‘The Earth is, in fact, round’

It’s a major peeve of many medieval historians: the popular belief that people who lived before Christopher Columbus thought that the world was flat. It is actually rare to find groups in the classical, Late Antique and medieval eras who believed in the flat Earth. On the contrary, numerous ancient...

When surveillance turns into stalking

Many surveillance apps cater to parents who want to keep tabs on their children who have mobile phones. Many of these apps are used for less parental purposes. Jennifer Valentino-DeVries for The New York Times reports:

More than 200 apps and services offer would-be stalkers a variety of capabilities, from basic location tracking to harvesting texts and even secretly recording video, according to a new academic study. More than two dozen services were promoted as surveillance tools for spying on romantic partners, according to the researchers and reporting by The New York Times. Most of the spying services required access to victims’ phones or knowledge of their passwords — both common in domestic relationships.

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CFP for edited volume: Mission Driven: Reimagining Graduate Education for a Thriving Humanities Ecosystem

Call for Papers
Edited by Stacy Hartman and Yevgenya Strakovsky In the past decade, much ink has been spilled and many initiatives organized around the need to prepare humanities PhDs for a variety of careers. The many creative and effective projects that have emerged as a result have engendered a gradual shift in...

Amazon Rekognition for government surveillance

Amazon’s Rekognition is a video analysis system that promises to identify individuals in real-time. Amazon wants to sell the systems to governments for surveillance.

From the ACLU:

Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance. According to its marketing materials, it views deployment by law enforcement agencies as a “common use case” for this technology. Among other features, the company’s materials describe “person tracking” as an “easy and accurate” way to investigate and monitor people. Amazon says Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest,” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments — such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists — will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance. It also says Rekognition can monitor “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports,” at a time when Americans are joining public protests at unprecedented levels.

Given the millions of Alexa-enabled devices in people’s homes and customer purchase histories available on-demand, this feels like a bad idea. Also, creepy. Probably because of the ‘k’ in Rekognition.

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