Big Tech &
Amazon Faces Investor Pressure Over Facial Recognition (5 minute read)
Amazon shareholders have introduced two proposals that affect the company’s policies around selling its facial recognition software, Amazon Rekognition. The first proposal asks the company to prohibit sales to government agencies unless the board is convinced that its use does not violate any human rights. The second proposal is a request for Amazon to commission an independent report on how Rekognition might threaten civil, human, and privacy rights, as well as the company’s finances. While these proposals are non-binding, it adds to the pushback against facial recognition by many groups. Lawmakers are now actively considering the effects of facial recognition technology and legislating to control its use.
Apple and Amazon Cut a Deal that Upended the Mac resale Market (11 minute read)
On January 4, a deal between Apple and Amazon went into effect where only the largest companies and specially authorized providers were allowed to sell Apple products. Sellers logged onto the platform that morning to find that all their listings had disappeared. Small businesses without brick and mortar stores are completely barred from doing any business on Amazon, as to qualify as an authorized reseller, a business is required to have a physical store. Apple resellers are now forced to move to other platforms to sell their stock. In the past, Apple has been against people’s right to repair their own devices and this move echos that sentiment in that it attempts to block third parties from repairing and reselling hardware.
Ford Self-Driving Vans Will Use Legged Robots to Make Deliveries (5 minute read)
Ford’s new autonomous delivery vans will carry a two-legged robot that will bring boxes from the curb to the doorstep. The company is aiming to launch a self-driving vehicle service by 2021. Digit is designed to move in a dynamic fashion and can walk over uneven terrain, climb stairs, and carry 20 kilogram packages. It may take a few years of operation before the robot is able to perform completely autonomously. A two minute video is available that shows Digit in action.
Meet Doggo: Stanford’s cute open-source four-legged robot (2 minute read)
Doggo is a four-legged robot that costs less than $3,000 to build and is completely open source. It was designed to be accessible so that labs around the world could build it and use it for their own experiments. Doggo performs better than many more expensive models available on the market while being less expensive. Legged robots are becoming more and more useful in the real world, and increasing accessibility to the technology will allow labs and universities to develop more applications for the technology.
Programming, Design & Data Science
SCAR (GitHub Repo)
SCAR helps developers deploy websites on Amazon Web Services through a one-click process. Websites can be deployed with a custom domain, SSL, and a CDN. The only requirement to use SCAR is an AWS account.
Undesign is a collection of free design tools and resources for makers, developers, and designers. There are 21 categories available, and each tool is listed with a short description. Users can register to be notified of any updates to the collection.
Huawei: ARM memo tells staff to stop working with China’s tech giant (6 minute read)
UK chip designer ARM has instructed its employees to stop working with Huawei in order to comply with US trade laws. ARM chips contain ‘US origin technology’, and as a consequence, the company is affected by the new trade ban against the Chinese tech giant. Huawei can continue to manufacture existing chips, but will not be able to receive assistance from ARM when developing components in the future. It is unclear whether ARM is acting on their own interpretation of the new laws or whether they had received direct advice from the Commerce Department.
IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn't bode well for humanity (4 minute read)
IQ scores have started to decline in many leading nations. While the debate is still ongoing regarding the relationship between IQ scores and intelligence, studies have shown that IQ scores correlate to education levels, longevity, economic growth, and scientific innovation. In general, IQ scores have been trending upwards since the measure was invented, and has only recently started trending downwards. It is unknown why IQ scores are now dropping, but there are many theories ranging from changing societal norms to the effects of global warming on the nutrition of foods.