2019/04/03: Security researchers in Israel dupe real doctors into misdiagnosing patients by hacking hospital X-ray-scanning machines and altering the images they produced.
Hackers trying to steal your data is one thing, but what if they tried to trick your doctors into thinking you had cancer? Or fooled them into ignoring it?
It's a ruse that's not as far-fetched as you might think. Security researchers in Israel recently duped real doctors into misdiagnosing patients by hacking a hospital X-ray scanning machine and altering the images it produced.
"In particular, we show how easily an attacker can access a hospital's network, and then inject or remove lung cancers from a patient's CT scan,"
2018/11/30: Photoshopped images and false claims about politicians have been circulating on the Facebook-owned messaging service in Nigeria, which holds election in February next year, according to a report from The Poynter Institute on Friday. Many of the false claims are in local languages and exploit ethnic friction. One set of false claims focuses on how politicians will address clashes between a group of semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers, Poynter said. Another rumor claimed a presidential candidate couldn't enter the US because of a corruption charge, Poynter reported.
2018/11/29: we mapped a digital campaigning industry whose breadth and depth far surpassed our expectations. This overview is the start of the a series in which we unpack our findings.
There are two features of these organisations that are important to their impact on democratic processes. Firstly, most of them are for-profit companies, with the primary aim of generating, maintaining and growing revenue, a business model that inevitably guides their decisions rather than traditional political metrics such as voter participation. Secondly, the organisations are, for the most part, hired for their expertise in data technologies rather than their knowledge or engagement in politics. Political campaigning is now often largely mediated by data-driven technology organisations.
2018/08/27: the best parts of travel are precisely the things that technology cannot touch.
Algorithms are great at giving you something you like, but terrible at giving you something you love. Worse, by promoting familiarity, algorithms punish culture.
One caveat: Avoiding algorithms doesn’t apply to traveling in beautiful places. I depend on algorithms in expansive natural parks. When I’m in Patagonia, I want to do the best hike. In Alaska, I was to see the prettiest glacier. The focus is on nature, not people. Depending on algorithms, however, doesn’t work as well in cities, where culture is more important than geography. City travel works best when we put down our phones, seek serendipity, and lean into another culture.
Distinct, foreign experiences in cities — which evolve around people —cannot be bought or sold. They can’t be found in guidebooks and you’ll find no reviews on Yelp. More, as I scroll down these algorithmic websites, I find bland experience after bland experience. When we rely too much on algorithms, we travel around the world and end up with the same experiences we’d find in our backyard.
As tourism increases, I wonder if we’re actually traveling less. To travel is to escape familiarity and learn into the head-scratching quirks of another culture.
Dan Wang said it best:
“We’re all traveling to more places now, but I wonder if their novelty is limited by our tendency to travel to them in all the same ways. We use online booking to find hotels close to the city center, Yelp for restaurants nearby, and grab coffee in cafés that frankly all feel the same at this point.”
Unfortunately, algorithms discourage this kind of culturally rich travel. In turn, they destroy difference and encourage similarly — a “globalized sameness-as-a-service.
2018/09/18: “Alternative Influence Network (AIN)”; an alternative media system that adopts the techniques of brand influencers to build audiences and “sell” them political ideology.
Alternative Influence offers insights into the connection between influence, amplification, monetization, and radicalization at a time when platform companies struggle to handle policies and standards for extremist influencers. The network of scholars, media pundits, and internet celebrities that Lewis identifies leverages YouTube to promote a range of political positions, from mainstream versions of libertarianism and conservatism, all the way to overt white nationalism.
Notably, YouTube is a principal online news source for young people.1 Which is why it is concerning that YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, has become the single most important hub by which an extensive network of far-right influencers profit from broadcasting propaganda to young viewers.
“Social networking between influencers makes it easy for audience members to be incrementally exposed to, and come to trust, ever more extremist political positions,” writes Lewis, who outlines how YouTube incentivizes their behavior. Lewis illustrates common techniques that these far-right influencers use to make money as they cultivate alternative social identities and use production value to increase their appeal as countercultural social underdogs. The report offers a data visualization of this network to show how connected influencers act as a conduit for viewership.
Increasingly, understanding the circulation of extremist political content does not just involve fringe communities and anonymous actors. Instead, it requires us to scrutinize polished, well-lit microcelebrities and the captivating videos that are easily available on the pages of the internet’s most popular video platform.
2018/10/03: There is no political issue more pressing than the official inaction on climate change. With time running out to avert hundreds of millions of deaths and global migration, food, disease, and water chaos, with 73% of US voters believing in climate change (albeit with a mere 57%
In a sample of 17 debates between candidates in competitive Senate and Congressional races, Media Matters found only a single question about climate, down from 25% in the 2016 election.
This year, the US blew through all spending records coping with climate change, spending at least $306 billion coping with climate-change-driven extreme weather events. But even in states where climate change has wreaked havoc, the candidates have barely mentioned the issue (and in many cases, they didn't mention it at all).
Connecticut, which is at risk from coastal and inland flooding, has had three gubernatorial debates, without a single climate change question.
The same is true for Kansas, which is at risk from drought, increasing tornadoes, extreme heat, crop failure and inland flooding; and Maine, which is at risk from coastal and inland flooding, as well as extreme heat and drought.
Rhode Island, which is at risk from coastal flooding, extreme heat, sea level rise and inland flooding, had no climate change questions asked during a gubernatorial debate. The same is true for Texas, which faces extreme heat, increasing hurricanes, drought, wildfires, and coastal and inland flooding.
Thus far, the one instance where climate change was brought into the debate was during a gubernatorial race debate in Minnesota, which is at risk from drought and extreme heat.
2018/09/14: while Brandeis believed that anyone had the right to express their views, he did not believe that anyone had the right to be amplified.
More importantly, he didn’t believe that anyone who had the means to shove a message down someone’s throat had the right to do so.
2018/09/16: our public school systems are barely providing basic literacy: about 1 in 7 American adults would struggle to read a children’s book. In higher ed, students last year graduated with an average of $39,400 in debt. The top 1 percent of American households today controls more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Our justice system puts African Americans in prison at five times the rate of whites.
And voting suppression and intimidation is everywhere — purges to voting rolls in Indiana, Texas repeatedly found guilty of discriminatory practices, gerrymandering everywhere turning Democratic votes meaningless. And Republicans are trying to pass a constitutional amendment that would require voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls, which research, as well as common sense, tells us suppresses minority votes.
Do you ever stop and marvel how everything seems to be in crisis all at once? Or, as an African-American friend said to me recently, now everyone in America has a glimpse of what it’s like to be black.
It’s not a coincidence, of course. In the system of democratic society, all the parts are totally interdependent.
2018/09/14: Democracy didn’t create our problems, but it may solve them.
the extremist evils of our age are the result of anti-democratic action from the very institutions created to preserve the elite veto over "mob rule."
Yet we continue to misdiagnose America's political disease as "mob rule" rather than "elite rule." This misdiagnosis matters, because it leads to prescriptions that merely heighten the grip by elites.
An honest examination of democratic decline would look at the ways in which our counter-majoritarian institutions are thwarting the public will—as expressed through its elected representatives—and how that can create support for truly destabilizing forces.
The transformation of the GOP into a parliamentary-style party primarily responsive to donors, right-wing activists, and conservative media is arguably the central problem for American governance.
What declinist arguments like Rosen’s actually fear is the waning influence of elites. And what these arguments seem to seek - in voicing nostalgia for early American politics - is an era where elites could steer governance with only the cursory affirmation of a narrow and exclusive public.
If political and economic elites have lost their stature in American life, it’s only after a generation of profound mismanagement, from misguided foreign adventures to wage stagnation and broad economic collapse.
If we’ve seen light, it’s in those places where ordinary people have organized and begun to build new movements and new ways of democratic living.
For all the recent hand-wringing in the United States over Facebook’s monopolistic power, the mega-platform’s grip on the Philippines is something else entirely. Thanks to a social media–hungry populace and heavy subsidies that keep Facebook free to use on mobile phones, Facebook has completely saturated the country. And because using other data, like accessing a news website via a mobile web browser, is precious and expensive, for most Filipinos the only way online is through Facebook. The platform is a leading provider of news and information, and it was a key engine behind the wave of populist anger that carried Duterte all the way to the presidency.
If you want to know what happens to a country that has opened itself entirely to Facebook, look to the Philippines. What happened there — what continues to happen there — is both an origin story for the weaponization of social media and a peek at its dystopian future. It’s a society where, increasingly, the truth no longer matters, propaganda is ubiquitous, and lives are wrecked and people die as a result — half a world away from the Silicon Valley engineers who’d promised to connect their world.
Trump-like so many other politicians and pundits-has found search and social media companies to be convenient targets in the debate over free speech and censorship online. "This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!"rnrnBut in this moment, the conversation we should be having-how can we fix the algorithms?-is instead being co-opted and twisted by politicians and pundits howling about censorship and miscasting content moderation as the demise of free speech online. It would be good to remind them that free speech does not mean free reach. There is no right to algorithmic amplification. In fact, that's the very problem that needs fixing.rnrnThe algorithms don't understand what is propaganda and what isn't, or what is "fake news" and what is fact-checked. Their job is to surface relevant content (relevant to the user, of course), and they do it exceedingly well. So well, in fact, that the engineers who built these algorithms are sometimes baffled: "Even the creators don't always understand why it recommends one video instead of another," says Guillaume Chaslot, an ex-YouTube engineer who worked on the site's algorithm.rnrn YouTube's algorithms can also radicalize by suggesting "white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials, and other disturbing content," Zeynep Tufekci recently wrote in the Times. "YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the rnrnThe problem extends beyond YouTube, though. On Google search, dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation can commandeer the top results. And on Facebook, hate speech can thrive and fuel genocidernrnSo what can we do about it? The solution isn't to outlaw algorithmic ranking or make noise about legislating what results Google can return. Algorithms are an invaluable tool for making sense of the immense universe of information online. There's an overwhelming amount of content available to fill any given person's feed or search query; sorting and ranking is a necessity, and there has never been evidence indicating that the results display systemic partisan bias. rnIt's imperative that we focus on solutions, not politics.
Free and fair elections require an informed, active body of citizens debating the electoral issues of the day and scrutinising the positions of candidates. Participation at each and every stage of an electoral campaign - not just on the day of the vote - is necessary for a healthy democracy.rnrnThose online have access to an increasingly sophisticated set of tools to do just this: to learn about candidates, to participate in political discussions, to shape debate and raise issues that matter to them. Or even, run for office themselves.rnrnWhat does this mean for those citizens who don't have access to the internet? Do online debates capture their needs, concerns and interests? Are the priorities of those not connected represented on the political stage?rnThe Mexican election: a story of digital inequalityrnrnMar195173a de Jes195186s "Marichuy" Patricio Martinez was selected as an independent candidate in Mexico's recent July 1 elections general election - the first indigenous woman to run for president. But digital barriers doomed her candidacy.rnrnIndependent presidential candidates in Mexico are required to collect 866,000 signatures using a mandatory mobile app that only runs on relatively new smartphones. This means that to collect the required endorsements, a candidate and their supporters all need a modern smartphone - which typically costs around three times the minimum monthly salary - plus electricity and mobile data. These are resources many people in indigenous communities simply don't have. While the electoral authorities exempted some municipalities from this process, it did not cover the mostly poor and indigenous areas that Marichuy wanted to represent. She was unable to gather the signatures needed.rnOffline and disconnectedrnrnIn Mexico, as in many countries, increased internet use has led to a growing number of political and electoral activities taking place online - a shift that offers new opportunities for broadening involvement and activating the electorate. In the country's July elections, the National Electoral Authority (INE) used its website, videos and social networks to encourage people to vote and to inform citizens about key electoral issues.rnrnBut just as Marichuy discovered, digital technology can only expand opportunities so far as people are connected and have the resources they need to engage. With only 64% of Mexico's population online, over a third of the country is shut out of the increasingly influential digital square. And those without internet access are disproportionately poor, female, indigenous and living in rural areas - people whose interests the institutions of government systematically fail to address, and who candidates should be paying particular attention to.rnrnMexico's digital divide is stark, with some entire communities without access. There are people living in indigenous communities who, to get online, must travel up to 40 kilometers to reach an area with connectivity. This is a huge burden that only a minority of people in these communities can afford according to research from the Heinrich Boll Foundation.rnrnIn a country as large and centralised as Mexico, ensuring broad based participation is critical. But as political parties shift from traditional campaigning to a digital-led model they are increasingly shifting their attention towards those citizens that are online, leaving those offline with fewer opportunities to inform themselves about candidates, their positions, and the issues on the table. These voices are being lost.
Why there is joy behind a system of hierarchies and formalised rules
An interactive series of maps show possible new additions to the world's list of independent nations.
2017/05/24: The individualisation of our exposure to information through ‘filter bubbles’ facilitates the atomisation of society and pushes dissenting voices to the margins.
2014/06/01: The vision of a free-floating digital cryptocurrency economy, divorced from the politics of colossal banks and aggressive governments, is under threat. Take, for example, the purists at Dark Wallet, accusing the Bitcoin Foundation of selling out to the regulators and the likes of the Winklevoss Twins.
Bitcoin sometimes appears akin to an illegal immigrant, trying to decide whether to seek out a rebellious existence in the black-market economy, or whether to don the slick clothes of the Silicon Valley establishment. The latter position – involving publicly accepting regulation and tax whilst privately lobbying against it – is obviously more acceptable and familiar to authorities.
Superman was the first superhero to introduce Americans to a new role for their government. Unlike the grandiose spectacle of the hero's current cinematic iterations, Superman's first appearance in
A fast-growing open hardware movement is creating ingenious versions of all sorts of technologies, and freely sharing them through social media. CERN is home to some of the largest and most complex scientific equipment on the planet. Yet back in March, scientists gathered there for a conference about DIY laboratory tools. Scientists in poorly funded... Continue reading ...