Welcome back to the EU policy rentrée! Despite the pandemic, Brussels is off to a flying start this week with debates, consultations, and online events! If you are monitoring the Digital Service Act, we have a handy new tool for you! Check out our DSA in your pocket: a handy overview of the various Commission and Parliament initiatives that will feed into the proposal, as well as the key players involved.
As Americans seem increasingly divided in the lead-up to the November 3rd presidential election,Facebook has announced a slew of measures aimed at placating critics and reducing misinformation around voting and COVID-19. One measure prevents candidates and political action committees from launching new campaigns in the week leading up to the election. It will also label any campaign post that attempts to declare victory before results are official. Critics argue it’s too little too late, but it does seem like Facebook is conceding that it’s not only being used to post cute dog photos but also to spread critical information about elections. With two months to Election Day, we’ll have to wait and see.
As promised, Elon Musk showed off his latest technology moon-shot in a live demo: a new generation of implantable brain chips in the brain. The big finale of the demo was Gertrude the pig. Not-so little Gertrude has been inserted with a chip in her brain two months ago to broadcast her neural activity in real-time as she waddles around her pen. Musk explained that the implant is connected to neurons in her snout. When she touches something with her snout, it sens out neural spikes that are detected by the more than 1,000 electrodes in the implant. Musk hopes this technology could one day help quadriplegics control smartphones and perhaps even endow users with some form of telepathy. An interface for your brain is coming up!
Who said you can’t sing with a mask? [Financial Times]
Do you miss your karaoke night? You’ll be happy to know you don’t have to give up your passion in times of COVID-19! Japan’s karaoke bars are adapting to the new normal and have found smart solutions to keep karaoke lovers engaged. Smartphones can easily become a remote control to scroll lyrics and avoid touching shared buttons or screens. If you want to self-isolate, you can get a solo room and connect with a virtual group from the nationwide network. And for those concerned that wearing a mask would worse the quality of their singing, no problem! New settings can adjust your voice tone and clarity to help ensure a mask-proved singing performance. 😷 🎤
The lucrative business of viral videos [The Atlantic]
In recent months, our social media feeds have been flooded with videos of people behaving badly and refusing to wear a mask in shops or restaurants. Most of the time, the video maker records the incident out of solidarity with the person being verbally assaulted and publishes the tape online as a testimony of the absurd situation. But once published, something insignificant becomes often ridiculously viral as it is re-posted by meme accounts, amplified by algorithms, and bought by sites that spread them. Then from a stupid video clip, some smart minds get onto the gravy train and merchandise… like a mug or doormat. There’s often a good intention behind recording a scene but the question is who benefits from the “crime”?
In case you haven’t had enough…
Farm robots given Covid-19 boost (Financial Times)
Lessons from a virus tracing dud (The New York Times)
11 policy problems on the EU’s fall agenda (Politico)