Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

U.S., China, and the AI Cold War

· Andrew Orr · Link

When Google’s AlphaGo system beat Chinese players at the game twice, this set off a sort of AI cold war between China and the United States.

On October 18, 2017, China’s president, Xi Jinping, stood in front of 2,300 of his fellow party members, flanked by enormous red drapes and a giant gold hammer and sickle. As Xi laid out his plans for the party’s future over nearly three and a half hours, he named artificial intelligence, big data, and the internet as core technologies that would help transform China into an advanced industrial economy in the coming decades. It was the first time many of these technologies had explicitly come up in a president’s speech at the Communist Party Congress, a once-in-five-years event.

Rare Inside Look at Apple News Human Curation

· Andrew Orr · News

Ms. Kern is a former executive editor of New York Magazine. Working with her team, they hand pick the top stories of the day to feature in the Apple News app.

Government is Outsourcing Surveillance to Silicon Valley

· Andrew Orr · Link

Sean Captain writes about a report that shows how the government is increasingly outsourcing surveillance to Silicon Valley companies.

While Amazon plays the leading role, the report also details the involvement of companies including Peter Thiel’s Palantir, NEC, and Thomson Reuters in storing, transferring, and analyzing data on both undocumented residents and U.S. citizens.

“There is a transfer of discretion and power from the public sector to the private sector in the form of these contracted technological services,” says Shankar Narayan, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU in Washington State, which was not involved in the report.

The future sounds more dystopian every day.

Russia, China Are Spying on Trump's Insecure iPhone

· Andrew Orr · Link

U.S. intelligence agencies discovered that Russia and China are spying on conversations President Trump has on his insecure iPhone.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

Inflamed by Russian bots, an issue during the 2016 election was Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, because there was a possibility it could be compromised. Now we find that Trump’s iPhone has confirmed to be compromised.

Google Adds Privacy Controls in Search

· Andrew Orr · Link

Google will start showing privacy controls on its search page, instead of forcing users to navigate their My Activity page.

Google calls the new feature Your Data, and has experimented with offering information about data privacy in different formats like video, illustrations, and text. The idea, Miraglia says, is to help as many users as possible understand what data a service collects, why, and what controls are available.

I think it’s a good move by Google, but like Douglas Schmidt said in the article: “It never hurts for people to be reminded that their online activities are being monitored, but I’m not sure it would make anybody feel better about what’s being done with it.”

Fiber Optic Breakthrough Could Make Internet 100X Faster

· Andrew Orr · Link

Researchers have had a fiber optic breakthrough, and it could significantly speed up existing networks and boost efficiency. The secret is twisted light.

Fibre optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information, but currently information can only be stored through the colour of the light, and whether the wave is horizontal or vertical.

By twisting light into a spiral, engineers effectively create a third dimension for light to carry information: the level of orbital angular momentum, or spin. “It’s like DNA, if you look at the double helix spiral,” said Min Gu from RMIT University. “The more you can use angular momentum the more information you can carry.”

I wonder how much current ISPs would throttle this 100X faster internet?

iOS Stardew Valley Game is Now Available

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

You’ve inherited your grandfather’s old farm plot in Stardew Valley. Armed with hand-me-down tools and a few coins, you set out to begin your new life. The iOS Stardew Valley game is available today. Stardew Valley is a farming RPG, in which you can turn your overgrown fields into a lively and bountiful farm, raise and breed happy animals, grow a variety of seasonal crops and design your farm, settle down and start a family with 12 potential marriage candidates, explore vast, mysterious caves, encountering dangerous monsters and valuable treasure, and forage, grow crops and produce artisan goods to cook up as a delicious meal. It was first released as a game for Windows, and was then ported to other platforms.  App Store: Stardew Valley – US$7.99

iOS Stardew Valley Game is Now Available

Bloomberg Spy Chip Piece Doesn't Pass Peer Review

· Andrew Orr · Link

With the famous Bloomberg spy chip article, other news organizations have attempted to copy Bloomberg’s research. But they haven’t gotten the same results.

According to a company source, editorial staff has been “frustrated” that competing news organizations haven’t managed to match the scoop. Sources tell the Erik Wemple Blog that the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The [Washington] Post have each sunk resources into confirming the story, only to come up empty-handed.

In science, peer review is an important part of scientific research. If other scientists follow the exact methodology you used, and they get the same results, your experiment is valid. But if they don’t get the same results, there is something wrong with your experiment.

8 Advanced Photo Editing Techniques for iPhone

· Andrew Orr · Link

Gizmodo has a great list of 8 advanced photo editing techniques for the iPhone.

You might already be familiar with the quick fixes you can apply to your pictures after you’ve snapped them, right on your phone—but if you want to take your mobile photo editing to the next level there are tools and apps that can help here too.

The editing techniques include: Combining photos together (compositing), removing objects from photos, adjusting the depth of field, adjusting white balance, brightening shadows, healing, correcting image distortion, and photo pixelation.

Get These Halloween Movie Bundles on iTunes

· Andrew Orr · News

There are also non-horror bundles on sale as well, like Lord of the Rings, a bunch of Dreamworks movies, Batman, Twilight, etc.

Companies Should Have a Chief Ethics Officer

· Andrew Orr · Link

Who will teach ethics to Silicon Valley? Kara Swisher asks this in her column for The New York Times. A title of Chief Ethics Officer should become the norm.

Grappling with what to say and do about the disasters they themselves create is only the beginning. Then there are the broader issues that the denizens of Silicon Valley expect their employers to have a stance on: immigration, income inequality, artificial intelligence, automation, transgender rights, climate change, privacy, data rights and whether tech companies should be helping the government do controversial things. It’s an ethical swamp out there.

I think the answer to this is US. It’s up to American citizens to elect responsible politicians who will “nudge” corporations into having ethical and privacy standards.

Saudi Arabia Had a Mole Inside Twitter

· Andrew Orr · Link

The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia “groomed a Saudi employee at Twitter” to help spy on certain user accounts, presumably including that of Jamal Khashoggi.

Many Saudis had hoped that Twitter would democratize discourse by giving everyday citizens a voice, but Saudi Arabia has instead become an illustration of how authoritarian governments can manipulate social media to silence or drown out critical voices while spreading their own version of reality.

Once Arab Spring happened back in 2010-2011, I think that was the moment that governments—authoritarian and otherwise—realized the power of social media as a force for the public. And of course some governments don’t like that.