Big Tech &
Las Vegas approves a $48.6 million contract with Elon Musk’s Boring Company (1 minute read)
A vote held by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority resulted in the approval of a $48.6 million contract with Elon Musk’s Boring Company. The Boring Company will construct two tunnels for vehicles, three stations, and a pedestrian tunnel. It is expected that the project will be completed before the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021. So far, The Boring Company has only finished one tunnel in Hawthorne, California. It’s unclear what kind of vehicles will be used in the Las Vegas tunnel, but the city is considering various models of electric vehicles, including Teslas.
Amazon preparing a wearable that ‘reads human emotions,’ says report (2 minute read)
According to internal Amazon documents, Amazon is preparing to release a wrist-worn device that is supposed to be able to read human emotions. The voice-activated wristband will determine the state of a person’s emotions through the sound of their voice. While it is theoretically possible to detect emotions through biomarkers, building a generally reliable device is still a hugely ambitious undertaking. The wristband adds onto the list of Alexa-capable devices that Amazon has been rolling out.
Geologists Discover Largest Underwater Volcano, Explain Weird Hum Heard Around the World (3 minute read)
Scientists have recorded the largest ever underwater volcanic eruption after investigating a weird seismic event off the coast of Africa. Researchers were trying to determine the source of a seismic hum that could be heard across the world when they discovered the volcano forming in the Indian Ocean. It is unknown whether the volcano is completely new or whether it has formed on top of older volcanic structure. A nearby French Island, Mayotte, has sunk 13 centimeters and moved about 10 centimeters to the east as a result of the volcano.
In a first, chimpanzees seen smashing and eating tortoises (4 minute read)
Chimpanzees have been observed smashing tortoises against trees to break through their shells for a meal. It is the first time that any chimpanzee has been documented eating any kind of reptile. Percussive acts have been seen in chimpanzees previously, such as when they eat walnuts. Studying chimps is difficult due to the habitat that they live in as well as the fact that it takes over five years for a population to become habituated to human presence. Researchers are constantly making new discoveries, as each individual group of chimpanzees has their own unique behaviors and culture.
Programming, Design & Data Science
GitHub Sponsors (Website)
GitHub Sponsors is a hub that connects developers and their community in order to fund projects. Raised funds up to $5,000 within the first year are matched by GitHub. There are no fees charged to the developers for funding; all raised funds will go directly to the developer. Developers can sign up to a waitlist to join the program in order to receive sponsorship.
Tanker (GitHub Repo)
Tanker is an open-source SDK that leverages powerful client-side encryption of any type of data seamlessly, without performance loss. Developers do not need any kind of cryptographic skills. The client SDK automatically handles complex key changes, cryptographic operations, and identity verification through simple, high-level APIs.
After 15 Years, The Pirate Bay Still Can’t Be Killed (14 minute read)
The Pirate Bay was born in 2003, and despite many attempts at closing down the website, it still remains an internet giant today. It uses torrents, a system which decentralizes the location of files so that users are downloading from their peers rather than a website. Many countries have attempted to block the site, and the Swedish government attempted to charge the creators of the website for copyright infringements, resulting in a year of prison and a $3.5 million fine for the four defendants. While piracy has dropped over the years due to streaming services like Netflix, which made content conveniently available and affordable, the piracy rate has raised recently due to the splitting of streaming services. Consumers are finding it more convenient to pirate again, rather than pay for multiple streaming services.
Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues (8 minute read)
Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents. The case against Assange could open the door to criminalizing activities which are crucial for American journalists who write about national security matters. Most of the charges against Assange are for obtaining the data, rather than publishing the data. The head of the Justice Department states that they are not targeting journalists for reporting information, but that the methods that Assange used to obtain the information were unlawful. While the Espionage Act could theoretically be used to prosecute journalists who publish secret government information, many legal scholars believe that to do so would violate the First Amendment.