Friday Five: MWC highlights and predictive policing

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

1. Boxing up the best of British

Realising that they cannot challenge the digital dominance of streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime through their catch-up services alone, the big hitters of British TV, the BBC and ITV, have teamed up to create a subscription platform that is set to offer both classic and original TV shows.

Britbox, as it will be known, is already available in the US and Canada for a monthly fee of just over a fiver and is slated for a UK launch in the second half of the year. In theory it’s a pretty cool idea; what’s slightly less cool is having to cough up a fee for something we already pay for as part of our TV licences. I guess it all comes down to how badly you want to watch three decades’ worth of classic Doctor Who.

2. The future of phones is fast and foldable

MWC Barcelona (note the subtle rebrand) wrapped this week, and in case you didn’t manage to bag a ticket to the Catalonian capital for the world’s largest mobile event, this handy roundup gives you all the headlines in one place. The TL;DR version? This year is going to be all about folding phones and fast AF 5G.

Folding phones have been in the pipeline for a while now and while the Galaxy Fold is less than two months away from launch (in theory), it could be a year or more until prices dip below £1,500. And for those who want an extra G in their lives, the next generation of mobile networks will offer super-speedy downloads and a more reliable connection. The catch? You’ll need a 5G-enabled phone to reap the benefits.

3. YouTube’s failings leave kids vulnerable

Barely a week after YouTube faced intense criticism for hosting content that was abusive towards children, the video-sharing platform has found itself embroiled in controversy once more, this time for harbouring videos that encourage kids — and show them how — to commit acts of self-harm.

That these videos exist is bad enough, but the fact some of them feature on the YouTube Kids app has parents understandably outraged. And YouTube’s pithy excuse that 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute, which makes moderating difficult is, quite simply, not good enough. If you’re wondering how you can make YouTube a safer experience for your kids, check out this quick guide.

4. Predictive policing to calculate crime

Minority Report suddenly doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched after it emerged that dozens of US cities have been secretly experimenting with predictive policing. Just swap precognitive triplets and a wrongly accused Tom Cruise for software that uses an algorithm to predict the likelihood of crime in specific parts of a city.

Nearly 100 official documents about the programme’s use have now been published, including the recommendation of a ‘broken windows’ policy, which favours the harsh punishment of petty crimes as a deterrent. While the software is about efficiently utilising police resources as opposed to making arrests before a crime is committed, it’s still an ethical minefield that will need navigating with care.

5. Humanity’s back-up plan goes galactic

With humans threatening to ruin the planet long before its absorption into the Sun, the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF) is looking beyond the earthly realm for a way to preserve the sum total of human knowledge. In fact, as you read this a 30 million-page archive is hurtling towards the moon at a rate of nearly five miles a second.

Yes, the moon. The small disc aboard contains data in both analogue and digital forms, and is intended to be the first step in the creation of a sort of lunar library. Beyond a full copy of Wikipedia and a guide to more than 1,000 languages, AMF is being cagey about what information is included. If they don’t have gifs of dogs and Blink 182’s full discography, I’m out.

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