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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Giants like Alphabet, GE and Cisco are building tech that they claim can transform a city stuck in the past into a futuristic paradise, but their early projects have resulted in companies making what typically are City Hall decisions.
Erica writes: Across the country, mayors are issuing open calls for smart city tech. One reason, as we've reported, is that second-tier cities are desperate to attract jobs and people — and boost their flagging and sometimes dire circumstances. The effort is to beat a trend in which the best talent and money are going to so-called "superstar cities."
But the results so far are mixed:
Driving the news: Toronto teamed up last year with Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet's smart city company, giving the firm a 12-acre piece of waterfront to develop however it saw fit.
Sidewalk Labs told Erica that 40% of the area that it redevelops will be devoted to high-quality affordable housing built from sustainable materials. The company maintains that it will move ahead with its plans and that public debate will make the project better.
Correction: This story has been updated to show that the reimbursements Sidewalk Labs is seeking are to fast-track public services.
Nazarbayev. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty
Authoritarian power is all the rage across the continents. But one of the most practiced autocrats on the planet, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has just offered up an object lesson in how to elevate mere one-man power to something higher.
In an announcement yesterday, the 78-year-old Nazarbayev resigned after three decades in power. It was seemingly historic news — the exit of the last political survivor of the Soviet Union, for which he had served as vice president until its 1991 collapse.
As it turns out, it was out of character: Through an entanglement of titles conferred by the supine Parliament, Nazarbayev is holding onto supreme power. And that's not all:
Be smart: Together, the moves resemble the long rule of Singaporean founder Lee Kuan Yew, a figure much respected in the former Soviet Union. Lee also served for three decades as his country's leader, then behind the scenes remained its most powerful figure for 21 years after that. He died in 2015.
A woman votes online in Estonia in 2011. Photo: Raigo Pajula/AFP/Getty
In Estonia's parliamentary elections this month, nearly half of the votes cast were submitted online.
Kaveh writes: The country allows citizens to vote online during a six-day window before election day, reports Kalev Aasmae for ZDNet. Estonians cast 247,232 "i-votes," or "internet votes," during that time, using their national ID cards and PINs.
Kaveh asked Axios cybersecurity reporter Joe Uchill why most countries, including the U.S., don't vote online. He said:
"Voting experts generally oppose online voting because it introduces massive security complications into the process. Connecting voting systems to the internet makes them more vulnerable to hackers, the apps used to do the voting are separately vulnerable, and there's no centralized written record to audit voting accuracy in case something seems awry."
Polygraph result from an interview with Jack Ruby. Photo: National Archives/Corbis/Getty
Researchers at Florida State University and Stanford are developing an "online polygraph" that detects lies in text — without the contextual clues that can hint at deception in a face-to-face conversation.
"You could use it for online dating, Facebook, Twitter — the applications are endless," says FSU researcher Shuyuan Ho, the paper's lead author, in an article published by the university.
Kaveh's thought bubble: The accuracy of old-school polygraphs — the ones that output the seismic wiggles seen above — has long been in question. A new test would have to clear a high bar to prove that it's not calibrated only to a certain group of people. It also provokes thorny ethical questions about the prospect of automatic deception-monitoring in online spaces.