MIT Builds COVID Detection AI, Apps Spend Big and Win Big in Cali, and Chinese Regulators Squash an Ant

It’s a couple of days after Election Day, and the US electorate is still hanging in the balance. A plethora of memes have been floating around the Internet as the country awaits the outcome. Including one comparing the American public waiting for a definitive result to someone waiting for the results of an STD test.

Regardless of what happens, it’s Thursday. You’d have already gotten your fill of election coverage, so I’ve avoided covering the technological news relating to the election. Here’s another week of tech talk with Mark Starling and the First News 570 crew.

This week, MIT builds COVID cough listening AI, apps win big in California’s local election, and Chinese banking regulators squash an Ant. You can listen to Mark and I point and laugh while talking about the wild and crazy technology world every Thursday morning, LIVE at 6:43am Eastern.


An algorithm published by MIT uses AI to listen to a person coughing and determine if they are infected by COVID-19. One of the researchers who devised the innovation, Brian Subirana said that the way people produce sound through their mouth changes when you have Covid, even if they’re asymptomatic. The MIT team used over 70,000 audio sounds with 2,500 of those sounds coming from people who were infected by the virus. This type of technology could be used for pre-screening people at work or at school.


Also on California’s ballot was Proposition 22. Prop 22 is a law that permanently classifies gig economy workers, like Uber and Lyft drivers, as independent contractors and NOT employees. This means tech companies aren’t required to pay regulated income taxes and fees like workers compensation. The law does require tech companies to provide some benefits like minimum hourly earnings, however. Up until this week’s election, the outcome for Prop 22 was uncertain, but Uber and Lyft spent a combined $200 million in advertising and updated their apps to prompt their customers to support the law. Labor unions were only able to raise a tenth of Uber and Lyft’s spend and it shows. Prop 22 is now law.


Yesterday, Chinese financial regulators stopped the double listing of the Alibaba Group’s financial technology Services company, Ant Group, from IPO-ing on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. The IPO would have been valued at a WHOPPING $37.1 billion, with a ‘B’, making it the world’s largest ever IPO. The company specialized in delivering payments and was heavily used in Chinese markets. Regulators pulled the company in, because traditional banks were leveraging Ant Group’s apps to underwrite traditional loans. They also wanted to have a chat with CEO Jack Ma for calling out Chinese banking regulators as being behind in the times and trying to squeeze Ant Group in as a tech company and not a bank. We’ll see.


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