This is Inbox 5K! Thanks for subscribing. In gratitude, NOTHING in this issue of Inbox 5K is an April Fool’s joke, despite the send date.
(And, now you’re going to think THAT’s a joke. Ah well…)
In Estonian small claims court, there will be no more “approach the bench.” Instead, litigants will soon approach the AI UI, wherever and whatever that may be, once the country implements its planned dispute resolution via artificial intelligence. The decisions will be appealable to a human judge, and “[m]any details are still to be worked out,” including, presumably, which model Terminator will enforce findings of contempt of court. (“AI Takes Over Small Claims Court in Estonia” sounds like an April Fool’s joke: but no!)
If you’re interested in telling Facebook how you think it should implement its planned content oversight board, as of today you have six weeks to do so by taking this survey. The survey includes questions about the size and make-up of the board, how long board members should serve, whether they should prioritize quality over quantity in their decisionmaking, what they should consider in their analyses, and to what extent they should be publicly associated with their bound-to-be-controversial decisions. It’s quite fascinating just to walk through the survey, and there’s lots of opportunity to get deep in the weeds with detail in one’s answers. I’m guessing lots of privacy advocates, lawmakers and/or their staffers, and Internet law and policy scholars will do so. (“Facebook Takes Well-Considered Step Toward Self-Regulation” sounds like an April Fool’s joke: but no!)
About two years ago, the FBI warned businesses that Business E-Mail Compromise (which the FBI calls BEC; because acronyms) was on the rise. What it is: getting businesses to think you’re doing business with them (when you’re not), and send you money. Who it hit: recently, in connection with a federal criminal prosecution in New York, Facebook and Google confirmed they were fleeced to the tune of some $121 million, by someone pretending to be a hardware vendor with whom both companies were actually doing business. Somehow, this went on for two years.
In an indictment unsealed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York last week, the Department of Justice alleged that Evaldas Rimasauskas and other unnamed co-conspirators impersonated the Taiwan-based hardware manufacturer, Quanta Computer — with which both tech companies do business — by setting up a company in Latvia with the same name. Using myriad forged invoices, contracts, letters, corporate stamps, and general confusion created by the corporate doppelganger, they successfully bamboozled Google and Facebook into paying tens of million of dollars in fraudulent bills from 2013 to 2015.
Both companies say they recouped all or most of the money. You can’t make this stuff up (even on April 1). Be sure to review the “Don’t Be a Victim” section of the FBI’s BEC explainer.
Listen: Michael Trainer is the founder of Peak Mind, and the co-creator of Global Citizen, a music festival that seeks to end poverty worldwide. His new Peak Mind podcast features interviews with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Maria Sharapova, and other luminaries. Says Michael,
I have spent the better part of the last 23 years traveling the world to learn from the best in human optimization; the Peak Minds of the world. From traditional healers to doctors at the cutting edge of modern science, from Nobel prize winners to elite performers, my goal here is to share the insights of the world's best thought leaders. The vision is that their teachings can find a place in your tool box, to help you navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of 21st century living.
Read: The Gamer's Brain: How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Video Game Design. I’m reading this in anticipation of interviewing its author Celia Hodent later this month on Triangulation.
Deep Creek, by Pam Houston.
Gear Grind: Weaponized drones.
Russian defense manufacturer JSC Almaz Antey, responsible for some of the country’s most advanced weapons including surface-to-air missiles, has patented a 50-pound, student-designed shotgun drone, aka “a flying, human-aimed shotgun that hunts down its enemies.”
With a flight time of 40 minutes, the drone is controlled by an operator wearing a visor who aims the shotgun through a live video link and sighting system. While it may look like nothing more than a R/C airplane with a shotgun installed, one has to remember that all non-autonomous drones are basically scaled-up remote controlled airplanes, ships, and tanks. … The video shows the drone taking off from a tail-sitting position, quickly shooting down a large red balloon, then downing a remote controlled airplane a few minutes later, before returning to land in the tail-sitting position. The use of a shotgun instead of a rifle or pistol makes perfect sense. As any duck hunter will tell you, the dispersed pattern of tiny shotgun pellets is more effective at hitting small moving targets than the single bullet from other firearms. Flying drones are particularly fragile, unable to adapt if their aerodynamic profile is altered by even the slightest damage. … According to Russian sources the system also apparently has some kind of auto-follow system that allows the operator to continue blasting away at the target ‘without further adjusting course.’ One particularly impressive feature is how the small drone handles the shotgun’s recoil, buzzing along like it was nothing.
Back in the U.S., three proposed California laws that would have outlawed drone combat for sport in the state — by banning “weaponized” drones and failing to define “weaponized” or include a sports-league exception — never made it through the state legislature. This was thanks to efforts from EFF’s Dave Maass on behalf of the Aerial Sports League, home of drone combat games à la Battlebots: “Two drones enter, one drone leaves.” Thanks to their efforts, ASL’s drone cage matches fight on, and the state declined to “criminalize innocent hobbyist activities that promote positive innovation, education and an interest in technology and engineering.”
“Two drones enter, one drone leaves.”
(Want to see all the Inbox 5K Gear commentary? Here you go.)
Project C.A.T.: Discovery, Inc. has “partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to support a global effort to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.” Watch Animal Planet’s excellent Tigerland documentary, and donate here. Discovery will match donations received through this campaign up to $250,000 through December 31, 2019.
(Want to see all the Inbox 5K “Support” recommendations? Here you go.)
Add Idaho to the many U.S. states, legislators, and 100 U.S. cities that have set goals and timelines for ensuring their electrical utilities rely exclusively on “clean” energy sources. More; more (“The Conservation Voter Movement — made up of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and 30 affiliated state organizations — has launched ‘Clean Energy for All,’ a network-wide effort to help our country achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050.”)
What can you do? If your state or city is not already planning to reduce and eliminate its electrical utility’s or utilities’ reliance on carbon dioxide-producing fuels, and you wish it would, make your voice heard and make your votes count. Also, definitely familiarize yourself with the variants of “clean energy” available to reach these kinds of goals. For example, nuclear or fossil-fueled power plants can be carbon-neutral and thus “clean” if they capture and safely eliminate the carbon dioxide they would otherwise emit. Given this, it should be obvious that “clean” energy includes but doesn’t equal “renewable” energy, which refers to “naturally replenishing resources such as sunlight, wind and geothermal heat.” See The devil's in the details: Policy implications of 'clean' vs. 'renewable' energy:
Renewable energy is derived from sources that can naturally replenish themselves — wind and sun are the two most obvious examples — while clean energy encompasses all zero-carbon energy sources. The clean energy or zero-carbon energy tent is wider; it not only leaves the door open to 100% renewables, but it also includes nuclear energy and the carbon-neutralizing impact of technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).
It’s important to understand the clean vs. renewable distinction, and to be aware of the socioeconomic, racial, and cultural impacts of the decisions our lawmakers make about how power is sourced and supplied.
(Want to see all the Inbox 5K “Sustain” recommendations? Here you go.)
Beehive Cheese: “When you take a bite of Beehive Cheese, it melts like butter in your mouth. That’s because Beehive Cheese is made from the creamiest milk in Utah, meticulously crafted into superior cheese.” My personal favorite: Barely Buzzed, which is
[H]and-rubbed with the ‘Beehive Blend’ from Colorado Legacy Coffee Company, which is the cheesemakers’ brother. Lavender buds are ground with the coffee. The rub imparts notes of butterscotch and caramel, which are prevalent near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. This is a full-bodied cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture.
You heard that right, this is lavender espresso cheese. You’re welcome.
(Want to see all the Inbox 5K Imbibe/Ingest recommendations? Here you go.)
You heard that right, this is lavender espresso cheese. You’re welcome.
Follow up re Reader Poll, Sentence Appropriate to the Crime:
Whitesnake, or the Beastie Boys?
According to Inbox 5K readers who took the last issue’s poll, the yoga instructor who shortens the term “sun salutation” to “SUN-SAL” deserves no mercy:
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