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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.


In OneZero. More on Medium.

It’s all about the blastoids

We have an organ shortage.

People are desperate for organs, but there is no easy way to make more. It would be awesome if we could use a summoning charm (accio membrum?) to create and distribute kidneys and livers, but unless we radically change our approach — or create human organs that we can harvest from animals — we’re shit out of luck.

Last month, a new milestone in attempts to advance medical treatment of humans by using animals, in this case a monkey, kicked off a barrage of commentary from ethicists and scientists. …

A.I. abuse is real, but so is fear-mongering

Photo by Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash

Poor Artificial Intelligence, technology’s scapegoat.

It’s played the villain in innumerable films and is the boogeyman waiting to pluck your face from a crowd, take your job, put your face on someone else’s body, and carelessly launch a nuclear strike.

These concerns are so concrete that A.I. regulation is now racing far ahead of more general, and possibly more necessary, tech industry regulation (data, competition, content control, and moderation).

Earlier this week, the European Union dropped a 108-page A.I. policy document proposing sweeping A.I. regulations that attempt to touch on virtually every aspect of A.I. development. As senior analyst, A.I…

Lawmakers should listen to the communities most affected before rushing to change Section 230 again

Photo: Barcroft Media/Getty Images

This op-ed was written by Cathy Reisenwitz, vice president of communications at the San Francisco Sex-Positive Democratic Club. She writes regularly at Sex and the State, a newsletter about power. Connect with Cathy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and OnlyFans.

Big Tech’s haphazard content moderation and abuse of personal data create real harms — enabling surveillance, online stalking, harassment, and revenge porn. The Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act, introduced by Democrats last month, is supposed to force platforms to do a better job of moderating content. …

Big Technology

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are paying third parties millions to make their case. Sometimes we know about the money, sometimes we don’t.

The New York State Capitol building. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Stringer/Getty Images

When New York State Senator Michael Gianaris called a hearing last September to discuss his new Big Tech antitrust bill, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all declined to appear. But as he sorted the schedule, the Progressive Policy Institute, a “radically pragmatic” think tank, asked to send a representative.

Alec Stapp, that representative, mounted a robust defense of Big Tech in prepared remarks at the session. But when Giannaris started asking about PPI’s funding, he clammed up. “In my role in research,” Stapp said. “I’m not privy to the full donor list or who gives how much money.”


Big Technology

In a new interview with Big Technology, the senator discusses the future of antitrust

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Stringer/Getty Images

“I’d say resolved,” Senator Amy Klobuchar told me over Zoom yesterday. We were talking about whether congressional Democrats were serious about pursuing meaningful action against the tech giants. And Klobuchar, the new chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, seemed committed.

“There’s been some good hearings,” she said. “But to me, actually, I have to get something done.”

Klobuchar is already moving ahead. She introduced an ambitious new bill to bolster antitrust law last month. And today — less than 24 hours after Congress passed its $1.9 …

Big Technology

Without political pressure, the FTC waited to rally state attorneys general in a broad, bipartisan case against Facebook’s anticompetitive behavior

Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Today, the Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook for a slew of antitrust violations, targeting the way the company eliminated its top competitors via the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. More than 40 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit mirroring the FTC’s, displaying broad, bipartisan coordination rare in an age of polarized, dysfunctional government.

By acting together, the state attorneys general will make Facebook’s life difficult, bringing a more robust lawsuit than the Department of Justice’s case against Google. There, only 11 state AGs joined, all of them Republican, giving Google an opportunity to play them off their counterparts. …

Big Technology

The social media expert joins tech reporter Alex Kantrowitz to discuss the future of the platform and more

Sarah Frier

OneZero is partnering with the Big Technology Podcast from Alex Kantrowitz to bring readers exclusive access to interview transcripts with notable figures in and around the tech industry.

This week we’re joined by Sarah Frier, a Bloomberg reporter and author of No Filter. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

To subscribe to the podcast and hear the interview for yourself, you can check it out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Overcast.

The Federal Trade Commission is preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, and Instagram is in its sights. The agency is poised to revisit Facebook’s 2012 acquisition…

Will the AMP format die as a result?

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By Adrianne Jeffries

Four years after offering special placement in a “top stories carousel” in search results to entice publishers to use a format it created for mobile pages, called AMP, Google announced last week that it will end that preferential treatment in the spring.

“We will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results,” Google said in a blog post.

The company had indicated in 2018 that it would drop the preference eventually. Last week’s announcement of a concrete timeline comes less than a month after the…

Big Technology

An antitrust lawsuit against Facebook is forthcoming, and Instagram is in the crosshairs

Photo: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

Momentum inside the Federal Trade Commission is building toward a Facebook antitrust lawsuit. The lawsuit could drop at any moment, and my biggest worry as I type this is the FTC files it before I hit send, wiping out hours of work.

With the agency all but certain to bring a case, the biggest question now is which part of Facebook’s business it will attack. And the answer is most certainly Instagram.

That’s right — Instagram. When you examine previous big tech antitrust cases, the laws the FTC has at its disposal, and the state of Facebook’s business, it becomes…

Workers say they were discouraged from speaking up when they found flaws in the company’s policies

Content moderators work at a Facebook office in Austin, Texas.
Content moderators work at a Facebook office in Austin, Texas.
Content moderators work at a Facebook office in Austin, Texas. Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman/The Washington Post/Getty Images

We know by now that moderating Facebook is a nightmare. We know that developing and enforcing a consistent set of rules across 2 billion users across nearly 200 countries is nigh impossible. We know that Facebook outsources the majority of the thankless task to ill-compensated contractors, who often work under mentally and psychologically grueling conditions.

But this week, three people who have worked as contract moderators for Facebook — two former, and one current — raised an important point that I don’t think has received quite as much attention. …


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