• TikTok changed the shape of some people’s faces without asking | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/06/10/1026074/tiktok-mandatory-beauty-filter-bug/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    Users noticed what appeared to be a beauty filter they hadn’t requested—and which they couldn’t turn off.
    by

    Abby Ohlheiser
    June 10, 2021
    An user opening TikTok on his iPhone
    Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via AP

    “That’s not my face,” Tori Dawn thought, after opening TikTok to make a video in late May. The jaw reflected back on the screen was wrong, slimmer and more feminine. And when they waved their hand in front of the camera, blocking most of their face from the lens, their jaw appeared to pop back to normal. Was their skin also a little softer?

    On further investigation, it seemed as if the image was being run through a beauty filter in the TikTok app. Normally, Dawn keeps those filters off in livestreams and videos to around 320,000 followers. But as they flipped around the app’s settings, there was no way to disable the effect:. it seemed to be permanently in place, subtly feminizing Dawn’s features.
    Related Story
    Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves

    The most widespread use of augmented reality isn’t in gaming: it’s the face filters on social media. The result? A mass experiment on girls and young women.

    “My face is pretty androgynous and I like my jawline,” Dawn said in an interview. “So when I saw that it was popping in and out, I’m like ‘why would they do that, why?’ This is one of the only things that I like about my face. Why would you do that?”

    Beauty filters are now a part of life online, allowing users to opt in to changing the face they present to the world on social media. Filters can widen eyes, plump up lips, apply makeup, and change the shape of the face, among other things. But it’s usually a choice, not forced on users—which is why Dawn and others who encountered this strange effect, were so angry and disturbed by it.

    Dawn told her followers about it in a video. “As long as that’s still a thing,” Dawn said, showing the effect to their jaw pop in and out on screen, “I don’t feel comfortable making videos because this is not what I look like, and I don’t know how to fix it.” The video got more than 300,000 views, they said, and was shared and duetted by other users who noticed the same thing.

    congrats tiktok I am super uncomfortable and disphoric now cuz of whatever the fuck this shit is
    ♬ original sound - Tori Dawn

    “Is that why I’ve been kind of looking like an alien lately?” said one.

    “Tiktok. Fix this,” said another.

    Videos like these circulated for days in late May, as a portion of TikTok’s users looked into the camera and saw a face that wasn’t their own. As the videos spread, many users wondered whether the company was secretly testing out a beauty filter on some users.
    An odd, temporary issue

    I’m a TikTok lurker, not a maker, so it was only after seeing Dawn’s video that I decided to see if the effect appeared on my own camera. Once I started making a video, the change to my jaw shape was obvious. I suspected, but couldn’t tell for sure, that my skin had been smoothed as well. I sent a video of it in action to coworkers and my Twitter followers, asking them to open the app and try the same thing on their own phones: from their responses, I learned that the effect only seemed to impact Android phones. I reached out to TikTok, and the effect stopped appearing two days later. The company later acknowledged in a short statement that there was an issue that had been resolved, but did not provide further details.
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    On the surface it was an odd, temporary issue that affected some users and not others. But it was also forcibly changing people’s appearances—an important glitch for an app that is used by around 100 million people in the US. So I also sent the video to Amy Niu, a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin who studies the psychological impact of beauty filters. She pointed out that in China, and some other places, some apps add a subtle beauty filter by default. When Niu uses apps like WeChat, she can only really tell that a filter is in place by comparing a photo of herself using her camera to the image produced in the app.

    A couple months ago, she said, she downloaded the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin. “When I turned off the beauty mode and filters, I can still see an adjustment to my face,” she said.

    Having beauty filters in an app isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Niu said, but app designers have a responsibility to consider how those filters will be used, and how they will change the people who use them. Even if it was a temporary bug, it could have an impact on how people see themselves.

    “People’s internalization of beauty standards, their own body image or whether they will intensify their appearance concerns,” Niu said, are all considerations.

    For Dawn, the strange facial effect was just one more thing to add to the list of frustrations with TikTok: “It’s been very reminiscent of a relationship with a narcissist because they love bomb you one minute, they’re giving you all these followers and all this attention and it feels so good,” they said. “And then for some reason they just, they’re just like, we’re cutting you off.”

    #Beauty_filters #Image_de_soi #Filtres #Image

  • Here’s what China wants from its next space station | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/30/1024371/china-space-station-tianhe-1-iss

    “From my perspective, the Chinese government’s number one goal is its own survival,” says Hines. “And so these projects are very much aligned with those domestic interests, even if they don’t make a ton of sense in broader geopolitical considerations or have much in the way of scientific contributions.”

  • Police in Ogden, Utah and small cities around the US are using these surveillance technologies | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/19/1022893/police-surveillance-tactics-cameras-rtcc/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    Police departments want to know as much as they legally can. But does ever-greater surveillance technology serve the public interest?

    At a conference in New Orleans in 2007, Jon Greiner, then the chief of police in Ogden, Utah, heard a presentation by the New York City Police Department about a sophisticated new data hub called a “real time crime center.” Reams of information rendered in red and green splotches, dotted lines, and tiny yellow icons appeared as overlays on an interactive map of New York City: Murders. Shootings. Road closures.

    In the early 1990s, the NYPD had pioneered a system called CompStat that aimed to discern patterns in crime data, since widely adopted by large police departments around the country. With the real time crime center, the idea was to go a step further: What if dispatchers could use the department’s vast trove of data to inform the police response to incidents as they occurred?

    In 2021, it might be simpler to ask what can’t be mapped. Law enforcement agencies today have access to powerful new engines of data processing and association. Police agencies in major cities are already using facial recognition to identify suspects—sometimes falsely—and deploying predictive policing to define patrol routes.

    Around the country, the expansion of police technology has followed a similar pattern, driven more by conversations between police agencies and their vendors than between police and the public they serve. The question is: where do we draw the line? And who gets to decide?

    #Police #Prédiction #Smart_city

  • Police in Ogden, Utah and small cities around the US are using these surveillance technologies
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/19/1022893/police-surveillance-tactics-cameras-rtcc

    Police departments want to know as much as they legally can. But does ever-greater surveillance technology serve the public interest ? At a conference in New Orleans in 2007, Jon Greiner, then the chief of police in Ogden, Utah, heard a presentation by the New York City Police Department about a sophisticated new data hub called a “real time crime center.” Reams of information rendered in red and green splotches, dotted lines, and tiny yellow icons appeared as overlays on an interactive map (...)

    #NYPD #algorithme #CCTV #police #criminalité #prédiction #vidéo-surveillance #surveillance

    ##criminalité

  • The new lawsuit that shows facial recognition is officially a civil rights issue
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/14/1022676/robert-williams-facial-recognition-lawsuit-aclu-detroit-police

    Robert Williams, who was wrongfully arrested because of a faulty facial recognition match, is asking for the technology to be banned. On January 9, 2020, Detroit police drove to the suburb of Farmington Hill and arrested Robert Williams in his driveway while his wife and young daughters looked on. Williams, a Black man, was accused of stealing watches from a luxury store. He was held overnight in jail. During questioning, an officer showed Williams a picture of a suspect. His response, he (...)

    #algorithme #CCTV #biométrie #procès #racisme #facial #reconnaissance #biais #discrimination (...)

    ##ACLU

  • The new lawsuit that shows facial recognition is officially a civil rights issue | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/14/1022676/robert-williams-facial-recognition-lawsuit-aclu-detroit-police/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    Robert Williams, who was wrongfully arrested because of a faulty facial recognition match, is asking for the technology to be banned.

    The news: On January 9, 2020, Detroit Police wrongfully arrested a Black man named Robert Williams due to a bad match from their department’s facial recognition system. Two more instances of false arrests have since been made public. Both are also Black men, and both have taken legal action to try rectifying the situation. Now Williams is following in their path and going further—not only by suing the Detroit Police for his wrongful arrest, but by trying to get the technology banned.

    The details: On Tuesday, the ACLU and the University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Litigation Initiative filed a lawsuit on behalf of Williams, alleging that his arrest violated Williams’s Fourth Amendment rights and was in defiance of Michigan’s civil rights law. The suit requests compensation, greater transparency about the use of facial recognition, and that the Detroit Police Department stop using all facial recognition technology, either directly or indirectly.

    The significance: Racism within American law enforcement makes the use of facial recognition, which has been proven to misidentify Black people at much higher rates, even more concerning.

    #Reconnaissance_faciale #Racisme #Droits_humains #Intelligence_artificielle

  • Facebook’s ad algorithms are still excluding women from seeing jobs
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/09/1022217/facebook-ad-algorithm-sex-discrimination

    Its ad-delivery system is excluding women from opportunities without regard to their qualifications. That would be illegal under US employment law. Facebook is withholding certain job ads from women because of their gender, according to the latest audit of its ad service. The audit, conducted by independent researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), reveals that Facebook’s ad-delivery system shows different job ads to women and men even though the jobs require the same (...)

    #Facebook #sexisme #algorithme #biais #discrimination #femmes #travail

  • The NYPD used Clearview’s controversial facial recognition tool. Here’s what you need to know
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/09/1022240/clearview-ai-nypd-emails

    Newly-released emails show New York police have been widely using the controversial Clearview AI facial recognition system—and making misleading statements about it. It’s been a busy week for Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition company that uses 3 billion photos scraped from the web to power a search engine for faces. On April 6, Buzzfeed News published a database of over 1,800 entities—including state and local police and other taxpayer-funded agencies such as health-care (...)

    #Clearview #algorithme #CCTV #biométrie #police #facial #reconnaissance #vidéo-surveillance #surveillance (...)

    ##NYPD

  • How beauty filters took over social media
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/02/1021635/beauty-filters-young-girls-augmented-reality-social-media

    The most widespread use of augmented reality isn’t in gaming : it’s the face filters on social media. The result ? A mass experiment on girls and young women. Veronica started using filters to edit pictures of herself on social media when she was 14 years old. She remembers everyone in her middle school being excited by the technology when it became available, and they had fun playing with it. “It was kind of a joke,” she says. “People weren’t trying to look good when they used the filters.” (...)

    #TikTok #Facebook #Instagram #MySpace #Snapchat #algorithme #technologisme #beauté #femmes #jeunesse #selfie (...)

    ##beauté ##SocialNetwork

  • How to poison the data that Big Tech uses to surveil you
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/05/1020376/resist-big-tech-surveillance-data

    Algorithms are meaningless without good data. The public can exploit that to demand change. Every day, your life leaves a trail of digital breadcrumbs that tech giants use to track you. You send an email, order some food, stream a show. They get back valuable packets of data to build up their understanding of your preferences. That data is fed into machine-learning algorithms to target you with ads and recommendations. Google cashes your data in for over $120 billion a year of ad revenue. (...)

    #Google #algorithme #activisme #[fr]Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données_(RGPD)[en]General_Data_Protection_Regulation_(GDPR)[nl]General_Data_Protection_Regulation_(GDPR) #BigData (...)

    ##[fr]Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données__RGPD_[en]General_Data_Protection_Regulation__GDPR_[nl]General_Data_Protection_Regulation__GDPR_ ##microtargeting

    • Data Leverage: A Framework for Empowering the Public in its
      Relationship with Technology Companies

      https://arxiv.org/pdf/2012.09995.pdf

      Many powerful computing technologies rely on implicit and explicit data contributions from the public. This dependency suggests a potential source of leverage for the public in its relationship with technology companies: by reducing, stopping, redirecting, or otherwise manipulating data contributions, the public can reduce the effectiveness of many lucrative technologies. In this paper, we synthesize emerging research that seeks to better understand and help people action this data leverage. Drawing on prior work in areas including machine learning, human-computer interaction, and fairness and accountability in computing, we present a framework for
      understanding data leverage that highlights new opportunities to change technology company behavior related to privacy, economic inequality, content moderation and other areas of societal concern. Our framework also points towards ways that policymakers can bolster data leverage as a means of changing the balance of power between the public and tech companies.

  • Is the new boom in digital art sales a genuine opportunity or a trap? | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/25/1021215/nft-artists-scams-profit-environment-blockchain

    Artists are jumping into a market that will pay thousands for their work. But they’re running into scams, environmental concerns, and crypto hype.

    Anna Podedworna first heard about NFTs a month or so ago, when a fellow artist sent her an Instagram message trying to convince her to get on board. She found it really off-putting, like a pitch for a pyramid scheme. He had the best of intentions, she thought: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are basically just a way of selling and buying anything digital, including art, that’s supported by cryptocurrency. Despite Podedworna’s initial reaction, she started researching whether they might provide some alternative income.

    She’s still on the fence, but NFTs have become an unavoidable subject for anyone earning a living as a creative person online. Some promise that NFTs are part of a digital revolution that will democratize fame and give creators control. Others point to the environmental impact of crypto and worry about unrealistic expectations set by, say, the news that digital artist Beeple had sold a JPG of his collected works for $69 million in a Christie’s auction.

    Newcomers must untangle practical, logistical, and ethical conundrums if they want to enter the fray before the current wave of interest passes. And there’s a question lingering in the background: Is the NFT craze benefiting digital artists, or are artists helping to make wealthy cryptocurrency holders even richer?

    #NFT #Art_numérique #Cryptoart #Arnaque #Cryptomonnaies #Idéologie_propriétaire

  • Scientists plan to drop limits on how far human embryos are grown in the lab | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/16/1020879/scientists-14-day-limit-stem-cell-human-embryo-research/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    As technology for manipulating embryonic life accelerates, researchers want to get rid of their biggest stop sign.

    Antonio Regalado
    March 16, 2021

    Pushing the limits: For the last 40 years, scientists have agreed never to allow human embryos to develop beyond two weeks in their labs. Now a key scientific body is ready to do away with the 14-day limit. The International Society for Stem Cell Research has prepared draft recommendations to move such research out of a category of “prohibited” scientific activities and into a class of research that can be permitted after ethics review and depending on national regulations.

    Why? Scientists are motivated to grow embryos longer in order to study—and potentially manipulate—the development process. They believe discoveries could come from studying embryos longer, for example improvements to IVF or finding clues to the causes of birth defects. But such techniques raise the possibility of someday gestating animals outside the womb until birth, a concept called ectogenesis. And the long-term growth of embryos could create a platform to explore the genetic engineering of humans.

    #Cellules_souches #Biotechnologies #Embryons_humains #Hubris

  • He got Facebook hooked on AI. Now he can’t fix its misinformation addiction, by Karen Hao | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/11/1020600/facebook-responsible-ai-misinformation

    The company’s AI algorithms gave it an insatiable habit for lies and hate speech. Now the man who built them can’t fix the problem.

    #facebook #AI

  • MIT Technology Review : We reveal our 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2021

    For the last 20 years, MIT Technology Review has compiled an annual selection of the year’s most important technologies. Today, we unveil this year’s list. Some, such as mRNA vaccines, are already changing our lives, while others are still a few years off. As always, three things are true of our list. It is eclectic; some of the innovations on it are clearly making an impact now, while some have yet to do so; and many of them have the potential to do harm as well as good. Whether or not they come to represent progress 20 years from now depends on how they’re used—and, of course, on how we’re defining progress by then. Taken together, we believe this list represents a glimpse into our collective future.

    Here are our 10 breakthrough technologies of 2021:

    Messenger RNA vaccines. The two most effective vaccines against the coronavirus are based on messenger RNA, a technology that has been in the works for 20 years and could transform medicine, leading to vaccines against various infectious diseases, including malaria.

    GPT-3. Large natural-language computer models that learn to write and speak are a big step toward AI that can better understand and interact with the world. GPT-3 is by far the largest—and most literate—to date.

    TikTok recommendation algorithms. These algorithms have changed the way people become famous online. The ability of new creators to get a lot of views very quickly—and the ease with which users can discover so many kinds of content—have contributed to the app’s stunning growth.

    Lithium-metal batteries. Electric vehicles are expensive, and you can only drive them a few hundred miles before they need to recharge. Lithium-metal batteries, as opposed to the existing lithium-ion, could boost the range of an EV by 80%.

    Data trusts. A data trust is a legal entity that collects and manages people’s personal data on their behalf. They could offer a potential solution to long-standing problems in privacy and security.

    Green hydrogen. Hydrogen has always been an intriguing possible replacement for fossil fuels, but up to now it’s been made from natural gas; the process is dirty and energy intensive. The rapidly dropping cost of solar and wind power means green hydrogen is now cheap enough to be practical.

    Digital contact tracing. Although it hasn’t lived up to the hype in this pandemic, especially in the US, digital contact tracing could not only help us prepare for the next pandemic but also carry over to other areas of healthcare.

    Hyper-accurate positioning. While GPS is accurate to within 5 to 10 meters, new hyper-accurate positioning technologies have accuracies within a few millimeters. That could be transformative for delivery robots and self-driving cars.

    Remote everything. The pandemic forced the world to go remote. The knock-on effects for work, play, healthcare and much else besides are huge.

    Multi-skilled AI. AI currently lacks the ability, found even in young children, to learn how the world works and apply that general knowledge to new situations. That’s changing.

    Read more about each of these technologies, and read the latest issue of MIT Technology Review, all about progress. Not a subscriber? Now’s your chance! Prices range from just $50 to $100 a year for you to get access to fantastic, award-winning journalism about what’s now and what’s next in technology.

    #Technologies

  • This is how we lost control of our faces | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/02/05/1017388/ai-deep-learning-facial-recognition-data-history

    The largest ever study of facial-recognition data shows how much the rise of deep learning has fueled a loss of privacy.
    by

    Karen Hao
    February 5, 2021

    In 1964, mathematician and computer scientist Woodrow Bledsoe first attempted the task of matching suspects’ faces to mugshots. He measured out the distances between different facial features in printed photographs and fed them into a computer program. His rudimentary successes would set off decades of research into teaching machines to recognize human faces.

    Now a new study shows just how much this enterprise has eroded our privacy. It hasn’t just fueled an increasingly powerful tool of surveillance. The latest generation of deep-learning-based facial recognition has completely disrupted our norms of consent.

    People were extremely cautious about collecting, documenting, and verifying face data in the early days, says Raji. “Now we don’t care anymore. All of that has been abandoned,” she says. “You just can’t keep track of a million faces. After a certain point, you can’t even pretend that you have control.”

    A history of facial-recognition data

    The researchers identified four major eras of facial recognition, each driven by an increasing desire to improve the technology. The first phase, which ran until the 1990s, was largely characterized by manually intensive and computationally slow methods.

    But then, spurred by the realization that facial recognition could track and identify individuals more effectively than fingerprints, the US Department of Defense pumped $6.5 million into creating the first large-scale face data set. Over 15 photography sessions in three years, the project captured 14,126 images of 1,199 individuals. The Face Recognition Technology (FERET) database was released in 1996.

    The following decade saw an uptick in academic and commercial facial-recognition research, and many more data sets were created. The vast majority were sourced through photo shoots like FERET’s and had full participant consent. Many also included meticulous metadata, Raji says, such as the age and ethnicity of subjects, or illumination information. But these early systems struggled in real-world settings, which drove researchers to seek larger and more diverse data sets.

    In 2007, the release of the Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW) data set opened the floodgates to data collection through web search. Researchers began downloading images directly from Google, Flickr, and Yahoo without concern for consent. LFW also relaxed standards around the inclusion of minors, using photos found with search terms like “baby,” “juvenile,” and “teen” to increase diversity. This process made it possible to create significantly larger data sets in a short time, but facial recognition still faced many of the same challenges as before. This pushed researchers to seek yet more methods and data to overcome the technology’s poor performance.

    Then, in 2014, Facebook used its user photos to train a deep-learning model called DeepFace. While the company never released the data set, the system’s superhuman performance elevated deep learning to the de facto method for analyzing faces. This is when manual verification and labeling became nearly impossible as data sets grew to tens of millions of photos, says Raji. It’s also when really strange phenomena start appearing, like auto-generated labels that include offensive terminology.

    Image-generation algorithms are regurgitating the same sexist, racist ideas that exist on the internet.

    The way the data sets were used began to change around this time, too. Instead of trying to match individuals, new models began focusing more on classification. “Instead of saying, ‘Is this a photo of Karen? Yes or no,’ it turned into ‘Let’s predict Karen’s internal personality, or her ethnicity,’ and boxing people into these categories,” Raji says.

    Amba Kak, the global policy director at AI Now, who did not participate in the research, says the paper offers a stark picture of how the biometrics industry has evolved. Deep learning may have rescued the technology from some of its struggles, but “that technological advance also has come at a cost,” she says. “It’s thrown up all these issues that we now are quite familiar with: consent, extraction, IP issues, privacy.”

    Raji says her investigation into the data has made her gravely concerned about deep-learning-based facial recognition.

    “It’s so much more dangerous,” she says. “The data requirement forces you to collect incredibly sensitive information about, at minimum, tens of thousands of people. It forces you to violate their privacy. That in itself is a basis of harm. And then we’re hoarding all this information that you can’t control to build something that likely will function in ways you can’t even predict. That’s really the nature of where we’re at.”

    #Reconnaissance_faciale #éthique #Histoire_numérique #Surveillance

  • The space tourism we were promised is finally here—sort of | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/02/03/1017255/space-tourism-finally-here-sort-of-spacex-inspiration4/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    SpaceX weathered through the onset of the covid-19 pandemic last year to become the first private company to launch astronauts into space using a commercial spacecraft.

    It’s poised to build on that success with another huge milestone before 2021 is over. On Monday, the company announced plans to launch the first “all-civilian” mission into orbit by the end of the year. Called Inspiration4, the mission will take billionaire Jared Isaacman, a trained pilot and the CEO of digital payments company Shift4Payments, plus three others into low Earth orbit via a Crew Dragon vehicle for two to four days, possibly longer.

    Inspiration4 includes a charity element: Isaacman (the sole buyer of the mission and its “commander”) has donated $100 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, and is attempting to raise at least $100 million more from public donors. One seat is going to a “St. Jude ambassador” that’s already been chosen. But the two others are still up for grabs: one will be raffled off to someone who donates at least $10 to St. Jude, while the other will be a business entrepreneur chosen through a competition held by Shift4Payments.
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    “This is an important milestone towards enabling access to space for everyone,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters on Monday. “It is only through missions like this that we’re able to bring the cost down over time and make space accessible to all."

    Inspiration4 marks SpaceX’s fourth scheduled private mission in the next few years. The other three include a collaboration with Axiom Space to use Crew Dragon to take four people for an eight-day stay aboard the International Space Station (now scheduled for no earlier than January 2022); another Crew Dragon mission into orbit later that year for four private citizens through tourism company Space Adventures; and Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s #dearMoon mission around the moon in 2023 for himself plus seven to 10 others aboard the Starship spacecraft.

    SpaceX has never really billed itself as a space tourism company as aggressively as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have. While Crew Dragon goes all the way into low-Earth orbit, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicles just go into suborbital space, offering a taste of microgravity and a view of the Earth from high above for just a few minutes—but for way less money. And yet, in building a business that goes even farther, with higher launch costs and the need for more powerful rockets, SpaceX already has four more private missions on the books than any other company does.

    When Crew Dragon first took NASA astronauts into space last year, one of the biggest questions to come up was whether customers outside NASA would actually be interested in going.

    “A lot of people believe there is a market for space tourism,” says Howard McCurdy, a space policy expert at American University in Washington, DC. “But right now it’s at the very high end. As transportation capabilities improve, the hope is that the costs will come down. That begs the question of whether or not you can sustain a new space company on space tourism alone. I think that’s questionable.”

    So why has SpaceX’s expansion into the private mission scene gone so well so far? Part of it must be that it’s such an attractive brand to partner with at the moment. But even if a market does not materialize soon to make private missions a profitable venture, SpaceX doesn’t need to be concerned. It has plenty of other ways to make money.

    “I’m not sure Elon Musk cares much if he makes money through this business,” says McCurdy. “But he’s very good at leveraging and financing his operations.” SpaceX launches satellites for government and commercial customers around the world; it’s got contracts with NASA for taking cargo and astronauts alike to the space station; it’s ramping up progress with building out the Starlink constellation and should start offering internet services to customers some time this year.

    “It really reduces your risk when you can have multiple sources of revenue and business for an undertaking that’s based upon the single leap of rockets and space technologies,” says McCurdy. “The market for space tourism is not large enough to sustain a commercial space company. When combined with government contracts, private investments, and foreign sales it starts to become sustainable.”

    Space tourism, especially to low-Earth orbit, will still remain incredibly expensive for the foreseeable future. And that underscores the issue of equity. “If we’re going into space, who’s the ‘we’?” asks McCurdy. “Is it just the top 1% of the top 1%?”

    The lottery concept addresses this to some extent and offers opportunities to ordinary people, but it won’t be enough on its own. Space tourism, and the rest of the space industry, still needs a sustainable model that can invite more people to participate.

    For now, SpaceX appears to be leading the drive to popularize space tourism. And competitors don’t necessarily need to emulate SpaceX’s business model precisely in order to catch up. Robert Goehlich, a German-based space tourism expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, notes that space tourism itself is already multifaceted, encompassing suborbital flights, orbital flights, space station flights, space hotel flights, and moon flights. The market for one, such as cheaper suborbital flights, is not necessarily faced with the same constraints as the others.

    Still, there is no question this could be the year private missions become a reality. “We’ve waited a long time for space tourism,” says McCurdy. “We’re going to get a chance this year to see if it works as expected.”

    #Espace #Commercialisation #Tourisme #Enclosures

  • Singapore’s police now have access to contact tracing data | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/05/1015734/singapore-contact-tracing-police-data-covid/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    Contact tracing apps and systems around the world have faced longstanding questions about privacy and trust.
    by

    Mia Sato archive page

    January 5, 2021
    In Singapore, people standing in a long line, holding smartphones and wearing face masks.
    Singapore Press via AP Images

    The news: Police will be able to access data collected by Singapore’s covid-19 contact tracing system for use in criminal investigations, a senior official said on Monday. The announcement contradicts the privacy policy originally outlined when the government launched its TraceTogether app in March 2020, and is being criticized as a backpedal just after participation in contact tracing was made mandatory.

    Officials said that while policy had stated that data would “only be used solely for the purpose of contact tracing of persons possibly exposed to covid-19”, the legal reality in Singapore is that police can access any data for criminal investigations—and that contact tracing data was no different. Its privacy policy was changed on January 4, 2021 to clarify “how the Criminal Procedure Code applies to all data under Singapore’s jurisdiction.”

    Early mover: TraceTogether is accessed via a smartphone app or a small wearable device, and is used by nearly 80% of Singapore’s 5.7 million residents. It was the first of the major Bluetooth contact tracing apps unveiled in the spring of 2020, and its data is more centralized than the Apple-Google system used in many other places around the world. Singapore ruled out using the Apple-Google system itself because officials there said they wanted more detailed infection information). Participation in contact tracing was once voluntary, but the government rolled that back late last year and there are now mandatory check-ins at most places where people work, shop, and gather.

    The country’s approach to the pandemic has been forceful in many ways, not just when it comes to contact tracing technology. For example, people caught without a mask in public face large fines.
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    Why it matters: Our Covid Tracing Tracker notes the privacy policies for dozens of apps around the world that notify users of potential exposure to covid-19. Although Singapore’s general attitudes about data privacy may not mirror what’s happening elsewhere, contact tracing apps around the world have raised questions of user privacy since the first were launched last year. The news from Singapore hits on activists’ and ethicists’ concerns about data misuse, and groups like Human Rights Watch have outlined how surveillance could further hurt already marginalized communities.

    In a recent essay in the journal Science, bioethicists Alessandro Blasimme and Effy Vayena from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, said that the “piecemeal creation of public trust” was an important missing ingredient if we want more people to use these apps.

    Data is still important: This isn’t the first time the use of contact tracing data has intersected with law enforcement. Last July, German restaurants, bars and patrons raised objections when it was reported that police used information collected in contact tracing efforts to track down witnesses in investigations. And in late December 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that prohibits law enforcement and immigration authorities from accessing contact tracing data. Groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation and New York Immigration Coalition applauded the move.

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