New story in Technology from Time: Amazon Is Under Fire for Selling Controversial Facial Recognition Tech to Police

(SEATTLE) — The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency — the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon — to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time.

The tech giant’s entry into the market could vastly accelerate such developments, the privacy advocates fear, with potentially dire consequences read more

New story in Technology from Time: Watch the Virtual Reality Recreation of the LSD Trip That Inspired the Whole Earth Catalog

In the spring of 1966, Stewart Brand did 100 micrograms of LSD and sat on top of a roof in San Francisco.

Perched there, he looked toward a curved horizon and imagined the spherical Earth and just how limited resources on our planet are. Out of that psychedelic drug-induced vision, he developed the Whole Earth theory. He campaigned for NASA to release satellite images of the Earth, and created the influential and generation-defining Whole Earth Catalog.

Author Michael Pollan explored the mysterious effects that psychedelic drugs like LSD have on the human mind in his latest book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. In a recent interview with TIME, he explained how these drugs can “break” patterns of repetitive thought and essentially “reboot the brain.”

“The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” Pollan said. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”

To accompany Pollan’s book, virtual reality Director Elijah Allan Blitz reimagined Brand’s trip in a virtual reality experience exclusively for TIME. Take a look below to see it in 360 or visit LIFE VR’s Samsung VR channel to see it in virtual reality.

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New story in Technology from Time: Twitter Bots May Have Boosted Donald Trump’s Votes by 3.23%, Researchers Say

Twitter bots may have altered the outcome of two of the world’s most consequential elections in recent years, according to an economic study.

Automated tweeting played a small but potentially decisive role in the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper showed this month. Their rough calculations suggest bots added 1.76 percentage point to the pro-“leave” vote share as Britain weighed whether to remain in the European Union, and may explain 3.23 percentage points of the actual vote for Trump in the U.S. presidential race.

“Our results suggest that, given narrow margins of victories in each vote, bots’ effect was likely marginal but possibly large enough to affect the outcomes,” according to authors Yuriy Gorodnichenko from the University of California at Berkeley and Tho Pham and Oleksandr Talavera from Swansea University in the U.K.

The research comes as members of the U.S. read more

New story in Technology from Time: 4 Apps That Will Help You Save Money Immediately

Everyone understands the sting of looking over your monthly bank statement and seeing a hefty charge for a subscription or service you don’t even use. But what’s worse is never noticing the extra fees associated with various purchases in your everyday life. Since we’re not all able to hire full-time financial pros to help us out, various apps have emerged in recent years to combat the problem. They work in the background, with little effort required from users, to figure out how to save a few dollars here and there in ways you won’t notice—until they add up to quite a bit more. Here are the best free apps for saving money you didn’t know you were wasting.


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hudiemm—Getty Images/iStockphoto[Clipping path!] New style smart phone isolated on white background

Joy is a brand new app that cleverly utilizes some of the same psychological tricks of dating apps—but in order to help out your wallet rather than your love life. Joy offers you a virtual money coach tailored read more

New story in Technology from Time: Microsoft’s New Xbox Controller Is Designed for People With Limited Mobility

Microsoft has introduced an Xbox controller designed for people with limited mobility.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is meant to take into consideration the needs of gamers who might not be able to hold typical gaming controllers for long periods of time or reach all the necessary buttons, according to a statement from Microsoft. The new controller comes as the company makes an effort to be more inclusive toward all gamers.

“By taking an inclusive design approach and considerations of gamers who might not be able to reach all the bumpers and triggers or hold a controller for an extended period of time, for example, we were able to design a controller that provides a way for more fans to enjoy gaming,” Xbox head Phil Spencer said in a statement.

Developed in partnership with several medical organizations, including The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, along with several gamers who have limited mobility, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is made to be adaptable for each player’s read more

New story in Technology from Time: Senate Votes to Preserve Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

(WASHINGTON) — The Senate has voted to kill a Federal Communications Commission rule that repealed the Obama administration’s ban on internet providers blocking or slowing down certain content.

Back in December, the FCC repealed “net neutrality” rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic.

The Obama-era rule prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps. Critics, including the Trump administration, said over-regulation was stifling innovation.

Three Republicans joined with Democrats in voting to repeal the FCC rule that was scheduled to go into effect next month. The final vote was 52-47.

Democrats are hoping to energize young voters who support the principle of net neutrality, though the GOP-controlled House is unlikely to go along with the effort.

New story in Technology from Time: Facebook: We’re Much Better at Spotting Nudity Than Hate Speech

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Getting rid of racist, sexist and other hateful remarks on Facebook is more challenging than weeding out other types of unacceptable posts because computer programs still stumble over the nuances of human language, the company revealed Tuesday.

Facebook’s self-assessment showed its policing system is far better at scrubbing graphic violence, gratuitous nudity and terrorist propaganda. Automated tools detected 86 percent to 99.5 percent of the violations Facebook identified in those categories.

For hate speech, Facebook’s human reviewers and computer algorithms identified just 38 percent of the violations. The rest came after Facebook users flagged the offending content for review.

Facebook also disclosed that it disabled nearly 1.3 billion fake accounts in the six months ending in March. Had the company failed to do so, its user base would have swelled beyond its current 2.2 billion. Fake accounts have gotten more attention in recent months after it was read more

New story in Technology from Time: Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Amidst Data Privacy Investigation. And More Could Be Coming

At least 200 apps have been suspended from Facebook amidst a data privacy investigation launched by Mark Zuckerberg after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March.

On Monday, Facebook announced its internal investigation was in “full swing” — with teams delving into thousands of apps that are connected to Facebook, according to a statement released by Ime Archibong, vice president of Facebook’s product partnerships. Facebook’s investigation has already led to the suspension of around 200 apps which will be analyzed to see “whether they did in fact misuse any data.”

Archibong said the second phase of the investigation involves looking into whether there is evidence that the suspended apps or other apps misused data. If an app misled users in how their data was being used, it could be banned from Facebook. Once the second phase is complete, Facebook users will be notified via a Facebook read more

New story in Technology from Time: How to Spot a Russian Troll

Spreading false information as a military strategy dates back to the Cold War, when so-called Spetzpropaganda was used as a tactic to confuse and destabilize opponents. Today the job is even easier thanks to the Internet, and Russia continues to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust in the American government to add to a general feeling chaos and unrest in the U.S.

How can American citizens and civic-minded individuals recognize trolls? What should be done to prevent attacks on US democracy? In this video, TIME spoke to political activists who have been duped by trolls, cyber warfare experts and Russian trolls themselves to gain insight into how the U.S. election season was infiltrated.

David Patrikarakos, author of War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century, says that recognizing trolls is becoming increasingly difficult, as propaganda efforts become more sophisticated.

But he also offers a few important signs for spotting a troll social media read more

New story in Technology from Time: Boston Dynamics Shows Off Its Humanoid Robot That Can Run and Jump

Engineering and robotics firm Boston Dynamics released two new videos Thursday showing off what their Atlas and SpotMini robots can do.

In the first video, the humanoid Atlas robot goes for a swift jog through a yard and even leaps over a log.

In the second, the dog-like SpotMini robot climbs up and down stairs. To steer properly, the robot was originally guided by an operator, the Verge reports. But now the robot has mapped the area and uses cameras to navigate autonomously.

In February, the Massachusetts-based company unveiled a robotic dog that could open doors.

In 2017, Google parent company Alphabet sold the robotics firm to Japanese conglomerate SoftBank for an undisclosed sum.