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APIs create ‘digital empathy’

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APIs create ‘digital empathy’

APIs are hardly new technology, but their integration into our digital infrastructure (and lives) defines much of our relationship with common technology. As a quick refresher, APIs are basically ports that software developers create in a digital ocean in order to allow other developers to interact with their systems. This is how your budgeting app integrates with your bank accounts, how your tax preparation app imports all of your investment transactions.

As the internet becomes increasingly interconnected,  it’s becoming clear that APIs are the foundation for what amounts to ‘digital empathy’ — defined as the ability for otherwise disconnected systems to recognize and understand each other’s needs, just as two human beings might display empathy by recognizing the perspective of a fellow person. 

Interconnectivity of APIs

Even the most advanced algorithms devised by modern software engineering cannot address the needs, concerns and use-cases of every conceivable end-user. APIs are the means by which hard choices are made. Which preferences will be satisfied? Whose concerns sit at the front of the line? For whom is this software intended?

This may not seem particularly surprising through the lens of existing applications interacting, but as the world moves into virtual reality experiences and brain-computer interfaces, the importance of digital empathy will be crucial to how we interact with each other and the world through software. 

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Currently, developers use APIs to access systems to provide data, receive data, or otherwise interact with code built by another developer, team, company, etc. Many applications are simply a conglomeration of API integrations that feed data into dashboards, so users can visualize events in multiple places. In this way, these windows into the behavior of other systems enable ‘digital empathy’ for the end user viewing the dashboard.

If human empathy is the capacity to recognize the emotional state of another, then digital empathy is the ability to gain the same insight into a digital system. This transparency fosters the ability for outsiders to understand what’s happening on the other side of the API curtain. Great APIs allow for enormous amounts of access while still protecting sensitive data. The most intelligent APIs are empathetic by design — anticipating and respecting the needs and concerns of the code and the users on the other end of the interaction.

Imagine a conversation with a therapist. How impactful can that person be in helping you without access to the underlying data describing your mental health needs? The therapist’s ability to grasp connections between the state of your world, and the way that you feel (empathize with you) is largely contingent on the amount of data they can access. 

APIs operate analogously, allowing users, developers and their software to access key (and oftentimes disparate) data within a system in order to understand and interact with it. In this regard, digital empathy is often correlated with the depth and breadth of API access.

More specifically, one set of developers must anticipate the desired use cases of other users and developers. APIs are improving rapidly and consequently so are developers’ abilities to build products and extend the uses of existing ones. This has catalyzed the evolution of the internet and will ultimately evolve into the brain-computer interface-driven, virtual metaverse reality we see on the horizon. 

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Machines and humans

Perhaps the most powerful application of digital empathy, just beyond the horizon, is in BCI technology. Sooner than we might imagine, people will be able to understand each other’s perspectives, emotions and even thoughts as if they were their own. This technology will change the nature of interconnection in ways we cannot imagine.

This remarkable shift will be made possible through what amounts to the next generation of APIs that digitally transmit human thought among humans and machines. The line between digital empathy and actual empathy will be forever blurred — eventually becoming indistinguishable. Consequently, APIs will be the digital equivalent of body language, voice tone and every other cue humans (err…computers) used to understand each other. The difference between an in-person conversation compared to one over the phone is a great metaphor for this.

Currently, our digital interactions with each other are the equivalent of a phone call with a stranger where the minimum required information is transferred, but nuance is lost. Eventually, these interactions will be as efficient (and even more so) than the in-person equivalent (where even our innate abilities to perceive can fall short). APIs are already providing the infrastructure to bring this world to life.

As APIs and the way computers communicate improve, we’ll be able to unlock the real potential of our interconnected world. In this interconnected world, software will be required to anticipate a greater array of inquiries and make a more complicated set of choices.

Things like brain-computer interfaces will, after sufficient calibration, communicate with other human beings and machines. To what information should access be allowed? What access should to remain private? Which requests should be answered? Humans will be able to use computers to understand the emotions of others as if they were their own. What access should empathetic software grant?

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We are working diligently towards a world driven by digital empathy. Greater human understanding, seamless knowledge transfer and real, tangible comprehension of others’ emotions is just on the horizon and APIs have paved the road we’re traveling to get there and the guardrails along the way. 

Jevan Fox is the chief revenue officer at AE Studio.

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Court OKs lawsuit by woman who says she helped create Pinterest

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Court OKs lawsuit by woman who says she helped create Pinterest

Pinterest must now face a lawsuit from a former friend of one of its founders who claims she helped create the platform. Bloomberg reported that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Seabolt on Thursday denied the company’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Christine Martinez, the plaintiff, claims she was asked by co-founder Ben Silbermann to help revive the app. The digital market strategist claims to have developed features tied to Pinterest’s Boards and created a marketing plan to enlist bloggers to promote the platform, among other contributions. 

Martinez filed a lawsuit against the company in September, and Pinterest filed the motion to dismiss in December. The company argued that Martinez’s claims are too old to fall within the statute of limitations. Seabolt disagreed with this and said Martinez “sufficiently alleges” that she and the Pinterest founders agreed to deferred compensation. Pinterest went public in 2019, an event that Seabolt deemed “transformative” and in his view sealed the company’s obligation to pay Martinez.

In a statement to Engadget, Pinterest’s chief communications officer LeMia Jenkins Thompson noted that the court dismissed several of Martinez’s claims. Thompson also stated that, “as the facts come out, we are confident the evidence will confirm that Plaintiff’s claims are meritless and that the rest of this baseless lawsuit should be dismissed.” 

According to the New York Times, Martinez was never formally employed at nor did she ever sign a written contract with the San Francisco-based company. Instead, Martinez argues that the agreement was implied, based on her discussions with Sciarra and Silbermann.

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Martinez, who is a former lifestyle blogger and founder of an eccomerce startup, told the Times she was eager to help friends. “[…The Pinterest co-founders] had no marketing background or expertise in creating a product for women.”

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Kaser Focus: Snow vs Spade

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Kaser Focus: Snow vs Spade

Interested in learning what’s next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Learn more.


Oh yeah, the woman at GamesBeat has some fucking thoughts about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I’m sure there are several of you who will not be pleased to hear them. You’re at perfect liberty to click away. Me? I am not at perfect liberty . . . in any sense of the word.

Still, I encourage you to pay attention because this affects you too. This is going to affect the gaming industry, because it is staffed by humans — some of whom possess uteruses. And like it or not, you don’t have an industry without those individuals, and they aren’t safe. I’m not safe. Granted, that’s been the case long before Roe v. Wade was overturned — I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the games industry has an itty-bitty problem with being hostile towards its female workforce.

I want to highlight the games companies that are speaking out in support of their employees’ reproductive rights. Perhaps this is just lip service — it’s a bit too early to say. But I notice that Sony is no longer encouraging demure silence from its partner studios. Indeed, Sony subsidiaries were some of the first to react. Here’s a list of the reactions I’ve seen so far, including pledges by the companies to help their employees pursue abortions in legal states, even if they have to travel:

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  • IGDA: “We believe bodily autonomy and choice over one’s own reproductive and healthcare matters are pertinent to achieving [the IGDA’s] mission. One must be in control of their own health matters in order to successfully manage their career and life.
  • Insomniac Games: “We are human beings who make games. Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights.”
  • Sony San Diego: “Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights.”
  • Guerrilla Games: “Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights.”
  • Naughty Dog: “We will continue to uphold those values and actively support all our employees in receiving the care they need and want.”
  • Bungie: “…we will now be implementing a travel reimbursement program for any employee to use when they or a dependent cannot get access to the healthcare they need where they live. We remain undeterred in our commitment to stand up for reproductive choice and liberty.”
  • Ubisoft: “Today and every day, we believe that reproductive rights are human rights, women’s rights are human rights, trans rights are human rights, and equal rights for all are essential to a world where everyone can be their authentic selves and thrive.”
  • Innersloth: “The ending of the constitutional right to abortion is a gender, racial, economic, and human rights disaster for both present and future generations…We stand with everyone affected.”

I notice few of them are eager to use the word “abortion,” but the bar is already so low — I’ll take even the show of support, at this point. I’m also putting this here because I want it on record that these companies have spoken in support of reproductive rights. I hope more of the studios take after Bungie in supporting the rights of employees to travel to receive medical care. That’s a good benefit to have regardless of whether the healthcare in question is reproductive in nature.

There are those of you who don’t care, who are ideologically opposed to what I’m saying. I can’t make you care. Though again, if you think this doesn’t affect you, you’re dead wrong, because data privacy is also a factor in all of this. If you have even a shred of compassion for me or women in the U.S., then I encourage you to help us. Donate to Abortion Funds, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Brigid Alliance, In Our Own Voice, Indigenous Women Rising, and/or NARAL Pro-Choice America.

So what do you do if you’re like me: Angry, upset and frustrated? Hell with it, let’s spend at least a little time escaping into games. I don’t recommend escapism in lieu of action, but I do recognize that one’s mental health can only take so much. My mental health can only take so much. So this weekend, I’m going to run back to Fodlan in Fire Emblem Warriors, run into the sewers in Shredder’s Revenge, and just plain run in Neon White. Don’t get me wrong: We’re in the trenches for the foreseeable future. But if you, like me, need a temporary reprieve, then take it.

What to play this week

What’s new:

  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
  • Sonic Origins
  • Capcom Fighting Collection
  • AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative
  • Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition

New to subscription services:

  • Naraka Bladepoint (Xbox Game Pass)
  • FIFA 22 (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Shadowrun Trilogy (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Pokémon Snap (Nintendo Switch)
  • Genshin Impact (GeForce Now)
  • Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 (GeForce Now)
  • Airborne Kingdom (GeForce Now)
  • Fishing: North Atlantic (GeForce Now)
  • Immortal Life (GeForce Now)
  • King Arthur: Knight’s Tale (GeForce Now)
  • SimAirport (GeForce Now)
  • Skeleton Crew (GeForce Now)

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn more about membership.

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For Shell, AI and data is as critical as oil

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For Shell, AI and data is as critical as oil

We are excited to bring Transform 2022 back in-person July 19 and virtually July 20 – 28. Join AI and data leaders for insightful talks and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!


At Shell, there are plenty of reasons to use AI and data to transform their business. 

From increased energy demands and unconnected environments to mounting pressure to fight climate change, the oil and gas industry is at a crossroads. Energy companies like Shell can either adhere to the status quo or embrace the idea of a low-carbon energy future.

The transition towards a more distributed, diverse and decentralized energy system means optimizing end-to-end processes and maintaining them at scale. That means solutions that can be deployed globally at a rapid pace are crucial. And it means Shell has had to become an AI-powered technology company. 

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Accelerating digital transformation

For example, last November, Shell founded the Open AI Energy Initiative (OAI) alongside Baker Hughes, Microsoft, and enterprise AI company C3 AI to help accelerate the energy industry’s digital transformation.

According to Dan Jeavons, vice president of computational science and digital innovation at Shell, the OAI offers industry leaders the opportunity to collaborate openly, fairly and transparently. It allows them to create interoperable standards between AI applications and accelerate the adoption of digital technology and reach net-zero emissions in the future.

“We have committed to be net-zero by 2050 or sooner and to achieve a 50% reduction in scope one and two emissions by 2030,” he said. 

While digital technology may not be the silver bullet, it is one of the core levers Shell is using to accelerate the energy transition. Jeavons adds, “While we’re going to need to transform a lot of hardware to change the energy sector, we can also leverage the data we have today and use that to transform the system.”

AI plays a critical role in Shell’s business strategy

Shell has already implemented several AI initiatives over the years, including deploying reinforcement learning in its exploration and drilling program; rolling out AI at public electric car charging stations; and installing computer vision-enabled cameras at service stations. 

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Recently, the company also launched the Shell.ai Residency Programme, which allows data scientists and AI engineers to gain experience working on a variety of AI projects across all Shell businesses.

Currently, Shell is deploying north of 100 AI applications into production every year. They’ve also developed a central community of more than 350 AI professionals who are designing AI solutions using vast pools of data available throughout the many businesses within Shell. 

AI helps Shell with predictive maintenance 

“Reliability and safety are absolutely fundamental,” said Jeavons. “Having the ability to identify when things are going wrong and intervene proactively has been a priority for us.”

AI has allowed Shell to use predictive monitoring to augment monitoring techniques they already had in place. 

To put that in perspective, Jeavons claims it has over 10,000 pieces of equipment currently being monitored by AI – from valves and compressors to dry gas seals, instrumentation and pumps, while AI also provides predictions on potential failure events. To monitor all that equipment, 3 million sensors gather 20 billion rows of data every week, while nearly 11,000 machine-learning models allow the system to make more than 15 million predictions each day.

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Historically, Shell relied on physics-based models to make these predictions. Prior to the advent of a predictive maintenance program run by C3 AI, the company would typically replace parts after a certain period. This approach meant that parts were often replaced while they were still in good condition. An alternative strategy was to wait until something failed. With equipment failure, assets needed to shut down temporarily for repairs, affecting production.

AI-based predictive maintenance has enabled the company to lower equipment and maintenance costs by using resources more efficiently, decreasing production interruptions, and avoiding unplanned downtime. 

Tom Siebel, CEO of C3 AI, explained that there are numerous infrastructure and orchestration issues that surround AI.

“It’s not that hard to build machine learning models,” he said. “What’s hard is to put two million machine learning models in production, into one application.”

With a proactive technical monitoring approach, however, Shell’s data scientists could analyze thousands of data points simultaneously and enable engineers and others to draw insights from that data.

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“Our team uses that data to understand what normal behavior across our asset base looks like in particular cases, including equipment like compressors, valves and pumps,” Jeavons says. “Then we create forecasts of what we think normal is going to be in the coming periods. From that forecast, we can identify when normal conditions are no longer occurring and then link that back to historical events.”

AI for optimization is next for Shell

Now, Shell has commercialized its AI predictive maintenance applications built with C3 AI software. Going forward, Jeavons says the company is now laser-focused on optimization.

“This means we can identify ways of producing more efficiently, generating more output for the same cost and more importantly, we can also look at the CO2 footprint of these processes and start to optimize accordingly,” said Jeavons. 

In the near future, he added, Shell is also exploring how AI can be leveraged to monitor carbon capture, storage installations and methane levels.

“These ventures involve making our existing business more effective and efficient, but also play a key role in our energy transition strategy,” he said.

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