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Technology 1 February 2021

The Week in Internet News: Cook Blasts Social Media Algorithms

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Disinformation bots: Apple CEO Tim Cook raised concerns about social media algorithms promoting disinformation during a speech at an international privacy conference, ZDNet reports. “At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement – the longer the better – and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible,” he said.

Gaming the stock market: In a rebellion against large Wall Street short sellers, a group of individual investors centered around a Reddit forum have been driving up the price of GameStop stock, even as the company faces questions about its long-term viability. One founder of the Reddit community called the effort “a train wreck happening in real time,” CNet reports. GameStop’s stock has shot up by more than 2700 percent since the beginning of the year, even as the bricks-and-mortar game software vendor is facing business challenges.

The power of Big Tech: The head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is raising concerns about the huge influence of large tech firms, Arabian Business says. The fund is worried about “how some of these technology companies are having bigger powers and a lot of the regulators, not only in the U.S. but in Europe and some other parts, are beginning to be concerned about some of the dominant players,” says Yasir Al-Rumayyan, also chairman of oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The new arms race: A quantum computing arms race, involving the U.S., China, Russia, Israel, and other countries, is likely to “remake who are the world’s military, economic and technological powers and redefine industries as diverse as communications, health, finance and energy,” the Jerusalem Post notes. Yitzhak Ben Israel, a former military officer in Israel, suggests that China and Russia could grab the lead. “From the 21st century, we see authoritarians can focus all of their efforts in one direction,” he says.

Blaming encryption for bad cops: After evidence that several police officers participated in the riots at the U.S. Capitol on 6 January, some police leaders are suggesting that encryption keeps them from finding police officers with extremist beliefs, TechDirt notes. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is asking Congress for an encryption back door to conduct surveillance on police officers suspected of extremist beliefs.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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