Anti-Racist Resources, School-Area Air Pollution, Visual NFT Search, More: Thursday ResearchBuzz, April 22, 2021

I hurt my back during my spreadsheet mania thanks to long periods of sitting on my worn-out million-year-old kneeling chair. New cushion, trying new chairs, but RB/CB may be sporadic. I hope not. Feeling pretty good today. Love.


Concordia University: LAUNCHED: A database of anti-racist educational videos and learning materials. “The Anti-Racist Pedagogy Project features pre-recorded talks from Concordia students and faculty as well as grassroots social justice organizers and activists in Montreal. The project came about as a response to both the Black Lives Matter movement’s work to address pervasive anti-Black racism and the COVID-19 pandemic that suddenly forced educators to move their classes online.”

University of Massachusetts Amherst: UMass Amherst Political Economy Research Institute Launches New Tool to Track Air Pollution at Every U.S. School. “Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) today unveiled a new interactive, web-based tool for tracking industrial toxic air pollution at every school in the United States. The tool, Air Toxics at School, reports toxicity-weighted concentrations of pollutants to show individual chronic human health risk from industrial toxic air pollutants at the schools’ locations.”

Spotted via Reddit: ZodiacNFT. From the About page: “Zodiac is a visual discovery engine for NFTs. Combined with a set of proprietary AI modules, Zodiac enables users to search for and discover the best content on blockchain.” It’s a visual search engine for NFTs. I put in a picture of my mother’s dog and got lots of NFTs of dogs and cats. I put in a Norma Shearer meme and got pictures of Marilyn Monroe.


Neowin: Google to shut down the classic Sites version on January 1, 2022. “Google launched a redesigned Sites back in 2016 for customers of G Suite (now Google Workspace). The classic Sites version has since remained in place alongside the new one as Google worked to build new capabilities similar to those of the legacy version. While the legacy Sites continued to exist for a couple more years, its days are now numbered.”


Internet Archive Blogs: The Librarian’s Copyright Companion Goes Open Access. “As a law librarian and author, Ben Keele wants to share his expertise on copyright with as many people as possible. His book, The Librarian’s Copyright Companion, 2nd edition (William S. Hein, 2012), coauthored with James Heller and Paul Hellyer, covers restrictions on use of copyrighted materials, library exemptions, fair use, and licensing issues for digital media. (Heller wrote the first edition in 2004.) The authors recently regained rights to the book in order to make it open access.”


Route Fifty: Census Delay Spells Election Chaos for States. “The months-long delay in tallying last year’s census is wreaking havoc on the states with elections this year and next. The stakes are high in states with fast-changing populations: In states that are becoming more diverse, Democrats are eager to wield increased statehouse clout and advance agendas such as expanding voting rights and moving away from mass incarceration. Republicans hanging on to control in swing states want to draw new legislative and congressional district lines to retain endangered suburban districts by extending them into rural areas where conservative sentiment is still strong.”


CNN: Biden administration unveils effort to strengthen cybersecurity of power grid. “The Biden administration kicked off a 100-day effort on Tuesday to beef up cybersecurity in the nation’s power grid, calling for industry leaders to install technologies that could thwart attacks on the electricity supply. The move follows a high-profile, if unsuccessful, cyberattack in Florida that sought to compromise a water treatment plant, which highlighted some of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in America’s critical infrastructure.”

Yahoo News: The Postal Service is running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts. “The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News. The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as ‘inflammatory’ postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.”

Information Age: How Confidential Computing is dispelling the climate of distrust around cloud security. “In a standard cloud configuration, data is encrypted when it’s ‘at rest’ or ‘in transit’ but the moment that data is processed it is decrypted, leaving it potentially vulnerable. The evaluation of business-critical data migrating to the cloud has increased since the start of the pandemic, heightening concerns about this weakness. Confidential Computing solves this problem in hybrid cloud environments by directing data in use into a hardware-based Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), an area separated from other workloads. Data remains encrypted right up until the application notifies the TEE to decrypt it for processing.”


Business Insider: Deleting Yahoo Answers is a disastrous idea. For history’s sake, we need to preserve our digital record.. “Just like with the end of Orkut or GeoCities, Yahoo Answers will delete the content generated by millions of users, including unique knowledge that feeds search engines. More than a debate about fake news, this is a debate about memory and the need to save the content and knowledge produced by humanity – even if that content doesn’t seem worthy or relevant now.”

TechCrunch: AI-driven audio cloning startup gives voice to Einstein chatbot. “You’ll need to prick up your ears for this slice of deepfakery emerging from the wacky world of synthesized media: A digital version of Albert Einstein — with a synthesized voice that’s been (re)created using AI voice cloning technology drawing on audio recordings of the famous scientist’s actual voice.”

BBC: AI unlocks ancient Dead Sea Scrolls mystery. “Researchers say Artificial Intelligence (AI) has for the first time shown that two scribes wrote part of the mysterious ancient Dead Sea Scrolls. Tests were carried out on the longest text, known as the Great Isaiah Scroll. It was found that probably two unknown individuals had copied down the words using near-identical handwriting.” Good morning, Internet…

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