Friday Five: Facebook to study algorithms for racial bias
Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. Facebook to check algorithms for racial bias
Facebook is creating new internal teams dedicated to studying its main social network and Instagram for racial bias. In particular, the ‘equity’ teams will be looking at whether its algorithms trained using artificial intelligence adversely affect black, Hispanic and other underrepresented groups.
The move marks a departure for Facebook, which has resisted efforts within the company to study the effects of racial bias. In the past Facebook has been found to allow advertisers to exclude certain minority groups, while fewer than 4% of employees are black, although it has pledged to double that number by 2023.
2. Apple promises to be carbon neutral by 2030
In the latest climate-focused pledge by a tech giant, Apple has vowed to become carbon neutral across its entire business and manufacturing supply chain by 2030. That means any company hoping to become a supplier would have to commit to being 100% renewable for its Apple production by the same date.
Microsoft has gone further, promising to be carbon negative by 2030 and, by 2050 to have removed the same amount of carbon as it has ever emitted from the environment. Amazon, meanwhile has a set a 2040 target to go carbon neutral, given the challenges it faces in making its home delivery vehicles eco-friendly.
3. Amazon founder makes £10bn in a single day
While the Covid-19 pandemic has been a disaster for most businesses, some have been well placed to take advantage of new commercial opportunities — Zoom is an obvious winner, while Netflix and delivery businesses such as Laithwaite’s Wine have seen profits soar. And, of course, Amazon hasn’t done badly either.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw his net wealth surge by £10bn in a single day this week, while Amazon stock is up 73% in 2020. At the same time, Amazon has faced much criticism for not protecting its low-paid warehouse workers from the pandemic. Still, good to hear Jeff is doing OK…
4. Instagram rolls out personal fundraiser tool
Instagram is rolling out a new tool that enables users to raise money for their own personal causes directly on the app, rather than linking to a third-party platform such as GoFundMe. The update brings Instagram into line with Facebook and allows users to raise money for themselves, a friend or even a business.
Instagram’s approved categories for personal fundraising range from helping a struggling business and covering medical costs to paying for tuition or sports equipment — or even funding a hobby. So if you fancy helping me pay for my hobby of surfing in Hawaii for three months, just click on my photo, cheers guys!
5. The scissors-wielding robot will see you now
When salons and barbers were closed due to Covid-19, many of us asked someone in our houses to cut our hair, with varying levels of success. To avoid arguments (I tried my best, OK?), one inventor decided to build a robot to cut his flowing locks, with the scissors attached to an adjustable lever that rotates around the head.
As a safety precaution, the robot measures the distance between the hair it wants to cut and the scalp, to ensure no ear-cutting-off mishaps. Then a vacuum sucks the hair tight for the scissors to go to work. The end results aren’t too bad, if you ask me. But then you should have seen my wife’s hair after I had a go…