Big Tech &
Apple accused of monitoring employee text messages in lawsuit against ex-chip exec (2 minute read)
Gerard Williams, a former Apple executive, has accused Apple of illegally obtaining text messages from his iPhone before firing him for breach of contract. Williams had left Apple to head a server chip start-up. Apple claimed that Williams was in breach of contract, saying that an intellectual property agreement prevented him from competing with the company. Williams had apparently recruited numerous Apple engineers away from the company. Apple allegedly collected Williams' text messages between him and other employees in order to build its case against him. Other tech companies have been accused of mismanaging users' data, and Apple has been trying to differentiate itself by focusing on user privacy and security.
Tesla's Virtual Power Plant rescues grid after coal peaker fails, and it's only 2% finished (2 minute read)
Tesla is building a Virtual Power Plant in South Australia. It is made of solar-powered, Powerwall-equipped homes. There are currently 900 homes forming the Virtual Power Plant, which is about 2 percent of Tesla's goal of 50,000 homes. In October, Queensland's Kogan Creek coal power station failed and Tesla's Virtual Power Plant stepped in, detecting the failure and providing power from its Powerwall batteries. There are three phases of development for the Virtual Power Plant, and it appears that the project is about to move into its final phase. Once the Virtual Power Plant is complete, it should deliver 250 MW of solar energy and store 650 MWh of backup energy for the region.
World's 1st floating dairy farm could help cities adapt to climate change (5 minute read)
Floating Farm is the world's first floating dairy farm, a three-story structure that employs two farmers and three types of robots. It was built as a response to climate change and populations moving closer to cities. The aim of the project was to build a form of urban farming that was circular, self-sufficient, and sustainable. Cows are able to move freely between the top and middle floors of the structure, feeding on grass clippings, potato peels, and beer broth. The manure they produce is used to fertilize local parks and playing fields and the milk they produce is pasteurized and sold or processed into other products. Floating Farm is able to break even on costs only because it processes its own milk. Cities worldwide are interested in the concept, which can be scaled.
India has once again shut down the internet to control protesters (1 minute read)
India shut down the internet in the state of Assam during protests against a new citizenship rule. The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which creates a pathway for citizenship for minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, was recently approved. Residents in the state of Assam were protesting as they were unhappy about immigration from nearby Bangladesh. Governments are increasingly turning to shutting off internet access as a way to stop protests. In 2016, the United Nations condemned internet shutdowns as a violation of human rights and freedom of expression. There were 196 internet shutdowns worldwide in 2018, with most of the shutdowns occurring in India.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Neuraxle Pipelines (GitHub Repo)
Neuraxle is a Machine Learning library for building neat pipelines. It provides methods to ease research, development, and deployment of ML applications. Neuraxle can help build production-ready code that is compatible with any machine learning library.
StyleGAN2 (GitHub Repo)
StyleGAN2 is a style-based GAN architecture for data-driven unconditional generative image modeling. It improves on image quality, and it also makes it possible to reliably detect if an image is generated by a particular network. StyleGAN2 redefines the sate of the art in unconditional image modeling. Videos of StyleGAN2 in action and images of its output are available.
Click Here to Kill (34 minute read)
Darknet markets for assassinations allow people to anonymously order killings online. A serialized essay called 'Assassination Politics' written in 1995 details a system where people could anonymously pledge money towards a bounty for killing someone, and another party could 'predict' a death and collect the pool. The implication was that the best way to predict a death was to cause it yourself. The invention of Bitcoin and the dark web made this system possible. Many 'murder marketplaces' have popped up on the darknet, but most turn out to be scams. As the technology is relatively new, law enforcement agencies have some difficulties investigating cases. Many people who had been named as potential targets on these sites were unaware of their predicament, even if law enforcement knew their names were on a list. Some cases of suicide have been linked to these websites, and people have been arrested for ordering murders online.