Big Tech &
Snapchat’s Gender-Swap and Baby Filters Doubled App Downloads (5 minute read)
Snapchat has recently released two sets of filters, one that makes users look like toddlers, and one that makes users appear as members of the opposite sex. The release of the filters resulted in an estimated 41.5 million downloads for the app worldwide in May, more than twice the amount of downloads that Snapchat received in the previous month. It is unclear how many of these downloads are new users rather than just returning old users. Snapchat has been struggling to retain its user base for several years, and it appears that the new filters have attracted more long-term users. Stock prices have risen significantly for Snapchat since its 2017 redesign disaster.
Facebook will pay you to let it track what you do on your phone (1 minute read)
Facebook has launched a new app called Study that will allow it to monitor users’ phone use. The app will monitor which apps are installed in a user’s phone, the time spent using these apps, what the apps are being used for, the country the user is in, and more. It won’t be able to monitor private data such as passwords, messages, or browser history. Facebook has recently been accused of monitoring user data unethically through its Facebook Research app that was targeted at teens, which was shut down in January. The launch of Study shows the importance of the data that Facebook was obtaining through the Research app, and that they are trying to find more ethical ways of collecting that data. Facebook Study will financially compensate users for providing the data, but there have been no announcements about how much users will get paid for using the app.
'A more humane country': Canada to ban keeping whales, dolphins in captivity (4 minute read)
The House of Commons in Canada has voted to ban keeping whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity. Parks who already own animals will be allowed to keep them, but obtaining new cetaceans or breeding them will now result in a fine of up to $200,000. The law also bans exporting animals or using them for entertainment. Marineland, an amusement park and zoo who looks after around 61 cetaceans, had strongly opposed the bill as they claimed that the animals were their main attraction. Cetaceans may be kept in captivity if they are receiving care or rehabilitation after an injury, or for scientific research.
A Russian scientist has threatened to make more CRISPR babies (1 minute read)
Russian scientist Denis Rebrikov has said in an interview that he is trying to gain approval to create gene-edited babies. He wants to create humans with natural resistance to HIV. Last year, an experiment in China attempted to create humans with genetic resistance to HIV by removing the CCR5 gene. While the CCR5 gene has been associated with HIV resistance, studies have also shown that the gene also moderates cognition and life span. Rebrikov is not known for his work on gene editing, and his name only appears on one paper where gene editing was applied to embryos. The rules for creating gene-modified babies in Russia are unclear, and Rebrikov hopes to take advantage of this to gain approval to carry out the procedure. He believes that he can improve on the experiments carried out in China.
Programming, Design & Data Science
script (GitHub Repo)
script is a Go library that does tasks that shell scripts are good at, such as reading files, executing subprocesses, counting lines, matching strings, and more. Developers can write administration programs in Go easily and they will work as if running in the command line. A list of available commands is listed, and a deeper explanation into how script works is available.
nannou (GitHub Repo)
nannou is a collection of code designed to make it easy for artists to find tools to create simple, fast, reliable, and portable code for Rust. The project is still brand new and developers are welcome to contribute. A reference guide is available which includes installation instructions and tutorials for using nannou.
The World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism (4 minute read)
Lab-grown food is starting to become a reality, but at the moment, it is far too expensive. The first ‘cultured beef’ burgers are set to hit the market next year at $50 each. While lab-grown food uses fewer resources, produces negligible greenhouse gasses, and doesn’t require animals to die, companies that own these technologies charge for their products. With automation technology taking away manual labor jobs, people are able to afford less and may miss out on being able to purchase goods such as lab-grown food. The article argues that in order for society to progress, companies should aim to better the worldwide community rather than only seeking profits.
Mary Meeker’s most important trends on the internet (3 minute read)
Mary Meeker, a general partner at venture capital firm Bond Capital, has released a 333-page slideshow that delves into every important internet trend in the last year. The report revealed that 51 percent of people in the world were internet users last year, up from 49 percent in 2017. Seven out of the top 10 companies in the world are now tech companies, and e-commerce represents 15 percent of all retail sales. Ad spending has increased, and customer acquisition costs have also increased. Americans are spending more time on digital media than ever before, with an average of 6.3 hours per day in 2018. Privacy is becoming a larger selling point for many companies, and 87 percent of global web traffic now being encrypted. The full 333-page slideshow is available at the end of the article.