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Technobabble: Are bots waging net neutrality war in the comment section?

Also, Amazon is upping it corporate responsibility and dinner is about to get SMALT-y

Technobabble is our look at the more colorful aspects of technology and the tech industry. Be sure to check out last week's edition about a how much some tech interns are making per month

The battle over net neutrality is raging between tech giants and the Federal Communications Commission. As it turns out, the internet is also at war over net neutrality, taking to the FCC website to emphatically comment on the state of internet regulation. 

This should come as no surprise, as prior to the FCC issuing net neutrality regulations in 2015 it received 4 million comments. What's different about this comment period, however, is how a flood of the comments are identical, which is indicative of bots automating forum responses. 

Tens of thousands of comments declare how the "unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation." In response, the identical comments urge the FCC to "end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach" to restore the "bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus."

But the automated comments aren't only encouraging the repeal of net neutrality rules. Thousands of identical comments are also in support of maintaining certain rules, declaring how they "don't want ISPs to have the power to block websites, slow them down, give some sites an advantage over others, or split the internet into 'fast lanes,'" according to a Recode report

The identical comments come just after the FCC announced it had suffered DDoS attacks Sunday night into Monday morning following a segment from "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," where he encouraged internet commenters to direct "indiscriminate rage in a useful direction," and comment on the FCC's website in support of maintaining current net neutrality rules." 

ZDNet looked into the authenticity of the comments, trying to determine if the people listed actually filed comments on the FCC website. Those who replied assured ZDNet they did not comment on the FCC website and in some cases did not even know what net neutrality was. 

What's striking and odd is the mini war that is taking place in the comment section of a federal website. Stakeholders have a lot to lose if current net neutrality rules are changed. As of Wednesday, the FCC had received and published more than 550,000 comments on the net neutrality rules, in less than a week after the comment period opened. 

But with the flood of identical comments taking over the site, legitimate comments for or against net neutrality may not be seen. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-OR, and Brian Schatz, D-HI, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asking for the number of commenters who may have been unable to submit comments because of the agency's website troubles, The Washington Post reports. The letter also wants to know why the FCC had not previously stress tested its website to ensure a surge of comments couldn't take the site down. 

One macro thing

As tech companies have grown, they have reshaped their cities, in some instances displacing people who have long lived in the area. The influx of tech workers has changed the temperament of some cities (just ask a local Washingtonian about the "Seattle Freeze"). With housing prices skyrocketing, some tech companies are reinvesting locally in an attempt to offset local disruption. 

For example the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative from Dr. Priscilla Chan and her husband Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, gave $3.1 million to the Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto to help families displaced by the high cost of housing, The Mercury News reports. The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley also received a $500,000 grant from the Initiative to help develop long-term solutions for the housing crisis in the Bay Area. 

Amazon is donating 47,000 sq. ft. in its new Seattle headquarters to Mary's Place Family Shelter, the company announced this week. The space will serve as a permanent shelter that can house more than 200 homeless women, children and families in 65 rooms. 

Amazon employees and Mary's Place residents will move into the new headquarters together when the facilities are complete in 2020. 

One micro thing

Microsoft has a new catch phrase. When Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft's CEO in 2014, he wanted to refocus the enterprise giant, preparing it for a new era of technology. His vision for the company was "mobile first, cloud first." 

But Nadella is re-imagining the corporate mantra to reflect where technology is today. Speaking at Microsoft Build 2017, Nadella said the company is now all about the "intelligent cloud," Business Insider reports

"It's no longer just mobile-first," Nadella said. "The user experience itself is going to span all your devices."

But what does that actually mean? The new phrase illustrates Microsoft's efforts to build artificial intelligence into apps and services, reflecting how much of technology is supported by robust troves of data. The mobile experience is now inherent in technology for Nadella. The focus now is to make technology smarter than ever before. 

In case you missed it, here is also a very important image of young Nadella he shared at Build. 

One last thing

Smart devices are all the rage, delighting consumers and causing headaches for security professionals. With a launch expected later this summer, soon a device will be able to revolutionize your dining experience. 

No, I am not talking about the internet-connected juicer with packets of juice that can actually be squeezed by hand. I am talking about SMALT, a bluetooth-equipped salt shaker and what the company calls "the first multi-sensory device to make dining experience fun."

Not only does the salt shaker play music, it can also change its lighting to create ambience and "make any moment more memorable." And let's not forget SMALT's primary function: The device can help measure, track and control salting, dispensing either a pinch or a teaspoon. It even boasts integrations with Amazon Echo so users an ask Alexa for help with their salting needs, as Time reports

Though the device is not yet available, updates are available at Indiegogo. Soon, you too can salt like this guy: 

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Filed Under: IT Strategy Leadership & Careers
Top image credit: Pixabay