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Data Scientist Cathy O’Neil on the Cold Destructiveness of Big Data

December 7, 2016 Big data promises fairness. With enough information about individuals and populations, we can design algorithms that will identify the best possible answer to a given question, free of human bias. Algorithms, after all, are not racist, sexist, or elitist. Or are they? In her new book, "Weapons of Math Destruction,"...

Here’s How Countries Like China, Russia Control Online Dissent

October 6, 2016 In January 2011, protests broke out across Egypt to demand an end to the despotic and repressive regime of Hosni Mubarak. The protests were largely organized online, through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Mubarak quickly realized this, and launched a counterattack: He severed all access to the internet from...

Here’s How Countries Like China, Russia Control Online Dissent

October 5, 2016 In January 2011, protests broke out across Egypt to demand an end to the despotic and repressive regime of Hosni Mubarak. The protests were largely organized online, through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Mubarak quickly realized this, and launched a counterattack: He severed all access to the internet from...

Easy Questions Computers Are Terrible at Answering

August 2, 2016 The way artificial intelligence is progressing, you might think a robot takeover of the human race is right around the corner. Artificial brains can now drive cars, do legal research, recognize faces and beat the best human players at games like Go. Prominent technologists keep warning AI poses a fundamental...

Things That Can Be Hacked

May 14, 2016 voicemails a tree or log productivity the mainframe the gibson computers generally a loogie (or is that “hock”?) a trail through the jungle hair Pokémon drywall “it” growth the human body major motion picture studios the planet away at the problem your way around the problem Starbucks iced lattes meat...

How to Create a Supersecure Password You’ll Never Forget: Use Poetry

October 20, 2015 If you’re like most people, your passwords are terrible. You might have just one insecure password that you use for everything. A pair of computational linguists at the University of Southern California have a possible answer to your easy-to-hack habits. They set out (pdf) to automatically generate unique passwords that...

What’s in the Ashley Madison Database Hackers Released Online?

August 19, 2015 The hackers who claimed to have stolen every bit of data from Ashley Madison, a dating website intended for adulterers, have made good on their promise to release the full database if the site didn’t shut down. Identifying themselves as Impact Team, the hackers have made available a frighteningly vast...

The Chinese Military Is Afraid Wearables Will Reveal its Secrets

May 11, 2015 China’s military released an ominous warning on May 10, telling troops and the wider public that network-connected wearable devices pose a national security risk when used by military personnel. Published in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily—a mouthpiece for the military—the warning outlines the risks (link in Chinese) of all...

China Warns Its Soldiers: Wearable Tech Could Leak Secrets

May 11, 2015 China’s military released an ominous warning on May 10, telling troops and the wider public that network-connected wearable devices pose a national security risk when used by military personnel. Published in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily—a mouthpiece for the military—the warning outlines the risks (link in Chinese) of all...

Inside China’s Elaborate and Absurd Internet Propaganda Machine

December 18, 2014 “NOTICE: We request every internet commenter carry out the following task today,” begins an email from the supervisor. It’s just another day in the propaganda department of Zhanggong, a district in southeast China’s modestly sized city of Ganzhou. Employees and freelancers are paid to post pro-government messages on the internet,...

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