Tag Archives | Google

The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution

Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, fresh from a visit to North Korea in January, on why the Internet is far from an unalloyed good to the citizens of dictatorships around the world, in the Wall Street Journal:

How do you explain to people that they are a YouTube sensation, when they have never heard of YouTube or the Internet? That’s a question we faced during our January visit to North Korea, when we attempted to engage with the Pyongyang traffic police. You may have seen videos on the Web of the capital city’s “traffic cops,” whose ballerina-like street rituals, featured in government propaganda videos, have made them famous online. The men and women themselves, however—like most North Koreans—have never seen a Web page, used a desktop computer, or held a tablet or smartphone. They have never even heard of Google (or Bing, for that matter).

Even the idea of the Internet has not yet permeated the public’s consciousness in North Korea.

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So Ray Kurzweil Wants To Live Forever…

Ray Kurzweil blue backgroundOk, so Ray Kurzweil is a man of above average intelligence and achievement, even if he only just got his first job (Google, of course), but is a desire to live forever a wise choice or foolish hubris? The Wall Street Journal reports on his quest for immortality:

Ray Kurzweil must encounter his share of interviewers whose first question is: What do you hope your obituary will say?

This is a trick question. Mr. Kurzweil famously hopes an obituary won’t be necessary. And in the event of his unexpected demise, he is widely reported to have signed a deal to have himself frozen so his intelligence can be revived when technology is equipped for the job.

Mr. Kurzweil is the closest thing to a Thomas Edison of our time, an inventor known for inventing. He first came to public attention in 1965, at age 17, appearing on Steve Allen’s TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” to demonstrate a homemade computer he built to compose original music in the style of the great masters.

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Google Pursues Business Plans with Burma Despite Massacre of the Rohingya People

Picture: Philip Absolon (CC)

First, I would like to thank Matt Staggs for offering me the chance to bring this story to your attention. I have just been made aware of two massacres of the Rohingya in Burma, and this was first bought to my attention with a brutal photo of a small child hacked to death. I will spare you the image, because my intention is not to shock you, but to ask for your help in raising awareness of a potential genocide in Burma. For the prior two massacres, the US has sanctioned Burma and condemned these attacks, which were spurned on by government propaganda.

However, despite these sanctions Google is still planning to meet with the Burmese government to talk over business plans. Worse, this story is not going anywhere in the social media networks or with mainstream news outlets. Even though we’re told, “if it bleeds, it leads,” the massacres of thousands of Rohingya men, women, and children is not sexy enough to make the nightly news.… Read the rest

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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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