The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks

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

Here’s a collection of links to articles that caught my eye last week. 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 like being a humdinger in terms of geopolitical events… you’ve been warned!

Apple jams Facebook’s web-tracking toolsBBC News

“Apple is making changes to the core of how the browser works – surprisingly strong changes that should enable greater privacy… Here Apple is allowing users to see when tracking is enabled on a website – actually being able to visually see that with a prompt is breaking new ground. … Apple also said that MacOS Mojave would combat a technique called “fingerprinting”, in which advertisers try to track users who delete their cookies.”

Where is VR headed? Investors share insights on the industry’s trajectoryVenturebeat

“The biggest opportunities are fundamentally linked to solving big problems. Modern society faces a loneliness epidemic that VR platforms are uniquely suited to solve, via shared presence. People increasingly spend time in technology yet are less connected to the people around them. However, with full immersion, VR users can experience a type of human bonding that would have otherwise been impossible. This is particularly true for disabled or elderly people who are unable to physically leave their homes.” — We used to call it “telephony”, but “VR” is sexier.

The tech giants’ empire must fall – but they won’t go without a fightThe Guardian

“A regulatory assault on [Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple]
seems simultaneously urgent, inevitable and impossible. But these are still early days in the transformation of politics by technology. Or, rather, we must now be at the end of the phase where technology companies can pretend to be just businesses. It is inconceivable that entities in command of so much wealth and power – in control of an infrastructure that is instrumental to the routine interactions and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people – are anything other than political.”

France Debates Ministry of Truth LawDavid Icke

“The proposed law would allow the state to immediately halt publication of news it deems fake. It demands the social media giants implement procedures allowing users to flag what they decide is fake news and information. The law would also permit the state to yank disfavored news networks such as RT off the air during elections. Britain now has a “fake news unit” and Italy has a “service” to report “false articles” to the European Union. Germany fines social networks up to 50 million euros… for the crime of posting news the state decides is fake.” — The “Ministry of Truth” is modelled on Orwell’s experience working at the BBC. Plus ça change… See also First They Came for Alison Chabloz.

Cryptocurrency: A Gold Mine for Open-Source IntelligenceBankInfoSecurity

“But by exposing that public address, Bambenek could begin digging through the blockchain and finding wallets used by donors. Wallet addresses are anonymous, but not private. Googling bitcoin addresses frequently lead to the identity of those controlling the addresses, he says.” — After a few centuries of safe and successful use, then I might start to gain confidence in cryptocurrencies.

You can’t drug people into being healthy!YouTube

An informative and entertaining 7 minute Oxford Union debate presentation by a cardiologist on why we need a paradigm change from “sickcare” to “wellcare”. Redesigning whole industries — or even obsoleting them — is the goal. The information infrastructure to achieve this is not the present 1970s Internet prototype! Also see Medical research—still a scandal.

Can’t Navigate The Moral And Ethical Implications Of AI? There’s An App For

“Consumers and businesses still have legitimate concerns about AI, particularly pertaining to transparency. For instance, how can society benefit from the automation of large sets of data without compromising individual and corporate privacy? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that an algorithm can properly respect basic human rights?” — There’s a simple ethical recipe of “skin in the game” that solves most problems.

NBN chief blames online ‘gamers predominantly’ for fixed wireless congestionThe New Daily

“NBN is taking steps to upgrade and augment the group of towers experiencing congestion, and is prudently planning to manage future demand so that fixed wireless users can make the most of the available network capacity.” — It’s about time we had an adult conversation about sane resource pricing, because the belief in unlimited resources is childish.

Global civilisation to descend into ‘hell on earth’ unless we choose a new paradigmInsurge Intelligence

“Last month, Leggett noted that by 2020, renewable electricity worldwide will be less expensive than fossil fuels. … Leggett’s insider observations vindicate the conclusion that humankind finds itself in the midst of an unprecedented civilisational ‘phase-shift’, in which we are witnessing the slow (and sometimes not so slow) implosion of the old industrial paradigm.” — A new network architecture for post-industrial telecoms?

Facebook let SIXTY companies, including Apple and Amazon, have ‘deep access personal data about users and their friends – and the controversial deals are STILL in place’Daily Mail

“Archibong said that these device interfaces are ‘very different’ from the type of public interfaces that allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest data on millions of users.” …versus… “It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook’s testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled.” — Who do you trust? My opinion is well known: Using Facebook is like drinking from the digital toilet bowl. Humans don’t do it; dogs might.

Europe to cap intra-EU call fees as part of overhaul to telecoms rules — TechCrunch

After their roaming price regulations resulted in the loss of roaming capability for tens of millions of users, you might have thought their might be some humility in offering more of the same. They might as well raise a sign saying “global capital should invest in the US, Africa and Asia”.

Google wants to bring everyone online in India through its next billion planThe Economic Times

“Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School, says, “It’s a data game, be it free WiFi, Gmail or anything else.” Google learns more about users and targets them. “Those earning as low as $2 a day, spend that on something, say soap. If Google can give data on what soap 30 million poor people use, it will be a goldmine for companies such as Levers etc,” adds Wadhwa.”” — A digital society optimised for soap consumption?

Trump aide: The future of American aviation is all about dronesCNN

“The economic impact of the integration of drones into United States airspace is estimated to reach tens of billions of dollars. Providing the necessary legal authority to counter potential threats from drones will ensure that the United States benefits from this rapidly developing sector of the economy.” — And no frequent flyer programme to run, either. Can planned “mobile” networks cope with drone hypermobility?

SS7 routing-protocol breach of US cellular carrier exposed customer dataArs Technica

“The senator accused the FCC of failing to adequately answer the threat posed by SS7, noting among other things that a working group the FCC convened in 2016 to address SS7 vulnerabilities was dominated by carrier insiders and comprised no academic experts. He called on Pai to compile a list of SS7 breaches that have occurred in the past five years.” — Our grandkids are going to be picking up the pieces of Internet Protocol, which is the digital security equivalent of “plastic in the oceans”.

Microsoft sinks data centre off OrkneyBBC News

“”We think we actually get much better cooling underwater than on land,” says Ben Cutler, who is in charge of what Microsoft has dubbed Project Natick. … “Additionally because there are no people, we can take all the oxygen and most of the water vapour out of the atmosphere which reduces corrosion, which is a significant problem in data centres.”” — Although the headline conjures up images of Amazon floating data centres being bombed to smithereens by Microsoft artillery.

Every cryptocurrency’s nightmare scenario is happening to Bitcoin GoldQuartz

“Bitcoin Gold has been experiencing double-spending attacks for at least a week, according to forum posts by Bitcoin Gold director of communications Edward Iskra. Someone has taken control of more than half of Bitcoin Gold’s hash rate and is double-spending coins.” — Oops!

From interactive ultrasounds to full body workouts: 6 ways virtual reality will change YOUR health very soonDaily Mail

“Bored of the lack of scenery whilst running on the treadmill? VR company Icaros has created a physical activity virtual experience, revealed at CES (a consumer and electronics trade show) in Las Vegas.  The full body system, which you lie on in a plank position, relies on your core strength to control the game you are visualising.” — Count me out. I’ll take the British countryside and weather.

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