Discover more from Jon Watson's Death by Tech Newsletter
Everyone gets their own personal newspaper
Also: schools are hacking iPhones and the U.S. decides what a human life is worth
“Happiness is a choice". I have a friend who always says that. His son passed away which is something no parent should have to endure, so he knows what he's talking about. It sounds like a trite platitude but I've found it's actually true for me. While some people have legitimate mental health issues, and depression is a clinical condition that can need professional help, sometimes just deliberately trying to be happy can pull you out of a downward spiral. At least, it works for me sometimes.
Do you know about those devices that governments can buy to crack open iPhones and other encrypted devices? Well, in a spectacularly accurate example of why encryption back doors won't work, this technology has become mainstream and is now widely available to pretty much anyone who wants to buy it including school administrators.
These tools are basically weapons, encryption is specifically named as a weapon in U.S. export controls. They circumvent security measures which is illegal in almost every scenario in the U.S. and many other countries. But law enforcement has always been able to break the law for the greater good. That makes sense, but what chills me is that these tools make their way down the para-government chain over time and become widely available to everyone. Consider police officers 40 years ago; they had a pistol and handcuffs. Contrast that with today’s police officers that show up on the scene in amoured personnel carriers, drones in the air, and all manner of automatic weapons and hand cannons. And today, what was once a powerful tool designed for use by border agencies and other police forces, is now available to the petty fiefdoms of school administrators. I wish governments were a little more careful about what genies they let out what bottles, because the genies that erode our personal safety and privacy can’t be put back in their bottle.
Everyone gets their own personal newspaper
I’ve written in the past about some of the ways in which social media skews our view on the world by feeding us “news” determined by algorithms that aren’t really interested in giving us the news; they’re interested in keeping us on the site as long as possible. On a recent TWiT (This Week in Tech) episode, Ashley Esqueda said something interesting like “remember the idea of everyone in the world getting their own personal newspaper?” which is pretty much the case these days due to these algorithms feeding us each unique content. Sure it’s a nice idea to get personalized news you care about, but the current situation is far past that, and we’re deep into the “no two people get the same news” now. This results in a polarized society full of people who actually have no real clue what is going on, despite their good intentions to keep up on “the news”. Because the dominant social networks are located in the capitalist-crazy U.S., I don’t see any future where they are reigned in, but the good news is that Facebook and Google are both facing very wide-ranging anti-trust lawsuits these days. Hopefully, they will be de-platformed and lose some of the power that they’re currently wielding against the world’s best interests.
A human is worth about $1.4 million dollars
Boeing is being fined $2.5 billion dollars for multiple 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people.
"Boeing's employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception," Acting Assistant Attorney General David Burns of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, wrote in a statement.
And that is it. No criminal charges. Just money.
About $500 million of that money is earmarked for the victims’ families and the vast majority of the rest is to compensate companies for the money they lost by having to ground their 737s while the investigation ensued. With a market cap of $120 billion as of today, the fine will barely be felt through the company, and once again, capitalism wins over basic human decency.
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