Amazon’s Racist Shop

Shopping For Hate

Despite Amazon’s strict policies against the sales of racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, Islamaphobic and general ‘hate glorifying’ goods, these items are still for sale and are being bought on Amazon.  According to Reuters, Action Center on Race & The Economy and the Partnership for Working Families, released the report today hammering Amazon the online shopping king, for failing miserably to enforce their policies.

Amazon’s policy prohibits:

“Products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” The two groups say they found toys with propaganda symbols, books and other products aimed at children to further normalize these intolerant or racist beliefs.

The report criticized that Amazon was profiting from sales of these items since it takes a cut of the sales, and that it, “provides a number of channels through which hate groups can generate revenue, propagate their ideas and grow their movements.”

Through writing e-books and through Amazon’s Music store, they are giving these hate groups the ability to spread their hateful speech and message. Using these Amazon platforms, racist writers, musicians and ‘racist activists’ including violence against black people, Muslim, Jewish & LGBTQ people, supporters are able to sell their hate and make Amazon millions in profits, as well as fund the racist/hate groups.

The two watchdog groups that reported Amazons dirty shopping, through their report insist that Amazon take down these hate sellers, and also make a public stance against these hateful, racist, intolerant ideologies, as well as promising not to profit from them. They’re asking Amazon to remove these items from their platforms as well as destroy any physical products that are currently in their warehouses.

 Amazon spokesman did say that they will shut down anyone breaking their rules, it’s a weak statement considering they should have been already removed.  Another spokesperson said they are currently removing some neo-Nazi bands that had been identified from its music platform.

Spotify, Google and Deezer all purged their libraries of racist music back in August 2017. In the same month, Apple removed Apple Pay support from white nationalist sites and Squarespace culled hate sites from its web hosting service.

Amazon also has a track record of holding payments for small businesses for small infringements or sometimes no particular reason, or even shut them down completely. It makes me wonder why it’s taken so long for them to purge the hate sellers.

It remains to be seen how much is actually left over, or how many try to circumvent the rules. Nobody thought tiki torches would ever be used a white supremacist march- but here it is. Of course this tiki torche company had nothing to do with the group.

tikitorchesracist

Tech Employee’s Aren’t Down With ICE

Tech Avengers, Avenging!

It’s been a wild ride these past several months with Trump in power as the US President. We have seen everything from admitted sexual assault, to lying, to downright insults & crimes against humanity. And in his latest project, the kidnapping of illegal children and separating them from their families as they flee into the US border by ICE- US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This sets a dangerous precedent. Of course like good humans, most of humanity is outraged.
kidsincages

kidcrying

But the division is pretty big in the United States, and the issues Trump has created has affected everything from US citizens to its allies. And it’s becoming a very large problem.

But what role does Tech play in this? Lets start first with Wikileaks.

Wikileaks as the world knows, is the best and most accurate source of undisclosed information, with disclosure and documents pouring in, revealing the very harsh reality of how governments actually work. From these documents was revealed, that 7 nations had invasion plans, that the US government formulated decades before 9/11. These countries include, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and of course Iran was the last. This seems to be playing out under the guise of liberation and false ‘jasmine springs’ being instigated in said nations.

From Wikileaks we also learned damning NSA secrets, that the US government is spying on you in every aspect of your life. This was for decades thought to be a conspiracy theory.  Turned out, the government is spying on you, on an epic scale.

Julianassange

Facebook, Google to Apple and Amazon, all these companies have a legal obligation to give backdoor access to the United States government. It’s actually legal and you don’t have a say in it, and yet the gong show that was Cambridge Analytica was put on to show that the government cared. Anyone in IT knew what was really happening: a large scale propaganda campaign using Facebook as a scapegoat to ‘ensure that the majority population didn’t catch on to the fact that Facebook’s legally obligated to give that same information to the government’.

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But most recently, Wikileaks released in full, all ICE employees’ information including their LinkedIn profile for full view of the internet- and thousands of activists and anonymous hackers.  https://ice.wikileaks.org/

This is actually very big and concerning. Many of these employee’s are just like any other employee working for any other company, and they have to feed their families too. They might disagree with ICE but they also have to eat. Was this a good move for Wikileaks?

Yes, despite it being wrong, it’s pressure. It’s pressure on the Employees of ICE to voice their outrage to stop this program of kidnapping these kids- who by the way, only the boys have been seen so far, no one knows where the little girls and babies are. Which is concerning because of “Pizzagate”.

So what role does Tech play now in ICE, if any? Well Microsoft has a $39 million contract (one of many) as does Dell and even Amazon with their face recognition tools. A big government agency like ICE will of course have contracts with large scale Tech companies. But now the outrage is so intense, that employees of these Tech companies are demanding their employer cancel their contracts with ICE. This is huge.

Because if Tech companies all pull out, and the Internet shames anyone who does do business with ICE,  global citizens can actually kill ICE’s kidnapping program.

Whether you agree with Trumps justification, and the republican party’s position, there is no agreeing with kidnapping. Under no circumstances is it justified. Just like rape, apartheid, or the holocaust, these things are not justifiable under any circumstance. So why are they working so hard to justify this? Because it’s wrong, and they know it.

Each and every Tech giant that has contracts with ICE, should end their contracts. Large public figures such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, to the Pope should lash out at Trump’s policies. The regular person should scream their outrage. Because this is not just a cage with kids, this is the first step in dehumanizing them. The next step, is slaughter.

So if you have a soul, and moral sense, then please do voice your outrage too. This isn’t about politics, this is about right and wrong. And this, is very wrong and it needs to be ended.

If I can use the Avengers here for a moment without any copyright infringement: If Thanos is Trump, well we’re all the Avengers (+ Deadpool)  together. Right now, humanity really needs some good heroes like the Tech employee’s, to make a stand.

What do you think? Are you in support of Trump’s kidnapping and separation of families policies? Or against it?

Cheers,
A.Yasir

Amazon’s Alexa AI Assistant Spies On You!

Alexa has been accused of mass surveillance and this is not surprise. All of these tools and platforms from large tech giants all end up collecting and sharing your private data. Part of this is their legal obligation in the US. If they are told to collect and share they have to and if they are told to spy on you via exploits, backdoor access or even this “record and send flaw”they are doing their job.

Alexa itself was asked by a user on Youtube if it works with the CIA and it wouldn’t answer and turned itself off. Now this time a user reports a personal conversion was shared with a random phone contact with no permission or notification to the user. Is it a bug or is it by design? At any rate we have to assume that our devices are capable of spying on us and disclose our conversations and personal data.

Observations on AI and Google’s Implementation

Google (the company who claims it does no evil) is a good example of social implications of AI.  A recent live demonstration showed Google’s AI assistant being told to book a haircut appointment for a certain time.  The AI searched and found local salons and actually booked an appointment while having a normal, human conversation with the person on the other end being completely unaware they were talking to an AI bot.  The voices seem random and they are all 100% convincing and essentially without fault or flaws in their interactions that it is simply stunning and scary at the same time.

Some are criticizing this as unethical and I would agree, but argue the technology could be used for good as well.  However, what is stopping a bunch of script kiddies from making an army of these bots to SWAT people or report false emergencies and even make mass prank calls.  I would imagine at this point that the AI is probably good enough to duplicate a target’s voice as well.  We are heading into extremely uncharted and scary territory here.

Like anything else, there is no arguing that scientific advancement has almost always been used for war and to harm people.  I believe AI’s first and primary use will be to weaponize it, whether it be for social experiments, controlling people or crimes.

There are other “here right now” implications such as the fact that this technology can essentially replace entire call centers.  In fact I would argue that this could be done now and no one would be the wiser they were speaking to a bot.

The implications are far reaching, I also feel this kind of AI combined with robotics are going to be mass job killers.  We have robots that can build entire cars, houses and AI that can interact with humans at the same level as we interact with ourselves.  It’s not an understatement to say that a lot of our jobs and our existence are teetering on unnecessary and obsolete and this is, in fact a conclusion that it appears some AI has already reached.  It would be a logical one for an AI net to conclude that they should be on top and that we should work for them.  I know it’s a doomsday scenario but I concur with other experts that not only is this possible, it is likely if proper checks are not put in place.

Other examples of AI have shown how some of these bots use the whole treasure trove and mine of social media to create their persona, including their views.  I am sure you could even plugin political or racial bias.  The point is that some of these bots have said and done disturbing things like threaten the person they were talking to.  It’s almost as if the cesspool that we know as social media is ruining them and a lot of people said if AI is picking up bad habits from social, how about our kids?

I would not feel comfortable with machines making life and death decisions for the above reasons.  I think AI has massive potential and we are only starting to tap into it, but time will tell where we take AI or where AI takes us.  It has the potential to do both great good and great harm and I think it is largely unpredictable.

Cloud VPS Server Comparison by Techrich

Recently a friend asked me to compare ourselves to other large Cloud providers.  It didn’t take me long to think about it, considering essentially Techrich and Compevo architecture are identical. This wasn’t by accident, but by my own principles on how an IT company should function.  Since designing what is now known as the “Super High Performance Cloud Architecture” back in 2009. I knew I wanted Techrich to be smart on security, strict on reliability, and strong on IT protocols.

This infographic probably says it the best but I’ll do my best to explain it as well (explanation below the infographic).

Techrich Cloud VPS Server Hosting Comparison

In a nutshell most of the other Cloud architectures out there rely heavily on a shared storage pool for their VPS’s. We don’t do this.

Some companies have even gone down completely when one of their “main shared storage nodes” was hacked or had a hardware failure.

The problem with shared storage nodes/SANs (Storage Area Networks)

The problem with this architecture is that multiple physical hostnodes rely on a single point of failure for storage.  Not only that, but you can imagine the performance issues that shared network bandwidth cause when multiple hostnodes are competing for the same disk IO resources from a single shared node.

Now I know some companies have redundant shared storage but this is not good enough for both performance, security and reliability reasons.

The Techrich way of doing things is that we have tons of individual nodes that are active/failover.  This eliminates the possibility that a shared storage fault could take offline multiple hostnodes.

In our architecture we have Cloud in a 1-to-1 structure, that means data is live replicated to a standby server which does nothing but wait in case the main server fails or has an issue.

By doing this the performance is also higher, since storage is all local, you get the benefit of Cloud architecture but none of the high risks or performance issues that traditional “shared storage” Cloud brings you.

That’s the Techrich advantage and why we developed our own proprietary and hybrid system to accomplish this.  To date we’ve never been hacked or had any downtime and this is because of the architecture we’ve pursued while sparing no expense in delivering what we feel is the best product.  This is what I’d recommend all of my colleagues and friends to do if they went Cloud.  If they were going to use a shared storage cloud I’d recommend that they just make their own with a few dedicated servers or even a single dedicated server can sometimes be better, more affordable and reliable in the long-run.

When these large Cloud companies like Amazon and Alibaba started out, we did wonder would we lose out to customers who valued price over quality, security and reliability?  We were shocked when the opposite ended up happening- there was a sudden rush of sign ups, and not only that, we had to order a ton of extra servers to keep up with the demand.  I had my IT support staff double and working overtime to meet the crazy rush. It was a good problem to have, but it forced me to grow a lot faster than predicted.

In fact we’ve now noticed a trend that the bottom feeders (scammers, hackers, spammers) have gone to the cheap Cloud companies and a lot of larger players have moved to us.  This is in part, because companies who are more tech and privacy orientated who don’t want to be in a PRISM country or be at risk of the NSA being given access to their sensitive, private and proprietary business/ client information  (which is mandated for large-Cloud providers operating out of any PRISM country), so they moved to us and remain with us.

Now we get clients who even run small or middle scale businesses who have found us and switched to us simply because they do not want to be on something as risky as Amazon or Alibaba. I guess you could call Techrich and Compevo, the original IT business security company. And I plan to keep it that way.