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Tag Archives: Internet

Destroyer of worlds

On 27 April, before he burst into a San Diego synagogue and opened fire, killing one worshipper and injuring three more, the gunman said goodbye to the community that radicalised him. “It’s been real dudes,” he posted on the far-right politics board, /pol/, on the image-posting site 8chan. “I’ve only been lurking for a year and a half, yet what I’ve learned here is priceless.”

Why this story?
There’s no room for argument about whether hate-filled internet message boards encourage real-world violence: they do, and none more so than 8chan. It normalises racism, misogyny, and extremism – and helps turn nightmarish, loud-mouthed talk of action into reality. What kind of person would set up a site like 8chan?

The question matters if we’re serious about trying to regulate it, or prevent similar sites coming into being. We might assume that the brains behind 8chan would belong to a committed, hard-line ideologue; someone, perhaps, we could identify and deal with. But what if other impulses are in play? How do we deal with the motivating power of poverty, disability, anger and self-loathing? Meet Fredrick Brennan. Ceri Thomas, editor
The story was familiar. Six weeks earlier, a 28-year-old had killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Before starting his attack, he, too, had posted on 8chan’s /pol/ board. “It’s been a long ride,” he had written. He signed off his post: “Meme magic is real.” The first response from an anonymous 8chan user urged him to “get the high score”.

From its effect on the world, 8chan could be ranked as one of the internet’s most dangerous sites. Some have even compared it to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS. The pattern is similar: men – and it is always men – find their way there, and get radicalised into an extreme ideology which drives some of them to violence.

Ahmed Al-Mahmoud, centre, survived the attack on the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. The perpetrator posted on 8chan /pol/ beforehand

https://members.tortoisemedia.com/2019/06/29/8chan/content.html

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Reportages

 

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On YouTube’s Digital Playground, an Open Gate for Pedophiles

Christiane C. didn’t think anything of it when her 10-year-old daughter and a friend
uploaded a video of themselves playing in a backyard pool.

“The video is innocent, it’s not a big deal,” said Christiane, who lives in a Rio de Janeiro suburb.

A
few days later, her daughter shared exciting news: The video had
thousands of views. Before long, it had ticked up to 400,000 — a
staggering number for a video of a child in a two-piece bathing suit
with her friend.

“I saw the video again and I got scared by the number of views,” Christiane said.

She had reason to be.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/world/americas/youtube-pedophiles.html

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Something is wrong on the internet

https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Facebook’s plan to break the global financial system

What should we make of Facebook’s sudden foray into the world of digital money? Just as regulators were beginning to wake up from their self-induced coma to discover that Facebook has grown too fast and too big for its own good, the company has decided to redouble its unbending commitment to “moving fast and breaking things”. The good old days when Facebook was merely breaking privacy and elections are now gone – and we’ll surely miss them. But how could they compete with the chance of breaking – once and for all – the global financial system?

To that end, Facebook has announced Libra, a currency, an infrastructure, a network – an ambiguous digital entity capacious enough to be everything for everybody, and with the noble cover of a .org domain to boot. It’s the ultimate Schrodinger’s cat of the digital economy: a blockchain/non-blockchain, it will serve as money/non-money to save/bury Facebook/all of us.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/facebooks-plan-to-break-the-global-financial-system

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Can we stop AI outsmarting humanity?

Fifty thousand years ago with the rise of Homo sapiens sapiens.

Ten thousand years ago with the invention of civilization.

Five hundred years ago with the invention of the printing press.

Fifty years ago with the invention of the computer.

In less than thirty years, it will end.

Jaan Tallinn stumbled across these words in 2007, in an online essay called Staring into the Singularity. The “it” was human civilisation. Humanity would cease to exist, predicted the essay’s author, with the emergence of superintelligence, or AI, that surpasses human-level intelligence in a broad array of areas.

Tallinn, an Estonia-born computer programmer, has a background in physics and a propensity to approach life like one big programming problem. In 2003, he co-founded Skype, developing the backend for the app. He cashed in his shares after eBay bought it two years later, and now he was casting about for something to do. Staring into the Singularity mashed up computer code, quantum physics and Calvin and Hobbes quotes. He was hooked.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/28/can-we-stop-robots-outsmarting-humanity-artificial-intelligence-singularity

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Smart talking: are our devices threatening our privacy?

On 21 November 2015, James Bates had three friends over to watch the Arkansas Razorbacks play the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Bates, who lived in Bentonville, Arkansas, and his friends drank beer and did vodka shots as a tight football game unfolded. After the Razorbacks lost 51–50, one of the men went home; the others went out to Bates’s hot tub and continued to drink. Bates would later say that he went to bed around 1am and that the other two men – one of whom was named Victor Collins – planned to crash at his house for the night. When Bates got up the next morning, he didn’t see either of his friends. But when he opened his back door, he saw a body floating face-down in the hot tub. It was Collins.

A grim local affair, the death of Victor Collins would never have attracted international attention if it were not for a facet of the investigation that pitted the Bentonville authorities against one of the world’s most powerful companies – Amazon. Collins’ death triggered a broad debate about privacy in the voice-computing era, a discussion that makes the big tech companies squirm.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/26/smart-talking-are-our-devices-threatening-our-privacy

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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We are already controlled by the digital giants, but Huawei’s expansion will usher in China-style surveillance

The media bombards us with news about the threats to our security: will China invade Taiwan as a punishment for the US trade war? Will the US attack Iran? Will the EU descend into chaos after the Brexit mess? But I think there is one topic which – in the long view, at least – dwarfs all others: the effort of the US to contain the expansion of Huawei. Why?

Today’s digital network controls and regulates our lives: most of our activities (and passivities) are now registered in some digital cloud that also permanently evaluates us, tracing not only our acts but also our emotional states. When we experience ourselves as free to the utmost (surfing in the web where everything is available), we are totally “externalised” and subtly manipulated. The digital network gives new meaning to the old slogan “the personal is political”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/huawei-5g-china-surveillance-social-credit-google-facebook-assange-a8912891.html

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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It’s not enough to break up Big Tech. We need to imagine a better alternative

As Facebook all but pleads guilty to a severe form of data addiction, confessing its digital sins and promising to reinvent itself as a privacy-worshiping denizen of the global village, the foundations of Big Tech’s cultural hegemony appear to be crumbling. Most surprisingly, it’s in the United States, Silicon Valley’s home territory, where they seem to be the weakest.

Even in these times of extreme polarization, Trump, who has habitual outbursts against censorship by social media platforms, eagerly joins left-wing politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in presenting Big Tech as America’s greatest menace The recent call by Chris Hughes, Facebook’s co-founder, to break up the firm hints at things to come.

Neither the Silicon Valley moguls nor financial markets seem to care though. The recent decision by Warren Buffet – one of America’s most successful but also most conservative investors –to finally invest in Amazon is probably a better indication of wait awaits the tech giants in the medium term: more lavish initial public offerings, more Saudi cash, more promises to apply artificial intelligence to resolve the problems caused by artificial intelligence.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/11/big-tech-progressive-vision-silicon-valley

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Behind Every Robot Is a Human

Hundreds of human reviewers across the globe, from Romania to Venezuela, listen to audio clips recorded from Amazon Echo speakers, usually without owners’ knowledge, Bloomberg reported last week. We knew Alexa was listening; now we know someone else is, too.

This global review team fine-tunes the Amazon Echo’s software by listening to clips of users asking Alexa questions or issuing commands, and then verifying whether Alexa responded appropriately. The team also annotates specific words the device struggles with when it’s addressed in different accents.

According to Amazon, users can opt out of the service, but they seem to be enrolled automatically. Amazon says these recordings are anonymized, with any identifying information removed, and that each of these recorded exchanges came only after users engaged with the device by uttering the “wake word.” But in the examples in Bloomberg’s report—a woman overheard singing in the shower, a child screaming for help—the users seem unaware of the device.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/amazon-workers-eavesdrop-amazon-echo-clips/587110/

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Capitalism’s New Clothes

In a series of remarkably prescient articles, the first of which was published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the summer of 2013, Shoshana Zuboff pointed to an alarming phenomenon: the digitization of everything was giving technology firms immense social power. From the modest beachheads inside our browsers, they conquered, Blitzkrieg-style, our homes, cars, toasters, and even mattresses. Toothbrushes, sneakers, vacuum cleaners: our formerly dumb household subordinates were becoming our “smart” bosses. Their business models turned data into gold, favoring further expansion.

Google and Facebook were restructuring the world, not just solving its problems. The general public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless. Zuboff saw a logic to this digital mess; tech firms were following rational—and terrifying—imperatives. To attack them for privacy violations was to miss the scale of the transformation—a tragic miscalculation that has plagued much of the current activism against Big Tech.

https://thebaffler.com/latest/capitalisms-new-clothes-morozov

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2019 in Economy, Reportages

 

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