Summer is nigh in Brussels and the bubble is leaving town. #TechAways will be taking a summer holiday too, but worry not - we will come back to you with fresh takes on tech in September. What better moment than Bastille Day to say that today’s edition will be our last before the holidays.
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Discrimination can be easier to prove when there’s a digital trace. That’s why digital platforms have a responsibility to tackle such problems head on. In a first case of its kind, an Airbnb host has been ordered to pay $5,000 in damages and take a course in Asian American studies after cancelling a stay on ethnic grounds via offensive messages. The California department of fair employment and housing reached an agreement with the platform allowing the regulator to penalise hosts for racial bias. Could this creative approach to punishing discrimination be replicated across platforms and sectors?
It’s widely agreed among economists that advances in robotics and AI will lead to the automation of many jobs, including in law, accounting and banking. Retraining will therefore be crucial. However, this may be a luxury of the élite. A new report from the UK charity Sutton Trust explains the danger. Unless governments take action, the next wave of automation will dramatically increase inequality within societies, further entrenching the rich-poor divide. A vast majority (90%) of respondents of a recent European Parliament survey support a public regulation of robotics and AI. How will the EU and member states respond to this growing unease?
We’re powering on with the AI and future of work theme. Feel like you’re sinking under the weight of the daily news cycle? Things could be worse. Google recently donated £622,000 to the Press Association for its Reports and Data and Robots (RADAR) scheme. As part of the programme, five reporters will work with the RADAR AI platform to create up to 30,000 local news stories a month. Debates over quality vs. quantity and human vs. machine are sure to rage on.
“We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists.” The claim, first made by Music Business Worldwide (MBW) a year ago, resurfaced last week. The music-streaming giant is allegedly enlisting producers to create music under false names in order to feed its own playlists. Not only that, but MBW asserts Spotify is paying these producers flat fees in an effort to avoid paying royalties. The end goal? Lower content costs and reduce the influence of traditional labels. “[It’s] categorically untrue, full stop,” says Spotify. The feud could have ended there but MBW decided otherwise. To be continued.
Panama leaks, Quora and Calibri are in focus during a Pakistani investigation into potential tax evasion by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Documents handed over by his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, were typed in Microsoft’s Calibri font. But the documents date from 2006, when Calibri wasn’t widely available, suggesting that they were forged. The prime minister responded by retweeting a screenshot of a Quora page that said Calibri had been available in a Windows beta as early as 2004. As the investigation continues, we note that this is a whole new era to the days of handwriting experts as court witnesses.
Cybersecurity experts are seeing a worrying trend – hackers and attackers practising on targets in developing nations. Missed the $81 million hack from the Bangladesh Bank last year? Symantec has found the same method used in 31 countries after the initial attack. The trend means security experts are turning their eyes towards these training grounds to discover and arm themselves against the latest types of cyberattacks. One worrying trend – more of the attacks are using AI, with the attack learning from the system and adapting once inside. As some look for digital infrastructure to play a larger role in EU development funds, cybersecurity should be a top priority.
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