TLDR Daily Update 2019-09-03

Chinese deepfake app, Ring's facial recognition research

Big Tech & Startups

Ring Says It Doesn't Use Facial Recognition, But It Has “A Head Of Face Recognition Research” (6 minute read)

Ring's Ukrainian division appears to be working on a semi-automated crime prevention and monitoring system which is based on facial recognition technology. The company has recently revealed that it was working with more than 400 law enforcement agencies in the US to provide easy access to video footage from Ring users for investigations. More than 10 million Ring doorbells have been installed worldwide, with law enforcement and cities distributing the devices for free among some communities. Current devices use object detection, but not facial recognition. It is suspected that Ring is hiring deep learning engineers in Kiev, but Ring denies this and claims that they only have contractors at the Kiev office.

Chinese deepfake app Zao sparks privacy row after going viral (2 minute read)

A Chinese app is able to create deepfakes in just seconds by using selfies. Users will need to provide a series of pictures showing various facial expressions, and then the app will be able to swap their faces with characters in any video. The app went viral as Chinese users placed themselves in scenes from well-known movies. Zao's privacy policy originally said that it had all rights to user-generated content, but this has now changed to say that Zao won't use content other than to improve the app. There are concerns over deepfake technology as it can be used to create videos to manipulate elections, defame someone, or to spread misinformation.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Woman is first to receive cornea made from ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells (2 minute read)

A Japanese woman in her forties is the first in the world to have her cornea repaired using reprogrammed stem cells. The woman had a disease that meant that her cornea could not be repaired naturally. The disease causes blurriness in vision and can lead to blindness. Corneal cells were created from induced pluripotent stem cells and implanted in the patient. Her cornea has remained clear and her vision has improved since the transplant a month ago. Cornea transplants usually require tissue from donors who have died, and the waiting lists are long. The Japanese health ministry has allowed four of these operations for testing, and the scientists are hoping that the procedure will be available in clinics in the next five years.

Weird 'gel-like' substance found on moon by China's lunar rover Yutu-2 (3 minute read)

China's Yutu-2 lunar rover has found an unusually colored gel-like substance on the far side of the moon. Scientists were about to power down the rover to rest when they noticed a crater with a strange material in the inner edge of an impact crater. Its shape and color was significantly different from the surrounding lunar soil. Scientists are still trying to determine what the substance is. The Chang'e-4 mission is the first to explore the far side of the moon, which has unique features that might bring breakthrough findings. Earth only sees one side of the moon, and it is thought that the geology of the other side is very different from the one we see.
Programming, Design & Data Science

deepfakes_faceswap (GitHub Repo)

Faceswap is a tool that uses deep learning to swap faces in pictures and videos. While the technology has the potential to be abused, the developers encourage users to follow strict ethical standards, such as not using it for inappropriate or illegal content, seeking consent from the people being swapped, and to be open and honest when a deepfake is being used in a video. A video of Steve Buscemi's face swapped on Jennifer Lawrence during a question and answer session is available.

Create-React-Extension (GitHub Repo)

Create React Extension is a tool to create React browser extensions with no build configuration. It features the same developer experience as the Create-React-App, a webpack dev server, support for any combination of chrome extensions, an automatic fork watcher, and more.

Tired of Stack Overflow (10 minute read)

Stack Overflow was created to help developers easily search for answers. It has an upvote/downvote system put in place to let users decide what questions are appropriate for the platform. Some questions, even if well-written, on-topic, and helpful for other developers, are being downvoted for unknown reasons by other users, sometimes resulting in a lot of negative feedback. Many people downvote already downvoted questions just because these questions had negative feedback and they felt like they had to contribute. This can discourage users from contributing, especially if they are new. If the negative culture continues, it may be that the site will eventually just become new users who don't have experience asking questions and older users complaining about the lack of quality on the site.

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