How Big Tech Can Fight White-Supremacist Terrorism


The summit will likely be remembered as yet another missed opportunity. Trump’s administration may be more willing than Obama’s to challenge the technology sector, but it has opted to fight the wrong battle, and its efforts risk making the problem worse.

Consider the administration’s reported plan to grant the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broad new authority to regulate social media companies.

The authority would not help the FCC force technology companies to more aggressively police their platforms for extremist accounts and content. Rather, the FCC, by virtue of an executive order called Protecting Americans from Online Censorship, would seek to ensure that social media companies aren’t “biased” against conservatives.

With Trump’s rhetoric and language often indistinguishable from that of avowed white nationalists, such a measure would make it more difficult for technology companies to counter extremism online.

As the Trump administration dithers, the threat only continues to grow.

Balancing the right to free expression online with the need to monitor and disrupt extremist use of the Internet is by no means a uniquely American problem.

From a technical and moral point of view, however, white supremacist content is no different from jihadi content—if social media companies can block one, they can block the other.

We can’t know if technology companies are getting the balance right if we don’t know what they’re doing, so improving transparency and publicizing metrics for content regulation is another important step.

Source: How Big Tech Can Fight White-Supremacist Terrorism

FedBizOpps Will Be Gone Before the End of the Year | Nextgov

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The Federal Business Opportunities, or FedBizOpps, website will be shutting down before the end of 2019, as the comprehensive database of government contracting opportunities moves to a new location.

By the end of next year, 10 acquisition-focused websites managed by the General Services Administration will be merged together under the new SAM.gov.

Those sites include FedBizOpps, as well as the current System for Award Management, or SAM; the Federal Procurement Data System, FPDS; the grants site Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, CFDA; Wage Determinations Online, WDOL; Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System, eSRS; the past performance databases, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, FAPIIS; Contractor Performance Assessment Reports System, CPARS; and Past Performance Information Retrieval System, PPIRS; and the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, FFATA.

Source: FedBizOpps Will Be Gone Before the End of the Year – Nextgov

‘MacGyver’ Robot Builds Tools with What’s on Hand | Nextgov

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Researchers have successfully trained an intelligent agent to create basic tools by combining objects.

The work, which uses a new capability to reason about shape, function, and attachment of unrelated parts, is a significant step toward enabling intelligent agents to devise more advanced tools that could prove useful in hazardous—and potentially life-threatening—environments.

The concept may sound familiar. It’s called “MacGyvering,” based on the name of a 1980s—and recently rebooted—television series. In the series, the title character, known for his unconventional problem-solving ability, uses different resources available to him.

For years, computer scientists and others have been working to provide robots with similar capabilities.

Source: ‘MacGyver’ Robot Builds Tools with What’s on Hand – Nextgov

Cloud Smarter | Nextgov


The White House released in June the finalized version of the administration’s cloud policy, Cloud Smart, 10 months to the day after the Office of Management and Budget released its first draft.

The Cloud Smart policy updates the Obama administration’s Cloud First, established in 2010, and puts this administration’s spin on the effort to increase cloud adoption. Cloud Smart focuses on three pillars: security, procurement and workforce.

Source: Cloud Smarter – Nextgov

The Aging Spacecraft of Deep Space | Government Executive


These hunks of gleaming metal and circuitry—they are the furthermost tangible proof of our existence.

The twin Voyager spacecraft took off in 1977, carrying scientific instruments and golden records stuffed with information. Millions of miles away, they still communicate with Earth. They still collect data. But they are aging.

The spacecraft, traveling in slightly different directions, weaken every year. Their thrusters, which keep them steady, are degrading. Their power generators produce about 40 percent less electricity than they did at launch.

Source: The Aging Spacecraft of Deep Space – Government Executive

Energy Department’s New Innovation Center Will Be a Testbed for New Reactor Tech | Nextgov


The Energy Department’s national labs are dedicated to helping the sector deliver energy to the American people. When it comes to nuclear power, the department opened a new innovation center to help industry develop new processes and technologies, specifically around reactors.

The National Reactor Innovation Center opened Wednesday, housed within the Idaho National Laboratory. The initiative—greenlit and funded through the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act that went into effect last year—is similar in structure to the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear, or GAIN, which began in late 2015.

The new innovation center will operate in conjunction with GAIN by continuing to work with industry, while also bringing in the other national labs, federal agencies and academia.

Source: Energy Department’s New Innovation Center Will Be a Testbed for New Reactor Tech – Nextgov

Analysis: Obama Warned Trump—But He Didn’t Listen | Government Executive


As policies, both of these ideas are dubious. As politics, however, they represent notable wins for an administration that has often failed to put its policy priorities into action. Yet, like many of Trump’s biggest accomplishments, they are built on shaky foundations.

Because they rely on executive action, they are likely to be overturned within the first 100 days of the next Democratic—or even Republican—presidency.

Having spent much of the 2016 presidential campaign railing against Barack Obama’s executive orders, Trump seems to be making the same mistake that Obama did in relying on unilateral actions.

Source: Analysis: Obama Warned Trump—But He Didn’t Listen – Government Executive

Cathay Pacific CEO Resigns Amid Pressure From Beijing | Time


The CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways has resigned following pressure by Beijing on the Hong Kong carrier over participation by some of its employees in anti-government protests.

Cathay Pacific said Rupert Hogg resigned Friday “to take responsibility” following “recent events.”

Source: Cathay Pacific CEO Resigns Amid Pressure From Beijing | Time

How Israel’s Travel Ban on Omar, Tlaib Is United Democrats | Time

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There was a surprising side effect to Israel’s decision to ban Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the country: unity in the Democratic caucus.

Israel’s announcement, aided by President Donald Trump’s explicit endorsement, prompted Democratic lawmakers to rally around Omar and Tlaib — including members of Congress who had previously expressed criticism over their positions — uniting moderates and progressives who have disagreed over this broader issue for months.

Source: How Israel’s Travel Ban on Omar, Tlaib Is United Democrats | Time

Why synthetic chemicals seem more toxic than natural ones | Aeon Ideas


Toxicologists believe that nearly every substance is safe in certain amounts.

Take the example of botulinum, the most poisonous substance on Earth. Just 50 grammes of the toxin spread evenly worldwide would kill everyone. But, in very minute amounts, it is safely used for cosmetic purposes in Botox. Thus the adage ‘the dose makes the poison’.

Source: Why synthetic chemicals seem more toxic than natural ones | Aeon Ideas