the back.

HMD Global has provided a 3,000mAh battery on the Nokia 6.1 that is claimed to deliver up to 16 hours of talk time on a single charge.

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HIV cure? Scientists eliminate AIDS virus from mouse genome using CRISPR gene-editing technology; possible step towards cure in people – CBS News

Researchers who eliminated HIV from mice say their results are an important advance in efforts to develop a cure for HIV infection in people.

This is the first time that the AIDS-causing virus has been eradicated from the genomes of living animals, according to the authors of the study.

“Our study shows that treatment to suppress HIV replication and gene editing therapy, when given sequentially, can eliminate HIV from cells and organs of infected animals,” said co-senior author Kamel Khalili, professor and chair of neuroscience at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The work was a collaboration with researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Current HIV treatment uses antiretroviral therapy (ART), which suppresses HIV replication but does not eliminate the virus from the body. ART is not a cure for HIV and requires lifelong use.

In this study, the researchers used a gene editing system called CRISPR-Cas9 to remove large fragments of HIV DNA from infected cells, along with a new drug regimen called long-acting slow-effective release (LASER) ART.

In this therapy, antiretroviral drugs are placed in nanocrystals that travel to tissues where HIV is likely to be lying dormant. The nanocrystals are stored within cells for weeks and slowly release the drugs.

Mice with HIV were first treated with LASER ART and then with gene editing. This approach eliminated HIV DNA from about one-third of the mice. However, research on animals may not produce the same results in humans.

“The big message of this work is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER ART, administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection,” Khalili said in a university news release.

“We now have a clear path to move ahead to trials in nonhuman primates and possibly clinical trials in human patients within the year,” added Khalili, who also directs Temple’s neurovirology center and its neuroAIDS center.

The results were published online July 2 in the journal Nature Communications.

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Corbyn wishes Amazon ‘many happy tax returns’ on its 25th anniversary | Technology | The Guardian

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has sent a barbed birthday card to Jeff Bezos to mark Amazon’s 25th anniversary, wishing the company “many happy tax returns” and demanding it pays more UK tax, pays its staff better and improves working conditions.

Amazon UK paid only £1.7m in tax in 2017, its most recent annual public filing at Companies House, as pre-tax profits tripled to £72m. Turnover at its British business, which handles the packing and delivery of parcels and functions such as customer service, rose 35%, from £1.46bn to £1.98bn.

Corbyn’s birthday message to the world’s richest man, who has just finalised the world’s biggest divorce settlement, worth $38bn, says: “Dear Jeff. Happy Birthday. You owe the British people millions in taxes that pay for the public services that we all rely on. This year, pay your fair share of taxes, give your hard-working staff a pay rise and respect workers’ rights. Many Happy Tax Returns, Jeremy.”

Amazon insists it operates within the UK’s laws on corporation tax, which are based on profits not revenues, and that retail is a tough sector to make money in.

“Our profits have remained low, given retail is a highly competitive, low-margin business and our continued heavy investment,” a UK company spokesman said when its UK figures came out last year.

The UK is Amazon’s third-biggest market globally in terms of retail sales, which are reported through a separate company in Luxembourg, with the company’s US filings showing that UK revenues hit $14.5bn last year, a 53% rise in only two years.

Robert Palmer, the executive director of Tax Justice UK, said: “People are fed up with companies like Amazon playing the system to slash their tax rate. We need to fix the broken global corporate tax rules that allow massive companies to pay little or no tax.”

The government is to introduce a new tax on the digital giants – including Google, Facebook and Amazon – from April next year to increase the amount they pay in the UK. A 2% tax on revenue from search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces will be levied against technology firms that make more than £500m a year globally.

Amazon, which has 17 warehouses in the UK and employs 27,500 workers, has also been accused of treating staff like robots and not respecting workers’ rights.

In May, trade unions lobbied City investors to put pressure on Amazon to improve conditions for its workers in the UK. The GMB told investors that workers at Amazon’s giant warehouses worked long shifts under pressure to hit targets for items picked, causing pain and injuries. Amazon workers’ allegations included lack of action on sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and warehouse managers dismissing employees’ concerns and problems.

Amazon has said the the allegations are “false and unsubstantiated. Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits and career growth opportunities, all while working in a safe, modern work environment”.

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