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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning. Surely, surely you're kicking into 2020 gear by now.

1. Something grim to launch your week. A terrifying report in the New York Times covers a "groundbreaking" data platform named Clearview AI, which allows users to upload a photo of someone and instantly be presented with an array of other public photos of that person scraped from social media and online. It's something which could threaten our (already fragile) state of privacy. A nice little bonus: the developer, Hoan Ton-That, is Aussie. Is your heart swelling with pride?

2. Now that Australia's neobanks have their interest rates on the table, one thing is clear: they beat the big four, easily. That might not be enough to entice you to make a switch, but it's worth nothing. Generally speaking, these challenger banks are also offering low interest rates without the conditions imposed by the majors. “Yesterday’s banking you could get away with that sneaky shit," Volt founder Steve Weston told us. "The banking of today says if you know the customers are getting a poor outcome, even if you’re not breaking any regulations, you need to stop."

3. The news is in, folks: the lifting of the Sydney lockouts are... a success! At least, that's what the media is reporting after exactly one weekend. The Sydney Morning Herald says police and hospitals reported few incidents over the weekend, though it looks like Sydney isn't exactly a buzzing nightlife mecca as yet. But there you go.

4. If you like watching things take off and explode, you're in luck. Elon Musk's SpaceX just launched and intentionally exploded a rocket for NASA in a vital safety test of its Crew Dragon spaceship. Yes, there is a dramatic fireball. You're welcome.

5. Blood continues to be shed in Australia's ongoing retail apocalypse. Last week it was Jeanswest, which only served to remind us of all the outlets which have gone under over the past few years. We took a look back – and a retail expert warned us it's almost certainly not the end.

6. Donald Trump has one great regret: wading into the vaping debate. “I should never have done that fucking vaping thing,” he reportedly said in an impromptu phone call. Previously, Trump told reporters his administration would “protect our children” by pulling certain sweet, fruity vape flavours that could entice minors into trying vaping. Perhaps he underestimated he overlap between his support base and Vape Nation.

7. Apple's facing heat after its voice assistant Siri reportedly referred to Israel as the 'Zionist occupation state' when users asked about President Reuven Rivlin. You can safely assume this isn't a political statement from Apple – but rather the fact that Siri pulls a lot of info from publicly-editable Wikipedia pages. Just one of the trials and tribulations of 'AI'.

8. The US News and World Report has released its rankings of the most powerful countries in the world for 2020. Not sure if you're expecting any surprises in the top three, but you're not getting any: it's the US, China, and Russia. Australia is at number 15 – the same position it was in last year.

9. Some of the people who made an early bet on Google's ambitious attempt to revolutionise video games are losing patience. Google released Stadia in November, and it was supposed to change the industry. Two months in, and that potential doesn't look quite as rosy. “I’ve lost a lot of the excitement I had for the service,” said one user. “I’m not really excited because there simply doesn’t seem to be anything to be excited about anymore.”

10. Look, this isn't strictly something you need to know, but it is something we need to know. We're running a reader survey across all the sites in Pedestrian Group – including Business Insider – so we can better tailor the content and reporting we do to what you like. Give us a hand, would you? There are a stack of prizes going, if that sweetens the deal for you.

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Okay, I thought this was just a joke in HBO's "Silicon Valley". Apparently not.

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