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Topics - Flee

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1
The Flood / Time or money
« on: Today at 02:56:28 PM »
Long story short, I apparently impressed people at a conference and have since been approached by a British consultacy firm with a job offer. They want me work for them as an independent legal expert for research projects and R&D on artificial intelligence. I would't have to move or quit my current job as I'd only be working for them a limited amount of hours a month on the weekends / in the evenings where necessary. On the one hand, I'm really not looking for more work and less free time. On the other, these people have made me a very enticing offer and would compensate me more than generously for my work. As in a weekend of my time would net me more than what most people make in a month. Thing is that my financial situation is good as it is so I don't really need the extra income. It would be nice and a good mark on my resume for the future, but it's definitely not necessary.

What would you do?

2
The Flood / The EU just banned memes
« on: September 14, 2018, 05:29:25 AM »
No it didn't. Don't be dumb.

3
Gaming / Battlefield V
« on: September 09, 2018, 05:40:14 AM »
Anyone playing the beta? Put a few hours into it so far and it seems like a very solid game. Might even get it some time in the future.

4
The Flood / Research papers
« on: August 29, 2018, 01:54:18 AM »


I never realized this wasn't common knowledge. If you didn't already know, you do now.

5
Gaming / Quakecon 2018
« on: August 10, 2018, 08:51:45 AM »
The moment you've all been waiting for is finally here. The main esports event of the year is upon us and it's shaping up to be glorious.



First things first, the Bethesda keynote is happening in just over 2 hours. There will be a DOOM Eternal gameplay reveal as well as more details on Quake Champions, Rage 2 and probably the new Wolfenstein game as well. Link your Bethesda account to your Twitch account and tune in over at twitch.tv/Bethesda for the keynote. A little bit later, head over to twitch.tv/quake for the start of the 2v2 Quake tournament.

6
The Flood / Study: Religion & Economics
« on: July 19, 2018, 11:53:12 AM »
"New research measuring the importance of religion in 109 countries spanning the entire 20th century has reignited an age-old debate around the link between secularisation and economic growth. The study, published in Science Advances, has shown that a decline in religion influences a country's future economic prosperity.

The findings revealed that secularisation precedes economic development and not the other way around. Although this does not demonstrate a causal pathway, it does rule out the reverse.

Furthermore, the findings show that secularisation only predicts future economic development when it is accompanied by a respect and tolerance for individual rights. Countries where abortion, divorce and homosexuality are tolerated have a greater chance of future economic prosperity."

Source: Bristol University.

Makes a lot of sense but nice to see research underpinning it too.

7
Serious / Trump and Russia
« on: July 19, 2018, 03:07:03 AM »
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/trump-intelligence-russian-election-meddling-.html

Pretty good overview of the recent Trump insanity.

"Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed."

The amount of mental gymnastics or just downright stupidity people must have to still support this man is just crazy.

8
Serious / Project Fear
« on: July 09, 2018, 01:38:43 PM »
In the past few days, most of it in just 24 hours:

>Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, resigns over Brexit and states concerns that the UK is headed "for the status of a colony".

>David Davis, the UK Minister for Brexit, resigns as the country is shaping up to "hand control" over to the EU regarding much of the economy and other areas.

>Steve Baker, the no.2 responsible for Brexit, has resigned as he feels his department is being blindsided and the UK is put in a weak negotiating position.

>British Finance Investments dropped 26% in a year while France and Germany soared.

>Latest revealed version of Brexit plan would not allow flexible deviation from EU rules to set up new service/trade agreements with the US.

Marvelous. A political decision rivaled in insanity and folly only by Trump's election is going swimmingly.

STRONG AND STABLE, or something.

10
The Flood / Independent / Alternative Media & Journalism
« on: June 28, 2018, 09:47:07 AM »
Independent journalism and alternative news is something I've seen a lot of people rave about recently. With many deriding the mainstream media (MSM) for various reasons, I've been looking into some of these alternative sources myself. Unfortunately, I haven't warmed up to them much and remain unconvinced of their value over other sources of information. In short, I have three main issues with them.

1. They are independent only in the most narrow sense of the word. They may not be part of an association or work with an editorial board, but this doesn't mean they're free from external influence whatsoever. I'd even say they're more affected by (peer) pressure and coutsider leverage than traditional sources of media. Independent or alternative does not mean they're neutral, objective or fair, and much of this has to do with how important community support is for them.

Spoiler
They are fully paid by their viewers/readers and supporters on sites like Patreon. If people don't click, comment and donate, they will not be able to pay their bills or continue doing this. And most of their community does not follow their content because they're interested in neutral and factual reporting. They're not watching to be challenged, countered or get a nuanced view. They watch because they want to be validated. They want their preconceptions to be confirmed, see that there's thousands like them and have a charismatic and seemingly knowledgable person affirm their views on certain topics.

And that's something that creates a vicious cycle in which these personalities can't really go against what their community expects. They don't want fair. They want a slamdown of the opposition. A Youtuber that amassed a following with videos on anti-feminism, anti-immigration, anti-globalism, anti-PC/SJW, anti-welfare, pro-populism, pro-gun... can't make videos that go against this narrative because it will hurt their income. This is apparent everywhere. A big independent journalist is Tim Pool. I went through his stuff a while ago and in one of his older videos he received quite a few downvotes and plenty of upset comments. Why? Because he said something good about what his audience thinks should be bad. While his videos often seem reasonable, they're very leading and meant to foster a much more radical and vile community - something he must be well aware of. He can get away with diverging a few times, sure, but if he suddenly changes his tune and produces content that doesn't continue a very clear and often slanted narrative of anti-leftism, anti-establishment, anti-MSM and so on, his supporters will no doubt be quick to drop him and move elsewhere as soon as they feel they lost their ally.

So while they are independent in the strictest sense, these outlets are very vulnerable to external influence and often have little to no choice but to continue covering specific topics from a specific angle to feed an established narrative that will be supported by their community. As we're moving further away from the center and closer to the extremes, this is very detrimental to the reliability, accuracy and quality of their content.

2. Their lack of accountability. Like it or not, but the traditional media do have pretty good mechanisms in place to stop abuse. Editorial boards, review procedures, protection of sources, codes of conduct and standards of journalistic integrity, press boards, media watchdogs, procedures to file complaints... Of course, the media still messes up. But more often than not you'll see people being held accountable. Articles will be retracted or corrected in light of new information, apologies will be issued, and certain standards of quality reporting are often enforced. The people employed are usually trained writers and journalists who have received training on doing research and applying right methodologies. Yet in the alternative media, none of that really exists. Fake news will go unchallenged, incorrect information doesn't get amended, there's no sanctions for abuse, no standards of integrity, no nothing stopping anyone from jumping the gun... It's against their interests to do anything like that. You're not going to remove a popular youtube video making you money every day because you made a mistake, nor are you going to take accountability when something incorrect still achieves the desired purpose, puts your name out there and garners community support. And that too should seriously worry anyone who cares about the truth.

3. The often low quality of the content. As a result of the first two points, the actual information they put out is often highly slanted. Positions to the opposite are ignored or underrepresented. Points are often cherrypicked and made with lacking knowledge on a certain topic. Leading questions, thumbnails and titles frame the media from start to finish ("now I'm not saying it's like this, buuuut I'm just suggestively asking loaded questions"). Sources are often missing or of really low quality. Covering the recent Tommy Robinson news, should I involve a legal expert from the UK who actually knows what they're talking about (as several legal blogs covered in great detail) or should I get an American MAGA activist and lawyer who supported Tommy and has no expertise on this topic on the show? Hmm... Covering the topic of gun control, should I get some knowledgable criminologists on here or should I instead feature a gun owner fighting against gun policy, an NRA instructor and a pro-gun youtuber with the other side being represented only by selected street interviews at a march of ignorant people. The answer is pretty clear. Your viewers want metaphorical blood, they don't want someone knowledgable going against the narrative. They want to laugh at some random girl saying all assault rifle 100 magazine round ghost guns should be banned, not have an actual expert provide them with research and hard facts on how the most comprehensive study in history just found very strong evidence in favor of certain types of gun control. They want the MAGA man lament the horrors of Robinson, not a specialized UK lawyer explaining the actual proceedings and confirm that he did get a lawyer and trial and wasn't placed on what amounts to death row. And so that's what you give them.

tl;dr independent / alternative news is by and large unreliable. The lack of accountability, the extremely selective coverage of topics, the strong financial need to satisfy the direct supporters with a clear and biased narrative, and the often low quality and massively slanted reporting of topics are some of the main issues I see. The traditional mainstream media remains the better source of information by an enormous margin. While all news should be taken with a grain of salt, the alternative sources require a lot more than just a single grain.

Interested in your thoughts since I know there's several people here who follow these outlets.

11
The Flood / GDPR
« on: May 24, 2018, 11:28:07 AM »

12
The Flood / Movies to watch before Infinity War
« on: April 28, 2018, 01:09:30 PM »
Ok, going to watch Infinity War. People are saying it's dark so it might actually be a good Marvel superhero movie. What movies do I need to watch beforehand? I've probably seen most already, like Ultron and the first Avengers. I just saw Civil War last night and already watched Black Panther some other time. Do I need to watch Homecoming? Doesn't look interesting at all. Can I just do Thor Ragnarok and be ready?

Also wtf is the deal with Black Widow. Hands down the most annoying character so far. I'm fine with the others but she has literally no interesting powers other than punching people or being sneaky and she doesn't even do that very well. Archer even kicked her ass pretty much. It got annoying during Civil War how often fully armed trained military guys decided that the best course of action was to get within arm's length of her to shoot her or something.

Also Cap getting it on with the little niece of his old girl? Damn, dude just goes for it.

13
The Flood / "Skeptics"
« on: April 07, 2018, 09:48:23 PM »
Are there any skeptic channels that are actually good? I've come across quite a few and they have almost all been little more than excuses for thinly veiled (and often pretty far) right wing personalities pushing a very clear narrative with very little actual skepticism but instead just a lot of slanted, misleading and cherrypicked points under the false pretense of being truthful/rational/logical/intellectual to demonize others (the progressives/leftists/SJWs/marxists/millenials/whatever/alloftheabove) and get their base riled up. So are there any out there that are actually worth watching and apply some academic rigor and nuance?

14
Serious / Cambridge Analytica (US Elections)
« on: March 23, 2018, 09:23:12 PM »
The Guardian: Cambridge Analytica's blueprint for Trump victory

Quote
The blueprint for how Cambridge Analytica claimed to have won the White House for Donald Trump by using Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is revealed for the first time in an internal company document obtained by the Guardian.

The 27-page presentation was produced by the Cambridge Analytica officials who worked most closely on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

A former employee explained to the Guardian how it details the techniques used by the Trump campaign to micro-target US voters with carefully tailored messages about the Republican nominee across digital channels.

Intensive survey research, data modelling and performance-optimising algorithms were used to target 10,000 different ads to different audiences in the months leading up to the election. The ads were viewed billions of times, according to the presentation.

Mark Zuckerberg apologises for Facebook's 'mistakes' over Cambridge Analytica
 Read more
The document was presented to Cambridge Analytica employees in London, New York and Washington DC weeks after Trump’s victory, providing an insight into how the controversial firm helped pull off one of the most dramatic political upsets in modern history.

“This is the debrief of the data-driven digital campaign that was employed for Mr Trump,” said Brittany Kaiser, 30, who was Cambridge Analytica’s business development director until two weeks ago, when she left over a contractual dispute.

She is the second former employee to come forward in less than a week, talking exclusively to the Guardian about the inner workings of the firm, including the work she said it conducted on the UK’s EU membership referendum.

She said she had access to a copy of the same document now obtained by the Guardian, and had used it to showcase the campaign’s secret methods to potential clients of Cambridge Analytica.

Despite the advances made in data-led political campaigning, these were techniques that, according to the presentation, Trump did not have access to when Cambridge Analytica joined his campaign in early June 2016.

The Republican nominee, who had just secured sufficient delegates to become the party’s candidate, still had “no speakable data infrastructure” and “no unifying data, digital and tech strategy”, the document states.

The entire article is definitely worth reading. Especially disturbing is stuff like this. First, control people's first impression by framing the search and topic in a slanted and leading way to make them susceptible to your message ("we have a problem with jobs"). Then, turn it around and go full offensive by posting misleading information and fake news to slander the opposition ("Clinton is a warmonger and supports abandoning American jobs"). Finally, suppress content that opposes your narrative and direct the readers to your side ("Trump's plan to save American jobs"). Millions of people were manipulated by this kind of BS and just roped into putting on blinds to eat up slanted information supporting their initial biases and trying to hide information to the contrary. Insane.


15
Serious / Man guilty of hate crime for filming pug's 'Nazi salutes'
« on: March 23, 2018, 01:17:46 PM »
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-43478925

Quote
A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before putting the footage on YouTube has been convicted of committing a hate crime. Mark Meechan, 30, recorded his girlfriend's pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as "gas the Jews" and "Sieg Heil" by raising its paw. But police were alerted and he was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime. The original clip had been viewed more than three million times on YouTube.

Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, went on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denied any wrong doing.

He insisted he made the video, which was posted in April 2016, to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly, 29. But Sheriff Derek O'Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act that he posted a video on social media and YouTube which was grossly offensive because it was "anti-semitic and racist in nature" and was aggravated by religious prejudice. Sheriff O'Carroll told the court he did not believe Meechan had made the video only to annoy his girlfriend and ruled it was anti-Semitic.

He also said he believed Meechan - who was supported at court by Tommy Robinson, former leader of far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) - left the video on YouTube to drive traffic to other material he had on there. He added: "In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive. "The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand. "This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. "But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility."

Sheriff O'Carroll said Meehan was "quite obviously an intelligent and articulate man". But he added: "The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. "Despite that the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people."

Ross Brown, defending, said Meechan had only intended the video to be seen by a small group of friends and to annoy his girlfriend.  He said the material had been leaked and gone viral but Police Scotland then wrongly pursued Meechan despite his later videos attempting to "set the record straight".

Mr Brown said: "His girlfriend testified that Mr Meechan had never made known to her any anti-Semitic views whatsoever. "The accused possesses both tolerant and liberal views. "His girlfriend is in no doubt it was an example of his sense of humour."

Shameful judgement. Not a fan of the guy but this is undue.

16
Serious / More gun news: Trump & evidence for gun control
« on: March 02, 2018, 01:36:11 PM »
First things first, Donny is actually backing some gun control. Of course, he's as vague as always and doesn't say much of substance, but props to him for at least trying and making comments against the NRA.

NY Times - Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Comprehensive Gun Control

Quote
WASHINGTON — President Trump stunned Republicans on live television Wednesday by embracing gun control and urging a group of lawmakers at the White House to resurrect gun safety legislation that has been opposed for years by the powerful National Rifle Association and the vast majority of his party.

In a remarkable meeting, the president veered wildly from the N.R.A. playbook in front of giddy Democrats and stone-faced Republicans. He called for comprehensive gun control legislation that would expand background checks to weapons purchased at gun shows and on the internet, keep guns from mentally ill people, secure schools and restrict gun sales for some young adults. He even suggested a conversation on an assault weapons ban.

At one point, Mr. Trump suggested that law enforcement authorities should have the power to seize guns from mentally ill people or others who could present a danger without first going to court. “I like taking the guns early,” he said, adding, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

The declarations prompted a frantic series of calls from N.R.A. lobbyists to their allies on Capitol Hill and a statement from the group calling the ideas that Mr. Trump expressed “bad policy.” Republican lawmakers suggested to reporters that they remained opposed to gun control measures.

Not only has this left his subreddit temporarily in shambles (dozens of T_D veterans have been banned just for quoting what Trump said but remember guys, it's the leftists who are emotional snowflakes and can't deal with facts over feelings or something), but it's amazing how the same people supporting him now would've called for little less than public lynchings had Obama ever said that guns should just be taken when seemingly a good idea to the police involved. That said though, bad Donny for bailing on due process.

Second, RAND has just concluded another massive and lengthy study on the topic of gun control.

Quote
Passing an assault weapons ban might prevent 170 mass shooting deaths a year in the US, experts who support gun control estimate. Passing a universal background check law could prevent 1,100 gun homicides each year. Raising the age limit for buying firearms could prevent 1,600 homicides and suicides.

These are some of the new estimates in a groundbreaking study of the potential impact of American gun control laws. The non-partisan analysis, based on a review of existing gun policy research and a survey of the best guesses of both gun rights and gun control experts, was conducted by the Rand Corporation, which spent two years and more than $1m on the project.


The research is further explained here, but it can basically be summed up as "many types of gun control work, they're proven to be effective at saving lives and reducing crime, and it would do a lot of good if it would be expanded in the US". It also states something that I've been saying for years, namely that there's a dire need for a lot more research on American gun violence and the impact of gun control rules, as much is still unknown and there isn't a lot of evidence either way when it comes to some aspects of it. Unfortunately, there still exist budgetary restrictions on what some of the best equipped institutions like the CDC can do in terms of gun research (for those who don't know, the CDC came out with some very factual reporting in the 90's but because it spelled bad news for the gun lobby they've since been limited from researching gun violence because that's the right thing to do or something), so that's a pretty big shame. This isn't very surprising as the amount of evidence in favor of this has been growing for years, but it's always interesting to see these kinds of huge studies from excellent institutions confirm it even more.

17
Serious / Florida school shooting - 17+ dead
« on: February 14, 2018, 06:59:44 PM »
CNN

Quote
At least 17 people were killed Wednesday in a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

The suspect, 19-year-old former student Nikolaus Cruz, is in custody, the sheriff said. The sheriff said he was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons. Police are investigating his digital profile, he said. So far, what they've found is "very, very disturbing," Israel said.

Law enforcement responded to reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly before 3 p.m.
Seventeen people, including the suspect, were sent to area hospitals, said Dr. Evan Boyar of Broward Health. The suspect was treated and released to police. The victims included students and adults, the sheriff said. Twelve were killed inside the building and two died outside, he said. One died in the street and two died at the hospital, Israel said.

Guardian

Quote
Seventeen people were confirmed dead as the United States endured another horrifying school shooting at the hands of a teenage gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle.

Twelve people died inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. Two more died just outside the building, one more died in a nearby street and two more victims died in hospital, a Broward County sheriff confirmed.

After initial reports of a shooter, officers surrounded the campus, directing the evacuation of hundreds of students from the scene, while other teens hid inside closets and under desks to stay safe. Students later told reporters that they at first thought alarms in the school were a fire drill, until they heard gunshots in the hallways.

As first reports emerged, deputies of the Broward County sheriff’s department said the high school was on a “code red” lockdown. The department said there were “at least 14 victims” being taken to a local hospital and medical center, although it was not clear from the statement whether any of them were fatally injured.

However, by 6.30pm local time, police sheriff Scott Israel confirmed the grim news: “It’s a horrific, horrific day. My triplets attended this school, and it’s horrible, just horrible.”

Medical staff confirmed a total of 17 patients had been taken to three hospitals - two patients died, at least three more were in critical condition. The suspect was treated and released into police custody.

Sheriff Israel identified the killer as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was in custody. Israel said Cruz had been “expelled for disciplinary reasons”. (The sheriff’s office had previously released incorrect spellings of his name.)

Israel said: “He had countless magazines, multiple magazines. One AR-15. I do not know if he had a second.”

18
The Flood / Iron Man is real. And he's a crazy Russian.
« on: February 08, 2018, 09:41:05 AM »
https://en.crimerussia.com/gromkie-dela/special-forces-soldier-fights-debt-collectors-wearing-exoskeleton-gets-pardoned/

"Russian Iron Man: Russia's Special Forces soldier and Kosovo war veteran fights debt collectors wearing exoskeleton, gets pardoned.

... However, the one item deserving the most attention is Maltsev’s homemade exoskeleton that earned him the nickname 'Russian Iron Man'.

Maltsev welded the exoskeleton using titanium alloy and reinforcing rods and mounted a helmet on top. He made it so it could be outfitted with a bullet-proof vest. Once, Maltsev armed with the Saiga even chased a debt collector through the yard for all neighbors to see, according to the attorney."


20
The Flood / Russia Nuclear Autonomous Sub
« on: January 24, 2018, 05:11:51 PM »
Looks like we've entered a new age in autonomous system warfare capabilities.

https://www.defensenews.com/space/2018/01/12/russias-nuclear-underwater-drone-is-real-and-in-the-nuclear-posture-review/

"But what really makes Kanyon nightmare fuel is the drone torpedo's payload: a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon. By way of comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons, or the equivalent of 16,000 tons of TNT. Kanyon’s nuke would be the equivalent of 100,000,000 tons of TNT. That’s twice as powerful as Tsar Bomba, the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever tested. Dropped on New York City, a 100-megaton bomb would kill 8 million people outright and injure 6 million more.

Kanyon is designed to attack coastal areas, destroying cities, naval bases, and ports. The mega-bomb would also generate an artificial tsunami that would surge inland, spreading radioactive contamination with the advancing water. To make matters worse there are reports the warhead is “salted” with the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years."

Also, the US apparently doesn't have anything that can really stop it at this point. Maybe it wasn't so bad Putin got Trump elected after all.

21
Serious / Algorithms, errors and police
« on: January 10, 2018, 01:03:04 PM »
YouTube

Video is very short, but the tl;dr is that technology isn't neutral and machines can and do learn bad things from us. Among others, this is particularly troublesome in the area of law enforcement and criminal justice.

Quote
The rise of big data policing rests in part on the belief that data-­based decisions can be more objective, fair, and accurate than traditional policing.

Data is data and thus, the thinking goes, not subject to the same subjective errors as human decision making. But in truth, algorithms encode both error and bias. As David Vladeck, the former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (who was, thus, in charge of much of the law surrounding big data consumer protection), once warned, "Algorithms may also be imperfect decisional tools. Algorithms themselves are designed by humans, leaving open the possibility that unrecognized human bias may taint the process. And algorithms are no better than the data they process, and we know that much of that data may be unreliable, outdated, or reflect bias."

Algorithmic technologies that aid law enforcement in targeting crime must compete with a host of very human questions. What data goes into the computer model? After all, the inputs determine the outputs. How much data must go into the model? The choice of sample size can alter the outcome. How do you account for cultural differences? Sometimes algorithms try to smooth out the anomalies in the data—­anomalies that can correspond with minority populations. How do you address the complexity in the data or the "noise" that results from imperfect results?

Sometimes, the machines get it wrong because of racial or gender bias built into the model. For policing, this is a serious concern. [...]

As Frank Pasquale has written in his acclaimed book The Black Box Society, "Algorithms are not immune from the fundamental problem of discrimination, in which negative and baseless assumptions congeal into prejudice. . . . And they must often use data laced with all-­too-­human prejudice."

Inputs go in and generalizations come out, so that if historical crime data shows that robberies happen at banks more often than at nursery schools, the algorithm will correlate banks with robberies, without any need to understand that banks hold lots of cash and nursery schools do not. "Why" does not matter to the math. The correlation is the key. Of course, algorithms can replicate past biases, so that if an algorithm is built around biased data, analysts will get a biased result. For example, if police primarily arrest people of color from minority neighborhoods for marijuana, even though people of all races and all neighborhoods use marijuana at equal rates, the algorithm will correlate race with marijuana use.

The algorithm will also correlate marijuana with certain locations. A policing strategy based on such an algorithm will correlate race and drugs, even though the correlation does not accurately reflect the actual underlying criminal activity across society. And even if race were completely stripped out of the model, the correlation with communities of color might still remain because of the location. A proxy for racial bias can be baked into the system, even without any formal focus on race as a variable. [...]

As mathematician Jeremy Kun has written, "It’s true that an algorithm itself is quantitative—­it boils down to a sequence of arithmetic steps for solving a problem. The danger is that these algorithms, which are trained on data produced by people, may reflect the biases in that data, perpetuating structural racism and negative biases about minority groups."

Big data policing involves a similar danger of perpetrating structural racism and negative biases about minority groups. "How" we target impacts "whom" we target, and underlying existing racial biases means that data-­driven policing may well reflect those biases.

This is a much bigger problem than most people realize. It's only really entered the spotlight over the past two or three years and is only just now becoming mainstream. Figured I'd make a thread about it to bring some life to Serious and because this is what I am currently working on (making AI accountable).

22
Serious / Damore sues Google
« on: January 09, 2018, 05:17:09 PM »
The Guardian - James Damore sues Google, alleging intolerance of white male conservatives

Quote
Class-action lawsuit led by fired engineer includes 100 pages of internal documents and claims conservatives are ‘ostracized, belittled, and punished’

Google is facing renewed controversy over its alleged intolerance toward conservatives at the company, after a class action lawsuit filed by former engineer James Damore disclosed almost 100 pages of screen shots of internal communications in which employees discuss sensitive political issues.

The evidence appended to the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday, includes a message from Rachel Whetstone, who worked as a senior Google executive after a career in the UK Conservative party, bemoaning “prejudiced and antagonistic” political discourse at the company.

Damore, who was fired in 2017 after writing a controversial memo about gender and technology, alleges in the lawsuit that white, male conservative employees at Google are “ostracized, belittled, and punished”.

The lawsuit claims that numerous Google managers maintained “blacklists” of conservative employees with whom they refused to work; that Google has a list of conservatives who are banned from visiting the campus; and that Google’s firings of Damore and the other named plaintiff, David Gudeman, were discriminatory.

“We look forward to defending against Mr Damore’s lawsuit in court,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

The company’s workforce, like much of the rest of the tech industry, is overwhelmingly white, Asian, and male. In 2017, the US Department of Labor accused Google of “extreme pay discrimination” against women, and a group of women have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company alleging systemic wage discrimination.

But the Damore lawsuit purports to expose a cultural bias toward promoting diversity and “social justice” that, the suit claims, has created a “protected, distorted bubble of groupthink”. Efforts to increase the representation of women and underrepresented racial minorities, which companies like Google have undertaken in response to external criticism, are cast in the suit as illegal discrimination against the majority.

Screenshots of internal communications reveal numerous employees appearing to support the idea of being intolerant toward certain points of view, such as one post arguing that Google should respond to Damore’s memo by “disciplining or terminating those who have expressed support”. In another post, a manager stated his intention to “silence” certain “violently offensive” perspectives, writing: “There are certain ‘alternative views, including different political views’ which I do not want people to feel safe to share here … You can believe that women or minorities are unqualified all you like … but if you say it out loud, then you deserve what’s coming to you”.

Internal posts discussing the debate around diversity at Google, such as a meme of a penguin with the text “If you want to increase diversity at Google fire all the bigoted white men”, are filed as an appendix to the lawsuit under the heading “Anti-Caucasian postings”.

One manager is quoted as posting: “I keep a written blacklist of people whom I will never allow on or near my team, based on how they view and treat their coworkers. That blacklist got a little longer today.” Another screenshot reveals a manager proposing the creation of a list of “people who make diversity difficult”, and weighing the possibility that individuals could have “something resembling a trial” before being included.

In the 2014 email from Whetstone, who served as senior vice-president of communications and public policy at Google for several years before departing for Uber, she wrote: “It seems like we believe in free expression except when people disagree with the majority view … I have lost count of the times at Google, for example, people tell me privately that they cannot admit their voting choice if they are Republican because they fear how other Googlers react.”

The complaint argues that Google’s tolerance for “alternative lifestyles” – the company has internal mailing lists for people interested in “furries, polygamy, transgenderism, and plurality” – does not extend to conservatism. One employee who emailed a list seeking parenting advice related to imparting a child with “traditional gender roles and patriarchy from a very young age” was allegedly chastised by human resources.

The suit also alleges that Google maintains a “secret” blacklist of conservative authors who are banned from being on campus. Curtis Yarvin, a “neoreactionary” who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug, was allegedly removed from the campus by security after being invited to lunch. The plaintiffs subsequently learned, it is claimed in the suit, that Alex Jones, the InfoWars conspiracy theorist, and Theodore Beale, an “alt-right” blogger known as VoxDay, were also banned from the campus.

The suit will likely reignite the culture wars that have swirled around the tech industry since the election of Donald Trump. Many liberals within the tech industry have pressured their employers to take a stand against Trump policies, such as the Muslim travel ban, and companies have struggled to decide the extent to which they will allow the resurgent movement of white nationalists to use their platforms to organize.

Damore’s firing in August last year was heavily covered by the rightwing media, which portrayed the saga as evidence of Silicon Valley’s liberal bias, and the engineer was transformed into a political martyr by prominent members of the “alt-right”.

In making its case against Google, the suit reveals some of the internal backlash Damore received after his memo went viral, including a mass email in which a Google director called the memo “repulsive and intellectually dishonest” and an email to Damore from a fellow engineer stating: “I will keep hounding you until one of us is fired.”

Gudeman, the second named plaintiff, was fired following a post-election controversy in another online forum at Google. A Google employee posted that he was concerned for his safety under a Trump administration because he had already been “targeted by the FBI (including at work) for being a Muslim”. According to the suit, Gudeman responded skeptically to the comment, raising questions about the FBI’s motives for investigating the employee, and was reported to HR.

Gudeman was fired shortly thereafter, the suit claims, after Google HR told him that he had “accused [the Muslim employee] of terrorism”.

The public reaction to this is of course very reasonable, nuanced and well thought out.

23
Gaming / Playstation 4
« on: December 25, 2017, 01:43:22 PM »
>thumbsticks at the same height

Literally how incompetent do you have to be to think this is good design holy fuck Japan can't do anything right

That said, I now have a PS4 with Bloodborne. What other games are worth it? Horizon Zero Dawn seems promising but what else? Uncharted? Last of Us. Lots of weeb stuff, unfortunately, so that obviously shouldn't apply.

24
Gaming / The Nintendo Switch
« on: December 08, 2017, 08:22:57 AM »
Say I, hypothetically speaking, might consider getting one. Is it any good? And are the games? Yeah, there's the Zelda and Mario, but what else?

25
Serious / wow I love the EU now
« on: November 30, 2017, 12:03:11 PM »
Trouble brewing: AB InBev accused of keeping cheap beer from Belgians

EU investigation finds brewer may have deliberately prevented cheaper imports from reaching consumers in Belgium

Quote
It is an announcement that could hardly be better designed to get the blood of the average Belgian boiling.

The European commission has said drinkers in the country have probably been paying over the odds for their favourite beers for years.

AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewing company, has been accused by Brussels of charging less for its popular Jupiler and Leffe beers in France and the Netherlands than in Belgium, and using its dominant position in the Belgian market to get away with it.

Such news would undoubtedly prove a blow to drinkers in any country. For Belgians, however, where beer is one of the few unifying cultural artefacts of its multilingual society, the ruling is particularly galling.

Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement on Thursday: “Belgian consumers may have had to pay more for their favourite beers.

“Our preliminary finding is that AB InBev may have deliberately prevented cheaper beer imports out of France and the Netherlands from reaching consumers in Belgium. Such practices would breach EU competition rules, because they deny consumers the benefits of the EU single market – choice and lower prices.”

After a year-long investigation, the commission said it believed there was evidence that AB InBev had been pursuing “a deliberate strategy” for at least eight years to prevent supermarkets and wholesalers from buying Jupiler and Leffe at lower prices in the Netherlands and France and importing them into Belgium.

It is claimed the company changed the packaging of Jupiler and Leffe beer cans in the Netherlands and France to make them harder to sell in Belgium.

It is also alleged they removed French text from cans in the Netherlands, and Dutch text from its cans in France, to prevent their sale in the French and Dutch speaking parts of Belgium, respectively.

The brewer is further accused of limiting Dutch retailers’ access to key products and promotions in order to prevent them from bringing less expensive beer products to Belgium.

AB InBev is based in Leuven and has a £38.8bn turnover. Last year it completed a merger worth £76.5bn with SAB Miller.

It said it was working constructively with the commission on the complaints and that integrity was a core principle of the company.

A spokesman said: “It would not be appropriate for us to comment further concerning the European commission’s decision to issue a statement of objections in relation to certain alleged practices on the Belgian beer market, other than that we have been working constructively with the EC since the investigation was announced in June 2016.

“Thursday’s announcement is a procedural step. A statement of objections is not a final decision on the outcome of the case. As a company, we take compliance very seriously.”

This will not stand.

26
Gaming / Can I see your ID please
« on: November 24, 2017, 03:35:03 PM »
>go to American Gamestop on Black Friday because that's what do in the US
>place order for Shadow of War
>millions of people
>slow / incompetent staff takes half an hour
>get carded
>tip the man wearing a Star Wars Christmas sweater
>leave the store
>clap all the way to the car

2/10 would not go again

27
Gaming / Lootboxes = Gambling
« on: November 21, 2017, 07:03:30 PM »
http://www.pcgamer.com/belgium-says-loot-boxes-are-gambling-wants-them-banned-in-europe/

Haven't read the Belgian sources yet, but I'll report back soon. This could legit be huge in the future and change these kinds of lootbox practices everywhere.

Quote
Belgium says loot boxes are gambling, wants them banned in Europe

Last week, Belgium's Gaming Commission announced that it had launched an investigation into whether the loot boxes available for purchase in games like Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront 2 constitute a form of gambling. Today, VTM News reported that the ruling is in, and the answer is yes.

The Google translation is a little sloppy, as usual, but the message is clear enough. "The mixing of money and addiction is gambling," the Gaming Commission declared. Belgium's Minister of Justice Koen Geens also weighed in, saying, "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child."

Geens, according to the report, wants to ban in-game purchases outright (correction: if you don't know exactly what you're purchasing), and not just in Belgium: He said the process will take time, "because we have to go to Europe. We will certainly try to ban it."

And now, things will start to get interesting. I've reached out to the Gaming Commission for more information, and will update if I receive a reply.

28
The Flood / What do you do on long flights?
« on: November 18, 2017, 12:25:23 PM »
I've got 11 hours of flying ahead of me tomorrow and am already dreading it. What do you do on those long flights? I'm planning on:

- Watching movies (brought my own laptop + HDD with stuff on there, and the trans-atlantic flight should have an on-board entertainment system)
- Listening to music
- Reading
- Doing work
- Playing pokemon on my DS
- (Sleeping, as if)

29
The Flood / In France for a week
« on: November 13, 2017, 09:23:34 AM »
I'm in Southern France for work. What do in my spare time?

30
The Flood / Court blocks internet access to Sci-Hub
« on: November 08, 2017, 08:14:17 AM »
https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/7/16618874/court-pirate-science-site-sci-hub-shut-down

I remember this being brought up before. Unlikely that anything will happen to it, but do any of you know other sites like it for ebooks and publications? Libgen comes to mind.

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