cello — home page for the Verilogish programming language to design computational circuits in living cells.
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.
Quantified Baby — The 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.
SNES Code Injection (YouTube) — this human exploited various glitches in Super Mario World to inject the code for Flappy Bird. Wow.
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.
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)
The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism — The 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)
Thunder — Spark-driven analysis from Jupyter notebooks (open source).
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.
Tracking Voters — On 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.
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.”
Software Maintenance is an Anti-Pattern — Governments 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Samsung’s TV and Privacy Gets More Awkward — Samsung 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.
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%.
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.
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.
Analyzo — Find 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.
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.”