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03.10.17 | 1:11 pm

Employers may soon be able to bully you into taking a genetic test

File this under terrifying Friday news: A Republican-backed bill making its way through the House would essentially allow businesses to mandate genetic testing for their employees under the threat of higher health insurance premiums. STAT news noticed the bill and spoke with some health experts who say the law would do an end-run around current privacy regulations. Under the proposal, employers could require genetic testing as part of workplace "wellness programs." Employees who don't play along could see their insurance costs increase. Read more here

04.25.17 | 5 minutes ago

NFL players can now sell their health data to anyone

The NFL has reached a deal with wearable device company Whoop Inc. that will see every incoming NFL player given a Whoop wristband whose sensors monitor the player's strain, recovery, and sleep data 100 times per second, reports Bloomberg. The NFL, players, and coaches will be able to use this data to help improve a player's performance, but the player is also free to sell their personal data to anyone they want: from advertisers to broadcasters to researchers. Bloomberg paints one example of how this may work:

Picture this: a television network during an NFL broadcast comparing the heart rates of star players doing the same workout—or while they sleep. Say Tom Brady versus Cam Newton. Now picture being able to determine which player's body was better prepared to play.

04.25.17 | 17 minutes ago

AI will cause people “more pain than happiness,” says Alibaba founder

Speaking at an entrepreneurship conference in China Jack Ma was a bit of a Debbie Downer when it came to robotics and AI, reports the Guardian. The billionaire founder said the two technologies will cause people "more pain than happiness" over the next thirty years. That pain will primarily be the result of human job losses to robots and software. But he does have one solution to help lessen the blow AI and robots will cause:

"Machines should only do what humans cannot. Only in this way can we have the opportunities to keep machines as working partners with humans, rather than as replacements."

04.25.17 | 26 minutes ago

Phoenix residents can now get full access to Waymo’s self-driving cars

Google's self-driving division has launched an Early Rider Program that gives people full daily access to its self-driving cars. The program is open to any Phoenix resident who wants to apply. Announcing the program, Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post:

Over the course of this trial, we'll be accepting hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs who want to ride in and give feedback about Waymo's self-driving cars. Rather than offering people one or two rides, the goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that's about twice the size of San Francisco.

04.25.17 | an hour ago

Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales is launching Wikitribune to fight fake news

Wikitribune is an online news publication that will use crowdfunding to hire journalists to write accurate, fact-based articles. While professional journalists will be writing the articles, a community of volunteers can sub-edit and fact-check them. And journalists will be required to release full transcripts of interviews they conduct so transparency and context are assured. Speaking to the Guardian, Wales said:

"This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side-by-side as equals writing stories as they happen, editing them live as they develop, and at all times backed by a community checking and re-checking all facts."

04.25.17 | an hour ago

Apple just delayed “Carpool Karaoke,” its first original television series

The series was to air on Apple Music this April, but the debut has been pushed back to "later this year," reports Reuters. No explanation has been given for the delay. The show is based on the "Carpool Karaoke" segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden and will comprise of 16 30-minute episodes when it finally does debut.

04.24.17 | 5:33 pm

Not fake news: Chobani just sued InfoWars and Alex Jones

The yogurt brand is suing the conspiracy theorist and his website over false information. Chobani alleges InfoWars fabricated stories about its CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, and suggested the company was linked to a sexual assault case involving three refugee children. On April 11, InfoWars released a video accusing Chobani—which employs 400 refugees—of "importing migrant rapists." It also claimed the yogurt-maker covered up the sexual assault case in a left-wing agenda effort.

But according to a report by the Idaho Statesman, police and prosecutors said the conspiracies were mostly false; that "there was no rape, no knife was present, and authorities followed proper protocol." The website also took aim at Ulukaya for being a Turkish citizen:

"Why has this foreign citizen been showered with $800,000 in "Small Business" loans and allowed to use that to lobby his way into Michelle Obama's $15B school lunch program and sit on the NY Federal Reserve Board, even though he's still a Turkish citizen?"

According to the Statesman, the lawsuit alleges Chobani reps repeatedly requested Alex Jones and InfoWars remove the inaccurate coverage, but to no avail. Chobani claims InfoWars violated the Idaho Consumer Protection Act by knowingly misrepresenting facts that were harmful to its business. The company seeks at least $10,000 in damages, attorney fees, and punitive damages.

This isn't the first time Chobani and its CEO have come under attack for their refugee hiring practices. As Fast Company reported last month, Ulukaya's actions have invited death threats from far-right critics. At the same time, it's brought invitations to speak at the World Economic Forum, with industry leaders hailing him as a conscientious global leader.

"You have to lead by example," Ulukaya told Fast Company. "Chobani can inspire a new way of business, a new way of work, a new way of innovation … Chobani is a place where everyone is welcome."

[Photo: Chobani via Wikimedia Commons]

04.24.17 | 3:13 pm

Andrea Tantaros just sued Fox News for harassment and allegedly hacking her devices

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has reportedly filed a new lawsuit against her former employer and its former CEO, Roger Ailes. The lawsuit alleges that the network harassed her by sending her threats and "creepy messages," on social media, writes the New York Daily News. Moreover, Tantaros claims in the suit that Fox tapped into her personal devices to spy on her. 

04.24.17 | 1:47 pm

Ivanka Trump clothing is being quietly relabeled

Business of Fashion has confirmed that Stein Mart, a discount retailer, has been selling identical dresses, some of which are labeled "Ivanka Trump" and others labeled "Adrienne Vittadini." G-III, the company that licenses Ivanka Trump's brand, had a lot of excess inventory on its hands, given that many retailers have dropped the brand. 

Label swapping is technically legal, and is often done to protect a brand from being associated with a discount store. But this situation is odd because Adrienne Vittadini is licensed by the Authentic Brands Group, not G-III. In a statement, G-III said that this switch took place without "the knowledge or consent of the Ivanka Trump organization." It also said it would immediately remove "mistakenly labeled merchandise." 

[Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

04.24.17 | 1:16 pm

Spotify may be looking to get into the hardware game

Spotify may want to control its own hardware destiny, at least according to a company job posting. As spotted by Dave Zatz, Spotify is seeking a senior product manager to build "a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles."

From that description, it's unclear what kind of hardware Spotify is looking to build (wearable, home speaker, or something else entirely?). The company declined to comment, and has now removed the relevant job posting from its website. But given that Spotify is competing in streaming music with the companies whose platforms it relies on—namely Apple, Google, and Amazon—it's understandable that it would want some hardware to call its own.

04.24.17 | 12:45 pm

Could eye drops cure jet lag? 

Jet lag is a waste of perfectly good vacation days, but a cure to all that yawning, stumbling, and sleeping through breakfast may be in the eye of the (very sleepy) beholder. As Popular Science reports, a recent study published in the Journal of Physiology could translate to a cure for jet lag that's as easy as applying eye drops.

Researchers discovered a new group of cells in the retina that send signals about changes in light from the eye to the brain. These cells and a molecule they release (called vasopressin) help regulate the biological clock—or at least that's what it does in rats. If you could reduce the amount of vasopressin traveling from the eye to the brain, that could help your internal clock adjust to the new time zone, theoretically doing away with jet lag. It's something that has already worked in animals and has exciting possibilities for humans. One of the study's authors, Mike Ludwig, a professor of neurophysiology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, suggests that tweaking vasopressin output could happen via eye drops—eventually. "That is very futuristic," he said. "We are far from that at the moment." Until then, we'll just use eye drops to do away with dry eyes. Skip the cat nap and read the full article on PopSci.

04.24.17 | 12:31 pm

Camp director John Waters is about to become a real-life camp director

John Waters is best known as the director of campy films like Hairspray, Cry-Baby, and Serial Mom. Now he is taking that onscreen camp experience and transforming it into a real world business—specifically, the summer camp business.

Called Camp John Waters, the adults-only camp is set in bucolic Kent, Connecticut, on a campground complete with cabins and a lake, according to Variety. As one would expect, a John Waters summer camp doesn't include traditional summer camp activities like macrame and swim lessons, but instead something called "Bloody Mary Bingo," a costume contest, Burlesque lessons, and in lieu of a campfire singalong, Hairspray karaoke. Waters himself will perform a one-man show and judge the John Waters costume contest. The event is scheduled for September 22-24, with tickets starting at $499.

[Photo: Jeff Vespa/Contributor/Getty Images]

04.24.17 | 12:28 pm

Listen to this startup eerily imitate the voices of Trump and Obama with AI

Get ready for the aural version of uncanny valley. A Soundcloud account for a new startup called "Lyrebird" has surfaced with computer-generated tracks that sound like celebrity voices—namely Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. In one recording, a voice mimicking Clinton says Lyrebird uses "deep learning and artificial neural networks." Fake President Trump adds, "They can make us say anything now."

Lyrebird's website says the company is working on a "new generation of speech synthesis technologies for developers." It was developed by researchers in Montreal, and the company says it has plans to make the technology available to everyone. So I guess the future will be easily fabricated audio recordings … Fun!

You can listen to the eerie recordings here.