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Submission + - Weapons of Math destruction

Presto Vivace writes: Welcome to the Black Box

So much of the discussion about the potential harms of surveillance and data collection are unfocused, and often when you’re in one of those conversations you end up with nothing more than a vague notion that that someday, maybe, bad things will happen. But destructive algorithms — “weapons of math destruction” — already exist and are already harming us. ... I designate “weapon of math destruction” as algorithms with three primary characteristics — they’re widespread, mysterious, and destructive. Widespread because I only care about algorithms that affect a lot of people and have important consequences for those people. So if the algorithm decides whether someone gets a job, or goes to jail for longer, or gets a loan, or votes, then it’s a big deal. ... I call WMDs mysterious because the algorithms I worry about are secret. They come from hidden formulas owned by private companies and organizations and are guarded as valuable “secret sauce.” That means the people targeted by their scoring systems are unaware of how their scores are computed, and they’re often even unaware that they are being scored in the first place.

Submission + - Canadians: you have until Oct 7 to weigh in on using voting machines

Presto Vivace writes: Canadians: you have until Oct 7 to weigh in on using voting machines in national elections

"Canadians have until October 7, 2016 to provide their feedback to the Parliamentary Special Committee on Electoral Reform, which is studying the possibility of national online voting, along with having consultations about using electronic voting machines in national elections."

Please Canada, don't be stupid like the US.

Submission + - Navy commits to OASIS for services

Presto Vivace writes: Federal Computer Week

According to the memorandum of understanding, the Navy is expected to obligate more than $500 million to the OASIS and OASIS Small Business contracts from February 2016 to December 2017. Navy officials said they will use the contracts for services related to program management, management consulting, logistics, engineering, and scientific and financial activities.

Submission + - Google's War on Trolls Could Help Save the Internet (

Lauren Weinstein writes: It has long seemed clear to me that appropriately dealing with the rising tide of trolls and other social media posting abuses would inevitably require an intensifying partnership between automated detection systems and human insights, each bringing different strengths and limitations to the table.

This is why I wholeheartedly support the ongoing efforts of Google (or more precisely, the "Jigsaw" division of Google's parent Alphabet, Inc.) to leverage Google's sophisticated and powerful artificial intelligence assets to help deal with the growing trolling and hate speech scourge.

Submission + - Surveillance Capabilities of Future Employee ID Badges

Presto Vivace writes: Bosses can take biometrics of employees with an ID badge that monitors motion and listens.

In the Washington Post, Jeff Heath tells the story of Humanyze, an employee analytics company that took technology developed at MIT and spun it into identification badges meant to hang off employees' necks via a lanyard. The badge has two microphones that do real-time voice analysis, with sensors that follow where you are and motion detectors that record how much you move while working.

A report in Bloomberg reveals the origins of the company. In 2014, 57 stock and bond traders "lent their bodies to science" by allowing MIT finance professor Andrew Lo to monitor their actions in a conference room. The study subjects were given a $3 million risk limit and told to make money in various markets. Lo discovered that the successful subjects were "emotional athletes. Their bodies swiftly respond to stressful situations and relax when calm returns, leaving them primed for the next challenge." Traders who encountered problems "were hounded by their mistakes and remained emotionally charged, as measured by their heart rate and other markers such as cortisol levels, even after the volatility subsided."

Submission + - How to Take Down the Internet

Presto Vivace writes: Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don't know who is doing this, but it feels like a large a large nation state.

Submission + - WikiLeaks drops latest Guccifer 2.0 data on Hillary Clinton, DNC, Democrats (

SonicSpike writes: WikiLeaks has published what purports to contain "new" Democratic Party documents hacked by the Guccifer 2.0 hacker.

The organisation posted a tweet at around 9am on Wednesday Sydney time, with links that promised access to 678.4 megabytes of new "DNC documents".

Initial images of what appeared to be presentation slides show information about databases used for voter identification and turnout efforts.

Other slides discuss the outcome of past get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was US secretary of state when WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of State Department emails in 2010.

The latest document dump comes after an earlier tranche of emails, reportedly hacked by Guccifer 2.0, prompted the resignation of politicians within the Democratic Party on the eve of the party's convention.

Submission + - Police forces are stockpiling massive databases with personal information

Presto Vivace writes: The Post and Courier

A person can end up in one of these databases by doing nothing more than sitting on a public park bench or chatting with an officer on the street. Once there, these records can linger forever and be used by police agencies to track movements, habits, acquaintances and associations – even a person’s marital and job status, The Post and Courier found in an investigation of police practices around the nation. ... What began as a method for linking suspicious behavior to crime has morphed into a practice that threatens to turn local police departments into miniature versions of the National Security Agency. In the process, critics contend, police risk trampling constitutional rights, tarnishing innocent people and further eroding public trust.

Submission + - State-by-State ISDS Liability

Presto Vivace writes: ISDS: Expanding Corporate Power to Attack Laws in Every State

The United States has largely avoided ISDS attacks because past treaties were with nations that did not have many investors here. But the TPP and a similar deal with European nations, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), would change that. Under existing U.S. treaties, other countries have paid nearly $3 billion to corporations for toxics bans, water and timber policies, land-use rules regulatory permits, and more. Another $70 billion in claims are now pending against climate and energy laws, medicine pricing policies, pollution cleanup orders and other public interest policies. ... Nationwide, the TPP would roughly double U.S. exposure to ISDS attacks and a TTIP would quadruple the exposure, spelling an unprecedented increase in U.S. ISDS liability.

Submission + - When your boss is an algorithm

Presto Vivace writes: In the gig economy, companies such as Uber and Deliveroo manage workers via their phones. But is this liberating or exploitative?

UberEats launched in London in June, promising “the food you want, from the London restaurants you love, delivered at Uber speed”. In a bid to recruit self-employed couriers to ferry food from restaurants to customers, UberEats initially offered to pay £20 an hour. But as customer demand increased, the company began to reduce pay. By August, the couriers were on a piece rate with a fiddly formula: £3.30 a delivery plus £1 a mile, minus a 25 per cent “Uber service fee”, plus a £5 “trip reward”. Then, one day, the couriers woke up to find the app had been updated again. The “trip reward” had been cut to £4 for weekday lunch and weekend dinner times, and to £3 for weekday dinner and weekend lunch times. Outside those periods, it had been cut altogether.

Submission + - Banks and data mining

Presto Vivace writes: Data Mining and the 'Creepy' Factor

Banks know a tremendous amount of personal information about their customers — what better insight is there than how people spend their money? — but given the amount of trust that is assumed in a banking relationship, they have to be especially careful about showing their customers they know them without creeping them out. ... "There are a lot of things that we could do with the data. But we have a strong set of rules and governance around how we use it, and we don't ever cross that line. We've done customer research to identify where that line is, and believe me, there is a lot of space between how we can improve the relevance and timeliness of what we say to our customers and that line.

Difficult not to be queasy about all this.

Submission + - Gates Foundation-Supported Nonprofit Puts $100K "Bounty" on John Oliver

theodp writes: "In case you missed it," writes the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss, "John Oliver recently did a segment on his HBO 'Last Week Tonight' show blasting troubled charter schools (YouTube) in several states around the country. It was very very funny — but charter supporters were not in the slightest bit amused. How annoyed were they? Well, the Washington-based Center for Education Reform [CER], a nonprofit pro-charter organization, is offering $100,000 to the school that creates the best rebuttal video to Oliver’s rant. Really. It’s called the 'Hey John Oliver! Back Off My Charter School!' Video Contest, and all applicants have to do is come up with a retort explaining why charters are fabulous — in no longer than three minutes — and properly submit their video." CER Supporters include the foundations of some of the nation's wealthiest families, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Coincidentally, Oliver blasted charters that suddenly and unexpectedly close their doors citing money woes, which happened at Gates Foundation-backed Bay Area High Tech High, where students recruited by a Bill Gates video were told that their school of the future had no future before it graduated its first class. In a nice circle-of-charter-life kind of thing, however, the building occupied by SV High Tech High was given to Summit Public Schools, the current fave charter of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Submission + - Apple's $7 billion interest bill

Presto Vivace writes: Apple's next problem is a $7 billion interest bill

Just when Apple chief executive Tim Cook's week looked like it couldn't get any worse after fielding a monster tax bill from the European Union, it now appears the US tech giant is also on the hook for an interest bill estimated at $US5.4 billion ($7.2 billion). ... That's on top of the $US14.5 billion tax bill that the EU ordered Ireland to levy on Apple on Tuesday, taking the total hit to Apple's bottom line to $US19.9 billion ($26.4 billion).

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