Issue 682

Wednesday, 18th July 2018

In This Issue


Artificial intelligence experts sign pledge to use their skills for good, not evil

The world's leading artificial intelligence experts have pledged not to use their skills for lethal military applications (but making cash off military that don't kill people is cool). Signatories of this promise include "SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk; the three co-founders of Google’s DeepMind subsidiary, Shane Legg, Mustafa Suleyman, and Demis Hassabis; Skype founder Jaan Tallinn; and some of the world’s most respected and prominent AI researchers, including Stuart Russell, Yoshua Bengio, and Jürgen Schmidhuber". They all agree that the decision to kill someone should not be placed in the hands of a machine. The group also wants the government to come up with international regulations and laws to prevent autonomous killing machines, as once the robo-arms race starts, it'll be incredibly difficult to stop with nobody wanting to be the one with weaker weapons.

76 security experts sign open letter begging the government to not introduce anti-encryption laws

Global digital rights organisation Access Now, has sent an open letter signed by 76 groups, companies, and individuals to the Australian federal government, asking the government to "abandon plans to introduce legislation that would undermine strong encryption". This is all part of the government's strong desire to access the private communications of people using end-to-end encryption, because the government is afraid of how it can be used in crimes (like terrorism and kiddie fiddling), leaving law enforcement totally blind. According to the article, "the federal government is expected to unveil legislation that would force tech companies to decrypt communications for law enforcement in the coming weeks". I can't wait to see how the government shits the bed on this issue. Check out the open letter here.

Reporter goes undercover in Facebook's moderation team & sees some bad stuff

The UK's Channel 4 sent an undercover reporter to the Irish company Facebook outsources its content moderation to, just to see what it's like to work in that sorta environment. Some of the stuff they saw included violent child abuse videos left online despite many users reporting it, a general inability to keep up with the flood of content to moderate, not taking action to delete the accounts of users clearly under the age of 13, far-right group pages left online because "they have a lot of followers so they’re generating a lot of revenue for Facebook". Facebook went into damage control, writing this blog post and a more detailed letter, in an attempt to explain themselves. Here's a link to the documentary, but you need a UK VPN to watch it.

US election management software used a decade ago is terribly insecure

Back in 2006, 60% of election management systems used in the USA were made by a company called Election Systems and Software (ES&S). These systems take all the votes cast on various machines and aggregate the final election result. The PCs running this software were managed by ES&S using Symantec's pcAnywhere software. pcAnywhere has been a piece of absolute shit for years and when you connect important vote counting systems to the internet and leave them with their pants down, flapping in the wind, how can you trust the results in these elections? That's the question US Senator Ron Wyden is asking and ES&S is refusing to answer in public.

Day 3 of people trying to opt-out of My Health Record

After all the fuss about My Health Record's privacy implications the past 2 days, it's incredibly ironic (and worrying) that the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner’s website was down last night and this morning, displaying an Apache directory listing instead of the website it was supposed to. Over on Crikey (it's behind a paywall, sorry), there's a great article explaining how the boss of My Health Record was the boss of, the UK's disastrous national health record system. It was so bad they closed it down after a few years of embarrassments. Yet here in Australia we're doing the same thing and making the same mistakes. Ugh. Malcolm Turnbull's hand picked former DTA chief said today that if he was an Australian citizen, he would opt-out of My Health Record.

Not News, But Still Cool

Look at this tiny $21 video camera

Look at this tiny camera on Gearbest for $21. It's the size of dice you get in a board game and can inhale a microSD card to record footage on. Hook it up to any old USB battery over a microUSB cable and you've got an inconspicuous, cheap camera for candid recording of whatever you want. When the event is over, retrieve the camera, plug the SD card into your computer and edit the footage! There's probably smaller and better quality cameras around, or even cheaper ones on Aliexpress, but I just saw this one and wanted to share it.

The Sweet Setup is like the Wirecutter, but for Mac & iOS apps

The Sweet Setup is kinda like Wirecutter, but for Mac & iOS apps. They try out heaps of the same apps in a specific category and recommend one to you. Like the best RSS reader for macOS (Reeder), the best cloud backup service (Backblaze), the best iOS app for annotating images (Annotable) and heaps, heaps more. It's my go-to site when I'm after an app for a certain task. It's also a nice blog to subscribe to as to keep up with what's going on in app land. There's so few properly maintained app review (both Mac & iOS) blogs these days. How's a person supposed to find the cool apps lurking around without them?!

Cheap Sonos One, Google Play gift cards, Nikon 50mm lens, Philips LED bulbs

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Regurgitator - Light Me On Fire