Friday Five for December 10, 2021

Following is a list of things BruinTechs should know and share with others:

1. Passion Play

At the “proper” level of fandom, one can enjoy commercials as content and enjoy hype as an experience rather than promotion for something else.

This may seem like esoterica for Mario fans only, but you don’t need to be familiar with Nintendo Direct to recognize the atmosphere that has allowed it to flourish: Namely, that at the proper level of fandom, one can enjoy commercials as content and enjoy hype as an experience rather than promotion for something else. Whether we self-identify as fans or not, we all breathe that air at various concentrations; it shapes an ever-growing proportion of culture around us. It has abetted the extension of amusement universes like Marvel’s and fomented CEO metaverse fantasies, as well as underwriting emotional investment in identities and “communities” revolving around attachment to brands and products. Continue reading.

2. Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig Wright and a bitcoin mystery in America

In Budapest, there is a bust by the Danube River. The face is bronze, and blank, so people can see their own faces reflected back at them. It is wearing a hoodie, with the bitcoin logo on the chest.

It is a statue of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto is the person or persons who developed bitcoin. They are anonymous and pseudonymous.Continue reading.

3. The giant slayers: How Spotify, Tile and Match brought an antitrust fight to Apple

Daru once defended companies in antitrust class-action lawsuits, but when she joined Tile in early 2019 her more recent focus had been on privacy. Her company allows users to find lost items through physical tags that pair electronically with smartphones, meaning it deals in plenty of sensitive user data. Apple itself even touted Tile’s offerings as the kind of add-on service that made an iPhone attractive to customers, and so Daru hadn’t imagined her new company was facing competition concerns with the tech giant, according to a person familiar with her thinking.

Soon after Daru started, though, Apple made it difficult for Tile’s hardware to get permission to work on iPhones. Tile saw that change, among some others, as attempts to squash its success. The phone-maker cited privacy and security concerns — even as it developed and launched AirTags, a similar offering. In response, that fall, Daru quietly briefed the staff of the House antitrust subcommittee, which was probing the competitive behavior of tech giants. Soon after the panel urged her to go public. Continue reading.

4. ‘He touched a nerve’: how the first piece of AI music was born in 1956

On the evening of 9 August 1956, a couple of hundred people squeezed into a student union lounge for a concert recital at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, about 130 miles outside Chicago. Student performances didn’t usually attract so many people, but this was an exceptional case, the debut of the Illiac Suite: String Quartet No 4, that a member of the chemistry faculty, Lejaren Hiller Jr, had devised with the school’s one and only computer, the Illiac I.

Decades before today’s artificial intelligence pop stars, Auto-Tune and deepfake compositions was Hiller’s piece, described by the New York Times in his 1994 obituary as “the first substantial piece of music composed on a computer” – and indeed by a computer. Continue reading.

5. How a bug in Android and Microsoft Teams could have caused this user’s 911 call to fail

On the 29th of November, Reddit user KitchenPicture 5849 posted a harrowing story about how their Pixel phone failed to connect to emergency services. The user, who owns a Google Pixel 3 running Android 11, attempted to dial 911 to get their grandmother medical attention for a suspected stroke. After placing the call, the user said the phone call “got stuck immediately after one ring” and that they were “unable to do anything other than click through apps with an emergency phone call running in the background.” Continue reading.