jm + grim-meathook-future   15

Austerity is an Algorithm
Fucking hell, things sound grim Down Under:
Things changed in December 2016, when the government announced that the system had undergone full automation. Humans would no longer investigate anomalies in earnings. Instead, debt notices would be automatically generated when inconsistencies were detected. The government’s rationale for automating the process was telling. “Our aim is to ensure that people get what they are entitled to—no more and no less,” read the press release. “And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system.”

The result was a disaster. I’ve had friends who’ve received an innocuous email urging them to check their MyGov account—an online portal available to Australian citizens with an internet connection to access a variety of government services—only to log in and find they’re hundreds or thousands of dollars in arrears, supposedly because they didn’t accurately report their income. Some received threats from private debt collectors, who told them their wages would be seized if they didn’t submit to a payment plan.

Those who wanted to contest their debts had to lodge a formal complaint, and were subjected to hours of Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major before they could talk to a case worker. Others tried taking their concerns directly to the Centrelink agency on Twitter, where they were directed to calling Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline for crisis support and suicide prevention.

At the end of 2015, my friend Chloe received a notice claiming she owed $20,000 to the government. She was told that she had reported her income incorrectly while on Youth Allowance, which provides financial assistance to certain categories of young people.

The figure was shocking and, like others in her position, she grew suspicious. She decided to contest the debt: she contacted all of her previous employers so she could gather pay slips, and scanned them into the MyGov app. “I gave them all of my information to prove that there was no way I owed them $20,000,” she says.

The bean counters were unmoved. They maintained that Chloe had reported her after-tax income instead of her before-tax income. As a result, they increased the amount she owed to $30,000. She agreed to a payment plan, which will see her pay off the debt in fortnightly installments of $50 over the course of two decades. “I even looked into bankruptcy because I was so stressed by it,” she says. “All I could think about was the Centrelink debt, and once they upped it to 30k, I was so ashamed and sad and miserable,” she says.
austerity  algorithms  automation  dystopia  australia  government  debt-collectors  robo-debt  dole  benefit  grim-meathook-future 
april 2018 by jm
The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked | Technology | The Guardian

A map shown to the Observer showing the many places in the world where SCL and Cambridge Analytica have worked includes Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Iran and Moldova. Multiple Cambridge Analytica sources have revealed other links to Russia, including trips to the country, meetings with executives from Russian state-owned companies, and references by SCL employees to working for Russian entities.

Article 50 has been triggered. AggregateIQ is outside British jurisdiction. The Electoral Commission is powerless. And another election, with these same rules, is just a month away. It is not that the authorities don’t know there is cause for concern. The Observer has learned that the Crown Prosecution Service did appoint a special prosecutor to assess whether there was a case for a criminal investigation into whether campaign finance laws were broken. The CPS referred it back to the electoral commission. Someone close to the intelligence select committee tells me that “work is being done” on potential Russian interference in the referendum.

Gavin Millar, a QC and expert in electoral law, described the situation as “highly disturbing”. He believes the only way to find the truth would be to hold a public inquiry. But a government would need to call it. A government that has just triggered an election specifically to shore up its power base. An election designed to set us into permanent alignment with Trump’s America. [....]

This isn’t about Remain or Leave. It goes far beyond party politics. It’s about the first step into a brave, new, increasingly undemocratic world.
elections  brexit  trump  cambridge-analytica  aggregateiq  scary  analytics  data  targeting  scl  ukip  democracy  grim-meathook-future 
may 2017 by jm
Bidding Website Rentberry May Be the Startup of Your Nightmares
omg this is horrible, grim-meathook-future stuff.
A landlord lists a rental space and potential tenants bid against one another to claim the lease. Tenants’ personal information is available to the landlord. The landlord then makes their final decision by weighing what the best offer is along with which bidder seems like they’d be the best tenant
grim-meathook-future  horror  renting  rent  tenancy  rentberry  libertarian  homes  startups 
april 2017 by jm
Anti-Choice Groups Use Smartphone Surveillance to Target 'Abortion-Minded Women' During Clinic Visits - Rewire
Geofencing used for evil:
What Flynn realized is that he could use [ad targeting] to infer that a woman might be seeking an abortion, and to target her for ads from anti-choice groups [using geofenced advertising].

“We can reach every Planned Parenthood in the U.S.,” he wrote in a PowerPoint display sent to potential clients in February. The Powerpoint included a slide titled “Targets for Pro-Life,” in which Flynn said he could also reach abortion clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices, colleges, and high schools in the United States and Canada, and then “[d]rill down to age and sex.” “We can gather a tremendous amount of information from the [smartphone] ID,” he wrote. “Some of the break outs include: Gender, age, race, pet owners, Honda owners, online purchases and much more.”

Flynn explained that he would then use that data to send anti-choice ads to women “while they’re at the clinic.”
geofencing  grim-meathook-future  abortion  phones  smartphones  pro-choice  ads 
may 2016 by jm
Volvo says horrible 'self-parking car accident' happened because driver didn't have 'pedestrian detection'
Grim meathook future, courtesy of Volvo:
“The Volvo XC60 comes with City Safety as a standard feature however this does not include the Pedestrian detection functionality [...] The pedestrian detection feature [...] costs approximately $3,000.


However, there's another lesson here, in crappy car UX and the risks thereof:
But even if it did have the feature, Larsson says the driver would have interfered with it by the way they were driving and “accelerating heavily towards the people in the video.” “The pedestrian detection would likely have been inactivated due to the driver inactivating it by intentionally and actively accelerating,” said Larsson. “Hence, the auto braking function is overrided by the driver and deactivated.” Meanwhile, the people in the video seem to ignore their instincts and trust that the car assumed to be endowed with artificial intelligence knows not to hurt them. It is a sign of our incredible faith in the power of technology, but also, it’s a reminder that companies making AI-assisted vehicles need to make safety features standard and communicate clearly when they aren’t.
self-driving-cars  cars  ai  pedestrian  computer-vision  volvo  fail  accidents  grim-meathook-future 
may 2015 by jm
The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It's Gamergate
Like, say, the Christian right, which came together through the social media of its day — little-watched television broadcasts, church bulletins, newsletters—or the Tea Party, which found its way through self-selection on social media and through back channels, Gamergate, in the main, comprises an assortment of agitators who sense which way the winds are blowing and feel left out. It has found a mobilizing event, elicited response from the established press, and run a successful enough public relations campaign that it's begun attracting visible advocates who agree with the broad talking points and respectful-enough coverage from the mainstream press. If there is a ground war being waged, as the movement's increasingly militaristic rhetoric suggests, Gamergate is fighting largely unopposed.

A more important resemblance to the Tea Party, though, is in the way in which it's focused the anger of people who realize the world is changing, and not necessarily to their benefit.
culture  gaming  journalism  gamergate  tea-party  grim-meathook-future  culture-wars  misogyny 
october 2014 by jm
Uber Optics
That the company's consistent, nearly frozen posture of disingenuous smirking means that the most perceptible "Uber problem" is almost always how it frames things, rather than how it actually operates, whether it's systematically sabotaging of competitors or using its quarter-billion-dollar war chest to relentlessly cut fares and driver pay to unsustainable levels in order to undercut existing transit systems, is remarkable in its way, though. If your company's trying to conquer the world, in the end, being a dick might be the best PR strategy of all.
uber  dicks  dystopia  grim-meathook-future  teachers  california  free-markets  optics  pr  economy  america 
october 2014 by jm
Ucas sells access to student data for phone and drinks firms' marketing | Technology | The Guardian
The UK government's failure to deal with spam law in a consumer-friendly way escalates further:

UCAS, the university admissions service, is operating as a mass-mailer of direct marketing on behalf of Vodafone, O2, Microsoft, Red Bull and others, without even a way to later opt out from that spam without missing important admissions-related mail as a side effect.

'Teenagers using Ucas Progress must explicitly opt in to mailings from the organisation and advertisers, though the organisation's privacy statement says: "We do encourage you to tick the box as it helps us to help you."'

Their website also carries advertising, and the details of parents are sold on to advertisers as well.

Needless to say, the toothless ICO say they 'did not appear to breach marketing rules under the privacy and electronic communications regulations', as usual. Typical ICO fail.
ucas  advertising  privacy  data-protection  opt-in  opt-out  spam  direct-marketing  vodafone  o2  microsoft  red-bull  uk  universities  grim-meathook-future  ico 
march 2014 by jm
The world’s first 3D-printed gun
I wasn't expecting to see this for a few years. The future is ahead of schedule!

A .22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid metal. [...]

While this pistol obviously wasn’t created from scratch using a 3D printer, the interesting thing is that the lower receiver — in a legal sense at least — is what actually constitutes a firearm. Without a lower receiver, the gun would not work; thus, the receiver is the actual legally-controlled part. In short, this means that people without gun licenses — or people who have had their licenses revoked — could print their own lower receiver and build a complete, off-the-books gun. What a chilling thought.
via:peakscale  guns  scary  future  grim-meathook-future  3d-printing  thingiverse  weapons 
july 2012 by jm
Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers - YouTube
'some portions of the experience, such as the sky, may be replaced by personalised advertising.' Uploading your consciousness in the age of copyright maximalism, as Nelson Minar put it (via Nelson)
via:nelson  grim-meathook-future  future  singularity  funny  copyright  advertising 
may 2012 by jm

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