Google shakes its structure up with Alphabet, and Sundar Pichai becomes Google CEO

Image: @darth
Google, the core search business that started it all, will have a new CEO: Sundar Pichai.

Ex-GOOG diversity boss promised "UK's 1st women's history museum," built a Jack the Ripper "museum"

Former Google diversity officer Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe promised the Tower Hamlets council "the first women’s museum in the UK" if they would approve a zoning change that let him add three storeys and an extra floor, but what he built was a Jack the Ripper "museum." Read the rest

Woman busts husband smoking in Google Street View image


After Donald Ryding, 58, suffered a heart attack, he told his wife Julie that he had quit smoking. He was proven a fibber though when Julie saw a Google Street View image of Donald sneaking a puff on their of their driveway in Merseyside, England. Read the rest

Latent doglizards of cheeseglopping pizza-ads

Take one Google Inceptionism neural-net system, which, when fed its own output over and over, begins to hallucinate dogish-lizardoids in random noise; add one supercut of cheese-porn pizza ads; stir thoroughly and strain. (via JWZ) Read the rest

WATCH: More DeepDream obsessions

Since Cory posted about the Deep Dream image recognition algorithm last month (and Rob earlier today) it's inspired an explosion of iterations like Roelof Pieters' DeepDreamed Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Read the rest

July 4: Rumblefish claims to own US Navy rendition of "America the Beautiful"


Adafruit Industries has been stripped of revenues from its Youtube channel after Rumblefish -- a notorious music-rights agency -- claimed to own the copyright on a public domain, taxpayer-funded rendition of "America the Beautiful." Read the rest

BBC's list of pages de-indexed through Europe's "right to be forgotten"

Under a crazy, ineffectual EU court ruling, people can petition Google and its rivals to de-index news articles from their European search-results. Read the rest

Chrome update turns browsers into covert listening tools

The default behavior of hotword, a new, black-box module in Chrome (and its free/open cousin, Chromium) causes it to silently switch on your computer's microphone and send whatever it hears to Google. Read the rest

Teaching image-recognition algorithms to produce nightmarish hellscapes

In "Inceptionism," scientists at Google Research describe their work training neural nets with sets of images, then tweaking the "layers" of neural net nodes to produce weird outcomes. Read the rest

Secret security questions deemed insecure


Google analyzed the "secret questions" used by its vast userbase and was not surprised to learn that they are mostly terrible.

In a blog post at the company's Online Security Blog, Elie Bursztein said that "secret questions are neither secure nor reliable enough to be used as a standalone account recovery mechanism."

"That’s because they suffer from a fundamental flaw," Bursztein wrote. "Their answers are either somewhat secure or easy to remember—but rarely both."

Here are some specific insights:

With a single guess, an attacker would have a 19.7% chance of guessing English-speaking users’ answers to the question

• "What is your favorite food?" (it was ‘pizza’, by the way) With ten guesses, an attacker would have a nearly 24% chance of guessing Arabic-speaking users’ answer to the question

• "What’s your first teacher’s name?" With ten guesses, an attacker would have a 21% chance of guessing Spanish-speaking users’ answers to the question,

• "What is your father’s middle name?" With ten guesses, an attacker would have a 39% chance of guessing Korean-speaking users’ answers to the question "What is your city of birth?" and a 43% chance of guessing their favorite food.

They're not the first to acknowledge the problems with secret questions. Read the rest

Eric Shit is a portrait of Eric Schmidt painted in an unorthodox medium


Google CEO Eric Schmidt, famous for weirdly off-kilter mockery of the privacy his company exploits for its billions, has been immortalized in shit.

Artist Katsu selected "Eric Shit" as the second in his series of portraits created using his own excrement. The first was of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Techcrunch's Kim-Mai Cutler interviewed Katsu, who explained that his process is born in a fascination with the artistic possibilities of human-produced materials…

… But it’s really about bio-data. These titans of the cloud, are like, basically in competition to control every bit of granular data about individuals. That’s what makes their companies so powerful. They understand that human data has this immense value and they’re shielding and hiding that from the public. Maybe feces is the last thing that they could possibly control.

Here's a video of the artwork (demonstrating its LED-flashing frame) posted by alexaspace (via The Verge's James Vincent). Read the rest

Google Maps promises to stop racist trolls messing with maps—but how?


Struck by a succession of abusive scrawlings going live on its popular maps service, Google has apologized and promised to retool the service to prevent it from happening in future.

"This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries," wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, a Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, explaining how Google's system slurped up the offensive terms because of how it incorporates "online discussions" of particular places. "… This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for."

Earlier this week, it was found that when given offensive search terms, Google would return inappropriate locations. Queried with "nigga house," for example, Google would offer the White House.

Howard University, reported one internet user, "shows up as ‘N***er University’ on Google Maps."

The benefits of algorithmic changes will be seen soon, Fitzpatrick promised, and Google will continue to refine its software over time: "Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don't."

Maps, like much in the Googleverse, is comprised significantly of information added by users or algorithmically incorporated into its dataset—unvetted and often dependent on community reporting when something goes awry.

Google recently shuttered another crowdsourced component of Google Maps due to repeated addition of naughty and offensive landscape features that were not, in fact, there. Read the rest

Experimental plugin lets computers share URLs with ultrasonic tones

Tone is an experimental Chrome plugin from Google Research that lets computers share small amounts of information (like URLs) with ultrasonic chirps. Read the rest

NSA wanted to hack the Android store

A newly published Snowden leak reveals that the NSA planned to hack the Android store so that it could covertly install malware on its targets' phones. Read the rest

FBI's crypto backdoor plans require them to win the war on general purpose computing

The FBI wants backdoors in all your crypto, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron made backdoors an election promise, but as Stanford lawyer/computer scientist Jonathan Mayer writes, there's no way to effectively backdoor modern platforms without abolishing the whole idea of computers as we know them, replacing them with an imaginary and totalitarian computing ecosystem that does not exist and probably never will. Read the rest

Youtube and Nintendo conspire to steal from game superfans

Youtube's stilted, one-sided dispute resolution system allows game companies like Nintendo to confiscate the earnings of gamers who produce hugely popular "Let's Play" videos. Read the rest

An online community that deletes itself once it's indexed by Google

Unindexed is an online community that anyone can contribute to; it runs a back-end process that continuously scours Google for signs that it has been indexed, and securely erases itself once it discovers evidence of same. Read the rest

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