The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks #33

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.

The coming week looks epic, so stay safe! I’ve also rearranged the order of the newsletter based on feedback you’ve submitted. These events are not connected.

Noteworthy news

Goodbye Gab, a haven for the far rightWired

“The companies that run the infrastructure of the internet—PayPal, Stripe, Joyent, GoDaddy—removed support for Gab after the surfacing of vile posts on the platform from the alleged gunman, Robert Bowers.” — So now you know how to shut down a social media company. Just post something bad and then do something bad. See also:

Twitter to remove ‘like’ tool in a bid to improve the quality of debateTelegraph

“Founder Jack Dorsey last week admitted at a Twitter event that he was not a fan of the heart-shaped button and that it would be getting rid of it “soon”. The feature was introduced in 2015 to replace “favourites”, a star-shaped button that allowed people to bookmark tweets to read later.” — Disengagement is the new engagement. See also Twitter Apologizes for Allowing ‘Kill All Jews’ to Become a Trending Topic. It’s almost as if they want to drive good people away! On the other hand… Twitter deletes anti-voting bots, so maybe there is hope.

FANGs Freefall Into Bear Market As Dip-Buyers EvaporateZeroHedge

“From their 52-week highs, FANGs are down hard: FB -33.9% AMZN -23.8% NFLX -32.8% GOOGL -18.0% Smashing the FANG index down into bear market territory…” — Or maybe someone just knows how much criminality has gone on at some of these companies, and is going to be exposed after the upcoming election. See also Father of Web says tech giants may have to be split up.

Apple launches privacy website that reveals EXACTLY what the firm knows about youDaily Mail

“Apple stores most of your data on your device, instead of on its servers, so it’s likely that the report won’t include that much information.” — See also Twitter Can Collect Your Data Even If You Log Out And Delete The App and Hackers Claim Breach Of 120 Million Facebook Accounts; Put Private Messages Up For Sale (i.e. just an ordinary week of data looting).

Sweden’s Central Bank Looking To Develop National Digital CurrencyETHNews

“By considering issuing a digital version of Sweden’s fiat currency, the Riksbank is not looking to replace the Swedish krona, but instead use the e-krona as a complement to physical cash. The issuance of a CBDC has the potential to strengthen the entire payments system in Sweden by offering an alternative to private payment systems especially in times of crisis when these private systems are subject to failure.”

US restricts Chinese chipmaker from buying American partsCNN

“On Monday, the US Commerce Department said Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company would not be able to buy components from American companies without a special license. The export ban was put in place because Fujian Jinhua “poses a significant risk of becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States,” the agency said.”

Facebook Approves Ads from Vice News Posing as All 100 SenatorsBreitbart

“A recent report from Vice News showed how easily Facebook’s new political advertising tools can be manipulated with little to no verification by Facebook. The social media giant added a mandatory “Paid For” disclosure to political ads in May, which aimed to provide further clarity to the origin of political advertisements on the website. Instead, it appears that this mandatory field can be used to spread misinformation.”

Google staff walk out over women’s treatmentBBC News

“Forced arbitration, a common contract clause for Silicon Valley workers, demands any disputes are dealt with internally rather than through other methods such as the courts. Critics of forced arbitration say it is used to not only protect the reputations of both the company and the accused, but also to silence victims who are unable to appeal against decisions or take further action.”

Digital Minister Admits She Wasn’t Consulted About New Digital Tax On Tech GiantsHuffington Post

“Under Chancellor Philip Hammond’s proposals for the new tax, large digital companies would pay 2% tax on the sales they make in the UK, with the Treasury expecting the levy to generate £275 million in 2019/20.  Under current regulations, big tech firms pay taxes on UK profits, which amounts to much less.”

Important ideas

Data localisation in India: Questioning the means and ends — Rishab Bailey & Smriti Parsheera

“Following an assessment of each of these perspectives we find that the costs of introducing broad and sweeping data localisation norms are likely to outweigh its benefits, from a rights-based perspective as well as an economic one. Yet, this is not to suggest that data localisation can never quality as a justified measure. There may indeed by circumstances where local storage (and even processing) of the data can be justified, particularly on certain normative grounds.”

The Intellectual Yet Idiot — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The IYI has been wrong, historically, on Stalinism, Maoism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies, urban planning, low carbohydrate diets, gym machines, behaviorism, transfats, freudianism, portfolio theory, linear regression, Gaussianism, Salafism, dynamic stochastic equilibrium modeling, housing projects, selfish gene, election forecasting models, Bernie Madoff (pre-blowup) and p-values. But he is convinced that his current position is right.”

Idola foriWikipedia

Idola fori… are a category of logical fallacy which results from the imperfect correspondences between the word definitions in human languages, and the real things in nature which these words represent. … Besides idola fori, there are also idola tribus (Idols of the Tribe, coming from human nature itself), idola specus, (Idols of the cave, coming from the tendencies of particular individuals or groups of people) and idola theatri (Idols of the theatre, caused by the influence of philosophers and systems of thought). Together the four idols are referred to as the Idols of the Mind (idola mentis).”

Cool tech

Chinese Banks Embrace Facial Recognition To Fight

“The technology developed at Ping An can pinpoint 54 brief, involuntary micro-expressions that a face often creates before the brain can control the movements of the face. They include eyeballs that move back and forth and rapid blinking.” — See also Brain Scan Passwords Touted As Latest in Cybersecurity.

Scorpion 3 – World’s First HoverbikeYouTube

Russian passenger drone. Not suitable for the obese. Or those afraid of heights.

When an iPhone XS Has More Dynamic Range Than a DSLRYouTube

The only problem being that the handling of a smartphone sucks compared to any “proper” camera. Although there’s a Kickstarter for that, too.

Is Initiative Q The New Bitcoin?Forbes

“In just four months, the ‘payment system of the future’ has built a network of nearly three million adopters by offering ever-decreasing sums of their future currency in exchange for an e-mail address. Despite attracting over 100,000 new users each day, the invite-only registration process triggered instant retaliation from skeptics who dubbed the ambitious global currency a pyramid scheme.”

Uncool tech

Should Alexa be your child’s friend?Engadget

“In most cases, experts say, talking to an imaginary friend is a normal and healthy behavior. Like the imaginary friend you may have had as a child, Alexa fulfills a need for stable companionship that can be hard to find in adolescence.” — OMG no, no, no.

Data of distinction

Didn’t find any this week. Maybe I should look harder?

Censorship corner

UKIP Leader Slams ‘Blasphemy Law by the Back Door’ as Euro Court Upholds Conviction for Disparaging MohammedBreitbart

“In this way, it is quite unlike the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with critics suggesting that the European Convention is actually something of a Trojan Horse, allowing governments broad discretion to restrict free speech when it is used in a contentious way.” — By design. See also Europe’s War On Free Speech Continues.

Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media ‘Just the Beginning,’ Warns Top Neocon InsiderConsortium News

“The remarks by Fly — “we are just starting to push back” — seemed to confirm the worst fears of the alternative online media community. If he was to be believed, the latest purge was motivated by politics, not spam prevention, and was driven by powerful interests hostile to dissident views, particularly where American state violence is concerned.”

Twitter Suspends Black Conservative Movement Leader for Repeating What the Left Says About Them!Gateway Pundit

“Twitter claimed that his tweet violated the rules against hateful conduct — which is enforced completely arbitrarily, as is proven by the fact that Louis Farrakhan’s obscenely anti-Semitic account remains active.”

Shadow-Banning Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg: We’re All Digital Ghosts NowZeroHedge

“We are all digital ghosts now, and how much of your digital shadow is visible to the world is secret / opaque. If you violate company policies or applicable censorship laws (as interpreted by the company attorneys), the corporation will notify you that your account has been frozen or banned. In these instances, users and content creators are informed of their purported violation. But this visible part of web / social media censorship is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the censorship is invisible and undetectable.”

Interesting insights

The Hidden Benefit of Giving Back to Open Source SoftwareHBR

“Should they allow employees on company time to make updates and edits to the software for community use that could be used by competitors? New research by Assistant Professor Frank Nagle, a member of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School, shows that paying employees to contribute to such software boosts the company’s productivity from using the software by as much as 100 percent, when compared with free-riding competitors.”

Provocative perspectives

Retired Green Beret Warns Mainstream Media Is A Tool For Destroying AmericaZeroHedge

“Read the “Communist Manifesto,” and the Planks of Communism, and you will see in print what was written decades ago, that is happening here and now in the U.S. Read Alexander Sozhenitsyn’s works to see what happens at the “final tipping point” of the full-blown change of a nation into a Communist totalitarian society.” — See also Google Wants to Be Your Media Mommy.

Media of Merit

From YouTube:

Buyable books

The Origins of Totalitarianism — Hannah Arendt

“Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left.”

Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace

“Set in an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.”

Brainwashing: The science of thought controlKathleen Taylor

From reviews: “This book is excellent for pointing out techniques to recognize and evade persuasion. It encourages us to think before we act, to keep an open mind but not so open that we eagerly accept any concepts that we are told are great ideas.”

TRANCE Formation of America — Cathy O’Brien

“TRANCE Formation of America is the first documented autobiography of a victim of government mind control. Cathy O’Brien is a healed and vocal survivor of the Central Intelligence Agency’s MK-Ultra Project Monarch operation. Tracing her path from child pornography and recruitment into the program to serving as a top-level intelligence agent and White House sex slave, TRANCE Formation of America is a definitive eye-witness account of government corruption that implicates some of the most prominent figures in U.S. politics.”


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