Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategorySurveillance

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New strong password and weak ones near keyboard.

Forget Your Password? Apple Wants To End Them for Good But…

Do you want to give Apple your face- and fingerprints, maybe other “biometrics” down the road…?

We’ve all heard the tales of woe about people whose password was “password” or “123456” or “BertJones”. Currently, Big Tech, tired of the flak and the fallout, is trying to end passwords. Here’s Apple’s approach: When Apple’s latest software updates for iPhones, iPads and Macs arrive this fall, they will include a way for users to log into various online accounts without entering passwords or relying on password managers to save and fill in credentials. The technology generates unique passkeys for each app or browser-based service in the place of characters. Those passkeys, a new type of identity authentication, prompt a scan of your face or fingerprints to log you in… Passkeys, like those from Apple, are made up of…

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A moody science fiction concept, of a figure standing in a field with UFO lights glowing in the sky. On a foggy spooky night. With a vintage, grunge edit

NASA Cuts Out the Yuk Yuks, Gets Serious About UFO Research

This fall the space agency is hiring top scientists to tackle “some of the most perplexing mysteries”

A leading science news release site tells us that NASA is officially joining the hunt for UFOs. The nine-month project, which will see leading scientists examine the most puzzling images, is expected to begin in the fall and last nine months: “Over the decades, NASA has answered the call to tackle some of the most perplexing mysteries we know of, and this is no different,” Daniel Evans, the NASA scientist responsible for coordinating the study, told reporters on a call. News, “NASA gets serious about UFOs” at Phys.Org (June 9, 2022) Phys.org comments, “The announcement comes as the field of UFO study, once a poorly-regarded research backwater, is gaining more mainstream traction,” adding “Another overarching goal of NASA is to…

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Chinese hacker. Laptop with binary computer code and china flag on the screen. Internet and network security.

The Internet Is Freedom? Not for Exiled Democracy Activists

Modern electronic communications ensure that persecution need not stop at the border, as many expat Chinese are discovering

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a U.S. citizen and four Chinese intelligence officers “had been charged with spying on “prominent dissidents, human rights leaders and pro-democracy activists” in the United States on behalf of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Americans and others who live in open societies may not be aware of this transnational oppression problem if they do not have contacts who have escaped totalitarian regimes. Briefly, today, the persecution doesn’t stop at the border. Modern electronic communications are part of the reason why not: “If anyone doubts how serious the Chinese government is about silencing its critics, this case should eliminate any uncertainty,” said Acting Executive Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr.…

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Strichcode

What You Need To Know About Surveillance Capitalism

A Harvard professor coined the term and her 2019 book sounds a warning about how Google and Facebook gain power and wealth selling YOU

The term “surveillance capitalism” was coined by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. It’s a fascinating read, offering insight into the power that companies like Google and Facebook have amassed and the danger that power poses to our way of life. Here’s how she explained it to the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News in 2019: Here’s how surveillance capitalism works, just in brief. It begins with these companies claiming, unilaterally claiming, our private human experience as their free source of raw material. So what do they do with that raw material? They lift out of it the rich predictive signals in our…

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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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Facial Recognition Technology Can Now Detect “Facecrime”

Some claim it will help teachers interact with students better

At one time, this was science fiction: In George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, citizens are monitored 24/7 through the use of “telescreens” that are stationed in every home and throughout every workplace, monitoring for facecrime. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. 1984.…

shopping online at home concept.Cartons in a shopping cart on a laptop keyboard

Government Control of What You Buy Grows More Popular

With governments, that is. You’d be surprised at how far along they are with digital currency and how detailed the control could be

Recently, we looked at a new idea governments are looking at — programmable digital currency. It’s all digital, issued by government, constantly trackable, and can’t be spent on items not approved by government (or only with penalties). The Federal Reserve Board (the United States’ central bank) explains, bureaucratically, Potential benefits of the “digital cash” model using programmable UTXOs are the ability to specify spending constraints on any discrete amount of value and a greater facility to trace the provenance of any particular “virtual banknote.” Alexander Lee, “What is programmable money?” at FEDS Notes (June 23, 2021) In other words, the two benefits of these central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are that the government can potentially control what the money is…

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Personal social credit score. Machine Learning analytics identify person technology,Artificial intelligence no privacy security camera technology concept. Software ui analytics and recognition people.

Is an AI-Driven Social Control System Emerging in America?

The gradual merger of Big Tech and Big Government is worthy of close analysis

Readers may assume that a “social credit system” where government monitors a citizen’s every move and assigns a score or takes action, could only happen in China. But increasingly, governments can monitor a citizen’s every move in North America too. Technology policy analyst Kara Fredericks explains: As Canada demonstrated, Western governments and tech companies are mobilizing to cut off mainstream citizens from public life and constrain their private lives. Actions like protesting government overreach, expressing “anti-authority” ideologies, or even sharing “disinformation” on social media may now be classified as terrorism… In the United States, the increasingly oppressive collaboration between public and private entities is not enforced at the barrel of a gun. It arises from an ideological symbiosis between tech…

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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…

Bunch of old used outdated mobile phones and batteries. Recycling electronics

Surveillance and Silence at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Why are countries instructing their Olympic athletes to use burner phones?

In a previous article, I looked at the security issues with the MY2022 app, the official app for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, and the app that everyone who attends must download. The app has two key vulnerabilities that leave user data exposed when sending information over WiFi.* Aside from these vulnerabilities, the University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab found a list of censored keywords in the app’s code, as well as the capability to report someone who has sent politically contentious content over the messaging service. The keyword feature does not seem to be active, but as Jeffrey Knockel, author of the Citizen Lab report, told the New York Times, they could censor content with “the flip of a switch.” This is one…

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Chinese flag and big brother data surveillance

On What Terms Is Co-Operation Between the US and China Possible?

China analyst Miles Maochun Yu thinks that China’s new goal is to become the new global power first, then implement its ideology

A panel at COSM 2021 aired a disagreement between philosopher of technology George Gilder and political analyst Newt Gingrich. Gingrich argued that China is the greatest threat to global freedom while Gilder felt that claims about forced labor, for example, are overstated and that we must co-operate with China for technological advances. In the background is China’s 24/7 surveillance of the entire population, the door-to-door identification of and crackdown on religious believers, as well as on civil rights activists. The situation in China has changed a great deal over the past half decade which marked the Uyghur internment camps and the premature takeover of Hong Kong. As Michael Schuman puts it: China today is in the grip of the most…

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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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Robots dancing in the park. Artificial intelligence industry in China.

COSM 2021: Kai-Fu Lee Tries His Hand at Future Casting

The former president of Google China thinks that China is well equipped to lead the world in AI

At COSM 2021, Kai-Fu Lee — computer scientist, writer, venture capitalist and former head of Google China — provided a future cast of the five ways artificial intelligence will change the world. Lee’s predictions are compelling because he takes a tempered view of the capabilities of AI. Lee says some people misunderstand AI. It can’t replicate the human brain because it works differently from the brain. AI is good at using large amounts of data for numerical optimization and individualization, but very poor at extraction analysis, common sense, insight, and creativity. Lee told the gathering: … of course [AI] has no self-awareness, consciousness, or emotions or love. So, it is actually quite a good complement for human beings because we’re…

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Peter Thiel at COSM 2021 on Artificial General Intelligence

Peter Thiel: Artificial General Intelligence Isn’t Happening

That whole transhumanist movement is slowing down, he told COSM 2021. But, he adds, What IS happening should sober us up a lot

In his talk yesterday at COSM 2021, venture capitalist and philanthropist Peter Thiel — the ultimate Silicon Valley insider, prophet, and sometimes needed gadfly — offered a cold shower for transhumanism, The Singularity, the computers we will supposedly merge with by 2030, and all that. Those things, he thinks, are uncertain. We should worry about what’s happening now in everyday time, to which, in his view, too few are paying heed: The growth of total AI-based surveillance and the disappearance of privacy. Thiel considers arguments about whether computers that think like people will ever be developed to be “above his pay grade.” Given that he is reputed to be worth $3.7B dollars, that’s a polite way of saying that such…

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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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Japanese red maple keys in our own backyard. These are beautiful signs of spring.

Could Tiny Flying Computer Chips Monitor the World? They’re here!

A team at Northwestern University has developed a model based on the design of seed dispersal in nature

A Northwestern University team is developing electronic chips as small as a grain of sand, equipped with wings like those of wind-dispersed seeds. The hope is that these microfliers will monitor pollution and contamination — and surveil crowds via ultra-miniaturized equipment: About the size of a grain of sand, the new flying microchip (or “microflier”) does not have a motor or engine. Instead, it catches flight on the wind — much like a maple tree’s propeller seed — and spins like a helicopter through the air toward the ground. By studying maple trees and other types of wind-dispersed seeds, the engineers optimized the microflier’s aerodynamics to ensure that it — when dropped at a high elevation — falls at a…

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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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Closeup of unrecognizable little girl using smartphone, focus on hands scrolling through internet, copy space

Drawing a Line: When Tech To Keep People Safe Seems Dangerous

A dispute at the Washington Post about tech aimed at detecting child sex abuse highlights some of the issues

Princeton computer scientists Jonathan Mayer and Anunay Kulshrestha thread that needle:: Earlier this month, Apple unveiled a system that would scan iPhone and iPad photos for child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The announcement sparked a civil liberties firestorm, and Apple’s own employees have been expressing alarm. The company insists reservations about the system are rooted in “misunderstandings.” We disagree. We wrote the only peer-reviewed publication on how to build a system like Apple’s — and we concluded the technology was dangerous. We’re not concerned because we misunderstand how Apple’s system works. The problem is, we understand exactly how it works. Opinion by the Editorial Board: Apple’s new child safety tool comes with privacy trade-offs — just like all the others…

3D rendering illustration of security camera in classroom at school. CCTV camera on ceiling children protection concept.

No, the Surveillance State isn’t Better in the Hands of the Public

Matt Walsh's suggestion that cameras be installed in every classroom is understandable, but it won't teach children to live in a free society

In the modern era, cameras are everywhere. Nearly every person — man, woman, or child — carries a high-end video camera with them everywhere they go on their cell phone. This proliferation of cheap surveillance equipment has caused society to largely re-think the ethics of surveillance. In previous generations, sound and video recording devices were expensive. While recording equipment in general was not out of the reach of ordinary people, miniaturized equipment was, and having enough of it to actually “surveil” someone or something was quite expensive. Today, I can have nondescript cameras set up in each room in my house for just a few hundred dollars. This ability for ordinary people to engage in constant surveillance of their own…