The advances in facial recognition technology get creepier and creepier. From Kashmir Hill at nytimes.com:
A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says.
Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos.
Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.
His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.
Nanotechnology may completely change our world. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:
Chris’ note: Chris Reilly here, managing editor for Casey Daily Dispatch.
As regular readers know, our founder, Doug Casey, believes times are about to get ugly – economically and politically. But it’s not all bad news.
Doug also says new advancements in science and technology will create the biggest change in human history.
And there’s one technology that stands out from the rest: nanotechnology.
Doug says when it comes into its own, within the next generation, “All of history will be rewritten as the pre-nanotech era and the post-nanotech era.”
These are bold statements. But read today’s Conversations With Casey and you’ll see why. Below, Doug breaks it all down for me…
Chris Reilly, managing editor, Casey Daily Dispatch: Hi, Doug. First off, what exactly is nanotechnology? And how is it going to change the world?
Doug Casey, founder, Casey Research: As I pointed out numerous times in these conversations and elsewhere, technology has been advancing at the rate of Moore’s Law for the past 200,000 years. That curve finally passed the knee joint and has been going towards vertical for the last 200 years. But heretofore a major thrust of technology has been to make things smaller. You’ve seen the computer fall from room size to iPhone size. That’s true with all electronics. You’ve seen engines go from big, inefficient steam engines to small, highly efficient jet turbines. Miniaturization has been great. It almost always makes things lighter, more efficient, and cheaper.
Nobody has explained why masses of drones are flying over parts of the midwest and west at night. From Michael Snyder at endoftheamericandream.com:
Since just before Christmas, armies of unidentified drones have been appearing each night in the skies above Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. The drones are approximately 6 feet wide and they have red and white lights, but nobody knows where they are from or who owns them. This is a story that is now receiving national attention, and the FBI, the FAA and the U.S. Air Force are all investigating this mystery. According to eyewitnesses, these drones can move “much faster than a regular aircraft”, and that would seem to indicate that they are highly sophisticated. So far, the U.S. military, every government agency that has been asked, and many of the major companies in the area have all denied operating the drones. Federal, state and local law enforcement officials have been doing all that they can to solve this mystery, but so far they have come up completely empty.
And even though these drones are now receiving so much attention, they just keep coming back night after night. According to one northern Colorado resident, when the drones come out it looks like “something from a movie”…
For the last week, Michelle Eckert has spotted a high-flying, night-time mystery above her rural northern Colorado home. She has seen drones, sometimes a dozen or more with wingspans 6 feet wide.
“The sky is lit up with Christmas lights basically,” she told CBS News. “There’s lights and things flying all over. It reminded me of something from a movie.”
Iran has potent cyberwar capabilities. From Alyza Sebenius, Kartikay Mehrotra and William Turton at Bloomberg via finance.yahoo.com:
(Bloomberg) — As the U.S. awaits possible retribution over a recent airstrike that killed a top general, there’s at least one American businessman who can attest, in detail, to what happened after he provoked Iran.
In October 2013, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and prominent supporter of conservative politicians and Israel, appeared on a panel in New York in which he suggested that the U.S. could send a message to Iran, regarding its nuclear ambitions, by detonating an American warhead in the middle of the Iranian desert.
“You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position,” said Adelson, who later became a major supporter of President Donald Trump. His comments infuriated Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who two weeks later said America “should slap these prating people in the mouth.”
Months later, in February 2014, hackers inserted malware into the computer networks of Adelson’s Las Vegas casino. The withering cyber-attack laid waste to about three quarters of the company’s Las Vegas servers; the cost of recovering data and building new systems cost $40 million or more.
A year after the attack, the top U.S. intelligence official confirmed that Iran was behind it.
The year almost past saw the ascendence of some uncommonly stupid ideas. From Max Gulker at aier.com:
At first glance 2019 was a rough year for anyone in favor of an economy and society guided from the bottom up by people with the freedom to exchange, cooperate, and think as they choose. The highly visible left flank of the Democratic Party, fully embracing socialism in name and approach, erupted with proposals that would drastically change the country in ways they intend and many more in ways they do not. Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s debt from its Faustian bargain with President Donald Trump began to come due.
What can we learn from bad ideas? Plenty, if we approach them with curiosity rather than assumed intellectual or moral deficiency on the part of those trafficking in them. The truth, that people have a really hard time understanding the benefits of free markets and bottom-up organization, is both difficult and galvanizing. Free-market ideas don’t really have a place in the current incarnation of our two-party system. We’re free agents and that can open a world of new possibilities if we let it.
Posted in Business, Capitalism, Economics, Economy, Governments, Politics, Technology, Trade
Tagged Big Tech, Elizabeth Warren, Green New Deal, protectionism
Putin’s announcement of Russia’s new hypersonic weapons was met with disbelief in 2018. It’s now clear he wasn’t bluffing, and most of the weapons are now operational and flying at more than 5 times the speed of sound. The Avangard can travel at 27 times the speed of sound. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
It’s official: exactly one year after Putin oversaw the final test of Russia’s most advanced hypersonic weapon, on Friday a the intercontinental weapon that can fly 27 times the speed of sound became operational, Russia’s defense minister reported to President Vladimir Putin, bolstering the country’s unprecedented nuclear strike capability, one which the US has yet to match.
As AP reports, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin that the first missile unit equipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle entered combat duty.
“I congratulate you on this landmark event for the military and the entire nation,” Shoigu said later during a conference call with top military leaders.
The Avangard is launched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, but unlike a regular missile warhead that follows a predictable path after separation it can make sharp maneuvers in the atmosphere en route to target, making it much harder to intercept.
Whether they lean left or right, when it comes to foreign policy the social media companies all spout the party line. From Morgan Artyukhina at mintpressnews.com:
Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley firm with partisan oversight of what we see: the bipartisan billionaire class and their security state have partnered with tech firms since the dawn of the internet to control the parameters of users’ thinking.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is in the spotlight for “dining with far-right figures,” and their influence over the information that appears in your feed is apparent. However, Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley firm that’s masquerading as nonpartisan as it curates the “facts” you see in ads, posts, or searches: Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and others are deeply wedded to the U.S. security state and the billionaires it upholds.
Walter Lippmann’s groundbreaking 1922 study of the news media, “Public Opinion,” begins with a chapter titled, “The World Outside and the Pictures in our Heads,” in which he presents the media as a bottleneck through which information about the world beyond the perception of our senses must pass. Aside from the question of which stories get passed through that bottleneck, which information about an event that survives the crucible of condensation into an article, news bulletin or wire is determined by the biases of the writer and editor. In turn, control over that information bottleneck gives the controller incredible power to shape the consciousness of readers about “the world outside” – the “manufacturing of consent,” as Lippmann originally described it.
The depth of information about the world made available by the internet seems to remove the bottleneck about which Lippmann fretted — indeed, a generation of techie evangelists tried to present it in just such a manner — but the truth is that it only further obscured both the bottlenecks and the crucibles that distill information for our consumption.