Can we stop dividing and conquering ourselves?

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Photo by cloudvisual on Unsplash

Americans are obsessed with outrage. Our hatred for each other pours out of us like bile after ten martinis and a whole apple pie, explosive and disturbing. In our age of polarization this new commandment we have given unto each other: hate thy neighbor. Let doomscrolling be our Two Minutes Hate. We must all partake lest we forget the inhumanity of our enemies, but more importantly the inhumanity of anyone who agrees ever-so-slightly with anything our enemies say. Let no sleight go unpunished. Cast the first stone. Strike the other cheek. …


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Next week I’m starting an experiment: public office hours. Every Tuesday evening I’ll be hosting a one-hour session where I’ll take questions, help you debug your code, and make chit-chat about the implications of software. I hope it’ll be a fun way to interact with our audience in a more personal way, but that’s not the only reason…

One of the main complaints I hear from people studying programming on their own is that when they get stuck, they don’t have anyone to ask for help. As creators of a lot of self-study content, we want to address that need.

I also run a lot of classes concurrently through a lot of different partners. Students in those classes often only have access to me during class and maybe via a Slack channel. …


How AI will exacerbate “coordinated inauthentic behavior”

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Photo by Finan Akbar on Unsplash

In July, Facebook announced they had removed four networks of accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” It was the latest battle in the long running — and ever escalating — propaganda arms race. The tactics of “inauthenticity” exploded into the American political conversation following the Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference scandals. These two stories are obviously relevant, but their prominence has centered the conversation about digital disinformation narrowly around election interference which, unfortunately, misses the forest for the trees.

“Inauthentic behavior” is not limited to political content online, it’s everywhere — it is the water of our digital ocean. Influencers are masquerading as your friends. Corporations are astroturfing forums and social media. China has created a literal army of censors and information manipulators who deploy battalions of bots to derail untoward threads and amplify their favored ideas, including operations to incite genocide on Facebook. Disinformation campaigns have similarly fueled violence in India. Someone (or ones) cooked up the QAnon conspiracy. State sponsored hackers have even broken into legitimate news sites and planted fake news stories with all the trappings of legitimacy, including the URL and IP address of well-respected brands. …


This week in tech

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Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

When Facebook launched in 2004 I never would have guessed it (and its successors) would be the subject of international diplomacy. In part that’s because I was only 15, but it’s also because the idea that any government should care about “the new MySpace” just sounded silly. Now, after sixteen years, the consumer software ecosystem has metastasized into what we now recognize as the “Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” and government’s can’t ignore the wide ranging implications.

As proof consumer software’s unignorability, India has banned 59 Chinese made apps including TikTok. The stated reason for India’s ban is that these apps are “prejudicial to [the] sovereignty” of India, noting that these apps are “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.” The ban comes after a military skirmish along the China/India border with casualties on both sides, and should probably be seen as — at least in part — retaliation for that clash. …


Blame centuries of oppression — not protestors — for the riots in Minnesota

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Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

This past week, our country fell into sorrow, rage, and exasperation following the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests.

On May 25th, the Minneapolis Police Department responded to a call from a convenience store about a counterfeit $20 bill. Police arrived, pulled Floyd from his car, handcuffed him, and had him sit him down on the sidewalk. After a few minutes, they walked him to a police cruiser. This can all be seen in surveillance footage obtained and published by NBC News. …


Hey all,

It looks like we’re going to have a lot more time stuck at home in the coming weeks. So, to keep you busy and help you stay sane Teb’s Lab is offering free workshops Mon/Wed/Fri for the next two weeks.

The workshops will be from 10:00am to 1:00pm Pacific time, and the topics are:

  • Learn your first programming language (Python)
  • Build your first neural network
  • Intro to web application security

More details are available on our website: https://www.tebs-lab.com/emergency-education

Stay safe and never stop learning.

Love,

Teb


This week in tech

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

You probably noticed that COVID-19 is canceling everything, everywhere. Today’s newsletter is mostly a rundown of how technology helps us keep the world running, mitigate the impact of the virus, track its spread, and more. As hospitals struggle to keep pace with and scientists work towards a vaccine, we all have to do our part to fight this outbreak, and technology is here to help.

Everyone is going remote. Social distancing is critically important to slow the spread of the virus, and keep hospital loads manageable. Everything from office work, to college classes, to social drinking is going online. It’s a testament to the incredible engineering and infrastructure work that internet connectivity can keep up with increased demand. …


Lessons learned and regrets earned over seven years in the Bay Area.

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Photo by Carl Solder on Unsplash

Seven years ago my future wife and I arrived at SFO with high hopes and four massive suitcases stuffed full of clothing. The move, one year in the making, brought us from Salt Lake City, Utah to one of the flagship cities of the United States. A cosmopolitan mecca famous the world over. That night, after dragging our oversized roller luggage from the Montgomery BART station all the way to North Beach, we emptied our clothes onto the floor and slept blissfully, if uncomfortably, on top of them.

We had arrived in the city of our dreams to begin a new phase in our lives. …


This week in tech

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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

The digital panopticon continues to expand, with a lot of help from the surveillance industrial complex. The surveillance state / surveillance capitalism mega-trend — which dates back to at least the early aughts if you believe Shoshana Zuboff — got a few boosts this week.

The state of Utah signed a 5-year, $20.7 million contract with a company named Banjo. Despite the innocuous name, Banjo provides comprehensive surveillance services that combine data from social media, satellite feeds, and other apps. …


This week in tech

California’s controversial new law about employee classification is doing its best Oprah impression.

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From the very start, there were dozens of specific exemptions carved out of AB5. Some exemptions are cleanly applied to entire industries, others are more complex. But, since the law went into effect in January, many industries and corporations have started battling to win an exemption of their own. Organizations representing California musicians say the law would crush the industry that (so far as I know) coined the term “gig.” …

About

Tyler Elliot Bettilyon

A curious human on a quest to watch the world learn. I teach computer programming and write about software’s overlap with society and politics. www.tebs-lab.com

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