Cegłowski

Tim Cook's claim Hong Kong app was 'used maliciously to target individual officers for violence' sounds like BS, say Apple watchers

Apple can't seem to figure out how to kowtow to China without losing face in the US. Read the rest

Here are two ways you could be tracked after attending a protest

The first story comes from Hong Kong where South China Morning Post reports that, according to sources, "police have used court orders to obtain digital fare payment details and CCTV camera footage of anti-government protesters from the city’s largest bus company." As ‎Maciej Cegłowski (who has been posting from Hong Kong for weeks) points out:

Forget combing through records; police have had many opportunities this summer to arrest 500-1000 people in person. But they let them go. The real power comes from retrospectively being able to dangle a potential 5 year sentence over anyone they decide attended an illegal protest

Of course, that process contemplates the police using the courts to get information. Buzzfeed explains you can track someone just using public webcams and Instagram:

authorities could use publicly available webcams filming an area where a protest is taking place. By looking at Instagram stories that protesters post in real time at any particular location, authorities would be able to identify them and track their movements throughout a city using other cameras, including before they arrived at the protest, and what they did afterwards. Other people featured in the background of the Instagram posts could also be identified — by facial recognition technology, for example — and followed in this way.

In our experiment identifying people using their Instagram stories, we started with camera footage from tourism and surveillance company EarthCam, which streams live footage online for free and also makes previous days’ footage available for anyone to access.

Buzzfeed compared streaming footage from EarthCam to Instagram stories posted at the same time. Read the rest

Progressive Democrats in rural red districts are getting funded by lefty Silicon Valley techies

Maciej Ceglowski (previously) is one of Silicon Valley's sharpest critics, admonishing technologists for failing to consider ethics as they build and deploy products; one of his post-Trump initiatives is the Great Slate, a fundraising effort that urges techies to contribute to the campaigns of Democratic hopefuls in "less-affluent, often rural Republican-leaning districts," where the DCCC won't direct resources because candidates can't raise money of their own. Read the rest

UK press doesn't understand chemistry or Amazon, launches bomb-making panic

UK public broadcaster Channel 4 sparked a presswide panic with a story: "Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon." Read the rest

A "travel mode" for social media - after all, you don't take all your other stuff with you on the road

As the US government ramps up its insistence that visitors (and US citizens) unlock their devices and provide their social media accounts, the solution have run the gamut from extreme technological caution, abandoning mobile devices while traveling, or asking the government to rethink its policy. But Maciej Cegłowski has another solution: a "travel mode" for our social media accounts. Read the rest

AI Alarmism: why smart people believe dumb things about our future AI overlords

Maciej Cegłowski (previously) gave this talk, "Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People," at Web Camp Zagreb last October, spending 45 minutes delving into the origin of the idea that computers are going to become apocalyptic, self-programming, superintelligent basilisks that end all live on Earth (and variations on this theme) and then explaining why this fundamentally evidence-free, fuzzy idea has colonized so many otherwise brilliant people -- including people like Stephen Hawking -- and why it's an irrational and potentially harmful belief system. Read the rest

The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples' private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama's powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage. Read the rest

Machine learning, deep-fat fryers, and community cultivation

Maciej Cegłowski's (previously) speech at the Library of Congress, "Deep-Fried Data," describes the way that data begs to be analyzed and how machine learning is like a deep-fat fryer -- a fryer makes anything you put in it "kind of" delicious, and machine learning "kind of" finds insights in your data-set. Read the rest

Moral economy and software development: software without politics is recipe for totalitarianism

Maciej Cegłowski (previously) keynoted the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics conference with a characteristically brilliant speech about the "moral economy of tech" -- that is, the way that treating social problems like software problems allows techies to absolve themselves of the moral consequences of their actions and the harms that result. Read the rest

Tools, ads, and bad defaults: Web bloat continues unabated

The Website Obesity Crisis, Maciej Ceglowski's (previously) Web Directions talk, documents the worsening epidemic of web-site bloat, and dissects the causes. Read the rest

Big Data's religious faith denies the reality of failed promises, privacy Chernobyls

Maciej Ceglowski (previously) spoke to a O'Reilly's Strata Big Data conference this month about the toxicity of data -- the fact that data collected is likely to leak, and that data-leaks resemble nuclear leaks in that even the "dilute" data (metadata or lightly contaminated boiler suits and tools) are still deadly when enough of them leak out (I've been using this metaphor since 2008). Read the rest

Botwars vs ad-tech: the origin story of universal surveillance on the Internet

Maciej Cegłowski's posted another of his barn-burning speeches about the Internet's problems, their origins and their solutions (previously), a talk from the Fremtidens Internet conference in Copenhagen called "What Happens Next Will Amaze You." Read the rest

After a rush, aviation stopped "progressing" -- the Web might be next

Maciej Cegłowski's "Web Design: The First 100 Years" is a characteristically provocative riff on the past and future of "progress" that asks the question, if aviation stopped producing faster, more powerful aircraft in the 1970s, will the IT industry do the same? Read the rest

An American in Yemen: unlikely and wonderful tourism

Polish-American software developer Maciej Cegłowski decided to take a holiday in Yemen's capital city of Sana'a, home to breathtaking, 600-year-old skyscrapers that look like gingerbread houses. Read the rest

The Internet With a Human Face: Maciej Cegłowski on the things we need to fix

Maciej Cegłowski's latest talk, The Internet With A Human Face, is a perfect companion to both his Our Comrade the Electron and Peter Watts's Scorched Earth Society: A Suicide Bomber's Guide to Online Privacy: a narrative that explains how the Internet of liberation became the Internet of inhuman and total surveillance. Increasingly, I'm heartened by the people who understand that the right debate to have is "How do we make the Internet a better place for human habitation?" and not "Is the Internet good or bad for us?" I'm also heartened to see the growth of the view that aggregated personal data is a kind of immortal toxic waste and that the best way to prevent spills is to not collect it in the first place. Read the rest

Our Comrade the Electron: technology as centralizer

Maciej Cegłowski's Webstock 2014 talk is called OUR COMRADE THE ELECTRON, and it's an inspired rant about the relationship of technology to power and coercion. It asserts that the decentralizing of power attended by the growth of technology in the 1990s was a blip, and that the trend of technology will be to further centralization.

I disagree. I think that Cegłowski has conflated "technology" with "technology under neoliberalism" -- that the concentration of technology since the 1990s coincides with the creation of like the WTO and the abolition of things like the Glass–Steagall Act, and the overall concentration of wealth and power into fewer hands. Technology is related to centralized power, but it is not entirely the cause of it -- rather it is in a feedback loop with it, and the two fuel each other.

For me, the interesting question isn't "does technology centralize or doesn't it?" We've seen technology do both. For me, the interesting question is, "How can we make technology into a force for decentralization?"

There's a long-held view of the world that breaks it into "artsies and techies" -- the two cultures. From where I sit, though, the two cultures are "people who believe in finance" and "people who think finance is a corrupt and corrupting force in the world." All the interesting nerds I know make art, and all the interesting artists I know nerd out on technology. But the one thing that seems to separate us into two camps is whether we think the world of finance is a giant con game or a legit enterprise. Read the rest

In a Time of Hugs and Kisses: XOXO 2013

Glenn Fleishman heads to Portland for the second XOXO festival, where a maker's heart can leave the body, be shared among kindred spirits, and know that it will be cared for.

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