About Alyssa Cimino

Penn State Class of 2020

Self-Driving Uber Car Kills Pedestrian in Arizona, Where Robots Roam

Uber has been testing driverless cars for a few years now and recently started inviting different states around the country to test their robotic vehicles on the state’s roads. Unfortunately, this past week, an Uber operated car, with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel struck and killed a pedestrian at an intersection on Mill Avenue in Temple, Ariz.
Due to the fact that this is the first accident, it’s a reminder that self-driving technology is still in experimental stage. Once the incident occurred, Uber immediately suspended self-driving testing in Temple, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.  Companies believe that eventually self-driving cars will be safer than regular cars because they take easily distracted humans out of the driving equation. Personally, I find that hard to believe right now especially just after this individuals death, but also because there are so many unpredictable situations a driver can face and a self-driving car isn’t going to be able to make a decision within seconds.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016, 37,461 people died in traffic-related accidents in the United States. The self-driving car that struck the pedestrians was said to be moving around 40 miles per hour. The woman had been walking with her bicycle on the street. Officials said it did not appear as though the car had slowed down before impact and that the Uber safety driver had shown no signs of impairment. The weather that day was clear and dry.

Wakabayashi, Daisuke. “Self-Driving Uber Car Kills Arizona Pedestrian.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Mar. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/technology/uber-driverless-fatality.html?rref=collection/sectioncollection/technology&action=click&contentCollection=technology®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

University of Arizona tracks student ID cards to detect who might drop out

The University of Arizona is beginning to track freshman students’ ID cards to determine whether or not the student is likely to dropout or not. The University researchers hope to use the data to lower dropout rates. Just like our Penn State ID swipes, the University of Arizona uses their “CatCard” student IDs to allow students to enter a residence halls, and the student recreation center. The cards are also used for buying vending machine snacks and more, putting the total number of locations near 700 on the Arizona campus.

Getting digital traces, researchers will be able to explore similar and different patterns of students’ movements, behaviors and interactions. After collecting data for over a three-year time frame, researchers have found out that predications for students to most likely drop out were over 73 percent accurate. Pretty insane I’d say that just a swipe of your id card could determine the likelihood of you dropping out or not. With the data collected from student activity, those who are more likely to drop out might have shrinking social circles and a lack of fairly established patterns of behavior.

I think that if these numbers are accurate then more universities around the country should start using them. “As early as the first day of classes, even for freshmen, these predictive analytics are creating highly accurate indicators that inform what we do to support students in our programs and practice,” said Angela Baldasare, assistant provost for institutional research at the university.



New Uber Services Focuses on Getting Folks to the Doctor

This past week, Uber introduced their new service called Uber Health. It was designed to provide reliable transportation specifically for health care-related needs. It will offer healthcare providers a way to order rides for their patients to help them keep their appointments. This new service will try its best to address a growing problem which is the lack of good transportation options for doctor visits and other health care needs, especially for seniors. According to the Community Transport Association, more than 3.6 million Americans miss their doctor’s appointments due to the lack of reliable transportation.  Uber riders can schedule immediate rides when needed but also can also schedule up to 30 days in advance along with a follow-up health care appointment.

One thing that really caught my attention with Uber Health was that users were able to order a ride via text message or landline without using the Uber app. This is a plus for low-income patients and seniors who don’t own smartphones, which is usually the way to order a ride from Uber. In addition, compared to a ride in an ambulance to the hospital, Uber Health could be much more affordable and is a dependable service to individuals with is the most important part. The only thing that was questioned with Uber Health is how it will respond to ride requests from seriously injured or ill patients. Uber Health drivers are unlikely to be as qualified as a paramedic or EMT. Uber responded to this by ensuring that Under Health isn’t a replacement for an emergency service. This is a way to provide necessary services to get drivers to a doctor or hospital at a lower cost.

New Uber Service Focuses on Getting Folks to the Doctor.” TechNewsWorld.com, www.technewsworld.com/story/85172.html.

Americans devout more than 10 hours a day to screen time, and growing


How many hours throughout the day do you think you spend using you phone, watching Netflix on your television or writing a paper on your laptop? According to a Nielsen Company audience report, the average person in the United States spends approximately 10 hours and 39 minutes each day. This average of 10 hours and 39 minutes includes our daily use of smartphones, computers, video games, radios, tablets and TVs.

The Nielsen Company also revealed that there has been a one-hour increase over the last year in how often an average American spends their time staring at the screen. “The number of devices we have proliferate the overall time spent with screens, and the number of devices is increasing. A lot of people have been thinking about how or whether this time spent is a good use of their time, which becomes a deep issue,” said Steve Gortmaker, a professor of health sociology at Harvard University. We are spending and using nearly half of our time throughout the day staring at the screen. Smartphones are used about one hour and 39 minutes daily to consume media. Personally speaking, I can say I definitely believe that. I spend that much time or maybe even more on a daily basis checking the latest posts on Instagram or answering back friends on Snapchat.

In addition, another report concluded that out of 168 hours in a week, we spend more than 50 hours with devices, said Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa State University. Too much screen time and other inactive behaviors also have been linked to obesity risk, especially in children. Families should limit their screen time, beginning with limiting the number of devices they encounter daily. For example, I babysit this little boy and every time I go over to watch him he is glued to the iPad. I always suggest playing board games or going outside to play basketball but there is no luck. Some parents need to learn how to shut down the tablets off before bed time and limit the use. Every night before going to bed, I make sure my phone is on airplane mode, making sure I am not distracted by any notifications I am receiving and my television is shut off at a reasonable time. Gortmaker suggested throwing out extra screens, and not having them in your bedroom. Certainly, we need these devices, and there will never be a time where we will actually get rid of them, but let’s try limiting the amount of time we are using them and giving ourselves a break.

Howard, Jacqueline. “Americans at more than 10 hours a day on screens.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 July 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/health/americans-screen-time-nielsen/index.html.

Snapchat’s New Update Triggers Revolt by Millions of Teens

Snapchat is an Android and iOS app that allows users to send pictures, videos and messages privately to friends for only a short period of time before they become inaccessible. Snapchat is about instant communication received on your devices. Photos on Snapchat can now also broadcast to your “story” for friends and followers to see.

About a week ago, Snapchat launched their newest design, updating the app for users. Their goal was to split the Snapchat up into two sections. First, consolidating friend content on the left side and media content on the right. This new update has triggered teens and they want the old version of Snapchat back. The new update on Snapchat is more difficult, making it harder to operate the app. Teens believe that the new features on the app are useless and defeat the actual purpose of Snapchat. Teens have created a petition on Change.org to get the older update back and running. This petition already has received a half a million signatures. Many teens have considered deleting the app due to the confusion.

Speaking for myself as well as some of my friends, I can say that we aren’t happy with the update. With an app like this one, it shouldn’t be this confusing and difficult to maneuver. Theses apps are supposed to be user friendly for all ages. For example, I recently made my mom a Snapchat to stay in touch with her for instant communication. Before the new update she was having trouble with it just due to the fact she wasn’t as technological savvy. Now with the newer update, it is going to be a lot harder explaining to her how to use it.

You might ask yourself what is the difference if the app is now more difficult to use, users will just have to take time and adjust to it? One main issue with the app being so confusing now is that users on Snapchat are losing their “streaks”. A Snapchat streak is when you send direct snapchats back and forth with a friend for a number of consecutive days. Users will make sure to log onto Snapchat daily to send their “streaks” and make sure they don’t lose them. Snapchat rewards long streaks with special emojis. Losing long streaks could be frustrating to teens and now with the new update it makes it harder to keep track.

Teens hope that with over millions of users not happy, Snapchat will try and fix the problem making modifications to the app.

Lorenz, Taylor. “Snapchats New Update Triggers Revolt by Millions of Teens.” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 11 Feb. 2018, www.thedailybeast.com/snapchats-new-update-triggers-revolt-by-millions-of-teens?ref=author.