The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

The Tech Industry Needs Regulation

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About two years ago, Microsoft publicly asked a question for the first time: “Should there be a Hippocratic Oath for software developers creating AI systems the way there is for doctors?”


You can’t graduate from the Air Force Academy without taking an ethics course. In the military, there is a code of justice and there are people whose sole job is to make sure this code is followed, even though this doesn’t mean that the military makes no mistakes.


There are no common ethics codes to determine how lethal autonomous weapons and systems that are developed for the military should be used once they end up in the hands of civilians.


“In the top 10 Computer Science departments in the nation, there is only one that requires taking an ethics course to graduate. Ethics is a field that will have to get infused into Computer Science education. There should be a stand-alone course called Ethics for AI that every computer science major must take.”

Maybe we should start with holding FAANG responsible with regulations that have real teeth before we ask developers to push back against them.

Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

#JohnLewisRIP #100DaysToOffload #CivilRights

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In an essay by John Lewis - one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, and he fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

Two Ways of Managing the Pandemic

#infection #covid19 #pandemic

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Recent picture of tour boats at the Niagra waterfalls show a people-laden vessel operated by US company Maid of the Mist sailing past a sparsely populated boat run by Canada’s Hornblower Niagara Cruises. The Maid of the Mist is operating at 50% occupancy under New York State’s rules, while the Hornblower vessel is limited to Ontario’s rules to just six passengers.

The US has of this writing has 4.18 million cases as of and 148,000 deaths. Canada 113,000 caes with 8,800 deaths.

Amanda Barnes of Brampton, Ontario sums it up:

I’m glad I’m in Canada, You can see why the pandemic is raging in the United States and not in Canada when you look at the difference between the boats.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Ted Yoho Remarks

#AOC #aocforpresident #AOCstrong #AOC2024

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This week Republican Representative Ted Yoho verbally accosted Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Capital Building, calling her “disgusting”, “crazy”, and a “fucking bitch”. Ocasio-Cortez’s responding on the on the House floor:

This is not new, and that is the problem. Mr. Yoho was not alone. He was walking shoulder to shoulder with Representative Roger Williams, and that’s when we start to see that this issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that. Because not only have I been spoken to disrespectfully, particularly by members of the Republican Party and elected officials in the Republican Party, not just here, but the President of the United States last year told me to go home to another country, with the implication that I don’t even belong in America. The governor of Florida, Governor DeSantis, before I even was sworn in, called me a “whatever that is”. Dehumanizing language is not new, and what we are seeing is that incidents like these are happening in a pattern. This is a pattern of an attitude towards women and dehumanization of others.

[...]

I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly he does not want to. Clearly when given the opportunity he will not and I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards women, but what I do have issue with is using women, our wives and daughters, as shields and excuses for poor behavior. Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.

I can’t shake the feeling that were are witnessing a future will one day be the President of the United States in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Software Is Replacing Models

#entertainment #modeling #technology #AI

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Marc Andreessen wrote an essay in August of 2011 stating that software is eating the world. While we think this is true, most people view it in the services or infrastructure world. The average person has grown accustom to technology replacing things such as payments, maps, conferencing and other convenience industries and tasks.

But what happens when software actually comes after talent/beauty/entertainment industry? These have long been thought as insulated from the digital onslaught because they are intrinsic human qualities. Surely an algorithm can’t replace an artist? Or a beautiful model?

If there is one thing that I have learned, and in many ways, have helped accelerate - is that nothing is left out of the reach of technology. Especially software. Sinead Bovell for Vogue:

Digital models and influencers are successfully breaking into the fashion industry from every angle. Some have even been signed to traditional modeling agencies. Take Miquela Sousa, a 19-year-old Brazilian American model, influencer, and now musician, who has amassed a loyal following of more than 2 million people on Instagram. She’s collaborated with Prada and Givenchy, has been featured in a Calvin Klein video with Bella Hadid, and she just released a song with singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor this past spring.

Impressive stuff, but there’s one thing that’s keeping real-life me at ease: Miquela, like Shudu, is a computer-generated image (CGI), not artificial intelligence (A.I.). That means that Miquela and Shudu can’t actually do anything on their own. They can’t think or learn or offer posing variations independently. But that won’t be the case for much longer.

[...]

But we human models have worked really hard to have our stories heard and our authentic experiences considered, and we’ve fought to change the perception that we are just a sample size or a prop for clothes. We’ve mobilized in groups, such as the Model Mafia network that I am a part of, to advocate for social issues and push back on exclusivity in the fashion industry. In some cases our activism has even cost us jobs. But now that we are finally starting to see changes in the industry, digital models can just land the jobs that we took risks for. Or worse, brands can just create CGIs that champion causes instead of actually having to invest in those causes themselves.

Trump Moves Clinton and Bush Portratits

#BunkerBoy #Trump #TrumpThreatensAmerica #TrumpTraitor

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Tump removed the portraits of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from entrance to the executive mansion into the Old Family Dining Room.

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball:

The story of these portraits, in itself, is not important. But what’s behind this petty insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-events story is the same fundamental truth that is the cause of so many deeply important problems happening right now: Donald Trump has the small mind and emotional maturity of a petulant child.

The Butcher of the Valley

#Facebook #socialmedia #tech

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Kara Swisher in an opinion piece for the NY Times:

This week, I finally settled on a simpler comparison: Think about Facebook as a seller of meat products.

Most of the meat is produced by others, and some of the cuts are delicious and uncontaminated. But tainted meat — say, Trump steaks — also gets out the door in ever increasing amounts and without regulatory oversight.

The argument from the head butcher is this: People should be free to eat rotten hamburger, even if it wreaks havoc on their gastrointestinal tract, and the seller of the meat should not be the one to tell them which meat is good and which is bad (even though the butcher can tell in most cases).

Basically, the message is that you should find the truth through vomiting and — so sorry — maybe even death.

Pharma Price Gouging

#Pharmaceutical #COVID19 #Remdesivir #TrumpFailsAmerica

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From Sharon Lerner over at The Intercept

The details of the contracts, which were released to the nonprofit advocacy group Knowledge Ecology International, come as another pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, announced pricing for its Covid-19 therapy, remdesivir. That drug, which was developed with at least $79 million in federal funding, will cost private insurers $520 for a single vial, hundreds of times its production cost, which researchers at the University of Liverpool have estimated at 93 cents per dose.

In an open letter on pricing released Monday, Gilead chair and CEO Daniel O’Day said that “we approached this with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way” and noted that in “normal circumstances,” the company would set the price according to the value a drug provides. Based on a study that shows that the hospital stays of patients who take remdesivir are four days shorter on average than those who didn’t take the drug, Gilead estimated that value to be $12,000.

But, given its low production cost, Gilead could profit from remdesivir even if it was priced at just $1 a day, according to an analysis by Public Citizen. Instead the drug, which was rolled out with the help of the Trump administration, will cost insurers between $3,120 for a five-day course of treatment and $5,720 for a 10-day course.

Find Something New

#FindSomethingNew #IvankaAntoinette #IvankaTrump #IvankaJobs

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Ivanka Trump today introduced her new campaign to raise awareness in young people about the pathways that exist to find a career. For those who are unhappy in their jobs - to perhaps go out and find something new. Anyone see the irony of this campaign starting on Bastille Day?

Ivanka Trump, a person who has never had to apply for a job, started a company using her dad’s brand name and funding from Trump and the only reason why she holds the current job is because daddy is the President. This shows how completely detached they are from the everyday life of the average US Citizen. “Find Somthing New” - shows the long held belief by the elite wealthy class in this country that Americans are just lazy. If they would just go out and try to get a job - they would succeed.

The problem is, for most people, THERE ARE NO JOBS. The government handed out $1200 dollar checks, and thats it. All of the protections are due to expire at the end of the month. Millions of people are about to be thrown out of their homes, loose their health insurance, and have themselves or family members infected with Covid.

And what comes out of the Trump administration to help these citizens in a once in a lifetime economic and public health emergency? Find Something New. There is no money here, no policy, no jobs bill. This is just empty rhetoric.

Ivanka Trump is the modern day Marie Antoinette, and instead of ‘Let them eat cake’, we have ‘Find Something New’.

Yes. American citizens are going to Find Something New in November. A new President of the United States.

US Is Diving Into a Dark Covid Hole

#infecton #covid19 #pandemic

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Any other president, with 130,000+ deaths and likely hitting 200,000 by September, would have put the power of the federal government behind quarantining measures, contract tracing and enforcing strict mask requirements.

It is scary how dysfunctional and delusional our administration is in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. As reported by Stephen Collinson, this is administration is practicing willful, if not criminal, mismanagement of the pandemic.

As the US plunges into an ever deeper coronavirus morass, setting record new infection rates and the death curve begins to rise again, there's no prospect of the nightmare ending for months.
Delusion dominates an administration that perversely claims the United States is the world leader in beating this modern day plague. There are only contradictions, obfuscations and confusion from the federal officials who ought to be charting a national course.

The massive integrated testing and tracing effort that could highlight and isolate infection epicenters doesn't exist. Attempts to reopen schools in a few weeks are already descending into farce amid conflicting messages from Washington.

Amid all of this, the coronavirus task force does not hold daily briefings, and when it does, they are an exercise in dodging difficult questions and self-congratulation.

Largest Test Yet of Universal Basic Income

#basicincome #econonmics #spain

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Spain's government has started what might just be remembered as the world’s biggest economics experiment. On 15 June, spurred by the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout, it launched a website offering monthly payments of up to €1,015 (US$1,145) to the nation’s poorest families.

The programme, which will support 850,000 households, is the largest test yet of an idea called universal basic income (UBI) — where people are given a cash payment each month to spend however they choose. Oft-discussed but never satisfactorily tested, economists around the world are watching closely to see what the impact of the scheme on livelihoods will be.

Bill Nye on Wearing a Mask

#BillNye #COVID19 #MaskUpUSA

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Bill Nye on why you should wear a mask - brilliant as always.

The reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect you, sure, but the main reason we want you to wear a mask to protect ME from YOU! And the particles from your respiratory system into my respiratory system. Everybody - this is literally a matter of life or death."


What Police Believe

#PoliceViolence #PoliceBrutality #Police

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Vox’s Zack Beauchamp in What the police really believe

Police officers across America have adopted a set of beliefs about their work and its role in our society. The tenets of police ideology are not codified or written down, but are nonetheless widely shared in departments around the country.

The ideology holds that the world is a profoundly dangerous place: Officers are conditioned to see themselves as constantly in danger and that the only way to guarantee survival is to dominate the citizens they’re supposed to protect. The police believe they’re alone in this fight; police ideology holds that officers are under siege by criminals and are not understood or respected by the broader citizenry. These beliefs, combined with widely held racial stereotypes, push officers toward violent and racist behavior during intense and stressful street interactions.

This ideology in stark contrast to the stated mission statements of most Police departments. For example the New Jersey State Police mission statement:

The New Jersey State Police is committed to protect, preserve, and safeguard the constitutional and civil rights of all citizens through impartial and courteous law enforcement with integrity and professionalism. We shall ensure public safety and provide quality service in partnership with our communities.

Chart of Penguin Love

#penguins #Japan #tokyo

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Kyoto Aquarium and the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo keep high-resolution maps that track the Penguins serious crushes and heartbreaks but also adultery and egg-stealing. Now this would make for an interesting reality show!

Penguins, the way they waddle around and protect their eggs, are often thought of as cute, cuddly and romantic. But those who observe them for extended periods know they have a dark side. Two aquariums in Japan, Kyoto Aquarium and Sumida Aquarium, keep obsessive tabs on their penguins and maintain an updated flowchart that visualizes all their penguin drama.

As Kyoto-based researcher Oliver Jia points out, penguin drama can include serious crushes and heartbreaks but also adultery and egg-stealing. And these Japanese aquariums have it all charted in a flowchart that can be studied for hours.