Big Tech &
Uber launches rider loyalty Rewards like credits & upgrades 9 cities (2 minute read)
Uber is launching a loyalty program called Uber Rewards in 9 cities today before rolling it out to the entire US in the next few months. There are four tiers of rewards (Blue, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond) with Blue you basically just get 1 penny in Uber credits for every dollar you spend on Uber (you earn 2 points for UberX, Uber XL and Uber Select, and 3 points for Uber Black cars). As you get more points you get bumped up tiers, Gold makes it easier for you to cancel trips, Platinum lets you avoid surge pricing and gets priority pickup at airports, and Diamond gives you dedicated 24/7 phone support and complimentary surprise upgrades to Uber Black cars.
Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook's Leaders Fought Through Crisis (25 minute read)
TLDR TLDR: Facebook knew more about Russian election interference than they let on, they're incredibly politically connected, and basically everything they've done in the past 2 years just leaked. Ok, so this was a huge New York Times investigation. While Facebook publically scoffed at Russian interference claims after the November 2016 election, Facebook's security team knew in Spring 2016 that Russian hackers were trying to get into Facebook accounts affiliated with both presidential campaigns, and later found more Russian Facebook accounts messaging journalists to share information about Hillary Clinton's stolen emails during the campaign. They hired a right-wing PR firm who helped them depict George Soros as being behind a broad anti-Facebook movement, and pushed out dozens of stories praising Facebook and criticizing Google and Apple on conservative news sites. After Tim Cook said that his company didn't traffic in personal data, Zuckerberg ordered his management team to stop using iPhones. Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, whose daughter works at Facebook, has been a huge supporter. When Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar (both Democrats) introduced legislation to force Facebook and other tech giants to disclose who bought political ads on their sites, Schumer confronted Warner saying he shouldn't lose sight of the need for Faacebook to tackle problems with right-wing disinformation. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg called Klobuchar, who is featured on the site for her women's empowerment initiative Lean In. Klobuchar's chief of staff had previously worked at Sandberg's charity. Facebook hired Warner's former chief of staff to lobby him.
Privacy Not Included (Guide)
This is a guide by Mozilla to help you with your holiday shopping. It tells you exactly what information each smart device collects (audio, video, location tracking, and a lot more), and also allows users to vote on whether or not they think a device is creepy and whether or not they're likely to buy it.
Squoosh (Github Repo)
This is a newly open sourced image compression tool by the Google Chrome team. There's also a hosted version linked in the repo so you can test it out, the compression ratios are ridiculously good. I unscientifically tested it on a driver's license picture of mine and it compressed a 9MB picture to 500kb without any noticeable distortion (it has a slider that makes it really easy to compare the before and after).
Boeing's Solar Autonomous Aircraft Can Fly Forever and It's Due in 2019 (2 minute read)
Boeing has created an aircraft called Odysseus, it's built with a combination of advanced solar cells and lightweight materials that allow it to fly indefinitely powered only by the sun. It operates above the weather, and gives off zero emissions. Its first flight is scheduled for Spring of 2019. There are pictures inside it looks futuristic (not really in a cool way), but still pretty interesting.
Next generation of biotech food heading for grocery stores (4 minute read)
Gene edited foods are expected to be in stores by early next year. Genetically modified (GMOs) basically means that a plant/animal is mixed with another species' DNA to introduce a specific trait (like GMO corn is resistant to pests and weed killers). Gene editing tools like CRISPR can alter foods more precisely by editing the DNA directly instead of mixing in foreign DNA. The industry is proceeding cautiously because there could be unintended consequences of editing a piece of DNA but the potential benefits are pretty huge (wheat with triple the fiber, mushrooms that don't go brown, pigs immune to viruses etc.). NC State professor Jennifer Kuzma says "we think it's going to really revolutionize the industry".
New Yorkers protest Amazon HQ2: 'We should be investing in housing, not in helicopters' (2 minute read)
Amazon is bringing 25,000 jobs with average salaries of $150,000 to Queens in New York City, but locals are protesting the $1.525 billion ($48,000 per job) that Amazon is receiving in incentives. The city is also giving Amazon permission to build a helipad so execs can easily access the new campus. Labor leaders and activists say that they're worried about people's ability to stay in the neighborhood, and that the money given to Amazon was needed for underfunded schools. The protest was organized by New York State Senator Michael Gianaris who represents the neighborhood Amazon is moving into.