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Facebook Engineers Organ Donation

Facebook's new organ donation status may put peer pressure to good use

2 min read
Facebook Engineers Organ Donation

Social networking attempts to become social engineering with Facebook’s newest option: organ donor status. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg introduced the option with a release Tuesday morning, “Friends Saving Lives.”

The premise is that just having the option will prompt users to become organ donors. Or the status might provide insight into a patient’s wishes for family members faced with the uncomfortable decision of whether to donate someone else' organs.

To change organ donation status, users can add a life event to their timelines. The box for organ donation is listed under Health & Wellness. Like all Facebook updates, it can be hidden with privacy settings or shared. The engineering kicks in with a link in life event box, inviting the user to officially register as a donor. The link transports users to Donate Life America’s Facebook page: an easy to use map to find each states' official registry website. 

Simply bringing attention the option will increase the number of donors, says BJ Fogg, who runs the Persuasive Technologies Lab at Stanford, The New York Times reports. It “will trigger people to make an important decision about whether to be an organ donor, a decision most people in the last year haven’t even considered,” Fogg says.

Many countries, especially those in the European Union, have “opt-out” programs, in which donation is assumed and residents must choose to not donate. But the United States has an “opt-in” system. Americans only become donors through conscious choice and deliberate registration. As of today, there are 114 183 people on the U.S. waitlist, according to the U.S. Department of Health, with about 18 of those patients dying a day. One organ donor could save up to eight people, it claims.

And Facebook may actually be able to make a difference, experts say.

“If you see all your friends do it, or have the illusion all your friends are doing it, it sets up an expectation of sorts and it may become a social norm,” Fog says.

It’s peer pressure put to good medical use.

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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