MED 123118


late city final – happy new year! 

Does AI make strong tech companies stronger?  [Benedict Evans] Hence the question: if ML lets you do new and important things and ML is better the more data you have, then how far does that mean that companies that are already big and have lots of data get stronger? How far are there winner-takes-all effects? It is easy to imagine virtuous circles strengthening a winner: ‘more data = more accurate model = better product = more users = more data’. From here it’s an easy step to statements like ‘Google / Facebook / Amazon have all the data‘ or indeed ‘China has all the data’ – the fear that the strongest tech companies will get stronger, as will countries with large populations and ‘permissive’ attitudes to centralised use of data. 

in related ‘permissive attitudes’ to biometric data are leading to highly emotional conversations of the most sensitive nature…+1 to the biometric overlords for using words like empathy in the story. 

Surprise DNA Results Are Turning Customer-Service Reps Into Therapists [bloomberg]  St Clair went on to start a Facebook group for people like her called DNA NPE Friends. NPE is short for “not parent expected.” It now has more than 4,000 members and is one of several such groups. Recently, St Clair began the process to register it as a nonprofit, advocating for emotional support for the thousands of people who take DNA tests and find out their family isn’t exactly the family they expected. (tl/dr the company knows whose your daddy but you didn’t-ED)

Pushed Even Further: US Newsrooms View Mobile Alerts as a Standalone Platform [cjr] One person from the Chicago Tribune whom we interviewed for this follow-up study emphasized that her outlet’s “approach to push alerts has changed drastically.” Another from The New York Times said it was  “a big moment for us as a newsroom to say: push is its own platform. It deserves to have all of the intention and critical thinking that the
front page does, that the home page does.”

Brave new world of impossible buildings  [ft] There is something very queasy about Enrich’s images, a destabilising of the familiar which makes us feel almost unbalanced. Enrich goes much further than the others. His blocks concertina and bend, they fly, they warp and they tilt. Towers look as if they’ve been unzipped.


MED 123018



Day 4 of The 35th CCC streams, schedule [] Catch up with yesterday watch – The year in post-quantum crypto []  This morning panels – check out:  Cat & Mouse: Evading The Censors In 2018  and Augmented Reality: Bridging The Gap Between The Physical And The Digital World

Google wins dismissal of facial recognition lawsuit over biometric privacy act 
[theverge]  Google has won a dismissal of a lawsuit over its facial recognition software.  The Illinois judge in the case granted Google a summary judgment based on a lack of ‘concrete injuries’ to plaintiffs. Reuters story has now joined the coverage.

Malware attack disrupts delivery of L.A. Times and Tribune papers across the U.S.  [latimes] “We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,”

‘Bird Box’ Viewed by 45 Million Netflix Members in First Week, Company Says – Netflix provided a bit more context on what its #BirdBox number means: the 45MM accounts were counted only after a view surpassed 70% of the movie’s 2 hr, 4 min total running time including credits. (Note: still not independently verifiable)

Investigating Apps interactions with Facebook on Android [privacyinternational] Key findings:

We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

We also found that some apps routinely send Facebook data that is incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive. Again, this concerns data of people who are either logged out of Facebook or who do not have a Facebook account.

Silicon Valley Hierarchy Of Needs  –  A take on Maslov’s view.

The Blockchain Is a Reminder of the Internet’s Failure  [Andrew Leonard] But if there is one thing that we should have learned from the history of the last 25 years, it is that digital networks and computers and code are no solution to human brokenness. With each passing day, the opposite seems more likely to be true. Pressure exerted by the Internet cracked some long-existing social fissures wide open.

Instead of gaining access to the library of all human knowledge, we ended up card-carrying members of Jorge Luis Borges’ “Library of Babel” — that infinite biblio-nightmare that stockpiled every possible iteration of gibberish along with the real books written in real languages.



MED 122918



Day 3 of The 35th Chaos Communication Congress streams //  schedule []

Two of the many excellent talks from yesterday…

The Ghost in the Machine – An Artificial Intelligence Perspective on the Soul [] “they learn what they are fed for.”

Introduction to Deep Learning  []

NIPS 2017 Test of Time Award “Machine learning has become alchemy.” | Ali Rahimi, Google

Crypto 101 – Introductory course on cryptography []

BFF project ‘Active against digital violence’

Introduction to Deep Learning  []

SoK: Fraud in Telephony Networks Using chatbots against voice spam: Analyzing Lenny’s effectiveness

A Gift for Music Lovers Who Have It All: A Personal Utility Pole [WSJ] Normal electricity just wouldn’t do anymore. To tap into what Mr. Morita calls “pure” power, he paid $10,000 to plant a 40-foot-tall concrete pole in his front yard

Lunch with the FT Snap’s chief Evan Spiegel: taming tech and fighting with Facebook  I suggest to Spiegel that just at the moment when Snapchat should have been seizing the advantage from a weakened Facebook, he shot himself in the foot. “Over the coming years, I think people will see the value in that change,” he argues. “If you’re going to make a transformation like that, it’s going to take time. We tried to warn people.

“ethos anthropoi daimon,” most often translated as – “man’s character is his fate.”

MED 122818


Day two of The 35th Chaos Communication Congress streams —-  schedule []

Hackers Make a Fake Hand to Beat Vein Authentication [motherboard] Security researchers disclosed new work at the Chaos Communication Congress showing how hackers can bypass vein based authentication.

Book The Black Image Corporation Editor: Theaster Gates [Prada Foundation] Milan 2018 – Cardboard box, 32 pp (Notebook) + 183 cards + 36 vellums; 366 ill.  Size: 17 x 22.6 cm

Book by Michelle Poon from Dim Sum Labs Hong Kong – The Field Guide to HackingIn The Field Guide to Hacking,  Check out her 35c3 talk from today on

Is Netflix’s global dominance a force for good or bad  [ft] “More shows, more watching; more watching, more subs; more subs, more revenue; more revenue, more content,”  (Rise, repeat -ED)

The shutdown is about to force the FTC to suspend its Facebook investigation, former officials say   [wapo]  A long-awaited federal probe into Facebook will be hamstrung when the agency conducting the investigation runs out of funding on Friday, according to former government officials.  (QED re worrying about the gov vs big business)

MED 122718

early morning edition


The 35th Chaos Communication Congress has begun, streams are up and the schedule is online []

Without trees we are lost [ft]  But we city dwellers, reared on concrete and litter-bins, are running out of distractions: the high streets are closing, our tiny magical computers teleport us to hell. Fortunately, in most towns, there remains one source of calm.

Hi, my name is ___, and I’m addicted to tech’ [ap]  It hasn’t been easy for her son, who still relapses every month or two with an extended online binge. He’s managed to keep his job. But sometimes, he wishes he could be more like his co-workers, who spend a lot of their leisure time playing video games and seem to function just fine.

Our Cellphones Aren’t Safe  [nyt] Anyone who can connect to the SS7 network can use it to track your location or eavesdrop on your phone calls. A more recent alternative to SS7 called Diameter suffers from many of the same problems.

Theaster Gates  NYT –  His ambition, he would argue, is more circumscribed. I’m super-interested in the color black, the history of black painting,” he said. “My daddy made black paintings on roofs.”

A Flood of Questionable Cryptocurrency Offerings [wsj]  Search for hundreds of projects showing signs of plagiarism, identity theft and promises of improbable returns.

Whats on Weibo Reporting social trends in China.

ICYMI Your weekly selection of awesome (holiday themed) robot videos [ieee]  We are at the point where you can curate a collection of robot Christmas card videos

MED 122618


Late City Final

What The California Wildfires Can Teach Us About Data Sharing [wired]

How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually. [nymag]

Sharing Data for Deals? More Like Watching It Go With a Sigh [nyt]

Digital Privacy Is a Big Concern in Europe. For This Reporter, Too. [nyt]

Why privacy regulations are no longer a pipe dream [axios]

When a Sponsored Facebook Post Doesn’t Pay Off  [theatlantic]

We finally started taking screen time seriously in 2018 [techcrunch]

The Histories Of Today’s Wars Are Being Written On Facebook And YouTube. But What Happens When They Get Taken Down? [buzzfeed]

NOAA Notice [twitter] []


Privacy is Power

The Abstracted Absent Arbiter or The New Other


The Abstracted Absent Arbiter or The New Other

The absent arbiter and providence obscurer are new mechanisms for control.

We are at the intersection of several concepts that have not fallen in place with such scale before. They form the steps towards a dystopian future, a place where provenance, disintermediation, anonymity, arbitration and AI all intersect.

When connected they raise the need …

  • For provenance across all digital assets. One of the greatest problems of our time.
  • To bring clarity to the abstraction and disintermediation of authority in critical decision making processes that impact our lives.
  • To implement AI’s with goals clearly stated and provenance established

This is important because the absent arbiter and providence obscurer make possible fake news, they make possible for accountability to be obscured.

We need to address provenance not for business need cases like tracking IP for profit, or DRM for protection, but more important – knowing source – is part of understanding truth, and that should supersede capitalistic or technological advancement needs.   Root always matters.

Visible examples of this abstraction when you are unnable to speak with a human on a help line,  or that decision making AI in a black-box abstracting us from the logic and the decision tree that changes your life.  These mechanisms of disintermediation are the ‘anonymity authority’ or ‘absent arbiters’.

Not coincidentally these are all intersections of AI optimization. Abstraction of authority in critical decision making is the mechanism that allows for the casualties of AI’s implementation.

Perhaps even more critical there is also the abstraction and appropriation or our cultural heritage . The corporate copyright against putting  ‘Hakuna Matata’  on a t-shirt  (like trademarking ‘good morning’ use on a tee-shirt). “It’s a common phrase we use every other day. No company can own it.”  Your history and language  “not yours” as the auctioneer says.  The provenance stolen, then claimed. Suddenly saying good morning in your native language on a t-shirt is a crime.

Numerous examples surface everyday in our lives. Located at the intersection of provenience and truth in the area of anonymity. Its at that intersection that we need to be most transparent – as these things ‘move men to action’ and change lives.  Our northern border legal immigration process is being abstracted by the current administration is another current example.

Without the ability to know the goal, motive and ownership of the new master abstractor we all  end up enslaved to prescribed fiction vs news and further disintermediated from things that move us forward. Be it basics like food, shelter, clothing  (2of3  of three are now services) to knowledge and wealth creation for prosperity.

MED 122418



Huawei Had a Deal to Give Redskins’ Fans Free Wi-Fi. Then the Government Stepped In.
[WAPO] a Huawei account tweeted: “Congrats on the great win last night. Can’t wait to see the first tweet from FedEx field via the new #Huawei Wi-Fi network.” The day after that tweet, Michael Wessel read a news article about the Huawei-Redskins deal. A member of a congressional research and advisory panel called the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Mr. Wessel said he asked a high-ranking government friend to call the Redskins.

35C3 – 35th Chaos Communication Congress December 27. through 30. 2018, Leipziger Exhibition Grounds, Leipzig :: The 35th Chaos Communication Congress (35C3) is an annual four-day conference on technology, society and utopia. The Congress offers lectures and workshops and various events on a multitude of topics including (but not limited to) information technology and generally a critical-creative attitude towards technology and the discussion about the effects of technological advances on society. 

Photo Wake-Up: 3D Character Animation from a Single Photo – Given a single photo as input (far left), we create a 3D animatable version of the subject, which can now walk towards the viewer (middle). The 3D result can be experienced in augmented reality (right); in the result above the user has virtually hung the artwork with a HoloLens headset and can watch the character run out of the painting from different views. Please see all results in the supplementary video.

No More Settlement Demands: New Rules for Canadian Copyright Notice-and-Notice System Receive Royal Assent   Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act that includes extensive copyright reforms, passed the Senate and received royal assent last week. With little fanfare, the rules for Canada’s copyright notice-and-notice have now changed. The law no longer requires Internet providers to forward notifications that include the following:

(a) an offer to settle the claimed infringement;
(b) a request or demand, made in relation to the claimed infringement, for payment or for personal information;
(c) a reference, including by way of hyperlink, to such an offer, request or demand; and
(d) any other information that may be prescribed by regulation





Privacy is Power

MED 122318


Early Morning Final

Inside Brazil’s Museu Nacional – Rediscover the collection before the fire in 2018.  On September 2nd 2018, a fire struck the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, one of the largest collections of natural history in the world. An estimated 20 million pieces were lost, including indigenous artifacts, dinosaur remains and the oldest human skeleton ever discovered in the Americas.Starting back in 2016.

Theaster Gates hits the floor at Park Avenue Armory  The Chicago artist will mill a portion of the period wood for the $4m project to replace the historic New York building’s floor

NYPL Top Checkouts of 2018  Jennifer Egan’s historical novel set in New York City topped the Library’s annual top checkouts list, which includes books and e-books from the Library’s collections. The New York Public Library—which includes 92 locations in The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—has about 20 million checkouts per year. (Staten Island list so telling.-ED)

Programming Medicine []  What is a medicine, really? From the days of aspirin from willow bark, medicine is as old as humanity itself: something humans have been discovering, designing, and creating for ages to help heal ourselves. But now, thanks to technology, we’re entering an entirely new age where the very definition of what a medicine is, is changing. In this talk given at a16z’s annual Summit event, Jorge Conde — general partner on the bio fund at Andreessen Horowitz — talks about how we are now harnessing and even programming biology itself in new modalities, from the cell to the gene to the living microbiome.

Update on Facebook’s Civil Rights Audit (PDF) [facebook]  In particular, civil rights groups identified the possibility of false information regarding voter registration requirements or voting logistics. Before the rise of social media, flyers containing false voting information were posted in minority neighborhoods – on street corners or in churches, schools, and public parks.  (ED NOTE: The report is filled with these type of analog comparisons -that are not corollary and try to act as justification with a ‘it’s been happening forever’ reasoning) Today, the same falsehoods may spread online as memes in Facebook’s News Feed, with the potential to reach millions of people in a short amount of time.

Trend 2018-2019: Censorship + content moderation

Google Takes Down Artstation Android App for Explicit Content [artstation]  We have been getting many questions from users asking what happened to the ArtStation Android App, as it seems to have disappeared from the Google Play Store. In the interest of transparency and keeping our users informed, we wanted to let you know what is happening. On Dec.10, 2018, unfortunately  Google suspended the ArtStation App from the Google Play store for the issue of Violation of Sexually Explicit Content policy. Google provided us with the following image as evidence of our violation.

YouTube’s Copyright Protection System is a Total Mess, Can it Be Fixed? YouTube users are becoming increasingly frustrated with the platform’s handling of copyright complaints. Legitimate videos are being claimed or removed based on false claims, either by automated mistakes or intentional abuse. Perhaps it’s time for YouTube to hold ‘abusive’ copyright holders responsible for their actions?

Year End Spots

These three end of year spots resonated. The fact that Google has even made an advertisement worth sharing is really telling. Their significant creative growth over the last few years, first design and now this.

Google really figuring out the way to being a fuzzy warm consumer brand you can related to vs a cold surveillance service they are.  Impressive in the same way that naming conventions for laws have become the inverse meaning of what they do example; patriot act, but I digress .

John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad 2018 (Elton)

Holiday — Share Your Gifts — Apple

Home Alone Again with the Google Assistant

Privacy Watch

BBC master troll of Zuck/Facebook   [twitter/bbc] “This is their information. They own it” “And you won’t sell it?” “No! Of course not.” Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, talking to the BBC in 2009. Digging through the BBC archives proved worthwhile as our interview with a younger Mark went viral this year. You all wanted to see.

‘Minority Report’ police computer is being used to ‘predict’ who is likely to commit crimes amid ethical concerns over £48million project  A £48m police computer system can predict who is most likely to commit crimes, The system can also predict victims and works by analyzing masses of data.


top img:  sequence from Wings of Desire 

Privacy is Power

MED 122218



Head-to-head evaluation of five password managers [medium] We created a detailed evaluation checklist and ran five password managers through the gauntlet: LastPass, 1PasswordDashlaneBitwarden, and Keeper. At the end of our evaluation, we decided that Bitwarden is the best choice for our company,..

Apple Transparency Report [apple] Apple is committed to your privacy and being transparent about government requests for customer data globally. This report provides information on government requests received.

Real-time air pollution map [purpleair] A PurpleAir sensor is an “Internet of things” (IOT) air quality sensor or particulate sensor consisting of the following elements….

The top 10 tools for journalism in 2018 – Here are the tools that I liked the most this year.

Closed, Proprietary, Felonious: The Toxic Rainbow of Locked Technology  There’s a saying in the software freedom movement: “if you can’t open it, it’s not yours.”

The Year in Artful Music: Sounds for Contemplation [artnews] Art rock list for 2018

DER SPIEGEL Reveals Internal Fraud  A DER SPIEGEL reporter committed large-scale journalistic fraud over several years. Internal clues and research have provided significant evidence against reporter Claas Relotius, who has since admitted to the falsifications and is no longer employed by DER SPIEGEL. Other media organizations may also have been affected.  (That hit job on small town America was not a good idea after all -ed)

Life of a Song Fairytale of New York — the Christmas song for people who hate Christmas songs “Fairytale of New York”, the 1987 hit single from The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York” was first conceived as a duet between MacGowan and Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan. In an early demo of the song, the lyrics are dramatically different (and often indecipherable); O’Riordan sounds unconfident, while MacGowan simply disappears towards the end – it’s not hard to imagine him staggering away from the microphone for a lie-dow

The 50 best TV shows of 2018: the full list

Last summer, the Second Circuit issued a positive, landmark decision on Use of Force and Qualified Immunity in our case on the NYPD’s use of a Sound Cannon at a  demonstration. Last night, NYC appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.NYC Mayor files an appeal to use Sound Cannons like they did during a black lives matter protest.  (Bill you don’t even show up as Mayor,  pretend to be of the people, then file this on xmas holdiday break – nice – ed)

 Decolonize This Place  Decolonize This Place is an action-oriented movement centering around Indigenous struggle, Black liberation, free Palestine, global wage workers and de-gentrification. Facilitated by MTL+ Collectiv

Privacy is Power