Friday roundup: A week in tech | News

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The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech

Last week’s world’s richest person, Elon Musk (since demoted to second place due to capitalism’s exuberant vagaries) has run into some more bother concerning his internet-by-satellite scheme.

Having already squabbled with Amazon over their similar vision for global web dominance, the Tesla top dog has now been snagged by a small French village.

The residents of Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron in Normandy are concerned that the installation of an aerial that’ll pull Musk’s space internet down to the earth for local distribution may have implications for their health.

Farmer Francois Dufour thinks the scheme is poised with peril: “The risks from electromagnetic waves is something we’ve already seen with high-voltage power lines, which have disturbed lots of farmers in the area.”

He amusingly added: “Why do we need to go look for internet on the moon?”

Fellow alarmed resident Anne-Marie Falguieres is keen to stress it’s not personal: “We’re not attacking Elon Musk. We’re not technophobes but these antennas are completely new, at least in France, and we want to know if they’re dangerous or not.” Which sounds completely reasonable.

Last year, the village managed to block the Starlink antenna’s development on a technicality, but SpaceX contractor Sipartech is in a bullish mood saying the villagers will be “swept asunder”. No, they didn’t say that. They actually said the block could be easily overturned.

In a similar vein to Heineken, Starlink claims to bring the web to parts of the world that other internet service providers cannot reach, and already comprises 1,000 satellites in low-earth orbit.

Sounds like a lot of satellites? That’s nothing: Musk plans to have 40,000 up there within the next few years, which sounds like too many but until people living in the Himalayas can get into heated, pointless arguments on Twitter, will the world ever be truly free?

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Some mischief makers are doing their best to wind up a manufacturer of robotic dogs. Interested? Good. The following text explains more.

A US collective known as MSCHF devised a stunt to highlight their belief that a robo-dog called ‘Spot’ (aah) will more than likely end up being used as an agent of death for the military.

To make their point, they attached a paint gun to Spot (aah) and allowed internet onlookers to randomly guide the metal canine around a mock gallery, wilfully paint-gunning away.

But the electric pooch’s builders, Boston Dynamics, are outraged by the skit, savagely calling it a “spectacle”.

They’ve even gone as far as to threaten that Spot’s warranty may become void in the wake of the provocative pranksters’ parodic pummelling. Chilling stuff.

Apparently, Boston Dynamics started off in the robo-dog trade with military funding but are now eager to portray a new image. Recent vids show the cyber hound cleaning and gardening!

And if you’d like to pick one of the things up, perhaps to assist you with the ironing, as well as shelling out £55,000 you’ll also have to adhere to the attached contract which forbids owners from using Spot to “harm or intimidate people or animals”. So, no using it to settle any scores, then.

According to MSCHF’s FAQs, they spoke to Boston Dynamics “and they hated this idea. They said they would give us another two Spots for free if we took the gun off. That just made us want to do this even more."

Here’s MSCHF’s website, which shows the suspect dog rather pathetically falling over and not looking at all dangerous.

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Some late good news about Facebook. Sorry, some late bad news about Facebook.

Though the social media giant managed to block the accounts of the coup-happy military of Myanmar this week – a mere many years since it started its Rohingya  genocide (the network has its standards!) – it’s now been revealed that large chunks of the Amazon rainforest are being sold illegally via its Marketplace.

According to the BBC, the “protected areas” for sale include national forests and zones specially put aside for Brazil’s indigenous people, which is an almost obligatory touch in a Facebook story.

The firm, of course, doesn’t have much of a problem with any of this, mustering that it’s “ready to work with local authorities” and that its “commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations”.

Indigenous community leader Bitaté Uru Eu Wau Wau, a man who clearly knows little of Facebook’s form and ‘ethics’, has tried appealing to the company’s better nature and do more – like, maybe stop it. He might be waiting at while.

What’s next on Facebook’s rap sheet of horror? Literally anything seems possible.

You can read about the whole tragic, horrible mess here written by a proper journalist.