▶ Muhammad Movie Trailer - YouTube , via Google battles legal fallout of copyright ruling on anti-Islamic film | World news | theguardian.com
According to a BBC News report, data from pedestrian signal buttons may or may not have any real effect on SCOOT-controlled crossing timings, depending on their location and the time of day, and some junctions may be completely automated, with push-buttons which do not have any effect at all, effectively acting as placebo buttons. However, the same report quotes a Transport for London source as stating that the majority of pedestrian junctions in London do respond to the pedestrian signal button. — Placebo Buttons - Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
TfL Tests Intelligent Pedestrian Crossing Technology
In basic terms, a system has been designed that monitors how many pedestrians are waiting at a junction. If there are few, then the pedestrian crossing is left at the default setting. However, if they detect lots of people, and as crowds take longer to cross — add a few seconds to the crossing time. Two types of sensor will be used during the trials, which will be aware of the number of people waiting at a pedestrian crossing, and depending on how large the crowd is, and depending on the needs of the road traffic, may change how long people have left to cross the road. The sensors are off-the-shelf equipment that is often used in supermarkets and shopping centres to track shoppers, which have been modified by TfL.
Google Street View Uses an Insane Neural Network To ID House Numbers
This neural network—which you can read about here, basically it’s a computing network modeled on animal nervous systems—has eleven layers of neurons, which makes it possible to ID millions of house numbers a day from the Street View raw image data. “We can, for example, transcribe all the views we have of street numbers in France in less than an hour using our Google infrastructure,” write the engineers in a new Arxiv paper about the project. What about the numbers that are too blurry for this giant brain to make sense of? No prob—those are identified by humans as part of a second generation CAPTCHA program. So you may have already contributed to the cause, without even realizing it.
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I feel like it is legitimate to express concern about overuse of devices or social media and how it may alienate some, and I have just chosen to approach the subject from a different angle. The best possible scenario is for everyone, regardless of their varying optimism on the issue, to acknowledge that the new normal involves the pressures and benefits of multiple devices and an unprecedented amount of information flowing through us. There is nothing reactionary in acknowledging that this can be problematic, and it is our role as artists to offer insights as to how best to navigate this predicament. The only people I fundamentally disagree with are those who stubbornly ignore such issues altogether, dip out, and pretend like it’s 1989 or something. I guess the principal thing I stand for is educating oneself about the potentials and pitfalls of contemporary technology such that you can use it for positive ends. Debate around these issues is a crucial part of that. — Web Exclusive: Interview with Holly Herndon - The Indy
Google Glass’s unlikely testers: Your local cops
Sgt. Eric Ferris of the Byron, Ga., police department recently added to his usual law-enforcement duties the role of cutting-edge gadget reviewer. In his review, Ferris said the new technology didn’t obscure his vision while driving or shooting, but it did result in “some funny looks and faces” from the public. Those funny looks should increase across the U.S. as local police forces are outfitted with wearable devices, including Google Glass, the techy eyewear that stupefied Byron’s residents.
CopTrax, a surveillance vendor, collaborated with the Byron police department to provide officers with Glass during routine traffic enforcement patrol, stops issuing citations, arrests and during firearms practice.
"They had the CopTrax software loaded into the Google Glass and everything recorded with Glass was then recorded back to our camera system and police cruisers," Farris said. — Police departments have their eye on Google Glass (via iamdanw)
The US government filed a lawsuit against telecom giant Sprint in civil court on Monday, accusing the company of overcharging the government for costs related to court-ordered wiretapping and surveillance.
Sprint, along with Verizon and AT&T, are regularly required to aid government investigations – doing so by facilitating phone surveillance, also known as pen registers, which contain metadata about a phone call, not its content. In exchange for standing at the ready, the companies are permitted to charge law enforcement agencies for “reasonable expenses” related to the investigation. — Sprint overcharged US govt $21 mn for wiretaps - lawsuit — RT USA
Technology concentrates power.
In the 90’s, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.
But those days are gone. We’ve centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There’s one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.
And there’s the cloud. What a brilliant name! The cloud is the future of online computing, a friendly, fluffy abstraction that we will all ascend into, swaddled in light. But really the cloud is just a large mess of servers somewhere, the property of one American company (plus the clouds no one uses).
Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.
But we’ve done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.
I know I sound like a conspiracy nut framing it like this. I’m not saying we live in an Orwellian nightmare. I love New Zealand! But we have the technology.
When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you’d die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.
What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we’ve gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we’re not even allowed to see.
The things we really care about seem to disappear from the Internet immediately, but post a stupid YouTube comment (now linked to your real identity) and it will live forever.
And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today’s web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people’s real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.
What upsets me isn’t that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.
What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said “hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let’s make it”. It happened because we couldn’t be bothered.
Making things ephemeral is hard.
Making things distributed is hard.
Making things anonymous is hard.
Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.
So let’s take people’s data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can’t raise another round of venture funding we’ll just slap Google ads on the thing.
"High five, Chad!"
"High five, bro!"
That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.
And of course now we are shocked—shocked!—when, for example, the Ukrainian government uses cell tower data to send scary text messages to protesters in Kiev, in order to try to keep them off the streets. Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?
Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!
I’m not saying these abuses aren’t serious. But they’re the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That’s not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.
We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.
And now, of course, it’s time to make the Internet of Things, where we will connect everything to everything else, and build cool apps on top, and nothing can possibly go wrong. — An extract from Our Comrade The Electron, a talk from the Webstock Conference by Maciej Cegłowski, which is worth reading in its entirety.
German executives and intelligence officials called Mr. Snowden a hero and said his disclosures had been a boon for business, as N.S.A. suspicions prompted global companies to look for alternatives to American products and services. One German executive said that many clients who had considered moving their services to the cloud were now looking to store their data on hardware inside Germany, given that “the U.S. owns the cloud.” — At the RSA Security Conference, Things Get Testy and Then They Get Awkward - NYTimes.com
You don’t want your privacy: Disney and the meat space data race — Tech News and Analysis
“Meat space” (coined by William Gibson in Neuromancer) is a term for the physical world where our bodies (meat) move around and do meat-like things (for example, eat, jog or go clubbin’). The interesting thing about the term is it’s a play on “cyber space” — meat space is an internet-first way of viewing the world. And that internet-first way of seeing the world is what’s driving these changes at Disney, casinos, insurance companies, etc. We’ve been “cookie-ing” people online and tracking their browsing habits for years, and in that contained environment, businesses have seen the value of acting on personal transactional data. But now businesses are taking this approach and applying it to meat space. Why? Because cyber space is small, it starts and stops at internet-connected devices. Think of the transactions and interactions that are carried out each day in meat space. Think of the money spent in meat space (on your caramel macchiato, for instance). While not everyone is online all day long, we’re all implicitly offline. Wouldn’t it be great it we could gather meat space data and use that to tailor the offline experience much like companies now tailor your online experience? “Personalizing your meat space experience” is a gross way of saying “pretty much control your life.” Which is frightening. But that’s exactly what companies want to do.