Facebook’s oversight board to decide whether Trump keeps account #SootinClaimon.Com

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Facebook’s oversight board to decide whether Trump keeps account

Jan 22. 2021

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Sarah Frier

Facebook asked its content Oversight Board to review the social network’s controversial decision to suspend former President Donald Trump’s account indefinitely, ceding the verdict on whether to keep or overturn the ban to an outside panel of experts.

“The board’s decision on this case will be binding on Facebook and will determine whether Mr. Trump’s suspension is overturned,” the Oversight Board said in a statement. “Facebook has committed not to restore access to its platforms unless directed by a decision of the Oversight Board.”

The Oversight Board, made up of high-profile academics, lawyers and others from around the world, was established by Facebook last year to provide a check on the tech giant’s power, reviewing cases that could change the company’s broader approach to policy. The panel has also been asked to make recommendations on Facebook’s policies with regards to world leaders, who have been given more room to break rules on the platform because of public interest in what they say. Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram were suspended on Jan. 6 following the violent riots at the U.S. Capitol. Trump has since been permanently banned from Twitter Inc.’s social media service.

Trump will have an opportunity to write a letter contesting his indefinite ban. The board will convene a panel of five of its members, who won’t be identified, to review the decision and see if it aligns with Facebook’s community standards and overall principles of human rights and free expression, according to the statement. The decision, which needs to be approved by the entire board, will take as long as 90 days, and will be made public.

Whatever the board’s verdict, it’s likely to prompt a vigorous debate, and will also set precedent for the group’s authority over Facebook, according to Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St. John’s University School of Law, who has been following the board closely. “On the one hand, it divests a huge amount of power from FB to give the board authority over this,” Klonick said in a tweet. “On the other hand, maybe the Board is too nascent to take on such an enormous question.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive officer, has voting control of the company, and he has called the Oversight Board a check on his power.

‘Thailand next’ after China clinches 5G deal with Indonesia #SootinClaimon.Com

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‘Thailand next’ after China clinches 5G deal with Indonesia

Jan 21. 2021

By The Nation

China announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indonesia on internet-security capacity building and tech cooperation.

State-run Chinese media hailed the deal as the “latest strategic counterattack Beijing has launched to shatter Washington’s anti-China clean network programme and break the US-led blockade”. 

They added the agreement with Southeast Asia’s largest economy would likely attract more of its neighbours to follow, paving way for Chinese firms including Huawei – which is facing difficulties penetrating the European market – to tap into a rising Asian market.

Beijing said the MoU was signed during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Indonesia last week.

Countries including Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, where Chinese companies have a strong presence in infrastructure construction, would likely follow Indonesia’s lead, wrote the Global Times, quoting Xu Liping, director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.  

But countries including Vietnam and Singapore, which hold a wait-and-see attitude on Chinese investment, could be “vague” on signing such deal, according to Xu. 

The rapidly growing Southeast Asia market – which has a population over 600 million and is still in the early stage of internet deployment – could also help Huawei cushion setbacks in Europe, wrote the Global Times, quoting analysts.

EU chooses Chiang Mai project to showcase hydrogen clean energy #SootinClaimon.Com

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EU chooses Chiang Mai project to showcase hydrogen clean energy

Jan 20. 2021

By The Nation

The European Commission has chosen Phi Suea House in Chiang Mai for its Hydrogen Valley Mission Innovation platform, which highlights 32 large-scale hydrogen flagship projects around the world. The platform will promote these advanced projects as “Hydrogen Valleys”, spurring collaboration between hydrogen project developers and awareness for policymakers.

Hailed as among the “most advanced H2 projects in the world”, Phi Suea House is developed by one of Europe’s fastest-growing green hydrogen companies – Enapter.

In 2015, the multi-house Phi Suea residence became the world’s first self-sustaining development fully powered by a clean-energy hydrogen system.

Phi Suea's energy room

Phi Suea’s energy room

The Hydrogen Valley Mission Innovation initiative started at the COP21 climate conference in Paris in 2015, to reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation. Tuesday’s platform launch kicks off one of eight Innovation Challenges, led by the renewable and clean hydrogen co-leaders, Australia, Germany and the EU.

“Realising the huge potential of green hydrogen in the clean energy transition requires accelerated efforts across all sectors of society. The many flagship projects featured on the Hydrogen Valley Mission Innovation platform can help build bridges between cutting-edge technologies and deployment of green hydrogen systems at scale,” said Patrick Child, chair of the Mission Innovation steering committee.

The Phi Suea House, the only Hydrogen Valley featured from Southeast Asia, is a multi-building development powered solely by solar power, a hybrid hydrogen-battery storage system and hydrogen fuel cells. The project was developed by Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, the German co-founder of electrolyser producer Enapter, to showcase combined solar and hydrogen tech feasibility – and uses Enapter’s own electrolyser systems to create green hydrogen from water and electricity.

Sebastian-Justus Schmidt

Sebastian-Justus Schmidt

Enapter is the world’s only manufacturer of Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) electrolysers, and its highly efficient, modular hydrogen generators are used in more than 30 countries. It has chosen Saerbeck, Germany for its first mass-production facility, with construction planned to begin early this year and finish in 2022, with annual production capacity of more than 100,000 electrolyser modules.

“Phi Suea House was an excellent testing ground for developing such a world-first hydrogen system, one which gave Enapter an early chance to prove the success of our AEM electrolysers. That’s why we’re excited to see it selected for the Mission Innovation platform, joining others in inspiring faster green hydrogen rollout and with it, the cost reduction needed to replace fossil fuels globally,” said Schmidt.

Tech giants are teaming up to build digital vaccine records #SootinClaimon.Com

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Tech giants are teaming up to build digital vaccine records

Jan 20. 2021

By The Washington Post · Cat Zakrzewski

Health agencies have relied on paper vaccination certificates to fight epidemics for more than a century.

But Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle are now teaming up with the health care nonprofit the Mayo Clinic and other major health care companies to develop technology that would bring such certifications to people’s phones. The companies envision that such “vaccine passports” could allow business, schools, concert venues and airlines to screen whether people have proof of vaccination.

The companies – which otherwise fiercely compete – together unveiled the Vaccination Credential Initiative.

The group’s goal is to help develop a secure copy of immunization records, which could be stored in the digital wallet feature on smartphones. The group is also plans to provide papers printed with QR codes that would allow people who don’t have smartphones to still access a secure record and gain entry to places that might require such a certificate.

“We wanted to build something that will empower consumers to take charge and have control and be able to manage their vaccination information in the way that they feel most comfortable, but will give them the freedom to start to get back to their life,” said Joan Harvey, president of care solutions at Evernorth, Cigna’s health services business and a partner in the coalition.

The announcement signals the role that Silicon Valley could play in the next phase of the pandemic – for better or worse.

A digital and secure format could ensure that people can keep track of their credentials in one place, and it could prevent people from creating fraudulent copies of the paper vaccination cards that health agencies distribute.

But health experts and privacy advocates questioned the timing of the initiative – especially as technical and other problems are inhibiting many vulnerable Americans from getting vaccines in the first place.

Bioethicists are concerned about developing vaccination certification tools before immunizations are more widely available.

Schools and some workplaces have long required proof of vaccination among students and some employees. But Nita Farahany, a professor and director of the Initiative for Science & Society at Duke University, warned against businesses and others requiring proof of vaccination too soon.

“I’m just opposed to it right now, when there is a significant limitation on the number of people who can get access to covid vaccines,” Farahany said. She said it could make sense to explore such systems later this year, when the vaccine is expected to be more widely available and there will be more data to support its efficacy.

Farahany has warned that such requirements could result in a “two-tiered society,” where vaccinated people have access to jobs and public places and others don’t. She also worries that putting such requirements in place before more data is available about the vaccine could give people a false sense of security.

The partners in the Vaccination Credential Initiative say it will be up to business and schools to determine how they would use such credentials.

Some businesses are already thinking about it. Already airlines have introduced a health passport app called CommonPass. The app initially checked the status of travelers’ coronavirus screening tests, and new vaccination passport apps could work similarly.

Albert Fox Cahn, the fonder and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, questioned why tech companies are focused on building vaccine passports and not the technical problems that are currently hampering the rollout of the vaccine. He said the industry should wait for direction from public health officials before jumping to develop solutions.

“It’s completely unnecessary,” Fox Cahn said. “It’s more of the same failed technosolutionism that we’ve seen throughout this pandemic.”

It’s not the first time that tech companies have collaborated during the pandemic. Apple and Google teamed up to build systems to notify people if they had been exposed to the virus, but those tools have not been widely adopted in the United States.

Study showing home-learning cuts maths ability by 50% rings alarm bells in Thailand #SootinClaimon.Com

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Study showing home-learning cuts maths ability by 50% rings alarm bells in Thailand

Jan 19. 2021

By The Nation

The government’s Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has presented research showing students lose 50 per cent of their maths knowledge and 30 per cent of their reading literacy after prolonged home-learning away from school. Thousands of Thai students are learning from home after all schools in 28 provinces under maximum Covid-19 controls were closed earlier this month. As a result, learning conditions have deteriorated, said EEF education economist Pumsaran Tongliemnak on Monday.

He cited a study by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) which found that spending a long time at home cut students’ maths knowledge by half and their reading literacy by almost a third. Learning via screens affects mental health as well as social and emotional development, Pumsaran commented.

The NWEA study’s results are consistent with research from Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology (MIT) which shows learning through educational technology alone does not compensate for non-school effects such as declining knowledge, lack of social experience, poor access to proper nutrition and also age-appropriate study.

Pumsaran said that although Thailand has yet to study the affect of Covid-19 on education, there was enough available evidence to predict inequality impacts on Thai education in two key areas.

These were students falling out of the education system, and a decline in learning and health development among vulnerable groups – especially disadvantaged children, those in remote areas, children with disabilities, and those who need special education.

Pumsaran predicted that prolonged home-schooling would widen the education inequality gap between rural and city children by two school years. In the long-term, it may affect economic inequality by causing the cycle of poverty across generations to continue, he added.

Kraiyos Patrawart, deputy managing director at EEF, said Thailand’s educational inequality in the three years before Covid-19 had improved among the poorest households in terms of class absence rate.

However, the fresh Covid-19 outbreak had meant that 143,507 extremely poor children in the 28 “maximum control” provinces could have no school for two semesters or 40 per cent of the academic year.

“The biggest concern is children’s learning development and growth. We should make the most of the remaining three months [of the academic year] if schools can open as normal, with teachers checking students’ health and learning, running after-school programmes, and monitoring the gap of classes for children in remote areas,” said Kraiyos.

Arab Israeli entrepreneurs aim to join tech boom with Emirati backing #SootinClaimon.Com

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Arab Israeli entrepreneurs aim to join tech boom with Emirati backing

Jan 18. 2021

By The Washington Post · Shira Rubin · BUSINESS, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, MIDDLE-EAST 

TEL AVIV – Amir Ounallah is an Arab entrepreneur from northern Israel looking to integrate artificial intelligence-based robotics into the e-commerce site he runs at an organic farm outside of Nazareth. But he needs an investor. 

Now, after the agreement last summer between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations, Ounallah is angling for some of the big Emirati money that is already starting to flow into Israel.

For some of the 2 million Arab citizens of Israel, mainly Palestinians who remained inside Israel’s borders after its 1948 war of independence, the newfound access to the UAE is a chance to form economic and cultural ties that had long been officially off limits. 

The prospect of connecting with the UAE and other wealthy Arab states is especially intriguing for the Arab Israeli tech community. Over the past two decades, Arab Israelis have watched from the sidelines as their Jewish neighbors translated military experience into multibillion-dollar start-ups, especially in areas like cybersecurity, and Israel became home to the highest per capita concentration of start-ups in the world, according to Startup Genome, a San Francisco-based research group. Arab Israelis hope Emirati finance can get them in the game. 

The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has blasted the agreement between Israel and the UAE for undermining Palestinian efforts to end Israel’s occupation and establish an independent state. But some Arab citizens inside Israel itself hold a more nuanced view.

Ounallah said he wants the “injustices” suffered by Palestinians to be addressed and believes that business ties might help along the way. “I don’t think anybody, on either side, has the magic answer,” he said. “But building community around entrepreneurship – that makes me proud as a Palestinian.”

In the months after the Israeli-UAE deal, many Arab Israelis joined thousands of their Jewish counterparts who flocked to the UAE’s largest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, seeking to cash in on the multibillion-dollar Emirati market. New government-approved trade deals and direct flights between Tel Aviv and the UAE eliminated significant logistical hassle for business leaders like Ounallah, who had used a second passport, circuitous flight paths, and third-party affiliates when trying to collaborate with Emirati partners on a previous joint venture. 

Ounallah is now planning to apply to the “Tawasul” venture capital fund, backed by Emirati investors to finance early-stage Arab Israeli start-ups. 

He said he is looking to enhance the e-commerce site based at his Bustana organic farm, where he grows crops like almonds and green leafy vegetables, to increase communication between farmers and customers, eliminate food waste and minimize backbreaking manual work. Ounallah said he would eventually like to export his organic farming system to the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries that are now largely dependent on food imports. 

Mahmoud Kayal, an Arab Israeli physician and tech investor, is working with Emirati financiers to launch the $30-million “Tawasul” fund, or “Connection” fund in Arabic. “This is a pure business opportunity,” he said.

Along with a booming cadre of Jewish entrepreneurs, Kayal sees a chance to join Israeli tech know-how with Emirati investors. Looking beyond business, he hopes the venture will bring Palestinians closer to neighbors from whom they have been largely isolated for decades. 

“It’s also a social, patriotic opportunity to reconnect with the Arab world. 48-ers have this feeling that they are the forgotten son, but it’s important to add to their mind-set that they belong to a very big nation that can support them,” said Kayal, using a nickname for Arab Israelis.

Thani Al-Shirawi, an Emirati businessman who is considering investing in Israeli water technology companies, said that he is looking to soon add Arab Israeli businesses to his investment portfolio. He says that addition would be a selling point for socially conscious Emirati and Arab customers.

He brushed aside the concerns over the normalization deal coming from Palestinians, inside both Israel and the occupied territories, saying he was “very optimistic, because it cannot get worse for them. Anything will be better than what they have now.” 

For more than 70 years, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a precondition for normalization between most Arab countries and Israel. But in recent months, there have been a flurry of deals formalizing Israel’s ties first with the UAE and then Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. 

While many Arab Israelis have been disappointed that the agreements bypassed Palestinian national aspirations, there is some optimism that the standing of Israel’s Arab citizens could benefit. Arabs represent about 20 percent of Israel’s population, and over the past decade, efforts to promote the civil rights of this minority have emerged as its top priority.

When an Emirati investor last month bought half of Beitar Jerusalem, the country’s infamously anti-Arab soccer club, its Jewish owner said the move paved the way to “new days of coexistence, achievement and brotherhood.”

Emirati investments are now coveted in a growing number of Arab Israeli tech hubs in cities like Nazareth, Haifa and Kfar Kassem. The founders and employees of about 300 Arab Israeli start-ups include Israeli citizens who have studied at Haifa’s vaunted Technion Institute – Israel’s version of MIT where Arabs make up more than 20 percent of the students – and who have worked at the Israeli offices of companies like Google, Apple and Intel.

This start-up scene contrasts with those in other Arab cities like Cairo, and Amman, Jordan, or among the few dozen start-ups in Ramallah in the West Bank, which tend to be ventures that primarily provide Arab translation for companies like Uber, Amazon and Booking.com. 

Ehab Jabareen, an Arab Israeli businessman who moonlighted as a brand consultant for Israelis quietly seeking to break into the Dubai market before the normalization agreement, said that Palestinians inside Israel are warming up to the UAE in ways reminiscent of 1979, following the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Immediately after that deal was signed, Arab Israelis vowed to boycott Egypt out of solidarity with the Palestinian cause but within a few months began to open textile, cotton and olive oil factories that benefited from Egypt’s cheap labor supply.

“Palestinians in Israel see themselves as part of the Arab identity, and we are thirsty for these kinds of relationships,” said Jabareen. “There may have been shock in the beginning, but we’ve moved on.”

Dating apps are using Capitol images to ban rioters’ accounts #SootinClaimon.Com

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Dating apps are using Capitol images to ban rioters’ accounts

Jan 17. 2021

By The Washington Post · Drew Harwell, Lisa Bonos, Craig Timberg

WASHINGTON – Tinder, Bumble and other dating apps are using images captured from inside the Capitol siege and other evidence to identify and ban rioters’ accounts, causing immediate consequences for those who participated as police move toward making hundreds of arrests.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/ed2abf27-38f2-4f79-919e-e65682e37661?ptvads=block&playthrough=false

Women and men have in some cases also turned the dating apps into hunting grounds, striking up conversations with rioters, gathering potentially incriminating photos or confessions, then relaying them to the FBI. Using the dating apps to pursue members of the mob has become a viral pursuit, with tips shared on Twitter and some women changing their location on the dating apps to Washington, D.C. in hopes of snaring a potential suspect.

The moves cast a spotlight on how some unlikely sources have helped expand a digital dragnet for participants in a siege with deeply online roots, fueled by viral conspiracy theories, organized on social media and live-streamed in real-time.

They also show how people are attempting to use the same tools to fight back, including by contributing to a wide-scale manhunt for dating-app users who played a part in the violent attack.

Amanda Spataro, a 25-year-old logistics coordinator in Tampa, called it her “civic duty” to swipe through dating apps for men who’d posted incriminating pictures of themselves. On Bumble, she found one man with a picture that seemed likely to have come from the insurrection; his response to a prompt about his “perfect first date” was: “Storming the Capitol.”

“Most people, you think if you’re going to commit a crime, you’re not going to brag about it,” Spataro said in an interview.

After swiping right in hopes she could get more information out of him, she said he responded that he did visit the Capitol and sent more pictures as proof. She later contacted the FBI tip line.

Some onlookers have celebrated the viral hunt as a creative form of digital comeuppance. But some privacy advocates said the episode reveals a worrying truth about pervasive public surveillance and the opaque connections between private companies and law enforcement. Some also worry about people being misidentified by amateur investigators and other risks that can arise when vigilantes try to take crime-fighting into their own hands.

“These people deserve the right to seek a partner in one of the few ways we have to socialize during the pandemic, and seek love,” said Liz O’Sullivan, technology director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a New York-based nonprofit group fighting discriminatory surveillance.

“It’s one more example of how these tech companies can impact our lives without our feedback,” she added. “What if this was happening to Black Lives Matters protesters? . . . At the end of the day, it’s just so much power.”

Both Bumble and Match Group – which also owns Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, PlentyofFish and Match – said they were working to remove users known to be involved in the Capitol siege from their platforms.

“We always encourage our community to block and report anyone who is acting against our guidelines, and we have already banned users who have used our platform to spread insurrectionist content or who have attempted to organize and incite terrorism,” Bumble said in an unsigned statement. “As always, if someone has or is in the process of committing a potentially criminal act on our platform, we will take the appropriate steps with law enforcement.”

A Bumble official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because company officials have received violent threats following past policy changes, said app employees have reviewed images taken inside and around the Capitol during the siege and banned accounts that “spread insurrectionist content or who have attempted to organize and incite terrorism.”

Bumble uses software to scan users’ dating profiles and biographies for “text content that promotes the insurrection or related activities,” the official said. Accounts can be banned for promoting racism, encouraging violence or spreading falsehoods about Trump’s election loss.

Dating apps have also worked to ban anyone who has been arrested or publicly identified by law enforcement as having taken part in the attack.

Match Group said it has banned rioters’ accounts based on long-established rules against promoting or inciting violence. Match spokeswoman Vidhya Murugesan declined to say how many had been punished in this way.

“We have, and will continue, to ban any users wanted by the FBI in connection with domestic terrorism from all of our brands, and we always cooperate with law enforcement in their investigations,” Murugesan said.

Many women in Washington over the past two weeks had taken notice of a surge in conservative men on dating apps, many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats or other markers of support for President Donald Trump rarely seen in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.

The FBI has set up an anonymous tip line for reports on people who might have breached the Capitol. In a statement last week, the bureau said they’d received more than 100,000 “digital media tips” from a wide range of sources.

Federal investigators have used airline passenger manifests, video live streams, social media posts, news reports, cellphone location data and other evidence to support their charges and find suspects.

Law enforcement officials would not say how many tips came from dating apps but have said they are reviewing all evidence. More than 100 people have been charged in connection to the riots, and hundreds of other cases are still under investigation.

“Even your friends and family are tipping us off,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono said at a recent press briefing. “So you might want to consider turning yourself in instead of wondering when we’re going to come knocking on your door. Because we will.”

The overlapping issues of law enforcement, privacy and user safety are complicated for dating apps. Police or prosecutors seeking data – especially if they have search warrants – give companies little room to object unless they are already encrypting data in ways that can’t be readily retrieved, as Apple and some other companies have done with some kinds of user communications.

Using publicly available data to purge users who may have been involved in a crime – especially one as visible and troubling as the Capitol attack – requires tougher trade-offs.

Some would argue it’s unfair to delete the account of someone merely on the grounds of the Capitol that day, as opposed to someone known to have entered the building or committed other crimes, such as vandalism and theft. But a dating app’s users may reasonably expect to not get connected to somebody known to participate in what many regard as an illegal insurrection designed to disrupt a democratic process.

At the same time, the available identification technologies are imperfect. Privacy experts question whether any company should be taking action against users merely because they are believed to have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – before formal adjudication or even arrests by authorities.

“There’s a likely challenge of both false positives and false negatives,” said Ashkan Soltani, distinguished fellow at Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “I’m not sure a dating app should be in the business of trying to make these determinations.”

Soltani said that the issues facing the dating apps are difficult ones, with a range of possible solutions. The apps could alert individual users that a person they have expressed interest in may have participated in the Capitol takeover, or they could allow individual users to identify themselves as participants by hitting a built-in button, similar to the “I Voted” tag some social media companies offer on election days. Blocking users outright based on analysis of images, especially before arrest or adjudication, struck him as “over-moderation” by the apps.

Dating apps have a history of using human moderators and automated software to scan for problematic content, thanks in large part to male users with a habit of sending unwanted photos of their genitals. (Such accounts are immediately banned.)

A Bumble spokesman said the dating app also scans users’ profile photos and biographies for weapons, hate symbols or offensive language. Conversations between matched users are not moderated unless one of the users reports the chat for abuse.

Major social media sites, messaging services and discussion forums routinely use automated software to scan for images, video or discussion of sexual abuse, terrorism and other crimes.

Algorithms scan images and video to see whether they match any clips in databases of problematic content, such as child sexual abuse material or child pornography; they also look through user profiles or posts to analyze whether they include hate speech, threatening language or racial slurs.

As the digital hunt for Capitol siege suspects was underway, Bumble on Wednesday removed a feature in the U.S. that allowedpeople to filter prospective matches by their political leanings, saying in a statement that the filter had been used “in a manner contrary to our terms and conditions.”

Some amateur insurrectionist-hunters criticized the company for instituting a change they said only protected rioters. But Bumble said the filter could have been misused to target people, including those who self-identified as “conservative” but did not participate in the siege. Bumble has since restored the politics filter after implementing what it called new “moderation tools and protocols.”

The move could dim the romantic opportunities for people like Brandon Fellows, who posted Snapchat videos of himself as he wandered the Capitol and smoked a joint in a senator’s office.

He later told Bloomberg that his Bumble profile was “blowing up” after he posted his Capitol photos, but did not provide evidence. The company said his account was immediately banned.

Lidar tech on the rise at CES to power future smart cities, autonomous cars #SootinClaimon.Com

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Lidar tech on the rise at CES to power future smart cities, autonomous cars

Jan 17. 2021Seoul Robotics launched a new product to equip urban cities with 3-D vision. MUST CREDIT: Seoul Robotics.Seoul Robotics launched a new product to equip urban cities with 3-D vision. MUST CREDIT: Seoul Robotics.

By The Washington Post · Dalvin Brown

Mobility analysts, urban planners and AI companies bill widespread lidar as a building block for future urban societies, where autonomous vehicles, smart homes and infrastructure work together to create “smart” cities.

Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a sensing method that enables devices to glean what an object is based on its shape. In theory, when deployed on traffic lights, in parking lots and on enough vehicles, the technology could help contextualize what’s happening outside so cities can better manage energy and security. It could also manage traffic congestion.

The tech has been around since at least the 1970s. However, it was considered too expensive and complicated for companies in a broad range of industries to utilize. That is until now, according to HanBin Lee, founder of South Korea-based Seoul Robotics, a computer vision company.

Prices have come down so much that the tech is found in the latest model iPhones. It’s how robot vacuums see what’s around your home. It’s at the center of several thought-provoking product announcements to come out of this year’s CES, a large, global tech conference that took place this week.

Seoul Robotics launched Discovery, a software and hardware service to interpret light and radar data for factories, retailers, automakers and more. Other companies announced lidar applications for autonomous consumer cars and robotaxis, with Intel’s Mobileye that passenger vehicles will be self-driving by 2025.

The technology has its limitations, particularly on cars. It produces lower resolution images than cameras and tends to cost more. However, lidar represents a growing market and is projected to triple to almost $3 billion by 2025. Forward-thinking tech companies at CES say they’re hoping to take advantage of it. Here are some of the most innovative lidar products and ideas.

Seoul Robotics says it wanted to take the siloed industry of lidar software and expand it to the masses. Essentially, the software company developed what it calls an easy-to-use “plug-and-play” lidar system that allows a wide range of organizations to benefit from 3-D sensors.

For instance, retail stores could use it to understand where people are moving and whether patrons are social distancing. Cities could use it on highway offramps to detect vehicles going the wrong way.

Its offering is meant to analyze and interpret 3-D data from most available lidar products. It was built to unlock “autonomy through infrastructure,” Lee said.

Seoul Robotics already has a few big-name partnerships under its belt, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It also partnered with the lidar company Velodyne on office monitoring tech for Qualcomm. Seoul Robotic’s software has been installed in parking lots to help automate cars. BMW used it to move driverless vehicles via wireless Internet connections.

“So basically, this infrastructure takes over the vehicle. And thousands of vehicles can be automated with just a few sensors,” Lee said.

Intel’s MobilEye said at the trade show that it developed a strategy for making highly automated cars safe enough to use on roads across the globe by 2025.

The company, a leading player in automotive technology, plans to leverage crowdsourced mapping, a camera-based computer vision system and a lidar suite to achieve its goal.

MobileEye, which Intel snapped up in 2017, has been testing its mapping technology in Munich and plans to use cameras built into production vehicles to map the world. The company claims to have already mapped nearly 621 million miles, setting a foundation for autonomous cars to follow.

Pending regulatory approval, Mobileye will expand its fleet of autonomous test vehicles to New York City by the end of the year, the company says.

Its project relies on two independent computer vision systems to ensure that vehicles are safer in self-driving mode than if a human were controlling the car. One is a camera-based system that is advanced enough to power the car autonomously, and the other is a lidar and radar-based system that’s strong enough to do the same thing.

The two approaches are fused along with the 3-D maps allowing “safety-critical performance that is at least three orders of magnitude safer than humans,” according to Mobileye. Pending regulatory approval, Mobileye will expand its fleet of autonomous test vehicles to New York City by the end of the year.

The Munich-based start-up Blickfeld showed two new lidar sensors for cars meant to hit the market in three to four years. The 3-D sensors, dubbed Vision Mini and Vision Plus, are designed to produce a surround-view “that is crucial for automated urban traffic as well as robotic vehicles,” according to the company.

The Mini is small, roughly five centimeters long and is meant to detect closer range objects around a vehicle. It’s customizable to fit within a vehicle’s design scheme, according to the company. The larger Vision Plus can pick up things 650 feet in front of and behind cars with self-driving features. Together, they’re designed to enable cars to handle more than one automated task at a time.

A combination of six sensors are needed for 360-degree views, unlocking level four autonomous capabilities, says Florian Petit, founder of Blickfeld. The company is working with production partners to meet what it sees as a rapidly increasing demand.

“We saw that there’s a huge gap between the cars produced to be autonomous eventually and the number of lidars produced,” Petit said.

Innovative armoury for battle against Covid-19 #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Innovative armoury for battle against Covid-19

Jan 15. 2021

By The Nation
Photos by Supakit Khumkun

The King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang unveiled an innovation on Friday that can be used to help fight the new wave of Covid-19 infections.

The innovative machine includes an emergency breathing device, a closed disinfection system, an AI-based individual screening system, a negative pressure cabinet, mobile positive pressure testing unit and a powered air-purifying respirator suit.

The institute also unveiled RAIBO-X, a robot that can kill different kinds of viruses using UV-C light.

On Friday, Thailand ranked 128th on the global list of most cases, while the US tops the list with 23.85 million, followed by India 10.53 million, Brazil 8.32 million, Russia 3.49 million and the United Kingdom 3.26 million.

Galaxy S21 comes with striking design change, most powerful processor #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Galaxy S21 comes with striking design change, most powerful processor

Jan 15. 2021Samsung President Roh Tae-moon showcases Galaxy S21 lineup during a virtual Unpacked show Thursday at midnight. (Samsung Electronics)Samsung President Roh Tae-moon showcases Galaxy S21 lineup during a virtual Unpacked show Thursday at midnight. (Samsung Electronics)

By Song Su-hyun
The Korea Herald/ANN

Samsung Galaxy S21, unveiled Thursday at midnight, boasts a new, striking design and is equipped with the most powerful processor yet. Plus, it comes with a lowered price tag.

Samsung streamed the Galaxy S21 Unpacked show through various online channels to introduce its flagship smartphones for 2021 — Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra — one month earlier than previous years. The Ultra model supports the S Pen stylus for the first time. Samsung also introduced Galaxy Buds Pro with noise cancelling and wind shield capabilities for the first time.

The biggest change made for the S21 series is elevated, new design.

Samsung has introduced what is called “Contour Cut Camera” referring to the rear camera module that seamlessly blends into the device’s metal frame for a sleeker aesthetic.

In addition to the design change, S21 and S21+ will be available in a new range of colors including the signature Phantom Violet color for the new series. And each device is coated with a luxurious haze finish on the back for a more sophisticated look.

Galaxy S21 is designed for those who want a light design with a compact 6.2-inch display, while S21+ sports an expanded 6.7-inch display and a larger battery, which would be perfect for marathon gamers and binge-watchers, Samsung described.

“We are living in a mobile-first world, and with so many of us working remotely and spending more time at home, we wanted to deliver a smartphone experience that meets the rigorous multimedia demands of our continuously changing routines,” said Roh Tae-moon, president of IT and mobile communications business at Samsung. “We also recognize the importance of choice, especially now, and that’s why the Galaxy S21 series gives you the freedom to choose the best device for your style and needs.”

The S21 and S21+ models feature the FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display with an adaptive refresh rate of 120-hertz for smoother scrolling and viewing.

The 6.8-inch Galaxy S21 Ultra sports the QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display, which Samsung calls “the most intelligence screen yet.” 

(Samsung Electronics)(Samsung Electronics)
 

Compared with the Galaxy S20, S21 Ultra offers a 25 percent brighter picture at a 1,500 nits of peak brightness, the brightest on a Galaxy smartphone. And with a 50 percent improved contrast ratio, it delivers crystal-clear, immersive images, even when outside.

To help reduce eye fatigue on all three devices, Samsung has newly adopted what they call the Eye Comfort Shield that automatically adjusts the blue light based on the time of day, the type of content users view, and at bedtime.

The Galaxy S21 series camera boasts pro-grade enhancements with increased artificial intelligence capabilities, Samsung said.

Samsung newly introduced a Director’s View that allows users to capture video by using both front and rear cameras simultaneously for real-time reactions, allowing users to preview or change the angle, zoom or go wide without losing any action. Paired with the newly unveiled Galaxy Buds Pro, users can capture both ambient sounds and voice at the same time using multiple mic recording. 

(Samsung Electronics)(Samsung Electronics)
 

Galaxy S21 and S21+ feature an AI-powered triple-lens pro-grade camera system that helps users capture better shots that automatically adjusts in accordance with its surroundings. For example, in Portrait Mode, the AI-powered camera leverages an improved 3D analysis that more accurately separates the subject from the background. It also brings in options for virtual studio lighting and AI background effects to make sure the subject pops from the frame.

With Ultra, Samsung continues to pivot on offering the best-in-class camera experience, it said.

Samsung describes the Ultra camera system as the most advanced pro-grade ever yet.

It has a quad rear camera, consisting of ultra-wide, wide and dual tele-lenses, which features an upgraded 108-megapixel pro sensor, from which users can capture 12-bit HDR photos with 64 times richer color data and more than three times wider dynamic range.

For the first time on a Galaxy smartphone, users can shoot in 4K at 60fps across all lenses including front and rear four lenses.

When zooming in on S21 Ultra, users do not have to worry about sacrificing clarity. The Galaxy S21 Ultra features 100x Space Zoom which is powered by Samsung’s first-ever Dual-tele lens system – one optical 3x and one optical 10x both equipped Dual Pixel autofocus.

Ultra also features an improved Bright Night sensor, the biggest leap yet in low-light photography along with noise reduction and 12MP Nona-binning technology, Samsung said.

Such improved AI capabilities have been possible with the backing of the latest smartphone chipsets, according to the smartphone maker.

The Galaxy S21 features the latest and most advanced smartphone chipset Exynos 2100 built on cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology for greater speed and energy efficiency.

In Korea, Samsung will start taking preorders on Friday through Jan. 21.

The official launch date is set for Jan. 29 globally.

The 256-gigabyte Galaxy S21 and S21+ models will retail for 999,900 won ($911) and 1.19 million won each. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will be 1.45 million won for 256GB, and 1.59 million won for 512GB.