NFIP Flooding Claims, African STEM Experts, Google, More: Tuesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, September 15, 2020


Bloomberg Quint: A New Tool Tracks Flooded Homes Receiving Taxpayer Money. “Passaic County in New Jersey is not in the hurricane belt nor is it on the banks of a major river, and yet 810 properties there received $170 million of taxpayer money through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) since 1968. These are homes that flooded over and over again; on average, each has made seven separate flood claims over the years. That finding comes from a newly released tracking tool by the Natural Resources Defense Council, making public for the first time a data set of all Severe Repetitive Loss Properties (SRLP) across the nation by county.”

Thomson Reuters Foundation News: New website by Senegalese AI expert spotlights Africans in STEM. “Growing up in a trading town in Senegal, Adji Bousso Dieng loved school and had a particular talent for maths. But with a dearth of career role models, she had no idea which path to follow. Some two decades later and a research scientist working on artificial intelligence at Google, Dieng wants to give young Africans the inspiring examples she missed out on….This month, Dieng launched a website called ‘The Africa I Know’, which features profiles of successful African professionals working in fields such as science, technology and engineering.”


Reuters: Google faces grilling on ad business before U.S. Senate antitrust panel . “Alphabet Inc’s Google will be questioned about its ad business in a hearing on Tuesday, with a particular focus expected on whether it misused its dominance in online advertising to drive profits.”


I found a more recent story about this Instagram archive, but it’s not a patch on this July article from Scene Arabia: Oil Paintings To Vectors: The Archive Finding The History Of Arabic Book Cover Design. “Throughout the Arab world, there is one artist whose work can be found in every home, whether or not we know it. ‘There is not one household that doesn’t have my paintings,’ the late Egyptian painter Gamal Kotb once said of his ubiquitous work that needed no canvas, no heavy frames, and no galleries to exhibit. Throughout much of the 20th century, Kotb made a name for himself creating the covers for bestselling novels by the biggest names in publishing, including Naguib Mahfouz, Ihsan Abdel Quddous, and Yusuf Idris. The artist became one of Egypt and the Arab world’s most celebrated artists, albeit in a medium that remains wildly underrated today.”

TechCrunch: Toucan raises $3M to teach you new languages as you browse the web. “Toucan has developed a Chrome browser extension designed for anyone who wants to learn a new language but hasn’t found the motivation or the time. Once installed, the extension scans the text of any (English-language) website you’re visiting and will automatically translate some of the words into the language you’re trying to learn. If you mouse over the word, you’ll see the original English word. Think of it as a browser-based version of language flashcards.”


The Nation: Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court. “The trial is set for next year in federal court, with initial disclosures for discovery scheduled to take place next week. The publishers’ ‘prayer for relief’ seeks to destroy the Open Library’s existing books, and to soak the Internet Archive for a lot of money; in their response, the Archive is looking to have its opponents’ claims denied in full, its legal costs paid, and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.” But what’s really at stake in this lawsuit is the idea of ownership itself—what it means not only for a library but for anyone to own a book.”

Herald Scotland: Fraudsters exploit victims by hijacking Google’s search engine with fake financial and charity ads. “SCAMMERS are hijacking Google’s search engine to target victims with bogus financial and charity adverts, new research has found. Part of the racket was revealed after searches for terms such as ‘top Isa’, ‘best bonds’ and “best fixed rate bonds’. One victim lost £160,000 after clicking on a link for an investment scheme from a scammer posing as a respected firm.”

Techdirt: Auto Industry Pushes Bullshit Claim That ‘Right To Repair’ Laws Aid Sexual Predators . “[Michigan] is contemplating the expansion of an existing state law that lets users get their vehicles repaired anywhere they’d like. In a bid to kill these efforts, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers, has taken to running ads in the state falsely claiming that the legislation would aid sexual predators.”


Phys .org: Researchers trace the outlines of two cultures within science. “In the world of scientific research today, there’s a revolution going on—over the last decade or so, scientists across many disciplines have been seeking to improve the workings of science and its methods. To do this, scientists are largely following one of two paths: the movement for reproducibility and the movement for open science. Both movements aim to create centralized archives for data, computer code and other resources, but from there, the paths diverge.”

Gizmodo: Researchers Made A QAnon AI Bot Because Things Aren’t Already Bad Enough, Apparently. “So you may have heard about GPT-3, the new language-based AI technology that you can train to produce human-like text. Since it was launched, people have been trying to test the limits of this exciting, powerful tool. And their latest experiment? Teaching it to believe the ridiculous and dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory, of course.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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