Your WIRED daily briefing. Today, Amazon is investigating reports of brokers bribing employees to change site content, Google's Chinese search engine prototype reportedly links searches to phone numbers, Sweden's medical regulator finds the Natural Cycles contraceptive app as effective as advertised, and more.1. Amazon investigates claims that sellers are bribing staff to take down bad reviews
Amazon has opened an internal bribery investigation following reports that a cottage industry has sprung up around Amazon employees prepared to delete negative reviews and restore banned accounts on the site for a fee (CNET). First reported by >The Wall Street Journal, the practice is reportedly facilitated by a network of brokers, often working for sellers in China, who approach Amazon employees and offer them payments ranging from $80 to over $2,000. In a statement, Amazon said: "We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties. In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them."
A report by >The Intercept into Google's prototype 'Dragonfly' search engine for the Chinese market has detailed censorship and tracking features included to comply with local laws (Gizmodo). The search engine reportedly associates users' identities with search terms by logging phone numbers, blocks a number of Mandarin search terms including "student protest" and "human rights", and relies exclusively on authorised Chinese data sources for weather and pollution reports. It's been previously reported as being co-developed with an unnamed Chinese company, and both Google workers and human rights activists have expressed concerns over the company's creation of a service for Chinese users due to widespread government monitoring of online activity in the country.
>Wednesday briefing: Canada has legalised the sale and use of weed
Wednesday briefing: Canada has legalised the sale and use of weed
Sweden's Medical Products Agency has concluded an investigation into the effectiveness of the Natural Cycles contraception app and has found that it works as advertised (Engadget). The app – the first to be certified for contraceptive use – requires users to take their temperature daily and use condoms on fertile days, with a 93 per cent effectiveness rating. This was called into question when a hospital found that it was responsible for 37 of 668 unwanted pregnancies in a study, but the agency ultimately found that the reported rate of unplanned pregnancies among users was in line with the app's advertised effectiveness.
Google's launch of its latest mobile operating system, Android Pie, involves DeepMind's largest real-world machine learning roll-out to date (WIRED). And there's an ambitious aim for its AI. It's looking to solve one of the modern smartphone's most frustrating features: poor battery life. Since Spring 2017 – well before the release of developer previews of Android Pie, formerly known by its codename "P" – DeepMind's London-based team started working with its Google counterparts. The result was the introduction of two AI systems within the operating system. Adaptive Battery, which aims to stop apps sucking-up battery life in the background, and Adaptive Brightness, that automatically adjusts the screen depending on the environment the phone is in.5. Return of the Obra Dinn is a monochrome seafaring mystery from the creator of Papers Please
Lucas Pope, best known for 2013's dramatic puzzle game Papers, Please, set in a totalitarian dystopia, has released an announcement trailer for his next game: Return of the Obra Dinn (Eurogamer). Set in 1807, the first-person game uses a striking one-bit monochrome art style to tell the story of the Obra Dinn, a ghost ship that returns to port with all crew lost – and you are cast as the insurance investigator sent to unravel the mystery. The game is scheduled for release this autumn and will be available on Steam for Windows and macOS. You can still try a very early demo from 2016 on its itch.io page.
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