Tag Archives: Facebook

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

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Facebook Admits “Most” Of Its 2.2 Billion Users Exposed To Data Scraping, “Malicious Actors”, by Tyler Durden

You don’t get something for nothing, certainly not from Facebook. In this, the something you give up for the something Facebook “gives” is your privacy and personal information. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Facebook has admitted that “most” of its 2.2 billion users “could have had their public profile scraped” by third parties without their knowledge, and that the personal information of up to 87 million people was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, the company disclosed on Wednesday.

In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” said Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer.

Initial reports set the number of users affected by the CA data purchase at 50 million. The London-based political data company bought the data from two psychologists (one of whom currently works for Facebook) who developed a data harvesting app disguised as a fitness app.

One of the methods used by “malicious actors” to “scrape” user data has been to enter another person’s phone number or email address into a Facebook search, allowing information to be harvested or scraped. “We believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” Schroepfer said.

The Wednesday admissions were accompanied by the announcement of nine major changes aimed at safeguarding user privacy following the data harvesting scandal that has pummeled Facebook stock and resulted in Congressional inquiries. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, which chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) said would be “an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online.”

In addition to eliminating the ability to search for users by email and phone number, Facebook will also ensure that it does not collect the content of messages sent via its Messenger app or Facebook Lite on Android.

To continue reading:  Facebook Admits “Most” Of Its 2.2 Billion Users Exposed To Data Scraping, “Malicious Actors”

The Big Tech Backlash of 2018, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

There’s a revolt brewing against the tech titans that have been stock market darlings the last few years. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

Something must be terribly wrong with the world. A few days ago Elizabeth Warren agreed with Trump on China, now Bernie Sanders agrees with him about Amazon. What’s happening?

Bernie Sanders Agrees With Trump: Amazon Has Too Much Power

Independent Vermont senator and 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders echoed President Donald Trump in expressing concern about retail giant Amazon. Sanders said that he felt Amazon had gotten too big on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, and added that Amazon’s place in society should be examined.

“And I think this is, look, this is an issue that has got to be looked at. What we are seeing all over this country is the decline in retail. We’re seeing this incredibly large company getting involved in almost every area of commerce. And I think it is important to take a look at the power and influence that Amazon has,” said Sanders.

A backlash against Facebook, a backlash against Amazon. Are these things connected? Actually, yes, they are connected. But not in a way that either Trump or Sanders has clued in to. Someone who has, a for now lone voice, is David Stockman. Here’s what he wrote last week.

The Donald’s Blind Squirrel Nails An Acorn

It is said that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn, and so it goes with the Donald. Banging on his Twitter keyboard in the morning darkness, he drilled Jeff Bezos a new one – or at least that’s what most people would call having their net worth lightened by about $2 billion:

“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” You can’t get more accurate than that. Amazon is a monstrous predator enabled by the state, but Amazon’s outrageous postal subsidy – a $1.46 gift card from the USPS stabled on each box – isn’t the half of it.

To continue reading: The Big Tech Backlash of 2018

Doug Casey on the Coming Comfortable Dystopia, Part 2

If the US institutes a social credit system like China’s, SLL will start thousands of points in the hole. From Doug Case at caseyresearch.com:

Justin’s note: Yesterday, Doug and I discussed why China’s getting ready to roll out a “social credit system”—and why the U.S. could do something similar. Today, in the second part of our conversation, Doug shares more thoughts on this disturbing trend…


Justin: I imagine that corporate America will also be in favor of a social credit system. After all, it sounds like the ultimate marriage between big business and big government.

Doug: Absolutely. It relates to our recent conversation about Facebook and the other tech giants. The government loves these companies, and they’re hooked up with the government. The Deep State really exists.

I dislike Facebook intensely, and don’t use it. Only idiots do. But you know what’s interesting? I set up my Facebook account years ago; it seemed like a good way for old pals to get back in touch. And in the beginning, I would get friend requests from a lot of strangers—I didn’t know who these people were. But neither did I care. So I said “yes” to just about everyone’s “friend request.”

I probably got around 4,000 Facebook friends. I know almost none of them. But, when I check, I only get about four a month now. I’m not sure why. As I said last time, not only are people suspicious of it, but kids think it’s clunky, dumb, and unhip. And they’re right. Only the NSA, FBI, and CIA actually like Facebook.

Anyway, is the drop-off in friend requests because everyone who wants to be my friend is already my friend on Facebook? I doubt it, because I still get about 50 friend requests every week on LinkedIn. Which I’m also not crazy about, but at least business might come out of it.

Justin: Maybe your Facebook social credit rating has fallen… Or maybe you said something in one of our recent interviews that ticked off Zuckerberg.

Doug: Who knows? It’s a black box to me. But I’m one of those people who won’t fit in well to the brave new world that’s evolving.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on the Coming Comfortable Dystopia, Part 2

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

Facebook Changes Privacy Tools, Allowing Users To Delete Data, by Tyler Durden

SLL has no brief with Facebook’s privacy policies, but one comment seems in order. The Facebook matter blew up a couple of weeks ago, and in response Facebook is making changes to try to appease their customers. Facebook is a private company and it acted quickly. Contrast that with the government, which has been subject to numerous revelations about its data gathering practices the last few years and hasn’t changed a one of them. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Responding to public and political outrage, on Wednesday morning Facebook announced a reorganization of the privacy settings that users and have long criticized as a seeming afterthought, and which will provide for better privacy data control and make it easier for users to find, download and delete data — changes that come as the company remains embroiled in a global scandal over its handling of user data which has sent its stock into a bear market in the past week. 

The changes include a new “Privacy Shortcuts” menu with written explanations of each relevant option; an “Access Your Information” feature that lets users easily delete individual posts and “likes”; and what’s billed as a streamlined way for users to download all the data Facebook has on them. The new layout will also result in a redesigned menu on mobile devices will have all sections in one single place under settings tab; users will also be able to review what’s been shared and deleted. The company also proposes updates to terms of service and data policy.

“It’s time to make our privacy tools easier to find,” Facebook officials say in a blog post Wednesday detailing the changes, which are unlikely to satisfy critics who want major reforms in the way the social media giant handles the data of its more than 2 billion users.

However, the section that will attract the most interest is the following:

Tools to find, download and delete your Facebook data. It’s one thing to have a policy explaining what data we collect and use, but it’s even more useful when people see and manage their own information. Some people want to delete things they’ve shared in the past, while others are just curious about the information Facebook has. So we’re introducing Access Your Information – a secure way for people to access and manage their information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for. You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook.

The tweaks come a week and a half after the revelation that the Donald Trump-aligned political data firm Cambridge Analytica had obtained information on about 50 million U.S. users before the 2016 election. The resulting outrage in the U.S. and Europe has given new life to long-standing complaints that it’s too difficult for Facebook users to control or know who can view their posts, messages, photos, “likes” and other content.

To continue reading: Facebook Changes Privacy Tools, Allowing Users To Delete Data

Zuckerberg Scrambles To Calm Facebook Employees, by Tyler Durden

So far, Facebook has done a miserable job explaining its privacy policies and practices to the public or its employees, perhaps because such polices are so apparently lax. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Following a horrendous week of damage control through a choreographed game of MSM softball, Mark Zuckerberg is now trying to calm down Facebook employees in the wake of a massive data harvesting scandal.

A March 18 exposé by The Guardian detailing how 28-year-old programmer Christopher Wylie “made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool” missed its intended Trump-linked target and landed squarely on Facebook’s doorstep, after revelations that Facebook’s Orwellian data collection combined with sloppy oversight of what apps and their creators do with your data has resulted in disturbing violations of privacy.

What’s more – Facebook was helping the Obama Campaign target voters using harvested data, similar to what Cambridge Analytica was doing. Obama’s former campaign director admitted over Twitter that Facebook not only knew of the campaign’s data harvesting to “suck out the whole social graph,” but that they “didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.”

And WikiLeaked emails released during the 2016 election revealed that Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg really wanted “Hillary to win badly,” after Hillary came over to Sandberg’s house and was “magical with her kids.”

Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that one of the psychologists who created the data-harvesting app which gathered information on over 50 million Facebook users before selling it to Cambridge Analytica and others works for Facebook.

The co-director of a company that harvested data from tens of millions of Facebook users before selling it to the controversial data analytics firms Cambridge Analytica is currently working for the tech giant as an in-house psychologist.

Joseph Chancellor was one of two founding directors of Global Science Research (GSR), the company that harvested Facebook data using a personality app under the guise of academic research and later shared the data with Cambridge Analytica. –The Guardian

To continue reading: Zuckerberg Scrambles To Calm Facebook Employees