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Tech Team

Hello TechAways readers,  

This is Ilaria Graceffa presenting this week’s edition. I am a special guest here in the tech corner, as I mainly follow sustainability and chemicals policy.  So why am I introducing TechAways? The answer is easy…tech is everywhere! Think about the EU Chemicals Strategy and the Renovation Wave for Buildings unveiled this week. AI, blockchain and robotics will help collect data and track chemicals in everyday products to make them safer, while smart and digitalised buildings will contribute to saving energy and addressing climate change. It’s not only tech that’s everywhere, but sustainability too.   

AI can find solutions to end world hunger [Gizmodo]  

With about 690 million people suffering from hunger worldwide, a team of 70 scientists turned to machine learning to find a solution. The AI analysed 500,000 studies and was able to identify gaps in knowledge and find areas to target aid. A key finding is that only $14 billion annually in the next 10 years could be enough end hunger globally. Interestingly, the project also helped identify issues with how data was collected in the past, and how it is categorised now. Clearly, a human touch is still necessary in aid work.  

A crop-sniffing plant buggy to tackle sustainable production [The BBC 

A four-wheel buggy prototype has been trundling through Californian strawberry and Illinois soybean fields gathering high quality images, counting and classifying every berry and bean. It’s a herculean task to collect data with cameras and sensors to create predictive models with machine leaning for how plants will grow. The result of a computational agriculture project called Mineral and launched by Alphabet’s X, it focuses on developing technology to solve issues around sustainable food production such as providing every plant with the exact nutrition or crop its optimum sustainability. A real hope to untangle the plant world and transform how food is grown – and we wonder if the scientists mentioned above took this project into account when hunting for a solution to world hunger. 

Don’t pop our digital trust bubble, mum & dad! [TechCrunch]  

Generation Z don’t always have it easy growing up in such a tech-centric world, but they sure know how to get their way. Life360, a family-tracking app designed to keep tabs on children’s location, recently received such strong backlash from youngsters on TikTok that the app had to create an account to reach out to their teenage critics to find a way to rethink its structure to give them greater privacy settings. A new ‘bubbles’ feature now allows the children to set a generalised location for a given period of time.  That is, unless the parents choose to pop the bubble. What this all boils down to? Trust. The app isn’t the real privacy threat, it’s the parents. 

She was a (virtual) sk8r girl [The Verge]  

We know that social media isn’t always the most inviting place, so we were excited to see TikTok giving female, queer and non-binary skateboarders an online community to share triumphs and wipeouts. While skateboarding is traditionally a male-dominated space, Covid-19 lockdowns have helped people pick up new hobbies or restart old ones, meaning a wider range of people are hopping on skateboards worldwide. Naturally, the issues that have existed in skate culture for years still exist virtually (whether virtually or in person, being called a ‘poser’ still stings) but with all the social distancing in 2020 it’s nice to see some new communities emerging online. 

About this week’s editor, Ilaria Graceffa

I’ve been at Cambre for a bit more than 1 year, and I work with the public policy team, with a focus on circular economy and chemicals. If you hear my accent and see my hand gestures, there is no doubt about my nationality 🇮🇹. I am a lawyer by education, so yes; I could sue you if I see pineapple on your pizza!  

In case you haven’t had enough… 

Flies Lead the Way to a Greener Future [FT] 

To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks [Wired] 

France’s Health Data Hub to move to European cloud infrastructure to avoid EU-US data transfers [The Verge] 

On Facebook, Misinformation Is More Popular Now Than in 2016 [New York Times] 

AI Can Help Diagnose Some Illnesses—If Your Country Is Rich [Wired] 

IBM will spin off legacy business to focus on cloud and AI services [The Verge] 

Michigan kidnapping plot, like so many other extremist crimes, foreshadowed on social media [Washington Post] 

My USP is my age [Sifted]