A Blog by Jonathan Low


Dec 14, 2018

'Donald' Is Now One Of the Top 25 Most Commonly Used Passwords

Hmmm. But we thought passwords were supposed to make you feel secure...JL

Yael Grauer reports in Motherboard:

The bad passwords of 2018 looked much like the bad passwords of 2017. The top two slots were unchanged: “123456” and “password” remained in first and second place. And like last year, SplashData estimated that 3% of people have used the worst password, and 10% used one of the top 25 worst passwords. There were some changes on this year’s list… “sunshine” (#8), princess (#11), charlie (#21) and donald (#23).

Taylor Swift's Security Used Facial Recognition To Scan Concert Fans For Stalkers

Get used to it. JL

Aaron Mak reports in Slate:

Security at Taylor Swift’s Rose Bowl show used facial recognition to monitor the crowd, cross-referencing images with a database of 100 people who had stalked Swift. Venues use facial recognition for security purposes, but also for convenience. Ticketmaster invested in a facial recognition startup to register ticket holders more efficiently when they walk through turnstiles. This benign application may have unintended consequences because facial recognition is inaccurate identifying people of color.

Apple Could Alter iPhone Production and iOS To Evade Chinese Patent Ban

This is, of course, not just about China's support  for Qualcomm's patents and the rule of law, but about its broader trade dispute with the US and establishing a quid pro quo for actions taken against Huawei.

That said, Apple's willingness to address the intellectual property issues then forces China to further justify its actions. JL

Jeremy Horwitz reports in Venture Beat:

Apple is considering increasing production at Pegatron, which the Nikkei Asian Review reports is the only iPhone contract manufacturer that paid Qualcomm a licensing fee for the disputed technologies. Apple is also pursuing a faster software-based workaround for the Chinese ban. Apple will release a software update for iPhones in China early next week, changing the photo and app management functionality covered by Qualcomm’s patents.

How Come People Are Attacking Waymo Self-Driving Cars?

See: the Luddites, the Google Glass haters, et al.

This is about fear of technology and what it means for some people's economic, social and psychological security. JL

Ryan Randazzo reports in The Arizona Republic:

People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing vans off roads six times; (some) of 21 interactions documented by police during the past two years where people have harassed the autonomous vehicles and their human test drivers. The is less about how the Waymo vans drive and more about people frustrated with what Waymo represents. “There are winners and losers, and these people are afraid and this is a way for them to fight back in some small, futile way.”

How the Spatial Web Will Transform Careers

Technology already being tested will enable continuous skills upgrading - with certification - as well as enhanced anticipatory career guidance with blockchain authorization.

It will be cheaper, faster - and more productive than the current system, making it easier for employers to reduce turnover while upgrading staff knowledge - and compensation. JL

Peter Diamandis reports in Singularity Hub:

The convergence of 5G, artificial intelligence, VR/AR, and a trillion-sensor economy will map the physical world into virtual space and superimpose a digital layer onto physical environments. (It) will offer an solution for today’s constant industry turnover and large-scale re-education demands. VR education from industrial equipment to minute circuitry will give anyone a chance at the 21st-century job market. Career models shift from a “one-and-done degree” to a continuous education. Beyond real-world work, (it) promises virtual workplaces and blockchain-secured authorization systems.

Is Technology Too Easy To Use?

Technology has been socially engineered to reduce 'friction,' defined as anything that stands in the way of speed and convenience. The idea is to encourage engagement, which stimulates  buying, voting, liking or any other behavior that provides data to better target advertising or other content that further enhances the bias for action.

But it may be that as tech becomes more familiar and users become more sophisticated, requiring increased thought, reflection or effort might improve the quality of engagement and the results for business, society - and users. JL

Kevin Roose reports in the New York Times:

Eliminating “friction,” the name given to any quality that makes a product more difficult or time-consuming to use, has become an obsession of the tech industry, accepted by the world’s largest companies. (But) there are reasons to ask whether technologies should be less optimized for convenience. “Friction” is just another word for “effort,” and it’s what makes us capable of critical thought and self-reflection. Friction could be useful in preventing harm, and steering healthier behavior. "The tech industry’s culture of optimization “presumes that reducing friction is virtuous unto itself.”

Dec 13, 2018

'High-Tech Robot' At Russian Forum Turns Out To Be Actor In Costume

You Westerners are so picky: just as 'facts aren't always facts,' so high tech isn't the same everywhere. Get with the program. JL

Andrew Roth reports in The Guardian:

A “hi-tech robot” shown on Russian state television has turned out to be a man in a suit. Russia-24 praised the ersatz android during coverage of a youth forum dedicated to robotics. But sharp-eyed bloggers were dubious. Later, photographs of the “robot” posted on social media showed the very visible neckline of the person in the suit. Boris turned out to be an “Alyosha the Robot” costume made by a company called Show Robots. The £3,000 costume, equipped with microphone and tablet display, creates the “near total illusion that before you stands a real robot”.