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The Download: Vine revisited, and AI ethicist burnout

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The Download: Vine revisited, and AI ethicist burnout

Good news, everyone: Vine is (probably) coming back. The much beloved short-form-video-sharing app ran from just 2012 to 2017, when it was cut off in its prime. Even now, it occupies a special place in many millennials’ hearts as the last glorious stand before the social web became tarnished and commoditized and every app started looking the same.

The fact that so many hold a candle for Vine may well be why Elon Musk, who is facing criticism as he takes over Twitter and enacts dramatic staff cuts and a worrying swing in the social media platform’s policies, has mooted rejuvenating the app.

But it’s not just the prospect of wrangling decade-old code into shippable shape that should dissuade Musk from relaunching Vine. No matter how much nostalgia Vine inspires among its fans, it’s unlikely to cut through to users who have since moved on to its far more powerful algorithmic rival, TikTok. Read the full story.

—Chris Stokel-Walker

How to survive as an AI ethicist

It’s never been more important for companies to ensure that their AI systems function safely, especially as new laws to hold them accountable kick in. The responsible AI teams they set up to do just that are supposed to be a priority, but investment in it is still lagging behind.

These workers face colossal pressure from their organizations to fix big, systemic problems without proper support, while often facing a near-constant barrage of criticism online. Dealing with these issues can be especially taxing to women, people of color, and other marginalized groups, who tend to gravitate toward AI ethics jobs. Consequently, AI ethicists are burning out—and it’s harming the entire field. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä 

Melissa’s story is from The Algorithm, our new weekly newsletter covering all things AI. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The crypto industry is trying to get out the vote

The problem for that plan is that crypto owners don’t all lean the same way politically. (Recode

+ Celebrities are forgetting they used to endorse crypto. (The Information $)

+ It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Mark Zuckerberg is making himself unpopular with shareholders

He’s plowing more money into the metaverse, despite their protestations. (FT $)

+ Facebook has lost close to $800 billion of its market capitalization in a year. (Motherboard

3 Fighting climate change shouldn’t be left to consumers

We can only achieve big results when governments and businesses pitch in too. (Vox $)

+ Children in the US aren’t being taught about climate change. (NYT $) 

+ Climate action is gaining momentum. So are the disasters. (MIT Technology Review)

4 The creeping, concerning rise of Rumble

The right-wing’s go-to video site is gaining traction, as Big Tech falters. (The Atlantic $)

+ Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform is growing too. (NYT $)

5 Chinese crime networks are duping Facebook users into modern slavery

Victims are forced into running phone scams and bogus crypto schemes. (LA Times $)

6 Gaming companies can’t ignore mobile anymore 📱

Not everyone has a console, but almost everyone has a phone. (Protocol)

7 The future of plastics could be plant-based

The trick is to crack making them in large enough quantities. (Wired $)

+ Australia’s New South Wales state is cracking down on single-use plastic. (BBC)

8 India’s female tech workers are pushing back against sexism

And it’s women from disadvantaged backgrounds who are suffering the most. (Rest of World)

+ Why can’t tech fix its gender problem? (MIT Technology Review)

9 Returning to the office isn’t so bad, after all

But only if workers feel the commute is worth their while. (NYT $)

+ Bosses need to be consistent when deciding who comes in. (Insider $)

+ Not all offices look the same as they did. (Economist $)

10 How to (temporarily) almost eradicate mosquitoes 🦟

A little bit of genetic editing could help to stop the spread of Zika and, eventually, malaria. (New Scientist $)

+ The new malaria vaccine might not be perfect, but it will save countless lives. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me.”

—Author Stephen King makes his feelings on Twitter’s new plan to charge verified users to maintain their verified status extremely clear.

The big story

South Africa’s private surveillance machine is fueling a digital apartheid

April 2022

Thami Nkosi points to the telltale black box atop a utility pole on a street once home to two Nobel Peace Prize laureates: South Africa’s first Black president, Nelson Mandela, and the anti-apartheid activist and theologian Desmond Tutu.

It always happens this way, Nkosi says. First the fiber; then the surveillance cameras. The cameras are useless unless there’s reliable connectivity to send their video feeds back to a control room where they can be monitored by humans and algorithms.

This is Vilakazi Street in Soweto, a historic suburb of Johannesburg—a sprawling megacity now birthing a uniquely South African surveillance model influenced by the global surveillance industry and set to influence it in turn. Civil rights activists say it’s already fueling a digital apartheid—and unraveling people’s democratic liberties in the process. Read the full story.


—Karen Hao & Heidi Swart

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ A handy guide to improve your chances of successful seeds (thanks Ralph!) 

+ If you’ve got any Halloween candy left over, see how it measures up in this Highly Official ranking.

+ This gorgeous little seal has made my day.

+ Consider this a sign to start your very own tiny vintage computer museum.

+ As if you needed another reason to want to visit Europe, here are some of its friendliest cities.

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Best monitor deals: Gaming monitors, 4K workstations, and more

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Best monitor deals: Gaming monitors, 4K workstations, and more

Acer K3 monitor

Mike Jennings / Foundry

, Associate Editor

Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in tech and pop culture. She has written for high traffic websites such as Polygon, Kotaku, StarWars.com, and Nerdist. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.

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Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED review: Perfecting the dual display laptop

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Tesla finally delivers its first production Semi

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Tesla finally delivers its first production Semi

Five years after CEO Elon Musk officially unveiled his Semi, Tesla’s electrified tractor trailer, the company delivered its first official production vehicle to Pepsi on Thursday during its “Semi Delivery Event” held at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. The beverage maker has ordered 100 of the vehicles in total.

First shown off in 2017, the Tesla Semi originally was set to retail for $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300- and 500-mile versions, respectively. Those prices are significantly higher than the $60k a standard diesel cab runs but Tesla estimates that its vehicles can operate 20 percent more efficiently (2kWh per mile, Musk revealed Thursday), and save up to $250,000 over the million-mile life of the Semi.

Each rig is “designed like a bullet,” Musk said at the vehicle’s unveiling, and would come equipped with a massive 1MW battery pack. This reportedly offers a 20-second 0-60, which is impressive given that these vehicles are towing up to 80,000 pounds at a time, and a spent-to-80 percent charge time of just 30 minutes. The Semis are also outfitted with Enhanced Autopilot capabilities, as well as jackknife-mitigation systems, blind-spot sensors and data-logging for fleet management.

As reservations opened in 2017, Musk said at the time, deliveries would begin two short years later, in 2019. By April 2020, Tesla had officially pushed that delivery date back to 2021, citing production delays and supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just two months after that, in May of 2020, Musk sent a company-wide email reading, “It’s time to go all out and bring the Tesla Semi to volume production. It’s been in limited production so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design,” as seen by CNBC. In the same email he confirmed that production would take place in Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory.

Cut to July, 2021, and the new delivery date has been pushed again, this time to 2022, citing both the ongoing global processor shortage and its own pandemic-limited battery production capability for the new 4680 style cells as contributing factors.

“We believe we remain on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021,” Musk said during the company’s Q2, 2021 investor call. “The pace of the respective production ramps will be influenced by the successful introduction of many new product and manufacturing technologies, ongoing supply-chain-related challenges and regional permitting.”

“To better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022,” he continued. Beginning in May of this year, Tesla started actively taking reservations again for a $20,000 deposit. “And first deliveries are now,” Musk said on Thursday before welcoming Kirk Tanner, CEO PepsiCo Beverages North America, and Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods North America, on stage for high fives and handshakes.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.

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