How digital devices challenge the nature of ownership and threaten property rights in the digital age

Source: How digital devices challenge the nature of ownership and threaten property rights in the digital age

OWNERSHIP used to be about as straightforward as writing a cheque. If you bought something, you owned it. If it broke, you fixed it. If you no longer wanted it, you sold it or chucked it away. … In the digital age ownership has become more slippery. … consumers have been forced to accept that they do not control the software in their devices; they are only licensed to use it. … Buyers should be aware that some of their most basic property rights are under threat.

Ownership is not about to go away, but its meaning is changing. This requires careful scrutiny. Gadgets, by and large, are sold on the basis that they empower people to do what they want. To the extent they are controlled by somebody else, that freedom is compromised.

Also: A “right to repair” movement tools up

Quick One: Stop Calling it ‘Identity Theft’ – SecurityBytes

Source: Quick One: Stop Calling it ‘Identity Theft’ – SecurityBytes

A bank might let you take out a credit card in my name. But hey, if it wasn’t me, that’s just Credit Card Fraud, right?

A pay-day lender might give you a 7000% APR loan in my name, I guess. Credit Fraud.

The government might let you claim benefits in my name. Benefit Fraud.

You might apply for a mortgage in my name. Mortgage Fraud.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

In none of the above theoretical cases was I involved; I wasn’t the perpetrator and I wasn’t the victim.

And yet, by recasting (some) of these activities as ‘Identity Fraud’ I somehow become the one responsible for it having happened and the one who is the victim. The only way I get to be victim is if one of these organisations is duped and then they can’t or won’t address their mistakes or shortfalls and therefore they choose to pass the buck to me.

The Coming Software Apocalypse – The Atlantic

Source: The Coming Software Apocalypse – The Atlantic

The simultaneous failure of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyberattack. Almost more frightening was the realization, late in the day, that it was just a coincidence.

software doesn’t break. Intrado’s faulty threshold is not like the faulty rivet that leads to the crash of an airliner. The software did exactly what it was told to do. In fact it did it perfectly. The reason it failed is that it was told to do the wrong thing. Software failures are failures of understanding, and of imagination.

“The problem,” Leveson wrote in a book, “is that we are attempting to build systems that are beyond our ability to intellectually manage.” … This is the trouble with making things out of code, as opposed to something physical. “The complexity,” as Leveson puts it, “is invisible to the eye.” … Software has enabled us to make the most intricate machines that have ever existed. And yet we have hardly noticed, because all of that complexity is packed into tiny silicon chips as millions and millions of lines of code. But just because we can’t see the complexity doesn’t mean that it has gone away. … Gerard Berry said in his talk. “When your tires are flat, you look at your tires, they are flat. When your software is broken, you look at your software, you see nothing. So that’s a big problem.”

software becomes unruly because the media for describing what software should do—conversations, prose descriptions, drawings on a sheet of paper—are too different from the media describing what software does do, namely, code itself. Too much is lost going from one to the other. The idea behind model-based design is to close the gap. The very same model is used both by system designers to express what they want and by the computer to automatically generate code.

“In the 15th century, people used to build cathedrals without knowing calculus, and nowadays I don’t think you’d allow anyone to build a cathedral without knowing calculus. And I would hope that after some suitably long period of time, people won’t be allowed to write programs if they don’t understand these simple things.” — Leslie Lamport

How Do We Get Out of This Mess? – George Monbiot

Source: How Do We Get Out of This Mess? – George Monbiot

it is not strong leaders or parties that dominate politics as much as powerful political narratives … the reason why, despite its multiple and manifest failures, we appear to be stuck with neoliberalism is that we have failed to produce a new narrative with which to replace it.

Those who want a kinder politics know we have, in theory at least, the numbers on our side. Most people are socially-minded, empathetic and altruistic. Most people would prefer to live in a world in which everyone is treated with respect and decency, and in which we do not squander either our own lives or the natural gifts on which we and the rest of the living world depend.

Can American soil be brought back to life?

Source: Can American soil be brought back to life?

A new idea: If we revive the tiny creatures that make dirt healthy, we can bring back the great American topsoil. But farming culture — and government — aren’t making it easy.

A clump of soil from a heavily tilled and cropped field was dropped into a wire mesh basket at the top of a glass cylinder filled with water. At the same time, a clump of soil from a pasture that grew a variety of plants and grasses and hadn’t been disturbed for years was dropped into another wire mesh basket in an identical glass cylinder. The tilled soil–similar to the dry, brown soil on Cobb’s farm—dissolved in water like dust. The soil from the pasture stayed together in a clump, keeping its structure and soaking up the water like a sponge. Cobb realized he wasn’t just seeing an agricultural scientist show off a chunk of soil: He was seeing a potential new philosophy of farming.

Promoting soil health comes down to three basic practices: Make sure the soil is covered with plants at all times, diversify what it grows and don’t disrupt it.

Why cyber warfare isn’t – Mike’s blog

Source: Why cyber warfare isn’t – Mike’s blog

The big problem is that cyber warfare is totally different to normal warfare, in fact it’s so different that calling it warfare at all is meaningless. In regular warfare you can build up your own defences without improving your opponent’s defences, and you can develop new weapons that your opponents will not have. This basic asymmetry is key to the very concept of war: the side with the better weapons, defences and tactics should normally win.

But cyber warfare doesn’t work like that. Because everyone uses the same software infrastructure, and the “weapons” are nothing more than weaknesses in that global infrastructure, building up your own defences by fixing problems inherently builds up your opponents defences too. And developing new “weapons” is only possible if your opponents are able to develop the very same weapons for themselves, by exploiting the very same vulnerabilities in your country that you are exploiting in theirs.

Successful spying is invisible and undetected. The infiltration of critical national infrastructure by enemies of the state happens quietly and without anyone realising until it’s too late. A successful penetration of someone else’s infrastructure yields an unforgettable intelligence report that makes the government feel successful and in control. A successful penetration of your infrastructure yields nothing visible at all.

Keepers of the Secrets | Village Voice

Source: Keepers of the Secrets | Village Voice

The stacks under the library can hold 4 million books (the actual number in storage is lower, though no one is quite sure), which are delivered to the reading room by 950 feet of miniature rail running at 75 feet per minute. But the real gem of the library, in Lannon’s view, is the stuff that you can find only in boxes like the ones now strewn across the table. … These collections aren’t digitized.

Lannon said that Google had changed the way people sought information. “They only want information based on the information they think they want,” he said. As a rule, he said, archivists at the library should give you the box you’ve asked for — but also suggest another box. There are fewer opportunities, now, to stumble into a world you don’t already know. “It’s important to look outside of your own existence.”

Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think – Scientific American Blog Network

Source: Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think – Scientific American Blog Network, by Bernardo Kastrup

is the mere lack of attention enough to assert that a mental process lacks the qualities of experience? Couldn’t a process that escapes the focus of attention still feel like something? Consider your breathing right now: the sensation of air flowing through your nostrils, the movements of your diaphragm, etcetera. Were you not experiencing these sensations a moment ago, before I directed your attention to them? Or were you just unaware that you were experiencing them all along? By directing your attention to these sensations, did I make them conscious or did I simply cause you to experience the extra quality of knowing that the sensations were conscious?

distinguish between conscious processes that lack re-representation and truly unconscious processes

our partial and tentative explanations for the alleged rise of consciousness may concern merely the rise of metacognition

Challenging the Dogmas of Right and Left – The Atlantic

Source: Challenging the Dogmas of Right and Left – The Atlantic, by David Frum

Two authors, Mark Lilla and Henry Olsen, see a politics rejecting the broad messages of Roosevelt and Reagan for the narrow claims of victim-group grievance and purist ideology.

Olsen and Lilla share a message: Politics must be affirmative. Opposition—whether to “big government” or “white supremacy”—is a mood, not a program.

The haunting question behind both books, however, is whether there still exists the social basis for the politics they want.


The Once and Future Liberal, by Mark Lilla
The Working Class Republican, by Henry Olsen