Issue 1243 - Thursday 5th November, 2020

In Today's Issue

The News

Facebook & Twitter trying to stop Trump & mates abusing social media, YouTube turning a blind eye

As expected, Donald Trump and his cronies are using social media to spread bullshit about the election as it becomes clearer they're about to lose. Facebook and Twitter have been slapping clarification messages on pretty much every post Trump publishes, hiding some behind the warning entirely and limiting the ability for those messages to be reposted or retweeted. Instagram has added warnings to anything even remotely political. It isn't perfect, but at least they're adding some context to what Trump and Co are saying that might dissaude some people from taking Trump's claims at face value simply because he is the President. YouTube however, seems to be an outlier compared to its peers, doing relatively nothing to stop random channels with large viewerships broadcasting all of Trump's talking points.

Various tech related proposals and ordinances passed by US states during election

When Americans vote, they vote on a whole range of issues, not just who they want to represent them in government. In Massachusetts, an "overwhelming majority" voted for a law that would make it mandatory for " all new telematics-equipped vehicles be accessible via a standardized open-data platform that allows owners and third-party repair shops to access vehicle data from mobile devices", a huge step forward for the right to repair movement. The city of Portland, Maine joins Portland, Oregon in banning its "departments and officials from using or authorizing the use of any facial surveillance software on any groups or member of the public". California had three "propositions" related to tech. Prop 22, that would classify rideshare drivers/gig workers are independent contractors, controversially passed. Prop 24, which "strengthens the CCPA data-privacy legislation, closing some of the loopholes", looks set to pass too. Prop 25, regarding the use of a risk-algorithm to determine bail eligibility for criminal suspects, was heavily rejected.

Pope asks us to pray for robots and AI to always serve mankind

This month's direction from the Pope is for Catholics to pray "that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind". The prayer intention was published in the Pople's Worldwide Prayer Network, "an official global initiative to disseminate the Holy Father's monthly intentions". I agree with his Holiness and am encouraged by the Vatican's progress in this area. Earlier this year they published the Rome Call for AI Ethics and held a summit that IBM and Microsoft attended to discuss ways AI can be used for good, not evil. I have no idea if the Vatican's efforts will bear fruit, but I assume that if the Pope reckons AI needs a strong dose of ethics, people who traditionally don't listen to woke politically correct nerds might seek the Holy Father's guidance.

Something I Saw On The Internet

DJI's new Mini 2 drone looks very nice

DJI has a new "mainstream" drone - the Mini 2. It's a follow up to Mavic Mini and looks almost identical, but has some significant upgrades. The camera can now records 4K/30p video at 100mbit/sec and take RAW still photos. In 1080p video mode, you have a 2x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom to play with. The Mini 2 uses OcuSync 2.0, which "increases transmission range by 150% compared to the Mavic Mini for a maximum line-of-sight range of 10km". The motors have been upgraded for an extra minute of fly time, as well as improvements to acceleration, top speed and wind resistance. Here's a little hype video from DJI and a review from DPreview, who claim it is the best drone for beginners. It's on sale now and costs $749 for the drone and $949 for the usual Fly More combo with spare batteries, cool remote, bag and other stuff.

Bargains

The End

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