Unbiased News, Historical Gun Laws, Twitter, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, April 6, 2018


Motherboard: A Startup Media Site Says AI Can Take Bias Out of News. “The artificial intelligence boom has expanded into creative fields once deemed uniquely human, like music, poetry, and even narrative podcasts. AI has also started writing rudimentary news articles and assisting reporters, but a new startup launched Wednesday says it will use AI to publish breaking news about a wide variety of topics. The site is called ‘Knowhere,’ and its creators say that they believe AI can be used to write unbiased news. The site will publish three versions of every article, aggregated from right-, left-, and center-leaning websites.”

Duke University: Blocher and Miller compile comprehensive historical gun law database. “Professors Joseph Blocher and Darrell Miller have spearheaded the creation of a comprehensive database of historic gun laws for use as a research tool for scholars, litigators, journalists, and others interested in current debates surrounding firearms regulation and the Second Amendment. The searchable Repository of Historical Gun Laws compiles English statutes from the Middle Ages through 1776 and those in the United States from the Colonial era to the middle of the 20th century. To date, it includes 1,514 regulations, searchable by subject area, date range, and jurisdiction.”


ZDNet: Twitter closed 1.2 million accounts for terrorist content. “Twitter has suspended more than a million accounts in the past two years for sharing terrorist content. The company said in its twelfth and latest transparency report that 1.2 million accounts were suspended since August 2015 up until December 2017.”

TechCrunch: App Store shrank for first time in 2017 thanks to crackdowns on spam, clones and more. “The App Store shrank for the first time in 2017, according to a new report from Appfigures. The report found the App Store lost 5 percent of its total apps over the course of the year, dropping from 2.2 million published iOS apps in the beginning of the year to 2.1 million by year-end. Google Play, meanwhile, grew in 2017 — it was up 30 percent to more than 3.6 million apps.”


The Verge: MIT has a new tool to combat online harassment: your friends. “In light of Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and other social media platforms’ struggles to combat online harassment, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has developed a new tool that might help. It proposes that instead of relying on platforms’ moderators, people start relying on their friends. The tool is called Squadbox, and it ‘friend-sources’ for moderators to filter messages and support people who are being harassed online.”

Posted for the weekend, from Lifehacker: How to Find New Music You’ll Actually Like. “Some people can dig up great music like magic, or have friends inside the industry who keep them updated. Some people are contented with their weekly Spotify Discover playlist. But if you need more ways to find music, here are 50 ideas, taken from Twitter users, my colleagues at Lifehacker’s publisher Gizmodo Media Group, and some of my own habits. Some are obvious, some bizarre, some embarrassing, but they’ve all helped people find their new favorite song, or even their favorite band.”


NPR: Professors Are Targets In Online Culture Wars; Some Fight Back. “There is a red light flashing in professor Albert Ponce’s cubby-sized office. The light comes from an old-fashioned answering machine. Lately, he doesn’t like to listen to the messages by himself. When he presses play, it’s obvious why.”

Houston Chronicle: Rice University creating archive to preserve history of city’s Jewish community. “A few months ago, the banner was wrapped in plastic and tucked away in a garage, stowed for decades after being plucked from a storage closet in the long-since demolished Beth Jacob congregation. It might have been forgotten, its significance lost forever if not for Rice University’s newly created Houston Jewish History Archive. Now, the World War II-era service flag is part of a growing collection being assembled by Furman, the Stanford and Joan Alexander Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Rice, and Kean, the university’s centennial historian.”


CNET: Delta, Sears, Kmart hit by data breach: What you need to know . “Heads-up: If you bought plane tickets from Delta, tools from Sears or household goods from Kmart between Sep. 26 and Oct. 12 last year — and you did it online — your name, address and credit card numbers may have been exposed at those companies’ websites.”


Brookings: Views of American democracy based on internet search data. ” Critics complain that President Donald Trump has eroded democracy by violating norms of civility and undermining news organizations by accusing them of being purveyors of ‘fake news.’ Yale Law Professor Amy Chua has noted the rise of political tribalism that pits group against group and erodes common bonds… In this paper, we look at views of U.S. democracy using internet search data. We examine public interest in democracy, fake news, money in politics, ethics concerns, the rule of law, and major political institutions in order to gauge how Americans are reacting to recent developments.”

Gulf News: Citizen science volunteers to monitor and protect UAE’s coral reefs. “The research is being led by Reef Check UAE and is part of a wider global effort that sees citizen scientists from around the world collecting data on the oceans’ coral reefs, with all the data and information being shared within the group’s global database, which is then used to compare the status of coral reefs in different parts of the world.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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