Numlock News: May 25, 2022 • Douyin, Halite, Columbia
By Walt Hickey
Clearview AI is a company that wants to use a vast trove of facial recognition data to change the way that the world is able to identify people, and good god do people hate that and want to fine it into oblivion. The UK Information Commissioner's Office has fined the company $10 million and subsequently ordered it to delete every scrap of data it has on U.K. citizens. This follows a move from Italy which fined them €20 million ($21 million) for data protection rule breaches, as well as Canada, France, Germany and Australia. Even in the U.S., a country which absolutely does not care about how companies use data on its citizens, the ACLU sued them and now Clearview can't sell its database to most businesses, and they are banned in the state of Illinois from even selling it to cops for five years.
The U.S. government has spent over $2.2 billion over the past 20 years in salmon hatcheries designed to rejuvenate the fate of the ailing populations of salmon in the Columbia river basin. It’s not working. Every year, 250 million young salmon head out to the ocean, though the number that return to the rivers to spawn is less than a fifth of what it once was, so much so that the federal government is spending $250 to $650 for every salmon that returns to the river. To get a sustainable population, 40 surviving adults would have to return to fresh water out of every 1,000 juveniles that migrate down the Columbia. Only 22 hatchery adults return to the Columbia river per thousand juveniles released.
From 1999 to 2000, 4.8 million Americans tried golf for the first time, a surge then attributed to Tiger Woods and his popularization of the sport among those who considered themselves less the stereotypical golfer and more an athlete pursuing a new sport. The sport’s popularity waned after that initial pop, but from 2020 to 2021, seeing an opportunity for safer socializing and sports during a pandemic, 6.2 million tried golf for the first time. It’s a huge market opportunity for a flood of brands large and small trying to capture the first major influx of players into the sport in two decades. And interestingly, it needn’t always even involve a course: Of the 37.5 million Americans who played golf last year, 12.4 million never actually set foot of a course, preferring things like in-home equipment, driving ranges and urban golf.
In the United States only 4 percent of houses have solar panels on the roof, lagging behind other rich countries such as Australia, where 25 percent of homes have rooftop solar. Residential installations have lagged for lots of reasons, but one is that permitting rules vary city to city and can be a bit of a nightmare to navigate even for motivated homeowners. This is why the National Renewable Energy Laboratory created the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus, or SolarAPP+, to expedite the municipal processes involved in getting panels on roofs. It’s currently only in 16 jurisdictions, but the results are promising: Tucson cut the permitting review time from 20 days down to zero. About 400 municipalities are looking into adopting SolarAPP+.
Life, Uh, Finds A Way
A team of geologists analyzing ancient salt crystals found evidence of life in locked-in liquid within the halite, according to new findings published in the journal Geology. There’s even evidence that the microorganisms may still be alive within the 830 million-year-old habitat, sort of like the extreme version of a sealed terrarium that manages to maintain an ecosystem given a steady state of available nutrients. The researchers are now looking into — not to get too technical with the scientific jargon here — cracking that sucker open and seeing what the hell the deal is.
Douyin, the Chinese domestic version of TikTok, former celebrities — ex-Olympians, entrepreneurs whose startups subsequently crashed and burned, pop stars from yesteryear — are finding their careers rejuvenated through livestreams and viral moments during the country’s lockdowns. One big hit is through shopping channel livestreams, sort of DIY QVC, where the former celebrities can cash in on their fame and telegenic nature to appeal to the 780 million online shoppers on the apps.
NOAA announced its forecast for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, projecting a 10 percent chance of a below-average season, a 25 percent chance of a normal season, and a 65 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, which if those odds hold would make it the seventh above-average season in a row. They’re projecting three to six major hurricanes, with a 70 percent chance that overall there will be 14 to 21 named storms. A number of climate factors — an ongoing La Niña, warmer surface temperatures in the Atlantic, a more powerful west African monsoon, and stronger African Easterly Waves — are forecasted to juice the storms up.
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