[Infographic] Australia. Twitter. 2014. What Happened?
It’s that time of year folks. Before the clock strikes midnight for the New Year, we all like to reminisce about the year coming to a pass. One component of technology that was consistent al the year through was the presence of social media in our personal lives, at our jobs—basically everywhere. Our shows now have hashtags in the corners so we can discuss what is happening as it is happening. Movements gain momentum on Twitter faster than they could ever had before, like the recent #Illridewithyou trend that was the wonderful response to the potential for racism after the Sydney Siege.
What it comes down to is that social media is an incredibly important tool for businesses and individuals alike. And Twitter is a great, cost effective way for you to connect with your customers and prospective clientele. One of the best ways to attract new followers is to keep up with trending topics on the social media platform.
See below for an infographic of the biggest trends Australia took to on Twitter this year. I was impressed by a few of the trends Australia took to last year. Remembrance Day was the most tweeted event, demonstrating Aussie’s support of their military past and present. Lorde, the New Zealand native turned world-famous singer, tweeted two images of herself: one photoshopped, and the other au natural with the phrase “Remember flaws are okay.”
The World Cup was a huge topic on Twitter this year as well, with Tim Cahill’s “Cahilling” making an impact on the tweeting public (Cahilling: taking a picture of yourself reacting to something, i.e. Cahill showing surprise after a goal).
One of the more recent and more touching trend was #putoutyourbats, a tribute to fallen cricketer Phillip Hughes.
Now, none of these trends or topics has a direct correlation to what you may be doing for your business, so how does this information help? If you focus some of your own tweets and use trending #hashtags, and even relate them to your business in some way, you could appeal to a wider audience, ultimately drawing people to your own account and brand. Part of our strategy in the New Year includes being more on trend.
What’s your social media strategy in 2015? Tell us on Twitter.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.