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Tech Team

The EU-bubble is taken up this week by the Brexit roller coaster and with an extension period looming, that might still take up a chunk of your daily news until potentially June, if not longer. But also in the global tech space, things are moving – or not, with Facebook and Instagram down this week – and the announced encryption policy Facebook will be adopting 

Brussels had several great events (like the Romanian Ambassador hosting a lunch on Women in Tech) and campaigns for International Women’s Day last Friday. From Cambre’s tech team, Lauren Clark looked at how the EU has been progressing on getting more women in STEM and levelling the playing field in the tech space. 

Anxiety over keeping your celebrity crush nearby… virtually [The New York Times] 

When you find out that your favourite celebrity or your professional idol is following you on social media, it’s no surprise that you feel happy, excited but also nervous. Especially on Twitter, people are sharing stories about the pride and anxiety they feel when their celebrity crush follows them back. Why did they decide to follow me? And more importantly: how can I make sure he/she doesn’t unfollow me? Even though they will most likely never talk to you in person, the social media etiquette and what this means for your influence on your account can have a huge impact on your online behaviour. I can certainly imagine some Brussels-bubble people getting the same nervousness about some EU politician following them back – would you be willing to admit it though? 

Of sticks and carrots – or competition in bigtech [Bloomberg] 

Competition has been seen as the boogeyman for big tech lately. But Spotify’s complaint against Apple over its platform policy towards own products vs third parties’ shows yet again how important it is to get competition rules in tech right. The popular Swedish company is hoping the EU’s competition arm will use the stick on this one and ensure that Apple behaves, seeking no undue advantages from its position (given Spotify already gets 30% of subscriptions through the App Store). But as EU competition superhero Vestager recently said, reining in enthusiasm, breaking up big tech is a last resort. The current strategy is using carrots to help encourage and shape competitive environments that use technology and data to favour innovation and benefit citizens – thus hopefully allowing all tech to become big one day.  

#FacebookDown [Wall Street Journal] 

What did you do with all the free time you had this week during the Facebook/Instagram outage? Or did you even notice? The Facebook outage lasted for over 22 hours and got mixed reviews. Some scoffed at the world being so dependent on the social media site, while others (especially advertisers and small businesses) heavily depend on Facebook to work/make money/stalk old college friends etc. Millions of potential thumbs around the world had no Facebook or Instagram to idly scroll through, resulting in WhatsApp competitor Telegram gaining 3 million new followers in a day.  Google and Apple have also been hit with outages this week. So how will we lament about not being able to access our usual accounts if our normal forms of communication to complain about things are down? 

Another phone bites the dust [Geek] 

What do neodymium, praseodymium, gadolinium, dysprosium, cobalt, gold and silver have in common? They are rare or high value elements we can find in our mobile phones. Scientists at the University of Plymouth have blended an entire mobile phone to dust to know what it is made of. And that dust comes at a high price: they estimate that creating just one phone requires mining 10-15kg of ore. According to Dr. Colin Wilkins, several of the major mobile phone companies have committed to upping their recycling rates, which “is a positive sign that the throwaway society we have lived in for decades is changing.” So next time you decide to switch phones, ask your provider what your recycling options are to contribute to a more sustainable tech industry.

In case you haven’t had enough… 

Debit card with built-in fingerprint reader begins trial in the UK [The Verge] 

India Fights Diabetic Blindness With Help From A.I. [NYT]  

Why beating your phone addiction may come at a cost [The Guardian]  

Artificial Intelligence Creates Mesmerizing Art With Humans. But Who Gets The Credit? [Huffington Post]  

A Chinese subway is experimenting with facial recognition to pay for fares [The Verge]