Coal handling at Mormugao Port Trust to be reduced: Goa CM


The CM ruled out allegations of compromising on the environment by approving projects like the expansion of a national highway

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Sunday said the coal handling at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) would be reduced by more than 50 per cent by introducing alternative tourism projects including launching of a RORO (Roll On Roll Off) ferry service.

Speaking to reporters, he ruled out allegtions of compromising on the environment by approving projects like the expansion of a national highway and double-tracking of a railway line.

 

Several NGOs and Opposition parties have launched protests against laying of a transmission line through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and the National Park at Mollem fearing that it would destroy the ecology.

“Handling of coal at the MPT will be reduced by more than 50 per cent by introducing several other alternative tourism projects.

“The Union Shipping Minister will be coming to Goa next one month. We are introducing the Roll-on-RollOff (RORO) ferry from MPT to Fort Aguadaand Old Goa (North Goa),” the chief minister said.

He said the state government has introduced solar power policy by providing 50 per cent subsidy for setting up solar power generation units.

 

“However, only 29 Goans have availed it so far,” he lamented.

He appealed to all 40 MLAs in the state to set up solar power generation units at their residences.

“Power Minister Nilesh Cabral has already set up an example. I am also installing a solar power generation unit on the rooftop of my house. I want other MLAs too to join the initiative,” the CM said.

Sawant also announced his government’s intent to convert rooftops of various buildings owned by it into solar power generation spots on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.

“Street lights are also being converted to make them compatible to run on solar power to reduce the consumption of power,” he added.

 

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Dating During the Pandemic: Can You Trust an ‘Antibody Positive’ Claim?



As many single people know, searching for love can be a challenge even in the best of times. But looking for it online during a global pandemic is something truly complex—and involves some tricky new dangers. Though some speculative swiping on dating apps has continued throughout quarantines and semi-lockdowns in the U.S., single people are reporting that in-person dating had basically frozen to a standstill until recent months. As cases surge again, many wonder whether it is safe to even consider meeting new people in any social context—let alone potential sexual partners.

Some online daters have adapted to the new normal and proudly declare on their profiles that they are “COVID-antibody-positive,” apparently implying they have already had the virus and are now in the clear to freely comingle. The COVID-19 pandemic is still solidly entrenched around the globe, with no immediately available vaccine or cure. Does an antibody-positive test result translate to a pandemic dating hall pass?

“The data is clear that we don’t know what is clear,” says Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Even though antibody tests help determine whether someone has previously been infected with the virus, that information may not be helpful in the dating realm. “There are a variety of tests, so just stating you’re ‘antibody-positive’ doesn’t provide evidence that equips someone to discern whether the test is [Food and Drug Administration–validated] or specific to COVID. And we don’t know how long antibodies from natural infections last. We’re already starting to see reinfections emerge. Even if someone got a positive test result X time ago, that doesn’t mean they’re currently protected. It’s not a passport to sexual freedom.”

A case study published in the Lancet Infectious Disease Journal in October described two instances of infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19) in the same individual, a 25-year-old Nevada man who experienced more severe symptoms during his second bout. The authors concluded that “all individuals, whether previously diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, should take identical precautions to avoid infection with SARS-CoV-2.” There have been at least four other confirmed reinfection cases, one each in Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ecuador. Researchers from Imperial College London recently found that the COVID-19 antibody response wanes over time. “It remains unclear what level of immunity antibodies provide,” they concluded, “or for how long this immunity lasts.” And of course, questions around antibodies apply to all social situations, not just online dating. That means upcoming holiday gatherings, weddings, parties and even just casual hangouts with friends are rife with uncertainty.

Dana (not her real name), a 38-year-old Tinder user in Portland, Ore., says she has encountered plenty of COVID-related content peppering the profiles of potential partners. “I’ve seen the occasional ‘COVID-free’ disclaimer in bios, which—like with STI status, how can anyone 100 percent trust [that]?” she says, referring to the practice of disclosing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in dating profiles in the spirit of full transparency. But even though some parallels can be drawn between STIs and COVID (because both can have implications for partners’ health), experts are quick to point out that the two categories are not equivalent.

“With HIV, for example, the antibody test is pretty durable, and we know what it means,” Chin-Hong says. “People use it on the apps for similar reasons, but it has a completely different meaning. With the COVID antibody test, people are intending to show that they’re ‘protected.’ But that’s not how antibodies work.”

Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that bind to viruses or other invaders in the body and trigger the immune system to destroy the harmful intruders. “Antibodies are the soldiers. I think of them as a viral stun gun that neutralizes a virus,” Chin-Hong says. “You can get them artificially by having them infused. Or if you get the virus, you can develop them to protect you if you’re exposed again.” The issue, however, is that science does not yet know enough specifically about COVID-19 antibodies to be certain whether a positive test result actually indicates immunity.

Humans had never identified the novel coronavirus before this pandemic, and there are still plenty of unknowns surrounding the variability of its impact on our health. Some infected individuals produce high-quality antibodies that efficiently and accurately identify and eliminate the virus. Others produce weaker ones that afford partial protection. And some produce none at all. The current antibody tests do not account for that variability, making it impossible to know what level of immunity a person has (if any) or how long it may last.

According to physician James Zehnder, director of clinical pathology at Stanford Medicine, the inherent uncertainty of COVID-19 antibody testing makes it an unreliable method for screening dates. “Not everyone who has COVID has an antibody response,” he says. “There are some false positive tests, and it’s not clear for how long or how effectively these antibodies are protective.” Zehnder says the best current test for excluding SARS-CoV-2 infection is a system called viral reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) , but even with that approach, false negatives are within the realm of possibility.

Charlie, a 37-year-old Grindr user in Brighton, England, who asked to be identified only by his first name, says he deleted the app early on in the pandemic but has slowly started swiping again. “I had a couple of guys try to convince me that they’d already had COVID and have the antibodies, and used it like a hall pass for sex during the pandemic.”

Dana says she has encountered straightforward dismissal of COVID-19 safety precautions. “The overwhelming direct message I get from guys is, essentially ‘The world is on fire. Let’s throw caution to the wind and have sex as soon as possible,’” she says. “We’re carnal beings. I don’t deny that. But it’s preposterous to me that in the middle of a global pandemic, some folks truly believe their handful of photos and a single sentence of noninfo is enticing enough for a girl to put her health at risk. Come on, gents, at least try and make us laugh first.”

Chin-Hong says he understands the impulse to comment on antibody testing in the context of a dating profile. “Existentially, it says, ‘I care about COVID, and I want to display that I took time out of my day to get tested and to show you that I’m willing to go the extra mile to engage with you,’” he says. “And it also says, ‘I’m lonely, and I want to take things to the next level, and I’m done with FaceTime and being socially distant.’”

Camille (not her real name), a 30-year-old from California’s Orange County, says she has encountered plenty of COVID-related remarks on the dating apps Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel. When she matched with a hospital worker who expressed serious concern about the virus, she felt an in-person meeting could be a reality. “We started chatting and then met a few times over video calls until we both felt comfortable meeting up for coffee safely and socially distanced,” she says. But then Camille’s would-be date contracted COVID-19. He was eager to reschedule, even before receiving a negative test result. “I was still uncomfortable and asked that we wait. He didn’t take that very well,” she says. “He expressed that he didn’t have to share that he had COVID at all, which, to me, was terrifying—that there are probably people out there on dating apps, with COVID, not being considerate of who they’re meeting.”

After months of uncertainty, many people are still grappling with COVID-related questions, such as whether a person who currently has active antibodies can still transmit the virus to someone who does not. According to Chin-Hong, this is one scenario we may not need to obsess over. “It’s unlikely that an antibody-positive person will be able to efficiently transmit SARS-CoV-2 to an uninfected partner in general,” Chin-Hong says. “There is a theoretical risk that an antibody-positive person could act as a large surface—like a doorknob, you touch them and then touch your nose or mouth and theoretically get infected. But that’s unlikely, as it’s not the best transmission route.”

So what are singles to do in this atypical time? “My advice would be to take time to get to know someone before you meet in person,” says Melissa Cushing, director of transfusion medicine and vice chair of laboratory medicine at New York–Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine. “Make sure you understand the COVID risks they take in their everyday life (not wearing a mask or avoiding large gatherings, et cetera) because their risks will become your risks. You should be comfortable with how they are handling COVID. A single laboratory test result will be much less important than everyday behaviors.”

In an attempt to alleviate some of the uncertainty-fueled pressure, apps are offering new digital dating options such as Bumble’s “virtual dating tools.” And Tinder recently launched “Face to Face,” a new video chat feature. The app also consulted with Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, to develop what Tinder calls “5 tips for getting back to IRL dating.” In addition to advocating mask wearing and social distancing during in-person meetups, Pitts encourages Tinder users to “get tested if you can but remember, even if you have antibodies, to always practice good health and hygiene. It is not yet clear that antibodies protect you or make you less of a carrier.”

Forty-year-old San Francisco resident Teresa (not her real name) has been using dating apps throughout the pandemic and says she is settling into the new normal of single life in the COVID era. “I’m going to keep dating,” she says. “I’m a responsible person, and I’m dating responsibly. You never know if someone is telling the truth anyway, so all you can do is take precautions and trust your gut.”

Read more about the coronavirus outbreak from Scientific American here. And read coverage from our international network of magazines here.



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Why people don’t trust contact tracing apps, and what to do about it


The news: Digital contact tracing apps have faced a wide range of difficulties, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon the idea, according to the authors of a new essay in the journal Science. Instead, they argue, successful digital contact tracing needs to be ethical, trustworthy, locally rooted, and adaptive to new data on what works.

The problem: Modern public health relies on contact tracing during disease outbreaks, and digital apps promised to add jet fuel to the fight against covid-19. Early in the pandemic, companies and governments spun up contact tracing apps as part of a massive effort to stop the spread of the disease. Improbably, Google and Apple even joined forces. Now we’re seeing the flaws in this premise play out. Download rates are low, usage rates appear even lower, and apps face lots of other logistical hurdles. Contact tracing, both manual and automated, still isn’t delivering desperately needed results at scale. A recent Pew survey shows that people struggle to trust public health officials with their data, and don’t like answering the phone when it’s an unknown caller (like a health department), among other obstacles.

Not only that, but digital contact tracing has clearly failed to effectively reach many people. It’s not just those without a smartphone, but also marginalized groups like the elderly, the unhoused, and those who are worried about law enforcement and immigration. 

What to do instead: In their Science essay, authors Alessandro Blasimme and Effy Vayena, bioethicists at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, say “adaptive governance” is one important missing ingredient. It’s all about acting collaboratively, nimbly, and locally: stop looking for centralized, top-down campaigns and strategies that may fizzle out when they don’t fit local needs. It’s time to rely on local partnerships, cross-border collaborations, and all the human teamwork that’s easy to forget when there’s a shiny new button to click.

The US doesn’t currently have a national contact tracing app, but if the authors are correct, perhaps that’s not a major issue. They say instead that if we want more people to adopt new technologies, we need to rely on “the piecemeal creation of public trust.” It’s an ongoing process of authorities learning from their mistakes and listening to users. It’s also important to create genuine oversight, so that people feel their data isn’t being misused, and put effort into cross-border collaborations so that your app doesn’t stop working when you move from one place to another. 

The bottom line: There are still plenty of questions to be answered about the effectiveness and development of contact tracing apps. But instead of dropping digital contact tracing efforts or scaling up existing efforts without taking a hard look, it’s time to reconsider. Digital contact tracing is just one part of a toolkit that needs research-based, on-the-ground teamwork to build trust and relationships among users, governments, and the technologies themselves.



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Effectiveness of Virtual Communities Hinge on Trust



In a new study, researchers based in Italy propose that development of trust among all participants is a key objective metric when assessing the effectiveness of virtual groups.

Virtual communities are now more important than ever before expanding from a social connection framework to formal business and educational practices. In the study, researchers investigated how do we know, without bias, that our online groups are actually successful in helping us with our goals?

“Group formation is a key issue in social communities due to the importance of establishing an effective organization in which users perform actions that could benefit from collaboration and mutual social interactions,” said the author Giancarlo Fortino, professor of computer engineering in the DIMES Department of the University of Calabria.

“Is it possible to form effective groups in virtual communities by exploiting trust information without significant overhead, similarly to real user communities?”

Facebook, for example, reached 2.4 billion active users in 2019, and, in the last five years, more than one billion groups have formed on the platform. In each group, individuals must trust that the group will provide some value to them, whether it is in the form of humor or parenting tips or product reviews.

The group, in turn, must determine the value the individual will add to their group, as well as how important that value is, when admitting members.

“In general, the ability of the members of the same groups to have positive interactions will improve the social capital — or, simply, the effectiveness — of the community which represents the group itself,” Fortino said.

The study appears in IEEE/CAA, The Journal of Automatica Sinica.

In the team’s previous research, they proposed that individual members who trust each other and their contributions to a group enforces the cohesiveness of a group even as more members who are not directly connected join, such as friends of friends.

“In this work, we address the general problem of forming effective groups.”

The researchers examined interaction data from 34,541 individuals on two Italian-based social networks, EPINIONS and CIAO.

“EPINIONS and CIAO users review items and assign them numeric ratings,” Fortino said. “Users can also build their own trust network by adding the people whose reviews they think are valuable.”

Fortino and the researchers analyzed three classes of users, from most valued to least valued in their reviews. They found that when one user had limited or inadequate interactions with another user, they would turn to their network of friends to determine trustworthiness.

“It’s similar to real communities,” Fortino said. “We have implemented this strategy in our algorithm to form groups in virtual communities based on a weighted voting mechanism, whereby each vote is represented by a trust value obtained by a suitable combination of reliability and local reputation.”

The strategy, when applied to the social network data, significantly improved the overall trust value of groups. The researchers are now studying the trust value metric in more complex configurations of the groups.

Source: Chinese Association of Automation/EurekAlert

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As Taiwan Watches US Election, It May Need Time to Trust a Biden Administration – The Diplomat


The United States presidential election has seized attention in Taiwan, revealing sharp splits in opinion within the country and digging up old anxieties about the Democratic Party’s commitment to defending Taiwan against aggression from China.

Officially, President Tsai Ing-wen and her ruling government have insisted they feel confident in the future of U.S.-Taiwan relations regardless of whether Democratic candidate Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump. At the time of publication, Biden holds a razor-thin lead over Trump and has gained ground in crucial swing states, which have not yet counted all ballots.

Public reaction to the election, however, has shown a Biden administration would have work to do before gaining the trust of skeptical Taiwanese who feel jilted by perceived slights by past Democratic administrations.

Many Taiwanese are not overly fond of Trump as a president, but they’ve grown comfortable with his administration’s friendliness toward Taiwan and its cultivation of an image of being tough on China.

It has led to a groundswell of support for Trump, which has neglected the incumbent’s volatility and his reported personal ambivalence toward Taiwan. John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor, famously described Trump as “particularly dyspeptic” about Taiwan and said Trump referred to Taiwan’s economy as a pen in comparison to that of China, which he described as the Resolute desk used in the Oval Office.

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Both the United States and Taiwan have touted the strength of ties between the two countries since Tsai and Trump won their elections in 2016.

In the past three months, Taiwan has hosted U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar and Under Secretary of State Keith Krach in high-level visits. Taipei and Washington are moving closer to negotiating a bilateral trade agreement. The U.S. also recently announced several arms sales to Taiwan which could push the value of U.S.-Taiwan weapons sales to over $15 billion during Trump’s four years in office.

Trump skeptics in Taiwan frequently point out the island’s utility to Washington during its trade war with China and wonder whether the strong support is being built to last. The U.S. Congress, for its part, has maintained strong bipartisan support for Taiwan for decades. Taiwan-related legislation is almost always sponsored by representatives from both major parties and generally passes unanimously, as does the approval of arms sales to Taipei.

Observers have also pointed out that Democratic U.S. administrations have never fully overlapped with Taiwanese presidents from Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). When Barack Obama was president, his Taiwanese counterpart was Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT), who prioritized warmer ties with China and did not have Tsai’s desire for robust relations with Washington.

Biden’s campaign platform and public statements, along with the Democratic party’s own platform, indicate he will maintain strong support from Taiwan if he assumes office. But this hasn’t assuaged all fears in Taiwan.

Tsai’s camp, as Gerry Shih of the Washington Post writes in a recent article, felt slighted after meeting with Obama officials in late 2011 during her unsuccessful 2012 presidential run against Ma. Hours after the meeting, the White House told reporters it had “concerns” about Tsai’s candidacy, fearing she could antagonize Beijing and lead to destabilization in the Taiwan Strait.

A lot has changed since then. For one, Xi Jinping now leads China rather than Hu Jintao, and Tsai has proven willing to maintain the status quo rather than pushing for formal independence. Those factors almost certainly indicate Biden would be willing to maintain Washington’s currently strong ties with the Tsai administration – but that hasn’t alleviated all worries within the DPP or among its supporters.

Taiwan has been awash in disinformation about the election, including with rumors about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. That’s likely due in large part to the presence of influential Chinese-language far-right media on the island, such as the Falun Gong-backed Epoch Times and the media network of Chinese dissident Guo Wengui and former Trump chief of staff Steve Bannon.

All these factors have led to Taiwan sharing in the world’s election anxiety – although while many in Taipei hope for four more years of Trump to maintain ties between the U.S. and Taiwan, it’s unlikely a Biden administration would give Taipei much to worry about.





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Why Trust and Incentives Help Consumers With Better Brand Selection



9 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Trust and loyalty rewards have underpinned U.S. consumer spending for decades. Trust makes it easy to do with a while a loyalty program rewards customers for returning. Such programs stabilize demand and supply chains and are effective at increasing revenue in the long run. Smart businesses know how to incentivize their customers and get them in the door with freebies, a deal they can’t ignore or other smart ideas, but once that customer is in the store, they can sell them the more expensive items. 

Loyalty program members generate 12-18 percent incremental revenue growth year over year compared to non-members, according to a 2017 Accenture study. However, the pandemic has led to big changes in terms of what types of incentives customers are looking for. In these difficult times, entrepreneurs want to know about how trust and incentives help consumers choose brands.

People trust family and friends’ recommendations

Earning trust online is more critical than ever as the pandemic and work-from-home (WFH) situations force consumers to begin a digital migration. According to a July 2020 McKinsey survey, 34 percent of respondents have shopped on Instagram based on influencer recommendations. And 55 percent of consumers reported turning to brands they trust during the lockdown.

When it comes to family and friends, the numbers are compelling: 93 percent say they trust family and friends’ brand recommendations while only 38 percent trust info from advertisers, according to a 2020 survey by Kantar Media.

Companies need to redesign ecommerce processes, marketing strategies and partnerships to increase customers’ trust in purchases and shopping journeys. Ecommerce and are seeing a big shift, but there’s also been a shift in the enterprise software sales side.

Related: Want More Referrals? Here Are The Best Ways to Earn Them

Blockchain company UTU which means “humanity” in Swahili, believes the way to get there is to build a trust-based infrastructure on the web. That means delivering APIs, Oracles and SDKs that enable trust signals to be evaluated dynamically and presented descriptively. 

I recently spoke with Jason Eisen, CEO of UTU, who says that such an infrastructure would make it difficult for businesses, salespeople, advertisers and unethical parties to manipulate product testimonials, ratings and scores. Their technology is valuable for situations when services are researched and obtained digitally. Fake reviews and rankings have grown pervasive online, and these mislead customers into choosing subpar products and services. Thus, cheating and obfuscations are rewarded. Cheaters exist, unfortunately, so businesses need to be proactive and build their infrastructure with possible loopholes in mind.

In the last year, 82 percent of consumers have read a deceptive review, according to 2019 research by marketing firm BrightLocal. In the U.K., fake reviews potentially influence $29.3 billion of customer spending annually.

“A trust infrastructure must be decentralized and can be tokenized to incentivize the creation of trust and good outcomes,” says Eisen. “In ecommerce, trust unleashes frictionless transactions. Unfortunately, peoples’ data and personal information are taken, their privacy violated and reputation sold to bidders. Thus, the current approach to digital trust is wrongly conceived, poorly implemented and subject to rampant abuse and manipulation.”

Loyalty programs must adapt to consumer preferences

Loyalty programs are important mechanisms that help customers choose brands. Modern loyalty incentives were popularized by U.S. airlines in the 1980s with frequent-flyer miles. Since then, various iterations permeate across hyper-competitive, consumer-facing industries — particularly in credit cards, financial services, retail, hotels, entertainment, electronic goods and groceries. Companies award perks, points, discounts and free goods in exchange for customers’ repeat purchases which, in turn, enhances enterprise value.

With the growing popularity of non-sovereign digital coins, as well as smartphones, companies are beginning to turn to cryptocurrencies to reward tech-savvy customers for their loyalty. For instance, Hong Kong-based Powerchain is launching a blockchain-based loyalty points exchange that enables merchants worldwide to offer a more valuable format of loyalty reward.

I spoke with Michael Mathias, the company’s CEO and the founder of GreenPower, who says that blockchain-based rewards can significantly enhance value as well as reduce inefficiencies of traditional points. “Blockchain-integrated loyalty points improve trust and ensure security,” he says. “The loyalty points on our blockchain-based platform represent a superior format of customer reward that never expires, is never restricted and is exchangeable for other forms of value, including cash.”

However, 75 percent of consumers have changed shopping behaviors because of the pandemic. “Value, availability, and quality or organic products were the main drivers for consumers trying a different brand,” according to McKinsey’s COVID-19 Global Consumer Sentiment survey

The top three reasons are now value, availability and convenience. Due to the recession, people want value purchases for essential items; buy products that are actually available (due to disruptions in the supply chain); and choose businesses that make shopping convenient such as online orders, curbside delivery and in-store pick-up.

People value freebies and giveaways more than ever but are primarily focused on essential services like restaurants, banks, gas stations and medical services. One such essential service that’s seeing challenges in terms of emerging competition from budding entrepreneurs is banks. As banking customers struggle to keep enough money in their checking and savings accounts to avoid paying the banking usage fees that accumulate when their balances go below the threshold, decentralized banking services are attracting new customers with giveaways, rewards, contests and incentives.

Related: 4 Tips for Holding Onto Customers During the Pandemic

The past few months have seen huge growth in the total value of locked assets within these protocols and a lot of developer and community interest. Another trend emerging from decentralized finance platforms has been incentivized rewards: paying out tokens to early users of a new product. This has proven to be a powerful method to drive the adoption of new crypto products and services. 

“I expect this trend to develop as projects try out variations of different types of rewards and see which are most effective,” Scott Stuart, co-founder of the Harvest.io project told me. “As the world’s first cross-chain money market, Harvest.io aims to bring customers rewards in the form of HARD tokens, the governance token of the platform, as an for users to contribute their capital in the money market. HARD tokens are distributed to users in addition to the interest they are paid on their capital.” These new breed of money markets are not just for the wealthy either. There’s no minimum requirement to open an account, no minimum balance that needs to be maintained and there is no lock-up period.

Being a governance token is important to improve and ensure that the application grows with new feature updates. Governance token incentives are now common practice across all decentralized money market applications available today. Active competition in the decentralized application space requires incentives that will incentivize user participation and promote liquidity.

Due to the recession and as a result of customer demands, companies will need to redesign loyalty programs and journeys to address consumers evolving priorities. That means giving customers access to discounted essentials and making redemptions convenient amid limited store hours and customer support.

Companies in the FinTech space are offering incentives to users to get them in the door. Another trend that is emerging during these uncertain times is 0 percent APR on loans. Banks are seeing competition as their customers are looking elsewhere for the lowest APR available. In previous times, 0 percent APR has been unheard of, but given the trends in the industry and how competitive it is, offering 0 percent APR loans allows the customers to choose the best option for them. 

One example of such an incentive is with cryptocurrency where customers can generate a loan instantly using an app called Crypterium. There are no credit checks required and no repayment deadline, with loans ranging from $50 to $5,000 at the lowest APR. The program serves customers similar to how a works. Unlike the typical interest rates that range from 4.95, 5.9 and even 8 percent APR, the incentive of 0 percent APR is to attract new customers who will then want to use other services within the app.

“With the the way it is, people are turning to holding Bitcoin or Ethereum as a way to take out loans faster than ever,” Steve Parker, former general manager of Visa and CEO at Crypterium told me. “Trust is a balancing act for blockchain-based incentives. Customers need more incentives to extend their trust. The transparent nature of the technology is not enough. Also, as an easy way to attract users and familiarize themselves with our service without taking a big risk, we are offering the unbeatable incentive of 0 percent interest rates.”

On the other side of the coin, oftentimes small businesses compromise trust with incentives. If the customer’s trust is extended and the incentives aren’t what they thought, the customer might feel duped. For example, a credit card with paragraphs of fine print restrictions of the initial catchphrase that gets the customer’s attention. Small business owners need to be ever mindful to create the right balance of incentives with their customers without compromising the integrity of trust.

Trust is key to doing business. When family and friends share a brand recommendation on social media, a user will generally trust that recommendation. Companies can familiarize their goods and services by incentivizing consumers with loyalty points and other perks. Customers who make repeat purchases will become accustomed and make a brand part of their daily life.



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Cedar Realty Trust approves reverse stock split – Long Island Business News


Glen Allen Shopping Center in Glen Allen, Va. / Google Maps image



Cedar’s board of directors approved a plan for a 6.6 for 1 reverse common stock split, which will be completed by the end of the year.







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Riversdale hosts Goulburn 2020 exhibition and National Trust anniversary | Goulburn Post


news, local-news, Goulburn, Riversdale, open day, National Trust, 75th anniversary, Goulburn 2020, 200th anniversary, Claire Baddeley

Goulburn’s National Trust property, Riversdale, threw open its doors for the first time in months on Saturday for a very special occasion. The day marked not just the Trust’s 75th anniversary but also the opening of the exhibition, ‘The Old Town: Goulburn and Riversdale 1820 and Beyond.’ The latter was part of Goulburn’s 2020 activities, commemorating 200 years since NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his exploration party came through the area. Their travels led to establishment of the first Goulburn township in 1829 near Riversdale. READ MORE: NSW Governor Margaret Beazley visits Goulburn to commemorate 200th anniversary of Lachlan Macquarie’s visit Jennifer Lamb’s Journey Through Country commemorates Lachlan Macquarie’s visit Goulburn 2020 commemorates arrival of Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1820 Hume MP Angus Taylor opened the exhibition, saying the property, more than many others, played a significant role in the area’s history. Riversdale was originally established as a coaching inn in about 1840. Its 1832 stone barn built by Matt Healey is the only surviving building of the Goulburn Plains’ first settlement. The property was also used as a school and then a home to NSW Surveyor General Edward Twynam for more than 90 years. National Trust deputy CEO Richard Silink made a special trip for the exhibition’s opening and welcomed Twynam family descendant, Stephen Horn and his wife, Rosanna. Mr Horn loaned several surveying items retained by the family to the display. Mr Silink said a writing slope carried by Lachlan Macquarie was specially loaned by Old Government House at Parramatta for the exhibition. The slope was sent to Sergeant Charles Whalan by Lachlan Macquarie junior after his father’s death in England in 1824. “It’s a very significant item,” he said. Goulburn 2020 coordinator Jennifer Lamb has studied Macquarie’s journals and has posted his accounts of his explorations of this area on social media as part of the commemorations. National Trust volunteer Claire Baddeley said the display also included a jail warden’s button possibly related to the earliest prison. It was discovered in the 1980s along with 1825 to 1829 coins depicting King George IV. There were also handmade nails from the earliest building, the stables and plans of the first Goulburn township near Riversdale in 1829. Darling Square was its central feature. The township was transferred to the now centre of Goulburn in the early 1830s after NSW surveyor general Major Thomas Mitchell expressed concerns over flooding. ALSO READ: Goulburn writer on longlist for $50,000 prize An 1849 sketch of Goulburn detailed land lots and their owners, including William Bradley, William Hovell and William Lithgow. There’s also Baker’s map of the County of Argyle, 1843 to 1846. But it’s not all European history. The display recognises the Gandangara and Ngunawal population and their interaction with the explorers. “The exhibition looks at how Riversdale fits into the broader scheme of Gouburn’s establishment,” Ms Baddeley said. Mr Horn took the opportunity to recall his great aunt, Alice Twynam who trained as a bush nurse and famously cared for soldiers from the Gallipoli landings at a Cairo hospital. She later went to France and Flanders and treated the Anzacs at almost every battle. After the war she was awarded the Royal Red Cross (First Class) by the Prince of Wales at Government House, Sydney. Alice was the daughter of Edward and Emily Twynam. “She was mistress here at Riversdale and was very much a person to be admired,” Mr Horn said. “She ran the place on her own and she wasn’t particularly well off. She and her two sisters took in boarders and she really looked after her sisters.” ALSO READ: Goulburn solar farm raises more than half a million dollars He described Alice as a very private person who led an adventurous life. She also gave away most of her possessions. After she died in 1967, Mr Horn discovered letters written to her from soldiers thanking her for her care. She had spent five years abroad. Mr Horn said her service had inspired other family members to pursue nursing. “She was a very special person and I have fond memories of coming to visit her at Riversdale, which had an old-fashioned English style,” he said. Alice died in Goulburn in 1967. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.

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When Do We Trust AI’s Recommendations More Than People’s?


Executive Summary

Companies are increasingly turning to AI to make recommendations to consumers. But sometimes consumers don’t trust AI’s advice and want a human’s suggestions. To understand when consumers trust one vs. the other, the authors conducted a series of experiments. Their finding: Consumers tend to believe AI is more competent at making recommendations when they are seeking functional or practical offerings and humans when they are more interested in an offering’s experiential or sensory features. These views are based on mistaken beliefs. However, there are ways that marketers can overcome this bias.

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More and more companies are leveraging technological advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and other forms of artificial intelligence to provide relevant and instant recommendations to consumers. From Amazon to Netflix to REX Real Estate, firms are using AI recommenders to enhance the customer experience. AI recommenders are also increasingly used in the public sector to guide people to essential services. For example, the New York City Department of Social Services uses AI to give citizens recommendations on disability benefits, food assistance, and health insurance.

However, simply offering AI assistance won’t necessarily lead to more successful transactions. In fact, there are cases when AI’s suggestions and recommendations are helpful and cases when they might be detrimental. When do consumers trust the word of a machine, and when do they resist it? Our research suggests that the key factor is whether consumers are focused on the functional and practical aspects of a product (its utilitarian value) or focused on the experiential and sensory aspects of a product (its hedonic value).

In an article in the Journal of Marketing — based on data from over 3,000 people who took part in 10 experiments — we provide evidence supporting for what we call a word-of-machine effect: the circumstances in which people prefer AI recommenders to human ones.

The word-of-machine effect.

The word-of-machine effect stems from a widespread belief that AI systems are more competent than humans in dispensing advice when utilitarian qualities are desired and are less competent when the hedonic qualities are desired. Importantly, the word-of-machine effect is based on a lay belief that does not necessarily correspond to the reality. The fact of the matter is humans are not necessarily less competent than AI at assessing and evaluating utilitarian attributes. Vice versa, AI is not necessarily less competent than humans at assessing and evaluating hedonic attributes. Indeed, AI selects flower arrangements for 1-800-Flowers and creates new flavors for food companies such as McCormick.

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Nevertheless, our experiments suggest that if someone is focused on utilitarian and functional qualities, then, from a marketer’s perspective, the word of a machine is more effective than the word of human recommenders. For someone focused on experiential and sensory qualities, human recommenders are more effective.

For instance, in one of our experiments we assessed the word-of-machine effect on people’s propensity to choose products and people’s consumption experiences. To do so, we asked over 200 passersby in (pre-Covid-19) Boston to participate in a blind market test for haircare products. Using leaflets to explain the test, we asked each person to select one of two hair product samples, one recommended by AI and the other by a human. As predicted, when passersby were asked to focus only on utilitarian and functional attributes such as practicality, objective performance, and chemical composition, more people chose the AI-recommended sample (67%) than the one recommended by a person. When passersby were asked to focus only on experiential and sensory attributes such as indulgence, scent, and a spa-like vibe, more people choose the human-recommended sample (58%) than the one recommended by AI.

The word-of-machine effect also emerged in a second field experiment that we conducted in the Italian resort town of Cortina. We first primed people to consider a real estate investment relying only on either its functional and practical qualities or its emotional and sensory-based qualities. Then, we asked people to choose one of two selections of house properties: one curated by a human real estate agent and one by an AI algorithm. When presented with a pitch that focused on practicality, more people (60%) chose a list of AI-curated properties. But more participants (76%) chose the human-curated property list in response to a pitch that appealed to the senses such as enjoyment.

The word-of-machine effect even extended to product consumption and taste perception. We recruited 144 participants from the University of Virginia campus and informed them that we were testing chocolate-cake recipes for a local bakery. The participants were given two options: one cake created with ingredients selected by an AI chocolatier and one created with ingredients selected by a human chocolatier. Participants were then asked to eat one of the two cakes, which were identical in appearance and ingredients, and rate the cake for two experiential/sensory features (indulgent taste and aromas, pleasantness to the senses) and two utilitarian/functional attributes (beneficial chemical properties and healthiness). Participants rated the AI-recommended cake as less tasty but healthier than the cake recommended by the human chocolatier.

In cases where utilitarian features are most important, the word-of-machine effect is more pronounced. Using an online survey, we asked 303 respondents to imagine buying a winter coat and review a list of practical/functional (e.g., breathability) and experiential/sensory (e.g., fabric type) qualities of the coat, rating how much they cared about these features. The more participants cared about utilitarian features, the more they preferred an AI shopping assistant over a human, and the more they cared about hedonic features, the more they preferred a human shopping assistant over an AI.

Even though it is clear that consumer confidence in AI assistance is higher when searching for products that are utilitarian (e.g., computers and dishwashers), this does not mean that companies offering products that promise more hedonic experiences (e.g., fragrances, food, and wine) are out of luck when it comes to using AI recommenders. In fact, we found that people embrace AI’s recommendations as long as AI works in partnership with humans. For instance, in one experiment, we framed AI as augmented intelligence that enhances and supports human recommenders rather than replacing them. The AI-human hybrid recommender fared as well as the human-only recommender even when experiential and sensory considerations were important.

These findings are important because they represent the first empirical test of augmented intelligence that focuses on AI’s assistive role in advancing human capabilities, rather than as an alternative to humans, which is how it is typically perceived. One company that is seeing success with this approach is Stitch Fix, which uses AI in partnership with human stylists to choose clothing for its customers.

Convincing customer to give AI the benefit of the doubt.

How might managers correct the incorrect lay belief about the competence of AI vs. humans to provide advice? Our research uncovered several interventions that could attenuate it.

In one experiment, we asked participants to consider the opposite of what they initially believed to be true with regards to AI competence. We did so by prompting them to consider the ways in which they could be wrong about what they expected a human or an AI recommender to be good at. We found that prompting people to consider a different viewpoint about the recommender’s ability reduced the effect we found in the previous experiments. In other words, the AI recommenders scored higher on a hedonic scale, suggesting that people were more open to AI recommenders even when focused on experiential/sensory qualities, and the human recommenders scored higher on a utilitarian scale, suggesting that people were more open to human recommenders even when seeking functional/practical qualities.

In the real world, trying to convince a consumer to think the opposite of their core belief is difficult, so we tested a more practical and easier intervention to determine the effect of removing bias. We invited 299 online respondents to read about an app called “Cucina” that would rely on AI to give recipe recommendations. Within the app, the participants were able to interact with a chat bot — an AI chef — that was programmed to assist them. The chat bot greeted each participant and introduced itself (“Hi, Mark! I am here to suggest a recipe for you to try!”). The AI chef then delivered the consider-the-opposite protocol using a fun, interactive nudge: “Some people might think that an artificial intelligence chef is not competent to give food suggestions, but this is a misjudgment. For a moment, set aside your expectations about me. When it comes to making food suggestions, could you consider the idea that I could be good at things you do not expect me to be good at?” That resulted in more favorable perceptions of the AI recommendation even when people were considering the experiential and sensory qualities of a recipe like taste and aromas.

Our findings are insightful for managers navigating the remarkable technology-enabled opportunities that are growing in today’s marketplace. Although there is a clear correlation between utilitarian/functional and experiential/sensory attributes and consumer trust (or distrust) in AI recommenders, there are ways in which organizations can design the customer experience to take advantage of the word-of-machine effect.

For instance, companies like Netflix and YouTube could emphasize AI-based recommendations when utilitarian attributes are relatively more important to people (e.g., when they are selecting a documentary to view) and human-based recommendations (“similar users”) when hedonic attributes are relatively more important (e.g., when selecting a horror movie to view). Similarly, a company in the hospitality industry such as TripAdvisor could emphasize AI-based recommendations for business travel services and de-emphasize AI-based recommendations for leisure travel services.

As firms navigate the challenges of attracting and retaining customers in a crowded digital marketplace, those with a good understanding of the conditions under which consumers do and do not trust the “word” of AI recommenders will have a competitive advantage.



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Government corruption means there’s nobody left to trust


To deal with a pervasive culture of corruption in Australia, we need strong, independent regulators. The federal government is committed to undermining independent bodies and bringing them under its control.

(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

With Australia a banana republic in which self-interest, non-accountability and corruption — in soft or hard forms — pervades business and politics, we have only a limited number of institutions that we can trust to protect the public interest from politicians and the vested interests that control them.

But many of them are under attack from the politicians that they threaten.

With the Australian public service, and even its famed central agencies, now hopelessly politicised, sources of independent, high-quality policy advice are becoming rare.

The Productivity Commission (PC) remains independent and willing to criticise government economic policies — particularly its failure to pursue a carbon price, its facile obsession with managed trade deals, and its steady re-embrace of protectionism.

But there are concerns about the PC. In 2019, Scott Morrison appointed longtime Liberal Party staffer Michael Brennan to replace outgoing chair Peter Harris, who was often outspoken in his analyses, and a vocal critic of the government’s secrecy around the failed Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Brennan has reasserted Liberal Party orthodoxy in the role, insisting the recession is a supply-side problem, not one of demand, and the economy needed deregulation and a reduction in industrial relations protections.

Early this year, Brennan’s predecessor Harris mocked what he called “[trotting] out that old whipping dog, red tape” for “another beating”.

And while the Reserve Bank long ago took Treasury’s mantle as the country’s most credible economic policy institution and remains independent, don’t forget Tony Abbott considered a plan to bring the bank more under his control by appointing an external conservative figure to replace Glenn Stevens.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) under auditor-general Grant Hehir has expanded its role as a thorn in the side of the public service, repeatedly exposing bungling and rorting by bureaucrats and ministers, most spectacularly with its exposure of systematic rorting of the sports infrastructure grants program by Bridget McKenzie and Scott Morrison’s office.

In recent years the government has slowly chipped away at the ANAO’s budget. In the last Labor budget, the ANAO received around $72 million, with its budget forecast to rise to $76 million by 2016. The Abbott government cut that back, keeping the ANAO to around $72 million in ensuing years, until in 2017 the Turnbull government sliced $2 million a year from its budget.

In each successive budget since then, including the recent one, the ANAO has had $1 million sliced off its budget, so it will now only receive $68.6 million this year. In that time, it has gone around 350 staff to 320.

The government has been more successful at nobbling Australia’s most trusted media outlet, the ABC, with budget cuts and a persistent campaign of intimidation and harassment that has cowed the ABC’s news division into compliance and responsiveness to Coalition criticism.

The Coalition has also been a persistent critic of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, and even engaged Margaret Cuneen, a high-profile critic of ICAC, to help design the risible federal integrity body that has fallen into a hole since it was proposed more than two years ago.

Many of the design features of the Morrison “integrity” model reflect the constant attacks by News Corporation on ICAC, which were renewed today despite the clear public interest in the revelation of close links between the premier and a corrupt MP.

The Coalition’s preferred model for independent regulators is weak and underfunded: it gutted the corporate regulator ASIC when it was elected, slashing tens of millions in funding. Its aged care regulator is hands-off and reluctant to intervene in the deeply rotten private aged care sector. And it has systematically stacked the Administrative Appeals Tribunal — the front line for litigation against government decisions — with Coalition appointees.

The lessons from the multiple scandals unfolding now is that genuinely independent, well-resourced and properly empowered regulators, run by non-partisan figures, are crucial to exposing and deterring corruption and misconduct by politicians and business people.

That seems to be the last thing the Morrison government wants.

Peter Fray

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