• How music about space became music about drugs - MIT Technology Review

    The rock era and the space age exist on parallel time lines. The Soviets launched Sputnik in October 1957, the same month Elvis Presley hit #1 with “Jailhouse Rock.” The first Beatles single, “Love Me Do,” was released 23 days after John F. Kennedy declared that America would go to the moon (and not because it was easy, but because it was hard). Apollo 11 landed the same summer as Woodstock. These specific events are (of course) coincidences. Yet the larger arc is not. Mankind’s assault upon the heavens was the most dramatic achievement of the 20th century’s second half, simultaneous with rock’s transformation of youth culture. It does not take a deconstructionist to see the influence of the former on the latter. The number of pop lyrics fixated on the concept of space is massive, and perhaps even predictable. It was the language of the era. But what’s more complicated is what that concept came to signify, particularly in terms of how the silence of space was somehow supposed to sound.

    The principal figure in this conversation is also the most obvious: David Bowie. In a playlist of the greatest pop songs ever written about life beyond the stratosphere, 1969’s “Space Oddity” would be the opening cut, a musical experience so definitive that its unofficial sequel—the 1983 synth-pop “Major Tom (Coming Home)” by German one-hit wonder Peter Schilling—would probably be track number two. The lyrical content of “Space Oddity” is spoken more than sung, and the story is straightforward: an astronaut (Major Tom) rockets into space and something goes terribly wrong. It’s odd, in retrospect, that a song with such a pessimistic view of space travel would be released just 10 days before Neil Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface. That level of pessimism, however, would become the standard way for rock musicians to write about science. Outside of Sun Ra or Ace Frehley, it’s hard to find serious songs about space that aren’t framed as isolating or depressing.

    Space is a vacuum: the only song capturing the verbatim resonance of space is John Cage’s perfectly silent “4’33".” Any artist purporting to embody the acoustics of the cosmos is projecting a myth. That myth, however, is collective and widely understood. Space has no sound, but certain sounds are “spacey.” Part of this is due to “Space Oddity”; another part comes from cinema, particularly the soundtrack to 2001 (the epic power of classical music by Richard Strauss and György Ligeti). Still another factor is the consistent application of specific instruments, like the ondes martenot (a keyboard that vaguely simulates a human voice, used most famously in the theme to the TV show Star Trek). The shared assumptions about what makes music extraterrestrial are now so accepted that we tend to ignore how strange it is that we all agree on something impossible.

    Unsurprisingly, the ambiance of these tracks merged with psychedelic tendencies. The idea of “music about space” became shorthand for “music about drugs,” and sometimes for “music to play when you are taking drugs and thinking about space.” And this, at a base level, is the most accurate definition of the genre we now called space rock.

    The apotheosis of all the fake audio signifiers for interstellar displacement, Dark Side of the Moon (and its 1975 follow-up Wish You Were Here) perfected the synthesizer, defining it as the musical vehicle for soundtracking the future. Originally conceived as a way to replicate analog instruments, first-generation synthesizers saw their limitations become their paradoxical utility: though incapable of credibly simulating a real guitar, they could create an unreal guitar tone that was innovative and warmly inhuman. It didn’t have anything to do with actual astronomy, but it seemed to connote both the wonder and terror of an infinite universe. By now, describing pop music as “spacey” usually just means it sounds a little like Pink Floyd.

    What has happened, it seems, is that our primitive question about the moon’s philosophical proximity to Earth has been incrementally resolved. What once seemed distant has microscoped to nothingness. When rock music was new, space was new—and it seemed so far beyond us. Anything was possible. It was a creative dreamscape. But you know what? We eventually got there. We went to space so often that people got bored. The two Voyager craft had already drifted past Pluto before Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991. You can see a picture of a black hole in the New York Times. The notion that outer space is vast and unknowable has been replaced by the notion that space is exactly as it should be, remarkable as it is anodyne.

    #Musique #Espace #David_Bowie #Pink_Floyd

  • Democrats and Republicans Passing Soft Regulations - The Atlantic

    Your face is no longer just your face—it’s been augmented. At a football game, your face is currency, used to buy food at the stadium. At the mall, it is a ledger, used to alert salespeople to your past purchases, both online and offline, and shopping preferences. At a protest, it is your arrest history. At the morgue, it is how authorities will identify your body.

    Facial-recognition technology stands to transform social life, tracking our every move for companies, law enforcement, and anyone else with the right tools. Lawmakers are weighing the risks versus rewards, with a recent wave of proposed regulation in Washington State, Massachusetts, Oakland, and the U.S. legislature. In May, Republicans and Democrats in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform heard hours of testimony about how unregulated facial recognition already tracks protesters, impacts the criminal-justice system, and exacerbates racial biases. Surprisingly, they agreed to work together to regulate it.

    The Microsoft president Brad Smith called for governments “to start adopting laws to regulate this technology” last year, while the Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy echoed those comments in June, likening the technology to a knife. It’s a less dramatic image than the plutonium and nuclear-waste metaphors critics employ, but his message—coming from an executive at one of the world’s most powerful facial-recognition technology outfits—is clear: This stuff is dangerous.

    But crucially, Jassy and Smith seem to argue, it’s also inevitable. In calling for regulation, Microsoft and Amazon have pulled a neat trick: Instead of making the debate about whether facial recognition should be widely adopted, they’ve made it about how such adoption would work.

    Without regulation, the potential for misuse of facial-recognition technology is high, particularly for people of color. In 2016 the MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini published research showing that tech performs better on lighter-skinned men than on darker-skinned men, and performs worst on darker-skinned women. When the ACLU matched Congress members against a criminal database, Amazon’s Rekognition software misidentified black Congress members more often than white ones, despite there being far fewer black members.

    This includes House Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore native whose face was also scanned when he attended a 2015 rally in memory of Freddie Gray, the unarmed black teenager who died of a spinal-cord injury while in police custody. The Baltimore Police Department used facial recognition to identify protesters and target any with outstanding warrants. Most of the protesters were black, meaning the software used on them might have been less accurate, increasing the likelihood of misidentification. Expert witnesses at the committee hearing in May warned of a chilling effect: Protesters, wary of being identified via facial recognition and matched against criminal databases, could choose to stay home rather than exercise their freedom of assembly.

    Microsoft and Amazon both claim to have lessened the racial disparity in accuracy since the original MIT study and the ACLU’s report. But fine-tuning the technology to better recognize black faces is only part of the process: Perfectly accurate technology could still be used to support harmful policing, which affects people of color. The racial-accuracy problem is a distraction; how the technology is used matters, and that’s where policy could prevent abuse. And the solution Microsoft and Amazon propose would require auditing face recognition for racial and gender biases after they’re already in use—which might be too late.

    In early May, The Washington Post reported that police were feeding forensic sketches to their facial-recognition software. A witness described a suspect to a sketch artist, then police uploaded the sketch to Amazon’s Rekognition, looking for hits, and eventually arrested someone. Experts at the congressional hearing in May were shocked that a sketch submitted to a database could credibly qualify as enough reasonable suspicion to arrest someone.

    Read: Half of American adults are in police facial-recognition databases

    But Jassy, the Amazon Web Services CEO, claimed that Amazon has never received a report of police misuse. In May, Amazon shareholders voted down a proposal that would ban the sale of Rekognition to police, and halt sales to law enforcement and ICE. Jassy said that police should only rely on Rekognition results when the system is 99 percent confident in the accuracy of a match. This is a potentially critical safeguard against misidentification, but it’s just a suggestion: Amazon doesn’t require police to adhere to this threshold, or even ask. In January, Gizmodo quoted an Oregon sheriff’s official saying his department ignores thresholds completely. (“There has never been a single reported complaint from the public and no issues with the local constituency around their use of Rekognition,” a representative from Amazon said, in part, in a statement to Gizmodo.)

    #Reconnaissance_faciale #Libertés #Espace_public #Etat_policier

  • A new deepfake detection tool should keep world leaders safe—for now - MIT Technology Review

    An AI-produced video could show Donald Trump saying or doing something extremely outrageous and inflammatory. It would be only too believable, and in a worst-case scenario it might sway an election, trigger violence in the streets, or spark an international armed conflict.

    Fortunately, a new digital forensics technique promises to protect President Trump, other world leaders, and celebrities against such deepfakes—for the time being, at least. The new method uses machine learning to analyze a specific individual’s style of speech and movement, what the researchers call a “softbiometric signature.”

    The team then used machine learning to distinguish the head and face movements that characterize the real person. These subtle signals—the way Bernie Sanders nods while saying a particular word, perhaps, or the way Trump smirks after a comeback—are not currently modeled by deepfake algorithms.

    In experiments the technique was at least 92% accurate in spotting several variations of deepfakes, including face swaps and ones in which an impersonator is using a digital puppet. It was also able to deal with artifacts in the files that come from recompressing a video, which can confuse other detection techniques. The researchers plan to improve the technique by accounting for characteristics of a person’s speech as well. The research, which was presented at a computer vision conference in California this week, was funded by Google and DARPA, a research wing of the Pentagon. DARPA is funding a program to devise better detection techniques.

    The problem facing world leaders (and everyone else) is that it has become ridiculously simple to generate video forgeries with artificial intelligence. False news reports, bogus social-media accounts, and doctored videos have already undermined political news coverage and discourse. Politicians are especially concerned that fake media could be used to sow misinformation during the 2020 presidential election.

    Some tools for catching deepfake videos have been produced already, but forgers have quickly adapted. For example, for a while it was possible to spot a deepfake by tracking the speaker’s eye movements, which tended to be unnatural in deepfakes. Shortly after this method was identified, however, deepfake algorithms were tweaked to include better blinking.

    “We are witnessing an arms race between digital manipulations and the ability to detect those, and the advancements of AI-based algorithms are catalyzing both sides,” says Hao Li, a professor at the University of Southern California who helped develop the new technique. For this reason, his team has not yet released the code behind the method .

    Li says it will be particularly difficult for deepfake-makers to adapt to the new technique, but he concedes that they probably will eventually. “The next step to go around this form of detection would be to synthesize motions and behaviors based on prior observations of this particular person,” he says.

    Li also says that as deepfakes get easier to use and more powerful, it may become necessary for everyone to consider protecting themselves. “Celebrities and political figures have been the main targets so far,” he says. “But I would not be surprised if in a year or two, artificial humans that look indistinguishable from real ones can be synthesized by any end user.”

    #fake_news #Deepfake #Video #Détection

  • Médias : le risque du vase clos

    En haut, des journaux qui imposent l’agenda du débat public. En bas, des médias périphériques aux idéologies disparates, qui s’affirment en s’opposant aux premiers. Le système hexagonal a une particularité : sa verticalité, selon une étude de Sciences-Po et du MIT. Au risque de la fracture élitiste et de se couper de la vie réelle, comme le mouvement des gilets jaunes l’a prouvé.

    Par Jérôme Lefilliâtre — Libération -
    #journalisme #medias #mainstream

  • Facebook’s Libra: Three things we don’t know about the digital currency - MIT Technology Review

    If it’s not the most high-profile cryptocurrency-related event ever, Facebook’s launch of a test network for its new digital currency, called Libra coin, has been the most hyped. It is also polarizing among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Some think it’s good for the crypto industry; others dislike the fact that a big tech company appears to be co-opting a technology that was supposed to help people avoid big tech companies. Still others say it’s not even a real cryptocurrency.

    Libra’s network won’t work that way. Instead, running a “validator node” requires permission. To begin with, Facebook has signed up dozens of firms—including Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, Vodafone, Spotify, eBay, and popular Argentine e-commerce company MercadoLibre—to participate in the network that will validate transactions. Each of these “founding members” has invested around $10 million in the project.

    That obviously runs counter to the pro-decentralization ideology popular among cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

    Today’s public blockchains use too much energy and process transactions too slowly to elicit mainstream demand. This is probably the biggest obstacle to adoption of cryptocurrencies. It’s why Facebook chose not to use proof of work, the process that Bitcoin uses to reach agreement among the blockchain network’s nodes, citing its “poor performance and high energy (and environmental) costs.”

    If the high-powered roster of financial firms and technology companies beat Ethereum to the punch on proof of stake, it would be ironic: public blockchains are supposed to disrupt Big Tech, not the other way around.

    On top of all that, how serious is Facebook is about achieving decentralization and becoming a “real” cryptocurrency? Perhaps the fact it has made a big song and dance about being decentralized is simply a way of offsetting the firm’s appalling record on data privacy. But will users demand that the currency be more decentralized—or will many simply not care?

    #Crypto_monnaie #Monnaie_numérique #Libra #Facebook

  • Deepfakes have got Congress panicking. This is what it needs to do. - MIT Technology Review

    In response, the House of Representatives will hold its first dedicated hearing tomorrow on deepfakes, the class of synthetic media generated by AI. In parallel, Representative Yvette Clarke will introduce a bill on the same subject. A new research report released by a nonprofit this week also highlights a strategy for coping when deepfakes and other doctored media proliferate.

    The deepfake bill
    The draft bill, a product of several months of discussion with computer scientists, disinformation experts, and human rights advocates, will include three provisions. The first would require companies and researchers who create tools that can be used to make deepfakes to automatically add watermarks to forged creations.

    The second would require social-media companies to build better manipulation detection directly into their platforms. Finally, the third provision would create sanctions, like fines or even jail time, to punish offenders for creating malicious deepfakes that harm individuals or threaten national security. In particular, it would attempt to introduce a new mechanism for legal recourse if people’s reputations are damaged by synthetic media.

    “This issue doesn’t just affect politicians,” says Mutale Nkonde, a fellow at the Data & Society Research Institute and an advisor on the bill. “Deepfake videos are much more likely to be deployed against women, minorities, people from the LGBT community, poor people. And those people aren’t going to have the resources to fight back against reputational risks.”

    But the technology has advanced at a rapid pace, and the amount of data required to fake a video has dropped dramatically. Two weeks ago, Samsung demonstrated that it was possible to create an entire video out of a single photo; this week university and industry researchers demoed a new tool that allows users to edit someone’s words by typing what they want the subject to say.

    It’s thus only a matter of time before deepfakes proliferate, says Sam Gregory, the program director of Witness. “Many of the ways that people would consider using deepfakes—to attack journalists, to imply corruption by politicians, to manipulate evidence—are clearly evolutions of existing problems, so we should expect people to try on the latest ways to do those effectively,” he says.

    The report outlines a strategy for how to prepare for such an impending future. Many of the recommendations and much of the supporting evidence also aligns with the proposals that will appear in the House bill.

    The report found that current investments by researchers and tech companies into deepfake generation far outweigh those into deepfake detection. Adobe, for example, has produced many tools to make media alterations easier, including a recent feature for removing objects in videos; it has not, however, provided a foil to them.

    The result is a mismatch between the real-world nature of media manipulation and the tools available to fight it. “If you’re creating a tool for synthesis or forgery that is seamless to the human eye or the human ear, you should be creating tools that are specifically designed to detect that forgery,” says Gregory. The question is how to get toolmakers to redress that imbalance.

    #Deepfake #Fake_news #Synthetic_media #Médias_de_synthèse #Projet_loi

  • Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes - MIT Technology Review

    In a new paper, researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, performed a life cycle assessment for training several common large AI models. They found that the process can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent—nearly five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car (and that includes manufacture of the car itself).

    It’s a jarring quantification of something AI researchers have suspected for a long time. “While probably many of us have thought of this in an abstract, vague level, the figures really show the magnitude of the problem,” says Carlos Gómez-Rodríguez, a computer scientist at the University of A Coruña in Spain, who was not involved in the research. “Neither I nor other researchers I’ve discussed them with thought the environmental impact was that substantial.”

    They found that the computational and environmental costs of training grew proportionally to model size and then exploded when additional tuning steps were used to increase the model’s final accuracy. In particular, they found that a tuning process known as neural architecture search, which tries to optimize a model by incrementally tweaking a neural network’s design through exhaustive trial and error, had extraordinarily high associated costs for little performance benefit. Without it, the most costly model, BERT, had a carbon footprint of roughly 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, close to a round-trip trans-American flight.

    What’s more, the researchers note that the figures should only be considered as baselines. “Training a single model is the minimum amount of work you can do,” says Emma Strubell, a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the lead author of the paper. In practice, it’s much more likely that AI researchers would develop a new model from scratch or adapt an existing model to a new data set, either of which can require many more rounds of training and tuning.

    The significance of those figures is colossal—especially when considering the current trends in AI research. “In general, much of the latest research in AI neglects efficiency, as very large neural networks have been found to be useful for a variety of tasks, and companies and institutions that have abundant access to computational resources can leverage this to obtain a competitive advantage,” Gómez-Rodríguez says. “This kind of analysis needed to be done to raise awareness about the resources being spent [...] and will spark a debate.”

    “What probably many of us did not comprehend is the scale of it until we saw these comparisons,” echoed Siva Reddy, a postdoc at Stanford University who was not involved in the research.
    The privatization of AI research

    The results underscore another growing problem in AI, too: the sheer intensity of resources now required to produce paper-worthy results has made it increasingly challenging for people working in academia to continue contributing to research.

    #Intelligence_artificielle #Consommation_énergie #Empreinte_carbone

  • The guy who made a tool to track women in porn videos is sorry - MIT Technology Review

    An anonymous programmer based in Germany caused outrage this week for supposedly using face-recognition technology to “catch” women who had appeared in porn. He says he’s since deleted the project and all its data, but that’s not an act of altruism. Such a project would have violated European privacy law anyway, though it would have been okay elsewhere.

    There is still no proof that the global system—which allegedly matched women’s social-media photos with images from sites like Pornhub—actually worked, or even existed. Still, the technology is possible and would have had awful consequences. “It’s going to kill people,” says Carrie A. Goldberg, an attorney who specializes in sexual privacy violations and author of the forthcoming book Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls. “Some of my most viciously harassed clients have been people who did porn, oftentimes one time in their life and sometimes nonconsensually [because] they were duped into it. Their lives have been ruined because there’s this whole culture of incels that for a hobby expose women who’ve done porn and post about them online and dox them.” (Incels, or “involuntary celibates,” are a misogynistic online subculture of men who claim they are denied sex by women.)

    The European Union’s GDPR privacy law prevents this kind of situation. Though the programmer—who posted about the project on the Chinese social network Weibo—originally insisted everything was fine because he didn’t make the information public, just collecting the data is illegal if the women didn’t consent, according to Börge Seeger, a data protection expert and partner at German law firm Neuwerk. These laws apply to any information from EU residents, so they would have held even if the programmer weren’t living in the EU.

    Under GDPR, personal data (and especially sensitive biometric data) needs to be collected for specific and legitimate purposes. Scraping data to figure out if someone once appeared in porn is not that. And if the programmer had charged money to access this information, he could have faced up to three years in prison under German criminal law, adds Seeger.

    Et toujours cette logique de l’excuse qui semble Zurkerbériser un grand nombre de programmeurs.

    Reached last night via Weibo, the programmer (who did not give his real name) insisted that the technology was real, but acknowledged that it raised legal issues. He’s sorry to have caused trouble. But he’s not the only one able to build this technology, or the only one interested in using it for dangerous purposes. Policymakers concerned with global privacy law need to start thinking ahead.

    #Reconnaissance_faciale #Données_provées #Porno

  • Big tech firms are racing to track climate refugees - MIT Technology Review

    To be an undocumented refugee, these days, is to exist in many places and to not exist at all. It is to have your movements, words, and actions tracked, archived, and multiplied. It is to live between fences, tents, and databases—one new entry per doctor’s visit, per bag of rice, per canister of water. It can mean having your biometric and biographical data scanned, stored, and cross-checked by people you do not know, and who speak a language you may not understand. It is to have your identity multiplied, classified, and reduced to lines of code. It is to live in spreadsheets.

    Today, around 1.1 billion people live without a recognized form of identification. In many cases, their papers—if they ever had papers at all—have been burned, lost, or otherwise destroyed. And the number is growing every day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN’s refugee agency, estimates that in 2017, one person became displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict, economics, or climate change. “In short, the world had almost as many forcibly displaced people in 2017 as the population of Thailand,” the agency reports. “Across all countries, one in every 110 persons is someone displaced.”

    The next frontier, though, is not figuring out where people have been or where they will settle: it is figuring out who they will be when they get there. What will their “digital identity” look like? Who will hold the keys? A number of new and established tech companies are rushing to answer these critical questions. Technology accelerated the global identity crisis, and now technology claims to have the solution.

    But now that so much of our economic and political life takes place online, creating new forms of identity has taken on a severe urgency. Both the private and public sectors are racing to come up with a sustainable way of counting, identifying, and connecting not only the growing population of the global displaced, but also the wealthy population of the voluntarily mobile. Mastercard, Microsoft, Apple, Palantir, and Facebook have all entered the field, through private ventures as well as controversial partnerships with some of the world’s largest humanitarian agencies.

    In 2015, all the UN’s member states committed to providing “legal identity for all” by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, virtually every major aid-granting agency is either incubating, researching, or piloting a digital identity program.

    Et hop, Palantir dans la boucle... humanitaire, tant qu’à faire.

    The UN’s World Food Programme recently announced a new $45 million, five-year collaboration with Palantir that will use the Palo Alto firm’s “range of digital analytical solutions” to streamline and track the dispersal of humanitarian aid. The move was immediately met with skepticism among privacy advocates: a group of more than 60 human rights activists sent an open letter to WFP executives, expressing deep concern over the partnership and urging WFP leaders to “reconsider the terms and scope of the agreement with Palantir.”

    They argued that not only would the partnership threaten to “seriously damage the reputation of the WFP,” but also that it could “seriously undermine the rights of 90 million people the WFP serves.” The controversy, researchers said, should be a “wake-up call” to the humanitarian community about the dangers of relying on digital data and entrusting their networks to third parties.

    In a statement responding to these concerns, the WFP wrote that a series of “checks and balances” would protect private, identifying data, and that Palantir would not be able to use it for commercial gain. In an e-mail to MIT Technology Review, a WFP representative wrote that the agency has its own solutions to managing refugee identities, and that “the WFP-Palantir partnership does not focus on areas that require personally identifiable information (PII) of beneficiaries, nor does it focus on digital identity. No PII data is ever shared with Palantir or with any other partner. Only anonymized/encrypted information is used to analyze allocation of assistance to ensure complete privacy and security for the people we serve.”

    Yet as researcher Faine Greenwood said in Slate, the WFP may be overestimating its ability to protect and anonymize sensitive data.

    Expérimenter la blockchain sur des populations fragilisées comme les Rohynga, quelle bonne idée.

    Both the promise and the risks of digital identity have already become evident in the work of a small army of blockchain and biometric startups. The immutable, decentralized nature of the blockchain has led a number of startups to pin their hopes on the emerging technology as a solution to the problem of storing and protecting sensitive information, including biometric data.

    Passbase, which bills itself as “the first self-sovereign identity platform backed by verified government documents, linked social media accounts, and biometric signatures,” has raised seed funding from Alphabet and Stanford, and currently accepts documents from over 150 countries. Vinny Lingham, cofounder of the blockchain identity verification company Civic, goes so far as to claim that his company can help save democracy. WFP.s Building Blocks program also uses blockchain inside a refugee camp in Jordan.

    Maybe blockchain will save democracy. Or maybe it will make future political crises even worse. The Rohingya Project distributed blockchain-based digital identity cards to Rohingya refugees in order to help them access financial, legal, and medical services. It is, on the face of things, an altruistic, forward-looking humanitarian initiative. But uploading highly sensitive, identifying biometric information to an immutable ledger and testing emerging technology on a vulnerable population means exposing that population to untold risks.

    Data breaches, like those that have repeatedly exposed personal information in India’s Aadhaar biometric identification program, have exposed at-risk populations to new dangers. And they are all too common: in March, a data breach at the US Federal Emergency Management Agency exposed the personal information of 2.3 million survivors of American wildfires and hurricanes, leaving them vulnerable to identity fraud. In April, Kaspersky Labs reported that over 60,000 user digital identities could be bought for $5 to $200 via a dark-net marketplace. No technology is invulnerable to error, and no database, no matter how secure, is 100% protected from a breach.

    As digital identification technologies flood into the market, it is difficult to imagine predicting or preventing the disruptions—good and bad—that they will cause. Blockchain and biometric technologies have touched off a critical reevaluation of the most existential questions: What determines identity, and how many identities can one person claim? What will it mean when official identification eventually—inevitably—is no longer the purview of the nation-state?

    “Everybody deserves to have formal identification that they can use to exert their rights,” says Brandie Nonnecke, director of UC Berkeley’s CITRIS Policy Lab, which works on technology development in the social interest.

    But the rush of public and private digital identity programs has already begun to complicate fundamental questions about identification, registration, citizenship, and belonging. Even the simplest questions about digital identity have yet to be determined, Nonnecke says: “Do you have one identity, or do you have multiple identities across institutions? Is that a safeguard, or does it create more risk?”

    #Identité_numérique #Vie_privée #Humanitaire #Techno-fix

  • Mongolia: A toxic warning to the world - BBC Reel

    Quand je vois “Mongolie” je pense immédiatement @simplicissimus

    Mongolia: A toxic warning to the world
    23 April 2019|Environment

    All over the world cities are grappling with apocalyptic air pollution but the capital of Mongolia is suffering from some of the worst in the world.

    And the problem is intrinsically linked to climate change.

    • La question qui n’est pas abordée dans le petit film est la présence de structures d’état capables de prendre des décisions adéquates et d’imposer des mesures efficaces en fonction. A Berlin nous étions également exposés au smog causé par le charbon brûlé dans les poêles chauffant les appartements, mais on a su y trouver une solution.

      Nous sommes loin de faire tout ce qui est possible pour améliorer la qualité de l’air. Même les verts sont aujourd’hui tellement dépendant du jeux soi-disant démocratique que mes humbles idées sur la question sont extrémistes et radicales par rapport à leur grand programme de transformation pro-cycliste. Cette campagne ne consiste en vérité que dans une série de compromis absurdes qui ne font qu’aggraver les problèmes environnementales.

      Aujourd’hui notre problème est le nombre de véhicules polluants qui occupent toute la place et empêchent l’amélioration des transports en commun et le changement de cap vers une ville verte agréable pour les piétons et cyclistes.

      Pourtant on a réussi le remplacement du chauffage au charbon utilisé dans tous les bâtiments anciens jusque dans les année 1980. Il n’en reste que de rares appartements exotiques où on continue à brûler des « Briketts ». La généralisation des chauffages au gaz, au fuel et par récupération des la chaleur des centrales d’électricité est le résultat de l’injection d’amples subventions dans les immeubles. Tout au long des années 80 et 90 les plombiers réalisaient des chiffres d’affaires faramineuses en installant des chauffages au gaz dans des millions d’appartements.

      Il n’y a jamais eu d’interdiction de se chauffer au charbon et il y a toujours deux machands de charbon qui livrent à domicile. Le succès des mesures est sans doute dû à la gestion efficace des fonds. Depuis la ville de Berlin a vu l’amputation d’une grande partie de son administration dans l’élan néolibéral après 1989. Ceci a crée une situation où les services au citoyens ne suffisent plus, la croissance de la ville amplfie encore ce problème. Résultat : dans plusieurs secteurs professionnel les modèles d’affaires criminelles sont devenus incontournables pour tenir en vie une entreprise.

      Sous ces conditions il n’est plus sûr du tout si des décisons gouvernementales produisent l’effet désiré. Je crains qu’à Oulan-Bator le problème soit encore plus graves que dans le tier-monde allemand.

      L’autre problème expliqué dans le film est la désertification des steppes. Sachant que l’abondance d’eau dont nous jouissons est au fait assez précaire, la région qui entoure Berlin risque de subir des phénomènes semblables à celles obsevés dans les steppes de la Mongolie.

      Actuellement nous sommes à la troisième incendie de forêt de l’année seulement dans les limites de la ville. Dans un cercle de 100 kilomètres autour le sol n’est que du sable sauf quelques marécages qui ónt survécu la construction de drainages depuis le 18éme siècle. Les agriculteurs se plaignent déjá autant du manque de pluie que les employés de l’administration des espaces verts de la ville.

      La Mongolie c’est comme chez nous, il faudrait se le rappeller plus souvent.

    • Il n’en reste que de rares appartements exotiques où on continue à brûler des « Briketts ».

      À UB, le problème majeur est le chauffage. Comme en DDR, charbon de mauvaise qualité (genre la lignite…) en raison de son coût, mais aussi parce que l’anthracite est réservée à l’exportation. De plus, UB est situé dans une vallée assez encaissée orientée est-ouest. À l’entrée de cette vallée (et de la ville) sont situées la centrale (à charbon) pour l’électricité et celle pour le chauffage urbain (les célèbres canalisations bouillantes, gloire d’UB). Le seul truc (un peu !) sérieux entrepris par le gouvernement (ou la ville, je ne sais plus) est de proposer des radiateurs électriques avec électricité gratuite dans certains « quartiers de yourtes »…

      L’autre problème expliqué dans le film est la désertification des steppes.

      Dérèglement climatique comme il est bien indiqué dans l’article : hiver trop froid, avec 3 variantes trop de neige, trop de froid (glace), dans les 2 cas, les ovins et caprins ne peuvent pas se nourrir et trop sec, ce qui a l’aire d’être le cas cette année. Et de l’autre côté, étés trop secs ou trop pluvieux.

      Tu ajoutes à ça le surpâturage, facteur majeur de désertification, provoqué par la modification de la part des familles animales dans la composition du troupeau. La part des chèvres, de toute éternité fortement contingentée car destructrice (les chèvres arrachent les herbes) a fortement augmenté sous la pression économique (le cachemire)

      Sachant que l’abondance d’eau dont nous jouissons est au fait assez précaire,…

      Ça commence à se sentir, cf. les étiages quasi catastrophiques du Rhin et du Danube…

    • @aude_v L’année dernière l’armée allemande a mis le feu à d’immenses couches souterraines de tourbe. Suite à des tirs d’essai des kilomètres et kilomètres ont brulé pendant des mois sans possibilité d’intervention.

      En ce qui concerne les incendies de forêts je ne suis que l’actualité régionale. Jusque il y a peu de temps les incendies de forêts ne constituaient qu’une éventualité. On nous rappellait sans cesse de ne pas fumer pendant les ballades et de pas jeder de mégots par la fenêtre quand on roulait sur les autoroutes.

      Là les incendies arrivent de plus en plus souvent. Voici quelques sources qui décrivent le status quo et nous font comprendre si l’augmenation de cadence a vraiment llieu.

      Eh non ...

      Waldbrände | Umweltbundesamt

      Waldbrände in Deutschland

      Mit deutschlandweit 424 Waldbränden ist 2017 die bisher niedrigste Anzahl an Waldbränden seit Erstellung der Waldbrandstatistik registriert worden. Mit einer betroffenen Waldbrandfläche von 395 Hektar (ha) war das Jahr 2017 ein unterdurchschnittliches Jahr im Vergleich zum mehrjährigen Mittel der Jahre 1993 bis 2016 (in diesem Zeitraum lag der jährliche Mittelwert bei durchschnittlich 1.001 Waldbränden und 505 ha betroffener Waldfläche pro Jahr), wobei die Waldbrandfläche um 39 Prozent (%) im Vergleich zum Vorjahr zunahm.

      52% des incendies sont la suite directe d’actes humains, 5% seulement ont des raisons naturelles.

      Ursachen für Waldbrände

      Im Wesentlichen sind zwei Faktorenkomplexe von besonderer Bedeutung für das Waldbrandgeschehen: Zum einen das menschliche Handeln (Brandstiftung und Fahrlässigkeit) und zum anderen das Klima- bzw. Witterungsgeschehen. Als Hauptursache für das Waldbrandgeschehen kann gemäß den Daten der Waldbrandstatistik (pdf) menschliches Handeln identifiziert werden (sofern eine Ursache ermittelbar ist). Klima und Witterung hingegen beeinflussen zusammen mit den lokalen Gegebenheiten (wie dem Vorhandensein von brennbarem Material) die Disposition einer Waldfläche für die Entzündung und in Folge das weitere Brandgeschehen (Feuerausbreitung). Fahrlässigkeit und Vorsatz (das heißt Brandstiftung) waren im Jahr 2017 für rund 52 Prozent (%) der Waldbrände ursächlich. Natürliche Ursachen, wie zum Beispiel Blitzschlag, waren hingegen nur für rund 5 % der Waldbrände der Auslöser. Bei ungefähr 36 % der Waldbrände konnte die Ursache nicht geklärt werden (siehe Abb. „Waldbrandursachen 2017“).

      Ce sont les statistques pour l’Allemagne entière.

      Le land Brandebourg est particulièrement touché par les incendies de forêts.

      FAQ : Warum brennt es in Brandenburg so oft ? | rbb|24

      Im Jahr 2017 lag Brandenburg mit knapp 140 Bränden deutlich an der Spitze. In Hessen gab es 58 Waldbrände und in Bayern 44. In ganz Deutschland kam es im vergangenen Jahr zu 424 Waldbränden. Wie dramatisch die Lage in diesem Jahr ist, zeigt eine aktuelle Zahl: Allein in Brandenburg wurden bis Mitte August 405 Feuer in Wäldern gezählt.

      Warum ist Brandenburg so häufig betroffen?

      Nirgends in Deutschland gibt es laut Potsdamer Forstministerium so viele Kiefern wie in Brandenburg - auf rund 70 Prozent der Waldfläche des Bundeslandes stehen die Nadelbäume. Schon im 18. Jahrhundert war der Holzbedarf groß, weshalb die im Mittelalter noch vorherrschenden Eichen und Buchen durch die genügsamen und schnell wachsenden Kiefern ersetzt wurden. Das setzte auch die DDR fort. Diese Monokulturen auf oft sandigem Boden sind stärker waldbrandgefährdet als Laub- und Mischwälder. Zudem trocknet der aus Kiefernnadeln bestehende Boden schnell aus und kann ebenfalls brennen. Zusätzlich ist die durchschnittliche Regenmenge in Brandenburg deutlich geringer als etwa in Bayern.


      On pourrait ajouter que les « fleuves » de Berlin coulent si lentement qu’ils n’emmènent quasiment pas d’eau. Parfois ils changent même de sens et ce qui étaite « en amont » il y a une semaine devient « en aval » le jour présent. Suivant l’explication d’un spécialiste de l’entreprise berlinoise qui gère l’eau de la capitale (Berliner Wasserwerke) sont des « interprètes de fleuve » comme des acteurs sur une scène de théâtre.

      La ville de berlin et le Land de Brandebourg entreprennent d’efforts considérable pour contrer ces facteurs de base plutôt négatifs. Une nouvelle loi impose la construction de cisternes et l’aménagement d’espace de verdure pour retenir l’eau et pour prévenir les conséquences des averses de plus en plus violentes.

      L’avenir des mines de charbon joue également un rôle important car on cesse de pomper l’eau des énormes trous quelles ont laissé ce qui réduit l’arrivée d’eau dans les cours d’eau de toute la région. Le paysage du Spreewald qui ressemble au Marais poitevin en paie également les frais.

      #Brandebourg #Mongolie #incendie #climat #eau

    • @simplicissimus Tout Berlin utilisait du charbon de mauvaise qualité pour se chauffer, pas seulement les gens à l’est.

      C’est une idée fausse tres répandue comme quoi l’Est était gris (oui, c’était gris) et l’Ouest brillait dans toutes les couleurs (non, c’était plutôt gris aussi). Jusque dans les années 70 les deux parties de la ville se ressemblaient beaucoup. C’est avec la banqueroute prévisible de la RDA dans les années 1980 qu’une véritable différence devenait perceptible.

      Abrißhäuser, #Kreuzberg 1975

      A l’Est on suivait le même principe urbanistique qu’on connaissait déjà à l’Ouest : On construisait des cités en banlieue et laissait á l’abandon les quartiers au centre ville.

      Politisch bewegte Clowns vor dem Laden der #Mieterinitiative #Klausenerplatz in der #Nehringstraße 11, im Jahr 1979. Foto : Gottfried Schenk

      A l’Ouest les squatteurs ont sauvé de quartiers entiers de la déstruction alors qu’à l’Est c’est le manque de moyens qui a freiné la déstruction des quartiers ouvriers devenus chics aujourd’hui.

      #Berlin #squat

  • Fixed point math in Solidity

    It always seems impossible until it’s done. — Nelson MandelaIntroductionAny financial application with a minimum of complexity will need some decimal support and multiplications to calculate things like interest. In the case of CementDAO we needed logarithms to implement the transaction fee curve that steers its cryptocurrency basket towards the desired configuration.Solidity supports integers but no decimals, so we coded a fixed point arithmetic contract, made it safe against overflow, and tested it extensively. It underpins the CementDAO deployment in Ropsten.The Fixidity contract is available from the CementDAO github with a MIT license, please feel free to use it and build upon it.ImplementationIn order to code this we went from the simplest to the most complex arithmetic functions, (...)

    #blockchain #mathematics #ethereum #software-development #open-source

  • The Five Most Historically Significant Virtual Characters

    This is part of a series I’m writing to celebrate the release of my book, The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientist Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics Agree We Are In A Video Game, on the 20th anniversary of the Matrix. See for more information. A version of this article first appeared in Variety here.Virtual characters are all the rage lately. At the Grammy’s this year, Google showed off an AR dancing version of “Childish Gambino” (aka Donald Glover) as part of its AR Playground. Using the app, you can use the camera and augmented reality you can see the performer dancing in real world settings. But virtual characters have been around in movies, TV shows, video games for many years. Virtual YouTube characters, known as virtual influencers (...)

    #virtual-reality #hackernoon-top-story #the-matrix #virtual-character #science-fiction

  • Est-ce vraiment à la chercheuse Katie Bouman qu’on doit la première photo d’un trou noir ? | Jacques Pezet

    Le service de communication du MIT a propulsé médiatiquement la scientifique comme la personne sans qui « la photo du trou noir n’aurait pas existé ». Humblement, celle-ci insiste sur le travail des 200 chercheurs impliqués dans le projet. Source : CheckNews

    • Andrew Chael a répondu à ces critiques sur Twitter en demandant à ceux qui « lancent des attaques horribles et sexistes envers ma collègue et amie Katie Bouman » d’arrêter et en ridiculisant ceux qui invoquent la quantité de travail qu’il a fourni : « Je n’ai pas écrit "850 000 lignes de code" – beaucoup de ces "lignes" mesurées par Github se trouvent dans des fichiers modèles. Il y a environ 68 000 lignes dans le logiciel actuel, et je me fiche du nombre de lignes dont je suis l’auteur. »

      #sexisme #masculinisme (pour les trolls twitters etc, qui affirment que ya 200 chercheurs masculins (lol) évincés par Katie Bouman)

  • Amazon workers are listening to some of your conversations with Alexa - MIT Technology Review

    Comment ça opt-out ?
    Mais c’est contraire au RGPD ça....

    Amazon workers are listening to some of your conversations with Alexa

    Amazon employs thousands of people listen to voice recordings captured by Echo speakers in an effort to improve the software, according to Bloomberg.

    The process: The Alexa voice review team includes both contractors and full-time Amazon staff working in offices around the world, including Boston, India, Romania, and Costa Rica. Each reviewer is expected to check about 1,000 audio files in each shift, two of the workers told Bloomberg. The recordings are transcribed, annotated, and fed back in hopes of improving Alexa, the software that powers Echo devices.

    Privacy invasion: Sometimes the reviewers come across clips they find upsetting, or even potentially criminal. Amazon’s spokesperson responded thus: “We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience.”

    Users can opt out of having their recordings used for development purposes, but Amazon doesn’t explicitly tell Echo customers that humans might be listening to them.

    Controversy: While over 100 million people around the world own Alexa devices, many people choose not to, because they fear exactly this scenario: that Amazon could be listening in. This revelation today at least partly confirms the validity of their concerns.

    #Amazon #Vie_privée #Ecoute

  • Katie Bouman - Insolite : la 1ère photo d’un trou noir s’est affichée sur un MacBook Pro

    Hier, la première photographie d’un trou noir était dévoilée sur le net, créant le buzz très rapidement. En effet, le cliché est présenté comme une avancée scientifique majeure, dépassant le seul domaine de l’astronomie. Longtemps considérée comme impossible à réaliser, l’opération a demandé des années de préparations, huit radiotelescopes coordonnés à travers le monde et un soupçon de bonnes conditions.

    Au-delà du projet Event Horizon Telescope, des 200 chercheurs mobilisés et des moyens techniques mis en œuvre, c’est un simple MacBook Pro d’une jeune diplômée du MIT, qui a affiché en tout premier cette image du trou noir super massif, situé dans la galaxie M87, à 55 millions d’années lumière de la Terre.

    Image Katie Bouman

    Embauchée il y deux ans, Katie Bouman a mis au point un algorithme qui a permis de combiner tous les clichés pris -en avril 2017- en un seul. Finalement, la photo ci-dessus a pu être prise lorsque l’image définitive du trou noir est enfin apparue sur l’écran de son MacBook Pro.

    Pour la petite histoire, ce sont 5 pétaoctets de données enregistrées par les huit observatoires, qui ont été nécessaires pour dévoiler ce trou noir. Cette masse de données a été impossible à transférer numériquement vers le laboratoire où travaillait Katie Bouman et a du faire l’objet d’un transport spécial, pour acheminer les quelques 500Kg de disques durs.

    #Féminisme #Informatique #Trou_noir #Katie_Bouman

  • Katie Bouman -> Première image d’un trou noir : Une ex-étudiante du MIT héroïne du Web

    Euh, pas héroîne du web, de la science !!! Redonnons lui sa véritable place.

    ASTRONOMIE Katie Bouman était en master quand elle a conçu l’un des algorithmes qui a permis d’obtenir cette image historique

    Katie Bouman a joué un rôle central pour obtenir la première image d’un trou noir alors qu’elle était encore étudiante au MIT.
    Katie Bouman a joué un rôle central pour obtenir la première image d’un trou noir alors qu’elle était encore étudiante au MIT. — MIT

    L’oeil de Sauron ou un donut galactique, chacun y verra ce qu’il veut. Mais une chose est sûre : même si elle est floue, la première image d’un trou noir (ou plutôt de sa silhouette), dévoilée mercredi, marquera l’histoire de l’astronomie. Et si le projet international de l’Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) a mobilisé 200 chercheurs et huit télescopes dans le monde entier, un algorithme a joué un rôle central pour combiner les pièces du puzzle en une image. Il a été développé il y a trois ans par Katie Bouman, étudiante en master d’informatique au MIT à l’époque. Alors que le rôle des femmes dans les sciences n’a souvent pas été reconnu à sa juste valeur, la contribution de l’ancienne étudiante, qui doit avoir, selon nos calculs, 29 ou 30 ans, a été largement saluée sur Twitter.

    La jeune femme, qui a depuis terminé sa thèse, a publié sur sa page Facebook une photo du moment où elle a vu pour la première fois l’image reconstituée, et l’image a fait le tour du Web.

    Le MIT a également publié une photo de la chercheuse posant devant une cinquantaine de disques durs contenant un échantillon des données mesurées par les radiotélescopes pointés sur le trou noir géant au cœur de la galaxie M87. L’image évoque la photo de Margaret Hamilton à côté de la pile gigantesque du code informatique qu’elle avait écrit pour la mission Apollo.

    Pour l’anecdote, les données mesurées par les satellites du projet EHT étaient tellement volumineuses qu’elles ne pouvaient pas être transmises par Internet : une demi-tonne de disques durs contenant 5 petaoctets (5.000 To ou 5 millions de Go) a été envoyée à l’observatoire Haystack du MIT par avion.
    Deviner les portions manquantes de l’image
    Sur cette première image historique d’un trou noir, on peut observer le disque d’accrétion autour du trou noir au centre de la galaxie M87.
    Sur cette première image historique d’un trou noir, on peut observer le disque d’accrétion autour du trou noir au centre de la galaxie M87. - EHT

    « Comment photographier un trou noir ? » Katie Bouman a expliqué le fonctionnement de son approche lors d’une présentation TEDx en 2017. Les huit radiotélescopes (eux-mêmes constitués de plusieurs dizaines d’antennes) couvrent la surface entière du globe, du Chili à Hawaï, en passant par la France et l’Antarctique. En les synchronisant, les chercheurs disposent ainsi d’un télescope virtuel du diamètre de la Terre. Le problème, c’est qu’il n’y a pas assez d’antennes : en quatre jours, les astronomes n’ont donc pu observer que quelques pièces du puzzle. C’est là qu’intervient l’algorithme de l’ex-étudiante.

    A partir des fragments observés, l’algorithme, pour faire simple, fait le tri dans les parasites et extrapole les zones manquantes. En appliquant des techniques de « machine learning », il s’est entraîné à reconstituer des milliers d’images du quotidien puis a été appliqué à l’image parcellaire du trou noir, sans être influencé par les modèles physiques théoriques. La prouesse a permis de confirmer des prédictions faites par Albert Einstein dans sa théorie de la relativité générale. Un petit pas pour l’informatique, mais un bond de géant pour l’astronomie et la physique.

    #Féminisme #Informatique #Trou_noir #Katie_Bouman

  • #religion and the Simulation Hypothesis, Part 2: Is Karma a Questing Algorithm?

    Do Video Games and the Matrix provide a scientific basis for religious beliefs? (part 2)NOTE: On the 20thanniversary of the release of the movie, the Matrix, MIT and Stanford grad Rizwan Virk is releasing his book, The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientists Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics Agree We Are In a Video Game, which explores the scientific, philosophic and religious implications of this important theory.“Know all things to be like this:A mirage, a cloud castle, a dream, an apparition, without essence, but with qualities that can be seen;As a magician makes illusions of horses, oxen, carts, and other things, nothing is at it appears.”- BuddhaIn Part I of this series, Religion and the Simulation Hypothesis: Is God an AI?, we looked at the implications of (...)

    #reincarnation #videogames #hackernoon-top-story #simulation-hypothesis

  • The ’Atlas of Inequality’ Maps Micro-Level Segregation

    MIT Media Lab’s new interactive “Atlas of Inequality” shows that “segregation is not just about where you live, but what you do.” When I lived in my old D.C. neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, it was at that particular stage of gentrification where it seemed truly diverse. Taquerias and pupuserias stood right alongside indie theaters and grungy dive bars ; the sidewalks were a multicultural mix of young, mostly white professionals and working-class people of color. But if you looked closer, you’d (...)

    #algorithme #smartphone #géolocalisation #discrimination

  • #Médias, plateformes sociales et citoyenneté

    Le chercheur Ethan Zuckerman (blog, @ethanz), directeur du Centre pour les médias civiques au MIT (@civicMIT), publiait il y a peu avec plusieurs collègues une étude sur la manière dont les médias ont rendu compte de l’attentat de Christchurch en Nouvelle-Zélande. Fasse aux pratiques terroristes faut-il défendre des principes antijournalistiques ? (...)

    #Articles #Débats #algorithmes #eDémocratie #réseaux_sociaux

  • The Numbers Game: How an MIT PhD Pivoted His Way Into a $2 Million Seed Round

    Jameson Toole’s investors for his first company, Wherehouse Inc., must have been surprised to see him again only three months later with a pitch for an entirely new venture, Fritz.But Jameson’s quick pivot didn’t stop him from quickly raising $2 million for Fritz. In fact, Jameson thinks his experience with Wherehouse, and the small but dedicated team he built there, helped him raise money for his new startup.On an episode of the “How I Raised It” podcast, I asked Jameson to share a few insights into what led him to pivot and how he was able to secure funding for two consecutive companies without getting his wires crossed.So what is Fritz, and why did you start this company?Fritz helps developers put machine learning or artificial intelligence models into their mobile apps. We’re seeing all of (...)

    #angel-investors #startup #venture-capital #entrepreneurship #artificial-intelligence

  • Debris from India’s anti-satellite test could put the space station at risk, says NASA - MIT Technology Review

    The blast destroyed a satellite but also created 400 pieces of debris, threatening the safety of astronauts on the International Space Station, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

    The controversial launch: Last week India announced it had shot down one of its own satellites, thus joining the group of four “space powers” (including Russia, China, and the US). It seems to have been an attempt at a show of strength ahead of an upcoming election this month.

    The impact: Unfortunately, by breaking up the satellite, India added significantly to the growing problem of space junk. Bridenstine said that the 400 pieces of debris included about 60 trackable pieces that are at least 10 centimeters in size, the New York Times reported. It’s also put people in danger, he said. The satellite itself was destroyed at the fairly low altitude of 180 miles (300 kilometers) but 24 of the pieces of debris have reached a point higher than the ISS, which orbits at an altitude of 254 miles (408 km).

    Strong words: “That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” Bridenstone said in a recorded meeting with NASA staff yesterday. “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight. It’s unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.”

    #Espace #Militarisation #Communs #Débris

  • Google employees are lining up to trash Google’s AI ethics council - MIT Technology Review

    un élément intéressant et à prendre en compte : les deux personnes visées sont également les deux seules femmes de ce comité d’experts. Choisies stratégiquement par Google pour faire jouer l’avantage genre, ou cibles plus évidentes des protestataires parce que femmes ?

    En tout cas, la place que la Heritage Foundation (droite dure et néo-management) prend dans l’espace mental des Etats-Unis, notamment dans le domaine technologique, est à suivre de près.

    Almost a thousand Google staff, academic researchers, and other tech industry figures have signed a letter protesting the makeup of an independent council that Google created to guide the ethics of its AI projects.
    Recommended for You

    Hackers trick a Tesla into veering into the wrong lane
    A new type of airplane wing that adapts midflight could change air travel
    DeepMind has made a prototype product that can diagnose eye diseases
    Watching Boston Dynamics’ new robot stack boxes is weirdly mesmerizing
    NASA has been testing the helicopter that will head to Mars next year

    The search giant announced the creation of the council last week at EmTech Digital, MIT Technology Review’s event in San Francisco. Known as the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), it has eight members including economists, philosophers, policymakers, and technologists with expertise in issues like algorithmic bias. It is meant to hold four meetings a year, starting this month, and write reports designed to provide feedback on projects at the company that use artificial intelligence.

    But two of those members proved controversial. One, Dyan Gibbens, is CEO of Trumbull, a company that develops autonomous systems for the defense industry—a contentious choice given that thousands of Google employees protested the company’s decision to supply the US Air Force with AI for drone imaging. The greatest outrage, though, has come over the inclusion of Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that opposes regulating carbon emissions, takes a hard line on immigration, and has argued against the protection of LGBTQ rights.

    One member of the council, Alessandro Acquisti, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who specializes in digital privacy issues, announced on March 30th that he wouldn’t be taking up the role. “While I’m devoted to research grappling with key ethical issues of fairness, rights & inclusion in AI, I don’t believe this is the right forum for me to engage in this important work," he tweeted.

    The creation of ATEAC—and the inclusion of Gibbens and James—may in fact have been designed to appease Google’s right-wing critics. At roughly the same time the council was announced, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, was meeting with President Donald Trump. Trump later tweeted: “He stated strongly that he is totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military. [We] also discussed political fairness and various things that Google can do for our Country. Meeting ended very well!”

    But one Google employee involved with drafting the protest letter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that James is more than just a conservative voice on the council. “She is a reactionary who denies trans people exist, who endorses radically anti-immigrant positions, and endorses anti-climate-change, anti-science positions.”

    Some noted AI algorithms can reinforce biases already seen in society; some have been shown to misidentify transgender people, for example. In that context, “the fact that [James] was included is pretty shocking,” the employee said. “These technologies are shaping our social institutions, our lives, and access to resources. When AI fails, it doesn’t fail for rich white men working at tech companies. It fails for exactly the populations that the Heritage Foundation’s policies are already aiming to harm.”

    Messages posted to a Google internal communications platform criticized the appointment of James especially. According to one post, earlier reported by the Verge and confirmed by the employee, James “doesn’t deserve a Google-legitimized platform, and certainly doesn’t belong in any conversation about how Google tech should be applied to the world.”

    As of 5:30 pm US Eastern time today the public letter, posted to Medium, had been signed by 855 Google employees and 143 other people, including a number of prominent academics. “Not only are James’ views counter to Google’s stated values,” the letter states, “but they are directly counter to the project of ensuring that the development and application of AI prioritizes justice over profit. Such a project should instead place representatives from vulnerable communities at the center of decision-making.”

    #Google #Intelligence_artificielle #Ethique #Politique_USA

  • India says it has just shot down a satellite in space - MIT Technology Review

    C’en est fini de la démilitarisation de l’espace.

    Je suis en train de finir la trilogie de SF par Liu Cisun, et comme toujours, la SF nous montre comment cela peut nous conduire au pire.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the successful test in a live television broadcast to the nation, saying it now made India a space power, Reuters reports.

    Bullseye: “Some time ago, our scientists, shot down a live satellite 300 kilometers away in space, in low Earth orbit,” Modi said in an hour-long statement that was broadcast on all national TV stations. Ajay Lele, at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, told Reuters that it was likely the satellite was destroyed using a missile that carried no warhead.

    Exclusive club: India is only the fourth country to have successfully shot down a satellite. The US, Russia, and China have all done so in the past. The US and Russia both did so in the 1980s, and China conducted its first successful test in 2007.

    Debris threat: China’s 2007 test was condemned as irresponsible when it happened as it created a massive cloud of debris of almost 3000 pieces that were big enough to be tracked by NASA. Many thousands more were too small to see. Even small pieces of debris can be hazardous for other satellites or the International Space Station. We do not yet know what has happened to the remnants of India’s satellite.

    Security fears: The satellite test comes as India is gearing up for an election and is approaching the period during which the government is not allowed to make any policy statements designed to swing votes. Issues of national security are exempt, however, and this week’s display of strength comes against the backdrop of rising tensions with neighboring Pakistan.

    #Guerre #Espace #Militarisme #Communs