Crash: How computers are setting us up for disaster
Tim Harford draws lessons from "mode confusion" in aviation - drawn from analyses of the Air France flight 447 crash - to apply to council bureaucracy, self-driving cars, and other systems where humans become so reliant on computers they lose the ability to exert control directly.
automation  robots  ai 
8 weeks ago
How algorithms rule our working lives
In the Guardian, Cathy O'Neil discusses the impact of automated testing on how prospective job candidates are winnowed out, tracing today's systems, which ensure that 72% of CVs are not seen by US recruiters, back to their 1970s origins at MIT. Questionnaires and data mining allow employers to seek answers to questions they would not be permitted to ask directly under legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
algorithmicliving  work 
september 2016
Google Maps seems to delete Palestine
In fact, it's more complicated than that.
google  maps  geography 
august 2016
Internet trolls are even more hostile when using their real names
Not surprised by this; there's a well-documented history of quite nasty abuse even on mailing lists where people's employers are clearly known. (CFP had a panel on this in 2007.) The only real answer to trolls is human moderators who stomp on misbehavior and small communities where there's a communal agreement on what standards of behavior should be.
internetgovernance  anonymity  virtualcommunities 
july 2016
Carol Highsmith files a $1bn copyright claim against Getty Images
Photographer Carol Highsmith, who has donated all her images to the Library of Congress so the public may use and access them, is suing Getty Images for $1bn. Getty not only sent Highsmith and others notices that they were infringing copyright, but continues to sell licenses to Highsmith's images.
copyright  getty  law 
july 2016
Google's Nest closing smart home company Revolv, bricking devices
Google is to close its acquisition, Revolv, rolling its staff into Nest - and as part of the process will also not only cease updating Revolv devices but rendering them completely non-operational.
google  smartliving  risks 
april 2016
Angola's Wikipedia pirates...
Motherboard reports that Angolans are proving extremely clever about using their free access (ie outside their data plans) to Wikipedia and Facebook to trade and share copyrighted music, films, etc. The situation poses a real conundrum for Wikipedia, which bans copyright violations from its site: its editors are sick of cleaning up the unwanted material, but don't want to block Angolans from editing entirely.
wikipedia  facebook  copyright  piracy 
march 2016
Law enforcement seeks out private DNA databases
Companies that do ancestry research report that law enforcement have begun to demand individuals' genetic information they store.
dna  privacy 
march 2016
Microsoft's Tay AI chatbot gets a crash course...
The Guardian's take on the Tay AI Twitterbot that was retired after 18 hours of Twitter experience turned it racist and sexist.
ai  microsoft  twitter 
march 2016
Google puts Boston Dynamics up for sale
Bloomberg Business reports that Alphabet has apparently decided to sell robot-maker Boston Dynamics, which Google bought in 2014. The move seems surprising, given Google's big push into AI, neural networking, and self-driving cars.
google  robots 
march 2016
A Facebook Experiment
Above Avalon studies Facebook by giving up the service for six months. Among the lessons: Facebook has replaced the functions of the local daily newspaper but not personal connections with family and friends; its curated version of the web can be replaced by another put together via different apps and social networks; and its addition of algorithms and news content has turned its users from active contributors to passive consumers.
facebook  advertising 
march 2016
Princeton publishes bitcoin textbook
The Freedom-to-Tinker folks have published the first draft of their bitcoin textbook for download and comment.
bitcoin 
february 2016
A look back at Willow Garage
Business Insider recounts the history and influence of Willow Garage, whose ROS (Robot Operating System) now permeates the growing industry.
robots  research 
february 2016
Videos from Schmoocon
These videos are the presentations from the 2016 edition of the security conference Schmoocon.
security 
february 2016
The end of parking: self-driving cars
This lengthy Mother Jones piece investigates the potential urban impact of self-driving cars: less congestion, less pollution, and millions of square feet of land that can be reclaimed for pedestrians and other uses.
robots  UAVs  smartliving  cities 
february 2016
Bayesian Imputation for Anonymous Visits in CRM Data
Researchers from IBM Watson, Drexel, and Wharton Business School examine ways to identify anonymous website users for the purpose of targeting advertising.
adtech  ibm  anonymity 
february 2016
Secret memo details broader US strategy to crack phones
Bloomberg analyzes government phone-cracking capability and the US's longer-term plans.
Apple  crypto  surveillance  hacking 
february 2016
The Fall and Rise and Rise and Rise of Chat
Ars Technica reviews the history of public chatrooms from Talk and CompuServe to WhatsApp and the latest, Telegram. All without ever mentioning IRC (whose functioning global networks have watched the others come and go).
virtualcommunities  technologyhistory 
february 2016
Police surveillance: threat scores
The Washington Post examines the use of "threat scores" generated by billions of data points crunched by Intrado's Beware software by local police. One of the earliest adopters: Fresno, California, which regards it as poviding safety for its officers. Intrado claims the software's workings are trade secrets.
sccoring  police  lawenforcement  tradesecrets 
january 2016
The facts on China's social credit systems
This piece analyzes the inner workings of Sesame credit.
China  scoring 
january 2016
Meet "Sledgehammer Shannon", the lawyer who is Uber's worst nightmare
Mother Jones outlines the career of Boston labor lawyer Lisa Shannon. Among her successes is blocking restaurants from skimming waitstaff's tips. She is now behind several class action suits to get "sharing economy" companies to class their workers as employees, not "contractors".
sharingeconomy  uber  law 
january 2016
The Fare Game
In this comic, Al Jazeera considers the implications of services like Uber that live and die by mutual ratings - and the consequences for trust and privacy. Not so much the sharing economy as the rating economy.
uber  sharingeconomy  reputation 
december 2015
Internet Freedom Is Actively Dissolving in America
At Vice, Jason Koebler argues that internet freedom depends on access - and that access in the US is losing ground as poorer people, facing tough financial choices, drop their broadband in favor of mobile data.
access  usa 
december 2015
Techno-skeptics' objection growing louder
The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach writes about the November 2015 NYC event to take back/reinvent the Net. Features docuumentary filmmaker Astra Taylor, Jaron Lanier, Robert Atkinson.
takebackthenet  privacy  technoskepticism 
december 2015
Vinyl makes more money for UK music labels than YouTube
At Ars Technica, Mark Walton reports from the Music Futures conference that BPI claimss that its revenues from sales of vinyl - £12.1 million in 2013 - were worth more than YouTube's 14 billion streams. Google does not break out regional labels, but claims it has paid more than $3 billion to music labels to date and the number continues to grow. The article includes a note that IFPI is suing Soundcloud for unpaid royalties.
music  copyright  streaming  google  bpi 
november 2015
Ads that use inaudible sound to link devices
At Ars Technica, Dan Goodin writes that several companies supply technology that allows TV ads and ads displayed in computer browsers to play an inaudible (to humans) sound that enables cross-device tracking of individuals. Consumers use up to five devices a day, and these were unlinked siloes of data - until now.
adtech  advertising  privacy 
november 2015
Copyright and Anne Frank's diary
At Torrentfreak, Rick Falkvinge angrily reports that the foundation that owns the copyright to Anne Frank's diary is actively seeking to prevent its entry into the public domain (Anne Frank died in 1945) by newly claimimng her father, Otto Frank, is not its editor, as previously styled, but its co-author, which would keep the work in copyright until 2050. It's well known that Otto Frank expurgated many passages; it's only in recent years that the public has seen the full text of what she wrote. BoingBoing (http://boingboing.net/2015/11/14/copyfraud-anne-frank-foundati.html) calls it "copyfraud".
copyright  publicdomain 
november 2015
What we know about the computer formulas making decisions in your life
Pro Publica studies what happens when big data is bad data and algorithms can't tell the difference. In a previous article (linked) it also reports on a study of Uber's dynamic pricing.
algorithmicliving  bigdata 
november 2015
Convicted by Code
At Slate, Rebecca Wexler discusses the issues surrounding proprietary code that makes decisions with deep impact on our lives, including one case where a defendant accused of a 1977 "cold case" murder based solely on DNA evidence interpreted by a proprietary program, was denied the right to inspect the source code by the manufacturer.
opensource  socialjustice  internetofthings 
october 2015
Internet Advertising Bureau launches "LEAN" advertising
IAB comes to grips with how much online ads have alienated consumers. Can they come up with ads that are a better user experience?
advertising  adtech 
october 2015
MOOCs haven't lived up to the hype
Phys.org looks at the failure of MOOCs to reach successfully beyond the demographic of males from industrialized countries. Completion rates remain low, and professors express their frustration at watching students fail in the absence of systems to provide support to those coming from poorer educational backgrounds.
bigdata  education  moocs 
october 2015
Drone makers cautious about Obama plans for registration
Debates about registering commercial and domestic drones have begun, as this Bloomberg piece discusses. Opponents argue that registration is unworkable because of the myriad devices that can be built from readily available parts and their constantly changing nature.
drones 
october 2015
Inside Corporate America's Campaign to Ditch Worker's Compensation
Pro Publica reports on Texas lawyer Bill Minick's bright idea to allow large companies to opt out of state laws intended to ensure support for injured workers. Texas has already passed such a law; South Carolina and Tennessee are considering it, and companies such as Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, and Lowe's are campaigning to extend the idea to a dozen other states.
socialjustice  corpUSA 
october 2015
Inside China's plan to give every citizen a character score
New Scientist reports on China's new big data scoring system, which includes everything from points on your driver's license to what you buy. James Seng provides some additional background at http://james.seng.sg/2015/10/11/what-is-chinas-citizen-scores/.
bigdata  scoring  china 
october 2015
The porn business isn't anything like you think it is
At Wired, Cade Metz explains life in the modern online porn industry: thin margins with audiences eaten away by social media and mobile, and losing access to cutting-edge technology. All our ideas about its wealth and audience size are outdated.
porn  socialnetworks  mobile 
october 2015
IBM Watson's perfect data and goodbye, privacy
Computerworld discusses the capabilities of IBM Watson, released to developers in a broad array of applications.
ibm  bigdata  watson 
october 2015
Mapping the spread of Tor
This article shows how widespread and global the Tor network has become. Leading the world with the biggest number of nodes is Germany, with the US a close second.
privacy  anonymity  tor 
october 2015
Stop Googling, Let's Talk
Sherry Turkle discusses the ways phones and always-on are causing a generation to fail to acquire the ability to talk to one another.
turkle  mobile  psychology  virtualcommunities 
october 2015
Facebook blocks ads for articles about marijuana legislation
An editor at The Atlantic tells the story of trying to use a paid ad campaign to promote and article about a cannabis derivative that gives no high and helps children with severe epilepsy. Facebook blocked the campaign on the basis that the product was illegal. (The product in fact is the article, not the oil, but never mind.)
censorship  facebook 
october 2015
Zurich Insurance: cyber costs threaten to overwhelm cyber benefits
The rising cost of cyber security and data breaches...well, like the headline says.
security  cba 
september 2015
Why the Internet of Things favours dominance
Maria Farrell argues that we are not opting into the Internet of Things; it's being forced on us, turning us from citizens to pools of data for harvesting.
privacy  internetofthings  balanceofpower 
september 2015
The surprising predictability of Android lock patterns
Just as humans overwhelmingly flock to a few obvious passwords, they also tend to choose the same lock patterns on their smartphones. Not surprisingly, really: the grid is small, and many human fingers aren't.
security  passwords 
august 2015
Australian academics challenge "web of avarice" in scientific publishing
The Guardian reports on a group of Australian academics' efforts to challenge the dominance of a few publishers over scientific publishing that sees institutions paying as much as $19,000 (Elsevier) to $21,000 (Springer) for a single journal subscription.
openaccess  sciencepublishing 
august 2015
Inside Amazon
This NY Times story takes a hard look at Amazon's bruising employment practices. While other tech companies hand out family leave, free food and gym access, and work/life balance, Amazon favors tough employment.
Amazon  labor 
august 2015
We'll see you, anon
The Economist looks at privacy issues with respect to big data and cites Cynthia Dwork's work at Microsoft on differential privacy - techniques for protecting privacy while retaining the data's usefulness.
privacy  bigdata 
august 2015
Gang of Transnational Crime Organizations Roll Out Own Encrypted Communication System
Marcy Wheeler writes about Symphony, a system of communications tools for the financial services sector that "prevent government spying" and have "no backdoors".
banks  finance  surveillance  organizedcrime 
august 2015
Trade dispute about Dental Devices Could End up Changing the Future of the Entire Internet
In the process of stopping ClearCorrect from infringing on patents held by InvisAlign, both makers of clear braces, the International Trade Commission has ruled importing digital files is illegal. This is the first time the agency has taken action against virtual, rather than physical action. The Court of Appeals in Washington, DC will hear arguments on August 11. Briefs have been filed by the Internet Association, EFF, and Public Knowledge.
copyright  patent  intellectualproperty  dentistry 
august 2015
Websites: please stop blocking password managers
This Wired article asks a number of major companies why they block password managers, which help users create and manage strong passwords instead of weak ones, and gets a range of answers.
security  passwords 
july 2015
Why the Internet of Things encourages dominance
In this Guardian article, Julia Powles and Jat Singh argue that the complexity of IoT systems will of necessity reinforce hierarchies and centralized dominance.
internetofthings  centralization 
july 2015
The world's first hack: the telegraph and the invention of privacy
In the Guardian, Thomas McMullan follows in Tom Standage's footsteps and invokes the telegraph as prior art, recounting the capture of murderer John Tawell, Nevil Maskelyne's hack of Marconi's demonstration (recounted by Paul Marks in New Scientist in 2011), and the use of codes and ciphers to protect text.
telegraph  hacking 
july 2015
When algorithms discrminate
In the NY Times, Claire Cain Miller examines the widely held belief that algorithms are neutral, reviewing research from CMU (that showed that men were more frequently shown ads for high-paying executive jobs than women). Deirdre Mulligan suggests what coded discrimination is tolerated in such cases is a matter of public policy.
advertising  CMU  google  algorithmicliving  bigdata  discrimination  Mulligan 
july 2015
The case of the amazing gay-marriage data
Science of Us reports on the efforts of graduate student David Broockman to stand up - and eventually expose fraud in - a study that appeared to show that personal canvassing works to change hearts and minds about gay marriage when the canvasser themselves is gay.
science  sciencefraud 
june 2015
There's an Uber for everything now
While Uber faces regulatory issues in various locations, the Wall Street Journal reports that in San Francisco, at least temporarily, there's a service for almost everything - many of them more useful than it might first appear.
apps  sharingeconomy 
may 2015
Screen time versus play time: what tech leaders won't let their own kids do
The Guardian interviews a number of tech leaders to find out how they approach technology with their kids. Many favor Waldorf schools (which limit screen time) and other techniques to let their kids explore the physical world rather than the virtual world.
education  children 
may 2015
Tiny updates to tech can present obstacles for disabled people
Paul Kotler, who struggles with autism and apraxia, writes in Wired about the opportunities and challenges tech presents. Both are largely by-products of mass market design.
access  disabilities 
may 2015
EFF's 404 Report on copyright
EFF examines the 2014 report of the US Trade Representative under S301 - the one under which USTR dubs nations like Canada "rogue nations" for not enacting the copyright laws the US wants. EFF counters with short case studies from myriad countries about the chilling effects of copyright extremism.
EFF  copyright  UStrade 
may 2015
FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades
The Washington Post reports that the FBI has been systematically offering "flawed testimony" in cases featuring hair analysis that favored prosecutors for decades.
fbi  forensics  judicialabuse 
may 2015
Bitcoin is disrupting the Argentine economy
The impact of bitcoin is best seen in places where financial services don't work as well as they do in most of the UK/EU/US. Nicholas Popper examines one such case: Argentina.
bitcoin  money  argentina 
may 2015
Can the Internet Be Saved without Harming Democracy?
29 policy influencers publish a report arguing for the protection and promotion of human rights online. They include Michael Chertoff (first director of the Department of Homeland Security) and David Omand (former director of GCHQ).
internetgovernance  gchq 
april 2015
The Cyber-Threat of Things
My piece at Infosecurity Magazine on the coming security threats posed by the internet of Things as cyberspace invades the physical world.
security  internetofthings  wg 
april 2015
Network Analysis of Third-Party Tracking
This research from Microsoft shows that 99.5% of users (across the world) are captured by the ad tracking networks within 30 clicks.
advertising  tracking 
march 2015
The Cost of Paying Attention
Matthew B. Crawford comments on the privatization of public space and the loss of silence as a resource: in modern airports and elsewhere advertising is creeping into everything from the bins at security to the walls of the London tube (at least there the video is silent; in Rome it includes audio). Silence in such places is increasingly a luxury only the wealthy can afford (for example, by paying admission to airline clubs).
privacy  peace  silence  nytimes 
march 2015
How One Stupid Tweet Ruined Justice Sacco's Life
Jon Ronson writes about interviewing the victims of global public shaming, mostly via Twitter. For most, the experience has been severely traumatic, and recovery very slow. (From conversations I've had with people who've also been through this mill, it can indeed be very scarring.)
publicshaming  twitter  nytimes 
march 2015
Secret History of Silicon Valley
By Steve Blank.
The Secret History of Silicon Valley – Backstory
• Part 1: The Vietnam War
• Part 2: B-52’s and the Soviet Air Defense System
• Part 3: Bill Perry/ESL and the Cold War
• Part 4: Undisclosed Locations
• Part 5: Silicon Valley, the 2nd 100 years
• Part 6: Stanford, Terman and WWII
• Part 7: Stanford, Terman and the Cold War
• Part 8: Stanford and the rise of Cold War Entrepreneurship
• Part 9: Stanford and Electronic Intelligence
• Part 10: Stanford and Weapons Systems
• Part 11: The Rise of Venture Capital
• Part 12: The First Valley IPO’s
• Part 13: Startups with Nuclear Missiles
• Part 14: Spy Satellites in Silicon Valley
• Part 15: Lockheed – Silicon Valley largest employer
• Part 16: Balloon Wars
siliconvalley  history 
february 2015
It's the labels, not Spotify, that are screwing over artists
Pando analyzes streaming revenues to show that while streaming services are often blamed for the small amounts of money they pay artists the reason is that 73% of those revenues go to the labels. The article also says music industry revenues has halved since 2000.
musicbusiness  music  copyright 
february 2015
Inadevertent algorithmic cruelty
In this blog posting - and be sure to read both the comments and the <a href="http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2014/12/27/well-that-escalated-quickly/">follow-up</a> - Meyerweb considers the social theoughtlessness of (social media) algorithms such as the one that assumed they would like to see a summary of their year, which included, prominently pictured, their dead child.
algorithmicliving  facebook 
december 2014
The Fall of the Banner Ad
Farhad Manjoo in the NY Times writes about the rise and now - finally - decline of the ubiquitous banner ad, now being replaced by native ads that load quicker and clutter less.
advertising  media 
november 2014
The decade-long quest to stop Spamford Wallace
The story of trying to bring the notorious 1990s spammer, Sanford Wallace, to justice (arstechnica).
spam 
november 2014
Frank Tirole and "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets"
Vox discusses Tirole's Nobel prize and his 2002 paper, which does much to explain the "free" service model that drives Google, Facebook, and so many other Internet businesses.
economics  privacy  google  Facebook  dataprotection 
november 2014
The Dark Market for Personal Data
UMD prof Frank Pasquale, writing in the New York Times, advocates a change in the law to regulate the US's estimated 4,000 data brokers, whose services animate all sorts of secret - and often unfair - decisions about all aspects of individuals' lives. A prelude to the release of his "The Black Box Society".
scoring  dataprotection  privacy 
november 2014
Australia's metadata grab
PI's Carly Nyst, writing in the Guardian, discusses Australia's adoption of data retention.
dataretention  surveillance  australia 
november 2014
Be grateful for drizzle (the risks of high-frequency trading)
This piece from the LRB discusses the speed with which the entire market can disappear due to high-frequency trading. Of particular interest is the fact that the company for which a former trader worked had been running automated checks to eliminate bugs such as the sign error that set off an exponential series of trades that, stopped 20 second later than it was, would have bankrupted the firm (and then the clearing house and the market). The firm had stopped running the checks because the company losing the speed race.
automation  risks  finance 
november 2014
Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts
UC Berkeley prof Michael Jordan discusses the limitations of machine learning with Lee Gomes.
ai 
november 2014
EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Guide
The EFF has updated its guide to privacy and security for Internet users.
privacy  security  eff  surveillance 
november 2014
Google's Right to be Forgotten meeting 2014-10-17
Video of the 4+ hour meeting of the Google Advisory Council in London on the right to be forgotten.
google  dataprotection  righttobeforgotten 
november 2014
Why Google's Self-Driving Car May Never Happen
Lee Gomes, who has written about the Google cars for Slate, discusses all the things that Google's cars currently cannot do: find potholes, respond to ad hoc changes in traffic signals and road layouts, and travel unfamiliar landscapes, which means all but a few thousand miles of the US. The cars rely heavily in inch-perfect maps, which are expensive to collect and even more so to keep up to date.
google  robots  ai 
october 2014
Why kids sext
The Atlantic studies a case of mass uploads of teen sexts and discovers that sexting has become part of the ordinary teen experience. Discusses when and how the law should be involved.
teens  sex  lawenforcement 
october 2014
The complete Feynman lectures on physics
Terrific resource for learning the subject.
physics  education 
august 2014
Not a Tea Party - A Confederate Party
An interesting take on the current state of US politics, which sees the present situation as a reflection of confederate victory in the Civil War. Not the way most people see it, but he argues that we're wrong.
uspolitics  teaparty 
august 2014
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