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Manipulable Minds

Embryos suing their mother, billionaires and their companies, globalization, driverless cars, algorithms algorithms algorithms, malware.


Sofia Vergara: US actress faces lawsuit 'from own embryos'

This is weird. Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiance Nick Loeb conceived and then froze two embryos through in-vitro fertilization. Then they signed a contract saying that neither partner could do anything with them without the other's consent. Now, post-separation, Vergara is not allowing them to be implanted in a surrogate mother, so Loeb is suing her on behalf of the embryos, claiming that the embryos have a right to grow up to claim inheritance on a trust that had been created for them in Louisiana--Louisiana, a state where the law recognizes a fertilized egg as a "juridical person". I can't make this stuff up.


These 15 Billionaires Own America's News Media Companies

In case you wanted to know who's paying for what. Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Media), Rupert Murdoch (News Corp), Donald and Samuel "Si" Newhouse (Advance Publications), Cox Family (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Jeff Bezos (The Washington Post), John Henry (The Boston Globe), Sheldon Adelson (The Las Vegas Review-Journal), Joe Mansueto (Inc. and Fast Company magazines), Mortimer Zuckerman (US News & World Report, New York Daily News), Barbey family (Village Voice), Stanley Hubbard (Hubbard Broadcasting), Patrick Soon-Shiong (Tribune Publishing Co.), Carlos Slim Helu (The New York Times), Warren Buffet (regional daily papers), Viktor Vekselberg (Gawker).

Public service announcement: is Forbes showing you that craptastic "Please disable your adblock" page? Swap out Adblock Plus (or whatever you're using) for uBlock Origin, which circumvents Forbes' adblock detection tooling.


Brace yourself: the most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning

Yup. It's just starting. You know this, I know this - but how? An interview with Richard Baldwin on how it's probably going to go down. Emphasis on telepresence, remote work, outsourcing, automation. Not a ton here is overly surprising, but a good primer.


Michigan approves cars without drivers or steering wheels on its roads

It's happening! If they handle snow, fog, and other treacherous environmental hazards, I say let 'em in.


7,500 Faceless Coders Paid in Bitcoin Built a Hedge Fund’s Brain

A look at financial machine learning using anonymous paid contributors who hope to collectively make a smarter financial model. It's particularly interesting because one of the things they're working on is creating machine learning models from encrypted data, which could be a large technological game-changer in the future.


New Scheme: Spread Popcorn Time Ransomware, get chance of free Decryption Key

Did you hear the one about the guy who was enabling his malware to be purchased for reselling purposes on the black market? That was pretty crazy. But this malware might give you a decryption key for your malevolently encrypted hard drive if you spread the ransomware. I know that if a friend passed on their ransomware to me, they wouldn't be my friend anymore.


Machine Bias

This algorithm doesn't offensively misidentify black people as gorillas, but it does rank them as having a higher criminality and recidivism risk - including people who've never been arrested, or never reoffended. Interesting (and frustrating) long read into the effects that these algorithms have on real people. Oh yeah, let's throw in the one about the New Zealand passport robot who told the Asian dude to open his eyes. (He was actually pretty cool about it.)


Google, democracy and the truth about internet search

A really fascinating read on the use of targeted advertising to manipulate opinions, construct detailed psychological profiles on people, and potentially influence large, real-world events like Brexit or the presidential election. I'm not totally sold on the proposed overreaching potential nefariousness of racist and fascist themes in Google searches, since I think that if you Google "are jews evil", you're going to get a lot of content specifically catered to explaining why Jews are evil, since for everyone else it would never even occur to explain that Jews aren't evil. People also do not ask for the negative ("are jews good"), which wouldn't get any real results for the same reasons. Maybe that's what we need? Just tons of websites that are like, "Hey, calm down, is cool"?