20 November 2018

The New York Times: “Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology doesn’t solve Humanity’s Problems’”

How do you approach this in China, where Google is considering returning to the market with a search engine?

One of the things that’s not well understood, I think, is that we operate in many countries where there is censorship. When we follow “right to be forgotten” laws, we are censoring search results because we’re complying with the law. I’m committed to serving users in China. Whatever form it takes, I actually don’t know the answer. It’s not even clear to me that search in China is the product we need to do today.

David Gelles

A very disingenuous comparison: the EU ‘right to be forgotten’ gives power to individuals to remove certain pieces of online content (not even remove actually, just request to be removed), whereas Chinese censorship operates top-down, giving an authoritarian government power over the information its citizens can access online. If you can’t tell the difference between these two, maybe you should not be in charge of a corporation with immense global power.

18 November 2018

Adrian Tchaikovsky – Children of Time

in Bucharest, Romania
Children of Time eBook by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Grație progresului științific, rasa umană începuse să facă primii pași timizi spre stele. La inițiativa doctorului Avrana Kern, misiunea Brin a fost trimisă către o planetă compatibilă, cu scopul de a aduce ecosistemul acesteia la standarde umane. Planul prevedea în plus introducerea unei specii de primate care să fie ridicată la stadiul inteligenței de un virus special conceput, astfel încât la sosirea navelor cu coloniști, aceste maimuțe elevate să le devină servitori supuși.

The proper line, that of accepted scientific humility, was, ‘on the shoulders of giants’, but she had not got where she was by bowing the knee to past generations. Midgets, lots and lots of midgets, she thought, and then – she could barely keep back the appalling giggle – on the shoulders of monkeys.

Dar nici un progres nu este lipsit de opoziție; pe Pământ, gruparea extremistă Non Ultra Natura, care se opune categoric și de multe ori violent experimentelor genetice de acest gen, capătă din ce în ce mai multă influență. Un agent al lor, infiltrat în echipajul navei Brin, reușește să saboteze lansarea primatelor către planetă, distrugând inclusiv nava. Singura supraviețuitoare este dr. Kern, care se refugiase înainte de explozie pe satelitul de unde însuși sabotorul ar fi trebuit să monitorizeze progresul proiectului de‑a lungul mileniilor. În același timp, o transmisie alarmantă sosește de la distanță de ani-lumină, de pe Pământ: atacurile NUN au atins apogeul, degenerând într‑un război la scară planetară, iar un virus software agresiv s‑a infiltrat în sistemele avanposturilor umane, distrugându‑le componentele electronice. Văzându‑se brusc izolată, în timp ce civilizația umană se prăbușea, dr. Kern nu vede altă soluție decât să intre în hibernare, în așteptarea unui semnal dinspre planeta pe care proiectul ei de bioinginerie va lua un curs neașteptat.

15 November 2018

CNET: “Flickr imposes 1,000-photo limit, drops 1TB storage for free accounts”

SmugMug, trying to strengthen its Flickr site as a community for photo enthusiasts, will limit free members to 1,000 photos and scrap the old policy of a terabyte of storage in an attempt to move toward subscriptions.

If you’re a free member, Flickr will work the same through Jan. 8, at which point you won’t be able to upload any new photos or videos if you already are past the 1,000 limit. You’ll have until Feb. 5 to upgrade to a pro subscription or download your Flickr photos. After that, Flickr will start deleting older photos and videos, leaving the 1,000 most recently uploaded shots.

Stephen Shankland

Since Flickr was acquired by SmugMug back in April, I’ve been vary about the future of the photo service I used for the past decade, to the point that I stopped uploading new photos there. After a six-months long silence, it turns out my concerns were valid: their plan for the future is to completely nerf free accounts, expecting that people will move to their (now more expensive) paid plan. Prior to the announcement, I had already canceled my Pro subscription, and as things stand how I will never renew it. I plan to close my account instead and migrate my photo portfolio elsewhere, most likely to Google Photos.

03 November 2018

‘Altered Carbon’ (Netflix, season 1)

in Bucharest, Romania
Altered Carbon TV series

How would you feel to wake up from a hundred-year-old absence, on a different planet, in a new, foreign body? Most people would be hopelessly confused, even sick for hours and days, as their mind adjusts to the new environment. Most people except Takeshi Kovach that is – his Envoy training allows him to reorient himself almost instantly, to quickly assess new situations and take control of available resources for his own interests. After the last Envoys have been hunted down and killed on Harlan’s World more than two centuries ago, Kovach finds himself back on Earth, having been revived from his detention/suspension by Laurens Bancroft, a billionaire ‘Meth’ who needs an exceptional detective to solve an exceptional murder: his own.

Where is the voice that said altered carbon would free us from the cells of our flesh? The vision that said we would be angels. Instead, we became hungry for things that reality could no longer offer. The lines blurred.

From the dawn of time, one of humanity’s most sought, yet most unreachable, ideals was to defeat death, to be able to live forever… and in the Altered Carbon future this becomes routine. Using ‘stacks’, a technology inspired by the mysterious precursor artefacts of the Elders, minds can be backed up in real-time like computer drives and introduced into new bodies (or ‘sleeves’) upon the death of the previous one.