Links for 2018-04-09

  • If iPads were meant for kids

    A long list of the misfeatures that IOS/Android devices have regarding child use. 100% agreed with this

    (tags: ios ipad iphone parenting devices kids android youtube)

  • A Closer Look at Experian Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in Durham Police

    ‘UK police bought profiling data for their artificial intelligence (AI) system, deciding whether to hold suspects in custody, from … Experian.’ ‘The AI tool uses 34 data categories including the offender’s criminal history, combined with their age, gender and two types of residential postcode. The use of postcode data is problematic in predictive software of this kind as it carries a risk of perpetuating bias towards areas marked by community deprivation.’

    (tags: experian marketing credit-score data policing uk durham ai statistics crime hart)

  • lemire/JavaFastPFOR: A simple integer compression library in Java

    a library to compress and uncompress arrays of integers very fast. The assumption is that most (but not all) values in your array use much less than 32 bits, or that the gaps between the integers use much less than 32 bits. These sort of arrays often come up when using differential coding in databases and information retrieval (e.g., in inverted indexes or column stores). Please note that random integers are not compressible, by this library or by any other means. If you ever had the means of systematically compressing random integers, you could compress any data source to nothing, by recursive application of your technique. This library can decompress integers at a rate of over 1.2 billions per second (4.5 GB/s). It is significantly faster than generic codecs (such as Snappy, LZ4 and so on) when compressing arrays of integers. The library is used in LinkedIn Pinot, a realtime distributed OLAP datastore. Part of this library has been integrated in Parquet ( A modified version of the library is included in the search engine Terrier ( This libary is used by ClueWeb Tools ( It is also used by Apache NiFi.

    (tags: compression java pfor encoding integers algorithms storage)

  • Austerity is an Algorithm

    Fucking hell, things sound grim Down Under:

    Things changed in December 2016, when the government announced that the system had undergone full automation. Humans would no longer investigate anomalies in earnings. Instead, debt notices would be automatically generated when inconsistencies were detected. The government’s rationale for automating the process was telling. “Our aim is to ensure that people get what they are entitled to—no more and no less,” read the press release. “And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system.” The result was a disaster. I’ve had friends who’ve received an innocuous email urging them to check their MyGov account—an online portal available to Australian citizens with an internet connection to access a variety of government services—only to log in and find they’re hundreds or thousands of dollars in arrears, supposedly because they didn’t accurately report their income. Some received threats from private debt collectors, who told them their wages would be seized if they didn’t submit to a payment plan. Those who wanted to contest their debts had to lodge a formal complaint, and were subjected to hours of Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major before they could talk to a case worker. Others tried taking their concerns directly to the Centrelink agency on Twitter, where they were directed to calling Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline for crisis support and suicide prevention. At the end of 2015, my friend Chloe received a notice claiming she owed $20,000 to the government. She was told that she had reported her income incorrectly while on Youth Allowance, which provides financial assistance to certain categories of young people. The figure was shocking and, like others in her position, she grew suspicious. She decided to contest the debt: she contacted all of her previous employers so she could gather pay slips, and scanned them into the MyGov app. “I gave them all of my information to prove that there was no way I owed them $20,000,” she says. The bean counters were unmoved. They maintained that Chloe had reported her after-tax income instead of her before-tax income. As a result, they increased the amount she owed to $30,000. She agreed to a payment plan, which will see her pay off the debt in fortnightly installments of $50 over the course of two decades. “I even looked into bankruptcy because I was so stressed by it,” she says. “All I could think about was the Centrelink debt, and once they upped it to 30k, I was so ashamed and sad and miserable,” she says.

    (tags: austerity algorithms automation dystopia australia government debt-collectors robo-debt dole benefit grim-meathook-future)

  • The Irish Border’s Ladybird How It Works book on The Technological Solution


    (tags: ladybird parody funny ireland politics northern-ireland brexit)

  • Mythology about security…

    A valuable history lesson from Jim Gettys:

    Government export controls crippled Internet security and the design of Internet protocols from the very beginning: we continue to pay the price to this day.  Getting security right is really, really hard, and current efforts towards “back doors”, or other access is misguided. We haven’t even recovered from the previous rounds of government regulations, which has caused excessive complexity in an already difficult problem and many serious security problems. Let us not repeat this mistake…
    I remember the complexity of navigating crypto export controls. As noted here, it was generally easier just not to incorporate security features.

    (tags: security crypto export-control jim-gettys x11 history x-windows mit athena kerberos)

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