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The Download: Battery recycling and augmented reality in stores



This is today’s issue of the magazine. loading, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.

Why your iPhone 17 might come with a recycled battery

Today, lithium-ion batteries power most of our personal electronics. The mining of the metals that make up these batteries can result in severe pollution as well as harmful conditions for workers.

The good news is that more groups are working to make batteries recyclable, and some of those efforts are going mainstream, including Apple’s recent announcement that its batteries will use 100% recycled cobalt starting in 2025. .

This says a lot about where the battery recycling industry is and where it is heading. Read the full story.

— Casey Crownhart

Casey’s story comes from The Spark, her weekly climate and energy newsletter. register to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

Snap launches augmented reality mirrors in stores

What’s happening: Snap plans to release augmented reality mirrors that will allow shoppers to instantly see what clothes look like on them without having to physically try them on. The mirrors will hit select Nike stores in the US later this year, as well as a menswear store in Paramus, New Jersey.

Why? The mirrors are part of Snap’s new attempt to start offering AR products in the physical world. Augmented reality has been using the filters and lenses of Snapchat (the company’s term for its augmented reality apps) for years, but these additional uses for the technology create a potential revenue stream for Snap outside of the social media platform app. Read more.

— Tanya Basu

Learning to program is not enough

Ten years ago, technology centers such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon helped develop, a non-profit coding program. This has sparked a wave of non-profit and commercial organizations dedicated to programming and computer science studies, as well as a number of US states that have made coding a requirement for high school graduation.

But simply learning to code is neither a path to a stable financial future for people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, nor a panacea for the shortcomings of the education system. Read more.

— Joy Lisa Rankin

This story is from our forthcoming print issue of Education due out next Wednesday. If you are not a subscriber yet, you can register by simply $69 per year— special low price in honor of the Earth Week.

Must read

I scoured the internet to find the most hilarious/important/scary/exciting tech stories to date.

1 With AI it’s better to be safe than sorry
Yet the largest laboratories are not investing in proper protection. (economist $)
+ Google is using generative AI for its new ad campaigns. (FT $)
+ Discussions about the risk of AI are long overdue. (New scientist $)
+ Should AI systems come with security warnings? (MIT Technology Review)

2 People with long-term covid are still suffering
And they feel increasingly isolated due to the lack of restrictions. (Atlantic Ocean $)
+ But new clinical trials look promising. (Wired $)
+ We have just begun to study the racial differences of the long covid. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Matt Walsh’s Twitter Hacker Did It To Stir Up Drama
They say they hacked into Walsh’s phone with the help of an “insider”. (Wired $)
+ Twitter is getting rid of obsolete blue checkmarks – this time for real. (VP $)

4. All Facebook users in the US owe money
But they are few and far between. (WSJ $)

5 North Korea claims to have built its first spy satellite
The satellite could play a key role in the country’s weapons programs. (FT $)
+ Soon satellites will be able to constantly watch you everywhere. (MIT Technology Review)

6 The U.S. Supreme Court set aside a decision on abortion pills.
A decision on the availability of mifepristone will be made on Friday. (BBC)
+ Texas is trying a new tactic to limit online access to abortion pills. (MIT Technology Review)

7 TikTok Algorithm Continues To Promote Suicidal Content To Minors
Depression, hopelessness and death are common themes. (Bloomberg $)

8 Erotic Hypnosis Ruins Women’s Lives
Predatory men use records to woo vulnerable people online. (buzzfeed)

9. Ultra-short WeChat soap operas promote Chinese decorum laws
Dramas are more provocative than traditional TV shows. (the rest of the world)

10. How video games help people cope with their grief

This gives them the opportunity to process their feelings in the digital realm. (Guardians)

Quote of the Day

“A bard is worse than useless: please don’t run.”

— An internal Google memo to workers outlines problems with the company’s artificial intelligence chatbot, which was launched last month. Bloomberg reports.

big story

How robotic honey bees and hives could help this species fight back

October 2022

Something was wrong, but Thomas Schmickl couldn’t figure it out. It was 2007 and the Austrian biologist spent part of the year at East Tennessee State University. During his daily walks, he noticed that the insects were clearly absent.

Schmikl, who now heads the Artificial Life Laboratory at the University of Graz in Austria, was right. Insect populations are indeed declining or changing around the world.

He believes that robotic bees can help both real creatures and the nature around them. He calls this concept ecosystem hacking. Read the full story.

— Elizabeth Preston

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any ideas? Write me or write me.)

+ There is nothing like teen bedroom.
+ If you wanted to diversify your podcast library, this is list offers some useful pointers.
+ Shh, don’t tell anyone about the hottest and most secret in America, restaurants.
+ Steal about $200,000 in ten cents seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
+ Kenny Loggins keeps writing Songs of Winnie the Pooh.

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Tech CEO Praises Worker for Selling Dog So He Can Go Back to Office



WTF?! Another example of why CTOs (or any CSOs, for that matter) don’t find love from others is the boss of a digital marketing company in Utah, who wants his employees back in the office, praised one employee for being that he sold his family dog ​​in order to fulfill his demands. Unsatisfied with this remark, he accused the employees of “quiet withdrawal” and insufficient work. He also interviewed full-time single parents, saying the arrangement was unfair to children or employers.

At the center of the controversy was James Clark, CEO of Clearlink, a digital marketing company based in Utah. Last week, he hosted a virtual town hall that made headlines for his extreme work ethic that is foisted on employees.

motherboard posted an edited video of the meeting after it was taken down elsewhere due to a copyright complaint from Clearlink. This was mainly intended to discuss the company’s return to work policy, which forced workers living within 50 miles of the company’s headquarters in Draper, Utah to return to the building four days a week, with a few exceptions. This is despite Clark telling employees in late October that there were no plans to stop telecommuting — some employees were hired on the understanding that they would be working from home.

But instead of reassuring employees that they will be back in the office, Clarke appeared to spend most of the video complaining about them. He said about 30 employees hadn’t opened their laptops for a month (quiet quitters) and claimed that some of the developers were working for other companies on their payroll from Clearlink.

Clarke said recent advances in artificial intelligence mean the company needs to increase its productivity by 30 to 50 times that of conventional manufacturing. He also mentioned that he studied at Oxford and Harvard, which he said were founded and operated according to the Judeo-Christian ethic. “I call on any of you to work harder than me, but you won’t,” he said.

The CEO also praised the sacrifices people made to get back to the office. “I have sacrificed myself, and those of you who are here have sacrificed a lot to be here – to be away from your family.” He noted that “I learned from one of our leaders that while listening to this message, [someone] went out and sold his family dog.”

Clark, who served a decade on the board of pet health company PetIQ, said the dog story “breaks my heart as someone who has led the pet humanization movement at other companies we’ve built.” But then it sounds like he’s praising the dog salesman – that doesn’t mean he added the words “Please people don’t sell your beloved pets” at the end of the joke.

Clark ended his memorable tirade by targeting single mothers, stating that they struggled to fill both roles as caregivers and staff members.

“This pandemic has hit breadwinner mothers the hardest. Many of you have struggled to take care of your children while also managing your hectic work schedules and responsibilities. And while I know you’re doing your best… I can argue that this path is not fair to your employer or to these kids,” Clarke said.

“I don’t necessarily believe this,” he continued, perhaps covering his back before confirming, “but I do believe that only the rarest of those who are full-time caregivers can be both productive and fulfilling workers at the same time. with any part of it, but I believe the data will also confirm this over time.”

Not surprisingly, some employees compared Clark to a “Wall Street criminal,” likely referring to Michael Douglas’ character Gordon Gekko in Wall Street films, whose mantra “Greed is good” seems to be often the one that executives adhere to. companies. .

Clearlink told Vice that what Clark said was an internal company matter.

Not that the leaders were against such behavior. In December 2021, Vishal Garg, CEO of mortgage company, laid off 900 employees during a three-minute Zoom call. More recently, MillerKnoll CEO Andy Owen stated that after paying herself a $6 million bonus, the rest of the company will not receive annual bonuses and should “leave the city of pity.”

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Amazon introduces a new feature that allows you to make the dialogue in your TV shows legible



Increase / Promotional image of Dialogue Boost.

Amazon has introduced a new Prime Video feature called Dialogue Boost. It is designed to isolate dialogue and make it louder than other audio streaming on the service.

Amazon describes how it works in Blog Post:

Dialogue Boost analyzes the original sound in a movie or TV series and intelligently identifies places where dialogue might be hard to hear due to background music and effects. The speech patterns are then isolated and the sound is amplified to make the dialogue clearer. This AI-based approach delivers targeted enhancements to portions of conversational dialogue rather than overall center channel boost in a home theater system.

However, not all content will be eligible for the dialogue enhancement feature – at least not yet. Amazon says it “originally launched on select Amazon Originals around the world”, such as The Amazing Mrs Maisel another big sick.

While this is partly a feature of hearing-impaired accessibility, Amazon is also responding to a widespread complaint among viewers.

2022 survey found that 50 percent of 1,260 American viewers “watch content with subtitles most of the time,” many of them referring to “confusing audio” and saying that it’s harder to understand dialogue in movies and TV shows than before.

Problem with dialogue

There is no one simple reason for this development. It combines several factors, but many of them can rightly be categorized as a “fragmented viewing experience”.

Decades ago, most televisions or home theater speakers had similar audio capabilities. However, the range of devices used, from built-in speakers in cheap TVs and laptops to high-quality Dolby Atmos surround sound systems with AI-optimized sound fields and everything in between, has grown. In addition, TV manufacturers present a wide range of proprietary technologies and configurations that they can try to use to differentiate their products in marketing materials by changing the way the same content sounds on virtually every device.

All of this means that professionals who process and encode audio for distribution on streaming networks are short on work. Some shows prioritize sounding good for the most expensive configurations, but the comparative lack of dynamic range in cheaper speakers can leave owners of smaller systems sounding confused. But even if (futile) efforts are made to encode audio for the widest possible audience, devices will still be so fragmented that it may not be possible to provide a quality experience for everyone.

There are, of course, other factors as well. The more theatrical styles of TV acting that were popular in the 70s, 80s and 90s have given way to the more subtle and realistic presentation that was previously the realm of feature films. While these supplies play well in movie theaters with solid sound systems, they don’t always work as well on $200 TVs. Streaming bitrates and associated audio quality can also vary from family to family.

It’s the same set of core issues as the TV show that some viewers find too dark. Many of us remember the last season Game of Thrones an episode in which the audience squinted in vain to see what was going on. It used cinematic techniques played on small screens with limited contrast, peak brightness, and dynamic range, although the then-low resolution and bitrates of HBO Go and HBO Now were a particularly significant problem in this particular case.

Anyway, back to audio: some streaming boxes or audio systems, like the Apple TV 4K or Sonos home theater systems, offer built-in dialog amplification, but not everyone uses these devices. In theory, Amazon’s new feature should work on just about anything, even if it doesn’t yet support dialog amplification.

The company has not announced when this feature will be expanded to more content. But we wouldn’t be surprised to see a rapid expansion – not just from Amazon, but from other streamers offering similar features.

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Dota 2 New Frontiers ‘meta-defining’ update makes the map 40 percent larger



Dota 2one of the most popular esports games in the world, serving over 300,000 players simultaneously on Steam. while I write these wordsjust fell massive update called New Frontiers this will probably change the free game forever. And the biggest difference is definitely real estate: The entire game map is now 40 percent larger, allowing you to explore the edges.

“The main goal of the game remains the same,” says Valve, “your lanes are no further apart, and everything you need to win is still in the center of the map.”

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But Valve continues to describe “meta-defining new features,” new locations, new Tormentor mini-bosses, neutral vision-giving units called Watchers, lotus pools that generate fruit, new items, matchmaking changes, UI tweaks for streaks health, and a lot of hero rebalancing that will affect every character in the game.

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