Automation Bias in the Abstraction Age

As I dug into the meaning behind the term automation bias, I became more horrified. The benign definition is as follows: “Automation bias is the propensity for humans to favor suggestions from automated decision-making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation, even if it is correct.” (1)

Horror #1 because this implies we are now in an age where we trust the machine more than we trust instinct and fact. We ignore gut feelings and certainties because we think the machine knows better.  And as James Bridle most recently put it, “Automation bias means that technology doesn’t even have to malfunction for it to be a threat to our lives” (2)

Horror #2 because this concept is easily abstracted out of our day-to-day lives and its social impact.   I have written about the age of abstraction and the dangers of putting complex things in a black box. Black boxes are scary because the info they house are viewable to a select audience. (control)

Horror #3 because when you couple automation bias with black box abstraction, the path to the final source of truth is obfuscated. No single person has a full view. it’s unclear if we would understand everything even if we could see all the parts anyway (oh joy) — but being abstracted out of both logic and code erases all possibility. 

We need to be in the era of certainty and clarity not doubt and abstraction. 

Media Monday

Apple iTunes EOL.
Live broadcast today Apple WWDC19 –  10:00 a.m. PDT

The discontinuation of iTunes is good news.  iTunes was always a glorified spreadsheet never a solution. Glad to see it go, and welcome new media compartmentalization + specialization applications.  It sets the table for Apple to move properly into the TV media space.

National Broadcast

The New York Times new television series — The Weekly — debuted on Sunday

CBS News– CBS This Morning is now CTM. They blew up the talent pool and new anchor configurations are in place. The ratings up the first week of Gayle TV. Ratings for the program posted 3.1 million total viewers, up .1 from the normal 3M. I stopped watching and tune in to WPIX morning show – they took the emmy this year.

Youtube’s Algorithm

YouTube continues to fall far from any kind of meaningful curation or relevant discovery– failing hard and to the right.   This week attention to the profiting from racism and homophobia is just another in an endless list of examples. (new one from this morning – not kidding – it’s hard to keep up)

How hard would it be to follow all videos with a proper class of video content. Even if they just defaulted to PSA’s and educational programing they would be miles ahead of the hate discovery monetization algo in place now.

Link Round-up

Open Up vs Break UP – AVC
Jeff Bezos: Big Things Start Small : interview – fsblog
Twitter buys Fabula.AI – Fabula.AI
What Happens When the Copyright Pirate Is State Government? [hr]
From Verbs to War: In Conversation With Steven Pinker – MIT Press
Annie Lennox: ‘Now I Let You Go…’ Mass MOCA
A Photographer & the Complicated Legacy of ‘Heroin Chic – Guardian
The Artificial Intelligence-of-the-public-intellectual – Longreads
Jerry Saltz, New York’s Wonderfully Provocative Art Critic – Medium
Inequality Atlas – MIT

A design for living

Amazon’s Plan to Move in to Your Next Apartment Before You Do [wsj] Last November, Amazon announced its partnership with Zego, now a subsidiary of PayLease, one of the largest rent-payment ser- vices in the U.S. Zego has created a system that allows tenants to control their apartment’s thermo- stat and locks using Alexa technology and an app. —– The system is already in more than 30,000 apartments across the U.S. (Surveillance economy infected apartments-ED)

Have addressed this larger embed strategy previously. Be it the above example, or many others, location tracking, etc before society can reckon with their impact and legality. This trend of in apartment surveillance being acceptable for renters (Hudson Yards cameras for low income housing) You start to see a dangerous deployment trend move unchecked.

“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” Facebook counsel Orin Snyder said during a pretrial hearing to dismiss a lawsuit stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Just remember that when you here Facbook CEO and employees talk about privacy.

iPhone Privacy Is Broken…and Apps Are to Blame [wsj] Sephora? Ten third-party trackers. The company said it uses the data to improve customer experiences through personalization. Meditation apps surprised me with an average of six trackers each.—And yes, The Wall Street Journal’s iPhone app had five trackers, including Facebook, Google, some analytics services and the market- ing firm AppsFlyer. (Good for them for calling out their own publication- ED)

Blockchain Settlement Was Slow, Costly in Trial, Weidmann Says [bloomberg] advocates of distributed ledger technology say it has the potential to be cheaper and faster than current settlement mechanisms, Jens Weidmann said the Bundesbank project did not bear those out.

Six lessons from my deepfake research at Stanford How should we journalists address the growing problem of synthetic

  • Are there any glitches and inconsistencies in the video or audio?
  • Do you trust the source?
  • Can you find corroborating footage?
  • How can journalists examine the geo-location and other meta-data?

Link Round up

Ethics: Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019 – a crowdsourced google doc of #museum salaries
Tool: – Another list of Google alternatives
Art: PIPILOTTI RIST – Åbn min lysning (Open My Glade)
High Art: Richard Prince and the New Meaning of High Art
Read: New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future (now in paperback a perfect beach read)


Finn Wolfhard , Calpurnia frontman + Stranger Things actor looking a lot like Bob Dylan in this leather bike/varsity jacket combo in this Saint Laurent advert that ran full page in todays WSJ.

Manifest v3, Facebook + NSA, Age-gate, WPLJ Signs off.

Irish Supreme Court Dismisses Facebook’s Complaint on NSA Surveillance [pdf] Facebook’s application was denied in substance (copy of today’s judgment). While the Supreme Court found that it has the jurisdiction to intervene with a lower court’s reference, Facebook was unable to substantiate the application and the Supreme Court decided to not take the actions requested by Facebook.

What If Google’s `Knowledge Panels’ Insist You’re Dead? Or Married? Or French? [wsj] Google’s algorithm wraps up people, places and things into boxes the company calls “knowledge panels.” The panels gather information from Wikipedia and many other sources on the internet.

Brookings Discussion with CIA Privacy & Civil Liberties Officer
Benjamin Huebner
, the CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officer, spoke on the balance of transparency and secrecy at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

Behavioral Ad Targeting Not Paying Off for Publishers, Study Suggests – [wsj]  Publishers’ inability to benefit much from behavioral targeting could have implications for policy as lawmakers in Washington, D.C., debate the shape of national privacy legislation. The ad industry is pushing for new federal rules, partly to head off the risk of a state-by-state patchwork of privacy laws, following the passage of California’s own privacy regulations.

Tech and media companies reject UK ‘age-gate’ proposals [ft] A six-week consultation on the proposed rules will close on Friday, but companies and industry groups have loudly pushed back on the plans, cautioning that they could unintentionally quash start-ups and endanger people’s personal data. Google and Facebook are also expected to submit critical responses to the consultation.

As mentioned yesterday Google to Restrict Modern Ad Blocking Chrome Extensions to Enterprise Users [googledoc] This at the same time Firefox has deployed a build that allows users to block known cryptominers and fingerprinters in the Custom settings of their Content Blocking preferences. (<—click here now, modify yours)

NYC Broadcast notes: WPLJ 95.5 signs off today after a long run. If you lived in the tri-state area you listened to this station at some point in your life.  Also yesterday Diana Williams 40 years an anchor on Eyewitness News signed off on-air last night.

As one friend wrote on Twitter – “grew up with a radio and tape recorder next to my bed ready to hit record at any moment during PLJ’s core album rock phase. My teachers were Jim Kerr, Pat St. John, Jimmy Fink and Carol Miller. RIP WPLJ

Link round up….. coming up

Brainwash Dataset, UCCS

Colorado students unknowingly photographed for facial recognition study The Denver Post reported Monday that the images were posted online and were available to be downloaded from 2016 until April of this year. Professor Terrance Boult, who ran the project, and university officials defended the project to the Post.

Brainwash is a dataset of webcam images taken from the Brainwash Cafe in San Francisco  The Brainwash dataset includes 11,917 images of “everyday life of a busy downtown cafe” and is used for training head detection surveillance algorithms – The Brainwash dataset is unique because it uses images from a publicly available webcam that records people inside a privately owned business without any consent. No ordinary cafe customer would ever suspect that their image would end up in dataset used for surveillance research and development, but that is exactly what happened to customers at Brainwash cafe in San Francisco.

Police in Canada Are Tracking People’s ‘Negative’ Behavior in a ‘Risk’ Database [vice] That said, the results from our initial tournaments are promising. So far, we’ve found that when three radio networks share the spectrum, their predictions are much better than when four or five teams try to share the same amount. But we’re not done yet, and our teams are currently building even better systems. Perhaps, on 23 October 2019 at SC2’s live championship event at Mobile World Congress Americas, in Los Angeles, those systems will demonstrate, more successfully than ever before, that AI-operated radios can work together to create a new era of wireless communications.

DIY Facial Recognition for Porn Is a Dystopian Disaster In a Monday post on Weibo, the user, who says he’s based in Germany, claimed to have “successfully identified more than 100,000 young ladies” in the adult industry “on a global scale.”

Loro (Them)  Krzysztof Wodiczko, 2019  During the live performance, a swarm of customized drones carrying LED screens and amplified sound will implicate the public in a series of intimate debates led by immigrant Milanesi. The eyes and the voice of the airborne machines will belong to a cast of migrants ranging in immigration experience, national origin, and age.

Amazon defeated Rekognition revolt by a large margin [bbc] “My office has had nine meetings with representatives from Amazon. We ask questions of experts across the spectrum, and my concerns only grow day by day,” commented Democrat congressman Jimmy Gomez. “Shareholders did not not end up passing a ban of Rekognition… and you know what? That just means it’s more important Congress acts.” Republican congressman Jim Jordan added: “It is virtually unregulated but I think that frankly that needs to change.”

The Missing WireGuard Documentation:Setup, Usage, Configuration, and a full example for server-to-server VPN with roaming clients & public peers.


Waterfox – Browser
The Future of Augmented Reality []
How to set your Google account to delete itself after you die [cnbc]
The Sound of Data
Speech2Face: Learning the Face Behind a Voice
Arab Image foundation

Post Holiday Long Reads + Links

Can data ever know who we really are? [medium] Identities are fluid. Who I am at any given time depends on a confluence of factors, the context of the situation I’m in. Sometimes I might want to perform one element of my identity more than another. And that choice is, or should be, mine to decide — it changes based on who I’m with, what I want to project, what’s important to me at that time.

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper [theatlantic] The sharp decrease in the circulation of books also obviously coincides with the Great Recession and with the steady decline of humanities majors, as students have shifted from literature, philosophy, and history to STEM disciplines—from fields centered on the book to fields that emphasize the article.

It’s the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to?
[wapo] “This is your data. Why should it even leave your phone? Why should it be collected by someone when you don’t know what they’re going to do with it?” says Patrick Jackson, a former National Security Agency researcher who is chief technology officer for Disconnect. He hooked my iPhone into special software so we could examine the traffic. “I know the value of data, and I don’t want mine in any hands where it doesn’t need to be,” he told me.


The Need For Speed : 5G

Struggling to make a list of apps or utilities on my phone where 5G becomes a game changer.

Yes streaming could be better — but it’s not unusable, and with the collapse of net neutrality who knows what true though-put will happen if you are on a competitive network .

Does my email need to be faster? do texts or maps or any of the basic utilities? What exactly are the immersive experiences?

How essential is any of this past the need for better coverage and signal. Best I can tell for the first few years 5G will make your phone work like you expected it to.

At this point it’s unclear with 5G, one minute it’s a national threat– the next– a negotiation tactic. It’s not one but two attack vectors and it hasn’t been deployed. NYT: Russia is attacking 5G with health disinformation campaigns – Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise.

Surveillance photography books, Progress on the Digital Divide

Surveillance Index Edition One  


Two arts focused privacy books: One I published regarding surveillance impact on photography — Surveillance Index Edition One  and one on a exhibition I co-curated/ named — Public, Private, Secret: On Photography and the Configuration of Self   (Mentioning them because the later is on-sale as a part of Apertures sale and the former (Edition One) now come with amazing black/silver bags + posters with each order.)

Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution For the Web available for testing in Safari Technology Preview 82+  Click attribution sans invasive cross-site tracking. (We see your cross-site tracking and deny it – ed)


Deep Flow-Guided Video Inpainting Following the guide of the completed flow, the missing video regions can be filled up precisely. Our method is evaluated on DAVIS and YouTube-VOS datasets qualitatively and quantitatively, achieving the state-of-the-art performance in terms of inpainting quality and speed. (wow!)

In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc [nyt] Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard. (zero-day exploits and warez based on them should not be in the wild, the holes should be fixed)

Ethics + Diversity

US tech giants/diversity: not as advertised [FT]  Google is 68 per cent male. A rock bottom 3 per cent of the workforce is black

Video from the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide 2019 International Conference (5/22) – PPDD 2019 is particularly significant as it marks the 25th anniversary of the recognition of the digital divide through social scientific research – Internet for everyone (excellent talk)


What Happens When Site-Specific Art Outlasts Its Surroundings? [nyt] The Olayan Group, the investors who own the building, have so far agreed only to communicate with Rockburne, who currently has a long-term installation at Dia:Beacon in upstate New York, through a second party. The firm says her paintings are still in place, “fully protected,” and that they are “safeguarding their future,” but Rockburne doubts they will survive the interior renovations that were announced in December. According to the artist, there is nowhere else for the murals to go. (I have pictures of my department in front of these significant works -(the first digital marketing team in music) they and other art in the building was because Mickey Schulhoff had a good modicum of taste and all of us working there then had a charmed existence + corporate environment)

71,716 video tapes in 12,094 days On November 4, 1979 Marion Stokes began systematically video taping television news and continued for more than 33 years, until the day she died (there used to be online something called the Guttenberg project – the top headlines on each news cast every day in text – wish I could find that again)

Help – Looking for a good 3d printer to print things…
Lincoln 3d Scans The Collection, Lincoln & Oliver Laric
Harriet Tubman Stamp


The Concert Industry’s New Star Moneymaker: The Aisle Seat [billboard]
The Telnet BBS Guide
When Fake News Comes to Academia [lawfare blog]
Form S-1 Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. [sec]

manipulated media

A significant ‘manipulated media’ incident yesterday, With two separate doctored videos circulating, both focused on the mental health of the officers in the highest positions in the country.  

Manipulated Media Swarms

This narrative is not new it also took place in the last election cycle. This post is not about politics it’s about the use of swarm behaviors on social media driven by manipulated media produced to drive men to action.

Legacy Media Reinforcement

First slowed-down footage made to make The Speaker of the House look drunk clocked millions of views on Facebook. Then a doctored [change the content or appearance of in order to deceive; falsify.] clip of stumbles also towards the ends of illustrating mental instability was RT by the POTUS then verbally followed up at an media event .

Never Goes Away

Warnings about being manipulated by deep fake video footage is prevalent in the news.  While that my be a danger a much lower tech of altered, edited and ultimately doctored video that spreads on social media is working just fine.

These digital swarms targeted with harms before content is flagged, identified, qualified and more often than not — never ‘taken down’.  In a rare case of a take down the material never disappears it only gets renamed and populates again to other accounts and networks.

Cheap Fakes Big Distraction

Threat scenarios around deep-fake videos speak of the perfect combo of early generation mobile handsets, poor picture quality due to bandwidth in 3rd world countries as the example environment for manipulated videos to spread.

Yesterday here in the US doctored, edited slowed-down footage playing out on iPhones and the web with an audience of ripe receptors worked just fine. The term ‘cheap fake’ is also what we are falling for and talking about vs issues at hand. Look over here.

Digital Literacy.

Our collective digital literacy is an all time low- dispute the text, question the camera, deny the video. All video networks need to label manipulated media ASAP. There are unique qualities to un-edited, edited, and manipulated we need to unpack them and the language around this media better.

Ethics effecting the bottom line


When Some of the Best-Attended Exhibitions in Museums Are Protests, Where Do Institutions Go from Here? Whereas public protests in the 1990s came mostly from the right over controversial artworks in what was called the “culture wars,” the new wave of protests is more concerned with social justice issues and is harder to dismiss

Republicans, Democrats blast facial recognition technology [WashingtonPost] Committee chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) said “there’s a lot of agreement” among lawmakers that the technology should be regulated. The question, he said, is whether the systems should face a moratorium while the technology is assessed or refined, or whether it should banned outright.

Amazon Is Working on a Device That Can Read Human Emotion [bloomberg] A U.S. patent filed in 2017 describes a system in which voice software uses analysis of vocal patterns to determine how a user is feeling, discerning among “joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.”

JPMorgan cuts ties with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma PMorgan told Purdue that reputational risks associated with the public backlash against the drugmaker informed its decision to cut business ties, the sources added.

The NYT today used the term “Virtual Cage top of page above the fold in a story about the harms of surveillance.


Social Media Monitoring – How the Department of Homeland Security Uses Digital Data in the Name of National Security [brennancenter] this report seeks to map out the department’s collection, use, and sharing of social media information by piecing together press reports, information obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, Privacy Impact Assessments, System of Records Notices (SORNs), departmental handbooks, government contracts, and other publicly available documents.