I listened to the coronavirus playlists on Spotify so you don’t have to

As the COVID-19 global pandemic has turned us all into hermit crabs, amusing ourselves has become more important than ever. So, because I’m kinda bored and I want to see what people have created, let’s check out the coronavirus-related playlists on Spotify and see what kinds of songs are on them. My Spotify playlists have become even more important to me now that I’m basically at home all the time — I’ve scored almost all aspects of my life just to make up for the fact that I’m seeing the same four or five rooms most days. And because a…
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The future of AI journalism is less hyperbole and smarter readers

Today we launched Neural, our new home for human-centric AI news and analysis. While we’re celebrating the culmination of years of hard work from our behind-the-scenes staff, I’m taking the day to quietly contemplate the future of AI journalism. The Guardian’s Oscar Schwartz wrote an article in 2018 titled “The discourse is unhinged: how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong.” In it, he discusses the 2017 hype-explosion surrounding Facebook’s AI research lab developing a pair of chat bots that created a short-hand language for negotiating. In reality, the chat bots’ behavior was remarkable but not entirely unexpected. Unfortunately the media at-large…
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Why Jeff Bezos might run for president to spite Elon Musk and Donald Trump

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is suing Donald Trump over the Pentagon’s decision to award a lucrative military artificial intelligence and cloud services contract to Microsoft instead of his company. Normally these kinds of lawsuits are yawn-inducing, but this case has some interesting caveats. And, if you’ll let me set the stage first, I’ll explain why I’m convinced the court case will lead to a successful presidential campaign for Jeff Bezos in 2024. ICYMI: Amazon prepares to strike back after Microsoft wins $10B JEDI contract The Pentagon started shopping for a partner to build a cloud services suite meant to work…
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Why Amazon’s Ring and facial recognition technology are a clear and present danger to society

“The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society.” Amazon engineer Max Eliaser The greatest threat posed to democracy in any free nation is that of ubiquitous government surveillance. Many countries today are struggling to find the proper balance between useful facial recognition and connected-camera technologies and those that threaten our privacy. We’re here to make it easy: Public-facing facial recognition or connected home-security camera systems that offer access to law enforcement are dangerous and should be banned outright. Read: Amazon Engineer: ‘Ring should be shut down immediately…
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Why using AI to screen job applicants is almost always a bunch of crap

Millions of potential employees are subjected to artificial intelligence screenings during the hiring process every month. While some systems make it easier to weed out candidates who lack necessary educational or work qualifications, many AI hiring solutions are nothing more than snake oil. Thousands of companies around the world rely on outside businesses to provide so-called intelligent hiring solutions. These AI-powered packages are advertised as a way to narrow job applicants down to a ‘cream of the crop’ for humans to consider. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. Anyone who’s ever been responsible for the hiring at…
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The benefits of facial recognition AI are being wildly overstated

Facial recognition technology has run amok across the globe. In the US it continues to perpetuate at an alarming rate despite bipartisan push-back from politicians and several geographical bans. Even China’s government has begun to question whether there’s enough benefit to the use of ubiquitous surveillance tech to justify the utter destruction of public privacy. The truth of the matter is that facial recognition technology serves only two legitimate purposes: access control and surveillance. And, far too often, the people developing the technology aren’t the ones who ultimately determine how it’s used. Most decent, law-abiding citizens don’t mind being filmed…
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All I want for Xmas is the ability to message myself on WhatsApp

WhatsApp is probably my most used mobile app and it’s crying out for a space for me to set reminders, save important documents, and generally talk to myself to take it from a good app to a great app. For me, if WhatsApp had a little more functionality to help me organize my life, it’d become more than just an app I used because everyone else does, it would be one of my favorite apps. I mostly use WhatsApp to keep in touch with my friends and family who are spread all over the world now, after all that’s what…
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Just putting it out there: Ban Wi-Fi on airplanes

In this column, “Just putting this out there…,” we write about the odd ways we engage with tech and the unpopular opinions we form about it. You can read the rest of the articles in this series here. I truly don’t want to be able to go online during flights — no matter how long the flight is. This might be a controversial opinion, but hear me out before you denounce me as a backwards luddite. First of all, I’ll admit that part of the reason is a sliver of nostalgia. I find it appealing that there’s still one place…
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All I want for Christmas: A custom username for each subreddit

The holidays are upon us, ushering in the time of year we bug our friends and family for presents — but why not bug tech companies as well? If you’ve ever used Reddit, you should join me and demand custom usernames for Christmas. But why, you ask? The answer is simple: shame, creativity, and the multiplicity of man. Shameful secrets I’m late to the game when it comes to Reddit, but even as an outsider I know it’s meant to be the website. It’s got all the information you could dream of — like how much money Owen Wilson has…
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A quantum physics explanation for polyamory, BDSM, and queer people

Quantum physics! Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about sex. Cultural norms would have us believe that human sexuality is divided up into a series of categories. We’re all supposedly somewhere between totally heterosexual and entirely homosexual on the Kinsey Scale, and everyone’s either male, female, in-between, both, or neither. From a quantum mechanics perspective, none of this makes any sense. It’s not that anyone is necessarily “wrong” about human sexuality, it’s that we simply don’t understand it. Sexual preference, gender identity, sexuality, and sex/gender presentation are all subjective ideas reared in the recesses of the human capacity…
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