jm + grim   10

What China's Surveillance Means for the Rest of the World | Time
Bakitali Nur, 47, a fruit and vegetable exporter in the Xinjiang town of Khorgos, was arrested after authorities became suspicious of his frequent business trips abroad. The father of three says he spent a year in a single room with seven other inmates, all clad in blue jumpsuits, forced to sit still on plastic stools for 17 hours straight as four HikVision cameras recorded every move. “Anyone caught talking or moving was forced into stress positions for hours at a time,” he says.

Bakitali was released only after he developed a chronic illness. But his surveillance hell continued over five months of virtual house arrest, which is common for former detainees. He was forbidden from traveling outside his village without permission, and a CCTV camera was installed opposite his home. Every time he approached the front door, a policeman would call to ask where he was going. He had to report to the local government office every day to undergo “political education” and write a self-criticism detailing his previous day’s activities. Unable to travel for work, former detainees like Bakitali are often obliged to toil at government factories for wages as miserly as 35¢ per day, according to former workers interviewed by TIME. “The entire system is designed to suppress us,” Bakitali says in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he escaped in May.

The result is dystopian. When every aspect of life is under constant scrutiny, it’s not just “bad” behavior that must be avoided. Muslims in Xinjiang are under constant pressure to act in a manner that the CCP would approve. While posting controversial material online is clearly reckless, not using social media at all could also be considered suspicious, so Muslims share glowing news about the country and party as a means of defense.
uighurs  china  dystopia  surveillance  xinjiang  authoritarianism  grim 
11 weeks ago by jm
How YouTube Radicalized Brazil
YouTube’s search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels in Brazil.

A New York Times investigation in Brazil found that, time and again, videos promoted by the site have upended central elements of daily life.

Teachers describe classrooms made unruly by students who quote from YouTube conspiracy videos or who, encouraged by right-wing YouTube stars, secretly record their instructors.

Some parents look to “Dr. YouTube” for health advice but get dangerous misinformation instead, hampering the nation’s efforts to fight diseases like Zika. Viral videos have incited death threats against public health advocates.

And in politics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office alongside Mr. Bolsonaro, some winning by historic margins. Most still use the platform, governing the world’s fourth-largest democracy through internet-honed trolling and provocation.

YouTube’s recommendation system is engineered to maximize watchtime, among other factors, the company says, but not to favor any political ideology. The system suggests what to watch next, often playing the videos automatically, in a never-ending quest to keep us glued to our screens.
youtube  politics  brazil  future  grim  engagement  machine-learning  google  zika 
august 2019 by jm
Palantir’s Top-Secret User Manual for Cops
The Palantir user guide shows that police can start with almost no information about a person of interest and instantly know extremely intimate details about their lives. The capabilities are staggering, according to the guide:

If police have a name that’s associated with a license plate, they can use automatic license plate reader data to find out where they’ve been, and when they’ve been there. This can give a complete account of where someone has driven over any time period.
With a name, police can also find a person's email address, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, social security number(s), business relationships, family relationships, and license information like height, weight, and eye color, as long as it's in the agency's database.
The software can map out a person's family members and business associates of a suspect, and theoretically, find the above information about them, too.
All of this information is aggregated and synthesized in a way that gives law enforcement nearly omniscient knowledge over any suspect they decide to surveil.
police  surveillance  palantir  creepy  grim  data-privacy  privacy 
july 2019 by jm
The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers
Oh god. This, so much:
Many researchers in the field cut their teeth as techno-optimists, studying the positive aspects of the internet—like bringing people together to enhance creativity or further democratic protest, á la the Arab Spring—says Marwick. But it didn’t last.

The past decade has been an exercise in dystopian comeuppance to the utopian discourse of the '90s and ‘00s. Consider Gamergate, the Internet Research Agency, fake news, the internet-fueled rise of the so-called alt-right, Pizzagate, QAnon, Elsagate and the ongoing horrors of kids YouTube, Facebook’s role in fanning the flames of genocide, Cambridge Analytica, and so much more.

“In many ways, I think it [the malaise] is a bit about us being let down by something that many of us really truly believed in,” says Marwick. Even those who were more realistic about tech—and foresaw its misuse—are stunned by the extent of the problem, she says. “You have to come to terms with the fact that not only were you wrong, but even the bad consequences that many of us did foretell were nowhere near as bad as the actual consequences that either happened or are going to happen.”

[.....] “It's not that one of our systems is broken; it's not even that all of our systems are broken,” says Phillips. “It's that all of our systems are working ... toward the spread of polluted information and the undermining of democratic participation.”


(via Paul Moloney)
future  grim  dystopia  tech  optimism  web  internet  gamergate  wired  via:oceanclub 
june 2019 by jm
Climate change: 'We've created a civilisation hell bent on destroying itself – I'm terrified', writes Earth scientist
'At some point in the future, the technosphere could even function without humans. We worry about robots taking over human’s jobs. Perhaps we should be more concerned with them taking over our role as apex consumers.'
technology  ecology  technosphere  extinction  er  fear  grim  future  automation  climate-crisis  climate-change 
may 2019 by jm
Computer says "prison camp"
China: Big Data Fuels Crackdown in Minority Region:
Chinese authorities are building and deploying a predictive policing program based on big data analysis in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said today. The program aggregates data about people – often without their knowledge – and flags those it deems potentially threatening to officials. According to interviewees, some of those targeted are detained and sent to extralegal “political education centers” where they are held indefinitely without charge or trial, and can be subject to abuse.

“For the first time, we are able to demonstrate that the Chinese government’s use of big data and predictive policing not only blatantly violates privacy rights, but also enables officials to arbitrarily detain people,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “People in Xinjiang can’t resist or challenge the increasingly intrusive scrutiny of their daily lives because most don’t even know about this ‘black box’ program or how it works.”


(via Zeynep Tufekci)
via:zeynep  human-rights  china  grim-meathook-future  future  grim  policing  xinjiang  prison-camps  surveillance  big-data 
january 2019 by jm
When Will Climate Change Make the Earth Too Hot For Humans?
The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas. The most notorious was 252 million years ago; it began when carbon warmed the planet by five degrees, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane in the Arctic, and ended with 97 percent of all life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster.
climate  future  grim  climate-change  extinction  earth  carbon  anthropocene 
july 2017 by jm
Exclusive: The Leaked Fyre Festival Pitch Deck Is Beyond Parody | Vanity Fair
This is the worst future ever.
As the pitch deck claims, within the first 48 hours of the social-media blitz, the Fyre Starters had reached “300 million social impressions”—impressions being the kind of dumb synonym one uses instead of the word “people,” in the same way someone at a bar tries to sound smart by saying he is “inebriated” instead of “drunk.” (And to be fair, an impression isn’t even a sentient person. It’s essentially reaching a person when they aren’t paying attention.) To pull off the 300 million impressions, McFarland and Ja Rule partnered with a P.R. agency, a creative agency, and Elliot Tebele, a once-random nobody who has created a social-media empire by siphoning other people’s jokes into the Instagram account @FuckJerry.

One of the biggest deceits of the entire media campaign was that almost all of the 400 influencers who shared the promotional videos and photos never noted they were actually advertising something for someone else, which the Federal Trade Commission requires. This kind of advertising has been going on for years, and while the F.T.C. has threatened to crack down on online celebrities and influencers deceitfully failing to disclose that they are paid to post sponsorships, so far those threats have been completely ignored.
fyre  fail  grim  influencers  instagram  ftc  pr  advertising  festivals 
may 2017 by jm
Twins denied driver’s permit because DMV can’t tell them apart
"The computer can recognize faces, a feature that comes in handy if somebody’s is trying to get an illegal ID. It apparently is not programmed to detect twins."

As Hilary Mason put it: "You do not want to be an edge case in this future we are building."
future  grim  bugs  twins  edge-cases  coding  fail  dmv  software  via:hmason 
october 2015 by jm
Madhumita Venkataramanan: My identity for sale (Wired UK)
If the data aggregators know everything about you -- including biometric data, healthcare history, where you live, where you work, what you do at the weekend, what medicines you take, etc. -- and can track you as an individual, does it really matter that they don't know your _name_? They legally track, and sell, everything else.
As the data we generate about ourselves continues to grow exponentially, brokers and aggregators are moving on from real-time profiling -- they're cross-linking data sets to predict our future behaviour. Decisions about what we see and buy and sign up for aren't made by us any more; they were made long before. The aggregate of what's been collected about us previously -- which is near impossible for us to see in its entirety -- defines us to companies we've never met. What I am giving up without consent, then, is not just my anonymity, but also my right to self-determination and free choice. All I get to keep is my name.
wired  privacy  data-aggregation  identity-theft  future  grim  biometrics  opt-out  healthcare  data  data-protection  tracking 
november 2014 by jm

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