Energy, Climate, New Economic Thinking​

Category: Emerging Technologies

Designed to Deceive: Do These People Look Real to You?

There are now businesses that sell fake people. On the website Generated.Photos, you can buy a “unique, worry-free” fake person for $2.99, or 1,000 people for $1,000. If you just need a couple of fake people — for characters in a video game, or to make your company website appear more diverse — you can get their photos for free on ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. New York Times

Who owns the web’s data?

The fightback against Big Tech’s feudal lords has begun. The use of data, after all, is now the world’s biggest business. Some $1.4trn of the combined $1.9trn market value of Alphabet (the owner of Google) and Facebook, comes from users’ data and the firms’ mining of it, after stripping out the value of their cash, physical and intangible assets, and accumulated research and development. The Economist

Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos

An inside look at how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos built one of the largest and most influential economic forces in the world — and the cost of Amazon’s convenience. Jeff Bezos is not only the richest man in the world, he has built a business that is without precedent in the history of American capitalism. His power to shape everything from the future of work to the future of commerce to the future of technology is unrivaled. Youtube

The Superpowers of Super-Thin Materials: In materials science, 2-D is the new 3-D

Researchers are taking super-thin layers of materials and stacking them into three-dimensional blocks that have properties distinct from both 2-D and conventional 3-D materials. The craze for 2-D chemistry began in 2004, when two researchers at the University of Manchester used cellophane tape to peel one-atom-thick layers of carbon from chunks of graphite, forming graphene. Graphene is identical to graphite and diamond in composition, but the thinness gives it very different properties: It is flexible, transparent, extremely strong and an exceptional electrical and thermal conductor. New York Times

How Toronto Reined In Big Tech

Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, had proposed rebuilding a chunk of land east of downtown in exchange for using Toronto as a beta test. In pushing back against that plan, Toronto reached a compromise that lets Sidewalk go ahead, but firmly under public control — setting a precedent for how governments around the world can harness the potential for “smart cities” without letting Big Tech dictate the terms. New York Times

Geopolitics Are Shaping Your Next Smartphone

President Trump’s latest swipe at Huawei could be the start of a deep transformation of the tech sector.Citing national security concerns, the Commerce Department said this month that American companies would need special permission to sell some products to Huawei and other Chinese companies. New York Times

The Privacy Project

Companies and governments are gaining new powers to follow people across the internet and around the world, and even to peer into their genomes. The benefits of such advances have been apparent for years; the costs — in anonymity, even autonomy — are now becoming clearer. New York Times