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facebook explores whether social media is good for democracy

to kick off the discussion, samidh chakrabarti, facebook's head of civic engagement, laid out some of the biggest issues that come with how democracy is affected by social media. of course foreign interference and fake news made the list, but so did echo chambers, political harassment, unequal participation and political engagement. "facebook was originally designed to connect friends and family -- and it has excelled at that," chakrabarti said in a blog post. "but as unprecedented numbers of people channel their political energy through this medium, it's being used in unforeseen ways with societal repercussions that were never anticipated."chakrabarti goes on to note some of the ways facebook has tried to fix some of the problems that ...




amazon’s convenience store of the future makes me nervous

the existence of go also serves to reinforce a couple of unpleasant truths about the world. a frictionless shopping experience is great, but it serves to throw up a couple of walls between amazon and the most disadvantaged in society. for instance, 77 percent of americans have smartphones, while there are plenty of people -- often african or latin american -- who are denied access to proper banking facilities. since you need both to access a go, the implication is clear: jeff bezos may love your money, but he's not going to accept yourcustom, so some of us will have to head on over to dollar general.the wider point here is that amazon is attempting to completely dissolve the relationship between commerce and money -- and it troubles me. am...




dji's mavic air drone may have improved 4k video

the mavic air would borrow a bit from the spark, but mostly in visual cues: it appears to be smaller (and stubbier), and it'll come in multiple colors with a sleeker, glossier shell.it's not certain when the air would ship or how much it would cost. given its feature blend, though, we'd anticipate a pri...




hulu and youtube are off to a solid start with live tv

the subscriber numbers aren't mind-blowing, but they do demonstrate solid subscriber bases. both come in lower than competitors sling and directtv now, which have 1 million and 2 million subscribers, respectively. however, these two have the advantage of being supported by traditional telecom companies, and both services also launched earlier.it remains to be see...




ragnarok’ available almost a month early

according to torrentfreak, a reddit user said in a now-deleted post that their legal purchase of the film on vudu landed them an itunes copy of it the next day. "i pre-ordered thor ragnarok on vudu yesterday and it links it to my itunes also. but curiously it showed up in my itunes library this morning (pre-orders shouldn't). and now i can watch the full movie in hd," they wrote. "i obviously downloaded it right away. i know its supposed to come out february 20th." others then responded th...




kim dotcom sues the new zealand government for $6.8 billion

dotcom has certainly lost quite a bit, as according to the bbc, megaupload would be worth around $10 billion if it were still operating today. dotcom owned 68 percent of the shares of the company, which was shut down in 2012 in a raid at the request of the fbi. he claims that his arrest, and the subseque...




uber security flaw compromised two-factor authentication

saini characterized uber's response as dismissive, although uber is telling a different story. the ridesharing company initially told him that the issue wasn't "particularly severe" and was expected, marking it as "informative" -- that is, notable but not pressing. when we reached out to uber, however, it said that it had fixed the flaw (saini had previously been informed about this) and that it appli...




intel tells customers to stop using its faulty spectre patch

"we recommend that oems, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior," shenoy wrote.last week, intel said it was working on a fix...




this is what the xbox watch could have looked like

according to the photos, the xbox watch was sports-focused, offering tabs for workouts, heart-rate monitoring and gps tracking. it had a black, square screen with rounded edges, and would ostensibly connect to a variety of wristbands, much like the apple watch does. this is something microsoft would have been working on around 2013, about one year after the pebble smartwatch raised more than $10 million on kickstarter.microsoft's experiments with the band and band 2 led the company to a clear conclusion: smartwatches aren't wor...




waymo starts testing its autonomous cars in atlanta

according to the verge, waymo started mapping atlanta's downtown last week for an up-to-date, accurate map of the area, an important dataset for self-driving cars. the test program has seen the waymo ...




nokia will disable the key feature of its priciest scale

like most smart scales, the fda initially considered the scale as a "wellness device," requiring little in the way of scrutiny. in the last two years, however, something must have changed for the company to suddenly row back on both selling the device, and deactivating existing units. users are told that they are unable to opt out of the software update, which is coming on january 24th. in addition, the device itself has been withdrawn from sale until such time as the hardware can be altered.this isn't the first time that nokia has driven a truck through its withings'-made products to the consternation of u...




microsoft unveils cheap laptops and more tools for education

"we really think these new devices are not giving some of the compromises you see with chromebooks in education," mike tholfsen, principal product manager for microsoft education, told engadget. "they really give the full power of windows, for things like inking, 3d, and minecraft."speaking of minecraft, microsoft is doubling down on its usefulness as a stem learning tool with its upcoming chemistry update. students will be able to do things like get experimentation experience (without potentially blowing up a classroom), as well as learn about a wide variety of topics, like building compounds and understanding stable isotopes. there aren't many details about the chemistry update yet, but microsoft says we can expect to see it in the spr...




spacex’s falcon heavy can’t launch during a government shutdown

while spacex is a private company, it relies on government support for tests and launches. loren grush at the vergereports that while spacex originally thought its operations would continue during the shutdown, the lack of support from the air force's 45th space wing means that the company cannot proceed with the static fire. what's more, spacex and the air force told the verge that all launch operations, not just the static fire, will be affected until the civilian employees of the 45th spac...




india wants to collect taxes from its cryptocurrency investors

meanwhile, the indian government has issued repeated warnings labeling digital currency investments "ponzi schemes," amidst a backdrop of police complaints from hundreds of investors of fraudulent transactions. the tax department's notice asks those dealing in cryptocurrency (such as ethereum and ripple) to pay tax on capital gains. it also includes enquiries about their total holdings and source of funds. like china before it, india is worried about its citizens trading on offshore exchanges.hitting a peak of almost $20,000 in december, bitcoin recently plummeted to below $10,000 for the first time since...




acoustic tractor beams could lead to levitating humans

the discovery could open the doors to real-life applications, including the contactless control of drug capsules or micro-surgical implements within the body, and touchless assembly on production lines. most exciting of all, it could lead to the levitation of larger objects like (you guessed it) humans.the bristol team managed to control the rate of rotation using rapidly fluctuating acoustic vortices, which the researchers describe as "tornadoes of sound, made of a twister-like structure with loud sound surrounding a silent core....




uber acquires david chang’s delivery-only ‘restaurant’

it's unclear what the timeline here might be, or what the end product might look like. ando may be absorbed into ubereats, but it's more likely that the company is looking to have more control over the food it delivers, from beginning to end. this may be a sign that ...




nike's playstation sneakers and amazon go

boing boing warns that playboy winning this case could 'end the web as we know it.'playboy sues boing boing over a web linkplayboy has filed a lawsuit against boing boing, accusing the offbeat news blog of copyright infringement for linking to an imgur gallery and a youtube video that showed every playmate centerfold. boing boing wasn't involved in the creation of the gallery and the video at all -- it simply reported the archive's existence. in its post announcing it has filed a motion to dismiss, the publication called the case "baseless" and "bizarre."paul george's new signature shoe lights up, vibrates and glows in the dark.nike's 'playstation' pg2s are like a dualshock for your feetnike has never been afraid to use different te...




filmstruck's alternative streaming service is coming to the uk

curzon is still something of a double agent, though. in a way, its own indie, art house and foreign film streaming service curzon home cinema is a filmstruck competitor. curzon actually operates two such services if you count the pared-down version you get as a free perk for being a member of curzon's cinema chain. i'm told all can coexist happily, though. where curzon home cinema acts as a way to get see the films currently showing in theatres from the comfort of your couch, filmstruck "is a much wider and extensive svod service." there's more to partnership, too, since curzon ...




3d printers could let you produce your own drugs

the process sounds fairly simple when you describe it, but it took the researchers nearly six years to get to this point. using the 3d printer, the team built various water-bottle sized vessels that can carry out four different chemical reactions in 12 steps, including filter and evaporation. these essentially become miniature reaction factories, allowing pharmacists or doctors to create specific drugs by adding solvents and reagents at specific times in the process.the chemicals themselves could kept in "self-contained cartridges, requiring limited user interaction to produce the desired products on demand," the paper notes (paywall). a big part of the scheme are the recipes that break down the fabrication into a step-by-step workflow that...




millidelta robot surgeon is the size of a one cent coin

its creators (from harvard's wyss institute for biologically inspired engineering and the john a. paulson school of engineering and applied sciences) claim it can perform a range of microsurgery and manufacturing tasks in compact spaces.unlike existing delta robots, which scientists have been shrinking down for workspace use for years, the new bot is a swift operator. "currently available delta robots are only able to operate at a few hertz," said hayley mcclintock, a harvard researcher who helpe...