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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

It cannot be repeated enough: “There is No Middle Ground on Encryption” says the EFF. Specifically: the so-called “backdoors” requested by government can only weaken the encryption used, basically rendering it vulnerable to malicious attacks. The legal arguments put forward by the EFF are, of course, specific to the USA, but similar cases can certainly be built in many other countries. And the other arguments only fail to convince those who don’t know what they’re talking about… So let’s spread the word: no backdoors!

Source: Shutterstock

Also interesting is the fact that the general conclusion from a 1996 (!) study (also quoted by the EFF) still remains pretty valid:

It is true that the spread of encryption technologies will add to the burden of those in government who are charged with carrying out certain law enforcement and intelligence activities. But the many benefits to society of widespread commercial and private use of cryptography outweigh the disadvantages.

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Dave Winer writes:

Wait till the press figures out that Google knows everywhere you go. Not only on the web, but in the world.

Only a fool knows everything. A wise man knows how little he knows.

African proverb. The photo is (c) W.Van daele.

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That’s not my title, it’s the conclusion of Dave Pell when he wrote about the Facebook affaire a few weeks ago. You can’t blame him for saying so, and he’s illuminating, serious and funny at the same time in “The Flight of the Zuckerberg“.

2. Facebook is constantly urging you to share your immediate thoughts and reactions to every life event. We were a couple days into the company’s biggest challenge before Facebook’s creator shared any of his thoughts on the matter. There’s probably a lesson in that…

11. You read the stories about Cambridge Analytica and you think, Damn, these guys are total geniuses who can control our minds. You watch the undercover video of the Cambridge Analytica execs and you think, Damn, these guys are seriously some clown-ass schmucks. Like always, believe what you see…

12. If Facebook really manipulates our thoughts, they must want us to be really pissed at Facebook…

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I did not write this up, and Dave Pell just contrasted what a few notable Americans said about freedom of speech and its importance in a democracy. And then he added a few tweets by you-know-who. Check it all out on Dave’s blog:

Click the image to go to Dave Pell’s post

How long before Trump believes that a new Cold War will halt global warming? Sorry, I know: April foolery is supposed to be funny…

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Marc makes a great summary of the political event of the month (of the year, perhaps?) in the USA: “Six minutes and twenty seconds“. What else can I do, but salute Emma Gonzalez and all the people protesting gun violence?

As a side note, you may want to know a bit about the person whom the high school in Florida was named after: Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. It seems a bit of her fighting spirit transferred over to the high school students of the 21st century…

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Much has already been written about the life of Stephen Hawking, and more is bound is bound to follow. Here’s what Roger Penrose, a fellow physicist who knew Hawking well, wrote in The Guardian:

Despite his terrible physical circumstance, he almost always remained positive about life. He enjoyed his work, the company of other scientists, the arts, the fruits of his fame, his travels. He took great pleasure in children, sometimes entertaining them by swivelling around in his motorised wheelchair. Social issues concerned him. He promoted scientific understanding. He could be generous and was very often witty. On occasion he could display something of the arrogance that is not uncommon among physicists working at the cutting edge, and he had an autocratic streak. Yet he could also show a true humility that is the mark of greatness.

Hawking undoubtedly advanced our knowledge of the universe, and for that he will be remembered with the likes of Newton and Einstein. But his outlook on life, his sense of humour and his joy of living must be part of what we take with us into the future – after all, he’s the man who thought a motorised toy version of himself would be “cool”…

Read all about that toy as it appeared in a “The Big Bang Theory” episode on the TV Guide website – just click the image to go there.
(Part of a photo by Monty Brinton/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc)

 

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The BoingBoing website pointed me to the Programmer’s Oath. Good initiative, and I do agree with every one of the items.

As usual, of course, my mind started analysing the text, and soon concluded that 8 of the 10 tenets are not specific to programming, but could be applied to any profession! And tenets 2 and 6 don’t need big changes to make them more generally applicable. So what user Widdershin came up with is the base for moral behaviour that all humans could/should fulfill.

Well, being cynical at times just like anyone, I should perhaps exclude politicians…

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