People (magazine)

Why People Who Lie All the Times Are Mentally Sick

I went to college with a guy who was always saying things that seemed untruthful. He didn’t say anything remarkable – it wasn’t like he was talking about the time he went unicorn hunting or something, but he just didn’t seem sincere. There were even times I was almost certain he was recycling his roommate’s stories. It was incredibly frustrating for me and anyone who held a discussion with him, because there was a constant feeling of needing to chase down the truth to separate it from the fabrication. It was exhausting!

There’s a good chance you’ve met someone like that, too. I don’t know about you, but I finally went out of my way to avoid that person in order to get out of having to speak to him; I just didn’t have the energy to smile and nod and pretend he didn’t seem like a complete pathological liar. But I always wondered if it exhausted him, too.

Pathological liars lie for the sake of lying.

Pathological lying is a medical condition in which a person lies all the time, seemingly for no reason at all.1 This is different from someone who lies from time to time; that’s called being human. Even clinicians have to rule out other things, like delusions or false memories, before determining someone is a pathological liar.

Pathological lies differ from other lies.

There are white lies, or lies that are told in order to be helpful. There are pathological lies, or lies told constantly as if without thought. And there are compulsive lies. Though pathological lying is compulsive, most experts agree it shouldn’t be confused with compulsive lying.

Compulsive lying is the habit of lying uncontrollably about anything, no matter how big or small. Both pathological liars and compulsive liars may lie habitually due to a history of abuse or other personal damage, but both may also lie for absolutely no reason! In fact, people who lie compulsively may continue to lie, even after being caught in a lie.

Even if you’re honest, you should care.

Some pathological lying can signal emotional disorders.2 One example of this would be in the case of an individual who is abused lying to avoid more abuse. But sometimes pathological liars are dishonest for very different reasons.

Some research suggests that pathological lying is associated with a specific neurological pattern involving minor memory deficit as well as impaired frontal lobes which can negatively effect the way an individual evaluates information. So even though speaking with a pathological liar can be tiring and annoying, it’s helpful to recognize whether something is actually mentally wrong with the individual, or if they simply lie so often they no longer recognize the truth.

Anyone can pick out a pathological liar.

If you’re trying to decide if someone you know is a pathological liar, here are some traits to look for:

  • The lies are elaborate. Earlier when I said it was exhausting to pick apart what was fact and what…

Microsoft releases new Windows 10 preview with My People features

Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview for PCs, ahead of its May 2 event next week. The main addition is My People, a feature the company originally talked about in October 2016 when announcing the Creators Update, but ultimately delayed to later this year.

Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way from its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes but new features, too. Microsoft has released many such updates, including three major ones: November Update, Anniversary Update, and Creators Update.

The goal of My People is to “bring the people you care about most to the center of your experience.” To try the new feature, open the Windows Store and make sure you have the latest updates for Skype, Mail, and People apps. Then click on the People icon in the taskbar and follow the setup instructions.

Microsoft is highlighting three My People features in this build: Pin people to the taskbar (up to three for now), view multiple communication apps together and filtered to each person on the taskbar, and choose your chat app. This is still very early days, but My People is based on your contacts from the aforementioned three apps.

Not specific to this build, but Windows Insider should know that Microsoft is improving Windows 10 Mail and Calendar for Gmail users. In short, features such as Focused Inbox, travel reservations, and package deliveries that were previously only available to Outlook.com and Office 365 email address are coming to Google accounts.

The desktop build includes the following bug fixes and improvements:

  • Fixed an issue where night light could get stuck in a disabled state.
  • Updated Start to use the improved XAML scrollbar style.
  • Fixed an issue from recent flights where dragging an app from Start’s All apps list into the tile grid would result in Start crashing.
  • Fixed an issue for those using Windows in Japanese, where on first login after an upgrade certain apps would unexpectedly appear at the bottom of the Start’s All apps list for an hour or until being launched, instead…

Meet the People Who Train the Robots (to Do Their Own Jobs)

SAN FRANCISCO — What if part of your job became teaching a computer everything you know about doing someone’s job — perhaps your own?

Before the machines become smart enough to replace humans, as some people fear, the machines need teachers. Now, some companies are taking the first steps, deploying artificial intelligence in the workplace and asking their employees to train the A.I. to be more human.

We spoke with five people — a travel agent, a robotics expert, an engineer, a customer-service representative and a scriptwriter, of sorts — who have been put in this remarkable position. More than most, they understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of artificial intelligence and how the technology is changing the nature of work.

Here are their stories.

Rachel Neasham, travel agent

Ms. Neasham, one of 20 (human) agents at the Boston-based travel booking app Lola, knew that the company’s artificial intelligence computer system — its name is Harrison — would eventually take over parts of her job. Still, there was soul-searching when it was decided that Harrison would actually start recommending and booking hotels.

At an employee meeting late last year, the agents debated what it meant to be human, and what a human travel agent could do that a machine couldn’t. While Harrison could comb through dozens of hotel options in a blink, it couldn’t match the expertise of, for example, a human agent with years of experience booking family vacations to Disney World. The human can be more nimble — knowing, for instance, to advise a family that hopes to score an unobstructed photo with the children in front of the Cinderella Castle that they should book a breakfast reservation inside the park, before the gates open.

Ms. Neasham, 30, saw it as a race: Can human agents find new ways to be valuable as quickly as the A.I. improves at handling parts of their job? “It made me feel competitive, that I need to keep up and stay ahead of the A.I.,” Ms. Neasham said. On the other hand, she said, using Harrison to do some things “frees me up to do something creative.”

Ms. Neasham is no ordinary travel agent. When she left the Army after serving as a captain in Iraq and Afghanistan, she wanted to work at a start-up. She joined Lola as one of its first travel agents. Knowing that part of her job was to be a role model, basically, for Harrison, she felt a responsibility for Harrison to become a useful tool.

Founded in 2015 by Paul English, who also started the travel-search site Kayak, Lola was conceived as part automated chat service and part recommendation engine. Underlying it all was a type of artificial intelligence technology called machine learning.

Lola was set up so that agents like Ms. Neasham didn’t interact with the A.I. much, but it was watching and learning from every customer interaction. Over time, Lola discovered that Harrison wasn’t quite ready to take over communication with customers, but it had a knack for making lightning-fast hotel recommendations.

At first, Harrison would recommend hotels based on obvious customer preferences, like brands associated with loyalty programs. But then it started to find preferences that even the customers didn’t realize that they had. Some people, for example, preferred a hotel on the corner of a street versus midblock.

And in a coming software change, Lola will ask lifestyle questions like “Do you use Snapchat?” to glean clues about hotel preferences. Snapchat users tend to be younger and may prefer modern but inexpensive hotels over more established brands like the Ritz-Carlton.

While Harrison may make the reservations, the human agents support customers during the trip. Once the room is booked, the humans, for example, can call the hotel to try to get room upgrades or recommend how to get the most out of a vacation.

“That’s something A.I. can’t do,” Ms. Neasham said.

Diane Kim, interaction designer

Ms. Kim is adamant: Her assistant doesn’t use slang or emoji.

Her assistant, Andrew Ingram, also avoids small talk and doesn’t waste time on topics beside scheduling her meetings, she said.

Ms. Kim isn’t being tyrannical. She just knows her assistant better than most bosses, because she programmed him.

Ms. Kim, 22, works as an A.I. interaction designer at x.ai, a New York-based start-up offering an artificial intelligence assistant to help people schedule meetings. X.ai pitches clients on the idea that, through A.I., they get the benefits of a human assistant — saving the time and hassle of scheduling a meeting — at a fraction of the price.

It’s Ms. Kim’s job to craft responses for the company’s assistants, who are named Andrew and Amy Ingram, or A.I. for short, that feel natural enough that swapping emails with these computer systems feels no different than emailing with a human assistant.

Ms. Kim’s job — part playwright, part programmer and part linguist — didn’t exist before Alexa, Siri and other A.I. assistants. The job is like a translator of sorts. It is to help humans access the A.I.’s superhuman capabilities like 24/7 availability and infallible memory without getting tripped up by robotic or awkward language.

Even in the narrow parameters of scheduling meetings, it takes a lot of machine learning to break down emails for a computer. For example, setting a meeting for “Wednesday” is different than setting a meeting for “a Wednesday,” as in any Wednesday. X.ai breaks down emails to its component parts to understand intent.

The automated response is where Ms. Kim takes over. Her job is to imagine how…

Compassionate Projects Keep the Focus on People, Not Exposure

I saw this video and absolutely loved the project. Jude Pullen has built a camera interface that allows James, who suffers from epidermolysis bullosa, to take pictures without the use of his fingers. Photography is something that takes James’ mind off of his fairly painful disease.

Without the addition of this camera rig, James had to rely on someone else to hold his camera for him. He would relay commands, like “zoom in a bit” and just hope that they’d get it right without too much back and forth. With Jude’s modifications, James now has a nice iPad interface where he can finely adjust the camera on his own, giving him some freedom to express himself better through film.

One huge aspect of doing a project like this is the exposure that will come afterwards….