The Obtain April 19, 2022: Neo-colonial AI, and growing old clocks

Read Time:6 Minute, 40 Second

That is right now’s version of The Obtain, our weekday publication that gives a day by day dose of what’s happening on the planet of know-how.

South Africa’s non-public surveillance machine is fueling a digital apartheid

Johannesburg, the sprawling megacity as soon as dwelling to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, is now birthing a uniquely South African surveillance mannequin. Within the final 5 years, town has turn out to be host to a centralized, coordinated, totally privatized mass surveillance operation. Vumacam, the corporate constructing the nationwide CCTV community, already has over 6,600 cameras and counting, greater than 5,000 of that are concentrated in Johannesburg. The video footage it takes feeds into safety rooms across the nation, which then use all method of AI instruments like license plate recognition to trace inhabitants motion and hint people. These instruments have been enthusiastically adopted by the native safety trade, grappling with the pressures of a high-crime surroundings.

Civil rights activists fear the brand new surveillance is fueling a digital apartheid and unraveling individuals’s democratic liberties, however a rising refrain of specialists say the stakes are even greater. They argue that the influence of synthetic intelligence is repeating the patterns of colonial historical past, and right here in South Africa, the place colonial legacies abound, the unfettered deployment of AI surveillance presents only one case examine in how a know-how that promised to convey societies into the longer term is threatening to ship them again to the previous. Learn the total story.

—Karen Hao and Heidi Swart

That is the primary a part of our collection on AI colonialism, digging into how the know-how is impoverishing the communities and nations that don’t have a say in its growth. Components 2—4 are coming later within the week, and you’ll learn Karen Hao’s introductory essay right here.

How we are able to repair AI’s inequality drawback

The economic system is being remodeled by digital applied sciences, particularly in synthetic intelligence, which are quickly altering how we dwell and work. However this transformation poses a troubling puzzle: these applied sciences haven’t accomplished a lot to develop the economic system, and earnings inequality is worsening. Productiveness development, which economists contemplate important to bettering dwelling requirements, has largely been sluggish since not less than the mid-2000s in lots of nations.

Why are these applied sciences failing to supply extra financial development? Why aren’t they fueling extra widespread prosperity? To search out a solution, some main economists and coverage specialists are wanting extra carefully at how we invent and deploy AI and automation—and figuring out methods we are able to make higher selections. Learn the total story.

—David Rotman

Getting old clocks intention to foretell how lengthy you’ll dwell

Age is way more than the variety of birthdays you’ve clocked. Stress, sleep, and weight-reduction plan all affect how our organs address the damage and tear of on a regular basis life, which may make you age sooner or slower than individuals born on the identical day. Meaning your organic age might be fairly totally different out of your chronological age—the variety of years you’ve been alive.

Your organic age is probably going a greater reflection of your bodily well being and even your individual mortality than your chronological age. However calculating it isn’t practically as easy, which is why scientists have spent the final decade growing instruments referred to as growing old clocks that assess markers in your physique to disclose your organic age and predict what number of wholesome years you have got left. Proponents of growing old clocks are already making an attempt to make use of them to point out that anti-aging interventions could make people biologically youthful. But it surely’s unclear that they’re correct or dependable sufficient to make such claims. Learn the total story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Getting old clocks emerged because the clear winner for Tech Evaluate’s eleventh breakthrough know-how of 2022. Greater than 10,000 readers voted—for those who had been considered one of them, thanks!

Quote of the day

“It’s like packing bikinis for Siberia, utilizing chopsticks to eat steak, educating an eagle tips on how to swim.”

—An nameless Shanghai resident particulars the frustrations of dwelling within the metropolis’s excessive zero-covid lockdown whereas instances proceed to soar for The Guardian.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the web to search out you right now’s most enjoyable/essential/scary/fascinating tales about know-how.

1 Russian troopers are attacking a 300-mile entrance in Ukraine
The intention is to take full management of the Donbas area within the nation’s east. (NYT $)
+ Putin’s need to beat Donbas is symbolic. (BBC) + The State Division has condemned Russian airstrikes as a “marketing campaign of terror.” (WP $)
+ The siege of Mariupol seems to be drawing to an finish. (FT $)

2 Crypto hackers are stealing ever-larger sums
And it’s primarily right down to weak, poorly-managed open-source code.(TR)
+ Bitcoin mining has devastated town of Plattsburgh in New York. (TR)
+ The case for holding money. (TR)

3 Even democracies use controversial spyware and adware
NSO has paved the best way for this type of surveillance to turn out to be terrifyingly commonplace. (New Yorker $)
+ The UK prime minister’s workplace has allegedly been hit with an NSO spyware and adware assault. (The Guardian)
+ The hacker-for-hire trade is now too huge to fail. (TR)

4 Fb investing in Nigerian web infrastructure comes at a value
Yep, you guessed it. Person knowledge. (The Guardian)
+ It’s been accused of failing to average misinformation in Africa. (The Guardian)

5 Intel claims its AI can learn college students’ feelings
Plot spoiler: it will possibly’t. Not precisely, anyway.  (Protocol
+ Emotion AI researchers say overblown claims give their work a nasty title. (TR)

6 How critical is Elon Musk about proudly owning Twitter, actually?
And may we be frightened? (The Atlantic $)
+ Twitter’s board is making an attempt onerous to keep away from a state of affairs the place he buys 100% of the corporate.  (Bloomberg $)
+ Twitter’s edit button may present how the tweet initially appeared. (TechCrunch)

7 Meals within the metaverse isn’t superb
As a result of—shocker—you may’t really eat it! (Insider)
+ Right here’s tips on how to let a metaverse die with dignity. (Polygon)

8 A former Greenback Normal employee is utilizing TikTok to push for union illustration
As an alternative of listening to her issues, the corporate fired her. However she’s not going quietly. (NYT $)
+ Amazon’s warehouse in New Jersey is the most recent to get a union vote. (WP $)

9 On-line white supremacist communities are preying on youngsters
Even the anti-racist materials to fight it has been weaponized. (The Atlantic $)

10 Right here’s how try to be texting
Sorry, grammar sticklers! (WP $)

We will nonetheless have good issues

A spot for consolation, enjoyable and distraction in these bizarre instances. (Acquired any concepts? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ This video of Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) talking English on the Star Wars set to assist Harrison Ford react to his traces is hilarious.
+ I’ve a grudging respect for this unpleasant-looking Is It Cake?
+ One more Wordle clone, Redactle forces you to guess the redacted phrases from Wikipedia articles.
+ The Horrible Maps Twitter account will not be terribly helpful, however it’s humorous.
+ This profile of mob chef David Ruggerio is fully mind-boggling.
+ Learn Molly and David’s candy story of assembly within the pandemic whereas he was shielding.
+ Comic Munya’s evaluation of what it’s like within the UK the second the solar comes out is spot on.

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