Microsoft Declares Its Underwater Data Center Test Was A Success

from ars technica Microsoft retrieved a 40-foot-long, 12-rack, self-contained underwater data center from its seafloor home offshore from the Orkney Islands earlier this summer. The retrieval of the Northern Isles began the final phase of Microsoft’s Project Natick research initiative, exploring the concept of deploying sealed server pods just offshore major population centers as a replacement for traditional onshore data centers. Project Natick has been underway for several years; we covered the two-month trial deployment of Leona Philpot, the company’s first underwater server pod, in 2016, and the deployment of the newly retrieved Orkney Isles pod in 2018. The potential […]

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How to Be an Expatriate in 2020

from NYTs Three years ago, Chuck Burgess and Kerstin Michaelsen were comfortably set up in New York City with good careers, a home in Manhattan and another in the Hamptons. But they yearned for something more. Not more in the sense of material things, but in the satisfaction derived from new adventures and new lands. They fantasized about moving abroad — an idea that seemed more attractive as the couple, both 50, settled into midlife. Ultimately it was a “heightened sense of our mortality,” Mr. Burgess said, that gave them the prod they needed, after three of their parents died […]

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New Ransomware Doesn’t Just Encrypt Data. It Also Meddles With Critical Infrastructure

from ars technica Over the past five years, ransomware has emerged as a vexing menace that has shut down factories, hospitals, and local municipalities and school districts around the world. In recent months, researchers have caught ransomware doing something that’s potentially more sinister: intentionally tampering with industrial control systems that dams, electric grids, and gas refineries rely on to keep equipment running safely. A ransomware strain discovered last month and dubbed Ekans contains the usual routines for disabling data backups and mass-encrypting files on infected systems. But researchers at security firm Dragos found something else that has the potential to […]

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Oh Sure, Big Tech Wants Regulation—on Its Own Terms

from NYTs Last week, a global gaggle of billionaires, academics, thought leaders, and other power brokers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s signature annual event. Climate change! The global economy! Health! The agenda was packed with discussion of the most pressing issues of our time. True to form, much of the musing ventured away from root causes. Climate change—barring strong words from Greta Thunberg and other activists—was customarily discussed in the context of financial markets and the economy. Rising inequality was predictably repackaged as a threat to “already-fragile economic growth.” It was an echo of Davos 2019, […]

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A Simple Way to Make It Harder for Mobile Ads to Track You

from Wired If you’re not careful, most of what you do online and in mobile apps will wind up fueling targeted advertising, all that data feeding into a composite profile of your likes, dislikes, and demographic information. But increasingly, even careful web users can’t avoid being swept up in the digital marketing dragnet. While it’s ridiculously difficult to get a handle on all this tracking, there is a simple step you can take right now to throw a tiny wrench in those industry-wide gears. Both Android and iOS force apps to use a special “ad ID” for tracking smartphones, which […]

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An Artificial-Intelligence First: Voice-Mimicking Software Reportedly Used In A Major Theft

from WaPo Thieves used voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive’s speech and dupe his subordinate into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a secret account, the company’s insurer said, in a remarkable case that some researchers are calling one of the world’s first publicly reported artificial-intelligence heists. The managing director of a British energy company, believing his boss was on the phone, followed orders one Friday afternoon in March to wire more than $240,000 to an account in Hungary, said representatives from the French insurance giant Euler Hermes, which declined to name the company. The request was “rather […]

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It’s Time To Break Up Apple

from Fast Company A recurring theme of the last two years–politically, culturally, economically–has been yelling out loud what was supposed to be merely whispered or implied; throwing caution to the wind and, essentially, telling on yourself. That’s exactly what Apple did yesterday. This Monday, the beloved tech giant announced its big plans to seek fresh revenue in areas where it’s already built a significant audience. You’ve been able to get loans to purchase Apple products–now it’s launching the credit card to end all credit cards. Before, you could read news on Apple’s News app–now the company is partnering with some […]

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The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom’

from The Atlantic You can buy almost any thing you want online—toothpaste, books, plastic devices that allow you to lick your cat. On digital work platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com, you can also buy nearly any service—often from someone halfway around the world, sometimes for just a few bucks. On Fiverr, one of the most popular of these platforms, you’ll find offers for someone who will write an e-book “on any topic”; a person who will perform “a Voiceover as Bernie Sanders”; someone who will write your Tinder profile for you, and someone who will design a logo for […]

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Why Technology Favors Tyranny

from The Atlantic There is nothing inevitable about democracy. For all the success that democracies have had over the past century or more, they are blips in history. Monarchies, oligarchies, and other forms of authoritarian rule have been far more common modes of human governance. The emergence of liberal democracies is associated with ideals of liberty and equality that may seem self-evident and irreversible. But these ideals are far more fragile than we believe. Their success in the 20th century depended on unique technological conditions that may prove ephemeral. In the second decade of the 21st century, liberalism has begun […]

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A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing

from Wired ONE OF THE most ubiquitous features of the internet is the ability to link to content elsewhere. Everything is connected via billions of links and embeds to blogs, articles, and social media. But a federal judge’s ruling threatens that ecosystem. Katherine Forrest, a Southern District of New York judge, ruled Thursday that embedding a tweet containing an image in a webpage could be considered copyright infringement. The decision can be appealed, but if it stands and is adopted by other courts, it could change the way online publishing functions. Here’s what happened: In 2016 Justin Goldman took a […]

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Is the Answer to Phone Addiction a Worse Phone?

from NYTs I’ve gone gray, and it’s great. In an effort to break my smartphone addiction, I’ve joined a small group of people turning their phone screens to grayscale — cutting out the colors and going with a range of shades from white to black. First popularized by the tech ethicist Tristan Harris, the goal of sticking to shades of gray is to make the glittering screen a little less stimulating. I’ve been gray for a couple days, and it’s remarkable how well it has eased my twitchy phone checking, suggesting that one way to break phone attachment may be […]

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Capitalism Isn’t An Ideology — It’s An Operating System

from TED Bhu Srinivasan researches the intersection of capitalism and technological progress. Instead of thinking about capitalism as a firm, unchanging ideology, he suggests that we should think of it as an operating system — one that needs upgrades to keep up with innovation, like the impending take-off of drone delivery services. Learn more about the past and future of the free market (and a potential coming identity crisis for the United States’ version of capitalism) with this quick, forward-thinking talk. More here.

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How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science

from NYTs About as many Democrats live in Wisconsin as Republicans do. But you wouldn’t know it from the Wisconsin State Assembly, where Republicans hold 65 percent of the seats, a bigger majority than Republican legislators enjoy in conservative states like Texas and Kentucky. The United States Supreme Court is trying to understand how that happened. On Tuesday, the justices heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, reviewing a three-judge panel’s determination that Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn district map is so flagrantly gerrymandered that it denies Wisconsinites their full right to vote. A long list of elected officials, representing both parties, have […]

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Gill v. Whitford: Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court

from Brennan Center With Gill v. Whitford, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken the most important case in decades dealing with how Americans are represented in Congress and state legislatures. The case focuses on a Wisconsin legislative map drawn in 2011 by the state’s Republican leadership to give their party a significant, enduring partisan advantage ? essentially, to keep their party in power regardless of the will of the voters. By striking down the state’s map, the Court could finally draw a clear line indicating that some partisan gerrymanders are so extreme and harmful to American democracy as to be unconstitutional. With […]

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Combating Sexism in Tech With Honesty: The Impact of Upload’s Silence

from Medium I was the Creative Producer at Upload until most of the Upload San Francisco staff and I quit after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against its founders. We used to love Upload for its reach and ambition, but our trust in the company has faltered since our departure. These are my thoughts on bro culture in tech and the impact of Upload’s silence. Upload jump-started my career and made me feel welcome when I moved to San Francisco by myself. Will and Taylor treated me extremely well, and I once viewed them as both my mentors and […]

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I Wuv You Wobot!

from kottke Rayna is a small child who thinks this hot water heater looks like a robot and she is determined to say hi to it and tell it that she loves it. THIS IS THE CUTEST THING OF ALL TIME THAT IS NOT THAT PHOTO OF OTTERS HOLDING HANDS SO THEY DON’T DRIFT AWAY FROM EACH OTHER WHILE SLEEPING. In the future, when humanity is on trial for the mistreatment of machines, our randomly assigned legal algorithm will introduce this video as Exhibit A in our defense. I like our chances. More here.

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Does Your School Need Better Technology Or Better Thinking?

from TeachThought Using technology to enhance learning is an incredibly exciting idea, and as an area of education is growing fast. Blended learning, mobile learning, connectivism, and other increasingly popular ideas all owe their existence to technology. But the reality in the majority of public schools in the United States is less than cutting edge. While there is little data available to pinpoint exactly what is being done where, five of the more common applications of technology in the classroom appear below. The unfortunate reality here is that in lieu of significant progress in how technology is used in the […]

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The Best Of The Best U.S. Jobs Are Tech, Tech And Tech, Again

from USA Today Hey kids, want to grow up to land the best job in the country? Then keep poring over those math and science textbooks. Jobs that require a range of STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math) claimed 14 spots in Glassdoor’s new “50 Best Jobs in America” survey, out Monday. This includes the top-seeded position: data scientist, a job in which you employ considerable math and computer programming skills to wrestle huge amounts of raw data into intelligible and useful data sets. That job took the crown with a leading Glassdoor score that reflected the number of openings for the position (currently 4,184), a top […]

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The Next Manufacturing Revolution Is Here

from TED Economic growth has been slowing for the past 50 years, but relief might come from an unexpected place — a new form of manufacturing that is neither what you thought it was nor where you thought it was. Industrial systems thinker Olivier Scalabre details how a fourth manufacturing revolution will produce a macroeconomic shift and boost employment, productivity and growth. More here.

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