Turns out that some Nest products have built-in microphones, which fact was only recently disclosed to users. The possibilities for abuse are endless. Looks like Bruce Schneier’s predictions, expressed in his book Click Here to Kill Everybody, are coming true. From the book’s blurb:
From driverless cars to smart thermostats, from autonomous stock-trading systems to drones equipped with their own behavioral algorithms, the internet now has direct effects on the physical world. [emphasis added]
Don’t worry, though. Google admits that not disclosing the microphone “…was an error on our part.” Rest assured they are very sorry. You’ve had a hidden microphone in your house but don’t worry; nobody was listening. Move along; nothing to see (or hear).
With operations in over 200 countries and territories, Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer and e-commerce company, one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. The company hosts the largest B2B (Alibaba.com), C2C (Taobao), and B2C (Tmall) marketplaces in the world. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. It has been expanding into the media industry, with revenues rising by triple percentage points year on year.
The robots, which can lift up to 500 kg, pick up densely packed bins and bring them to human pickers who place the products in boxes for shipment to customers. The robots are controlled over Wi-Fi. They say that after the 60 robots were placed into service, throughput in the warehouse has been tripled and human labour reduced by 70%.
Amazon has been running a robotics challenge to try to eliminate the human pickers. This is a video summarising the 2017 challenge in Nagoya, Japan.
Here is a video from the MIT team from the 2017 competition.
Richard A. Epstein is not usually very excitable, speaking, albeit quickly and at great length, in the form of a legal argument. Fair enough: he is one of the most cited legal scholars in the United States. In the most recent episode of his Hoover Institution podcast, “The Libertarian”, however, he goes into a full-on rant about the “Green New Deal”. The first part, where he discusses the bogus connection between carbon dioxide and climate, is especially valuable. It’s only twenty-six minutes and well worth your time.
The “bipartisan conference” has laboured mightily and brought forth the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019” [PDF], “Making further continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2019, and for other purposes”. It is—wait for it—one thousand, one hundred and fifty-nine pages long. As Byron York notes, congressreptiles will have only 40 hours to try to figure out what’s in it before voting on it.
“The wall”, such as it is, is on page 33 (Sec. 230), with a total of US$ $2,370,222,000, or which US$ “1,375,000,000 is for the construction of primary pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fencing, in the Rio Grande Valley Sector”. Sec. 231, immediately following, lists specific places in which no fencing will be built.
What’s in the other 1157 pages? Who knows? I just scrolled to a page (110) at random and came across “to study how mangroves, kelp forests, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows could help deacidify the oceans”. Then on page 112,
Sec. 771. Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit to Congress a report describing the ways in which conservation programs administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service may be better used for the conservation of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) and any action taken by the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service relating to the conservation of ocelots.
I don’t know why you’re applauding. Three-quarters of you hate me and half of you admit it.
Not that I came here to make you love me – I knew that wouldn’t happen – but you know it’s funny: You all get so upset with me for what I say on Twitter, but you talk the same way when you don’t think anyone is listening. I may be crude and I may be uncouth, but putting on a show that you’re any different stopped fooling people a long time ago. That’s why the voters didn’t listen to you when you told them Hillary was presidential and I wasn’t.
But no matter. I won, she lost, I’m here, she’s not, and you’re stuck with me.
Oh. Right. I’m stuck with you too. And I guess that’s why we’re here tonight. The Constitution says I have to report to you on the State of the Union. It doesn’t say you have to listen, which is probably why Justice Ginsburg is nodding off already, but there are some things you and the American people need to know. You’re going to run over to CNN when this is over and tell them my entire speech was “outrageous” or “fear mongering” or whatever, so I’m going to make sure now that they hear it directly from me.