Tech

Your Android phone’s accelerometer could help predict earthquakes

The new project will create a worldwide detection and warning system.

Google

Google is rolling out a global earthquake detection system using Android smartphone’s accelerometers. While seismometers would be preferred, this approach offers a more cost-effective way to identify earthquakes and warn people that one is on the way. Combining Android’s international scale and penchant for algorithmic data parsing, this system could provide many with precious seconds to prepare.

Culture

With AI, this YouTuber is giving us a colorful glimpse into the past

The technique includes neural networks, algorithms, massive amounts of training data, and a healthy dose of imagination.

Denis Shiryaev

In the middle of makeup tutorials, reaction commentary, drama channels, cake terrors, and other chaotic content, YouTube has little nooks where nerds go wild on their niche hobbies. One of them, Denis Shiryaev, applied artificial intelligence wizardry to old footage and created mesmerizing masterpieces with the help of publicly available algorithms. We've previously seen the kind of insane magic neural networks can breathe into simple 2D images, and the results that are possible when you combine photographs with modern 3D techniques to bring deceased composers' likenesses to life.

Old films like A Trip Down Market Street, Lumiere brothers' clips, and footage from early 20th-century Japan all get Shiryaev's frame interpolation, color, speed, and upscaling treatment. The results aren't merely a visual treat but also a modern-day philosophical project: are these algorithms merely enhancing old footage or are they changing our understanding of the past and altering the narratives the clips contain? It's likely all of the above.

“Because how can a generation that lives online know anything about the real world?”

Billie Eilish, in a new Telekom video

Billie Eilish has teamed up with international music marketing program Telekom Electronic Beats — a subsidiary of telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom — for a new campaign called “What We Do Next.” The first product of the campaign is a meandering advertisement that’s meant to be about tech positivity. But the two-minute video mostly just comes off as a cringey, overproduced montage in praise of Gen Z.

“Look at us,” the ad begins over one of Eilish’s songs, “Just a bunch of kids who are screen-obsessed. Disconnected. Not in the moment, right?”

The #WhatWeDoNext campaign is meant to liberate young people from the feeling that their use of technology makes them lazy. And, to be fair, this is definitely a struggle for younger generations and one that doesn’t often receive the press it deserves. In attempting to confront these biases, though, Telekom kind of misses the mark.

$34

How much some older men are paying for tinder. Younger uses pay as little as $6.99.

Choice

RgStudio/E+/Getty Images

Look, we all know Tinder is a (still terribly popular) trash app that encourages the worst forms of shallow, face-value judgments and beauty standards, but for extra horror, it appears the dating service is up-charging older men for its premium offerings — a revelation that’s about as unsurprising as it is depressing.

A 60-person “mystery shopper” study from the Australian-based consumer advocacy group, Choice, revealed that men over 50-years-old and living in urban areas were charged up to $34.37 a month for Tinder’s premium features, compared to prices ranging from $6.99 to $16.71 for under-30 users. Queer-identifying women under 30-years-old were charged the least, at $6.99 per month.

Culture

The Marine Traffic app changed the way I look at the ocean

An app used primarily by cargo ship captains shouldn't be this much fun.

As I type this, the Gas Utopia LPG Tanker is making its way along the Mississippi River, not far from my house in New Orleans. It’s a Panamanian vessel, call-sign 3EXG8, with a deadweight of about 28,000 tons. Before the day’s out, it will complete its voyage after spending nearly eleven days en route from Mejillones, Chile, arriving in the small Louisiana port town of Donaldsonville. In all likelihood, nobody needs to be aware of this information outside of Gas Utopia’s crew, some customs agents, and a few dockworkers in Donaldsonville. I certainly don’t, but thanks to an app called Marine Traffic, I am goddamn Poseidon, Lord of the Seas.

Living in New Orleans, like pretty much anywhere else in America, for that matter, has been particularly difficult these last few months. Louisiana is one of the country’s hardest hit areas for the COVID-19 pandemic, per capita. For a long time, virtually everything in town had closed up shop to slow infection rates. Then, like so many other places in this country, a lot of those places reopened when they shouldn’t have in the name of “the economy.” Who the hell knows what’s going to happen here in New Orleans as we head into the worst part of hurricane season, but until then, I’m virtually escaping aboard ships charted by Marine Traffic.

The MarineTraffic website.

Good Finds

One of gaming's most controversial trilogies is finally on Switch, and it's only $35 right now

No Gods or Kings, only three legendary games for less than one.

Shutterstock

Everybody has an opinion on BioShock; you love it, you hate it, you've suffered an hourlong mansplanation about its Randian influence after making the mistake of mentioning it to a cute guy at the bar. No matter where you land in that conversation, there's no denying the series' role as a genre-defining force for first-person shooters.

The first title marked its 10-year anniversary in 2017 and it's been seven years since the third installment, BioShock Infinite, was released, but the game somehow manages to always be relevant, especially now. There's just something about atmospheric, post-apocalyptic horror sci-fi that really strikes a chord these days... Anyway, if the news that a fourth BioShock is finally on the way has you itching to replay the first three, you're in luck: the entire BioShock collection for Nintendo Switch is on sale right now on Amazon for only $35.

BioShock