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Joined 1Y ago
Cake day: May 17, 2022

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last week sought to interview acclaimed novelist Andrew O’Hagan about his time working as a ghostwriter on Assange’s autobiography over a decade ago. However, O’Hagan refuses the speak to the police. “I would not give a witness statement against a fellow journalist being pursued for telling the truth." Meanwhile, Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton said the FBI's move shows that "they understand how weak the charges against Julian are and are trying to strengthen them."

Misinformation and echo chambers are often used to explain polarization and political divides between people. New research, however, finds there is another factor we should worry about, namely our online consumption of quality news, or exactly the lack of it.

The Dutch government wants to automatically and administratively gain permission to target the victims of hackers
A proposed addition to the existing Dutch Intelligence and Security Services Act would extend a warrant requested to intercept the communications of a specific hacking organization automatically to the victims of this hacking group. Or, more concretely, if your computer gets hacked by group X and there was a warrant to intercept the traffic of group X, the Dutch services would gain automatic approval to also intercept your communications or hack you.

"Foreign tourists who behave inappropriately, do activities that are not allowed in their visa permit, use crypto as a means of payment and violate other provisions will be dealt with firmly," Bali Governor Wayan Koster said at a tourism development press conference. He also reiterated that the use of currencies other than rupiah as a means of payment in Indonesia was prohibited. "Strict actions range from deportation, administrative sanctions, criminal penalties, closure of business premises and other tough sanctions," Mr Koster said.

Related to the military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a joint report of international security researchers says that the malware by Israeli company NSO Group was used to spy on a former Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia (the Ombudsperson), two Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Armenian Service journalists, a United Nations official, a former spokesperson of Armenia’s Foreign Ministry (now an NGO worker), and seven other representatives of Armenian civil society.

Press freedom advocates have increasingly been criticising “lawfare”, the misuse of the law to silence critical voices. It typically involves charges not directly related to journalism and is more and more a common tool among corrupt and authoritarian regimes keen to fight freedom of expression. Instead of being targeted for the words published or spoken, journalists, publishers and editors are pursued on supposedly unrelated charges.

Volunteers have been transporting the books and other precious documents, which became submerged in water and mud in flooded libraries in the worst-affected areas, to Cesena, where the items will be placed on shelves in temperatures of -25C in industrial-size freezers provided by Orogel, a company that specialises in frozen food.

Neuroscientists and neurosurgeons have re-established the communication between the patient's brain and spinal cord with a wireless 'digital bridge', allowing a paralysed person to walk again naturally. The device enabled him to regain control over the movement of his paralysed legs, allowing him to stand, walk, and even climb stairs, a report published in Nature says. The study is here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06094-5

Assange supporters open to a plea deal with US
Julian Assange's wife Stella and his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said that a plea deal was one option to end his incarceration in the way a negotiation led to the release of former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks in 2007. “For Julian, this is a life and death situation. Julian has to be free and that is the primary priority,” Stella Assange said. The Australian lawyer for Assange, Stephen Kenny, who also acted for Hicks before his release, said he was doubtful the US Department of Justice would be open to a plea deal. “My assessment of the American position is that they are quite content to see Julian suffer as long and as much as possible."

"The blockchain provides us with an amazing opportunity to track the flow of money", an agency head said in an AMA session on Reddit. The US Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency primarily charged with protecting US political leaders, but it’s also tasked with safeguarding the financial system and fighting financial crime. The hosts also advised on how to keep transactions hidden from the authorities. The only viable way of securing secrecy in financial settlements turns out to be cash, they say.

Thanks for this. As for my side, I’m afraid my Polish has too much potential to read this 😁 but it’s great that such initiatives exist. We defintitely needed more of them. But maybe I should stop complaining and start my own small blog together with a couple of peers as we have been discussing for some time 😇

History may teach me wrong, but I think that won’t change much. Musk will still make the major decisions. It’s only that it may happen behind tbe scenes.

The Hypha co-operative says that it’s now easier to set up DNS records across all supported protocols via a DNSLink specification and a newly built-in DNS server. Distributed.Press is an open source publishing tool that automates publishing and hosting content to the WWW that it seeds to IPFS and Holepunch. In the future, their APIs will support content verification and social messaging across DWeb ecosystems. Here is another site: https://distributed.press Here is the code: https://github.com/hyphacoop/api.distributed.press/pull/48 Here you may contribute: https://opencollective.com/distributed-press

CEOs say Brussels Data Act represents a huge risk to the continent’s competitiveness and resilience against hybrid threats. The text is far too open, leading to "potential misuse and risking data breaches." This will hurt smaller and medium-sized companies who focus on innovating the solutions of the future. The executives argue that access to data must be limited to clearly defined emergency situations and types of data.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent four years in Britain's Belmarsh Prison in London. "It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It's a crazy thing," Lula says after attending the coronation of King Charles.

The entire academic board of the journal 'Neuroimage', including professors from Oxford University, King’s College London and Cardiff University resigned after Elsevier refused to reduce publication charges. Academics around the world have applauded what many hope is the start of a rebellion against the huge profit margins in academic publishing, which outstrip those made by Apple, Google and Amazon.

For the first time in more than a decade, the leaders of Australia’s major political parties both publicly back a diplomatic intervention in the case of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen. PM Albanese told journalists in the UK, where he is attending King Charles’ coronation, that the matter needed to be brought to a conclusion. And Julian Assange writes a letter to the new King Charles urges him to visit Belmarsh prison: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2023/may/06/julian-assange-writes-letter-to-king-charles-and-urges-him-to-visit-belmarsh-prison

That’s a good question. I understand from the article that the decoder must be trained on the individual, so I guess that might solve the problem? I’m not an expert on this, so I don’t know.

I’m not a lawyer, but there appears to be a legal way as Biden’s rival Robert Kennedy says.

Instead of championing free speech, the U.S. actively persecutes journalists and whistleblowers. I’ll pardon brave truth-tellers like Julian Assange and investigate the corruption and crimes they exposed. This isn’t the Soviet Union. The America I love doesn’t imprison dissidents.

Edit for addition: EFJ and its affiliates once again call on the UK authorities to release Julian Assange

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) passed on the initiative [of the Italian journalists’ union] to its affiliates in Europe: 19 of them decided to follow the Italian example and grant Julian Assange membership (or honorary membership) of their organisations. The EFJ and its affiliates once again call on the UK authorities to release Julian Assange.

Despite being charged with terrorism, three members of the Howeitat tribe were reportedly arrested for resisting forced evictions in the name of the NEOM project and the construction of a 170km linear city called The Line. Since January 2020, Saudi authorities have reportedly carried out a series of actions to evict members of the Howeitat tribe from their homes and traditional lands in three villages in the name of the NEOM project, a futuristic smart city development project of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

“Journalism is not a crime!” declared Biden Saturday, as he put aside the evening’s punch lines for a serious show of solidarity with jailed and persecuted journalists around the world, including Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been falsely accused of espionage by the Russians, and Austin Tice, a kidnapped American journalist who is believed to be held by the Syrian government.

I wasn’t aware of these sources, thanks for posting. We’ll certainly need to do a lot to combat and detect ‘fake news’, but I’m wondering whether Blockchain-based technologies could help in some cases to prove the provenance and integrity of ‘news’ as a digital asset. It’s not (yet?) used for these kind of things and there is little research about it.

"There was no party-politics in this, we all believed that it was unacceptable and that ultimately taxpayers should not have to pay for it. We managed to get the plenary to see the problems. But we never managed to force the leadership of the parliament to listen,” says Bart Staes, a Belgian ex-MEP [who for 20 years was a member of the budget control committee, who says that the risks were known early on.]

Even though the intentions might have been good, the private pension fund, created in 1991 for a small number of politicians, was from the beginning financially unsustainable. “With almost criminal strength, a system was created that was doomed to fail,” says Daniel Freund, German Green MEP in the budget control committee.

In April 2023, NewsGuard identified 49 websites spanning seven languages — Chinese, Czech, English, French, Portuguese, Tagalog, and Thai — that appear to be entirely or mostly generated by artificial intelligence language models designed to mimic human communication — here in the form of what appear to be typical news websites.

The German photographer Robert Kneschke found out in February that his photographs were being used to train AI through LAION-5B, which is a dataset of over 5.8 billion images owned by the non-profit Large-scale Artificial Intelligence Open Network (LAION) that has been used by companies like Stability AI. Here is the photographer's blog post (in German): https://www.alltageinesfotoproduzenten.de/2023/04/24/laion-e-v-macht-ernst-schadensersatzforderung-an-urheber-fuer-ki-trainingsdaten/

Slightly sensationalized title and article

Yeah, maybe a bit. I tried to make it clear in the body that it’s not yet perfect, but it may also be hard for the researchers to communicate such a technology to a wider audience so that everyone understands.

Edit for an addition: The Guardian wrote about it, citing two experts in the field who are not mentioned in the linked article:

Prof Tim Behrens, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the work, described it as “technically extremely impressive” and said it opened up a host of experimental possibilities, including reading thoughts from someone dreaming or investigating how new ideas spring up from background brain activity. “These generative models are letting you see what’s in the brain at a new level,” he said. “It means you can really read out something deep from the fMRI.”

Prof Shinji Nishimoto, of Osaka University, who has pioneered the reconstruction of visual images from brain activity, described the paper as a “significant advance”. “The paper showed that the brain represents continuous language information during perception and imagination in a compatible way,” he said. “This is a non-trivial finding and can be a basis for the development of brain-computer interfaces.

That’s extremely impressive if I may say so.

A new AI system' can translate a person’s brain activity into text. Although it is not a word-for-word transcript, researchers at the University of Texas designed it to capture the gist of what is being thought, albeit imperfectly. Researchers warn that their 'semantic decoder' could be used for bad purposes, but also say it might help people who are mentally conscious yet unable to physically speak, such as those debilitated by strokes, to communicate intelligibly again.

Chatbot answers cannot only be misleading or false, but could support a propagandistic narrative about the country in question, often combining legitimate doubts with fictitious, misleading, or incorrect information, a report says. The unsettling answers could not only easily be used by malicious actors, but also confuse and create a new “reality” for users.

… how it could change unless afghan people demand change.

As much as I agree, we are probably not remotely able to fully understand the humanitarian situation the people of Afghanistan are facing every day.

Almost 20 million people – half the population – are suffering either level-3 “crisis” or level-4 “emergency” levels of food insecurity under the assessment system of the World Food Programme (WFP). […] tens of thousands of people in one province, Ghor, had slipped into “catastrophic” level-5 acute malnutrition, a precursor to famine. The WFP has stated that Afghanistan “continues facing the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption globally.”

And the situation for women and girls is even worse, they are much more effected.

This is a gross over-simplification imho. Inflation occurs when the aggregate demand of goods/services at a given price level increases faster than the aggregate supply of goods/services at that given price level. There are a some factors to consider about inflation.

One major issue especially in the UK is the austerity policies we have seen in the last 40 or so years (that goes back to Thatcher). The problem is the distribution of wealth imo.

That’s particularly important as it has nothing to do with a ‘free market economy’ or any other form of economic policy. For example, we see the same unequal wealth distribution (and capitalist excesses) in centrally-planned economies across various forms of communism.

Bank of England economist Huw Pill recently said Britons should stop seeking pay increases and “accept” they are worse off in order to prevent prices rising further. Karen Trainer, the manager of a community centre and shop in Wolverhampton, a city with the highest poverty rate in England, could barely contain her anger as she watched the news.

The laws that prevent women reporting effectively are impacted by the intersection of being female and of being a journalist. The Taliban issued decrees that women are not allowed to travel alone, that TV presenters and guests must cover their faces, and in some provinces that their voices cannot be heard on the radio. Travelling to meet sources suddenly becomes impossible, while radio presenters and other female voices are silenced in places like Kandahar, where women have been told they cannot phone into radio stations.

‘Humanity as a multi-planetary species’: Is sex in space being taken seriously by the emerging space tourism sector?
Sex in space is a real possibility with the expected growth in space tourism over the next decade, says a Cranfield University-led paper. This appears to pose several risks that have not yet been considered, those of a biological nature such as embryo developmental risks and those of a commercial nature such as liability, litigation, and reputational damage.

Instead of reacting and responding to Russian disinformation, a new report concludes that Ukrainian authorities have instead focused on proactive and reliable information, often anticipating and pre-empting Russia’s next move. “It was clearly shocking when the full-scale war broke out,” researcher Ivar Ekman says. “But the existential threat of the Russian invasion made those involved in the communication effort – from state institutions to volunteering civilians – come together to make the best of the resources at hand". Here is the report: https://www.foi.se/en/foi/reports/report-summary.html?reportNo=FOI-R--5451--SE

According to surveys from 2012, 2017 and 2022, the Ukrainians who considered Russian as their native language dropped steadily from 25% to now 6%. "There has been a drastic increase of the use of Ukrainian in the previously largely Russian-speaking south and east of the country," says a researcher. It is a case, he said, of “language as resistance – they are using language to resist aggression and the imperialism that they think underlies that”.

Maybe it’s not death but transformation? We may end up with a different sort of social media that is more focused on users’ needs and wants, but one that we may also pay for. (If so, we as a society must then find a way to include all those into our communication system who can’t afford the price, as taking part in digital communication should be seen as a human right imho, maybe even as a common good like fresh air and water.)

Someone posted this in an Italian community. Seems intercepting and recording communication can sometimes be illegal …

The Virtual Global Taskforce, a consortium of 15 law enforcement agencies focusing specifically on child sexual abuse, says that end-to-end encryption is a "purposeful design choice that degrades safety systems and weakens the ability to keep child users safe." Members include FBI and ICE Homeland Security Investigations from the US as well as Europol and agencies from the UK, Canada, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

That’s what I thought, too. It could lead to more reading/listening and mutual understanding rather than just posting and re-posting. And no normal being needs 10,000 likes in the first 20 minutes after posting. It could make people communicating with each other rather than being data points used to sell ads.

Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (and possibly others) are spending huge amounts for lobbying to bring their tech to schools and universities.

The war in Ukraine has inspired a number of memes and instances of patriotic rallying across the society. "Irony is a powerful mechanism, especially when it is shared by a number of people,” says Natalya Shaposhnik, a practicing psychotherapist in Ukraine. “It is a new language to express something for which one does not have the right words.”

Google parent Alphabet says it will allow developers to use alternative payment options after an investigation by Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into its control over Google Play in-app purchases.

The CSA Regulation proposed by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, would obliterate privacy, security and free expression for everyone online. Politicians across the political spectrum put forward amendments to safeguard the fundamental rights of users. Many of them expressly recognised the intrusiveness of the proposed measures and the importance of protecting the right to privacy and confidentiality of communications.

I guess this depends how you define privacy. One solution may be Particl, but I haven’t tried it so far.

NHS England says it “only shares de-identified data with organisations". But privacy experts have criticised this position "given the richness of the data and the relative ease by which re-identification could occur." The datastore also contains “workforce analytics” data and something called “strike analysis”, which NHS England said was created “in anticipation of industrial action” but had never been used in practice.

QuaDream's software called 'Reign' grants users full surveillance capabilities over another person’s phone, including the ability to record calls, read messages and take photos by exploiting a security flaw in Apple iPhones, the Canadian Citizen Lab writes in a new report. QuaDream Ltd. is a smaller competitor of Israel’s NSO Group, which illegally spied until only a few years ago on government officials, journalists, dissidents and others often paid by authoritarian regimes.

“Damage for the reputation of the United States”: dozens of Australian politicians urge US to drop extradition of Julian Assange
In an open letter, 48 MPs and senators across all parties – including 13 from the ruling Labor Party - implored US Attorney General Merrick Garland to “drop the extradition proceedings and allow Mr Assange to return home”. Assange, an Australian citizen, remains in Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US bid to extradite him to face charges related to the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as diplomatic cables.

Matthew Green, professor at Johns Hopkins University, says that the chat control proposed by the European Commission poses risks from many parties and requires countermeasures against abuse and surveillance that are completely undeveloped, Green says. "The [Commission is] asking technology providers to deploy systems that none of them know how to build safely."

April 8 is a day that lives in infamy for media in Iraq. 20 years ago, two American missiles hit the Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad, killing a reporter and wounding a cameraman. Shortly afterwards, American forces opened fire on the nearby office of Abu Dhabi TV, and a United States tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, a known base for foreign media, killing two cameramen and wounding three journalists.

It appears to help if you get a new identity when using Tor.

Although Tesla states in its online “Customer Privacy Notice” that its “camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle", company's employees privately shared sometimes highly invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car cameras, according to a recent investigation. The report also highlights technological issues Tesla has been facing.

Credit Agricole CIB, SEB launch ‘sustainable’ blockchain bond network
The two banks introduce a new type of blockchain validation logic, the 'Proof of Climate awaReness protocol'. Each node is remunerated for its efforts according to a formula linked to its climate impact: the lower the environmental footprint, the larger the reward. The platform is open to interested parties who want to review, contribute to and participate in the semi-permissioned model.

Yes, there are a lot of chances and risks, and we must urgently develop rules how we deal with this new technology legally and ethically. There’s a broad discussion needed across all parts of our society.

Doing nothing in that respect will entail devastating social consequences imo. My personal worst-case scenario: China will accelerate its Orwellian surveillance state. Some US companies will rise and forward all data to the NSA. And the EU will introduce strict privacy rules and then sign new Safe Harbor agreements making sure that exactly these privacy rules will never be truly enforced.

As a result we’ll see a few more billionaires, while the mass of people and small businesses will pay the bill.

Yes, it’s extremely complex but necessary. A lot of decisions in our societies and economies have been influenced by implicit biases based on race, gender, age, etc. which hurt those discriminated against. And with the upcoming rise of artificial intelligence these biases will creep also into the algorithms.

I just stumbled upon that, too, and am wondering how this compares to Librewolf (+VPN) …

Restorative justice, which recognises the role of marginalised groups, is key to enabling people to lead decent and dignified lives. A post-reparations world might acknowledge the complexity of the colonial past in its entirety, including the damage caused by racial hierarchy; it would not be afraid to discuss the ways in which race and ethnicity, class, gender, religion, ableism and age intersect.

I guess “restorative justice” has this broader meaning you’re suggesting exactly because it “might acknowledge the complexity of the colonial past in its entirety”. It’s not just about to pay descendants of slaves a certain amount of money but rather a more holistic approach how we view and live in our society, and therefore it goes far beyond former slavery and race issues and include also gender, age, etc. But that’s just my interpretation.

A probably highly topical question these days: Are computational word-sense disambiguation and computational word-sense induction possible?

This is sadly true. There’s a lot wrong with Cloudflare and I also knew they control the on-ramps to bitcoin, but I didn’t know that they have already blocked persons.

I think crypto as a technology is not a very good store of value

I fully agree. That’s why I use it as a means of payment rather than as value investment -:)

Blockchain is revolutionary, but blockchain projects need to have utility

Absolutely, that’s what is missing at 99.9% of blockchain projects unfortunately (but I still hope for the 0.1% :-))

Yeah, your post wasn’t yet visible to me when I posted mine a few minutes ago, but I am thinking the very same. The next big thing is here and they need to train the chat bots :-)

I have been using some crypto as a means of payment and find it often easier and cheaper than banking services in the fiat system.

Developers -and possibly others- could use it to monetize their work and becoming less dependant from commercial app stores. The blockchain can be a good tool for proof of provenance (although the latter doesn’t necessarily come with a currency).

By using crypto, we can cut the middleman.

There are some use cases for crypto imho, but only a few companies try to exploit its potential.

But, yeah, it seems we already have the next big thing:

Tech chief says the development of chatbots is a more worthwhile use of processing power than crypto mining

For those interested there are two interesting articles on this topic:

The Mind Is a Battlefield: Lessons from Japan’s Security Policy on Cognitive Warfare

It says:

The cognitive domain, which encompasses emotions, beliefs, values, and other intangible aspects of human cognition, has emerged as a crucial front in today’s wars. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recognizes the strategic importance of cognitive factors in winning information wars, and has devoted considerable research to this area: they aim to gain superiority in the cognitive domain by influencing public opinion, applying psychological pressure on key figures and ultimately influencing decision-making to win wars with minimal cost – or even without fighting. This perspective has been integrated into Beijing’s military strategy …

The Future of China’s Cognitive Warfare: Lessons from the War in Ukraine

There is also a lot of academic research, e.g., How China’s Cognitive Warfare Works: A Frontline Perspective of Taiwan’s Anti-Disinformation Wars

I just read an article on how cybercriminals use ChatGPT that is perfect for this thread (-:

Yes, it’s bad if people are that naive, and it’s even worse when others appear to exploit the despair of people. The app has 32 permissions and contains 4 trackers that openly say that they would collect behavioral data and advertise their trackers using slogans like “we help marketers make better decisions”.

dont think its controversial to think that governement officials shouldnt have any form of social media on their government issued phones. Its insane that governements have worse digital practices than a lot of mid size businesses

Yes. And what makes this thread even more weird is the fact that Tiktok is not even available in China. ByteDance offers a similar service, Douyin, that looks and works just like it, but the Western version is unavailable, and not just for government officials but the entire population.

Furthermore, a lot of other social media is blocked in China not just for officials but for the entire population, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and many others. Not that I think these apps are needed, I just don’t understand the critics for blocking Tiktok here.

National cybersecurity agency deems TikTok a threat to Czechia

The Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NÚKIB) has today warned Czechs against downloading the Chinese video application TikTok. It has labeled the app a “security threat” and said the public should “think twice” before using it.

Danish public broadcaster advises staff against using TikTok

Yeah, especially from Facebook and other big tech. They never sell user data. Never. Pinky swear.

According to the survey cited in the article, the participating experts say that AI will also have useful implications, although the majority agrees that they will be outweighed by negative effects.

I am personally convinced of the latter and agree with Alejandro Pisanty saying that “the future is to be determined by the agendas of commercial interests and governments, to our chagrin”. The biggest problem imho is that this topic is almost exclusively discussed within professional circles. The wider public is completely unaware what lies ahead.

What we urgently needed is a broad discussion across the entire society, and this requires to communicate the relevant topics in a language the wider “non-tech” public can understand.

We need to ignite real public conversations to help people fully understand the stakes of these developments

I fully agree with this quote by Kathryn Bouskill.

This is likely only for US people living in the Boston area: Journalists in the Boston area