Tag Archives | Google

Warrantless Government Requests For Your Twitter And Google Data Continue To Increase

It seems that using email or social networks, nothing is actually private. The Atlantic Wire reports:

Twitter has released its second biannual Transparency Report and — what do you know? — Twitter is still giving away more user information requested by the U.S. government than ever, and without a warrant.

Twitter got 815 total requests in the last six months, and more than 80 percent of the U.S. government’s asks on user data came without a warrant. Google, too, has seen an uptick in government requests, reporting a total 21,389 requests for information in 2012.

U.S. officials are asking for more of what we’re doing from more of our daily Internet activities — typically without getting a court’s permission. Google, however, is lobbying [for better privacy protection], and this year the Senate will vote on an updated version of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that requires a warrant for all email and private communication stored over the cloud.

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Ray Kurzweil Designing Super-Intelligent Robot Assistant At Google

Are you ready for a virtual personal assistant which “knows better than you” constantly injecting itself into your life? A preview of things to come, via Technology Review:

Famed AI researcher and singularity forecaster Ray Kurzweil recently shed some more light on what his new job at Google will entail. It seems that he does, indeed, plan to build a prodigious artificial intelligence, which he hopes will understand the world to a much more sophisticated degree than anything built before–or at least that will act as if it does.

Kurzweil’s AI will be designed to analyze the vast quantities of information Google collects and to then serve as a super-intelligent personal assistant. He suggests it could eavesdrop on your every phone conversation and email exchange and then provide interesting and important information before you ever knew you wanted it.

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Umberto Eco Explains List Mania

Italian author and semiotician Umberto Eco tells Der Spiegel about the place lists hold in the history of culture, the ways we try to avoid thinking about death and why Google is dangerous for young people:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Eco, you are considered one of the world’s great scholars, and now you are opening an exhibition at the Louvre, one of the world’s most important museums. The subjects of your exhibition sound a little commonplace, though: the essential nature of lists, poets who list things in their works and painters who accumulate things in their paintings. Why did you choose these subjects?

Umberto Eco: The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible?

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Singularity Averted, The Google Machine Still Can’t Parse Irony

So now that google calculates bacon numbers automatically, a few pop culture mavens have been systematically trying to break it:

For example, I typed in the name of a high school friend who was legitimately in a movie with Kevin Bacon — Ben Saypol (hi, Ben!), “Telling Lies in America,” 1997 — and that gave me nothing, too, even though Ben is totally someone in the real world. And if you think you’re going to type in your own name and get an answer, forget it, unless you’re Susan Sarandon or something. It may not recognize you either.

The Google Box’s problems go deeper than that, however. Disinfo has discovered through the application of highly efficient research ninjas that the Google Box believes that Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was actually in the movie Powder. This seems to be because of long running joke based on the fact that Corgan is a creepy, pasty bald pale white guy, just like the creepy, pasty bald white guy main character in the creepy childmolester directed film sensation of 1995.… Read the rest

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The Origins Of Google Earth

Via the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman on Google and Apple’s quests to map the world in ever greater detail, and how our maps’ creators shape how we engage with the world:

[Almost a decade ago], Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had been fascinated by the zooming satellite imagery used by US news networks to report on bombing raids in Iraq. Those terrain graphics were provided by Keyhole, Inc, a software company that the CIA had helped to fund. Unlike the rest of us, Page and Brin had the wherewithal to act upon their fascination: they bought Keyhole, repackaging and releasing the firm’s software as Google Earth in 2005.

“They say they bought it because it looked cool,” says Brotton. “But my view is that they absolutely knew what they were buying. They marketed it in this touchy-feely way, as an environmental thing, and they called it ‘Earth’ – ‘Google World’ would have sounded imperialist.

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Google Maps Introduces Pyramid-View

Amazing, the Mayans’ breathtaking pyramids can now be wandered remotely. The Los Angeles Times reveals:

For travelers who’ve never been to the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza, a virtual window into the site’s pyramids and plazas is available online, among 30 archaeological zones in Mexico now mapped by Google Street View. A viewer can almost feel like they might tumble into the Sacred Cenote, or natural sinkhole, where Maya priests practiced ritual sacrifice. Or imagine cavorting on the Plaza of the Thousand Columns.

Google and Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, announced the new maps last week. Using a 360-degree camera mounted on a bicycle, Google captured “street views” of other major archaeological sites in Mexico, such as Monte Alban in Oaxaca and Teotihuacan outside Mexico City.

Lesser-known Mesoamerican sites are also now mapped by Google Street View, including Tula in the state of Hidalgo and Xochicalco in Morelos.

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Do Evil: Google Admits it ‘Failed’ to Delete Wi-Fi Data

Via The Telegraph:

It came to light in 2010 that search engine giant Google had collected information from open WiFi networks via its Streetview mapping cars. Google had assured the public that the sensitive information – passwords, email, etc. – had been destroyed. Well, that may not have been the truth after all:

Google has admitted that it did not in fact delete all the data, which could include passwords and emails, collected over open WiFi networks by its Streetview mapping cars in 2010 in a number of countries around the world.

The news means that Britain’s recently reopened investigation into the so-called WiFi snooping could be bolstered by an opportunity to re-examine evidence that the ICO had asked to be destroyed.

Read more at The Telegraph.

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Google’s Virtual Brain Goes On YouTube And Looks For Cat Videos

Kaibara87 (CC)

Sounds like Google’s virtual “brain” consisting of 16,000 networked computers does a pretty good job of enjoying the same dumb stuff that humans do. John Markoff reports for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Inside Google’s secretive X laboratory, known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses, a small group of researchers began working several years ago on a simulation of the human brain.

There Google scientists created one of the largest neural networks for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors, which they turned loose on the internet to learn on its own.

Presented with 10 million digital images found in YouTube videos, what did Google’s brain do? What millions of humans do with YouTube: looked for cats.

The neural network taught itself to recognise cats, which is actually no frivolous activity. This week the researchers will present the results of their work at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Google Calls Its Report on Government Takedown Requests “Troubling,” “Free Expression Is At Risk”

Via Google’s Official Blog:

About two years ago, we launched our interactive Transparency Report. We started by disclosing data about government requests. Since then, we’ve been steadily adding new features, like graphs showing traffic patterns and disruptions to Google services from different countries. And just a couple weeks ago, we launched a new section showing the requests we get from copyright holders to remove search results.

The traffic and copyright sections of the Transparency Report are refreshed in near-real-time, but government request data is updated in six-month increments because it’s a people-driven, manual process. Today we’re releasing data showing government requests to remove blog posts or videos or hand over user information made from July to December 2011.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers.

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Google’s Moog Doodle

Doodle_Quick_StartBack in 1999 when The Disinformation Company was just a couple of years old, we released a compilation CD called “Best Of Moog: Electronic Pop Hits From The 60′s & 70′s.” The project allowed us to collaborate with inventor of the Moog synthesizer (and many would say the founder of electronic music), Robert Moog, who wrote the liner notes and MC’d our release party in New York.

Bob passed away in 2005, but today Google is honoring his 78th birthday with one of its famous doodles, this time an interactive virtual Moog synth.

It’s lot of fun, check it out at Google, and for a guide to playing it, visit Moog Music’s Quick Start Guide.

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