This is today’s edition of The Download,, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.
How algorithms trap us in a circle of shame
Working in finance at the start of the financial crisis in 2008, mathematician Cathy O’Neil gained first-hand insight into how much people believe in algorithms — and how much destruction they cause. Discouraged, she moved into the technology industry, but encountered the same blind faith. After leaving, in 2016, she wrote a book that shattered the idea that algorithms are objective.
O’Neil showed how each algorithm is trained on historical data to recognize patterns and how they break down in harmful ways. Algorithms designed to predict the possibility of re-arrest, for example, can unfairly burden people, usually colored, who are poor, live in the wrong neighborhood, or have untreated mental health or addiction problems.
Over time, she realized another significant factor that exacerbated these inequalities: shame. Society has embarrassed people because of things in which they have no choice or voice, such as weight problems or addiction, and weapons are that humiliation. The next step, O’Neill recognized, was retaliation. Read the whole story.
– Allison Arieff
London is experimenting with traffic lights that put pedestrians first
News: For pedestrians, walking through the city can be like navigating an obstacle course. Transport to London, the public body behind transport services in the British capital, is testing a new type of crossing designed to make moving through safer streets easier and easier.
How does it work? Instead of waiting for the “green man” as a sign to cross the road, pedestrians will come across green as the default setting when approaching one of the city’s 18 crossings. The light changes to red only when the sensor detects an approaching vehicle – for the first time in the UK.
How was it received? After a nine-month trial, the data is encouraging: it has virtually no impact on traffic, saves pedestrians time and makes them 13% more likely to adhere to traffic signals. Read the whole story.
Check out these stories from our new edition of Urbanism. You can read full magazine for myself and subscribe that future releases be delivered to your door for only $ 120 a year.
– How social media filters help people explore their gender identity.
– Restrictions on tree planting as a way to mitigate climate change.
Podcast: Who watches AI watching students?
One boy wrote about his suicide attempt. He didn’t know his school’s software was watching. While schools typically use artificial intelligence to review students ’digital lives and tag keywords that may be considered troubling, critics ask: at what cost of privacy? We delve into this story and the wider world of school supervision in the latest episode of our award-winning podcast, In Machines We Trust.
ICYMI: Our TR35 list of innovators for 2022
In case you missed yesterday, our annual TR35 list of the most exciting young minds aged 35 and under is now published! Read it online here or subscribe to read about them in the print edition of our new edition of Urbanism here.
I combed the internet to find the funniest / most important / scary / fascinating stories of today about technology.
1 There is now a crazy tangle of abortion laws in the US
Roe’s reversal has caused legal trouble — including some abortion laws contracting others within the same state. (FT $)
+ Protesters are docking the Supreme Court on TikTok. (Motherboard)
+ The Planned Parenthood tool for scheduling abortions could share data. (WP $)
+ Here is what data state authorities can try to use for prosecution. (WSJ $)
+ Technology firms need to be transparent about what they are asked to share. (WP $)
+ Here’s what people in trigger states google. (vox)
2 Chinese students were lured to spy for Beijing
Recent graduates were tasked with translating hacked documents. (FT $)
+ The FBI accused him of spying for China. It ruined his life. (MIT Technology Review)
3 Why it’s time to adjust our expectations of AI
The researchers were fed up with the hype. (WSJ $)
+ However, Meta still wants to make intelligent machines that learn like humans. (IEEE Spectrum)
+ Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Understanding the way brain neurons actually work will help better AI models. (economist $)
4 Bitcoin is facing its biggest drop in more than 10 years
The age of free growth is really coming to an end. (Bloomberg $)
+ The disaster is a threat to the millions of funds stolen by North Korea. (Reuters)
+ The cryptoapocalypse could worsen before it equalizes. (The Guardian)
+ The EU is one step closer to regulating cryptocurrencies. (Reuters)
5 Singapore’s new online security laws are a thinly disguised grab of power
Empowering its authoritarian government to exercise even greater control over civilians. (rest of the world)
The algorithms of the 6 recommendations require effort to work properly
If you tell them what you like, they are more likely to give you decent suggestions. (Border)
7 China is on a mission to find an Earth-like planet
But what he will find can be guessed. (Motherboard)
+ ESA’s Gaia probe sheds light on what is floating in the Milky Way. (wire $)
8 Within YouTube’s target world of video criticism
Video creators who analyze other video creators make a compelling view. (NYT $)
+ Long-format videos help creators prevent creative burnout. (NBC)
9 Time-limited meetings check on potential suitors via video chat
To get acquainted with the country before committing to an IDP encounter. (Atlantic $)
10 How fandoms shaped the internet
For the better — and for the worse. (New Yorker $)
Quote of the day
“This isn’t just a monkey business.”
“A lawsuit filed by Yuga Labs, creators of the Bored Ape NFT collection, against conceptual artists Ryder Ripps, claims that Ripps copied their distinctive monkey art, Gizmodo reports.
This restaurant duo wants a carbon-free diet system. Can it happen?
When Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint opened The Perennial, the most ambitious and expensive restaurant of their careers, they had a big vision: they wanted it to be completely carbon neutral. Their “food lab in the world of food” opened in San Francisco in January 2016, and the pièce de résistence is serving meat with a dramatically lower carbon footprint than usual.
Myint and Leibowitz realized that they were on something much bigger – and that the easiest and most practical way to fight global warming could be through food. But they also realized that what is called “the most sustainable restaurant in the country” cannot just fix a broken system. So at the beginning of 2019, they dared to do something else that no one expected. They closed The Perennial. Read the whole story.
We can still have nice things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Do you have any idea? Call me back or tweet them to me.)
+ A look at the booming British trainspotting scene (don’t worry, it has nothing to do with Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name.)
+ This is very definition of burns.
+ A a solid scientific joke.
+ This a fun Twitter account compiles some of the strangest public Spotify playlists (Shout out to Rappers with memory problems)
+ Were you lucky enough to see some of these strange and wonderful buildings in person?