Friday roundup: A week in tech, 8 October | News

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The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech, 8 October

Monday saw the mighty Facebook’s entire portfolio collapse into digital oblivion, leaving millions staring at the appalling prospect of realising that their entire lives are centred around a crummy, shallow, and deeply pointless interaction with infinite gibberish – a drug from which they need never come down, unless someone knackers up a software update.

I went to bed enormously pleased. Sadly, by Tuesday morning, they’d fixed it all.

Facebook apologised to its legions of data slaves, many of whom probably experienced the worst night of their lives.

And while we’re on the subject of apologies, something the blundering firm probably won’t be saying sorry about is the tranche of wickedness revealed by whistleblower Frances Haugen, who gushed all over American television last weekend before appearing in front of the US Senate to really hammer her ex-employer.  

Supergrass Haugen revealed that Facebook’s many tech pies harm children's mental wellbeing and help to divide society – which anybody paying attention has known for at least, oh, I don’t know, at least the last eight years.

Big boss Mark Zuckerberg isn’t having any of it, naturally, claiming, somewhat ludicrously, that Haugen’s revelations are at odds with the company’s goals!

In a staff letter, he whinnied: "We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives."

It was Haugen, indeed, who shared the internal Facebook documents with the Wall Street Journal last month, that showed the firm’s own research found Instagram could damage girls’ mental health.

She told the Senate: "The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.”

The plot thickens – or, rather, continues in the same dismal trajectory.

Meanwhile, Twitter had a great laugh during the Facebook blackout by tweeting “Welcome to everybody in the world”, or words to that effect. Thank goodness they can’t be accused of being a conduit for dividing society, breeding hatred, or putting profit before people.

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Roundup roundup

A very optimistic man hopes to lure young people away from TikTok and to a maths app he’s made. Luis von Ahn, boss of language-learning outfit Duolingo, reckons the main rivals to his educational efforts are the likes of TikTok and Instagram, in that they’re all desperate to tie people to screens.

Said he: “To build physical schools around the world would cost billions, with smartphones we can reach two-thirds of the human population.

"But the problem with smartphones is they are a double-edged sword - they also come with interruptive things, like TikTok.”

Yes, they certainly do. Here’s the tale.

 

Big chip manufacturer Intel has declared it no longer wants to build a big chip factory in the UK. Fair enough, but why?

Turns out, the firm is full of remoaners! Boss Pat Gelsinger has blamed Brexit, and is now looking to build new plants in EU countries.

A gaggle of Tory backbenchers said: “This is EXACTLY what we expected, planned, and wanted to happen.” They didn’t really – or maybe they did, I dunno.

There’s a global shortage of CPUs, so Intel is keen to build as many as it can to make lots of money.

Read more here, if you wish.

 

Sky looks like it might be getting ready to phase out its satellite dishes, as it’s releasing its own television set that streams exclusively from the internet.

Sky Glass justifies its existence by making obsolete the likes of multiple boxes, lots of cables, and so on.

Also, it’ll apparently detect your presence when you happen to walk by it and get ready for action – which sounds hateful to me but Sky are obviously confident it's the sort of thing people like.

Anyway, here’s the story.