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Third of all honeybee colonies in England did not survive winter - The Guardian

Third of all honeybee colonies in England did not survive winter - The Guardian | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"More than a third of all honeybee colonies in England died over the winter, according to figures from the British Beekeepers Association..."

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Gentlemachines
What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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The Crowdsourcing Scam - The Baffler

The Crowdsourcing Scam - The Baffler | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
In 1968 a Norwegian science fiction writer named Tor Åge Bringsværd published a peculiar short story called “Codemus.” The story has achieved the kind of retrospectively prophetic quality that makes sci-fi such a useful imaginative... Read More »
Artur Alves's insight:

«

When companies use the word “crowdsourcing”—a coinage that suggests voluntary democratic participation—they are performing a neat ideological inversion. The kind of tentative employment that we might have scoffed at a decade or two ago, in which individuals provide intellectual labor to a corporation for free or for sub-market wages, has been gussied up with the trappings of technological sophistication, populist appeal, and, in rare cases, the possibility of viral fame. But in reality, this labor regime is just another variation on the age-old practice of exploiting ordinary workers and restructuring industrial relations to benefit large corporations and owners of the platforms serving them. The lies and rhetorical obfuscations of crowdsourcing have helped tech companies devalue work, and a long-term, reasonably secure, decently paying job has increasingly become a MacGuffin—something we ardently chase after but will likely never capture, since it’s there only to distract us from the main action of the script.

«

 

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Microsoft turns to robotic security guards to watch for trouble - PCWorld

Microsoft turns to robotic security guards to watch for trouble - PCWorld | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
A robotic security force from robotics company Knightscope helps patrol Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus.
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GM's hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history

GM's hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
As the sun was setting on a stormy Georgia day, Brooke Melton was 30 miles outside of Atlanta in her Chevy Cobalt. It was March 10, 2010, her birthday, and the 29-year-old pediatric nurse was on he...
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Is the EU Giving Up on Net Neutrality? | La Quadrature du Net

Is the EU Giving Up on Net Neutrality? | La Quadrature du Net | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

After EU Commissioner Oettinger's outrageous blog post, the bad news keeps on coming from the front of Net Neutrality. The principle, strongly defended by the Members of the European Parliament on April 3rd is worryingly jeopardized by an agreement currently discussed within the Council of the European Union. Governments are about to give in to the demands of big telecom operators by creating Internet fast-lanes whose access will be sold to dominant online services like YouTube or Netflix. Such unacceptable move, amounting to discriminating communications of all EU citizens, must be denounced by our representatives at the EU Parliament!

Artur Alves's insight:

«

The proposal of the Italian Presidency suggests, inter alia, the deletion of “Net Neutrality” and “specialised services” definitions, which erases all the protections that the European Parliament brought to the open Internet against the harmful commercial strategies of the Internet biggest companies.

Furthermore, the Italian Presidency – and many other Member States, like France, seem to welcome the idea – also proposes to limit the restrictions imposed on the ISPs, for the implementation of traffic management measures. In particular, the text would allow websites censorship decided by government agencies in charge of regulating the telecom sector without any judicial intervention.

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A Course Called “Wasting Time on the Internet” - The New Yorker

A Course Called “Wasting Time on the Internet” - The New Yorker | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

by Kenneth Goldsmith

Artur Alves's insight:

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Distraction and split attention will be mandatory. So will aimless drifting and intuitive surfing. The students will be encouraged to get lost on the Web, disappearing for three hours in a Situationist-inspired dérive, drowsily emerging from the digital haze only when class is over. We will enter a collective dreamspace, an experience out of which the students will be expected to render works of literature. To bolster their practice, they’ll explore the long history of the recuperation of boredom and time-wasting, through critical texts by thinkers such as Guy Debord, Mary Kelly, Erving Goffman, Raymond Williams, and John Cage.

Nothing is off limits: if it is on the Internet, it is fair play. Students watching three hours of porn can use it as the basis for compelling erotica; they can troll nefarious right-wing sites, scraping hate-filled language for spy thrillers; they can render celebrity Twitter feeds into epic Dadaist poetry; they can recast Facebook feeds as novellas; or they can simply hand in their browser history at the end of a session and present it as a memoir.

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The Myth Of AI - Jaron Lanier | Edge.org

The Myth Of AI - Jaron Lanier | Edge.org | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Artur Alves's insight:

«The idea that computers are people has a long and storied history. It goes back to the very origins of computers, and even from before. There's always been a question about whether a program is something alive or not since it intrinsically has some kind of autonomy at the very least, or it wouldn't be a program. There has been a domineering subculture—that's been the most wealthy, prolific, and influential subculture in the technical world—that for a long time has not only promoted the idea that there's an equivalence between algorithms and life, and certain algorithms and people, but a historical determinism that we're inevitably making computers that will be smarter and better than us and will take over from us. ...That mythology, in turn, has spurred a reactionary, perpetual spasm from people who are horrified by what they hear.«

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How Numbers on Facebook Change Behavior

How Numbers on Facebook Change Behavior | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The Facebook Demetricator shows we like liking a little too much.
Artur Alves's insight:
« Sure, Facebook addiction is probably the oldest social-network-related epidemic, but Grosser's tool allowed users to experience a pressure-free Facebook. This experience demonstrated that metrics changed user behavior by encouraging competition (the more likes, the better), emotional manipulation (deleting posts when there weren't enough likes), reaction (liking more recent posts instead of older ones), and homogenization (liking because others liked). Put simply, the numbers encouraged users to feel compelled to want more numbers. For example, friend count is seen as a mark of status because Facebook places a small "+1" next to the "Add Friend" button. Even if the user isn't aware of doing so, the number encourages her to make more connections, because she's shown that adding a friend is a positive action. That results in an overall and innate need for more on Facebook «
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Five Ways to Lie with Charts - Nautilus

Five Ways to Lie with Charts - Nautilus | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
A chart’s purpose is usually to help you properly interpret data. But sometimes, it does just the opposite. In the right (or wrong)…
Artur Alves's insight:

«

1. puzzling perspective

2. swindling shapes

3. trendsetters are tricksters

4.hiding in plain sight

5. shrinking the scale

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Intelligence world is an onion: the more layers you strip away, the more likely you are to cry

Intelligence world is an onion: the more layers you strip away, the more likely you are to cry | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
One method for safeguarding online anonymity is Tor, “the onion router”, whose name comes from its method of adding and stripping away encryption layer by layer as messages pass from one node to another…...
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Hungary suspends internet tax after huge protests

Hungary’s prime minister said the government would suspend a planned tax on Internet use and reconsider the matter next year.


Via Luca Baptista
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GamerGate is about Harassment, the Data (unsurprisingly) Shows

GamerGate is about Harassment, the Data (unsurprisingly) Shows | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Analysis by Newsweek found that Twitter users tweeting the hashtag #GamerGate direct negative tweets at critics of the gaming world more than they do at the journalists whose coverage they supposedly want scrutinized.
Artur Alves's insight:

A slightly ridiculous quantitative analysis showing the obvious with "data", i.e., Twitter message counts and sentiment analysis.

 

«Newsweek asked BrandWatch, a social media analytics company, to dig through 25 percent of the more than 2 million tweets about GamerGate since September 1 to discover how often Twitter users tweeted at or about the major players in the debate, and whether those tweets were positive, negative or neutral.

 

(...)

“I've played games for most of my life and never felt like an outsider until the recent GamerGate issues came up,” Mia Consalvo, a researcher in game studies and design at Concordia University, told Newsweek. “It became an 'us' vs. 'them,' where suddenly some people were trying to take games away from” people, she said. “Lots of people play games, including the young, old, men and women, on consoles, computers, tablets and phones. What's sad to see about the current issues is that such experiences are being erased—instead, notions of gameplay are reverting back to old stereotypes about young boys and men who play AAA games for many hours a week. Those people are still a part of the culture, but now only one piece of a larger system of players.”

(...)

 

Brandwatch found most tweets were neutral in sentiment. And tweets directed at Grayson and Totilo were, on average, more negative than those directed at Quinn, Wu or Sarkeesian. But Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian were on the receiving end of more negative tweets overall than Grayson, Totilo and Kotaku, which suggests that, contrary to its stated goal, GamerGate spends more time tweeting negatively at game developers than at game journalists—a fact Intel, Mercedes, and Adobe should have researched before they pulled ads from news sites.«

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With Rooms, Facebook Rides a Wave of Web 1.0 Nostalgia

With Rooms, Facebook Rides a Wave of Web 1.0 Nostalgia | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
On the internet, past is prologue.
Artur Alves's insight:
« To anyone born before, say, 1991, Rooms will feel familiar. Essentially, it's a retro reboot of Metafilter, Usenet, IRC, and other Web 1.0 platforms where people congregated to discuss their interests. It's the first Facebook-designed app that looks backward in internet time — to the web we used to have, before Snapchat and Twitter and Facebook itself changed the ways we communicated. And it's an attempt, I think, to bring some of the self-policing instincts of those early communities to bear in the new world of anonymous apps, with all the bad actors those apps tend to enable. That's not an accident. Miller says he consulted with the proprietors of those Web 1.0 communities while building Rooms, people like Metafilter's Matt Haughey, in an attempt to capture some of the atavistic intrigue of those early sounding boards while keeping the space safe from trolls and harassers. «
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Online Harassment

Online Harassment | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
40% of internet users have personally experienced online harassment, from the mild to the severe; 73% have witnessed it happen to others.
Artur Alves's insight:

«

Pew Research asked respondents about six different forms of online harassment. Those who witnessed harassment said they had seen at least one of the following occur to others online:

60% of internet users said they had witnessed someone being called offensive names53% had seen efforts to purposefully embarrass someone25% had seen someone being physically threatened24% witnessed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time19% said they witnessed someone being sexually harassed18% said they had seen someone be stalked

«

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Rewilding projects aim to turn back clock on environment - CBC.ca

Rewilding projects aim to turn back clock on environment - CBC.ca | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
After centuries of negative human impact on our landscapes, some people are calling for 'rewilding' programs to allow landscapes to return to a more natural state.
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Taxpayers to fund hundreds of fracking boreholes across the UK- The Guardian

Taxpayers to fund hundreds of fracking boreholes across the UK- The Guardian | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Drilling of holes to monitor ground movement and water pollution slammed as an attempt to dupe public over shale gas safety
Artur Alves's insight:

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Hundreds of government-funded boreholes are set to be drilled across Britain to try to persuade the public that a looming shale gas boom can be developed safely, the Observer has learned. Sensors in the boreholes would detect possible water pollution or earthquakes caused by fracking and the information would be made public.

“We will be taking the pulse of the sub-surface environment and will reveal if things are going wrong, but also if they are going right,” said Professor Mike Stephenson, director of science and technology at the British Geological Survey, which would drill the boreholes. “The aim is to reassure people that we can manage the sub-surface safely.”

The plan, called the energy security and innovation observing system, will cost taxpayers £60m-£80m. It is awaiting final approval from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where energy minister Matthew Hancock, a fracking enthusiast, holds another ministerial post.

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Firestone and the Warlord

In the first detailed examination of the relationship between Firestone and Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, this ProPublica/Frontline investigation lays bare the role of a global corporation in a brutal African conflict.
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Largest Cyber-Attack in History Hits Pro-Hong Kong Protest Websites

Largest Cyber-Attack in History Hits Pro-Hong Kong Protest Websites | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
DDoS attacks against pro-Occupy Central websites have been described as the biggest cyber-attacks in history
Artur Alves's insight:

«A series of cyber attacks against websites supporting Occupy Central protestors in Hong Kong have been described as the biggest cyber attacks ever recorded.

Over the last few months two independent news websites which have been covering the Occupy Central protests which began in September following the announcement of a decision by China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on proposed electoral reform.

The websites, Apple Daily and PopVote, have been vocal supporters of the pro-democracy protests and even carried out mock chief executive elections for Hong Kong. Cloudflare, a company which is employed to protect websites against distributed denial of service attacks, has revealed thatsince June, these two websites have been bombarded by attacks of unprecedented size.«

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The new “Assassin’s Creed” game is reviving an ancient debate over the French Revolution

The game is ruffling a few feathers in France.
Artur Alves's insight:

The centuries old debate on the legacy of the French Revolution is perhaps worth rekindling in this time of massive inequality.

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The Creepy New Wave of the Internet by Sue Halpern

The Creepy New Wave of the Internet by Sue Halpern | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
As human behavior is tracked and merchandized on a massive scale, the Internet of Things creates the perfect conditions to bolster and expand the surveillance state.
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Condemnation mounts against ISP that sabotaged users’ e-mail encryption

Condemnation mounts against ISP that sabotaged users’ e-mail encryption | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Researchers say AT&T subsidiary thwarted STARTTLS protection, sent e-mail in clear.
Artur Alves's insight:

«

Digital rights advocates are doubling down on their criticism of a US-based ISP suspected of performing encryption downgrade attacks that caused customers' e-mail to remain in plaintext as it passed over the Internet.

«

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Barack Obama’s support for net neutrality sets precedent for the rest of the world

Barack Obama’s support for net neutrality sets precedent for the rest of the world | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Obama’s statement, which asks the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement rules banning blocking, throttling or paid prioritisation online, could prove to be an important precedent for the rest of the world. The president said broadband service was “of the same importance, and must carry the same obligations” as services such as the telephone network, and asked the FCC to classify it as such. For proponents of net neutrality in Britain and elsewhere, having such a powerful supporter to point to is important.

It also bolsters the case for considering internet access as a right that should be safeguarded by government, something suggested by Britain’s Labour Digital group, which proposed that “government should assess the viability of providing free basic internet access to all citizens, possibly as a requirement for participation in 5G auctions, or targeted at children eligible for free school meals”.
Artur Alves's insight:

the ball is now on the hands of the FCC

«

Obama’s statement, which asks the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement rules banning blocking, throttling or paid prioritisation online, could prove to be an important precedent for the rest of the world. The president said broadband service was “of the same importance, and must carry the same obligations” as services such as the telephone network, and asked the FCC to classify it as such. For proponents of net neutrality in Britain and elsewhere, having such a powerful supporter to point to is important.

It also bolsters the case for considering internet access as a right that should be safeguarded by government, something suggested by Britain’s Labour Digital group, which proposed that “government should assess the viability of providing free basic internet access to all citizens, possibly as a requirement for participation in 5G auctions, or targeted at children eligible for free school meals”.

«

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Trials and tribulations of changing oversight of core internet infrastructure

Trials and tribulations of changing oversight of core internet infrastructure | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The whole family of internet self-governing bodies are busy preparing their takes on how to reign the future Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). As a coordinator of core infrastructure services for naming (ICANN), numbering (Regional Internet Registries) and standardisation (IETF), IANA has been in the middle of quite some fights. This one might well be the biggest one.
Artur Alves's insight:

«The internet naming, numbering and standardisation communities are falling over their feet to meet the deadline - next September - for fixing the future oversight of Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA). While some fear it might be the only opportunity to end the privileged oversight role of the United States government, others warn against a rushed solution leaving aspects of the core internet infrastructure at the mercy of a private California-based company, namely the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). IANA is currently a department of ICANN. The question is: can the net community really govern some of its core infrastructure and how much does it need governments for that, if at all?

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Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide - The Intercept

Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide - The Intercept | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
We’re publishing in full, for the first time, manuals explaining the prominent commercial implant software “Remote Control System,” manufactured by the Italian company Hacking Team.
Artur Alves's insight:
« When Apple and Google unveiled new encryption schemes last month, law enforcement officials complained that they wouldn’t be able to unlock evidence on criminals’ digital devices. What they didn’t say is that there are already methods to bypass encryption, thanks to off-the-shelf digital implants readily available to the smallest national agencies and the largest city police forces — easy-to-use software that takes over and monitors digital devices in real time, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. We’re publishing in full, for the first time, manuals explaining the prominent commercial implant software “Remote Control System,” manufactured by the Italian company Hacking Team. Despite FBI director James Comey’s dire warnings about the impact of widespread data scrambling — “criminals and terrorists would like nothing more,” he declared — Hacking Team explicitly promises on its website that its software can “defeat encryption.” The manuals describe Hacking Team’s software for government technicians and analysts, showing how it can activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords on targeted devices. They also catalog a range of pre-bottled techniques for infecting those devices using wifi networks, USB sticks, streaming video, and email attachments to deliver viral installers. With a few clicks of a mouse, even a lightly trained technician can build a software agent that can infect and monitor a device, then upload captured data at unobtrusive times using a stealthy network of proxy servers, all without leaving a trace. That, at least, is what Hacking Team’s manuals claim as the company tries to distinguish its offerings in the global marketplace for government hacking software. «
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The ugly afterlife of crowdfunding projects that never ship and never end

The ugly afterlife of crowdfunding projects that never ship and never end | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Even projects crowdfunded to excess enter tense, never-ending development hell.
Artur Alves's insight:

«

The public life-cycle of a Kickstarter rarely ends in tragedy. Often, if a Kickstarter manages to get covered by the media before its funding round end, or even starts, it can meet its goal within days, and superfluous funds continue to roll in over the next few weeks. By the time its crowdfunding stage closes, the creators, backers, and media alike are excited and proud to have ushered this new project so quickly to a place of prosperity, eager for it to continue to grow.

Plenty of projects manage to deliver the goods, even if the timeline slides a bit. That was the case with Tim Schafer's Kickstarter game Broken Age. If creators miss deadlines, backers typically continue to receive updates via e-mail and the Kickstarter page. But sometimes the end of funding is the beginning of a slide into radio silence, which ultimately turns into few or no backer orders fulfilled, and no satisfactory explanation for why the project didn't pan out according to the orderly delivery schedule the creators promised.

A project can go off the rails and fail even after its funding succeeds for a number of reasons. There can be unforeseen costs, or design problems, or a team member quits or fails to deliver their part of the project. Often, when a project skids to a halt, the final updates are obscured from the public and sent only to backers, which may be part of the reason failures are often not well-publicized. Occasionally, backers who receive them pass them on or post them publicly on forums, which is as good as it gets in terms of letting the outside world know a project did not ultimately pan out.

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How a viable nuclear fusion reactor really could change the world

How a viable nuclear fusion reactor really could change the world | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Lockheed Martin recently claimed to have designed a fusion reactor that can fit on the back of a truck. If viable, it really could change the world. Here's how...
Artur Alves's insight:
« The fact that Lockheed Martin claims to have overcome these obstacles, and with a reactor small enough to fit on the back of a truck, is truly earth-shattering. Even more impressive, the team expects to test their design within a year, and build a prototype in just 5 years time. "Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent size reduction over previous concepts," said Tom McGuire, lead fusion researcher on the project, according to Lockheed Martin's press release. “The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year.” Because the press release contains so few details, scientists have been skeptical about the claims. But assuming Lockheed Martin's design is viable, the world may truly never be the same once this technology is put into production. «
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