The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks #32

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. It’s a bit of a bonanza week, as I found a lot of good stuff when procrastinating about proper work I should have been doing.

Censorship corner

Facebook Deletes Disabled Veteran’s Page Without Warning — After Taking $300,000 for AdsBreitbart

“Kolfage was the administrator of a number of Facebook pages, notably the pages Right Wing News and Military Grade Coffee, both of which were deleted recently as Facebook attempts to crack down on what it considers “misinformation” on the platform. Right Wing News had more than 3 million followers at the time of its blacklisting by Facebook.” — This company’s values and ethics disgust me. How would you feel if your phone company removed your 1-800 number after you’d published it everywhere? See also their digital assassination of Rachel Blevins: “4 years of work, 70,000 followers, completely gone, and I can’t find any record that it ever existed”; plus There Is Literally No Excuse to Keep Using Facebook.

No, Facebook is NOT “Private,” Their Censorship Arm is Government FundedThe Free Thought Project

“Facebook partnered with the Atlantic Council, so what, right? They can do whatever they want and hire outside third parties to help them police the platform they own, right? Yes, this is correct. However … the “think tank” Facebook partnered with to make decisions on who they censor is directly funded by multiple state actors — including the United States — which voids any and all claims that Facebook is a wholly “private actor.”” — See also Facebook is fined £500,000 over Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook stopped 8.7m nude images of children in 3 monthsNaked Security

“Hashing is efficient, though it only identifies exact matches. If an image is changed in any way at all, it will generate a different hash, which is why Microsoft donated its PhotoDNA technology to the effort. Facebook’s likely using its own sophisticated image recognition technology, but it’s instructive to look at how PhotoDNA identifies images that are similar rather than identical.” — The problem is that this can then be turned into a general-purpose visual meme censorship engine. There’s no easy answer.

This new technology could send American politics into a tailspinWashington Post

“If you thought the fight over Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation couldn’t have been more horrible, buckle your seat belts. Imagine how the public divisions would have deepened had there been fake-but-plausible video of an undergraduate Kavanaugh partying hard at Yale…” — The WaPo is very worried you might soon see some very disconcerting evidence of top-level corruption. Including at the WaPo (aka “Bezos’s Blog”).

Why everyone is against Australia’s decryption lawsTechwire Asia

“The move is something that tech companies across the globe — be it Apple, Mozilla, or Cisco — have raised concerned about. Apple, for example, in its comments on the bill to the government has said that it finds the provisions give overly broad powers that could weaken cybersecurity and encryption and display a lack of appropriate independent judicial oversight, among other things.”

Noteworthy news

US Announces Intent to Withdraw From Universal Postal UnionEpoch Times

“Half of all internet commerce originates from China. Even as the world’s second-largest economy, Beijing enjoys UPU rates reserved for developing nations like Cuba and Gabon, and the subsidy is one-sided. While it costs a Chinese company $1 to ship a mug to America, it would cost an American merchant $22 to ship the same mug to China.” — Classic network termination fee dispute.

Britain’s first 5G court case — and the people wonEra of Light

“The Judge declared Mark Steele as a credible expert and engineer on EMF and GSM technologies, which proves Gateshead Council are liable for corruption, misleading the public, making people ill and attempting to discredit Mark Steele and all others such as Smombie Gate fighting 5G rollouts.” — I don’t know if the hypothesised risks are real, but the legal fight clearly is!

Walmart Patent Wants To Monitor Your Health & Stress Levels While You ShopCB Insights

“The patent states that “the shopping cart, upon being moved, ‘wakes up’ from being in a low-power or ‘sleep’ state mode.”  Then, readings on temperature, pulse, speed, and the force at which someone grips the handle or pushes the cart would be used to create a baseline of the customer’s condition. … The retail giant says the data would be used to help identify shoppers in distress and to improve their overall shopping experience.”

Biohackers Are Implanting Everything From Magnets to Sex ToysBloomberg

“And Rich Lee, from St. George, Utah, has spent about $15,000 developing a cyborg sex toy he calls the Lovetron 9000, a vibrating device to be implanted in the pelvis. Lee hasn’t sold (or used) [MG: !!!] the Lovetron yet, but he’s got magnetic implants in his fingertips to pick up metal objects, two microchips in his hands that can send messages to phones, and a biothermal sensor in his forearm to measure temperature.”

100 plus Chinese companies to build open blockchain consortiumFintech Innovation

“An ongoing limitation of today’s closed blockchain platforms is low concurrency which can introduce long delays. The FISCO BCOS is said to use a combination of Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) mechanism, multi-chain architecture, and cross-chain interactions. The result is that concurrent access problems and high-frequency account limitations are resolved, effectively removing any hindrance to high-frequency information exchange.”

Watch Thieves Steal a Tesla Model S With Just a Tablet and a PhoneBreaking 911

“According to Tesla, even if the thieves disabled Remote Access, Tesla could still turn it back on and/or track the vehicle. The fact that they are unable to means either the thieves removed the physical SIM (apparently easy to get to) or they used a battery powered device to block Internet access in the vehicle.”

Global rules on cryptocurrencies needed: Circle CEOReuters

“FATF said jurisdictions worldwide would have to license or regulate cryptocurrency exchanges and other related companies to help stamp the use of coins for money laundering and terror financing. Such rules are a good start, Allaire said, but should be broadened to cover the issuance of digital money by private companies – through so-called initial coin offerings and how exchanges deal with market manipulation, and the identification of customers.”

Tim Cook blasts ‘weaponisation’ of personal data and praises GDPRBBC News

“The Apple boss described in some detail what he called the “data industrial complex”, noting that billions of dollars were traded on the basis of people’s “likes and dislikes”, “wishes and fears” or “hopes and dreams” – the kind of data points tracked by tech firms and advertisers. He warned that the situation “should make us very uncomfortable, it should unsettle us”.” — Maybe he knows something… See also Apple News’s Radical Approach: Humans Over Machines.

Cool tech

There’s finally a way to trace ‘untraceable’ 3D printed gunsDigital Trends

“Through our work, we demonstrate that every 3D printer has a unique fingerprint, and from just analyzing a minute part of any 3D-printed object our system can reveal the identity of the source 3D printer. In our vision, the significance of our technology is equal to the first discovery of the latent fingerprint existence in the 1930s.”

Studies show that listening to tunes helps us cope with difficult emotionsNatural News

“A healthier alternative to emotional eating, according to researchers, is to listen to music, which activates the same neurons in the brain as emotional eating would. People who listen to music to cope do it to discharge. Simply put, they pick tunes that share the same negative feeling, which helps them release it. For other people, they listen to divert or entertain themselves, which means picking more upbeat and positive music to forget what they were feeling.”

Uncool tech

Noise pollution is bad for your heart: Living near constant noise increases incidence of cardiovascular diseaseNatural News

“A new study that has been published in an issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found out that noise interferes with the body on a cellular level, so much so that it can cause heart diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. In this study, researchers reviewed several cases of novel translational noise studies that provided an insight into what factors could have led to impaired vascular function.” — But at least we now have a hope of mapping our stressors using our devices.

San Francisco Now Has A ‘SnapCrap’ App To Help Residents Report Poop On Public WalkwaysDaily Wire

“SnapCrap differs in that it lets users report the feces directly and creates a “ticket” for users to check so that they can see if the city received their complaint and whether there’s a timeline for pickup. Miller says he’s working with the city to make the app more efficient and to roll out versions for phones that don’t run on Apple’s iOs and for people who don’t want to have to log into Facebook and share their private information with app developers just so that they can report human waste.”

Important ideas

Errors in Moral ReasoningForever River

“The political events in the States and the transformation of its political culture over the past 18 months… but the thing which most stands out to me is that there has been a tremendous ramping up of intensity on both sides. It seems as if people have lost the ability to negotiate their disagreements in any reasonable way. Here are some crimes against reasonability which I see committed almost daily in terms of how people think about right and wrong and which I believe add fuel to the fire.”

The Institute for Anacyclosis

“Anacyclosis is essentially the social sciences’ “theory of everything”. It is as neglected and obscure as it is manifold, also drawing upon the disciplines of politics, geography, sociology, psychology, ethics, rhetoric, archaeology, economics, classics, anthropology, linguistics, demography, and law.”

Doxa, Episteme, and Gnosis — G Gordon Worley III

“Doxa is basically what in English we might call hearsay. …Episteme is what we most often mean by “knowledge” in English. … Gnosis has no good equivalent in English, but the closest we come is when people talk about personal experience because gnosis is the stuff you know because you experienced it.”

Data of distinction

Will Morocco’s Chinese-Funded ‘Tech City’ Ever Break Ground?NPR

“Chinese tourism to Morocco has skyrocketed, following a loosening of visa restrictions. “In 2013, we had 7,000 [Chinese] tourists. Last year, there were more than 120,000,” says Hayat Jabrane, the former general secretary of a Moroccan tourism industry association. Jabrane now owns a travel agency that caters mostly to the Chinese. She says the government expects about a half-million Chinese visitors annually by 2020.”

Carbon nanotubes found in children’s lungs for the first timeNew Scientist

From 2015: “The study wasn’t set up to look for a link between the presence of nanotubes in the lung and the children’s illness, but people with asthma might be particularly vulnerable as the ability of their macrophages to remove debris is impaired, Moussa says. Even if the nanotubes aren’t directly toxic, they have large surfaces that other molecules can stick to, potentially helping pollutants to get deep into the lung and cross cell membranes, he adds.” — See also Smart Dust, nanobots are now in our brainsCarbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain, and DARPA SyNAPSE Program.

List of My Gurus (Disruptive Futurists)Jaap van Till

“They share at least one very important characteristic. They have seen the future in PATTERNS very clearly and dare(d) to write and speak about it, despite the conflicts they ran/run into with the public and their shepherds, the controlaholic kings and priests of the power hierarchy who are not amused about what these visionary men and women say and write. They dared to start DISRUPTIVE INNOVATIONS. They are the Prophets of Renaissance 2.0.”

Interesting insights

The Survival of The #WeaveletsJaap van Till

“Every human society is, in essence, a “collective survival enterprise” – a joint venture for the purpose of providing for our basic, ongoing survival and reproductive needs. Contrary to the Social Darwinist and “selfish gene’ models, moreover, we now know that socially organized groups can be a distinct “unit” of natural selection and evolutionary change. I call it the cooperative gene model.”

A Day Without the Fourth AmendmentPOGO

“Brad leaves the office at 6:25 and walks home, jaywalking on two occasions. He purchases a six-pack of beer at a liquor store three blocks from his apartment. After he arrives at home at 7:13, his log indicates based on meowing recorded on the microphone of his phone that he immediately feeds his cat. For the next 40 minutes, Brad browses sports threads on Reddit.” — It’s quite an uncomfortable read.

If Humility Is So Important, Why Are Leaders So Arrogant?HBR

“In a lovely book called Humble Inquiry, in which he explores “the gentle art of asking instead of telling,” Schein identifies three different forms of humility. The first, “the humility that we feel around elders and dignitaries,” is a basic part of social life. The second, “the humility that we feel in the presence of those who awe us with their achievements,” is a standard part of professional life. It’s the third form of humility, which he calls “here-and-now humility,” that is the most rarely observed in business, and the most relevant for leaders who truly want to achieve big things.”

The Screens — Caitlin Johnstone

“The screens tell us, “Insane things are sane. Sane things are insane. Up is down. Black is white. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. If you disagree, you are crazy. If you disagree, you are poison. Shut up. You will contaminate the herd. Shut up. You are garbage. Shut up. You are a disease. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.””

The Heavy Focus on 5G Wireless Means We Are Ignoring 68 Million Americans Facing High-Speed Cable MonopoliesEFF

“So whether you live in a big city like Miami, Florida (where you pay $139.95 a month), or smaller cities like Manchester, New Hampshire ($104.95 a month), or Imperial, Pennsylvania ($104.95 a month), the story is the same. In my own backyard, I would have to pay close to quadruple ($159.95) the competitive price for gigabit service because of my cable monopoly, while my coworkers at EFF living in San Francisco are paying $40 for a superior service.” — See also Rural broadband among top priorities for Maine’s gubernatorial candidates.

Provocative perspectives

The Permanent Lie, Our Deadliest ThreatTruthdig

“When reality is replaced by the whims of opinion and expediency, what is true one day often becomes false the next. Consistency is discarded. Complexity, nuance, depth and profundity are replaced with the simpleton’s belief in threats and force.” — I agree with the thesis, despite disagreeing with everything offered as evidence!

Orwell: ‘History Stopped in 1936’ (and Everything Since Is Propaganda) — Daniel Lattier

“Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie.”

American “Zersetzung”Activist Post

“Communist East German Secret Police even created and utilized a psychological attack on dissidents in the government’s waning days in the 1980s, to keep their oppressed population under control, it was a system of psychological torture and control called “Zersetzung,” which means “deconstruction” of every aspect of a person’s life, their job, their reputation, their friendships, their family relationships, their marriage.”

The Creepy Line TrailerYouTube

“An eye-opening documentary, The Creepy Line reveals the stunning degree to which society is manipulated by Google and Facebook and blows the lid off the remarkably subtle – hence powerful – manner in which they do it.”

Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and GaysHaaretz

“Haaretz investigation spanning 100 sources in 15 countries reveals Israel has become a leading exporter of tools for spying on civilians. Dictators around the world – even in countries with no formal ties to Israel – use them eavesdrop on human rights activists, monitor emails, hack into apps and record conversations.” — Not that anyone else seems to be any better. We British have a terrible record of arming violent repression.

The era of celebrity influence is overTiffany Fitzhenry

“Looking at this photo now feels like recalling a bad dream, doesn’t it? Seriously, these people are idiots. And they thought we were idiots too. They thought we’d never figure out their rouse. Too bad for them, the jig is up. It’s a new day, their time is over. Once we saw what they were, the whole sham collapsed instantly.”

Media of Merit

From the Web:

From YouTube:

From Twitter:

Buyable books

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human EvilM. Scott Peck

“People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Peck demonstrates the havoc these people of the lie work in the lives of those around them. He presents, from vivid incidents encountered in his psychiatric practice, examples of evil in everyday life. This book is by turns disturbing, fascinating, and altogether impossible to put down as it offers a strikingly original approach to the age-old problem of human evil.”

The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary InvestigationAleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

“…a literary-historical record of the vast system of prisons and labor camps that came into being shortly after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917 and that underwent an enormous expansion during the rule of Stalin from 1924 to 1953. Various sections of the three volumes describe the arrest, interrogation, conviction, transportation, and imprisonment of the Gulag’s victims by Soviet authorities over four decades.” — Don’t let history repeat this rhyme.

Behind the Curtain: A Chilling Exposé of the Banking IndustryJohn Hamer

From reviews: “It’s all in here, in minute painful detail… how the money men firstly strove for centuries to wrest control of the power to create unlimited wealth from governments, and then used it to assume control of most of the rest of the world.” — More here.

The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New MillenniumMartin Gurri

“Technology has categorically reversed the information balance of power between the public and the elites who manage the great hierarchical institutions of the industrial age government, political parties, the media.  The Revolt of the Public tells the story of how insurgencies, enabled by digital devices and a vast information sphere, have mobilized millions of ordinary people around the world.”

The Dream Machine — M. Mitchell Waldrop

“At a time when computers were a short step removed from mechanical data processors, Licklider was writing treatises on “human-computer symbiosis”, “computers as communication devices”, and a now not-so-unfamiliar “Intergalactic Network.” … In a simultaneously compelling personal narrative and comprehensive historical exposition, Waldrop tells the story of the man who not only instigated the work that led to the internet, but also shifted our understanding of what computers were and could be.”


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