|“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of old ideas” – John Cage
Judah Vs. The Machines, an eight-episode web series that follows comedian Judah Friedlander as he takes on the world’s most sophisticated artificial intelligence systems to see who truly reigns supreme. The series was produced by The Onion, in collaboration with TechCrunch, and is an excellent combination of informative content and hilarity.
The End of Privacy: In part one of a three-part series, a Stanford professor discusses a controversial algorithm that knows more about you than your best friend. In just minutes online, you leave a rich digital trail behind. Data scientist Michal Kosinski developed a powerful algorithm that collects all those digital crumbs and creates a profile of you so intimate it might even surprise your spouse.
“All of us, when we are uploading something, when we are tagging people, when we are commenting, we are basically working for Facebook”. How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think. For example, here’s how Data Mining Facebook Messages Can Reveal Substance Abusers. (And here The Guardian exposes The life of a unhappy, underpaid, over-burdened life of Facebook moderator).
In Australia, Facebook offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt worthless, insecure, stressed, defeated, anxious, and like a failure. Welcome to the next phase of Facebook privacy backlash, where the big fear isn’t just what Facebook knows about its users but whether that knowledge can be weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow.
In front of a crowd of nearly 200 competition law experts, Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s antitrust agency, Bundeskartellamt, said he was “deeply convinced privacy is a competition issue.” From Wired, Antitrust Watchdogs Eye Big Tech’s Monopoly on Your Data.
Your every move can be tracked by some feature of Google. When you use the Google search box, the company can track all your search queries and the websites you visit. If you use Google toolbar, the company can watch the amount of time you surf a website. With YouTube, your viewing habits can be tracked. Google’s FriendConnect and Orkut archive your social networks. Google News, Books, Feedburner or Blogger log your reading habits. The writing you produce is stored on Google Docs, and your purchase habits and credit card numbers are captured by Google Checkout. Also gathered are voiceprint and call habits, through Google Voice; travel interests, patterns and place associations, through Google Maps, Google Earth and Google StreetView; medical conditions, medical history and prescription drug use, through Google Health; photos of friends and family, through Google’s Picasa images; and general activities, through Google Calendar. Then, there’s Google Desktop, which, at one point, offered what appeared to be an innocuous feature called “Search Across Computers.” This allowed Google to scan your computer to archive copies of text documents. In other words, just about everything on your PC – love letters, tax returns, business records, bad poetry – was duplicated on a remote Google server. Gmail? They’ve got all your emails on-file.
Nations are beginning to take more seriously the control of their respective information space after years of allowing US-based tech giants Google and Facebook to monopolize and exploit them. Clearly, more is going on at Google than Internet searches. Tony Cartalucci explains the importance of replacing both Google and Facebook.
Earlier this month, The Australian uncovered something that felt like a breach in the social contract: a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt worthless, insecure, stressed, defeated, anxious, and like a failure. Welcome to the next phase of Facebook privacy backlash, where the big fear isn’t just what Facebook knows about its users but whether that knowledge can be weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow.
As more information about ourselves is captured within Big Data systems by phones, social media platforms, fitness trackers, facial recognition software, and other forms of surveillance, algorithms assign identity markers to us, place us in categories based on correlations to patterns drawn from massive data sets, regardless of whether these correspond to how we think of ourselves.
Here’s a great article from Mishi Choudhary and Columbia professor Eben Moglen on “Digital Colonialism”, arguing that India should use its cost structures and talent base to offer cloud-based services that sell first world consumers their data privacy back to them as an export industry. Fascinating – and a lot of great enlightening points about how the data dictators Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple operate. (The first thing they notice is that the US government sees them as pillars of post-industrial American power, and as an immense national security intelligence resource; therefore, their strategic ally).
In today’s new economy—in which “good” jobs are typically knowledge or technology based—many well-educated and culturally savvy young men are instead choosing to pursue traditionally low-status manual labor occupations as careers. Masters of Craft looks at the renaissance of four such trades: bartending, distilling, barbering, and butchering.
Tackle the ‘frozen middle’ of your organization or face irrelevancy – a Chief Digital Officer shares how she’s enacting transformational change at a banking group and why culture and capability top her priority list. “That frozen middle will resist change like death. It exposes that they have no skills any more. If they’re not going to become craftsman and learn anymore, they need to move on.”
MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has launched The Human Factor — an ongoing series of stories and interviews that highlight research on the human dimensions of global challenges. David Mindell, who researches the interaction between automation and human behavior, discusses the interdependence of people, robots, and infrastructure. He concludes: “I’ve long believed MIT needs a new school to address these synthetic, far reaching questions and train students to think in entirely new ways”.
Soylent, the tasteless, colorless “meal replacement powder” tells us something profound about the state of labour in the Silicon Valley tech industry. As Elon Musk has said, “If there was a way that I couldn’t eat so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal.” The New York Times report says “The time wasted by eating is, in Silicon Valley parlance, a ‘pain point’ even for the highest echelon of techie.” Personally, I don’t think this is going to catch on in France or China, where real food is a central and everyday part of culture, anytime soon.