Big Tech &
Facebook bows to Singapore's 'fake news' law (3 minute read)
Facebook complied with Singapore's 'fake news' law by adding a correction notice to a post that Singapore's government claimed contained false information. An opposition politician was ordered to correct information in a Facebook post and to add a notice to the post saying that it contained fake news. The notice was only visible to users in the city-state. Singapore's 'fake news' law came into effect in October and it allows the government to order online platforms to remove and correct statements that the government deems to be against the public interest. The law bans the use of fake accounts or bots to spread fake news. Critics say that the law gives the government too much power to control the content that can be viewed online. The government argues that law includes safeguards against the abuse of power.
Exclusive: Amazon's cloud unit readies more powerful data center chip - sources (3 minute read)
Amazon's cloud computing unit has designed a new data center processor chip that is at least 20 percent faster than Amazon's first Arm-based chip. If Amazon Web Services' chip is successful, it could lessen its reliance on Intel and AMD for server chips. Intel controls more than 90 percent of the server processor market. Several companies are aiming to make Arm chips suitable for data centers. Arm chips are cheaper and consume less electricity, but they are less powerful. Amazon's new chip will have at least 32 cores and it will be able to connect with other chips to speed up tasks like image recognition.
China due to introduce face scans for mobile users (5 minute read)
People registering new mobile phone services in China will now be required to have their faces scanned as part of the identity verification process. China has been trying to ensure that everyone who uses the internet does so under their real identities. It claims that removing anonymity from internet use boosts cyber-security and reduces internet fraud. Removing anonymity makes it easier to track the population. China's citizen database has been breached before, resulting in people being contacted by scammers who knew their personal details. There were 170 million CCTV cameras installed in China in 2017, with another 400 million new ones planned to be installed by 2020. Facial recognition plays a key role in China's surveillance system. It has been used to track fugitives, as well as to identify certain minority groups.
This microbe no longer needs to eat food to grow, thanks to a bit of genetic engineering (3 minute read)
Synthetic biologists have engineered a bacterium that builds its cells by absorbing carbon dioxide. The microbes could eventually be engineered to turn carbon dioxide into medicines and other high-value compounds. Scientists could not engineer bacteria that could photosynthesize, as the process is too complex. Instead, the bacteria were given the ability to eat formate and transform it into ATP. The energy from the ATP is then used to activate enzymes that convert carbon dioxide into sugars and other organic molecules. Initially, the bacteria still preferred their natural metabolism, but after placing the bacteria in environments that heavily restricted their diet, the bacteria eventually evolved the ability to be autotrophic. A total of 11 new genetic mutations were observed in the evolved bacteria.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Blocks (GitHub Repo)
Blocks is a JSX-based page builder for creating websites without writing code. It comes with built-in components that are designed and implemented with Theme UI. The editor reads and writes production-ready React code. A GIF demo is available.
Software Tools for Hobby-Scale Projects (6 minute read)
Computers can be a vehicle for personal enrichment rather than strictly as a tool for business or research. Some noteworthy projects started out as hobby projects, for example, the Linux Kernel. A list of useful tools for hobby projects that are free, easy to learn, and that are focused on ease of use and prototyping speed is provided. The tools include a cloud storage for JSON APIs, a tool to create mobile alerts, cheap VPS hosting, and more.
Researcher Arrested for Allegedly Teaching North Korea About Ethereum (2 minute read)
A cryptocurrency researcher was arrested for allegedly violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by giving a presentation on Ethereum in North Korea. Virgil Griffith allegedly attended a blockchain conference in North Korea and presented on how blockchain technology could benefit the country. Griffith also participated in a discussion on how cryptocurrencies could be used to evade economic sanctions. He claims that his presentation only contained basic concepts that can be looked up online. The complaint against Griffith alleges that he received his North Korean visa on a separate document other than his US passport in order to avoid creating physical proof that he traveled to the DPRK. The Ethereum Foundation describes Griffith's travel to North Korea as a personal matter and that the Foundation was not represented in any capacity in the events outlined by the Justice Department's filing.