DARPA Historical Spending & FY19 Budget Outlook


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Lets dive into the glittery and shiny agency that should have all of our attention — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


Whether it’s developing the world’s largest autonomous “Sea Hunter” ship for the U.S. Navy, or their “Luke Skywalker” advanced prosthetic arm that currently gets within nine (9) degrees of freedom in the hand, DARPA truly is a world of pure imagination.

Created in February of 1985 (Happy Anniversary!) by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a response to the Cold War via DoD Instruction 5015.02, DARPA serves as one of the main dreamers within the Defense factory whose mission is to ensure that the United States avoids technological surprise.

By charter, DARPA has autonomy in selecting and running projects, which allows a range of organizational independence to move fast and take bold risks. By collaborating with academia, industry, and Government partners, DARPA has been responsible for some of the world’s most significant scientific breakthroughs (hello – GPS and the INTERNET!) and milestone inventions such as:

  • Advanced weapons
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Social media monitoring
  • iPhone technology
  • Mad Scientist Challenge
  • Flying trucks
  • Robotic pack animals
  • Bullets that can change direction in flight
  • Active authentication to replace useless internet password

DARPA Historical Spending & Fy19 budget outlook

Since FY14, DARPA has clocked over $513M in federal spending (as tracked in FPDS) from budget sources such as the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and the U.S. Army. Due to the nature of their work, many would assume that DARPA is a big Other Transaction Authority (OTA) user, but in reality, DARPA’s “procurement candy of choice” is the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

Since the FY17 appropriations the rising defense tide hasn’t really benefited defense science and technology (S&T) (DARPA’s main money supplier) and the reasons seem unclear because of the loud rhetoric coming from the Oval Office. Regardless, DARPA continues to stay  relatively healthy with the release of the President’s FY19 budget, which funds DARPA’s FY19 Budget of $3.4B to develop technologies for revolutionary, high-payoff military capabilities.


The role of DARPA is more complicated and critical than ever before as Government leaders and industry experts send out a warning shot, stating how U.S. risks falling behind in the global cyber race. As the United States’ technical superiority has been challenged over the years, GovCon has witnessed the rise of the “peer competitor,” and our country is racing to get out of “reactive mode”. Cut to DARPA – an agency with both beauty and brains – that is responsible for formulating, executing, and investing in eccentric R&D projects pushing the frontier of technology and science, and often beyond immediate U.S. military requirements.

DARPA is a GovCon trendsetter with a sweet spot in understanding where technology is leading our globalized world, and they are a master in transforming complex threats into breakthrough technologies. What is even more appealing is how simple their goals are for such complex subject matter (we like an agency that gets straight to the point):

  • Goal #1: Defend the nation
  • Goal #2: Prevail in large scale conflict
  • Goal #3: Be more effective in counter-terrorism

In order to accomplish these goals, DARPA takes a whirl at solving problems through their own version of a Government-enabled factory that would make Willy Wonka hand over his keys. Leveraging the use of BAAs and armed with a new acquisition office led by the Undersecretary of Defense for R&E, DARPA continues to encourage invention…which as we know is “93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple”.

DARPA future opportunities

In order to assist GovCons in their mission to score something sweet on this Valentine’s Day, The Pulse took a wondrous boat ride to explore the DARPA factory tunnels. Take a trip with us into some of their most recent initiatives, and learn about ten (10) upcoming DARPA GovCon opportunities to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Advanced Plant Technologies

DARPA’s new Advanced Plant Technologies (APT) program looks to seemingly simplify plants as the next generation of intelligence gatherers. APT programs pursue technologies to engineer robust, plant-based sensors that are self-sustaining in their environment and can be remotely monitored using existing hardware. The plants would be entirely energy independent and could even detect landmines. DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) hosted a proposers day on December 12, 2017, to discuss how their program aims to control and direct plant physiology to detect chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. Didn’t know your houseplants had a natural ability to detect pathogens, atoms, and electromagnetic signals, huh?

DARPA plant joke.PNG

Safe Genes

DARPA recently made a large investment into developing gene editing technologies in hopes to one day provide protection from consequential biological technologies that may one day be unleashed. In July 2017, DARPA officially dedicated $65M (over four (4) years) of funding to seven (7) different teams with a mission to investigate and develop brain-computer interface technology that is able to make gene editing technologies safe, more targeted, and potentially even reversible. On February 6th at Body Hacking Con (yes – that’s a thing), DARPA Director of BTO, Mr. Justin Sanchez, discussed DARPA’s Safe Genes Program and how he hopes this program can also help offset the consequences of biological research gone wrong and promote safe biohacking.

Mosaic Warfare

DARPA’s  Strategic Technology Office (STO) is currently working on a highly-adaptive “kill web” based on mosaic warfare. The goal is to fight as a network to create a chain of effects—or, more accurately because these effects are not linear, ‘effects webs’—to deter and defeat adversaries across multiple scales of conflict intensity. This could be anything from conventional force-on-force battles to more nebulous ‘Gray Zone’ conflicts, which don’t reach the threshold of traditional military engagements, but can be equally disruptive and subversive. In layman’s terms? This approach consists of little building blocks to make a complex design. The small components lowers the cost and the pieces are less complex, but when combined they create an invaluable architecture. The collective can respond even if small pieces are neutralized.

3D City Scale Operations

Good news! The future of warfare won’t happen on open battlefields! Bad news? It will occur in cities, where half the world’s’ population resides. Okay, that’s all bad news. And just to complicate things further, cities are considered 3D, in part because of the tall buildings and skyscrapers, but ALSO because of the underground. Cities are filled with man-made, man-scale, three dimensional structures—buildings with complex interiors, exterior alleys, interlocking subterranean tunnels. DARPA is struggling with how to get situational awareness underground in “cave-type” networks. DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) is looking to GovCon for ideas on how to solve these subterranean challenges, as well as ways to map, navigate, and search these environments with no human risk or involvement. DARPA TTO hosted a Subterranean Proposers Day on January 18, 2018 in advance of their Subterranean Challenge (SubT) BAA Program, which was released February 1st.

Ground hog day.PNG

Electronics Resurgence Initiative

DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) is looking to invest $216M into a combo of six (6) new programs, a portfolio of existing ones, and the Country’s largest funding program for basic university research in electronics as part of their Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) program. DARPA MTO hopes to open new innovation pathways to address impending engineering and economics challenges that, if left unanswered, could challenge what has been a relentless half-century run of progress in microelectronics technology. This is the “semiconductor” space where Moore’s law has guided industry for the last 50 years, but there are new capabilities in electronics. Moore’s Law still applies, but the design work and fabrication now required to keep on pace is becoming ever more difficult and expensive. “The current trajectory is straining commercial and defense developments,” said Bill Chappell, Director of MTO. Today, DARPA and a consortium of industry partners – which include semiconductor companies such as Intel, IBM, Analog Devices, Micron, Samsung, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed-Martin – launched the Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP) as part of the ERI program in November 2016, a $200M initiative over up to five (5) years. The idea is to drive the development to microelectronics-based technologies that will be needed by the DoD, national security agencies and commercial companies in the years 2025 through 2030 in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnologies, and autonomous systems.

Playing Friend or Foe with Bacteria

DARPA’s BTO is looking to GovCon to help them discriminate between harmless and harmful strains in order to prevent disease outbreak that threatens military readiness. The Friend or Foe program proposes to develop a platform technology that rapidly screens unfamiliar bacteria to establish their “pathogenicity” (aka their ability to cause disease), and discover unknown pathogenic traits as well as necessary first steps for designing effective biosurveillance and countermeasures. DARPA BTO is holding a Friends or Foe Proposer Day on February 28th in order to collaborate with industry on how to structure the objectives of this new program.

Friend or Foe.PNG

Space Launch Challenge

DARPA is all-in to #MakeAmericaSpaceAgain with the space race resurgence. The DARPA’s $10M prize for the Launch Challenge was formally announced in April, but Mr. Fred Kennedy, Director of DARPA’s TTO, said it is part of an effort to harness growing commercial capabilities to address threats to national security space assets.

Artificial Intelligence

On January 24th, a deep dive into Artificial Intelligence’s Never-Ending Refrain in the Government. DARPA, whose “singular and enduring mission is to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security,” is obviously not immune from this industry hot topic. Out of 250 DARPA programs, 80 (32%) are AI-requirements based. In fact, a few weeks ago they were building an AI framework and presenting it to the Deputy Secretary. For DARPA, AI has developed in three waves:

  1. The “Turbotax wave,” aka technology that has been programmed with “if then statements”
  2. Machine Learning, namely the idea that large data sets can be processed better and faster
  3. Contextualized AI where the machine heavily understands their environment. (DARPA said they are just dipping their toe into this wave)

DARPA is like the renaissance man of the Federal Government. With so many interesting facets, an aptitude for professing “transparency,” and the ability to challenge GovCon and academia to think outside-the-box, our collective heart is all aflutter. So DARPA, if you’re looking for a gift for us, remember the wise words of Willy Wonka: “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”













Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

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A Lifelog System for Detecting Psychological Stress with Glass-equipped Temperature Sensors


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Lifelog system enable us to measure biological information at all times with wearable devices.

Image result for wearables - Augmented Human

Augmented Reality(AR) is an environment where a real life is enhanced by virtual elements in real time. The purpose of AR is to enhance the information we naturally receive through our five senses, by adding superimposed, constructed virtual elements to bring complementary information and meaning that may not be possible to see by natural means.

As interfaces progress beyond wearables and intrinsic human augmentation, the human body has become an increasingly important of the Augmented Human International Conferences Series. Wearables already act as a new layer of functionality located on the body that leads us to rethink the convergence between technology and fashion, not just in terms of the ability to wear, but also in how devices interact with us.

Already, several options for wearable technology have emerged in the form of clothing and accessories. However, by applying sensors and other computing devices directly onto the body surface, wearables could also be designed as skin interfaces.

Image result for wearables - Augmented Human International ConferenceHere is brief review the wearability factors impacting wearables as clothes and accessories in order to discuss them in the context of skin interfaces. We classify these wearability factors in terms of body aspects (location, body movements and body characteristics) and device aspects (weight, attachment methods, accessibility, interaction, aesthetics, conductors, insulation, device care, connection, communication, battery life). The factors in the context of two different example skin interfaces: a rigid board embedded into special effects makeup and skin-mounted soft materials connected to devices.

Scientific contributions towards augmenting humans capabilities through technology for increased “well-being” and “enjoyable human experience.” The topics  include, but are not limited to: Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), Muscle Interfaces and Implanted Interfaces The Human International Conference; Wearable Computing and Ubiquitous Computing; Augmented and Mixed Reality; Human Augmentation, Sensory Substitution and Fusion; Hardware and Sensors for Augmented Human Technologies; Safety, Ethics, Trust, Privacy and Security Aspects of Augmented Humanity.[1]

Image result for wearables - Augmented Human

The topics below are chosen from presentation held at the Augmented Human International Conference in Geneva and with a relevance to Augmented Reality.

Wearability Factors for Skin Interfaces [2]
There are two aspects of wearable skin interfaces to consider.
Body Aspect: location, body movements and body characteristics
Device Aspect: attachment methods, weight, insulation, accessibility, communication, interaction, aesthetics, conductors, device care and connection, battery life.
Skin interfaces Skin interfaces example

A Lifelog System for Detecting Psychological Stress with Glass-equipped Temperature Sensors [3]
In this presentation a lifelog system enable us to measure biological information at all times with wearable devices. This experiment was done by using a glass that measures nasal skin temperature and makes a video at the same time. With that information the team could identify stress situation.
stress diagram

Augmented Visualization for Guiding Arm Movement in the First-Person Perspective [4]
The motivation behind the Guiding Arm Movement is to learn physical activities Tai-Chi. It can also be AR body partsused to learn any other movements. The user wears an AR-glass and sees the movement of the body as an augmented shape of body parts.  Occlusion caused by other students or objects becomes irrelevant as there is no more a traditional trainer showing the movements.
Physical activities can be learned in two steps:
1. We learn the new movement roughly, i.e. roughly learn the complete form of moves.
2. We know the basic movements and we need to learn the detail by correcting the small deviation.

Exploring Eye-Tracking-Driven Sonification for the Visually Impaired [5]
The idea is that the user can decide which information is relevant. The control is done by tracking the eye movements of the users exploration field. The device can play sounds for color, text and facial expression.
By color sonification, the color will be mapped with instruments and the pitch represents the brightness.
If there appears text in the Eye-Tracker it will be mapped to spoken sounds. With the Pitch and with Stereo it can be located in a 2D position (See picture below).
Facial Expressions mapped similar as color recognition to instruments.

text AR



More: Stress is extremely harmful to one’s health. It is important to know which situations or events cause us to feel stressed: if we know the factors behind the stress, we can take corrective action. However, it is hard to perceive stress in everyday life by ourselves. Automatically detecting stress from biological information is one method for dealing with this. Stress is generally detected by using a physiological index pulse, brain activity, and breathing in order to ensure universality and accuracy.

This biological information reacts to sudden stressors, not chronic stressors. However, it is difficult to use measuring devices for such data in everyday life because the devices require expertise for operation and are expensive. Our goal in this study is to develop a Lifelog System featuring glass-equipped sensors that can be used on a daily basis. We detect stress by examining nasal skin temperature, which is decreased by sudden stressors. In order to investigate the recognition accuracy of the proposed system, we performed experiments at the scenes of feeling stress. Results showed that the system can distinguish factors other than stress from the change in nasal skin temperature with sufficient precision.

Moreover, we investigated the optimum locations to attach temperature sensors to ensure that they have both reactivity and comfort. We also implemented an application for analyzing the measured data. The application calculates the time at which a user feels stress by analyzing the measured data and extracts a stressful scene from a video recorded from the point of view of the user.




[1] Augmera
[2] Wearability Factors for Skin Interfaces.Xin Liu, Katia Vega, Pattie Maes, Joe A. Paradiso. MIT Media Lab
[3] A Lifelog System for Detecting Psychological Stress with Glass-equipped Temperature Sensors. Hiroki Yasufuku, Tsutomu Terada, Masahiko Tsukamoto
[4]AR-Arm Augmented Visualization for Guiding Arm Movement in the First-Person Perspective. Ping-Hsuan Han, Kuan-Wen Chen, Chen-Hsin Hsieh, Yu-Jie Huang, and Yi-Ping Hung
[5] Exploring Eye-Tracking-Driven Sonification for the Visually Impaired. Michael Dietz, Maha El Garf, Ionut Damian, Elisabeth André








7th Augmented Human International Conference …

Augmented Human International Conference 

Augmented Human International Conferences Series

A Lifelog System for Detecting Psychological Stress with Glass ..

Augmented Human 2018 – “Augmented Experience”

Lifelogging, egocentric vision and health: how

Lifelog – Semantic Scholar

AH Facebook page is:
 AH LinkedIn is:
AH Twitter is:
AH Newsletter is: http://eepurl.com/07azn

Analysing privacy in visual lifelogging – ScienceDirect

HCI Bibliography : Table of Contents : AH16

Wearable Gestural

Human augmentation—Beyond wearables | ACM Interactions

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Augment Your Arm: Designing 3D Printed W


A Mobile Device as User Interface for Wearable

Wearable Computing

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AR-Arm: Augmented Visualization for Guiding Arm Movement in the …

AR-Arm – ACM Digital Library – Association for Computing Machinery

AH International Conferences Series

Download the CFP here

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Wearability Factors for Skin Interfaces – Responsive Environments – MIT

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Exploring Eye-Tracking-Driven Sonification for the Visually Impaired

Exploring Eye-Tracking-Driven Sonification

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Augmented Human International Conference

Rationale to start the Journal:
The Augmented Human (AH) International Conference Series started in
2010 and are attracting more and more researchers and industrials.

“The total Augmented Human Market is expected to reach up to $1135 million by 2020”

Augmented Human Research Groups, Centre or Labs around the World:

  • Augmented Human Research Center (AHRC), Prof. Woontack Woo, KAIST, Korea: LINK
  • Augmented Human Lab, Ass. Prof. Suranga Nanayakkara, SUTD, Singapore: LINK
  • Augmented Human Trust Research Group, Ass. Prof. Jean-Marc Seigneur, University of Geneva: LINK
  • Augmentation and Training of Humans with Engineering in North America (ATHENA) Lab, Prof. Stone, Iowa State University, USA: LINK
Aims and scope of the journal:
The Augmented Human Research Journal invites scientific contributions
towards augmenting human capabilities through technology for increased
well-being and enjoyable human experience.
The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  * Augmented Sports and Serious Games
  * Bionics and Biomechanics
  * Exoskeletons and Super Human Technologies
  * Interactions between Augmented Humans and Smart Cities
  * Brain-Computer Interfaces, Muscle Interfaces and Implanted Interfaces
  * Wearable Computing and Ubiquitous Computing
  * Augmented and Mixed Reality
  * Augmented Fashion, Art and Tourism
  * Smart Objects, Smart Textiles an IoT Augmenting Humans
  * Assistive Augmentation, Rehabilitative Interfaces and Games
  * Alternative or Novel Feedback Modalities
  * Interfaces, Services and Applications for Human Enhancement
  * Cognitive Augmentation of the Human Intellect
  * Augmented Healthcare, Quality of Life & Well-being
  * Human Sensory Substitution and Fusion
  * Hardware, Material, Substances and Sensors for Human Augmentation
* Human-Factor Study, Field Study and User Study of Augmented Human Technologies
  * Safety, Trust, Privacy and Security of Augmented Human Technologies
  * Ethical and Medical Aspects of Augmented Humanity

dblp: Augmented Human International Conference 2016

Ulster Institutional Repository

AH 2016 Program – Augmented Human

WT | Wearable Technologies Conference 2018 EUROPE | Wearable .

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[5] http://www.army.mil/article/84453/

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Michael Dietz, Maha El Garf, Ionut Damian, Elisabeth André:
Exploring Eye-Tracking-Driven Sonification for the Visually Impaired
Marian Theiss, Philipp M. Scholl, Kristof Van Laerhoven:
Predicting Grasps with a Wearable Inertial and EMG Sensing Unit for Low-Power Detection of In-Hand Objects.
Ashley Colley, Minna Pakanen, Saara Koskinen, Kirsi Mikkonen, Jonna Häkkilä:
Smart Handbag as a Wearable Public Display – Exploring Concepts and User Perceptions.
Hiroki Yasufuku, Tsutomu Terada, Masahiko Tsukamoto:
A Lifelog System for Detecting Psychological Stress with Glass-equipped Temperature Sensors.

Google asks FCC for help with its tiny hand-motion sensors


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Google has taken its Project Soli cause to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), requesting an authorization to operate its fixed and mobile field disturbance sensors in the 60 GHz band at a different power level than what’s currently allowed.

Image result for Project Soli - Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP)

– Soli is a new sensing technology that uses miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions.

When it comes to the internet of things, Google has thrown its hat in the ring like any good tech giant, and its looking to advance a sensing technology that uses miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions. Billed as “the only interface you’ll need,” Project Soli uses radar for motion tracking of the human hand. As Google explains, “We’re creating a ubiquitous gesture interaction  language that will allow people to control devices with a simple, universal set of gestures. We envision a future in which the human hand becomes a universal input device for interacting with technology.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows operation of “mobile radars in short-range devices for interactive motion sensing” within the 60 GHz band, the unlicensed millimeter wave band generally used only by WiGig systems and a small number of industrial and scientific stakeholders—but only at power levels that Google said are too restrictive for optimum use of the sensors.

Field testing of device prototypes within the currently allowed power levels showed that blind spots can occur as close as 5 cm to the sensor location. “Low power levels lead to user dissatisfaction from missed motions, the perception of intermittent operation and ultimately fewer effective interactions,” Google argued.

– The world’s first radar-based key technology making the augmented reality breakthrough a reality

Instead, the internet giant wants to rely on a European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard known as EN 305 550.1 (PDF), which defines the conducted power, mean Power Spectral Density (PSD), Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) and mean EIRP consistent parameters that Google said would allow optimization, while avoiding interference with other devices in the band.

It sweetened the pot in its request (PDF) by tying its waiver request to the FCC’s loftier goals, saying it would “encourage the provision of new technologies and services to the public” consistent with Section 7 of the Communications Act of 1934, align with the Commission’s intent to allow radars to “detect hand gestures very close to a device to control the device without touching it,” and advance the Commission’s efforts to harmonize its regulations and keep pace with global standards.

The Soli chip incorporates the entire sensor and antenna array in a compact package that’s smaller than a quarter, and it can be embedded in wearables, phones, computers, cars and IoT devices. The applications will rely on “Virtual Tools,” which are gestures that mimic familiar interactions with physical tools. Imagine an invisible button between your thumb and index fingers—you can press it by tapping your fingers together. Other interactions could include a virtual dial that you turn by rubbing thumb against index finger, or a virtual slider that users can grab and pull in the air. Feedback, meanwhile, is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching each other.

Google isn’t the only one eyeing the 60 GHz band these days, and the FCC’s decision in the waiver request will likely have ramifications beyond Project Soli. The Facebook-led Telecom Infra Project (TIP), for instance, is actively working on creating networks and reference solutions for the band; it used Mobile World Congress 2018 to showcase its progress.

Both Deutsche Telekom and Telenor are gearing up for trials of fixed wireless in the band, in Hungary and Kuala Lumpur, respectively, and Facebook with Intel and RADWIN to deliver a reference design for Terragraph-certified 60GHz solutions based on the Intel architecture.


Soli: ubiquitous gesture sensing with millimeter wave radar (SIGGRAPH)

Video above: This paper presents Soli, a new, robust, high-resolution, low-power, miniature gesture sensing technology for human-computer interaction based on millimeter-wave radar. We describe a new approach to developing a radar-based sensor optimized for human-computer interaction, building the sensor architecture from the ground up with the inclusion of radar design principles, high temporal resolution gesture tracking, a hardware abstraction layer (HAL), a solid-state radar chip and system architecture, interaction models and gesture vocabularies, and gesture recognition. We demonstrate that Soli can be used for robust gesture recognition and can track gestures with sub-millimeter accuracy, running at over 10,000 frames per second on embedded hardware.


Watch the video about what developers have already developed

Project Soli has developed a new interaction sensor using radar technology. The sensor can track sub-millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale and built into small devices and everyday objects.









Project Soli information document – Infineon Technologies

Revolutionizing Gesture Recognition Technologies: Project Soli | | IIPRD

Google ATAP

Google X and Google ATAP projects

Soli: ubiquitous gesture sensing with millimeter wave radar – YouTube

Computer Science

Soli: ubiquitous gesture sensing with millimeter … – ACM Digital Library

Interacting with Soli – Advanced Interactive Technologies, ETH Zürich

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IEEE 802.11ad: directional 60 GHz communication for multi-Gigabit .

IEEE Standard for Information technology …

IEEE 802.11ad | Microwave Wi-Fi, WiGig

Wireless Gigabit Alliance

Google released second paragraph of wearable

Global Wearable Devices Market 2017-

Communications Act of 1934 – Federal Communications Commission

Communications Decency Act – Federal Communications Commission

47 U.S. Code § 157 – New technologies and services | US Law | LII …

Act of 1934, as amended, Title 47 USC, Section 151 …

What can Google’s ‘Project Soli’ do for Healthcare?

soli – Infineon Technologies

 Telecom Infra Project (TIP)

Adopting an open approach to global networks with the Telecom Infra …

Object touch by a humanoid robot avatar induces haptic sensation in …

Finger devices let users ‘touch’ virtual objects | Science | AAAS

Apple’s Haptic Tech Is a Glimpse at the UI of the Future

Frontiers | HapTip: Displaying Haptic Shear Forces at the Fingertips for …

Editor’s Corner—Facebook-led TIP proves 60 GHz isn’t just for …

Public Access – Touchless technology that blows your mind: Project Soli

The New Medicine: Hacking our Biology – IEEE Spectrum

Smart Homes that Monitor Breathing and Heart Rate – WiTrack – MIT

Federal Communications Commission FCC 15-138 Before the Federal …

EIRP Calculator – Effective Isotropic Radiated Power – everything RF

Effective radiated power

Antenna Theory – Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP)

EIRP – Federal Communications Commission

Communications Decency Act – Federal Communications Commission

It’s the ‘Telecom’ Infra Project, Not the ‘Facebook’ Infra Projec

TIP & Facebook: Telecom Infra for a More Connected World – YouTube

Facebook’s TIP to Launch AI Working Group | Light Reading

Mobile World Congress

The best and worst of Mobile World Congress 2018


Welcome to Project Soli Google is designing an advanced hand …

Project Soli By Google ATAP – YouTube

Google is Designing An Advanced Hand Gesture Recognition Sensor ..

Google Wants Us to Be Able to Control Devices With Hand Gestures

Google’s tiny hand-motion sensors

Android Police – Android news, reviews, apps …

What’s next for Google ATAP — its ‘epic shit’ division — after its leader .

The renegade future of Google’s ATAP lab | Sundar’s Google: an ..

Inside Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group – CIO

soli – Infineon Technologies

Ivan Poupyrev

Welcome to Project Soli – YouTube

Google to ship Project Soli gesture development kits later this year | CIO

Motorola’s ‘Mad Science’ Department Will Stay With Google

How Google’s Larry Page hired the founder of his moonshot lab

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Dan Kaufman: Focused on Innovation from Darpa to Google


Google ATAP (Advanced technology and projects) news • NFC World

6 of the coolest experiments Google’s ATAP team showed off at I/O

Microsoft’s Special Projects Group could be a take on Google X ..

wearables: https://importantevents24.com/2017/11/07/global-wearable-devices-market/


Google Alphabet has four times DARPA’s research budget and larger .

How the CIA made Google – INSURGE intelligence – Medium

Ex-Darpa Head Regina Dugan Leaves Google for Facebook | WIRED

Google goes DARPA | Fortune

Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for …

DARPA – Google+ – Google Plus

GOOGLE IS D.A.R.P.A. – Defense Advanced Research Projects …

Google employees demand the company pull out of Pentagon AI …

Regina Dugan moves from Google to Facebook – Business Insider

Google’s ATAP Head Regina Dugan Joins Facebook To Start DARPA …

Technology is Hijacking our Minds and Society


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The Pervasive Power of Tech

If we’re not careful, we will soon be at risk of being locked into mindless behavioral loops, craving distraction even from other distractions.

Take it from the insiders in Silicon Valley:

Former Google and Facebook executives are sounding the alarm about the pervasive power of tech. Will we listen?

One source of angst came close to being 2017’s signature subject: how the internet and the tiny handful of companies that dominate it are affecting both individual minds and the present and future of the planet. The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia looks to have peaked around the time of the Arab spring, and is in retreat.

If you want a sense of how much has changed, picture the president of the US tweeting his latest provocation in the small hours, and consider an array of words and phrases now freighted with meaning: Russia, bots, troll farms, online abuse, fake news, dark money.

Another sign of how much things have shifted is a volte-face by Silicon Valley’s most powerful man. Barely more than a year ago the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, seemed still to be rejoicing in his company’s imperial phase, blithely dismissing the idea that fabricated news carried by his platform had affected the outcome of the 2016 US election as a “pretty crazy idea.” Now scarcely a week goes by without some Facebook pronouncement or other, either updating the wider world about its latest quest to put its operations beyond criticism or assuring us that its belief in an eternally upbeat, fuzzily liberal ethos is as fervent as ever.

Facebook has reached a fascinating point in its evolution; it is as replete with importance and interest as any political party.

Facebook is at once massively powerful and also suddenly defensive. Its deeply questionable tax affairs are being altered; 1,000 new employees have been hired to monitor its advertising. At the same time, it still seems unable to provide any answers to worries about its effects on the world beyond more and more Facebook. A pre-Christmas statement claimed that although “passive” use of social media could harm users, “actively interacting with people” online was linked not just to “improvements in wellbeing,” but to “joy.” In short, if Facebook does your head in, the solution is apparently not to switch off, but more Facebook.

While Zuckerberg and his colleagues do ethical somersaults, there is rising noise from a group of people who made headlines towards the year’s end: the former insiders at tech giants who now loudly worry about what their innovations are doing to us. The former Facebook president Sean Parker warned in November that its platform “literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

At around the same time, the former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya held a public interview at Stanford University in which he did not exactly mince his words. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he said. “No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth … So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.” (Strangely, around a week later he seemed to recant, claiming he had only meant to start an important conversation,” and that Facebook was still a company he “loved.”)

Then there is Tristan Harris, a former high-up at Google who is now hailed as “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience.” Under the banner of a self-styled “movement” called Time Well Spent, he and his allies are urging software developers to tone down the compulsive elements of their inventions, and the millions who find themselves hooked to change their behavior.

What they are up against, meanwhile, is apparently personified by Nir Eyal, a Stanford lecturer and tech consultant who could be a character from the brilliant HBO sitcom Silicon Valley. In 2013 he published ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.’ His inspiration for the book is the behaviourist psychology pioneered by B.F. Skinner. Among his pearls of wisdom is one both simple and chilling: “For new behaviors to really take hold, they must occur often.” But on close inspection, even he sounds somewhat ambivalent: last April, at something called the Habit Summit, he told his audience that at home he had installed a device that cut off the internet at a set time every day.

Good for him. The reality for millions of other people is a constant experience that all but buries the online world’s liberating possibilities in a mess of alerts, likes, messages, retweets and internet use so pathologically needy and frantic that it inevitably makes far too many people vulnerable to pernicious nonsense and real dangers.

Thanks to manipulative ephemera, WhatsApp users anxiously await the ticks that confirm whether a message has been read by a receiver; and, a turbocharged version of the addictive dots that flash on an iPhone when a friend is replying to you, Snapchat now alerts its users when a friend starts typing a message to them. And we all know what lies around the corner: a world of Sensurround virtual reality, and an internet wired into just about every object we interact with. As the repentant Facebookers say: if we’re not careful, we will soon be at risk of being locked into mindless behavioral loops, craving distraction even from other distractions.

There is a possible way out of this, of course. It resides not in some luddite fantasy of an army of people carrying old Nokia phones and writing each other letters, but the possibility of a culture that actually embraces the idea of navigating the internet with a discriminating sensibility and an emphasis on basic moderation. We now know – don’t we? – that the person who begins most social encounters by putting their phone on the table is either an addict or an idiot.

There is also a mounting understanding that one of the single most important aspects of modern parenting is to be all too aware of how much social media can mess with people’s minds, and to limit our children’s screen time. This, after all, is what Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did, as evidenced by one of the latter’s most pithy statements. In 2010 he was asked about his children’s opinion of the iPad. “They haven’t used it,” he said. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Two billion people actively use Facebook; at least 3.5 billion are now reckoned to be online. Their shared habits, compulsions and susceptibilities will clearly have a huge influence on the world’s progress, or lack of it. So we ought to listen to Tristan Harris and his campaign. “Religions and governments don’t have that much influence over people’s daily thoughts,” he recently told Wired magazine. “But we have three technology companies” –  Facebook, Google and Apple – “who have this system that frankly they don’t even have control over … Right now, 2 billion people’s minds are already jacked in to this automated system, and it’s steering people’s thoughts toward either personalized paid advertising or misinformation or conspiracy theories. And it’s all automated; the owners of the system can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, and they can’t control it.”

And then came the kicker. “This isn’t some kind of philosophical conversation. This is an urgent concern happening right now.” Amid an ocean of corporate sophistry and double-think, those words have the distinct ring of truth.

Find technologies that help enhance your life rather than distract you from it. Meet people in person rather than scrolling through social news feeds. Turn it all off once in a while and live outside of the technological hole we’ve dug ourselves into.



Video: How often does technology interrupt us from what we really mean to be doing? At work and at play, we spend a startling amount of time distracted by pings and pop-ups — instead of helping us spend our time well, it often feels like our tech is stealing it away from us. Design thinker Tristan Harris offers thoughtful ideas for technology that creates more meaningful interaction. He asks: “What does the future of technology look like when you’re designing for the deepest human values?”

 Connecting technology and Buddhist ideas – that’s quite unique!







WhatsApp – media message manipulation (footage) – YouTube

WhatsApp – Turns out its most annoying feature is actually quite …

Snapchat, Wickr, Confide: How Ephemeral Messaging Threatens …

Silicon Valley

Tech addiction

Addictive quality of cellphones

Common Sense Media

Tristan Harris – Ethics for Designers

Center for Humane Technology

Tristan Harris on how Facebook and Twitter bring out the worst in us …

The Center for Humane Technology Wants to Spark a Grassroots

“Truth About Tech” campaign takes on tech addiction – CBS News

INTERVIEW: Tristan Harris – Ethical Design – Why it matters. on Vimeo

time well spent – Tristan Harris:

‘Time well spent’ is shaping up to be tech’s next big debate – The Verge

Tristan Harris: How better tech could protect us from distraction | TED …

Tristan Harris: How a handful of tech companies control billions of …

“Time Well Spent” with Tristan Harris – YouTube

Time Well Spent: Taking Back Our Lives & Attention | Tristan Harris …

Time Well Spent Documentary | Trailer – YouTube

Video Access 2017 Login – Habit Summit – Behavioral Design …

Habit Summit 2017

B.F. Skinner | Operant Conditioning | Simply Psychology

Classical and Operant Conditioning – Behaviorist Theories



Facebook says social media can be bad for users’ mental health

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products: Nir Eyal, Ryan Hoover ..


Nir Eyal | NirandFar …

4 Steps to Building Habit-Forming Products | Inc.com

The Psychology of Building Addictive Products – Medium


NoSurf Journal Day 7 to 14: Let us be productive in the dream …

Before THX: The Cinema Shaking Technology of Sensurround – Tested

WAVES #174 – BEST TOF 2017 by SENSURROUND – 31/12/2017 by …

Reading for Wonder: Ecology, Ethics, Enchantment

Aura Interactor

The Best Thing Since Sensurround! | WIRED

Facebook data concerns spread to Oculus and VR – The Verge

Mozilla Brings Firefox to Augmented and Virtual Reality – The Mozilla ..

Meditating in Sensurround – Techgnosis

HTML head Elements – W3Schools

High Energy Astrophysics Division – American Astronomical Society

37signals is now Basecamp!:

Software entrepreneur, Jason Fried thinks deeply about collaboration, productivity and the nature of work. He’s the co-founder of 37signals, makers of Basecamp and other web-based collaboration tools, and co-author of “Rework.”

Basecamp (company)

Signal v. Noise

The Insanity of NATO and American Escalation Toward World War III


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The cruise missile left has aligned with the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies against Trump and have dropped any anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist tendencies in the process.

Allied Terrorists

The US-led alliance of imperial nations has waged war on Syria for eight years with the hopes of overthrowing the independent Arab nationalist state led by President Bashar Al-Assad. Syria was believed to be another domino destined to fall in imperialism’s great power game to contain any international threat to its rule. Former NATO general Wesley Clarke revealed US plans in 2007 to use the September 11th attacks to justify the overthrow seven countries in five years: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Most of these countries have since been thrown into chaos by way of U.S. Imperial expansion in the Middle East and North Africa. Clarke’s admission should be enough to clarify the Trump Administration’s most recent airstrikes on Syria as an escalation of the broader war for US hegemony in the region and the world.

Yet many who reside in the United States view the war on Syria from the lens of the US empire. This lens is articulated by both US political parties, their foreign partners, and their faithful corporate media servants. These expert liars claim that Assad is a butcher and the Syrian government a “brutal regime.” They don’t talk about how the US military occupies a large portion of Syria, coincidentally in the country’s most resource-rich region. Also ignored is the fact that US allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have loathed the Syrian government for its decision in 2009 to construct an independent pipeline with Iran and Iraq to transport precious gas and oil resources to European markets. Never mind that the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey to name a few have funded and armed hundreds of thousands of jihadist mercenaries for seven years in hopes that they would rid of pesky Assad and his nationalist policies. Imperialism wants Assad out because he stands in the way of US goals to dominate the region and keep Iran, Russia and China’s rise to global prominence at bay.

Syria is the number one target of US imperialism. The ongoing war there has the potential to spark a confrontation between great powers unforeseen in human history. In many ways, this confrontation has already begun. Russian forces in Syria have daily confronted US-backed jihadists armed with American-made weapons Terrorists in Syria. US coalition strikes have killed Russian military personnel. Just prior to Trump’s airstrikes, seven Iranians were murdered in Syria by Israeli fighter jets. Russia has spent years enhancing its military capabilities in preparation for a major confrontation with the US, whether in Syria or at its own borders with NATO.

Yet when the US, UK, and France launched over a hundred strikes on Syrian territory on April 14th, few in the US and West expressed any public outrage. Anti-war groups like the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) mobilized around the country, but that was about it. Americans were once again immobilized for the usual reasons.Wall to wall pro-war corporate media coverage blaming Assad for the attack effectively drowned out any anti-war analysis from reaching the ears of most Americans. Perhaps the most important factor in the lack of outrage was the scant possibility that American troops were going to be sacrificed during the escalation. No Russians were hit by the strikes, so a larger military confrontation was unlikely. And the US military showed how weak it has become as the Syrian government was able to shoot down a majority of the strikes with decades-old Soviet technology.

iran protest

Americans usually care about American troops dying but have a difficult time developing class-based solidarity with people around the world. The Black Radical Tradition has historically been the force that counters white supremacist chauvinism and pro-war sentiments in the US. Eight years of Obama effectively shifted the Black polity so far right that polls showed Black Americans possessing a more favorable view of Obama’s declaration of war against Syria in 2013 than whites and Latinos. Neoliberal identity politics and the two-party duopoly system has for now swallowed the left whole. The Democratic Party wing of imperialism has dug deep into its Wall Street coffers to disguise itself as the anti-Trump “resistance” that will bring stability back to the empire.

The Democrats and their Republican allies seek a more stable Administration in Washington to properly manage the affairs of the ruling class. Those affairs mainly deal with the questions of austerity and war. Trump has been deemed “morally unfit” for the Presidency by spooks like James Comey because his unpredictable and egoist tendencies make him less interested in the preservation of empire and more interested in the preservation of the voting bloc and conditions that made his Presidency possible. We largely have the “cruise missile left” to thank for the lack of an alternative to the crisis of US imperialism. The cruise missile left has aligned with the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies against Trump and have dropped any anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist tendencies in the process.

The cruise missile left has aligned with the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies against Trump and have dropped any anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist tendencies in the process.

Nowhere is this clearer than in its position on Syria. The cruise missile left is best represented by the likes of Democracy Now! and The Intercept. Both sources have worked together to subtly forward the agenda of US imperialism. Since 2011, Amy Goodman has never strayed from the NATO line on countries such as Libya, Syria, and Russia. Like the corporate media, Goodman and her staff at Democracy Now! have provided positive coverage of so-called humanitarian groups like the White Helmets which have long been proven to work directly with NATO-armed jihadist mercenaries ravaging Syria .

The Intercept and Democracy Now! have refused to invite any guests on their show that deviate from the NATO line on Syria.

These sources have benefited from the corporate takeover of the US media. Democracy Now! and The Intercept act as an escape valve from corporate media lies, which make them more difficult to criticize when they serve the same interests as the corporate media outlets that spurred their formation. In their coverage of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, both Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald joined the imperial chorus that the Syrian government bore responsibility for an attack that had yet to be proven even happened.Even Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis admitted that the US lacked evidence backing up their claims against Assad. The Intercept and Democracy Now! staked their firm position against the Syrian government despite the overwhelming evidence that Syria destroyed its chemical weapons in the OPCW brokered deal between Russia and the US in 2013 and that Syria, Russia, and their allies are the only parties interested in coming to a peaceful resolution to the war.

Cruise missile leftists thus bear much of the responsibility for the US, UK, and French airstrikes conducted against Syria on April 14th. After the strikes, Amy Goodman invited Chelsea Manning and so-called activist Ramah Kudaimi to her show. Manning was given little time to speak while over seventy percent of the joint interview was taken up by Kudaimi’s assertions that US airstrikes “enable” the Syrian “regime.” Kudaimi practically begged the US to conduct the airstrikes correctly and fulfill the legitimate demand of the Syrian people to overthrow the Syrian government. Nowhere did Amy Goodman challenge such blatant support of US imperial objectives in Syria and beyond.

Democracy Now! and The Intercept are more interested in the overthrow of the Syrian government than its own government’s role in the region. Neither source gives any coverage to the influx of head-chopping jihadist mercenaries whose roots lie in the CIA-sponsored war in Afghanistan in 1979. Neither mentions how numerous primary sources, such as the 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency leaked document, pin US, Turkish, and Saudi support for Salafist” in Syria for the rise of ISIS.The millions of displaced Syrians and hundreds of thousands dead fall at the feet of US imperialism. And the cruise missile left would rather the world become engulfed in the flames of World War III than admit this fact.

“Cruise Missile Left” Complicit in American Escalation Toward World War III

The US government is the most murderous entity the world has ever known yet the focus of the cruise missile left remains the chauvinistic and racist depictions of the Syrian government. These depictions have been proven to be outright lies time and time again. The Syrian government is the rightfully elected government of the Syrian people. President Bashar Al-Assad was reelected to office in 2014 by a large majority. Cruise Missile Left on Democracy Now! or The Intercept never bother to ask how a nation attacked by imperialism would benefit from murdering its own citizens and suppressing a legitimate rebellion of the people.

The imperial war on Syria is legitimate to the cruise missile left because it allows them to express white supremacy as a civilizing crusade. It was no different during the US-NATO Invasion of Libya which destroyed the Country beyond all recognition. Gaddafi was painted by the cruise missile left as a barbaric and despotic dictator who armed his Black mercenary army with Viagra to rape women and children. Assad has faced the same treatment as Gaddafi. The political legitimacy that collaboration with imperialism affords means much more to the cruise missile left than solidarity. After all, solidarity with oppressed people won’t get you lucrative partnerships with billionaire-backed (Pierre Omidyar) foundations like First Look Media, the primary benefactor for The Intercept.

Democracy Now and The Intercept Disinformation on Syria

Democracy Now! and The Intercept not only betray the people of Syria and Russia when it peddles pro-war narratives, but also poor and working-class people here in the United States. Neither the terror of police occupation and mass incarceration in the Black community nor the poverty being enforced by the US austerity regime will become any less ruthless should US imperialism spark a nuclear conflict in Syria. In fact, endless war only exacerbates the declining conditions of the oppressed. The “Cruise Missile Left,” however, sees its petty privileges as far more important than the future of humanity.

For those of us who have already decided that humanity comes first, our task remains the development of an alternative press that the cruise missile left is unwilling to provide.











North Atlantic Terrorist Organization (NATO)


United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

The Black Radical Tradition – Libcom.org

Any National “Conversation About Race” Must Include Black Radical ..

Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition: Cedric J …

War Pressure Builds as Iran and Israel Each Vow to Respond to Other’s Escalations

The “Cruise Missile Left” Cheerleading NATO


Black Agenda Report

Pierre Omidyar

Nation Magazine and Democracy Now Disinformation on Syria …

Billionaire-supported but looking to expand its coverage, The Intercept ..

Billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Foundation Commits $100 Million To …

First Look Media

Imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa

U.S. Imperialism, Europe, and the Middle East

Mass Protests Against Austerity And S

The Age of Imperialism (1870–1914)

The Impact of Imperialism on the Region – Keys to Understanding the …

Modern-Day American Imperialism: Middle East and Beyond

Fewer Russian Mercenaries Entering Syria Since … – Military.com

Col. Larry Wilkerson on Syria: War Powers are the ‘Surest Way to Tyranny’

Allies or Terrorists: Who Are the Kurdish Fighters in Syria? – The New ..

How America Armed Terrorists in Syria

NATO and the War on Terrorism: A Changing Alliance


OPCW Marks Completion of Destruction of Russian Chemical …

Syria and the OPCW

Destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons

Matt Taibbi Is Out at First Look Media

Only Assad’s victory will end Syria’s civil war. The west can do nothing ..

The Ongoing Israel-Iran Proxy War in Syria – Atlantic Council

Are Iran and Israel Headed for Their First Direct War? – The …

Syria’s War Won’t Stop With U.S., Russia, Iran and Israel Involved …

How ISIS Got Weapons From the U.S. and Used Them to Take Iraq …

US and Saudi Arabia arms significantly enhanced Isis’ military …

How America Armed Terrorists in Syria | The American Conservative

Tracing ISIS’ Weapons Supply Chain—Back to the US – Wired

Hidden Israeli-Iranian war in Syria – Middle East Monitor

Israel will never go to war with Syria or Iran – Middle East Monitor

What foreign powers want from the Syrian war | News | DW | 12.04.2018

The Big Lie About the Libyan War – Foreign Policy

The US-NATO Invasion of Libya Destroyed the Country Beyond All …

The Geopolitics of Israel’s Offshore Gas Reserves

Map showing Geology, Oil & Gas Fields, Provinces Europe – Turkey …

maps showing geology, oil and gas fields, and geologic provinces of …

Background note on energy and water issues in Palestine1 Executive …

The Ralph Peters’ Map – Physics911, by Scientific Panel Investigating …

A map of oil distribution in the Middle East #SaudiArabia #Oil | Saudi …

Insights into the Petroleum Prospectivity of Lebanon – GeoScienceWorld

Middle East Oil Fields Map

Partitioning Syria: Oil, Gas And Peace | OilPrice.com

Turkey in the Geopolitics of Natural Gas – Harvard Kennedy School

The Turkish-Iranian Gas Relationship – Oxford Institute for Energy …




Timeline: Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign PolicyOil Dependence …

US airstrike killed dozens of Russians in Syria, but Moscow stays ..

Chomsky Among “Progressives” Callg for US Military Involvement in Syria

What Kind of Victory for Russia in Syria? – Army University Press

Turkish President Urges NATO Take Stance on US ‘Terrorist Army’ in …

What Are Israel, The U.S., and NATO Thinking??! Attack On Syria

Israeli Bombers over Syria: Al Qaeda’s Air Force | Global Research …

Insanity of NATO 2.0 for MidEast – Sputnik International

“Cruise Missile Left” Complicit in American Escalation Toward World War III

Austerity regime

Successful Austerity in the United States, Europe and Japan – IMF

Can democracy survive austerity? | ephemera

Department of Geography, Cambridge » Regimes of Austerity …

How Austerity Kills – The New York Times

Successful Austerity in the United States, Europe and Japan

Evidence: UK Foreign Office Funding Terrorists in Syria:
White Helmets & ‘Local Councils’ – Is UK FCO Financing Terrorism in Syria?

Vanessa Beeley:
WHITE HELMETS: State Sanctioned Terrorism and Hollywood Poster Boys for War

21st Century Wire:
New Report Destroys Fabricated Myth of Syria’s ‘White Helmets’

Initial Investigation into White Helmets:
Who are Syria’s White Helmets?

21st Century Wire article on the White Helmets:  
Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception ~ the “Moderate” Executioners

Who Funds the White Helmets?
Secret £1bn UK War Chest Used to Fund the White Helmets and Other ‘Initiatives’

Original investigative report:
The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake White Helmets as Terrorist-Linked Imposters 

Irish Peace Prize Farce
Tipperary’s White Helmets Peace Prize: A Judas Kiss to the Antiwar Movement and Syria

White Helmets Executions
WHITE HELMETS: Severed Heads of Syrian Arab Army Soldiers Paraded as Trophies

CNN Fabricate News About the White Helmets
A NOBEL LIE: CNN’s Claim That ‘White Helmets Center in Damascus’ Was Hit by a Barrel Bomb

White Helmets Links to Al Nusra
WHITE HELMETS: Hand in Hand with Al Qaeda and Extremist Child Beheaders in Aleppo

Report by Patrick Henningsen
AN INTRODUCTION: Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex

Open Letter by Vanessa Beeley
White Helmets Campaign for War NOT Peace – Retract RLA & Nobel Peace Prize Nominations

Staged Rescue Videos
(VIDEO) White Helmets: Miraculous ‘Rag Doll Rescue’

White Helmets Oscar Award Farce:
Forget Oscar: Give The White Helmets the Leni Riefenstahl Award for Best War Propaganda Film

Cory Morningstar report:
Investigation into the funding sources of the White Helmets, including Avaaz, Purpose, The Syria Campaign

Open letter to Canadian MPs from Stop the War Hamilton (Canada):
Letter from the Hamilton Coalition to Stop War to the New Democratic Party in Canada ref the White Helmet nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize:

Open letter to Canada’s NDP Leader on Nobel Prize:
Letter to NDP from Prof. John Ryan protesting White Helmet nomination for RLA and Nobel Peace Pri

Cambridge Analytica’s breach of trust results in lawsuits filed by angry Facebook users


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In the wake of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook has now been sued in federal court in San Francisco and San Jose. These new cases claim violations of federal securities laws, unfair competition, and negligence, among other allegations.

likeIn the wake of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook has now been sued in federal court in San Francisco and San Jose. These new cases claim violations of federal securities laws, unfair competition, and negligence, among other allegations.

The pair of cases stem from recent revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British data firm that contracted with the Donald Trump presidential campaign, retained private data from 50 million Facebook users despite claiming to have deleted it. New reporting on Cambridge Analytica has spurred massive public outcry from users and politicians, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling it a breach of trust.”

These two cases, which were filed on March 20, could be just the first among what could be a coming wave of similar lawsuits.

One suit, filed by Lauren Price, of Maryland, says that she was served political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign and believes that she is part of the 50 million affected users. However, nowhere in her lawsuit does she specify why she thinks this—if she’s not actually on the list, then she would lack standing, and the case would likely be dismissed.

“Facebook lies within the penumbra of blame,” her complaint argues.

She seeks to represent “All persons who registered for Facebook accounts in the United States and whose Personal Information was obtained from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica without authorization or in excess of authorization.”

Her lawyers did not respond to request for comment.

A second lawsuit is being brought by Fan Yuan, a man who describes himself as a Facebook stockholder who bought stock at an “inflated price” after February 3, 2017. The suit claims that the company made false statements when it did not reveal the breach. As such, when Facebook’s stock price dropped after the news broke late last week, he and many other investors lost money.

Facebook has refused to answer Ars’ questions or to provide many further details beyond public statements by its top executives and lawyers. The company will not say precisely what data was shared or when or how it will formally notify affected users.

“We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information,” Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, said in a statement. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”

In a post, Zuckerberg said that the company would impose strict changes going forward.

“We will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse,” he wrote on Wednesday. “For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in three months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in—to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.”











Habeas Data

Cambridge Analytica

Cyrus Farivar

Il se moque de l’addiction à Facebook…

Il dénonce la vie de rêve de ses amis Facebook en chanson




Facebook admits Cambridge Analytica hijacked data on up to 87M users


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Facebook will warn these millions of users with a notice atop the News Feed with information about what data of theirs might have been attained, and what they should do now. It will also show its new bulk app permissions removal tool atop the feed.

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Facebook warned that 87 million users, mostly in the U.S, that their data “may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica by apps that they or their friends used,” the company announced. CTO at Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, tells TechCrunch that Facebook will warn these users with a notice atop the News Feed with information about what data of theirs might have been attained, and what they should do now. It will also show its new bulk app permissions removal tool atop the feed.

Schroepfer, says that 87 million is the maximum number of users impacted, up from initial reports from the New York Times of 50 million people effected, as Facebook isn’t positive of how many people had their data misused. It likely doesn’t want to low-ball and have to revise the number upward later, as it did when it initially reported the Russian election interference ads were seen by 10 million users and later had to admit to congress it was actually 126 million when organic posts were included. Mark Zuckerberg plans to take questions from reporters about the changes during a 1:00pm Pacific conference call on the subject.

The changes come as part of a slew of announcements in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal including new restrictions on Facebook API use and the immediate shut down of the old Instagram API that was slated for July, but which started to break developers’ apps this week. Facebook is now undergoing a deep audit of app developers that pulled a lot of data or that look suspicious, and Schroepfer promises Facebook will make further disclosures if it finds any situations similar to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

Facebook is trying to fix its broken data privacy after a developer named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan used the platform to administer a personality test app that collected data about participants and their friends. That data was then passed to Cambridge Analytica where it may have been leveraged to optimize political campaigns including that of 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Brexit vote, allegations which the company itself vehemently denies. Regardless of how the data was employed to political ends, that lax data sharing was enough to ignite a firestorm around Facebook’s privacy practices.

Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the company’s stock dropped precipitously, wiping more than $60 billion off its market capitalization from its prior period of stable growth. At the time of writing, Facebook was trading at $153.56.

Facebook’s core leadership was slow to respond to the explosion of negative attention, though Zuckerberg and Sandberg broke that silence with a flurry of media appearances, interviews and print ads. The company also came under the scrutiny of Congress once more and that pressure, which came from subcommittees in both the House and Senate and from both political parties, appears to have paid off. Zuckerberg is expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, just one of the several powerful committees calling for him, on April 11.

While it’s certainly unfortunate that it took mishandling user data on a large scale to do so, the incident has become the straw that broke the Facebook camel’s back when it comes to privacy — and that appears to be catalyzing change. Schroepfer said Facebook is now lifting every rock to find any other vulnerabilities that could be used to illicitly access or steal people’s information. Now we’re getting changes that should have been in place years ago that could make Facebook a safer place to network for users concerned about how the company handles their private data.

For more on Facebook’s recent scandals and changes:








Cambridge Analytica

The real threat to Facebook | TechCrunch

Zuckerberg is expected to testify


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg | Lisa’s leaks – ‘Madness in the

Cambridge Analytica breach results

Aleksandr Kogan, who mined Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica ..

Man behind Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data mining says he’s …

Zuckerberg’s response to Cambridge scandal omits why …

The Cambridge Analytica Files

Highlights and audio from Zuckerbergs emotional Q&A on scandals ..

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is Going Global | Vanity Fair

Collateral damage from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal ..



The Global Story of Tech vs Privacy


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Data Protection Changes for Facebook users? This is the company’s PR strategy to try to convince users to trust it — and thus to keep giving it their data.

 Make no mistake: Fresh battle lines are being drawn in the clash between data-mining tech giants and Internet users over people’s right to control their personal information and protect their privacy.

An update to European Union data protection rules next month — called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)— is the catalyst for this next chapter in the global story of tech vs privacy.

There’s no doubt it will be a battle to get there — requiring legal challenges and fresh case law to be set down — as an old guard of dominant tech platforms marshal their extensive resources to try to hold onto the power and wealth gained through years of riding roughshod over data protection law.

The exciting opportunity for startups — by thinking beyond exploitative legacy business models that amount to embarrassing blackboxes whose CEOs dare not publicly admit what the systems really do — and come up with new ways of operating and monetizing services that don’t rely on selling the lie that people don’t care about privacy.

More than just small print

Right now the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation can take credit for a whole lot of spilt ink as tech industry small print is reworded en masse. Did you just receive a T&C update notification about a company’s digital service? Chances are it’s related to the incoming standard.

The regulation is generally intended to strengthen Internet users’ control over their personal information, as explained before. But its focus on transparency — making sure people know how and why data will flow if they choose to click ‘I agree’ — combined with supersized fines for major data violations represents something of an existential threat to ad tech processes that rely on pervasive background harvesting of users’ personal data to be siphoned biofuel for their vast, proprietary microtargeting engines.

This is why Facebook is not going gentle into a data processing goodnight.

Indeed, it’s seizing on GDPR as a PR opportunity — shamelessly stamping its brand on the regulatory changes it lobbied so hard against, including by taking out full page print ads in newspapers…

This is of course another high gloss plank in the company’s PR strategy to try to convince users to trust it — and thus to keep giving it their data. Because — and only because — GDPR gives consumers more opportunity to lock down access to their information and close the shutters against countless prying eyes.

But the pressing question for Facebook — and one that will also test the mettle of the new data protection standard — is whether or not the company is doing enough to comply with the new rules.

One important point regarding Facebook and GDPR is that the standard applies globally, i.e. for all Facebook users whose data is processed by its international entity, Facebook Ireland (and thus within the EU); but not necessarily universally — with Facebook users in North America not legally falling under the scope of the regulation.

(Update: Reuters has obtained confirmation from Facebook that it will be switching the data controller entity for all its international users to Facebook USA, rather than Facebook Ireland, with the exception of users in Europe — thereby shrinking the legal reach of GDPR across its international user-base.)

Facebook users in North America will only benefit from GDPR’s protections if Facebook chooses to apply the same standard everywhere as it must for EU users. (And on that point the company has stayed exceedingly fuzzy.)

It has claimed it won’t give US and Canadian users second tier status where their privacy is concerned — saying they’re getting the same “settings and controls” — but unless or until US lawmakers spill some ink of their own there’s nothing but an embarrassing PR message to regulate what Facebook chooses to do with Americans’ data. It’s the data protection principles, stupid.

Zuckerberg was asked by US lawmakers last week what kind of regulation he would and wouldn’t like to see laid upon Internet companies — and he made a point of arguing for privacy carve outs to avoid falling behind, of all things, competitors in China.

Which is an incredibly chilling response when you consider how few rights — including human rights — Chinese citizens have. And how data-mining digital technologies are being systematically used to expand Chinese state surveillance and control.

The ugly underlying truth of Facebook’s business is that it also relies on surveillance to function. People’s lives are its product.

That’s why Zuckerberg couldn’t tell US lawmakers to hurry up and draft their own GDPR. He’s the CEO saddled with trying to sell an anti-privacy, anti-transparency position — just as policymakers are waking up to what that really means.


Facebook has announced a series of updates to its policies and platform in recent months, which it’s said are coming to all users (albeit in ‘phases’). The problem is that most of what it’s proposing to achieve GDPR compliance is simply not adequate.

Coincidentally many of these changes have been announced amid a major data mishandling scandal for Facebook, in which it’s been revealed that data on up to 87M users was passed to a political consultancy without their knowledge or consent.

It’s this scandal that led Zuckerberg to be perched on a booster cushion in full public view for two days last week, dodging awkward questions from US lawmakers about how his advertising business functions.

He could not tell Congress there wouldn’t be other such data misuse skeletons in its closet. Indeed the company has said it expects it will uncover additional leaks as it conducts a historical audit of apps on its platform that had access to “a large amount of data”. (How large is large, one wonders… )

But whether Facebook’s business having enabled — in just one example — the clandestine psychological profiling of millions of Americans for political campaign purposes ends up being the final, final straw that catalyzes US lawmakers to agree their own version of GDPR is still tbc.

Any new law will certainly take time to formulate and pass. In the meanwhile GDPR is it.

The most substantive GDPR-related change announced by Facebook to date is the shuttering of a feature called Partner Categories — in which it allowed the linking of its own information holdings on people with data held by external brokers, including (for example) information about people’s offline activities.

Evidently finding a way to close down the legal liabilities and/or engineer consent from users to that degree of murky privacy intrusion — involving pools of aggregated personal data gathered by goodness knows who, how, where or when — was a bridge too far for the company’s army of legal and policy staffers.

Other notable changes it has so far made public include consolidating settings onto a single screen vs the confusing nightmare Facebook has historically required users to navigate just to control what’s going on with their data (remember the company got a 2011 F.T.C. sanction for “deceptive” privacy practices ); rewording its T&Cs to make it more clear what information it’s collecting for what specific purpose; and — most recently — revealing a new consent review process whereby it will be asking all users (starting with EU users) whether they consent to specific uses of their data (such as processing for facial recognition purposes).

As my TC colleague Josh Constine wrote earlier in a critical post dissecting the flaws of Facebook’s approach to consent review, the company is — at very least — not complying with the spirit of GDPR’s law.

Indeed, Facebook appears pathologically incapable of abandoning its long-standing modus operandi of socially engineering consent from users (doubtless fed via its own self-reinforced A/B testing ad expertise). “It feels obviously designed to get users to breeze through it by offering no resistance to continue, but friction if you want to make changes,” was his summary of the process.

However, it’s still up to us to READ the fine print, but as we’ve pointed out before, concealment is not consent.

To get into a few specifics, pre-ticked boxes — which is essentially what Facebook is deploying here, with a big blue “accept and continue” button designed to grab your attention as it’s juxtaposed against an anemic “manage data settings” option (which if you even manage to see it and read it sounds like a lot of tedious hard work) — aren’t going to constitute valid consent under GDPR.

Nor is this what ‘privacy by default’ looks like — another staple principle of the regulation. On the contrary, Facebook is pushing people to do the opposite: Give it more of their personal information — and fuzzing why it’s asking by bundling a range of usage intentions.

The company is risking a lot here.

In simple terms, seeking consent from users in a way that’s not fair because it’s manipulative means consent is not being freely given. Under GDPR, it won’t be consent at all. So Facebook appears to be seeing how close to the wind it can fly to test how regulators will respond.

Safe to say, EU lawmakers and NGOs are watching.

“Yes, they will be taken to court”

“Consent should not be regarded as freely given if the data subject has no genuine or free choice or is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment,” runs one key portion of GDPR.

Now compare that with: “People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want” — which was Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman’s, paper-thin defense to reporters for the lack of an overall opt out for users to its targeted advertising.

Data protection experts suggest Facebook is failing to comply with, not just the spirit, but the letter of the law here. Some were exceeding blunt on this point.

“I am less impressed,” said law professor Mireille Hildebrandt discussing how Facebook is railroading users into consenting to its targeted advertising. “It seems they have announced that they will still require consent for targeted advertising and refuse the service if one does not agree. This violates [GDPR] art. 7.4 jo recital 43. So, yes, they will be taken to court.”

“Zuckerberg appears to view the combination of signing up to T&Cs and setting privacy options as ‘consent,’” adds cyber security professor Eerke Boiten. “I doubt this is explicit or granular enough for the personal data processing that FB do. The default settings for the privacy settings certainly do not currently provide for ‘privacy by default’ (GDPR Art 25(see below)).

“I also doubt whether Facebook Custom Audience work correctly with consent. FB finds out and retains a small bit of personal info through this process (that an email address they know is known to an advertiser), and they aim to shift the data protection legal justification on that to the advertisers. Do they really then not use this info for future profiling?”

That looming tweak to the legal justification of Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature — a product which lets advertisers upload contact lists in a hashed form to find any matches among its own user-base (so those people can be targeted with ads on Facebook’s platform) — also looks problematical.

Here the company seems to be intending to try to claim a change in the legal basis, pushed out via new terms in which it instructs advertisers to agree they are the data controller (and it is merely a data processor). And thereby seek to foist a greater share of the responsibility for obtaining consent to processing user data onto its customers.

However such legal determinations are simply not a matter of contract terms. They are based on the fact of who is making decisions about how data is processed. And in this case — as other experts have pointed out Facebook would be classed as a joint controller with any advertisers that upload personal data. The company can’t use a T&Cs change to opt out of that.

Wishful thinking is not a reliable approach to legal compliance.

Fear and manipulation of highly sensitive data

Over many years of privacy-hostile operation, Facebook has shown it has a major appetite for even very sensitive data. And GDPR does not appear to have blunted that.

Let’s not forget, facial recognition was a platform feature that got turned off in the EU, thanks to regulatory intervention. Yet here Facebook is now trying to use GDPR as a route to process this sensitive biometric data for international users after all — by pushing individual users to consent to it by dangling a few ‘feature perks’ at the moment of consent.

Veteran data protection and privacy consultant, Pat Walshe, is unimpressed.

“The sensitive data tool appears to be another data grab,” he tells us, reviewing Facebook’s latest clutch of ‘GDPR changes.’ “Note the subtlety. It merges ‘control of sharing’ such data with FB’s use of the data “to personalise features and products.” From the info available that isn’t sufficient to amount to consent for such sensitive data and nor is it clear folks can understand the broader implications of agreeing.

“Does it mean ads will appear in Instagram? WhatsApp etc? The default is also set to ‘accept’ rather than ‘review and consider.’ This is really sensitive data we’re talking about.”

“The Facial recognition suggestions are woeful,” he continues. “The second image — is using an example… to manipulate and stoke fear — “we can’t protect you.”

“Also, the choices and defaults are not compatible with [GDPR] Article 25 on Data protection by design and by default nor Recital 32… If I say no to facial recognition it’s unclear if other users can continue to tag me.”

Of course it goes without saying that Facebook users will keep uploading group photos, not just selfies. What’s less clear is whether Facebook will be processing the faces of other people in those shots who have not given (and/or never even had the opportunity to give) consent to its facial recognition feature.

People who might not even be users of its product.

There are suggestions it will indeed be doing that. But if it does it will be breaking the law.

And Facebook does already profile non-users — despite Zuckerberg’s claims to Congress not to know about its shadow profiles. So the risk is clear.

It can’t give non-users “settings and controls” not to have their data processed. So it’s already compromised their privacy — because it never gained consent in the first place.

New Mexico Representative Ben Lujan made this point to Zuckerberg’s face last week and ended the exchange with a call to action: “So you’re directing people that don’t even have a Facebook page to sign up for a Facebook page to access their data… We’ve got to change that.”

But nothing in the measures Facebook has revealed so far, as its ‘compliance response’ to GDPR, suggest it intends to pro-actively change that.

Walshe also critically flags how — again, at the point of consent — Facebook’s review process deploys examples of the social aspects of its platform (such as how it can use people’s information to “suggest groups or other features or products”) as a tactic for manipulating people to agree to share religious affiliation data, for example.

“The social aspect is not separate to but bound up in advertising,” he notes, adding that the language also suggests Facebook uses the data.

Again, this whiffs a whole lot more than smells like GDPR compliance.

“I don’t believe FB has done enough,” adds Walshe, giving a view on Facebook’s GDPR preparedness ahead of the May 25 deadline for the framework’s application — as Zuckerberg’s Congress briefing notes suggested the company itself believes it has. (Or maybe it just didn’t want to admit to Congress that U.S. Facebook users will get lower privacy standards vs users elsewhere.)

“In fact I know they have not done enough. Their business model is skewed against privacy — privacy gets in the way of advertising and so profit. That’s why Facebook has variously suggested people may have to pay if they want an ad free model & so ‘pay for privacy.’

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“On transparency, there is a long way to go,” adds Boiten. “Friend suggestions, profiling for advertising, use of data gathered from like buttons and web pixels (also completely missing from “all your Facebook data”), and the newsfeed algorithm itself are completely opaque.”

“What matters most is whether FB’s processing decisions will be GDPR compliant, not what exact controls are given to FB members,” he concludes.

US lawmakers also pumped Zuckerberg on how much of the information his company harvests on people who have a Facebook account is revealed to them when they ask for it — via its ‘Download your data’ tool.

His answers on this appeared to intentionally misconstrue what was being asked — presumably in a bid to mask the ugly reality of the true scope and depth of the surveillance apparatus he, and the NSA commands. (and sometimes with a few special ‘CEO privacy privileges’ thrown in — like being able to selectively retract just his own historical Facebook messages from conversations, ahead of bringing the feature to anyone else.)

‘Download your Data’ is clearly partial and self-serving — and thus it also looks very far from being GDPR compliant.

Not even half the story

Facebook is not even complying with the spirit of current EU data protection law on data downloads. Subject Access Request give individuals the right to request not just the information they have voluntarily uploaded to a service, but also personal data the company holds about them; Including giving a description of the personal data; the reasons it is being processed; and whether it will be given to any other organizations or people.

Facebook not only does not include people’s browsing history in the info it provides when you ask to download your data — which, incidentally, its own cookies policy confirms it tracks (via things like social plug-ins and tracking pixels on millions of popular websites etc etc) — it also does not include a complete list of advertisers on its platform that have your information.

Instead, after a wait, it serves up an eight-week snapshot. But even this two month view can still stretch to hundreds of advertisers per individual.

If Facebook gave users a comprehensive list of advertisers’ access to their information the number of third party companies would clearly stretch into the thousands. (In some cases thousands might even be a conservative estimate.)

There’s plenty of other information harvested from users that Facebook also intentionally fails to divulge via ‘Download your data’. And — to be clear — this isn’t a new problem either. The company has a very long history of blocking these type of requests.

In the EU it currently invokes a exception in Irish law to circumvent more fulsome compliance — which, even setting GDPR aside, raises some interesting competition law questions, as Paul-Olivier Dehaye told the UK parliament last month.

“All your Facebook data” isn’t a complete solution,” agrees Boiten. “It misses the info Facebook uses for auto-completing searches; it misses much of the information they use for suggesting friends; and I find it hard to believe that it contains the full profiling information.”

“Ads Topics” looks rather random and undigested, and doesn’t include the clear categories available to advertisers,” he further notes.

Facebook wouldn’t comment publicly about this when asked. But it maintains its approach towards data downloads is GDPR compliant — and says it’s reviewed what it offers via with regulators to get feedback.

Earlier this week it also put out a wordy blog post attempting to diffuse this line of attack by pointing the finger of blame at the rest of the tech industry — saying, essentially, that a whole bunch of other tech giants are at it too.

Which is not much of a moral defense even if the company believes its lawyers can sway judges with it. (Ultimately I wouldn’t fancy its chances; the EU’s top court has a robust record of defending fundamental rights.)

Think of the children…

What its blog post didn’t say — yet again — was anything about how all the non-users it nonetheless tracks around the web are able to have any kind of control over its surveillance of them.

And remember, some Facebook non-users will be children.

So yes, Facebook is inevitably tracking kids’ data without parental consent. Under GDPR that’s a majorly big no-no. But hey, that’s business!

TC’s Constine had a scathing assessment of even the on-platform system that Facebook has devised in response to GDPR’s requirements on parental consent for processing the data of users who are between the ages of 13 and 15.

“Users merely select one of their Facebook friends or enter an email address, and that person is asked to give consent for their ‘child’ to share sensitive info,” he observed. “But Facebook blindly trusts that they’ve actually selected their parent or guardian… [Facebook’s] Sherman says Facebook is “not seeking to collect additional information” to verify parental consent, so it seems Facebook is happy to let teens easily bypass the checkup.”

So again, the company is being shown doing the minimum possible — in what might be construed as a cynical attempt to check another compliance box and carry on its data-sucking business as usual.

Given that intransigence it really will be up to the courts to bring the enforcement stick. Change, as ever, is a process — and hard won.

Hildebrandt is at least hopeful that a genuine reworking of Internet business models is on the way, though — albeit not overnight. And not without a fight.

“In the coming years the landscape of all this silly microtargeting will change, business models will be reinvented and this may benefit both the advertisers, consumers and citizens,” she tells us. “It will hopefully stave off the current market failure and the uprooting of “democratic processes…” Though nobody can predict the future, it will require hard work.”








Personal Data Requests | Facebook

WTF is GDPR? | TechCrunch

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GDPR Recital 78 (General Data Protection Regulation)

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Facebook collects data on non-Facebook users. If they want to delete ..

Shadow profiles are the biggest flaw in Facebook’s privacy defense ..

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F.T.C. Settles Privacy Issue at Facebook – The New York Times

Facebook May Have Breached a 2011 Consent Agreement, FTC Says

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Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling ‘insecure’ and .

Facebook ‘Messenger Kids’ lets under-13s chat with whom parents .






Cambridge Analytica



Eliminating the Human Element


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We are beset by—and immersed in—apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other.

Image result for Eliminating the HumanI have a theory that much recent tech development and innovation over the last decade or so has an unspoken overarching agenda. It has been about creating the possibility of a world with less human interaction. This tendency is, I suspect, not a bug—it’s a feature. We might think Amazon was about making books available to us that we couldn’t find locally—and it was, and what a brilliant idea—but maybe it was also just as much about eliminating human contact.

The consumer technology I am talking about doesn’t claim or acknowledge that eliminating the need to deal with humans directly is its primary goal, but it is the outcome in a surprising number of cases. I’m sort of thinking maybe it is the primary goal, even if it was not aimed at consciously. Judging by the evidence, that conclusion seems inescapable.

This then, is the new norm. Most of the tech news we get barraged with is about algorithms, AI, robots, and self-driving cars, all of which fit this pattern. I am not saying that such developments are not efficient and convenient; this is not a judgment. I am simply noticing a pattern and wondering if, in recognizing that pattern, we might realize that it is only one trajectory of many. There are other possible roads we could be going down, and the one we’re on is not inevitable or the only one; it has been (possibly unconsciously) chosen.

Image result for eliminating the human contact through social mediaI’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.

I realize I’m making some wild and crazy assumptions and generalizations with this proposal—but I can claim to be, or to have been, in the camp that would identify with the unacknowledged desire to limit human interaction. I grew up happy but also found some social interactions uncomfortable. I often asked myself if there were rules somewhere that I hadn’t been told, rules that would explain it all to me. I still sometimes have social niceties “explained” to me. I’m often happy going to a restaurant alone and reading. I wouldn’t want to have to do that all the time, but I have no problem with it. So I believe I can claim some insight into where this unspoken urge might come from.

Human interaction is often perceived, from an engineer’s mind-set, as complicated, inefficient, noisy, and slow. Part of making something “frictionless” is getting the human part out of the way.

Image result for eliminating the human contact through social mediaThe point is not that making a world to accommodate this mind-set is bad, but that when one has as much power over the rest of the world as the tech sector does over folks who might not share that worldview, there is the risk of a strange imbalance. The tech world is predominantly male—very much so. Testosterone combined with a drive to eliminate as much interaction with real humans as possible for the sake of “simplicity and efficiency”—do the math, and there’s the future.

The evidence

Here are some examples of fairly ubiquitous consumer technologies that allow for less human interaction.

Online ordering and home delivery: Online ordering is hugely convenient. Amazon, FreshDirect, Instacart, etc. have not just cut out interactions at bookstores and checkout lines; they have eliminated all human interaction from these transactions, barring the (often paid) online recommendations.

Digital music: Downloads and streaming—there is no physical store, of course, so there are no snobby, know-it-all clerks to deal with. Whew, you might say. Some services offer algorithmic recommendations, so you don’t even have to discuss music with your friends to know what they like. The service knows what they like, and you can know, too, without actually talking to them. Is the function of music as a kind of social glue and lubricant also being eliminated?

Ride-hailing apps: There is minimal interaction—one doesn’t have to tell the driver the address or the preferred route, or interact at all if one doesn’t want to.

Driverless cars: In one sense, if you’re out with your friends, not having one of you drive means more time to chat. Or drink. Very nice. But driverless tech is also very much aimed at eliminating taxi drivers, truck drivers, delivery drivers, and many others. There are huge advantages to eliminating humans here—theoretically, machines should drive more safely than humans, so there might be fewer, or more, accidents and fatalities. The disadvantages include massive job loss. But that’s another subject. What I’m seeing here is the consistent “eliminating the human” pattern.

An Automat at NYC’s Grand Central Station, 1948.

Automated checkout: Eatsa is a new version of the Automat, a once-popular “restaurant” with no visible staff. My local CVS has been training staff to help us learn to use the checkout machines that will replace them. At the same time, they are training their customers to do the work of the cashiers.

Amazon has been testing stores—even grocery stores!—with automated shopping. They’re called Amazon Go. The idea is that sensors will know what you’ve picked up. You can simply walk out with purchases that will be charged to your account, without any human contact.

AI: AI is often (though not always) better at decision-making than humans. In some areas, we might expect this. For example, AI will suggest the fastest route on a map, accounting for traffic and distance, while we as humans would be prone to taking our tried-and-true route. But some less-expected areas where AI is better than humans are also opening up, big time! It is getting better at spotting melanomas than many doctors, for example. Much routine legal work will soon be done by computer programs, and financial assessments are now being done by machines.

Robot workforce: Factories increasingly have fewer and fewer human workers, which means no personalities to deal with, no agitating for overtime, and no illnesses. Using robots avoids an employer’s need to think about worker’s comp, health care, Social Security, Medicare taxes, and unemployment benefits.

Personal assistants: With improved speech recognition, one can increasingly talk to a machine like Google Home or Amazon Echo rather than a person. Amusing stories abound as the bugs get worked out. A child says, “Alexa, I want a dollhouse” … and lo and behold, the parents find one in their cart.

Big data: Improvements and innovations in crunching massive amounts of data mean that patterns can be recognized in our behavior where they weren’t seen previously. Data seems objective, so we tend to trust it, and we may very well come to trust the gleanings from data crunching more than we do ourselves and our human colleagues and friends.

Video games (and virtual reality): Yes, some online games are interactive. But most are played in a room by one person jacked into the game. The interaction is virtual.

Automated high-speed stock buying and selling: A machine crunching huge amounts of data can spot trends and patterns quickly and act on them faster than a person can.

MOOCS: Online education with no direct teacher interaction.

“Social” media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection.

What are the effects of less interaction?

Minimizing interaction has some knock-on effects—some of them good, some not. The externalities of efficiency, one might say.

For us as a society, less contact and interaction—real interaction—would seem to lead to less tolerance and understanding of difference, as well as more envy and antagonism. As has been in evidence recently, social media actually increases divisions by amplifying echo effects and allowing us to live in cognitive bubbles. We are fed what we already like or what our similarly inclined friends like (or, more likely now, what someone has paid for us to see in an ad that mimics content). In this way, we actually become less connected—except to those in our group.

Social networks can also be a source of unhappiness. A study earlier this year by two social scientists, Holly Shakya at UC San Diego and Nicholas ­Christakis at Yale, showed that the more people use Facebook, the worse they feel about their lives. While these technologies claim to connect us, then, the surely unintended effect is that they also might drive us apart and make us sad and envious.

I’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient, clever, and efficient. I use many of them myself. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.

We have evolved as social creatures, and our ability to cooperate is one of the big factors in our success. I would argue that social interaction and cooperation, the kind that makes us who we are, is something our tools can augment but not replace.

When interaction becomes a strange and unfamiliar thing, then we will have changed who and what we are as a species. Often our rational thinking convinces us that much of our interaction can be reduced to a series of logical decisions—but we are not even aware of many of the layers and subtleties of those interactions. As behavioral economists will tell us, we don’t behave rationally, even though we think we do. And Bayesian will tell us that interaction is how we revise our picture of what is going on and what will happen next.

I’d argue there is a danger to democracy as well. Less interaction, even casual interaction, means one can live in a tribal bubble—and we know where that leads.

Is it possible that less human interaction might save us?

– Photo: While the many robots in auto factories typically perform only one function, in the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., a robot might do up to four: welding, riveting, bonding and installing a component. Credit Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

Humans are capricious, erratic, emotional, irrational, and biased in what sometimes seem like counterproductive ways. It often seems that our quick-thinking and selfish nature will be our downfall. There are, it would seem, lots of reasons why getting humans out of the equation in many aspects of life might be a good thing.

But I’d argue that while our various irrational tendencies might seem like liabilities, many of those attributes actually work in our favor. Many of our emotional responses have evolved over millennia, and they are based on the probability that they will, more likely than not, offer the best way to deal with a situation.

What are we?

Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at USC wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. ­Damasio concluded that although we think decision-­making is rational and machine-like, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide.

With humans being somewhat unpredictable (well, until an algorithm completely removes that illusion), we get the benefit of surprises, happy accidents, and unexpected connections and intuitions. Interaction, cooperation, and collaboration with others multiplies those ­opportunities.

We’re a social species—we benefit from passing discoveries on, and we benefit from our tendency to cooperate to achieve what we cannot alone. In his book Sapiens, Yuval Harari claims this is what allowed us to be so successful. He also claims that this cooperation was often facilitated by an ability to believe in “fictions” such as nations, money, religions, and legal institutions. Machines don’t believe in fictions—or not yet, anyway. That’s not to say they won’t surpass us, but if machines are designed to be mainly self-interested, they may hit a roadblock. And in the meantime, if less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage.

Our random accidents and odd behaviors are fun—they make life enjoyable. I’m wondering what we’re left with when there are fewer and fewer human interactions. Remove humans from the equation, and we are less complete as people and as a society.

“We” do not exist as isolated individuals. We, as individuals, are inhabitants of networks; we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive.









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New Wave of Adept Robots Is Changing Global Industry

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deleted my social media apps because they were turning me into an …

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