Politics

The Mueller Report, Obsolete Technology, And Inferior PDFs

CD & DVD optical drives - obsolete technology

The Justice Department hand-delivered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report to Congress on Thursday morning – on CD-ROMs. Isn’t that the cutest thing? House Judiciary Committee staff looked in the closets and found a computer with a working CD-ROM drive.

The report was then posted to the Department of Justice website as a 139Mb PDF file. […] continued

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We Believe In Free Speech Until People Exercise It

Freedom of speech and content moderation

We believe in freedom of speech in the US, except when people actually exercise it. Then we discover there are lots of people who should be seen but not heard – and a fair number that we wish we couldn’t see, either.

Governments, regulators and large tech companies are launching into a debate about content moderation that will be long, messy, and unsatisfying. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 5: What Can We Do?

Privacy in the surveillance era - relax

A series of articles about privacy and trust in the era of tech overlords.

•  Part 1: Data about you is being gathered by the big tech companies (as well as many other companies) in startling ways. Their ability to analyze that data and predict your behavior is more like magic than technology – and it has the potential to change the world, for better or worse. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 4: Facebook’s Unforgivable Acts

Facebook and invasions of privacy

A series of articles about privacy and trust in the era of tech overlords.

•  Part 1: Data about you is being gathered by the big tech companies (as well as many other companies) in startling ways. Their ability to analyze that data and predict your behavior is more like magic than technology – and it has the potential to change the world, for better or worse. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 3: What Do They Know And How Do They Know It?

Spooky predictions from data analysis

A series of articles about privacy and trust in the era of tech overlords.

•  Part 1: Data about you is being gathered by the big tech companies (as well as many other companies) in startling ways. Their ability to analyze that data and predict your behavior is more like magic than technology – and it has the potential to change the world, for better or worse. […] continued

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Breaking News: February 18, 2019

Hot off the press! Breaking news!

I’m trying to get my thoughts in order for a couple of long articles about how to think about privacy in our world of surveillance by giant tech companies. That’s not quite ready yet. Now, now, don’t be disappointed, get a grip on yourself – it won’t be long before you have a chance to read four or five thousand words about things that I’m poorly qualified to talk about, and won’t that be fun? […] continued

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Bloomberg And Chinese Spies: The Strangest Technology Story Of The Year

Bloomberg Businessweek - The Big Hack

The Chinese government has put secret spy chips on US government servers. They’re stealing secrets from Apple and Amazon. And the US government is engaged in a massive effort to prevent us from learning anything about it, for unknown reasons.

Maybe.

How about this: the US government is mounting a full-court disinformation campaign, spreading lies through multiple sources to discredit China and gain an advantage in trade wars – and taking down a huge media entity as collateral damage. […] continued

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Algorithms And Paperclips: How Facebook Drives Us Apart

facebook_engagement_division

 

A famous thought experiment shows how an AI could be designed with good intentions and without malice, and still wind up destroying humanity.

Imagine that an artificial intelligence is told to maximize production of paperclips. Through an oversight it is not given any instructions about also considering human values – life, learning, joy, and so on. […] continued

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Decoding Russian Cyberattacks: The Difference Between Hacking And Meddling

Russian cyberattacks - the difference between hacking and meddling

There is a difference between Russian hacking, on the one hand; and Russian meddling in American society and interfering with our election, on the other hand. The terms are used interchangeably and imprecisely in news coverage. Let’s try for clarity. Knowing the difference will help you sort out the claims flying back and forth in the headlines. […] continued

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Tech Giants And World Domination

Five companies dominate the Internet

Five companies – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft – dominate everything that happens in technology. They arguably wield more power than many governments and they have an outsized influence on the global economy.

These dominant platforms have created barriers for competitors. We haven’t had a major new technology company emerge in more than ten years. […] continued

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Gazing Into The Abyss: Republicans Are Selling Out Your Privacy

Gazing into the abyss - Republicans are selling out your privacy

When you think about the future, you may start to suffer from “abyss gaze,” the depression that settles in when you realize that we’re all doomed. Warren Ellis coined the term in a novella named “Normal,” which tells the story of futurists who suffer nervous breakdowns after discovering that there is no hope for humanity as a result of the trends in whatever area they study. […] continued

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Don’t Answer The Phone! And Other Advice About Robocalls

Robocalls are on the increase - don't answer the phone

It’s not your imagination: robocalls are on the increase. The volume of robocalls has risen sharply in 2016. Complaints are up. The government and big companies are taking new steps to try to rein in the scammers and perhaps tame the “legitimate” telemarketers. It may be a losing battle, because the scammers and nuisance telemarketers are leveraging new technology and taking advantage of decreasing costs of doing business. […] continued

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You Can’t Escape From A Ninja

You can't escape from a ninja

If you have any illusion that privacy means anything, forget it. If you are targeted for surveillance, there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Every keystroke on your computer will be logged. Everything you do on a phone – every message, every call, everything – will be intercepted. There are no tricks that will be sufficient to let you hide. […] continued

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The Real Stakes In The Apple vs FBI Standoff

The real stakes in the Apple vs FBI standoff

There are three points that are frequently overlooked in the debate about the FBI’s demand that Apple provide custom access to a terrorist’s locked iPhone.

  •  Apple is not defying a court order

  •  The FBI is seeking a broad precedent

  •  The tool requested by the FBI would compromise Apple in other countries

These are not the only issues in this debate. […] continued

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Lockdown: The Coming War On General Computing

Lockdown - The Coming War On General Purpose Computing - Cory Doctorow

Noted science fiction author and Boing Boing curator Cory Doctorow delivered an important speech last month in London, explaining why attempts by copyright owners to lock down computers and web sites inevitably lead to surveillance and censorship, and how the copyright battles presage bigger fights to come over the very future of general-purpose computers. […] continued

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