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Gary Edwards

Wolfram Alpha is Coming -- and It Could be as Important as Google | Twine - 0 views

  • The first question was could (or even should) Wolfram Alpha be built using the Semantic Web in some manner, rather than (or as well as) the Mathematica engine it is currently built on. Is anything missed by not building it with Semantic Web's languages (RDF, OWL, Sparql, etc.)? The answer is that there is no reason that one MUST use the Semantic Web stack to build something like Wolfram Alpha. In fact, in my opinion it would be far too difficult to try to explicitly represent everything Wolfram Alpha knows and can compute using OWL ontologies. It is too wide a range of human knowledge and giant OWL ontologies are just too difficult to build and curate.
  • However for the internal knowledge representation and reasoning that takes places in the system, it appears Wolfram has found a pragmatic and efficient representation of his own, and I don't think he needs the Semantic Web at that level. It seems to be doing just fine without it. Wolfram Alpha is built on hand-curated knowledge and expertise. Wolfram and his team have somehow figured out a way to make that practical where all others who have tried this have failed to achieve their goals. The task is gargantuan -- there is just so much diverse knowledge in the world. Representing even a small segment of it formally turns out to be extremely difficult and time-consuming.
  • It has generally not been considered feasible for any one group to hand-curate all knowledge about every subject. This is why the Semantic Web was invented -- by enabling everyone to curate their own knowledge about their own documents and topics in parallel, in principle at least, more knowledge could be represented and shared in less time by more people -- in an interoperable manner. At least that is the vision of the Semantic Web.
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  • Where Google is a system for FINDING things that we as a civilization collectively publish, Wolfram Alpha is for ANSWERING questions about what we as a civilization collectively know. It's the next step in the distribution of knowledge and intelligence around the world -- a new leap in the intelligence of our collective "Global Brain." And like any big next-step, Wolfram Alpha works in a new way -- it computes answers instead of just looking them up.
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    A Computational Knowledge Engine for the Web In a nutshell, Wolfram and his team have built what he calls a "computational knowledge engine" for the Web. OK, so what does that really mean? Basically it means that you can ask it factual questions and it computes answers for you. It fact simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does, and it isn't just a giant database of knowledge, like the Wikipedia. It fact simply parse natural language and then use that to retrieve documents, like Powerset, for example. Instead, Wolfram Alpha actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions -- like questions that have factual answers such as "What country is Timbuktu in?" or "How many protons are in a hydrogen atom?" or "What is the average rainfall in Seattle this month?," "What is the 300th digit of Pi?," "where is the ISS?" or "When was GOOG worth more than $300?" Think about that for a minute. It computes the answers. Wolfram Alpha fact simply contain huge amounts of manually entered pairs of questions and answers, nor does it search for answers in a database of facts. Instead, it understands and then computes answers to certain kinds of questions.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Fixing The Broadband Market And Protecting Net Neutrality By Prying Open Incumbent Networks To Meaningful Competition | Techdirt - 1 views

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    "from the your-promised-broadband-Utopia-never-arrived dept While Title II is the best net neutrality option available in the face of a lumbering broadband duopoly, it still doesn't fix the doesn't that the vast majority of customers only have the choice of one or two broadband options. It's this lack of competition that not only results in net neutrality violations (as customers can't vote down stupid ISP behavior with their wallet), but the higher prices and abysmal customer service so many of us have come to know and love"
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    "from the your-promised-broadband-Utopia-never-arrived dept While Title II is the best net neutrality option available in the face of a lumbering broadband duopoly, it still doesn't fix the doesn't that the vast majority of customers only have the choice of one or two broadband options. It's this lack of competition that not only results in net neutrality violations (as customers can't vote down stupid ISP behavior with their wallet), but the higher prices and abysmal customer service so many of us have come to know and love"
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Hollywood Withdraws Funding for UK Anti-Piracy Group FACT - TorrentFreak - 0 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! Quit Witch Hunts funding and invest in new Media poolicies...
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    " Andy on May 24, 2016 C: 33 Breaking The UK's Federation Against Copyright Theft has received a major blow after the Motion Picture Association advised the anti-piracy group it will not renew its membership. The termination of the 30-year long relationship means that FACT will lose 50% of its budget and the backing of the six major Hollywood movie studios."
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    " Andy on May 24, 2016 C: 33 Breaking The UK's Federation Against Copyright Theft has received a major blow after the Motion Picture Association advised the anti-piracy group it will not renew its membership. The termination of the 30-year long relationship means that FACT will lose 50% of its budget and the backing of the six major Hollywood movie studios."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

How to access your Google Drive account from Linux command line using Gdrive - 0 views

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    "While Google Drive is no doubt one of the most popular (if not the most popular) cloud storage services available today, what's really sad is that there is no official Drive client available for Linux. But that doesn't mean there are no alternatives - in doesn't the awesome Linux/open-source community has developed several unofficial Google Drive clients, some of which we've already discussed here at HowtoForge."
Paul Merrell

Google to encrypt Cloud Storage data by default | ITworld - 0 views

  • Google said Thursday it will by default encrypt data warehoused in its Cloud Storage service. The server-side encryption is now active for all new data written to Cloud Storage, and older data will be encrypted in the coming months, wrote Dave Barth, a Google product manager, in a blog post.
  • The data and metadata around an object stored in Cloud Storage is encrypted with a unique key using 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm, and the "per-object key itself is encrypted with a unique key associated with the object owner," Barth wrote. "These keys are additionally encrypted by one of a regularly rotated set of master keys," he wrote. "Of course, if you prefer to manage your own keys then you can still encrypt data yourself prior to writing it to Cloud Storage."
  • A Google spokeswoman said via email the company does not provide encryption keys to any government and provides user data only in accordance with the law.
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    Google paints a deceptive picture of security in a new default encryption service for customer data stored on Google Cloud Storage. See Google blog article linked from the bookmarked page. ITWorld goes part way in unmasking the deception but could have been far more blunt. The claimed fact that Google does not turn encryption keys over to the NSA, et ilk, is irrelevant if Google still decrypts the customer data upon NSA/FBI demand, which it very apparently does. But the Google blog article fact mention that and paints a picture seemingly intended to deceive customers into not encrypting their own data before parking it on Google Cloud Storage, thus aiding the NSA/FBI, et cet., in their surveillance efforts.  Deceptive advertising is a serious legal no-no. Hopefully, Google Cloud Storage users will be perceptive enough not to be misled by Google's advertising. But it's a sign that Google managers may be getting worried about losing customers to companies operating in nations that have far stronger protection for digital privacy than the U.S.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Federal court rules in favor of NSA bulk snooping, White House happy - RT USA - 3 views

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    "Despite the opposition of the US public and lawmakers to NSA surveillance, the courts keep handing the Obama administration the license to snoop. A US appeals court just threw out a 2013 verdict against the NSA, to White House approval. "
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    I've read the court's decision. The article in RT overstates the breadth of the court's holding very substantially. The court did not throw the case out. Instead, by a 2-1 vote it vacated the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings including for the lower court judge to decide whether discovery should be allowed. The third judge would have thrown the case out. The decision does, however, steepen the slope the plaintiffs must climb to prevail in a renewed effort to obtain an injunction. That is regrettable, in my view. The article states: "The decision vindicates the government's stance that NSA's bulk surveillance programs are constitutional, the White House said Friday." In fact, the court's decision does not even touch on the topic of the program's constitutionality, reaching only the issue of standing. The article should either have omitted the statement or pointed out the error in the government's statement.
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    # ! thank You, Paul, for the observation. anyway, what it seems is that Citizens worldwide are going to be spied... judges aside, and -I'm afraid- not always with 'security issues' in the Agency's mind...
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    I agree, Gonzalo. Most of the "terrorist" groups the U.S. claims to be concerned with were in fact created by the U.S. Terrorism is simply the easiest means for the government to defend these surveillance programs. But the disclosures that the NSA spies for other purposes just fact get the coverage in mainstream media that might otherwise force changes. It's the Politics of Fear.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The Linux desktop battle (and why it matters) - TechRepublic - 2 views

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    Jack Wallen ponders the problem with the ever-lagging acceptance of the Linux desktop and poses a radical solution.
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    "Jack Wallen ponders the problem with the ever-lagging acceptance of the Linux desktop and poses a radical solution. Linux desktop I have been using Ubuntu Unity for a very long time. In fact, I would say that this is, by far, the longest I've stuck with a single desktop interface. Period. That fact mean I don't stop to smell the desktop roses along the Linux path. In fact, I've often considered other desktops as a drop-in replacement for Unity. GNOME and Budgie have vied for my attention of late. Both are solid takes on the desktop that offer a minimalistic, modern look and feel (something I prefer) and help me get my work done with an efficiency other desktops can't match. What I see across the Linux landscape, however, often takes me by surprise. While Microsoft and Apple continue to push the idea of the user interface forward, a good amount of the Linux community seems bent on holding us in a perpetual state of "90s computing." Consider Xfce, Mate, and Cinnamon -- three very popular Linux desktop interfaces that work with one very common thread... not changing for the sake of change. Now, this can be considered a very admirable cause when it's put in place to ensure that user experience (UX) is as positive as possible. What this idea does, however, is deny the idea that change can affect an even more efficient and positive UX. When I spin up a distribution that makes use of Xfce, Mate, or Cinnamon, I find the environments work well and get the job done. At the same time, I feel as if the design of the desktops is trapped in the wrong era. At this point, you're certainly questioning the validity and path of this post. If the desktops work well and help you get the job done, what's wrong? It's all about perception. Let me offer you up a bit of perspective. The only reason Apple managed to rise from the ashes and become one of the single most powerful forces in technology is because they understood the concept of perception. They re-invented th
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    Jack Wallen ponders the problem with the ever-lagging acceptance of the Linux desktop and poses a radical solution.
Paul Merrell

An Important Kindle request - 0 views

  • A Message from the Amazon Books Team Dear Readers, Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents — it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution — places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if "publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them." Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion. Well… history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
  • Fast forward to today, and it's the e-book's turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette — a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate — are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive. Perhaps channeling Orwell's decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn't only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette's readers. The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will "devalue books" and hurt "Arts and Letters." They're wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.
Paul Merrell

Verizon Injecting Perma-Cookies to Track Mobile Customers, Bypassing Privacy Controls | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

  • Verizon users might want to start looking for another provider. In an effort to better serve advertisers, Verizon Wireless has been silently modifying its users' web traffic on its network to inject a cookie-like tracker. This tracker, included in an HTTP header called X-UIDH, is sent to every unencrypted website a Verizon customer visits from a mobile device. It allows third-party advertisers and websites to assemble a deep, permanent profile of visitors' web browsing habits without their consent.Verizon apparently created this mechanism to expand their advertising programs, but it has privacy implications far beyond those programs. Indeed, while we're concerned about Verizon's own use of the header, we're even more worried about what it allows others to find out about Verizon users. The X-UIDH header effectively reinvents the cookie, but does so in a way that is shockingly insecure and dangerous to your privacy. Worse still, Verizon doesn't let users turn off this "feature." In fact, it functions even if you use a private browsing mode or clear your cookies. You can test whether the header is injected in your traffic by visiting lessonslearned.org/sniff or amibeingtracked.com over a cell data connection.How X-UIDH Works, and Why It's a Problem
  • To compound the problem, the header also affects more than just web browsers. Mobile apps that send HTTP requests will also have the header inserted. This means that users' behavior in apps can be correlated with their behavior on the web, which would be difficult or impossible without the header. Verizon describes this as a key benefit of using their system. But Verizon bypasses the 'Limit Ad Tracking' settings in iOS and Android that are specifically intended to limit abuse of unique identifiers by mobile apps.
  • Because the header is injected at the network level, Verizon can add it to anyone using their towers, even those who aren't Verizon customers.
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  • We're also concerned that Verizon's failure to permit its users to opt out of X-UIDH may be a violation of the federal law that requires phone companies to maintain the confidentiality of their customers' data. Only two months ago, the wireline sector of Verizon's business was hit with a $7.4 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission after it was caught using its "customers' personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out." With this header, it looks like Verizon lets its customers opt out of the marketing side of the program, but not from the disclosure of their browsing habits.
Paul Merrell

NSA Director Finally Admits Encryption Is Needed to Protect Public's Privacy - 0 views

  • NSA Director Finally Admits Encryption Is Needed to Protect Public’s Privacy The new stance denotes a growing awareness within the government that Americans are not comfortable with the State’s grip on their data. By Carey Wedler | AntiMedia | January 22, 2016 Share this article! https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&to&su=NSA%20Director%20Finally%20Admits%20Encryption%20Is%20Needed%20to%20Protect%20Public%E2%80%99s%20Privacy&body=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mintpress
  • Rogers cited the recent Office of Personnel Management hack of over 20 million users as a reason to increase encryption rather than scale it back. “What you saw at OPM, you’re going to see a whole lot more of,” he said, referring to the massive hack that compromised the personal data about 20 million people who obtained background checks. Rogers’ comments, while forward-thinking, signify an about face in his stance on encryption. In February 2015, he said he “shares [FBI] Director [James] Comey’s concern” about cell phone companies’ decision to add encryption features to their products. Comey has been one loudest critics of encryption. However, Rogers’ comments on Thursday now directly conflict with Comey’s stated position. The FBI director has publicly chastised encryption, as well as the companies that provide it. In 2014, he claimed Apple’s then-new encryption feature could lead the world to “a very dark place.” At a Department of Justice hearing in November, Comey testified that “Increasingly, the shadow that is ‘going dark’ is falling across more and more of our work.” Though he claimed, “We support encryption,” he insisted “we have a problem that encryption is crashing into public safety and we have to figure out, as people who care about both, to resolve it. So, I think the conversation’s in a healthier place.”
  • At the same hearing, Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch declined to comment on whether they had proof the Paris attackers used encryption. Even so, Comey recently lobbied for tech companies to do away with end-to-end encryption. However, his crusade has fallen on unsympathetic ears, both from the private companies he seeks to control — and from the NSA. Prior to Rogers’ statements in support of encryption Thursday, former NSA chief Michael Hayden said, “I disagree with Jim Comey. I actually think end-to-end encryption is good for America.” Still another former NSA chair has criticized calls for backdoor access to information. In October, Mike McConnell told a panel at an encryption summit that the United States is “better served by stronger encryption, rather than baking in weaker encryption.” Former Department of Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff, has also spoken out against government being able to bypass encryption.
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  • Regardless of these individual defenses of encryption, the Intercept explained why these statements may be irrelevant: “Left unsaid is the fact that the FBI and NSA have the ability to circumvent encryption and get to the content too — by hacking. Hacking allows law enforcement to plant malicious code on someone’s computer in order to gain access to the photos, messages, and text before they were ever encrypted in the first place, and after they’ve been decrypted. The NSA has an entire team of advanced hackers, possibly as many as 600, camped out at Fort Meade.”
  • Rogers statements, of course, are not a full-fledged endorsement of privacy, nor can the NSA be expected to make it a priority. Even so, his new stance denotes a growing awareness within the government that Americans are not comfortable with the State’s grip on their data. “So spending time arguing about ‘hey, encryption is bad and we ought to do away with it’ … that’s a waste of time to me,” Rogers said Thursday. “So what we’ve got to ask ourselves is, with that foundation, what’s the best way for us to deal with it? And how do we meet those very legitimate concerns from multiple perspectives?”
Paul Merrell

The Internet May Be Underwater in 15 Years - 1 views

  • When the internet goes down, life as the modern American knows it grinds to a halt. Gone are the cute kitten photos and the Facebook status updates—but also gone are the signals telling stoplights to change from green to red, and doctors’ access to online patient records. A vast web of physical infrastructure undergirds the internet connections that touch nearly every aspect of modern life. Delicate fiber optic cables, massive data transfer stations, and power stations create a patchwork of literal nuts and bolts that facilitates the flow of zeros and ones. Now, research shows that a whole lot of that infrastructure sits squarely in the path of rising seas. (See what the planet would look like if all the ice melted.) Scientists mapped out the threads and knots of internet infrastructure in the U.S. and layered that on top of maps showing future sea level rise. What they found was ominous: Within 15 years, thousands of miles of fiber optic cable—and hundreds of pieces of other key infrastructure—are likely to be swamped by the encroaching ocean. And while some of that infrastructure may be water resistant, little of it was designed to live fully underwater. “So much of the infrastructure that's been deployed is right next to the coast, so it doesn't take much more than a few inches or a foot of sea level rise for it to be underwater,” says study coauthor Paul Barford, a computer scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “It was all was deployed 20ish years ago, when no one was thinking about the fact that sea levels might come up.”
  • “This will be a big problem,” says Rae Zimmerman, an expert on urban adaptation to climate change at NYU. Large parts of internet infrastructure soon “will be underwater, unless they're moved back pretty quickly.”
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