Page 2 – News Debris for the Week of January 16th

An Apple Invasive Maneuver

I don’t know what to think of this first item. Yet. It could be a mistake by Apple. Or it could be something more insidious, agenda driven and just plain lame. Deserving of scorn. But until it all sorts out and I learn more, I’m just going to pass this on. “No internet connection? Be prepared for iTunes to drive you crazy.

About iTunes 12.5.3.16

The gist is that as of iTunes 12.5.4, you’ll be unable to play your music in iTunes, even songs you’ve ripped from a purchased CD, without incessant pestering to have an internet connection. (I’ve communicated with Kirk McElhearn, and he confirmed that this applies to any song.) Author McElhearn writes:

But what if you don’t have internet access? Your connection is down; or your router is broken; or you simply don’t want your computer to connect to the internet? Well, iTunes will remind you of this, over and over and over. In such a case, iTunes will pop up an alert every single time you play a song and every time one song finishes and another one begins.

Apple couldn’t possibly believe that this is a good thing to add to a music player that may not be on the internet, trying to play personally ripped music from CDs. If they do, there will be much to talk about. Or it could have been a careless decision that will be remedied in the next release. Stay tuned because I will be monitoring this closely.

[UPDATE: This issue appears to be fixed in iTunes 12.5.5, released January 23, 2017.]

More Debris….

On the AI front, I’ve found a couple on interesting entries. The first involved the well-known exponential effect of AI. Right now, humans design AIs. When we get to the point where AIs help human design AIs, progress will escalate. In turn, when AIs alone design AIs the effects will be exponential. Now this article doesn’t delved into that specifically, but its a taste of what’s in store. “Artificial-Intelligence Developers: We’re Thinking beyond Autonomous Cars.

For entry #2, I ran across this topic last week, but couldn’t find the recent reference again. The original discussion is from early 2016, so that’s the best reference I have right now. It’s worth revisiting. It all has to do with the conditions under which an AI or robot/AI might refuse an order from a human being.
Why robots need to be able to say ‘No’.” Fascinating.

The robot that refused an order.

Robot refuses order to advance. It’s not safe. Until human says he’ll catch it.

There is, I think, an emerging trend in software driven services on the internet. Namely, the capabilities, computer languages and budgets for human beings to build the grand services that can be envisioned is outstripped by the complexity of the code and the scope of the project. In other words, it seems no amount of testing can ensure that a grand service delivery project can function at a high level at the outset. As a result, services are rolled out that frustrate rather than delight. Even Apple is subject to this effect, although I think Apple is better at it than many other companies. For example, “DirecTV Now is seriously broken.

Have you noticed that Safari can’t play the latest 4K videos (posted after 12/6/2016) from YouTube? There’s a reason, and Rob Griffiths explains. “Safari and the YouTube 4K video problem.” Solution? Use Chrome.

Asking smart questions is always a good way to explore modern technology. The Street has some for Apple’s foray into original content.

I bring up the next item because it plays into modern tech and that’s always related to Apple. Namely, why do physicists make such good programmers? (I know. I was one.) I think it’s because so much of modern tech involves the representation of real world phenomena. A good example is asking a programming team at Pixar to represent flowing water. Or hair in the wind. The understanding of physical principles and the casting into code that visualizes is at play here. This physics expertise is also necessary for realistic games. More discussion here: “Move Over, Coders—Physicists Will Soon Rule Silicon Valley.

In the early days of computing, input was via analog plugs and switches. Then came paper tape, magnetic tape and punch cards. Then we graduated to the command line. Then came the WIMP GUI, windows, icons, menus and pointer. Now, we’ve transitioned to the touch interface. That means the Mac is an endangered species. However. Dan Moren makes the case. “The case for a touchscreen Mac.

Finally, does a corporation that holds and transmits private personal data and communications for its customers have the right to inform the customer when the government wants to see that data? At issue is whether a corporation can act on behalf of a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights. Here’s an good explanation of the issues. “Microsoft’s standing to sue over secret U.S. data requests in question.

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Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.

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ibuck

Adding to wab95’s comments, imagine Samsung wanted to release a self-driving vehicle or a robot, and wanted to beat Apple (or another manufacturer) to market. Would they wait until it could “be safely deployed, and will accommodate not simply inevitable lapses in human judgement, but will be reasonably hardened against malicious intent?” Regulation must be required to prevent safety flaws.

I’ll be relieved if robots and robotic cars are required to have a simple human override that disables them when necessary.

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Of the themes you’ve chosen for this week’s PD, I find two most intriguing, namely the Apple Watch as a medical device (shockingly), specifically a bio-med lab, and second the interplay between robotics and AI, specifically the capacity of a robot to refuse a human command. You, and other writers at TMO like Bryan Chaffin and Jeff Gamet have, on several occasions, addressed the topic of the Apple Watch and health, specifically the role of sensors to monitor specific health indicators, and several comments have followed, including from yours truly, outlining both specific technical issues and longterm, high level… Read more »

RonMacGuy

Why does it have to be non-invasive? I’d be OK with a sensor or two under my skin or, perhaps, even deeper, that my Watch can connect with (securely, of course) that can detect medical issues or provide data that is more accurate and reliable than hoping I sweat enough for my Watch to pick up. Well, maybe… until Google hacks it from a passing android phone and starts to send me emails about dialysis equipment that I may need down the road…

🙂

Mike Weasner

Regarding the iTunes fiasco, I see two scenarios for this to have happened. A similar problem has occurred with the new (improperly named) iOS TV app from Apple (which replaced the Video app). 1. Apple believes that users have purchased ALL their audio and video content FROM Apple. So, in order to verify that the audio or video you want to play is legally yours, Apple has to check that you have purchased it (from Apple). Of course, that requires an Internet connection. (The iOS TV app actually has the reverse problem. You have to disable Wi-Fi and Cell networking… Read more »

MacFrogger

And of course measuring the oxygen level of your blood is easy – when the hemoglobin in your red blood cells has oxygen bound to it, it is distinguishable spectroscopically from hemoglobin that does not have oxygen bound to it. There are already commercial devices out there that exclusively perform this function, and integrating this tech into a watch should be relatively easy.

MacFrogger

The fact that your perspiration has the same glucose concentration as your serum has been known for a long time, and the idea of developing a watch that monitors glucose concentrations non-invasively based on this was first pursued by a start-up co (Cygnus) in Redwood City CA many years ago. It was specifically targeted towards diabetics for obvious reasons – who wants to prick themselves with a lance to get enough blood to do a glucose test? I know all this because a good friend worked there – they even successfully launched a product called the Glucowatch. It has since… Read more »

Lee Dronick

Yeah, that iTunes thing would be a PR disaster.

geoduck

I like the idea of a “lab on your wrist”. That would be the sort of thing that would get me to get an AppleWatch.

You mentioned the CBC Blood Test. Sorry but I immediately wondered why the Canadian Broadcasting Company needed blood tests.

Yes that iTunes thing would be bloody annoying. However I just can’t believe Apple would ship it like that. Even THEY have to know that sometimes people are offline. This had to be a beta glitch that won’t appear in the final product.