Issue 1265 - Monday 7th December, 2020

In Today's Issue

The News

Google sacks AI ethics researcher over paper it didn't approve

Timnit Gebru, the co-head of AI ethics at Google, has been fired/quit because Google wouldn't publish a research paper she co-authored. The paper argued that large-scale language models could "regurgitate racial and other biases that are contained in the underlying training material". Gebru is also a big proponent of diversity at Google and clashed with management often, so her dismissal, as Arstechnica put it "threatened to shine a harsh light on Google's handling of internal AI research that could hurt its business, as well as the company's long-running difficulties in trying to diversify its workforce".

US government doesn't seem to care who owns TikTok now

I know exactly what you've been thinking about all weekend - "what's happening with Oracle buying TikTok?". The answer is sad and typically Trumpian. They simply forgot about it. The December 4th deadline (which was already extended) has lapsed and "while the White House did not extend the deadline for a deal again, it also plans to take no immediate action in response to the lapsed cutoff, said the person with knowledge of the discussions". it's also "unclear exactly how the administration would enforce the deadline even if it wanted to do so". All bark, no bite.

Japan brings asteroid sample back to Earth & China's moon rocks on their way

There's been a fair bit of space related news lately and today is no exception. Japan's Hayabusa2 mission to get a sample off asteroid Ryugu and back to Earth successfully landed out near Woomera in SA on the weekend. Apparently this asteroid is old as fuck and the material now in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's hands could give us more info about how creation of the solar system. Chang'e 5 has been busy too, with the ascent vehicle and orbiter docking nicely, loaded up with 2kg of moon rocks and ready to return to Earth. This kind of remote and automated docking is pretty fancy. Nobody's done it before, not even the Americans or Russians.

Something I Saw On The Internet

Josh's quick review of the reMarkable 2 e-ink tablet

Old mate and replacement Sizzler when I went overseas a few years ago, Joshua Withers, got himself a reMarkable 2 e-ink tablet. Josh is using it instead of an iPad Pro for scribbling notes and filling in forms and has found it to be a very capable unit. The handwriting recognition is solid, PDF forms work well and cloud sync is fine. He reckons its easier to write on and much nicer to hold in the hand than an iPad too. I really want to try a reMarkable 2 out, even though I have pretty much no need for one.


The End

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