WeeklyTech #26

Normalizing Pornography and Dehumanizing People

Recently, a tweet by Netflix that read something like “What is something you can say during sex and while watching Netflix?” went viral. I highly discourage you from checking the replies as nearly every major brand (as well as everyday people) degraded themselves for a fleeting joke. The whole exchange revealed how sexualized humor has become normal in our society. Even well-known companies like Wendy’s and Hulu responded to the initial tweet. But one reply in particular stuck out to me. Pornhub, the world’s largest porn site, with over 42 billion visits in 2019 and over 115 million visits per day, tweeted “everything” which caused a big stir on Twitter. 

Many users found it hilarious that a pornography company commented on the thread. Others jumped quickly on the bandwagon with similar language and even shared animated gifs of popular characters like baby Yoda indulging in the use of porn. With this type of social media engagement, Pornhub is trying to portray themselves as just another brand online. It is an attempt to show that real people are behind this massive entity. It’s also an effort to demonstrate that their product is a normal part of our society. 

Interesting technology stories

I asked my students to turn in their cell phones and write about living without themMIT Technology Review

My students had failed a midterm test rather badly. I had a hunch that their pervasive use of cell phones and laptops in class was partly responsible. 

Mystery Drones Fly Over Colorado, NebraskaMorning Brew

You don’t expect to start 2020 reading that sentence from NBC News about mystery drone sightings in rural Colorado and Nebraska, but here we are.  

US Army bans soldiers from using TikTokThe Verge

United States Army soldiers can no longer use TikTok on government-owned phones following a decision to ban the app.

Google’s AI breast cancer screening tool is learning to generalize across countriesMIT Technology Review

DeepMind and Google Health have developed a new AI system to help doctors detect breast cancer early. 

How Iran’s Hackers Might Strike Back After Soleimani’s AssassinationWired

For years, US tensions with Iran have held to a kind of brinksmanship. But the drone assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, widely understood to be the second most powerful figure in Iran, has dangerously escalated tensions.