Category Archives: Technology

The Fall Of Facebook Has Only Just Begun, by 13D Research

Facebook still faces a sea of woes that are probably not reflected in its stock price. From 13D Research, via zerohedge.com:

The fall of Facebook has only begun. The platform is broken and neither human nor machine can fix it.

Even after losing roughly a third of its market cap, it still may prove one of the great shorts of all time.

“There’s no mental health support. The suicide rate is extremely high,” one of the directors of the documentary, “The Cleaners” told CBS News last May. The film is an investigative look at the life of Facebook moderators in the Philippines. Throughout his 2018 apology tour, Mark Zuckerberg regularly referenced the staff of moderators the company had hired as one of two key solutions — along with AI — to the platform’s content evils. What he failed to disclose is that the majority of that army is subcontractors employed in the developing world.

For as long as ten hours a day, viewing as many as 25,000 images or videos per day, these low-paid workers are buried in the world’s horrors — hate speech, child pornography, rape, murder, torture, beheadings, and on and on. They are not experts in the subject matter or region they police. They rely on “guidelines” provided by Facebook — “dozens of unorganised PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets with bureaucratic titles like ‘Western Balkans Hate Orgs and Figures’ and ‘Credible Violence: Implementation standards’,” as The New York Times reported last fall. The rules are not even written in the languages the moderators speak, so many rely on Google Translate. As a recent op-ed by John Naughton in The Guardian declares bluntly in its headline, “Facebook’s burnt-out moderators are proof that it is broken.”

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Technology: distracting, Disturbing, Deceiving and Deluding Ourselves to Death, by Jim Quinn

One way to tyrannize people is to distract them from what you’re doing. From Jim Quinn at theburningplatform.com:

“What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth.

When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.”Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Image result for huxley amusing ourselves to death

Something as mundane as using the restroom at work sometimes ends up triggering deeper thoughts about technology – its benefits, deficiencies and danger to our culture. I’ve been using the same restroom at work for the last twelve years. They remodeled the restroom a few years ago with the latest technology – automatic flushers, automatic soap dispensers, automatic spigots, and automatic towel dispenser. This technology is supposed to make things better, but from my perspective the technology just added complexity, glitches and unnecessary complications.

First off, these technological “improvements” did not eliminate any humans from the equation. The housekeepers responsible for the restrooms continued to be employed. Prior to the remodel they would fill a metal bin with individual paper towels and fill the soap dispenser with liquid soap. Now they have to insert a roll of paper towels in the electronic dispenser and a cartridge of soap in the electronic soap dispenser.

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Collapse Is Already Here, by Chris Martenson

Chris Martenson surveys some of the signs of environmental collapse. From Martenson at peakprosperity.com:

It’s a process, not an event

Many people are expecting some degree of approaching collapse — be it economic, environmental and/or societal — thinking that they’ll recognize the danger signs in time.

As if it will be completely obvious, like a Hollywood blockbuster. Complete with clear warnings from scientists, politicians and the media.  And everyone can then get busy either panicking or becoming the plucky heroes.

That’s not how collapse works.

Collapse is a process, not an event.

And it’s already underway, all around us.

Collapse is already here.

However, unlike Hollywood’s vision, the early stages of collapse cause people to cling even tighter to the status quo. Instead of panic in the streets, we simply see more of the same — as those in power do all they can to remain so, while the majority of the public attempts to ignore the growing problems for as long as it possibly can.

For both the elite and the majority, their entire world view and their personal sense of self depends on things not crumbling all around them, so they remain willfully blind to any evidence to the contrary.

When faced with the predicaments we warn about here at PeakProsperity.com, getting an early start on prudently shifting your own personal situation is of vital strategic and tactical importance. Tens of thousands of our readers already have taken wise steps in their lives to position themselves resiliently.

But most of the majority won’t get started until it’s entirely too late to make any difference at all. Which is sad but perhaps unavoidable, given human nature.

If everybody around you is saying “Everything is awesome!”, it can take a long time to determine for yourself that things in fact aren’t:

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The Double-Batteried Electric Polecat, by Eric Peters

If the only electric car models that can make money are high end speedsters, why are we subsidizing them? From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

The Electric Dementia continues to wax, the latest evidence of which is Volvo’s announcement about its Polestar performance car arm becoming its electrified performance  arm.

Hold up there, chief.

Weren’t electric cars supposed to be a better way to get around – that is, less expensive to own and drive, more convenient – rather than a faster way to get around?

And if speed is now the main EV draw, why is the government still subsidizing them? Isn’t it like subsidizing ribe-eye steaks and sushi for all? Which is a nice idea – if you’re the one getting the subsidized rib-eyes and sushi rather than the one getting the bill.

There is also an environmental affront here. High-performance cars, whether electric or IC, use more energy than cars designed to get from A to B as economically as possible. So why is the government subsidizing cars that are specifically not designed to get from A to B as economically as possible? Which use more energy, gratuitously – just for the fun of it –  and so, more resources and also (here it comes) emit more byproducts – C02, in the case of high-performance electric cars – than they neeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to?

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Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kind of Looks Like It? by David Samuels

Between them, Big Tech and the government could dish up surveillance Orwell couldn’t dream of. From David Samuels at wired.com:

A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of lifefor many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.

Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.”

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Pentagon Admits Russian Air Defenses “Changing U.S. Calculus” Abroad, by Tyler Durden

Russian anti-aircraft missile systems are better than the US’s, and there use threatens US air superiority. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

As the West has for the past two years distracted itself and obsessed over claimed Russian election meddling and those sinister online “disinformation campaigns,” the Kremlin has been busy establishing air superiority in places US aircraft could at one time operate with impunity.

According to a new lengthy report in the Wall Street Journal Russia’s S-400 antiaircraft missile system, which much of the western public has recently begun to hear about in the context of Syria, is now “changing the calculus of the U.S. and its allies in potential hot spots” as Russia is erecting a “new Iron Curtain” in the form of a series of effective and far reaching anti-air defenses stretching from the Arctic to the Middle East.

For starters, the S-400 system’s stealth-detecting radar system is able to cast a broad net around the Eastern Mediterranean from its Russian base positioning in Syria, and is further linked up to “a ring of air defenses” that stretches “North from Syria, along the borders of Eastern Europe and rounding the Arctic Circle to the east,” according to the report.

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Uncle Sam Wants Your DNA: The FBI’s Diabolical Plan to Create a Nation of Suspects, by John Whitehead

The government wants your DNA and they’re going to get it whether you want them to have it or not. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“As more and more data flows from your body and brain to the smart machines via the biometric sensors, it will become easy for corporations and government agencies to know you, manipulate you, and make decisions on your behalf. Even more importantly, they could decipher the deep mechanisms of all bodies and brains, and thereby gain the power to engineer life. If we want to prevent a small elite from monopolising such godlike powers, and if we want to prevent humankind from splitting into biological castes, the key question is: who owns the data? Does the data about my DNA, my brain and my life belong to me, to the government, to a corporation, or to the human collective?”―Professor Yuval Noah Harari

Uncle Sam wants you.

Correction: Uncle Sam wants your DNA.

Actually, if the government gets its hands on your DNA, they as good as have you in their clutches.

Get ready, folks, because the government— helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—is embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

As the New York Times reports:

“The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived. In 2017, President Trump signed into law the Rapid DNA Act, which, starting this year, will enable approved police booking stations in several states to connect their Rapid DNA machines to Codis, the national DNA database. Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.

Referred to as “magic boxes,” these Rapid DNA machines—portable, about the size of a desktop printer, highly unregulated, far from fool-proof, and so fast that they can produce DNA profiles in less than two hours—allow police to go on fishing expeditions for any hint of possible misconduct using DNA samples.

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