Friday Five: reading brainwaves and underwater tents

1. I spy a new data drama for Facebook

We may have entered a new year, but it looks like Facebook is experiencing the same old PR problems, with news emerging that it has been paying teens to install a VPN on their smartphones that allows the company to monitor nearly all phone and web activity, duly sending US lawmakers into fits of apoplectic rage.

2. Is it time for a digital detox?

The numbers are in and it’s official. We’re pretty much addicted to the internet. At least that’s what the stats from Digital 2019, the global report from We Are Social and Hootsuite, seem to suggest. The study delved into the digital habits of more than 200 countries to reveal that we spend an average of six hours 42 minutes online every day, which equates to 101 days a year spent plugged in to the web.

3. A new way to speak your mind

Brace yourself, as things are about to get really sci-fi. An article published this week detailed how a team of neuroengineers at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute have come up with a way of using deep learning algorithms to read brain activity and translate it into speech. Mind = blown.

4. MPs urge tech firms to do their data duty

Is social media healthy or harmful for children? The chances are you could argue yourself hoarse regardless of which side of the debate you come down on, but now MPs in the UK are pressuring social media platforms to be more transparent with their data so that researchers can come up with a definitive answer.

5. Deep blue sleep

This one’s definitely getting filed under ‘Slightly Odd’. Do you like scuba diving? Do you like camping? Well great, because now you can combine the two thanks to the Ocean Space Habitat (OSH), an underwater tent designed and patented by a National Geographic explorer and a university professor.

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