Unsupervised Learning No. 239

News & Analysis

STANDARD EDITION | EP. 239 | July 27, 2020

Pentagon Information Warfare, Fancy GRU Attacks, 2 Chinese COVID Hackers, Chief Software Officer, Space Force DEVOPS, FBI Chinese Tax Software, DJI Drone Vulns, Technology News, Human News, Ideas Trends & Analysis, Discovery, Recommendations, and the Weekly Aphorism…


The Pentagon is doing significant restructuring across the various military branches to better prepare for Information Warfare. This includes the creation and re-prioritization of a number of dedicated units for that purpose. More

Russia's Fancy Bear GRU unit has been going after US government and energy targets. They were the group that got involved in the 2016 election, and now they're going after government groups and critical infrastructure. More

The US has charged 2 Chinese hackers for attempting to steal COVID research. More

The Air Force has a Chief Software Officer that's implementing DEVOPS across the organization. More 

The Space Force commander (yes, that's a real thing, and they have a logo directly from Star Trek) says Russia tested a space weapon that basically ejects a small satellite that's designed to ram into other satellites. More

The FBI is warning US companies operating in China about backdoors in Chinese tax software. China is requiring that the foreign companies use the software in order to do business in the country, and then installing malware that infects the network and moves laterally to gather information. More


  • Researchers found a hidden auto-update feature in DJI drones that could allow software/malware to be installed without the owner knowing. More


  • Garmin had to shut down its operations after it was hit with a ransomware attack. More

  • Dave, an overdraft protection and cash advance service, had a databreach of 7.5 million user records. More


Tesla is building its second US factory in Austin, and that's where it'll make the its newer vehicles for east coast customers. More

TikTok has set aside $200 million to pay its top content creators. More

Corning is claiming that you can drop their latest version of Gorilla Glass from 2 meters without it breaking. We'll see how true that is when it starts coming out on future phones. More


  • CalypsoAI raised $13 million to help companies validate and secure the ML tech they're using in their companies. I think this is a pretty cool space—basically making sure that a given AI implementation isn't horribly broken or biased or insecure. More

  • Mobalytics just raised $11 billion to help gamers improve their performance. More

  • Taranis is an Israeli company that just raised $30 million to develop AI that looks at drone camera images of crops to determine where fertilizer and pesticides are needed. More


We just took our first image of a multi-planet system orbiting a star other than our own. More

A new study has found that intelligence and conscientiousness matter far more for educational and financial success than grit. I lack the expertise in the field to compare this properly with other studies, but all things being similar I tend to believe studies that have unpopular findings—merely because it's harder to get those studies funded, and they require more courage to publish. More

A new study has shown that people who grind towards achieving their goals are less prone to anxiety and depression. I think that makes sense, but I wonder if they're missing the crucial part, which is that you can't grind towards your goals if you don't have any. Most depressed people I know aren't grinding towards any major purpose; they're just surviving and living each day. This reminds me of the studies of drug addicts vs. family people where they noticed that people who have a life mission aren't likely to get addicted even if they're exposed to the most powerful drugs. In short, maybe the most important step is to help people develop their own goals. That's why I'm so obsessed with meaning. Because once you have meaning, you automatically get goals that you can strive for. More


Reverse Threat Modeling for Pursuing Attribution — A recent thought on trying to reverse engineer who could have initiated an attack. More

Our Lighted Path to Totalitarianism — My recent essay that looks at 5 trends that inevitably lead civilizations to a bad place. More

Lifecasting — A piece I wrote way back in 2002 about how society would change when everyone was broadcasting their lives using technology. I got so much wrong, but it's still an interesting read! More

The Ludic Fallacy "the misuse of games to model real-life situations". More

62% of Americans say they have political views they aren't comfortable sharing. And more interesting, the only group that feels safe speaking their minds are those on the extreme left. Everyone else, from the center to the right feel afraid. This plays right into the hands of Preference Falsification which in turn results in polls being wrong, like they were in 2016. This is one of the main reasons I think the 2020 election will be far closer than people think—no matter what the polls say. More

The Four Quadrants of Conformism — A new essay by Paul Graham. More

It's Time to Start Writing — An essay on the power of writing in business. More

USS University — An essay by Scott Galloway on the future of universities. More


We had our UL Book Club meetup on Sunday (you can sign-up here), and it was fantastic. It was the best turnout and conversation we've ever had. Topics included the themes in the book and how they intersected with real life, which, for this book, was quite significant. We also selected our next book for August, which is Old Man's War.

I also just started reading Dune, which I've never read or watched all the way through.


Herman Miller just announced a $1,500 dollar gaming/office chair, and I think I want it. More

Reddit's /r/netsec Q3 Hiring Thread More

The first TechCrunch Pitch Deck Teardown More


If you like to carry a knife, but you're at the point of not wanting anything bulky anymore, you should check out the X-1 Titanium knife by Resolute Tools. I've had it for a few weeks now and I'm actually loving it. It's basically just an exoskeleton for a utility razor blade. More


“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard.”

~ David McCullough