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Daily Archives: April 16, 2018

A dozen tech experts opine on what went wrong with Facebook and the answer is?

The Internet Apologizes…Even those who designed our digital world are aghast at what they created. A breakdown of what went wrong — from the architects who built it. By Noah Kulwin, New York Magazine.

“Something has gone wrong with the internet. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Testifying before Congress, the Facebook CEO ticked off a list of everything his platform has screwed up, from fake news and foreign meddling in the 2016 election to hate speech and data privacy. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he confessed. Then he added the words that everyone was waiting for: “I’m sorry.” There have always been outsiders who criticized the tech industry — even if their concerns have been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of consumers, investors, and journalists. But today, the most dire warnings are coming from the heart of Silicon Valley itself. The man who oversaw the creation of the original iPhone believes the device he helped build is too addictive. The inventor of the World Wide Web fears his creation is being “weaponized.” Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, has blasted social media as a dangerous form of psychological manipulation. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he lamented recently. To understand what went wrong — how the Silicon Valley dream of building a networked utopia turned into a globalized strip-mall casino overrun by pop-up ads and cyberbullies and Vladimir Putin — we spoke to more than a dozen architects of our digital present. If the tech industry likes to assume the trappings of a religion, complete with a quasi-messianic story of progress, the Church of Tech is now giving rise to a new sect of apostates, feverishly confessing their own sins. And the internet’s original sin, as these programmers and investors and CEOs make clear, was its business model…”

Verge reports Gmail’s new design will include a ‘Confidential Mode’

“Gmail on the web is getting a big update in the coming weeks with a new design and features, but Google is also introducing a new Confidential Mode. The Verge revealed the new design earlier this week, alongside features like quick reply to emails, the ability to snooze emails until later, and a new sidebar… Continue Reading

Protecting Email Privacy—A Battle We Need to Keep Fighting

EFF: “We filed an amicus brief in a federal appellate case called United States v. Ackerman Friday, arguing something most of us already thought was a given—that the Fourth Amendment protects the contents of your emails from warrantless government searches. Email and other electronic communications can contain highly personal, intimate details of our lives. As… Continue Reading

NBER – The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Innovation

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Innovation, Iain M. Cockburn, Rebecca Henderson, Scott Stern, NBER Working Paper No. 24449. Issued in March 2018. “Artificial intelligence may greatly increase the efficiency of the existing economy. But it may have an even larger impact by serving as a new general-purpose “method of invention” that can reshape the… Continue Reading

CityLab – Since December 16, 1940 New York has not opened another new subway line

Why New York City Stopped Building Subways – Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade. “In the first decades of the 20th century, New York City experienced an unprecedented infrastructure boom. Iconic bridges, opulent railway terminals, and much of… Continue Reading

Guardian – Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

The breakthrough, spurred by the discovery of plastic-eating bugs at a Japanese dump, could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis. “Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling… Continue Reading

Report: Boosting Energy Efficiency Would Bring Vast Health Benefits

Environmental Working Group: “A new report estimated the sweeping public health benefits that a 15 percent reduction in energy demand would yield in one year. The February report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, or PSR, found that the savings from modestly cutting energy demand in… Continue Reading

GAO: EPA Administrator Pruitt Broke Law in Buying $43K Private Phone Booth

Summary – “Section 710 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017 (section 710) prohibits an agency from obligating an amount in excess of $5,000 to furnish, redecorate, purchase furniture for, or make improvements for the office of a presidential appointee during the period of appointment without prior notification to the appropriations committees… Continue Reading

CRS – Regulatory Reform 10 Years After the Financial Crisis

Via FAS – Regulatory Reform 10 Years After the Financial Crisis: Systemic Risk Regulation of Non-Bank Financial Institutions. Jay B. Sykes, Legislative Attorney. April 12, 2018. “When large, interconnected financial institutions become distressed, policymakers have historically faced a choice between (1) a taxpayer-funded bailout, and (2) the destabilization of the financial system—a dilemma that commentators… Continue Reading

Update: After Congress complains, USDA restores animal welfare reports

Science: “Following Congress’s request for greater transparency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has apparently restored detail in its most recent animal welfare inspection reports. Reports published on the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website since last August have omitted inventories that list the number and species of animals housed at facilities within… Continue Reading

Visualizing the Pay Gap Between Men and Women in the UK

Center for Data Innovation – “The Financial Times (paywall) has created a collection of data visualizations showing that 89 percent of women in the United Kingdom work at companies with a pay gap favoring men. The newspaper analyzed data from firms with more than 250 employees, which were required to submit data comparing men and… Continue Reading