Friday Five: Elon Musk’s brain chip firm denies animal cruelty

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Musk’s brain chip firm denies animal cruelty

Neuralink, the firm set up by Tesla boss Elon Musk to develop a device which connects our brains to computers, has denied animal cruelty claims. A complaint filed last week to the US Department of Agriculture alleged cruel treatment of macaque monkeys which are being used to test the technology.

In response, Neuralink emphasised its commitment to animal welfare: “Our central mission is to design an animal care program prioritising the needs of the animals, rather than the typical strategy of building for human convenience alone.” The firm hopes to begin human trials of the device later this year.

2. The environmental cost of drive-throughs

Drive-throughs are on an upward trajectory in the UK, increasing by 41% between 2015 and 2020 to number around 2,000 food and drink outlets that allow you to stay in your car. But drive-throughs come at a cost to the environment, increasing emissions through excessive idling, wasting fuel and damaging engines.

The transition to electric will help to curb the effects of idling, but emissions from brake wear and tyre wear also help to cause air pollution. Cities around the world are starting to crack down on the drive-through, particularly in the US and Canada, with others including Glasgow considering restrictions of their own.

3. Google to overhaul ad-tracking on Android

Google has announced the start of a multi-year process to overhaul ad tracking on Android phones, moving the mobile platform along a similar path to the one sketched out by Apple’s tracker blocking on iOS last year. Currently, Android devices are each assigned a unique identifier known as an ‘advertising ID’.

This advertising IDs are used to build a profile of an Android user that developers can use to target in-app ads. But when the new changes are implemented, the advertising ID will be phased out in favour of alternative targeting mechanisms, called privacy sandboxes, that Google says will be more favourable to user privacy.

4. Uber riders can now drill down into their data

If you’re an Uber rider, you can now drill down into the data that creates your overall rating on the ridesharing service, enabling you to see precisely how many 5-star scores drivers have given you. And how many 1-star scores, too. Hopefully the new feature will provide reassurance that you are a truly wonderful passenger…

However, for those who are poorly rated, Uber does offer a number of tips to improve their score, such as being ready for a pick-up, taking any rubbish with you and not slamming the door. Seems obvious enough, but maybe not after a night on the tiles. Out of interest, the data shows that New York City has the worst riders in the US.

5. Roll up for the Greggs and Primark collab…

Shoppers across the UK passing their local Primark were puzzled as they spotted Greggs steak bakes and vegan sausage rolls tucked into mannequins’ handbags in window displays. Their curiosity was piqued further on Primark’s social accounts, which displayed a receipt showing items from the Greggs menu with a curious emoji.

The secret has now been revealed as the two retailers announced a partnership, with the launch of a new fashion line and the opening of Tasty by Greggs, a new cafe in Birmingham’s Primark branch said to be the “world’s most Instagrammable Greggs”. Yes, fans can now literally show their love for Greggs on their sleeves…



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We write about customer experience, employee experience, design, content & technology to share our knowledge with the wider community.