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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.
Today: Ukraine comments and a roundup of tech news before the marathon
In addition to Ukraine comments, time available: explaining NFTs, Elon Musk taking over the skies with Starlink, facial recognition at the IRS, Big Tech collusion in home surveillance devices, why the Ottawa truckers have crypto-bros shouting about Bitcoin, and how Wordle is tracking you.
• Breaking surveillance news: Here Comes the Full Amazonification of Whole Foods (by Cecilia Kang today in NYT, Feb 28, 2022): “Would you like to sign in with your palm?”
• SpaceX’s Plans to Send Thousands More Satellites Into Orbit Worry NASA (WSJ, Feb 15, 2022): “SpaceX has been ramping up satellite deployments to power Starlink, the high-speed internet service the company has been rolling out in markets around the world. In January, SpaceX asked the Federal Communications Commission to authorize the company to use a particular setup for 30,000 additional satellites it would send up over time. Those satellites represent the bulk of the 42,000-satellite fleet that SpaceX hopes to ultimately deploy for Starlink. NASA said in an early February letter to the FCC that the 30,000 devices, if deployed, would significantly boost the number of tracked objects in space—by a factor of more than five in certain lower orbits.”
• SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites Are Photobombing Astronomy Images, Study Says (WSJ, Feb 5, 2022): “As the armada of satellites circling Earth grows, a new study shows that astronomy images are being marred by streaks of reflected sunlight left by the fast-moving objects. ... Between November 2019 and September 2021, [researchers] noted a 35-fold increase in the number of corrupted images.”
• Dramatic video shows SpaceX starlink satellites burning up in the sky (Futurism, Feb 10): “A geomagnetic storm last week caused 40 of SpaceX’s broadband-beaming Starlink satellites to fall out of orbit shortly after being deployed from one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets.” And from the NYT: “As a consequence of a geomagnetic storm triggered by a recent outburst of the sun, up to 40 of 49 newly launched Starlink satellites have been knocked out of commission.”
• IRS abandons facial recognition plan after firestorm of criticism (by Drew Harwell, Washington Post, Feb 7, 2022): “The agency had planned to require taxpayers send video scans of their face to a private company starting this summer”
• Identity verification service ID.me has a lucrative contract with the VA. Veterans and their families say it’s locked them out of disability payments and emergency assistance. (Business Insider, Feb 22, 2022): “Identity verification service ID.me has a lucrative contract with the VA. Veterans and their families say it’s locked them out of disability payments and emergency assistance.”
• DumpID.me: “Demand all government agencies drop ID.me. With news that the IRS is ending plans to use ID.me and facial recognition for verification, we must ensure that all government agencies using this tool cancel their contracts and reject facial recognition for identity verification.”
• Wordle Is Watching You (by Shoshana Wodinsky, Gizmodo, Feb 17, 2022): “Gizmodo found that some of the trackers were from the New York Times proper, but most were used to send data to third-party players like Google.” See Bill Fitzgerald's video.
• The restart of history (Feb 24, 2022): My thoughts on Ukraine and the Ottawa trucker protests. As Doomberg put it, “The answer to government weaponization of the financial system isn’t a new financial system. It’s a new government.”
• My own NFT explainer: Pumping up the worthless with NFTs (March 12, 2021)
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|Artist||Track||Images||Approx. start time|
|Ukraine, NFTs, Wordle tracking, Starlink junk, and IRS facerec.|
|Tomaš Dvořák||Game Boy Tune|
|Cadence Weapon||On Me||0:55:59 (MP3 | Pop‑up)|