News & Analysis

5 things you should know about tech today

- November 26, 2019 3 MIN READ

Happy Tuesday

Here’s what’s been happening

1. Ali G reckons Facebook et al can out-propaganda Goebbels 

Satirist actor Sacha Baron Cohen, of Ali G fame, let rip at Facebook, and other internet giants, including Google, Twitter and YouTube, accusing them of being “the greatest propaganda machine in history” and allowing the spread of hate and violence, leading to “murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities”.

His swingeing speech to the Anti-Defamation League in New York argued that under Facebook’s current attitude and Mark Zuckerberg’s free expression, the social media platform would have taken ads from Hitler on his “solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem”. Baron Cohen pointed to Facebook’s decision to not take down posts by Holocaust deniers saying “It is an historical fact. And denying it is not some random opinion. Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one.”

Dismantling Zuckerberg’s Georgetown University address, he argued: “This is not about limiting anyone’s free speech. This is about giving people, including some of the most reprehensible people on earth, the biggest platform in history to reach a third of the planet. Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach. Sadly, there will always be racists, misogynists, anti-Semites and child abusers. But I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.”

Baron Cohen said the algorithms used amplify content to keeps users engaged “appeal to our baser instincts” and trigger outrage and fear.

Facebook’s “twisted logic” meant that if it was around in the 1930s, “it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his ‘solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem’,” he said.

“So here’s a good standard and practice: Facebook, start fact-checking political ads before you run them, stop micro-targeted lies immediately, and when the ads are false, give back the money and don’t publish them.”

Watch his address below:

2. Get trucked

So Elon Musk launched the Tesla cybertruck and 1000s of memes.

Yes, it looks like something a teenage games coder designed in the 90s.

Musk says the design is partly inspired by the Lotus Esprit in James Bond’s The Spy Who Loved me. Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen took a sledgehammer to the door panel to show how tough it was, the threw a shot put ball at the window. This is what was supposed to happen:

 

When the exercise was repeated at the launch, with Musk saying the glass is “literally bulletproof to a 9mm handgun”, the windows cracked not once, but twice. Watch below from about 7.30 mins.

Tesla’s share price fell around 6% subsequently, wiping around $1 billion from Musk’s personal wealth in the process, but the entrepreneur is having the last laugh, claiming to have nearly 150,000 pre-orders, costing between US$40,000 and $70,000, over the weekend.

Production is due to start in late 2021.

 

3. Unicorn pizza

Domino’s CEO Don Meij has long pitched the Australian pizza company as a tech business, but Silicon Valley’s Zoom is taking it to the next level with robot production, US$375 million in backing from WeWork supporter SoftBank and claims that the business, valued at US$2 billion, could have suddenly double in value in the past year as it looks to raise more cash. The startup, founded in 2015, has moved into the virtual restaurant business with kitchens supplying delivery services such as DoorDash, with founder Alex Garden declaring his intent to become the “Amazon of food“. The business is also supplying composting pizza boxes to Pizza Hut, alongside a few other side hustles, including food trucks. As for the supposed $4 billion valuation – the business currently loses around US$50 million annually. More here.

 

4. Diversity celebrated

YBF’s second annual Lift Off Awards in Melbourne last week recognised the best in gender and cultural diversity in  global fintech .

Here’s a list of the winners:

Diversity in Fintech Innovator of the Year: XchangePeer

Diversity in Fintech Collaborator of the Year: EY

Diversity in Fintech Rising Star: Longevity App

Diversity in Fintech of the Year – International: ZigWay

Diversity in Fintech of the Year – Australia: Timelio

Coolest Branding 2019: Xinja

Best Social Media 2019: Finch

Diversity in Fintech Student Leader of the Year: Rosie Prom, University of Technology Sydney

2019 Star of Social Impact: i=Change

Regtech of the Year: Certainty Compliance

5. Uber’s 2nd London ban

Uber has lost its operating licence in the UK capital for a second time with Transport for London (TfL) saying it was not a “fit and proper” licence holder with repeated safety failures.

Uber first lost its licence in 2017, but kept operating on extensions, with the latest one running out on Monday. The company plans to appeal the ban and will stay on the road in the meantime.

TfL said it detected at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London between late 2018 and early 2019, and drivers that had been removed from the platform returning with new accounts.

Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi said in response “this is just wrong”.

The more than 500 responses the CEO had to that tweet suggest Uber has a few problems in the eyes of the public too.

More here.

 

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