There are lists of the best Christmas movies here and there, and all are arguable, not only about how "great" they really are, but whether they are Christmas movies at all. Must a Christmas movie be about Christmas, or merely take place during Christmastime? — Read the rest
Slate compiled a list of the 30 most evil companies in tech, starting with Mspy (#30) all the way up to Amazon (#1). I weighed in on Oracle (#17, "It takes a lot to make me feel like Google is being victimized by a bully, but Oracle managed it") and Apple (#6, "Apple won't spy on you for ads, but they'll help the Chinese government spy on its citizens to keep its supply chain intact").
About five years ago, I was trying to get a bunch of Big Tech companies to take the right side of an urgent online civil rights fight, and I called an old friend who was very senior at one of the biggest tech companies in the world; they told me that it wasn't going to work, in part because the kinds of people who were coming to tech were there because they wanted to get as rich as possible, no matter what they had to do. — Read the rest
On November 13, noted vampire capitalist Peter Thiel gave a speech to donors at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research conservative think-tank on "The End of the Computer Age." Over the course of 40 minutes, he covered a lot of topics—some of which were at least provocative, some of them which sounded like they were ripped straight out of a Gavin Belson speech on Silicon Valley. — Read the rest
Stop, collaborate, and listen: Amazon's complicit in ICE's extraditions (plus other abuses of human rights enabled by that agency's authoritarian agenda)
That's why hundreds of musicians—nearly 500, at the time of this writing, though it was just over 100 when news broke Thursday morning—have signed onto an open letter pledging to boycott Amazon festivals, events, and other exclusive deals until the tech giant stops enabling the systematic abuses of Immigration Customs Enforcement. — Read the rest
Last week, free software developer Seth Vargo pulled the plug on tools he made to work with software developed by his former employer Chef, in protest of Chef's ongoing contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency that has been implicated in crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing, family separation, and the deaths of children in its custody.
New Orleans is festooned with police cameras, the legacy of a secret partnership with the surveillance contractor Palantir, which used New Orleans as a covert laboratory for predictive policing products.
There are more houses for sale in San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and San Francisco County than at any time since 2013; inventory in December was up 113% year-on-year, and asking prices have fallen by 12% since their peak.
Predpol (previously) is a "predictive policing" company that sells police forces predictive analytics tools that take in police data about crimes and arrests and spits out guesses about where the police should go to find future crimes.
Justin Rohrlich warns that those mobile trailer-mounted signs displaying your MPH are also recording number plates and taking photos of the driver and passengers. The cameras are being retrofitted to existing models.
Who is building and managing the database ICE and HHS are using to track all those thousands of immigrants caught at the U.S./Mexico border in Trump's 'zero tolerance' racist crackdown? And did they bother to create a system that tracks the separated children and parents, so they can be reunited?
Palantir Technologies is a data-mining firm that loves it some predictive policing: computer-aided sorcery that uses data models to try and predict where crimes may occur and who's got a reasonable chance of committing them.
For predictive policing to work well, the predictive model being built needs to be well fed with data on criminals, their first, second and third-person acquaintances, their social media accounts, and crime statistics for the area where the model is meant to be seeing crimes before they may possibly happen. — Read the rest
Patrick Ryan wants to be the Democratic nominee for New York's 19th district in the Hudson Valley, a Republican seat that Dems hope to flip; he's gone on record stating that he can do the job because of his entrepreneurial success — but he didn't mention that he built his career at Berico Technologies by pitching a product to help businesses spy on union organizers and left-wing activists, a plan that included spying on left-wing Democrats and planting fake documents in order to discredit labor unions.
Peter Thiel thinks that it was a mistake to let women vote; that democracy is incompatible with "freedom" (because poor people will tax rich people if they get to elect their own leaders); that the major problem with the mass government surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed was that it was incompetently conducted (which is why he started Palantir, a mass surveillance contractor that sells spying services to authoritarian states); that free markets are inefficient and should be replaced with monopolies; and that marketplace of ideas should be replaced by secretly funded litigation campaigns that eliminate publications that say things you don't like.
In 1936, John Maynard Keynes suggested that a fair economic system would lead to "the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital" — implying that we have a choice between fairness and extreme wealth, and that the two couldn't peacefully co-exist.
Peter Thiel was always a controversial figure in tech, known as an acerbic doctrinaire libertarian who'd publicly declared that "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible," a situation he blamed in part on "the extension of the franchise to women," — but people still took his money and sought his help in part because he was viewed as a mostly harmless crank and in part because he had a titanic amount of money and connections to throw at organizations that legitimized him by affiliating themselves with him.
When the 9/11 commission reported back on the intelligence failures that led to the attacks 16 years ago, they identified a key problem: America's spy agencies had collected so much useless, indiscriminate information (haystacks) that they couldn't find the useful, salient facts (needles) buried there.
Yesterday, Merck CEO Ken Frazier quit Trump's advisory council and today the CEOs of Intel and Under Armor joined him, which raises the question: why were these guys on the advisory council for an avowed white supremacist who campaigned on a platform of racial discrimination against Mexicans and Muslims?