As city after city has remitted hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay off ransomware criminals who hijacked their crucial systems, the US Conference of Mayors had unanimously adopted a resolution to never pay these ransoms again, on the basis that these payments "encourage continued attacks on other government systems, as perpetrators financially benefit,"
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Johns Hopkins Computer Science prof Professor Peter Fröhlich grades his students on a curve: the highest score on the final gets an A and everyone else is graded accordingly.
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Lanetix is your basic shitty tech company, where your two weeks of annual paid leave is subject to often-withheld managerial approval, where bosses threaten engineers with getting canned if they participate in private Slack channels where they discuss working conditions, and where high-performing software engineers who object to bad management are summarily fired.
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MIT Professor Emeritus of Robotic Rodney Brooks has published a thought-provoking essay on the most concrete, most likely ethical questions that will be raised by self-driving cars; Brooks is uninterested in contrived questions like the "Trolley Problem" (as am I, but for different reasons); he's more attuned to the immediate problems that could be created by selfish self-drivers who use their cars to get an edge over the people who drive themselves, and pedestrians. Read the rest
Germany's DEAL project, which includes over 60 major research institutions, has announced that all of its members are canceling their subscriptions to all of Elsevier's academic and scientific journals, effective January 1, 2017. Read the rest
In 1979, the Duke of Lancaster -- a cruise liner turned car ferry -- was retired from service and moored at Llanerch-y-Mor, North Wales, where it was made over as a "Fun Ship," whose car-deck was refitted as a coin-op arcade. Read the rest
Amara's Law states, "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run" -- Robert Charles Wilson's gripping conspiracy novel The Affinities
brings the experience of that process to life.
The UK Green Party has built a version of the kickstarter for elections I proposed last year: they're signing up people who promise to vote Green if enough of their neighbours will do the same. Read the rest
The UK parliamentary farce over #DRIP showed us that, more than any other industry, the political machine is in dire need of disruption. Read the rest
Here's a good writeup of Loomio, a collective decision-making tool that is raising funds to add features, stability and polish to its free/open source codebase. Loomio grew out of the experience of Occupy's attempt to create inclusive, democratic processes, and attempt to simplify the Liquid Feedback tool widely used by Pirate Parties to resolve complex policy questions.
I'm very interested in this kind of collective action tool -- I wrote about a fictionalized version in Lawful Interception that allowed crowds of people to coordinate their movement without leaders or hierarchy -- and Loomio seems to have a good mix of political savvy, technical knowhow, and design sense. Read the rest