Rhesus macaques form preferences for brand logos through sex and social status based advertising

Like humans, monkeys value information about sex and status, inviting the hypothesis that our susceptibility to these factors in advertising arises from shared, ancestral biological mechanisms that prioritize social information. To test this idea, we asked whether rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) show choice behavior that is similar to humans in response to sex and social status in advertising. Our results show that monkeys form preferences for brand logos repeatedly paired with images of macaque genitals and high status monkeys. Moreover, monkeys sustain preferences for these brand logos even though choosing them provided no tangible rewards, a finding that cannot be explained by a decision mechanism operating solely on material outcomes. Together, our results endorse the hypothesis that the power of sex and status in advertising emerges from the spontaneous engagement of shared, ancestral neural circuits that prioritize information useful for navigating the social environment. Finally, our results show that simple associative conditioning is sufficient to explain the formation of preferences for brand logos paired with sexual or status-based images.

Unilever pulls investment from toxic online platforms

Unilever, the multinational FMCG conglomerate behind fashionable brands including Omo, Lifebuoy, Badedas and Brut (is this right? - Ed) has announced that it will stop using and investing in digital platforms that run counter to an inclusive society.

Why hiring the best people produces the least creative results

While in graduate school in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a logic course from David Griffeath. The class was fun. Griffeath brought a playfulness and openness to problems. Much to my delight, about a decade later, I ran into him at a conference on traffic models. During a presentation on computational models of traffic jams, his hand went up. I wondered what Griffeath – a mathematical logician – would have to say about traffic jams. He did not disappoint. Without even a hint of excitement in his voice, he said: "If you are modelling a traffic jam, you should just keep track of the non-cars.’"

Diesel creates a real fake store

Italian fashion brand Diesel has gone one better after its Go with the flaw campaign of last year. As part of its new campaign, Go with the fake, it has created a store selling supposedly counterfeit goods in New York, which turned out to be selling the real thing.

Welcome to the post-text future

I’ll make this short: The thing you’re doing now, reading prose on a screen, is going out of fashion.

We’re taking stock of the internet right now, with writers who cover the digital world cataloging some of the most consequential currents shaping it. If you probe those currents and look ahead to the coming year online, one truth becomes clear. The defining narrative of our online moment concerns the decline of text, and the exploding reach and power of audio and video.

THIS MULTIMEDIA INTERNET has been gaining on the text-based internet for years. But last year, the story accelerated sharply, and now audio and video are unstoppable. The most influential communicators online once worked on web pages and blogs. They’re now making podcasts, Netflix shows, propaganda memes, Instagram and YouTube channels, and apps like HQ Trivia.

Consider the most compelling digital innovations now emerging: the talking assistants that were the hit of the holidays, Apple’s face-reading phone, artificial intelligence to search photos or translate spoken language, and augmented reality — which inserts any digital image into a live view of your surroundings.

These advances are all about cameras, microphones, your voice, your ears and your eyes.

Together, they’re all sending us the same message: Welcome to the post-text future.

Read more (NYT)

Invasive nonhuman actors: In conversation with Saša Spačal and Heather Barnett

Late last year, the new Art Laboratory space in Berlin ran a conference and exhibition entitled Nonhuman Agents.  Focussed on contemporary philosophical approaches to anthropomorphism, topics included object-oriented ontology, human-nonhuman encounters, and the wider philosophical space of nonhuman agency.

We invited Heather Barnett, an artist and researcher at Central St. Martins, and Ljubjuana-based artist Saša Spačal to talk about these concepts and how they mix into the work that they exhibited during the event.

Umair Haque: How advertising blew its biggest chance since the Mad Men

Media’s in cataclysmic shape these days — publishers closing big and small, newspapers going out of business, consolidation and layoffs everywhere — and it’s easy to blame technology.

There was a war that happened here — and media lost. Who won? Well, the truth is that no one did. The monopolies that Google and Facebook made money, sure — but now they face a steep backlash, social ridicule, oversight, and regulation. A pyrrhic victory, if you ask me.

Who started this war for attention? What was at the heart of it? Who should have ended it? The truth is that the lion’s share of responsibility for a fatally broken media industry lies with advertising, not technology. Let us think about it one step at a time.

Ad agencies had two roads before them, as the digital revolution dawned. One, go on selling the same old ads — nuisances, basically, that people had to put up with, in order to get to what they really valued — only in greater volume, because they would be cheaper. Two, innovate — and turn ads into things that people genuinely benefit from a little bit. Road one was an algorithmic, dehumanized road. Road two was the human, creative one.

Which road did the ad industry choose? The easy one, of course — the first one. It turned billboards into banners and glossy magazine ads into “microsites” and so on — at least at first. But nobody clicked. They tried more variations on the theme. Nothing worked. Ads just kept deflating in value — right down from thousands into pennies.

Read more (Medium)

James Stanford: Shimmering Zen

Las Vegas-based artist James Stanford has a myriad of interests including religion (and artistic impressions of religion), spirituality, and metaphysical concepts including illusionistic fictive space. With work including photomontages and roles including Arts Commissioner for the city, he has recently come to London to show his most recent work. The series, Shimmering Zen, offers kaleidoscopic, almost hallucinotory, visions of real life, digitally adapted and modified. James reflects on his life, his home city, and his life in his home city, below.

Rachel Coldicutt: Women, Plandids, Power

I’m going to talk about clothes and body image and identity, and the way that Instagram and other kinds of new technology are changing and challenging how women are seen, and how we see ourselves. And about the importance of whose gaze we’re looking through: men’s, women’s, or robots.

What I’m going to call “the fashion internet” is interesting to me because it’s mostly out of sight of mainstream technology commentary.

From a technical perspective it’s understood that there is, at the moment, a single Internet — an open network of networks in which everything is connected. But not everyone has the same experience of those networks — there is not a single experience that defines the digital world.

It’s fashionable to call this a filter bubble, but it’s no more or less a bubble than the rest of our lives: the networks we inhabit are constructed by our interests, our backgrounds, the people we know. This isn’t simply a consequence of algorithms or personalisation, it’s also because no one can see everything — there’s no digital omniscience.

Read more (Hacker Noon)

Why many click farm jobs should be understood as digital slavery

The digital economy has created new opportunities and ways of working. But it has also created millions of tasks or jobs that involve intense competition, unregulated working conditions and extremely low rates of pay.

Driven by the rapid rise of cloud and algorithmic computing, the “platform economy” is dominated by operators such as Uber, Facebook and Google and Amazon Web services. Airbnb and Uber, for example, use the latest cloud tools like Amazon Web services to drive their dominance and cull competition in a wide range of sectors.

While workers in the “app-driven economy” do often make a decent wage, with some measure of legal protection, many others who do “crowdwork” or “micro-tasking” on platforms can find themselves being paid below the minimum wage and without the basic, ethical protections provided by mainstream employers. A growing body of research shows that large numbers of skilled and semi-skilled virtual workers routinely offer their services on such platforms for extremely low pay, with no recourse to the rights and protections accorded to “mainstream” workers and with little hope for alternative ways of making ends meet.

There is also evidence that a majority of these workers are young, relatively skilled and unable, for many reasons, to find decent work that pays a living wage. Sometimes called the “cybertariat”, these workers are unseen, unheard and paid very small amounts of money to do things like write a book or edit a document or manufacture “likes” on a web page.

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