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Modern technology vs democracy [New York Times] 

If you follow US politics, you’re probably aware of the fiasco that occurred this week in Iowa. The Democratic party entrusted a new app to tally votes from around the state in the first caucus of the year and all hell broke loose. When it was announced that there were issues receiving the votes from the app, the first reason that came to mind was hacking (obviously). Unfortunately, the issue was much simpler, and far more classic – the app hadn’t been properly tested and people hadn’t been properly trained. Other states have sworn off the app all together and calls for banning digital technology being used in elections have ramped up again. But if the issue was essentially user error, is the panic warranted? 

Drone delivery trial completed first flight [TechCrunch] 

Deliveries which are not delayed by traffic and save CO2 emission at the same time? Sounds like a win-win-situation. The drone start-up Wingcopter is working on making this scenario become reality. The company has completed a first drone flight as part of a trial which delivered a sample of pigments from one office to another, covering a distance of 25 km. The aim of the trial is to display the advantages of using drones for delivery purposes instead of trucks. Drone usage saves time (sometimes even a full day!) as well as emissions and can reduce the amount of empty return trips of emission-intensive vehicles. 

Tell me what you want, what you really really want – in AI [The Atlantic] 

With the AI white paper coming out in mid-February, the Brussels bubble is filled with AI events and discussions. We have all heard the statements around AI being as biased and efficient as the data and coders are that create it. This weekend read points out a frequent problem when deploying AI: often the coders don’t know what they really want the outcome to be. AI designers can’t think of everything the machine might do and the conclusions it might make. Instead of designing the AI to be ‘goal-oriented’, it should be programmed to continuously seek out what our preferences are. So maybe the Spice Girls should switch from ‘tell me what you want’ to ‘tell me what you like’. 

Killing two birds with one innovation [CNET] 

1) CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is on the rise. 2) There’s nothing like a refreshing, fizzy beer. Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) has a solution to both problems. New technology Airthena captures CO2 directly from the air and scales it up for commercial production, like beer carbonation. Sure, Airthena is not the answer to cutting global CO2 emissions due to its scale, but it will help businesses with a more reliable source of gas for their everyday operations, while reducing their carbon footprint, while crafting fizzy beer. Cheers to that! 

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In case you haven’t had enough… 

SpaceX will now let you book a rocket launch online starting at 1 million (TechCrunch) 

Crispr’d cells show promise in first US Human Safety Trial (Wired) 

Councils let firms track visits to webpages on benefits and disability (The Guardian) 

YouTube to invest 100M in kids’ content that showcases character strenghts, like compassion and curiosity (TechCrunch) 

Apple now sells more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry (The Verge)