A new app from TikTok’s parent company allegedly pushed pro-China messages to Americans

A new app from TikTok’s parent company allegedly pushed pro-China messages to Americans

When Liu Yang started his current job, he found it difficult to return to driving his own car: “Instinctively, I went to the passenger seat. Or when I was driving, I would expect the car to brake itself,” says the 33-year-old Beijing native, who joined Chinese tech giant Baidu in January 2021 as a robotaxi driver.

The robot taxi driver is a profession that only exists in our time, the result of developing technology that is advanced enough to get rid of drivers – most of the time, in controlled environments – but not good enough to convince authorities that they can do away with human intervention entirely.

Liu is one of hundreds of security operators employed by Baidu, who “drives” five days a week at Shougang Park. But despite working for the company for just 19 months, he already has to think about his next career move, as his job is likely to be eliminated in a few years. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

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

1 ByteDance’s US news app allegedly pushed pro-China messages
Former employees say they were also instructed to censor criticism of Beijing. (Buzzfeed)
+ Smartphone sales in China are at a ten-year low. (The Register)

2 Mark Zuckerberg goes into overdrive
For the metaverse to work, it needs its employees to work even harder. (USA $)
+ He’s right to be concerned—Meta is likely to report its first revenue decline today. (Reuters)
+ Facebook workers hoping for extra days off may want to think again. (The Verge)
+ Meta is also raising the prices of its Quest 2 VR headset. (ZDNet)
+ Metaverse’s security update annoys its early adopters. (Motherboard)

3 AI convincingly disguised as a philosopher
Which could be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. (Motherboard)
+ The new version of GPT-3 is much better behaved (and should be less toxic). (MIT Technology Review)

4 How Ticketmaster’s Dynamic Pricing Algorithm Experiment Backfired
Charging Bruce Springsteen fans up to $5,000 per ticket was not a good move. (Diversity $)
+ How pricing algorithms learn to collude. (MIT Technology Review)

5 A new psychedelic drug renaissance has arrived
But critics are wary that it encourages psychedelic capitalism. (Wired $)
+ What do psychedelic drugs do to our brain? AI could help us find out. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Russia says it will withdraw from ISS partnership in 2024
NASA says it hasn’t been officially said. (The Verge)
+ Space-time warped around the Sun could hold the key to discovering extraterrestrial life. (Motherboard)

7 New York’s e-bikes keep starting up
The culprit appears to be lithium-ion batteries from China. (Motherboard)
+ How bike parking could make America’s cities better for cyclists. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Floating plastic in the ocean contains nasty bacteria 🦠
Urinary tract, skin and stomach infections are just some of the less pleasant ailments they can cause. (Same magazine)
+ The kidney stone-eating pseudoparasite appears to have given up parasitizing. (Atlantic $)

9 submarine internet cables could soon detect tsunamis 🌊
And track them in real time to help avoid future disasters. (The New Yorker $)

10 Dead spiders turn out to be great robots
More precisely, hydraulic grippers. (Spectrum IEEE)
+ This robot learned to walk all by itself. (MIT Technology Review)



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