Issue 602

Thursday, 22nd March 2018

In This Issue


Day 4: Zuck emerges from his palace to face the angry peasants

Mark Zuckerberg has crawled out from his cave and spoken to Wired, CNN, The New York Times, Recode and of course, posted his own take on the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook situation. This summary from The Verge is a good read too. My favourite bit is Zuck saying, "where’s the line on hate speech? I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?" I love that old mate is finally grappling with his Frankenstein. Interestingly, Zuck reckons some regulation wouldn't be a bad thing and he is willing to testify before Congress. It would be nice watching him squirm. Locally, Senator Steele-John whispered about the possibility of making Australian politicians a bit more transparent how they collect personal information on voters and was quickly shot down by both the Libs & ALP.

Police upload video from Uber's blood thirsty robocar

Police have released a video of Uber's robocar killing a pedestrian. It shows the victim was jaywalking at night on a poorly lit road, that the human in the driver's seat was totally not paying attention (not that the driver could have avoided the jaywalker, no human would have) and the car's sensors don't seem to detect the person jaywalking. It'd be naive to draw any solid conclusions until the NTSB report comes out with footage of what the car's sensors really saw and when... buuutttt this seems to be the ideal scenario for a self-driving car to do its thing better than a human, yet it was totally hopeless on a straight road at night in perfect conditions.

Amnesty International reckon Twitter's an awful place for women

Amnesty International released a 16-month research project that says "Twitter has not taken adequate steps to address and prevent toxic content directed toward women, including death threats, rape threats, and racist, transphobic, and homophobic abuse" - a big call, but if you're a woman with a decent Twitter following, nothing new to you. 78% of the British women surveyed by Amnesty said they "can’t express an opinion on Twitter without receiving violent threats or abuse". Meanwhile, Twitter's CEO is crapping on about Bitcoin becoming the world's single currency within 10 years.

Foxtel & Village want to make it illegal to link to pirate content in AU

The federal government is running a public consultation to see how laws they introduced two years ago allowing Foxtel & Village to get piracy websites blocked via DNS are doing. Unsurprisingly, Foxtel & Village have submitted to that consultation that they need more powers to block more websites! They want to change the words "carriage service providers" to "service providers", which would mean websites can be forced via court order to remove links to pirate content. As usual they're trotting out the "local media industry jobs will die" angle to prod the government into making the change.

QLD still can't get its computerised payroll system working properly

Queensland's state government departments used to have a payroll system called Lattice, which imploded and was described as "worst failure of public administration in this nation". In 2014 the government planned to outsource payroll to Datacom, but scrapped the idea in 2015 after dropping $20m for planning and design. QSS was then given the job and was to have all government departments using this new Aurion system by the end of 2017, which was pushed out to the end of 2018 and today, has been pushed out to late 2019 as most departments are struggling to migrate from their old dilapidated turd of a payroll system to this new and shiny, but still a turd payroll system. Just another day in government IT.

Not News, But Still Cool

Fed govt is thinking about a $5 tax for international parcels

The government is floating the idea of a $5 tax on every parcel under $1000 entering Australia. It says the task of inspecting all these little packages flooding Australian shores via the magic of global commerce is an expensive burden and those profiting from it (primarily eBay & Amazon) should shoulder the cost. For what it's worth, items over $1000 incur a $90 levy already. The downside of this is that other countries could impose a similar fee on stuff Australians send there. Oh and don't forget the government's fermenting idea to charge GST on all imports under $1000 is still a thing.

Apple Watch detects 97% of abnormal heart rhythms when combined with a neural network

According to a study by the University of California and the app Cardiogram, the Apple Watch can detect abnormal heart rhythms within 97% accuracy. Over 139 million heart rate and step count measurements from 9,750 people were fed into Cardiogram's "deep neural network" and the results were superior to that of a purpose built FDA-cleared ECG monitor for the Apple Watch. The same researchers also think that hypertension, sleep apnoea and the early signs of diabetes could be detected via the Apple Watch's heart rate monitor and their deep neural network. You can get the full study here if you're keen.

Treat data like toxic waste and regulate it

Paul Ford outlines the case for treating data like toxic waste and enlisting some sort of government agency to mandate the handling of it. You've got companies that have chunks of data on us, like credit cards, addresses, dates of birth, things we buy, places we go, people we know and heaps more, yet the laws surrounding how they're handled (in the USA & AU at least) are weak and poorly enforced. A government agency like the EPA, but for data, could impose criminal charges on careless executives and slam massive fines on companies that might (might) make companies think twice about hoarding all this info on us for no other reason than the fact they can, and if they do decide to hoard it, at least try as hard as they can to protect it.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Deftones - Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)