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3232Facebook Said to Consider Banning Political Ads
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/facebook-said-to-consider-banning-political-ads/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 22:34:16 +0000https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/facebook-politcal-ads-ban.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/facebook-politcal-ads-ban.htmlSAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is considering banning political advertising across its network before the November general election, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, after facing intense pressure…
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is considering banning political advertising across its network before the November general election, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, after facing intense pressure for allowing hate speech and misinformation to flourish across its site.
The decision has not been finalized, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential, and the company could continue with its current political advertising policy. Discussions on potentially banning political ads have simmered since late last year, they said, as insiders weighed the idea while reaching out to political groups and candidates for feedback.
But the issue has come to the forefront in recent weeks, with the November election looming and as Facebook grapples with intensifying scrutiny over content posted to its platform. The core of the debate is whether banning political ads would help or harm “giving users a voice,” said the people with knowledge of the discussions. Stopping ads could stifle speech for some groups, they said, though allowing political ads to run could also allow more misinformation that could disenfranchise voters.
A Facebook spokesman declined to comment. Bloomberg News earlier reported the potential change in policy.
If a ban on political ads were to happen, it would be a reversal for Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. The social network has long allowed politicians and political parties to run ads across its network virtually unchecked, even if those ads contained falsehoods or other misinformation.
Mr. Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he would not police politicians’ ads and stated that the company was not an arbiter of truth because he believes in free speech. He has also said that removing political ads from the network could harm smaller, down-ballot candidates who are less well-funded than nationally prominent politicians. Political advertising makes up a negligible amount of Facebook’s revenue, he has said, so any decision would not be based on financial considerations.
But that hands-off approach has led to an intense backlash against the social network. Lawmakers, civil rights groups and Facebook’s own employees have assailed it for letting hate speech and misinformation fester on its site. Last month, the Biden presidential campaign said it would begin urging its supporters to demand that Facebook strengthen its rules against misinformation. More recently, advertisers such as Unilever and Coca-Cola have paused their advertising on the platform in protest.
That was punctuated this week by the release of a two-year audit of Facebook’s policies. The audit, conducted by civil rights experts and lawyers who were handpicked by the company, concluded that Facebook had not done enough to protect people on the platform from discriminatory posts and ads. In particular, they said, Facebook had been too willing to let politicians run amok on the site.
“Elevating free expression is a good thing, but it should apply to everyone,” they wrote. “When it means that powerful politicians do not have to abide by the same rules that everyone else does, a hierarchy of speech is created that privileges certain voices over less powerful voices.”
Mr. Zuckerberg has stuck to his free speech position even as other social media companies have taken more action against hate speech and inaccurate posts by politicians and their supporters. Twitter recently started labeling some of President Trump’s tweets as untruthful or glorifying violence, while Snap has said it would stop promoting Mr. Trump’s account on Snapchat because his speech could lead to violence. Twitch, the video game streaming site, suspended Mr. Trump’s account entirely, and the internet forum Reddit banned a community of Mr. Trump’s supporters for harassment.
Last year, Twitter said it would ban all political ads because the viral spread of misinformation presented challenges to civic discourse.
Vanita Gupta, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said it was positive that Facebook was thinking through its options but that “what they need to have in place is a system that actually catches real-time voter misinformation.” She added, “Voter suppression is happening every day, and their inaction is going to have profound ramifications on the election.”
On Friday, some of the top Democratic outside groups that are major spenders on Facebook said they had not discussed with the company any potential banning of political ads closer to the election. A spokesman for the D.N.C. referred questions to a tweet from Nellwyn Thomas, the D.N.C.’s chief technology officer, who wrote on Friday: “We said it seven months ago to @Google and we will say it again to @Facebook: a blunt ads ban is not a real solution to disinformation on your platform.”
Democratic officials have argued that blanket bans or restrictions on political ads are not a sufficient way to root out disinformation, particularly as that kind of content can spread in closed Facebook groups. Banning ads also restricts important digital tools that campaigns have come to rely on for activities such as acquiring new donors and raising money to getting out the vote, they said.
Some Democrats added that the Trump campaign has a significant structural advantage on Facebook, having built up a community of more than 28.3 million followers. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has only around 2.1 million followers on the social network. Removing the ability to pay for ads would give Mr. Trump a far greater reach online than Mr. Biden, they said.
A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Facebook is by far the preferred and most popular platform for campaigns. The Trump campaign has spent more than $55 million on Facebook since 2018, and the Biden campaign has spent more than $25 million.
Mike Isaac reported from San Francisco, and Nick Corasaniti from New York.
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/facebook-said-to-consider-banning-political-ads/feed/0Sports in a Pandemic Don’t All Stink
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/sports-in-a-pandemic-dont-all-stink/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 17:26:33 +0000https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/virtual-cycling.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/virtual-cycling.htmlThis article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it weekdays. The Tour de France, like many major sporting events, is on hold…
Connected to the Zwift virtual world for running and cycling were the real-life athletes riding stationary bicycles in their dining rooms, garages or backyards. When they had to ride up a steep virtual French mountain, I watched a split-screen video feed of their real-life faces straining and their heart rates soaring. It was genuine fun.
Most of you probably aren’t cycling fans like me. But this sport, mostly associated with cheating and rich Europeans, has figured out virtual competitions that are (almost) as inviting as the real thing for athletes and spectators. Virtual cycling offers lessons for how other sports can appeal to fans leading increasingly digital lives.
What surprised me most was how seriously the cyclists seemed to be taking a not-real Tour de France. There were no medals or prize money at stake, yet people at the top tier of their sport were thrashing themselves to win a video game.
On race day, Stephens woke up early in her Dallas home and set up in her dining room, which was filled with stationary bicycles, a 40-inch television to watch herself on Zwift, three fans and a dehumidifier to stay cool. (Cycling indoors is sweaty.) During the race, Stephens and the rest of her Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank team used the messaging app Discord to hash out strategy.
In a way, cycling is an ideal virtual sport. Compared with a basketball team, it’s easier to translate what an individual cyclist or runner does at home into real-world road speeds. And cycling is already technology obsessed. Even many amateurs ride on Zwift have gadgets to measure their vital statistics, and use apps to compare themselves with others who rode up the same hill.
I hope some of the fun elements of virtual cycle racing will mesh with the real thing. It was great to track the pros’ vital statistics like power and heart rates. And even Stephens said the close-up shots of the pros on Zwift showed viewers the pain of racing that TV footage doesn’t capture.
Best of all, without having to travel to France, more than 44,000 mortals got to ride the same virtual Tour de France roads as the professionals. (It took me nearly two hours to cycle the course that Stephens finished in under 48 minutes.)
I bet racecar fans would get a kick out of driving on the Daytona 500 course, and soccer fans would love to see their favorite players’ heart rates as they raced down the pitch. I got to do the equivalent of both.
Safe shopping online
After I wrote earlier this week about the potential dangers of products sold on Amazon by a sprawling network of merchants, Christina Barber-Just in Leverett, Mass., emailed with a follow-up question:
If I’m careful to buy directly from Amazon — not another merchant — can I be assured that I’m not going to get a counterfeit product?
Good question. You can never be fully assured something isn’t counterfeit, but retailers like Amazon are legally accountable for the products they sell. In theory, that would make a company more careful about what it sells.
One of the risks of buying from outside merchants on Amazon is that it’s a legal gray area whether you can sue Amazon over a fake or dangerous product it lists on its site but doesn’t sell itself.
A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?
A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How can I protect myself while flying?
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
I’ll tell you my personal online shopping habits, Christina.
If I’m shopping on Amazon for a product that could be dangerous if it’s counterfeit or unreliable — vitamins, children’s toys or makeup, for example — I almost without exception make sure I’m buying an item sold by Amazon itself rather than one of the millions of merchants that sell on Amazon.
Here’s what to look for: On the right-hand side of Amazon product pages, underneath the “buy” button there is text that explains the product “ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” That means Amazon bought the item from the product manufacturer and is reselling it, just like any conventional store. That’s what I want.
Online at Walmart and Target, I also mostly buy merchandise sold directly by those companies rather than outside merchants — although compared with Amazon, outside merchants represent a small percentage of goods those retailers sell online.
Before we go …
The tech surveillance state meets free-love San Francisco: A wealthy technology executive is paying for a private network of security cameras around the city, and he’s found a surprisingly receptive audience, writes my colleague Nellie Bowles. Many San Franciscans are tired of property crimes and are willing to set aside the city’s famously anti-authority streak to install cameras overseen by neighborhood groups rather than the police.
You sure about that tech surveillance, San Francisco? A company that analyzes social media posts helped law enforcement track the location and actions of Black Lives Matter demonstrators, according to The Intercept, an investigative news outlet. Civil liberties advocates have said it’s an infringement of privacy rights for law enforcement to use drones, smartphone data harvesting and other technologies to keep tabs on protesters.
Who is welcome in the kid-safe zone? After multiple crises about distributing videos of children, YouTube has carved out a spot with child-friendly videos. But Bloomberg News reported that some Black video creators say YouTube has unfairly excluded the programming they make from its app for kids. It’s part of a broader question about whether YouTube and other online hangouts are living up to their pledges to promote diversity.
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/sports-in-a-pandemic-dont-all-stink/feed/0Amazon Asks Employees to Delete TikTok Over Security Risks
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/amazon-asks-employees-to-delete-tiktok-over-security-risks/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 17:18:42 +0000https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/tiktok-amazon-security-risk.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/technology/tiktok-amazon-security-risk.htmlSAN FRANCISCO — Amazon has asked its employees to delete the Chinese-owned video app TikTok from their cellphones, citing “security risks,” according to a company email sent on Friday. In…
SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon has asked its employees to delete the Chinese-owned video app TikTok from their cellphones, citing “security risks,” according to a company email sent on Friday.
In the email, which was obtained by The New York Times, Amazon officials said that employees must delete the app from any devices that “access Amazon email.” Employees had to remove the app by Friday to remain able to obtain mobile access to their Amazon email, the note said. Amazon workers are still allowed to view TikTok from their laptop browser, the company added.
Amazon and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
TikTok, which has been popular with young audiences in the United States, is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance. It has been under scrutiny in Washington for security reasons because of its ownership. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, said on Monday that the Trump administration was considering blocking some Chinese apps, which he has called a threat to national security.
Late on Monday, TikTok also said it would withdraw from stores in Hong Kong, where a new national security law from China was enacted. The company said it would make it inoperable to users there within a few days. TikTok has also said that managers outside China call the shots on key aspects of its business, including rules about data.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/amazon-asks-employees-to-delete-tiktok-over-security-risks/feed/0A new way to train AI systems could keep them safer from hackers
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/a-new-way-to-train-ai-systems-could-keep-them-safer-from-hackers/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 14:03:28 +0000https://www.technologyreview.com/?p=1005048https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/07/10/1005048/ai-deep-learning-safe-from-hackers-adversarial-attacks/The context: One of the greatest unsolved flaws of deep learning is its vulnerability to so-called adversarial attacks. When added to the input of an AI system, these perturbations, seemingly…
The context: One of the greatest unsolved flaws of deep learning is its vulnerability to so-called adversarial attacks. When added to the input of an AI system, these perturbations, seemingly random or undetectable to the human eye, can make things go completely awry. Stickers strategically placed on a stop sign, for example, can trick a self-driving car into seeing a speed limit sign for 45 miles per hour, while stickers on a road can confuse a Tesla into veering into the wrong lane.
Safety critical: Most adversarial research focuses on image recognition systems, but deep-learning-based image reconstruction systems are vulnerable too. This is particularly troubling in health care, where the latter are often used to reconstruct medical images like CT or MRI scans from x-ray data. A targeted adversarial attack could cause such a system to reconstruct a tumor in a scan where there isn’t one.
The research:Bo Li (named one of this year’s MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35) and her colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are now proposing a new method for training such deep-learning systems to be more failproof and thus trustworthy in safety-critical scenarios. They pit the neural network responsible for image reconstruction against another neural network responsible for generating adversarial examples, in a style similar to GAN algorithms. Through iterative rounds, the adversarial network attempts to fool the reconstruction network into producing things that aren’t part of the original data, or ground truth. The reconstruction network continuously tweaks itself to avoid being fooled, making it safer to deploy in the real world.
The results: When the researchers tested their adversarially trained neural network on two popular image data sets, it was able to reconstruct the ground truth better than other neural networks that had been “fail-proofed” with different methods. The results still aren’t perfect, however, which shows the method still needs refinement. The work will be presented next week at the International Conference on Machine Learning. (Read this week’s Algorithm for tips on how I navigate AI conferences like this one.)
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/a-new-way-to-train-ai-systems-could-keep-them-safer-from-hackers/feed/08 million people, 14 alerts: why some covid-19 apps are staying silent
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/8-million-people-14-alerts-why-some-covid-19-apps-are-staying-silent/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 09:08:46 +0000https://www.technologyreview.com/?p=1005027https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/07/10/1005027/8-million-people-14-alerts-why-some-covid-19-apps-are-staying-silent/Part of the criticism may be due to too much hype. The early focus on contact tracing apps was understandable: a vaccine is still many months away, assuming we can…
Part of the criticism may be due to too much hype. The early focus on contact tracing apps was understandable: a vaccine is still many months away, assuming we can even find one that will work. Apps stepped into the breach as a potential panacea—even though many insiders have consistently argued that they are only one of a number of tools we have to fight the virus.
On a mathematical level, too, the low level of notifications might be expected, according to Jon Crowcroft, professor of communications systems at the University of Cambridge. In a situation where there are low numbers of covid-19 cases, people are observing social distancing, and the density of app users is not high, you would not expect to see many notifications, he says.
“It’s simple math for the numbers of notifications: if 1% of people have covid-19 and they are all tested, and only 1% of people run the app, you have a 1 in 10,000 chance of having both the tested person and the exposed person having the app, so your notification rate will be 10,000 times lower than the case rate,” Crowcroft explains. (For example, during the period in which Victoria issued 21 notifications, the state registered just 350 cases of covid-19.)
However, even with the most optimistic lens, it’s clear there’s a gulf between what was promised and what these apps are delivering. So what went wrong?
First, it’s worth looking at the similarities between the two services. Both France and Australia shunned the model put forward by Google and Apple—where data is kept on the user’s phone to maintain privacy—in favor of a centralized approach, where user information is sent to remote servers. This is problematic because Google and Apple have restricted how much Bluetooth scanning centralized apps can do in the background.
Michael Veale, a digital policy lecturer at University College London, sums up the issue: “They aren’t detecting many phones because the background Bluetooth does not function. That’s because they aren’t using a decentralized approach.”
This situation has created a series of other technical difficulties. Australia’s app works only 25% of the time on some devices, in particular iPhones. That’s because the Bluetooth “handshake” necessary to register proximity between two phones doesn’t work if the phone screen is locked. This was the exact problem that caused the UK to abandon its app last month (it’s not clear when it will launch a replacement).
“This effectively means for a contact tracing app to work without using their system, a user has to walk around like a Pokemon Go player, with their phone out, the app open, and not use their phone for anything else,” says one researcher not directly involved in development for either app, who requested anonymity.
All this may have been exacerbated by adopting an overly conservative approach to avoid the risk of “over-notifying” users, says Crowcroft. Worries that oversensitive alerts could create panic means the apps only consider people who are extremely likely to have been in close contact with each other for extended periods of time—not just people you brushed past for a few seconds in the store. “A lot of care went into trying to avoid a lot of false positive notifications in some apps. This may make them super conservative,” he says.
In addition, both Australia’s and France’s apps have been blighted with performance issues and bugs. Users have complained that France’s app drains their phone’s battery life—possibly the reason that hundreds of thousands of people have uninstalled it.
“This is the prime risk for developers: you make one mistake and wipe out somebody’s battery,” says Andrew Eland, who until recently worked as an engineering director at Google and then DeepMind Health. Some users say the StopCovid app regularly crashes, and has to be reactivated every time you switch your phone back on.
Aiming for improvement
So what are the lessons? Bluetooth is a very complex technology, but it’s fiendishly difficult to build a contact tracing app without using Apple and Google’s system. So for the sake of building an app rapidly, perhaps it’s best that governments don’t adopt a centralized system or something else that creates technical difficulties. If possible, countries should consider reusing the code for another country’s app that has proved to be a success—for example, Germany’s open-source Corona-Warn App, which has been downloaded by over 15 million people in a population of 83 million since it launched on June 15. Secrecy and clinging to exceptionalism are a poor combination when it comes to building contact tracing apps.
And ultimately, the public needs to bear in mind that contact tracing apps are likely to be only a small part of the fight against the coronavirus—rather than a magic answer to the problem.
“If you want to know the best way to spend time and money on technology to track and trace coronavirus infections, it would probably be better to focus on making manual contact tracing more efficient,” says Eland.
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/8-million-people-14-alerts-why-some-covid-19-apps-are-staying-silent/feed/0Why Is a Tech Executive Installing Security Cameras Around San Francisco?
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/why-is-a-tech-executive-installing-security-cameras-around-san-francisco/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 09:00:30 +0000https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/business/camera-surveillance-san-francisco.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/business/camera-surveillance-san-francisco.htmlSAN FRANCISCO — It sounds sinister. A soft-spoken cryptocurrency mogul is paying for a private network of high-definition security cameras around the city. Zoom in and you can see the…
SAN FRANCISCO — It sounds sinister. A soft-spoken cryptocurrency mogul is paying for a private network of high-definition security cameras around the city. Zoom in and you can see the finest details: the sticker on a cellphone, the make of a backpack, the color of someone’s eyes.
But in San Francisco, a city with a decades-long anti-authority streak, from hippies and pioneering gay rights activists to the techno-utopian libertarians and ultra-progressives of today, the crypto mogul has found a surprisingly receptive audience.
Here’s why: While violent crime is not high in the city, property crime is a constant headache. Anyone who lives here knows you shouldn’t leave anything — not a pile of change, not a scarf — in a parked car. Tourists visiting the city’s vistas like Twin Peaks or the famously windy Lombard Street are easy marks. The city government has struggled to solve the problem.
In the middle of this is Chris Larsen, a 59-year-old tech industry veteran, paying for hundreds of cameras. He sees it as an alternative system of urban security, and he hopes it becomes a model for other cities.
This just may be the best moment for him to explain why a rich guy paying for surveillance cameras all over a city is not a terrifying invasion of privacy. Around the country, Black Lives Matter movement protests have led to a reckoning on policing and how it should be done. Many of the activists leading this movement are fighting to abolish or defund — reduce funding for — police departments. Last week in New York, for example, the mayor announced the police budget would be cut by $1 billion.
In San Francisco, where many locals push for this kind of police reform, those same locals are tired of the break-ins. So how do they reconcile “defund the police” with “stop the smash and grabs”?
Mr. Larsen believes he has the answer: Put security cameras in the hands of neighborhood groups. Put them everywhere. He’s happy to pay for it.
The local cryptocurrency guy
First, let’s state the obvious reason — besides privacy concerns — that Mr. Larsen’s plan might be viewed with suspicion: He’s in tech.
Longtime San Francisco residents and the tech workers have not historically seen eye-to-eye on many things. The natives resent the private tech shuttle buses and the spiraling cost of living brought on by the new arrivals. They even resent their housing aesthetic: Glass and metal and pretty Victorian houses now painted in shades of black and gray.
But here’s where it gets more complicated: Privatization is hardly a new thing in the city. Around a quarter of San Francisco parents send their children to private school, a higher percentage than many large cities, including New York. Private security officers are a common sight. Plenty of people already have security cameras pointing toward the street. So would a privately owned camera network be so out of bounds?
And Mr. Larsen is no tech carpetbagger. He grew up in a middle-class family in the Bay Area. His father worked the night shift as a mechanic at the San Francisco airport. In 1984, he graduated from San Francisco State University, and he is now a major benefactor, donating one of the largest gifts the school has ever received. He also has been a longtime advocate for privacy, cofounding the coalition Californians for Privacy Now to help pass a 2004 privacy bill, California S.B.1, commonly known as the California Financial Information Privacy Act.
In 1997, Mr. Larsen co-founded an online lending company called E-Loan, which went public two years later, and he stayed on as chief executive until 2005. In 2012, he co-founded a start-up that would be called Ripple, which helped people send money online using so-called blockchain technology and the digital token called XRP. During the peak of the speculator-crazed crypto boom of 2017, its value spiked wildly. Mr. Larsen became one of the few crypto entrepreneurs to make and then hang onto that overnight fortune.
His apartment on Russian Hill has a trophy view of San Francisco Bay and the tight curves of Lombard Street. But also: the crews coming in to rob tourists’ cars, right in the middle of the day. Mr. Larsen watches the police drive by, and the criminals arriving 15 seconds later, smashing the vehicles’ windows and stealing luggage.
“They don’t care at all — they don’t care if they’re being seen,” Mr. Larsen said. “It’s brazen.”
His father-in-law’s car was robbed. Mr. Larsen’s own car windows were smashed. When a group of men climbed into his garden and one of them cut the wires on his home security system, while his children were sleeping inside, Mr. Larsen decided that he had had enough.
The camera network
When I wrote to Mr. Larsen asking for an interview, he immediately said yes, and he answered all of my questions. He said he knew that what he was doing might raise concerns, so he wanted to be open about it.
Here is what he is doing: Writing checks for nearly $4 million to buy cameras that record high-definition video of the streets and paying to have them maintained by a company called Applied Video Solutions The rest is up to locals in neighborhood coalitions like Community Benefit Districts, nonprofits formed to provide services to the area.
Here is how the project works: Neighbors band together and decide where to put the cameras. They are installed on private property at the discretion of the property owner, and in San Francisco many home and business owners want them. The footage is monitored by the neighborhood coalition. The cameras are always recording.
The cameras are not hidden. Mr. Larsen believes they can serve as both deterrent and aid in investigations, but it is difficult to say how effective they have been in reducing overall crime.
San Francisco is unique in that the cameras are not being installed and monitored by the police but by private citizens, and it is unique in that one person is paying for so much of it.
Mr. Larsen started installing them in 2012 with just a few around his neighborhood. These days, he funds a network of more than 1,000. He funds the C.B.D.s to control and monitor them. He funds the longstanding nonprofit SF Safe, which supports neighborhood watch groups and the Police Department.
Some of the city’s densest neighborhoods and commercial corridors — like Union Square, Japantown, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Tenderloin and Russian Hill — have signed on, and now the network includes 135 blocks.
“You think they have all these video banks in their police stations? No. Mostly they don’t have decent internet connections,” Mr. Larsen said. “So we helped pay for some internet connections.”
From Japantown’s restaurants and nursing homes to the Union Square shopping district, business and homeowners have welcomed his cameras. Every neighborhood has sought to expand their program since installing. As proponents of Mr. Larsen’s network see things, they get the safety of a surveillance state without the state.
“If you went to the board of supervisors and asked the members to approve this, you’d end up having a conversation about government and surveillance,” said Simon Bertrang, the head of a community benefit district, a coalition of businesses, residents and property owners in the Tenderloin.
A few of the neighborhoods watch the footage live, others don’t. If someone wants the footage — a police officer or a crime victim or a defense lawyer — they ask the neighborhood coalition for it.
His ally in all of this is someone very different and a little surprising: Chesa Boudin, the new, ultraprogressive district attorney of San Francisco.
Mr. Boudin, a fiery lawyer who wants radical policing and sentencing reform, became San Francisco’s district attorney in January. And he won despite a ferocious $700,000 opposition campaign by the city’s Police Department. Now, the 39-year-old Mr. Boudin, son of two members of the militant organization Weather Underground, has elevated the calls to defund police departments.
“In less than 24 hours my office has received over 1,000 emails demanding that San Francisco defund the police department,” he tweeted on June 5.
Mr. Boudin likes Mr. Larsen and vice versa.
The community groups
In January, Mr. Larsen and Mr. Boudin met in Japantown and walked to its Community Benefit District office. It was a small office with three desks, one tiny dog bed, and two large screens with live video of the streets. The screens are monitored by the two-person benefit district staff. That equipment is paid for by Mr. Larsen. The rest was paid by the benefit district members.
The myriad C.B.D.s, coalitions of local property owners, had mostly been around since the mid-2000s, so Mr. Larsen used that infrastructure as the local organizing unit to take his funding and use his supplier at Applied Video Solutions to buy and install cameras. They said the footage was only stored locally within each C.B.D. office and erased after 30 days.
In Japantown, the group mostly uses the cameras to find where a car window has been shattered or trash has been dumped so they can send the neighborhood’s private cleanup crew, paid for by local property owners. Other events they report to the police department. There was the bike theft, the phone theft, the backpacks and purses. One time a golden retriever was stolen, and they sent the footage to the San Francisco Police Department, which used the cameras to track him down.
Dmitri Shimolin, the head of Applied Video Solutions in San Francisco’s Mission District, was at the computer leading the demonstration. He zoomed in to show the quality of footage the cameras were getting.
“An arrest was made from some footage, and we called the guy ‘Dimples’ because you could see the dimples on his face,” Mr. Shimolin said.
The image quality from the cameras is much better than typical home-security cameras like Ring or Nest, and the field of vision is larger. It is arguably more compelling evidence in court because the video is monitored by a third-party intermediary who can testify that it is a continuous feed. It is time stamped. And because the network covers many blocks, the footage can tell a broader story than a single camera about an event that might be moving from block to block, in the case of, for example, a fight.
One side effect of the cameras is that when one C.B.D. installs them, it seems to push crime just a few blocks away, Mr. Larsen said.
“It’s whack-a-mole,” Mr. Larsen said.
The same day as the Japantown meeting, Mr. Larsen and Mr. Boudin drove to the C.B.D. headquarters in the Tenderloin, the city’s roughest neighborhood. They sat at a folding table with about 10 people. Conspicuously not present: anyone from the Police Department.
Last year, someone was shot dead right in front of the office during a team meeting. Shootings have more than doubled in the neighborhood, up 130 percent in a year, they said. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the number of tents for homeless people in the neighborhood had ballooned from around 120 to around 400, until a lawsuit from local residents led the city to move the tent-dwellers into safe sleeping sites, the group’s leader, Mr. Bertrang, said.
“We don’t have a good law enforcement response right now,” Mr. Boudin told the group. “It takes 10 cops to do a single drug bust, costs $20,000 or something. And I don’t want my attorneys to be doing this for no benefit on the street.”
He said the more effective strategy would be to focus on the crime ring leaders, rather than the people on the sidewalks.
The surveillance footage is completely deleted after 30 days, and Mr. Boudin wondered if it could be stored longer, giving his office more time to put a case together.
“Sixty days would be nice,” Mr. Boudin said. “A preliminary hearing has to happen within 60 days.”
The district attorney knows the alliance is a curious one. If the goal is to reduce the power of police, private donors like Mr. Larsen can be extremely helpful. But he worries their help can also involve private individuals too deeply in crime-fighting, and he is not sure how much to lean on Mr. Larsen. “What I don’t know is where his work ends, right?” Mr. Boudin said. “There’s real risks.”
The privacy fears
The protest movement that is rocking police departments around the country hinges on videos. The shaking cellphone videos of killings have captured moments so irrefutable that it has inspired rage from more corners than just longtime police reform activists. Calls to defund police departments are getting real traction.
And into this Mr. Larsen presents his solution: Go around the police.
“This has underscored the importance of not just cameras but of communitywide camera coverage,” Mr. Larsen said. “Body cams show some pretty core weaknesses because we don’t have universal access to police body cam footage, and there’s a fundamental conflict of interest if the video shows something bad for the department.”
The answer is more cameras, he said, and then keep that footage in the hands of citizens.
“We do not work with Mr. Larsen,” a police department spokesman wrote in an email. “There is a process for the department to request footage from the party that manages the cameras. That party has the discretion whether or not to release footage to S.F.P.D.”
When crime-fighting is put into civilian hands, new and unregulated behaviors can emerge. San Francisco’s police are controlled by many laws that do not apply to civilians. One of those laws is that the police in the city may not use facial-recognition technology.
“San Francisco has passed a very sophisticated surveillance ordinance that bans facial recognition by the Police Department, but yet you have these independent agencies within the city limits making their own decisions,” said Dave Maass, a senior investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group.
The technology that Mr. Larsen is using is sophisticated — video management from Motorola Solutions, evidence management from Genetec. Those same cameras, and the software supporting them, can be used for more than what they are currently doing.
“This is a system that is designed to scale up to do license plate reading and facial recognition,” Mr. Maass said. “That is where it’s going.”
Mr. Larsen balked at the idea of his cameras using facial recognition: “We’re strongly opposed to facial recognition technology,” he said. “Facial recognition is too powerful given the lack of laws and protections to make it acceptable.”
Circumventing the police means a lot of people now can make decisions about how crime is handled, and watchdogs worry about cameras being used for spotty or biased monitoring of the community. Putting more power over security into the hands of local leaders does not mean that power necessarily will be used wisely.
“There is distrust of law enforcement, and so there are these community efforts to self-police,” said Daniel Lawrence, principal research associate at the nonpartisan Urban Institute. But, he added, “there needs to be some sort of system that ensures the laws of society are applicable to everybody.”
Mr. Larsen acknowledged the issue.
He argued that trust will come in the form of full city camera coverage, so police can play a smaller, more subtle role. Individual vigilantism will not work, he argued, but strong neighborhoods with continuous video feeds on every corner will.
“That’s the winning formula,” Mr. Larsen said. “Pure coverage.”
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/why-is-a-tech-executive-installing-security-cameras-around-san-francisco/feed/0Mountain Vintage Logo Badges for Premium Members
http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/mountain-vintage-logo-badges-for-premium-members/#respondFri, 10 Jul 2020 07:00:21 +0000https://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=10909https://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/mountain-vintage-logo-badges-for-premium-membersAccess All Areas have a brilliant collection of logo templates to download this week, courtesy of LovePowerDesigns. These vintage badges have an outdoors and adventure theme and feature mountain graphics…
Access All Areas have a brilliant collection of logo templates to download this week, courtesy of LovePowerDesigns. These vintage badges have an outdoors and adventure theme and feature mountain graphics and supplementary text elements that can be edited to easily create custom logos. The collection contains full colour and black & white versions, supplied in a variety of file formats, including AI, EPS, and PSD.
Mircea Bucsa is the passionate designer behind LovePowerDesigns. He is also a husband, a father and an outdoor enthusiast, passionate about camping and travel, so many of his designs follow this theme. In his store, you’ll find a variety of useful products, including fonts and logo design templates in a range of design styles. Join the LovePowerDesigns mailing list for massive savings on LovePowerDesigns items, and head over to the Freebies section to pick up some fantastic demo products.
This set of vintage badges contains 9 vector logo templates with editable text, allowing you to customise the design for use as brand identities, stickers, t-shirt designs, patches, and many other creative uses. The files are supplied in AI, EPS, PSD, PDF and SVG formats, providing format options for various editing software. Links to freely downloadable fonts are supplied to preserve the appearance of the original designs.
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/10/mountain-vintage-logo-badges-for-premium-members/feed/0Activating the opportunity marketplace and investing in the workforce of the future
This virtual panel session from MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next conference takes an in-depth look at Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review’s recently released research onOpportunity Marketplaces.
Right now, businesses are facing a three-dimensional challenge—survival while remaining competitive, re-engagement of the workforce, and continuous cultivation of the customer base—coupled with rapidly adopting new technologies like 5G, AI, cloud, and blockchain. In this “new normal” should organizations stay the course or chart a new path? Going back to business-as-usual is not an option, and organizations must embrace technology to empower workers and create new opportunities. This virtual panel session from MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next conference takes an in-depth look at Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review’s recently released research, Opportunity Marketplaces, which sits at the center of this paradigm shift in business strategy, and asks: are you ready to fast forward and accelerate the future of work?
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/09/activating-the-opportunity-marketplace-and-investing-in-the-workforce-of-the-future/feed/0Can Facebook Ever Stop the Drama?
http://inloop.in/2020/07/09/can-facebook-ever-stop-the-drama/#respondThu, 09 Jul 2020 16:22:18 +0000https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/technology/facebook-crisis.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/technology/facebook-crisis.htmlThis article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it weekdays. The words “crisis” and “Facebook” are practically joined at the hip. But…
I spoke to Mike Isaac, who reports on Facebook for The New York Times, about the company’s decisions that helped set off the most recent drama, and what this crisis reveals about Facebook’s role in our lives.
That set of policy choices is the root of the advertising boycott of Facebook, and it was highlighted in the report that came out of a two-year civil rights audit of the company. Civil rights advocates and others believed that Facebook made a misguided choice to prioritize free expression of the powerful and ignore the harm that expression can cause for people with less power.
Facebooksays it’s stuckbetween political conservatives who generally want the company to intervene less in what people say online, and those on the left who want it to intervene more. Do you agree?
I get that they’re in a no-win situation. But Facebook put itself in this position. It wants all the power and is doing all it can to keep it, and that means the company will have to make tough decisions and deal with the blowback — even if that blowback is inconsistent.
Are the criticisms now about Facebook actually misplaced anger from the left about Mr. Trump?
That’s an undercurrent, yes, but it doesn’t invalidate the structural problems that critics of Facebook have pointed out for a long time. Facebook has been completely inconsistent with how it referees politicians or other prominent people who say outrageous or misleading things, and it seems like they change their minds depending on the political moment.
Many of the popular, divisive Facebook posts aren’t from politicians. Is it misguided to focus on what elected officials post?
Is Facebook amirror on society, as the company says? Humans can be mean and divided, and that’s why Facebook is, too?
It’s not a one-to-one reflection of the world when one influential person — the political operative Roger Stone, for example, as we learned on Wednesday — can manipulate Facebook to spread a distorted view of the world to millions of people.
The great thing about Amazon is that it sells almost everything you might want. That’s also one of the most dangerous things about Amazon. And the company just showed that it knows this is a big risk for it and all of us.
You might not notice this when you’re shopping, but most of the stuff sold on Amazon doesn’t come from the company itself but from a sprawling network of merchants large and dinky that set up shop inside Amazon’s virtual mall. (This Crock-Pot for purchase on Amazon, for example, is sold by a merchant called Txvdeals. This one is sold by Amazon itself.)
These mostly unknown merchants give Amazon a larger variety of products than it could ever stock and sell on its own. They also create a dangerous Wild West.
Amazon’s critics say the company has done far too little to protect shoppers from the rogue merchants. It’s a good bet that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, will be asked about risky merchants when he and other big tech bosses testify at a congressional hearing later this month.
Amazon this week took a notable (and overdue) step that should slightly reduce the risk.
Some merchants will still find ways to stay anonymous, but this is a good and necessary baby step.
The question is whether Amazon can keep the best elements of its sprawling merchant network, while reining in the abuses that threaten to erode our trust in what we buy there. It’s a tall order.
Before we go …
“They encourage people to go from training wheels to driving motorcycles.” The trading app Robinhood says it wants to make financial investing available to a broad group of people. But my colleague Nathaniel Popper also found that compared to similar services, people on Robinhood make riskier investments at a faster pace — which exposes them to more losses. The structure of Robinhood, combined with technical glitches and a difficulty in getting help, has resulted in some heartbreaking consequences, Nathaniel writes.
People. Went. Wild. Tyler Blevins — known as Ninja, one of the world’s most popular video gamers — streamed himself playing the Fortnite game on YouTube, and video game fans lost their collective minds. If you needed proof that big-name video gamers can rival the popularity of stars from Hollywood or sports, Ninja just provided it, as my colleague Kellen Browning wrote.
A 73-year-old prophecy of our smartphone-addicted lives: A 1947 French film imagined how we would be glued to watching tiny screens as we drove our cars and walked around the world. This premise, posted by the blogger Jason Kottke, was based on the then-emerging technology of television, but it sure … seems familiar.
]]>http://inloop.in/2020/07/09/can-facebook-ever-stop-the-drama/feed/021 Best T-Shirt Mockups (Free & Premium) PSD
http://inloop.in/2020/07/09/21-best-t-shirt-mockups-free-premium-psd/#respondThu, 09 Jul 2020 16:19:59 +0000http://graphicdesignjunction.com/?p=26367http://graphicdesignjunction.com/2020/07/21-best-t-shirt-mockups-free-premium-psd/Real photo t-shirt mockups will help you present your apparel design on a T-Shirt. There are male t-shirt mockups and female model t-shirt mockups available in different environments. Easy to…
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