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Laurent Haug's newsletter, issue #22


Laurent Haug

August 24 · Issue #22 · View online
News and thoughts on society's ongoing transformation.

Ashley Madison
A few thoughts on the Ashley Madison hack:
  • Regardless of this particular event, you should visit have I been pwned, enter your email address, and subscribe to the alert service.
  • This is what a digital age industrial accident looks like. Not the first, certainly not the last.
  • The fact unverified email addresses were part of the leak is terrifying. It basically means anyone could get on the record with someone’s email address completely freely. Why in the world would Ashley Madison keep track of such an information? Sometimes the best way to handle data is to not have the data.
  • Just like we have quality labels for cars or phones, we need labels allowing us to know how seriously our data is handled/secured by online providers.
  • Moving forward, there are three solutions: the first is that nothing changes, the second is that technology changes (becomes less hackable, simpler and cheaper to secure), the third is that society changes. The latter (mentalities evolving as life becomes more transparent) might be the only viable option.
Being pragmatic about Uber
It’s what I tried to do during a RTS interview (in French). While preparing the discussion, I told the journalist that companies like Google, Amazon or Uber are a mix of two opposite attitudes: flower power and big brother (flower brother?). Not black or white but grey. I did my best to explain that complexity, and you’ll tell me if I did a good job.
The quote the presenter liked: “our society needs more engineers and less lawyers”.
The one thing I wish I had said: when asked at the end about Blocher (for the non Swiss, our local Donald Trump: billionaire, far right, populist), I wanted to point to the fact that by mentioning him we were falling into his trap. This kind of politician crosses the lines to create outrage, then lives off the exposure that the outrage creates (also using the spotlight as a way to build a feeling of persecution to generate sympathy from certain parts of the population). Blocher / Trump / Berlusconi / Le Pen are weak signals, people who learned to game democracy (and the media). That means it’s probably time to tweak our political system.
Other privacy / hacking / security news
FDA warns of security flaw in Hospira infusion pumps
How your phone's battery life can be used to invade your privacy
How hackers made $1 million by stealing one news release
Stuff that made me smarter this week
Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data
As more jobs are taken over by artificial intelligence, certain fields dominated by men may be at greater risk
Women are better at tomorrow's most valuable skills
Fears of financial instability keep demand for banknotes strong
What happened when Portugal decriminalised drugs?
Three charts on the current state of media
Newspaper ad revenue continued its precipitous free fall in 2014. Link.
According to the 2014 PageFair and Adobe report, 45% of adblock users expressed a complete lack of desire to view any advertising and wanted as many ads as possible removed from websites. 17% of respondents cited that privacy concerns were the reason for using an adblocking plugin. Link.
TV viewership is dropping across all age demographics as cord-cutting and cord-shaving pick up, and online video grows in popularity. Link.
Balls and strikes were called by a computer, not an umpire, at a professional baseball game this week
Airplane poop could help track global disease outbreaks
Bistro In Vitro is the world's first lab-grown meat restaurant
"All Work All Play" documentary tracks the axploding eSports phenomenon
Apple in talks to launch an MVNO in the US and Europe
Minimum-wage offensive could speed arrival of robot-powered restaurants
Facebook testing its own virtual assistant
How Google quietly revved up its very own car company
How one coder used 23andMe to create a race wall around the web
This week's link for parents
How to Talk to Your Child About Elon Musk
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Mark Twain, slightly garbled
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