News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When Tabong Kima checked his Twitter feed early Wednesday morning, the hashtag of the moment was #ImageNetRoulette.

Everyone, it seemed, was uploading selfies to a website where some sort of artificial intelligence analyzed each face and described what it saw. The site, ImageNet Roulette, pegged one man as an “orphan.” Another was a “nonsmoker.” A third, wearing glasses, was a “swot, grind, nerd, wonk, dweeb.”

Across Mr. Kima’s Twitter feed, these labels — some accurate, some strange, some wildly off base — were played for laughs. So he joined in. But Mr. Kima, a 24-year-old African-American, did not like what he saw. When he uploaded his own smiling photo, the site tagged him as a “wrongdoer” and an “offender.”

“I might have a bad sense of humor,” he tweeted, “but I don’t think this is particularly funny.”

As it turned out, his response was just what the site was aiming for. ImageNet Roulette is a digital art project intended to shine a light on the quirky, unsound and offensive behavior that can creep into the artificial-intelligence technologies that are rapidly changing our everyday lives, including the facial recognition services used by internet companies, police departments and other government agencies.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When my brother died, I was too shattered to write his obituary. There is little record of his 29 years of life; it simply vanished. When I type “Yush Gupta,” Google autofills “Yush Gupta death,” a brutal reminder that even on the internet, a space where nothing is forgotten, Yush is a mirage, slowly disappearing.

Despite his long list of accomplishments as a computer programmer and engineer, when I complete the search there is little left of Yush: a GoFundMe started by my parents, an entry from the Toronto funeral home where his body was cremated, an article in his college alumni magazine. On the internet, a place where Yush lived his life, he has been reduced to one single fact: He died young.

I’m not exactly sure when he died. My father called me with the news on Saturday, November 4, 2017, but Yush was in Italy, which is six hours ahead. I later learned that a blood clot shot up from his leg and blocked his lungs; a pulmonary embolism. He likely fell to the floor alone in a small room in Milan, gasping for air through excruciating pain, texting his caretaker to call an ambulance. Yush drew his last breaths surrounded by Italian EMS workers who didn’t know his name, in a country that was not his.

Pulmonary embolisms are rare in young people. In the United States, they are even less common among Asian-Americans than white people. Yush was a lifelong long-distance runner; he was healthy and active. Statistically, he was among those least likely to suffer a pulmonary embolism.

And yet, despite the statistics, that is what ended his life. In the weeks following his death, I learned that his death did not result from a natural cause, nor was it suicide; it was an incident brought on by forces beyond his control, but resulted from risks that were entirely preventable.

But that was not the only mystery I uncovered about Yush’s life: While I had always worried about his financial stability, in the days and months following his death, I would learn that he had become wealthy from bitcoin investments. I learned that he was secretly building a technology that he believed could revolutionize the world. And I learned that he had written an anonymous essay about our family published in a Men’s Rights anthology, in which he lamented over a society that values the “emotional pain” of women over the burden men have to provide for them. He complained that women were inferior in logical ability, and that women in abusive relationships are not held accountable for their decision to stay, while pressures upon men are overlooked and ignored.

Read the rest of this article at: Jezebel

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No other movie has captured the tacky, stupid, soaring national mood in the year preceding the Great Recession quite like “Hustlers,” the box-office hit written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, which opened on September 13th and has made more than sixty million dollars in North America. The movie is based on a New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler, and it stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, as Ramona and Destiny—two strippers who, a few years after the recession, start robbing and eventually drugging their Wall Street clients, as a quasi-emergency measure: a new era of economic caution has dried up the club to a seedy husk of itself, and the women’s attempts to support themselves with low-paying retail jobs have not panned out.

Before the recession, on the other hand, things felt glitzy, slick, unlimited. We see shopping sprees at Louis Vuitton, a visit to a Cadillac dealership; Destiny bats her eyes at a client, saying that she doesn’t have a computer, and in an instant she’s typing, backstage, in front of an illuminated screen. “Gimme More,” by Britney Spears, plays over a montage of men shouting silently on the trading floor and women stripping for them in a black-light glow. “I made more money that year than a goddam brain surgeon,” Destiny says, in voice-over, a twinge of bitterness creeping in.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a crisp morning in February 2013, Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings walked into David Cameron’s private office at 10 Downing Street. An anonymous Twitter account, @toryeducation, had been repeatedly attacking the prime minister. Cameron sat in his armchair. Cummings took the chair traditionally reserved for George Osborne, Cameron’s friend and chancellor. Gove sat to the side. The prime minister spoke first. He wasn’t after a confession, but peace. “Right, what’s going on? What’s the problem? Let’s talk.” There was a moment’s silence. Finally, Cummings spoke. “And Cummings the iconoclast, Cummings the guy who portrays himself as the uber-revolutionary, who speaks truth to power wherever he sees it…,” says a No 10 official from the time, “was meek as you can be.”

He said very little, but praised Cameron for the great job he was doing and thanked him for the opportunity to work at the Department for Education (DfE). Then he and Gove left, to the bemusement of the prime minister.

Cummings had initially been blocked from joining the department by Andy Coulson, Cameron’s head of communications. Coulson correctly believed Cummings would not take orders from N0 10. For the first nine months of the coalition government, Cummings was banished, but remained in Gove’s orbit, periodically coming into the office. Yet with no formal role, and no power to direct anyone, he was deeply frustrated. When the phone hacking scandal forced Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, out in January 2011, Cummings was saved from political purgatory. He immediately joined the department as Gove’s de facto chief of staff, a role he held for the next three years.

Read the rest of this article at: New Statesman

News 09.27.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

My maternal grandmother Olivia Duffy never intended to live in Los Angeles; her arrival in the city was the result of a merciful instance of deus ex machina. A high school graduate without the means to attend college in her home state of Louisiana, but who had heard stories of black communities flourishing in Oakland, California, she joined a childhood friend in stuffing her belongings into the back of a car.

They drove west from Oakdale in the summer of 1945, but their timing was off. The journey ended up being belated, and by the time they crossed into California, America had dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tragedies on the other side of the Pacific signaled the end of both the war and the wartime economic boom that had drawn so many African American migrants to California. They flocked to Oakland’s shipyards and transformed themselves into crucial elements of the American war effort; in the process, these migrants transformed Oakland into a stronghold of African American political activism and culture.

All that turned out to be of little consequence for my grandmother. Olivia and her friend had been taking their time nearly 400 miles south of Oakland, driving down Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach. Who knows why they chose to dawdle—maybe they took news of the war’s end as the end of their dream in Oakland, maybe they allowed themselves to delight in the low-slung bohemian charm and creeping decrepitude of that bizarre neighborhood, a rundown former tourist resort modeled after the Venetian canals, so unlike anything they’d known in the woods of rural Louisiana—but suddenly they felt hesitant about continuing on to Oakland. Luckily, the car made the decision for them; before long its engine began to wheeze. They became Angelenos by happenstance.

Olivia settled into a Venice boarding house while working as a caretaker. Eventually she’d saved up enough money to purchase a bungalow on Broadway Street, at the center of Oakwood, Venice Beach’s black enclave. Her mother got tired of Jim Crow and followed her daughter to Los Angeles, taking up residence in the Broadway bungalow. It was there that Olivia made her life, not Oakland: there that she built a business offering caretaking services to local elderly people; there that she gave birth to five daughters; there that she married men when she was in love with them, and there that she divorced when she tired of them. It was in Los Angeles that my grandmother, seeking a freedom that she couldn’t imagine in Jim Crow Louisiana, decided to make a home.

Read the rest of this article at: Literary Hub

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