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E.B.

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Many social media services have developed dark modes for using their websites at night. The glare of a bright screen at night usually puts a strain on a person’s eyes. Twitter and Gmail already offer Dark Mode settings and Facebook already has it for its Messenger app. According to software engineer Jane M. Wong, Facebook proper is already using an early version of Dark Mode, but it will take a while for this idea to be fully implemented.

Facebook frequently tests new features without making it obvious. However, the company doesn’t have set timelines for when new features are released. This new feature may negatively contribute to the problem of tech addiction. Daytime addiction to social media is already common among web users. Only time will tell if social media companies will ever begin to take the problem of tech addiction seriously.

According to MIT Technology Review, one of Google’s deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) programs called Lymph Node Assistant has already been better at diagnosing breast cancer than human doctors since October 2018. Google trained an algorithm to understand which breast cancer tumors have spread. 90 percent of breast cancer deaths occur because of the spreading of breast cancer tumors which is called metastasis. Now Google AI can detect and diagnosis tumors in real time through its “augmented reality microscope.” This device is a microscope with a camera and running AI software inside. The camera continuously takes photos of body tissue under the microscope. Allegedly the program then provides real time insight onto a screen about whether areas are benign or malignant. The details of this microscope have been published in a paper in Nature recently. This new breakthrough will help doctors treat patients in ways that are faster and more successful.
            The movie Finding Dory did not increase demand for blue tang fish, instead it created more awareness about the species. Warnings that this would happen are because of reports that the movie Finding Nemo inspired increased demand for clown fish. Results from University of Oxford research show that there’s no link between blockbuster movies and demand for wildlife. Instead, these blockbuster films sometimes inspire viewers to learn more about the animals they depict. In the past media sources have made false accusations of film influences on consumer behavior. These accusations were often made against very famous movies such as Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. This same research group at Oxford will be researching the impact of environmental BBC documentaries such as Blue Planet on plastics and Black Fish on attitudes towards cetacean (a type of aquatic mammal) captivity.
Many parents today are trying to get their children interested in and knowledgeable about STEM subjects. The economic benefits of STEM knowledge are significant. Games, books and other tools can be used to spark STEM knowledge and passion from an early age. One important STEM subject which is sometimes overlooked is data science. Data science is the practice of organizing and analyzing massive amounts of data. This practice is also very much about understanding the patterns which can be found in these data collections. There are certain simple methods for parents to teach their kids the basics of data science. One of these methods is to collect objects of different shapes, sizes and colors. Let’s say the parent uses 11 objects. Then the parent rearranges 5 of these objects in order to explain a pattern to the kid. Then the parent should ask their kids how they think the remaining objects will be used if the same pattern continues. The next step is to let the kid point out what the pattern is; this skill of pattern recognition from data is at the core of data science. Using certain objects in a random way is also an important part of the teaching process because data science is also about dealing with randomness in data. Small games like this can explain the basics of data science to kids at an early age. These types of intellectual tasks are good for the mental development of children.
American parents are increasingly terrified that their kids might get shot to death in school. The US has high levels of gun violence, especially mass shootings and school shootings. The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have increased an already growing interest in products that are allegedly bullet proof. One Houston based company called TuffyPacks sells bulletproof back-pack inserts. Sales for their products have increased every year since 2016. Parents with kids are the ones buying these types of products. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that these products actually work. Another company in Sanford, Florida called Guard Dog Security has been selling bullet protection backpacks since 2013. Matthew Mayers, a professor at Rutgers University who studies school violence prevention, says that these products do not work at all and are only marketing schemes designed to make money by exploiting fear. Apparently, this tactic is making good business sense regardless of the security results.
Licensing music for podcasts has so far been a difficult task to accomplish. In order to make this goal happen, the US collecting society SoundExchange will be collaborating with SourceAudio on creating a new service for podcast music. SourceAudio is already in the licensing business for the media, so they have the experience for making this new project happen. SoundExchange boss Michael Huppe thinks that the partnership will be good for both podcasters and music companies. Michael said that the podcast music industry was rapidly growing, and that this new collaboration would give musicians a new way to make money from their work by making it available on podcastmusic.com. SourceAudio CEO Geoffrey Grotz added that there’s currently no way for musicians to have rights for their music in the world of podcasts; he believes his company’s new collaboration with SoundExchange will be a start to solving this problem. This new podcasting service is set to launch in 2020. It will be interesting to see how this new service will change the music industry.
A Canadian fintech company called Monarch has just created the world’s first decentralized and scheduled crypto-currency payment system. Crypto-currency is a digital currency created and managed through cryptography, an advanced set of encryption techniques. Monarch isn’t the first company to create crypto-currency subscriptions; in fact, Coinbase and PumaPay were the first companies to make this service happen. This new service from Monarch will allow companies like Netflix and Hulu to receive crypto-currency for subscriptions. Monarch currently has over 270,000 users and has the support of Bitcoin founder Roger Ver and LinkedIn founder Eric Ly; the company also received $2 million to fund their blockchain services. Time will tell how quickly this new payment method changes how business and personal finance operate.
            On September 1st, New Zealand will allow companies to pay salaries through crypto-currency. However, the country will require that the crypto-currency being used have a fixed conversion rate with a normal currency; the crypto-currency must also be easily converted into regular money. Bitcoin is the world’s largest crypto-currency. Next month companies in New Zealand will be able to pay workers through bitcoin. It will also be legal for bonuses to be paid in crypto-currency. Crypto-currency salaries will be taxed just like normal salaries. The new ruling does not apply to self-employed workers who won’t be able to get paid through crypto-currency. This change signifies a new attitude of government towards crypto-currency. It means that at least one government in the world sees value in using crypto-currencies for regular payments. Some countries such as Russia, China and others have actually banned or restricted the use of crypto-currencies. Much uncertainty remains about how successful crypto-currency will be in the future; many people have concerns about the environmental impact of crypto-currency because of the large amounts of energy needed to make the system work.

            Pop star singer Katy Perry has been found guilty of copying a song by a Christian rapper called Flame. Perry’s hit song Dark Horse was accused of being an imitation of Flame’s song Joyful Noise. The court ordered that Perry pay over $550,000 and that Capital Records, Perry’s record label, pay a larger sum of $1.2 million. Perry’s song Dark Horse spent four weeks at the # 1 position on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart early in 2014. Dark Horse was written by six song writers in total, all of whom were sued; Perry herself only wrote the lyrics to the song. The lyrics of the two songs are about very different topics. Joyful Noise is about the singer rejecting his older hedonistic attitudes in favor of spirituality and religion; in contrast, Dark Horse is about a hedonistic and addictive romantic relationship.

Despite the gigantic philosophical differences between the two songs, the jurors decided that two riffs from Joyful Noise were stolen and put into Dark Horse. Perry’s attorney claimed that there is no evidence that the writers of Dark Horse had access to the song Joyful Noise. Katy Perry is making an appeal to a higher court in order to overturn what she believes is an unjust decision. Musicians have been influencing each other for as long as music has existed; and there’s nothing wrong with allowing other artists to influence your art as long as you are also making something original happen in your work. In recent years, lawsuits have been increasingly common about songs allegedly being too similar to other songs. Now the question is, how much similarity is acceptable from a legal perspective?

            A new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant called Tiki was recently invented by a team at UC Berkeley. The invention was based on the goal of creating a virtual assistant that is capable of video streaming things from text or voice questions in order to answers those questions. Some of the questions might be about objects in an image or about the weather. In the future, this new technology might be used for household surveillance. Tiki is very easy and fast to implement. Visual questions and answers (VQA) is a new field of research which uses both computer vision and natural language processing in order to answer questions. This type of service is expected to be increasingly common across digital devices very soon.