In a party-line split, the U.S. Senate today voted to allow internet service providers to retain personal data without permission and sell it to whomever might pay for it.
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The Senate voted 50:48 in favor of S.J. 34, which would remove the rules and, under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, prevent similar rules from being enacted. It now heads to the House for approval.
“If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy framework, and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny in a joint statement.
Ian Bogost (previously) describes the "deflationary" use of "artificial intelligence" to describe the most trivial computer science innovations and software-enabled products, from Facebook's suicide detection "AI" (a trivial word-search program that alerts humans) to the chatbots that are billed as steps away from passing a Turing test, but which are little more than glorified phone trees, and on whom 40% of humans give up after a single conversational volley. Read the rest
It's a commonplace that in the natural world, males attempt to mate with multiple females, while females attempt to entice males into being monogamous; this is attributed to the high cost of producing an egg and bearing children (or laying eggs) for females, and the low cost of sperm production for males. Read the rest
Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer inaugurated his first day on the job by telling easily falsifiable lies about the relative sizes of the Trump inauguration crowds and those of the Obama administration. Read the rest
Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing "deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact" purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017). Read the rest
When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest
University of Washington profs Carl T. Bergstrom (Biology) and Jevin West (Information School) have proposed a course called "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data" that characterizes "the majority of administrative activity" as "sophisticated exercise(s) in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit" and aims to train students to "navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument." Read the rest
An excerpt from The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy
, by Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, coming this Friday from MIT Press.
In 2010, three psychologists published a paper on "power poses", with their finding that people who adopted "power poses" -- think of superheroes on skyscrapers -- felt more powerful and took more risks. Read the rest
Donald Trump said Lester Holt, tonight's debate moderator, was a Democrat. Holt is in fact a Republican. Leaving aside why Trump assumed he was a Democrat, when called on this mistake, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway gave this response: Read the rest
Dan Gillmor writes: "Time for journalists to declare a boycott on bullshit. Start with muting the sound when Trump lies during the debate." Read the rest
Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect. Read the rest
On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest
After being accused of political bias in its trending news picks, Facebook returned to a purely algorithmic feed. Within hours, the machine picked a gross fake-news hatebait item claiming Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was being forced out of the network, thereby forcing a human being to remove it from the trending feed. Bias! Read the rest
A British woman of Muslim descent was detained and questioned by police under terror laws after a flight crew member noticed she was reading a book about Syrian art while flying to Turkey.
The Thomson Airways attendant reported her for “suspicious behavior,” which amounted to reading a book. Read the rest
The Associated Press filed Freedom of Information requests with the US government to find the evidence behind the Surgeon General's admonition to floss regularly for dental health and found that there was no good evidentiary basis for flossing. Read the rest
Wikileaks, the clearing house for state secrets, seems more about founder Julian Assange's grudges these days: especially the one for Hillary Clinton. Much fuss was made over a quote—that he had "enough evidence" to guarantee an indictment of her—that was widely attributed to him. It turns out, though, that the quote doesn't check out: most point to a mangled interview on the UK's ITV where it isn't even said. Jesse Singal set out to track down a source that no-one bothered to verify. It's a surprisingly tantalizing and teasing journey, but the tl;dr seems to be that the quote was originally fabricated by the blog Zero Hedge. Read the rest