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Comment How did FACEBOOK discriminate? (Score 2) 177

Suppose for the moment the story is true: people buying ad space from Facebook can ask the automated algorithm to only show their ads to certain demographics. Those who posted the ads may very well have violated the law, but how does it make Facebook responsible? They aren't checking each and every ad for legal compliance, after all, and the ads don't represent Facebook itself.

This is a moral point (Facebook shouldn't be held responsible for discriminatory content posted by users) but it may have legal teeth, depending on the previous contours of the liability shield of 47 USC 230.

Comment Exploits in the wild (Score 2) 101

The goal of keeping mum on security vulnerability until the vendor fixes it is to prevent potential attackers from learning about the vulnerability. The discoverer decides that users of the software are better off not knowing about the problem because they'd rather attackers don't know either.

Here, according to TFA, there are already exploits in the wild. In that situation MS users are already at risk; Google keeping mum can only hurt them (by keeping them ignorant of the vulnerability) but won't help (because the attackers already know).

Comment Experts disagree ... (Score 3, Informative) 204

Prof. Orin Kerr, a noted expert on the 4th Amendment and on computer crime law posted his negative reaction to this ruling; he has a longer commentary on this issue here

According to Prof. Kerr this is the third court of appeals to rule that that reading the stripes is "not a search", and that this runs counter to Supreme Court precedent such as Arizona v. Hicks .

Comment It's actually worse than you think (Score 1) 65

On the one hand, the story makes it clear that the camera is always on and viewable by authorities; the officer just has control on whether it is locally overwriting a 30-second buffer or keeping a complete record. So even if the officer "keeps it off" in the bathroom, his supervisors can still snoop on him (no sound is transmitted though).

On the other hand, I agree that there needs to be a rule requiring officers to turn the cameras on -- but I don't think that arrests without the camera on should be invalid. Police have been making valid arrests without cameras for a long time. Rather, when there is a dispute between the police and a member of the public about the interaction (say, did the officer use excessive force? did the suspect make a threatening motion?), if video is unavailble there should be a evidentialry presumption against the government (so by default their story is not believed if they can't produce the video). But this should be rebuttable -- if the camera really failed, for example (say it was damaged during the altercation) then we should be back in the pre-camera world of competing stories.

Comment Actually, it's ALWAYS ON (Score 1) 65

Read the story: the camera is actually continuously recording into a 30-second buffer. When the officer starts recording, the previous 30 seconds are uploaded as well as any ongoing video. This actually has serious privacy implications:

  1. Authorities can remotely access the feed even if the officer hasn't "turned on recording". They can even remotely record the feed independently of the officer. So now whenever you see a police officer the police may be recording you even if the officer says otherwise.
  2. The officer gets no privacy from his supervisors. He can't speak privately with his family members, or just talk to a shopkeeper.

That said, I agree that there should be an evidentiary presumption against the government whenever camera footage is claimed to be unavailable though it should be rebuttable (e.g. in the case of a true malfunction).

Comment You need to be a little more serious (Score 1) 191

There is no doubt that man-made CO2 emissions contribute significantly to the warming seen since the 19th Century, so that most of the warming since 1901 may be due to man-made emissions. Please clarify where in my post I asserted otherwise.

In other words, we both agree that "man-made CO2 emissions would warm things up". But the authors of the paper are relying on the assertion "all warming up is due to man-made CO2 emissions" and that is something else entirely.

The authors of the study claim they can separate the contribution to wildfire rates from "anthropogenic climate change" and "natural climate variability", but then it turns out that what they call "contribution from anthropogenic climate change" sensible people would call "the sum of contribution from anthropogenic climate change and natural variability" and what they call "contribution from natural variability" we would call "short-term fluctuations".

Please do me the courtesy of
1. Explaining why you think all warming since 1901 is due to man-made causes; or
2. Showing that I am misreading the paper's definition of "anthropogenic climate change"; or
3. Explaining why you think the authors are correct in their conclusions despite points 1 and 2.

Comment Semantic games grab headlines (Score 1) 191

As far as I can tell, the paper shows that temperature increases are correlated with more wildfires. Up to this point it's solid science. Then they then define "Anthropogenic climate change" to mean "temperature increases since 1901" and "climate variability" to mean "fluctuations about the trend since 1901" and conclude that the anthropogenic climate change has been the cause of wildfire. Here I call shenanigans.

When most people say "climate variability" (especially in contrast to "anthopogenic climate change") they don't simply refer to short-term fluctuations about the warming trend -- they refer to the part of the warming trend which represents long-term variability/change in the climate independent of human action. This paper doesn't try to separate warming due to human CO2 emissions from warming due to other causes, so it can't tell us which drives the trend in the wildfires.

Comment What's wrong with a McDonald's Free lunch? (Score 2) 164

Can you explain what would be wrong with McDonald's offering free lunches to some people? As long as no-one was coerced to accept these lunches, I'd say this would be a wonderful development.

It may be that these free lunches would be unhealthy, or that they would cause children to get used to eating a lot of McDonald's food. But the people who would be offered these lunches could decide for themselves whether they want the food. There are other ways of getting food too.

The situation here is the same: Facebook offering "free internet" which is primarily good for using Facebook is certainly good for Facebook. But since this offering doesn't prevent other ISPs from making competing offers (either free or for-pay), this offering simply provides people more choices which inherently cannot make them worse off. Are we really so much smarter than Facebook's potential customers that we know for sure that they would prefer no service to Facebook's crippled one?

Comment Isn't this just a name change? (Score 3, Insightful) 116

It's true today that old Nexus phones also don't get upgrades to the most recent Android versions -- only recent ones do. So the real question is: will future generations of Android only target newer versions of Pixel, or will buying a Pixel guarantee some number of Android updates?

Also, apps like Google's Assistant are not core operating system features. The worrisome sign would be not getting improvements to the underlying OS (such as to battery life or graphics performance), or even worse API incompatibilities for app developers.

Comment Panel on top is a feature? (Score 4, Insightful) 47

Features like "new icons", "new Applications Menu", "panel on top" etc requires hiring a programmer, there's something wrong with your desktop environment. These are all trivial configuration options which any user should be able to make for themselves.

Does the fact that my configuration files differ from the default ones mean that I created a new desktop environment?

Comment Re:What happened to personal choice? (Score 1) 104

... there are certain laws that Uber is required to comply with if it wishes to hire workers, whether they be contractors or actual employees ... they should not be able to require private arbitration against drivers who are trying to force Uber to live up to their legal obligations as an employer ... I believe that binding arbitration clauses are decidedly unfair and biased in favor of the company demanding the contract at the expense of the person who is forced to accept that contract

I don't doubt that you believe that the arbitration clause is unfair and biased -- but what you (or I) believe is irrelevant here, since it is the drivers who signed the contract. They evidently didn't believe the clause was unfair or biased -- after all they signed a the contract. We should respect their judgement.

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