Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for August 2, 2019

in #rsslog4 years ago

New 3D map of the Milky Way Galaxy shows warping and twisting; Privacy laws tipping the balance towards authoritarianism; Facebook plans backdoor in WhatsApp; Computers spotting fake smiles; Citizen Science for children on the Steem blockchain

Straight from my RSS feed:
Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.


Pixabay license: source.

  1. A new 3D map of the Milky Way reveals our galaxy's warped shape in unprecedented detail - Researchers at the University of Warsaw recently measured the distances between our sun and thousands of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy in order to produce the most detailed 3D map to date. The map reveals that the galaxy is not flat, as widely believed, but it warps and twists at great distances from the center.

  2. Op-Ed: How data privacy laws could make the criminal justice system even more unfair - This op-ed argues that a number of new and proposed laws that are intended to protect privacy actually tip the balance in a way that makes it harder for people to defend against false accusations. The laws give police access to multiple sources of forensic data while erecting obstacles to access by defendants. One such law is the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act, which prohibits technology companies from disclosing when law enforcement accesses their data, but has no corresponding prohibition when defendants access it. The proposed New York Privacy Act suffers from the same shortcoming. The argument is summarized here: "In criminal cases, both the prosecution and the accused have a right to subpoena evidence so that juries can hear both sides of the case. The new privacy bills need to ensure that law enforcement and defense investigators operate under the same rules when they subpoena digital data." h/t Bruce Schneier

  3. The Encryption Debate Is Over - Dead At The Hands Of Facebook - Facebook has announced plans to "moderate" end-to-end encrypted content on their WhatsApp platform, and even to stream the content to their own servers for further analysis when certain criteria are met. Whatever they may call it, this amounts to Facebook executing a man in the middle attack against their own users. As Bruce Schneier puts it, Facebook Plans on Backdooring WhatsApp.

  4. How to Spot A Fake Smile? Ask A Computer - Scientists at the University of Bradford have created software that can spot false facial expressions by analyzing cues from the mouth, cheeks, and eyes of the subject as an expression moves across the face. This is a task that humans are not good at doing. Research leader, Hassan Ugail says these techniques could be useful for biometric identification, and also for social and clinical scientists who are seeking insights into human behavior.

  5. STEEM My daughter found a Cicada shedding his shell! - Here's a citizen science initiative in biology for children. @ironshield posts pictures of a cicada in the process of shedding its shell. The cicada was discovered by @ironshield's daughter. (A beneficiary setting of 5% to @ironshield has been applied to this post.)

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As to data privacy, it's only illegal if the government isn't the one doing it. I'm not surprised at all.


Agreed. The surprising thing would be laws that didn't give advantages to government officials and political insiders.

What makes me very happy is that hacks, leaks, and cracks make all these new surveillance techs soon available to the general public. One thing I am almost giddy about is that Fakebook has now claimed they can read thoughts.

Once this is leaked to the GP, we will be potentially able to observe the relationship of empty rhetoric to politician's actual intentions, and the failure of the two to reconcile will expose bad actors. This will be far more beneficial than the harm bad actors will be able to undertake with this tech is harmful. Facial recognition potentiates the end of covert actors, CCTV their surreptitious covert actions, and so on.

Tech always increases the power of individuals versus institutions. We react with alarm at new tech, but we should actually look forward to how it will more severely impact institutions once we have it. The more advanced tech gets, the faster it disperses, and the more powerful it is. This is particularly true of security tech, as firearms are 1000 year old tech, but WMD's can't enforce oppression and drag rebels to torture chambers. You need thugs with guns and boots on the ground for that, but the tech has long existed to preclude thugs from being able to do so, it just isn't on offer at Walmart next to shotguns for this reason.

Now that we have 3D printers, we don't need no stinking Walmart for our security tech, and can just make the good stuff at home. Just don't tell the revenuers you're rolling your own, and they won't find out until it's too late to stop you. They can't nuke your neighborhood to make you pay a traffic ticket, and when your microwave moat keeps them off your porch, well, their options become far more limited, and expensive. Consider the trend of gated neighborhoods, and how neighbors cooperating can dramatically increase their security by combining the aforementioned techs. CCTV, facial recognition, advanced security tech, and maybe even reading thoughts of malicious actors, will make it damn hard for bad guys to do bad things in such neighborhoods.

The really nice thing about this is these measures prevent crime, not just go after bad guys after crimes have been committed.

The more useful surveillance tech becomes against us, the more it's vastly more powerful against those trying to use it to harm us. Freedom is burgeoning, there's just a bit of lag.

Awesome blog on science.