Archive | Corporate Skeptics

The Logic of Surveillance Capitalism

Allseeingeye

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

You have probably noticed it already. There is a strange logic at the heart of the modern tech industry. The goal of many new tech startups is not to produce products or services for which consumers are willing to pay. Instead, the goal is create a digital platform or hub that will capture information from as many users as possible — to grab as many ‘eyeballs’ as you can. This information can then be analysed, repackaged and monetised in various ways. The appetite for this information-capture and analysis seems to be insatiable, with ever increasing volumes of information being extracted and analysed from an ever-expanding array of data-monitoring technologies.

The famous Harvard business theorist Shoshana Zuboff refers to this phenomenon assurveillance capitalism and she believes that it has its own internal ‘logic’ that we need to carefully and critically assess. The word ‘logic’ is somewhat obscure in this context.… Read the rest

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Did You Enjoy That Corporate Takeover of Your Favorite Ski Town?

winterlandRemember when there were cute little ski towns? I don’t either, but I have heard they existed—once.

Nowadays going skiing is sort of like going to DisneyWorld, except way more expensive. The corporate takeover of most of America’s ski resorts has changed the experience of skiing forever. Some of our country’s most amazing places have become gentrified and are suffering the beginning of urban sprawl. Locals have been displaced as they can’t afford to live in their homes and their corporate policies have taken a toll on the environment. The cost of skiing is now prohibitive to anyone that isn’t upper-middle class at the least.

As a skier, what do you do about it, though? By supporting a corporate-owned ski resort, your money, regardless of how small, is just fattening the pockets of those who live far from the local mountain town. In fact, financial support means that you are contributing to ruining your mountain playground.… Read the rest

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Snowden Does a Product Endorsement

thierry ehrmann (CC by 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC by 2.0)

Bill Blunden writes at CounterPunch:

In the wake of Congress passing the USA Freedom Act Ed Snowden composed an editorial piece that appeared in the New York Times. There are aspects of this article that may surprise those who’ve followed events since Snowden first went public two years back.

For example, Ed referred to the bill as a “historic victory” though there are skeptics in the peanut gallery like your author who would call it theater. That is, an attempt to codify otherwise expired measures which have been of little use according to their stated purpose. The USA Freedom Act provides the opportunity for elected officials in Washington to do a victory lap and boast that they’ve implemented restructuring while former American spies, with a knowing wink, understand that what’s actually been instituted is “hardly major change.”

Moving onward through his laudatory communiqué, Ed warns that hi tech companies “are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them.” He opted not to say who was being leaned on.

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WHO Says Widely-Used Dow Herbicide ‘Possibly Carcinogenic’ to Humans

"We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops," said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. Read more of Sarah Lazare’s posts here.

The World Health Organization revealed on Tuesday that 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic, a key ingredient of a widely-used herbicide produced by Dow, is “possibly carcinogenic” to humans—a classification that public health and environmental advocates say is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall dangers the chemical poses.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer—a Lyon, France-based wing of the WHO—published the findings Tuesday in The Lancet Oncology and also disclosed them in apublic statement (pdf).

The agency said there is “strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress that can operate in humans and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in-vivo and in-vitro studies.”

The classification of “possibly carcinogenic” puts 2,4-D two levels above “probably not carcinogenic” but one below “probably carcinogenic.”

This development did not come as a shock to public health and environmental advocates.

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Steve Albini: ‘File sharing is the greatest thing since punk rock’

Airfoil with flow

Airfoil with flow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Late last year Steve Albini a veteran producer, audio engineer, and of the band Shellac did a keynote address at Face the Music where he breaks down the fallacies and fears spread by music industry suits. If you prefer the written format or you don’t have the time to watch the informative and entertaining video read this article.

via deathandtaxes

A bit more than 20 years ago, iconic producer Steve Albini wrote an essay titled “The Problem With Music.” In it, he basically showed how horrible a beast the music industry was (and pretty much still is) at that time. The essay discussed how a band could sell hundreds of thousands of records–but still end up massively in debt due to just how much contracts favored the labels. Now he has ruffled the feathers of the industry again as he called free music file sharing, “…the single best thing that has happened in my life time, after punk rock…”

Speaking to Quartz, Alibini stated that the biggest change the industry can’t deal with is that, “Music is no longer a commodity, it’s an environment, or atmospheric element.

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Spy Agency’s Secret Plans to Foster Online “Conformity” and “Obedience” Exposed

Creative Heroes (CC BY 2.0)

Creative Heroes (CC BY 2.0)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Jon Queally’s posts here.

With never-before-seen documents accompanied by new reporting on Monday, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman are offering a more in-depth look than ever into how a secretive unit of the UK’s GCHQ surveillance agency used a host of psychological methods and online subterfuge in order to manipulate the behavior of individuals and groups through the internet and other digital forms of communication.

According to the reporting, the latest documents, which were leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden,

demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist,” Islamist activity in schools, the drug trade, online fraud, and financial scams.

Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG quickly developed a distinctive profile in the public understanding, after documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in “dirty tricks” like deploying sexual “honey traps” designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online.

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Neil Young is Starving the Poor!

Neil Young, 1983.

Neil Young, 1983.

Colin Todhunter writes at CounterPunch:

Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment.”

Owen Paterson stated the above earlier this year during a speech he gave in South Africa. Paterson is the former Environment Minister for the UK.

Now, a few months on, writing in the New York Post (‘How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world’s poor‘) he is mouthing similar claims and accusations, this time focusing on Neil Young’s recent anti-GMO/ Monsanto album.

Paterson writes:

“In reality, GMOs can save millions of lives. It’s the environmentalists who are doing real harm.”

He continues:

“The best example of this is Golden Rice, a miracle grain enhanced with Vitamin A-producing beta-carotene.

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No Fare!

copolla

Monday

As usual, the weekend off messed with my circadian rhythm and I have not had a wink of sleep, even with my generic iPhone harp alarm set to a late 5 o’clock. But the hour later setting was not an attempt at extending my sleepless bed time for a chance that I might actually get some. It was in the hopes that Tony will call me preemptively from the Citizen’s Cab office asking if I want to take the day off and get covered by one of the (now defunct) Arrow Cab transplants hoping to go out. Tony has gotten wise to my all too frequent call-ins on Mondays asking to get covered, on account of lack of sleep. Hence, he’s taken to sometimes calling me first, around 5. Anyway, the last thing a cabbie wants is to start out a 10-hour shift on the cutthroat streets of San Francisco tired and set like a trap ready to spring.

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I Spent the Night in the Tate Gallery, Listening to the Quiet Sounds of Art Activism


Ellen Booth writes at Common Dreams:

It’s 5:20am in the morning, and I’m sitting on a small folding stool at the side of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. It feels strangely soothing as I sit listening to the musical night time sounds inside the Tate Modern. The drone of the air conditioning units forms the backdrop to a cacophony of dull repetitive chimes, scraping of chairs and cordons as cleaners work, distant frustrated clanging of management doors, and a ghostly gusting of wind through the corridors and rafters above.

In front of me, a bright line of books reflects the rising morning sun. To the left of these books, a cluster of friends and journalists sleep, sniffling and snoring, surrounding a store of precious water and food. To the right, a tired shift of performers in veils, kneel to scrawl charcoal messages of hope and despair on the floor. The squeaking of charcoal sounds like so many happy mice, busy at work.

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Who owns your face?

Screen shot via.

Screen shot via.

Jeff John Roberts via Fortune:

In a fateful moment for privacy, Facebook’s “Moments” uses facial recognition to expose where people went and who they were with.

What a bad week for privacy. Consumer watchdogs gave up on government talks over facial recognition software after industry groups appeared to reject even basic restrictions on face-scanning. Meanwhile, Facebook rolled out a new service called “Moments” that expands the use of the company’s powerful “faceprint” technology.

This doesn’t mean the privacy apocalypse is upon us; for now least, the Facebook “Moments” tool is just one more creepy-but-useful social media innovation. But if loss of liberty happens gradually, June of 2015 could be a watershed we look back on with regret. It marks a time when we took new steps towards accepting the use of our very faces as a universal ID card – without deciding on the rules for using it.

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