17 April 2018
01 April 2018
31 March 2018
23 February 2018
) . . Comment: New report warns of malicious use of AI
; 23:40:33, 23 Feb 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> I suppose really the ethics of artificial intelligence deserves it's own dedicated section.
I am wary when governments speak about the need legislate or regulate the development of AI, it seems like any 'misuse' of the technology also happens to be anything that weakens the authority of the office they hold.
How bad could realistic videos for political manipulation be if they manipulated us to recycle vociferously for example?
If government's legislate too quickly or too harshly, they could kill off the research into artificial intelligence and the hype around the potential uses of AI seems to make government ever eager to bring out the bureaucratic sledgehammer. )
) . . Comment: Why American healthcare is so expensive
; 23:25:42, 23 Feb 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Great foray into the murky world of healthcare funding. Thanks for writing it!
There are a few interesting points, especially about the Silver plan available via the ACA.
Are there any estimates about the rate of a hypothetical sales tax would have to be to provide a Silver level plan to every citizen? I'm sure there must be a good reason why a healthcare system can't be funded through general taxation or is it as simple as the political environment in the US is opposed to what some would see as a over reach of federal government.
In the UK, General Practices are given a flat fee for everyone on their books, so the healthier folk effectively subsidise the cost of the care of more frequent users of the service. Are there any NHS Trust type organisations in the USA? Where a hospital, GP and other specialist services band together under a board of trustees who get their funding indirectly (government funding through taxes) or directly from people in that jurisdiction, perhaps made mandatory through city legislators? )
21 February 2018
) . . Comment: US imposes new sanctions against Venezuela's cryptocurrency
; 17:03:43, 21 Feb 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Buying a petro rather than an established contract for the future price of oil doesn’t sound appealing at all! Am I missing something or would that make the target market for Petro’s the cash rich gentlefolk who would rather the taxman didn’t know?
Must admit bypassing sanctions imposed by the US, EU et al is something I can get behind, if the petro reduces exposure to international financial markets and allows politians to make investments in the national interest.
Thinking about the rule of law in Venezuela, is there a high proliferation of smart phones? If the crypographic keys are all stored on relatively secure personal devices with the database assessible to revenue and customs, how efficient would the tax system be!! )
20 February 2018
) . . Comment: US imposes new sanctions against Venezuela's cryptocurrency
; 21:34:36, 20 Feb 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> WOW! Well I am a great believer in crypto's as a modern way of tracking and exchanging value, especially within (or even between) communities.
Is all of the petro's premined? or will new barrels of oil be tied to new petros?
I'm confused when the opposition says 'this is not a cryptocurrency, this is a forward sale of Venezuelan oil', surely the only way Venezuela can balance their budget, in the short term at least, is to sell off their oil reserves? )
16 February 2018
05 February 2018
25 January 2018
15 January 2018
06 January 2018
) . . Comment: Q&A: Edward Snowden on rights, privacy, secrets and leaks in conversation with Jimmy Wales
; 18:50:26, 06 Jan 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> When Snowden mentions impotency of the judicial system and Congress in limiting, or at least checking the activities of the security services, I wonder if this is a problem that could be solved with personnel changes. Maybe it's best if we just wait for judges more comfortable with the interplay of modern communication technology and the separation of powers illustrated in 1787 to rise through the ranks and eventually pick up the gavel.
Maybe the only way for Congress to be untangled from those willing to fund their re-election campaigns is to replace them with a form of direct democracy. How much do we need elected representatives to express our views in an age where we can tweet to our heart's delight?
I found Snowden's final answer a little bittersweet, the idea that right are for the weak is great principle but in the rough and tumble of societal change those with the deepest pockets and heaviest sticks have a tendency to come out on top.
For excessive government surveillance to be curtailed, the rich and powerful need to be hurt by it. Just as FDR's wealthy backers stood to gain economically from the repeal of prohibition (I vaguely remember his son being poised to introduce the new American market to scotch whiskey) and Lincoln ran the risk of military defeat if he didn't support emancipation (freed slaves swelling the ranks of his army)
Anywho, I'd argue change only happens when change aligns with the goals of the rich and powerful, so is it unreasonable for me to think all we can do is sit and wait for privacy to become an important issue for someone powerful with something to lose? )
01 January 2018
) . . Comment: Why sex with robots is a complicated business
; 16:16:44, 01 Jan 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Really interesting article Lydia, thanks for writing it!
Just some thing I thought were particularly interesting, '...even greater objectification of women as a result of robots as sexualized, subordinate, playthings.' I wonder how valid is this claim given sex robots are not women. Maybe I'm being biased but I can't (or won't?) imagine that the way someone treats a robot can be linked to the way someone treats another human being. As gross as Sharkey's soap dish comparison is, I can't find fault in that sentiment.
'The head moves and talks and can be combined with existing sex doll bodies for a more “lifelike” experience.'
As the line between 'life like' and 'living' blurs, the possible applications of sex robots are only going to bring more and more complicated situations. You mentioned sex robots being used to treat social anxiety and erectile dysfunction but I wondered what you'd think about, say, paedophiles, being rehabilitated with specifically designed sex robots?
I haven't researched this but it we take that there is no link between behaviour with a robot and behaviour with a human being, Is there a line that should be drawn between a silicone and and a flesh and blood human being? )
) . . Comment: 200 million lives saved - but prognosis for penicillin is not healthy
; 14:08:39, 01 Jan 2018 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Well blow me down! 'Staphylococcus aureus bacteria strains resistant to penicillin emerged in 1950, only six years after it was first mass produced.' Only *SIX* years! How we've managed to muddle along for this long is a miracle.
The article mentions patients 'shopping around' for GP's who will prescribe them antibiotics, I wonder if it would be worthwhile to find out what (if any) schemes are being introduced to reduce this, or just to reduce the perception of antibiotics being a magic cure-all drug in general.
But anyway, really great work! )
31 December 2017
) . . Comment: Take part: UK parliament threatens to sanction Facebook and Twitter in fake news inquiry
; 15:59:37, 31 Dec 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> • What have reports and public statements suggested about the influence of fake news on the referendum campaign in June 2016?
The trouble with the news around the time of the referendum is that there was absolutely no concrete policies by either side. Prior to the referendum David Cameron brought back some incredibly menial compromises from the EU, I can't remember exactly what but it didn't do anything to address security concerns (I think this was before the migrant crisis but I'm not certain) while there were whispers about a proposal for a European Army. Nothing about future economic concerns, nothing about addressing rising youth unemployment or falling standards of living. I understand there's a proposal for a European wide unemployment benefit. I'm sure explaining to France and Germany why they must contribute even more money to prop up the Italian and Greek economies.
Long story short, where there should have been proposals there were speculative dreams, and the referendum was fought on who's dreams were the brightest.
• How do you think different governments have approached Facebook and Twitter, in terms of their roles as platforms with some responsibility over the content shared by their users?
I read quite recently how a combination of astro turfing and the tendency to live in your own bubble on social media has created a niche for the field of psychometrics, firms like Cambridge Analytica being employed and producing real results just by tweaking a word here or there in political statements that consistently enthuse and enthral.
How the Government can come in to regulate these environments is a really tough conversation. On the one hand, we've seen how social media can be vital tool in the repertoire of dissidents and whistleblowers, just take a look at the Arab Spring and Wikileaks. And yet Donald Trump rode a wave of pepe the frog memes all the way to the Whitehouse.
If government bodies do step in, I can't imagine they'd use anything other than blunt instruments to regulate (read: choke the life out of) social media. )
28 December 2017
) . . Comment: Will Alternet replace present day internet?
; 07:36:38, 28 Dec 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Hello Miguel!
Fascinating article, I’m excited just reading it!
Where do you think the Alternet will be received best? As a competitor to hosting services or maybe as nodes in the Tor network?
This might sound crude but hear me out, the pornography industry pioneered industry standards, from 3G to camcorders, 1080p HD to internet billing systems, porn took these ideas nascent ideas into the mainstream and I wonder, how can that industry make use of Alternet? )
24 December 2017
06 December 2017
05 December 2017
27 November 2017
) . . Comment: Daily News Agenda: Monday
; 06:41:12, 27 Nov 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Hello! For Monday the 27th of November, here are a couple stories I think may be of interest.
> Net Neutrality!
I'd love to see a breakdown of both sides of the argument. It's been said that maintaining net neutrality has hindered investment in network infrastructure. Is this particularly true? What's the evidence for it? The argument goes that repealing net neutrality rules will give firms the freedom to better cater to the differing needs of nascent technology, to offer improved services for critical information such as the data about automated cars as opposed to Netflix streaming. Again, what evidence is there to support this idea? Can Reddit be right, is the repealing of net neutrality simply a money grab?
> Venezuelan Debt
As far as I'm aware, there are four main types of debt Venezuela is burdened with. Forty odd billion pounds in bonds issued by the government and the state oil company. Defaulting on these debts would probably remove the only way the Venezuelan government could make any money (oil!). Loans from other socialist countries, Chine and Russia, totalling a jaw dropping one hundred and forty billion US dollars according to the BBC. This debt is interesting too as neither country would particularly gain from forcing Venezuela to default. Would Russia prefer to enjoy more political power in South America? Is there some socialist camaraderie going on? Would China prefer to have access to Venezuelan oil cheaply due to the debt than bring the oil reserves under direct control?
Finally, debt is owed to US based developmental organisations. Taking on all this debt, the FT mentions that some three hundred billion US dollars was stolen from Venezuela. My most burning question is then, where is this cash and may I have some?! )
22 November 2017
18 November 2017
15 November 2017
14 November 2017
06 November 2017
05 November 2017
) . . Comment: European Union is more than a trade deal, it's a set of ideals
; 20:12:25, 05 Nov 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> The idea that the Sun and the Daily Mail misled the public about the nature of the EU is a little unfair. No one is forced to buy those organs and the nature of their reporting may, as eurosceptics, be focussed on European gaffs and debacles (of which there are plenty) but to declare them as systemically misleading the British public is quite unfair.
PS: never thought I'd be writing to defend the image of the Daily Mail or The Sun... )
04 November 2017
) . . Comment: Sex and power - a turning point?
; 09:21:25, 04 Nov 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> 'At least fifteen women have accused the president of sexual assault, misconduct or unwanted physical advances. But the allegations failed to damage his campaign for the White House.'
I'd like to see a piece exploring this idea. Why did the allegations of sexual assault have little effect on Trump's campaign? If we posit that it's because the majority or Americans (or at least, American voters) don't think of sexual assault as an issue that makes or breaks a campaign, what does this mean for the idea of Sex and Power more broadly? )
03 November 2017
) . . Comment: Diversity at and on WikiTribune
; 12:31:48, 03 Nov 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> It'll be interesting to see how WT responds to criticisms regarding diversity.
It's a complicated issue and in the early days of will perhaps be excessively scrutinised. ( i.e. Why didn't WT cover this issue or that issue? Oh it must be cause this or that team lacks diversity) )
) . . Comment: Daily News Agenda: Monday
; 12:25:12, 03 Nov 2017 . . Thibagaran Baskaran
) ( Comment -> Hello World! Here’s a few stories that may be of interest:
WHAT WE SHOULD DO A STORY ON:
• Apple’s launch of the iPhone X
o The tenth anniversary of the iPhone, perhaps a reflection on the economic or social influence of Apple over the last decade?
o Perhaps even a piece on the future of Apple or on the state of the OEM marketplace in general? (Apple are poised to leap frog Samsung to reclaim the title of ‘World’s Most Profitable Company’ and they’re trying to support the creation of OLED screen manufacturers to reduce dependence on Samsung, the largest supplier.)
• UK Cabinet shaken by sexual assault allegations
o Claims of sexual assault from Parliamentary aides, journalists, and even fellow MPs have shaken the Government.
o Labour party activists claim to have a spreadsheet of 40 Conservative MP’s who have been accused of sexual misconduct (the allegations on the spreadsheet are unverified according to a story on The Guardian)
o The Government does not have a majority of seats in the Commons (318/650) but have a deal with the Northern Irish DUP. They have 10 seat, so Conservative Party can commend a slim majority of 328.
o It will be interesting to see if the number of seats falls, perhaps even below the 256 required by a party to form a Government.
WHAT SOUNDS LIKE A STORY BUT NEEDS FURTHER DIGGING AND DISCUSSION
• Drones and the future of transport
o Uber foresee of ‘On Demand Urban Air Transport’, where a ‘50-mile drone taxi flight from the São Paulo suburb of Campinas to the city centre will cost the equivalent of $24.’ (Uber Report Here: https://www.uber.com/elevate.pdf)
o The Ehang 184, a drone made in China, has begun tests in Dubai, flying up to 10 miles per trip.
o What are the implications of drone transport?
Who are the people that will use them? Will they eventually replace public and private transport or work complimentary to them?
What will be the legislation around them? Will anyone be able to ride them (irrespective of Visa status, employment status, health status?)
When (if at all) will governments move to regulate them?
Where would the best places for drone transport be, will ‘highway’ routes be established or will it be a bit more wild west?
Why will drone transport become popular?
How do key figures in the industry see drone transportation working?
• Asteroid Mining
Former President Barack Obama legalised asteroid mining for private firms.
The miniscule European country of Luxembourg has the world’s most favourable legislative framework for asteroid mining. A whole host of firms have flocked to take advantage.
WATCHERS (keep an eye on to see if it develops to merit a fuller story)
• 2018 will be declared ‘The African Anti-Corruption Year’ by the African Union, a pan African organisation of 55 members to facilitate development for ‘A peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa’. Anti-corruption campaigns are often painted by incumbent politicians as witch-hunting campaigns designed by opposition politicians. The focus of anti-corruption campaigns should therefore be focussed on creating independent bodies, carefully designed to be transparent and accountable without being susceptible to political pressures.
• The Football Association, as part of the ‘Gameplan for Growth’ have recently announced their intention to restructure the tiers of Women’s Football in the UK. The move, heralded as a ‘landmark moment for women’s football’ is part of the three-pronged plan by the FA to double participation, double fanbase and achieve consistent success on the world stage. )