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Facebook and Facial Recognition

Source: The New York Times

Facebook has been making headlines all October long in lieu of leaked reports from former employee, Frances Haugen. On November 2nd, Facebook’s parent company, newly coined ‘meta’, announced that it would be terminating their decade old facial recognition software and all the data that came with it. Facebook may be cutting their losses with this elimination, as the technology has sparked many conversations about privacy concerns.

Vice President of Artificial Intelligence at Meta, Jerome Peseti, attributed the change to “many concerns about the place of facial recognition software in society because every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern and we want to find the right balance.”

The introduction of this technology came in 2010 and satiated people’s obsession with time saving features. The application could automatically identify friends and family in photos using facial geometrics and link all the photos to their personal account. “Facebook now has built one of the largest repositories of digital photos in the world, partly thanks to this software.” Questions have come up in recent months, wondering what exactly Facebook is doing with all this information.

A decade later, and many are more concerned about their privacy being infringed upon then they are about saving time. Similar technologies have been recently misused in countries like China to control minorities. In the United States, the government employs this technology to help with policing, but many wonder if this feature is seamless enough to avoid problems such as mistaken arrests.  The algorithm used to make this feature possible is called DeepFace and has yet to be sold to any third parties. Despite all of this, Meta has not promised they won’t use this software in future products.

Factory Worker Survivor

Image Credit: NY Times

Factory worker, Mark Saxton was at his regular scheduled shift on Friday night as a Forklift operator at a candle factory when his night changed for the worst. Getting to work 30 minutes early he did everything as normal, greeted his supervisors and friends and got to work.

A few hours into the night after thinking nothing of it until after the third tornado warning he felt as if he was in immediate danger. Walking up to the door and seeing the clouds coming directly at him he started backing away but all of a sudden all around him everything started falling and erupting.

Without a chance to even shelter, Mark felt the aftermath of the tornado rapidly as walls were imploding and cries of help were being called for at every corner. Luckily his wife and kids a couple miles downtown were able to make it past the tornado. That cannot be said for many of his coworkers and his cousin.

Saxton talks about how everything just changes within a blink of an eye, but is thankful he made it out alive amongst his wife and children.

COVID Boosters VS. Omicron

Image Credit: City of Philadelphia

With the new Omicron variant everyones worry is if the vaccine will be effective towards the new variant and ones to come. Dr. Fauci reassures us that the vaccines including the booster shots are the most effective way in stopping the spread.

Fauci, claims that it is unlikely that more research will be needed to develop a new vaccine as he is confident that this vaccine will be enough. While the delta variant accounts for majority of the cases within the last couple months there have been outbreaks of the Omicron variant in at least if not 35+ states.

Omicron cases are only expected to increase with the cold weather and more indoor gatherings commemorate for the holidays.

Although no new vaccines are needed at the moment, vaccine manufactures are looking into research to develop a Omicron specific vaccine if possible. With that being said, it is urged that everyone eligible get the booster shot from ether Pfizer or Moderna since its the best way to stay healthy and avoid COVID.

Dr. Goodman, a professor at Georgetown states “despite promising data it is critical for drug companies to continue researching in reformulating the vaccine. If its not omicron it’s going to be another variant for sure.”

Spotify Wrapped or Privacy Hack?

Image Credit: Pop Buzz

Everyones favorite time of the year is here! The day where Spotify Wrapped gets revealed for all Spotify users. Spotify Wrapped is a breakdown and mix of the most streamed artist, streamed song(s), and top genres. The only problem? Could it be giving away information to bots?

The concern is that Spotify collects data each time a user is listening to a song or artist and keeps doing so. It tracks users history such as Netflix does with it’s platforms and uses Artificial Intelligence to recommend new music based of what you have been listening to previously.

With the release of the seasons wrapped many took their results to social media, specifically Twitter. There were 14,000 tweets with the hashtag #SpotifyWrapped. With this being a huge marketing campaign for Spotify, it does bring up the issue how a company over the years can gather a lot of information and conduct a in-depth surveillance of our lives.

For example, if you have a toddler at home and you listen to lullabies at home on your wrapped those lullabies are expected to make an appearance. When you share those results to everyone on social media, you are showing everyone that you have a toddler. Now it may not seem like a big deal, but these are the things none of us really seem to think about because we think using a platform like Spotify is harmless.

City to require vaccine proof for indoor dining and indoor events

Image Credit: Philly Magazine

The city will start requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for multiple things including indoor dining and entry to indoor sporting events. Taking effect in the new year, January 3rd 2022 announced by public health officials.

This decision was made from seeing as the city’s COVID rates double within the past few weeks with hospitalizations up to a increase by 50%.

Now with the cold weather fast approaching and indoor gatherings becoming prominent for this season, the goal is to decrease the risk of transmission to avoid another lockdown that happened back in early 2020. With the goal in mind the vaccination mandate is to help slow the spread down.

Philadelphia is amongst other cities including San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles that are now requiring citizens to show proof of vaccination status to enter different establishments.

Mayor Kenny talks about his experience while in New York City and how it was not in issue at all. You just need to present a form of ID and vaccination card to enter the establishment.

Temple University Bus Crash

Image Credit: Temple News

On December 11th, A Temple University Flight shuttle bus was involved in a crash. The crash occurred between 12th street on the corner of Dauphin and Nevada streets. While driving the bus driver heard a series of gun shots that startled him and caused him to cause a crash.

Once hearing the gunshots, the driver immediately stopped driving, causing a dark colored car to collide into his shuttle. Immediately after the car crashed into the bus the man driving came out and started firing his gun towards men nearby on 12th and Colona Street.

Philadelphia and Temple Police came to the scene and stated the Mini Cooper was seen circling the block multiple times before shooting. Luckily the bus was empty with no passengers and the bus driver was not hurt during the incident.

This marks the the second incident near campus where gun violence has been rampant as of late. The neighborhood and community has been quite on edge after the senseless murder of Samuel Collington right after Thanksgiving.

As of last week the Philadelphia Police Department has reported 531 homicides so far this year, which is a 15% increase from last year in 2020.

OneRepublic VS. Crypto

Image Credit: The Daily Californian

In the new age of cryptocurrency, OneRepublic becomes the first band in The United States to take Bitcoin as a form of payment for a concert.

The concert took place on November 16th for a acoustic special hosted in a theater outside of Vienna at Hayden Hall. The band used the strike peer to peer bitcoin payment to accept as a form of payment.

Ryan Tedder, singer and songwriter of the band states ” My band and I are so happy to be apart of something that is the future of how payments are transacted.” Tedder also states that he has a private concert soon to be announced where he will be accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment.

It seems that the group values Bitcoin and are hoping to take advantage of using it whenever they are able to. I think this is a great idea for anyone who wants to dabble into crypto and get the hang of using it.

Michelle Jubelirer

Image Credits: Daily Double Hits

Music industry executive and guru, Michelle Jubelirer was recently promoted to Chair and CEO of Capital Music Group becoming the first women to do so.

Jubelirer first joined Capitol Records as an Executive Vice President in May 2013. From there she was then promoted in 2015 to COO, and then President in 2020. Prior to joining the label, Jubelirer was a partner in a music business law firm in Kings Holmes Paterno & Barliner. At KMPB she represented EDM stars such as Swedish House Mafia and Avicii and many others.

As Chair and CEO Jubelirer will oversee and manage the record label taking control of the overall label along with creative direction. Amongst Capitol Music Group she will be in charge of its subsidiaries such as Capitol Records, Blue Note Records, Astralwerks, Harvest Records, Capitol Christian Music Group, and Virgin Music Label.

In the year 2021, it does not look good for this particular company to have their first women as their CEO. Although I applaud their efforts in diversifying their company, there is no reason it has taken this company over 80 years to have their first women in a CEO position.

Music Industry is Going Green

Image Credit: Coldplay

With Global Warming on the rise in order to help the environment the music industry is doing its part by pledging net-zero emissions by 2050! A number of record labels such as Sony, Universal Music, and Warner Music have already committed and signed the Music Climate Pact. The Music Climate Pact is a global platform initiated by The UK’s Association of Independent Music. The Pact has multiple clauses that serve as a rule book that must be followed as part of the initiative.

Under the terms and conditions of the pact, labels who signed the pact also are expected their artists to speak out on issues involving the environment etc. This helps artists not only make a deeper connection with fans but also makes fans more aware of the environmental impacts within the music industry. One way they are going to implement this is by Spotify. With the help of Spotify data will be obtained to help drive emission reduction projects in a collaborative manner.

In October, Coldplay became one of the first bands to commit to a reduction while on tour. They also promised to fund tree planting with each ticket that is sold. During their upcoming 2022 world tour it will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

The End or Just The Beginning?

Photo Credit: Peakvisor

Utah residents seem to have accepted the aftermath of COVID is here to stay for a long time. A recent poll from Desert News/ Hinckley Institute of Politics, shows that a lot of residents have accepted that the end is not anytime soon.

42% of Utahans say that they believe things will not go back to normal again for a couple more years. This number was 20% higher back in June, as more people were getting vaccinated and cases were not as prominent. Due to the delta variant it has caused uncertainty and some reluctance to return back to “normal.”

There is also an increase of of people who are just uncertain how long the pandemic will really last. This number went from 21% in March who had an idea but now it is up to 29%. This is most likely due to the newest variant, Omicron.

Omicron is said to be just as bad if not worse than the delta variant, causing more breakthrough cases. With this Uthans are now conflicted even more, but have accepted that the pandemic is still here to stay.

COVID Cases on the Rise

Photo Credit: CDC

With the newly developed Omicron variant, The US passes another milestone of more than 80,000 Americans dying from the virus.

With the winter and cold weather ahead this number is expected to increase at a rapid rate. By Monday the number will already have been increased due to state and local officials updating data. Government and health officials are urging for everyone to get vaccinated, to avoid another lockdown. The vaccine is the best way to beat this as officals think this winter could be brutal.

As of right now, 33 states including the Virgin Islands have seen a rapid increase of deaths the past two weeks as the colder weather is starting to set in and people getting lazy with precautions.

According to data from the CDC, the seven day death average in the US was 1,092 which equates to a increase of 27.8% increase from just last week.

As mentioned before the vaccine is the best way to beat this pandemic and help stop preventable deaths. Due to the politicization of the pandemic it has left minorities hesitant in getting the vaccine.