You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
“The good news is that there are solutions. The weakness of mass surveillance is that it can very easily be made much more expensive through changes in technical standards: pervasive end-to-end encryption can quickly make indiscriminate surveillance impossible on a cost-effective basis. The result is that governments are likely to fall back to traditional, targeted surveillance founded upon an individualized suspicion. Governments cannot risk the discovery of their exploits by simply throwing attacks at every “endpoint,” or computer processor on the end of a network connection, in the world. Mass surveillance, passive surveillance, relies upon unencrypted or weakly encrypted communications at the global network level.
Edward Snowden submits written testimony to an EU committee investigating mass surveillance, and answers questions.
The testimony takes place 3 days ahead of his highly anticipated SXSW appearance, to take place later today. Snowden is expected to speak about privacy, security, mass surveillance programs, free speech and whistle-blowing in a rare remote video appearance before a live audience.
Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo finds this “deeply troubling” in a letter he's sent to the organizers of the conference.
Meanwhile, people who wish to #asksnowden questions can use the hashtag on Twitter. The talk is to take place at 12pm PT, today.
posted by fantodstic
on Mar 10, 2014 -
On Lulu, women can rate men in categories
— ex-boyfriend, crush, together, hooked-up, friend or relative — with a multiple-choice quiz. Women, their gender verified by their Facebook logins, add pink hashtags to a man’s profile ranging from the good (#KinkyInTheRightWays) to the bad (#NeverSleepsOver) to the ugly (#PornEducated). The hashtags are used to calculate a score generated by Lulu, ranging from 1 to 10, that appears under the man’s profile picture. (The company’s spokeswoman declined to explain the ratings algorithm.) Men can add hashtags, which appear in blue, but these are not factored into their overall score. (SLNYT)
posted by sio42
on Nov 21, 2013 -
I turned around to face an approaching figure. It was Larry Page, naked, save for a pair of eyeglasses. “Welcome to Google Island. I hope my nudity doesn’t bother you. We’re completely committed to openness here. Search history. Health data. Your genetic blueprint. One way to express this is by removing clothes to foster experimentation. It’s something I learned at Burning Man,” he said.
posted by Horace Rumpole
on May 17, 2013 -
On the 23 of June, 2011 a secret five hour meeting took place between WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who was under house arrest in rural UK at the time and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. We provide here a verbatim transcript of the majority of the meeting; a close reading, particularly of the latter half, is revealing. [more inside]
posted by palbo
on Apr 25, 2013 -
The concept behind VoyURL
is simple: A browser plugin records your every click, which you can then choose to share publicly in a real-time feed. Their website analyzes
and shows you your online history in customized infographics
, to identify patterns, recommend content and help you learn more about the way you use the internet. You can see the browsing history of all users in one giant timeline or follow a specific user. The service is currently in beta, but you can slip in here
. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Dec 16, 2011 -
"The results were astounding. In a six-month period — from Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times. It traced him from a train on the way to Erlangen at the start through to that last night, when he was home in Berlin. Mr. Spitz has provided a rare glimpse — an unprecedented one, privacy experts say — of what is being collected as we walk around with our phones
posted by Scoop
on Mar 26, 2011 -
"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it.
" The Atlantic
's editor James Bennet discusses with Schmidt how lobbyists write America's laws, how America's research universities are the best in the world, how the Chinese are going all-out in investing in their infrastructure, how the US should have allowed automakers to fail, and ultimately Google's evolving role in an technologically-augmented society in this broad, interesting and scary interview
(~25 min Flash video) [via
posted by Blazecock Pileon
on Oct 4, 2010 -
, the US House passed the SAFE Act
. No, not that one
. Points of note:
- If signed into law, the SAFE Act will require people offering WiFi at their cafe, library, or even allowing their neighbours to use it, who notice that someone appears to have viewed certain dirty cartoons
, or pictures of fully-clothed children looking sexy, to immediately make a comprehensive report to John Walsh's CyberTipLine
, and retain the images, or face a fine of up to $150,000.
- ISPs or email services have the same obligations, and must store all data relating to the user's account, to be handed over to the authorities.
- The Democrats rushed the legislation through using a mechanism intended for non-controversial legislation. There was no hearing or committee vote. The legislation changed significantly before the vote and was not available for public review.
- The bill passed 409-2
. Opposed were Paul Broun (R-Georgia) and Ron Paul (R-Texas). The Senate is next, so consider telling them what you think
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94
on Dec 6, 2007 -
Google blacklists CNET reporters?
An article about privacy issues that highlighted the potential for abuse
if logs of search terms linked with IP addresses are combined by search companies with address and phone data, angered Google CEO Eric Schmidt enough to blacklist CNET reporters for a year, at least according to the bottom of this CNET story
. The article begins with information about Schmidt found via Google searches, and goes on to "question Google's ability to adequately balance the heavy burden of safeguarding consumer privacy rights with the pull toward intermingling and mining data for ever more lucrative targeted advertising."
posted by mediareport
on Aug 7, 2005 -
All watched over by machines of loving grace
is Adam Greenfield's take on the consequences for designers of ubicomp. Setting moral guidelines seems critical in these early days of technological encroachment-- but how long can decency hold out against the promise of profit? I was forwarded a recent email from the CEO a major bookseller that made it clear that it's possible for them to track everything I do in their stores and online, and thank goodness they choose not to take advantage. But how long will that last? And with homeland security crumbling our civil liberties, article's like Adam's that remind us about our responsibility are even more important than ever.
posted by christina
on Oct 30, 2004 -
WE ARE WATCHING YOU.
"The FBI added that its research is 'always mindful of constitutional, privacy and commercial equities,' and that its use of new technology can be challenged in court and in Congress." No really, go ahead, try and stop us if you don't like it. That's your (snicker, snicker) right.
posted by rushmc
on Nov 24, 2001 -
Beyond the bar code:
Tags on retail products will send radio signals to their manufacturers, collecting information about consumer habits -- and raising privacy concerns. Radio tag technology is already here, used in fields such in livestock, freight-train cargo and highway tolls. The only barrier to widespread use is consumer products is price. When they can be made for a penny, expect to see them everywhere. From the March issue of MIT Technology Review
posted by jhiggy
on Feb 20, 2001 -
The Privacy Space
In every MeFi thread about personal privacy in the digital age, the comment inevitably arises: "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." The article even quotes it. But someone else in the article says, "The idea that technology and privacy are intrinsically opposed is false." Great article (from a non-techie standpoint) on the coming promises of privacy tech.
posted by Skot
on Feb 15, 2001 -