Round up of recent technology news stories

man reading technology news on phone

It’s been another intriguing week in the world of technology, and we’re bringing you another weekly post to help keep you ahead of the curve. If you’re new to this series, every week we take a look back at the most interesting and vital technology news stories from the industry and bring them to you in a blog post. Here at InnovationScouts.tech, we think it’s vital to stay up to date on the news in your industry; especially if it’s such a fast-paced one like technology.

A world without cars

First up in our technology news round up, a software developer by the name of Chris Harris has made it known that he doesn’t like how many cars and how much pollution there is in the world. So naturally, he developed an AI app that simply removes them from the road. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch, as the user points the camera at various vehicles and they seem to just blink out of existence.

The technological ability shown here is fantastic, too. Sure, the app isn’t completely perfect (The Verge calls it ‘hallucinatory, glitchy and raw’) but the concept behind it and the way that it works is fascinating. It was all kickstarted because of Chris’s sensitivity to the busy traffic and noisy roads, and because of a tweet that suggested an augmented reality app that layered a sustainable city over the real one to see what’s possible.

Facebook’s co-founder unfriends Mark

Chris Hughes, one of the original people that helped Mark Zuckerberg launch Facebook, has written a piece for the New York Times. In this, he stated that Facebook should be broken up and that the Federal Trade commission should undo Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram as there’s no competition in the industry anymore. It’s a passionate and emotional piece, and you can tell how much it matters to him.

The point that he makes about the influence of Facebook and their censorship is the one that really stood out to me. Due to the massive reach that Facebook and their platforms have, they are the ones who get to define what’s ‘offensive content’ and what people can’t see. They virtually dictate what content is acceptable, and I think this is a very interesting point. It’s worth having a glance at the full piece, as he makes some other great points. He also makes some not-so great points, specifically about limiting freedom of speech online.

Facebook has fired back with a response welcoming accountability but declaring that getting rid of Instagram and Facebook would be a step too far.

Uber and Lyft are stuck in a jam

A study came out in the past week saying that Uber and Lyft are two of the biggest contributors when it comes to traffic congestion in San Francisco. It’s already ranked as one of the most congested cities in America, and the study from the Science Advances publication places a lot of blame on both of the companies.

It’s fascinating, as the whole purpose of services like Uber and Lyft appears to be reducing congestion and cutting down on how many people are car-owners. Both companies have come forward with statements about the study, and both have aired their grievances with how reliable the data provided is. They do seem to be under a lot of fire lately, with the Sierra Club releasing an ad campaign that directly calls them out for not using all electric cars and the impact that they’re having on the environment.

The wrong type of taking photos

The photo-storage app Ever has come under fire recently, as it’s come out that they’ve been using their customer’s files to train the AI software that they sell. People are understandably furious, as their privacy policy never actually lays out how the files are being used- only that they are being used.

Experts in the field are saying that users were never even given the chance to consent to this, with one NYU law professor saying that the idea that people have consented is ‘laughable’. The CEO was asked about the privacy policy and terms, and he simply said he ‘thought’ they were clear enough. It was not a reassuring statement, to say the least, and it’s frightening to think of how many other companies could be doing this.

Instagram and anti-vaxxers

Instagram is taking important steps to protect the community from anti-vaccination propaganda. They have already been blocking hashtags like #VaccinesKill, but policing this area is proving to be difficult. It’s similar to killing a hydra; once you cut off one head, two more appear. Once the hashtag #VaccinesKill is taken down, one saying #VaccinesKillPeople will pop back up.

It will be hard to get this area of the platform in check, but I personally think it’s great that they are taking this step to look after their audience. YouTube did a similar thing in February, where they stopped letting anti-vaccine conspiracy channels have adverts- essentially, cutting off their revenue entirely. It will be interesting to watch this develop, as it’s already caused a lot of debate about censorship online.

Other interesting stories

Now that we’ve covered the main stories of the week, let’s take a quick look at the other stories that stood out in the news.

  • Epson has released new augmented reality glasses, and their product manager had some interesting points about how AR and consumers will interact.
  • 64-megapixel mobile phone cameras are soon going to be available.
  • A surrealist exhibition has an incredible Deepfake Salvador Dali, who takes selfies with guests.
  • Samsung have missed the launch date for their Galaxy Home device, and they won’t say why.
  • A new app called Yolo has been released that allows entirely anonymous messages on Snapchat, and it’s raised a lot of concerns over the effects of anonymity on cyberbullying and abuse.
  • The BBC has found that the UK police have missed out on many chances to improve their facial recognition AI software, and that it has a number of important issues to work through.
  • Google is adding 53 gender neutral/gender fluid emojis to Android Q- including a merperson.

 

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Emily Stonham
Emily Stonham

Emily is a researcher and writer for InnovationScouts.tech. Having worked with companies from Seattle to the Seychelles, she brings balanced and thought-provoking insights to the team.

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