“IT professionals routinely use the same kind of technology as Google’s Street View cars did to collect packet data in order to secure company networks,” the company writes. “And unlike Google, which never used the payload data it collected, security professionals also parse and analyze the data collected from wired and wireless networks, including networks operated by other persons or entities, to identify vulnerabilities in and potential attacks on the networks they protect.”
Google Takes Wi-Fi Snooping Scandal to the Supreme Court | Threat Level | WIRED
How a Chinese Company 3D-Printed Ten Houses In a Single Day
"If these claims are true, WinSun is printing an inexpensive, sturdy home in mere hours for very little money. The company says the process would be perfect for fabricating homes for the impoverished and displaced—a major issue in some Chinese cities. In my eyes, that’s far closer to the early dream of architectural 3D printing buildings: To harness rapid prototyping to build housing that’s cheap, fast, and in the words of WinSun, "dignified." The concept of spending three years and millions of dollars to print a 13-room home out of plastic, by comparison, feels like nothing more than a gimmick."
“As algorithmic systems become more prevalent, I’ve begun to notice of a variety of emergent behaviors evolving to work around these constraints, to deal with the insufficiency of these black box systems…The first behavior is adaptation. These are situations where I bend to the system’s will. For example, adaptations to the shortcomings of voice UI systems — mispronouncing a friend’s name to get my phone to call them; overenunciating; or speaking in a different accent because of the cultural assumptions built into voice recognition. We see people contort their behavior to perform for the system so that it responds optimally.”
Alexis Lloyd (NYTimes R&D) shares some interesting views under the title In the Loop: Designing Conversations with Algorithms.
Rather than simply seeing these behaviors as a series of exploits or hacks, I see them as signals of a changing posture towards computational systems. Culturally, we are now familiar enough with computational logic that we can conceive of the computer as a subject, an actor with a controlled set of perceptions and decision processes. And so we are beginning to create relationships where we form mental models of the system’s subjective experience and we respond to that in various ways. Rather than seeing those systems as tools, or servants, or invisible masters, we have begun to understand them as empowered actors in a flat ontology of people, devices, software, and data, where our voice is one signal in a complex network of operations. And we are not at the center of this network. Sensing and computational algorithms are continuously running in the background of our lives. We tap into them as needed, but they are not there purely in service of the end user, but also in service of corporate goals, group needs, civic order, black markets, advertising, and more. People are becoming human nodes on a heterogeneous, ubiquitous and distributed network. This fundamentally changes our relationship with technology and information. — In the Loop: Designing Conversations With Algorithms | superflux
Twitter / crouchingbadger: “Car Parking fail from NCP. Virus on payment machine at BHX airport. Shortly afterwards all exit barriers failed.” via @iamdanw
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government masterminded the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” — a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks, The Associated Press has learned.
The Obama administration project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba’s stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform. First, the network would build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then, the plan was to push them toward dissent.
Yet its users were neither aware it was created by a U.S. agency with ties to the State Department, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them, in the hope that the information might be used someday for political purposes.
It is unclear whether the scheme was legal under U.S. law, which requires written authorization of covert action by the president and congressional notification. Officials at the USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it. The Cuban government declined a request for comment. — US Secretly Built ‘Cuban Twitter’ To Stir Unrest : NPR
Big-data surveillance is dangerous exactly because it provides solutions to these problems. Individually tailored, subtle messages are less likely to produce a cynical reaction. Especially so if the data collection that makes these messages possible is unseen. That’s why it’s not only the NSA that goes to great lengths to keep its surveillance hidden. Most Internet firms also try to monitor us surreptitiously. Their user agreements, which we all must “sign” before using their services, are full of small-font legalese. We roll our eyes and hand over our rights with a click. Likewise, political campaigns do not let citizens know what data they have on them, nor how they use that data. Commercial databases sometimes allow you to access your own records. But they make it difficult, and since you don’t have much right to control what they do with your data, it’s often pointless.
This is why the state-of-the-art method for shaping ideas is not to coerce overtly but to seduce covertly, from a foundation of knowledge. These methods don’t produce a crude ad—they create an environment that nudges you imperceptibly. Last year, an article in Adweek noted that women feel less attractive on Mondays, and that this might be the best time to advertise make-up to them. “Women also listed feeling lonely, fat and depressed as sources of beauty vulnerability,” the article added. So why stop with Mondays? Big data analytics can identify exactly which women feel lonely or fat or depressed. Why not focus on them? And why stop at using known “beauty vulnerabilities”? It’s only a short jump from identifying vulnerabilities to figuring out how to create them. The actual selling of the make-up may be the tip of the iceberg. — Is the Internet good or bad? Yes. — Matter — Medium
Cloak: Anti-social network mapping | Mapbox
“Cloak is your radar for avoiding undesirable real-world interactions in an age of social media saturation. Dating to the Second World War, radar displays have long featured green to display their output. Like the original cathode ray tube on which they were based, radar technologies made use of the phosphorescent properties of their component materials. The glass screen of CRTs was frequently back-coated with phosphors, and since those which caused a green coloring had the longest color persistence before fadeoff, they became the favorite amongst radar operators for seeing objects on the display longer than just the radar signal-synced sweep of the oscilloscope voltage across the screen.”
Auto-correct turns ‘no make-up selfie’ donations into polar bear adoptions - Gadgets & Tech - Life & Style - The Independent
"Users who mistakenly sent the keyword ‘DONATE’ rather than ‘BEAT’ to text number 70099 donated money to Unicef by mistake, reports the BBC.
"Other charitable individuals whose phones autocorrected the word ‘BEAT’ to ‘BEAR’ found that they had begun the process to adopt "an adorable polar bear" in a scheme organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)."
A Giant, Secret Vault Where Rich People Store Their Stuff Tax-Free : Planet Money : NPR
Freeports are the safe-deposit boxes of the offshore tax-haven world — fancy vaults where rich people store their Picassos and gold bars with maximal safety, minimal scrutiny and special tax exemptions. Not surprisingly, the classic freeport is in Geneva. Last year, a Times reporter asked an art insurer to value the art stored there. “I doubt you’ve got a piece of paper wide enough to write down all the zeros,” the insurer said. Singapore, which is basically becoming the new Switzerland, opened its own, giant freeport in 2010. “When you go to a bank and rent a safe, nobody knows what goes in. It’s the same thing here,” one of the founders of the Singapore freeport told the WSJ when the facility opened. “They only need to give a code that indicates the broad nature of the item—gold, wine or a painting. There’s no value, no ownership, no inventory list—all details are confidential. We offer more confidentiality than Geneva.”Singapore Freeport Website The high-security, high-concept vault where Deutsche Bank will store $9 billion of gold – Quartz
White Guys Wearing Oculus Rifts (Tumblr)