Peter Thiel & Y Combinator fund a "litigation financing" startup to make money off other peoples' lawsuits

Legalist is a startup founded by Thiel Fellow Eva Shang and Christian Haigh, backed by Y Combinator: it will use data-mining to identify people who have been legally wronged by deep-pocketed aggressors and offer to finance their litigation in return for a share of the winnings. Read the rest

The 2017 Ikea Catalog considered as dystopian urban microapartment futurism

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The new Ikea Catalog is making a big bet on very small living spaces -- the kind of place that costs more than half your monthly salary but is too small for a dinner-table, let alone a separate room for your kids, who are supposed to sleep in a bunk-bed in the living room ("Why would a child on the verge of pubescence need privacy anyway?"). Read the rest

Brigadier General: TPP is a threat to America's national security

Retired Brigadier General John Adams served for 30 years, including a stint as a military intelligence officer: in an op-ed in The Hill, he says that while he supports trade deals, the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership has almost nothing to do with trade, and will hasten America's de-industrialization, making it harder for the US military to source the materiel it needs, and making it vulnerable to price gouging by foreign powers, who might even go so far as to block America's ability to source certain vital items altogether. Read the rest

EFF takes a deep dive into Windows 10's brutal privacy breaches

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Microsoft's deceptive hard-sell to gets users to "upgrade" to Windows 10 (the most control-freaky OS to ever come out of Redmond) is made all the more awful by just how much personal, sensitive, compromising data Microsoft exfiltrates from its users' PCs once they make the switch. Read the rest

How the New York Public Library made ebooks open, and thus one trillion times better

Leonard Richardson isn't just the author of Constellation Games, one of the best debut novels I ever read and certainly one of the best books I read in 2013; he's also an extremely talented free/open source server-software developer who has been working for the New York Public Library on a software project that liberates every part of the electronic book lending system from any kind of proprietary lock-in, and, in the process, made reading library ebooks one trillion times better. Read the rest

DoJ says it will end private federal prisons

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Six weeks after Mother Jones published its explosive undercover expose on the abuses, shortcomings and waste in America's vast private prison system, the Department of Justice has issued a ban on renewal of federal private prison contracts (where they are not able to do this, officials are told to "substantially reduce" the scope of those contracts), with the goal of "reducing -- and ultimately ending -- our use of privately operated prisons." Read the rest

Walmarts are high-crime zones thanks to staff cuts, but America gets the bill

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Starting in 2000, Walmart began an aggressive cost-cutting campaign that removed greeters, reduced floor staff, and replaced cashiers with automated checkouts; the more this went on, the higher the crime-rate at Walmart soared, everything from shoplifting to deadly violence. In true Walmart style, the world's largest retailer has offloaded the costs associated with this crime to tax-funded law-enforcement. Read the rest

Kickstarting "The Founder": a dystopian business simulator

Francis Tseng's simulator game invites you to "grow your startup and please those investors until there’s nothing left to give" by building biotech, defense, machine learning, cloud computing, drone and space companies with a crew of employees whose low wages can be mitigated with bulletproof coffee and whose products can be sold with "causewashing" sponsorships of hip music festivals. Read the rest

Kill Rock Stars president explains why the radio plays the same songs over and over

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Gus the hacker puppeteer writes, "Many of us hoped the Internet would disrupt the music industry along with all other media industries, giving more power -- and more pay -- to musicians and songwriters. And yet, somehow the amount musicians get paid each time their songs stream is a tiny fraction of a cent." Read the rest

Hackers claim to have stolen NSA cyberweapons, auctioning them to highest bidder

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The Shadow Brokers, a previously unknown hacker group, has announced that it has stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA. Read the rest

UK Intellectual Property Office grants trademark on "should've"

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The trademark was granted to discount eyewear company Specsavers, whose slogan is "should've gone to Specsavers." If you object, you have until October 12 to file with the IPO. Read the rest

John Oliver on subprime auto-lending and its killswitches

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We've been following the trade in remote kill-switches for cars sold to subprime borrowers since 2009, and watched in dismay as they got worse and worse: though John Oliver's report on the billions inflating the subprime auto-lending bubble touches on these, he focuses on the economic factors -- sleaze, corruption, moral hazard -- driving the tech. Read the rest

Scalpers drive Harry Potter play prices from £140 to £8,327

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What do you get when you combine fantastic wealth-inequality with winner-take-all entertainment economics and high-speed trading algorithms? The Viagogo marketplace, where botmasters who've harvested every available ticket for the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child are auctioning them off to the war-criminals and financiers who've colonized London since the Blair years -- with Viagogo trousering a healthy £1,772.53 transaction fee on each ticket. Read the rest

How self-driving cars could make everything worse, and what to do about it

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The promise of self-driving cars is to take our vehicle fleets from 5% utilization to near-100% utilization, reducing congestion, parking problems, emissions and road accidents. But what if the cheapest way to "park" your autonomous vehicle is to have it endlessly circle the block while you're at work? What do we do about the lost jobs of bus-, truck- and cab-drivers? How will we pay for roads if gas-tax revenues plummet thanks to all-electric fleets? Read the rest

As social media centralized, blogging's core infrastructure has withered

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When "social media" meant "blogs," there were many tools, services and protocols that comprised an infrastructure for federated, open, loosely joined interaction: the rise of the social giants has killed off much of this infrastructure, all but erasing it from our memories. Read the rest

Why did it take a private foundation to do public science right?

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen funded the Allen Brain Observatory, a detailed, rich data-set derived from parts of a mouse-brain: what's striking is that the Allen Institute released all the data into the public domain, at once, as soon as it was available, which is exactly what you'd want the publicly funded alternatives to do, and what they almost never do. Read the rest

Profile of People's Ride: a co-operative, driver-owned alternative to Uber

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People's Ride is a co-op ride-hailing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan: drivers own the service in common and collectively decide how to spend its profits (for example, on deploying an app to go with its website); for-profit competitors like Uber take 30% commissions from their drivers and deliver them to investors, while People's Ride spends all the revenue paying drivers and improving the service. Read the rest

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