Big Tech &
Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over "Forfeiture of Our Values" in China (3 minute read)
TLDR: Jack Poulson, a senior research scientist working in Google's research and machine intelligence department resigned to protest Project Dragonfly, a search engine Google built which is designed to remove content that China's authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. Once news of Dragonfly spread through Google, there were protests inside the company, and a petition with 1400 signatures demanded that an ombudsman be appointed to assess the "moral and ethical issues" posed by Dragonfly. However, Poulson believes he is one of only 5 employees to quit in protest over Project Dragonfly. He says, "It’s incredible how little solidarity there is on this. It is my understanding that when you have a serious ethical disagreement with an issue, your proper course of action is to resign."
5 reasons the iPhone XR will succeed where iPhone 5c failed (3 minute read)
TLDR: The iPhone 5C failed because it was literally just the parts from an iPhone 5 put into a new plastic shell. It was also pitched as a "budget" iPhone, and had a new unproven design. The iPhone XR can succeed where the iPhone 5C failed because it is actually a premium phone (it costs $749), it is meant for people who bought the iPhone 8 last year instead of the iPhone X (which introduced a sort of "super flagship" $999 price point). The iPhone XR looks like an iPhone X from the front and the iPhone 8 from the back, so it's a proven design, and given Apple's scale (they now sell over 220 million iPhones a year, whereas when the 5C came out they only sold about 150 million per year) it will be much easier for the iPhone XR to succeed.
Amazon's Bezos Launches $2 Billion Fund to Help the Homeless (3 minute read)
TLDR: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has created a $2 billion fund called the Day One Fund to help homeless families and create a network of nonprofit preschools in low-income communities. It will fund existing nonprofits and issue annual awards to organizations doing "compassionate, needle-moving work" to shelter families. It will also operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools. Bezos wrote in a Tweet: "We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer." The fund will borrow its vision statement from Seattle charity St. Mary's Place: no child sleeps outside.
Self-driving homes could be the future of affordable housing (1 minute read)
TLDR: Honda recently announced the IeMobi Concept, an autonomous mobile living room that attaches and detaches from your house. When parked, the vehicle becomes a 50-square-foot living or workspace. Volvo just unveiled its 360c concept vehicle that serves as either a living room or mobile office. These self-driving mobile homes could offer an unlikely solution the housing crisis, allow new modes of nomadic living, and completely change the way we organize society. In Los Angeles alone, it is estimated that 15,000 people are already living in their cars and in most countries you are allowed to live in your vehicle.
SETI neural networks spot dozens of new mysterious signals emanating from distant galaxy (3 minute read)
TLDR: SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has a new AI system which helped them discover 72 "fast radio bursts" from a mysteriously noisy galaxy 3 billion miles away by looking through their previously gathered data. The radio bursts show no pattern (at least no pattern longer than 10 milliseconds), but it is possible that a hyper-advanced civilization could cram communications into very short bursts. One fast radio burst, FRB 121102, is particularly interesting, because it is the only stellar object known to give off the signals regularly, and so is the target of continued observation.
Why we should fear a cashless world (5 minute read)
TLDR: Health food chain Tossed has just opened the UK's first cashless cafe, another step towards the death of cash, an alarming trend. A cashless society would make every payment traceable, allowing for unprecedented control by financial institutions and governments over the lives of citizens. In addition, it is primarily the poor who have been locked out of our financial system, how can those too poor to open a bank account or get a credit card even operate in a cashless society? Going cashless has the potential to further trap the poor in an endless cycle of poverty. Cash means total financial inclusion, something the well off too often take for granted.
Programming, Design & Data Science
No TLDR Originals for 2018-09-14