Chernobyl Disaster, Google, Facebook, More: Thursday Evening ResearchBuzz, June 25, 2020


Ukraine Independent Information Agency (UNIAN): Ukraine declassifies Soviet KGB archives on Chornobyl disaster. “A total of 229 declassified documents, most of which are being published for the first time, cover the period from the early 1970s to November 1986, that is, until the commissioning of the Shelter (Sarcophagus) following the blast, the SBU press service reports. Archival files show that more accidents took place at the Chornobyl NPP prior to the catastrophic disaster of 1986, although authorities managed to completely hush them down.” It appears that the documents are freely available to read, but of course they are in Ukrainian.


Neowin: Google’s AirDrop competitor Nearby Share could support Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS. “Google has been working on an AirDrop-like alternative file sharing service for Android for quite a while now. Despite multiple leaks, the company is yet to announce its new local file sharing service. This has led to a number of Android OEMs like Samsung, OPPO, OnePlus, Realme, Xiaomi, and others to come up with their own fast file-sharing protocol. However, it looks like Google’s file sharing service will have a key advantage over other such protocols: it will work with PCs running Windows, macOS, Linux, and even Chrome OS.”

CNET: Facebook will let you know if that article you’re about to share is old news. “Facebook will notify you know if an article you’re about to share is more than 90 days old, the company said in a blog post Thursday.”


MakeUseOf: How Google Uses Your Phone to Predict Traffic and Plan Trips . “Phones work diligently to help us with our daily life, so much so that sometimes we don’t even know what data it’s sending back to servers around the world. For example, did you know that your phone can be used by Google Maps to help predict traffic jams on the road? Let’s explore how you’re helping Google without realizing it, and how to turn it off if you don’t like this feature.”


The Register: Internet blackout of Myanmar States that are home to ethnic minorities enters second year. “The internet blackout in towns in two states of Myanmar (Burma) has entered a second year. Myanmar’s government imposed the blackouts in Rakhine State and Chin State on June 21st, 2019, citing security concerns as justification.”

Wired: A New Card Ties Your Credit to Your Social Media Stats. “SPENCER DONNELLY, WHO goes by TheRussianBadger on YouTube, has cultivated an audience of nearly 2.7 million subscribers for his gaming videos. For years, business has been rosy. YouTube shares a percentage of the ad revenue on each of his videos, and the money is good enough that playing video games on camera has become a full-time job. A few years ago, he even incorporated The Russian Badger, legitimizing his YouTubing business. The only problem: no bank would give him a serious credit card.”


CNN: Democratic lawmakers propose nationwide facial recognition ban. “The legislation marks Congress’s most aggressive bid yet to curtail the use of face recognition, amid complaints by civil rights groups that the technology disproportionately misidentifies people of color. In the absence of a federal law addressing face recognition, state and local governments have taken it upon themselves to regulate the use of the tech, with cities including San Francisco and Boston passing their own bans.”

BBC: Iran arrests men for ‘selling babies on Instagram’. “Three men have been arrested in Iran on suspicion of trying to sell two babies on Instagram. Tehran’s police chief, Brig-Gen Hossein Rahimi, said one of the children was 20 days old. The other was two months old. The babies had already been bought for up to $500 (£400), and were being resold for between $2,000 and $2,500.”


EurekAlert: Innovative smartphone-camera adaptation images melanoma and non-melanoma. “An article published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics (JBO), ‘Point-of-care, multispectral, smartphone-based dermascopes for dermal lesion screening and erythema monitoring,’ shows that standard smartphone technology can be adapted to image skin lesions, providing a low-cost, accessible medical diagnostic tool for skin cancer.”

MIT Technology Review: Human rights activists want to use AI to help prove war crimes in court. “The initiative, led by Swansea University in the UK along with a number of human rights groups, is part of an ongoing effort to monitor the alleged war crimes happening in Yemen and create greater legal accountability around them. In 2017, the platform Yemeni Archive began compiling a database of videos and photos documenting the abuses. Content was gathered from thousands of sources—including submissions from journalists and civilians, as well as open-source videos from social-media platforms like YouTube and Facebook—and preserved on a blockchain so they couldn’t be tampered with undetected.” Good evening, Internet…

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