@tessamakeslove: Will the New Digital Generation Be Remembered as the Lost Digital Generation?

I think I am having a déjà vu. I think what’s happening to the new, shiny digital generation in the U.S. has already happened to the generation of my grandparents in the Soviet Union. The enthusiasm is oddly recognizable and mildly tragic.

They are not going to care about my observations. They are going to live their lives in a man-made world that doesn’t really exist, and listen to the sound of their enthusiastic voices, and they will tell everybody the tale of Progress, and then they will get old, and tired, and feel empty and deceived, and if they are lucky enough then their children and grandchildren will love them and treat them with gratitude and respect not because of their views but because that’s how children and grandchildren treat elders.

While they are in the prime of their “influencing” though, I am dying to show them some old Soviet movies. The vibe is almost identical!

I never thought I would relate to the generation of people who witnessed the new, enthusiastic slogan-walkers disrupting everything left and right in the name of the bright future. But I am witnessing it, and it’s trippy! And wow, staying sane and not pontificating all day takes some work.

What do you tell a person who is tragically misled and endearingly human?

Read the post from Tessa Lena on Tessa Fights Robots

@noamcohen: Silicon Valley is Not Your Friend

Late last month, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a brief post on Facebook at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, asking his friends for forgiveness not just for his personal failures but also for his professional ones, especially “the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together.” He was heeding the call of the Jewish Day of Atonement to take stock of the year just passed as he pledged that he would “work to do better.”

Such a somber, self-critical statement hasn’t been typical for the usually sunny Mr. Zuckerberg, who once exhorted his employees at Facebook to “move fast and break things.” In the past, why would Mr. Zuckerberg, or any of his peers, have felt the need to atone for what they did at the office? For making incredibly cool sites that seamlessly connect billions of people to their friends as well as to a global storehouse of knowledge?

Lately, however, the sins of Silicon Valley-led disruption have become impossible to ignore.

Facebook has endured a drip, drip of revelations concerning Russian operatives who used its platform to influence the 2016 presidential election by stirring up racist anger. Google had a similar role in carrying targeted, inflammatory messages during the election, and this summer, it appeared to play the heavy when an important liberal think tank, New America, cut ties with a prominent scholar who is critical of the power of digital monopolies. Some within the organization questioned whether he was dismissed to appease Google and its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, both longstanding donors, though New America’s executive president and a Google representative denied a connection.

Meanwhile, Amazon, with its purchase of the Whole Foods supermarket chain and the construction of brick-and-mortar stores, pursues the breathtakingly lucrative strategy of parlaying a monopoly position online into an offline one, too.

Now that Google, Facebook, Amazon have become world dominators, the question of the hour is, can the public be convinced to see Silicon Valley as the wrecking ball that it is?

These menacing turns of events have been quite bewildering to the public, running counter to everything Silicon Valley had preached about itself.

Read the post on the New York Times

@gamoid: Google will permanently disable a control on its new $50 speaker after the gadget listened in on some users

Google is permanently disabling a feature on the forthcoming Google Home Mini smart speaker after a reviewer discovered that it was surreptitiously recording his conversations without his knowledge or consent.

The issue, Google says, was that the button on top of the device was faulty and would sometimes activate on its own. In response, Google acknowledged the bug and issued a software update that would disable that button for all users while it explored a long-term fix.

Now that change will be permanent.

Read the post on Business Insider

[Editor Charlie sez:  It’s not the first time…]

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“Google Wants to Make Creepy Bunny Rabbits to Talk to Your Kids” https://qz.com/410122/google-wants-to-make-creepy-bunny-robots-to-talk-to-your-kids/

@musictechpolicy: The Flaw Behind Zuckerberg’s Universal Basic Income Scam

His new social contract can be summarized thusly:  Bend over.

A “cushion to try new ideas”?  Really?  You mean when you get fired off off a good paying middle class job because you trained a robot to do your job, a robot owned by say royalty deadbeat Zuckerberg, that you feel great about it because you’ve got a “cushion to try new ideas” like not losing your house.

And just who might pick up the tab for these costs directly attributed to automation?  Directly attributed to the profitable robots owned by Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin?

Is the proposal that the cost be borne by the corporations that caused the harm?  Or by all the taxpayers to keep the Great Unwashed under control so they don’t burn down Facebook?

Read the post on The Trichordist

@musictechpolicy: Must Read Post by @miramulholland on the Significance of the Loss of Professional Creators

Miranda Mulholland is one of the most articulate advocates for artist rights.  Her talk at the Economic Club of Canada is among the top essays on the economic realities of being a professional artist in the post-Google creative apocalypse.  In particular, Miranda tells the story of the independent “niche” artist who lacks the big advances from major labels because she creates outside of the Katy Perry-Coldplay-Rhianna style lock.

In her recent must-read post, Digital Revolution Fosters More Hurried, Less Skillful Creative Process Miranda points out the important negative effect of the algorithms that surround us (reminiscent of Cathy O’Neil’s groundbreaking Weapons of Math Destruction) and how an algorithmic life is antithetical to creativity and how creativity is the antidote to the algorithmic life.

It’s unfortunate that Google has actually attacked her in some twisted logic suggesting that supporting professional creators is somehow elitist.  Given Google’s own vaunted personnel practices (for which it is currently being sued), and the smarter-than-thou hacker culture, you would have thought Google would embrace a call for professionalism among creators especially one from a professional creator who somehow manages to make a living in the current algorithmically compromised environment.

Read the post on MusicTechPolicy

@davidclowery: Torrent Freak Reports that Spotify Used “Pirated” MP3 Files To Launch Service and Why That Matters

Spotify’s counsel Christopher Sprigman recently made the argument in  Bluewater Music Services v. Spotify that the service isn’t required to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters because they aren’t really making copies  except for those covered by “fair use” and “ephemeral” exceptions.   This extremely aggressive argument seems to many (but not all*) music publishing experts to be dubious and more than a little “piratey.”

IMHO this is because piracy is in the DNA of Spotify. First Spotify CEO Daniel Ek made his first millions as founder of torrenting client uTorrent.  Second, one of Spotify’s early investors  Sean Parker of Napster fame  declared “Spotify would finish what Napster started.” Third, until 2014 Spotify in the US operated as a peer to peer service copying and distributing millions of files using the devices of their customers (and BTW this completely undermines Sprigman’s copy argument).

Now there is this from Torrent Freak:

“Spotify Threatened Researchers Who Revealed ‘Pirate’ History”

Read the post on The Trichordist

@jonathantaplin: Why The 1 Percent Needs Google and Facebook

When Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute in 1974, his mission (in words from Cato’s journal) was “protecting capitalism from government.” That meant the end of public education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as cutting taxes on the rich and government regulations on business. It was a tall order—but now, for the first time in 44 years, Koch and his billionaire libertarian friends like Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel are within sight of their goal of building a true oligarchy (Aristotle’s “rule by the rich”). The current Trump tax cut will deliver billions of dollars into the pockets of the Kochs, the Mercers, the Trumps, and their heirs. Creating a political economy in which the wealthy minority rule over the middle and lower class majority is a hard task. It requires mechanisms that suppress voting and mechanisms for propaganda that convince middle class voters that cultural divisions are more important than economic equality. In both these tasks, Google and Facebook have been a key to the success of the 1 percent.

The role of the internet in propaganda and voter suppression is a two-pronged attack. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World foresaw our current dilemma—Huxley’s assertion was that technology would lead to passivity. The ease with which we could consume mind-numbing entertainment and distractions would ultimately rot our democracy. And this is exactly what may be happening. In the 2016 presidential election, 94 million citizens who were eligible to vote declined to exercise that privilege (compared to the 136 million who voted), according to the United States Election Project. And a much larger percentage of millennials are nonvoters. As Kevin Drum reported in Mother Jones, “In 1967 there was very little difference between the youngest and oldest voters. By 1987 a gap had opened up, and by 2014 that gap had become a chasm.” Beyond the extreme apathy, Republican legislatures in many states have instituted far more restrictive voter ID laws, which have also contributed to lower voting rates. But Steve Bannon wasn’t content to leave voter suppression to chance. One of his brilliant moves was to circulate memes on Facebook targeting only African American voters with the text: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” By all accounts it was a successful voter suppression strategy….

We have been here before. But not since the days at the turn of the 20th century, when Teddy Roosevelt took on the monopolies of John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, has the country faced such concentration of wealth and power.

Read the post on Washington Monthly