The Global Carbon Surveillance State Is Coming

from NYTs For decades, those of us wondering why so little action had been taken to reduce carbon emissions, and why the public felt so little urgency about that failure, would sometimes lament that carbon dioxide was invisible. Unlike the pollution that smogged up cities, set rivers on fire and inspired the Clean Air and Water Acts here and similar legislation abroad, the stuff that was damaging the climate was being put into the atmosphere without anyone really seeing it. That’s why one of the most fascinating developments from this year’s major climate conference, COP27, which kicked off Nov. 6 […]

Continue reading

The Email Elon Musk Just Sent To Twitter Employees Is A Masterclass In How Not To Communicate

from Fast Company Elon Musk has made quite a first impression on his new employees. During his first few weeks as CEO of Twitter, he laid off some 3,700 workers.  Since acquiring the company on October 27, Musk hadn’t formally spoken to the majority of staff who remain at Twitter. “Any sort of communication about anything would honestly just be the first step,” one Twitter employee working out of the company’s New York City office told me last week. “No one hears anything.” Today, Musk fixed that—sort of—but, in so doing, managed to send what some leadership experts describe as […]

Continue reading

The Coldhearted Carbon Math

from NYTs Last November in Glasgow, the annual United Nations climate conference ended with its president, Alok Sharma, declaring that the global goal of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius had been just barely kept alive. “Its pulse is weak,” he said. This week in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, delegates reconvened for COP27, this year’s conference, amid a flurry of confident assertions that the same goal — which has energized and mobilized a global generation of activists and provides the conventional standard for judging progress on emissions — was now dead. “Say goodbye to 1.5° C,” The Economist intoned on […]

Continue reading

Algorithms Quietly Run The City Of DC – And Maybe Your Hometown

from ars technica Washington, DC, is the home base of the most powerful government on earth. It’s also home to 690,000 people—and 29 obscure algorithms that shape their lives. City agencies use automation to screen housing applicants, predict criminal recidivism, identify food assistance fraud, determine if a high schooler is likely to drop out, inform sentencing decisions for young people, and many other things. That snapshot of semiautomated urban life comes from a new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The nonprofit spent 14 months investigating the city’s use of algorithms and found they were used across 20 […]

Continue reading

Drought Conditions Drop the Mississippi River to Historic Lows

from The Atlantic Months of dry conditions in the Ohio River Valley and along the upper Mississippi basin have dropped the lower Mississippi River to levels that are approaching record lows. The narrowed channels and shallow water have affected barge traffic, making some docks inaccessible, slowing travel, and driving up the cost of freight. In some places, long-lost relics have been discovered, such as an old shipwreck on a riverbank in Louisiana, while in other places people have been able to explore features that are usually surrounded by water. More here.

Continue reading

Iran’s Internet Blackouts Are Part of a Global Menace

from Wired FOR THE PAST five weeks, thousands of Iranians, led by courageous young women, have taken to the streets of dozens of cities around the country, driven to action by the case of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died while in the custody of the country’s Morality Police. At tremendous risk to their safety, these young people are demanding an end to years of oppression, burning their hijabs, shearing their hair, and marching in solidarity as the protest anthem Baraye, with its chorus “for women, life, freedom,” echoes through the streets. Authorities have responded with a brutal […]

Continue reading

The Fallout From the First Trial of a Corporate Executive for ‘Covering Up’ a Data Breach

from Lawfare Uber’s former chief security officer (CSO), Joe Sullivan, was found guilty on Oct. 5 of obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. § 1505) and misprision of a felony (18 U.S.C. § 4) based on what the Justice Department called his “attempted cover-up of a 2016 hack of Uber.”  In 2016, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was investigating Uber for an earlier incident, Sullivan learned of another hacking incident that affected the Uber accounts of more than 57 million riders and drivers. In its prosecution of Sullivan, the government alleged that, rather than disclose the incident to the FTC, […]

Continue reading

December Argument Session Will Feature Divisive Cases On Election Law, First Amendment

from SCOTUSblog The Supreme Court’s December argument session will feature two of the highest-profile cases of the 2022-23 term: a free-speech claim by a website designer who opposes same-sex marriage and a case involving the power of state legislatures to set rules for federal elections. That news came with the release of the court’s December argument calendar on Tuesday. The justices will hear argument in 303 Creative v. Elenis, the case brought by Colorado website designer Lorie Smith, on Dec. 5. Smith wants to expand her business to create custom wedding websites, but she opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds […]

Continue reading

After The Pandemic, Heavy Burdens For A Covid Generation

from WaPo Ask anyone who has experienced the lingering maladies of the pandemic, and they’ll tell you long covid is no figment of the imagination. Tiredness, breathlessness, body aches and “brain fog” hang around for millions of people. Some of these symptoms are also common without covid, and researchers are trying to pin down with precision the lasting damage this virus can do to the human body. They are far from a full understanding. That’s why a new study in Scotland is important. It was aimed at discovering the frequency, nature, determinants and impact of long covid on a large […]

Continue reading

What Will AI Do To Branding?

from Fast Company A few months ago, when artificial-intelligence services that generated images based on text prompts started taking over the Internet, Heinz decided to test just how much its brand was synonymous with ketchup in general. Working with the agency Rethink, Heinz asked AI image-maker DALL-E 2 to render “ketchup” and variations with different aesthetic modifiers (“renaissance,” “impressionism,” “street art,” etc.). The results, though varied in style, were all unmistakably Heinz-centric—notably referencing the unique shape of the Heinz label. Apart from being a fun stunt, it was a mighty flex, demonstrating the power of the Heinz brand. More here.

Continue reading

9 Astonishing Ways That Living Standards Have Improved Around The World

from Big Think Over the last 200 years, the lives of average people in every country have been radically transformed and improved. In our modern day, we are living longer and are more prosperous than ever before — in both high-income and low-income countries. And while progress forward is by no means progress completed nor a guarantee of progress to come, the remarkable improvements in global living standards serve, not as a high water or finish line, but rather as a source of inspiration and hope.  More here.

Continue reading

Boston Dynamics *Really* Does Not Want You To Add Weapons To Its Robots

from ars technica Boston Dynamics and several other robotics companies have pledged not to weaponize “general purpose robots” according to an open letter released publicly on Thursday and first reported by Axios. Although with sizable caveats in place, the letter focuses mostly on unauthorized public misuse of their products. In the letter, titled “General Purpose Robots Should Not Be Weaponized,” six companies (Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Boston Dynamics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics, and Unitree Robotics) spell out concerns about “risks of harm and serious ethical issues” from the weaponization of their general-purpose products, fearing that it will “harm public trust in the […]

Continue reading

The Tech Site That Took On China’s Surveillance State

from The Atlantic Behind Heights Market & Deli (“Home of the Hoagie”) and next to Finishers Mixed Martial Arts gym, in a neighborhood of tidy lawns adorned with reflective gazing balls, sits a mundane warehouse that is the headquarters of an obscure news organization with an equally mundane name: Internet Protocol Video Market. The nondescript location gives little clue about what kind of journalistic enterprise goes on here. IPVM’s office has no newsroom with reporters clacking on keyboards and TVs playing cable news. Instead, technicians run surveillance cameras and other security equipment through a litany of tests. Some journalist staff […]

Continue reading

Meta Disrupted China-Based Propaganda Machine Before It Reached Many Americans

from ars technica China’s ability to influence American politics by manipulating social media platforms has been a topic of much scrutiny ahead of the midterm elections, and this week has marked some progress toward mitigating risks on some of the most popular US platforms. US President Joe Biden is currently working on a deal with China-based TikTok—often regarded as a significant threat to US national security—with the one goal of blocking potential propaganda or misinformation campaigns. Now today, Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, shared a report detailing the steps it took to remove the first “Chinese-origin influence operation” that […]

Continue reading

Wyoming Will Soon Be Home To The World’s Largest Carbon Removal Facility

from Fast Company In rural Wyoming, a sprawling field will soon be filled with dozens of shipping container-sized boxes that can pull CO2 from the atmosphere to help combat climate change. The captured CO2, compressed into a liquid, will travel through pipelines into nearby wells that are drilled thousands of feet underground, storing it permanently. Everything will run on clean energy. The first units in the system, called Project Bison, will be running by the end of next year. By 2030, as it scales up, the project plans to capture five million metric tons of CO2 a year, or roughly […]

Continue reading

How An Enormous Project Attempted To Map The Sky Without Computers

from ars technica Recently, the European Space Agency released the third installment of data from the Gaia satellite, a public catalog that provides the positions and velocities of over a billion stars. This is our most recent attempt to answer some of the most long-standing questions in astronomy: How are stars (and nebulae) spread out across the sky? How many of them are there, how far away are they, and how bright are they? Do they change in position or brightness? Are there new classes of objects that are unknown to science? For centuries, astronomers have tried to answer these […]

Continue reading

So, You Want Twitter to Stop Destroying Democracy

from Wired A SPECTER HAUNTS the Discourse, and it’s the sense that Twitter is bad for you. There’s certainly been some chin-wagging about this—on Twitter itself (in one of its usual ironies) and in spaces like this one, where I’ve argued that the platform’s very design promotes toxic use. But claiming to quit Twitter only to come slinking back is a time-honoured tradition; numerous users embarrassed themselves by proclaiming Elon Musk’s inevitably abortive takeover to be the last straw, only to find the site’s allure impossible to resist. More alarmingly, powerful and influential people—call them “epistemic elites”—seem to be among […]

Continue reading

When Teens Find Misinformation, These Teachers Are Ready

from NYTs Between lessons about the Revolutionary War and the functions of Congress, juniors in several history and U.S. government classes at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs are taught to defend themselves against disinformation. The students, many of them on the cusp of voting age, spend up to two weeks each fall exploring how falsehoods, prejudices and opinions can lurk in the many places they get information. They learn to trace the origins of documents, to validate a website by leaving it to consult other sources and to train a critical eye on the claims made by TikTok influencers […]

Continue reading

Change: The Inevitable Choice Forward

from Educause If you ask people how they feel about change, many will say that change can be difficult, especially when it is rapid and unexpected. If change is difficult for many, then why do it? Why change? We change inevitably as we age, and we change intentionally when we alter the conditions of our mental and physical environments. Positive change is a balance of tradition and innovation; society has shown it can adapt to new trends while standing on the shoulders of tradition. For instance, successful efforts to develop and distribute effective COVID-19 vaccines rested on decades of accumulated […]

Continue reading