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Tag Archives: Microsoft

MS Word Becomes Big Brother, by Chas Holloway

MS Word has become your automatic, AI editor, whether you want it to be or not. From Chas Holloway at lewrockwell.com:

I’ve been a writer for thirty years.  I have over two hundred thousand MS Word docs on my computer.  But now, I’m converting all those files to a different word processor.

I don’t want to do it.  But I have no choice.  MS Word — the default application for novelists, poets, journalists and playwrights — has just become Big Brother.  No serious writer can use it anymore.

The problem: Microsoft now “offers” an AI tool designed to “improve” my writing.  For example, if I type, “We need some fresh blood around here,” Word now changes that phrase to “We must hire some qualified employees.” Or, if I type the word “waitress,” Word now changes it to “waitperson.” (see HERE and HERE and HERE.)

I heard about this a month ago, or so.  The geniuses at Microsoft want to control my ideas.  “That’s insidious,” I thought, but then got distracted.  Until the other day.  While writing an article, I experienced Big Brother in action — Word was highlighting my text as I typed!

I showed a coworker.  “That’s crazy,” he said, disinterestedly.  Then the thought left his mind as quickly as it had entered.  Yeah, it’s crazy, alright.  What’s crazy is how my coworker didn’t seem to understand the implications, nor care.  Microsoft aspires to “correct” the world, one document at a time.

Now, some hack writing internal docs at Facebook might find the “feature” useful — someone who only writes memos and reports for the in-group.  But We the People should be appalled.

Real writing is about thinking.  It’s about discovering your individual voice.  It’s about finding original things to say.  But will Microsoft soon disallow original and creative thought?

When Tom Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he said it that way on purpose.  He did not say, “In these times, men, women and the LGBT community are being challenged.”  He would not be happy about the suggested change.  Original thinkers don’t like companies — or governments — telling them what to write, or how to think.

When Percy Shelley wrote, “Forms more real than living man,” he didn’t want a corporation changing it to, “Some living men and women do not appear to be as real as imaginary forms.”

A screenwriter bangs out a political thriller: the evil corporation wants the population to be chipped.  How do they manage it?  First, they’ll say it’s for the safety of our soldiers: we can track them in warfare.  Second, they’ll say it’s for public safety: we must chip the lawbreakers and prisoners.  Then, they’ll launch a patriotic ad campaign: “I got chipped — for America!”  Following that, the cops just arrest a few libertarian stragglers.

Cool story.  But under Microsoft control, would a screenwriter be allowed write it?  Under Microsoft control, thought control is a “feature” helpfully built into your word processor.  But soon, you won’t be able to turn the feature off.  And then, … well, you get the point.

As I convert my old docs, I wonder if should I keep the MS Word versions on a drive somewhere, for backup?  Probably not.  Even if they became my last copy, I’d be afraid to open them.

For Microsoft will soon implement yet another “feature.”  A feature to automatically “correct” my documents as soon as I double-click them.  For my convenience.

On a global scale, wouldn’t this be the digital version of burning of the Great Library at Alexandria?

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Microsoft and the Pentagon Are Quietly Hijacking U.S. Elections, by Lee Camp

Good news, two institutions everyone trusts—Microsoft and the Pentagon, are teaming up to ensure honest elections. From Lee Camp at truthdig.com:

Good news, folks! We have found the answer to the American election system!

Why do we need an answer? Well, our election system is … how do you say … a festering rancid corrupt needlessly complex rigged rotten infected putrid pus-covered diseased dog pile of stinking, dying cockroach-filled rat shit smelling like Mitch McConnell under a vat of pig farts. And that’s a quote from The Lancet medical journal (I think).

But have no fear: The most trustworthy of corporations recently announced it is going to selflessly and patriotically secure our elections. It’s a small company run by vegans and powered by love. It goes by the name “Microsoft.” (You’re forgiven for never having heard of it.)

The recent headlines were grandiose and thrilling:

Microsoft offers software tools to secure elections.”

Microsoft aims to modernize and secure voting with ElectionGuard.”

Could anything be safer than software christened “ElectionGuard™”?! It has “guard” right there in the name. It’s as strong and trustworthy as the little-known Crotch Guard™—an actual oil meant to be sprayed on one’s junk. I’m unclear as to why one sprays it on one’s junk, but perhaps it’s to secure your erections? (Because they’ve been micro-soft?)

Anyway, Microsoft is foisting its ElectionGuard™ software on us, but worry not that we Americans will be tied down by laborious public debate as to the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of said software. According to MintPress, “The election technology is already set to be adopted by half of voting machine manufacturers and some state governments for the 2020 general election.” Hardly any public discussion will plague our media or tax our community discourse.

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How NeoCon Billionaire Paul Singer Is Driving the Outsourcing of US Tech Jobs to Israel, by Whitney Webb

Big tech in both the US and Israel and the US and Israeli government have all become deeply involved with each other. From Whitney Webb at mintpressnews.com:

Several U.S. tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Intel Corporation have filled top positions with former members of Israeli military intelligence and are heavily investing in their Israeli branches while laying off thousands of American employees, all while receiving millions of dollars in U.S. government subsidies funded by American taxpayers.

WASHINGTON — With nearly 6 million Americans unemployed and regular bouts of layoffs in the U.S. tech industry, major American tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Intel Corporation are nonetheless moving key operations, billions in investments, and thousands of jobs to Israel — a trend that has largely escaped media attention or concern from even “America first” politicians. The fact that this massive transfer of investment and jobs has been so overlooked is particularly striking given that it is largely the work of a single leading neoconservative Republican donor who has given millions of dollars to President Donald Trump.

To make matters worse, many of these top tech companies shifting investment and jobs to Israel at record rates continue to collect sizable U.S. government subsidies for their operations while they move critical aspects of their business abroad, continue to layoff thousands of American workers, and struggle to house their growing company branches in Israel. This is particularly troubling in light of the importance of the tech sector to the overall U.S. economy, as it accounts for 7.1 percent of total GDP and 11.6 percent of total private-sector payroll.

Furthermore, many of these companies are hiring members of controversial Israeli companies — known to have spied on Americans, American companies, and U.S. federal agencies — as well as numerous members of Israeli military intelligence as top managers and executives.

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Microsoft’s ElectionGuard a Trojan Horse for a Military-Industrial Takeover of US Elections, by Whitney Webb

First it was NewsGuard, the establishment’s tool to guard us all from improper news. Now it’s ElectionGuard, their tool to guard us all from improper voting. From Whitney Webb at theburningplatform.com:

ElectionGuard | Voting Machines

Earlier this month, tech giant Microsoft announced its solution to “protect” American elections from interference, which it has named “ElectionGuard.” The election technology is already set to be adopted by half of voting machine manufacturers and some state governments for the 2020 general election. Though it has been heavily promoted by the mainstream media in recent weeks, none of those reports have disclosed that ElectionGuard has several glaring conflicts of interest that greatly undermine its claim aimed at protecting US democracy.

In this investigation, MintPress will reveal how ElectionGuard was developed by companies with deep ties to the US defense and intelligence communities and Israeli military intelligence, as well as the fact that it is far from clear that the technology would prevent foreign or domestic interference with, or the manipulation of, vote totals or other aspects of American election systems.

Election forensics analyst and author Jonathan Simon as well as investigative journalist Yasha Levine, who has written extensively on how the military has long sought to weaponize public technologies including the internet, were consulted for their views on ElectionGuard, its connections to the military-industrial complex and the implication of those connections for American democracy as part of this investigation.

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Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services, by T.J. Coles

How the military-industrial-intelligence complex works. From T.J. Coles at counterpunch.org:

Photograph Source: DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force – Public Domain

The US Department of Defense’s bloated budget, along with CIA venture capital, helped to create tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and PayPal. The government then contracts those companies to help its military and intelligence operations. In doing so, it makes the tech giants even bigger.

In recent years, the traditional banking, energy and industrial Fortune 500 companies have been losing ground to tech giants like Apple and Facebook. But the technology on which they rely emerged from the taxpayer-funded research and development of bygone decades. The internet started as ARPANET, an invention of Honeywell-Raytheon working under a Department of Defense (DoD) contract. The same satellites that enable modern internet communications also enable US jets to bomb their enemies, as does the GPS that enables online retailers to deliver products with pinpoint accuracy. Apple’s touchscreen technology originated as a US Air Force tool. The same drones that record breath-taking video are modified versions of Reapers and Predators.

Tax-funded DoD research is the backbone of the modern, hi-tech economy. But these technologies are dual-use. The companies that many of us take for granted–including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and PayPal–are connected indirectly and sometimes very directly to the US military-intelligence complex.

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The Snowflake Barons Are Eating Each Other, by Mytheos Holt

Things aren’t going so well for the social media and tech barons. From Mytheos Holt at spectator.org:

In 2008’s iconic superhero film The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s Joker barks at Christian Bale’s Batman:

Don’t talk like one of [the cops]; you’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me. They need you now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out like a leper. See, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke, to be dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you, when the chips are down, these civilized people? They’ll eat each other.

He might as well have been talking about Silicon Valley.

Twenty-eighteen was a bad year for the totalitarian titans of tech. Faced with one scandal after another, the industry retreated behind a wall of lobbying money, hoping their bank accounts would shield them from their increasingly ugly image in the public eye as politically bigoted, misanthropic, overgrown children, incapable of following rules, norms, or even laws.

Twenty-nineteen doesn’t look to be much better. European governments, and the European Union itself, have begun sharpening their swords for the industry, albeit sometimes in ill-advised ways. California has passed a brutal consumer protection bill that opens big tech to a host of lawsuits for privacy-related offenses. President Donald Trump’s own son has raised stern alarms about the industry’s power and “gross hypocrisy,” as he put it. Publications formerly friendly to the industry are blasting it for betraying the creators who sustain its business. Like bad imitations of Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, the industry finds itself surrounded by filth, with the walls closing in. But, their research into AI withstanding, there is no Threepio around to save them, and unlike Han, Leia, and Luke, Big Tech are the evil empire.

As a result, the industry is doing what any group of cornered predators does, and eating each other to try to stay alive. Thus, a piece in Forbes magazine informs the reader that:

Microsoft, the industry’s journeyman of governmental warfare, is cleverly advocating regulation of a narrow slice of potentially creepy technology: facial recognition. Apple is pointing fingers, suggesting its data-privacy stance is holier than Facebook’s and Google’s. Facebook, in a preview of how the industry will battle its adversaries, has simultaneously called for some form of regulation while darkly warning of the unintended consequences of the wrong kind. (One argument certain to get Donald Trump’s attention: Regulate us too severely, and you’ll only empower our Chinese competitors.)

Probably the most encouraging development listed is Apple’s turn against Facebook and Google. Where once Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google were regarded as an impregnable block of interests, nicknamed (with predatory appropriateness) FAANG, now the only fangs involved are being stuck in each other.

Politically, they may be the only ones left to care about those fangs. The industry’s pervasive, irrational, and wild hostility to Republicans has converted even the stodgiest establishmentarians, including current (and former) Attorney General William Barr, into vocal public critics of tech. And the aforementioned California privacy law represents a complete failure of the industry’s political power even within its effectively monopartisan own backyard, which suggests that Democrats are no longer willing to carry water for the most vicious monopolists this side of Cornelius Vanderbilt, no matter how performatively “woke” they are.

Indeed, that California law puts tech between a rock and a hard place, as other business interests — and even some tech companies — seem to be anxious to pass a (presumably less stringent) national privacy law aimed at pre-empting the California law before it goes into place. Due to the support of big business, that national plan has the support of Republicans, but that is cold comfort for the biggest tech companies, seeing as debating a national consumer privacy law forces them into a conversation they’ve wanted to avoid for ages: namely, how much consumers’ privacy — in other words, their data — should be protected. What’s worse, having that conversation at the national level may well lead to regulations as strict, or stricter, than California’s being imposed on the entire United States. And even if the regulations aren’t as strict, the days of hoovering up data and violating privacy without anyone’s batting an eye are unquestionably over. Heads, the American people win. Tails, tech loses.

Hence, the nattering nabobs of the net, caught in a trap built from their own missteps, are trying frantically to chew through each other to escape. It will not work. Accountability has come for the snowflake barons, and while defection from the whole may spare some of them the same pain as others, there is no doubt that all of them will be put through pain. It’s about time. After all, their morals, their code, and especially their terms of service are a bad joke to be dropped at the first sign of trouble. And the more Americans realize this, the more they will be ahead of the curve.

 

 

FANGMAN Stocks Plunge 4.4% Today, Down $905 Billion, or 20%, since Aug. 31, by Wolf Richter

The so-called FANGMAN stocks are having a rough go of it recently. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

It gets costly when the entire market depends on a handful of over-hyped mega-caps.

For the beginning of Thanksgiving week, it was a little messy today in the stock market, with the Nasdaq dropping 3% to 7,028. It’s down 13.6% from its peak at the end of August. But it’s still up 1.8% year-to-date, so nothing serious has happened yet, just some of the gains this year have turned out to be head-fakes.

Folks who went through the wholesale Nasdaq destruction of 2000-2002 will just smile mildly because that’s when the Nasdaq, as the dotcom bubble imploded, lost 78%. Given our Everything Bubble is even bigger and crazier, the Nasdaq’s current sell-off barely registers on my own Richter scale, so to speak.

The Dow fell 1.6%, is down just 7.2% from its peak, and for the year is clinging to a 1.2% gain.

And the S&P 500 dropped 1.7% today and is down 8.5% from the peak. It too remains, if by the thinnest margin, in the green for the year.

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