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Lauren Weinstein
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Lauren Weinstein

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Raquel Welch, Dudley Moore, and Peter Cook on the set of one of my favorite films, 1967's Bedazzled. I believe that's director Stanley Donen on the right. A frustrated short order cook prays to God for proof of His existence. God obliges by sending him the devil. 
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I miss the time when movies relied on well done scripts instead of special effects.
Like when they remade Hitch Hikers guide to the Galaxy. Though campy- i thought the BBC series was much better and covered the entirety of Douglas Adams vision. They left out VERY IMPORTANT aspects to the deeper points he was making.
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AP // This is why we can't have nice robots.
A hitchhiking robot that captured the hearts of fans worldwide met its demise in the U.S.
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+Lauren Weinstein  I should have stuck a winkie guy [  ;)  ] somewhere. 
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In projecting the GOP contender’s political vision, he doesn’t always follow the right, the left ... or logic
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Sadly, How Windows 10 Reveals Microsoft's Ethics Armageddon

http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/001117.html

Over the last few days, I've been discussing various problematic issues involving Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system, most recently in:

Windows 10's New Feature Steals Your Internet Bandwidth:
http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/001116.html

But today I'm not getting into technical details, but rather pulling back our camera a bit for a wider view of what Microsoft seems to be doing -- and unfortunately it's a very sad commentary indeed.

I'm not being facetious. There have been and still are many great people at Microsoft. Bill Gates and the company he founded contributed mightily to the development of the personal computer industry and much that subsequently evolved.

It's clear though that MS is at a crossroads, at a point of existential importance to their very existence.

The market for consumer-level operating systems as items to be purchased has rapidly dried up. Microsoft's foray into hardware has -- we can charitably say -- been less than impressively successful.

So it's not a surprise that MS has explicitly and publicly been remaking itself as an Internet services company -- a logical decision given the cards MS now has available to play.

Yet much as Microsoft was a bit late to realize the Internet's importance many years ago, they're again late to the game, and the pressures they feel are obvious to any perceptive observer.

All of this can help us to understand -- but not to excuse -- the ethical collapse that Windows 10 appears to represent for a once great company.

And yes, this is very much a matter of ethics, in much the same vein as bait-and-switch artists and underhanded used-car salesmen of popular lore. 

These various players -- including Microsoft in their handling of Windows 10 -- share a common defining characteristic, a shared ethical flaw.

They avoid being up-front and honest with consumers.

The irony is that these ethical lapses are so easily avoided.

If the bait-and-switch artist was honest about what they actually wanted to sell, they're in the ethical green zone.

If the used car salesman was direct about flaws in the vehicle on display, there's no ethical complaint to be lodged.

The same would apply to Microsoft.

By burying significant new data collection practices in the Windows 10 privacy policy that most people never read, by rigging update procedures to push users into switching browsers by default, by not bothering to ask users ahead of time if they were willing to share their Internet bandwidth for Microsoft's commercial use -- in these ways Microsoft failed the obvious ethics tests in a dramatic fashion.

MS seems to be failing at ethics even in some of the more minor areas -- with word that the popular old Solitaire game from Windows 7 and earlier has been replaced on Windows 10 with a version that forces you to sit through video advertisements unless you're willing to pay Microsoft $10 per year to shut them off.

To be sure, we can guess that somewhere up at MS headquarters in Redmond, a meeting took place where something like this was said:

"Hell, we're giving most of these people free versions of a new operating system, we've gotta get something in exchange, and they don't have any right to complain!"

That would be so very, very wrong.

Because while large numbers of users might well consider such trade-offs to be equitable and reasonable, the ethical requirement in the main when dealing with significant issues is simple: You ask permission first.

And asking permission in this context doesn't mean assuming permission, or burying disclosures, or operating on the assumption that simply providing a way to turn something off later is the same as asking permission to turn it on in the first place.

Let's take Microsoft's default commercial use of users' bandwidth to send updates to other MS users in Windows 10, for example.

Imagine if one day you noticed that your home water pressure seemed low. You search around and discover a truck parked outside that is filling its big water tank from your water system, via a hidden hose.

When confronted, the truck owners state that they didn't think they were taking all that much, and if it bothers you they'll stop. 

Whether you paid for that water by the gallon or got it all flat rate, I'd wager that most people would react the same way, demanding to know: "Why the blazes didn't you ask permission first?"

To which the likely response would be: "We didn't tell you about it -- we didn't ask -- because we thought you might say no."

This is certainly not to imply that every minor user interface or operations decision must be opt-in only -- but at the very least, issues of significant magnitude must be clearly and openly spelled out in advance, not relegated to "if we're lucky most users won't notice what we did" status.

The latter course is the path to ethics hell, and no amount of free giveaways or slick talk alone can prevent a complete descent into that pit once a firm steps off the ethics precipice. 

Can Microsoft still save itself from this fate? Of course, given the will. Much of what they'd need to do immediately could in theory be pushed out to Windows 10 users in a matter of days -- better explanations, asking permission, ethical defaults.

But my gut feeling says that MS is not prepared to make such a major ethical course correction at this time, and that's truly unfortunate.

Hope springs eternal. Perhaps Microsoft will prove my gut feelings on this to be incorrect. Perhaps MS will indeed alter direction and proceed toward the ethical light.

That would be delightful. But don't hold your breath.

-- Lauren --
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so. All opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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+Fernando Pereira Seriously, I don't they wanted to call attention to it in any way whatsoever. 
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What Watermelons Used to Look Like

You've probably seen a watermelon and think you know what they look like, and you'd be partly right.  Modern watermelons look like the image on the right below.

But do you see that image on the left?  That's a watermelon as depicted by a Renaissance artist.

As you can see, selective breeding has had quite an effect on it.  In truth, many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today are quite different from their counterparts of previous centuries.
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A graphic reminder of just how thoroughly Homo Sapiens has been customizing its environment to suit its needs over the past few millennia.

If you had some purist sort of intention of avoiding all GMO foolds, you were probably well out of luck of finding any non-GMO crops hundreds of years ago.
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This new Google+ community discusses the array of complicated and expanding issues involving speech and other civil liberties on social media. These now directly impact an array of concerns related to freedom of speech itself, civil liberties more broadly, censorship, rights to access information, encryption rights issues, posting and commenting rights and abuses -- and much more. We're faced not only with the Solomonic task of formulating associated policies that can balance the often conflicting aspects of social responsibility in these contexts and appropriately evolve over time, but also how to actually implement these at enormous scales while minimizing both Type I and Type II errors (i.e. false positives and false negatives). This is all now so tightly conflated with public opinion, law enforcement, politics, and even religion, that it has all become a kind of "third-rail nuclear" category that requires multidisciplinary approaches to realistically address. If we don't do this well and proactively, there are a variety of stakeholders out there who will be more than happy to impose their own draconian views on us all. Let's discuss. Thanks!
Social Media and Civil Liberties
Discussing Freedom of Speech and Other Civil Liberties Issues Related to Social Media
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Have him in circles
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Most large tech firms could likely benefit from this Thought for the Day: Thinking about the mess Microsoft has made out of their Windows 10 deployment, the desirability of significantly-sized tech firms to have in-house technology ethicists seems painfully obvious. 
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I concur - 6 years deep.
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// "Paxton has been under a series of investigations since last year, when he admitted to soliciting investments for a friend's company, without registering with the State Securities Board. He was fined a thousand dollars," Largey says. "The felonies he's reportedly charged with would carry the possibility of a stricter punishment — up to life in prison." //
State attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted on three counts of securities fraud, according to the Times, and is expected to turn himself in to authorities on Monday.
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Following in the footsteps of Ed Meese, eh?
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Medical record data. Exposed.
In-brief: Four million patients of more than 230 hospitals, doctors offices and clinics had patient data exposed in a May attack on the Fort Wayne, Indiana firm Medical Informatics Engineering (MIE...
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Surprised? Moi? Not at all. I expect this to be more and more prevalent in the coming years. Wait till hackers start accessing your night light, handheld vibrator, and refrigerator; all being "Internet enabled" soon.
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Bahahaha.  I like companies with a sense of humor.  Google earns a lot of points with me for that.
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Wow. A rotten new privacy policy. Stealing users' bandwidth for their own commercial gain without asking permission first. Charging $10/year to kill ads on a game that had no ads on the version of Windows that most people are upgrading from. What's the difference between the "new" Microsoft and your average everyday cyber-scam? Pretty much nothing.
Wired UK reports that the pre-installed Solitaire on Windows 10 capitalizes on the long-cultivated addiction that some users have to the game with an interesting bargain: rather than being an ordinary included application like it used to be, what may be the world's most pervasive on-screen office ti...
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+Lauren Weinstein  Oh, I know,  But when this silliness goes belly up..... as it will.....  What do you think they will do?   And in the meantime we might have a better game!    But definitely bandwidth stealing, game wrecking and so forth... will come back to kick them of the back of the head.  And this may be a lesson they learn forever...  We Hope! 
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First we hear the brother is protecting Cecil's cubs. Now some monster kills the brother. Unfortunately, the odds are that people are being paid off to permit this up and down the line in Zimbabwe. There's no way this could be happening without nods and winks from bribed government officials.
Cecil the Lion's brother, Jericho, was shot and killed today, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said, in the wake of Zimbabwe calling for the extradition of the American dentist who admitted killing Cecil in early July. "It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil's brother has been killed at 4pm today," the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said in a Facebook post.
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Technology Systems & Policy Analysis: Internet, Privacy, plus Other Sundry Topics.
Introduction
Lauren is co-founder of PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility, co-founder and moderator of NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad -- and founder of the PRIVACY Forum. He created the PRIVACY Forum in 1992, and has been involved with Internet and other technology issues for over 40 years, including at the first site on the ARPANET (the ancestor of the Internet), which was located at UCLA.  Lauren is also the founder of the Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance - GCTIP.  

His focus is both policy and engineering issues related to the Internet, privacy, the interaction of technology with society, and a range of other areas..

Lauren is widely quoted regarding such matters by newspaper, magazine, and other articles.  He participates in numerous radio and television news programs, talk shows, and other venues where these important issues are under discussion.

Lauren is a member of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Committee on Computers and Public Policy, and has consulted to Google.

Lauren's Blog

Lauren's Home Page

E-Mail: lauren@vortex.com

Google+: Lauren Weinstein

Twitter: @laurenweinstein

Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800

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