Knightscope K5 Kills Self, Academics Paid for Science, Spotify Gets Caught, and Cyberbullying

Sometimes the only explanation I can muster for some of the zany news we’ve been reading lately is that we live in a simulation and the code governing this existence needs to be patched. This week proved to be another interesting news cycle in the world of technology. Here are this week’s stories discussed with Mark Starling and the First News 570 crew, listen in live.


We’ve reported on the many wonders given to us by technology including machines who have bested humans in Chess, Go, and Ms. Pac-Man. We’ve even reported on AIs that discourage humans by spewing out depressing thoughts. This week, we report on the first reported, robot suicide in my backyard, Washington, DC. Again, this robot news involves, Knightscope, the robotic security patrol company who’s robots have run over a toddler, and was attacked by a drunken reveler. This Knightscope robot, contemplating its programming and wondering if there was more to life than being a security guard, decided to end his bitfilled life while patrolling the Washington Harbour complex in Georgetown. It’s uncertain if the robot shouted, “what a world, what a world,” as it plunged in a fountain inside the building. Many people took photos and posted them on Twitter including one with the comment, “we were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots.” I don’t think the 3 Laws included, “perform suicide if everything else fails”, but I do know it’s time for those rampancy tests.
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The Campaign for Accountability, an advocacy group has released a list of academics who claim to have received funding from Google in some form or fashion and the Internet went a twitter. The controversy stems from the belief that academics who receive funding from Google aren’t performing pure research. Especially if their research spans consumer influence, information privacy, and Internet usage. The report is misleading because academics were listed on the report who received funding from Google before their research was published. Furthermore, the CfA is funded by, Oracle Corporation, one of those other big Internet companies who, fund academics who perform basic research. The moral of the story is, don’t just read the headlines.
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Most of us know that the music industry can be a cut throat affair. The latest in music tech drama comes from the popular streaming service Spotify. The British press have been publishing stories stating that many of the instrumental tracks streamed from Spotify’s service aren’t produced by indy artists but mainstream producers from Universal Music Group and others on its own dime! Why is this problem, because Spotify earns money and pays out cash based upon the number of times a track is streamed for listening. Some instrumental tracks have earned more than 520 million streams, which means Spotify is paying for and earning money on its own music. Thereby gaming the system in its favor. Spotify got caught because some of the most frequently music has no listening audience outside of its own service.
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Research from Ditch the Label, a UK cyber bullying institute has discovered that more teens report being bullied on Instagram than other social networks. 40% of teens said they felt bad if no one liked their selfies, and 35% said their confidence is directly linked to how many followers they had. 7% of teens reported being bullied on Instagram, compared to 6% on Facebook, 5% on Snapchat, and 2% on YouTube. One in three teens said that they live in fear of cyber bullying and 47% said they won’t discuss bad things in their lives on social platforms. Overall, cyberbullying is a rare event on social media, but how these networks affect a child’s happiness and well being is troublesome. For me, I’m keeping my kids off as long as I can.
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