Big Tech &
Google employees worldwide are walking out today to protest handling of sexual misconduct (2 minute read)
Over 1,500 Google employees world wide walked out of the office today to protest the company's handling of sexual harassment cases. The employees have five demands: an end to forced arbitration for harassment and discrimination cases, an end to pay and opportunity inequity, a public sexual harassment transparency report, an anonymous process for reporting sexual harassment, and elevating the Chief Diversity Officer to report directly to the CEO and appointing an employee representative to the board. They are using the hashtag #GoogleWalkout to spread the message on Twitter.
BERT (Github Repo)
Google has open sourced TensorFlow code and pre-trained models for BERT, its breakthrough general purpose "language understanding" model. It's trained on a large text corpus like Wikipedia, and can then be used to perform really specific NLP tasks like "question answering". From what I've read, it seems to be much more effective than older NLP models, people seem super excited about this and it's gotten 3500 Github stars in one day, so if you're smarter than me you might want to take a look at this!
'Hologram' lecturers to teach students at Imperial College London (1 minute read)
Imperial College in London will now be using hologram technology similar to that used to animate images of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and other celebrities in order to beam in speakers from around the world. The lecturers will have displays in front of them so they can point, speak, and interact with people. The hologram is generated by projecting light onto a glass screen and using a backdrop that gives the illusion of depth. It costs only in the low thousands of dollars per session, so it's affordable for universities to do regularly.
China is exporting the Great Firewall as internet freedom declines around the world (5 minute read)
China's Great Firewall has been shockingly effective as they've repeatedly cracked down on attempts to undermine the firewall through VPNs and the dark web. A report by Freedom House says that internet freedom has declined for the eight consecutive year, and now more countries are embracing the Chinese model of internet censorship. Now President Xi Jinping is working with foreign governments directly to help them build their own firewalls. Xi Jinping advocates for a doctrine of cyber sovereignty, meaning each country should have control of the internet within its own borders. 57 countries have now bought telecom infrastructure, AI surveillance tools, or attended or hosted trainings by Chinese censors.
A Cryptocurrency Millionaire Wants to Build a Utopia in Nevada (5 minute read)
Jeffrey Berns is a lawyer turned crypto-millionaire who made hundreds of millions from investing in Ethereum. Now he wants to use that money to create a city run by the blockchain in the middle of the Nevada desert, complete with a high tech park, college, and e-gaming arena. He spent $170 million buying a huge tract of land larger than Reno, and has spent over $300 million in total on the project for offices, planning, and a staff of 70. He's going to give away all of the decision making power to a blockchain run by residents, and 90% of any dividends will go to residents, employees, and future investors. Every resident and employee will have what amounts to an Ethereum address, which they will use to vote on local measures and store their personal data. Construction will begin in 2019. Berns believes that his city will "either be the biggest thing ever, or the most spectacular crash and burn in the history of mankind. I don't know which one. I believe it's the former, but either way it’s going to be one hell of a ride."
$5bn project to map DNA of every animal, plant and fungus (1 minute read)
The Earth BioGenome Project is a $4.7 billion "moonshot for biology" that aims to sequence the genomes of 1.5 million species. Less than 3,500 species are currently sequenced, and only about 100 of those are at reference quality. Harris Lewin, chair of the project, believes that the project could be as transformational for biology as the Human Genome Project. He says "Having the roadmap, the blueprints...will be a tremendous resource for new discoveries, understanding the rules of life, how evolution works, new approaches for the conservation of rare and endangered species, and...new resources for researchers in agricultural and medical fields."
TypeScript Weekly (Newsletter)
I've been looking for a decent TypeScript newsletter for a while and I finally found one I'm happy with. Lots of great TypeScript tutorials and resources here, curated by Marius Schulz, a front-end developer at Facebook.
Programming, Design & Data Science