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The BNLYFilm Daily, by BNLYFilm - Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015: updated automatically with a curated selection of articles, blog posts, videos and photos.
Jan Bergmans's insight:
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A Sparkle of Genius
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Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.
We look at the current rise in terrorism and don't connect it with past events. By ignoring what happened in the past we risk not stopping it in the future.
Jan Bergmans's insight:
A Lesson from Terrorism: Violence and The Grayness of LifeStan GoldbergJanuary 16, 2015Grieving and Recovery, Thoughts of the DayTHOUGHT OF THE DAY. Each day’s new violence makes people want to retreat into a 1950’s bomb shelter, or buy a home in a gated and guarded community, or hide in a shack in a remote part of the woods.Of course, we need to buy a gun—preferably an AK47 or Bazooka—and ready ourselves to blast any intruder who dares step onto our property, no less cross the threshold of our castle. And as a backup strategy, we’ll do what we have always been doing.The Stupidity of Repeating Our HistoryThat formula—repeating our history—is something that endlessly brings about cycles of violence, suppression, and revenge. It’s a way of functioning that led to the 30 year war between the Hatfields and McCoys.Why is it that our approach to combating violence hasn’t gone beyond the strategy of two illiterate families living in the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky more than 150 years ago? The answer may be that it’s ingrained in our daily living patterns.Terrorism: A Gray WorldWe believe we live in a black and white world where “good” stands against “evil,” “right” can always be distinguished from “wrong” as in John Wayne movies, and where what I believe makes more sense than what you believe.It’s a prescription for an endless cycle of conflict. Someone experiences an injustice and then acts in a brutal way. Their actions are met with force and the cycle continues until one group is incapacitated or killed—as in World War I, when men were sacrificed until few were left to die.A Lesson for Our Daily Lives: The Difference Between Understanding and AcceptanceI see the neglect of history in my counseling where a significant event is treated as if it was immaculately conceived in a vacuum. Adult children who only want the best for an aging parent don’t understand their parent’s anger when treated as a child. Grade school teachers who haven’t changed the content of their course in twenty years, react to the boredom of students by requiring detention. Husbands who emotionally haven’t been available to their wives for years can’t forgive their wife’s infidelity.Understanding the history of an event doesn’t make it acceptable, but it does provide guidelines for how to stop the cycle. For example, while forcefully going after the terrorists in Europe, discussions are beginning that examine not only what generated the atrocities, but also what can be done to stop the cycle. While vowing to imprison or kill the current terrorists, some European leaders are also proposing ways of integrating Moslem communities while respecting their uniqueness.We have been lucky so far in the United States. But I have no doubt our time of anguish will come. And then we’ll be faced with the same choices as the Europeans: Mindlessly scream vengeance as the neo-Nazi party in Germany and our own Ted Cruz does, or protect our citizens as responsible leaders are doing in Europe while searching for ways of interrupting the cycle.
We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy.
Jan Bergmans's insight:
Daniel Schwen/Text-Image.com/Ian Bogost
Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to its algorithm,” a journalist reports. “We live in a world run by algorithms,” a TED talk exhorts. “Algorithms rule the world,” a news report threatens. Another upgrades rule to dominion: “The 10 Algorithms that Dominate Our World.”
Science and technology have become so pervasive and distorted, they have turned into a new type of theology.
Here’s an exercise: The next time you see someone talking about algorithms, replace the term with “God” and ask yourself if the sense changes any. Our supposedly algorithmic culture is not a material phenomenon so much as a devotional one, a supplication made to the computers we have allowed to replace gods in our minds, even as we simultaneously claim that science has made us impervious to religion.
It’s part of a larger trend. The scientific revolution was meant to challenge tradition and faith, particularly a faith in religious superstition. But today, Enlightenment ideas like reason and science are beginning to flip into their opposites. Science and technology have become so pervasive and distorted, they have turned into a new type of theology.
The worship of the algorithm is hardly the only example of the theological reversal of the Enlightenment—for another sign, just look at the surfeit of nonfiction books promising insights into “The Science of…” anything, from laughter to marijuana. But algorithms hold a special station in the new technological temple because computers have become our favorite idols.
In fact, our purported efforts to enlighten ourselves about algorithms’ role in our culture sometimes offer an unexpected view into our zealous devotion to them. The media scholar Lev Manovich had this to say about “The Algorithms of Our Lives”:
This is a common account of algorithmic culture, that software is a fundamental, primary structure of contemporary society. And like any well-delivered sermon, it seems convincing at first. Until we think a little harder about the historical references Manovich invokes, such as electricity and the engine, and how selectively those specimens characterize a prior era. Yes, they were important, but is it fair to call them paramount and exceptional?
It turns out that we have a long history of explaining the present via the output of industry. These rationalizations are always grounded in familiarity, and thus they feel convincing. But mostly they are metaphors. Here’s Nicholas Carr’s take on metaphorizing progress in terms of contemporary technology, from the 2008 Atlantic cover story that he expanded into his bestselling book The Shallows:
Carr’s point is that there’s a gap between the world and the metaphors through which we describe that world. We can see how erroneous or incomplete or just plain metaphorical these metaphors are when we look at them in retrospect.
Take the machine. In his book Images of Organization, Gareth Morgan describes the way businesses are seen in terms of different metaphors, among them the organization as machine, an idea that forms the basis for Taylorism.Gareth Morgan's metaphors of organization (Venkatesh Rao/Ribbonfarm)
We can find similar examples in computing. For Larry Lessig, the accidental homophony between “code” as the text of a computer program and “code” as the text of statutory law becomes the fulcrum on which his argument that code is an instrument of social control balances.
Each generation, we reset a belief that we’ve reached the end of this chain of metaphors, even though history always proves us wrong precisely because there’s always another technology or trend offering a fresh metaphor. Indeed, an exceptionalism that favors the present is one of the ways that science has become theology.
In fact, Carr fails to heed his own lesson about the temporariness of these metaphors. Just after having warned us that we tend to render current trends into contingent metaphorical explanations, he offers a similar sort of definitive conclusion:
As with the machinic and computational metaphors that he critiques, Carr settles on another seemingly transparent, truth-yielding one. The real firmament is neurological, and computers are fitzing with our minds, a fact provable by brain science. And actually, software and neuroscience enjoy a metaphorical collaboration thanks to artificial intelligence’s idea that computing describes or mimics the brain. Computing-as-thought reaches the rank of religious fervor when we choose to believe, as some do, that we can simulate cognition through computation and achieve the singularity.
* * *
The metaphor of mechanical automation has always been misleading anyway, with or without the computation. Take manufacturing. We assume that the goods we buy from Walmart, safely ensconced in their blister packs, are magically stamped out by unfeeling, silent machines (robots—those original automata—themselves run by the tinier, immaterial robots we call algorithms).
But the automation metaphor breaks down once you bother to look at how even the simplest products are really produced. The photographer Michael Wolf’s images of Chinese factory workers and the toys they fabricate show that finishing consumer goods to completion requires intricate, repetitive human effort.
Michael Wolf Photography
Eyelashes must be glued onto dolls’ eyelids. Mickey Mouse heads must be shellacked. Rubber ducky eyes must be painted white. The same sort of manual work is required to create more complex goods too. Like your iPhone—you know, the one that’s designed in California but “assembled in China.” Even though injection-molding machines and other automated devices help produce all the crap we buy, the metaphor of the factory-as-automated machine obscures the fact that manufacturing isn’t as machinic nor as automated as we think it is.
The algorithmic metaphor is just a special version of the machine metaphor, one specifying a particular kind of machine (the computer) and a particular way of operating it (via a step-by-step procedure for calculation). And when left unseen, we are able to invent a transcendental ideal for the algorithm. The canonical algorithm is not just a model sequence but a concise and efficient one. In its ideological, mythic incarnation, the ideal algorithm is thought to be some flawless little trifle of lithe computer code, processing data into tapestry like a robotic silkworm. A perfect flower, elegant and pristine, simple and singular. A thing you can hold in your palm and caress. A beautiful thing. A divine one.
But just as the machine metaphor gives us a distorted view of automated manufacture as prime mover, so the algorithmic metaphor gives us a distorted, theological view of computational action.
Like metaphors, algorithms are simplifications, or distortions. They are caricatures.
“The Google search algorithm” names something with an initial coherence that quickly scurries away once you really look for it. Googling isn’t a matter of invoking a programmatic subroutine—not on its own, anyway. Google is a monstrosity. It’s a confluence of physical, virtual, computational, and non-computational stuffs—electricity, data centers, servers, air conditioners, security guards, financial markets—just like the rubber ducky is a confluence of vinyl plastic, injection molding, the hands and labor of Chinese workers, the diesel fuel of ships and trains and trucks, the steel of shipping containers.
Once you start looking at them closely, every algorithm betrays the myth of unitary simplicity and computational purity. You may remember the Netflix Prize, a million dollar competition to build a better collaborative filtering algorithm for film recommendations. In 2009, the company closed the book on the prize, adding a faux-machined “completed” stamp to its website.
But as it turns out, that method didn’t really improve Netflix’s performance very much. The company ended up downplaying the ratings and instead using something different to manage viewer preferences: very specific genres like “Emotional Hindi-Language Movies for Hopeless Romantics.” Netflix calls them “altgenres.”
An example of a Netflix altgenre in action (tumblr/Genres of Netflix)
While researching an in-depth analysis of altgenres published a year ago at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal scraped the Netflix site, downloading all 76,000+ micro-genres using not an algorithm but a hackneyed, long-running screen-scraping apparatus. After acquiring the data, Madrigal and I organized and analyzed it (by hand), and I built a generator that allowed our readers to fashion their own altgenres based on different grammars (like “Deep Sea Forbidden Love Mockumentaries” or “Coming-of-Age Violent Westerns Set in Europe About Cats”).
Netflix VP Todd Yellin explained to Madrigal why the process of generating altgenres is no less manual than our own process of reverse engineering them. Netflix trains people to watch films, and those viewers laboriously tag the films with lots of metadata, including ratings of factors like sexually suggestive content or plot closure. These tailored altgenres are then presented to Netflix customers based on their prior viewing habits.
Newly uncovered Snowden document contrasts with British PM’s vow to crack down on encrypted messaging after Paris attacks
Jan Bergmans's insight:
A secret US cybersecurity report warned that government and private computers were being left vulnerable to online attacks from Russia, China and criminal gangs because encryption technologies were not being implemented fast enough.
The advice, in a newly uncovered five-year forecast written in 2009, contrasts with the pledge made by David Cameron this week to crack down on encryption use by technology companies.David Cameron pledges anti-terror law for internet after Paris attacks Read more
In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, the prime minister said there should be no “safe spaces for terrorists to communicate” or that British authorites could not access.
Cameron, who landed in the US on Thursday night, is expected to urge Barack Obama to apply more pressure to tech giants, such as Apple, Google and Facebook, which have been expanding encrypted messaging for their millions of users since the revelations of mass NSA surveillance by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Cameron said the companies “need to work with us. They need also to demonstrate, which they do, that they have a social responsibility to fight the battle against terrorism. We shouldn’t allow safe spaces for terrorists to communicate. That’s a huge challenge but that’s certainly the right principle”.
But the document from the US National Intelligence Council, which reports directly to the US director of national intelligence, made clear that encryption was the “best defence” for computer users to protect private data.
Part of the cache given to the Guardian by Snowden was published in 2009 and gives a five-year forecast on the “global cyber threat to the US information infrastructure”. It covers communications, commercial and financial networks, and government and critical infrastructure systems. It was shared with GCHQ and made available to the agency’s staff through its intranet.Advertisement
One of the biggest issues in protecting businesses and citizens from espionage, sabotage and crime – hacking attacks are estimated to cost the global economy up to $400bn a year – was a clear imbalance between the development of offensive versus defensive capabilities, “due to the slower than expected adoption … of encryption and other technologies”, it said.
An unclassified table accompanying the report states that encryption is the “[b]est defense to protect data”, especially if made particularly strong through “multi-factor authentication” – similar to two-step verification used by Google and others for email – or biometrics. These measures remain all but impossible to crack, even for GCHQ and the NSA.
The report warned: “Almost all current and potential adversaries – nations, criminal groups, terrorists, and individual hackers – now have the capability to exploit, and in some cases attack, unclassified access-controlled US and allied information systems.”
It further noted that the “scale of detected compromises indicates organisations should assume that any controlled but unclassified networks of intelligence, operational or commercial value directly accessible from the internet are already potentially compromised by foreign adversaries”.
The primary adversaries included Russia, whose “robust” operations teams had “proven access and tradecraft”, it said. By 2009, China was “the most active foreign sponsor of computer network intrusion activity discovered against US networks”, but lacked the sophistication or range of capabilities of Russia. “Cyber criminals” were another of the major threats, having “capabilities significantly beyond those of all but a few nation states”.
The report had some cause for optimism, especially in the light of Google and other US tech giants having in the months prior greatly increased their use of encryption efforts. “We assess with high confidence that security best practices applied to target networks would prevent the vast majority of intrusions,” it concluded.
Official UK government security advice still recommends encryption among a range of other tools for effective network and information defence. However, end-to-end encryption – which means only the two people communicating with each other, and not the company carrying the message, can decode it – is problematic for intelligence agencies as it makes even warranted collection much more difficult.
The latest versions of Apple and Google’s mobile operating systems are encrypted by default, while other popular messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, also use encryption. This has prompted calls for action against such strong encryption from ministers and officials. Speaking on Monday, Cameron asked: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”
The previous week, a day after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, the MI5 chief, Andrew Parker, called for new powers and warned that new technologies were making it harder to track extremists.
In November, the head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, said US social media giants had become the “networks of choice” for terrorists. Chris Soghoian, principal senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said attempts by the British government to force US companies to weaken encryption faced many hurdles.
“The trouble is these services are already being used by hundreds of millions of people. I guess you could try to force tech companies to be less secure but then they would be less secure against attacks for anyone,” he said.
GCHQ and the NSA are responsible for cybersecurity in the UK and US respectively. This includes working with technology companies to audit software and hardware for use by governments and critical infrastructure sectors.
Such audits uncover numerous vulnerabilities which are then shared privately with technology companies to fix issues that could otherwise have caused serious damage to users and networks. However, both agencies also have intelligence-gathering responsibilities under which they exploit vulnerabilities in technology to monitor targets. As a result of these dual missions, they are faced with weighing up whether to exploit or fix a vulnerability when a product is used both by targets and innocent users.Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security Read more
The Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica have previously reported the intelligence agencies’ broad efforts to undermine encryption and exploit rather than reveal vulnerabilities. This prompted Obama’s NSA review panel to warn that the agency’s conflicting missions caused problems, and so recommend that its cyber-security responsibilities be removed to prevent future issues.
Another newly discovered document shows GCHQ acting in a similarly conflicted manner, despite the agencies’ private acknowledgement that encryption is an essential part of protecting citizens against cyber-attacks.
The 2008 memo was addressed to the then foreign secretary, David Miliband, and classified with one of the UK’s very highest restrictive markings: “TOP SECRET STRAP 2 EYES ONLY”. It is unclear why such a document was posted to the agency’s intranet, which is available to all agency staff, NSA workers, and even outside contractors.
The memo requested a renewal of the legal warrant allowing GCHQ to “modify” commercial software in violation of licensing agreements. The document cites examples of software the agency had hacked, including commonly used software to run web forums, and website administration tools. Such software are widely used by companies and individuals around the world.
The document also said the agency had developed “capability against Cisco routers”, which would “allow us to re-route selected traffic across international links towards GCHQ’s passive collection systems”.
GCHQ had also been working to “exploit” the anti-virus software Kaspersky, the document said. The report contained no information on the nature of the vulnerabilities found by the agency.
Security experts regularly say that keeping software up to date and being aware of vulnerabilities is vital for businesses to protect themselves and their customers from being hacked. Failing to fix vulnerabilities leaves open the risk that other governments or criminal hackers will find the same security gaps and exploit them to damage systems or steal data, raising questions about whether GCHQ and the NSA neglected their duty to protect internet systems in their quest for more intelligence.
A GCHQ spokesman said: “It is long-standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.“All our operational processes rigorously support this position. In addition, the UK’s interception regime is entirely compatible with the European convention on human rights.”
Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, a lobby group that represents Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter, Yahoo and other tech companies, said: “Just as governments have a duty to protect to the public from threats, internet services have a duty to our users to ensure the security and privacy of their data. That’s why internet services have been increasing encryption security.”
Citizens made to feel that they "are the subject of constant surveillance."
Jan Bergmans's insight:
Handtekening voor het burgerinitiatief: schuldvrije geldschepping door een publiek instituut. Het resultaat: belastingverlaging, waardevast spaargeld en een betere verdeling van welvaart. Daar wordt u beter van.
Jan Bergmans's insight:
Geld is van ons allemaal, en dient door de overheid gecreëerd te worden George van Houts
Ongelijkheid neemt toe. Private banken hebben het privilege om geld te creëren en vragen rente over het gecreëerde geld. Overheden hebben tekorten aan geld en verhalen dat op de burgers door bezuinigingen. Ecologische problemen worden niet aangepakt door geldgebrek.
De oorzaak van de ellende waar we nu in zitten is gelegen in de manier waarop geld gecreëerd wordt: door private banken. Banken zijn commerciële ondernemingen die uit zijn op korte termijn winstbejag. Dat is hoogst ongezond voor onze samenleving.
Toch kan het anders en aanzienlijk beter. En snel ook! Door één ‘overnight’ actie gaat het roer definitief om. Daar wordt u als burger beter van. Per omgaande.
Wat gaat u ervan merken nadat de verandering een feit is:
Belastingverlaging en/of burgerdividendStabiele prijzen (geen verhogingen meer)100% Gegarandeerd en waardevast spaargeld en pensioenEerlijker verdeling van de welvaartEen milieu aanpak waar onze kleinkinderen ons heel dankbaar voor zullen zijn
Nu vraagt u zich natuurlijk af wie dat allemaal gaat regelen. Wel, van de bankensector hoeven we niets te verwachten. Die gaan echt hun kip met gouden eieren niet slachten. Het zal dus van de politiek moeten komen. En, zelfs al hebben politici grote voordelen bij een veranderd monetair systeem, tot nu toe ziet het er niet naar uit dat ze het ook zullen gaan doen. We zullen hen dus een handje moeten helpen. Vandaar dit initiatief waarin wij het Nederlandse parlement oproepen de problematiek rondom geldschepping daadkrachtig aan te pakken. Daar hebben we uw steun voor nodig.
Twitter has called upon the software application developer community to help in the global fight against hacking and spammers. The company has released its AnomalyDetection software tool to open source on the GitHub code repository. Twitter hopes that this open release will a) allow the community to learn from the software [...]
Jan Bergmans's insight:
Spikes and surges
When Twitter talks about ‘anomalies’ it is referring to spikes and surges of traffic on the network that can be caused by both legitimate and malicious activity.
So while Christmas photo uploads spikes are a genuine discrete event for Twitter, the potential exists for similar unusual traffic surges caused by spam bots and hacking activity. With firms now increasingly operating big data analytics databases and real time network/cloud-based services, unwelcome (and unplanned) traffic surges can result in denial-of-service, website downtime and deeper offline problems.
Machine learning & algorithmic logic
Twitter’s AnomalyDetection is an open-source R statistical computing language package designed to automatically detects anomalies. It is built around algorithmic logic designed to accommodate for anomaly detection in the presence of seasonality and an underlying trend. Closely related to the discipline of machine learning, anomaly detection in this case employs ‘piecewise approximation’ – a mathematical function that enables the software to produce intelligent trend extraction from a set of traffic data.
When are you an anomaly?
If you want a down to Earth example of your own anomaly data behavior, consider the fact that your bank now requests that you tell it when you are abroad. If a user typically only ever uses his or her credit card within a 100-mile radius zone in the state of Maryland and only ever spends on food, petrol, entertainment, clothes and other sundries – then a statistical pattern in therefore established.
If that same user suddenly draws out cash in Amsterdam and then pays for an expensive dinner in Dubai, then anomaly alerts register at the bank and guess what happens to your credit card approval?
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Jan Bergmans's insight:
User Liberation: Watch and share our new video by Libby Reinish — Published on Dec 29, 2014 05:32 PM Most people interact with free software every day, but many of those people don't know what free software is or why they should go out of their way to use it. We want to fix that (and we think you do too), so we commissioned a short video that makes free software easy for everyone to understand:
Please help us spread free software awareness by watching this video and sharing it with friends via email and social media.
We partnered with Urchin to make this animated introduction to free software. Urchin made the video using free software. People have been looking to the FSF for thirty years for explanations about the importance of free software. We want to make more videos like this, and other materials, but they cost money. If we meet our annual fundraising goal of $525,000 by January 31st, you can be sure there will be more great projects to come in 2015.
This is the biggest fundraising week of the year, and we still have a ways to go if we are to meet our goal by January 31st. Please show your love for this video by making a donation or becoming a member today.
Download the video: Full resolution | 1080p | 360p | 240p | Production Files
Download subtitles: English | français
Embed: <iframe width="640" height="390" src="http://static.fsf.org/nosvn/FSF30-video/FSF_30_720p.webm" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Video creditsUrchinFateh Slavitskaya (Script, Voice), Bassam Kurdali (Animation/Production)Free Software FoundationLibby Reinish, John Sullivan, Zak RogoffSoundJames P. McQuoid (Guitar)
SFX from freesound.org under CC0 and CC BY by:
airtaxi, benboncan, cactus2003, crashoverride61088, dave-des, davidbain, ecfike, elliotlp, flint10, gchase, hunter4708, irishcinema, jamesabdulrahman, jasonlon, lavik89 lloydevans09, ludvique, martypinso, misscellany, monotraum, muses212, northern-monkey, pandotrix-emark, primeval-polypod, simosco, snapper4298, soundsexciting, swiftoid, wjoojooSoftwareScript: gedit, Piratepad, TextPlay (command line fountain renderer), Trelby (dedicated screenwriting application)
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Jan Bergmans's insight:
In the wake of the murderous attack on the editorial staff of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, there is really only one way forward: publish, print, draw, film.
Publish the cartoons that seem to shake the foundations of deluded young men with guns.
Print the articles that air unpopular opinions.
Draw the pictures that parody the powerful.
Make the movies that mock petty dictators.
We must stand with Charlie Hebdo, just as we must stand with Seth Rogen and James Franco. And Jon Stewart and Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert, the vital voices of our democracy.
The principle that has been under debate of late with the threats against "The Interview" – freedom of expression – came into terrorizing focus Wednesday with the murders of 12 innocent people.
It seems that comedy is completely terrifying to terrorists and despots.
It is apparently so potent that a tiny weekly publication with a circulation of 30,000, featuring cartoonists writing jokes (including some really bad ones) about politicians and current affairs, mocking everyone from Jesus to Sony to Obama on down could provoke a cold-blooded mass murder in the name of a religion.
You don’t know Charlie Hebdo, why would you? You may not like Seth Rogen, he’s not to everyone’s taste.
So must we take it to the mat for Seth Rogen and Charlie Hebdo? Yes, we must.
We cannot back down. We cannot be cowed. We can never allow murderous thugs who have hijacked an entire religion to undermine the values on which we have built an entire raucous, raging, unruly and free democratic society.
We must believe that Islam is strong enough to withstand criticism. Therefore we must support and encourage Muslims who love their religion and believe that freedom of expression can live alongside it.
We cannot be less courageous than the Muslim freedom warrior Mulala Yousafzai, who would not be cowed by the crazy radicals opposing female education.
We cannot be less courageous than the unsinkable Salman Rushdie, who lived for decades under the threat of fatwa and kept his sense of humor.
We have to remember that the Egyptian Jon Stewart – Bassem Youssef – lost his on-air show because of the dangerous political climate.
News organizations like CNN and The New York Daily News backed away on Wednesday from showing the Charlie Hebdo images that provoked al-Qaeda (or someone like them.)
I hope that does not stand. Now is not the time to let our choices be dictated by fear. The only way to beat back the crazy radicals is for everyone to stand up and be counted.
We must be intolerant of intolerance. We must choose this moment to continue to publish and print and film. It is the force of our collective determination that will allow tolerant Islam to raise its voice, and to shut out the tiny minority of violent extremists.
What’s more, if we don’t live our values, we don’t deserve to have them.
Sharon Waxman is the founder and CEO of the Hollywood and media business news site The Wrap. She is an author, journalist and blogger who has been a correspondent for The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Follow Sharon Waxman on Twitter and Faceboo
Tune In,Turn On - Just Not Too Early
There are few transformative events in our lives. Selma was the most significant one for me because it tested my values and beliefs
Jan Bergmans's insight:
For the past few days trailers about the movie, Selma and criticisms about its historical accuracy flooded the airways. I’ll see the movie regardless of the commentaries because I was there.
In 1965, I was a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, and as most of my friends, had left-of-center thoughts, long hair, shuffled in scruffy boots, and clothed myself in denim.
It was easy for me to be a radical before Selma. I carried a sign, offered inflammatory opinions at a “support our troops” rally, and debated the esoteric concepts of states rights vs. equal rights with John Birch Society members.
Easy in the sense a rebuke was the worst consequence from people who disagreed with me. People, with whom I would never associate. And then came the call to “come to Selma.”The Call to Selma
Hundreds of us “northern agitators” went by chartered bus to Montgomery, Alabama where my beliefs were to be tested twice on the streets of Alabama. First, by adults and children only yards away who threatened to kill us; a bit more confronting than debating students from the Ann Rand chapter at the university. At least ½ of the students and faculty advisors sheepishly got back on their buses and left Alabama when they realized ideas have consequences.
Those of us who stayed understood we would be testing our beliefs again; not through potential scenarios, but actual events. As Dr. King and more than 600 supporters walked toward the Selma bridge, we marched on the sidewalks with black residents in Montgomery and saw mounted police preparing to attack us.
I never heard Dr. King’s “How Long, Not Long,” speech since I was on a hunger strike with other students and Black residents of Montgomery in jail. I left Alabama a different person. Equal rights were no longer something I just believed in; it was a conviction hardened by experience.Selma as a Transformative Event
Yes, I met and spoke with Martin Luther King. Listened to the diatribes of Stokely Carmichael. Saw in the distance James Foreman, James Farmer, John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and many of the other important civil rights leaders portrayed in the movie. None of these experiences made an impact on my life as much as did making the decision to test my beliefs.
Selma was a transformative event, but not because it changed my values. I still believe in equal rights now as much as I did in 1965. What I experienced made me realize thoughts are little more than theories unless tested, whether it’s equal rights, commitment to health care, willingness to undertake uncomfortable ideas about illness, or end of life issues.When Was The Last Time You Tested Your Beliefs?
We hold onto beliefs for years; often thinking they are true, just because we believe so. When was the last time you tested a belief that had a consequence? I couldn’t run away from consequences in 1964, and it changed me forever. I’m often asked why my books, articles, and workshops are devoted to the sharper points of living. The answer is simple–the consequences of Selma.
Taming Big Data with Smart Contexts
By Steven Bancarz| Does consciousness create the material world? Before we answer this question, it's important to first go into what the material world is actually composed of at a fundamental level. "Reality" is not simply made of tiny physical pieces, like a bunch of marbles
Via Jean-Philippe BOCQUENET, Official AndreasCY
Jan Bergmans's insight:
We interact with a world of physical objects, but this is only due to the way our brains translate sensory data. At the smallest and most fundamental scales of nature, the idea of “physical reality” is non-existent. From the Nobel Prize winning father of quantum mechanics Neils Bohr, “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. In quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you yet, you don’t understand it well enough.” When you touch your hands together, it is really just empty space touching more empty space, with the slightest ingredient of energetic spin of these minuscule particles. The constituents of matter have absolutely no physical structure.
This is important to understand, because if we think of the world of quantum physics as being a world of bowling balls and and marbles, then the idea of consciousness creating reality doesn’t really make sense. But understanding that reality is a cosmic concoction of non-localized energy and empty space, it becomes clear that our thoughts and the signals they register in the brain also have these same properties at their smallest level. Our thoughts are also an activity of the universe, and all activities take place within the same quantum realm prior to manifesting in physical reality.
Consciousness is one of the hard problems in science. There is no way to explain how something as material as chemical and physical processes can give rise to something as immaterial as experience. There is no reason why subjective experience exists at all, or how sentience evolved. Nature would operate just as well without subjectivity, and when we actually try to scientifically investigate the origin and physics of consciousness, we get hints that maybe consciousness and reality are not as separate as material science would have us think.
Here are some principles in quantum mechanics, taken from the book “The Self-Aware Universe” written by former professor of theoretical physics for 30 years at the University of Oregon, Dr. Amit Gozwami:1) Wave-Function
A quantum object (such as an electron) can be at more than one place at the same time. It can be measured as a wave smeared out in space, and can be located at several different points across this wave. This is called the wave property.2) Discontinuity
A quantum object ceases to exist here and simultaneously appears in existence over there without have EVER traveled the intervening space. This is known as the quantum jump. It essentially teleports.3) Action-At-A-Distance
A manifestation of one quantum object, cause by our observations, simultaneously influences its correlated twin object, no matter how far apart they are. Fire an electron and a proton off of an atom. Whatever happens to the electron, the exact same or exact opposite will happen to the proton. This is called quantum-action-at-a-distance. Einstein called this “spooky” action at a distance.4) The Observer Effect
A quantum object cannot be said to manifest in ordinary space-time reality until we observe it as a particle. The quantum object exists indefinitely as a non-local wave until it is being observed directly. Consciousness literally collapses the wave-function of a particle.
This last point is interesting, because it implies that without a conscious observer present to collapse this wave, it would remain physically un-manifested in a state of potentiality . Observation not only disturbs what has to be measured, it produces the effect. This was verified in what is known as the double-slit experiment, where the presence of a conscious observer changed the behaviour of an electron from a wave state to a particle state. This is known as the “observer effect” and completely shakes what we assume to be true about the physical world. Here is an easy to understand cartoon rendition of the experiment:
The findings of this experiment were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, in which the scientists summarized saying “The introduction of a which- path (welcher Weg) detector for determining the actual path taken by the particle inevitably involved coupling the particle to a measuring environment, which in turn results in dephasing (suppression of interference).” That’s quite a mouthful, but it basically means that the measurement system used to detect the activity of the particle effected the behaviour of that particle.
As scientist Dr. Dean Radin said in a paper replicating the double-slit experiment, “We compel the electron to assume a definite position. We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.” Now, a common response to this is “It’s not us who is measuring the electron, it’s the machine that is doing the observation”. A machine is simply an extension of our consciousness. This is like saying “It’s not me who is observing the boat way across the lake, it is the binoculars”. The machine does not itself observe anything any more than a computer that interprets sound waves can “listen” to a song.
This has led some scientists to speculate that without consciousness, the universe would exist indeterminately as a sea of quantum potentiality. In other words, physical reality cannot first exist without subjectivity. Without consciousness, there is no physical matter. This is known as the Participatory Anthropic Principle, and was first proposed by physicist Dr. John Wheeler. Essentially, any possible universe that we can imagine that does not have conscious observers in it can be ruled out immediately. Consciousness is therefore the ground of being and must have existed prior to the physical universe. Consciousness literally creates the physical world.
These findings provide huge implications regarding how we can understand our interconnectedness with the external world. “We create our reality” is used to refer to the fact that our thoughts create the perspective we have of the world, but we now have a more concrete and literal understanding of this phrase. We actually give rise to the physical universe with our subjectivity.
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, Nobel Prize winning originator of quantum theory, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931).
Quantum physics and consciousness:
About the author: My name is Steve Bancarz, and I am the Creator of Spirit Science and Metaphysics. Thanks for taking the time to read this article! If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so here: http://creatorcourse.com/ssmcommunity/
Roy Pessis explains why we should continue fighting for an open app store and not accept Apple and Google's app regime as ironclad.
Jan Bergmans's insight:
Something great happened on July 10, 2008. The Apple App Store was born. Only six years down the road more than 60 billion apps were downloaded through the platform, making it one of the largest stores in history.
As Apple & Google are about to launch their app stores for the largest untapped screen in our homes, it’s worth pausing for a moment to address its dark side and understand the magnitude of its impact on our lives.Is Apple the Supreme Court of our digital lives?
In their guidelines Apple states that the company “will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, ‘I’ll know it when I see it’. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.”
Where exactly is this line and which behaviors, according to Apple, are relegated to a place across it? Where will the line be in five years? As it currently seems, Apple has claimed a seat on the Supreme Court of our digital lives.
Both the Apple and the Google app stores control the flow of information. With every passing day, they tighten their grip over the content and delivery of our information. While this reality might seem harmless to many at the moment, in a few years time this could become a real threat over our freedom of speech and our freedom to create.
And it’s already happening: Consider the example of a company named Tawkon which created an app that tells you when your phone is emitting high radiation so users can stay safe. Apple rejected this app. When Tawkon founders asked Steve Jobs for an explanation, he simply replied “no interest.” Why would Apple block something that is good for us? I have a gut feeling that with the low cellular coverage in the US 4–5 years ago, Steve didn’t want his customers to stop using the phone because technically it is always emitting high radiation! This app could potentially harm the carriers that have lucrative partnerships with Apple.
Another interesting example is the blocking of bitcoin wallet apps, a policy which was only recently changed. Too late for bitcoin. The average user would much prefer using ApplePay. Blocking bitcoin wallets halts the spread of usage while Apple is building their ApplePay strategy, allowing them an unfair advantage. The ecosystem survives and we are trapped.
Again and again, Apple rejects apps not on the basis of malicious activity, but on the basis of pure capital gain.We are willingly giving Apple and Google full control over our digital lives
The app stores are fun, endless, constantly updating and truly quite amazing. I love discovering new apps every Thursday when the Featured list is updated. The best part about it is the ease with which the app store works in enabling users to discover, purchase and install new apps. Just place your thumb on the screen and it’s already on its way.
Apple and Google have focused their strategies on creating a population of habitual app-store users. After all, no matter what you need, “there’s an app for that!” Getting us hooked on this experience is exactly what they want because with each purchase we make from their store, they extract an astounding 30% commission.A 30 percent commission is an outrage (speak now or forever hold your peace)
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that 60 billion apps have been downloaded until today (and that’s just on iOS). While a high percentage of them are free apps, this is nevertheless a huge market from which to reap 30% commission.
Of course, Apple and Google only aim to enlarge this market and their share within it. In fact, they would much rather prefer we stop using the Web and only use apps. They get their 30%, further tighten their grip over our digital freedom, and in return we get ease. What many don’t realize is that this ease we are so used to can also be available in an open format that is not so heavily controlled by our digital overlords.The TV is Changing
Some day in the near future, Apple will hold an event announcing the opening of AppleTV to developers. Probably they will bring some developers on stage to talk about how amazing it is to port their successful iPhone games and apps on to the big screen. They will praise Apple and try to convince fellow developers that this is the next big thing that they all should be working on. And it probably is—when push comes to shove, we are talking about the last un-stored screen. While it is a huge opportunity for developers, we must keep our eyes open for Apple’s long term strategy behind the app store.
Apple is poised to control the TV. I hope that the new AppleTV will have a fully functioning browser so we can still enjoy the Web freely and to the fullest. Unfortunately, I am not so optimistic. After all, it did take Apple four years to make a decent browser for the iPhone. You can probably guess why.The Web should be free and accessible for everyone.
Unlike the app-stores of our digital overlords, the Web does not filter or restrain our content. No single entity controls what goes online and what does not. Anyone can take a computer, plug it to the wall, and define it as a server. Without a court order, no one can take that away from you.
It goes without saying that Apple and Google should be transparent regarding their policy for refusing apps. While it is well within these companies’ right to seek maximum profit without the need to ascribe to any higher moral ground, it is important to remember that we as consumers also have the right and power to choose. We should continue fighting for an open app store and not accept their app regime as ironclad.
In March, James Robinson wrote “2013 was the first year that Americans spent more time online on mobile devices than on computers, and as mobile devices become our primary point of interaction, the online experience will gradually become synonymous with being inside an app. It’s just like the Internet, but reimagined as a branded experience and with new, less democratic power structures, like Apple, Google and Facebook ruling the information roost like the Chevron, Exxon and BP of the world wide web.”
An open app store based on the Web could be the cure for that.
For more about the end of the Internet read my previous article
This is how Google is Killing the Web
Acknowledges diversity factors, says "we're different in so many other ways."
Jan Bergmans's insight:
On Thursday, Linux legend Linus Torvalds sent a lengthy statement to Ars Technica responding to statements he made in Auckland, New Zealand earlier that day about diversity and "niceness" in the open source sector.
"What I wanted to say [at the keynote]—and clearly must have done very badly—is that one of the great things about open source is exactly the fact that different people are so different," Torvalds wrote via e-mail. "I think people sometimes look at it as being just 'programmers,' which is not true. It's about all the people who are more oriented toward commercial things, too. It's about all those people who are interested in legal issues—and the social ones, too!"
Torvalds spoke to what he thought was a larger concept of "diversity" than what has been mentioned a lot in recent stories on the topic, including economic disparity, language, and culture (even between neighboring European countries). "There's a lot of talk about gender and sexual preferences and race, but we're different in so many other ways, too," he wrote.
"'Open source' as a term and as a movement hasn't been about 'you have to be a believer,'" Torvalds added. "It's not a religion. It's not an 'us vs them' thing. We've been able to work with all those 'evil commercial interests' and companies who also do proprietary software. And I think that was one of the things that the Linux community (and others—don't get me wrong, it's not unique to us) did and does well."
Torvalds also talked about progress since the GPL vs. BSD "flame wars" from the '80s and early '90s, saying that the open source movement brought more technology and less "ideology" to the sector. "Which is not to say that a lot of people aren't around because they believe it's the 'ethical' thing to do (I do myself too)," Torvalds added, "but you don't have to believe that, and you can just do it because it's the most fun, or the most efficient way to do technology development."“This ‘you have to be nice’ seems very popular in the US”
He then sent a second e-mail to Ars about the topic of "niceness" that came up during the keynote. He said that his return to his Auckland hotel was delayed by "like three hours" because of hallway conversations about this very topic.
"I don't know where you happen to be based, but this 'you have to be nice' seems to be very popular in the US," Torvalds continued, calling the concept an "ideology."
"The same way we have developers and marketing people and legal people who speak different languages, I think we can have some developers who are used to—and prefer—a more confrontational style, and still also have people who don't," he wrote.
He lambasted the "brainstorming" model of having a criticism-free bubble to bounce ideas off of. "Maybe it works for some people, but I happen to simply not believe in it," he said. "I'd rather be really confrontational, and bad ideas should be [taken] down aggressively. Even good ideas need to be vigorously defended."
"Maybe it's just because I like arguing," Torvalds added. "I'm just not a huge believer in politeness and sensitivity being preferable over bluntly letting people know your feelings. But I also understand that other people are driven away by cursing and crass language when it all gets a bit too carried away." To that point, Torvalds said that the open source movement might simply need more "people who are good at mediating," as opposed to asking developers to calm their own tone or attitude.
The revised rules are targeting nuisances and worse such as adware on PCs and rogue apps on smartphones. False or misleading representations of products or services are also prohibited under the new regulations.
Activist pulls off clever Wi-Fi honeypot to protest surveillance state
The risk of employees using contact lists to poach clients when they leave an organisation is nothing new, but the increasing use of LinkedIn in the busine
Jan Bergmans's insight:
But what happens when an employee moves on? As the economy picks up and recruitment increases, people are starting to move around more, but businesses want to hang onto the clients they have and are increasingly seeing employees walking away with what is effectively a large portable contact database.
They will update their profiles with details of their new company and LinkedIn will send out an automatic message to all of their contacts letting them know they are in a new role. This poses a real problem for businesses whose standard contracts, with clauses preventing the soliciting of clients, will not cover these kinds of automatic updates.Who owns LinkedIn contacts?
The use of LinkedIn to further a new competing business before an employee has officially left has been found to be unlawful, as has downloading an employer’s database to LinkedIn just before leaving. Ownership of the LinkedIn contacts network or “database”, however, is a legal grey area and it is pretty much untested by case law.
A LinkedIn account is very much viewed as being personal to the employee. This means employers need an explicit policy in place to cover this issue, enabling them to request that departing employees remove clients from their LinkedIn contacts in the same way they would be prevented from taking a database of Outlook contacts with them.
However, case law also suggests that a general announcement sent about a former employee’s new role is not solicitation. Arguably, therefore, the standard LinkedIn announcement is not soliciting either.Putting protection in place
HR professionals should review their social media policies with a view to protecting LinkedIn contacts. The policy should include further detail on the use of social media that insists all contacts added to LinkedIn (and other social media) in the course of employment are deleted and passed on to the employer on termination of the employment contract.
It should also stipulate that they will not be added again at a later date or for perhaps a minimum period that mirrors the period of restrictive covenants. Potentially, new employees could be compelled to open a new account and pass access on to their employer on termination.
Ideally, any policy should be cross-referenced to the employment contract and a clause inserted. Post-termination restrictive covenants (which should be constantly reviewed in any event to ensure enforceability) should be tailored to include a reference to social media contacts and explicitly detail that the LinkedIn “new role” emails amount to solicitation.Introducing new restrictive covenants
This is all well and good for new employees, but protecting LinkedIn contacts on the departure of established employees will be even more important, given their expertise and contacts. This will require a change to the terms and conditions of employment and so needs careful handling to be properly enforceable.
As with any contractual changes, this will require consultation and negotiation with staff. Given that new, more stringent restrictive covenants are involved, securing agreement with employees may require proper consideration such as one-off payments or pay rises to be on the table as part of the negotiation.
Another option would be to implement clear “garden leave” periods, during which the employee will remain under the control of the employer and the duty of good faith (or fidelity for senior employees) central to the employment relationship is still in place. Clearly during this time the employee’s actions on LinkedIn can be more closely monitored and controlled and the valuable database of clients protected.
The implementation of more stringent restrictive covenants may prove a headache in the short term but, for those businesses where client contacts and relationships are key to success, keeping them secure from being poached by departing employees will prove invaluable in the long term. It will also be something for new employers to consider, especially when the large number of contacts on an applicant’s LinkedIn profile has been part of the attraction.
Barristers representing the government are due to go to the supreme court in the latest attempt to keep secret a series of letters written by Prince Charles to government ministers.
Now in its third season, "Black Mirror" has shown us myriad advanced technologies that seem, frankly, pretty horrifying....
Jan Bergmans's insight:
Last month, Netflix released the British series "Black Mirror" through its streaming service. People on the Internet freaked.
The science-fiction show -- whose title refers to the screens of powered-down gadgets -- offers bleak visions of a time when familiar technologies have advanced almost past recognition. Each episode is fascinating in a fiery-car-crash kind of way, as it portrays its own darkly emotional version of our future. The series has also drawn repeated comparisons to the '60s-era sci-fi program "The Twilight Zone," with its ability to thread the same eerie tone and themes through different fictional settings.
But while "Black Mirror" is critical of unchecked technological advancement, creator Charlie Brooker isn't some kind of Luddite. "I coo over gadgets," Brooker wrote for The Guardian. He simply wonders whether they're good for us.
Now in its third season, the series has shown us myriad advanced technologies that seem, frankly, pretty horrifying. Some of those, however, are actually similar to developing technologies out there today. And while we're probably not headed for a dystopian future where painful memories might be played before our eyes on demand, some of the tech exists. Here's a look. WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
In the episode "Fifteen Million Merits," ever-present TV screens can tell when you close your eyes through an advertisement, forcing the ad to pause and the screen to omit a piercing noise. We already endure something similarly irritating on Spotify -- turn the volume too low during an ad on the free version, and it pauses. But how far are we from eyeball tracking?
In 2013, Google was awarded a patent for a "pay-per-gaze" ad sales model. While Google Glass wasn't specifically named, the patent allows a head-mounted device to track the number of times a user actually looks at an ad. A company called GazeHawk developed a system, later purchased by Facebook, that uses the built-in camera on a device to track user eye movement. Tobii, yet another group, created an eye-tracking device for gamers. The day our computers scream at us until we watch their ads, however, is the day we go live in the woods.
In the episode "The Entire History Of You," pretty much everyone has a "grain" implanted behind an ear. Controlled by a little silver remote, the grain records video 24/7, able to show "redos" -- or replays of past events as seen by the person experiencing them -- right before the user's eyes.
Wearables like Google Glass are the most obviously similar technology out there today, but a number of others are testing similar gadgets. One such company is Innovega, whose iOptik device consists of contact lenses paired with eyeglass frames capable of projecting media into the wearer's field of vision. Some, including Google, are going a step further, working on smart contact lenses with cameras that would replace bulky headgear.
But according to Innovega CEO Steve Willey, "redos" aren't as easy as sticking a camera on a lens. "The FDA wouldn't like it," Willey told The Huffington Post, suggesting that getting the agency's seal of approval would be difficult due to safety factors -- such as how much heat the camera gives off so close to the eye. Storage would be another hurdle, although Willey thought it conceivable to collect a few days' worth of video before running out of space.
In one of the series' most heartbreaking episodes, a grieving woman uses a service that creates digital clones of the deceased to speak with her dead partner. First they communicate via text, then over the phone, and finally a life-sized clone arrives on her doorstep.
As far-fetched as this form of artificial intelligence might sound, researchers are working on it. The app LivesOn was created to tweet for users after they're dead. Intellitar, now defunct, offered to create digital replicas of customers that were, apparently, super creepy. LifeNaut, a project of the Terasem Movement Foundation, created a robotic bust of transgender CEO Martine Rothblatt's wife Bina, called BINA48, memorably described in New York Magazine's profile of the businesswoman.
While the concept of a life-sized clone is "pretty far-fetched," Terasem managing director Bruce Duncan told HuffPost, a text or audio conversation may not be. "I don't think it's far-fetched to think that in 10 to 15 years, you could have a conversation with a device with a personality," Duncan said.
At the end of "White Bear," we learn that everyone had been pulling a Men In Black on the protagonist, wiping her memories of the past day over and over.
Rest assured (or unassured?) with the knowledge that researchers are indeed experimenting with memory. A lengthy 2012 feature in Wired explained how researchers believed certain memories, particularly painful ones linked to PTSD, may be erased with a drug. But it only worked on longterm memories -- not memories of something that just happened hours ago. And memory-zapping headgear is, for now, pure science fiction. However, memory manipulation -- once mostly ignored -- is gaining traction as a scientific pursuit, so we can't say what the future will bring.
The "Black Mirror" 2014 Christmas special had Jon Hamm playing the wingman of the future. Using a device called "Z-Eye," which makes video filmed in real time from the user's eyes viewable on others' at-home computer screens, Hamm's character is able to coach friends at bars to pick up girls.
Willey explained to HuffPost how capturing video from the user's perspective is possible with existing technology. However, receiving information back -- Hamm's real-time instructions on how to act and what to say -- would be more challenging. And again, the whole camera-in-your-eye thing might take a while to become a widely used reality, if it ever does at all.
Throughout the series thus far, we've seen computers with intuitive user interfaces way beyond any iPad. These are not only awesome, but represent Black Mirror's most probable tech predictions for at least the near future.
While a laptop in "Be Right Back" allowed file uploads from a phone with the flick of a finger, our devices already use bluetooth to communicate wirelessly with each other. The same episode shows a large, sloping touchscreen that serves as a workstation for a professional illustrator -- also not hard to imagine coming to life, Minority-Report-style.
The universe of "Fifteen Million Merits" is filled with screens controlled via hand gestures. That's another reality techies are working toward -- we just have to work out some of the kinks. Leap Motion has been making gesture controllers that plug into USB ports for a couple years now, although some say it's a bit tiring to use. Microsoft has been trying to figure out how to work movement-tracking technology into its keyboards, and there are a few different gesture controllers vying for a place on your hand or arm.
Earlier on HuffPost:Close 10 Interesting Gadgets At CES 2015 1 of 11Bloomberg via Getty ImagesNextPreviousNext Share Tweet✖FitLinxx - AmpStripThis wearable heart rate monitor started as a crowd funded project on indiegogo, and will launch publicly in July. It’s a waterproof device that needs to be be taped to your body like a band-aid, to measure heart activity around the clock. The data is sent to your smartphone on iOS/Android using an app.Advertisement More: Black Mirror Netflix Channel 4 Black Mirror Technology Futurism Future Technology Suggest a correction Around the Web
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Jan Bergmans's insight:
Apple has lost the functional high ground
January 4, 2015• ∞
Update: I regret having published this.
Apple’s hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has fallen so much in the last few years that I’m deeply concerned for its future. I’m typing this on a computer whose existence I didn’t even think would be possible yet, but it runs an OS with embarrassing bugs and fundamental regressions. Just a few years ago, we would have relentlessly made fun of Windows users for these same bugs on their inferior OS, but we can’t talk anymore.
“It just works” was never completely true, but I don’t think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer. We now need to treat Apple’s OS and application releases with the same extreme skepticism and trepidation that conservative Windows IT departments employ.
Geoff Wozniak went back to desktop Linux after almost a decade on OS X (Update: He appears to have taken the post down). It’s just one person’s story, but many of his cited reasons resonate widely. I suspect the biggest force keeping stories like this from being more common is that Windows is still worse overall and desktop Linux is still too much of a pain in the ass for most people. But it should be troubling if a lot of people are staying on your OS because everything else is worse, not necessarily because they love it.
Apple has always been a marketing-driven company, but there’s a balance to be struck. Marketing plays a vital role, but marketing priorities cannot come at significant expense to quality.
I suspect the rapid decline of Apple’s software is a sign that marketing1 is too high a priority at Apple today: having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it’s an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality.2
The problem seems to be quite simple: they’re doing too much, with unrealistic deadlines.
We don’t need major OS releases every year. We don’t need each OS release to have a huge list of new features. We need our computers, phones, and tablets to work well first so we can enjoy new features released at a healthy, gradual, sustainable pace.
I fear that Apple’s leadership doesn’t realize quite how badly and deeply their software flaws have damaged their reputation, because if they realized it, they’d make serious changes that don’t appear to be happening. Instead, the opposite appears to be happening: the pace of rapid updates on multiple product lines seems to be expanding and accelerating.
An important nuance that the many sloppy rewrites of this article keep getting wrong (intentionally for sensationalism?): I’m referring to marketing as a priority, not “the marketing department”. I have no idea about the internal workings of the marketing department and how it does or doesn’t influence the company’s direction. Marketing priorities seem to be a bit too influential, such as requiring a new major OS with every iPhone release, or a new OS X every year, for their marketing benefits. ↩
People keep asking me whether a high-level executive change — Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, or Craig Federighi — is needed. I don’t know, of course — none of us really do — but I suspect that’s not really the problem. What seems to be the problem is the overall apparently agreed-upon prioritization put forward by the entire executive team.
This probably isn’t a “fire someone and fix it” problem — it’s simply an issue of poorly weighted priorities that can most likely be adjusted with the current personnel. ↩