DuckDuckGo vs Google Chrome

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Last month, Google announced the launch of a new web technology called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which would gradually replace the tradition of browsers and third-party websites storing user data (cookies). However, privacy-focused companies such as Brave, DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and others denied Google’s request to incorporate FloC in their respective browsers. They also argue that Google’s algorithm is overall harmful to the users.

Firstly let us illustrate what ‘Cookies’ do.

Cookies are text files containing small amounts of data that are used to mark your device when you connect to a computer network. They allow websites to remember you, your website logins, shopping carts, and other information. When a user returns to a website, the website recognizes that he or she has already visited and allows the user to continue where they left off.

Cookies are primarily used to better understand user habits (e.g., most visited websites, most recently purchased or observed items) and to provide better search results. Advertisers may use this information to display targeted advertisements for goods that are likely to appeal to that individual and result in a purchase.

Google believes FLoC is the perfect alternative to cookies and encourages others to use it.

FLoC, according to the company, would enable users to remain anonymous when browsing websites, as well as increase privacy by allowing publishers to display specific ads to groups. Rather than being tracked individually, the browsing history would be grouped with other people who have similar interests. In addition, if the user’s browsing behavior changes, the user is grouped with other users. As a result Companies would be less likely to build individual profiles based of this information.

FLoC is considered by Google to be a fair, privacy-first function, however DuckDuckGo tries to communicate that there are several gaps in how it operates. The first is that since you’ve already been allocated to a group, advertisers would have an easier time identifying you.

“With FLoC, by simply browsing the web, you are automatically placed into a group based on your browsing history. Websites you visit will immediately be able to access this group FLoC ID and use it to target ads or content at you. It’s like walking into a store where they already know all about you! In addition, while FLoC is purported to be more private because it is a group, combined with your IP address (which also gets automatically sent to websites) you can continue to be tracked easily as an individual.”

Second, there is no way to opt out of it. You have some control over what information is stored about you with cookies, but you won’t have that choice here.

All in all, DuckDuck Go states that FLoC will allow Google to store all the information about you on their servers, which in the end will be more beneficial for the advertisers and e-commerce websites. With their move where they advise to stop using Chrome they say that they just want to stop Google tracking behaviour of people.

DuckDuckGo has also published a guide on how to avoid FLoC, as well as some offensive countermeasures to Google’s new ploy. The first point of the guide explicitly tells people to stop using Google Chrome. They also demonstrated some options in Chrome’s settings menu that could be helpful to users’ privacy. DuckDuckGo’s Chrome extension has also been modified to block FLoC.

Sources:

https://spreadprivacy.com/block-floc-with-duckduckgo/

https://fossbytes.com/duckduckgo-guide-block-google-floc/

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Lifestyle Medicine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It is a concept that puts one’s health at the center of day-to-day activities.

Lifestyle
For an average European, the most iconic is an Italian lifestyle where you drink espresso and smoke a cigarette while vividly talking to your comrades. However, each country or even region got some original lifestyle, a mixture of various influences. All of them have a central point around which all of the other activities are orbiting. For thousands of years, it was food. Growing it, preparing, eating, and the loop goes on. The prioritization applied by our ancestors was smart and reasonable. However, in the 21st century, in most developing and developed countries, food is no longer a central point.

Medicine
We are full, we are warm, and we are sick. Not even to mention the last case of increased virus infections worldwide. In short chronic diseases are the plague of modern societies. Earlier mentioned central point of life has turned to one’s health management. People live longer does not necessarily mean that people are, on average, more satisfied with their lives. On the one hand, medicine increased life expectancy by applying advanced treatment methods to fight the disease. On the other hand, improving quality of life after diagnosis was not a case of medical research, and a similar situation happened to preventive medicine.

Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

Lifestyle Medicine
Here is where lifestyle medicine enters as the bridge between lifestyle and disease treatment. It focuses on preventing diseases and fast reactions to any early symptoms. It consists of the four pillars: stress management, physical activity, relationships, nutrition.

The concept is relatively new both among the patients and health care professionals. However, there already exists an American College of Lifestyle Medicine, which is primarily an educational organization. Web analytics indicate that it is the most viewed one in this matter. It plays the central role of medical lifestyle topics on the web, with 10 thousand visitors a month. As we can see, the statistics for ACLM are impressive considering its yet short existence. The area that lifestyle medicine touches upon is yet to discover and learn more. “All of the diseases we worry about in our patients, ourselves or family members result from lifestyle-related behaviors that we often don’t talk about” says Sarah Keyes, a certified lifestyle medicine professional at Baylor College of Medicine.

The role of LM in chronic disease prevention and treatment is promising as “Lifestyle medicine approaches medical care of chronic non-communicable diseases from a new dimension,” says Dr. Vernes, who sees a big future in LM as a key to the patient-centric relationship between patients and doctors.

Lifestyle medicine is the concept present for decades and already know as the so-called healthy lifestyle. Hence, it is not new, but it has scientific support this time. Its wide adoption is in the good interest of many sides. Governments see it as a key to a healthy population, which will live long enough to fulfill tax-based strategies. Pharmaceutical corporations support the trend and already establish grants for studies in this area. All that seems like a very slow-growing turning point, which will change healthcare for the better.

Sources:

https://medicalfuturist.com/lifestyle-medicine-could-be-the-key-for-digital-health-adoption/

https://www.lifestylemedicine.org/ACLM/Lifestyle_Medicine/Research/ACLM/About/What_is_Lifestyle_Medicine_/LM_Research.aspx?hkey=dde46b29-faec-459b-b719-6432ad5172d0

https://blogs.bcm.edu/topics/momentum/

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Amazon has obliged drivers in the US to agree to collect data from cameras in vans – otherwise, they will not be able to deliver packages

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The company installed the cameras in February 2021, explaining that they were needed for safety.

Drivers of Amazon’s delivery service in the US must now sign a “biometric consent” form in order to continue working for the company [1], The Verge writes on March 24.

It involves agreeing to collect data from cameras installed in delivery vans. Drivers must agree to the use of “certain technology, including cameras” as a “condition of delivering packages for Amazon,” [2] according to Vice.

The drivers in question are those who rent Amazon vans under the Partner Service Delivery programme. According to Vice, about 75,000 drivers could be affected.

What kind of data the company will collect depends on what kind of equipment is installed in the vans, The Verge suggests. But the agreement implies a wide range of data to be collected. This includes cameras using facial recognition to confirm driver identity and connect to an account, according to Vice.

Among those collected, for example, is data on the van’s movement, including speed, acceleration, braking, turns and distance travelled, “potential traffic offences” such as speeding or unbuckling a seatbelt. As well as “potentially dangerous driving behaviour” – when the driver is distracted from the road or falling asleep.

The company says it installs the cameras for “safety” and “to improve delivery”. But some drivers have already refused to sign the agreement.

  • Amazon installed [3] artificial intelligence cameras in vans rented by drivers participating in the Partner Service Delivery programme in February. They have built-in software that can detect 16 different safety issues, including if drivers are distracted, speeding, braking sharply and more.
  • In early March, senators from five US states wrote to Amazon [4] saying that the use of surveillance cameras in delivery vans “raises important privacy and worker oversight issues that Amazon must respond to”.
  • In September 2020, human rights activists had already spoken out about the hard work at Amazon – for example, the company has an electronic employee monitoring system, there are cameras in warehouses and drivers’ locations are constantly recorded.

Sources:

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/24/22347945/amazon-delivery-drivers-ai-surveillance-cameras-vans-consent-form

[2] https://www.vice.com/en/article/dy8n3j/amazon-delivery-drivers-forced-to-sign-biometric-consent-form-or-lose-job

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/03/amazon-using-ai-equipped-cameras-in-delivery-vans.html

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/03/senators-question-amazon-about-cameras-monitoring-delivery-drivers.html

#technews #transport #amazon #ai #privacy #security

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Hope for the paralyzed? Neuralink, its monkey and their chips.

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Neuraink was founded in the summer of 2016 by the Elon Musk, as his fourth technological company. The company is aiming to develop “ a fully integrated brain machine interface (BMI) system. Either way, BMIs are technologies that enable a computer or other digital device to communicate directly with the brain. Our goal is to build a system with at least two orders of magnitude more communication channels (electrodes) than current clinically-approved devices.” 

They introduced the product called The Link which should be able to ensure fully wireless communication through the skin. This chip according to the company would have 1024 electrodes that penetrate the outer layer of the brain. The Link needs to meet the criteria of safety and be functional for the individual use.

https://neuralink.com/approach/

Let’s consider the following scenario: Can a paralyzed person use a tablet or smartphone faster than a healthy person using a mouse, cursor, trackpad, and touchscreen? 

Until recently, such a possibility seemed unrealistic, but as new research indicates, it is possible, and maybe in the future, we will run electronic devices with our minds. A concrete ape, a nine-year-old macaque, learned to do so a few days earlier. Thanks to the implemented device animal was able to play uncomplicated game Pong. The animal was able to handle the game with ease thanks to two Neuralink sensors inserted in its macaque. Pager, a 9-year-old with system implanted 6 weeks ago, can now interact with an implant that allows him to manipulate the cursor with his feelings. Musk stressed that the animal never suffered or was sad for a single second.

The first move, according to the company, is to calibrate the equipment. The monkey then plays with a joystick as the Neuralink implant transmits data from thousands of neurons in its brain and field to a computer. You will see what possibilities the brain has for going in a certain direction based on this. The following move was to change the game administration to Neuralink. The animal continued to use the controller, but since it was not wired to the screen, the monkey’s reality was erratic and did not shift in sync with its thinking. The third stage was a game in which no joystick was used.

Neuralink introduced following diagram that shows how their device work in described case. 

https://neuralink.com

This is a big move forward and gives many people with motor disorders hope. According to Elon Musk, in the first version of Neuralink, this technology would be used by people who cannot use a mouse or a touch screen. However, this is not the finish. Musk stated that the second iteration of the Neuralink system, which will be implanted in the brain, will attach to the company’s other sensors located in the body. This is to help people who are paralyzed to walk.

In the other hand, there are certain legitimate questions. Neuralink will face significant technical and ethical challenges. One of the technical challenges is developing electrodes that can last for decades without the need for costly replacements. What is required is not only scientific advancement, but also hands to work and free minds full of ideas. Will Neuralink be able to overcome the current issues? Will the human trials scheduled for 2021 be a success? We need to closely track the progress of this business in order to get answers to these issues. 

Sources:

https://neuralink.com

https://businessinsider.com.pl/firmy/neuralink-firma-elona-muska-laczaca-mozg-z-komputerem-finansowanie/mv15909

https://www.forbes.com/sites/saibala/2021/04/13/monkey-mindpong-elon-musk–neuralinks-latest-could-potentially-revolutionize-healthcare/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsCul1sp4hQ&t=137s

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/09/tech/elon-musk-neuralink-pong-scli-intl/index.html

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Google and Facebook’s Secret Deal

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In 2017 Facebook tested a new way of selling online ads, which was a huge threat for Google’s domination in this market. This led Google to offer Facebook a secret deal… 

Ujawniono tajną umowę Facebooka z Google, pozwalającą całkowicie dominować nad reklamami

Bad reputation

Both Facebook and Google have already been accused of violation of antitrust law many times in the past. Quite recent court cases include one form October 20, 2020, when The US Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit claiming that Google “unlawfully maintain monopoly through anticompetitive and exclusionary harms” – that refered to operations in the search and search advertising markets, and one from December 9, 2020 when Facebook has been sued by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for maintaining a “years-long course of anticompetitive conduct” in social networking which results in customers having fewer choices (if any) and deprives advertisers of benefits of competition. 

Secret deal

Facebook’s attempts to establish a new way of online advertising in 2017 have not been completed, but, interestingly, they instead, in 2018, joined an alliance of companies doing the same, but with the help of Google. According to executives of 6 out of 20 partners in the alliance Facebook was given special terms of contract resulting in a significant advantage over the other companies. However, Google and Facebook deny to these reports and even state that deals like that “help increase competition in ad auctions” (Christopher Sgro, Facebook’s spokesman). This mysterious agreement is believed to be coded as Jedi Blue inside the companies.

What is it exactly about?

Part of the online advertising involved in the deal is called programmatic advertising – process of automatically buying and selling digital advertising space. Basically, when a user is clicking a link to a website, there is a bid for ads that will show up. Google, having one of the most dominant ad exchanges, often directed straight to their own exchange. That is why a method of header bidding was developed which mixed exchanges from different platforms at once, which resulted in bigger competition and better prices. It is no surprise that Google did not “like” it and developed yet another method – open bidding. It enables exchanges other than Google’s at the same time, but Google takes fee for every winning bid. Facebook is one of the biggest ad buyers, so its joining Google’s alliance and having extra conditions is worrying for the whole industry. Those advantages included: speed advantages, direct billing relationships with the ad sites and better understanding of who would be shown the ads. 

Jedi Blue can be used to support lawsuits that have already been initiated against Facebook and Google as well as to trigger new ones. This case is a clear example of why tech giants need more law regulations. 

Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-the-google-facebook-ad-deal-at-the-heart-of-a-price-fixing-lawsuit-11609254758
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2020/12/ftc-sues-facebook-illegal-monopolization
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-sues-monopolist-google-violating-antitrust-laws
https://www.goprogrammatic.com/what-is-programmatic-ad-buying-in-2019/
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Are chips “The New Oil”? A global shortage of chips

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Did you know that we are currently facing a global chips shortage? The crisis came about due to the massive demand for electronic components triggered by the pandemic, factories downtime, production underestimation, and supply chain failure. Whoever produces the chips, holds all the power – in this case the Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC seems to be a ruler.

The company Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co may seem unfamiliar to you, but it is more than sure that their products are used by you every single day. TSMC is the world’s largest chip manufacturer that produces parts for major electronics and automotive companies, including Apple (which is reckoned to constitute 25% of TSMC’s [1]).

Source: https://www.eetasia.com/tsmc-will-raise-to-expand-capacity-amid-chip-shortages/

Chips are not only a common component of consumer electronics such as smartphones, computers, or smart appliances, but they are also required for automotive electronic systems, which are expected to account for more than 50% of the total production cost of a car by 2030[2]. For comparison, in 2010 this figure comprised 35% while in the 1970s, 5%. New cars need more processors, which in other words means – more and more chips.

In fact, it is the automotive industry that has been inflicted the most during the last months. Major players on the market such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault, General Motors, and Honda had been forced to hold back production due to the lack of components. A shortage in the microprocessor industry is expected to slash Ford’s profit by $2.5 billion this year and GM’s profit by $2 billion[3].

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-05/chip-shortage-spirals-beyond-cars-to-phones-and-game-consoles

The crisis has also hit the electronics industry. Sony has announced that it is unable to manufacture the number of PS5 consoles planned for this year, just like Samsung which in turn postponed the release of its new version of the Galaxy Note smartphone. All this because of chips shortage. But how did such situation even come about?

During the outbreak of the pandemic, many companies decided to cancel chip orders due to a significant drop in demand for products such as cars. It was assumed that the demand would not increase quickly. In response to the situation, chip manufacturers decided to change their sales orientation to other industries. At a time when demand picked up again, motor companies were left holding the bag as microprocessor manufacturers had their hands already full with other orders. Another aspect is also the production bottleneck which lead to the supply chain destabilization. The global production of chips is based on 3-4 companies only, including the afore-mentioned TSMC, which is responsible for about 70% world’s production of technologically advanced microprocessors.[3]

TMSC’s goal is to maintain its position and increase its production capacity. For this purpose, the company announced an investment of $100 billion. It is worth mentioning however, that the reliance of global electronics behemoths on the goods of a single Taiwanese firm is an example of the negative consequences of excessive production outsourcing.

[1]https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2021/03/09/2003753477

[2]https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/tw/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/tw-semiconductor-report-EN.pdf

[3]https://cyfrowa.rp.pl/globalne-interesy/61408-dramat-z-czipami-pandemia-sankcje-i-wielka-pomylka

Mobileye

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Mobileye, an Intel subsidiary, is ramping up its autonomous vehicle plans and expanding into delivery. 

The company announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with Udelv to supply its self-driving technology to thousands of purpose-built autonomous delivery vehicles. The companies stated that they plan to deploy more than 35,000 autonomous vehicles known as Transporters on city streets by 2028.

Commercial operations will begin in 2023. Donlen, a commercial fleet leasing and management firm based in the United States, has put the first preorder for 1,000 of these Udelv Transporters. Udelv will collaborate with Mobileye to add self-driving technologies into its existing distribution management system.

Mobileye’s complete self-driving system includes 13 sensors, three long-range LiDARs, six short-range LiDARs, and six radar. It also includes the Israeli company’s EyeQ system-on-a-chip and the Road Experience Management, or REM, data crowdsourcing platform, which uses real-time data from Mobileye-equipped vehicles to create out a global 3D map.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/12/22375759/intel-mobileye-udelv-autonomous-vehicle-delivery-2023

https://www.mobileye.com/about/

Technology will destroy the job market

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I think it’s best to begin by considering the nature of work performed by most of the world’s population. The reality is that a very large fraction of our workforce is engaged in activities that are on some level routine, repetitive and predictable. Most workers face the same types of challenges again and again and most of their actions and decisions can be predicted, based on what they have done in the past.

At the same time, recent advances in robotics, artificial intelligence – and, especially, machine learning – suggest that much of this predictable work will be susceptible to automation over the next decades. 

Of course, individuals with exceptional talent or a high level of knowledge are not likely to be threatened in the near future. However, for average workers engaged in more routine, predictable occupations, the impact could be quite dramatic.

Some people may argue that automation will simply rearrange jobs and damaged people will be retrained to perform new activities.

However, the question is whether progress will create enough new positions to absorb the victims of automation – and whether these new jobs will be accessible to people with average capability.

I  think that it is unrealistic to expect that the bulk of the workforce can somehow be trained to take on roles that are beyond the reach of technology. My take on it is that technological progress will result in the automation of lower-skill jobs while creating more opportunities for those with higher education levels. Newly created occupations won’t be in the same countries and sectors like those that are destroyed. Therefore, this process will for sure generate “winners” and “losers and will destroy the job market leaving a lot of people behind!

Sources:

  1. https://www.zdnet.com/article/technology-is-about-to-destroy-millions-of-jobs-but-if-were-lucky-it-will-create-even-more/
  2. https://www.wsj.com/articles/will-ai-destroy-more-jobs-than-it-creates-over-the-next-decade-11554156299
  3. https://dobetter.esade.edu/en/automation-jobs?_wrapper_format=html

The Dangers of AI to Online Privacy

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AI is becoming used increasing more in different areas of people’s lives. Moreover, the threat of AI has been a prominent topic for years now. But how does it affect people’s privacy online?

A recent scandal arose regarding the Lee Luda AI chatbot made by the South Korean company Scatter Lab. Its parent company Kakao owns KakaoTalk which is the most popular messaging app in South Korea. It began in 2016 when Scatter Lab launched the app Science of Love. Users submit their conversations to the app from KakaoTalk and receive advice from AI about whether the other person likes you based on how quickly they respond, the language and emojis used etc. Returning back to the AI chatbot, supposedly 10 billion conversation logs were used to train it. These were acquired from people’s conversations which were submitted to the app Science of Love. However, the users were not aware that their conversations would be used for the chatbot.

The chatbot was launched on Facebook too and received 750,000 users within a few days. However, the scandal began when users were receiving inappropriate messages from the bot which were on the topics of LGBTQ+, racism, sexism, use of abusive language, sexually explicit content, etc. The bot was also revealing private information about other people such as their name, nickname, home address, and back account number. Scatter Lab got a lot of backlash and Lee Luda was removed from Facebook.

In the end, the scandal was resolved with an apology from Scatter Lab saying that the AI chatbot was not complete and they “failed to remove some personal information depending on the context.” There was an investigation done into the company’s usage of private data. However, the laws and regulations on AI seemed to have been lacking which resulted in little to no consequences. There is a lot which can be taken from this incident. First is that users should be more careful about their own private data. Second is that AI is evolving rapidly nowadays to the point that law enforcement isn’t adapting quickly enough to keep up with the advancement.

Sources:

https://slate.com/technology/2021/04/scatterlab-lee-luda-chatbot-kakaotalk-ai-privacy.html

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2021/02/133_302715.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/14/time-to-properly-socialise-hate-speech-ai-chatbot-pulled-from-facebook

Will artificial intelligence replace writers and musicians?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

According to a report by Ericsson Connected Intelligent Machines, 20% of consumers prefer AI-driven content to human-made content. The results show that the creative race between people and machines is currently underway. However, it is too early to announce the winners, because still, every fifth respondent prefers content created in a traditional way.

Consumers predict that mass media will be increasingly influenced by automation by 2030. In fact, the future may be closer than we think. Today, even the most basic AI language generators are proving to be good enough content creators on social media platforms.

The future of content creation may lie in human-machine collaboration. One interesting area where this is already happening at the mass market level is in science fiction literature. Famed Chinese SF author Chen Qiufan, competing with writers such as Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan, recently won a literary competition in Shanghai with his short story “The State of Trance” which featured AI-generated passages.

Will Artificial Intelligence reach the film or music area?

A report from Ericsson found that consumers consider film and music to be the domain of human creativity. Six in ten respondents say they would prefer human film producers to AI counterparts. However, most of this group of respondents are apparently unaware that AI is already being used in the film industry to support human decision-making.

Currently, consumers are still more likely to choose humans as music makers, 65% of respondents believe. However, the Connected Intelligent Machines report also found that six in 10 of us believe that “artificial musicians” will be able to surpass humans on the charts by 2030.

Source:
https://bit.ly/3rYuELe – Photo 1
https://bit.ly/2PH1mDV – Ericsson’s report

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