It’s all in the algorithms…

NYC Media Lab
8 min readMay 2, 2022

It’s all in the algorithms… Will Twitter Drive Section 230 Changes? View this email in your browser

You may have missed that the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project was hacked last week, resulting in the loss of NFTs worth millions. But there was a much bigger media frenzy around the news that Elon Musk would be acquiring Twitter for $44bn. As a result, a predictable battle between left vs. right quickly dominated our feeds. But it also highlighted how algorithms have divided audiences and promoted binary thinking as users increasingly become entrenched in their views.

Musk’s moves will drive changes in how we define ‘free speech’ and give democrats and republicans alike some shared pressure to re-think section 230, which will provide it’s own set of complexity and dangers. NYU Prof Vasant Dhar — who was on our future of Trust Panel last year, has an interesting take on what comes next.

Speaking of the future — a great day in Downtown Brooklyn, as the NYU Tandon School of Engineering showcased over 40 innovative and future-forward research projects by faculty and students. The event had everything from Real-time flood sensors, urban farms, autonomous cars, and dancing drones. Meanwhile, at Stanford, a research team built a new Lidar system that promises 3D vision for cameras, cars, and bots, suggesting that the next Lidar system you see could be on your phone.

There is also a comprehensive read around what SubT means for the future of autonomous robots as IEEE Spectrum takes a deep dive inside Darpa’s subterranean challenge. Although it’s easy to get carried away with the next big thing, we take a look back at our tech archives this week at Brewster Kahle discussing archiving the entire Internet and Matt Cutts sharing a behind-the-scenes history of early Google.

Don’t forget our upcoming Spring Gala, Thank you @Hearst @Verizon, @NYTimes, @Bertlesman for being leading table sponsors at the #NYCMediaLab #GrandGala We’d love to have you take a table, or some tickets for your team.

Yes, we’ve changed the distribution time for DataDownload — exploring when it can be most valuable to you. Thoughts about this? We would love to hear from you.

Steven Rosenbaum
Executive Director
The NYC Media Lab


Section 230 Changes Will Be Driven By Elon Musk Twitter Changes says NYU prof.

Vasant Dhar — Professor of Information Systems at NYU’s Stern School — says Section 230 changes are now inevitable. We live in a digital age where algorithms determine the information that we consume. As a result, many users are spoon-feed information they want to read that strengthens their views to keep them endlessly scrolling on a platform.

Dhar, who was on the MediaLab stage last years Future of Trust conversation. You can view it here.

He argues that Musk’s proposes that Twitter’s algorithm should be open source and that “there should be no behind the scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually” could help solve the most vexing problem confronting lawmakers, namely, how to regulate social media platforms in a way that strikes the right balance between free speech and societal harm. It’s a relevant read.

The Hill/ 3 min read

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Real-Time Flood Sensors, Urban Farms, Autonomous Cars, Dancing Drones, and More at NYU Tandon’s Research Excellence Exhibit

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering showcased over 40 innovative and future-forward research projects by faculty and students in Downtown Brooklyn. The event featured 40 innovations covering everything from a new range of influenza diagnosis tests to human-driven robots.

What made this event stand out was the spotlight on technology with real-world applications for health and biomedical fields, cybersecurity, sustainability, urban life, robotics, emerging media, and telecommunications. It was great to see so many people collaborating and leveraging technology to solve real problems and making a difference.

EurekAlert/ 2 min read

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Tech + Media

Why Your Brain Is So Good at Rewriting History

Have you ever asked your colleagues to reflect on a project and how the team brought it to life, only to get stories that differ from your recollection of events? Whether it be who came up with ideas and solutions or where conversations took place, you might wonder why these accounts vary enormously.

We invite you on a journey of self-discovery where you will explore egocentrism, self-serving biases, and the science behind schema-driven memory. As you come out the other side, you will discover why it’s generally a good thing that your memory does not provide an accurate history of the past.

Fast Company/ 3 min read

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New Lidar System Promises 3D Vision for Cameras, Cars, and Bots

The problem with lidars is they are notoriously bulky, power-hungry, and are too expensive for all but high-end applications. However, things could be about to change. A lab-based prototype lidar system built by a Stanford research team has successfully captured megapixel-resolution depth maps using a commercially available digital camera.

Although we are still a few years away from a transformational change in this industry, we have seen a sneak peek into the future where lidars will slim down. You might even see a lidar system on your smartphone to help guide you through crowded cities in the not-to-distant future. Exciting times are ahead.

IEEESpectrum/ 3 min read

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Bored Ape Yacht Club Instagram Hacked, NFTs Worth Millions Stolen

Bored Ape Yacht Club’s official Instagram account was hacked last week, enabling the hackers to escape with 91 NFTs worth at least $2.8 million from users who connected their wallets. The attackers found a way of tricking victims into handing over control of their wallets with an ad for a fake airdrop for an upcoming NFT project.

Even more worryingly, two-factor authentication was enabled, and the security practices were tight on the impacted Instagram account. Investigations continue around how the hacker gained access, making this unfolding story one to watch closely.

Vice/ 4 min read

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What We’re Watching

Brewster Kahle on Archiving the Entire Internet

We revisit #1111 of This Week in Startups and a conversation with Brewster Kahle on archiving the entire Internet protocols over platforms and microschools. Brewster explains why he started and the purpose it was built around. He also discusses archiving social networks videogames and software along with the challenges they overcame along the way.

YouTube/ 60 min watch

Watch Here

What We’re Listening To

Internet History Podcast

I figure most of you should know who Matt Cutts is, but if you don’t, let’s just leave it at this: he’s about to give you the best, most behind-the-scenes oral history of early Google on this podcast. He was the head of Google’s webspam team for nearly 15 years. He’s also the current head of the USDS, so if you what to know what YOU can do for your country — if you’re in technology and want to make the government work better — listen to this episode!

Apple Podcasts/ 60 min

Listen Here

Events & Jobs

The NYC Media Lab Spring Grand Gala
May 24th, 6:30pm

Email for ticket and table information.

The Knowledge Graph Conference
Monday, May 02–06, 2022

The Knowledge Graph Conference (KGC) takes place at the Cornell Tech campus & globally online. The event bridges the gap between industry, which increasingly recognizes the necessity of integrated data, & academia, where semantic technology has been developing for over twenty years. The conference’s goals are to showcase major knowledge graphs implementations and educate on how knowledge graphs are built, maintained, and used to develop a community around technology leaders.

Emerging Opportunities Around Humanity In Cryptocurrency
Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Innovation in cryptocurrency has been driven by profit, & not always by unlocking the good in humanity — but the potential for more purposeful innovation is there. The cryptocurrency market climbed by about $1.5 trillion in 2021 to a total market size of $2.3 trillion. The space has been in a constant state of evolution. The Giving Block & GoodQues discuss how to identify opportunities in crypto & what they mean for fundraisers & inventive thinkers.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video & live speakers combine to spark deep discussion & connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The theme of this TEDx is REimagine.

System Of A DAO
Friday, May 06, 2022

Come talk about DAOs with Khayyam Wakil and his weekly special guest!

A Deeper Look

Inside DARPA’S Subterranean Challenge

Deep below the Louisville, Ky., zoo lies a network of enormous caverns carved out of limestone. The caverns are dark. They’re dusty. They’re humid. And during one week in September 2021, they were full of the most sophisticated robots in the world. The robots (along with their human teammates) were there to tackle a massive underground course designed by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as the culmination of its three-year Subterranean Challenge.

The fascinating deep dive explores what SubT means for the future of autonomous robots and provides a vision of the role that robots will play in our future.

IEEE Spectrum/ 14 min read

Read More Today’s newsletter written in partnership with Neil C. Hughes, the Tech Blogger and host of Tech Talks Daily


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