Integrity or Innovation? — #94
Your future will depend a lot on where you live.
Welcome to edition number 94 of the Sunday Brief. Since 94 emails are quite a few, it feels about time to ask for proper feedback. I enjoy writing, but I also enjoy improving and developing.
The plan is to launch an even better version of this email after the summer. However, to ensure the changes will be appreciated by you all, I’d love it if you could help me fill out this survey: https://betterodds.typeform.com/feedback.
This is also the last email in a bit, and when we meet again, I’ll be back in Stockholm. While I have mixed feelings about moving back home, I have a good feeling about this summer.
I hope we all get well-deserved time to recharge, explore, read novels, eat strawberries, swim in lakes, and do nothing.
Thank you for reading. It truly means a lot.
European Parliament approves draft of EU’s AI Act, bringing regulation one step closer
The European Parliament has approved a draft of the EU’s AI Act, signalling a significant step toward comprehensive AI regulations within the union. However, the legislation did not pass unanimously, with 499 votes in favour, 28 against, and 93 abstentions. The draft is subject to change as each EU country must agree on the bill for it to become law.
The AI Act includes regulations on generative AI and large language models like ChatGPT. It mandates transparency requirements when using generative AI, such as disclosing AI-generated content and distinguishing deep-fakes from authentic images. Some more controversial rules include a complete ban on biometric surveillance in public settings and “social scoring” systems that classify individuals based on behaviour and personal characteristics.
Companies developing or using AI systems within the EU, even if they are located outside the EU, should pay attention to the progress of the AI Act. Non-compliance could result in penalties of up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover. Researchers at Stanford University have evaluated if the current AI models comply with EUs draft requirements and find that they largely don’t.
China remains the only major country with laws specifically addressing generative AI, including security assessments and content alignment with socialist values, under the threat of fines, service suspension, or criminal investigations for non-compliance.
Children as young as ten can now (legally) use Meta’s VR headsets with parental approval
Meta will allow children as young as ten to use its VR headsets with parental permission. The company emphasises the availability of engaging and educational content for kids. However, the impact on children’s health is still uncertain. Parent-managed Meta accounts will require approval and allow parents to control app usage and set time limits. Data collection from 10- to 12-year-olds aims to provide an age-appropriate ad-free experience, and parents can choose whether their child’s data is used to enhance the VR experience.
However, concerns remain about data privacy and the lack of independent studies on children’s use of modern VR headsets. In a press release, Meta acknowledges potential hazards, such as the weight of the helmets, eye strain, and nausea, but claims no evidence of harm. Nevertheless, the company’s trustworthiness in addressing adverse effects is questioned. For example, VR’s ability to blur reality and fantasy is a significant concern, given today’s immersive and photorealistic environments.
Parents who decide to let their children use VR are advised to be cautious of the potential negative effects experienced, even by adults. It is also essential to have open conversations with children and monitor their engagement with the technology. When a company like Meta acknowledges risks, it might be time to think twice.
Reddit CEO stands firm amid backlash over API changes
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman faces protests and backlash over the platform’s recent API changes and the decision to charge third-party apps. Huffman stated that the API was not designed to support these clients. However, the Reddit community’s strong opposition has led to subreddit blackouts, with some developers even shutting down their apps due to the new pricing structure.
The issue of third-party apps has been a significant focus of the protests. The company claims that some apps make millions using Reddit’s data while leaving Reddit to cover infrastructure costs. Huffman stated that Reddit is willing to work with developers but wants to charge for API usage. Despite the protests causing some trouble, Huffman noted that they haven’t significantly impacted the company’s revenue and emphasised that most users access Reddit through the official site or app, downplaying the impact of third-party apps being shut down. However, reports suggest that some advertisers paused campaigns during the blackout.
However, Reddit’s rules state that the company can remove uncooperative moderators. Huffman expressed plans to make changes allowing users to vote them out, emphasising that Reddit wouldn’t invest in paid moderators or make decisions that centralise power within the company. In response to Huffman’s comments, moderators are seeking ways to make their blackouts more effective, and some communities are exploring alternative sites like Lemmy and Kbin.
Huffman’s current focus is on making Reddit profitable before considering to take the company public.
Double-check the headlines
Just making sure you didn’t miss any major world events this week.
A boat carrying 750 people sank 50 miles off the coast of southern Greece. 78 people are confirmed dead, and 104 survivors have been brought ashore. More than 500 people are still missing, 100 of them are children.
Mali’s foreign minister has called on the UN to withdraw its peacekeeping force from his country “without delay”. They are accusing the UN forces of “becoming a part of the problem in fuelling intercommunal tensions”.
One is a fantasy with roots in World War II. The other boasts Spider-Man.
Gary McFarland’s 1968 album Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon is one of the most summery jazz albums I know.
In a new documentary series for Netflix, Barack Obama went out to learn about the current state of work at a time when remote jobs and artificial intelligence are knocking at the door.
Sunscreen. In Germany, the number of deaths from skin cancer rose 55% between 2001 and 2021. A trend that can be seen across Europe.
Plant wildflowers on your lawn instead of grass. They are beautiful, much more drought-resistant because of their expansive roots and do not need to be mowed. Win-win-win.
Are you trying to figure out what to read this summer? Spend some time at Good Books, an inventory of book recommendations. Browse books based on who recommended them, or focus on specific categories like fiction or psychology.