Science & Technology

23andMe Cuts Off the DNA App Ecosystem It Created

February 24, 2019

23andMe hasn’t said if the move is designed to retain control over its data or in response to concerns about user privacy. The company had plans several years ago to launch an app store, according to two people familiar with the matter, but opted not to move forward with the project because of challenges with vetting third-party developers. At-home DNA testing companies have been at the center of a privacy firestorm in recent months.

US tech company says it will no longer sell equipment to China to expand Uighur DNA tracking capability

February 24, 2019

A U.S. biotech company will no longer allow China to purchase equipment believed to have been used to help the ruling Communist Party create a DNA database of the country’s Uighur minority. China in recent years has been able to ramp up its controversial monitoring and detaining of the ethnic group mostly situation in the Xinjiang province with the "help of Americans", according to a New York Times report.

U.S. science adviser sees smaller federal role

February 22, 2019

Droegemeier's message was aspirational, pledging to combat sexual harassment in science without giving any details and to ease federal regulations on research. He made passing mention of climate change, which many researchers see as the most pressing science-based issue of our time. And he said the key to future scientific preeminence isn't increased federal funding, but stronger collaborations among government, industry, academia, and private foundations.

What an American artificial intelligence initiative really needs

February 21, 2019

We know that China, France and the U.K. have invested and committed billions already to their own AI initiatives. The American AI Initiative as it stands does little to blunt the fears that America will fall behind in its technological edge. In fact, its lack of particulars sends exactly the opposite message. If the government wants to demonstrate its support for AI, it needs to commit significant funding and investment in education to retain, attract and grow the talent necessary to support such a critical industry...

AAAS: Machine learning 'causing science crisis'

February 21, 2019

Machine-learning techniques used by thousands of scientists to analyse data are producing results that are misleading and often completely wrong. Dr Genevera Allen from Rice University in Houston said that the increased use of such systems was contributing to a “crisis in science”. She warned scientists that if they didn’t improve their techniques they would be wasting both time and money. Her research was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

Google says Nest's secret microphone was 'never intended to be a secret'

February 21, 2019

Google said there’s absolutely, positively nothing to worry about the secret microphone in your Nest Secure smart home hub that it didn’t tell you about. Nope, not at all. Just an oversight, said Google. No need to be alarmed. Everything is just fine.

Facebook labelled 'digital gangsters' by report on fake news

February 20, 2019

Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as “digital gangsters”. The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.

The U.S. must continue to invest in artificial intelligence to compete with China

February 20, 2019

“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) may bring to mind any number of futuristic pop culture references, from “Star Wars” to “Westworld”, and it may seem like something that’s decades or even centuries away. The reality is that AI is already here - it’s in the apps we use to navigate through traffic, it protects us from spam emails and more nefarious online security threats, and it’s what responds when we say “OK Google...” and “Alexa?”

California Governor Wants Users to Profit From Online Data

February 20, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set off a flurry of speculation after he said the state's consumers should get a piece of the billions of dollars that technology companies make by capitalizing on personal data they collect. The new governor has asked aides to develop a proposal for a "data dividend" for California residents but provided no hints about whether he might be suggesting a tax on tech companies, an individual refund to their customers or something else.

Skeptical of Artificial Intelligence? You Can Blame the Media This Time

February 20, 2019

Unfortunately, we seem to be sleepwalking into our AI future without talking about what we want from it, or how to make sure it is used responsibly. Part of the blame lies with the news media’s coverage of AI. Recent studies find that media treatment of AI mostly follows industry announcements and new product launches, helping to purvey the industry’s self-interested view of AI’s value and desirability. The public, by contrast, seems to be more cautious -- and overwhelmingly in favor of close management of AI, preferably not by tech companies themselves.

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