Cambridge Analytica and the Other Turing Test.

Near the end of the recent German movie “Er Ist Wieder Da” (“Look Who’s Back”), Adolph Hitler— transported through time to the year 2015— is picking up where he left off. On the roof of the television studio that fueled his resurgence (the network thought they were just exploiting an especially-tasteless Internet meme for ratings), […]

Posted in: Big Brother, politics, rant by Peter Watts 99 Comments

The Beast Upon Your Shoulder, The Price Upon Your Head.

Imagine a place that looks pretty much like any other faux-English pub/sports bar on the planet: familiar, unremarkable, safe. It’s only when you eye the menu— “Deviled Lamb Kidneys on Dripping Toast”; “Stilton Cheese Ice Cream”; “Crusty Lard in Mason Jars”; “Jellied Stingray garnished with Nettles”— that you start to wonder if you’ve entered some […]

Posted in: Big Brother, relevant tech by Peter Watts 43 Comments

Will No One Rid Me of These Troublesome Canadians?

It pains me to do this. I mean, I did a privacy rant just a few installments back, and today I wanted to talk about this really cool paper showing that squids are Lamarckian. But the news cycle Waits For No Man, and a couple of recent items have got me re-evaluating my sunny optimism […]

Posted in: Big Brother, rant by Peter Watts 76 Comments

The Slippery Step-Function: Or, Reasons to be Cheerful.

An overseas pixel-pal sent me a link to a Daily Mail (UK) piece on the Davos Forum a few days back. I think he expected me to be tickled by the second half of the headline: Harvard professors warn ‘privacy is dead’ and predict mosquito-sized robots that steal samples of your DNA —but predictably, it […]

Posted in: Big Brother, legal by Peter Watts 52 Comments