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Staying connected to combat loneliness in times of a pandemic
Loneliness is no new issue nowadays. The more we become connected and spend time on social media the more it seems generations become lonelier – which not uncommonly can develop into depression. And with social distancing in place all over the world, a lot of people are afraid that the case may get even worse, as humans are being cut off of their normal social surroundings. But a new study states out that 41 pct. of Europeans actually feel less lonely, or the same way, than before the Covid-19 pandemic. Some experts believe loneliness to be the greater pandemic for humans which may stay long after the corona crisis is over.
One helpful tool in fighting loneliness is technology such as video conferencing tools. In fact, technology made 85 pct. feel less lonely.
Facing social distancing restrictions people started using connectivity tools which they usually used for work, such as Zoom, in their everyday life in order to stay in touch with their family, and even reconnect with long lost friends. Some people started organizing trivia nights and even dance parties via video conferencing tools. This also gave the opportunity for less outgoing people to take part in social gatherings, which they would not be a part of in their regular life. Resulting in about 60 pct. considering tech as a reason for feeling less lonely during the corona crisis.
Creativity as an Escape
But people are not just copying real social contact with Zoom events. While a lot of people spend more time at home and experience boredom which we are no longer used to in times of mobile devices, they also start reigniting their creativity. Social media app TikTok is now one of the most downloaded apps on the app store. Though most of its users are between 14 and 24, now older generations also join in on the fun of easily creating mini videos and sharing them with the world.
In order to channel and challenge people's creativity, we started TWELVE: an Instagram challenge calling out to creatives all over the world to share with us their experience with the Covid-19 crisis in one minute videos. It gives an amazing sneak peek at how people are coping with the situation, how the lockdown changed their lives and the way they connect with their family and friends.
For many people, art is something very human, as it is creating deep connections and emotions. One of my favorite movie quotes is from "I, Robot":
Detective Del Spooner (Human): Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a... canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?
Sonny (Robot): Can you?
We always thought, that no machine could ever create a piece of art that has an impact on us, but as artificial intelligence gets more and more advanced, art does not seem to be something only a real person can create. As a matter of fact, AI is already able to create impressive pieces of art. So, let's dive into the AI age of art with some intriguing artificial creatives.
Becoming the Muse
Finishing the unfinished<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU0ODM1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzc3NzkyMX0.wXBKCDRBEwLTNF_t9B7fJ2MmC6aEW4wMBB83UQGGt8Y/img.jpg?width=980" id="3d2d1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="44aa272ae0fde1070a68fb9db48d3ce5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash<p>Mahler, Beethoven, Schubert, or Bruckner: Each of those composers have symphonies they did not finish in their lifetime. But an international team of experts created an AI that analyzed Beethoven's unfinished tenth symphony and finalized it. Listen to the AI's compositions <a href="https://www.telekom.com/en/company/topic-specials/beethoven-year-2020-special/details/beethoven-s-unfinished-587430" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">here</a>. Can you spot which part is from Beethoven and which is from the AI?</p>
Artificial Song<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU0ODM1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTExNzcxM30.SNWswU8Y7T2tV7WqZasNhTIClIlCD7hf0mLDLlB7DNo/img.jpg?width=980" id="c4e30" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="64dc08de4e5018d845598b573af275a8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Photo by BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash<p>Researchers at Zhejiang University in China teamed up with experts from Microsoft and <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2020/07/13/microsofts-ai-generates-voices-that-sing-in-chinese-and-english/" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">created an AI that generates voices singing in English and Chinese</a>. If you listen to the voices extracted, they do sound quite artificial, but as soon as <a href="https://speechresearch.github.io/deepsinger/" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">DeepSinger</a> synthesizes them and puts them into music, one cannot tell that the songs are artificially created – at least I could not.</p>
Scary Humane<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU0ODM2MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTg5MjUxMn0.VlNMQALKNFENdSRz-d2aX7n4f5B7WwaZtwSSuFxlipY/img.jpg?width=980" id="80074" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2611d19d8ed8c9cb5b950cfc1c007b0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash<p>In our age of rapidly spreading fake news, we can usually rely on our reason to understand who the author is, where the information comes from, and whether the source is trustworthy. But in 2019 <a href="https://openai.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">OpenAI</a> published a text generating AI which creates <a href="https://nerdist.com/article/ai-text-generator-human/" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">terrifyingly human texts</a>. Also, a study by Karlstad University in Sweden shows that <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17512786.2014.883116" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">most people cannot tell whether an article is written by a journalist or a machine</a>. That may make it harder to sort out fake news in the future, and would need online platforms to curate information more closely. <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/7/20953040/openai-text-generation-ai-gpt-2-full-model-release-1-5b-parameters" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">THE VERGE</a> collected some examples of AI writing – they may not be perfect, but also not too bad.</p>
Creating Emotions out of Data<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b94bb61b94fa4e30fb7262800885da60"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I-EIVlHvHRM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Last but not least we want to present to you artist <a href="http://refikanadol.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">Refik Anadol</a>. By using large collections of data and artificial intelligence he creates fascinating <a href="https://www.artechouse.com/nyc" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">installations</a> where spectators can experience data sculptures created out of millions of pictures from different points of view. When people step into the installation they step into an alternate reality: into the <a href="http://refikanadol.com/works/melting-memories/" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">dreams of the AI</a>. And though the machine may not have emotions, it portraits it and by that impacts our emotions.</p>
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When hearing drones, most of us think of amazing drone photography or videos showing us how spectacular places look from above - or even surveillance drones. But this is just a tiny part of what drones can actually do.
In the first episode of our new web series Young Bright Minds, we talk with the experts from Voliro Airborne Robotics who use drones as hands in the sky to eliminate human risk in hard to reach places, and that also can spray on walls - please don't try it on your neighbor's walls!
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