The Download: Algorithms’ shame trap, and London’s safer road crossings
This is today’s edition ofDownload,Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.
How algorithms trap us in a cycle of shame
Working in finance at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, mathematician Cathy O’Neil got a first-hand look at how much people trust algorithms — and how destructive they are. they cause. Depressed, she turns to technology, but stumbles upon her own blind faith. After leaving, she wrote a book in 2016 that dismissed the idea that algorithms are objective.
O’Neil showed how every algorithm is trained on historical data to recognize patterns and how they break in harmful ways. For example, algorithms designed to predict the likelihood of being re-arrested can unjustly burden people who are, typically, people of color, poor, living in the wrong neighborhood, or with problems. untreated mental health or addiction.
Over time, she realized another important factor was reinforcing these inequalities: shame. Society has been shaming people for things they don’t have a choice or a say in, such as problems with weight or addiction, and weaponizes that humiliation. The next step, O’Neill realized, was resisting. Read full story.
London is testing traffic lights that put pedestrians first
News: For pedestrians, walking in the city can be like navigating an obstacle course. Transport for London, the public body behind transport services in the British capital, has tested a new type of crosswalk designed to make traveling on busy streets safe. and easier.
How it works? Instead of waiting for the “green man” to signal to cross the street, pedestrians will encounter green as the default setting when they approach one of 18 intersections around the city. The light only turns red when the sensor detects an approaching vehicle — a first in the UK.
How is it received? After 9 months of testing, the data is encouraging: there was virtually no impact on traffic, saving pedestrians time and making them 13% more likely to obey traffic signals. Read full story.
Check out these stories from our New Urbanism issue. You can read full magazine for yourself and ordered to get future versions delivered to your door for just $120 a year.
– How social media filters are helping people discover their gender identity.
– The limitations of plant tree as a way to mitigate climate change.
Podcast: Who’s watching the AI that tracks students?
A young boy wrote about his suicidal thoughts. He didn’t realize his school’s software was monitoring. While schools often use AI to sift through students’ digital lives and flag keywords that might be deemed relevant, critics question: what price to pay for privacy private? We delve into this story and the wider world of school surveillance, in latest episode Our award-winning podcast, In Machines We Trust.
Check it out here.
ICYMI: Our list of TR35 innovators for 2022
In case you missed it yesterday, our annual TR35 list of the coolest young minds 35 and under is now out! Read it online here or subscribe to read about them in the print edition of our new Urbanism issue here.
Things to read
I scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about tech.
1 There is a crazy patchwork of abortion laws in the US right now
Overturning Roe has caused a legal quagmire — including some contract abortion laws with others in the same state. (FT $)
+ Protesters are attacking the Supreme Court on TikTok. (Motherboard)
+ Planned Parenthood’s abortion scheduler may share data.(WP $)
+ This is the type of data that a public agency may try to use for prosecution. (WSJ $)
+ Tech companies need to be transparent about what they are asked to share. (WP $)
+ This is what people in the activated state are using Google for. (Vox)
2 Chinese students lured into spying for Beijing
New graduates are 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
Researchers are sick of hype. (WSJ $)
+ Meta still wants to build intelligent machines that learn like humans. (IEEE spectrum)
+ Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Understanding how the brain’s neurons actually work will aid better AI models. (Economist $)
Bitcoin is facing its biggest drop in over 10 years
The era of free development is truly coming to an end. (Bloomberg $)
+ The crash was a threat to millions of dollars worth of money stolen by North Korea. (Reuters)
+ The crypto apocalypse could get worse before it evens out. (Guardians)
+ The EU is one step closer to regulating cryptocurrencies. (Reuters)
Singapore’s 5 new online safety laws are a thinly veiled power grab
Empower your autocratic government to exercise greater control over civilians. (The rest of the world)
6 Recommended algorithms require effort to function properly
Telling them what you like will be more likely to introduce you to the right suggestions. (The Verge)
7 China on a mission to find an Earth-like planet
But what they will find is anyone’s guess. (Motherboard)
+ ESA’s Gaia probe is casting a light on what’s floating in the Milky Way. (Wired $)
8 Inside YouTube’s Meta Video Criticism World
Video creators analyze other video creators for engaging viewing. (NYT $)
+ Long-form videos are helping creators prevent creative burnout. (NBC)
9 Time pressed datasets looking at potential matches over video chat
To get the land before joining the IRL meetup. (Atlantic $)
10 How Fandoms Shaped the Internet
For better — and worse. (New Yorkers $)
Quote of the day
“This is not a mere monkey business.”
—A lawsuit filed by Yuga Labs, creator of the Bored Ape NFT collection, against concept artist Ryder Ripps, has filed a lawsuit, claiming Ripps copied their distinctive simulated artwork , Gizmodo report.
This restaurant duo wanted a zero-carbon food system. It can happen?
When Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint opened The Perennial, the most ambitious and expensive restaurant of their careers, they had a grand vision: they wanted it to be completely carbon-free. Their “Laboratory for Environmentalism in the Food World” opened in San Francisco in January 2016 and their business is serving meat with a significantly lower carbon footprint than normal.
Myint and Leibowitz realized they were headed for something much bigger — and that the easiest, most practical way to tackle global warming might be through food. But they also realized that the so-called “country’s most sustainable restaurant” could not fix the broken system on its own. So at the beginning of 2019, they dared to do something else on their own that no one expected. They shut down The Perennial. Read full story.
We can still have good things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any comments? Drop me a line or tweet ’em with me.)
+ A look inside the UK flower train scene (don’t worry, it has nothing to do with Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name.)
+ This is definition of burn.
+ A solid science joke.
+ This one cool Twitter account compiled some of the weirdest public Spotify playlists out there (Scream The rapper has a memory problem)
+ Are you lucky enough to see any of these strange and wonderful buildings face to face?