Smartphone-connected face mask designer wins MIT prize

A smartphone-connected face mask equipped with a sensor that detects COVID-19 particles designed by a Romanian engineer won the top prize at a contest from MIT Media Lab, the Calvert Journal reported.

The MIT’s pandemic response lab launched this contest asking engineers and designers to come up with creative responses that reimagine face coverings and personal protective equipment.

The “social mask” – as called by his creator – is a minimalist and transparent mask featuring a biosensor that can connect to a smartphone, “a real option for the future,” said the award-winning designer, Burzo Ciprian.

Thanks to an app directly connected to the hi-tech mask, users would be able to detect the number of COVID-19 particles around them and to estimate their risk of infection, as well as localising other users of the device around them, according to the Calvert Journal.
“We should know who is infected in
Read More

Minneapolis schools face challenging financial future, projections show

Minneapolis Public Schools is again facing a troubling, yet familiar, prediction about the district’s finances: The budget will remain burdened by falling enrollment and revenue that can’t keep pace with operating costs.

The rollout of the controversial district redesign, combined with concerns over distance learning during the pandemic, have exacerbated the decline in enrollment — a pattern that five-year projections show will continue over the next few years. Assuming the plan is fully implemented, enrollment may start ticking back up by the 2025-2026 school year, district officials said.

“Our analysis finds that, regardless of whether the [redesign] succeeds, the district is burdened by an unsustainable fiscal structure,” read the report, which will be presented to the school board Tuesday.

The board will also consider the certification of the 2021 property tax levy at its Tuesday meeting. The recommended levy of $224 million, down about 3.8% from 2020, is the maximum

Read More

Facebook could face a state antitrust lawsuit as soon as next week

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.

Erin Scott | Reuters

State attorneys general are preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook as soon as next week, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC’s Ylan Mui. At least 20 to 30 states could join in, the sources said.

The news comes as multiple outlets have reported the Federal Trade Commission is likely to file its own antitrust lawsuit against the social media giant. It’s still unclear where the FTC may choose to bring a case — either in federal court or before its administrative law judge. If it chooses to bring the case in-house, it cannot combine its lawsuit with the states. Reuters previously reported the states were planning an antitrust case against Facebook.

Both the FTC and the state AGs, led by New York’s Letitia James,

Read More

On Facebook, Comments About ‘Whites,’ ‘Men,’ And ‘Americans’ Will Face Less Moderation

Topline

Facebook has shifted a long-standing policy of so-called “race-blind” hate speech moderation to consider the detection and deletion of certain comments about “whites,” “men,” and “Americans” low-priority compared to those about historically marginalized groups.  

Key Facts

First reported by The Washington Post on Thursday morning and confirmed to Forbes by a Facebook spokesperson, Facebook says it has been working on Project WoW—an effort to better detect and delete content that it considers to be “the worst of the worst”—since 2019.

Facebook now differentiates between slurs directed toward certain groups, like Blacks, Muslims, the LGBTQ+ community and Jews, and those who haven’t been historically marginalized. 

As of now, the application is relatively limited: Facebook has changed its proactive technology to stop identifying a certain subset of comments about “Whites,” “men” and “Americans” that would be taken down if they referenced other groups. 

Read More

The Technology 202: Biden could face a deadlocked Federal Communications Commission

The future balance of the agency largely hinges on a Republican push to confirm Trump’s nominee

Trump has tapped Nathan Simington, a Commerce Department aide who was very involved with the president’s efforts to crack down on tech companies to address alleged anti-conservative bias on social media. Republicans are racing against the clock to confirm Simington in a lame-duck congressional session in which there are many competing priorities. The Senate Commerce Committee will consider Simington’s nomination during a session tomorrow morning, according to the committee’s website. 

If confirmed to the five-person commission, Simington would join FCC commissioners Brendan Carr (R), Jessica Rosenworcel (D) and Geoffrey Starks (D). If Republicans retain control of the Senate, it could be difficult for Biden to nominate a tie-breaking Democratic commissioner to fill the fifth slot.

But expect major resistance from Democrats, who have been critical of Republicans’ efforts to use regulatory threats to

Read More

Are Customers Behaving Worse To Customer Service Employees In The Face Of Covid?

Are customers behaving worse toward the people who serve them, in the face of the Covid-spawned crisis we’re all living through? Or are customers actually getting easier to please and more empathetic to the plight of the businesses and the customer service employees with whom they interact?

The reality is that it’s going both ways. First, here’s what I’m seeing (in my work as a customer service consultant and turnaround expert), on the negative side: Some customers, being under stress themselves, have been taking that stress out on what they view as a safe target: customer service representatives they interact with from a distance rather than family members they know they’ll have to face again at the dinner table or in the marital bed.

Which is monumentally unfair, but there it is.

In addition, the bizarro and disheartening national divide on masks and other anti-pandemic safety precautions has led

Read More

Ford, GM face a future consumer that wants a new kind of car

  • Automakers in the US are grappling with two opposing trends: Americans want big cars, while governments in large markets in the US and abroad are ramping up restrictions on tailpipe emissions.
  • That’s forced US auto giants including Ford and General Motors to revise their strategies with a plan to pump out large electric vehicles like pick-up trucks, cargo vans, and SUVs. 
  • These companies are also investing in charging infrastructure. It’s the first time that carmakers — and not oil companies — are helping to build out networks of refueling stations. 
  • For more stories, sign up for our weekly energy newsletter.

American automakers face an unusual problem: Consumers want big cars, while, at the same time, governments who oversee large markets in the US and abroad are ramping up restrictions on tailpipe emissions. Some are pledging to phase out sales of cars with combustion engines entirely.

Those seemingly opposing trends are

Read More

Virtual auto, CES, NADA shows face hard reality

Trade shows are a different animal altogether. But the Canadian developments seem foreboding for a couple of major events coming up early next year: CES and the NADA Show.

CES, the consumer electronics show that is usually held in Las Vegas, has grown into the pre-eminent auto show in North America — even as the transportation industry vies for attention there with gaming, photography, robotics and every other type of breakthrough technology one can imagine.

Switching to a virtual format this year led to a partnership with Microsoft, which has a suite of software for group meetings and what is now essentially a video production, said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which hosts CES.

“We’re also creating it so that exhibitors will have their own video presence and an interactive link which allows them to meet with potential customers, show off technology, and it’ll be a very

Read More

Google to Face a New Regulator as U.K. Plans Tech-Focused Agency

(Bloomberg) — The U.K. government approved plans for a separate regulatory program for companies including Facebook Inc. and Google, saying the new competition unit would be given powers to impose fines to rein in the dominance of the largest tech companies.



a flat screen television: The Facebook Inc. logo sits on screens ahead of the global launch event of "Workplace" at the Facebook Inc. offices in London, U.K., on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. Workplace is meant to help employees collaborate with one another on products, listen to their bosses speak on Facebook Live and post updates on their work in the News Feed.


© Bloomberg
The Facebook Inc. logo sits on screens ahead of the global launch event of “Workplace” at the Facebook Inc. offices in London, U.K., on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. Workplace is meant to help employees collaborate with one another on products, listen to their bosses speak on Facebook Live and post updates on their work in the News Feed.

The Digital Markets Unit will be housed inside the antitrust regulator from April, with powers to enforce a new code of conduct and potentially “suspend, block and reverse decisions of tech giants,” the U.K government said Friday.

Loading...

Load Error

The move comes after the Competition and Markets Authority called

Read More

Tech giants face fines or even break-up if they breach new rules: EU’s Breton

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Tech giants that break new EU rules aimed at curbing their powers could face fines, be ordered to change their practices or even be forced to break up their European businesses, the bloc’s digital chief Thierry Breton said on Wednesday.

Breton’s comments come two weeks before he is due to present draft rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA), which are likely to affect big U.S. players Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.

The DSA will force tech companies to explain how their algorithms work, open up their advertising archives to regulators and researchers, and do more to tackle hate speech, harmful content and counterfeit products on their platforms.

The DMA takes aim at online gatekeepers with a list of requirements, such as sharing certain kinds of data with rivals and regulators; and outlawed practices, such as favouring their own services.

Read More