Tech Roundup - April 9, 2021

Fri, 04/09/2021

This is our fourth 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


Nebraska is founding partner in Engineering Research Visioning Alliance

Nebraska Today

  • To help the United States stay at the forefront of research and innovation — and maintain its leadership in the global economy — the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Engineering has launched the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance, the first organization of its kind.

  • ERVA was created to provide the engineering community with a process for identifying bold and societally impactful engineering research directions that will place the U.S. in a leading position to realize a better future for all.

Human Trials For Lyme Disease Shot Kickoff In Nebraska

Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET)

  • Celerion, a Lincoln-based research organization, is helping to test a shot that fights Lyme disease, the most common insect-borne disease in the country.

  • Unlike a vaccine, which takes time to build immunity, Lyme PrEP (the medication undergoing testing) gives immediate protection for a year

Plant ecophysiologist talks effect of climate change on Nebraska vegetation

Nebraska Today

  • Researchers confirmed that Nebraska plant species are positively responding to the increase in carbon dioxide irrespective of weather variability, based on a study of tree rings and chemical composition.

  • This research will help predict how Nebraska’s ecosystems will respond to climate change patterns, and the degree to which certain species will expand their footprint within ecologically distinct areas of Nebraska. 

Magnetic breakthrough could lower power use, up speed of digital memory

Nebraska Today

  • A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team, led by Christian Binek, has crafted a quantum material whose magnetic states could be altered by electric means alone, and above room temperature.

  • The material “could help herald the emergence of digital memory and processors that consume far less power, while potentially running even faster than their modern-day counterparts.” 

Local Startup Spotlight

Encounter Telehealth

  • Encounter Telehealth was launched in 2012 to address the severe shortage of mental health providers in rural and under-served communities. Board-certified providers support the psychiatric and mental health needs of residents in skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living communities via telehealth.

  • Encounter Telehealth provides care across the entire mental health spectrum including psychiatric evaluations, medication management, counseling and therapy, and staff training. Their team is passionate about improving the mental health and quality of life for residents and supporting staff members in long term care.

  • Patients receive specialized, evidence-based health care regardless of where they live. 


Amazon Clinches Election Win Over Union as Count Continues 

Bloomberg Law

  • “ Inc. clinched a victory in a historic election to determine whether workers at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, will become the first in the U.S. to join a retail union.”

  • “In a Friday statement, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union confirmed it would file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Amazon of violating employees’ rights in the election and asking the agency to consider overturning the result.”

Chinese Social Media Cancels Companies Over Xinjiang Cotton Boycott


  • “Two weeks after the European Union and China exchanged sanctions over the human rights situation in Xinjiang, the same conflict is now playing out in a public relations war between Western fashion brands and Chinese social media.

  • “H&M, Nike and others have become the targets of a viral campaign on Chinese social media after previous pro-Uighur statements resurfaced online.”

Protect Privacy. That’s an Order.


  • “Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced recently that the U.S. government and the European Commission ‘have decided to intensify negotiations on an enhanced EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework.’”

  • In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued an order in the Schrems II case that invalidated the arrangement known as Privacy Shield, under which companies were able to transfer personal data from the EU to the U.S. The Court of Justice of the European Union previously took issue with how the U.S. legal framework authorizes intelligence agencies to collect information from companies.

Google updates YouTube ad targeting terms to remove hate speech

The Verge

  • Google says it has blocked several terms associated with hate speech from being used as ad keywords on YouTube videos.

  • The move follows a report by The Markup, which found that advertisers could search for terms like “white lives matter” and “white power” when deciding where to place ads on YouTube.

Wall Street Finds New Way To Finance Unprofitable Tech Firms

Wall Street Journal

  • “No earnings? No problem. Investors are funneling money to unprofitable software companies through a new type of debt deal.”

  • “Nonbank lenders (...) have issued asset-backed bonds to help finance about $2 billion of loans to such companies since November, according to data from Kroll Bond Rating Agency Inc. and S&P Global Market Intelligence.”

Why it matters: “The rash of recent deals is the latest indicator that large investors have resumed their hunt for high-yielding debt to offset low interest rates in safer government and corporate bonds. It also highlights the growing reach of private debt funds, which have replaced banks in many deals and weathered Covid-19 despite fears that they would suffer from a spike in loan defaults.”

Google Won. So Did Tech.

New York Times

  • “In the Google v. Oracle America case, Google said it was standard practice to copy what are called application programming interfaces, or APIs, a set of instructions to make sure that technologies from different companies can work together. Oracle said that Google stole its software and demanded billions of dollars.” 

  • “That’s going to be a big comfort for a lot of the companies that are trying to start up and be compatible with their competitors,” said Charles Duan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a think tank that advocates free markets and limited government.

Reader Suggestion

Innovative Job Growth in the 21st Century: Has the Tech-Ecommerce Ecosystem Become the New Manufacturing?

  • “The mantle of global innovation leadership has shifted to America’s tech-ecommerce ecosystem. And perhaps surprisingly, so has the role of job creator. 

  • “Based on the metrics we calculate, we find that the tech-ecommerce ecosystem is as economically important to overall job growth today as manufacturing was during the postwar period.”

  • Read the full paper here.

Nebraska Governance and Technology Center

Nebraska Governance and Technology Center announces $50,000 in supplemental research grants

  • The Nebraska Governance and Technology Center has announced a $50,000 investment in existing projects across the University of Nebraska–Lincoln through Supplemental Nebraska Governance and Technology Center Research Awards.

  • The awards will provide $10,000 to supplement existing research funding to teams that are already engaged in active internally- or externally-funded research at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

What We Are Reading

2034: A Novel of the Next World War

Elliot Ackerman and James G. Stavridis

  • Written by Eliot Ackerman, a former CIA officer and member of the Council of Foreign relations, and James G. Stavridis, a retired Navy Admiral and operating executive with the Carlyle Group, 2034 imagines a future geopolitical confrontation between China and the United States, where Chinese cyber-capabilities cripple the United States’s conventional military response.

  • Aimed to appeal to both national security professionals and a wider audience, the book is a cautionary tale about the possible failure of the United States to accept the realities of a future bipolar or multipolar world, and the potential impact of cyber weapons to overwhelm conventional military capabilities (a theme also discussed in the recent hit read, This is How They Tell Me the World Ends).

Neil Rutledge, Research Associate at the NGTC, had the following take on the novel:

“While 2034 does at times engage in some of the excesses of the genre (‘how many times over her career had she stood as she did now, on the bridge of a ship, observing this miracle of stillness? A thousand times? Two thousand?’) the book is interesting not primarily as a cautionary tale of American hubris, but more as a caution to would-be American adversaries who might underestimate the power of a future American nostalgia for a world of absolute US geopolitical dominance, and the dangers of confronting a power struggling to accommodate itself to a world whose t

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