Tech Roundup - April 30, 2021

Sat, 05/01/2021

This is our seventh edition of the ‘Tech Roundup,’ where we highlight some of the most significant/thought-provoking news items from the world of tech, especially at the nexus of law and technology. We are particularly interested in foregrounding tech news that is happening in Nebraska, and our region more broadly. If you have a news item you would like to see in the Roundup, please email



Social media discourse significantly drives perception of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders

Nebraska Today

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected people from all walks of life in the U.S., the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have experienced an added share of hardships, according to a recent Nebraska study.
  • Theresa Catalano, associate professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, and Peiwen Wang, researcher and teaching assistant in the department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, recently led a project to analyze the effects of such discourse regarding the coronavirus in a variety of news and social media sources, as well as public comments and conversations connected to those sources.
  • “It has been eye-opening to see how social media can serve as a dominant channel for people to interact and assist in the politicization of health issues such as COVID-19,” Catalano said. “We found that social media can be sites of resistance, but they are also sites where solidarity and uniting of racist thought can occur.”


Do remote workers benefit the economies where they live?

AIM Institute

  • Nebraska’s workforce has an approximately 50/50 split between occupations that can easily move remote or online, and more hands-on roles, says Josie Schafer, Ph.D., director of UNO’s Center for Public Affairs.
  • Schafer hypothesizes that there is probably a set of individuals who lived and worked out of state, with Nebraska roots, who came back to live in the Cornhusker state while their jobs were flexible due to online work. Enticing factors for this scenario include a cheaper cost of living than other traditional tech hubs (like San Francisco, Austin, Texas, and New York City), as well as lower crime rates and excellent public schools, she said.


Trio to share honor of 100th doctorate to woman in mathematics

Nebraska Today

  • Fifty-eight years after the first woman earned a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the honor of the 100th will be shared by three women graduating in May 2021.
  • Mildred Gross was the university's first woman to earn a math doctorate in 1963. The department did not award its 10th degree to a woman until 1995 when Ferhan Atici, Nancy Campbell, Betty Harmsen and Kristin Pfabe graduated.


Bradley’s CAREER project to boost drones’ adaptability, performance

Nebraska Today

  • Justin Bradley is using a nearly $500,000, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program to give drones and other robots a highly advantageous quality that humans routinely capitalize on to get things done: the ability to sense and adapt to a changing environment, diverting energy to the most important tasks at hand while pausing lower-priority work.
  • “The best way to think about it is that when you are doing tasks, you can rapidly refocus your attention as you need to. If something happens in your environment, you can look, assess and shift your attention as needed to adapt to the situation,” Bradley said. “Robots don’t have that capability. This work would allow them to allocate that attention and other resources according to what they need to do.”


Local Startup Spotlight



  • “Opendorse is the athlete marketing platform that helps the biggest brands in sports share content on social. Founded by two former major college athletes, opendorse was built seeking to make it easy for athletes and brands to work together to engage their fans.”



FCC Sets May 12 Start for Low-Income Internet Discount Program

Bloomberg Law

  • A $3.2 billion Federal Communications Commission program that will provide monthly internet discounts for lower-income households will launch May 12, the agency said.
  • “In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities,” acting Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.


Data Brokers and National Security


  • Over the past decade, U.S. adversaries have vacuumed up the personal data of many Americans with one nation possibly being at the fore: the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • Policymakers tend to focus on access to personal data acquired illegally or in the service of espionage. However, policymakers are not giving enough thought to the possible legal means by which the personal data of Americans and others may be obtained.


U.K. to Ask About Cryptocurrency Activity in Updated Tax Forms

BBC News

  • The U.K. tax office will begin demanding information on cryptocurrency holdings from individuals suspected of tax avoidance or evasion.
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is set to update its “Statement of Assets” form, which all individuals being investigated must fill out, a spokeswoman for HMRC said Wednesday.


Chipmaker CEO says Washington’s anti-China tech blockade is a bad idea


  • Europe shouldn't block exports of high-end tech to China as doing so would only speed up Beijing's efforts to achieve "tech sovereignty," according to the CEO of the bloc’s highest-valued technology company.
  • Peter Wennink, head of Dutch chip printing giant ASML, said the EU should get tough with China over intellectual property and enforce a level playing field in trade — but not close off exports of high-end tech, a strategy favored in Washington.


Surge in iPhone sales sees Apple's profits double

BBC News

  • A surge in iPhone sales, especially in China, has led to a doubling of profits at Apple since the start of the pandemic.
  • The results reflected "optimism" about the days ahead, Apple's boss said.


Reef Rescue


  • Coral reefs are not just beautiful, they are also home to over a quarter of all marine life and are crucial to human societies around the globe. But as the climate changes and oceanic heat waves become commonplace, corals are bleaching and reefs are dying off.
  • Now, marine biologists from across the world are teaming up to counteract this catastrophe with a technique called assisted evolution. Follow scientists as they attempt to crossbreed heat-resistant corals, and even transplant corals’ algae, in a race to save the coral reefs from extinction.


Nebraska Governance and Technology Center


Ep. 15 – Doctors and Lawyers and Such: Professional Speech and Platforms

  • In our 15th episode of ‘Tech Refactored,’ host Gus Hurwitz, Director of the NGTC, was joined by Tabrez Ebrahim, Associate Professor at California Western School of Law, to discuss how digital platforms may create access to justice, followed by Cassandra Burke Robertson and Sharona Hoffman, Professors at Case Western Reserve School of Law, to discuss the regulation of professional speech.
  • The conversation is the first of our ‘Regulation at Scale’ episodes, looking at challenges that arise when new rules or technologies affect broad swathes of society all at once.


What We Are Reading


What a Texas school district can teach others about virtual education

Dallas Morning News


  • Kaye Rogers, Executive Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, had been a leader in effective remote learning prior to the pandemic, and since the rise of Covid-19, her expertise has been in high demand as other school districts have set up the infrastructure necessary to go to remote learning.
  • “It’s really different being a virtual teacher versus a ‘bricks and mortar’ teacher,” Rogers said. “The difference that sets us apart is about our bottom line of students first and … building those relationships, being available to kids.”
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD is an outlier when it comes to making remote learning effective: A 2015 Stanford study that looked at the performance of students in online charter schools found that the majority lost learning equivalent to a standard 180-day school year.


Lysandra Márquez, Communications and Event Specialist at the NGTC, had the following observation:


This is a really great example of how virtual learning can be successful, for those that find it fits their learning style better, when teachers receive the support and resources to bring their virtual classroom ideas to life. iUniversity Prep in Texas shows that extending administrative flexibility to students and teachers is key to maintaining a positive ongoing relationship with remote students.

Tech Roundup Logo Underlined WIth April 30