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Tech Team

A faceoff over facial recognition [Washington Post]

An 18-year-old from New York is suing Apple to the tune of $1 billion. Why? A facial recognition system at its stores falsely connected him to a series of thefts. Although Apple denies the accusation, the lawsuit claims the company uses facial recognition software to identify shoplifters in its stores. The issue reminds of us of a recent episode of Recode Decode, where AI experts claimed to be more scared of AI being rolled out in the US than the social scoring system in China. Their logic – whether it’s software being used to track shoplifters or systems developed to determine social welfare benefits, AI is being used without oversight in applications unknown to the public in the US.

Expecting the expected [Financial Times]

Password leaks and data breaches happen so often that over one third of people in the UK believe that losing money or personal information over the internet is now “unavoidable.” On top of that, 70% believe that they’ll be the victim of cybercrime in the next two years. This paints a grim picture of how safe people think their data is online. But, we can’t blame them. In the first six months of 2018, 3.3 billion data records were compromised – a 72% increase from 2017. Could replacing passwords be the answer? A handful of websites and devices now use security keys (like WebAuthn) instead of passwords. While this is one step towards a password free future, it’s still no guarantee of a data leak-free future.

Twitter Americana [The Atlantic]

The Pew Research Center decided to size up US Twitter users to see what the demographic of the American platform looks like. The loudest are not exactly always the most representative of societal debates and US Twitter users are a perfect example of that. Ten percent of the top tweeters are responsible for 80% of the content, averaging at about 138 tweets per month versus only two tweets per month for the remaining 90% of Twitter users. On average, US users are also more likely to be more liberal, better educated and wealthier than the average American. So, next time you hear of a “Twitter storm” potentially sparked by one of its most famous and frequent users President Donald Trump, think about whether it’s an actual storm or just smoke.

Blockchain for good [Bloomberg]

Many high-tech products require “conflict minerals,” metals and minerals for which the mining and selling may finance criminality and conflicts. But, technology can now help track the origin and supply chain of these natural resources. The increasing use of blockchain systems gives manufacturers reliable information about where the raw materials come from and thus the opportunity to make ethical choices. Though there is still room for improvement in this use of blockchain enabled tracking systems, it’s a great step towards more transparency and offers much more possible use cases beyond high-tech products.

In case you haven’t had enough…

How patients can turn their medical data into money [Financial Times]

Facebook will finally pay —billions—for its privacy missteps [Wired]

Humane tech push faces a lot of barriers [Axios]

Facebook says first-person Christchurch video foiled AI system [Bloomberg]

Drones to deliver medicines to 12m people in Ghana [Financial Times]