Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 24 People Who Decide Acceptable Speech On The Internet

Free speech on the internet decided by 24 key people: "Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech".

From the article:
The deciders, of course, have blind spots of their own. Their hate-speech policies tend to reflect a bias toward the civility norms of U.S. workplaces; they identify speech that might get you fired if you said them at your job, but which would be legal if shouted at a rally, and try to banish that expression from the entire Internet. 

But given their tremendous size and importance as platforms for free speech, companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter shouldn’t try to be guardians of what Waldron calls a “well-ordered society”; instead, they should consider themselves the modern version of Oliver Wendell Holmes’s fractious marketplace of ideas—democratic spaces where all values, including civility norms, are always open for debate.
In this respect, Twitter seems to be doing better than Google and Facebook.  The article also notes:
As corporate rather than government actors, the Deciders aren’t formally bound by the First Amendment. But to protect the best qualities of the Internet, they need to summon the First Amendment principle that the only speech that can be banned is that which threatens to provoke imminent violence, an ideal articulated by Justice Louis Brandeis in 1927. It’s time, in other words, for some American free-speech imperialism if the Web is to remain open and free in twenty-first century.
(Via Virginia Postrel.)

Pirates Experience The Other Side

Clever: "What happens when pirates play a game development simulator and then go bankrupt because of piracy?"

10 Real Life Fairytale Islands

"10 Real Life Fairytale Islands". (Via B.M.)

Amazing Pictures of NYC Tunnel Drilling

Amazing pictures: "The Tunnels of NYC's East Side Access Project". (Via Jamie Brickell.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Francis Crick Letter

Francis Crick's letter to his 12 yr old son describing his and James Watson's discovery. (Via Jared Rhoads.)

Siri Remembers For 2 Years

Apple's Siri remembers user queries for up to 2 years:
Whenever you speak into Apple’s voice activated personal digital assistant, it ships it off to Apple’s data farm for analysis. Apple generates a random numbers to represent the user and it associates the voice files with that number. This number — not your Apple user ID or email address — represents you as far as Siri’s back-end voice analysis system is concerned.

Once the voice recording is six months old, Apple “disassociates” your user number from the clip, deleting the number from the voice file. But it keeps these disassociated files for up to 18 more months for testing and product improvement purposes.

“Apple may keep anonymized Siri data for up to two years,” Muller says “If a user turns Siri off, both identifiers are deleted immediately along with any associated data.”

The Problem of Redaction

"The Problem of Redaction". (Via Bruce Schneier.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Zero-G in Ender's Game Movie

"Ender's Game went to insane lengths to fake Zero G fight scenes".

I wouldn't necessarily call them "insane lengths", but it sounds like they made a major effort.  I look forward to seeing the film! (Via Rand Simberg.)

The RIse and Fall of AMD

Ars Technica has a couple of articles on "The Rise and Fall of AMD".
Part 1: "The rise and fall of AMD: How an underdog stuck it to Intel"
Part 2: "The rise and fall of AMD: A company on the ropes"

Electricity Theft

"Electricity Theft: A Bigger Issue Than You Think"

One tidbit: "We don’t know where it all goes, but we do know the majority goes to growing marijuana."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time Travel In The Movies

Awesome guide to time travel in the movies. Click on link to see full size. (Via Popehat.)

Game Theory and Jane Austen

NYT: "Game Theory: Jane Austen Had It First"
Take the scene in “Pride and Prejudice” where Lady Catherine de Bourgh demands that Elizabeth Bennet promise not to marry Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth refuses to promise, and Lady Catherine repeats this to Mr. Darcy as an example of her insolence — not realizing that she is helping Elizabeth indirectly signal to Mr. Darcy that she is still interested. 

Can Super Mario Save Artificial Intelligence?

"Can Super Mario Save Artificial Intelligence?"

Laser Weapons That Seem To Work

"The U.S. Navy believes it has found a laser technology that is capable of being useful in combat"

Monday, April 22, 2013

How Does China Censor the Internet?

Econimist: "How does China censor the internet?"
In short, China is having it both ways: it is allowing its citizens to benefit from the social and commercial aspects of the internet, while placing strict limits on its use for political activism.

How Bombs in Iraq Saved Lives in Boston

"How Bombs in Iraq Saved Lives in Boston"

Evolution of Video Game Controllers

"Infographic of the Day: The Evolution of Video Game Controllers".

Full size version of graphic here. (Via Trey P.)

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting might be lighter than usual this week because of external obligations.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Captain Kirk's Guide to Fighting

"Captain Kirk's guide to fighting"

The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution

Schmidt and Cohen:: "The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution"
While technology has great potential to bring about change, there is a dark side to the digital revolution that is too often ignored. There is a turbulent transition ahead for autocratic regimes as more of their citizens come online, but technology doesn't just help the good guys pushing for democratic reform -- it can also provide powerful new tools for dictators to suppress dissent.

What Happens If You Try to Wring Out a Washcloth in Space

"If You Try to Wring Out a Washcloth in Space, You Will Fail"

Here's the video:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

America’s 10 Most Alcoholic Beers

"America's 10 Most Alcoholic Beers"

If Ray Kurzweil Lives Forever, Should Medicare Pay for His Health Care?

"If Ray Kurzweil Lives Forever, Should Medicare Pay for His Health Care?"

Silk Road and Bitcoins

"Founder Of Drug Site Silk Road Says Bitcoin Booms And Busts Won't Kill His Black Market".

A rare public statement from "Dread Pirate Roberts", the founder of Silk Road.  (Via Alex Knapp.)

Universal Brain Response to Music?

"There Seems to Be a Universal Brain Response to Music".

As with all purported neuroscience fMRI popular press articles, take with an appropriately-sized grain of salt. (Via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Skepticism on Self-Driving Cars

A contrarian view on self-driving cars: "Completely autonomous vehicles will remain a fantasy for years"

Moore’s Law and the Origin of Life

"Moore's Law and the Origin of Life"

The basic premise is controversial: "As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore's law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself." (Personally, I'm skeptical, but I thought it was interesting enough to post.)

How Guys Will Use Google Glass

"How Guys Will Use Google Glass"

The 15 Weirdest Demands by Bosses

"The 15 Weirdest Demands by Bosses"

1993 vs. 2013

Reminder: 1993 vs. 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Confusing Thatcher Hashtag

Some people apparently misread the Twitter hashtag of #nowthatchersdead as "Now that Cher's dead", not "Now Thatcher's dead".

Combating the Asteroid Threat

Glenn Reynolds: "Combating the asteroid threat"

Bitcoin Millionaires

"The New Bitcoin Millionaires"

Many of my friends are big fans of Bitcoins, but I keep wondering is this is just the 21st-century version of Tulip Bulb mania.

Can You Patent a Steak?

"Can you patent a steak?" (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Monday, April 08, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

How to Shield Yourself From Smartphone Snoops

NYT: "How to Shield Yourself From Smartphone Snoops". (Via Instapundit.)

Feds Unhappy About iMessage Encryption

"Apple's iMessage encryption trips up feds' surveillance":
An internal Drug Enforcement Administration document seen by CNET discusses a February 2013 criminal investigation and warns that because of the use of encryption, "it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices" even with a court order approved by a federal judge.

The DEA's warning, marked "law enforcement sensitive," is the most detailed example to date of the technological obstacles -- FBI director Robert Mueller has called it the "Going Dark" problem -- that police face when attempting to conduct court-authorized surveillance on non-traditional forms of communication.

Medical Emergencies at 40,000 Feet

"Medical Emergencies at 40,000 Feet".

I've never had to respond to an emergency while flying.  But my brother (also a physician) has.

50 Years Of Potato Chip Innovation

"50 Years Of Potato Chip Innovation, In 5 Animated GIFS"

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

History of Rome Podcasts

I've really been enjoying these "History of Rome" podcasts.  My favorite line from episode 136:
Diocletian had done his best to establish a system that would end once and for all the persistent civil wars that had wracked the Empire of the 3rd century. And instead, he inadvertently had drawn up what amounted to a giant civil war tournament bracket. In the championship game, Constantine finally had emerged victorious.
Here the iTunes link.

Gondor Demography

"Demography of Middle Earth: Gondor". (Via Charlie Martin.)

Nanoparticles Formed Using Human Viruses

"Nanoparticles formed using human viruses, to fight human viruses"

A Brief History of Applause

"A Brief History of Applause, the 'Big Data' of the Ancient World"