This app will invade anyone’s privacy and the FBI loves it

Clearview AI, a small startup that was mostly unknown until a story from The New York Times called it the app to “end privacy as we know it,” lets strangers figure out your identity through the quick snap of a single photo.

Hundreds of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are already using this facial recognition technology, despite bans on the tech in cities like San Francisco.

The app uses over three billion images to find a match. These photos were sourced from social media sites and even apps like Venmo…

These fears and disavowals of facial recognition tech come just months after two senators introduced a bipartisan bill to limit how the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency could use it.

“Facial recognition technology can be a powerful tool for law enforcement officials,” Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, said in a statement at the time. “But its very power also makes it ripe for abuse.”

Poisonally – and not too seriously – I have to think it might be useful for average Americans to experience what every insurgent activist has experienced for decades in the United States. Every decent-sized police department has a Red Squad that includes photo-recording every insurgent activist on their patch. At a minimum.

First time I recall being aware of some flavor of gumshoe snapping my photo was at a civil rights demonstration in New England prepping for the March on Washington the following year – in 1963. I don’t doubt that this went on earlier in my life as I woke up to folks rallying together against injustice. The swarm of tech and snoops has never diminished since. If you believe it has, I have a Bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

7 sunscreen chemicals are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream

Seven chemicals commonly found in sunscreens can be absorbed into the bloodstream at levels exceeding safety thresholds; after just one use. That’s according to a study published…by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, an arm of the FDA…

The Center’s director said further industry testing is needed to determine the safety and effects of the ingredients, especially with regular use.

The environmental working group, a consumer organization which advocates for sunscreen safety, among other things, reacted to the findings.

It says companies need to urgently test for potential harm to kids and from long-term use.

Makes sense to me.

Guess who AP cropped out of this photo when they published it?


Press conference in Davos of prominent young climate activists
Click to enlarge

When Vanessa Nakate addressed a tweet to the Associated Press asking why she had been cropped out of a photo, it was out of curiosity. She didn’t think her question would ignite a firestorm of criticism and spark an international conversation on erasure and diversity within the environmental movement.

“When I saw the photo, I only saw part of my jacket. I was not on the list of participants. None of my comments from the press conference were included,” she said. “It was like I wasn’t even there.”

The 23-year-old Ugandan activist had appeared at a joint press conference in Davos with other prominent climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson.

But when the news agency published a picture of the event, Nakate had been cut from the image – which showed only the four white activists.

AP responded with the standard trick bag of excuses for their racist screwup. Of course.

Section of Trump’s Wall topples over in high wind


Click to enlarge

Newly installed panels from the US border wall fell over in high winds Wednesday, landing on trees on the Mexican side of the border.

The area is part of an ongoing construction project to improve existing sections of the wall…

The National Weather Service reports that winds in the area gusted as high as 37 mph Wednesday. Video from CNN affiliate KYMA shows the metal panels leaning against trees adjacent to a Mexicali, Mexico, street as the wind whips up dirt from the construction site on the other side of the border.

“We are grateful there was no property damage or injuries,” said Pitones.

Keep the Fake President away from there. He produces enough wind to knock over miles of his crap wall.

A mouse killed the fox

In a move at once unsurprising and highly symbolic, the Walt Disney Company is dropping the “Fox” brand from the 21st Century Fox assets it acquired last March, Variety has learned. The 20th Century Fox film studio will become 20th Century Studios, and Fox Searchlight Pictures will become simply Searchlight Pictures…

Those logos won’t be dramatically altered, just updated. The most notable change is that the word “Fox” has been removed from the logo marks. Otherwise, the signature elements — swirling klieg lights, monolith, triumphal fanfare — will remain the same…

As one insider puts it, “I think the Fox name means Murdoch, and that is toxic.”

I’ll second that emotion.

Builders may someday grow their own cement

In a study published…in the journal Matter, engineer Wil Srubar and his colleagues describe their strategy for using bacteria to develop building materials that live and multiply—and might deliver a lower carbon footprint, to boot.

“We already use biological materials in our buildings, like wood, but those materials are no longer alive,” said Srubar, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, CU Boulder. “We’re asking: Why can’t we keep them alive and have that biology do something beneficial, too?”…

Such structures could, one day, heal their own cracks, suck up dangerous toxins from the air or even glow on command…

In the new study, the team discovered that under a range of humidity conditions, they have about the same strength as the mortar used by contractors today…You can step on it, and it won’t break…

The researchers also discovered that they could make their materials reproduce. Chop one of these bricks in half, and each of half is capable of growing into a new brick.

Maybe not real soon; but…pretty interesting experiments.