The Future Is Hard To Face
May 22, 2019
“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” – Stephen King
The Future Is Hard To Face
Context: Facial recognition technology is rapidly being adopted by technology, business, and the government. It’s already being implemented by airlines. JetBlue no longer scans boarding passes, they scan your face. The Department of Homeland security kindly provides their database of citizens’ faces to JetBlue. There’s no opt-in, your face is just handed over.
- The 99 Problems
- Misidentification can and does happen, and even if someone proves they’ve been misidentified, they’re still in the system.
- The technology already has problems with people of color.
- Individual privacy? Virtually every Chinese citizen is in a massive facial database, and their whereabouts are tracked at every juncture.
- Will western countries act differently? In the UK a man was recently fined for covering his face while walking past a facial camera.
- Main Takeaway: Facial recognition technology will soon be everywhere, ready or not.
- Additional reads
- San Francisco’s facial recognition ban is just the beginning of a national battle over the technology
- Office worker launches UK’s first police facial recognition legal action. Ed Bridges, from Cardiff, says ‘intrusive’ technology is used on thousands of people
- Amazon Faces Investor Pressure Over Facial Recognition
- Our hot take: Doesn’t there need to be serious debate about how much of this technology is really necessary, what sensible legislation would look like, and how to ensure law enforcement doesn’t abuse it?
China’s Slowing Economy
- America’s trade war is definitely hurting China’s economy.
- Nowhere is it more evident than in the blue-collar capital of Chongqing, population over 30 million. It’s home to an aspiring middle class, with a landscape of factories at the heart of southwest-central China’s industrial sector.
- Just outside the metropolis of Chongqing is Hechuan, the location of multiple automobile factories that employed thousands of people who churned out SUVs for China’s consumer class. Now assembly lines have shut down, workers have left, and Hechuan’s streets, shops and many residents’ pocketbooks are empty.
- Main Takeaway: Overall, China has reported its slowest economic growth in nearly three decades, a historic slowdown amid weakened domestic demand and a tense trade war.
- Additional read: Who’s Afraid of China’s Internet Vigilantes?: It isn’t just government censorship that is restricting free expression in China. It’s also the “human flesh searches.”
Japan Defies The Odds
- Japan’s economy grew in the first quarter of this year, according to data released Monday by its Cabinet Office, despite declining exports to China and Europe. It was a surprise to economists who had expected the economy to shrink due to weakened demand from China.
- All the news is not good, however. Just as exports fell, so did domestic demand. The sharp drop in imports, which fell more dramatically than exports, made for a wider trade surplus. That enhanced Japan’s bottom line, accounting for the country’s surprise economic performance even as it signaled that Japanese businesses and consumers are reluctant to spend.
- Indonesia has reelected Joko Widodo for a second five-year term as president of the world’s fourth most populous nation. Joko was the first true commoner to serve when he took power in 2014, elected on a platform of upholding the rights of women and minorities and improving the country’s woeful infrastructure.
- Affectionately known as Jokowi, he is the antithesis of an autocrat. “My government is about harmony and opposing extremism,” he said in an interview. “I’m president of all of Indonesia, and democracy protects pluralism.”
- Indonesia is the planet’s third-biggest democracy and its largest island nation, composed of 17,000 islands where more than 300 languages are spoken.
- It has the world’s largest Muslim population, yet is a secular state with sizable religious minorities. “For the continued existence of our country, we have to rely on Indonesia’s culture, which is diverse and tolerant,” Jokowi says.
- Additional Reads: Indonesia Says It Foiled Plot to Detonate Bombs via Wi-Fi
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, To Keep Him From Climbing It 24 Times
- Main Takeaway: A Nepalese Sherpa guide has climbed Mount Everest a record 24 times, including twice in one week.
- Mountaineer Kami Rita Sherpa, 49, has been climbing Everest since 1994, and he hopes to do it one more time before he retires. Everest is the highest mountain on earth; its summit is more than 29,000 feet above sea level. The first person ever to reach the top was Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. The southeast route Hillary took is the same used by most climbers today. Mountaineers hoping to scale Everest have a brief window each May in which weather conditions are most favorable.
- This season 381 people, as part of 44 teams, received permits to carry out expeditions on the mountain. As of Monday at least 75 climbers had reached the summit.
- Additional song: Fleetwood Mac – Landslide (Official Music Video)
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– Who is The Avenger? The French Leader
- Emmanuel Macron had an expansive, pro-business vision for France and the rest of Europe.
- Elected two years ago, the former investment banker and political neophyte desired a more inclusive continent. He tried engaging a skeptical populace with an open letter in newspapers to “the citizens of Europe,” and he warned against a “European civil war” that was threatening the continent’s values vis-a-vis the rising tide of nationalism.
- He’s become the far-right’s favorite whipping boy, the well-groomed stand-in for so-called faceless, elitist bureaucrats in Brussels.
– What is the Issue? European DisUnion: Unfortunately Macron’s pro-business domestic agenda has met with ongoing protests, and his ambitions for tighter integration in Europe — in finance, budgets, defense and immigration strategy — have been largely shredded. His goal of accomplishing a wider European citizenry has been met with indifference and hamstrung by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a newly empowered front of populist leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
– What are the Consequences? Is this Europe’s Endgame?:
- Macron’s grand vision will now face its most critical test during the three-day elections for the European Parliament that begin Thursday. Polls in France show his party trailing Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National, or National Rally, party.
- A breakthrough for nationalist forces would amount to a popular rejection of Macron’s vision. It could also paralyze the workings of the EU, and allow populists to slow or block trade deals and budgets while placing like-minded allies in powerful leadership positions. Macron and his allies are intensely aware of how high this election’s stakes are, for his presidency and for the future of the EU.
- Main Takeaway: Turnout is crucial. As one of Macron’s close adviser’s said: “We can’t let people think this is just an ordinary moment. Europe is at risk, and everyone has got to be conscious of it.”
- Severe thunderstorms and heavy rain, with damaging winds, large hail, tornadoes and flash flooding, continue to impact parts of the Plains and Midwest this week.
- 50 million people are under a severe weather threat from Dallas to Kansas City.
- At least 21 tornadoes were reported in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas from early Monday to Tuesday morning, with more possible, especially in parts of Missouri and Arkansas.
- Ongoing heavy rain continues to threaten flash flooding from the eastern halves of Kansas and Oklahoma into parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. Another round of severe storms could flare up in the Plains on Thursday as a new upper-level system punches out of the Rockies.
- The southeastern US is expected to experience a major heat wave with temperatures approaching an all-time high heading into Memorial Day.
- June 1 is the official start of Atlantic hurricane season, but because water temperatures are running above normal to the east of Bermuda and off the southeastern coast of the United States, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters are urging people within 50 miles of the coast to prepare for what could be an above average hurricane season.
- Additional read: Andrea Is 1st Named Storm Of Atlantic Hurricane Season
- Additional song: Tegan and Sara – Dark Come Soon
- When LA’s Air Got Better, Kids’ Asthma Cases Dropped
- They Grow the Nation’s Food, but They Can’t Drink the Water
- Revealed: 1.6m Americans live near the most polluting incinerators in the US: Lower-income and minority communities are exposed to majority of the pollution coming from waste-burning plants, report finds
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau
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