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Big Tech Section 230 Hearings

First to a story we flagged yesterday & Jack Dorsey left his wood cabin to join the meetings… 

the ceos of twitter, facebook & google have appeared at US Senate Committee hearing this morning. It was nominally about Section 230 a 1996 statute that grants internet platforms broad legal immunity for user-generated content while allowing them to moderate that content without fear of taking on liability. Wired reports, the hearing, however, was mostly an opportunity for Republicans on the committee to berate Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for supposedly discriminating against conservative users—especially conservative user number one, Donald Trump

Republicans continually mispronounced Sundar Pichai’s name, the ceo of one of the US most valuable companies 

NyTimes 

““Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas asked.

Mr. Dorsey bore the brunt of questions, with Republicans asking him almost four dozen times about alleged “censorship” of conservative politicians and media outlets. He was asked 58 questions in total, more than the 49 for Mr. Zuckerberg and 22 for Mr. Pichai, according to the Times tally.

Spotify Defends Joe Rogan…

According to Jane Lytvynenko of Buzzfeed: 

In public, Spotify is staying quiet about an appearance by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones yesterday on its flagship podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, despite banning Jones’ own podcast last year. But in an internal email sent from a top executive, the company is defending the booking.

Horacio Gutierrez, the company’s chief legal officer and head of global affairs, wrote to team managers on Oct. 28 about the episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast that featured an interview with Jones and podcast host Tim Dillon.

On his guest appearance, Jones played videos that had been banned from youtube

and Rogan said kids are “getting polio from taking vaccines” after Alex Jones spreads conspiracy that Bill Gates is trafficking vaccines that get 100% of people sick. He also denied climate change and spread disproven conspiracies about Joe Biden

Spotify signed Joe Rogan for an exclusive $100m podcasting deal 

Gig Economy companies spend $200m on Prop 22

Gig economy companies are campaigning hard against something called proposition 22 in the US. according to the wall street journal: 

Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and DoorDash Inc. are spending tens of millions of dollars and flooding voters with messages in a neck-and-neck battle to preserve their current business model in California.

Spending nearly $200 million to persuade voters to approve a ballot measure that would exempt them from a new state law requiring businesses to reclassify contract workers as employees. That amount, the most ever raised for a California ballot question, according to Ballotpedia, suggests how pivotal the vote will be for companies reliant on a labor model in which workers are summoned at the touch of an app.

On the other side unions argue, companies have flourished on the backs of gig workers without providing them the protections that most employees receive. 

If voters reject the Proposition 22 measure, the companies would be compelled to offer their drivers broad employment benefits, such as minimum wage, paid sick leave and unemployment assistance,

Closer to home.. 

https://www.afr.com/technology/australian-breakthrough-allows-bluetooth-from-the-brain-20201028-p569ci

Jill Margo of AFR reports on Melbourne based company Synchron.

An Australian breakthrough in the field of brain-computer interfaces has seen two severely paralysed men control their computers using their minds and Bluetooth.

A tiny prosthesis implanted in their brains allows them to use vision and the power of direct thought to do daily tasks such as sending emails, conducting online banking and shopping.

The technology is way ahead of Elon Musk’s neuroscience start-up, Neuralink, which recently unveiled a pig with a small computer chip implanted in its brain described as “a Fitbit in the skull”.

“The prosthesis, a fine wire stent, is implanted, through a blood vessel, without open brain surgery. Over time it is absorbed into the blood vessel walls, just as a tattoo is absorbed into the skin,” Associate Professor Oxley said.

Within three months of implantation, both men were using their computers, unsupervised, at home.