Video: Larry Harvey and JP Barlow on Burning Man and tech culture

Larry Harvey, founder of the counterculture festival Burning Man, passed away this weekend. He was 70. Harvey created a movement and contributed to the flowering both of counter-culture and, ultimately, of tech culture. Both he and John Perry Barlow, who also passed in February this year after a long period of ill health, were huge advocates of free speech. Barlow wrote lyrics for the Grateful Dead, and then became a digital rights activist in later life. In 2013 I caught up with both of them and recorded a joint 24-minute…

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WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits Facebook due to privacy intrusions

“It is time for me to move on . . . I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee,” WhatsApp co-founder, CEO and Facebook board member Jan Koum wrote today. The announcement followed shortly after The Washington Post reported that Koum would leave due to disagreements with Facebook management about WhatsApp user data privacy and weakened encryption. Koum obscured that motive in his note that says, “I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just…

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Covee uses blockchain to allow experts worldwide to collaborate

Solving complex data-driven problems requires a lot of teamwork. But, of course, teamwork is typically restricted to companies where everyone is working under the same roof. While distributed teams have become commonplace in tech startups, taking that to the next level by linking up disparate groups of people all working on the same problem (but not in the same company) has been all but impossible. However, in theory, you could use a blockchain to do such a thing, where the work generated was constantly accounted for on-chain. That’s in theory.…

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Spam filters and AI help figure out what animals do all day

The pond-dwelling Hydra is not a very complex little animal but it does have a complex repertoire of moves that aren’t clear until after extensive human observation. Examining these moves took a long time and scientists were never sure that they had seen all of them. Now, thanks to an algorithm used to catch spam, researchers have been able to catalog all of the Hydra’s various moves, allowing them to map those moves to the neurons firing in its weird little head. “People have used machine learning algorithms to partly…

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Chinese government admits collection of deleted WeChat messages

Chinese authorities revealed over the weekend that they have the capability of retrieving deleted messages from the almost universally used WeChat app. The admission doesn’t come as a surprise to many, but it’s rare for this type of questionable data collection tactic to be acknowledged publicly. As noted by the South China Morning Post, an anti-corruption commission in Hefei province posted Saturday to social media that it has “retrieved a series of deleted WeChat conversations from a subject” as part of an investigation. The post was deleted Sunday, but not…

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Facebook is trying to block Schrems II privacy referral to EU top court

Facebook’s lawyers are attempting to block a High Court decision in Ireland, where its international business is headquartered, to refer a long-running legal challenge to the bloc’s top court. The social media giant’s lawyers asked the court to stay the referral to the CJEU today, Reuters reports. Facebook is trying to appeal the referral by challenging Irish case law — and wants a stay granted in the meanwhile. The case relates to a complaint filed by privacy campaigner and lawyer Max Schrems regarding a transfer mechanism that’s currently used by thousands…

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