Download: Trolling Text Scammers and China’s Social Media Censorship
This is today’s edition ofDownload,Our weekday newsletter provides daily coverage of what’s happening in the tech world.
People who use humor to troll their spam messages
The other night, I received a mysterious WhatsApp message. “Dr. Kevin? ” it began, the question mark indicating that the sender felt bad for interrupting my evening. “My puppy is very slow and refuses to eat dog food. Can you make an appointment for me? ”
I was very bewildered. My name is not Kevin, I am not a veterinarian and I am in no position to help this person and their puppy. I almost typed in a “Sorry, wrong number” reply when I realized this could be a scam asking me to confirm my number.
I didn’t reply, but many other people who received similar messages did. Some even throw it back at their spammers by filming myths and sending hilarious messages to annoy anyone on the other side. They are fighting back by snark and in some cases, posting screenshots of their chats online.
Experts do not recommend answering like this. But it is cathartic and funny. Read full story.
China wants all social media comments to be pre-reviewed before publishing
News: On June 17, China’s internet regulator China’s Cyberspace Administration (CAC) published an updated draft on how platforms and creators should handle online comments. . One line that stands out: all online comments will have to be pre-reviewed before being published.
How will it work? The terms cover a wide variety of comments, including anything from forum posts, replies, messages left on public message boards, and “bullet conversations” (intelligently) created that video platforms in China use to display real-time comments on top of videos). All formats, including text, symbols, GIFs, images, audio and video, are subject to this regulation.
What does it mean? Users and observers are concerned that the move could be used to further tighten freedom of expression in China. While Beijing is constantly improving its controls on social media, the ambiguity about the latest amendments has raised concerns that the government may overlook practical challenges, forcing platforms to had to hire a huge army of censors. Read full story.
Things to read
I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about tech.
The value of 1 cryptocurrency is still plummeting
It has fallen by more than two-thirds since November, but purists are still not worried. (WSJ $)
+ Bitcoin fell below $20,000 for the first time since last November over the weekend. (FT $)
+ Investors are anxiously watching stablecoin Tether to see what happens next. (NYT $)
+ Cryptocurrency insurance seems like a good idea right now. (Vox)
2 The Timeless Spread of June 13
Because freedom from slavery is something we can all agree on, regardless of political and religious disagreements. (Wired $)
+ It’s been a bad year for race politics in America. (NY Mag)
3 Comet ambush is a risky business
But it would be worth it if it gave us our first real glimpse of a primitive body. (Nature)
+ Astronomers mistakenly thought Comet Borisov was rather boring. (MIT . Technology Review)
+ The Pentagon is exploring the use of SpaceX rockets to thwart future threats. (Interceptor)
+ When is a black hole not a black hole? (Inverse)
4 How thousands of robots at sea fight climate change
By spending 90% of their time 1,000 meters below the ocean’s surface. (IEEE spectrum)
+ Why heat pumps have emerged as a major decarbonising tool. (Protocol)
+ UN climate report: Carbon removal is now “a necessity”. (MIT . Technology Review)
+ A community of Peruvian fishermen is still suffering, 5 months after the oil spill. (Hakai Magazine)
5 AI can do more than convince us it has sentience
Yet we continue to fall into the trap of missing out on the bigger picture. (Atlantic $)
+ We’re also missing the Turing test score. (WP $)
+ What the history of AI tells us about its future. (MIT . Technology Review)
Anti-vaxx conspiracy is a global problem
Dispersed much wider than their American roots. (Slate $)
Will a steak made from recycled carbon dioxide ever taste good?
It takes only a few days to make an ‘air steak’, compared to years of raising and rearing a cow. (Neo.Life)
+ Why oat milk companies might have to stop marketing their merchandise as ‘milk’. (Slate $)
+ Your first lab-grown burger will be “blended”. (MIT . Technology Review)
8 Why Peter Thiel Unfriended On Facebook
And what’s next for the crypto-inclined billionaire. (WP $)
+ Facebook would be a very different place without Sheryl Sandberg. (Atlantic $)
9 How Dril’s Influence Spreads Beyond Weird Twitter
The platform’s court prank has entered the mainstream. (New Yorkers $)
10 Feelings of being the worst person on the Internet
And another case of why putting images in the public domain can backfire. (Guardians)
Quote of the day
“Shall we bow to Jeff Bezos just to bring him our merry boat?”
– Paul van de Laar, a professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, is angry at the Amazon founder’s request to dismantle part of the city’s bridge to make way for his superyacht. Financial Times.
This company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the price
On an early morning in October 2020, 27-year-old Jang Deok-joon returned home from an overnight shift at South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang and jumped into the shower. He has been working at the company’s warehouse in the southern city of Daegu for more than a year, transporting boxes full of items ready to be shipped to delivery centers. After more than an hour and a half, still not getting out of the bathroom, his father opened the door to find him unconscious and curled up in the bathtub, arms clutched to his chest. He was rushed to the hospital, but without a pulse and unable to breathe on his own, doctors declared him dead at 9:09 am. The coroner ruled that he died of a heart attack.
Jang was the third Coupang worker to die that year, raising concerns about the successful nature of the company. And it’s been surprisingly successful: rising to become South Korea’s third-largest employer in just a few years, tapping into a vast network of warehouses, 37,000 workers, a fleet of drivers, and a toolkit built by AI-driven to take a commanding position in Korea’s crowded e-commerce market.
Coupang’s proprietary AI algorithms calculate everything from the most efficient way to stack packages in delivery trucks, to the correct delivery route and order for drivers. In warehouses, AI predicts purchases and calculates shipping deadlines for outgoing packages, allowing it to promise delivery in less than a day for millions of items. Such innovations are why Coupang confidently calls itself “the future of e-commerce” and were the driving force behind its recent debut on Nasdaq — the largest US IPO by a company yet. Asian company since Alibaba in 2014. But what does all this innovation and efficiency mean for the company’s workers? Read full story.
—Max S. Kim
We can still have good things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any comments? Drop me a line or tweet ’em with me.)
+ Happy birthday to the only person Brian Wilson, turning 80 today. In all his incredible tunes, this maybe just the best.
+ A complete mystery: how a trash can in the UK can go more than 1,900 km to Ukraine?
+ What a relief — courtesy of Denmark and Canada’whiskey war‘is finally resolved.
+ This one Rage against machines Performing on dog toys is a masterpiece.
+ This is a collection of costumes that we Won’t mind Kim Kardashian messing up next.