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.
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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.

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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

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.

Facebook Expands To Spy On The Workforce

Apparently Facebook is trying to be a better spy.  They’re integrating common workplace apps such as Microsoft Sharepoint and many other commonly used digital tools in the workplace.  This is a strategic move so they could sell this data to the highest bidder in order for another IT company to get an advantage over the competition.  With this new level of spying Facebook gets an idea of what tools people prefer since they already know more than we do about ourselves.  As with people data, data based on their work habits is extremely valuable as it filters up to knowing how their workplace functions.

I admit this was written nearly entirely with sarcasm but I’m really not joking.

The Future Of Blockchain Currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin belong to governments, banks and large corporate players.

One aspect of cryptocurrencies that some users aren’t aware of is that decentralized blockchain based currencies are in their own ways their own worst enemy.  The blockchain is the problem, as currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum keep getting slower due to their limited transactions per second, and the blockchain gets large this has started the end game.   The end game is clearly spelled out in Ethereum’s current white paper and it’s that essentially the blockchain will get so large no small players (individuals) will be able to participate.   This is because all transactions are stored in the blockchain ledger, and the more transactions the larger it gets.  Eventually the blockchains will grow to several terabytes and require more memory.  This will mean that only big corporate, government and banking players will have the resources to control these so-called decentralized currencies.  It is really inevitable unless a mechanism is adopted for off-loading this storage to trusted third parties.

I may not be a huge Microsoft fan but I think Ankur Patel has stated what many in the cryptocurrency already understand to be correct.

Patel said that blockchains that increase network capacity through on-chain scaling, which involves raising the blocksize, will eventually experience degraded centralization and will not be able to function on a “world-scale.”

https://www.ccn.com/public-blockchain-chain-scaling-degrades-decentralization-microsoft-researcher/

This is something that Stellar Lumens and Ripple essentially do.  They are a centralized blockchain that are generally faster than the competitors but are centralized and literally supported by big corporate players and banks.  These have pros and cons.  As an investment they are an excellent hedge against threatened regulations that people fear for the decentralized currencies and they also provide real value and work very well.

Is this all bad?  It’s hard to say because public blockchains can be attacked literally with DDOS/SPAM/bad blocks and this has happened with all the major currencies.  On top of that you are still giving up trust to unknown people and the value and stability of these currencies are at risk for other reasons such as hardfork cash grabs like Bitcoin Cash and the Bitcoin Gold Group.

The future is bright for crypto but these uncertainties need to be accounted for and sorted out.  It may be that the future is going to involve a combination of foundations and semi-decentralized currencies.