/features

  • A 23-Year-Old Coder Kept QAnon and the Far Right Online When No One Else Would - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-04-14/qanon-daily-stormer-far-right-have-been-kept-online-by-nick-lim-s-vanwate

    Trop facile l’argument de la liberté d’expression pour favoriser les néo-nazis.

    Two and a half months before extremists invaded the U.S. Capitol, the far-right wing of the internet suffered a brief collapse. All at once, in the final weeks of the country’s presidential campaign, a handful of prominent sites catering to White supremacists and adherents of the QAnon conspiracy movement stopped functioning. To many of the forums’ most devoted participants, the outage seemed to prove the American political struggle was approaching its apocalyptic endgame. “Dems are making a concerted move across all platforms,” read one characteristic tweet. “The burning of the land foreshadows a massive imperial strike back in the next few days.”

    In fact, there’d been no conspiracy to take down the sites; they’d crashed because of a technical glitch with VanwaTech, a tiny company in Vancouver, Wash., that they rely on for various kinds of network infrastructure. They went back online with a simple server reset about an hour later, after the proprietor, 23-year-old Nick Lim, woke up from a nap at his mom’s condo.

    Lim founded VanwaTech in late 2019. He hosts some websites directly and provides others with technical services including protection against certain cyberattacks; his annual revenue, he says, is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although small, the operation serves clients including the Daily Stormer, one of America’s most notorious online destinations for overt neo-Nazis, and 8kun, the message board at the center of the QAnon movement, whose adherents were heavily involved in the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    Lim exists in a singularly odd corner of the business world. He says he’s not an extremist, just an entrepreneur with a maximalist view of free speech. “There needs to be a me, right?” he says, while eating pho at a Vietnamese restaurant near his headquarters. “Once you get to the point where you look at whether content is safe or unsafe, as soon as you do that, you’ve opened a can of worms.” At best, his apolitical framing comes across as naive; at worst, as preposterous gaslighting. In interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek early in 2020, Lim said he didn’t really know what QAnon was and had no opinion about Donald Trump.

    #Extrême_droite #Premier_amendement #Liberté_expression #Fachosphère

    • Je sais bien, mais en même temps, l’article pourrait (devrait ?) se résumer à ceci :

      “There’s already a good recipe that was used for ISIS. Why don’t you use it on the far right?”

      It’s tougher to keep a site such as the Daily Stormer offline as long as somebody like Lim is willing to support it. U.S. laws governing domestic extremism are less expansive than those focused on international terrorism, partly to protect the rights of U.S. citizens with unpopular political views.

      Le type fait dans la cradingue, c’est indéniable, mais apparemment pas dans l’illégal. Ce sont les États-Unis, où il y a désormais une communication publique massive (notamment suite à la catastrophe Trump, QAnon, White supremacist…) pour avoir une maîtrise collective de l’expression publique (« on » décide que certaines expressions n’ont pas leur place dans la sphère publique, et notamment sur le Web), mais dans le même temps on refuse complètement d’y donner une forme juridique (because Premier amendement).

      Donc on mène de grandes campagnes d’indignation collective, et on fait pression sur les plateformes pour faire supprimer certains contenus (il y a d’ailleurs deux activistes qui le disent tout à fait explicitement dans l’article), tout en se rendant bien compte que ces expressions ne sont par ailleurs pas illégales (le gars de l’article ne dit absolument pas qu’il maintiendrait des contenus illégaux aux États-Unis, jihadistes ou pédophiles par exemple). Et qu’en même temps on semble prendre bien soin à ne pas ouvrir ce débat pour que les limites de l’expression publique soient mieux encadrées par des tribunaux, plutôt que laissées à la discrétion des plateformes (qui en profitent pour virer plein d’autres choses discrètement par ailleurs).

    • Oui, ça je suis bien d’accord. Mais les motivations du gars, est-ce qu’on ne s’en fout pas un peu ? Des fachos qui hébergent des fachos, on s’en cogne un peu de leurs alibis, la question elle est vite répondue.

      Ce qui me chagrine, c’est qu’on a un article extrêmement long, qui aborde la question de l’illégalité (ou plutôt de l’absence d’illégalité) dans une unique phrase, et qui au contraire se focalise sur les mouvements de pression organisés pour que les grandes plateformes dégagent certains contenus, plutôt que d’avoir une régulation encadrée par la loi. Et qui, dès le début, titre sur la notion de « When No One Else Would ».

      Et je trouve ça extrêmement inquiétant : parce qu’on trouvera toujours un facho pour héberger des fachos, surtout tant que le fait d’héberger des sites fachos n’est pas illégal.

      Ce qui me semble la pente dangereuse de ce genre de considération, c’est qu’on considère fondamentalement dangereux et illégitime qu’on puisse s’héberger (et s’exprimer) en dehors des grandes plateformes. C’est le sens du titre et des activistes de l’article : s’il suffit de faire pression sur les grandes plateformes pour se débarrasser des fachos, nickel ; mais s’il est encore possible de trouver un hébergeur qui le fera « When No One Else Would », on atteint les limites de cette forme de « régulation » de l’expression publique.

      Alors même que si ces formes d’expression étaient interdites par la loi, comme Daesh et la pédophilie, ce ne serait pas du tout la même question – puisque l’hébergeur facho ne revendique à aucun moment de contrevenir à la loi et d’héberger des contenus illégaux.

      La conclusion inévitable de cette façon de voir, c’est qu’il ne faudrait pas laisser aux gens la possibilité de s’exprimer ou accéder à des contenus en dehors des grandes plateformes. Parce que, à nouveau, tant que c’est légal, en l’état actuel des interwebz et tant qu’il n’y a aura pas une interdiction légale de le faire, on trouvera toujours des fachos pour héberger des fachos.

      (Accessoirement, ça aurait tendance à me renvoyer à une autre préoccupation pénible que j’ai depuis quasiment 20 ans : le volontarisme des fachos à se déployer et s’organiser sur les interwebz, à réellement « faire du réseau », et au contraire une immense passivité/méfiance des progressistes qui pour une large part ont décidé que monter une page Facebook c’était bien suffisant, et qui se retrouvent à poil une fois qu’ils se font éjecter des grands réseaux sociaux. Et ensuite on va chouiner contre les méchants GAFA.)

  • ‘Solidarity, Not Charity’: A Visual History of Mutual Aid

    Tens of thousands of mutual aid networks and projects emerged around the world in 2020. They have long been a tool for marginalized groups.

    2020 was a year of crisis. A year of isolation. A year of protest. And, a year of mutual aid.

    From meal deliveries to sewing squads, childcare collectives to legal aid, neighbors and strangers opened their wallets, offered their skills, volunteered their time and joined together in solidarity to support one another.

    Tens of thousands of mutual aid networks and projects have emerged around the world since the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to Mariame Kaba, an educator, abolitionist and organizer. During the first week of the U.S. lockdown in March 2020, Kaba joined with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to create Mutual Aid 101, an online toolkit that educates and empowers people to build their own mutual aid networks throughout their buildings, blocks, neighborhoods and cities. Emphasizing a focus on “solidarity, not charity,” mutual aid is all about cooperation because, as the toolkit puts it, “we recognize that our well-being, health and dignity are all bound up in each other.”

    “Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions,” says Dean Spade, a trans activist, writer, and speaker. “Not through symbolic acts or putting pressure on representatives, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.”

    While many are engaging with mutual aid for the first time this year, there is a rich history and legacy of communities — especially those failed by our systems of power — coming together to help each other survive, and thrive. Here are nine examples from history.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-12-22/a-visual-history-of-mutual-aid?srnd=premium

    #solidarité #entraide #mutual_aid #charité #BD #Noirs #Philadelphie #USA #Etats-Unis #FAS #New_York_Committee_of_vigilance #Frederick_Douglass #NYCV #femmes_noires #Noires #Callie_House #mutual_aid_society #mutualisme #CCBA #Landsmanshaftn #sociedades_mutualistas #histoire #racisme_structurel #Black_Panthers #free_breakfast_program #young_lords_garbage_offensive #chicken_soup_brigade #Tim_Burak #Buddy_network

    ping @karine4 @isskein

  • Amazon Has Turned a Middle-Class Warehouse Career Into a McJob
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-12-17/amazon-amzn-job-pay-rate-leaves-some-warehouse-employees-homeless

    Despite a starting wage well above the federal minimum, the company is dragging down pay in the logistics industry and bracing for a fight with unions. Amazon.com Inc. job ads are everywhere. Plastered on city buses, displayed on career web sites, slotted between songs on classic rock stations. They promise a quick start, $15 an hour and health insurance. In recent weeks, America’s second-largest employer has rolled out videos featuring happy package handlers wearing masks, a pandemic-era (...)

    #Amazon #GigEconomy #pauvreté #syndicat #travail

    ##pauvreté

  • How Facebook’s Political Unit Enables the Dark Art of Digital Propaganda
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-21/inside-the-facebook-team-helping-regimes-that-reach-out-and-crack-down?sr

    Some of unit’s clients stifle opposition, stoke extremism. Under fire for Facebook Inc.’s role as a platform for political propaganda, co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has punched back, saying his mission is above partisanship. “We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas,” Zuckerberg wrote in September after President Donald Trump accused Facebook of bias. Zuckerberg’s social network is a politically agnostic tool for its more than 2 billion users, he has said. But (...)

    #FaceApp #algorithme #manipulation #données #élections #BigData #marketing #microtargeting (...)

    ##GAFAM

  • Wuhan’s Return to Life : Temperature Checks and Constant Anxiety - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-04-23/wuhan-s-return-to-life-temperature-checks-and-constant-anxiety

    Un article sur le retour au travail après confinement à Wuhan.

    Les photographies de Gilles Sabrié sont impressionnantes. Par exemple la couverture :


    Ou encore les repas à la cantine de Lenovo

    Every workday at Lenovo’s tablet and phone factory on the outskirts of Wuhan, arriving employees report to a supervisor for the first of at least four temperature checks. The results are fed into a data collection system designed by staff. Anyone above 37.3C (99.1F) is automatically flagged, triggering an investigation by an in-house “anti-virus task force.”
    Daily routines at the facility, which reopened on March 28 after stopping for over two months because of the coronavirus pandemic that began in this central Chinese city, have been entirely reengineered to minimize the risk of infection. Before returning to the site, staff members had to be tested both for the virus and for antibodies that indicate past illness, and they had to wait for their results in isolation at a dedicated dormitory. Once cleared, they returned to work to find the capacity of meeting rooms built for six reduced to three and the formerly communal cafeteria tables partitioned off by vertical barriers covered in reminders to avoid conversation. Signs everywhere indicate when areas were last disinfected, and robots are deployed wherever possible to transport supplies, so as to reduce the number of people moving from place to place. Elevators, too, are an artifact of the Before Times; everyone now has to take the stairs, keeping their distance from others all the way.

    #Covid-19 #Wuhan #Gilles_Sabrié #After #Déconfinement

  • Bosses Panic-Buy Spy Software to Keep Tabs on Remote Workers - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-03-27/bosses-panic-buy-spy-software-to-keep-tabs-on-remote-workers

    Phones are ringing off the hook at companies providing a bit of Big Brother.

    The email came from the boss.

    We’re watching you, it told Axos Financial Inc. employees working from home. We’re capturing your keystrokes. We’re logging the websites you visit. Every 10 minutes or so, we’re taking a screen shot.

    #algorithme #vidéo-surveillance #surveillance #travail #spyware

  • The Hidden #Dangers of the Great Index Fund Takeover - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-01-09/the-hidden-dangers-of-the-great-index-fund-takeover

    The antitrust worries about index funds involve common ownership, when the same large investors own a big chunk of the shares in the major corporations in the same industry. Academics have long theorized that common ownership might encourage coordinated behavior among companies linked by the same set of owners. And recently researchers have made some surprising findings, including that high levels of common ownership can lead to higher prices and lower levels of investment, innovation, and output.

    Harvard Law School professor Einer Elhauge calls common ownership the greatest anti-competitive threat in the economy today. Index funds “are great for investors,” says Elhauge, “but part of the reason they’re great for investors is exactly because of the anti-competitive effects.” Elhauge says the trusts of the late 19th century that gave rise to today’s antitrust laws also involved a form of common shareholding.

    Index fund managers aren’t meeting with companies to secretly carve up markets in smoke-filled rooms. The process critics imagine is more subtle. It starts with the idea that passive funds seek only to match an index’s return and not outperform it. Thus the fund managers lack financial incentives to ensure the companies in their portfolios are competing fiercely with one another. Compare this to an active manager who holds, say, shares of Coca-Cola Co. but not PepsiCo Inc. She might want Coca-Cola to take big risks to crush Pepsi, and invest capital in new products and markets to do so. An investor who holds both, on the other hand, would prefer that Coke and Pepsi avoid price wars.

    Such going along to get along may not always be benign. A 2018 study found that, when the same institutional investors are the largest shareholders in branded drug companies and generic drugmakers, the generic companies are less likely to offer cheaper versions of the brand-name drugs. Consumers could be paying higher drug prices as a result. “The potential effects on anti-competitive conduct are really serious,” says Melissa Newham, a Ph.D. candidate at KU Leuven in Belgium and a co-author of the study. It isn’t clear whether funds are somehow pressuring management or management just knows that competing hard isn’t in the interest of their key shareholders.

    [...]

    The power of the index funds is also becoming a concern of social activists. One study found that BlackRock and Vanguard voted against at least 16 climate-related shareholder proposals in which their support would have given the measures a majority of votes. The study, conducted by the nonprofit Majority Action, looked at 41 climate change-related proposals ranging from setting greenhouse gas emission targets to disclosing environmental lobbying activity. #BlackRock and #Vanguard were less likely than their fund company peers to back the resolutions, supporting them less than 15% of the time. State Street voted in favor of climate-related resolutions more often—about 27% of the time—but still less often than its peers did. “I think the large passive managers have a real difficult decision to make,” former Vice President Al Gore told the Financial Times in December. “Do they want to continue to finance the destruction of human civilization, or not?”

    #State_Street #monopole #prix #social #climat #fonds_indiciel #placements

  • The U.S. Is Purging Chinese Americans From Top Cancer Research - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-06-13/the-u-s-is-purging-chinese-americans-from-top-cancer-research

    In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen , quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Her resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions.

    #Chine #Etats-unis #air_du_temps #régression

  • Syria Latest: Day-to-Day Life in War-Weary Damascus - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-04-26/waiting-19-hours-for-gas-in-a-lifeless-city

    Instead of a frenzy of reconstruction and the promise of revival, Syrians have found themselves fighting another battle. Weary and traumatized from the violence, they’re focused on trying to survive in a decimated economy that shows no signs of imminent revival and with no peace dividend on the horizon.

    [..,]

    Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, said the Trump administration is much more aggressive than under Barack Obama, using more secondary penalties that target those doing business with sanctioned individuals or companies.

    In November, the U.S. Treasury Department added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria and warned of significant risks for those violating the sanctions.

    “It is a conscious policy of the American government to try to strangle to death the Iranian government in Tehran and the Syrian government in Damascus,” said Ford, who’s now a fellow at the Middle East Institute. “They don’t want to fight a military war with the Syrian government, but they’re perfectly willing to fight an economic war.”

    Ford likened the situation in Syria to the one in Cuba after the economy collapsed in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Cuba had financial difficulties, “but the Castros are still there,” he said.

    #Syrie #sanctions #civils #etats-unis

  • YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-04-02/youtube-executives-ignored-warnings-letting-toxic-videos-run-rampant

    Wojcicki’s media behemoth, bent on overtaking television, is estimated to rake in sales of more than $16 billion a year. But on that day, Wojcicki compared her video site to a different kind of institution. “We’re really more like a library,” she said, staking out a familiar position as a defender of free speech. “There have always been controversies, if you look back at libraries.”

    Since Wojcicki took the stage, prominent conspiracy theories on the platform—including one on child vaccinations; another tying Hillary Clinton to a Satanic cult—have drawn the ire of lawmakers eager to regulate technology companies. And YouTube is, a year later, even more associated with the darker parts of the web.

    The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread.

    Mais justement NON ! Ce ne peut être une “bibliothèque”, car une bibliothèque ne conserve que des documents qui ont été publiés, donc avec déjà une première instance de validation (ou en tout cas de responsabilité éditoriale... quelqu’un ira en procès le cas échéant).

    YouTube est... YouTube, quelque chose de spécial à internet, qui remplit une fonction majeure... et également un danger pour la pensée en raison de “l’économie de l’attention”.

    The company spent years chasing one business goal above others: “Engagement,” a measure of the views, time spent and interactions with online videos. Conversations with over twenty people who work at, or recently left, YouTube reveal a corporate leadership unable or unwilling to act on these internal alarms for fear of throttling engagement.

    In response to criticism about prioritizing growth over safety, Facebook Inc. has proposed a dramatic shift in its core product. YouTube still has struggled to explain any new corporate vision to the public and investors – and sometimes, to its own staff. Five senior personnel who left YouTube and Google in the last two years privately cited the platform’s inability to tame extreme, disturbing videos as the reason for their departure. Within Google, YouTube’s inability to fix its problems has remained a major gripe. Google shares slipped in late morning trading in New York on Tuesday, leaving them up 15 percent so far this year. Facebook stock has jumped more than 30 percent in 2019, after getting hammered last year.

    YouTube’s inertia was illuminated again after a deadly measles outbreak drew public attention to vaccinations conspiracies on social media several weeks ago. New data from Moonshot CVE, a London-based firm that studies extremism, found that fewer than twenty YouTube channels that have spread these lies reached over 170 million viewers, many who were then recommended other videos laden with conspiracy theories.

    So YouTube, then run by Google veteran Salar Kamangar, set a company-wide objective to reach one billion hours of viewing a day, and rewrote its recommendation engine to maximize for that goal. When Wojcicki took over, in 2014, YouTube was a third of the way to the goal, she recalled in investor John Doerr’s 2018 book Measure What Matters.

    “They thought it would break the internet! But it seemed to me that such a clear and measurable objective would energize people, and I cheered them on,” Wojcicki told Doerr. “The billion hours of daily watch time gave our tech people a North Star.” By October, 2016, YouTube hit its goal.

    YouTube doesn’t give an exact recipe for virality. But in the race to one billion hours, a formula emerged: Outrage equals attention. It’s one that people on the political fringes have easily exploited, said Brittan Heller, a fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center. “They don’t know how the algorithm works,” she said. “But they do know that the more outrageous the content is, the more views.”

    People inside YouTube knew about this dynamic. Over the years, there were many tortured debates about what to do with troublesome videos—those that don’t violate its content policies and so remain on the site. Some software engineers have nicknamed the problem “bad virality.”

    Yonatan Zunger, a privacy engineer at Google, recalled a suggestion he made to YouTube staff before he left the company in 2016. He proposed a third tier: Videos that were allowed to stay on YouTube, but, because they were “close to the line” of the takedown policy, would be removed from recommendations. “Bad actors quickly get very good at understanding where the bright lines are and skating as close to those lines as possible,” Zunger said.

    His proposal, which went to the head of YouTube policy, was turned down. “I can say with a lot of confidence that they were deeply wrong,” he said.

    Rather than revamp its recommendation engine, YouTube doubled down. The neural network described in the 2016 research went into effect in YouTube recommendations starting in 2015. By the measures available, it has achieved its goal of keeping people on YouTube.

    “It’s an addiction engine,” said Francis Irving, a computer scientist who has written critically about YouTube’s AI system.

    Wojcicki and her lieutenants drew up a plan. YouTube called it Project Bean or, at times, “Boil The Ocean,” to indicate the enormity of the task. (Sometimes they called it BTO3 – a third dramatic overhaul for YouTube, after initiatives to boost mobile viewing and subscriptions.) The plan was to rewrite YouTube’s entire business model, according to three former senior staffers who worked on it.

    It centered on a way to pay creators that isn’t based on the ads their videos hosted. Instead, YouTube would pay on engagement—how many viewers watched a video and how long they watched. A special algorithm would pool incoming cash, then divvy it out to creators, even if no ads ran on their videos. The idea was to reward video stars shorted by the system, such as those making sex education and music videos, which marquee advertisers found too risqué to endorse.

    Coders at YouTube labored for at least a year to make the project workable. But company managers failed to appreciate how the project could backfire: paying based on engagement risked making its “bad virality” problem worse since it could have rewarded videos that achieved popularity achieved by outrage. One person involved said that the algorithms for doling out payments were tightly guarded. If it went into effect then, this person said, it’s likely that someone like Alex Jones—the Infowars creator and conspiracy theorist with a huge following on the site, before YouTube booted him last August—would have suddenly become one of the highest paid YouTube stars.

    In February of 2018, the video calling the Parkland shooting victims “crisis actors” went viral on YouTube’s trending page. Policy staff suggested soon after limiting recommendations on the page to vetted news sources. YouTube management rejected the proposal, according to a person with knowledge of the event. The person didn’t know the reasoning behind the rejection, but noted that YouTube was then intent on accelerating its viewing time for videos related to news.

    #YouTube #Economie_attention #Engagement #Viralité

  • Women Once Ruled Computers. When Did the Valley Become Brotopia? - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-02-01/women-once-ruled-computers-when-did-the-valley-become-brotopia

    Lena Söderberg started out as just another Playboy centerfold. The 21-year-old Swedish model left her native Stockholm for Chicago because, as she would later say, she’d been swept up in “America fever.” In November 1972, Playboy returned her enthusiasm by featuring her under the name Lenna Sjööblom, in its signature spread. If Söderberg had followed the path of her predecessors, her image would have been briefly famous before gathering dust under the beds of teenage boys. But that particular photo of Lena would not fade into obscurity. Instead, her face would become as famous and recognizable as Mona Lisa’s—at least to everyone studying computer science.

    In engineering circles, some refer to Lena as “the first lady of the internet.” Others see her as the industry’s original sin, the first step in Silicon Valley’s exclusion of women. Both views stem from an event that took place in 1973 at a University of Southern California computer lab, where a team of researchers was trying to turn physical photographs into digital bits. Their work would serve as a precursor to the JPEG, a widely used compression standard that allows large image files to be efficiently transferred between devices. The USC team needed to test their algorithms on suitable photos, and their search for the ideal test photo led them to Lena.
    0718P_FEATURE_BROTOPIA_01
    Lena

    According to William Pratt, the lab’s co-founder, the group chose Lena’s portrait from a copy of Playboy that a student had brought into the lab. Pratt, now 80, tells me he saw nothing out of the ordinary about having a soft porn magazine in a university computer lab in 1973. “I said, ‘There are some pretty nice-looking pictures in there,’ ” he says. “And the grad students picked the one that was in the centerfold.” Lena’s spread, which featured the model wearing boots, a boa, a feathered hat, and nothing else, was attractive from a technical perspective because the photo included, according to Pratt, “lots of high-frequency detail that is difficult to code.”

    Over the course of several years, Pratt’s team amassed a library of digital images; not all of them, of course, were from Playboy. The data set also included photos of a brightly colored mandrill, a rainbow of bell peppers, and several photos, all titled “Girl,” of fully clothed women. But the Lena photo was the one that researchers most frequently used. Over the next 45 years, her face and bare shoulder would serve as a benchmark for image-processing quality for the teams working on Apple Inc.’s iPhone camera, Google Images, and pretty much every other tech product having anything to do with photos. To this day, some engineers joke that if you want your image compression algorithm to make the grade, it had better perform well on Lena.

    “We didn’t even think about those things at all when we were doing this,” Pratt says. “It was not sexist.” After all, he continues, no one could have been offended because there were no women in the classroom at the time. And thus began a half-century’s worth of buck-passing in which powerful men in the tech industry defended or ignored the exclusion of women on the grounds that they were already excluded .

    Based on data they had gathered from the same sample of mostly male programmers, Cannon and Perry decided that happy software engineers shared one striking characteristic: They “don’t like people.” In their final report they concluded that programmers “dislike activities involving close personal interaction; they are generally more interested in things than in people.” There’s little evidence to suggest that antisocial people are more adept at math or computers. Unfortunately, there’s a wealth of evidence to suggest that if you set out to hire antisocial nerds, you’ll wind up hiring a lot more men than women.

    Cannon and Perry’s work, as well as other personality tests that seem, in retrospect, designed to favor men over women, were used in large companies for decades, helping to create the pop culture trope of the male nerd and ensuring that computers wound up in the boys’ side of the toy aisle. They influenced not just the way companies hired programmers but also who was allowed to become a programmer in the first place.

    In 1984, Apple released its iconic Super Bowl commercial showing a heroic young woman taking a sledgehammer to a depressing and dystopian world. It was a grand statement of resistance and freedom. Her image is accompanied by a voice-over intoning, “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” The creation of this mythical female heroine also coincided with an exodus of women from technology. In a sense, Apple’s vision was right: The technology industry would never be like 1984 again. That year was the high point for women earning degrees in computer science, which peaked at 37 percent. As the number of overall computer science degrees picked back up during the dot-com boom, far more men than women filled those coveted seats. The percentage of women in the field would dramatically decline for the next two and a half decades.

    Despite having hired and empowered some of the most accomplished women in the industry, Google hasn’t turned out to be all that different from its peers when it comes to measures of equality—which is to say, it’s not very good at all. In July 2017 the search engine disclosed that women accounted for just 31 percent of employees, 25 percent of leadership roles, and 20 percent of technical roles. That makes Google depressingly average among tech companies.

    Even so, exactly zero of the 13 Alphabet company heads are women. To top it off, representatives from several coding education and pipeline feeder groups have told me that Google’s efforts to improve diversity appear to be more about seeking good publicity than enacting change. One noted that Facebook has been successfully poaching Google’s female engineers because of an “increasingly chauvinistic environment.”

    Last year, the personality tests that helped push women out of the technology industry in the first place were given a sort of reboot by a young Google engineer named James Damore. In a memo that was first distributed among Google employees and later leaked to the press, Damore claimed that Google’s tepid diversity efforts were in fact an overreach. He argued that “biological” reasons, rather than bias, had caused men to be more likely to be hired and promoted at Google than women.

    #Féminisme #Informatique #Histoire_numérique

  • Britain’s Other Irish Border Is Also a Big Brexit Problem - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-02-26/britain-s-other-irish-border-is-also-a-big-brexit-problem


    The Stena Adventurer, a passenger and ro-ro cargo ship, arrives at Holyhead Port.
    Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

    There’s an ominous number that keeps coming up in conversations among workers at the port handling the bulk of trade between the U.K. and Ireland: “the 29th.

    It’s the date at the end of March when Britain risks descending into chaos should politicians fail to agree on the terms of the country’s divorce from the European Union. The looming threat has meant Prime Minister Theresa May is now said to be considering extending the deadline. 

    The concern at #Holyhead in northwest Wales is that the 1,300 trucks and trailers passing through each day will get snarled up in new checks should the U.K. tumble out of the EU’s customs union without a new arrangement in place.

    This is the frontier that few people are talking about while the political energy focuses on preventing a land border between the U.K. province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the EU. Yet economically, it’s the most critical gateway for more than $40 billion of annual imports and exports, from meat and dairy goods to pharmaceuticals and even 1,000 horses a week as part of the bloodstock trade.

  • Venezuela: Exodus of Doctors Bring Help to Latin America’s Poor - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-02-09/venezuela-exodus-of-doctors-bring-help-to-latin-america-s-poor

    An exodus of more than 22,000 physicians in the past five years is reshaping medicine in the region.
    […]
    If Guaido succeeds and Venezuela’s economy stirs to life, some of the 3 million people who left might return. For now, however, the human deluge offers regional governments an unexpected wellspring of talent.

    The influx offers an opportunity to strengthen public services in a region of deep inequality, said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

    This is Latin America’s moment to utilize human capital from Venezuela, providing access outside of the capital cities and, in the meantime, helping the migrants find work,” Selee said. “It’s a win-win, but you have to make sure you provide a way for professionals to obtain credentials and get those professionals to areas where there is need for their services.

  • The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-10-04/the-big-hack-how-china-used-a-tiny-chip-to-infiltrate-america-s-top-compa

    The attack by Chinese spies reached almost 30 U.S. companies, including Amazon and Apple, by compromising America’s technology supply chain, according to extensive interviews with government and corporate sources.

    […]

    There are two ways for spies to alter the guts of computer equipment. One, known as interdiction, consists of manipulating devices as they’re in transit from manufacturer to customer. This approach is favored by U.S. spy agencies, according to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The other method involves seeding changes from the very beginning.

    One country in particular has an advantage executing this kind of attack: China, which by some estimates makes 75 percent of the world’s mobile phones and 90 percent of its PCs.

    #espionnage #Chine #États-Unis #informatique

  • A Maritime Revolution Is Coming, and No One’s in the Wheelhouse - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-05-28/boat-drones-propel-one-of-china-s-hottest-startups


    A technician inspects an Oceanalpha drone on a pond before a test in Zhuhai, China.
    Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

    In the vast, freezing Ross Sea, China’s “Snow Dragon” icebreaker needed to find a safe anchorage before it could begin its mission to set up China’s fifth Antarctic research station. The solution was to deploy one of Zhang Yunfei’s freezer-tested boat drones to map the ocean floor. 

    For Zhang, it was the latest in a string of government contracts — from surveying Tibetan lakes to testing river pollution — that have helped him turn a university project into China’s largest unmanned surface vessel company, one that has fired the interest of some of China’s biggest venture capitalists. In a pending round of funding, Oceanalpha Co. Ltd. may be valued at $780 million — about 40 times revenue — despite never having turned a profit.
    […]
    The big prize is cargo. Zhang has a new partnership with Wuhan University of Technology, China’s Classification Society and Zhuhai municipal government that will use artificial intelligence to direct autonomous container vessels.

    There will be a huge revolution in the maritime industry within three years,” Zhang said. “Cargo ships will be autonomous before cars.

    The project, called #Cloudrift — a reference to the Chinese legend of the monkey king, who could summon a cloud on which he traveled — is racing against rivals to build an unmanned cargo ship this year. Norway has created a test area for pilotless vessels in the Trondheim Fjord in a joint effort by the Norwegian University of Science Technology and companies including Rolls Royce.


    Oceanalpha’s drone with the “Snow Dragon” icebreaker in Antarctica.
    Source: Oceanalpha

  • YouTube’s Plan to Clean Up the Mess That Made It Rich
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-04-26/youtube-may-be-a-horror-show-but-no-one-can-stop-watching

    Extremist propaganda, dangerous hoaxes, videos of tasered rats—the company is having its worst year ever. Except financially. Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive officer of YouTube, was in a meeting on the second floor of her company’s headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., when she heard the first gunshot. It came from outside ; more followed. Some of her employees ran for the exits ; others barricaded themselves in conference rooms. Those eating lunch on the outdoor patio hid under the tables. (...)

    #Google #YouTube #algorithme #manipulation #bénéfices #marketing