Tuesday, July 21, 2015

sharing and hiding - e-books and crypto comms

two ideas for the day:
1/ when you're reading an ebook, people around you don't have the pleasure of seeing what you're reading as they do by seeing the cover of a paper book....

so e-books have wireless for download - why not (up to you to turn on/off) use a whispernet style ad hoc meassage to broadcast to people nearby what you currenty are lookin at....?

2/ when you type an email that has a word like "attachment" in it, the mailer notices if there isn't an attachment often, & asks you if you meant to have one
how about the mail app (or browser) could also look at the email and make a guess "this looks private, don't you want to use the recipient's public key"?


Saturday, July 18, 2015

democracy and debate - what's wrong with vanguards etc

just listening to lots of talks by social scientists - when people talk about politics, they've spent a lot of time reading, digesting, thinking, synthesising and so on. so then they report their results back. what's the problem?

well, basically, TL;DR

the process has to be a process for al potential involved parties - this is why syndicalist anarchism is the way forward - direct democracy has to engage, so the naive extension of representative democracy into direct democracy just burdens people with too many irrelevant discussions, so is alienating in a worse way.

Friday, June 26, 2015

towards an antisocial contract

Towards an Anti-Social Contract

I've read the David Kaye's report, which I very much like (clarity and precision, but also happen to agree).
What is missing? A clear way to measure proportionality, and a social/legal framework to implement judgement of what is a (currently on hold) proposals to replace the European Human Rights proportional way to suspend crypto rights. So for example, the UK's where decisions are made, and replace them with politicians - with a UK Bill of Rights threatened to remove judges as the place Anderson's report makes it plain this is unacceptable (not just and proportional scheme to carryout lawful intercept, the advent of ethically, given conflict of interest, but constitutionally).
However, there's a very real threat that without a transparent, fair, intercept. Government agencies need to be persuaded to reduce their really good perfect forward secrecy mechanisms, and better key  management in general, will basically mean there will be no feasible (child porn , terrorism organisation, money laundering etc) would mission creep (similar to commercial agencies abuse of personal data) as that would mean legitimate policing of really bad uses of the net simply go completely unchecked.

There's a secondary threat, which is that wholesale monitoring by too: If citizens feel confident that monitoring is only done for good reason, and without weakening out crypto-systems, they may not feel the need to adopt unbreakable systems. Many agencies will result in a massive breach of privacy when should never have had access to 2 Million documents - modern cloud (inevitably) one of those agencies accidentally leaks a collection of monitoring data. This is the other lesson from Snowden (the NSA's internal security procedures were incompetent, in that one person providers do not let their system administrators have such privilege.
This is the balancing act that needs to be created, in my view. and nor should a security agency, and what better way to enforce this, than only to collect necessary and sufficient data in the first place - the needle, not the whole haystack.
A sort of Anti-Social Contract c.f. always on
So maybe we need a new arbiter organisation - a distributed citizenship v. government tie-breaker - not the police, business or the press or current national judiciary - a sort of 7th estate. It should, like the Internet itself, admit of no kings, just working codes of practice. It could manage rights to be forgotten too. It might need to employ some very smart social machines to cope with ddos, edit war, troll, bot farms etc etc

Friday, June 19, 2015

science and policy #101

Three recent pieces of work in Cambridge came to light

1. scientists have been working on the basis for randomized trials, and realized that, of course, we must have some non-randomized trials, to check if the very basis for randomization as part of scientific empirical method is sound.
In a bold inter-disciplinary move, the scientists collaborated with the department of history and analyzed a number of UK and other policies for economics and military action, to see if one could find random (e.g. the 100 years) and non-random (e.g. the 1st world) wars, as well as economics (e.g. monetarism, and austerity). The results will be published very soon, but are currently under embargo, in case they disturb a current experiment with Greece.

2. Engineers in Cambridge have long wanted to build a railway to replace the ageing bus and taxi system. Working from earlier chinese experiments with mono-rails, and the guided by the guided bus success, the proposal is not to take the modern electric line from Royston to King's Lynn, where customers are already used to the trains splitting at Cambridge, with one half going forward, for example, to Ely, and the other half, soon, to the Science Park. From next year, they hope to split the train laterally, with the left half going around the pieces (Christs, Parkers) and Commons (Midsummer etc), and the right half going in a long overhead loop, to Ely, allowing the Eels much easier migration along their breeding paths in the fens. If the duo-mono-rail is a success, the engineers propose to extend the routes to Paris and Brussels, where onward mono-mono routes could serve ski-resorts and some of the Belgian mountain regions where the finer beers are produced.

3. For some time now, a very ambitious project in CRASSH has been working on Consipiracy Theory. This work has involved linguists, computer scientists, taxi drivers and publicans, and has recently yielded a breakthrough. A new tool has been built that can detect consipiracy theories with a false positive rate of 2% and a false negative rate of 3%. The method is based on a mix of Bayes and various NLP clustering algorithms. Currently the tool is part of a possible startup and venture capitalists are clamouring to fund the work. The business case is unclear as yet, and there have been some suggestions that at least one major journalism organisation may have prior art, although scientists suggest that their conspiracy generator is based on different technology (followers of Chomsky will understand that recognition and generation are quite different linguistic machines). At least one government agency claims that they had build a system exactly like this in 1961, and that it correctly identified Cuba and Suez, but they could not reveal the technology for fear of showing potential national enemies how much more advanced the UK was than them. Security analysts have asked them to "put up or shut up" as this is not the first time that they have claimed to have approaches to their work that would save time and money, but have not deployed because they would have, err, saved time and money and lives and red faces.

Meanwhile, CRASSH were not available for comment.

Monday, June 01, 2015

intent with meaning - future network control

there's a lot of chat about intent-oriented networking e.g. Nemo, - latest fad - seems to be a little bit like predicate routing - or declarative networking - where you way, in a very high-level way (e.g. legalease, c.f. recent microsoft paper on compliance) what you want to happen. Hopefully, this is 11 layers higher than open flow, and employs P4 at a minimum, as most of the intents that aren't just 5-tuple flowspec based, must necessarily employ DPI and application based content patterns.

however, where are the semantics? this seems to me to be a massive missing mole of an elephant in the room

Who (subject/object) wants What (packet, router, link, user) to be Where (in a jurisdiction, or not) When (before T, after T etc), and Why (profit, loss, legal link, fun) - the WWWWW (High 5 ?) of networking - it shouldn't be too hard to do a bit of deontic logic and denotational sugar to get this right...a suitable job for computer science, and possibly, the NaaS project, but possibly not...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not Worn Down. or Out.

Some company has bet its farm on some new fangled wearable device called the Watch. A bunch of other wearable computing/communication devices have done ok (highly portable mp3 music players to alleviate the burden of having to talk to people while exercising, wrist bands to measure speed and vital signs to olympic precision, to save the burden of having to look at a map and step on a scales. etc etc

None of this stuff is for me - maybe I am an outlier, outlandish, outspoken (sure), and out there, but I can't stand this stuff but not for a luddite reason -

ALthough I've always been slow to take up a tech (didn't have broadband at home or computers in the house til the kids needed it for school, didn't have a mobile phone til someone gave me one at work, didn't have a car for decades before needing to transport elderly people and do shopping etc - all driven by cost benefit analysis basically), this is not why I'm eschewing the old wearable stuff...

I've not ever been able to wear a watch, and find it hard to wear gloves - no idea why, but when uncles gave me watches as presents when I was a kid, I would run into doors, walls, catch them on aunties pointy noses, smash the glass, rip the strap in shreds, or drop them in a cup of really hot tea, to see if Douglas Adams would be right - who knows why? I just find this stuff intensely irritating.

If someone built something so tough it wouldn't break, I'd end up like Isidora Duncan, killed by being dragged behind a drone that accidentally got entangled with the fitbit it just delivered to my left paw.

One of our cool students built the nearest thing to an ideal wearable for me, a high-visibility cycling jacket that is decently made, well waterproof, light enough to wear on anything except a really hot day, and has a set of lights and sensors built in. Good on you, Andy Li, for visijax - I am betting he actually could have saved lives, but I still managed to break it (note to andy - the jacket is still fine, so it still gets used, just needs re-wiring - my fault entirely)....

I am not especially known as clumsy  - I can do fiddly things like thread a needle or hand solder electrical stuff without having to use a vice...I am obviously not averse to having tablets, smart phones, internet tv, blogs, twitter etc etc - I am not eve averse to doing some exercise (12 miles per day cycling, occasional long (100 mile) rides) and having some idea how to plan pace and fuel over a day etc

but I for one, am not going to be sporting one those new, extremely expensive, hopelessly hipster wannabe things on my wrist any day soon, no not even if Apple gave me one:)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

EU versus US cloud economy

was at interesting meeting yesterday where it was shown that the EU lags the US in business adoption of  cloud technology, and that this is harming growth/productivity of companies (I think I can believe this) - positive role model companies do exist, so it isn't just head-in-the-sand

A lot of the talk was about the fact that the network deployment in EU is NOT a barrier  (capacity/latency/price are all fine), but at the same time, some of the net is actually under-utilisaed.

That's a useful point, and indeed, one could claim that the fact that the entire warfare about Net Neutrality has been largely US based is evidence that the stakes for content and service providers versus network providers are much higher in north american than in Europe.

for my part, I reckon a large part of the problem is that most european countries rely on overseas companies to provide cloud technology (Amazon, Microsoft, etc) and it is really hard to do a large scale business transformation that cloud can achieve with a remote company (or a company you don't trust, own, or have the same language/culture as). So the answer seems pretty obvious - the fact that the UK has less of a problem in this space is consistent with this, in that we have more local cloud expertise in the UK (having provided some of the core tech here anyhow:)

some people there disputed this viewpoint, and claimed there was no problem having BT or Microsoft cloud-ify their EU-based business - that assertion was made with no concrete examples.

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home