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. […] continuedRead more
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. […] continuedRead more
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.Read more
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. […] continuedRead more
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. […] continuedRead more
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. […] continuedRead more
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. […] continuedRead more
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. […] continuedRead more
In December the Transportation Security Administration released its airport security screening procedure guidelines with redactions that failed to remove the underlying text. (Boing Boing: “Unfortunately, the security geniuses at the DHS don’t know that drawing black blocks over the words you want to eliminate from your PDF doesn’t actually make the words go away, and can be defeated by nefarious al Qaeda operatives through a complex technique known as ctrl-a/ctrl-c/ctrl-v.”) […] continuedRead more
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If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.
On March 9 the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed that the FBI has been systematically abusing its expanded power to issue “national security letters” and obtain private information about US citizens and residents from telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit providers, and other businesses.
Between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands, without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval, to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. […] continuedRead more
An amusing technology note from the debate last night. Dick Cheney responded to charges about Halliburton by urging viewers to go to “factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, [to] get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.”Read more
I’m a fan of politically correct speech. I think it’s important to avoid using expressions that perpetuate stereotypes, even if it’s reasonably clear that the words are meant kindly or inoffensively.
Following complaints by someone within the bureaucracy, the County of Los Angeles has ordered vendors to discontinue use of the words “master/slave” to describe two hard drives sharing a cable. […] continuedRead more