How to Burst the “Filter Bubble” that Protects Us from Opposing Views | MIT Technology Review
"Computer scientists have discovered a way to number-crunch an individual’s own preferences to recommend content from others with opposing views. The goal? To burst the “filter bubble” that surrounds us with people we like and content that we agree with."
That sensitivity seems inevitable, I think, because what we consider folk today might actually be a strange and particular thing. It’s not a living tradition, really. It’s more like a snapshot of a tradition—American rural music as it existed at the precise moment that someone thought to make recordings of it. At some point in the twenties or thirties, once enough of those recordings had been made, the whole thing was trapped in amber: It became, officially, the oldest version of rural-American “folk” music that anyone could go back to consult and imitate using their own ears. It became, almost by technological accident, the wellspring and the touchstone, leaving every generation of revivalists looking like a bunch of people holding blurry Polaroids of Eden and arguing over how to resurrect it. It’s like a cargo cult in reverse: Instead of “primitive” people coming across a modern object and surrounding it with elaborate mystical explanations, we get modern people discovering something traditional and erecting intellectual fetishes around it. And looking back to the “beginning,” even out of an earnest, uncalculated love of the music itself, is always going to be at least a little bit ideological, a response to whatever’s happened since. — Abebe: What New Folkies Share With the Old Ones — Vulture
The tiny Channel Island of Alderney is launching an audacious bid to become the first jurisdiction to mint physical Bitcoins, amid a global race to capitalise on the booming virtual currency.
The three-mile long British crown dependency has been working on plans to issue physical Bitcoins in partnership with the UK’s Royal Mint since the summer, according to documents seen by the Financial Times.
It wants to launch itself as the first international centre for Bitcoin transactions by setting up a cluster of services that are compliant with anti-money laundering rules, including exchanges, payment services and a Bitcoin storage vault.
The special Bitcoin would be part of the Royal Mint’s commemorative collection, which includes limited edition coins and stamps that are normally bought by collectors. It would have a gold content – a figure of £500-worth has been proposed – so that holders could conceivably melt and sell the metal if the exchange value of the currency were to collapse. — Today’s Strange Bitcoin Idea, The Gold Backed Bitcoin - Forbes
AWS GovCloud (US) is an isolated AWS Region designed to allow US government agencies and customers to move sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements. The AWS GovCloud (US) framework adheres to U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations as well as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMPSM) requirements. FedRAMP is a U.S. government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. AWS GovCloud (US) has received an Agency Authorization to Operate (ATO) from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) utilizing a FedRAMP accredited Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO).
AWS GovCloud (US) Region – Government Cloud Computing, via @Holgate.
BBC News - Amazon workers face ‘increased risk of mental illness’
A BBC investigation into a UK-based Amazon warehouse has found conditions that a stress expert said could cause “mental and physical illness”. […]
Undercover reporter Adam Littler, 23, got an agency job at Amazon’s Swansea warehouse. He took a hidden camera inside for BBC Panorama to record what happened on his shifts.
He was employed as a “picker”, collecting orders from 800,000 sq ft of storage.
A handset told him what to collect and put on his trolley. It allotted him a set number of seconds to find each product and counted down. If he made a mistake the scanner beeped.
"We are machines, we are robots, we plug our scanner in, we’re holding it, but we might as well be plugging it into ourselves", he said.
"We don’t think for ourselves, maybe they don’t trust us to think for ourselves as human beings, I don’t know."
Prof Marmot, one of Britain’s leading experts on stress at work, said the working conditions at the warehouse are “all the bad stuff at once”.
BBC One - Panorama, Amazon: The Truth Behind the Click
My week as an Amazon insider | Technology | The Observer
The first item I see in Amazon’s Swansea warehouse is a package of dog nappies. The second is a massive pink plastic dildo. The warehouse is 800,000 square feet, or, in what is Amazon’s standard unit of measurement, the size of 11 football pitches (its Dunfermline warehouse, the UK’s largest, is 14 football pitches). It is a quarter of a mile from end to end. There is space, it turns out, for an awful lot of crap. […]
On my second day, the manager tells us that we alone have picked and packed 155,000 items in the past 24 hours. Tomorrow, 2 December – the busiest online shopping day of the year – that figure will be closer to 450,000. And this is just one of eight warehouses across the country. Amazon took 3.5m orders on a single day last year. Christmas is its Vietnam – a test of its corporate mettle and the kind of challenge that would make even the most experienced distribution supply manager break down and weep. In the past two weeks, it has taken on an extra 15,000 agency staff in Britain. And it expects to double the number of warehouses in Britain in the next three years. It expects to continue the growth that has made it one of the most powerful multinationals on the planet. […]
If Santa had a track record in paying his temporary elves the minimum wage while pushing them to the limits of the EU working time directive, and sacking them if they take three sick breaks in any three-month period, this would be an apt comparison. It is probably reasonable to assume that tax avoidance is not “constitutionally” a part of the Santa business model as Brad Stone, the author of a new book on Amazon, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, tells me it is in Amazon’s case. Neither does Santa attempt to bully his competitors, as Mark Constantine, the founder of Lush cosmetics, who last week took Amazon to the high court, accuses it of doing. Santa was not called before the Commons public accounts committee and called “immoral” by MPs. […]
Because Amazon is the future of shopping; being an Amazon “associate” in an Amazon “fulfilment centre” – take that for doublespeak, Mr Orwell – is the future of work; and Amazon’s payment of minimal tax in any jurisdiction is the future of global business. A future in which multinational corporations wield more power than governments. […]
"They dangle those blue badges in front of you," says Bill Woolcock, an ex-employee at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Rugeley, Staffordshire. "If you have a blue badge you have better wages, proper rights. You can be working alongside someone in the same job, but they’re stable and you’re just cannon fodder. I worked there from September 2011 to February 2012 and on Christmas Eve an agency rep with a clipboard stood by the exit and said: ‘You’re back after Christmas. And you’re back. And you’re not. You’re not.’ It was just brutal. It reminded me of stories about the great depression, where men would stand at the factory gate in the hope of being selected for a few days’ labour. You just feel you have no personal value at all." […]
It’s taxes, of course, that pay for the roads on which Amazon’s delivery trucks drive, and the schools in which its employees are educated, and the hospitals in which their babies are born and their arteries are patched up, and in which, one day, they may be nursed in their dying days. Taxes that all its workers pay, and that, it emerged in 2012, it tends not to pay. On UK sales of £4.2bn in 2012, it paid £3.2m in corporation tax. In 2006, it transferred its UK business to Luxembourg and reclassified its UK operation as simply “order fulfilment” business. The Luxembourg office employs 380 people. The UK operation employs 21,000. You do the math. […]
"It’s a form of piracy capitalism. They rush into people’s countries, they take the money out, and they dump it in some port of convenience. That’s not a business in any traditional sense. It’s an ugly return to a form of exploitative capitalism that we had a century ago and we decided as a society to move on from." […]
It’s a mirror image of what is happening on the shop floor. Just as Amazon has eroded 200 years’ worth of workers’ rights through its use of agencies and rendered a large swath of its workers powerless, so it has pulled off the same trick with corporate responsibility. MPs like to slag off Amazon and Starbucks and Google for not paying their taxes but they’ve yet to actually create the legislation that would compel them to do so.
BBC News - Amazon testing drones for deliveries
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, according to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.
The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.
However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.
Previous New Aesthetic posts on Amazon.
The Black Book by Jean Keller (Paperback) - Lulu
Ink used for digital printing is one of the most precious substances in the world. A single gallon of ink costs over four thousand dollars and this is one reason why digitally printed books are so expensive. However, the price of a book is not calculated according to the amount of ink used in its production. For example, a Lulu book of blank pages costs an artist as much to produce as a book filled with text or large photographs. Furthermore, as the number of pages increases, the price of each page decreases. A book containing the maximum number of pages printed entirely in black ink therefore results in the lowest cost and maximum value for the artist. Combining these two features, buyers of The Black Book can do so with the guarantee that they are getting the best possible value for their money.
Just had someone in the IRC channel today who mined… 7500BTC….
and then threw the hard drive away.
We encouraged him to take a trip to the landfill and see if he could find it, maybe hire someone(s) to help him. He said he’s going to make a few calls.
I felt so bad for him. That’s $6 million and counting.
[…] He went to the “recycling centre” and they showed him around. The hard drive, if it was there, would be buried under around 4 feet of mud and waste, in an area the size of a soccer field. The cost of closing the centre, hiring diggers, and searching for it would be too high, and then the chances of finding it are still not excellent.
He’s based in Newport, in South Wales, United Kingdom. — Contemporary treasure hunt, via Reddit.
Twitter / alexjgoldstein: ”And the Iranian President just retweeted Secretary of State John Kerry. Welcome to Twitter diplomacy in 2013.”
The World’s Most Powerful Computer Network Is Being Wasted on Bitcoin, via algopop
Because of the way Bitcoin self-regulates, the math problems Bitcoin mining rigs have to do to get more ‘coin get harder and harder as time goes on. Not to any particular end, but just to make sure the world doesn’t get flooded with Bitcoins. So all these computers aren’t really accomplishing anything other than solving super difficult and necessarily arbitrary puzzles for cyber money. It’s kind of like rounding up the world’s greatest minds and making them do Sudokus for nickels.
Projects like Folding@Home and SETI@Home use similarly networked power for the less-pointless practices of parsing information that could lead to more effective medicines or finding extra-terrestrial life, respectively, and either are hard-pressed to scrounge up even half of a percent of the power the Bitcoin network is rocking. And with specialized Bitcoin-mining hardware on the rise, there’s going to be an army of totally powerhouse PCs out there that are good for literally nothing but digging up cybercoins.
It’s incredible to think about the amount of power being directed at this one, singular purpose; power that’s essentially being “donated” by thousands of people across the globe just because they have skin in the game. It’s by far the most computational effort that has ever been devoted to a single purpose. And sure, Bitcoins are fine and all, but can you imagine what we could do if this energy was put behind other tough problems? We’ll you’re going to have to imagine, because so long as mining Bitcoins can earn you money and folding proteins can’t, it’s pretty clear which one is gonna get done.
PhoneSat 2.4: Ready for Launch | NASA
For the second time this year, NASA is preparing to send a smartphone-controlled small spacecraft into orbit. The PhoneSat 2.4 mission is demonstrating innovative new approaches for small spacecraft technologies of the future. […]
NASA PhoneSats take advantage of “off-the-shelf” consumer devices that already have many of the systems needed for a spacecraft, but are ultra-small, such as fast processors, multipurpose operating systems, sensors, GPS receivers, and high-resolution cameras.
“It’s tabletop technology,” Petro says. “The size of a PhoneSat makes a big difference. You don’t need a building, just a room. Everything you need to do becomes easier and more portable. The scale of things just makes everything, in many ways, easier. It really unleashes a lot of opportunity for innovation,” he says.