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It's the smoke that's gonna kill you

28 August Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 90
Rot in the brain
You're one year dumber than you could be. At least if you're one of 95% of the world's population.

This according to a piece of horrendous research on air in China that says we're all breathing unsafe air and that pollution can reduce your effective level of education by a full year. Just by breathing. I mean, sure, pollution already causes more than seven million premature deaths a year, but now it's coming for our IQ? The tests were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted over 20,000 people across the country between 2010-2014.
 
How much are we, as individuals, actually being hurt? Do we even know? How do we know what is good air, bad air and when we are breathing it? Should we not have Air Quality sensors on our clothing? On our watches? On wherever? If we don’t know, how can we take decisions? Or are we asking government to do it for us again as though we are helpless saps. If we have the data on the air we breathe within the metre square of where we are standing, we could do something about it. Perhaps we would frequent cafes that have ionisers; have meetings in the park. 

In a time where climate change is one of perhaps only three or four world-ending cataclysms that might realistically take proper hold, how is it possible that we do not each of us have a shoulder-mounted sensor of some kind constantly recording the air quality of the atmosphere each of personally intake, so that at least we might understand our likely livelihood (and now, unattainable IQ)?
 
You and I might be a lost cause. Our generation is going to live or die whenever it lives or dies. The especially sardonic amongst us might say the same about the next generation too, given how long it takes technology to properly roll back human failure. But our children will have to solve this problem for their children, and when they do they will look at us with shame, and wonder how we could possible have left them with such a catastrophic mess to clean up. Yet even for us, data can help. It can create transparency on the heterogeneity of the pollution, it can *shock/horror* create a market for spaces with better air. 

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

Cool things

But at least our DataCenters will be chill. Google put an AI into production that runs one of its datacenters and saved 40% of its energy. Which is badass and will also help the aforementioned pollution issue.

If you're curious about some of the goodness Google's brewing in ML, and you're about as smart as I am (but no smarter), they've published a new blog about ML for product people which is a genuine romp.

On the Horizon

Iran and Russia are (still) playing online games through pages on Google, Twitter, and Facebook, each of whom took down a bunch of the covertly state-sponsored sites last week.
 
In addition, there's been an interesting security gap highlighted recently by a breach in the popular game Fortnite. In order to avoid paying commissions on downloads of the mobile version of the game, Fortnite set up a private download channel outside of the app store. Through a series of things what done happened after, it was discovered that malicious apps on your mobile device could execute code inside the Fortnite app during installation, and thus thieve. Complicated, but insightful as to the nature of breach vulnerability outside the mobile platforms' own app stores.
 
There is also a little privacy / control kingmaker drama that took place last week too. Apple took a Facebook app called Onavo out of the iOS App Store, because it shows Facebook all of the browser activity of the people who use it. All VPNs do this (though not all are owned by Facebook) and of course that data is visible to both Apple and Google, each of whom control platforms. So do we want Facebook to have access to it as well (at least if you use the VPN it purchased)? Apple at the very least does not.
 
And, we haven't covered it in enough detail (yet), but China is implementing an Orwellian police state quite successfully. Here's a good look at the face-palmiest piece of it, in which we are tracked and rated for our value to our bureaucratic overloards (slash the state). Yay!
 
On the horizon
 
The latest YC startups have graduated, which always makes for some fun backseat driving. There's a new fake sugar company, breast cancer detection in a bra, lab-grown palm oil, and ARM-as-a-Service (kinda). Enjoy.

There's a thing in innovation where you're not not supposed to create a product that tells humans a thing they already know on their own. Like, algorithms that tell me I'm hungry aren't helpful, because biology does it but better. Well tech is starting to break some of those rules, beginning with showing us things we think we know (but better). One of the first of these was put out recently by the HATLAB bounties team, who are looking for an algorithm to quantify "busy-ness" out of calendar data. The reality is we know pretty well how busy we feel, after (or perhaps during) our becoming that way. But showcasing we busy we actually are is a grey area, and how busy we will be is (till now) uncharted territory.

 Comic of the Week

HAT News

Go forth ye, and learn. The HATLAB website is live! Many thanks and welcomes and congratulations to the teams at DROPS, Privelt, ACCEPT and others, as well as dozens more partners, participants, and players. HATLAB welcomes team members from numerous universities, companies, and other organisations working on everything from AI to mobility to marketing - all of it on HATs. Learn more by visiting it online at hat-lab.org or come see us in-person at offices Cambridge, London, and Warwick.
 
Save the date. HATLAB and others will be hosting a series of events this year, none of them announced. If you're keen, hold 1 October, 19 December, and 30 April for HAT stuff and visit hubofallthings.eventbrite.co.uk to stay up to date.
 
HATuring. The good people in London are welcoming Irene into their midst. More details and an announcement in September.
 
Gros bises,

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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