"privacy" entries

Four short links: 5 April 2016

Four short links: 5 April 2016

Programming Living Cells, Internet of Bricked Discontinued Things, Bitcoin User ID, and Paper-a-Day Roundup

  1. cello — home page for the Verilogish programming language to design computational circuits in living cells.
  2. Internet of Bricked Discontinued Things (BusinessInsider) — Shutting down Revolv does not mean that Nest is ceasing to support its products, leaving them vulnerable to bugs and other unpatched issues. It means that the $300 devices and accompanying apps will stop working completely.
  3. Bitcoin Users Reveal More Than They Thinknew technologies trace BTC transactions, attempting to identify bitcoin users. A number of startups have raised money to explore these new possibilities
  4. Last Three Months of Paper-a-Day (Adrian Colyer) — a pointer to the highlights from the 68 papers he covered in the first three months of the year.
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Four short links: 4 April 2016

Four short links: 4 April 2016

Verilog to DNA, Crypto Sequencing, How-To Network, and Quantified Baby

  1. Cello CAD — Verilog-like compiler that emits DNA sequences. Github repo has more, and Science paper forthcoming.
  2. Privacy-Preserving Read Mapping Using Locality Sensitive Hashing and Secure Kmer Voting — crypographically preserved privacy when using cloud servers for read alignment as part of genome sequencing.
  3. How to Network in Five Easy Steps (Courtney Johnston) — aimed at arts audience, but just as relevant to early-career tech folks.
  4. Quantified BabyThe idea of self-tracking for children raises thorny questions of control and consent, Nafus said. Among hard-core practitioners, the idea has not really taken off, even as related products have started hitting the market.
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Four short links: 29 March 2016

Four short links: 29 March 2016

SNES Code Injection, World Without Work, Spectrum Collaboration, and Mass Surveillance

  1. SNES Code Injection (YouTube) — this human exploited various glitches in Super Mario World to inject the code for Flappy Bird. Wow.
  2. Will Life be Worth Living in a World without Work? — new paper published in the Science and Engineering Ethics journal. Two distinct ethical/social issues would seem to arise. The first is one of distributive justice: how will the (presumed) efficiency gains from automated labour be distributed through society? The second is one of personal fulfilment and meaning: if people no longer have to work, what will they do with their lives? In this article, I set aside the first issue and focus on the second. In doing so, I make three arguments. First, I argue that there are good reasons to embrace non-work and that these reasons become more compelling in an era of technological unemployment. Second, I argue that the technological advances that make widespread technological unemployment possible could still threaten or undermine human flourishing and meaning, especially if (as is to be expected) they do not remain confined to the economic sphere. And third, I argue that this threat could be contained if we adopt an integrative approach to our relationship with technology.
  3. Spectrum Collaboration Challenge — DARPA’s next big challenge is based on the idea that wireless devices would work better if they cooperated with one another rather than fought for bandwidth. Since not all devices are active at all times, the agency says, it should be possible through the use of artificial intelligence machine-learning algorithms to allow them to figure out how to share the spectrum with a minimum of conflict.
  4. Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions (PDF) — This study explores how perceptions and justification of surveillance practices may create a chilling effect on democratic discourse by stifling the expression of minority political views. Using a spiral of silence theoretical framework, knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary act as moderating agents in the relationship between one’s perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online. Theoretical and normative implications are discussed. (via Washington Post)
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Four short links: 9 March 2016

Four short links: 9 March 2016

Surveillance Capitalism, Spark in Jupyter, Spoofing Fingerprints, and Distributing SSH Keys

  1. The Secrets of Surveillance CapitalismThe assault on behavioral data is so sweeping that it can no longer be circumscribed by the concept of privacy and its contests. […] First, the push for more users and more channels, services, devices, places, and spaces is imperative for access to an ever-expanding range of behavioral surplus. Users are the human nature-al resource that provides this free raw material. Second, the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science for continuous algorithmic improvement constitutes an immensely expensive, sophisticated, and exclusive 21st century “means of production.” Third, the new manufacturing process converts behavioral surplus into prediction products designed to predict behavior now and soon. Fourth, these prediction products are sold into a new kind of meta-market that trades exclusively in future behavior. The better (more predictive) the product, the lower the risks for buyers, and the greater the volume of sales. Surveillance capitalism’s profits derive primarily, if not entirely, from such markets for future behavior. (via Simon St Laurent)
  2. Thunder — Spark-driven analysis from Jupyter notebooks (open source).
  3. Hacking Mobile Phones Using 2D-Printed Fingerprints (PDF) — equipment costs less than $450, and all you need is a photo of the fingerprint. (like those of government employees stolen en masse last year)
  4. SSHKeyDistribut0r (Github) — A tool to automate key distribution with user authorization […] for sysop teams.
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Four short links: 4 March 2016

Four short links: 4 March 2016

Snapchat's Business, Tracking Voters, Testing for Discriminatory Associations, and Assessing Impact

  1. How Snapchat Built a Business by Confusing Olds (Bloomberg) — Advertisers don’t have a lot of good options to reach under-30s. The audiences of CBS, NBC, and ABC are, on average, in their 50s. Cable networks such as CNN and Fox News have it worse, with median viewerships near or past Social Security age. MTV’s median viewers are in their early 20s, but ratings have dropped in recent years. Marketers are understandably anxious, and Spiegel and his deputies have capitalized on those anxieties brilliantly by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars when Snapchat introduces an ad product.
  2. Tracking VotersOn the night of the Iowa caucus, Dstillery flagged all the [ad network-mediated ad] auctions that took place on phones in latitudes and longitudes near caucus locations. It wound up spotting 16,000 devices on caucus night, as those people had granted location privileges to the apps or devices that served them ads. It captured those mobile ID’s and then looked up the characteristics associated with those IDs in order to make observations about the kind of people that went to Republican caucus locations (young parents) versus Democrat caucus locations. It drilled down further (e.g., ‘people who like NASCAR voted for Trump and Clinton’) by looking at which candidate won at a particular caucus location.
  3. Discovering Unwarranted Associations in Data-Driven Applications with the FairTest Testing Toolkit (arXiv) — We describe FairTest, a testing toolkit that detects unwarranted associations between an algorithm’s outputs (e.g., prices or labels) and user subpopulations, including sensitive groups (e.g., defined by race or gender). FairTest reports statistically significant associations to programmers as association bugs, ranked by their strength and likelihood of being unintentional, rather than necessary effects. See also slides from PrivacyCon. Source code not yet released.
  4. Inferring Causal Impact Using Bayesian Structural Time-Series Models (Adrian Colyer) — understanding the impact of an intervention by building a predictive model of what would have happened without the intervention, then diffing reality to that model.
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Four short links: 3 March 2016

Four short links: 3 March 2016

Tagging People, Maintenance Anti-Pattern, Insourced Brains, and Chat UI

  1. Human Traffickers Using RFID Chips (NPR) — It turns out this 20-something woman was being pimped out by her boyfriend, forced to sell herself for sex and hand him the money. “It was a small glass capsule with a little almost like a circuit board inside of it,” he said. “It’s an RFID chip. It’s used to tag cats and dogs. And someone had tagged her like an animal, like she was somebody’s pet that they owned.”
  2. Software Maintenance is an Anti-PatternGovernments often use two anti-patterns when sustaining software: equating the “first release” with “complete” and moving to reduce sustaining staff too early; and how a reduction of staff is managed when a reduction in budget is appropriate.
  3. Cloud Latency and Autonomous Robots (Ars Technica) — “Accessing a cloud computer takes too long. The half-second time delay is too noticeable to a human,” says Ishiguro, an award-winning roboticist at Osaka University in Japan. “In real life, you never wait half a second for someone to respond. People answer much quicker than that.” Tech moves in cycles, from distributed to centralized and back again. As with mobile phones, the question becomes, “what is the right location for this functionality?” It’s folly to imagine everything belongs in the same place.
  4. Chat as UI (Alistair Croll) — The surface area of the interface is almost untestable. The UI is the log file. Every user interaction is also a survey. Chat is a great interface for the Internet of Things. It remains to be seen how many deep and meaningfuls I want to have with my fridge.
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Four short links: 22 February 2016

Four short links: 22 February 2016

Immersive Flood, Human Jobs, Anonymous Security, and Chrome Speed

  1. Facebook Creates Social VR Team (FT) — Facebook said that users had uploaded 20,000 videos in VR-friendly 360-degree format. At same time as HTC Vive VR Headset price is announced, LG 360 VR is announced, the new Samsung handsets come with a Gear VR headset, and Samsung’s Gear 360 camera is announced. There’s a heap of immersive hardware coming.
  2. AAAI-16 Panel on Future of Work (Tech Republic) — “It’s hard to argue that there will be new jobs for humans,” said Vardi. “It’s a vacuous promise.”
  3. Security Without Identification (PDF) — a David Chaum paper from 1985. Digital pseudonyms, handheld signing devices, Current systems emphasize the one-sided security of organizations attempting to protect themselves from individuals; the new approach allows all parties to protect their own interests. The new approach relies on individuals keeping secret keys from organizations and organizations devising other secret keys that are kept from individuals. During transactions, parties use these keys to provide each other with specially coded confirmation of the transaction details, which can be used as evidence.
  4. Killing Slow Chrome Tabs (Medium) — There is one not-so-well known tool in Chrome, that allows you to analyse how much resources the individual tabs consume. It is called Task Manager and you can find it in Menu > More Tools > Task Manager.
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Four short links: 18 February 2016

Four short links: 18 February 2016

Potteresque Project, Tumblr Teens, Hartificial Hand, and Denied by Data

  1. Homemade Weasley Clock (imgur) — construction photos of a clever Potter-inspired clock that shows where people are. (via Archie McPhee)
  2. Secret Lives of Tumblr Teensteens perform joy on Instagram but confess sadness on Tumblr.
  3. Amazing Biomimetic Anthropomorphic Hand (Spectrum IEEE) — First, they laser scanned a human skeleton hand, and then 3D-printed artificial bones to match, which allowed them to duplicate the unfixed joint axes that we have […] The final parts to UW’s hand are the muscles, which are made up of an array of 10 Dynamixel servos, whose cable routing closely mimics the carpal tunnel of a human hand. Amazing detail!
  4. Life Insurance Can Gattaca You (FastCo) — “Unfortunately after carefully reviewing your application, we regret that we are unable to provide you with coverage because of your positive BRCA 1 gene,” the letter reads. In the U.S., about one in 400 women have a BRCA 1 or 2 gene, which is associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
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Four short links: 15 February 2016

Four short links: 15 February 2016

Deep Learning Analogies, IoT Privacy, Robot Numbers, and App Economy

  1. Deep Visual Analogy-Making (PDF) — In this paper, we develop a novel deep network trained end-to-end to perform visual analogy making, which is the task of transforming a query image according to an example pair of related images. Open source code from the paper also available.
  2. Samsung’s TV and Privacy Gets More AwkwardSamsung has now issued a new statement clarifying how the voice activation feature works. “If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search,” Samsung said in a statement. “At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.” It only seems creepy until you give in and nothing bad happens, then you normalise the creepy.
  3. 2015 Robot Numbers (RoboHub) — The Robotic Industries Association (RIA), representing North American robotics, reported […] 2015 set new records and showed a 14% increase in units and 11% in dollars over 2014. The automotive industry was the primary growth sector, with robot orders increasing 19% year over year. Non-automotive robot orders grew at 5%.
  4. Mozilla, Caribou Digital Release Report Exploring the Global App Economy (Mark Surman) — The emerging markets are the 1% — meaning, they earn 1% of total app economy revenue. 95% of the estimated value in the app economy is captured by just 10 countries, and 69% of the value is captured by just the top three countries. Excluding China, the 19 countries considered low- or lower-income accounted for only 1% of total worldwide value. Developers in low-income countries struggle to export to the global stage. About one-third of developers in the sample appeared only in their domestic market.

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Four short links: 29 January 2016

Four short links: 29 January 2016

LTE Security, Startup Tools, Security Tips, and Data Fiction

  1. LTE Weaknesses (PDF) — ShmooCon talk about how weak LTE is: a lot of unencrypted exchanges between handset and basestation, cheap and easy to fake up a basestation.
  2. AnalyzoFind and Compare the Best Tools for your Startup it claims. We’re in an age of software surplus: more projects, startups, apps, and tools than we can keep in our heads. There’s a place for curated lists, which is why every week brings a new one.
  3. How to Keep the NSA Out — NSA’s head of Tailored Access Operations (aka attacking other countries) gives some generic security advice, and some interesting glimpses. “Don’t assume a crack is too small to be noticed, or too small to be exploited,” he said. If you do a penetration test of your network and 97 things pass the test but three esoteric things fail, don’t think they don’t matter. Those are the ones the NSA, and other nation-state attackers will seize on, he explained. “We need that first crack, that first seam. And we’re going to look and look and look for that esoteric kind of edge case to break open and crack in.”
  4. The End of Big Data — future fiction by James Bridle.
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