All posts tagged Tech

Three apps to help keep you healthy #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 28, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Three apps to help keep you healthy

Mar 26. 2020
“Covid19 DDC Moph

“Covid19 DDC Moph” website showing Covid-19 patients in all provinces
By The Nation

The “AOT Airports” application tracks people while they spend 14 days at home in self-quarantine, tipping off medical authorities if they’re staying put (a green, “normal” status), wandering out more than 200 metres (orange) or are infected or not following recommended guidelines (red).

Photo credit: Ministry of Public Health

Photo credit: Ministry of Public Health

Deputy Health Minister Satit Pitutecha showed off the app to reporters on Thursday (March 26).

He said anyone can get the app. It will record their travels and, if they become infected, it will help officials alert district officials to take care of them, people in close contact and people in the area suspected of having contagion.

Satit said there’s also the “Covid19 DDC Moph” app and the website

Also running in English, they report confirmed cases categorised by province with brief details on each case.

He also recommended the Sabaideebot chatbot on Line, where people talk about the virus in Thai and can register their health records. Should they become infected, that information is passed on to their district health office.

Sabaideebot too has updated information on the daily Covid-19 situation.

YouTube lowers video quality to standard for one month. #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 28, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

YouTube lowers video quality to standard for one month.

Mar 25. 2020
By The Nation

Video-streaming platform Youtube has agreed to a request by the European Union (EU) to reduce its internet traffic usage in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the EU, it has now defaulted to standard definition for all users worldwide.

If users want to watch the video in high quality, they have to manually select it. The measure will apply for one month, starting March 24.

Video streaming requires internet bandwidth – unlike listening to music, sending messages or using maps, because the file size is larger. Last year, Google led in internet usage worldwide, according to Sandvine, a network analysis company.

Meanwhile, two video-streaming platforms, Amazon Prime and Netflix, are cutting bit rates in Europe with Netflix claiming it could reduce data usage in Europe by 25 per cent.

Scientists just discovered a massive new vulnerability in the Antarctic ice sheet #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 24, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Scientists just discovered a massive new vulnerability in the Antarctic ice sheet

Mar 23. 2020
NASA's IceBridge mission flew over the Denman Glacier region, in East Antarctica, on Oct. 30, 2019. The glacier is creeping down a slope that plunges into extreme depths, new research finds, potentially igniting a feedback process that could unload trillions of tons of ice into the ocean. MUST CREDIT: Operation IceBridge/NASA

NASA’s IceBridge mission flew over the Denman Glacier region, in East Antarctica, on Oct. 30, 2019. The glacier is creeping down a slope that plunges into extreme depths, new research finds, potentially igniting a feedback process that could unload trillions of tons of ice into the ocean. MUST CREDIT: Operation IceBridge/NASA
By The Washington Post · Chris Mooney · NATIONAL, WORLD, SCIENCE-ENVIRONMENT

Scientists have found a new point of major vulnerability in the Antarctic ice sheet, in a region that already appears to be changing as the climate warms and has the potential to raise sea levels by nearly five feet over the long term.

Denman glacier, in East Antarctica, is a 12-mile-wide stream of ice that flows over the deepest undersea canyon in the entire ice sheet before spilling out into the ocean. That subsea trough is more than 2 miles deep, or double the average depth of the Grand Canyon. While there are far deeper trenches in the open ocean, such as the Marianas Trench, in this case the extreme undersea topography lies right on the outer fringe of the Antarctic continent – making it the “deepest continental point on Earth.”

That deep canyon is a potential pathway for the ocean to infiltrate deep into Antarctica’s center – posing a threat of significant sea level rise.

Denman glacier, which fills the submerged canyon with extremely thick ice, has begun to respond to climate change. It is creeping backward down a slope that plunges into these extreme depths, new research finds, potentially igniting a feedback process that could ultimately unload trillions of tons of ice into the ocean.

“The configuration of the bed of the glacier makes this one of the weakest spots in east Antarctica,” said Virginia Brancato, a NASA scientist who was the lead author of the new study in Geophysical Research Letters. “If I have to look at East Antarctica as a whole, this is the most vulnerable spot in the area.”

So far, scientific attention has been mostly trained on the West Antarctic ice sheet. That’s because several glaciers in West Antarctica – most of all, the enormous Thwaites glacier, the subject of a multimillion dollar international research mission – have been losing ice rapidly as they are undercut by warm ocean water.

But East Antarctica has the potential to release more ice, and some of its glaciers may be vulnerable to the same process affecting the glaciers in West Antarctica, which scientists refer to as “marine ice sheet instability.”

“The ice reservoir in East Antarctica is nine times that of the West Antarctic ice sheet,” said Helen Amanda Fricker, a glaciologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who was not involved in the current study but reviewed it for The Washington Post. “So when its contribution kicks in, it will be noticeable in future sea level rise.”

The race is on to find the vulnerable spots in East Antarctica – and with the new research, Denman glacier tops the list.

“This study provides additional evidence that, based on current knowledge, we cannot exclude at least a slight possibility of much more sea-level rise than the most-likely value in [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] projections,” said Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Penn State University who did not work on the study.

The study used satellite techniques to determine the so-called “grounding line” of Denman glacier has retreated inland more than 3 miles toward the center of Antarctica in the last 20 years.

The “grounding line” of a marine glacier, such as Denman, is the point deep beneath the sea surface where ocean, bedrock and ice all meet. Farther outward from the grounding line, the ice is afloat and no longer touching bedrock. Farther inland, the ice no longer has contact with the ocean.

If a grounding line is moving backward, more ice is floating, and the ocean is penetrating further inland with the glacier in retreat. That’s what’s happening at Denman, scientists say.

In this case, the grounding line has not only moved backward, but it has also moved down a steep slope into the two-mile-deep canyon atop which the glacier sits. This means the ice front that the glacier presents to the ocean has gotten thicker. It is more than a mile thick, but it has the potential to increase to two miles of thickness if the glacier backs fully into the depths.

Scientists describe this type of glacier configuration as a “retrograde slope” and have determined it can lead to a runaway feedback process in which ice loss begets more and more ice loss. The more the glacier’s grounding line backs down the slope, the thicker the ice becomes. This means the ice can flow outward faster and also that more of it will be exposed to ocean waters capable of melting it.

“In this configuration, it means that once the glacier starts retreating, it’s very hard to stop it,” said Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, one of the study’s authors. “You sort of open the floodgates.”

Elephant seals fitted with sensors on their heads have been used to take measurements of the water temperatures off the coast of Denman glacier. The resulting readings show temperatures more than sufficient to melt ice, around -1 degrees Celsius, in the ocean offshore at about 300 meters of depth. If that water is making its way beneath the glacier’s floating portion, its “ice tongue,” and all the way to the grounding line, the melting potential would be high and explain why Denman already is in retreat.

“We have the indirect signature of that warm water by the fact that the ice is melting from the bottom at relatively high rates compared to the rest of East Antarctica,” said Rignot.

Denman already has lost over 250 billion tons of ice, researchers have calculated, equivalent to a little over half a millimeter of sea level rise. But there are 540 trillion tons of ice loss potential if the glacier were to travel backward across the entire subterranean canyon – a distance of nearly 100 miles. At this point, the melting could then reach a critical area of Antarctica called the Aurora Subglacial Basin.

Here, enormous volumes of ice rest on a bed well below sea level. If the ocean gets into the Aurora Basin due to the loss of Denman glacier, there is the potential for nearly five feet of sea level rise.

It’s unclear how fast this dynamic could play out. In a region with a complex and little understood undersea topography, it’s unknown how much warm water is making it to the base of Denman, and that makes a huge difference, said Donald Blankenship, a glaciologist at the University of Texas at Austin who has conducted extensive research on East Antarctica.

“What they’ve proven is there is a path for that warm water to get to the grounding zone. They have proven existence, not sensitivity,” Blankenship said. “And that’s important.”

Experts pointed out another key factor that could slow down Denman’s ice loss. The pathway into the deep canyon appears to be relatively narrow, with extremely high and steep rock walls that will provide friction that could slow the ice flow.

“The situation is quite complex, with the steep retrograde slope and great depth favoring instability, but the narrow fjord, as the authors point out, perhaps favoring slower changes or even restabilization,” Alley said.

For now, scientists cannot say how rapidly Denman is likely to lose ice – only that it is already doing so and shows a worrying geometry.

“All the elements that are there,” said Brancato. “The bed topography and the melt rates that we observe very close to the grounding line make it the perfect recipe for the glacier to keep on retreating.”

Google video encourages frequent hand-washing #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Google video encourages frequent hand-washing

Mar 20. 2020
By The Nation

Frequent hand-washing is the best way to prevent  Covid-19 infection and other diseases, say global health officials.

The preventive measure  was first proposed by Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, a German-Hungarian physician and scientist in 1847. His theory wasn’t commonly accepted until decades later when the rate of infection at Vienna General Hospital went down sharply after the practice was widely adopted.

To mark his contributions in mitigating the risk of  virus infection, he is being honoured with a video by Google Doodle where a doctor  demonstrates  how to wash your hands in a  40-second timer.

The video is accessible via Google search engine.

The coronavirus outbreak  has led to an overwhelming demand for sanitising hand gels, but medical experts say washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds each time is the best way to fight the virus.

Microsoft teams new features may prove helpful for workers at home #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Microsoft teams new features may prove helpful for workers at home

Mar 19. 2020
File photo by Syndication Washington Post

File photo by Syndication Washington Post
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Dina Bass · BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY, CAREER-WORKPLACE

Microsoft unveiled new features for its Teams corporate-chat software, timed to the product’s third anniversary and arriving amid a surge of interest in digital workplace communications tools spurred by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Several of the tools may be especially useful for employees in the new world of work from home. Real-time noise suppression should block out the sounds of background typing and family members sharing the same space amid virus isolation orders. Another feature lets users virtually “raise their hand,” a boon for large conference calls when everyone’s trying to talk.

There’s also offline and low-bandwidth support, which allows users to read and write messages without an internet connection, and a new tool in the U.S. that lets smaller businesses use Teams as their phone service, Microsoft said Thursday in announcing the new features.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said that while everyone is most focused on health and safety, as well as the economic impacts of the virus, technology like Teams can help.

“We also of course recognize the role of technology and how it can play a supporting role for those working tirelessly to reduce the impact of covid-19 – from health-care providers staying connected with tele-health solutions, schools and universities teaching via virtual classrooms and remote learning, to businesses of all sizes who are enabling their employees to work remotely,” Nadella said in a virtual press briefing.

Rival Slack Technologies on Wednesday unveiled an app redesign meant to make its workplace communications software simpler to use and more tailored to an individual’s needs, as it tries to fend of Teams. The two companies have been battling to add more features and gain more customers. Microsoft said Teams had 32 million daily users as of March 11 – a number that climbed to 44 million worldwide as of Wednesday. The software now counts 20 clients with more than 100,000 users apiece, the company said. Slack last reported 12 million daily users in September but that was before the recent explosion of remote work.

Now both chat services, along with Zoom Technologies Inc.’s teleconferencing software, are getting more use than any of the companies could have anticipated, but not for the reasons they hoped. It remains to be seen whether the products perform well in the current trial-by-fire and whether work habits permanently changes the pandemic. Some Teams users in Europe and the U.S. experienced outages and slowdowns on Monday.

“We’re never going to go back to working the way that we did,” said Jared Spataro, a corporate vice president at Microsoft 365.

While the world grinds to a halt, Apple pumps out a new iPad Pro and MacBook Air #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

While the world grinds to a halt, Apple pumps out a new iPad Pro and MacBook Air

Mar 19. 2020
By The Washington Post · Reed Albergotti, Heather Kelly · BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY

Apple on Wednesday announced two new computers and a new iPad, a test of how well it can manufacture, ship and sell products during the coronavirus outbreak.

Like companies across the U.S., the consumer electronics giant has been disrupted by the virus. Its Cupertino, California, headquarters are in the middle of a shelter-in-place zone, it moved its June WWDC developers conference online, and it shut down its hundreds of retail stores outside of “greater China” until at least March 27.

But Apple is trying to leverage its size, power and cash reserves to continue to ship and sell products during the outbreak. Some of the new devices it announced Wednesday will be available to ship as early as next week.

Manufacturing experts say the new products were likely impacted less severely than products scheduled for release later in the year. That’s because the early stages of designing and manufacturing the product probably took place many months before the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple declined to comment.

The announcements are all updates to existing products – the kind of thing that Apple commonly does with a news release instead of one of its scripted media events. However, the coronavirus shutdowns could impact its usual schedule of in-person press events, which take place regularly throughout the year at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Cupertino campus. It’s still unknown if the company will hold an event Apple watchers expect was scheduled for the end of March to announce an update to its new lower-end iPhone SE, or opt for a news release or live stream.

The company’s new slate of updated gadgets includes an improved MacBook Air that starts at $999. Apple swapped out that device’s vexing “butterfly” keyboard that was prone to failure. There’s a new iPad Pro that will cost $799 and up, and a separate keyboard case that includes a track pad, giving iPad users the ability to use it or a Bluetooth mouse, in addition to tapping on the screen. It is also releasing a refreshed version of its Mac mini computer that starts at $799.

While the next months of closed stores, lost jobs and self-isolation will be disastrous for some of its competitors, like smaller hardware players and start-ups, Apple has the resources and cash reserves to keep making and selling its products despite an expected dip in sales. Apple told investors on Feb. 17 that it would miss its second quarter revenue goals because of a reduction in factory output and slowing demand in China because of coronavirus. That came after an earlier warning during an earnings call that prompted the company to give a wider-than normal revenue range.

On Mar. 13, Apple announced that it was closing the rest of its retail stores around the world, just as it began to open its China stores. Gene Munster, head of research for Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm that follows Apple closely, said he expects that about 8 percent of Apple’s sales come from its retail stores, and its store closures will dent its quarterly revenue by around 1 to 2%, some of which will be transferred to online sales.

Apple has sped up how quickly it ships products to customers, according to Munster. By Tuesday, it was possible to get an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro in two days, down from an average of nearly seven days on March 4th. For AirPods, the shipping time was cut by three days to an average of a seven-day wait over the same period.

Like manufacturers around the world, Apple’s production process has been thrown off course by the coronavirus. First, manufacturing in China slowed way down. Now that the virus is more under control in China, factories are ramping back up and stores are reopening – but tech workers in the U.S. are now mostly working from home, making collaboration and development slower.

During early development, experts say, Apple engineers commute frequently between China and Cupertino to design the product and ensure that the manufacturing lines are running smoothly. Inevitably, there are defects and tweaks in materials and design that must be made. Apple engineers closely inspect the manufacturing lines for early prototypes to spot problems with the process, former Apple employees said.

Foxconn, the manufacturing giant made famous for handling the assembly of many Apple products, including the iPhone, has made changes in recent months because of coronavirus. One executive who is working with Foxconn to manufacture a consumer electronics device said Foxconn has begun to conduct videoconferencing calls, in lieu of trips to China. This had never been done in the past because of security concerns, said the person, who wished to remain anonymous to preserve the relationship with Foxconn.

Many of Foxconn’s senior engineers have not returned to China, this person said, and are instead working from home and videoconferencing from Taiwan, where Foxconn is headquartered.

Foxconn didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The situation around manufacturing changes by the day, according to people making products in China. On Tuesday, Foxconn sent out emails with updated production schedules. Makers of consumer electronics products say they’re facing anywhere from two to three months of delays. But on Wednesday, Foxconn sent around a second set of emails that identified virus-related delays in certain components and machinery needed for manufacturing.

The person described a new ebb and flow, where teams collaborating around the world are faced with confusion over emails and other communication. Finally, a videoconference ensues and the confusion lifts, at least temporarily. Then the cycle starts again.

This type of disruption could slow Apple down, analysts said, and lead to delays in new product announcements. Such delays can sink smaller hardware companies that don’t have enough cash to weather the storm. For Apple, they may only delay sales, experts said.

Senate Democrats raise privacy concerns with Google about coronavirus screening service #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Senate Democrats raise privacy concerns with Google about coronavirus screening service

Mar 19. 2020

A coronavirus screening service launched by Google’s sister company this week is raising red flags on Capitol Hill, where five senior Senate Democrats are questioning whether the tech giant is properly safeguarding patients’ data.

Lawmakers’ concerns center on the tech giant’s new tool that allows people in the San Francisco Bay Area to input their symptoms, and if they show signs of coronavirus, obtain testing. Verily, the health subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, unveiled the portal Monday after President Donald Trump touted it days earlier.

But congressional Democrats including New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, and California Sen. Kamala Harris, say they aren’t clear what Google plans to do with the data it collects – and whether information the company obtains, or possibly harnesses from users’ browsing habits, might be used for a range of purposes that people might not expect.

To that end, lawmakers asked Google as well as the Trump administration in letters Wednesday to explain the privacy protections in place and how Google’s effort would be monitored going forward.

“We are concerned that neither the [Trump] administration nor Google has fully contemplated the range of threats to Americans’ personally identifiable information,” lawmakers wrote.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Verily, the Google subsidiary that is operating the service, reiterated in a blog post Wednesday that it is the entity collecting data, not Google, and information from the two is not linked.

“We do not combine this data with an individual’s Google account, and were we to ever wish to do so, individuals would need to provide separate and explicit consent,” Verily said.

The White House also did not immediate respond. Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio also signed the letter.

As soon as Google announced its coronavirus-screening service, it found itself mired in political controversy: The site differed in key ways from the service that Trump initially previewed publicly, leading to a behind-the-scenes scramble by Google leaders to match their visions before unveiling their covid-19 screener, named after the disease coronavirus causes.

To use the service, patients have to create or log into their Google accounts and answer key questions about their symptoms and general health.

In handling that information, Verily pledges on its site it is “committed to maintaining high privacy standards and keeping your data safe.” Troubling watchdogs and regulators, however, is language elsewhere indicating data collected by the company may be “shared with certain service providers engaged to perform services on behalf of Verily, including Google,” for a range of purposes.

Senate Democrats asked Google to elaborate on what will happen to data collected through the service – including whether it will be sold or used for ads – as well as its broader privacy policies around health data. They said their privacy concerns are particularly pressing given Google’s ambitions around health data, which includes partnership with Ascension Health, a network of hospitals and doctors offices that will allow the tech giant to process millions of patients’ health records.

“If Google and its subsidiaries fail to establish sufficient privacy safeguards, Americans who use the site will be more susceptible to identity theft, negative credit decisions, and employment discrimination,” the lawmakers wrote.

Time spent streaming spiked 20% worldwide this past weekend #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Time spent streaming spiked 20% worldwide this past weekend

Mar 19. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Lucas Shaw, Olga Kharif · TECHNOLOGY, ENTERTAINMENT, FILM, TV 

For years, TV executives have fretted there is too much TV. Now, with the coronavirus looming large, they are worried there might not be enough.

Because of the pandemic, streaming surged this past weekend, according to Wurl Inc., a company that delivers video and advertising to connected TVs. The amount of time people spent streaming spiked by more than 20% worldwide, including more than 40% in Austria and Spain.

While streaming services haven’t commented on any increases in traffic, researchers are seeing more activity in places like Netflix and Twitch, the online gaming network owned by Installs of the Netflix app leaped 34% last week in Spain and 57% in Italy, according to SensorTower. Italy has the second-most coronavirus cases worldwide, after China.

“While video streaming is far from the most important thing on the world agenda, it is an industry that indirectly will see a major shift due to the crisis,” said Sean Doherty, Wurl’s chief executive officer.

Driving that growth is the collapse of many leisure and entertainment activities because of the virus, from restaurants and movie theaters to professional sports and concerts.

The swift expansion of streaming use comes with some challenges. Austrian regulators are considering suspending neutrality rules to let network operators throttle Netflix bandwidth, after a rise in data congestion complaints from people working at home, an Austrian newspaper reported.

Media companies have torn up their normal strategies to satisfy growing demand for programming from people stuck at home. Universal Pictures, the studio division of cable giant Comcast, will offer three movies for rental at home before they leave theaters, while Walt Disney Co. released “Frozen 2” on its streaming services months ahead of schedule.

While viewing of live TV is also on the rise thanks to 24/7 coverage of the virus outbreak and more people being stuck at home, production of most TV shows and movies has halted for the foreseeable future, creating a potential shortage of new programming.

Streaming services are in a good position because consumers look to them for their libraries of titles on demand — not a live feed — and they have already banked programs for release in the weeks ahead.

Traditional TV networks must be on the air 24 hours a day, and outlets such as CBS, Turner and ESPN have scrambled to replace the live sports that have gone on hiatus.

That’s opened the door to unconventional forms of programming, from marble rolling to live in-home concerts. Singer John Legend performed from his home Tuesday, streaming live on Instagram for an audience that reached almost 100,000 people.

One industry that may face minimal disruption from the pandemic is video games, which participants have long enjoyed and played without being in the same place.

The audience at Twitch, which lets viewers see gamers compete via livestreams, has increased 10% in the past few days, according to Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements, a provider of tools and services to the industry. And YouTube Gaming is up 15%, he said.

“With more stay-at-home mandates being issued around the world and the entertainment industry finding new ways to migrate their offerings to livestreaming platforms, we expect to see these numbers rise,” he said in an email.

David Steinberg, who is 27 and streams himself playing video games, saw an influx of viewers in recent weeks as more people have been staying home.

“Now that sports are canceled — NBA, PGA — they are just out of stuff to watch,” he said. “I am a one-man army here in my basement and I can still create content. And with so many people looking online — especially on Facebook, where they check how is their family is doing — it’s been good.”

An increase in viewers could translate into more revenue from advertisers or sponsors looking to reach that captive audience, unless, that is, those companies tighten their belts, too. Steinberg says his total audience across sites like Facebook and YouTube is 3.5 million.

“I’ve gotten thousands of messages from people,” Steinberg said.

Facebook to provide portal for coronavirus information #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

Facebook to provide portal for coronavirus information

Mar 19. 2020
By The Washington Post · Elizabeth Dwoskin · NATIONAL, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA

Facebook on Wednesday announced a portal that aims to be a one-stop shop for its more than 2.5 billion users to find news and resources about the novel coronavirus, something it said was a step in an effort to combat falsehoods and provide accurate information in the face of a fast-moving pandemic.

The new coronavirus information center will roll out over the next 24 hours and will go at the top of users’ Facebook newsfeeds, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on a media call. He stressed that the most important service Facebook can provide right now is authoritative information – while removing hoaxes and other falsehoods that could cause immediate harm to public health.

“The top priority and focus for us has been making sure people can get access to good information and trusted sources during the pandemic,” he said.

Zuckerberg also said the company would allow thousands of content moderators who review banned content such as child pornography and terrorism to work from home, even though doing so could challenge the company’s efforts to protect its members from disturbing content. For weeks, moderators and other third-party contractors complained that while most full-time Facebook employees have been working from home, many contractors were still required to go to the office as recently as Monday. Content moderators circulated a petition on Facebook’s internal systems protesting the issue this week.

Since the new coronavirus began sweeping the world earlier this year, misinformation has proliferated across social media, including on the company’s platforms WhatsApp and Instagram. As government leaders and health officials are racing to contain the global pandemic, that onslaught of misinformation has hindered some of their efforts.

Facebook says it has taken steps to combat misinformation regarding the pandemic. The social networking giant previously said it was working to remove content making dangerous claims, such as those that suggest that drinking bleach cures the coronavirus, which violate its policies prohibiting speech that can cause real-world harm. The decision to remove such content was made personally by Zuckerberg, according to a person familiar with the effort, who said on the call that the issue was fairly “black and white” for him.

On the call, Zuckerberg said that “even in the most free expression friendly traditions, like the United States, there’s a precedent that you don’t allow people to yell fire in a crowded room.” He added, “I had think this is similar.”

But Facebook is still struggling to handle misinformation about the coronavirus, as well as where to draw the line around harmful speech. This week, the company conceded that it had mistakenly marked articles from legitimate news sites as spam. The company faces a particular challenge on its WhatsApp messaging service because the content is encrypted, making it harder to scan for policy violations and harmful messages.

Zuckerberg has defended the notion that free speech should be protected, no matter how ugly, and the company typically refuses to take down content that falls short of causing real-world harm.

For example, Facebook recently chose to keep up an advertisement from President Donald Trump’s campaign that directed people to incorrect census information, only to change course in a matter of hours in response to public pressure. The company has a policy banning misleading information about the U.S. census. Zuckerberg has also previously defended Holocaust denial on Facebook.

Facebook is taking a more muscular approach in response to covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Instagram said it was removing false information associated with the covid-19 hashtag and replaced it with resources from the World Health Organization, the CDC, and other authorities. It has also given those organizations free advertising and has banned the sale of medical face masks to prevent people from profiting off of a pandemic.

In his capacity as head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Zuckerberg has also funded a task force that seeks to quadruple coronavirus testing in the Bay Area.

Facebook has announced a $100 million grant for small businesses that use the platform and is giving $1,000 to each of its employees to help cover costs during the pandemic.

Zuckerberg said that he himself was working from home, and that doing so was a “big change” now that his kids’ schools were closed.

He said the company would have to shift resources so content moderators who worked from home would take on less disturbing content to review. Full-time workers would help pick up the slack. But workers in the Philippines, where Facebook and other tech giants employ thousands of moderators, will not be able to work from home, a Facebook official later confirmed.

The new work-from-home policies, Zuckerberg conceded, would cause some slowdown in moderation, particularly for posts that are not as urgently problematic. But Zuckerberg said he was looking for ways to ramp up its moderation efforts.

He said he was also concerned about loneliness, referencing a surge in the use of Facebook platforms such as Messenger since quarantines began. The use of Facebook Messenger, for example, has doubled in some locations, he said.

“I am worried about the isolation of people being at home, that it could lead to more depression and mental health issues,” he said. “I want to make sure that we are more ahead of that during this time.”

U.S. government, tech industry discussing ways to harness location data to combat coronavirus #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published March 18, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

U.S. government, tech industry discussing ways to harness location data to combat coronavirus

Mar 18. 2020
By The Washington Post · Tony Romm, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg · NATIONAL, TECHNOLOGY, HEALTH, COURTSLAW

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government is in active talks with Facebook, Google and a wide array of tech companies and health experts about how they can use location data gleaned from Americans’ phones to combat the novel coronavirus, including tracking whether people are keeping one another at safe distances to stem the outbreak.

Public-health experts are interested in the possibility that private-sector companies could compile the data in anonymous, aggregated form, which they could then use to map the spread of the infection, according to three people familiar with the effort, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the project is in its early stages.

Analyzing trends in smartphone owners’ whereabouts could prove to be a powerful tool for health authorities looking to track coronavirus, which has infected more than 180,000 people globally. But it’s also an approach that could leave some Americans uncomfortable, depending on how it’s implemented, given the sensitivity when it comes to details of their daily whereabouts. Multiple sources stressed that – if they proceed – they are not building a government database.

In recent interviews, Facebook executives said the U.S. government is particularly interested in understanding patterns of people’s movements, which can be derived through data the company collects from users who allow it. The tech giant in the past has provided this information to researchers in the form of statistics, which in the case of coronavirus, could help officials predict the next hotspot or decide where to allocate overstretched health resources.

Google also confirmed late Tuesday it had been in conversations with government officials, tech giants and health experts about ways to tap its trove of location data, particularly any insights it can derive from its popular maps app.

“We’re exploring ways that aggregated anonymized location information could help in the fight against COVID-19. One example could be helping health authorities determine the impact of social distancing, similar to the way we show popular restaurant times and traffic patterns in Google Maps,” spokesman Johnny Luu said in a statement, stressing any such partnership “would not involve sharing data about any individual’s location, movement, or contacts.”

At the White House, an official at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the government is “encouraged by American technology companies looking to leverage aggregated, anonymized data to glean key insights for covid-19 modeling efforts.”

The official added those insights might “help public health officials, researchers, and scientists improve their understanding of the spread of covid-19 and transmission of the disease.”

A task force created by tech executives, entrepreneurs and investors presented a range of ideas around disease mapping and telehealth to the White House during a private meeting Sunday. The discussions included representatives from tech giants, including Apple and Google; investors led by the New York-based firm Hangar and well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway; public-health leaders from Harvard University; and smaller telehealth startups like Ro, two sources said.

“We are still in the process of collecting ideas, recommendations, and proposed actions from task-force members, which we intend to present to the White House in the coming days,” said Josh Mendelsohn, the managing partner at Hangar, who helped organize the effort.

Many of those involved either did not respond or declined comment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple said late Tuesday that it has only worked on issues related to telehealth and distance learning, stressing that it doesn’t collect iPhone users’ location data.

The early, unprecedented collaboration between Washington and Silicon Valley reflects the urgent, nationwide scramble to stop a deadly malady that has shuttered businesses, skewered the stock market, sent students home from school and now threatens to overwhelm the U.S. medical system with patients in need of critical care.

Over the past week, White House officials led by Michael Kratsios, the country’s chief technology officer, have convened a series of meetings to leverage the tech expertise of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and other technology leaders. The government has encouraged social-media sites to take a more aggressive approach to thwart coronavirus conspiracy theories, The Post has reported, responding to concerns that foreign misinformation might be stoking panic about the outbreak. And the Trump administration has explored partnering with the tech industry to improve telework and telehealth offerings for millions of Americans.

The relationship hasn’t been without its hiccups: On Friday, President Donald Trump announced Google would be developing a website so Americans could learn how to get tested for coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19. That differed from the initial statements from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which had indicated it planned a more limited offering targeting residents of California. Ultimately, though, Google said soon after it would unveil a website to provide information for U.S. patients nationwide.

On Monday, White House leaders, tech experts and health officials struck a more unified note, unveiling a portal for about 29,000 research papers on coronavirus. The portal allows the tech industry’s artificial-intelligence tools – which can scan and analyze data en masse – to process the papers rapidly to uncover new insights about the global malady.

“Decisive action from America’s science and technology enterprise is critical to prevent, detect, treat, and develop solutions to covid-19,” Kratsios said in a statement.

The new efforts by Washington and Silicon Valley arrived the same week that dozens of engineers, executives and epidemiologists issued an open letter, calling on companies to take a greater stand against coronavirus. Specifically, they encouraged Apple and Google to adopt “privacy preserving” features that might enable authorities to help doctors determine people who were in contact with a patient that later tested positive for coronavirus.

“Technology companies have taken important steps already, such as closing offices in affected areas or showing custom search results in place of user generated content. But we believe there is a lot more that Silicon Valley can do to assist with large scale mitigation,” they wrote.

Smartphones regularly transmit their locations to wireless carriers and often to major tech companies, including Google and Facebook, to make some of their services work. The makers of apps that deliver weather reports, hail rides or help people find a coffee shop also frequently collect location information, and some sell it to firms that mine the data for business insights and opportunities.

Privacy advocates typically look skeptically on such commercial uses of location data, calling for stricter laws governing its use. Recent news about Israel’s plans to use location data to help track the coronavirus similarly sparked intense discussions about the legal and ethical implications of deploying such data to thwart the spread of disease and get medical help to infected people.

“The balance between privacy and pandemic policy is a delicate one,” tweeted Al Gidari, director of privacy at the Stanford University law school’s Center for Internet and Society, last week. “The problem here is that this is not a law school exam. Technology can save lives, but if the implementation unreasonably threatens privacy, more lives may be at risk.”

The issues are all the more sensitive for Silicon Valley because the companies faced a severe backlash in 2013, following disclosures about the role of tech company data in surveillance by the National Security Agency, made public by agency contractor Edward Snowden. Relationships between tech companies and government officials were severely strained for years after and have improved gradually.

“Privacy is the first to go when there are national security issues,” said Ashkan Soltani, a former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist and a journalist who covered the Snowden revelations.

In seeking to battle coronavirus, the U.S. government is not seeking to collect and maintain a database of Americans’ whereabouts, sources cautioned. Rather, U.S. officials have asked whether companies’ vast stores of geolocation data might help epidemiologists find trends, including vulnerable populations, or identify areas at risk, such as hospitals under strain, two people said.

Facebook is already working with health researchers and nonprofits in several countries to provide anonymized and aggregated statistics about people’s movements through a project called disease-prevention maps.

Facebook populates its maps with the aid of its users, who have given the company permission to collect their location – harnessed via their smartphones – while its app runs in the background. Those locations are then aggregated and anonymized by Facebook engineers, who can calculate the likelihood people in one city or town are likely to visit another area, potentially spreading the outbreak there.

The most granular data Facebook provides can locate a person to within about a third of a mile, Facebook officials say. The tech giant does not provide any data about individuals movement, aggregated or otherwise, with governments for disease tracking, the company says.

“You’re trying to predict the probability that a group of people in Prince George’s County (in suburban Maryland) might interact with a group of people from D.C.,” said Laura McGorman, who leads the project. Such a prediction could offer clues for how infections might travel.

McGorman said government officials, including those in California, are also interested in seeing whether people are practicing social distancing and whether it is an effective strategy. She said engineers had labored over the past 48 hours to help authorities with their requests.

She said the project is in the early phases because it is challenging to map real-time location data streaming in from smartphones against analog information coming in from hospitals and cities. “It is very humbling because we have one piece of the puzzle that we can offer but there are so many other inputs in understanding how disease will spread.”

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