Google Street Views ability to calculate car accident risks is digital tech writ large | John Naughton

A new study suggests that machine-learning software, used in conjunction with Street View, can provide more accurate insurance premiums Google Maps, saw the Street View icon and clicked on it and found myself virtually driving down the narrowest country lane you can imagine. Street View was a product of Googles conviction that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission, an assumption apparently confirmed by the fact that most jurisdictions seemed to accept the photographic coup as a fait accompli. There was pushback in a few European countries, notably Germany and Austria, with citizens demanding that their properties be blurred out; there was also a row in 2010 when it was revealed that Google had for a time …

Is India the frontline in big techs assault on democracy? | John Harris

Encrypted messaging polarises voters and prevents public scrutiny, says Guardian columnist John Harris In 10 days time, two political dramas will reach their denouement, thanks to the votes of a combined total of about 1.3 billion people. At the heart of both will be a mess of questions about democracy in the online age, and how or even if we can act to preserve it. Elections to the European parliament will begin on 23 May, and offer an illuminating test of the rightwing populism that has swept across the continent. In the UK, they will mark the decisive arrival of Nigel Farages Brexit party, whose serving notice of a politics brimming with bile and rage, masterminded by people with plenty …

Alphabet: Google parent company’s shares drop after latest earnings report

Report comes as company faces internal worker turmoil, and a recent $1.7bn fine from the EU Google shares slumped on Monday after the company failed to beat analyst predictions, following a year of internal turmoil, privacy concerns, and several international fines. The companys stock was down 7% in after-hours trading after it reported first quarter revenue of $36.34bn, lower than the $37.33bn revenue forecast by analysts. The quarter one earnings represent a 17% increase from the same time last year, in which it reported $31.15bn in revenue. In a call with investors on Monday, Googles CEO, Sundar Pichai, said the company would continue to invest more in algorithms on YouTube, following recent incidents that saw the platform offering hate speech, …

Nick Clegg rejects Facebook break-up calls backed by Kamala Harris

California Democrat favours action against social media giant but former deputy PM says new employer a great American success Facebook head of global affairs Nick Clegg has rejected calls for the social media giant to be broken up, an idea gaining currency among contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, with Kamala Harris seemingly its latest convert. Earlier this week, Facebook has led such calls on the campaign trail. Clegg, 52, was deputy prime minister to David Cameron between 2010 and 2015. He spoke to CNNs Reliable Sources on Sunday. Hughes, he said, had quite rightly highlighted complex issues affecting Facebook, such as data use, privacy and election interference. But, he said, chopping a great American success story into bits is …

My young son was ‘approached’ online. Does that make me a bad parent? | Zoe Williams

New UK legislation is badly needed to control the wild west of the digital world and unfortunately I know this all too well, writes Guardian columnist Zoe Williams No one in the world has done this before, Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said of the governments censorship, the scope of politicians to misuse it, these are things we understand very well and rather emotionally, from dystopian literature, from the warnings emitting from the darkest totalitarian points of the past. And while we may be able to see the outlandish results of a vast unobserved space, where people can say whatever they like to whomever they like parading past 15-year-old schoolgirls going to join Islamic …

Russias great firewall: is it meant to keep information in or out?

Vladimir Putin will soon sign the sovereign internet bill to allow greater monitoring of traffic Earlier this year, US officials briefed reporters on an extraordinary operation: they claimed to have launched an offensive cyber-attack against Russiapassing a bill codifying the countrys most ambitious attempt yet to wrangle control over Russias segment of the internet and its connection to the rest of the world. The block [the messenger app] Telegram, how are they going to make a sovereign internet? Nearly half of Russias internet traffic travels through an exchange point in Moscow called MSK-IX. In their book The Red Web, journalists blocked by the government in 2018, but the service had managed largely to overcome the ban by moving between IP …

Facebook to use AI to stop telling users to say hi to dead friends

Algorithmic features have sent suggestions to wish happy birthday to those whove died Facebook has promised to use artificial intelligence to stop suggesting users invite their dead friends to parties. The sites freshly emotionally intelligent AI is part of a rash of changes to how Facebook handles memorialised accounts pages whose owner has been reported deceased, but that are kept on the social network in their memory. Memorialisation of accounts allows for treasured images, videos and posts to be kept online, as well as providing a focal point for grieving friends and relatives to share memories. But the feature has caused its fair share of pain: since the account is kept on the social network and treated similarly to any …

Sri Lanka’s social media blackout reflects sense that online dangers outweigh benefits

Features that make Facebook so useful for spreading information have also made it potentially dangerous The Sri Lankan governments killed more than 200 people are concluded, the government said. Non-Facebook social media services dominant platforms in the country. For Facebook in particular, Sri Lankas decision represents a remarkable comedown from a time, less than three years ago, when Facebook was viewed as one of the worlds most important emergency response institutions, as safety check product and its suite of tools enabling the rapid dissemination of information and live video were at the time viewed as a potential boon to global disaster response. Survivors could use Facebook to mark themselves safe; governments could use Facebook to broadcast live updates; and NGOs …

Be urself: meet the teens creating a generation gap in music

Instead of radio or the music press, todays teens are discovering songs in the background of YouTube videos creating a new breed of superstars unknown to adults It is a disconcerting experience to look at your tweenage daughters Spotify playlists and realise that you have never heard of any of the artists. You may be aware of young stars who are hitting the charts, such as Billie Eilish, Lauv, but what about Khai Beabadoobee, Red, ohyo, Eli, Conan Gr These figures obviously would not give Ariana Grande sleepless nights, but they seem remarkable given that these artists have virtually no media profile, no radio play, most dont seem to have a record deal and they barely give interviews. A Google …

Amazon claims Woody Allen ‘sabotaged’ films with #MeToo comments

Tech giant says it was justified in terminating four-film deal with director who has since taken $68m legal action Amazon has responded to the $68m (52m) breach of contract legal action In legal documents filed in the sistrict of New York, Amazon cited which he denied by saying: Even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Times Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesnt make it any more true today than it was in the past. I never molested my daughter as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago. After numerous actors, including Greta Gerwig, Rebecca Hall, Timothe Chalamet and Colin Firth, Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated …

Squaring up: how Insta-fashion is changing the way we shop

Instagram has become the window display for a new generation of savvy shoppers and its changing the way we consume style, for good and bad. Leah Harper meets some of the pioneers at the forefront of Insta-fashion Weve all bought them at some time or another: the perfect pair of shoes. Stylish, comfortable the kind you wear with everything until they fall apart, and you have to start scouring the internet for a replacement. But recently you might have noticed that the way you find a replacement has changed. Not long after you begin your search, a pair of similar shoes appears, as a sponsored post, on your Instagram feed. Theyre there one day, and then the next. Youll likely …

Hundreds of millions of Facebook records exposed on public servers report

Material discovered on Amazon cloud servers in latest example of Facebook letting third parties extract user data More than 540m Facebook records were left exposed on public internet servers, cybersecurity researchers said on Wednesday, in just the latest security black eye for the company. Researchers for the firm UpGuard discovered two separate sets of Facebook user data on public Amazon cloud servers, the company detailed in a Bloomberg, which first reported the leak, contacted Facebook. The smaller dataset was taken offline during UpGuards investigation. The data exposure is not the result of a breach of Facebooks systems. Rather, it is another example, akin to the privacy-focused platform are hampered by its own past practices and what UpGuard researchers called the …

Mark Zuckerbergs Facebook mission statement hides his real aim | Emily Bell

Social media founders proclaim their idealism, like modern day messiahs. Yet all they want is global market domination It is hard to remember that there was a blissful time, not so long ago, when company chief executives were anonymous creatures who rarely communicated with the outside world and, when they did, it was through the unengaging medium of a corporate press release. As with many other perfectly good practices, such as working an eight-hour day and going outside for lunch, Silicon Valley has put an end to this. Company statements are often personal homilies and meditations on themselves, their businesses and the world they are imperceptibly improving. Every public statement must contain an epiphany; every earnings announcement, a TED talk. …

Elon Musk: entrepreneur, investor rapper?

In his latest bid to wrong-foot people, the Tesla CEO has released a novelty pop song about a dead gorilla called RIP Harambe Name: Elon Musk, the rapper. Age: Two days, according to SoundCloud. Appearance: Auto-Tuned and emphatically uncool. Let me guess this is just the latest weird pastime from Elon Musk, the entrepreneur. Exactly. And Musk certainly knows how to enjoy himself. Like the time he wondered aloud about taking his electric car company Tesla private, then got into trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission? I was thinking of the time he pretended to start a new tunnel company on a whim. Then actually did start it, with the name the Boring Company. Then promoted it with …

‘Shame!’ Amazon gets $23m from Virginia county amid fierce protests

Tech giant will build second HQ in Crystal City but protesters echo New Yorkers who forced company out Protesters repeatedly shouted shame as a northern Virginia county board unanimously approved a $23m incentives package for Amazon to build a new headquarters there. The Arlington county boards 5-0 vote on Saturday came after hours of heated public testimony, news outlets reported. Supporters said Amazons plan to build a massive facility in Crystal City will lead to tens of thousands of good jobs and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Opponents said the tech giant neither needs nor deserves public subsidies. They also said lower-income residents would be driven out by rising rents. In November, Amazon selected New …

Is it ever too late to reply to an email? | Oliver Burkeman

Social expectations about digital etiquette have never been more in flux. The solution? Avoid worrying about it altogether You know youve reached a crisis point in your email backlog when youre obliged as I was recently to confront the following conundrum of electronic etiquette: is it ruder to reply to an email after three months than not to reply at all? On one hand, obviously, given since 1969. Three months is, lets be clear, far too long to delay a reply. But I suspect were entering a phase in emails history when social expectations about such matters have never been more in flux. As the burden of digital communication keeps increasing, digital minimalism is entering the mainstream. (I recommend a …