Tag Archives | Internet

Viewing The World Through The Lens Of Artificial Idiocy

road_testVia the Guardian Tom Chatfield on gazing at reality through computers’ data-crunching models:

When Facebook asks me what I “like”, it’s making the convenient assumption that I feel one of two ways about everything in the world – indifferent or affectionate. When it aggregates the results of mine and a billion other responses, marvellous insights emerge. But these remain based on a model of preference that might kindly be called moronic.

Similarly, every measurement embodies a series of choices: what to include, what to exclude. If a computer could learn to recognise images of cats with absolute accuracy, would that mean it knew what a cat was? Not unless you redefined cats as silent, immobile, odourless sequences of information describing two-dimensional images. If a computer could learn to identify you with absolute accuracy via surreptitiously scraped data from your social media presence, phone calls and banking activities, would that mean it knew what it means to be you?

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The Coming Backlash Against Silicon Valley

facebookVia the Economist, Adrian Wooldridge on seeing the giant tech corporations for what they really are:

Geeks have turned out to be some of the most ruthless capitalists around. A few years ago the new economy was a wide-open frontier. Today it is dominated by a handful of tightly held oligopolies. Google and Apple provide over 90% of the operating systems for smartphones. Facebook counts more than half of North Americans and Europeans as its customers.

The lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs. They employ remarkably few people: with a market cap of $290 billion Google is about six times bigger than GM but employs only around a fifth as many workers.

At the same time the tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for hoovering up public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. The American government laid the foundations of the tech revolution by investing heavily in the creation of everything from the internet to digital personal assistants.

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ASMR: When Sounds Tickle Your Brain


Do you have a little brain quirk that puts you in happy trance whenever you hear certain, soft sounds? Well, you’re in for a treat, because it’s a “thing,” and there are YouTube channels just for you. “For some percentage of readers,” writes Loz Blain of Gizmag, “this article could make a major positive impact on your life…”

Despite the very official-sounding name ascribed to it, there is no science to prove the existence of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. We have no idea what percentage of people have the ability to experience it, where it comes from, what it’s for or what brain mechanics are involved.

But if you’re lucky enough to be able to feel it, there’s a growing and thriving community out there producing thousands of free samples of canned pleasure and relaxation.

Let me start from my personal experience. As a schoolboy, I had a particular French teacher whose voice would put me into a trance.… Read the rest

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Skynet Has Arrived? European Union Unveils RoboEarth, An Internet Just For Robots

tape_robotScientists have created a network which various smart devices and artificial intelligences will use autonomously to share information and learn from each other – increasing their capabilities. Should we just surrender now? The BBC reports:

A world wide web for robots to learn from each other and share information is being shown off for the first time. The system has been developed by research scientists from Philips and five European universities including Eindhoven.

It is the culmination of a four-year project, funded by the European Union. The eventual aim is that both robots and humans will be able to upload information to the cloud-based database, which would act as a kind of common brain for machines.

“At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other,” said Rene van de Molengraft, the RoboEarth project leader.

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Traditional Exorcists Lambast Skype Exorcisms As A Sham

scary computerIs a war brewing between old-guard exorcists and the new breed offering cheap and easy demonic removal over the internet? Vocativ writes:

“They just can’t be done that way,” says Reverend Isaac Kramer, director of the International Catholic Association of Exorcists. “If a person is fully possessed, the demon will not let them sit in front of the computer screen to be exorcised. They’re going to throw the computer screen across the room.”

Larson isn’t the first to champion the Skype exorcism. In 2010, famous Israeli Kabaalist Rabbi HaRav David Batzri attempted to exorcise a Brazilian man possessed by a “dybbuk,” a demon, over Skype.

The Internet-ization of exorcisms has made the ritual one that scam artists and “self-identified” exorcists have used to make fast cash. Websites such as ExorcismTraining.net offer online exorcisms to demon-ridden customers. Want to self-treat? They have a beginners’ training pack for $29.95 so you can teach yourself to exorcise in just four weeks.

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Inside China’s Internet Addiction Rehab Camps

internet addictionThe New York Times has a short film exploring life inside one of China's hundreds of boot-camp-style treatment centers for electronics-addled youth who spend night and day gaming online, in some cases allegedly wearing diapers to avoid taking bathroom breaks. The camp director compares the internet to "electronic heroin" and warns that the teens "know the internet inside and out, but nothing about human beings." Questions abound: Is China at the forefront of what will become a global epidemic of Compulsive Internet Use? Are computers being scapegoated for problems that are in fact more subtle and complex? Could you survive several months cold turkey?
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A Washington D.C. Court Gutted Net Neutrality Yesterday

admin-ajax.phpFree market enterprise means that internet telecoms are free to choose what they do and don’t want to allow you to see. The Los Angeles Times writes:

Today’s ruling from a Washington appeals court striking down the FCC’s rules protecting the open net was worse than the most dire forecasts. It was “even more emphatic and disastrous than anyone expected,” in the words of one veteran advocate for network neutrality.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit thoroughly eviscerated the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to prevent Internet service providers from playing favorites among websites.

“AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason,” telecommunications lawyer Marvin Ammori (he’s the man quoted above) observed even before the ruling came down.”

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World Post: The Website for the One Percent

Nicolas Berggruen. Photo: Angélica Martínez (CC)

Nicolas Berggruen. Photo: Angélica Martínez (CC)

Although World Post is being touted as the website that billionaires will patronize, I have a feeling that unless it’s made as exclusive (as in keeping the 99% out) as powerbroker meetings like the World Economic Forum in Davos where it will officially launch, then it may not actually be intended for the so-called one percent. From The Guardian:

The 1% are about to get their own publication. The digital media titan Arianna Huffington and the billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen on Wednesday announced the launch of World Post, a comment and news website that looks set to become a platform for some of the most powerful people on the planet.

Inevitably, the World Post will be launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this month. Many of its contributors including former British prime minister Tony Blair, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Google’s Eric Schmidt are regulars at the annual jamboree for the world’s most connected people.

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How Accepting A Friend Request Will Soon Alter Your Credit Score

credit scoreThe The Next Web writes that you will soon be “empowered” by having every mundane aspect of your life mined for data:

Are you only as good as the company you keep? Before you accept that next friend request, consider what that person says about you, what that association might eventually cost, or be worth – even in the financial sense.

Where you live, who you friend on Facebook, the frequency you shop at Trader Joe’s, how much you spend – all of this information will be picked up, shared, and analyzed amongst the various connected devices and services you use.

This wealth of data will also be applicable to your financial decisions. “Who you are” as a consumer will no longer be based solely on your purchases, investments or credit file, but will also consider your daily routines, such as browsing the Internet, where you shop, and more.

Technology and new services are now making it possible to incorporate entirely new, more relevant data into a credit profile — data that is mostly consumer controlled or contributed and generated by simply gathering and delivering your lifestyle data.

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Posting A Child’s Life For The World To See Is A Privacy Issue

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Pic: NARA (PD)

Some parents are to their children what the NSA and market research corporations are to the rest of us.  Myra Hamilton writes at the Conversation:

Children consistently delight and surprise us, and make us hoot with laughter. It’s only natural to want to share these moments with friends and family. But the trend of posting information about our young children on social media sites raises an important issue: don’t children deserve some privacy?

Traditionally, people may have told funny or icky anecdotes about their children to their nearest and dearest when they saw them, or wheeled out embarrassing photos of their naked children at 21st birthday parties.

But social media sites provide the opportunity to share this information far more widely. Parents can place information permanently online where it may come back to haunt them, or their children.

Many parents post photos and videos online of their young children during their most cute, funny, or embarrassing moments.

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