Download April 19, 2022: Neocolonial AI and old clocks
This is today’s edition ofDownload,Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.
South Africa’s private surveillance machines are fueling a digital apartheid regime
Johannesburg, the sprawling megalopolis that was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, is now giving birth to a unique model of South Africa’s surveillance. Over the past five years, the city has been the host of a centralized, coordinated, fully privatized mass surveillance operation. Vumacam, the company that built the CCTV network across the country, already has more than 6,600 cameras and is growing, more than 5,000 of which are concentrated in Johannesburg. The video was fed into security rooms around the country, then used all sorts of AI tools like license plate recognition to track population movements and track individuals. These tools have been enthusiastically adopted by the local security industry, facing the pressures of a high crime environment.
Civil rights activists worry the new surveillance is fueling digital racism and shedding light on people’s democratic freedoms, but a growing group of experts say the stakes are even higher. even higher. They argue that the impact of artificial intelligence is repeating patterns of colonial history, and here in South Africa, which has a lot of colonial legacies, the implementation of unmanaged AI surveillance only brings presents a case study of how a technology that promises to bring society into the future is threatening to send them back into the past.Read full story.
—Karen Hao and Heidi Swart
This is the first part of our AI colonialism series, delving into how this technology is impoverishing communities and countries that have no say in its development. Parts 2–4 will be out over the weekend, and you can read Karen Hao’s introductory essaythis.
How We Can Solve AI Inequality
The economy is being transformed by digital technologies, especially artificial intelligence, which are rapidly changing the way we live and work. But this transformation poses a difficult puzzle: these technologies do little to grow the economy, and income inequality is widening. Productivity growth, which economists see as essential to improving living standards, has largely been sluggish since at least the mid-2000s in many countries.
Why aren’t these technologies generating economic growth? Why don’t they promote more widespread prosperity? To find the answer, some of the leading economists and policy experts are taking a closer look at how we invent and deploy AI and automation — and identifying ways we can deliver better choice.Read full story.
An aging clock to predict how long you will live
Age is more than the number of birthdays you have taken into account. Stress, sleep, and diet all affect how our organs deal with the wear and tear of everyday life, which can cause you to age faster or slower than those born with the same age. day. That means your biological age can be completely different from your chronological age — the number of years you live.
Your biological age may better reflect your physical health and even your own mortality rate than your chronological age. But calculating it isn’t nearly as simple, which is why scientists have spent the past decade developing tools known as aging clocks, which assess markers in the body to reveal your biological age and predict how many healthy years you have left. Proponents of aging clocks are trying to use them to demonstrate that anti-aging interventions can make individuals biologically younger. But it is not clear if they are accurate or reliable enough to make such claims.Read full story.
Aging watches emerge as a clear winner for Tech Review’sThe 11th Breakthrough Technology of 2022. Over 10,000 readers voted — if you’re one of them, thank you!
Quote of the day
“It’s like packing a bikini for Siberia, eating a steak with chopsticks, teaching an eagle how to swim.”
—An unnamed Shanghai resident recounts the frustrations of living in the city’s extreme unfurnished lockdown as cases continue to soar because of Guardians.
Things to read
I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about tech.
A Russian soldier is attacking a 300-mile front in Ukraine
The aim was to take full control of the Donbas region in the east of the country. (NYT $)
+ Putin’s desire to conquer the Donbas is symbolic. (BBC) + The State Department condemned the Russian airstrikes as a “terrorist campaign”. (WP $)
+ The siege of Mariupol seemed to be coming to an end. (FT $)
2 Crypto Hackers Are Stealing Bigger Amounts Ever
And mainly because open source is vulnerable, poorly managed. (CHILDREN)
+ Bitcoin mining has devastated the city of Plattsburgh in New York. (CHILDREN)
+ Cash holding case. (CHILDREN)
3 Even democracies use controversial spyware
NSO paved the way for this type of surveillance to become frighteningly common. (New Yorkers $)
+ The British Prime Minister’s office is said to have been hacked with NSO spyware. (Guardians)
+ The hacker rental industry is now too big to fail. (CHILDREN)
4 Facebook investment in internet infrastructure in Nigeria comes at a cost
Yep, you guessed it. User data. (Guardians)
+ It allegedly failed to control misinformation in Africa. (Guardians)
5 Intel claims their AI can read students’ emotions
Plot extension: it can’t. Not exactly, anyway. (Protocol)
+ Emotion AI researchers say exaggerated claims give their work a bad name. (CHILDREN)
6 How serious is Elon Musk really about owning Twitter?
And should we be worried? (Atlantic $)
+ Twitter’s board is doing its best to avoid the prospect of him buying 100% of the company. (Bloomberg $)
+ Twitter’s edit button can show how the tweet originally appeared. (TechCrunch)
7 The food in the metaverse is not very good
Because — shocker — you really can’t eat it! (Insiders)
+ Here’s how to let a metaverse die in earnest. (Polygon)
8 A former Dollar General employee is using TikTok to promote union representation
Instead of listening to her concerns, the company fired her. But she did not go quietly. (NYT $)
+ Amazon’s warehouse in New Jersey is the latest to be voted on by the union. (WP $)
9 Communities of white supremacists online are hunting teenagers
Even anti-racism material to combat it has been weaponized. (Atlantic $)
10 Here’s How You Should Text
Sorry, grammar mistake! (WP $)
We can still have good things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any comments?Drop me a lineortweet ’em with me.)
+ This video by Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)speak English on the set of Star Warsto help Harrison Ford react to his lines in a hilarious way.
+ I have a reluctant respect for this unpleasant appearanceIs the cake?
+ Another copy of Wordle,Redactleforces you to guess compiled words from Wikipedia articles.
+ TheTerrible mapTwitter accounts may not be very helpful, but it’s funny.
+ The biography of mob chef David Ruggerio istotally bewildered.
+ Read Molly and David’s sweet story aboutmet the pandemic while he was shielding.
+ Comedian Munya’s rating ofWhat is it like in England when the sun comes out for the second timeis in place.