Unsupervised Learning is my weekly show that provides collection, summarization, and analysis in the realms of Security, Technology, and Humans.
I spend between five and twenty hours a week consuming articles, books, and podcasts—so you don’t have to—and each episode is either a curated summary of what I’ve found in the past week, or a standalone essay that hopefully gives you something to think about.
?️ Security NewsThe Deepfakes thing is already starting to have an impact, and it didn’t even involve actual Deepfake (GAN ML) technology. A video was spread of Nancy Pelosi speaking very slowly and seeming to stumble over her words, which made her look quite bad. The video was virally shared throughout social media on the right. Problem is, it was intentionally slowed down to make her look old/stupid/crazy. What this shows us is that it’s not the machine learning that makes Deepfakes dangerous; it’s the willingness of a massive percentage of the US population to believe total garbage without an ounce of scrutiny. It doesn’t matter if Deepfakes can be shown to be fake because people are matching evidence to their emotions, not the other way around. The vulnerability is our ignorance and cynicism, not a spoofing technology. And as I wrote about a couple of years ago, this will be used as a weapon against us. More EssayA real estate insurance website for First American Financial Corp was vulnerable to a simple IDOR (where you change the account number in the URL to get another account), and it evidently resulted in the exposure of hundreds of millions of insurance records that included extremely sensitive information. IDOR is still one of the most common and dangerous vulns a web app can have, and for companies like this they can be devastating. MoreThe US Military is trying to learn how popular movements form and evolve, and to do so they’re studying 350 billion social media messages. But it’s a Bloomberg article, so maybe they’re actually studying bullfrogs for clues about hypertension. MoreMoody’s has downgraded Equifax’s rating in some significant part due to its 2017 cyber breach. This is noteworthy because until now, breaches have largely been spackled over in terms of the major financial perspective and at the 6-24 month timescale. This is a positive indication that companies could actually start taking cybersecurity more seriously, and not just at the CISO and IT level, but from the boardroom down. MoreAdvisories: TP-Link Routers⚙️ Technology NewsDJI is going to be including aircraft detection capabilities in all its drones over 1/2 lb. going forward. The change follows multiple incidents where drones caused disruption with airplanes and airports. The system would basically prevent their drones from flying within a certain distance of aircraft based on detecting the signals they emit. MoreAmazon is gamifying warehouse work through video games, and it does look a bit Black Mirror-ish. But at the same time, if it’s a job people like, and this makes it more fun, then is it necessarily bad? I think the Black Mirror piece enters when you can’t really quit for whatever reason. So to the extent that this is true, that’s the degree to which this is like Black Mirror. MoreAndreessen Horowitz’ analysis of investment opportunities in the podcast ecosystem. Stats I found interesting: 1/4 of Americans listen to a podcast weekly, and 48% listen at home. MoreOpen-source software these days seems to be mostly individuals (or small groups) working on projects themselves, as opposed to joining massive projects. I’ve noticed this myself, actually. And the best software I’ve written has been just me doing the work because I didn’t have to worry about upsetting anyone. If Putman were still alive maybe he could write a book called Coding Alone. More?? Human NewsAlmost half of all US stocks are in index funds now, as opposed to being actively managed Investors are realizing that highly-paid humans aren’t much more effective than algorithms at picking winners. MoreSuburban moms are delivering groceries to make extra money. MoreThe US birthrate continues to fall, and many are pointing to social media as a contributing factor. SM giveth, but SM taketh away as well. The good news is that there’s less human connection (and pregnancies that teenagers can’t manage), but the bad news is that there’s less human connection (and relationships that make up the foundation of happiness). MoreExercise is increasingly being prescribed as a treatment for depression, but the trick is in getting people to actually do it when they’re depressed. MoreNetflix might be in serious trouble, largely from Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. MoreThe richest 10% of households have 70% of all US wealth, which is up from 60% in 1989. More? Ideas, Trends, & AnalysisThis is a compelling argument saying that programmers should not be called engineers. It resonates with me for a number of reasons. First, there’s a professional license that’s needed to be an engineer. Second, it often requires mentorship and experience. Third, you can lose your license for doing bad work. And fourth, engineering is all about creating strong, long-lasting things for the public to use. Programming—at least today—seems a lot more about building temporary things in order to make money. I do think there’s room for the title somewhere in programming. Perhaps for people who build protocols. But I don’t think it should just be handed out as soon as you get paid to push code to a repo. MoreIn addition to thinking about what you can do to make a situation better, you can also INVERT the question and focus instead on avoiding things that make it worse. MoreMy old essay on Lifecasting, which I still believe is coming. Crazy to read this now given how much has changed since the early 2000’s. EssayYou don’t need to be brilliant to do brilliant work. MoreThe Surprising Benefits of Relentlessly Auditing Your Life More? DiscoveryThe data science interview study guide. MoreI’d never imagined myself writing this, but it now seems far more likely than ever that there are aliens here on Earth. Over the last few years there have been multiple mainstream stories of sightings. I’d still put the chance very low, since they could still be unreleased tech from various governments, hoaxes, mistakes, etc., but the odds are much higher than I’d ever have thought they’d be 10 or 20 years ago. If they are aliens, I hope they’re waiting to step in if things get out of hand. MoreOne of the first pictures of King Tut’s tomb. MoreThe cost of college. InfographicOld people in Japan are volunteering to clean up radiated areas because…even if they get cancer they’ll be dying around then anyway. MoreSomeone’s breaking into houses, cleaning them, and leaving flower towels. Reminds me of that Banksy where someone is throwing flowers. More? NotesI pre-ordered Neal Stephenson’s new book about a dystopian tech future, called Fall. MoreThe Member Slack Channel is up and running, and it’s turning out better than I expected! I’m enjoying the casual, open discussion vibe as things get started, and we’re still exploring ideas for how to manage the Book Club and do special events. If you’re interested in a super-chill atmosphere with smart people, add this to the list of reasons to subscribe. Become a Member?️ RecommendationsHow to improve your writing in everyday communication. More? Aphorism“We have three baskets: in, out, and too tough. … We have to have a special insight, or we’ll put it in the “too tough” basket”.~ Charlie Munger
No related posts.