Ferlinghetti's prescient poem, "Pity the Nation," describes actual SOTU, 2020

This Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem crossed my transom yesterday morning. I cannot think of a more fitting encapsulation of where we are, here in our post Rule of Law era.

"PITY THE NATION" (After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep And whose shepherds mislead them Pity the nation whose leaders are liars Whose sages are silenced And whose bigots haunt the airwaves Pity the nation that raises not its voice Except to praise conquerors And acclaim the bully as hero And aims to rule the world By force and by torture Pity the nation that knows No other language but its own And no other culture but its own Pity the nation whose breath is money And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed Pity the nation oh pity the people who allow their rights to erode and their freedoms to be washed away My country, tears of thee Sweet land of liberty!

[H/t Linda Lewitt]

Image: Lawrence Ferlinghetti at Caffe Trieste in 2012 by Christopher Michel. CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Ever, an "unlimited photo storage app," secretly fed its users' photos to a face-recognition system pitched to military customers UPDATE

Update: I've been emailed twice by Ever PR person Doug Aley, who incorrectly claimed that Ever's signup notice informed users that their data was going to be used to train an AI that would be marketed for military applications. It's true that during the signup process, users are asked whether they want to "use" facial recognition (that is, to label their images), but not whether they consent to having their images used to train that system, and especially not for commercial military applications.

Ever is an app that promises that you can "capture your memories" with unlimited photo storage, with sample albums featuring sentimental photos of grandparents and their grandkids; but Ever's parent company has another product, Ever AI, a facial recognition system pitched at military agencies to conduct population-scale surveillance. Though Ever's users' photos were used to train Ever AI, Ever AI's sales material omits this fact -- and the only way for Ever users to discover that their photos have become AI training data is to plough through a 2,500 "privacy policy." Read the rest