These bird-like bots will flap you to the future


July 28, 2020

Plus: Google makes another big announcement on WFH.
July 28, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Mitek

I’ve had the Duolingo app downloaded on my phone for so long that it’s basically decorative. Once upon a time I promised myself I would learn Dutch, but I don’t think I’ve opened the app since 2018.

I’m happy to learn I’m not alone. In 2019, the average person had 93 apps on their phone — but only used ~41 of them every month, according to App Annie.

What are your most neglected apps? Tell us here.  

Michael Waters, staff writer

Too Hot to Handle

Facebook’s plan to crack down on porn: Call in the Red Team

We get it: You took a set of tasteful nudes, and you want your finsta followers to see them. 

Last year, duping Facebook’s moderation algorithm was as simple as overlaying your skin with dots or a grid. 

But when Facebook caught on, it kicked off a game of nude whack-a-mole: Users switched to other shapes and patterns instead of dots.

Now the tech giant wants to end the cat-and-mouse game for good, with  a group of investigators it calls the “AI Red Team.”

Companies hire hackers to suss out security flaws

Facebook’s Red Team works the same way — but instead of a bug, they’re testing for patterns of failure. 

Algorithms trip up more easily than you might think. Beyond the nudepocalypse, Facebook’s hate-speech detector might malfunction when users put multiple languages in the same post.

This problem isn’t just Facebook’s — tweak a few pixels, and Google’s AI might mistake a pair of skiers for a dog.

Facebook wants to clean up the house

Last week, the company created an “equity team” to weed out racial bias on the platform. 

But most of the Red Team’s work will focus on another threat: building an algorithm that smokes out deepfakes as easily as dick pics. 

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
Arm twist

Too busy to take a break? Your boss might make you

🎵Vacation, all I… never wanted? 🎵

Top tech companies are known for handing out generous perks — like unlimited vacation. But with corona closures and travel bans spoiling everyone’s vacay plans — well, what’s the point?

Preventing burnout, duh

We all need a reset — research shows short-term pleasures lower anxiety and depression.

So some companies are making vacation mandatory:

  • This summer, Chegg is blocking out Fridays to give employees extended weekends. 
  • Ping Identify created artificial company holidays to encourage relaxation.
  • To make sure workers aren’t chugging away in secret, the software company ServiceNow started staycation contests. Employees take photos or videos of their time off, then their colleagues vote on who had the best time. The team inspiring the most FOMO wins.

Has your company made vacation mandatory, or encouraged you to take time off? What did that look like? Email Caroline and give us the scoop.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
Snippets

5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣  Festival fans finally have something to cheer about. Lollapalooza will air on YouTube this weekend, starting on Thursday.

2️⃣  In other long-awaited news: a resolution to the Tenet saga. The Christopher Nolan film will hit theaters next month — just not in the US.

3️⃣  Google will keep its employees working remotely until at least next July. 

4️⃣  More Turkey Day dominoes are falling — Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods will close on Thanksgiving.

5️⃣  A mystery is sprouting in your mailbox. Some people say they’ve gotten unsolicited packets of seeds in the mail, maybe from China.

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣  London has a fix for its public transit woes: Use open-air tour buses.

2️⃣  Need to make sure Alexa isn’t eavesdropping? This “Alexagate” add-on might help.

3️⃣  A small company near Dallas that roasts nuts for major airlines is now saddled with thousands of pounds of unsold nuts. You can buy them online for half off. 

4️⃣  The name of the next Call of Duty video game has been under wraps for some time now — but a Doritos promo might have accidentally spoiled it. 

5️⃣  At least the pizza biz is booming: Delivery orders have shot up so much that Papa John’s is hiring 10k more workers

SPONSORED

The identity verification technology of tomorrow is here today

In 2020, just about every brand was forced to go digital-first — and fast.

But what sounds like a disaster in the making has actually been quite the opposite, thanks to companies like Mitek.

Mitek’s advanced identity verification tech is helping brands and consumers flourish throughout these turbulent times with:

  • AI-driven automation plus a man-and-machine learning engine
  • Seamless integration with your existing UX (whether on your website or in your app)
  • Data management, authentication, and encryption practices that meet all industry regulations
  • 99% uptime and 24/7 support for constant — and we mean constant — performance for your biz

If that was a lot to digest, don’t worry — we’ll sum it up for ya:

Brands and consumers need digital protection more than ever, and Mitek offers them exactly that with a simple platform, lower costs, and unbeatable security

Are you having challenges with the switch to digital-first? Then you need to take a long look at Mitek, which you can do right here:

Safety first, kids →
Gen Z Takeover

The 21-year-old entrepreneur who’s reshaping the music charts

Last year, when music execs wanted to promote a little-known single called “Sunday Best,” they turned to 21-year-old Jacob Pace

Pace is CEO of Flighthouse, a company that’s part marketing agency, part media giant. As Marker reported, he’s built an empire out of making new songs or products go wild on TikTok.

He’s worked with artists behind some of the biggest bangers of the past year: Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, and Arizona Zervas.

Among his secrets: Turn each song into a meme

If people are willing to dance to it, they’ll probably stream it.

To promote “Sunday Best,” Pace asked TikTok stars to send him their favorite videos of 2019. Then he mashed them up to the song. He sent it out to 25m+ followers on the Flighthouse account.

“Sunday Best” blew up — daily Spotify streams jumped from 200k to 600k. Now it’s #59 on the global chart. 

Pace is aiming even higher. He said last year that he wants to create a “modern-day MTV.”

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
Flap to the future

The sky’s the limit for these flapping drones

This is the stuff dreams — or nightmares — are made of. Scientists are testing a new drone design they call the ornithopter. 

The bird-like bot’s 4 flapping wings make it more nimble and energy efficient — and weirder looking — than conventional drones.

Wait, how’s this work?

Most drones use propellers and static wings to take off and soar. Like insects and hummingbirds, ornithopters flap their wings to generate forward thrust. 

The wings also allow them to make complex moves like darting, hovering, flipping, and recovering — all while using ~40% less energy than their propeller-powered peers.

They’re also safe to fly indoors, so they might someday be well-suited for complex tasks — like inspecting ventilation ducts in hard-to-access areas or pollinating plants grown in greenhouses on vertical farms.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
94%

increase
THE BIG NUMBER

When the meditation app Calm dropped a bedtime audio series featuring Harry Styles, the Styles stans did not keep calm. 

Calm downloads jumped 94% — way more than when Matthew McConaughey, Lucy Liu, and Laura Dern announced their own Calm partnerships.  

But the reviews on Harry’s lullaby were mixed. Headlines ranged from “The Joys of Sleeping with Harry Styles (on the Calm App)” to “Harry Styles Is Terrible At Putting Me To Sleep.”

(Source: Morning Consult)

Insider Takes

Sports are back — finally. Here’s how entrepreneurs would fix the viewing experience

After 4+ months that felt more like 4+ years, sports are back. It’s exciting (and uncertain for baseball), but watching the games on TV ain’t the same. 

Empty stadiums are creepy, but cardboard fans are creepier — and virtual fans might be the creepiest

So we asked our Trends subscribers: How would you improve the virtual viewing experience? What’s a cool new business that could rise out of the sports comeback?

Here’s what they told us

Daniel Riou, CEO, Defis Group, sees inspiration in livestreaming: “Part of the success of Twitch is that you get to follow whoever you want. You don’t have to listen to the moderator you don’t like… Different analysts could stream the game and comment in real time.”

Andrea Pereira Pfister, Founder, Rocket Science Branding, wants to mimic the best seats in the house: “Selling premium seats with tablets. Or selling virtual watch parties by section to allow fans to engage with one another.”

Ken Ferguson is looking to VR that mimics sitting in a stadium seat. Give people the option “to toggle between being in the stands next to people and having the ability to actually talk to them like Xbox Live.” Also: Put cameras in player’s helmets. “I’d buy tickets for that.”

Join the insiders’ conversation on Facebook by subscribing to Trends.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
SPONSORED
Get the report →
How You’re Getting By

“I built a full 18-hole mini golf course with my partner on my 11×12 apartment patio.”

Kathryn Taccone, Springfield, Massachusetts

And Kathryn sent us the pics to prove it.

How are you coping with the pandemic? Send us your story, and we’ll share the best ones here.

Stocks Section Header
SHARE THE HUSTLE
Ambassador Rewards

Refer coworkers, get exclusive Hustle gear

Step 1: Peek our sweet, sweet rewards

Step 2: Copy your referral link below

Step 3: Share your link across social media and beyond

Step 4: Collect rewards, rinse & repeat

Share The Hustle →
How did you like today’s email?

hate it

meh

love it
Today’s email was brought to you by Michael Waters, Caroline Dohack, and Bobby Durben.
Editing by: Nick “No Rest for the Wicked” DeSantis, Eileen Windy (Windsurfing Instructor).

PODCAST JOBS ADVERTISE CONTACT US
Facebook Youtube Instagram Trends
251 KEARNY ST. STE 300, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94108, UNITED STATES • 415.506.7210 Never want to hear from us again? Break our hearts and unsubscribe
The Hustle

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.