Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Trumps Comments About Hurricane Florence Top This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Trumps Comments About Hurricane Florence Top This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Last week President Trump said Hurricane Florence was “one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Last week President Trump said Hurricane Florence was “one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In the midst of this exhausting week in the news, many questions have been asked on this here internet: Are Bert and Ernie gay? Do we really need Space Jam 2? Is Rihanna really an ambassador of Barbados? The answer to all of these questions, dear friends, is yes. But there are other questions, and other topics, that require a little bit more focus, and that’s why we’re all here. Step right up to discover what the internet has been talking about over the past seven days.

After the Flood

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Artificial Intelligence Has a Strange New Muse: Our Sense of Smell

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Artificial Intelligence Has a Strange New Muse: Our Sense of Smell

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Today’s artificial intelligence systems, including the artificial neural networks broadly inspired by the neurons and connections of the nervous system, perform wonderfully at tasks with known constraints. They also tend to require a lot of computational power and vast quantities of training data. That all serves to make them great at playing chess or Go, at detecting if there’s a car in an image, at differentiating between depictions of cats and dogs. “But they are rather pathetic at composing music or writing short stories,” said Konrad Kording, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania. “They have great trouble reasoning meaningfully in the world.”

Quanta Magazine


Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired author photo

About

Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Cheat Sheet: What’s the Deal With Location-Based VR

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Cheat Sheet: What’s the Deal With Location-Based VR

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Cheat Sheet: What’s the Deal With Location-Based VR

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Hotlittlepotato

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

Hotlittlepotato

Sorry, skeptics: Virtual reality is growing faster than you thought it would. You’re just looking in the wrong place. Millions of people are leaving their homes for the visceral experience of location-based VR, which has become a billion-­dollar business.

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25 Years of WIRED

WIRED is turning 25! We are celebrating in San Francisco this October with four days of events honoring the ideas, innovations, and icons who have shaped the world we know today—and those who will shape it for the 25 years to come.

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Hexbyte  Hacker News  Computers News Site to Investigate Big Tech, Helped by Craigslist Founder

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers News Site to Investigate Big Tech, Helped by Craigslist Founder

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers

The Markup, dedicated to investigating technology and its effect on society, will be led by two former ProPublica journalists. Craig Newmark gave $20 million to help fund the operation.

Image
A $20 million gift from the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is helping to underwrite The Markup, a news site dedicated to investigating technology and its effect on society.CreditCreditTaylor Hill/FilmMagic

When the investigative journalist Julia Angwin worked for ProPublica, the nonprofit news organization became known as “big tech’s scariest watchdog.”

By partnering with programmers and data scientists, Ms. Angwin pioneered the work of studying big tech’s algorithms — the secret codes that have an enormous impact on everyday American life. Her findings shed light on how companies like Facebook were creating tools that could be used to promote racial bias, fraudulent schemes and extremist content.

Now, with a $20 million gift from the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, she and her partner at ProPublica, the data journalist Jeff Larson, are starting The Markup, a news site dedicated to investigating technology and its effect on society. Sue Gardner, former head of the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia, will be The Markup’s executive director. Ms. Angwin and Mr. Larson said that they would hire two dozen journalists for its New York office and that stories would start going up on the website in early 2019. The group has also raised $2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and $1 million collectively from the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative.

Ms. Angwin compares tech to canned food, an innovation that took some time to be seen with more scrutiny.

“When canned food came out, it was amazing,” said Ms. Angwin, who will be the site’s editor in chief. “You could have peaches when they were out of season. There was a whole period of America where every recipe called for canned soup. People went crazy for canned food. And after 30 years, 40 years, people were like, ‘Huh, wait.’

“That is what’s happened with technology,” Ms. Angwin said, calling the 2016 election a tipping point. “And I’m so glad we’ve woken up.”

The site will explore three broad investigative categories: how profiling software discriminates against the poor and other vulnerable groups; internet health and infections like bots, scams and misinformation; and the awesome power of the tech companies. The Markup will release all its stories under a creative commons license so other organizations can republish them, as ProPublica does.

Ms. Angwin, who was part of a Wall Street Journal team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for coverage of corporate corruption, said the newsroom would be guided by the scientific method and each story would begin with a hypothesis. For example: Facebook is allowing racist housing ads. At ProPublica, Ms. Angwin’s team bought ads on the site and proved the hypothesis.

At The Markup, journalists will be partnered with a programmer from a story’s inception until its completion.

“To investigate technology, you need to understand technology,” said Ms. Angwin, 47. “Just like I got an M.B.A. when I was a business reporter, I believe that technologists need to be involved from the very beginning of tech investigations.”

Ms. Angwin has known Mr. Newmark since 1997, when she wrote about him while a reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle.

“Craig is ideal for us because he has no interest or temperament for trying to interfere in coverage,” she said.

Mr. Newmark, who splits his time between San Francisco and New York, has for years kept a low profile. But he worries about what he sees as a lack of self-reflection among engineers.

“Sometimes it takes an engineer a while to understand that we need help, then we get that help, and then we do a lot better,” Mr. Newmark said. “We need the help that only investigative reporting with good data science can provide.”

Craigslist, which Mr. Newmark founded in the mid-1990s, helped to decimate print newspapers’ main source of revenue at the time: classified advertising. Recently, he has given several substantial donations to journalistic institutions, including $20 million to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

“We’re in an information war now,” Mr. Newmark said.

For many years, the outrageous success of Silicon Valley companies — and the aggressive public relations teams who worked for them — kept many journalists at a remove.

The societal effects of tech were hard to quantify, and moral responsibility was often sloughed off on something called an algorithm, which most people could not quite explain or examine. Even if, as in the case of Facebook, it influenced around 2.5 billion people.

At ProPublica, Ms. Angwin and Mr. Larson subverted the traditional model of tech reporting altogether. They did not need access. With the right tools, they could study impact.

“There’s an opportunity for more reporters to use statistics to uncover societal harms,” said Mr. Larson, who has been doing data-driven journalism for a decade. “And then Julia’s gift is she takes data journalism and doesn’t make it like an academic report.”

Some of Ms. Angwin and Mr. Larson’s reporting tactics may violate tech platform terms of service agreements, which ban people from performing automated collection of public information and prohibit them from creating temporary research accounts. Ms. Angwin has been a strong defender of these practices and has argued that tech companies ought to allow reporters to be an exception to their rules.

“Without violating those rules, journalists can’t investigate our most important platform for public discourse,” Ms. Angwin wrote in August.

The two worked together on investigations like one into criminal sentencing software, which took a year. Ms. Angwin would report and write. Mr. Larson would measure and analyze. In the end, they proved that the algorithm was racially biased.

Mr. Larson, who will be The Markup’s managing editor, said the result was just as much a surprise to readers as it was to those who had made the biased algorithm.

“Increasingly, algorithms are used as shorthand for passing the buck,” said Mr. Larson, 36. “We don’t have enough people to look at parole decisions, so we’re going to pass it on to the computer and the computer is going to decide, and once they go into production, there’s no oversight.”

The two also showed how big tech companies were helping extremist sites make money, how African-Americans were overcharged for car insurance, and how Facebook allowed political ads that were actually scams and malware.

“There are unintended consequences,” Mr. Larson said. “In all three of those cases, it was a complete surprise to the people who made those algorithms as well.”

Engineers being surprised by the tools they have made is, to the Markup team, part of the problem.

“Part of the premise of The Markup is the level of understanding technology and its effects is very, very low, and we would all benefit from a broader understanding,” Ms. Gardner said. “And I would include people who work for the companies.”

Ms. Angwin said part of her goal was to help readers understand what exactly they should be worried about when it comes to tech.

“We’re all a little uncertain,” Ms. Angwin said. “The evidence isn’t in. I want to be providing the evidence.”

She hopes the stories they take on will lead to better government and corporate policies.

“We are a numbers-driven data society,” Ms. Angwin said. “That’s the price of entry these days for political change — a data set.”

And searching for that information, Ms. Angwin said she was not worried about getting Facebook or Google to return her phone calls.

“I’ve never been on Google’s or Facebook’s campus and I imagine I’ll never be invited,” she said. “I’m kind of a dorky scientist just over here measuring stuff.”

Nellie Bowles covers tech and internet culture. Follow her on Twitter: @nelliebowles

A version of this article appears in print on

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A News Site Dedicated To Peering at Big Tech And Its Surprise Effects

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Hexbyte  Hacker News  Computers Eloston/ungoogled-chromium

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Eloston/ungoogled-chromium

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers


Modifications to Google Chromium for removing Google integration and enhancing privacy, control, and transparency

Bringing back the “Don’t” in “Don’t be evil”

ungoogled-chromium is Google Chromium, sans integration with Google. It also features some changes to enhance privacy, control, and transparency.

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Motivation and Description

A number of features or background services communicate with Google servers despite the absence of an associated Google account or compiled-in Google API keys. Furthermore, the normal build process for Chromium involves running Google’s own high-level commands that invoke many scripts and utilities, some of which download and use pre-built binaries provided by Google. Even the final build output includes some pre-built binaries. Fortunately, the source code is available for everything.

ungoogled-chromium is a set of configuration flags, patches, and custom scripts. These components altogether strive to accomplish the following:

  • Disable or remove offending services and features that communicate with Google or weaken privacy
  • Strip binaries from the source tree, and use those provided by the system or build them from source
  • Disable features that inhibit control and transparency, and add or modify features that promote them (these changes are minor and do not have significant impacts on the general user experience)

ungoogled-chromium should not be considered a fork of Chromium. The main reason for this is that a fork is associated with more significant deviations from the Chromium, such as branding, configuration formats, file locations, and other interface changes. ungoogled-chromium will not modify the Chromium browser outside of the project’s goals.

Since these goals and requirements are not precise, unclear situations are discussed and decided on a case-by-case basis.

ungoogled-chromium is looking for contributors. See the Contributing, Reporting, Contacting section for more information.

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Table of Contents

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Features

A number of ungoogled-chromium’s changes are subtle and evolve over time. As a result, it is best to consult the source code for complete and up-to-date information.

ungoogled-chromium selectively borrows many of its features from the following (in no particular order):

Most of the additional features are as follows:

  • Replace many web domains in the source code with non-existent alternatives ending in qjz9zk (known as domain substitution; see docs/design.md)
  • Strip binaries from the source code (known as binary pruning; see docs/design.md)
  • Disable functionality specific to Google domains (e.g. Google Host Detector, Google URL Tracker, Google Cloud Messaging, Google Hotwording, etc.)
  • Add Omnibox search provider “No Search” to allow disabling of searching
  • Disable automatic formatting of URLs in Omnibox (e.g. stripping http://, hiding certain parameters)
  • Added menu item under “More tools” to clear the HTTP authentication cache on-demand
  • Add new command-line switches and chrome://flags entries:
    • --disable-beforeunload – (Not in chrome://flags) Disables JavaScript dialog boxes triggered by beforeunload
    • --disable-search-engine-collection – Disable automatic search engine scraping from webpages.
    • --enable-stacked-tab-strip and --enable-tab-adjust-layout – These flags adjust the tab strip behavior. --enable-stacked-tab-strip is also configurable in chrome://flags Please note that they are not well tested, so proceed with caution.
    • --extension-mime-request-handling – Change how extension MIME types (CRX and user scripts) are handled. Acceptable values are download-as-regular-file or install-always. Leave unset to use normal behavior. It is also configurable under chrome://flags
    • --fingerprinting-canvas-measuretext-noise (Added flag to Bromite feature) – Scale the output values of Canvas::measureText() with a randomly selected factor in the range -0.0003% to 0.0003%, which are recomputed on every document initialization.
    • --fingerprinting-client-rects-noise (Added flag to Bromite feature) – Implements fingerprinting deception of JS APIs getClientRects() and getBoundingClientRect() by scaling their output values with a random factor in the range -0.0003% to 0.0003%, which are recomputed for every document instantiation.
    • --fingerprinting-canvas-image-data-noise (Added flag to Bromite feature) – Implements fingerprinting deception for Canvas image data retrieved via JS APIs. In the data, at most 10 pixels are slightly modified.
    • --max-connections-per-host (from Bromite) – Configure the maximum allowed connections per host.
    • --set-ipv6-probe-false – (Not in chrome://flags) Forces the result of the browser’s IPv6 probing (i.e. IPv6 connectivity test) to be unsuccessful. This causes IPv4 addresses to be prioritized over IPv6 addresses. Without this flag, the probing result is set to be successful, which causes IPv6 to be used over IPv4 when possible.
  • Force all pop-ups into tabs
  • Disable Safe Browsing
  • Disable intranet redirect detector (extraneous DNS requests)
    • This breaks captive portal detection, but captive portals still work.
  • Add more URL schemes allowed for saving
  • (Iridium Browser feature change) Prevent URLs with the trk: scheme from connecting to the Internet
    • Also prevents any URLs with the top-level domain qjz9zk (as used in domain substitution) from attempting a connection.
  • (Iridium and Inox feature change) Prevent pinging of IPv6 address when detecting the availability of IPv6. See the --set-ipv6-probe-false flag above to adjust the behavior instead.
  • Support for building Linux packages for multiple distributions (work in progress)
  • Windows support
    • Does not set the Zone Identifier on downloaded files

NOTE: Although it is the top priority to eliminate bugs and privacy-invading code, there will be those that slip by due to the fast-paced growth and evolution of the Chromium project.

Supported platforms and distributions

Currently, only desktop platforms are supported. Functionality of specific desktop platforms may vary across different releases. For more details, see Statuses in the Wiki.

Other platforms are discussed and tracked in GitHub’s Issue Tracker. Learn more about using the Issue Tracker under the section Contributing, Reporting, Contacting.

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Download pre-built packages

Contributor binaries

IMPORTANT: These binaries are provided by anyone who are willing to build and submit them. Because these binaries are not necessarily reproducible, authenticity cannot be guaranteed.

Visit the contributor binaries website for download links

Website source code and contribution instructions

The release versioning scheme follows that of the tags. Please see Getting the source code section for more details.

Alternative installation methods

Arch Linux: Available in AUR as ungoogled-chromium

macOS cask: Available as eloston-chromium

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Getting the source code

Users are encouraged to use one of the tags. The latest tag may not be the applicable for all platforms. To determine the tag to use, please see the Status page in the Wiki.

Tags are versioned in the following format: {chromium_version}-{release_revision} where

  • chromium_version is the version of Chromium used in x.x.x.x format, and
  • release_revision is a number indicating the version of ungoogled-chromium for the corresponding Chromium version.

Not all tags are stable for all platforms. See the Statuses in the Wiki to determine the tag to use.

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers FAQ

See the frequently-asked questions (FAQ) on the Wiki

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Design and implementation

See docs/design.md

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Building

See docs/building.md

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Contributing, Reporting, Contacting

Please submit feedback (i.e. problems, suggestions, and questions) to the Issue Tracker. The Issue Tracker is the main hub for development activity.

There are chat room options available via Gitter and Matrix.org (name ungoogled-software/lobby, which has bidirectional connection with Gitter). They are optional; it is only provided for those who prefer this format.

Subsections of this section:

How to help

Anyone is free to help others in need of support in the Issue Tracker.

Issues marked with the help wanted tag are changes that needs discussion or assistance.

  • If it requires new code, please read through the Submitting changes section below.
  • If you want to work on an issue, please state your intent to do so first to let others know.

If there are fixes, tweaks, or additions you want to make, continue onto the following section.

Submitting changes

Please submit all changes via Pull Requests.

Guidelines:

  • You are welcome to submit minor changes, such as bug fixes, documentation fixes, and tweaks.
  • If you want to submit a new feature, please read through the Criteria for new features below.
  • When in doubt about the acceptance of a change, you are welcome to ask via an issue first.

Criteria for new features

  1. New features should not detract from the default Chromium experience, unless it falls under the project’s main objectives (i.e. removing Google integration and enhancing privacy).

    • For larger features, please propose them via an issue first.
  2. New features should live behind a setting that is off by default.

    • Settings are usually added via a command-line flag and chrome://flags enties. See the relevant section in docs/developing.md for more information.
    • Unless there are significant benefits, adding the setting to chrome://settings is not recommended due to the additional maintenance required (caused by the infrastructure that backs preferences).

NOTE: In the event that the codebase changes significantly for a non-essential patch (i.e. a patch that does not contribute to the main objectives of ungoogled-chromium), it will be removed until someone updates it.

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Credits

Hexbyte Hacker News Computers License

BSD-3-clause. See LICENSE