Big Tech &
Everything you need to know from the tech antitrust hearing (10 minute read)
Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Sundar Pichai recently testified in Congress that their business practices don't amount to anti-competitive monopolies. Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google had all become key channels of distribution, using data and surveillance of other companies to buy, copy, or cut off competition. The companies all used their platforms to preference their own products, dictating all terms and conditions, to the point of having the powers of a private government. A breakdown of the five and a half hour hearing is available in the article. It contains a summary of the hearing and specific quotes from the CEOs.
TikTok is opening up its algorithm and challenging competitors to do the same (2 minute read)
TikTok has announced that it will open up access to its algorithms and allow experts to observe its moderation policies in real-time. It is challenging its rivals to do the same, saying that all companies should disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators. Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon are currently under scrutiny by Congress for antitrust behavior. The US Government has threatened to ban TikTok due to its data practices and the company has also been accused of censoring content to please the Chinese government.
Airbus to build 'first interplanetary cargo ship' (4 minute read)
After the first Martian rock samples are mined by NASA's Perseverance rover, they will be blasted into orbit by a rocket, where an Airbus satellite will grab them and then ship them home. The joint American-European project will cost billions and take over a decade to complete. A physical sample will allow scientists to use tools only found in Earth laboratories for analysis. The Earth Return Orbiter will weigh 6.5 tonnes and launch in 2026. It will use an ion engine powered by immense solar arrays, giving the satellite a wingspan of more than 120ft.
Pluto’s dark side spills its secrets — including hints of a hidden ocean (11 minute read)
Images from Pluto taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reveal an icy and cracked landscape and what could be signs of a hidden ocean. It has cracks deeper than the Grand Canyon scar at the surface and icy volcanoes taller than Mount Everest. New images of Pluto won't be available for at least another 30-40 years, assuming a spacecraft is sent soon. A selection of the images, as well as a 2-minute video showing a virtual reconstruction of the dwarf planet, is available in the article. The article discusses the structures on Pluto, such as its icy bladed terrain and underground ocean, and how they may have formed.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Let's build a Full-Text Search engine (10 minute read)
Full-Text Search is a technique for searching text in a collection of documents. This article walks the reader through the process of building a full-text search engine, from building a basic loop to converting lists to tokens, creating indexes, etc. The full source code is linked at the end of the article.
The State of Ruby 3 Typing (6 minute read)
Ruby 3 will ship with the ability to write type signatures for Ruby programs and will have built-in type signatures for the Ruby standard libraries. This will make type definitions in Ruby code portable between type checkers. The language and the library for type signatures for Ruby 3 will be called RBS. It features duck typing and non-uniformity. RBS will help developers by finding more bugs, giving IDEs a better understanding of the Ruby code, guided tuck typing, and more.
Camels Originated in North America, Probably Roamed Hollywood (6 minute read)
A 15-million-year-old camel fossil was unearthed during a road construction project in San Diego, California, revealing that the animals roamed North America well before they spread to South America and the rest of the world. The North American camels lived alongside mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, the short-faced bear, and sabertooth cats until around 12,000 to 10,000 years ago, when the first indigenous people arrived in the area. There are now three living species of camel, with most camel populations being domesticated except for some feral populations in Australia, India, and Kazakhstan. Other camel facts, including their history of use in war, different products made from them, and more, are available in the article.
Rite Aid deployed facial recognition systems in hundreds of U.S. stores (18 minute read)
Rite Aid Corp quietly added facial recognition systems to 200 of its stores in the US over the last eight years. In some cities, the technology was deployed in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods. The technology used was from a company with links to China and its government. Rite Aid claims that it has stopped using the software and that all its cameras have been turned off due to industry efforts to scale back facial recognition technology. It said that it deployed the cameras based on stores' theft histories, local and national crime data, and site infrastructure. The program resulted in less violence and organized crime in the company's stores.