Big Tech & Startups
Stories about tech giants, startups, and venture capital
Facebook has been charged with housing discrimination by the US government (3 minute read)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed charges against Facebook for housing discrimination due to Facebook’s ad targeting system. Facebook allows advertisers to exclude certain areas and demographics, and the HUD is claiming that limiting a person’s choices for housing or employment digitally amounts to discrimination. The lawsuit came as a surprise to Facebook, as they had been working with the HUD to resolve these issues and had already taken significant steps to prevent ad discrimination. Most of the discriminatory targeting options for real-estate advertisements have been removed already, but the charges seem to be related to Facebook’s automatic ad-targeting algorithms, which uses machine learning to target users.
Grindr Is Owned by a Chinese Firm, and the U.S. Is Trying to Force It to Sell (5 minute read)
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is moving to force a Chinese firm to relinquish control of the dating app Grindr because of national security concerns. The acquisition of Grindr began around three years ago, but recent changes to the scope of national security threats have caused CFIUS to take a closer look at the company. Grindr has been criticized for its sharing of users’ personal information in the past. Several US senators requested the review of the sale, stating that Grindr’s ownership by a Chinese company could put US officials at risk of being blackmailed for their sexual preferences or history.
Science & Cutting Edge Technology
Stories about scientific breakthroughs and futuristic
technologies like AI, blockchain, and space travel
Warner Music Signed an Algorithm to a Record Deal — What Happens Next?
Warner Music has purchased 600 short tracks on 20 albums that were created by an algorithm in a deal that has people debating about the future of music. Endel is an app that creates soundscapes based on personalized data, such as a user’s location, time, and the weather. All 600 tracks were created ‘with a click of a button’ using Endel’s algorithm, and the company even hired a third party to name the tracks. Warner Music is known for investing in AI music products. As the market for ambient music increases, it makes sense for music labels to try to dominate these genres, especially if they can do it cheaply and easily.
A robot apple-picker is now harvesting fruit in New Zealand orchards (1 minute read)
One of New Zealand’s largest food producers has been working with a US startup to produce a robotic system that will work alongside humans to pick fruit 24 hours a day. The robot will not replace jobs but was created instead as there was a growing labor shortage for seasonal workers. Using lidar to navigate the rows between trees, the machine will detect whether a fruit is ripe and then use a vacuum to pick the fruit. While aspects of farming, such as weeding, have been automated for a while now, picking fruits and vegetables is a much harder task due to the careful judgment and delicate handling required to ensure quality crops.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Tools, open source libraries, and other resources
for programmers, designers, and data scientsts
Open Source Awards (Website)
The 6th annual UK Open Source Awards are here, you can nominate individuals and organizations to recognize their contribution to open source. There are five awards: Individual, Company, Public Sector, Diversity, and Student.
996.ICU (GitHub Repo)
996.ICU refers to a phrase in China regarding the work culture, where if you work the ‘996’ work schedule, you’ll risk ending up in the Intensive Care Unit. This repository is a project by Chinese developers to protest the 9am-9pm, 6 days a week work schedule. Developers can ‘star’ the repository to show solidarity with their international colleagues in improving their work conditions.
Random stuff techies might be interested in
The Plague Killing Frogs Everywhere Is Far Worse Than Scientists Thought (4 minute read)
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, is a fungus that invades the skin cells of frogs, making the skin peel and causing death. In 2007, researchers speculated that Bd had caused a population decline in over 200 species of frogs worldwide. A recent study has found that populations of over 500 species of frogs have declined due to the fungus, including 90 species that may have gone extinct. The fungus thrives in cool, moist conditions, so frogs that live in cloud forests and mountainsides are particularly at risk. Frogs have a large impact on the ecosystem, so scientists are looking into ways to contain and control the Bd outbreak.