The word "gaslighting" has its origins in the in Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play "Gas Light", in which a woman is slowly driven insane by her husband who systematically lied to her about whether their gas light was dimming. By allowing abusers remote access to their victims appliances, doorbells, and yes, lights, the internet of things brings gaslighting full circle.
Jaron Lanier was at Pioneerworks in Red Hook, Brooklyn last night, playing unusual instruments and discussing his newest book "10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Account Right Now." Lanier, the computer scientist and polymath writer whom many consider to be "the father of VR" argues in the book that the incentives and protocols of social media are making people sadder, more fractious, and less able to survive the challenges confronting our species in the immediate future.
The world's most popular cryptocurrency dropped $500 in value on Sunday, June 10, when Coinrail confirmed a hack had taken place on their exchange. Bitcoin is currently valued at $6,720 at the time of this post, down from a high of $19,738 in December. Other cryptocurrencies also took a hit as a result of the hack.
Torrenting and other P2P file-sharing technologies represent a serious threat to the business models of legal distribution, or at least that's the conventional wisdom. But a study released by UK researchers indicates that this narrative may not hold water. 83 percent of torrenters reported that they tried to find content through legal means before deciding to pirate, and more torrenters subscribe to legal streaming services like Netflix than the general (non-torrenting) population.
GitHub, the hugely popular code repository service, has been acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion. The service provides version-control and collaboration tools for nearly 30 million developers, but has never been profitable.
A new report from the Pew Research Center says that nearly half of American teens are "almost constantly" online. This does not necessarily make them the most online generation in history, however; millennials spend an average of 18 hours a day consuming media, according to some sources, most of it online.
The Center for Global Development will soon publish an essay calling for a reevaluation of the real potential of blockchain technology to fix our most pressing challenges. Forbes paraphrases part of the forthcoming report "Instead of touting pie in the sky solutions and rhetoric, the development community should focus its energies and resources on bringing down barriers to actual implementation."
Amazon faced backlash to day as news that it has given law enforcement agencies access to its Rekognition technology — image-recognition software that employs deep learning and can be used to track faces, among other things. From "The Next Web":
The bottom line: Facebook’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and Google’s inexplicable choice to help the US military develop image recognition AI, are fairly small potatoes compared to this. Amazon has essentially chosen to help the US government institute a big brother state to rival China’s. It’s a sad day for democracy.
Scientists have been using RF technology to monitor and track wildlife species for a long time, but the internet of things has kicked the practice into overdrive, as it has become easier than ever to outfit animals with increasingly sophisticated sensors. This provides a researchers with tremendous amount of data, but some worry there may be unintended consequences. As one historian of science puts it, "Humanity [is] bringing to the project of conserving nature the exact same control, and dominating urges, that they brought to the project of destroying nature."
Seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged much of the Carribbean, over 20,000 people are still without electricity in Puerto Rico.
While regulators report that more than 98 percent of utility customers have their power back, the remaining 2 percent of customers represents more than 22,000 people that can’t turn on the lights, refrigerate food, or run water pumps. That so many Americans have languished so long without electricity is a national embarrassment.With Hurricane Season's official start date less than two weeks away, many on the island are wondering not only how they will rebuild the electrical grid that was damaged last year, but also what will happen in the storms to come.
A leaked Google design video depicts a dark and disturbing vision of data collection and social engineering. The video, produced by former head of design at X — Google's semi-secret R&D studio — seems to place the value of data above human agency, and asks viewers to consider themselves "not as the owners of this information but as custodians, transient carriers, or caretakers." For their part, Google insists that the leaked video was a speculative design exercise, and was intended to be disturbing.
The Senate has voted 52-47 to overturn the FCC's controversial plan of repealing Net Neutrality, the set of Obama-era regulations intended to protect consumers from blocking, throttling, and paid "fast-lane" policies at the hands of internet service providers. While the Senate vote is encouraging, many believe the victory may be merely symbolic; "the House does not intend to take similar action."
The Basic Income Earth Network reports that Washington DC has released a policy analysis based on research into providing a minimum income for district residents. One conclusion of the study that stood out to us: according to their metrics, a single adult with no children would need $36,988 annually to meet their basic needs. In order to make this amount, a worker would have to earn $17.78 per hour (pre-tax, presumably). The current minimum wage in Washington DC is $11.50 per hour. On July 1 of this year, the minimum wage will be increased to $12.50 per hour.
Researchers have found an exploit in PGP and S/MIME, to of the most common and widely-used email encryption protocols. This security flaw allows hackers to inject malicious code into emails, potentially compromising a user's entire inbox. The Verge reports:
"If an email encrypted using [affected] clients is intercepted in transit, an attacker could use the new vulnerability modify the email, adding malicious HTML code before sending it to the target. When the target opens the new email, the malicious code could be used to send back the plaintext of the email."
In a blog post published this week, tech writer and cultural critic Nicholas Carr takes on the growing tension between technology users and the tech platforms that collect and profit from users' data.
"If I am a data mine, then I am essentially a chunk of real estate, and control over my data becomes a matter of ownership... [But] the factory metaphor makes clear what the mining metaphor obscures: We work for the Facebooks and Googles of the world, and the work we do is increasingly indistinguishable from the lives we lead."Carr's metaphor offers a way to think about our evolving relationship with data, surveillance, and ownership in familiar terms. The whole piece is worth a read (H/T Imperica)
Cell phone cameras have radically decentralized the power to record and disseminate videos of police brutality. By documenting these incidents, ordinary people are challenging the official narratives, but also risking retaliation from law enforcement.
"While their videos have sparked protests and community action, people behind other high-profile videos of police killings of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling have also alleged retaliation from police for filming them. Like Moore, each of them told me stories of false arrests, intimidation, physical violence, doxxing, and illegal confiscation of their phones after filming or sharing videos of police misconduct."
Bitcoin's early developers conceived of it as an alternative currency that could operate independently of the financial establishment, and eventually replace it. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the Intercontinental Exchange, parent company of the NYSE, is looking into creating "an online trading platform that would allow large investors to buy and hold Bitcoin."