Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Endangered insects, ending robocalls, women who pioneered auto design and more

Efforts Underway to Stop Robocalls

With estimated robocalls at 167.3 million per day in the US, many Americans simply ignore unknown numbers or “Scam Likely” calls. This doesn’t assuage the anxiety of missing something important or the sense of violation. Two programs—STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs)—aim to verify callers. Right now, they’re only deploying on T-Mobile but the FCC strongly believes more carriers should implement, as that’s the only way real change can occur. Read more on how they work at NYMAG.

Some Insect Species are Facing Total Extinction

Insects outweigh every species on Earth—humans, cattle and fish included. Despite their minute size, insects—bees, butterflies, moths and more—play a vital role in the planet’s ecosystem. They’re responsible for a sizable chunk of our food chain and some species act as the world’s recyclers, scrubbing the ground floor from vegetal and wooden debris. But, according to a new study, 40% of insect species will be faced with extinction within the next few decades. That means our diets and landscapes and the populations of other species may change drastically because of the sudden loss of these creatures. Read more about the somewhat sudden decline at Vox.

Women Who Pioneered Automotive Interior Design

A progressive hiring spree (at least, for the 1950s) by GM actively sought out women to design the interiors for all of the brands under their umbrella. The women, who held degrees from some of the country’s top design schools and worked internationally prior to being hired, faced sexism but their work pushed forward design as well as women’s positions in the workplace. The team designed many of the features we see in cars today—folding armrests, a compartmentalized glove compartment and the industry’s first retractable seatbelt. They went on to hold esteemed design positions at other automotive companies and opened their own studios. Read more at Artsy.

Google Translate Employs Decades-Old Language Theory

Google Translate uses complex neural and numeric systems to find equivalencies in speech and text across languages. The tool is seemingly simple—at least for users. But on the backend, developers worked tirelessly to get the application to where it is now. One fascinating breakthrough came when Google employees applied Wittgenstein’s language theory: a posthumously published theory that words hold no supreme meaning and that meaning is derived from a word’s use. This theory helped developers give words more descriptive titles within the multi-dimensional system the translator pulls from. Read more at Quartz.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.