Category Archives: Technology

Three Wheels Bad, by Eric Peters

Here’s an intriguing new car that will cost about $7,500 and get about 80 miles to the gallon. Too bad nobody will be allowed to drive it, at least in the US. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

You probably haven’t heard of Paul Elio – probably because his car company hasn’t been the recipient of your tax dollars, nor the prostrate fawning-over of an adulatory press . . . unlike another car company headed by someone with name recognition on par with Coke and Jesus.

Paul’s car is simple and inexpensive – projected base price of $7,450. It is extremely fuel-efficient (80-plus MPG) and so makes economic and practical sense – two more reasons why you probably haven’t heard about it.

Which is probably why you’ll never get to drive it.

The Elio doesn’t meet the criteria which that other company’s cars do. They areexpensive – base price $35,000 for the least pricey version of the lowest cost model. They aren’t efficient – you’ll have to plan trips around the comparatively short range and lengthy time to recharge.

But they don’t burn gas – and that is the thing when it comes to picking the taxpayer’s pocket and being the recipient of press adulation.

The jihad against internal combustion – no matter the economics (or the other reasons) is a gale force hurricane blowing directly in the face of Elio Motors, but it’s the wind in the sails of that other car company.

Elio will probably not make it.

The company apparently has cashflow problems – but the much more serious problem is a government problem. It is not the absence, via the government, of a direct line  to the taxpayer’s pockets – which keeps that other company’s doors open. It is the probably insurmountable obstacle of acquiring the government’s approval for use on public roads.

Because the Elio is a three-wheeler.

This was intended to be Elio’s way of end-running the government’s saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety mandates, which have made four-wheelers both expensive and inefficient. Keeping the size – and weight – down is the key to getting the mileage up and the cost down. This has become very hard to do with four-wheelers, because they must pass all those government crash tests, including side-impact/offset barrier and rollover tests.

To continue reading: Three Wheels Bad
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Google’s File on You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook’s — Here’s How to View It, by Jake Anderson

If you look it up, you’ll probably be amazed at how much data Google has on you. There are ways to limit its data collection. From Jake Anderson at theantimedia.org:

With all the attention paid to Facebook in recent weeks over ‘data breaches’ and privacy violations (even though what happened with Cambridge Analytica is part of their standard business model), it’s easy to forget that there are four other Big Tech corporations collecting just as much — if not more — of our personal info. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are all central players in “surveillance capitalism” and prey on our data. New reports suggest that Google may actually harvest ten times as much as Facebook.

Curious about just how much of his data Google had, web developer Dylan Curran says he downloaded his Google data file, which is offered by the company in a hub called “My Account.” This hub was created in 2015, along with a tool called “My Activity.” The report issued is similar to the one Facebook delivers to its users upon request. Whether or not these reports are comprehensive is still up in the air, but Curran says his was 5.5 GB, which is almost ten times larger than the one Facebook offered him. The amount and type of data in his file, Mr. Curran says, suggests Google is not only constantly tracking our online movements but may also be monitoring our physical locations.

Curran’s Google report contained an incredible amount documentation on his web activity, going back over a decade. But perhaps more importantly, Google had also been tracking his real-life movements via his smartphone device or tablet. This included fairly random places he’d frequented, many of the foreign countries and cities he visited, the bars and restaurants he went to while in these countries, the amount of time he spent there, and even the path he took to get there and back.

This, of course, is not new. It has been well-known for some time that Google silently tracks you everywhere you go and creates a map of your physical movements through its Location History feature. You can deactivate it by going to your timeline and adjusting the preferences.

To continue reading: Google’s File on You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook’s — Here’s How to View It

What Makes AI Dangerous? The State, by Per Bylund

As with most new technologies that have both benefits and dangers, the dangers are most pronounced when the technology gets in the hands of governments. From Per Bylund at mises.org:

So I watched “Do you trust this computer?”, a film that “explores the promises and perils” of artificial intelligence. While it notes both the good and the bad, it has an obvious focus on how AI might bring about “the end of the world as we know it” (TEOTWAWKI.) That is, if it is left unregulated.

It’s strange, however, that the examples of TEOTWAWKI AI were “autonomous weapons” and “fake news,” the latter because of how it can provide a path for a minority-supported dictator to “take over.” While I understand (and fear) both, the examples have one thing in common – but it is not AI.

That one thing is the State. Only States’ militaries and groups looking to take over a State have any interest in “killer robots.” They’re also developed by/for those groups. The fake news and “undue influence” issue is also about the power over the State. Neither weapons nor fake news require AI. Yet, in some strange twist, the film makers make it an AI problem. Worse: they end the film indicating that the main problem is that AI is “unregulated.”

But this is completely illogical: with the State as the problem’s common denominator *and* the solution?

Instead, we’re led to believe that it is problematic that Google tracks our web searches and Facebook knows our friends and beliefs (“because autonomous weapons”?). While I agree that it is ugly, neither company is making a claim over life and death. In fact, they operate under the harshest regulation there is: the market. Because they are making investments to make money, and money can only be made in one of two ways: through offering something that people want and are willing to pay for (Oppenheimer’s “economic” means), or through simply taking it from people against their will (“political” means). Companies operate according to the former, which means they are subject to the mercy of consumers. The State operate according to the latter.

 

To continue reading: What Makes AI Dangerous? The State

Estonia Expands Massive DNA Grab Of 100,000 Citizens, by Tyler Durden

New developments in surveillance technology and practices are coming in from all over the globe, and so fast they’re hard to keep up with. Estonia breaks new ground in DNA tagging. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Alarm bells are ringing in Northern Europe, over the Estonian government’s latest attempt to take a massive number of genetic samples from its citizens.

Science, technology, and a government have usually been the perfect trifecta in every dystopian sci-fi thriller, as elected/unelected officials tend to gravitate towards all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful — over the mindless masses who unknowingly surrender their freedoms for comfort.

This seems to already be the case in the tiny former Soviet nation of Estonia, as its leaders have pushed for all things digital. The government has made it a top priority to embrace blockchain technology, provide internet access to all, and embark on the complete digitization of its citizens on one large platform — all owned by the government. So, it comes as no surprise, when the Estonian government has been quick to move in the creation of a biological database that collects DNA sequences of its citizen. Through mass surveillance programs, Estonian government will not only know what their citizens are searching on the internet, but will also have the knowledge of personal genetic information: ancestry charts, genetic composition, health history, and anything else that can be extracted from an Estonian’s double helix. So much knowledge in one organization is absolutely terrifying.

Starting immediately, the Estonian government will publicly launch the program to recruit and genotype 100,000 residents of the country as part of its National Personalized Medicine campaign. In the first run, the government projects an eight percent DNA grab of its total population. If successful, all indications are pointing to more massive grabs, as government officials are racing to construct its national DNA database.

The genetic testing initiative is a joint development program of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Institute for Health Development and the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu, which currently maintains the nation’s DNA database of around 50,000 citizens.

To continue reading: Estonia Expands Massive DNA Grab Of 100,000 Citizens

 

44 Democrats Exempted Awans From Background Checks Before Granting Access To Classified Intel, by Tyler Durden

Take Democrats’ “concern” about national security in conjunction with Russiagate with two tons of salt. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

As the Russian “hacking” episode continues to mire the Trump administration in nebulous innuendo and daily claims of collusion, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller reminds us that House Democrats participated in an actual data breach conducted by Pakistani-nationals who were given access to highly sensitive intelligence as part of their duties providing IT support to members of Congress – and in particular, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY).

Every one of the 44 House Democrats who hired Pakistan-born IT aides who later allegedly made “unauthorized access” to congressional data appears to have chosen to exempt them from background checks,” writes Rosiak.

All of them appear to have waived background checks on Imran Awan and his family members, even though the family of server administrators could collectively read all the emails and files of 1 in 5 House Democrats, and despite background checks being recommended for such positions, according to an inspector general’s report. The House security policy requires offices to fill out a form attesting that they’ve initiated background checks, but it also includes a loophole allowing them to simply say that another member vouched for them. –Daily Caller

Had any of the 44 House Democrats performed background checks, they would have discovered several red flags in Abid Awan’s past – including “a $1.1 million bankruptcy, six lawsuits against him or a company he owned; and at least three misdemeanor convictions including for DUI and driving on a suspended license, according to Virginia court records,” notes Rosiak.

To continue reading: 44 Democrats Exempted Awans From Background Checks Before Granting Access To Classified Intel

Never mind Facebook, Google is the all-seeing ‘big brother’ you should know about, by RT News

When it comes to collecting data, Facebook is an amateur compared to pros at Google. From RT news at rt.com:

The Cambridge Analytica scandal put Facebook through the wringer in recent weeks, losing the company $100 billion in stock value and prompting a global debate on internet privacy.

The social media giant was forced to apologize and overhaul its privacy and data sharing practices, but it still remains in the media spotlight and in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission, which says it may be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fines.

But amid all the furor, one monolithic entity has continued to harvest data from billions of people worldwide. The data gathered includes a precise log of your every move and every internet search you’ve ever made, every email you’ve ever sent, your workout routine, your favourite food, and every photo you’ve ever taken. And you have allowed it to happen to yourself, for the sake of better service and more relevant advertising.

Google is a ‘Big Brother’ with capabilities beyond George Orwell’s wildest nightmares. These capabilities are all the more chilling after Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., cut its famous “don’t be evil” line from its code of conduct in 2015.

Everything you’ve ever searched for on any of your devices is recorded and stored by Google. It’s done to better predict your future searches and speed up and streamline your browsing. You can clear your search history, but it only works for that particular device. Google still keeps a record of everything. Click here to see everything you’ve ever searched on a Google device.

The same goes for every app and extension you use. If it’s connected to Google, your data is stored. That means that your Facebook messages are not only farmed out to companies like Cambridge Analytica, Google also has them from the Facebook app you use.

YouTube, which is a Google subsidiary, also stores a history of every video you watch. It will know if you’ve listened to Linkin Park’s ‘In the End’ 3,569 times, or watched hours of flat-earth conspiracy theory videos.

To continue reading: Never mind Facebook, Google is the all-seeing ‘big brother’ you should know about

Not So Happy Motoring, by James Howard Kunstler

Electric cars must be completely green because their energy comes out of a plug on the wall. And where does the power from the plug come from? Don’t ask. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

It hasn’t been a great month for America’s electric car fantasy. Elon Musk’s Tesla company — the symbolic beating heart of the fantasy — is whirling around the drain with its share price plummeting 22 percent, its bonds downgraded by Moody’s to junk status, a failure to produce its “affordable” ($36,000 — Ha!) Model 3 at commercial scale, a massive recall of earlier S Model sedans for a steering defect, and the spectacular fiery crash in Silicon Valley last week of an X model that may have been operating in automatic mode (the authorities can’t determine that based on what’s left), and which killed the driver.

Oh, and an experimental self-driving Uber car (Volvo brand) ran over and killed a lady crossing the street with her bicycle in Tempe, Arizona, two weeks ago. Don’t blame Elon for that.

There’s a lot to like about electric cars, of course, if, say, you’re a Google executive floating through life in a techno-narcissism bubble, or a Hollywood actor with wooly grandiose notions of saving the planet while simultaneously signaling your wealth and your “green” virtue cred. Teslas supposedly handle beautifully, ride very quietly, have great low-end power, and decent range of over 200 miles. The engine has something like twenty moving parts, is very long-lasting, and is easy to repair or change out if necessary.

Are they actually “green and clean?” Bwaahaaaaa….! Are you kidding? First, there’s the energy embedded in producing the car: mining and smelting the ores, manufacturing the plastics, running the assembly line, etc. That embedded energy amounts to about 22 percent of the energy consumed by the car over a ten-year lifetime. Then there’s the cost of actually powering the car day-by-day. The electricity around the USA is produced mostly by burning coal, natural gas, or by nuclear fission, all of which produce harmful emissions or byproducts. But the illusion that the power just comes out of a plug in the wall (for just pennies a day!) is a powerful one for the credulous public. The cherry-on-top is the fantasy that before much longer all that electric power will come from “renewables,” solar and wind, and we can leave the whole fossil fuel mess behind us. We say that to ourselves as a sort of prayer, and it has exactly that value.

To continue reading: Not So Happy Motoring