The biggest technology failures of 2020

This was a year we needed technology to save us. A pandemic raced over the land, there were wildfires, uneasy political divisions, and we gasped in the miasma of social media. In 2020, the ways in which technology can help or hurt never seemed clearer.

In the success column we have covid-19 vaccines. But this article is not about successes. Instead, this is our annual list of the worst technology flops and failures. Our tally for 2020 includes billion-dollar digital business plans that faceplanted, covid tests that bombed, and the unforeseen consequences of wrapping the planet in cheap satellites.

Covid tests

The polymerase chain reaction is not a new technology. In fact, this technique for detecting the presence of specific genes was invented in 1980, and its inventor won a Nobel Prize a decade later. It’s employed in a vast array of diagnostic tests and laboratory research.

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RedHill announces positive top-line data from P2 COVID-19 study of opaganib

Phase 2 COVID-19 study of opaganib showed that orally-administered opaganib was safe and demonstrated consistent trends of greater improvement in reducing oxygen requirement across key primary and secondary efficacy outcomes.

Credit: RedHill Biopharma

  • Preliminary data from the non-powered U.S. Phase 2 study of 40 hospitalized patients shows that orally-administered opaganib was safe, with no material safety differences between opaganib and control arms
  • Consistent trends demonstrate greater improvement in reducing oxygen requirement by end of treatment at Day 14 in the opaganib-treated arm across key primary and secondary efficacy outcomes, correlating with clinical improvement as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) ordinal scale
  • The opaganib-treated arm demonstrated a greater improvement in reaching room air within 14 days (52.6{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} vs. 22.2{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964}); greater improvement in reduction to 50{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} supplemental oxygen by Day 14 (89.5{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} vs. 66.7{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964}); a higher proportion of patients discharged by Day 14 (73.7{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} vs. 55.6{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964}) and a greater reduction
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Salesforce has built a deep bench of executive talent via acquisition

When Salesforce acquired Quip in 2016 for $750 million, it gained CEO and co-founder Bret Taylor as part of the deal. Taylor has since risen quickly through the ranks of the software giant to become president and COO, second in command behind CEO Marc Benioff. Taylor’s experience shows that startup founders can sometimes play a key role in the companies that acquire them.

Benioff, 56, has been running Salesforce since its founding more than 20 years ago. While he hasn’t given any public hints that he intends to leave anytime soon, if he wanted to step back from the day-to-day running of the company or even job share the role, he has a deep bench of executive talent including many experienced CEOs, who like Taylor came to the company via acquisition.

One way to step back from the enormous responsibility of running Salesforce would be by sharing the role.

He … Read more

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OnePlus may unveil a $40 fitness band to rival Xiaomi (Update: Renders leak)

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
  • OnePlus is reportedly introducing a $40 fitness band tentatively known as the OnePlus Band.
  • It would rival the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 by offering AMOLED, water-resistance, and long battery life.
  • It would launch in early 2021.

Update, December 31, 2020 (10:00 AM ET): It was only yesterday that news first broke about a OnePlus fitness band possibly being on the way. Now, thanks to leaker @stufflistings on Twitter, we have what appears to be our first renders of the device.

Check out the image below:

OnePlus Band Leaked Renders

Credit: Twitter

As you can see, the fitness band looks very much like other products from multiple competitor brands, including Xiaomi. What will need to set it apart from the pack will be the connected app software, which will be a first for OnePlus.

The original article about this new product continues below.


Original article, December 30, 2020 (01:38 Read more

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Current spacesuits won’t cut it on the moon. So NASA made new ones.

A spacesuit is more like a miniature spacecraft you wear around your body than an item of clothing. It’s pressurized, it’s decked out with life support systems, and it’s likely to look pretty cool. But should the suit fail, you’re toast. 

No one has ever died because of a faulty spacesuit, but that doesn’t mean current models are perfect. Whether it’s for launch into space or reentry back to Earth, or for an extravehicular activity (EVA, colloquially known as a spacewalk), astronauts have never been completely satisfied with the gear they are forced to put on for missions. 

Fortunately, though, the flurry of new activity in space has meant we’re seeing more innovation in spacesuit design and performance than ever before. The suits look better, too. The emergence of new private vehicles like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner means NASA astronauts going to the International Space Station are wearing … Read more

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For years, I’ve tried to work my way back into the middle class

 

Early this winter, I took a long walk in the Salt Lake City park in which I had been arrested for bathing in a river when I was homeless.

About 30 minutes into that walk, I stood across from the park’s granite meditation temple, thinking: Three and a half years ago, I slept under that building’s awning.

I can still feel how hard that temple’s cold stone floor was; I remember how people strolled by my bed of cardboard and clothes and stared with what struck me as a combination of concern, contempt, and pity. Now I see that these are also the lenses through which I have often judged my own progress in my new, not-yet-middle-class life.

These days, I often wonder: Am I really doing as well as I should be after all this time? How did I ever allow myself to fall so far? Trying to Read more

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FGM safeguarding policies are alienating UK’s African diaspora communities

Credit: United Nations

AHEAD of tomorrow’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, by the United Nations, FORWARD, the leading African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls, and the University of Huddersfield have published new research that documents how the stringent, targeted, FGM safeguarding measures introduced since the 2014 Girl Summit are causing distress and mistrust amongst African diaspora communities in Bristol, and potentially across the country.

The research reveals first-hand evidence documenting how FGM safeguarding policies are leaving families feeling racially profiled, criminalised and stigmatised. To access the full study report, please follow this link: https://www.forwarduk.org.uk/forward-publications/fgm-safeguarding-bristol-study/.

Over the latter half of the last decade, the UK government intensified its response to FGM, giving FGM a ‘special’ status within national safeguarding, going far beyond the UK’s regulatory approach to other forms of child abuse.

This includes the introduction of FGM Mandatory Reporting Duty, the

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Predictive policing is still racist—whatever data it uses

It’s no secret that predictive policing tools are racially biased. A number of studies have shown that racist feedback loops can arise if algorithms are trained on police data, such as arrests. But new research shows that training predictive tools in a way claimed to lessen bias has little effect.

Arrest data biases predictive tools because police are known to arrest more people in Black and other minority neighborhoods, which leads algorithms to direct more policing to those areas, which leads to more arrests. The result is that predictive tools misallocate police patrols: some neighborhoods are unfairly designated crime hotspots; others are underpoliced.

In their defence, many developers of predictive policing tools say that they have started using victim reports to get a more accurate picture of crime rates across different neighborhoods. In theory victim reports should be less biased because they aren’t affected by police prejudice or … Read more

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Save $90 on the Pixel 4a 5G, and more of the best Google Pixel deals

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The Google Pixel family has long had a list of features that make it a go-to for die-hard fans. Whether it’s the vanilla Android experience or the powerful camera, the Pixel packs some features that set it apart from the pack. As Android nerds, we’re always on the lookout for Google Pixel deals. With the Google Pixel 5 finally here, we’re hoping that we’ll start to see bigger discounts on previous variants soon.

Here are some of the best deals on everything from the Pixel 5 to the original Pixel XL and everything in between.

Featured deal: Save $90 on the Pixel 4a 5G

Unlocked Google Pixel 4a 5G Best Buy Deal

Credit: Best Buy

The Google Pixel 4a 5G was already considered to be great value for its price point. Now a number of retailers have the Pixel 4a 5G on offer for $459 ($40 off), and Best Buy … Read more

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We asked, you told us: You don’t think Samsung should kill the Note series

Credit: Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Multiple recent reports have sounded the death knell for Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. Some say Samsung will completely ditch the phablet line in 2021 while others insist there might be one last Note on its way out next year.

Based on these reports, we asked our readers what they think of Samsung merging the Galaxy Note series with the Galaxy S flagship line. We also asked our audience across YouTube, Twitter, and our website if they want Samsung to kill off the Galaxy Note series completely. Here are the results of both those polls.

Do you want Samsung to merge the Galaxy S and Note series?



Do you think Samsung should kill off the Galaxy Note series?



Results

60.4{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} of the 1,238 Android Authority readers who voted in … Read more

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OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 will get Android 11…and then that’s it.

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • OnePlus confirmed that the OnePlus Nord N10 and Nord N100 will receive just one Android upgrade.
  • Since the devices ship with Android 10, that means they’ll eventually get Android 11 and then no more upgrades after that.
  • The company did also confirm that both phones will see two years of security updates.

The OnePlus Nord series is brand new in 2020. As such, we don’t have years and years of history to look at when it comes to software upgrades, security support, etc. Up until now, that info has been all up in the air.

Related: OnePlus phones: A history of the company’s entire lineup so far

However, OnePlus recently confirmed to Android Central that the two newest Nord phones — the Nord N10 and Nord N100 — will only receive one software upgrade. Both devices ship with Android 10, which logically means … Read more

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The Charlesworth Group strengthens Hindawi partnership in China

Leading open access publisher Hindawi has extended their partnership with The Charlesworth Group to include digital author marketing in China.

Credit: © The Charlesworth Group
© Hindawi Limited

The services provided by The Charlesworth Group form part of a holistic package of solutions across the entire publication journey to support Hindawi’s author engagement strategy in China. Through this partnership, The Charlesworth Group are now providing Hindawi with comprehensive digital marketing, including a new Chinese website and search marketing campaigns. Charlesworth have provided WeChat account management services and media monitoring to Hindawi since early 2018 and have recently begun offering Hindawi authors optional expert editing services through Charlesworth Author Services.

Through offering these new services, together with the existing WeChat account management service, this partnership can offer deeper author engagement in the China market at a key time for Chinese researchers as institutions begin to map out their publications policy in

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