WH’s AI EO is BS

An executive order was just issued from the White House regarding “the Use of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Government.” Leaving aside the meritless presumption of the government’s own trustworthiness and that it is the software that has trust issues, the order is almost entirely hot air.
The EO is like others in that it is limited to what a president can peremptorily force federal agencies to do — and that really isn’t very much, practically speaking. This one “directs Federal agencies to be guided” by nine principles, which gives away the level of impact right there. Please, agencies — be guided!
And then, of course, all military and national security activities are excepted, which is where AI systems are at their most dangerous and oversight is most important. No one is worried about what NOAA is doing with AI — but they are very concerned with what three-letter agencies and the Pentagon


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Facebook isn’t free speech, it’s algorithmic amplification optimized for outrage

This week Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech in which he extolled “giving everyone a voice” and fighting “to uphold a wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible.” That sounds great, of course! Freedom of expression is a cornerstone, if not the cornerstone, of liberal democracy. Who could be opposed to that?
The problem is that Facebook doesn’t offer free speech; it offers free amplification. No one would much care about anything you posted to Facebook, no matter how false or hateful, if people had to navigate to your particular page to read your rantings, as in the very early days of the site.
But what people actually read on Facebook is what’s in their News Feed … and its contents, in turn, are determined not by giving everyone an equal voice, and not by a strict chronological timeline. What you read on Facebook is determined entirely by Facebook’s algorithm, which


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Would we miss the Media Lab if it were gone?

A friend and MIT grad wrote to me yesterday, “I don’t know if the Media Lab is redeemable at all.” This in the wake of the bombshell Ronan Farrow piece in the New Yorker, reporting that the Media Lab under its director Joi Ito had covered up a much closer relationship with Jeffrey Epstein than previously revealed. Ito promptly resigned.
The Media Lab has always occupied a curious place in the tech world. According to itself, it “transcends known boundaries and disciplines by actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture that emboldens unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas … In its earliest years, some saw the Media Lab as a house of misfits. Here, the emphasis was on building; the Lab’s motto was “demo or die.””
It ceased being viewed as a house of misfits a long time ago. Instead it has become perceived as a hyper-prestigious, creme-de-la-creme entity, a


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The Future of Desktop Ubuntu

With all the changes happening at Canonical, you might wonder what this means for the future of desktop Ubuntu, besides the return to the GNOME desktop.

There hasn’t been this much news about a single Linux distro in like forever. Well, maybe when Caldera, operating under the name SCO, sued IBM for a cool billion, but other than that…nada. One thing’s for sure, the announcements that have been coming out of the Isle of Man for the last couple of weeks mean that Canonical has forever changed its course.
It also indicates that Mark Shuttleworth has decided that it’s now do or die time — you know, put up or shut up, money talks and bullcrap walks and all that. This means that from this point forward, Canonical will no longer be a company focused on the desktop. From here on out, it’s enterprise all the way, baby.
That’s probably going to work


Original URL: http://fossforce.com/2017/04/future-desktop-ubuntu/

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Platform change, the Yahoo-slayer

 In 2000, Yahoo was worth $125 billion. In 2008, it rejected a $44 billion buyout from Microsoft. And today it sold to Verizon for $4.83 billion. The lesson here is, if you won the last computing platform and are on the cusp of the next one you’re not built for, you might want to sell the company.
Mobile fell on an unsuspecting Yahoo like a piano on a cartoon villain. It was a web portal. Read More


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A brief history of cryptocurrency drama, or, what could possible DAO wrong?

 It makes SILICON VALLEY look like C-SPAN–and yet it’s a documentary. Yes, it’s Cryptocurrency!, the show! You already know it’s been the hit of the last half-decade in extreme-nerd, get-rich-quick, and/or libertarian-conspiracist circles. But the story so far may seem incredibly… well… cryptic. So if you’re just tuning in, here’s a timeline to catch you… Read More


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All the cool kids are doing Ethereum now

heathers In the beginning the Prophet Satoshi brought us Bitcoin. And the cryptogeeks and libertarians looked upon it, and said lo, we smile upon this, for it is good, and decentralized, and solves the Byzantine Generals Problem. For a time all was well. But then came wailing and gnashing of teeth and wearing of sackcloth. And then came the Prophet Vitalik, bearing Ethereum; and lo, it was even… Read More


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On the dark art of software estimation

Article note: Truth. “Software estimates are always wrong, because the tasks being estimated are always, to some extent, terra incognito, new and unknown.”

estimate “How long will it take?” demand managers, clients, and executives. “It takes as long as it takes,” retort irritated engineers. They counter: “Give us an estimate!” And the engineers gather their wits, call upon their experience, contemplate the entrails of farm animals, throw darts at a board adorned with client/manager/executive faces, and return–a… Read More


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Disrupting the wrong stuff

Sign post pointing right way, wrong way, fast way, easy way and so forth. Author Tom Wolfe once wrote a book about the American space program called The Right Stuff. Last week I wrote a piece called Technology is disrupting everything. I don’t bring up Wolfe’s work to compare myself to him — that would be laughable– but because an astute reader named John G. Moore, Jr. left me a comment in that piece that got me thinking we are in fact… Read More


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