Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse ; Plants Make Sounds When They Are Stressed Out ; and More Picks 1/9

Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse as We Know It (Judy)

The author writes, “They’re mouthpieces for foreign actors, domestic political groups, even the candidates themselves. And soon you won’t be able to tell they’re bots.”

Facebook Wouldn’t Remove Doctored Pelosi Video Under New Deepfakes Ban (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Last spring, the social media giant refused to remove a video of the San Francisco Democrat that was deceptively edited to make her appear to be speaking sluggishly. The effect was to suggest she was drunk or otherwise inebriated. That episode came up repeatedly Wednesday as lawmakers grilled Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, during a hearing before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee focused on online disinformation.”

CES Gadget Show: Surveillance Is In — and in a Big Way (Reader Steve)

From the Las Vegas Sun: “From the face scanner that will check in some attendees to the cameras-everywhere array of digital products, the CES gadget show is all-in on surveillance technology — whether it calls it that or not. Nestled in the ‘smart home’ and ‘smart city’ showrooms at the sprawling Las Vegas consumer tech conference are devices that see, hear and track the people they encounter. Some of them also analyze their looks and behavior. … All these talking speakers, doorbell cameras and fitness trackers come with the promise of making life easier or more fun, but they’re also potentially powerful spying tools. And the skeptics who raise privacy and security concerns can be easily drowned out in the flashy spectacle of gee-whiz technology.”

Too Little, Too Late? A Decade of Transit Investment in the US (Chris)

The author writes, “Cities across the U.S. added more than 1,200 miles of expanded transit service between 2010 and 2019. But all that construction isn’t keeping up with the need.”

Plants Make Sounds When They’re Stressed Out, Recordings Reveal (Mili)

From Newsweek: “According to a study published in the pre-print website bioRxiv, a team of Israeli scientists recorded tomato and tobacco plants producing sound frequencies which humans cannot hear in stressful situations — such as when they experienced a lack of water or their stems were cut.”