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Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

Surveillance by Algorithm

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Surveillance by Algorithm:

Indeed, ever since Snowden provided reporters with a trove of top secret documents, we’ve been subjected to all sorts of NSA word games. And the word “collect” has a very special definition, according to the Department of Defense (DoD). A 1982 procedures manual (pdf; page 15) says: “information shall be considered as ‘collected’ only when it has been received for use by an employee of a DoD intelligence component in the course of his official duties.” And “data acquired by electronic means is ‘collected’ only when it has been processed into intelligible form.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper likened the NSA’s accumulation of data to a library. All those books are stored on the shelves, but very few are actually read. “So the task for us in the interest of preserving security and preserving civil liberties and privacy,” says Clapper, “is to be as precise as we possibly can be when we go in that library and look for the books that we need to open up and actually read.” Only when an individual book is read does it count as “collection,” in government parlance.

So, think of that friend of yours who has thousands of books in his house. According to the NSA, he’s not actually “collecting” books. He’s doing something else with them, and the only books he can claim to have “collected” are the ones he’s actually read.

This is why Clapper claims — to this day — that he didn’t lie in a Senate hearing when he replied “no” to this question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

If the NSA collects — I’m using the everyday definition of the word here — all of the contents of everyone’s e-mail, it doesn’t count it as being collected in NSA terms until someone reads it. And if it collects — I’m sorry, but that’s really the correct word — everyone’s phone records or location information and stores it in an enormous database, that doesn’t count as being collected — NSA definition — until someone looks at it. If the agency uses computers to search those emails for keywords, or correlates that location information for relationships between people, it doesn’t count as collection, either. Only when those computers spit out a particular person has the data — in NSA terms — actually been collected.

[How broken is a system that allows people to hide behind lies of omission rather than demanding common use, or explain their definition. Sad.]

Written by Daniel

March 5, 2014 at 8:09 am

Posted in ethics, news, security

Giving FIOS a bad name

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Giving FIOS a bad name:

Please read this piece by David Raphael.

Summary: They’re slowing down access to AWS. If you host your application there, your readers and users get lower performance. Their reason, presumably is that they want Amazon or Netflix to pay to get the performance back (Netflix runs on AWS).

[snip -ed]

This is an outgrowth of a recent court decision that says they can do this.

But they probably will re-think it if it gets them the bad name they deserve.

[Shameful. Where's gigabit Internet I can feel good about?]

Written by Daniel

February 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Posted in ethics, tech

Continuations : Twitter: Life is Unfair?

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Continuations : Twitter: Life is Unfair?:

So why does the Twitter story remind me of Prof. Hausman’s admonition? Because it demonstrates the relative importance of hitting upon the right thing at the right time over early execution. This goes a bit against one of the historic ideas held dear in venture capital that execution matters more than ideas. And yes it remains true that an idea alone is worthless, you have to build something. But beyond that it turns out that building the right thing at the right time will let you get away with all sorts of mistakes. Conversely, hypothetically perfect execution but too early or too late or on the wrong variant will not get you very far. For everyone working really hard on a startup that’s not going gangbuster this seems, well, unfair.

So there you have it. Prof. Hausman was right all along. Actually not quite. I used to think that but more recently I have changed my outlook to: Life just is. Unfair implies some kind of moral standard. Somewhere somebody right now is building the next big thing and most likely it is not you. Just accept that and you’ll be happier.

[Raise your hand if you think it's you?]

Written by Daniel

October 14, 2013 at 8:05 am

Posted in advocacy, education, ethics

Fukushima leak is ‘much worse than we were led to believe’

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BBC News – Fukushima leak is ‘much worse than we were led to believe’:

The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents.

This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011.

But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.

They are worried about the enormous quantities of water, used to cool the reactor cores, which are now being stored on site.

Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.

“The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic,” said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.

“What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else – not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that.

[How many times do we need to go down this road? And guess where that sea water is headed?]

Written by Daniel

August 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Posted in environment, ethics, health, news

Wikipedia Corruption

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Wikipedia Corruption:

Andrew Leonard, writing for Salon, unmasks a blatantly corrupt Wikipedia editor:

The mind boggles. After years of styling himself as someone who specializes in scrubbing Wikipedia pages clean of “conflicts of interest,” Qworty/Young admitted to editing “the Wikipedia articles of writers with whom I have feuded.” How can Wikipedia possibly allow this man to keep his editing privileges? And how are we, the general public, supposed to trust Wikipedia, when Qworty’s record shows how easy it is to work out personal grudges and real-world vendettas in this great online encyclopedia for years without anyone taking action?

[Troubling.]

Source: Daring Fireball

Written by Daniel

May 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

Posted in advocacy, ethics

Unbiased Source, Right There

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Unbiased Source, Right There:

Third paragraph from Jungah Lee’s report for Bloomberg, “LG Display Profit Misses Estimates on Stalling Apple Sales”:

“Apple is losing dominance and will likely delay launching a successor to the iPhone 5 until at least September,” Harrison Cho, an analyst for Seoul-based Samsung Securities Co., said before the earnings release. “LG Display might have to wait until the third quarter to see strong profits as Apple’s new devices are mostly expected to be out in the second half.”

Samsung Securities. That Samsung. Jiminy christ.

[People it really is that bad. And again. Think about how topics this kind of fact checking is *not* performed for… how often is the news biased without disclaimer or just plain old wrong? A lot more than people think.]

Source: Daring Fireball

Written by Daniel

April 23, 2013 at 6:35 am

Posted in ethics, news

Zipp Wheels Technical Director Josh Poertner

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Zipp Wheels Technical Director Josh Poertner talks to BNA | Bicycles Network Australia:

The best case scenario of ceramic bearings in a wheelset is 1 watt at 30 miles and hour. We sell ceramic bearings and they’re $1000, but we’re honest: “guys, it’s 1000 bucks for a watt”. Tony Martin, at the worlds, rides thousand dollar ceramic bearings. For the consumer, you can buy a better tyre and you’ll save twice that. You put latex tubes in there you’ll save 6 times that amount. A new chain on your bike can be as much as 6 watts compared to a worn chain. Just cleaning your drive chain is a couple of watts. 1 watt of ceramic bearings is about 3 seconds per 40 kilometres. I can find you a minute for the 40k for very little money.

[It would be nice if more people in the industry were this honest about where the gains can be found.. great article!]

Written by Daniel

December 10, 2012 at 11:27 am

Posted in craft, cycling, ethics

Cycling’s Doping Problem: A Clean Athlete’s Persepective | MomsTeam

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Cycling’s Doping Problem: A Clean Athlete’s Persepective | MomsTeam:

I also got to the point where I knew that I couldn’t get any further without doping. After years of dealing with suspected dopers internationally, I finally had to deal with it at a national level. I, however, never felt like I didn’t have a choice. I knew I wouldn’t dope, so I made the tough decision: I quit. Yes, I’m sometimes bitter, but I have never regretted my decision. I can look back at my entire cycling career and know that everything I accomplished was clean, and I’m proud of that. That means more than any title or medal.

[A different perspective. I was thinking about the "give back the money to sponsors" part and disagree. The sponsors received the value they expected. And they all know the risks when they go down the endorsement road. But I know how she feels.]

Written by Daniel

October 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

Posted in cycling, ethics

Open infrastructure and the common good

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Open infrastructure and the common good:

At this very moment you’re using a magnificent outcome of this kind of “common good” approach that I’m talking about—the Internet. Yes, yes, I’ll pause for you to crack an Al Gore joke here, but let’s not miss the point. The Internet exists the way it does because no private or state actor owns it, right? The reason no private or state actor owns it is because of explicit decisions made by both its creators and funders to treat it as a common good. From TCP/IP up to higher-level protocols like HTTP and electronic mail, no company or government agency has the power to declare “from this point in time forward, things using this protocol will be different.”

Those protocols are open infrastructure. Sometimes they have nominal owners but control has been relinquished to a standards body; sometimes they’re true public domain. Businesses can build on them, governments can try to spy on them, and of course vice-versa—but they’re public roads, not private ones. Everybody can use whatever web browser they want or email client they want or MP3 player they want. People can (and do) build businesses on top of those protocols, just like businesses in the physical world are built on top of physical infrastructure that those businesses only pay for indirectly.

[Interesting thinking. But spot on in the above.]

Source: Coyote Tracks

Written by Daniel

September 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

Posted in advocacy, ethics, tech

Hiltzik: Anti-doping authorities don’t play fair against athletes

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Hiltzik: Anti-doping authorities don’t play fair against athletes – latimes.com:

The same people lining up to brand Lance Armstrong a cheater will worship a pitcher who undergoes Tommy John transplant surgery to save his career. The Oakland A’s Bartolo Colon will be missing 50 games for taking testosterone, but what about the batters he’s faced who have had their eyeballs surgically refabricated with Lasik so they can read his pitches better?

Is the rule that it’s OK to enhance your performance by scalpel but not by hypodermic needle? Then let’s discuss that and establish exactly what the grounds are for the distinction. Until we clear that up, along with why caffeine isn’t on the banned list but marijuana is, athletes will try anything they can to beat their records, thrill the masses and make money. And why not?

It’s all well and good to say the goal of the anti-doping system is to ensure that sports stay clean, and it’s certainly true that clean athletes have every reason to resent having to compete against cheaters.

But we’ve created a strange way to uphold these principles — a system that writes its own rule book, moves the goal posts at will, lies and fabricates to get the score it wants and fiercely resists playing before an objective umpire. Whatever you choose to think of Lance Armstrong, his case is just one more indication that the supposed guardians of honesty and integrity in sports are among the filthiest players of all.

[Excellent points all. The only part of these proceedings that make sense is the "don't cheat" stuff.]

Written by Daniel

August 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Posted in ethics, news

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