Monthly Archives: October 2016

Whats Happen on News Propaganda

A few years back, when it was one company, HP made a huge mistake that cost a number of people their jobs and forced the replacement of many of its board members. The company suffered through some nasty litigation and several top executives almost landed in jail.

The mistake was tied back to something the board authorized, which at the time was called “pretexting.” It also went by the more common term “identity theft.” It is my belief that the board wouldn’t have authorized the effort if it had been told that what the teams planned to do was steal the identities of reporters.

Given how risk-averse boards were, and still are, HP’s directors simply would not have been willing to take the risk, in my view, and much of HP’s pain in the last decade could have been avoided.

Given that Russia is the source for much of it, I now wonder if our use of the term “fake news” as a label — as opposed to the older and more relevant term — isn’t doing us a disservice, by not highlighting the inherently evil nature of the practice.

Fake News is intentionally designed to mislead, and it should be treated like propaganda. Blocking propaganda as a matter of law would be far easier to accomplish than blocking “fake news,” because “fake news” seems more benign than “propaganda” — even though, like “pretexting” and “identity theft,” they are the same thing.

I’ll share my thoughts on that and close with my product of the week: a new Magellan Dash camera that might make a decent gift for those needing to document some of the insane drivers on the road, or catch someone messing with their car.

There Is a Lot of ‘Fake News’Now much of the fake news I currently get on Facebook is simply to get me to click a link, often as part of a process to install some form of malware. Often, these stories have been about the death of a celebrity who hasn’t died, but during the election, much of the fake news surrounded things that weren’t true about Hillary Clinton but that clearly were intended to change my vote. They were attempts to change how I viewed a candidate, in order to elicit a reaction.

Given the nature of the false stories and the fact that polls showed Clinton would win anyway, my belief is that the effort was to impede her ability to govern after she won, and the anticipated disclosure of the effort was designed to do the same thing to Trump.

The sure thing for Russia wasn’t to elect Trump or Clinton, but to ensure that whoever won would have such a cloud hanging overhead that neither could really execute. In other words, Russia wasn’t going after a candidate — it was going after the country.

Beyond the idea that another country could have a material impact either on the election or on the effectiveness of the elected candidate is the frightening fact that it happened in a country that has the tools to formulate a proper response but chose not to use them.

As initial attempts go, this was a powerful one. Given the propagation of ever more intelligent tools to create increasingly more targeted messages, it means a foreign power with adequate funds — like Russia or China — could gain near-absolute control over who gets elected in the U.S. That’s troubling — particularly given that the U.S. developed the tools both to carry out and to defend against such a strategy.

 

Defending Against Foreign Election Control

Clearly, there are free speech and censorship issues with regard to the identification and elimination of fake news, but with analytics, we can identify both trends and the organized manipulation of facts that go viral.

That is why switching from the name “fake news” to the name “propaganda” when a foreign, criminal or terrorist organization is generating this “news” could go a long way toward reducing its impact.

Once it’s identified, there are tools that can explain to people that the news they are seeing isn’t fact-based, and/or source the information so people understand there may be inherent bias.

Fleet to Gather Maps Data

Apple has assembled a group of robotics and data-collection experts who will use unmanned aerial vehicles — that is, drones — to obtain data for updates to its Maps app, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Apple, Google and others in the cartography space currently collect a lot of their data using motor vehicles equipped with high-tech gear.

“That’s a very expensive and time-consuming process,” said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior research analyst at Navigant Research.

“Doing it with drones provides the potential to gather the same kind of data in a much more cost-effective manner and do it more rapidly,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Drones allow them to cover more territory faster,” observed Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

“It is the most obvious way to help keep road data up to speed at all times,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Drone AloneHowever, drones are no substitute for a fleet of ground vehicles, maintained Tsou, a professor in the geography department at San Diego State University.

“I don’t think drones can replace the ground vehicles since there are many limitations of UAVs,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The viewpoint of drones is very different from a car. For car navigation purposes, the car view is more important than an airplane view.”

There are other disadvantages to using drones for information collecion.

“Most folks recognize a Google Street View car as it drives along the road, and even a Street View pedestrian with the huge camera and backpack is pretty recognizable,” noted Ken Hyers, director of wireless device strategies for Strategy Analytics.

However, “a small drone whizzing around may surprise or irritate folks,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Privacy also will be an issue.

“When a ground vehicle collects this information, it is driving along public roads and can only see what’s visible from the road,” Hyers explained, “but a drone can peek over fences, look in backyards, and into rooms behind balconies.”

 

Indoor Maps

The Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year approved Apple’s request to operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography and videography.

The approval is subject to a number of conditions and limitations: a drone’s speed can not exceed 87 knots; its altitude is limited to 400 feet; and its flight operations must be kept at least 500 feet away from all persons, vessels, vehicles and structures, with certain exceptions.

In addition, drones must be flown during daylight hours and within eyesight of a pilot licensed to operate a UAV.

Apple also plans to add an indoor navigation features to Maps to help people find their away around high-traffic buildings, such as airport terminals and museums, according to the Bloomberg report. The company likely will use technology gained with two recent acquisitions — Indoor.io and WiFiSlam — for that purpose.