American democracy

4.jpegin the middle of the ballroom at Trump’s address, somebody had placed on one of the tables a manila envelope with handwritten letters: ‘Top Secret Nuclear Codes.’ [photo left]

The firm that bought my car for more than I paid new has lost 98 percent of its value — Carvana, the used car dealer that trusts robotic algorithms to buy your car practically sight unseen, was the third-fastest company to ever make it onto the Fortune 500 — only Amazon and Google did it faster. But for the third day in a row, its stock is trading for just around $7 a share, plummeting 98 percent from its all-time high of over $360 last August.

Some types of artificial intelligence could start to hallucinate if they don’t get enough rest, just as humans do

U.S. intelligence officials have compiled a classified report detailing extensive efforts to manipulate the American political system by the United Arab Emirates, […]The UAE has spent more than $154 million on lobbyists since 2016, according to Justice Department records. It has spent hundreds of millions of dollars more on donations to American universities and think tanks, many that produce policy papers with findings favorable to UAE interests. There is no prohibition in the United States on lobbyists donating money to political campaigns. […] it illustrates how American democracy is being distorted by foreign money […] One of the more brazen exploits involved the hiring of three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to help the UAE surveil dissidents, politicians, journalists and U.S. companies. In public legal filings, U.S. prosecutors said the men helped the UAE break into computers in the United States and other countries. Last year, all three admitted in court to providing sophisticated hacking technology to the UAE, agreeing to surrender their security clearances and pay about $1.7 million to resolve criminal charges. […] Thomas Barrack, a longtime adviser to former president Donald Trump, who was acquitted this month of charges alleging he worked as an agent of the UAE and lied to federal investigators about it. […] the UAE’s extensive courtship of retired high-ranking U.S. military personnel. The investigation showed that over the past seven years, 280 retired U.S. service members have worked as military contractors and consultants for the UAE, more than for any other country, and that the advisory jobs pay handsomely.

Apple is tracking you even when its own privacy settings say it’s not — The researchers said that the Health and Wallet apps, for example, didn’t transmit any analytics data at all, whereas Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, the iTunes Store, and Stocks all did. […] For example, the Stocks app sent Apple your list of watched stocks, the names stocks you viewed or searched for and time stamps for when you did it, as well as a record of any news articles you see in the app.

Apple Sued for Allegedly Deceiving Users With Privacy Settings After Gizmodo Story

People have always craved post-death contact with their loved ones. Efforts to remain in touch with the dead have existed for eons, such as photographing deceased children, holding seances and even keeping a corpse in the house for posterity. But artificial intelligence and virtual reality, along with other technological advances, have taken us a huge step closer to bringing the dead back to life. […] a platform called Augmented Eternity, which allows someone to create a digital persona from a dead person’s photos, texts, emails, social media posts, public statements and blog entries that will be able to interact with relatives and others. […] In June, Amazon unveiled a new feature it’s developing for Alexa, in which the virtual assistant can read aloud stories in a deceased loved one’s voice after just hearing a minute of that person’s speech. “While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last,” said Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Amazon Alexa. […] HereAfter’s app takes users through an interview process before they’ve died, prompting them to recollect stories and memories that are then recorded. After they’ve passed, family members can ask questions, and the app responds in the deceased’s voice using the accumulated interview information, almost like it’s engaging in a conversation. [Washington Post]

Around 20% of people who survive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after cardiac arrest may describe lucid experiences of death that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious and on the brink of death.

“At the beginning, I think, I heard the nurse say ‘dial 444 cardiac arrest’. I felt scared. I was on the ceiling looking down.”[Veridical Near-Death-Experiences]

Previously: All features of a classic Near-Death-Experiences can be reproduced by the intravenous administration of 50 - 100 mg of ketamine.

Four experiments demonstrate that walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after [PDF]

Zolgensma is a one time shot that cures spinal muscular atrophy in infants by injecting a new DNA to correct the faulty gene. Novartis set the price at $2.125 million but offers insurers the ability to pay $425,000 a year for five years. This price tag makes Zolgensma the most expensive drug ever approved. [2019]

Zolgensma associated with two deaths — The deaths, which resulted from acute liver failure, occurred in Russia and Kazakhstan.

The Search of Shame — everyone you follow, who’s also paid Elon $8 for a dodgy tick

those who subscribed to Blue Verified were often accounts promoting right-wing politics, cryptocurrency speculation or adult content such as pornography

Web search hasn’t changed in 20 years. We’re building a new search engine from scratch, using the same ideas behind DALL-E and Stable Diffusion. Metaphor is a language model that’s trained to predict links instead of text. You feed the model a “prompt” (similar to a GPT-3 prompt), and it tries to predict what link is most likely to come after.

It might be hard to remember that the index,the handy list of subjects at the back of a book, with the corresponding page numbers on which each subject is discussed, was invented in the early 13th century. […] “it’s invented twice at the same time […] once in Paris, and at the same time in Oxford.”

Honey bee life spans are 50% shorter today than they were 50 years ago

This sand-filled condom from Long Island was choked down in the 1750s by the likes of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, George Washington at Mount Vernon, and Benjamin Franklin as he declared it his favorite apple. Perhaps the Newtown Pippin was once a great apple whose quality has degraded over the centuries like the crumbling democracy the Founding Fathers established. Or perhaps, after decades of eating pigeon pie and squirrel meat, these wooden-toothed slave owners’ tastebuds are not to be trusted. Either way, in today’s world, aside from being excellent for apple cider production, the Newtown Pippin is a tasteless hunk of malformed donkey shit that should’ve been abolished during the reign of King George III. [Apple Rankings]

Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases