Unsupervised Learning

Every week I consume ~20 hours of content about security, technology, and life, and then curate what I learned into a digestible summary.

Security News

Twitter is removing as many as 1 million fake accounts per day. Link

Deepfake video technology—along with AI-mimicked voices—are about to make the fake news situation a whole lot worse. What happens when it's hard for everyone to tell the difference between a real or a fake video or voice recording of someone important saying something negative? It makes it possible to claim people did something they didn't, but even worse gives deniability to people who actually did something horrible. Link Essay

More sensitive individuals such as military and intelligence workers have revealed their locations, daily movement routes, and even their homes through another fitness tracking app called Polar. The information is available through the website as part of normal operation—no hacking required. This problem is bi-directional: the vendor should be better about protecting such data, but individuals are ultimately responsible for knowing what they're sharing on what platforms. Link

Amazon is pushing its facial Rekognition software to governments for surveillance purposes, and they're not being overly shy about it. Link

Another woman has died as collateral damage in Russia's nerve agent attack on a former spy of theirs in the UK. Link

The UK is looking to consolidate its biometric data on citizens into a centralized database for ease of (theft) use. The database would include DNA, fingerprint, face, and possibly voice data. At our current levels of security maturity this is making it far too easy for attackers. The good news is that most data that's stored is in the form of destructive hashes, and its inevitable theft doesn't really equate to an eternal password. Full high-quality, 3D renderings of the face and fingerprints and voices could become that, though, if they were good enough to make fakes that can fool sensors. Hashes, though, aren't very valuable. Link

Juggalo (ICP) makeup can evade many types of facial recognition because it reshapes the jawline. Link

iOS 12 is bringing significant security and privacy upgrades. Link

A Senate intelligence report has now clearly stated that Putin meddled in the 2016 election in order to diminish American trust in the democratic system, to diminish Clinton's chances of winning, and to help Trump get elected. Wow, there it is in black and white. Link

Technology News

Apple's Siri is about to become seriously powerful, but not due to an upgrade of its AI capabilities. This fall it's releasing its Shortcuts application, which lets you build Siri workflows that are accessible by simple voice commands. It'll be functionally equivalent to Siri being natively upgraded, only it'll require a bit of setup to get going. This will significantly move Digital Assistants forward, falling in line with what I wrote about in The Real Internet of Things. Link Excerpt

Algorithms can now listen to motors to tell if they're about to die. The magic here is simple and universal. The algorithm is capturing thousands of variables that we cannot perceive. And they're looking for those in everything they look at. Same with dogs that can sense drugs or explosives. The better the sensors, the better the training, the more powerful it gets. Only, with ML and everyday problems, the solution is super easy to scale. That's why ML is going to change the world so quickly. Link

It looks like someone wants to use Google Duplex to handle customer service calls. Well, yeah. We already knew this would happen, and it's basically one of the best possible uses of the technology, but now we're seeing exactly how it might happen. Think of the data that they're going to be exposed to. As Google, the advertising company. It's simultaneously brilliant, exciting, and frightening. Link

Nikon is finally releasing a couple of mirrorless cameras. Link

Hiring is going to be a great place for AI to disrupt because humans are so bad at it while thinking they're great. Once this data becomes available, going to the data regarding who succeeds and what markers they have in common will quickly dominate the hiring process. Once again, we start with a data lake, and we point algorithms at it. Link

Human News

Gaming now has more revenue than TV, movies, and music combined. Link

Receiving a dose of testosterone makes men more attracted to high-status products. It would seem to follow that men who like high-status items have higher testosterone, but that seems slippery, as there could be many causes for that. Women, for example, also tend to like high-status items, and they're not known for high testosterone. Perhaps it's high levels of either testosterone or more female-associated hormones? Like the opposite of status-seeking isn't male or female, but asexual. Link

Denmark is getting very serious about its integration problem with its Muslim immigrants. It's requiring parents in isolated ghettos to send their kids to be trained in national values for a certain amount of time per month, and they're penalizing parents who don't comply. I agree we need to integrate better, but I'm not sure this is going to work. It may just harden the Danish immigrants further into their own ways. It's a hard problem, but at least people are starting to become aware of it. Link

The reasons Americans are having fewer children. Link

Scientists are excited about a new approach to fighting drug-resistant bacteria. The system coats bacteria cells while avoiding human cells so that the body's immune system can find and focus attention on them. Link

Sweden and France have re-instated mandatory government service, and the trend could spread to other countries in Europe. I think the U.S. needs it as well. Not for the Military, for the concept of being a citizen. We're no longer teaching people that being a citizen is a two-way interaction. Link

We have our first image of a newborn planet being formed around its star. Link

Kenya just announced they're implementing the death penalty for poachers. Link

Ideas, Trends, & Analysis

People are saying serverless could add a lot more developers to the mix because it completely abstracts the setup required to bring an idea into existence. I think serverless is super exciting. It's basically the next level after Kubernetes, which is already profound. It's building and deploying your application, and nothing else. It's being able to take an application and replicate it across multiple regions and providers without worrying about details. It's freedom from technology and transition into ideas and business. With the transition from iron to virtual machines, and then to containers, and then to containers, this transition to pure applications seems like a potential plateau that we could stay on for a long time. Seems pretty difficult to abstract away from that without dealing in pure ideas, which sounds like science fiction. I'm watching serverless closely. Specifically, I want to see what the serverless version of Kubernetes looks like. When that happens I'm jumping in. Maybe 2-5 years? Let me know what you think of this take and tentative prediction. Link

Simple, correct, fast—in that order. Link


A portable password cracking gaming rig. Link

GrayHatWarfare — A search engine for S3 buckets and contents. Link

How to store custom secrets with AWS secret management. Link

A resource for teaching kids the command-line. Link

Things that happen in both Silicon Valley and the Soviet Union Link

An astronomer explains black holes at 5 levels of difficulty. Link

A list of free data science books. Link


Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now turned out much better than I anticipated. The last few chapters on Reason and Science were phenomenal. Link

I'm now reading The Order of Time, which is absolutely blowing my mind. It's about the fundamental nature of time as we understand it today, and it's written by an expert in quantum gravitation. I'm doing the audiobook, and it's read by Benedict Cumberbatch. Highly recommended if you like physics at all. Link

I've gone back to only having one screen of apps on my mobile device, and I combined my new design with a custom wallpaper. Link


Your life will be significantly upgraded if you start reading some of the books on your list, or the ones I've been recommending. Trust me, it causes a significant creative and intelligence bump that lasts for a couple of weeks after reading. Do it.


“I live for books”.

~ Thomas Jefferson

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