Google has been listening to us and audio recordings have been leaked
According to La Presse, Google employees have been listening in on users’ conversations, and some audio recordings have just been leaked.
The tech giant admitted Thursday that hired language experts have been using pieces—or “snippets”—of recordings to help improve audio recognition. Some Google users are seeing this as an invasion of privacy.
Environment Canada reportedly complained about running out of computers, despite spending a whopping amount of taxpayer money on new computers, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
In a breathless email obtained by an access of information request, Sophie Cimon-Kingsley, the ministry’s head of human resources wrote, “My assistant was informed this afternoon that the department has run out of computers … I’m hearing from my team there are no computers available to deploy to new employees.”
These recent shortages come in despite of the department buying 1,751 new computers in 2012 and then 1,313 more in 2013. This vast expenditure continues: between 2015 to 2018, Environment Canada forked out for another 4,747 computers. The total cost of these purchases were $3.59 million.
More worryingly, however, the department plans to spend another $19.3 million by 2023 for more gadgets. It may come as a surprise then, that the managers of the department are still gasping for more taxpayer money.
In an estimation published this week, The Professional Institute of the Public Service suggested that federal agencies spend a staggering $1.3 billion per year on private computer technicians.
2019 was a landmark year for controversial decisions by Google, YouTube (owned by Google), and Facebook, where their power to snuff out political free expression became more publicly known. More and more evidence is surfacing that suggests efforts from the Big Three to minimize, or stifle, conservative voices.
And with the 2020 presidential election not so far away, the question remains: what effect will these Internet behemoths have on voters?
One of the biggest reveals came from whistleblower Zachary Vorhies. The former Google programmer blew the lid off of Google’s political bias, revealing the manipulation of search placements to tilt toward certain democratic candidates, and an autocorrect to favour them. Armed with his 950 pages of leaked documents, Vorhies asserted that Google programmed its algorithms to scale down the search engine’s results for right-leaning media, Republicans and Christian media.
Vorhies warned, “that they were intending to sculpt the information landscape… I saw something dark and nefarious going on with the company, and I realized that they were going to not only tamper with the elections, but use that tampering with the elections to essentially overthrow the United States.”
“If people don’t fall in line with their editorial agenda, their news articles get de-ranked. And if people do fall in line with their editorial agenda, it gets boosted and pushed to the top.”
Then there’s Project Veritas’ expose. Google executives were caught on undercover camera saying how they were going to influence the 2016 presidential election, and actively undermine Donald Trump. The video caught executives calling right-leaning personalities Jordan Peterson, Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro “Nazis”.
The ramifications of data manipulation are just beginning to come to the surface. Confirming these theories, Dr. Robert Epstein spoke in 2019 to a Senate hearing to discuss his investigation into Google’s data intervention that he believes gave “at a minimum” 2.6 million more votes to Hillary Clinton.
The former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today is a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego, and the founder and director emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Concord, Massachusetts.
The “very liberal” Clinton supporter dropped this bomb, too: the number one donator to the Clinton campaign of 2016 was Alphabet, a corporation formerly known as Google.
“You can bet all these companies will go all out… (The Big Three are) more powerful than anything I’ve seen in behavioural sciences,” he said in a 2019 government deposition.
He warned that 15 million votes could be shifted to the Democratic Party in the 2020 election due to data manipulation, and search engine tweaking.
But the Big Three’s crosshairs aren’t limited to votes or parties. Scores of “undesirable” media have been placed under the guillotine.
PragerU–a weekly online video series running since 2010 run by the charitable organization of the same name–has seen some 25 per cent of its 400-plus videos placed on YouTube’s “restricted” list. That means schools and libraries cannot view them. One of those is a lesson on “Thou Shalt Not Murder” from the Biblical Ten Commandments.
According to Google, who owns YouTube, teaching youngsters that it’s wrong to murder is off limits. PragerU claims it is censorship, and that Google’s rationale is really noble-sounding cover for squelching right-leaning voices.
PragerU isn’t the only casualty. According to Vorhies’ documents, Google further blacklisted hundreds of media that include Christian Post, Megyn Kelly’s website, Newsbusters, Rebel Media, Daily Caller, and Glenn Beck.
Facebook appears to be gunning down the same road. Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer validated this, saying the media giant is “quick to attack–often in mobs–anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”
So it’s the perfect storm: the amount of power that the Big Three wields, married to the political agenda of those who run them, could mean a 2020 presidential campaign marred by technological tampering.
A right-leaning publication, Epoch Times, is the latest victim in what appears to be the cyber-gagging of those with differing political viewpoints.
Spurred by a Snopes investigation in December 2019, Facebook barred Epoch Times from advertising on the platform, owing to what they believe was a breach of terms of service. They claim this was mostly because Epoch Times has a connection to another outlet, Beauty of Life (BL), accused of inauthentic behavior, spam and misrepresentation, by advertising and posting using fake accounts.
The BL, now banned from Facebook, at one point oversaw 610 Facebook accounts, 89 pages, and 156 groups, says Facebook.
The Post Millennial previously reported on the Epoch Times controversy in reference to a different matter, noting similar results to Capital Research, which found zero connection between Epoch Times and the BL’s online activities. Another rebuttal is unpacked by Epoch’s editor, Steven Gregory, who has stated that there is no link whatsoever to BL.
To whatever extent there was a remotely tenuous connection, happened to be that the two organizations had hired each other’s employees at separate times.
Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, explained the issue (from their point of view) to NBC News: “What’s new here is that this is purportedly a U.S.-based media company leveraging foreign actors posing as Americans to push political content.”
Here’s the upper cut: Gleicher was also director of National Security Council, at the Obama White House, from 2013 to 2015. In 2007, he clerked with Democrat Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy.
So, if Facebook relies on “linkage”–tying two loosely-related organizations to the same thread–the same reasoning could be used for Gleicher. Might he have a vested interest in squelching conservative voices, given the liberal politics of his former employers?
Interestingly, Facebook, its investigators-for-hire Graphika, and the Digital Forensics Lab, appeared to overlook the tar-and-feathering by Snopes, laden with a political agenda.
In an NPR interview, Snopes VP of Operations Vinny Green highlighted positive coverage of President Trump as a problem. “What we saw was an extreme amount of pro-Trump content,” Green said. “Almost exclusively what we were looking at …was the amplification of pro-Trump media…” [emphasis mine]
This has the whiff of a politically-motivated hit job.
There’s reason the Big Three should be gnawing at their nails about Epoch Times. Its reach, resources, and readership are gaining a foothold.
At last year’s CPAC–the annual conservative megaconference–the media outlet scored major interviews with Republican politicians, conservative pundits, and Trump cabinet members. Overall, their videos have been viewed billions of times over social media, which analytics company Tubular says ranks eleventh “among all video creators across platforms, outranking every other traditional news publisher.”
And with ten million Facebook followers, “the Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet,” according to NBC.
All the more reason for any liberal organization to target it as persona non grata.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz told me a sobering thought after he published his book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.
“I think there are, definitely, ethical concerns that come with this powerful data source. Big Data isn’t good or bad, it’s just powerful… we don’t really have any way to regulate what information they are allowed to use, and what information they are not allowed to use.”
Perhaps this sums up the 1984-like Big Brother, in the year 2020. Except now it’s called Big Data.
Scientists are the University of Vermont have created they claim to be “living robots.” The first of their kind, these robots have been created out of living cells making them an entirely new life form according to a recent article in The Independent.
Never before has humanity managed to create “completely biological machines from the ground up”, wrote the research team in a recent paper.
The cells have been derived from frog embryos and turned into a machine that can be programmed to work any way the research team wants.
Such a discovery could allow the tiny “xenobots” to be dispatched throughout a patient’s body to transport medicine or even do environmental work such as retrieving pollution from the ocean. The scientists claim the xenobots even have the ability to regenerate themselves when damaged.
The new hybrids used of a supercomputer for their design and were then later built by biologists. “These are novel living machines,” says Joshua Bongard, the University of Vermont expert who co-led the new research. “They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”
The xenobots were built at Tufts University. “We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can’t do like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering micro-plastic in the oceans, travelling in arteries to scrape out plaque,” said co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Centre for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University.
Researchers used a supercomputer to create thousands of possible designs for the new life-forms. The scientists used a virtual version of evolution and would assign a task to the computer and then calculate what design might work best for it.
The second part of their research involved microsurgeons bringing the designs to real life. They would take stem cells from the embryos of African frogs, incubate them and then use specialized tools to cut them apart and reassemble them into the design that was created by the computer.
This combination of real organic material being infused to create a life-form that had previously not existed anywhere in nature is a definite first in the field.
The xenobots already have the ability to push pellets around and organize themselves collectively and spontaneously.
Scientists think this is just the beginning and that they will be able to create an even more complex version of the xenobots. The computer simulations so far suggest that it should be possible for future xenobots with a pouch on their body to carry an object, such as entering the body and administering a drug by swimming through the body, for example.
The xenobots can regenerate themselves when damaged. Robots can be sliced almost in two and will be able to fix themselves again. Unlike traditional materials used for robots in the past, xenobots will be entirely biodegradable after they are finished.
There is a danger in all of this however, researchers admit. For example, developments could be programmed in ways that we do not understand and the more complex the systems become, the harder the xenobots behaviour will be to predict.
“If humanity is going to survive into the future, we need to better understand how complex properties, somehow, emerge from simple rules,” said Levin in a statement. “This study is a direct contribution to getting a handle on what people are afraid of, which is unintended consequences,” he said.
Rejoice Stadia gamers, you’re getting another triple A-game.
According to the Google Stadia community blog, Darksiders Genesis will available for all Stadia players at 12 pm EST. The game will be available for $39.99, matching the price of the Microsoft Windows store.
“For the first time in the franchise, you can play in two-player co-op! So grab a buddy and tear through hordes of demons, angels and everything in between. Or play solo and switch between War and Strife, with guns blazing and swords swinging. Take part in an immersive story of intrigue and suspense set against a fantastic, post-apocalyptic backdrop of otherworldly powers. Darksiders Genesis will be available starting today for $39.99.”
This will be the first game to launch on Stadia on the same day as its official launch.