Weekly Axis Of Easy #70
This week’s quote: “The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” …by ?????
Last Week’s Quote was “Freedom and order are not incompatible… truth is strength… free discussion is the very life of truth.” …by Thomas Henry Huxley (a contemporary of Charles Darwin who is credited with having invented the term “agnostic”. Nobody got it.
THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted in the comments below.
The Prize: First person to post get their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.
In this issue:
- Microsoft open-sources its patent portfolio
- Walmart to monitor your stress levels and health while you shop
- Google AI can detect breast cancer with 99% accuracy
- Facebook and Twitter conduct coordinated purge of independent media outlets
- Snapchat CEO: We’re in deep trouble
- Geoff Huston: The Death of Transit
Microsoft open-sources its patent portfolio
Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) – the largest “patent non-aggression community” in the world. As part of that process the tech giant is open sourcing its entire patent portfolio. The move “covers everything related to older open-source technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack; newer technologies such as LF Energy and HyperLedger, and their predecessor and successor versions.”
Walmart to monitor your stress levels and health while you shop
Speaking of patents, Walmart recently applied for one on a biometric shopping cart handle. It will measure your heart rate, or body temperature and if some bodily function varied beyond expected parameters the cart will notify a Walmart employee, who will locate the customer to see if they need medical assistance (or, perhaps to find out if the reason their heartbeat is accelerating is because they just shoplifted something). The big question in my mind is whether Walmart will make it clear to customers that the shopping cart is monitoring their vitals.
Google AI can detect breast cancer with 99% accuracy
In case anybody thought I went a little hard on Google last week, a more upbeat story: Google’s AI subsidiary looks to be able to detect metastatic tumours – cancer cells which can lead to breast cancer, with a detection score of 99%. In comparisons with human practitioners during testing, the humans were prone to missing the early stage formations over 62% of the time. This type of cancer is responsible for 90% of 500,000 breast cancer deaths worldwide.
Facebook and Twitter conduct coordinated purge of independent media outlets
I held my tongue when the big social media platforms almost certainly coordinated their efforts to deplatform Alex Jones, because, well frankly it’s Alex Jones. The guy’s unhinged and despite raising a concerning precedent, that wasn’t a hill I wanted to die on. Then after conservative actor James Woods and later Rudy Havertstein (whose feed is brilliant!) were suspended from Twitter for reasons that can only be surmised as farcically arbitrary, the latest deplatforming of independent media outlets is starting to get worrisome. Facebook removed 800+ pages, some with millions of followers, including The Anti-Media, The Free Thought Project and Police the Police citing “inauthentic activity”. Which sounds like something overheard in a Maoist re-education camp.
Twitter joined right in, simultaneously suspending both the accounts of The Anti-Media and Free Thought Project and those of their founders. What’s undeniably clear now is that the incumbent platforms are operating on whim, selectively enforcing spontaneously formed standards on a personal preference basis. In other words, if @jack doesn’t think you’re “woke” enough, you’ll be gone.
If you read about this and you aren’t worried it may be because you perceive yourself to be cosily “on the right side of this” for now. Sooner or later everybody transgresses the boundaries of what I have come to call “hyper-moralization”, inevitably the entire social media landscape as we now know it, will eat itself.
The best take I’ve seen on this, including the background of establishment funding for Facebook and the giant platforms, is Caitlyn Johstone’s piece on Medium.
(In the meantime we’ll be setting up a mastodon instance for easyDNS members and continuing our research into Solid pods, email me if you’re interested in either)
Snapchat CEO: We’re in deep trouble
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel recently released an internal memo outlining the flailing tech unicorn’s existential crisis (to wit “we’re getting annihilated by Facebook”) and what to do about it (blah blah blah engagement, messaging, yada yada), maybe somewhere in there is a business model, who knows. This is what gets me about these b/s unicorns. They suck up millions of VC and storm the public markets with valuations in the billions on some app that appeals to children and then they get disrupted out of existence by someone else’s shiny metal object. Then everybody is left wondering “what went wrong?” They got funded. They launched. They IPO-ed. And people bought it. That’s what went wrong.
If you want to stop getting blindsided by debacles like this, then start building companies to last. Read “Built To Last” by Jim Collins. Have a business model. Have a reason to exist other than driving engagement among the 12 to 13 year old illiterate couch potato segment. Everybody who sunk money into this unicorn deserves to go to zero but I’m sure all the early stage backers and VCs already cashed out and made off like bandits. It’ll keep happening as long as we keep falling for it.
(The road less traveled is to build real companies, with real business models without loading up on VC funding and Angel dust. Something I wrote about at length on Guerrilla-Capitalism.com, see The Transition Overview: Building Companies that Matter)
Geoff Huston: The Death of Transit
easyDNS were among the proud sponsors of an Internet Society Canada Chapter event in Ottawa a few weeks ago. APNIC’s Chief Scientist Geoff Huston gave a talk entitled “The Death Of Transit”. To summarize ISCC chairman Tim Denton’s take on it:
“the Internet has come to be dominated by very few content distribution networks (CDNs) – Amazon, Cloudflare, Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Akamai and Microsoft are the principal ones….
The consequences are large, says Huston.
- the entire Internet is being repurposed
- the global addressing system (IP addresses, domain names) is much less relevant, and the reasons for supporting it diminish
- edge computers are now acting as televisions
- the internal parts of the network are now being privatized and removed from public regulatory oversight
The regulated world of telecommunications carriers shrinks to the distance between the CDN content bunkers and the consumer end points.”
In other words, the walled gardens aren’t just creeping around our desktops and browsers, where we experience the top layers of the internet. They are going all the way down the stack, to the transport level.
PDF of the slide deck: http://www.potaroo.net/presentations/2018-09-24-death-of-transit.pdf
That’s it for this week. Now get back to work.
P.S We’re doing a sponsorship where we’re offering a free domain with any new easyWEB hosting package – we also upped the disk quota and file transfers to like a billion mega-hertz or something like that, so we’re offering you the same deal: https://easydns.com/entry/freedomain
Manfred Haase says
As far as I remember my philosophy lessens, this quote goes back to the ancient greek historic Thucydides
Pavel M says
Not sure why you posted that article about Facebook and Twitter coordinating in closing account. It reads like a classic conspiracy theory article. It starts from an assumption that the accounts in question were closed by an action of employees. Then it’s taken as a fact and a lot of other strong assumptions are made. And then they are in turn taken as facts and so on. No other possibilities are expressed.
It would sound plausible if big social media did not have so many accounts it’s not possible to manage by human actions. We know how relatively easy it is to close some media accounts and even block apps from Google Play, for example. You just need to know that. I’m sure even with a certain technique it’s possible to block something at EasyDNS by, for example, sending some fake court papers etc. It’s the state of things, companies don’t want to spend lots of resources researching complains, they just basically act on them whatever comes in.
Mark E. Jeftovic says
Hi Pavel, speaking for easyDNS I can tell you it’s not possible to simply send in a fake takedown request which we will act upon. That’s one of the reasons why our policy is that it has to be an Ontario court order, even from a foreign court – those get executed via the Ontario Sheriff and we are experienced with that.
As for the conspiracy theory feel of that story, I have been watching this phenomenon play out for quite some time, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore it and pretend nothing is happening. I’m not saying there’s a shadowy cabal behind it all pulling the strings, but it is pretty evident that both Facebook, and especially Twitter are acting in increasingly arbitrary, and biased ways. The justifications proffered for suspensions against one political stripe or against independent media outlets are nonsensical, while at the same time it is trivially easy to find real actual hate speech and incitements toward violence from another political camps who remain untouched.
Another aspect to this story is that the mainstream press isn’t talking about it, so the only outlets left to do so are the independent ones, who are being increasingly marginalized and deplatformed. I expect this to get worse before it gets better and unchecked it will lead to a type of media concentration that goes against everything the netizen ethos stood for.
Tony Q. King says
Yeah, I’d hafta agree it was General Thucydides. But when I tried to confirm it with Dr. Duckduckgo, all he could do was tell us (via Wikipedia) how Thucydides gave us the masterful account of the war between Athens and Sparta.
Sparta eventually won, but Thucydides was sacked by then.
I have read it from YA author Carrie Jones, although she may not have been the first one to say it.