I write programs for a living. I've got an opinion on everything. Unfortunately.
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The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

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deconstructingcayla

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAOj0H5c6Yc

Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. (more…)

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zippy72
3 hours ago
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OK, this is a little bit scary.
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kazriko
2 hours ago
Part of why I haven't gotten any of the voice controlled televisions, didn't get MS Kinect, and have voice typing disabled on all my phones.
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Trump Taps Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt As EPA Head

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In yet another controversial pick, according to Reuters, Trump has chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. 

 

Pruitt has been a very outspoken critic of President Obama's EPA, has sued the agency on mulitple occassions and has also questioned "the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind," having called the "debate … far from settled."

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, Pruitt previously boasted that he “led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their [sic] leadership’s activist agenda."  Moreover, per Reuters, Pruitt led the charge for Oklahoma in restoring environmental regulatory oversight to the states and away for the agency he's slated to run. 

Pruitt was elected Oklahoma's attorney general in November 2010 and has focused on restoring more regulatory oversight to states and limiting federal regulations.

 

As his state's top legal official, he sued the agency is he poised to lead multiple times, including a pending lawsuit to topple the EPA's Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Democratic President Barack Obama's climate change strategy.

With that kind of record, we're sure this pick, like a couple others, will ruffle some feathers on the left.

Other candidates thought to be in the running for the post included the following:

* Jeff Holmstead, energy lawyer, former EPA official during George W. Bush administration
* Robert Grady, venture capitalist, partner in private equity firm Gryphon Investors
* Leslie Rutledge, Republican Arkansas attorney general
* Carol Comer, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management

* * *

Here is what we wrote yesterday on Trump's appointments made to date:

President-elect Trump will have about 4,000 government positions to fill, including some of the most important posts in the US government. As CNN details below, cabinet positions require Senate confirmation, but other key posts are completely up to the discretion of the President.

So far 9 of the 16 'big' ones have been named...

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zippy72
3 hours ago
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Looks like a seriously pro-Establishment cabinet to me... #Trump
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Blocking of Althea Efunshile from C4 board 'beggars belief'

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After minister stops black woman joining all-white board, David Lammy MP calls for reasons to be made clear

The former culture minister David Lammy has said the decision to block the appointment of a black woman to the all-white board of Channel 4 “beggars belief” and has called for the precise reasons to be revealed.

The former deputy chief executive of Arts Council England Althea Efunshile was informed last week that her appointment had been blocked by the secretary of state, Karen Bradley.

Continue reading...
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zippy72
3 hours ago
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Well, just what I expected from the Tory party.
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Indian Economy Crashes As Modi's "Black Money" Theory Collapses

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Amid social unrest and loss of faith in the nation's currency, India's economy has ground to a halt with its Composite PMI crashing by a record in the last month as demonetization strikes.

 

However, even more problematic is that Indians have validated 82% of bank notes rendered worthless by PM Modi, dramatically undermining the government’s estimate of unaccounted wealth in the economy. As Bloomberg reports,

About 12.6 trillion rupees ($185 billion) had been deposited into bank accounts as of Dec. 3, the people said, asking not to be identified citing rules for speaking with the media. The government had estimated that about 5 trillion rupees of the 15.3 trillion rupees sucked out by Modi’s move would stay undeclared, implying that this was cash stashed away to evade taxes, known locally as black money.

 

Lack of a meaningful cancellation could be a double blow for Modi as the measure was being used as a political and economic gauge of the success of his Nov. 8 move. One of Modi’s biggest campaign pledges was to expose black money in Asia’s No. 3 economy, and economists were viewing the cash as a potential windfall for the government.

 

"Some of the windfall that the government was hoping for from the cancellation of notes will be dented," said Anjali Verma, chief economist at PhillipCapital Ltd. "That means the fiscal stimulus that was being expected might also take some hit. That is not good news at a time when direct consumption, private investment is not expected to pick up."

 

"Markets are not too worried at the moment," said Chakri Lokapriya, Mumbai-based managing director at TCG Advisory Services, which manages about $3 billion. "But if 12-13 trillion rupees comes back into the system it defeats the whole theory of black money."

 

In such a situation where the gains of demonetization aren’t apparent, individuals will more closely analyze the pain. A slump in demand due to the cash shortages will hurt company revenues and government tax collections, widening the budget deficit and ultimately weakening the rupee, Lokapriya said.

So was the whole effort merely, as Modi admitted, a move towards a cashless society after all? And not in any way related to corruption? Either way, it is too late now as faith in the fiat currency has collapsed.

Finally, while most shrug and say "how does that affect us?", the tumult in India is weighing heavily on the rest of the world via the oil market. India has been the world’s fastest-growing crude market and that may weaken as the government’s cash crackdown slows the economy. As Bloomberg reports,

Diesel and gasoline use, which account for more than half of India’s oil demand, will slow or contract this month and possibly early next year, according to Ivy Global Energy Pte., FGE and Centrum Broking Ltd.

 

“As the Indian economy largely depends on various cash-intensive sectors, the demonetization saga will no doubt slow down economic growth in the near term,” said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of East of Suez oil at FGE in Singapore. “Moving into the first quarter, an expected slowdown in the economic growth should marginally drag down oil consumption, particularly that of transport fuels.”

 

Diesel consumption could fall as much as 12 percent and gasoline demand as much as 7 percent this month, according to Tushar Tarun Bansal, director at Ivy Global Energy.

 

“I expect to see a much smaller growth in diesel demand of about 2 percent in the first quarter,” Bansal said.

 

The possible slow down this month and into next year is a reversal of the demand spike seen in November as people rushed to fill their tanks to take advantage of a rule allowing fuel retailers to accept the banned 500 and 1,000 rupee ($15) bills until Dec. 2.

So an Indian PM 'flaps his wings' and the rest of the world may have a hiccup.

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zippy72
4 hours ago
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Central bankers take note: the war on cash is a great way to bankrupt a country...
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Wells Fargo is successfully convincing judges that forged arbitration agreements are legally binding

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zzzcatch22_large

When you sign up for a Wells Fargo account, you're required to sign an arbitration "agreement" giving up your right to sue the company, and requiring you to have your case heard by an arbitrator paid for by -- and dependent on -- Wells Fargo instead. (more…)

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zippy72
4 hours ago
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Time the US govt BANNED arbitration clauses, methinks...
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kazriko
4 hours ago
Or at least gave the option for 3-arbitrator panels. One picked by each side, then a 3rd that the two arbitrators agree to.
zippy72
4 hours ago
Then what happens if they can't agree on a 3rd arbitrator? And where does the list of arbitrators come from - most likely the other party in the contract would want to control that list (that's one of the key concerns over TTIP, CETA and TPP of course)
kazriko
4 hours ago
I don't think that there should be a list that you must pull from. They had a procedure if a 3rd arbitrator couldn't be agreed upon, but I can't recall the details right now.
heymrbobcat
3 hours ago
It'd be nice, but you're certainly not gonna see it in the next four years.
kazriko
2 hours ago
Nope, but if we were trying to solve the problems with arbitrators being paid by one side, that's one of the few fair ways of doing it.
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Apple single sign-on feature goes live with support from 9 pay TV providers

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After throwing a spotlight on apps with support for its new single sign-on feature on Monday, and adding a clutch of compatible cable providers today, Apple's streamlined authentication service is now live for all users.
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zippy72
6 hours ago
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That sounds like a good idea to me. Would be nice if NOS supported it here, but hey... (Wonder if/when they'll get around to FreeView or FreeSat in te UK, that would also be a good idea...) Oh, and FilmOn as well...
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