Issue 1373 - Wednesday 26th May, 2021

In Today's Issue

The News

Victorian EV usage tax passed and goes live July 1st

The Victorian parliament has passed a EV road usage tax. The Reason Party and Animal Justice Party got it across the line in the upper house last night, with Fiona Patten justifying her support by saying that it won't stop anyone from buying an electric vehicle, and will incentivise people to use private vehicles less. Starting 1st of July, EV owners will have to pay 2.5c/km they drive. VicRoads has a bit of info on how they'll collect the fee, but details are still thin on practical workings. My personal opinion is that a road usage fee is the best way for making motorists responsible for the externalities of cars, but not giving EV drivers an exemption will hurt the state's emissions reduction target in the short term. For me it'll be around $750/yr extra I'll need to pay, which does sting and removes one of the attractions of an EV (lower running costs) compared to a petrol car.

Google quietly releases new from scratch OS Fuchsia into the wild

Google has been working on an operating system called Fuchsia for years, not quite in secret, but they haven't been making a fuss about it and didn't mention it at all at Google I/O last week. Fucshia is now out in the wild, running on the 1st-generation Google Home Hub (later renamed the Nest Hub). You wouldn't know about the change if you owned the device as the UI is the same - Fucshia's benefits are all the in backend. As Arstechnica explains, Fucshia is "something very rare in the world of tech: it's a built-from-scratch operating system that isn't based on Linux" and uses a Google developed microkernel called Zircon. Normally a new from scratch OS from a big company is exciting, but knowing Google's track record of late (killing things off early and their whole business built upon data harvesting), I'm skeptical.

Florida introduces law that punishes social media companies for banning politicians

Florida is well known for being bat shit crazy, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that they've passed a law that will fine companies that ban politicians from social media. Florida's governor said that this law provides "guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites" and was directly inspired by Facebook, Twitter and others booting Donald Trump off their platforms. The law makes it illegal to ban a candidate for state office for more than 14 days, fines companies doing so $250,000 a day after the 14 day ban and also says content from a "journalistic enterprise" above a certain size can't be taken down or prioritised. Some people reckon the law violates the First Amendment (free speech!), so it'll be challenged in court pretty damn soon if Florida wields the law against anyone.

Something I Saw On The Internet

Microsoft shows off how it'll use GPT-3 in its products

Microsoft has an exclusive licence to use the much hyped GPT-3 artificial intelligence language tool and has announced their first use of it - "an assistive feature in the company's PowerApps software that turns natural language into readymade code". Essentially what Microsoft is trying to do here is have a human describe a task and use GPT-3 to understand it and then turn it into a snippet of code, or a formula, or a database query. For example, "instead of a user searching the database with a query "FirstN(Sort(Search('BC Orders', "Super_Fizzy", "aib_productname"), 'Purchase Date', Descending), 10)," they can just write "Show 10 orders that have Super Fizzy in the product name and sort by purchase date with newest on the top". A preview of the feature will be public in June.


The End

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The Sizzle is created on Wathaurong land and acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, recognising their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to them and their cultures and to elders both past and present.‚Äč