Earlier this week our team introduced you to #TechAways, our selection of the top stories we’ve read in the week to be delivered to you every Friday. #TechAways is our way of helping you keep up with the hottest developments in the tech world.
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, chatted with the BBC this week about the state of the WWW as it turns 28. Privacy and security were top concerns. He thinks online privacy should be as sacred as doctor-patient confidentiality. Will European legislators working on the revision of the e-Privacy rules and national governments preparing their encryption policies agree with Sir Berners-Lee?
Diversity and inclusion are much mulled, rarely solved problems for tech companies. Big players like Google, Amazon and Facebook have all begun reporting their progress on tackling these issues, but are they looking at the right data? Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity and inclusion at Atlassian, says “not really”. Teams, and not the entire company, should be the key unit of measure. That’s where diversity of thought and experience can drive innovation. A great tip as companies and policymakers across Europe continue to take on these issues.
Twitter’s been in under the spotlight lately as a hotbed of hate speech, bullying and sexual harassment. Enter Mastodon, a free and open source network. It functions like Twitter on some levels, but is radically different on others. On the business side, no one owns it, and there is no board keeping an eye on the bottom line. The platform is different too. Users post “toots”, Mastadon’s version of tweets, but safe spaces are prized. Toots can be private and have content warnings. As stricter regulations on data and online safety are pushed in countries like Germany, will we see more ethically minded platforms like Mastadon emerging?
Scientist Daniel Dennett believes our brains are machines made of billions of tiny “robots” – what we would normally call our brain cells. He doesn’t question whether computers think like humans, but whether humans are even that special in the thought department. For Dennett, the idea that in an age of supercomputers and smart phones a machine might just be capable of being human, or at least achieving consciousness, isn’t so farfetched. Researchers, such as those at LUMINOUS, a project funded by the European Commission, are trying to find answers to these fundamental human questions.
A dysfunctional and socially destructive information ecosystem [Wall Street Journal]
“Fake news!” seems like a new catchphrase to some but Robert Thomson, Chief Executive Officer of News Corporation and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, has seen this coming for a while. He thinks that the “digital duopoly” of Facebook and Google profoundly changed the advertising and news industries, favouring their own content through biased algorithms and other means, allowing them to become the most “powerful news publishers in human history”. This change paired with “the political volume turned to 10” shows us now that in the age of augmented and virtual reality, actual reality and real insights need to mount a comeback.
When technology serves tax authorities [France Inter]
Technology can facilitate fraud, but it can also help fight against tax evasion. The findings in a report published by the OECD show that technology can support better detection of crime, higher revenue recovery and easier tax compliance for business and tax administrations. The figures speak for themselves. The installation of electronic cash registers with a fiscal control unit in Hungary increased VAT revenue by 15%. In Sweden, the higher VAT and income tax revenues brought about by greater digital oversight has been estimated at around €300 million per year since 2010. Could better digital oversight of tax authorities across Europe inject much-needed cash into government coffers?
For the first time, over 50% of the music industry’s revenue is coming from paid streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. In 2011, that figure was just 9%. With streaming services reaching 22.6 million people around the globe, the industry might be ready to fully open its arms. While streaming is clearly core to the music industry’s business model, they are yet to fully embrace the digital shift. YouTube is still a source of ire for many who believe the platform uses legal loopholes to pay creators rates lower than the value of their music. European governments and institutions strive to support artists and their work, but they will need to continually keep an eye on shifting market trends.
#TechAways is brought to you by Cambre’s Technology Practice led by Victoria Main and featuring François Barry, Zachery Bishop, Svenja Mai, Anne-Claude Martin, Efthymia Ntivi, Teodora Raychinova, and Theresa – Sophie Stiegler.
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