Google censoring searches in China again

02/08/2018
google-logos

Google has a new logo and updating its image – but under the surface it’s still that pre-2010 half-evil censor

Eight years after Google pulled out of the censored Chinese internet, they’re back.  It’s been reported that the company is working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and allow it to reenter the Chinese market.

Google has engaged in the China-controlled internet space before: but in 2010 it pulled out, citing censorship and hacking as reasons.  It didn’t pull out completely – it still offered a number of apps to Chinese users, including Google Translate and Files Go, and the company has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai – But the largest of its services – search, email, and the Play app store – are all unavailable in the country.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Guardian in 2010 that his opposition to enabling censorship was motivated to his being born in Soviet Russia.   “It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life,” he said as Google exited the Chinese market after 4 years of cooperating with the authorities.

But now they’re back, working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and black-listed material.  The app is being designed for Android devices.

According to tech-based news site The Information, Google is also working on a censored news-aggregation app too. The news app would take its lead from popular algorithmically-curated apps such as Bytedance’s Toutiao – released for the Western market as “TopBuzz” – that eschew human editors in favour of personalised, highly viral content.

Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, called Google’s return to censorship “a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom.”

In putting profits before human rights, he said, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.

This is important because many computer users will set a search site as their homepage and even find content by entering key-words into the url bar of their browser.  Because of Google’s ubiquity, it is frequently set as default search engine on browsers, meaning that millions of users will find that their experience of the internet is that delivered through the lens of Google.  If that lens is smudged or cracked by censorship, all these users’ internet experience is skewed.  So it is essential to highlight the fact that Google is not the neutral, trustworthy agent that many users think it to be.

GreatFire, an organisation that monitors internet censorship and enables circumvention of the “Great Firewall of China”, said the move “could be the final nail in the Chinese internet freedom coffin” and that “the ensuing crackdown on freedom of speech will be felt around the globe.”

bmc-orange


an american idiot

20/07/2018
donald trump idiot google search

Don’t wanna be an american idiot? Too late Donald!

Ain’t it grand, how any idiot can game Google results and show the world who really is the idiot?

That’s what activists have been doing: do a Google image search for the word “idiot” and you get a fine selection of Donald Trump pictures!

This is how it works:

According to Inquisitr,  part of the reason for this result is that several English articles published last week included the Green Day song titled “American Idiot” in the headline in relation to Donald Trump and his trip to England; (protestors were actually using the song in the protests). This meant that images were likely titled to describe the article and used the terms “American Idiot” and Donald Trump as descriptives in the image metadata as well as in the article content. As a result, Google’s algorithm has paired these terms together, and with so many people reading and sharing these articles, it has pushed its relevance to the top of the search results.

When you type the word “idiot” into Google’s image search, Trump is the first returned result. This is partly because the Green Day song American Idiot was used by protesters to soundtrack his trip to London. But since then there’s also been a concerted campaign to capitalize on that association, and manipulate Google’s algorithm, by linking the word to the picture. Mostly this involved people upvoting a post containing a photo of him and the word “idiot” on Reddit. [from theguardian.com]

This trick has been used many times before.  For instance, there was a spate of hook-nosed caricatures posted with the single word “Jew”, which resulted in an Image Search for “jew” returning the hook-nosed caricature.

And it was used by Trump fans to associate the word “rapist” with pictures of Bill Clinton.

Many of these were rudimentary, almost meaningless. “RAPIST! RAPIST! RAPIST! RAPIST!” “Today this rapist turns 70. Happy Birthday, rapist.” Most originated from the notorious Reddit forum TheDonald, where fans of Trump congregated to spread his gospel of doing whatever you like, screw the consequences.

The forum moderators would pin a post to the top of the forum to encourage others to upvote it, and the swell of upvotes would push it to the front page of Reddit, which already styles itself “The front page of the Internet”, causing it to leap up to the top row of Google images.

They also did it with an image of Michelle Obama with features Paintshopped to look like an ape.  And the TheDonald team did it with the CNN logo and the words “fake news”.

So it’s kind of fitting that the trick has now been turned on Trump and his idiotic fans!

So is there a moral to be learnt from this story?  Of course not!  The internet is utterly amoral, as are those of us who spend too much time in it. Who knows who will be belittled and demonized next?  And that’s probably the best thing about it – he who demonizes today may be demonized tomorrow.  The internet giveth and… well, it don’t giveth anything but it demands its pound of virtual flesh!

trumps-an-idiot

bmc-orange


EVTOL – the tech to deliver air taxis to the city’s skies

16/07/2018
rolls-royce-evtol-air-taxi-1-768x432

Rolls-Royce EVTOL air taxi concept, launched at Farnborough Air Show July 2018

People have been dreaming of personal flying vehicles since Icarus flew too close to the sun.  But there have been fundamental problems to the concept of air taxis and flying “cars”: noise, pollution and the need for air strips included.  But now the technology to make the dream possible has arrived: EVTOL.

Electric (or hybrid-electric, or electrically-assisted) Vertical Take-Off/Landing means an air vehicle that has the VTOL characteristics of a helicopter but otherwise flies like a fixed-wing airplane.  The VTOL is possible thanks to swivel-wings or swivel engines that are electrically (or hybrid-electrically) powered.  This helps beat the noise problem of helicopters, the pollution that a high concentration of conventionally-fuelled aircraft would cause, and the urban airstrips that fixed-wing vehicles would need.

For example, let’s look at the EVTOL air taxi concept that Rolls-Royce unveilled earlier today (16 July 2018) at the Farnborough Airshow.  The hybrid aircraft, designed to carry four or five passengers, has an M250 gas turbine which delivers around 500kW of electrical power. This is used to drive six rotors that can provide both lift and propulsion, with the wings tilting forward 90 degrees once sufficient altitude has been reached. Four of the rotors can also fold into the wings, leaving two at the rear to provide thrust at cruising altitude while helping to reduce cabin noise. Top speed is estimated at 250mph and range is predicted to be 500 miles. According to Rolls, an onboard battery will bring additional climb power and will be recharged by the M250 engine.

BlackFly-OPENER-Personal-eVTOL

The Blackfly Personal EVTOL

And this is just four days after Opener announced its single-person EVTOL personal aerial vehicle, Blackfly, hailed as the world’s first ultralight, fixed-wing EVTOL  aircraft.  The BlackFly Opener is amphibious and is primarily designed as a small grassy area hopper. It can travel up to 25 miles at 62 mph in the US, or over 80 mph elsewhere.  And in the US anyone can own and operate a Blackfly – there is no need for formal licensing.  And in the pollution stakes: it uses less energy than an electric car, and produces less noise than do petrol-driven cars.

BlackFly-energy-noise-figures

How the Blackfly stacks up on the noise and energy fronts

Unlike Opener, Rolls-Royce produced a concept rather than an actual aircraft.  Nevertheless they claim that the concept is based upon technology that either already exists or is currently under development. If a viable commercial model emerges, the company believes the vehicle could be in service by the early 2020s.  However there will be a lot of competition in this market: Airbus and Uber have both announced plans, Google’s Kittyhawk is taking orders ; and last year, Dubai staged its first autonomous air taxi trial, and authorities there claim personal air mobility could transform the region over the next five years.

In April 2017 after the first Uber Elevate Summit, Electric VTOL News started a catalogue of EVTOL aircraft – it grew at a rate of about one aircraft per week during the first year, but this has now accelerated to an average rate of two aircraft per week as more aircraft are unveiled and new actors join the sector, and now numbers over a hundred aircraft.

As of June 15, 2018, the site had 45 vectored thrust aircraft listed; 12 lift + cruise configurations24 wingless multicopter aircraft; and 23 Hover Bikes/Personal Flying Devices.

In addition, the website now hosts more than 100 news articles and in-depth stories on eVTOL aircraft and developments.

This is an exciting sector and brings ever closer to reality the dream of personal air vehicles – your very own airplane! So keep an eye on the skies!

Buy Me A Coffee


I Hate Hate – the Google Images Results Part 1

13/07/2018

Part One of an occasional series of hateful images.

ihatehate-tshirt-1

Buy Me A Coffee


Less than a day to save the internet

19/06/2018

On 20 June 2018, less than 24 hours from now, the European Parliament votes on whether to adopt the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market – a $60 million filter to automate takedown of copyrighted material from Youtube.  This is a compromise measure that no one really wants:

Big rightsholders say that it still lets crucial materials slip through the cracks. Indie rightsholders say that it lets big corporations falsely claim copyright over their works and take them down. Google hates Content ID because they spent $60,000,000 developing a system that makes everyone miserable, and YouTubers and their viewers hate it because it overblocks so much legit content.

But all of this has escaped the EU’s notice. Under Article 13 (which will be voted up or down in a key committee on June 20), every EU platform will be obliged to filter everything users post — not just videos, but stills, audio, code, games, text, everything.

No filter exists that can even approximate this, and the closest equivalents are mostly run by American companies, meaning that US Big Tech is going to get to spy on everything Europeans post and decide what gets censored and what doesn’t.

But we can stop it, by contacting the members of the committee and telling them what a mistake it would be to vote for the Directive.  You can tweet and email the committee members using this online tool.

So if you want to automate internet censorship and destroy the creative media, do nothing.  But if you’re not a colossal idiot, contact the MEPs and tell them to vote against Article 13.

hulk-against-article-13

Learn more about Article 13

Contact the MEPs

 
bmc-black


Google swears off evil again

11/06/2018

In the wake of employee resignations and protests against their tech being used in military drone strikes, Google has reaffirmed its aspiration “Don’t Be Evil.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO at Google, has released a set of ethical guidelines to govern the company’s use of Artificial Intelligence.  These new rules ban the development and use of their AI for weapons, and for surveillance tools that would violate “internationally accepted norms.”

For nearly 20 years, Google had the mantra “Don’t Be Evil” in its corporate code of conduct.  But it dropped the motto in April or May of this year (2018), which made some commentators (well, me anyway) wonder if Google had decided to actively Be Evil?  This thought was reinforced when a number of employees resigned over the company’s involvement in a controversial military drone pilot program, Project Maven.

But don’t worry!  Google may help US military AIs recognise and classify targets, but it won’t have anything to do with killing those targets that it has labelled as “Bad Guy #1”. But how does the company square this with bidding for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract? (I know, I know… JEDI isn’t a “weapon”. Screw your sophistry and semantics!)  As for refusing to develop “surveillance tools that would violate ‘internationally accepted norms'” – what the hell does that mean anyway?  “Internationally accepted” by whom?  North Korea?  Saudi Arabia?  Syria?  Myanmar?  Can you see the problem here?

So okay, Google isn’t being run by Doctor Evil.  But how many Mini-Me clones are working in Research & Development?

Dr.Evil

Sundar Pichai, CEO at Google. pic from Wikipedia

 
bmc-purple

 


The “right to be forgotten” bites thief in ass

16/07/2014

So people who have done dodgy crap in the past have a “right to be forgotten”… meaning Google, Bing, etc have to delete links to stories about what crooks and conmen have got up to in the past. Basically, Google etc have to delete links to online stories that might “damage the reputation” of people who have done stupid and even criminal things they’ve done in the past.

But as Dan Gillmor has pointed out in the Guardian, it’s basically a charter for crooks and idiots to hide their stupidity and criminal actions, censoring their past so it looks like they’re not idiots or crooks… info that potential employers, new acquaintances and the like could well need to know. Are you going to enter into business with someone whose ineptness or criminal behaviour is public knowledge? Probably not. But now people will be employing unsuitable people.

But what’s funny about this charade is the fact that the “right to be forgotten” by Google will mean other news outlets will report on these secretive idiots. Check out the story on Robert Daniels-Dwyer. He wanted Google to remove links to reports that he was was convicted of trying to steal £200 worth of Christmas presents from Boots in Oxford in 2006. Google removed the links… but the Oxford Mail’s editor, Simon O’Neill, argued that it is “an assault on the public’s right to know perfectly legitimate information,” and Dwyers’ naughty past has been re-publicised far more than it would have been before the ruling! The Oxford Mail’s editor, Simon O’Neill, argued that it is “an assault on the public’s right to know perfectly legitimate information.”

Check out the original Oxford Mail story here. If the idiot had kept his gob shut, no one would have known about it… it was in 2006 for goodness’ sake!

Calling it a “right to censorship”, editor O’Neill continued: “It is an attempt to re-write history… We often get complaints from convicted criminals that publishing stories about them invades their privacy or is unfair but the simple fact is if they didn’t go out committing crime and appearing in court then there would not be a story.”

The Guardian reported:

The paper reported that Daniels-Dwyer had previously attempted to have the story removed from the Mail’s websites via a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

He demanded that Newsquest “should purge the article from all databases, internally and externally available, and from any news databases to which it provides content.”

Two factual amendments were made to the article, but the PCC dismissed his case.

If Daniels-Dwyer was the complainant to Google then it has rebounded on him because the 2006 story has got renewed, and extra, publicity – a direct consequence of all such complaints about online coverage (see the Streisand effect).

The right to be forgotten could well turn out to be the right to be remembered.

So it looks like Daniels-Dwyer has well and truly screwed himself! Ha ha ha!!

Locations of visitors to this page


free web stat


%d bloggers like this: