The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks #28

A weekly reading list to stimulate thoughts about the (digitised) world you might (or might not) want to live in.

Here is this week’s collection of articles and ideas that caught my eye, with a focus on ‘digital life’ , broadband Internet and personal data. They offer data about the world we presently live in, and hints about the one we might wish to pass on to future generations.


I boobed last week with the maths paper by John Gabriel. Turns out he’s a crank. I also got the edition number wrong a previous week, and missed out a word from another newsletter’s title. If you want perfection, don’t choose a human (especially me!). Always do your own research and validation.

Censorship corner

Twitter Suspends James Woods. Woods Stands His Ground.Daily Wire

“The official said that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) “flagged” the content for Twitter and the platform deemed it was part of a “misinformation campaign” that was being viewed as a “targeted voter suppression initiative.” The official said that they would do the same for the Republican National Committee (RNC), but did not know if the Republicans had ever flagged content for Twitter to review, or if the platform had ever taken the same actions for Republicans in the past.” — See also:

Stakeholders Agree on EC Voluntary Code on DisinformationMulti Channel

“The commitments do include: 1) Use commercially reasonable efforts not to promote accounts or Web sites that consistently misrepresents information about themselves, including taking compensation from them. 2) Commit to “enabling public disclosure of political advertising (defined as for or against election of a candidate or passage of referenda in national and European elections), which could include actual sponsor identity and amounts spent. 3) Use “reasonable efforts towards devising approaches to publicly disclose “issue-based advertising.””

Twitter releases new policy to ban dehumanizing speechThe Verge

“Once the new change is in effect, a new clause will be added to the Twitter Rules: “You may not dehumanize anyone based on membership in an identifiable group, as this speech can lead to offline harm.””

Ex-Google employee warns of ‘disturbing’ plans to launch Chinese search engine Dragonfly that helps Beijing censor and monitor its citizens by linking online activity to PHONE NUMBERSDaily Mail

“An alleged list of search terms which could trigger censorship included the English term ‘human rights’ and the Mandarin for ‘student protest’ and ‘Nobel prize’. Mr Poulson also claimed that air quality figures would be manipulated by the Chinese government so only selected data would appear in search results.” See also Why I’m done with Chrome.

EU approves controversial Copyright Directive, including internet ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’The Verge

“The most important parts of this are Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 is intended to give publishers and papers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories, allowing them to demand paid licenses. Article 13 requires certain platforms like YouTube and Facebook stop users sharing unlicensed copyrighted material.” — Yay for Brexit.

Meet James Corbett, Political Extremist!!!Corbett Report

“Imagine you’re a high school student doing a homework assignment on the Federal Reserve. You go to YouTube and type in “Federal Reserve” in the search bar and find “Century of Enslavement: The History of the Federal Reserve.” The horror! Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that, because now that MSNBC and Mother Jones have ganged up, it’s being scrubbed from the search results! Welcome to the world of soft censorship, folks!”

Noteworthy news

UK intelligence agency admits unlawfully spying on Privacy InternationalPrivacy Internaional

“The UK’s domestic-facing intelligence agency, MI5, today admitted that it captured and read Privacy International’s private data as part of its Bulk Communications Data (BCD) and Bulk Personal Datasets (BPD) programmes, which hoover up massive amounts of the public’s data. In further startling legal disclosures, all three of the UK’s primary intelligence agencies – GCHQ, MI5, and MI6 – also admitted that they unlawfully gathered data about Privacy International or its staff.” — See also Police demands for potential rape victims’ data spark privacy fears.

Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact InformationGizmodo

“They found that when a user gives Facebook a phone number for two-factor authentication or in order to receive alerts about new log-ins to a user’s account, that phone number became targetable by an advertiser within a couple of weeks.” — Responsible people don’t use Facebook. See also You Gave Facebook Your Number For Security. They Used It For Ads.

Google Says It Continues to Allow Apps to Scan Data From Gmail AccountsWall Street Journal

“Some of those apps share email data with partners, who use it to understand the behavior of users and improve their ability to target ads to them. When users sign up to Earny, a tool that compares receipts in inboxes to prices across the web, their inboxes are also scanned by the computers of a different company, Return Path Inc., which collects data for marketers.”

Congressman Exposes Gov’t Using “Human Trafficking” Act to Warrantlessly Spy on Innocent CitizensEra of Light

“However, while the goal of the bill claims to be to help institutions and authorities “better identify and report potential human trafficking or money laundering activities,” Michigan Rep. Justin Amash took to Twitter to argue that the legislation actually has a much more sinister objective.”

How to (Really) Delete Your iPhone’s Built-in AppsLife Hacker

“Up until now, the only solution for many of Apple’s primary iOS apps was to cast them to a folder and forget about them—or “remove” them, but not really, since they still ate up space on your device. With iOS 12, however, Apple is finally letting you delete them from your iPhone for good and reclaim that precious storage space for yourself.” — The tech feudal lords grant their serfs the occasional privilege.

Austria to Use Ethereum Public Blockchain to Issue $1.35 Bln in Government BondsCointelegraph

“As Kleine Zeitung notes, the use of blockchain in this instance does not go as far as issuing tokenized bonds that would function in parallel to existing paper or digital systems. However, as Markus Stix, managing director at the Austrian Treasury, told Kleine Zeitung, the use of the technology has key benefits for both security and cost reduction…”

Amazon training videos coach Whole Foods staff on how to discourage unionsThe Guardian

“One training video segment includes teaching managers how to find “warning signs” of unionization efforts, which included any employees who stick around after their shift has ended. Warning signs also included looking out for “union words” such as a “living wage”.” — But they’ll treat us nice IT workers right, won’t they? Right?

Capitol Hill Anonymous Source Has ‘Doxed’ Multiple Republican Senators on WikipediaBreitbart

“The Twitter bot @Congress-Edits keeps track of all of the edits made to Wikipedia from IP addresses associated with the U.S. Congress. It revealed today that someone in the U.S. House of Representatives was adding the addresses, phone numbers (including in some cases home and cell numbers) and emails of Republican senators to their public Wikipedia pages.”

Facebook security breach: Up to 50m accounts attackedBBC News

“Attackers found multiple bugs in this feature that “allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens, which they could then use to take over people’s accounts”, Mr Rosen explained. “Access tokens are the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter their password every time they use the app,” he added.” — Leave now. This platform is on fire. See also Facebook Blocks Bad News About Itself as ‘Spam’. Did I mention it’s time to go? See also WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind. See the pattern yet?

Cool tech

Red Hydrogen One looks badass in titanium, just like a Terminator shouldCNET

“We finally get a good look at the Red Hydrogen One phone in titanium thanks to photos posted on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website. And it looks badass inside and out and has a model name that references a character from the Terminator. Red announced the phone last summer and delayed its release multiple times. It has a unique 3D “holographic” screen – Red calls 4-View (4V)  – as well as dual cameras on the front and back that can capture 4V photos and videos.”

Amazon’s Echo Auto is another quick fix for the broken state of in-car infotainmentThe Verge

“Automakers didn’t want to just blindly cede control of the increasingly important dashboard screen to Apple and Google for fear that it might mess with brand loyalty or restrict their access to user data. But the tech companies had the upper hand on the software execution and convenience side of the equation. Eventually the two sides settled into the current equilibrium where, in most new cars, the carmakers’ operating systems simply live side-by-side with CarPlay and Android Auto.”

Sprayable antennas turn surfaces into ultra-thin, transparent transmittersNew Atlas

“Previously, we have seen MXene put to work in experimental batteries that recharge in seconds. In this case, the Drexel team created a powdered form that can be dissolved in water to form an ink or paint. That can then be sprayed onto a surface, effectively turning it into a 2D antenna in whatever shape is needed.”

Plant trees while you search the webEcosia

“We use the profit we make from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Get the free browser extension and plant trees with every search.”

Uncool tech

Developing, Mastering and Weaponizing new technology to control youVeterans Today

“When the NSA finished building Vesuvius, the world’s largest Quantum Computer at the new NSA Center in Bluffdale Utah, data storage was no longer a problem, nor was their previous inability to process and analyze large masses of data about you.”

Important ideas

Dr. Bruce Lipton Shocked The World With His DiscoveryYouTube

“If you understand epigenetics then you don’t need the pharmaceutical industry. … At least 1/3 of all medical effect is from the placebo effect.” — Wellness if the new frontier of tech. Healthcare is what you do when you fail at wellness.

Safe artificial intelligence requires cultural intelligenceTechcrunch

“Successful and safe AI that achieves our goals within the limits of socially accepted norms requires an understanding of not only how our physical systems behave, but also how human normative systems behave. Norms are not just fixed features of the environment, like the biology of a plant. They are dynamic and responsive structures that we make and remake on a daily basis, as we decide whether or when to let someone know that “this” is the way “we” do things around here.”

Forget Surveillance Capitalism – It’s Time to Build a Digital CommonsNovara Media

“Surveillance capitalism is not just reordering our economy; it is also transforming regimes of control. The marriage of geolocational technologies that track and trace everyday life with the neoliberal drive to economise all of society has led to an explosion in capitalist power that threatens democratic norms, imperils autonomy, and collapses distinct and important forms of measurement into life ruled by the ‘like’.”

Data of distinction

Smartphone Addiction Related to Sugar, Narcotics, Alcohol, Pornography, Gambling AddictionsPrepare for Change

“In other words, about 1 out of 2 smartphone users are concerned that they are using their phones too much, and 70% of those are unable to reduce the time they spend with their phones. Being unable to cut back on a behavior is a sign of addiction.”

Instagram is supposed to be friendly. So why is it making people so miserable?The Guardian

“In 2017, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)… conducted a UK-wide survey of 14- to 24-year-olds, asking them about the big five social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Users ranked how their use of the platforms affected everything from the quality of their sleep to their Fomo – the fear of missing out on what others are enjoying. Instagram came last, scoring particularly badly for its effects on sleep, body image and Fomo.”

Should cashless retail stores be banned?The Guardian

“In fact, even as other countries are steadily moving towards digital payments, the cash in circulation here in the US has grown at a 5% annual rate for more than 2o years, according to CNBC. There are now more than 40bn currency notes out there, which is double the number from 1996. Cash remains the most frequent method of payment in this country, representing about a third of all consumer transactions.”

Interesting views

How to Break Up Google, Facebook & Other Tech Giants — Pastor Steve Cioccolanti

“Twitter, Facebook and Google do not follow these protocols, even though most of them did when they first started. Google developed a social media protocol in 2007 called “open social” which was supposed to be “inter-operable” with all other social networks. In other words, had Tech Giants all followed the standard, you could migrate from one platform to another with all your data protected as your own intellectual property.”

Berto Jongman: China Rising (IT Unicorns Map)Public Intelligence Blog

“Silicon Valley is going to die for three reasons: lack of ethics, lack of evolution, and lack of openness to universal interoperability.”

An open source resistance takes shape as tech giants race to map the worldFactor Daily

“Gowda and a few other contributors from India are part of a tiny yet growing resistance movement which doesn’t want giant corporations to own all the mapping data. For the average consumer, this may not seem like a big deal. But mapping is big business.”

There is not enough control over the digital worldThe Economist

“Technology has opened up new possibilities for how to answer that same basic question that Henry Parker struggled with almost four centuries ago: how do you put the people in charge? How can democracy practically work? Sometimes triggered by crisis, sometimes by generalised democratic discontent, groups of people around the world have begun to experiment with new systems.”

“What have we done?”: Silicon Valley engineers fear they’ve created a monsterVanity Fair

“Though it’s difficult to accurately determine the size of the gig economy—estimates range from 0.7 to 34 percent of the national workforce—the number grows with each new start-up that figures out how to break down another basic task. There’s a relatively low risk associated with launching gig-economy companies, start-ups that can engage in “a kind of contract arbitrage” because they “aren’t bearing the corporate or societal cost, even as they reap fractional or full-time value from workers,” explains Seattle-based tech journalist Glenn Fleishman.”

John McAfee: “Blockchain is Truth” Stephen E. Arnold: Not If You Let Gnomes of Zurich, Goldman Sachs, and China Control It….Public Intelligence Blog

“If a tiger eats a gazelle, does punishing the tiger do anything? No. If you look at it: Don’t play with the tigers if you are a gazelle. Don’t go into this field because it’s full of tigers. Eat over there. Do you understand? We need no force, we need no police, we need no one to protect us. All we need is the truth. And the blockchain gives us the truth.”

Provocative perspectives

This is how they can ‘turn off your chip’Forbidden Knowledge

“A recent finding has left him particularly flabbergasted: Hillary Clinton and her cronies have access to all of the digital keys for all transactions on the planet. In other words, unless you can build a new Internet, you – and say, your cryptocurrencies, for example – are accessible by them. This is literally how they can (and do) “turn off your chip”, in the words of the late Aaron Russo.”

Buyable books

Financial Vipers of Venice: Alchemical Money, Magical Physics, and Banking in the Middle Ages and RenaissanceJoseph P. Farrell

From reviews: “My BA degree is in history, but I had never read the complete story about Venice’s extraordinary influence upon the world in the pre-Renaissance period until I finished “Financial Vipers.” If you enjoy reading and thinking about alternative theories of our world’s history, this book will not disappoint.”

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right NowJaron Lanier

“Lanier’s reasons for freeing ourselves from social media’s poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more “connected” than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads.”

Rome from libertarianism to socialism: Ancient lessons for our time —  Philippe Fabry

“ROME began its history as the United States, became a globlal hegemonic superpower in less than a century, and collapsed in the same way as the USSR did. This book traces the evolution over several centuries of the Roman mentality. It shows that the transition from a libertarian practice to the origins of the Republic totalitarian socialism under the Empire is the key to solve one of the great enigmas of history: the fall of Rome.”

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