Android Apps, Science Experiments, AI, More: Monday Evening ResearchBuzz, August 19, 2019


Digital Trends: Best alternatives to Google’s preinstalled Android apps. “Every Android user out there is used to getting their shiny new Android phone preloaded with a slew of Google apps. From Maps to Gmail, Google’s apps are central to the Android experience. But what if you don’t want to use Google’s apps? Maybe you’re not a fan of how they collect your data, or you want to try something new — don’t fret, there are plenty of other alternatives to choose from. Look no further than our list below.” This was good except suggesting Waze as an alternative to Google Maps – c’mon now.

Lifehacker: Find Hundreds of Science Experiment Ideas in ‘Scientific American’. “A big part of being a kid is building things, deconstructing things and, in general, discovering how things work—that’s why we buy those starter science experiment kits and toy microscopes to encourage their curiosity. But it’s easy to run out of ideas to keep them interested in science, especially as they get older. Luckily for parents, Scientific American has for years been developing an archive of hundreds of science experiments for kids ages 6-12 to conduct with their parents.”


Engadget: Hitting the Books: How big tech might monopolize AI. “From telecommunications to transportation, medicine to aerospace, the accelerating advancement of artificial intelligence has proven a boon for humanity and the public good. However the same ability that allows them to learn from past experience can and likely will be leveraged for underhanded purposes like stifling commercial competition. In the excerpt below from Who’s Afraid of AI? author Thomas Ramge examines feedback loops’ impact on automation and how controlling the data generated by them could enable companies to unfairly influence the market.” The excerpt available is frustratingly short!

BuzzFeed: This “Teen Girl” Went Viral For Tweeting From Her Fridge, But It’s Almost Definitely A Fake. “A person claiming to be a teenage girl named ‘Dorothy’ went viral on Twitter this week after allegedly tweeting from her smart fridge — but it appears to be nothing more than a hoax.”

Hackaday: Bots That Snag The Hottest Fashion While Breaking Social Trust In Commerce. “At DEF CON 27 [FinalPhoenix] took the stage to share her adventures in writing bots and uncovering a world that buys and sells purchasing automation, forming groups much like cryptocurrency mining pools to generate leads on when the latest fashion is about to drop. This is no small market either. If your bots are leet enough, you can make a ton of cash. Let’s take a look at what it takes to write a bot, and at the bots-for-sale economy that has grown up around these concepts.”


TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Efforts Are Unlikely to Beat Sci-Hub. “Elsevier and other academic publishers see ‘pirate’ site Sci-Hub as a major threat to their billion-dollar industries. Many researchers, however, can’t function properly without the notorious site. Since anti-piracy efforts are unlikely to beat the site, perhaps it’s time for the publishers to draw a lesson from Sci-Hub instead?”

ZDNet: Over 20 Texas local governments hit in ‘coordinated ransomware attack’. “Twenty-three local Texas governments have been infected with ransomware last week in what Texas officials have described as a coordinated attack. The attack took place on Friday morning, August 16, US time, when several smaller local Texas governments reported problems with accessing their data to the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR).”


The Next Web: Facebook should stop trying to disrupt payments with Libra and focus on repair. “When companies attempt to enter new highly regulated markets, regulators typically look at the company’s intentions and previous compliance. Facebook has a long history of willful neglect of their consumers’ privacy, as evidenced by numerous disclosures, including a document seizure by the United Kingdom’s parliament.”

Wired: Anxiously Seeking the Perfect Anti-Anxiety App. “When I’m having a bout of anxiety, or even just an avoidant feeling (that is probably the precursor to a bout of anxiety), I pull out my phone to distract myself. In bed, when I can’t sleep (which is often) I’ll scroll through Instagram. In the morning, to stave off errands or work, I’ll scan Twitter. At some point, when I’m scrolling and liking, any app I have opened to relieve anxiety begins to give me anxiety of its own.”

CNN: Websites that peddle disinformation make millions of dollars in ads, new study finds. “As the United States gears up for another presidential election, aware of the role online disinformation played in 2016, the business of publishing false or extremist content online remains a lucrative one. At least $235 million in revenue is generated annually from ads running on extremist and disinformation websites, according to a new study from the Global Disinformation Index provided exclusively to CNN ahead of its September release.” Lying is more lucrative than telling the truth? Now there’s a thought that’ll make your mouth sour. Good evening, Internet…

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