Tracking Santa, AI Dungeon, Videoconferencing, More: Tuesday Evening ResearchBuzz, December 24, 2019


BetaNews: You can track Santa Claus again this Christmas with Google. “Yes, Google’s official Santa Tracker is an annual tradition, and in 2019, it continues. As usual, the search giant delivers activities beyond mere tracking, such as an interactive Santa Village.”

The Verge: Infinite text adventure AI Dungeon is now available on iOS and Android. “Earlier this month we told you about AI Dungeon, an AI-powered text adventure with near infinite possibilities. You can type what you want into the game, and the AI will generate a response on the fly, creating a freewheeling experience that encourages cooperation and imagination. Now, AI Dungeon is available on iOS and Android as well, making it much easier to explore fantasy and sci-fi realms with an AI game master.”


Search Engine Journal: 8 Superstar Video Chat & Conferencing Apps for Business. “With these eight superstar video conferencing and chat apps, you can work with partners and employees around the world and feel like you’re face-to-face with them. Let’s explore what makes each one special.”


Geographical: A Portrait of Baul: Keeping ancient traditions alive. “The Bauls of Bengal are an order of wandering folk singers that have kept their philosophies alive for centuries. But modern demands threaten to overtake their simple, itinerant lifestyles. Now, an audio-visual record is being taken to keep their vocal traditions alive for generations yet to come.”

Engadget: China internet rules call for algorithms that recommend ‘positive’ content. “China is once more tightening its grip on internet content, and this time algorithms are in the spotlight. The Cyberspace Administration of China has published upcoming rules that dictate how internet companies manage content, including a push for recommendation algorithms that promote ‘positive’ ideas (read: government policies) while excluding ‘bad’ material.”

BBC: Meet the artist who draws scientists for Instagram. “How do you raise the profile of women in science, equipped only with pens and pastel pencils? That’s the challenge Nina Chhita set herself after being asked to identify scientists at a Christmas quiz.”


TechCrunch: Plenty of Fish app was leaking users’ hidden names and postal codes. “Dating app Plenty of Fish has pushed out a fix for its app after a security researcher found it was leaking information that users had set to ‘private’ on their profiles. The app was always silently returning users’ first names and postal ZIP codes, according to The App Analyst, a mobile expert who writes about his analyses of popular apps on his eponymous blog.”

Techdirt: Losing Streak Continues For Litigants Suing Social Media Companies Over Violence Committed By Terrorists. “According to Eric Goldman’s count (and he would know), this is the 12th ridiculous ‘blame Twitter for terrorism’ lawsuit to be tossed by a federal court. The dubious legal theory — one so dubious it has yet to find any judicial takers — is that Twitter and other social media platforms ‘allow’ terrorists to converse and radicalize and do other terrorist things. What no one has successfully alleged is that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are directly or indirectly responsible for terrorist attacks.”


Vox Recode: Simple changes to Amazon’s Ring could protect users from hacks. “Ring’s defense misses the point and is a disservice to its customers. Yes, it’s important to know that the hack wasn’t a breach of Ring’s internal systems, but that is unlikely to prevent such hacks from continuing to happen. Rather than dismissing the incident and putting the blame on users, the company could roll out a simple change that privacy experts have long advocated for on just about any service or product that requires a login: mandatory two-factor authentication.”

SmartCitiesWorld: Sidewalk Labs to launch tool for designing the neighbourhoods of the future. “Sidewalk Labs has announced a new generative design tool that uses machine learning and computational design to generate ‘millions of comprehensive planning scenarios’. The Alphabet company’s product manager, Violet Whitney, and designer Brian Ho are developing the tool to help planning teams to fully evaluate and understand all the options available to them. The aim is for planners, architects and developers to make choices that best reflect local priorities.” Good evening, Internet…

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