Tech Today: Feb 4, 2021

Tech Today: Feb 4, 2021

Google launches an underseas cable – for itself
The Durant cable runs from Virginia Beach, VA to Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in France and breaks previous trans-Atlantic speed records with an amazing 250 Tbps speed. Unfortunately, this privately-owned cable only connects two Google Cloud Platform datacenters, meaning the rest of us won’t get to take real advantage of this technological breakthrough.
There’s a really cool interactive map of 475 underseas, or submarine, cables that provide global Internet connectivity at SubmarineCableMap.com.

23andMe merges with Virgin Group’s VG Aquisition Corp.
23andMe’s business is based on exploiting the human need to understand who we are – from ancestry and ethnicity to questions about genetic disorders. You send them a swab and they perform DNA analysis, sending you the results.
CEO and co-founder of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki insists the new partnership and investment will allow them to “revolutionize personalized healthcare and medicine.” For a profit-seeking company, revolutionizing always applies to making more money, by creating new services. This important information should be a public service provided by public health organizations.

Canadian Privacy Commissioner: “What Clearview [AI] does is mass surveillance, and it is illegal”
The report calls on facial recognition software developer Clearview AI to remove the information – including images – of all Canadians in its database and get consent to store images in the future.
Unfortunately, the commissioners who authored the report have no legal power to actually do anything, and Clearview AI has already pledged to fight any recommendations or enforcement measures. In all, public recognition of the violations of privacy rights are a good thing, but we need clear legislation to protect those rights.

Biden’s keeping “Space Force”
“Nothing will fundamentally change,” indeed.
Lots of jokes were made when Trump created the U.S. Space Force as a separate branch of the military – and at the designation of its members as “guardians” – but Space Force existed long before Trump. It can trace its roots back to the 1940s as part of the space race between the US and USSR, with the US seeking to dominate space with weaponry and surveillance technologies using Nazi scientists to beat the Soviets.
I highly recommend listening to this interview with Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space for more info. The interview starts at about 13 minutes in.

Amazon’s going to watch its drivers — and you
Under the guise of improving safety conditions, Amazon is going to install AI-powered cameras to provide feedback to drivers. The beefed-up dashcams will watch the inside and outside, and provide audible feedback to drivers warning them to “please slow down” or letting them know the software thinks they’re distracted.
Amazon workers are rightly concerned about the development, and you should be too: If you’re on the street, your image could be captured by the camera.
Amazon could improve safety by giving workers appropriate COVID safety measures, breaks, good wages and healthcare. But that would get in the way of their profit.