Daily Dish 010819

Daily Dish Tuesday 8th January, MMXIX
Dispute The Text, Sapere Aude 


MIT Deep Learning Tutorial Repository [github] This repository is a collection of tutorials for MIT Deep Learning courses. More added as courses progress.

Firefox about:config privacy settings [github] Good lock down settings for the browser.

The Editorial Board at the FT today...Big Tech moves into the sights of US regulators [FT] Technology companies face the prospect of privacy and antitrust enforcement.. Democrats and Republicans both want tougher rules around privacy, and while many big companies are adopting the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation as a de facto standard, a new California law may set an even stricter standard in the US. The state’s privacy rule, which is set to go into effect in 2020, allows users to ask companies explicitly not to share a broad range of data, rather than requiring a more blanket “opt in” or “opt out” clause.

Big Media Deals That Could Happen in 2019—and Some That Won’t [Barrons]
Hollywood Predictions 2019: Wheeling, Dealing and (for Some) Reeling [THR]


Daily Dish 010719

Daily Dish Monday 7th January, MMXIX
Dispute The Text, Sapere Aude 


Inside Shenzhen’s race to outdo Silicon Valley [techreview] A product that took 12 to 18 months for a Western company to bring to market might take only four to six weeks within the shanzhai ecosystem. It was common for Western companies that announced a new gadget to find shanzhai versions of it on the shelves before they could put it on sale themselves. Many early shanzhai successes were copies of popular phones by brands including Nokia, Samsung, and Apple.

Five big questions about Apple putting iTunes on Samsung TVs [theverge ] Apple tells me that Samsung will not be able to track usage inside the iTunes Movies & TV Shows app. But the press release says iTunes will work with Samsung’s Bixby assistant, search, and guide features, so we’ll have to see how what data powers those things when it ships in the spring

Minimizing algorithmic bias and discrimination in the digital economy [aanoip.org]  The African Academic Network on Internet Policy (AANOIP) is a network for interdisciplinary scholarly engagement and discussion on the State of the Internet, related policies and regulatory regime in Africa.

Can a set of equations keep U.S. census data private? [science| The agency announced in September 2018 that it will apply a mathematical concept called differential privacy to its release of 2020 census data after conducting experiments that suggest current approaches can’t assure confidentiality. But critics of the new policy believe the Census Bureau is moving too quickly to fix a system that isn’t broken. They also fear the changes will degrade the quality of the information used by thousands of researchers, businesses, and government agencies.

Tensor Considered Harmful [harvard nlp]  TL;DR: Despite its ubiquity in deep learning, Tensor is broken. It forces bad habits such as exposing private dimensions, broadcasting based on absolute position, and keeping type information in documentation. This post presents a proof-of-concept of an alternative approach, named tensors, with named dimensions. This change eliminates the need for indexing, dim arguments, einsum- style unpacking, and documentation-based coding. The prototype PyTorch library accompanying this blog post is available as namedtensor.

The High Line Has Become a Tunnel Through Glass Towers [nymag] What makes those duds look even worse is their proximity to Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th Street, the lissome star that reduces all other attention-seekers on the High Line stage to the status of clumsy dilettantes. The L-shaped structure is banded in steel components that swerve, stretch, and glide like a goshawk in flight, all movement and muscle

Marriott Says Hackers Swiped Millions of Passport Numbers [wsj] The company said early Friday in a release that the number of guests involved in the data breach is lower than the original 500 million, but it didn’t specify a number. Marriott said a total of about 383 million records was “the upper limit” for the number potentially compromised in the incident. That figure includes passport numbers, email addresses and payment-card data of some guests, the company said.

Privacy is Power

Daily Dish 010619

Daily Dish Sunday 6th January, MMXIX
Dispute The Text, Sapere Aude 

Late Morning Final

a16z Podcast: Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture  [a16z] where are we right now on industries being affected by tech (such as retail) and tech trends (such as VR/AR and wearables) — and where are we going next? Finally, is software eating culture… or is it the other way around? (audio will be “titanically important” and VR will be “1,000” times bigger than AR)

Bruce Sterling’s State of the World [thewell] The year has turned, 2019 is happening, and we’re here once again to have a two-week conversation about the State of the World. This year’s model is the bumfuzzle edition, chaos and confusion being the proverbial order of the day. We can’t promise definitive solutions, but hopefully we’ll raise useful questions and stimulate creative and critical thinking as we bring in the new year.

Video Services May Use Artificial Intelligence to Crack Down on Password Sharing [variety] Credentials Sharing Insight, as the new service is being called, targets both casual password sharing as well as criminal enterprises looking to resell pay TV login information. However, the focus clearly is on friends and family taking their generosity a bit too far, explained Symanedia chief product officer Jean-Marc Racine in an interview with Variety this week.

A New York City lawmaker is taking on companies that mine your face [faatco] “while the hardware company Lowes said it does use face recognition technology to identify shoplifter” (The continued practice of collecting PII with + without permission with no rules on how that data gets protected, standards to do so, and a plan for remedy, fines  when it’s exploited in a data breach..etc is NOT okay- ED)

Privacy and Cybersecurity Are Converging. Here’s Why That Matters for People and for Companies [hbr] Individuals and governments alike should no longer expect consent to play a meaningful role in protecting our privacy. Because the threat of unintended inferences reduces our ability to understand the value of our data, our expectations about our privacy — and therefore what we can meaningfully consent to — are becoming less consequential. Being surprised at the nature of the violation, in short, will become an inherent feature of future privacy and security harms.

Facebook Knows How to Track You Using the Dust on Your Camera Lens  [gizmodo]   possible to detect that two smartphones were in the same place at the same time, but that by comparing the accelerometer and gyroscope readings of each phone, the data could identify when people were facing each other or walking together. That way, Facebook could suggest you friend the person you were talking to at a bar last night, and not all the other people there that you chose not to talk to.

The below paragraph from “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism:” FT review (linked below) is a perfect into into the next story…   Zuboff says, the surveillance capitalists have been able to commoditise the fiction of behaviour, turning our data into profit. “They no longer merely host content but aggressively, secretly, and unilaterally extract value from that content.”

The data generated off of interactive functionality of Black Mirror: “Bandersnatch.” is even more valuable to your digital psychological data profile <—

“Black Mirror” isn’t just predicting the future—it’s causing it [Quartz] instead of logging how many times you watched Love Actually this holiday season, it’s remembering whether you opted to kill your father in cold blood, or save him? What could Netflix do with that highly sensitive emotional information?

In the papers: Weekend  FT

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, by Shoshana Zuboff, Profile Books is the subject of any essay “Should we think of Big Tech as Big Brother?”  lots to unpack… “What makes surveillance capitalism particularly pervasive is the way it preys upon our behavioural vulnerabilities. Indeed, Zuboff argues that the ability to trade in our behaviour has created a new “commodity fiction” Looking forward to reading this book.

Lunch with the FT this week is with Gwyneth Paltrow ‘I’m a real person’ Not sure what was more amusing the picture or the pull quote of  ‘I’m a real person’, (soup sandwich and salad, about 150 bucks – my loose euro translation).  Instead read…. Netflix: streampunk ….”With 130m paying customers, this represents an impressive slice of the audience —”…Even if revenue jumps 25 per cent to almost $20bn this year, Netflix still expects negative cash flow of more than $3bn.

Excellent story in the weekend section ... “Beyond the bottom line: should business put purpose before profit?”  The pursuit of returns to companies’ owners at the expense of other stakeholders has undoubtedly led to greater profits, generating enormous wealth for investors and the executives whose rewards have been increasingly tied to shareholder returns. But it has come at a cost to employees, customers and the environment;..

Also compelling “Architect Charles Jencks on the Bauhaus — what is its legacy 100 years on?”…the importance of craft; from reformers the promise of a utopian society; from artists the primacy of the imagination; from technologists the inventive use of new materials, and so on.

Image of the day... John Bolton, Amb David Friedman and others get a virtual tour of ancient Jerusalem in tunnel complex beneath the Western Wall [twitter]

Privacy is Power

MED 010319

Mediaeater Digest Thursday 3nd January, MMXIX
Dispute The Text, Sapere Aude 


Todays newspaper roundup

Popular Weather App Collects Too Much User Data, Security Experts Say [wsj ]The app, called “Weather Forecast—World Weather Accurate Radar,” collects data including smartphone users’ geographic locations, email addresses and unique 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers on TCL servers in China, according to Upstream Systems, the mobile commerce and security firm that found the activity. Until last month, the app was known as “Weather—Simple weather forecast.”

Spotify’s plan to beat Apple: sign up the rest of the world [FT] None of these services have had success in persuading people to pay for music in India. Although 216m people were using streaming services in the country at the end of 2017, only 1m of them actually paid for them, according to Midia

There’s so many different things!’: How technology baffled an elderly Congress in 2018 [wapo] These hearings were live-streamed to the general populace, more than half of whom are younger than 40, many of whom were horrified to discover that a country being revolutionized by technology is apparently overseen by people whose worldview calcified in the previous century.


Childhood’s End – The digital revolution isn’t over but has turned into something [edge] The genius — sometimes deliberate, sometimes accidental — of the enterprises now on such a steep ascent is that they have found their way through the looking-glass and emerged as something else. Their models are no longer models.


MED 010218

Mediaeater Digest Wed 2nd January, MMXIX
Dispute The Text, Sapere Aude 

Google wins U.S. approval for radar-based hand motion sensor [reuters] Facebook Inc (FB.O) raised concerns with the FCC that the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies.

What is Ryuk, the malware believed to have hit the Los Angeles Times?  [latimes] The problem surfaced near midnight Thursday, when sports editors at the Union-Tribune struggled to transmit finished pages to the printing facility. It spread rapidly over the following day, impeding distribution of the Saturday editions of The Times and Union-Tribune, as well as papers in Florida, Chicago and Connecticut and the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, which are printed in downtown Los Angeles.

Article III Standing in Frank v. Gaos [reason] But I think the case is easier when you realize that Section 2702 is better understood as an intangible conversion statute, not a privacy tort statute. The SCA reflects Congress’s judgment that your digital files are your stuff. Someone else can’t come along and take that stuff from you. It doesn’t matter if the files are particularly private. It just matters that the stuff is your stuff. It’s true that concepts of conversion can be an awkward fit when applied to unauthorized copying of digital information — see this brilliant student note from 1996 for more. But the basic idea behind Congress’s cause of action in Section 2702 is digital conversion of personal property.

Sony/ATV music boss predicts dealmaking surge [FT]  However, dealing with Spotify has been “tough” said Mr Bandier. “We always wind up doing a deal [with Spotify], but there’s a lot of friction while we’re in the process,” he said. “The music business used to be a relationship business but . . . the power has shifted from the heads of record companies to streaming services. Now it’s important to know Daniel Ek [the CEO of Spotify].

The Reunion: a new science-fiction story about surveillance in China [technologyreview]  science fiction story about surveillance in China.  (h/t fourshortlinks)

In High-Tech Cities, No More Potholes, but What About Privacy? [nyt]  “And you have cities, which are caught in this devil’s bargain, where they feel they don’t have the resources to provide the services people need, and so they make these deals with tech companies that have money, but which in the long term might not be beneficial to either them or their residents.”

Tackling New Year’s predictions:

MED 010119

Mediaeater Digest Tuesday 1st January, MMXIX
Dispute The Text, Sapere Aude 

Hackers Threaten to Dump Insurance Files Related to 9/11 Attacks [Twitter] thedarkoverlord @tdo_h4ck3rs

What Is Going To Happen In 2019 [avc] The drama in Washington will have serious impacts to the economy in the United States starting with our capital markets.

Wielding Rocks and Knives, Arizonans Attack Self-Driving Cars [nyt] He carried out his attack with an unidentified sharp object, swiftly slashing one of the tires. The suspect, identified as a white man in his 20s, then melted into the neighborhood on foot.  The slashing was one of nearly two dozen attacks on driverless vehicles over the past two years in Chandler, a city near Phoenix where Waymo started testing its vans in 2017.

The Dating Brokers [Tactical Tech] In May 2017 Tactical Tech and artist Joana Moll purchased 1 million online dating profiles for 136€ from USDate, a supposedly US-based company that trades in dating profiles from all over the globe. The batch of dating profiles we purchased included pictures (almost 5 million of them), usernames, e-mail addresses, nationality, gender, age and detailed personal information about all of the people who had created the profiles, such as their sexual orientation, interests, profession, thorough physical characteristics and personality traits. Purchasing this data exposed a vast network of companies that are capitalising on this information without the conscious consent of the users, whom ultimately are the ones being exploited. [An extensive report on the origin of the profiles and the vast network of companies that are capitalising on them can be found here >>] 

Chinese schools are using ‘smart uniforms’ to track their students’ locations [theverge] The implementation is just about as unsettling as “using smart technology to track students’ whereabouts” sounds. Each uniform has two chips in the shoulders which are used to track when and where the students enter or exit the school, with an added dose of facial recognition software at the entrances to make sure that the right student is wearing the right outfit

In Screening for Suicide Risk, Facebook Takes On Tricky Public Health Role [nyt] “It’s hard to know what Facebook is actually picking up on, what they are actually acting on, and are they giving the appropriate response to the appropriate risk,” said Dr. John Torous, director of the digital psychiatry division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “It’s black box medicine.”

Fake-porn videos are being weaponized to harass and humiliate [wapo] “It did manage to break me. It was overwhelming. All I could think of was my character: Is this what people will think about me?” she said. “This is a lot more intimidating than a physical threat. This has a lasting impact on your mind. And there’s nothing that could prevent it from happening to me again.”

Renton post office renamed to honor Jimi Hendrix, while new exhibition looks at icon’s early years  [seattletimes] Last week a bill was signed into law re-christening the Renton Highlands Post Office the James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix Post Office in the legendary guitarist’s honor.

100+ UK AI/ML Start Ups Launched in 2018

osfpmsa [osfpmsa]A new pluggable form factor with eight high speed electrical lanes that will initially support 400 Gbps

Must-see biennials, triennials and festivals in 2019 [theartnewspaper]

Siri shortcut to delete EXIF metadata from pictures before sharing them [icloud]

 NASA New Horizons Retweeted Johns Hopkins APL  at 10:15 a.m. (ET) from : New Horizons Signal Acquisition from the Flyby. Watch live on NASA TV:



photo sequence mdg – closely cropped ikebana 

Privacy is Power

MED 123118


late city final – happy new year! 

Does AI make strong tech companies stronger?  [Benedict Evans] Hence the question: if ML lets you do new and important things and ML is better the more data you have, then how far does that mean that companies that are already big and have lots of data get stronger? How far are there winner-takes-all effects? It is easy to imagine virtuous circles strengthening a winner: ‘more data = more accurate model = better product = more users = more data’. From here it’s an easy step to statements like ‘Google / Facebook / Amazon have all the data‘ or indeed ‘China has all the data’ – the fear that the strongest tech companies will get stronger, as will countries with large populations and ‘permissive’ attitudes to centralised use of data. 

in related ‘permissive attitudes’ to biometric data are leading to highly emotional conversations of the most sensitive nature…+1 to the biometric overlords for using words like empathy in the story. 

Surprise DNA Results Are Turning Customer-Service Reps Into Therapists [bloomberg]  St Clair went on to start a Facebook group for people like her called DNA NPE Friends. NPE is short for “not parent expected.” It now has more than 4,000 members and is one of several such groups. Recently, St Clair began the process to register it as a nonprofit, advocating for emotional support for the thousands of people who take DNA tests and find out their family isn’t exactly the family they expected. (tl/dr the company knows whose your daddy but you didn’t-ED)

Pushed Even Further: US Newsrooms View Mobile Alerts as a Standalone Platform [cjr] One person from the Chicago Tribune whom we interviewed for this follow-up study emphasized that her outlet’s “approach to push alerts has changed drastically.” Another from The New York Times said it was  “a big moment for us as a newsroom to say: push is its own platform. It deserves to have all of the intention and critical thinking that the
front page does, that the home page does.”

Brave new world of impossible buildings  [ft] There is something very queasy about Enrich’s images, a destabilising of the familiar which makes us feel almost unbalanced. Enrich goes much further than the others. His blocks concertina and bend, they fly, they warp and they tilt. Towers look as if they’ve been unzipped.


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Day 4 of The 35th CCC streams, schedule [ccc.de] Catch up with yesterday watch – The year in post-quantum crypto [ccc.de]  This morning panels – check out:  Cat & Mouse: Evading The Censors In 2018  and Augmented Reality: Bridging The Gap Between The Physical And The Digital World

Google wins dismissal of facial recognition lawsuit over biometric privacy act 
[theverge]  Google has won a dismissal of a lawsuit over its facial recognition software.  The Illinois judge in the case granted Google a summary judgment based on a lack of ‘concrete injuries’ to plaintiffs. Reuters story has now joined the coverage.

Malware attack disrupts delivery of L.A. Times and Tribune papers across the U.S.  [latimes] “We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,”

‘Bird Box’ Viewed by 45 Million Netflix Members in First Week, Company Says – Netflix provided a bit more context on what its #BirdBox number means: the 45MM accounts were counted only after a view surpassed 70% of the movie’s 2 hr, 4 min total running time including credits. (Note: still not independently verifiable)

Investigating Apps interactions with Facebook on Android [privacyinternational] Key findings:

We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

We also found that some apps routinely send Facebook data that is incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive. Again, this concerns data of people who are either logged out of Facebook or who do not have a Facebook account.

Silicon Valley Hierarchy Of Needs  –  A take on Maslov’s view.

The Blockchain Is a Reminder of the Internet’s Failure  [Andrew Leonard] But if there is one thing that we should have learned from the history of the last 25 years, it is that digital networks and computers and code are no solution to human brokenness. With each passing day, the opposite seems more likely to be true. Pressure exerted by the Internet cracked some long-existing social fissures wide open.

Instead of gaining access to the library of all human knowledge, we ended up card-carrying members of Jorge Luis Borges’ “Library of Babel” — that infinite biblio-nightmare that stockpiled every possible iteration of gibberish along with the real books written in real languages.



MED 122918



Day 3 of The 35th Chaos Communication Congress streams //  schedule [ccc.de]

Two of the many excellent talks from yesterday…

The Ghost in the Machine – An Artificial Intelligence Perspective on the Soul [ccc.de] “they learn what they are fed for.”

Introduction to Deep Learning  [ccc.de]

NIPS 2017 Test of Time Award “Machine learning has become alchemy.” | Ali Rahimi, Google

Crypto 101 – Introductory course on cryptography [crypto101.io]

BFF project ‘Active against digital violence’

Introduction to Deep Learning  [ccc.de]

SoK: Fraud in Telephony Networks Using chatbots against voice spam: Analyzing Lenny’s effectiveness

A Gift for Music Lovers Who Have It All: A Personal Utility Pole [WSJ] Normal electricity just wouldn’t do anymore. To tap into what Mr. Morita calls “pure” power, he paid $10,000 to plant a 40-foot-tall concrete pole in his front yard

Lunch with the FT Snap’s chief Evan Spiegel: taming tech and fighting with Facebook  I suggest to Spiegel that just at the moment when Snapchat should have been seizing the advantage from a weakened Facebook, he shot himself in the foot. “Over the coming years, I think people will see the value in that change,” he argues. “If you’re going to make a transformation like that, it’s going to take time. We tried to warn people.

“ethos anthropoi daimon,” most often translated as – “man’s character is his fate.”

MED 122818


Day two of The 35th Chaos Communication Congress streams —-  schedule [ccc.de]

Hackers Make a Fake Hand to Beat Vein Authentication [motherboard] Security researchers disclosed new work at the Chaos Communication Congress showing how hackers can bypass vein based authentication.

Book The Black Image Corporation Editor: Theaster Gates [Prada Foundation] Milan 2018 – Cardboard box, 32 pp (Notebook) + 183 cards + 36 vellums; 366 ill.  Size: 17 x 22.6 cm

Book by Michelle Poon from Dim Sum Labs Hong Kong – The Field Guide to HackingIn The Field Guide to Hacking,  Check out her 35c3 talk from today on

Is Netflix’s global dominance a force for good or bad  [ft] “More shows, more watching; more watching, more subs; more subs, more revenue; more revenue, more content,”  (Rise, repeat -ED)

The shutdown is about to force the FTC to suspend its Facebook investigation, former officials say   [wapo]  A long-awaited federal probe into Facebook will be hamstrung when the agency conducting the investigation runs out of funding on Friday, according to former government officials.  (QED re worrying about the gov vs big business)