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Tech Team

There’s an app for that: locust edition [Reuters] 

As you’re well aware, 2020 is the year that Murphy wrote his laws about, complete with a pandemic and locusts. East Africa is now arming itself against the invasive locust swarms with an app called E-Locust. Local locust scouts upload photos of young locusts perched on trees waiting to transform into eating machines. The photos are used by the UN and other NGOs to deploy teams where needed to spray pesticides that prevent the dangerous swarm formations. Locust swarms can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people – so here’s to hoping this app helps prevent further swarms! 

From fake news to fake journalists [The Verge] 

The term fake news is widely used, rightly and wrongly, but how about fake journalists? The Daily Beast investigation uncovered more than 19 fake personas producing op-eds, pretending to be journalists. The images were AI-generated headshots which are almost impossible to trace to their generator. But the pictures aren’t flawless: asymmetric faces, odd-looking teeth and weird hairlines are often indicators you are not looking at a ‘real person’. So check your sources, and your sources’ sources. 

AI takes on the space race [TechCrunch] 

 We’ve just managed to wrap our heads around autonomous vehicles, but AI has already locked in a new target: satellites. Hungarian startup Almotive is teaming up with C3S, a supplier of satellite and space-based technologies, to bring the autonomous vehicle technology to space. Think deep space mining, Earth imaging and observation or autonomously docking satellites with other spacecraft. While our satellites already collect a lot of data, the processing of that raw data at ground stations means a lot of lag time before generating results. AImotive’s tech could do it locally on the satellite in real-time. It’s rocket science – but AI cracked that too. 

Never-ending Facebook follies [Wired] 

Last week, it was major brands announcing they were joining an ad boycott, this week its Facebook’s civil rights audit being published. The report specifically calls out recent incidents where Facebook decided not to remove posts from Trump that included shooting looters and spreading misinformation about mail-in ballots. Civil rights leaders who started the Stop Hate for Profit ad boycott met with Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg on Tuesday to stress the need to prevent conflicts of interest between content moderators and the company’s business model. A tall order, even for a company whose founder coined the phrase “move fast and break things.”   

In case you haven’t had enough… 

NY-based autonomous reusable rocket startup lands Air Force contract (TechCrunch) 

LinkedIn will let you upload audio clips to tell people how to pronounce your name (The Verge) 

U.S. has not yet decided how it will retaliate to France digital tax: Mnuchin (Reuters) 

Spying app use jumps 50 per cent during pandemic (Financial Times)