Big Tech &
The New York Times removes its articles from Apple News (2 minute read)
The New York Times has ended its partnership with Apple News and its articles will no longer appear in the Apple News app. While other services send readers to publishers' websites, Apple News generally keeps readers in the app, meaning that NYT was not able to build a direct relationship with paying readers. The Times prefers a platform where it can control the presentation of its reports, the relationship with its readers, and the business rules.
Disney’s Developed Movie-Quality Face-Swapping Technology That Promises to Change Filmmaking (3 minute read)
Disney researchers have released a study where they used several innovations and approaches to automate face-swaps to produce results with enough quality and resolution to be used for actual film production. A four-minute video that demonstrates the technology is available in the article. The new algorithm works by first modifying the videos to make it easier for alternate faces to be swapped in. This technology could be used to significantly lower the costs of film and TV production especially in scenarios where stunt doubles are used. However, it may also present new problems as it could be used to create a new wave of extremely high-quality deep fakes.
Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China (3 minute read)
A new flu strain with the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in pigs in China. The virus is not an immediate problem, but it has all the characteristics of being highly adapted to infect humans and the situation will require close monitoring. G4 EA H1N1 is similar to swine flu. It grows and multiplies in the cells that line the human airways. There is evidence that some people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China have been recently infected. It may be possible to adapt current flu vaccines to protect against it.
Programming, Design & Data Science
The Regular Expression Denial of Service (ReDoS)
Regular Expressions (regex) are a tool for manipulating strings. Regex can sometimes take an extremely long time to match or fail on some strings. This can be exploited by malicious actors in a regex denial of service attack (ReDoS). ReDoS attacks can be prevented by sanitizing the input, choosing a fast regex matching algorithm, or setting a resource usage limit or timeout.
India bans TikTok, dozens of other Chinese apps (4 minute read)
The Indian government has banned 59 apps developed by Chinese firms due to concerns that the apps threaten national security. The apps include TikTok, Community and Video Call apps from Xiaomi, two of Alibaba Group's Apps, ES File Explorer, and more. A list of the apps is available in the article. 27 of the banned apps were among the top 1,000 Android apps in India in the last month. The apps have been accused of stealing and transmitting users' data in an unauthorized manner. Google and Apple have not yet removed the apps from their stores, but they have complied with such app removal requests in the past.
Amazon to pay $500 million in bonuses to workers most exposed to coronavirus (2 minute read)
Amazon recently announced that it will pay out a one-time bonus to its front-line employees who worked for the company through June. The company had cut its $2-an-hour hazard pay for workers at the start of June. Front line workers will get between $150 to $3,000 depending on hours worked and their position in the company. The e-commerce giant has been criticized heavily for its health and safety response to the virus. While it has instituted a variety of safety measures to protect employees, it has also eliminated programs designed to support workers during the pandemic.