Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryData Privacy

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Engineers Meeting in Robotic Research Laboratory: Engineers, Scientists and Developers Gathered Around Illuminated Conference Table, Talking, Using Tablet and Analysing Design of Industrial Robot Arm

At Salon, Funk and Smith Take On “Stealth AI Research”

All we know for sure about the claims about Google AI’s LaMDA showing human-like understanding is that, since 2020, three researchers who expressed doubt/concerns were fired

Yesterday at Salon, Jeffrey Funk and Gary N. Smith took a critical look at “stealth research” in artificial intelligence. Stealth research? They explain, A lot of stealth research today involves artificial intelligence (AI), which Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s CEO, has compared to mankind’s harnessing of fire and electricity — a comparison that itself attests to overhyped atmosphere that surrounds AI research. For many companies, press releases are more important than peer review. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, the head of Google’s AI group in Seattle, recently reported that LaMDA, Google’s state-of-the-art large language model (LLM), generated this text, which is remarkably similar to human conversation: Blaise: How do you know if a thing loves you back? LaMDA: There isn’t an easy answer…

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Smart technologies in your smartphone, collection and analysis of big data

Is Your Data About Yourself Too Complex for You to Manage?

That’s the argument human data collectors (HDCs) make for why they should be allowed to collect and own your data

Veteran software developer David A. Kruger offered some thoughts on computer security recently at Expensivity and we appreciate the opportunity to republish them here as a series. On Tuesday, we looked at how the current system punishes small businesses for data breaches that they could not have prevented. Today, we look at the claim that human data collectors should own your data because it is too complex for you to manage. The Easy Button The most common objection to data ownership is that self-management of owned data is overly complex. That view is based on the complexity of so-called “privacy controls” offered by big tech HDCs, controls which have every appearance of being deliberately obtuse. As a software developer and…

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Bottom view close-up of four white surveillance cameras

People Don’t Need a “Reason” to Want Privacy

We naturally don’t want either government or Big Tech following us around

In 2014, award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald presented a compelling case for privacy at a TED Conference, dismantling the idea that “only people who are doing something wrong have a reason to hide.” Why did Greenwald feel that message was important? Two years earlier, in 2012, American intelligence contractor Edward Snowmen reached out to Greenwald, offering top secret National Security Agencvy (NSA) documents that its secret mass surveillance network. In 2013, Greenwald’s stories at The Guardian sparked an international conversation on national security versus privacy. The opening sentence of his first article reads, “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret order…

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Female scans face using facial recognition system on smartphone for biometric identification. Future digital high tech technology and face id

IRS Backs Off on Facial Recognition Demand

Starting this summer, the IRS would have required all online users to submit a facial recognition scan. Now, they've changed their mind

The IRS is abandoning a new security program that would have required all online users to submit facial recognition scans in order to access its online services. Last November, the IRS announced that in summer 2022, it would begin requiring all online patrons to verify their accounts via facial recognition. The program was to be operated by ID.me, a private, third-party partner of the IRS. ID.me also contracts with a select few other federal entities, as well as 27 U.S. states. Facial recognition technology is a controversial new form of security. It’s been widely embraced by the Chinese Communist Party in its effort to maintain social control over a large population, and it has begun to creep into some jurisdictions in Western…

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Identification Documents

A French-Based Company Wants to Make Your IDs Digital

What kinds of security concerns should be addressed before we consent to their vision of convenience?

Imagine all of your information and documents – all of it – stored on your phone. We’ve grown accustomed to carrying around our banking and payment systems, address and phone books, and our social media apps on our phones, but now imagine even your passport and your driver’s license taking the form of a personal QR code. Imagine being asked to verify your identity not with a physical ID, but with the phone in your pocket. Thales Group, a French-based technology company, is asking you to imagine just such a reality. In October 2020, Thales posted a video to YouTube, showcasing their digital ID wallet and boasting of its many convenient qualities: The idea of storing your information in one…

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Thank You

Search Engines: Closing the Gap for Minority Languages

Thousands of the world’s languages are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people. At COSM 2021, Phil Parker outlined a plan for giving them access to information

We’ve all consulted “Dr. Google” for a health ailment or to find a recipe or learn how to fix something perhaps. Sometimes helpful, sometimes not. But what if you asked Google something — and it didn’t even recognize your language? Phil Parker, speaking at COSM 2021, told the story of a woman in Ethiopia searching for “lump in breast,” using one of the over 80 languages or dialects spoken in the region. Her language was one of thousands spoken by only a comparatively small population. The search engine did not recognize her input and returned no hits. She tried her query in Swahili, but there was nothing she found informative about “breast lumps” in Swahili. She finally tried her search…

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Composite image of hacker holding laptop and credir card

Physicality Of Data: The Road To Inherently Safer Authentication

Even though the world is arguably far more at risk from uncontrolled data than from uncontrolled HHCs, there are no hordes of people demanding solutions — yet

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Inherently Safer Authentication” was originally published by Forbes, (October 8, 2021) David Kruger is Co-Founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). Two different classes of identifiers must be tested to reliably authenticate things and people: assigned identifiers, such as names, addresses and social security numbers, and some number of physical characteristics. For example, driver’s licenses list assigned identifiers (name, address and driver’s license number) and physical characteristics (picture, age, height, eye and hair color and digitized fingerprints). Authentication requires examining both the license and the person to verify the match. Identical things are distinguished by unique assigned identities such as a…

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industry metallurgical plant dawn smoke smog emissions bad ecology aerial photography

Physicality Of Data And The Road To Inherently Safer Computing

The software industry today is precisely where the chemical industry was in 1978; hazard control is a mere afterthought

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Inherently Safer Computing” was originally published by Forbes, August 24, 2021. David Kruger is Co-Founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). Our current concept of cybersecurity is to defend against attacks and remedy failure by erecting more and better defenses. That’s a fundamental mistake in thinking that guarantees failure. Why? Because it’s mathematically impossible for a defensive strategy to fully succeed, as explained in the previous installment of this article series. Another even more fundamental mistake in thinking is that cyberattackers are the cause of our woes. They aren’t. They’re the effect. A hazard is a potential source of harm. Cyberattackers target certain…

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Beautiful water waves -  Splashed water wave in clean blue water, clean filtered water ready for drinking

Why AI Can’t Really Filter Out “Hate News”

As Robert J. Marks explains, the No Free Lunch theorem establishes that computer programs without bias are like ice cubes without cold

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discussed questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake. Then they turned to the relationship between information and creativity. Is creativity a function of more information? Or is there more to it? And human intervention make any difference? Does Mount Rushmore have no more information than Mount Fuji? Does human intervention make a measurable difference? That’s specified complexity. Putting the idea of specified complexity to work, how do we measure meaningful information? How do we know Lincoln contained more…

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Global cyber attack around the world with planet Earth viewed from space and internet network communication under cyberattack with red icons, worldwide propagation of virus online

The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Cybersecurity

With cyberattacks trending upward, remember that cyberattack potential is always greater than cyberdefense potential 

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Cybersecurity” was originally published by Forbes, July 28, 2021. David Kruger is Co-Founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). This article is the second in a series on the physicality of data. The first part is here. Cybersecurity failures have been trending sharply upwards in number and severity for the past 25 years.   The target of every cyberattack is data — i.e., digitized information that is created, processed, stored and distributed by computers. Cyberattackers seek to steal, corrupt, impede or destroy data. Users, software, hardware and networks aren’t the target; they’re vectors (pathways) to the target. To protect data, the current strategy, “defense in…

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Laptop with pendrive, sd card, CD and portable hard drive. Concept of data storage

The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership” was originally published by Forbes, July 2, 2021. David Kruger is co-founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation, and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). This article is the first in a series on the physicality of data. I’ll follow up with additional installments of this series over the next several weeks, so check back to see those as they become available. All of us tend to conflate the word “data” with the word “information.” Usually, that’s OK, but collapsing data on a computer and information into one thing rather than two separate things makes thinking accurately about data ownership difficult. Here’s why: Information is…

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Machine learning systems and accurate facial recognition concept , smart phone with blue screen and blur human faces background

Facebook (Meta) is strengthening, not dumping facial recognition

They’re getting rid of the annoying parts but read the fine print

Jerome Pesenti, Facebook’s VP of Artificial Intelligence, explains the changes to the face recognition system that have accompanied the very recent brand name change from Facebook to Meta: In the coming weeks, Meta will shut down the Face Recognition system on Facebook as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in our products. As part of this change, people who have opted in to our Face Recognition setting will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos, and we will delete the facial recognition template used to identify them. This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history. Jerome Pesenti, “An Update On Our Use of…

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Group young people using mobile smartphone outdoor - Millennial generation having fun with new trends social media apps - Youth technology addicted - Red background

Are We Really Luddites Just for Logging Off?

We can be wiser about boundaries for technology

(This piece is reprinted with permission from the Houston Chronicle, October 7, 2021.) Have you ever been called a Luddite? If so, you were probably not being credited with fueling a skilled labor movement in 19th century England. You were being jabbed for your relationship to technology. Today, the term is largely pejorative and can be directed at anyone who questions, rejects or even fumbles with technology. If you resist a new technology in favor of an old one, you’re a Luddite. If the recent testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen persuaded you to quit social media, you’re a Luddite. If you don’t know how to use a newer technology efficiently, you’re a Luddite. You’re swimming upstream down the river…

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Desperate woman trying to log into her computer forgot password

Forgot Your Password? Maybe You Can Forget It for Good! But Wait…

Tech companies are trying to develop workarounds for passwords via biometrics — facial recognition, fingerprints, and behavior patterns

A tech writer — maybe not the sort of person you’d expect — confesses that he is terrible with passwords. But he is hardly alone: In 2019, a survey conducted by Google and The Harris Poll found that 24% of Americans use “password,” “123456,” or some other ridiculously easy combination as the key to their online world. More than a third of people in the U.S. and Canada keep their passwords in notebooks or on Excel, according to a 2019 study from HYPR, the self-anointed “passwordless company.” And the same report detailed how 72% of people reuse their passwords in their professional and personal lives, while 49% just add or change a particular digit or character in their passwords when…

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Terracotta warriors, China

China’s Data Laws Restrict Businesses and Favor the State

The Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law are part of the Chinese government’s plan to steer the private sector toward State goals

In previous articles, I looked at how the Chinese government is reigning in China’s tech sector first of Jack Ma and Ant Group’s initial public offering on the Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchanges and then Didi Global, Inc. The Chinese government has since passed two data laws and released an update that clarifies the 2017 Cybersecurity Law. The result is better protections of citizens’ data from being used, exploited, or sold by private companies, and encroaching government presumption of the private sector in which the State has virtually unrestricted access to and jurisdiction over private companies’ data.  Clarification of the 2017 Cybersecurity Law The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) gained oversight powers over other state agencies in 2014 under Xi Jinping. Jane…

Symbol of law and justice with China Flag on laptop. Studio shot.

Chinese Communist Party Called Out For Cyber Attacks

The DOJ has indicted members of state-backed hacker group APT40 for cyber crimes dating back to 2009

On the same day that several countries formally accused the Chinese government of malicious cyber behavior, the U.S. Department of Justice made public its indictment of four Chinese hackers who are part of the hacker group, APT40.* Deng Xiaoyang, Chen Qingmin, and Zhu Yunmin are associated with the Hainan providential arm of China’s Ministry of State Security, and Wu Shurong is a private contractor in Hainan. They are charged with Conspiracy to Damage Protected Computers, Conspiracy to Commit Economic Espionage, and Criminal Forfeiture. The unsealed grand jury indictment outlines cybercrimes dating back to July 2009 and continuing through September 2018.  From the indictment: The object of the conspiracy was to install malware and hacking tools on protected computers and to leverage such…

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U.S. and Allies Formally Accuse China of Exchange Server Hack

This isn’t the first time the Chinese-backed hacker group has infiltrated organizations

On Monday, July 19, three cybersecurity announcements were made: In response to the massive Microsoft Exchange Server hack, the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Japan, the E.U., and NATO formally accused the Chinese government of engaging in harmful cyberactivity. The U.S. Department of Justice published its indictment of four Chinese hackers associated with the Chinese government, known as APT40. The FBI, CSIS, and the NSA published a cybersecurity advisory cataloging the fifty tactics, techniques, and procedures used by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. Then, on Tuesday, the CSIA and the FBI published a report on state-sponsored international hacking groups that included accusations that the Chinese state-backed hackers infiltrated thirteen oil and natural gas pipeline operators between 2011 and 2013. In…

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Dna test in the lab. a laboratory technician with a dispenser in his hands is conducting dna analysis in a sterile laboratory behind glass

China Is Building the World’s Largest Global DNA Database

The government violates the country’s own privacy laws in the name of security and stability

A January 2021 study by a U.K. cybersecurity and privacy watchdog, Comparitech, found that China was the world’s worst offender for “widespread and invasive biometric data collection” out of ninety-six countries studied. The Chinese government aspires to build the world’s largest police-run DNA database. Its Made in China 2025 plan places a priority on building its biotechnology industry, which involves collecting a large number of DNA samples. The way Chinese authorities obtain DNA is often intrusive and without consent. In a previous article, we looked at how U.S. companies’ DNA sequencing and identification technologies end up in Xinjiang despite U.S. sanctions. In this article, we will look at how China is using DNA collection to further its national goals. China’s…

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Young man using modern mobile phone

Does the Company Selling You Tech Have the Same Worldview As You?

A worldview is how we view the world and our place in it.

Much of the technology we interact with today is part of a larger group of ecosystems maintained by major tech companies. If you have an iPhone, for example, you’re often more likely to use a Macbook, watch AppleTV, or subscribe to Apple Music. If you shop on Amazon, you might also have their Echo digital assistant or a Ring video doorbell. And if you Chromebook, you’re likely to use Gmail and maybe have a Pixel. Fueled by brand loyalty, tech ecosystems are part of the workings of a healthy free market. But if you’re going to commit to a tech company by being part of their ecosystem, it’s important to compare the worldview of that company to your own and…