Vladmir Putin is extricating Russia from the world-wide-web

Tonight, if you live in Russia, it’s time to party like it’s not yet 1989. Soviet KGB agent President Vladmir Putin is on the brink of unveiling a wall. Some might call it the most beautiful wall the world’s ever seen. It’ll be huge. It’ll cover every square-centimeter of Russian border and, unlike the ridiculous fence we’re building here in the US, his will actually be effective: it keeps ideas out. Reuters today reported that Putin will execute a plan to “replace” Wikipedia with a state-run online encyclopedia. Per the report, the government will spend about $30 million (US) on the…
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Tesla’s Cybertruck looks weird, but so did Apple’s AirPods

Elon Musk warned us. Prior to launch, he’d repeatedly described the Cybertruck as something out of Blade Runner. In 2018, he literally claimed he didn’t care if people liked it, hinting at its divisive design. I should’ve paid attention. For all of Musk’s quirks, I didn’t expect him to roll out a low-poly PS1-looking batmobile last night. How is Tesla actually going to sell this to normal people? Well, probably the same way Apple managed to make AirPods a thing. Admittedly, part of me digs the look in a that-would-be-cool-in-a-movie type of way, but appreciating an aesthetic in a certain context is very different from thinking…
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Just putting it out there: I’m a sucker for influencer marketing

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. Hi, my name is Yessi and, even though I should know better, I’m a complete sucker for influencer marketing. While it brings me great shame to admit this, recent research suggests I’m not alone. The industry is huge. In 2017, eMarketer reported that marketers spent $570 million on influencer marketing globally. In 2018, a staggering $1.6 billion was funneled into sponsored posts on…
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Facebook let anti-vaxxers run rampant with misinformation ads, because money

Earlier this year Facebook said it would crack down on ads from groups peddling misinformation about vaccines. The announcement was heralded by medical professionals and pundits as a capstone in their efforts to fight the pro-disease movement. However, in the time since the announcement, Facebook‘s done the exact opposite. A recent study from researchers at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins shows that Facebook blocked pro-vaccination ads on the basis that they were too political, while simultaneously allowing hundreds of advertisements from anti-vaccination groups to display for millions of users. Many of these ads were targeted…
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Just putting it out there: Fuck dark mode

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. You can barely move for dark mode news stories these days. Gmail? Dark mode. Instagram? Testing dark mode. iPhones? Dripping in dark mode. It’s disgusting. And you, readers, should know better. “Oh,” you say, shuffling from foot to foot. “Disgusting? Hardly. I actually really like dark mode. It looks great.” Oh you poor, sweet, beautiful fool. Are you the sort of person that…
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Opinion: It’s arrogant to assume humans will never imbue AI with consciousness

“Cogito, ergo sum,” Rene Descartes. Translation: “I think, therefore I am.” What makes us, us? How is it that we’re able to look at a tree and see beauty, hear a song and feel moved, or take comfort in the smell of rain or the taste of coffee? How do we know we still exist when we close our eyes and lie in silence? To date, science doesn’t have an answer to those questions. In fact, it doesn’t even have a unified theory. And that’s because we can’t simulate consciousness. All we can do is try to reverse-engineer it by…
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This new Olympic track bike is so crazy it’ll probably get banned

British Cycling (BC), the nation’s governing body of the sport, has just unveiled its new track bike — and its radical design makes me think it’ll be banned at some point. BC today published the first images of the bike that its track team will be riding in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 games. The machine — designed by BC in collaboration with the engineering arm of automotive firm Lotus and bicycle component manufacturer Hope Engineering — features a radical design with forks and frame that flare widely around the front and rear wheels. Presumably, the bike‘s manufacturers have proven this…
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Ajit Pai wants to abolish federalism so Verizon and AT&T can throttle your data

When AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and other telcom giants purchased a net neutrality repeal from FCC shill Ajit Pai, it must have occurred to them that California would be a major problem in their plans to become the ultimate gatekeepers for internet traffic. The US is a nation that practices federalism. Some people call this states’ rights, but those people are wrong. States don’t have rights. As the US Constitution clearly points out, only people have rights and those rights are inalienable. As part of their plan to ensure this remained the case, the founders of the US ensured that individual…
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Rant: Google has no good excuse for the Pixel 4’s missing ultrawide camera

“Most popular SLR lenses do magnify scenes, not shrink them. So while wide-angle can be fun, we think telephoto is more important.” In those two sentences, Google tried to dismiss the omission of an ultrawide-angle lens while announcing the Pixel 4. Instead, the company just reminded everyone that when it comes to hardware, it’s often a generation or two behind. I like the Pixel 4 a lot, even though part of me wishes I didn’t. I still think Google has the best image processing on the market, by no small margin. I think Google’s photo software is intuitive, and the…
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Just putting it out there: Please Netflix, don’t kill TV

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. Ever since Netflix came along, TV stations have become pretty much pointless, right? I mean why go through the excruciating process of waiting a week for a new episode of your favorite show when you can simply stream the entire season in one day? While that’s a solid argument, it still comes with an awful problem: choice. Now, you might think that…
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