What is QUANTech? An easy-to-digest selection of what’s hot in tech and the impact on society to help you keep ahead in this rapidly changing digital world. Brought to you by Denys Malengreau (@D_MLG).
QUANTech only refers to consulted sources.
Reading time: 5-6 minutes
SPOTLIGHT: Google, 5G and interviews
Project Maven first, China now. For the second time in a few months, Google employees entered the fray, this time to oppose the company’s plans to return to China with a censored version of its search engine as highlighted in last week’s QUANTech. Every power needs a counter-power, and it seems that Google employees truly have taken on their role of being the company’s moral compass. As backlash spread, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai reportedly told staff that China plans for censored search app are exploratory. Between disclosure of the project which has apparently been in the making since Spring last year and the CEO putting it as an exploratory project, we may hint at a step back from the top management at Google.
Things that can be connected, will be connected. And 5G will truly help contribute to it, albeit bringing about many challenges along the way. In this week’s news, we have learnt that LG and Spring are planning to launch the first 5G smartphone in the US next year. On its side, China Unicom launched the first batch of 5G stations in Beijing on 13 August.
Two interviews are also worth highlighting this week. In a conversation with editors at The New York Times, Tesla and SpaceX mastermind Elon Musk detailed how the Tesla turmoil he has been going through these past months has impacted his personal wellbeing.
FLASH (reading time)
• There are reportedly now over 800 million Internet users in China. (4m)
• A new CRISPR technique let researchers repair a genetic mutation in viable human embryos. (3m)
• Bill Gates calls for new economic models taking tech into account. (6-8m)
• India will become the fourth nation to travel to space by 2022. (3-4m)
• The World Economic Forum warns that AI may destabilise the financial system. (3-4m)
• Amazon in running to acquire a movie chain. (5-6m)
• The US government wants Facebook to break the encryption on a user’s data. (1-2m)
• Facebook acquires 2018-21 UEFA Champions League media rights in Latin America. (2m)
• Facebook bus adverts transformed with a clear message in London. (3-4m)
• The fuzzify.me browser extension makes it harder for Facebook advertisers to target you. (4-5m)
• Timeline: how WeChat became China’s everyday mobile app. (11-14m)
• How much do Chinese netizens care about data privacy? (3-4m)
• Eight years later, Google Search won’t beat Baidu. (4-5m)
• This company embeds microchips in its employees, and they love it. (4-5m)
• Are smart cities turning into Big Brother in the name of improved efficiency and safety? (9-12m)
• Your car’s window could soon turn into a video billboard. (4-5m)
FOCUS: responsible tech
Type « spy camera » in the Amazon search bar and you will find plenty of cheap tiny cameras to start spying on anyone. You could buy one. Anyone could do, too. In South Korea, about 70,000 women gathered in the streets of Seoul in what is seemingly the biggest-ever protest held by women in the nation on 4 August. Reason? The country’s growing epidemic of spycam porn. « This creepy porn genre — filming women without their knowledge or consent and then posting the footage online to be used as pornographic material — is locally known as ‘molka’ » The Next Web reported this week.
This is just one example of how technology can threat the social fabric and impact lives in a very bad way. As highlighted in QUANTech 25’s focus about tech for good, tech is neither good nor bad. It is what we make it that makes it what it is. Like a pharmakon: poison and remedy at the same time.
If we have countless reasons to be mesmerised by all the good technology can bring, we should never lose sight of the potential trade-offs at stake and unintended consequences new technology adoption can lead to. Here, I suggest five videos that got me thinking at the time of watching to illustrate that, sometimes with a touch of humour. Total watch time: 17:11.