Hawaii is ready for its midpandemic tourism boom. Starting on Aug. 1, tourists looking to visit Hawaii will be able to bypass the state's two-week quarantine requirement for arrivals by getting a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before landing in the state. Visitors can also have their quarantines cut short if they receive negative test results during those two weeks. The same rules will also apply to residents returning to the islands. Hawaii won't pay for the tests; travelers will have to handle that themselves before departure, though screeners will still administer temperature checks at airports.
Black Lives Matter is reverberating around the world, triggering a fresh reckoning with the racist global history of colonialism and slavery. While Confederate statues began to tumble across the American South, in Bristol, England, a diverse group felled a statue of a slave trader that has long provoked offense. Statues of colonial conquerors of Africa and South Asia have followed, along with a robust discussion of the ways in which such actions make history rather than erase it. These movements abroad are not merely echoes of BLM; BLM itself is global. The shared impetus is a common opposition to racism, of which anti-Black racism has been the most lethal and traumatic.
Last week, the Supreme Court issued a surprising 6–3 decision barring hiring discrimination against LGBTQ people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, with conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch making the textualist case for this landmark protection. The unexpected outcome in Bostock v. Clayton County should provoke introspection among progressives in the legal community who have long been skeptical of textualism, offering a chance for them to fix chronic blind spots and strategic gaffes that have damaged the progressive judicial project. While it's clear that this ruling was a major victory for progressives, less apparent is how, going forward, progressive advocates, judges, and politicians should think and talk about statutory interpretation. Although brow-furrowing, that question is hugely important. As the late high priest of conservative textualism, Justice Antonin Scalia, pointed out: "By far the greatest part of what I and all federal judges do is interpret the meaning of federal statutes."
A new video game is just what the doctor ordered, at least for some kids. For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a prescription video game. Now, physicians may prescribe Akili Interactive's EndeavorRx, formerly known as Project EVO, to children between the ages of 8 and 12 who struggle with ADHD. The game challenges users to dodge obstacles and collect targets as they navigate icy winter wonderlands and lava rivers, guided by aliens who zip around on flying saucers. The developers say the game stimulates neural systems that are intrinsic to attention function.
The following article is a written adaptation of an episode of Thrilling Tales of Modern Capitalism, Slate's new podcast about companies in the news and how they got there. The story of Epic Games begins with a programming prodigy named Tim Sweeney. When he was still in elementary school, Sweeney received an Apple II computer as a gift from his older brother. He almost immediately started programming very simple games on that computer, and then he began to test those games out by letting other kids play them while he watched. "He was quite savvy for a teenager," says Simon Parkin, a writer who covers the video game industry, "because he knew that if he wanted his games to be successful, he needed to make sure that players of different abilities could get into them and understand what they were doing. So he would invite all the kids from the local neighborhood over to come and play his games that he was designing, and he would watch them while they were playing and make adjustments or take notes based on if they got confused or if they got stuck in a certain bit, and then he'd go away and adjust the game accordingly."
Slate is now asking those who read the most to support our journalism more directly by subscribing to Slate Plus. Dear Prudence is online weekly to chat live with readers. Here's an edited transcript of this week's chat. I know it's a petty, marriage-killing thing to dwell on … but I'm smarter than my husband. Because he insisted we both get IQ tests. It turns out I qualify for MENSA and he just does not. Except now he's telling our friends his fairly impressive IQ and when they ask about me, he says: "Oh well, it doesn't really matter. What's important is how you use what God gave you."
On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver turned his attention to the increasingly widespread use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. Heavily citing Kashmir Hill's investigation of Clearview AI in the New York Times, Oliver explained how a then little-known company created a groundbreaking app where users can take a picture of a person, upload it, and cross-reference it against 3 billion images that the company has scraped from Facebook, Twitter, Venmo, and other websites. Since Hill's investigation was published, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and others have sent cease-and-desist letters to Clearview for violating the websites' terms of service. Still, the company maintains that harvesting the personal information of millions for a secretive database is within the company's First Amendment rights. "You might as well argue that you have an Eighth Amendment right to dress up rabbits like John Lennon," Oliver said.
Just two weeks ago, facial recognition technology seemed unstoppable. At the beginning of this year, for instance, news reports cast a light on the secretive company Clearview AI, which scraped social media sites for photos to build a database of more than more than 3 billion photos, sold to law enforcement. Then came a sea change: On Monday, in a letter to Congress, IBM announced it would stop the sale of "general purpose" facial recognition software. On Wednesday, Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on police use of its Rekognition technology by law enforcement, inviting Congress to "put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use" of the technology. Amazon in its statement said that, "Congress appears ready to take on this challenge," referring to the mounting pressure to make fundamental changes to U.S. law enforcement following the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, and law enforcement's heavy-handed and violent response to the Black Lives Matter protests.
This week, three of the leading developers of facial-recognition technology announced they would stop, or at least pause, selling this technology to police. The decision stems from evidence of racial bias inherent in these tools. For the researchers who first uncovered the deep-seated issues, it's a watershed moment. Will facial-recognition technology continue to grow unchecked? Or will this week's announcements result in lasting change?
On Wednesday, in a brief blog post, Amazon made a surprising announcement: that it would implement a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition service, Rekognition. The post did not mention the furious nationwide demand for reform in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black people. But it did cite developments "in recent days" indicating that Congress seemed prepared to implement "stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology"--regulations that Amazon claims to be advocating for and ready to help shape in the coming year. But Amazon's sudden commitment to ostensibly transformative reform should be taken with a grain of salt hefty enough to unseat a Confederate monument from its rock-solid base. Americans won't receive the privacy and civil rights protections they need because a company like Amazon decides to give them to us.