[via Geoff Goodfellow] Kenneth D. Mandl, MD, MPH1,2; Arjun K. Manrai, PhD1,3 JAMA. 2019;321(8):739-740. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0286 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2724793 Excerpt: A culture of advocacy and promotion for aggressive testing may arise when a biomarker or its sequelae yield financial benefit to drug and device manufacturers, procedure-based specialties, hospitals, or laboratory testing services or is increasingly requested by patients. Excessive testing can also lead to costly and harmful care, including false-positive results, overdiagnoses, and unnecessary treatments. Economic pressures, obfuscated intentionally or inadvertently, can drive increased use of biomarkers, a phenomenon that could be termed `biomarkup'. The volume of per-patient biomarker measurements for screening, monitoring, and diagnosing is poised to increase substantially. Furthermore, many of these tests will be directed at consumers.1 Machine learning algorithms that will soon drive artificial intelligence in health care require large amounts of data and involve ever-expanding approaches to passively and actively capture patient- and clinician-generated data. The affordability of wearables and other connected devices is leading to continuous streams of `digital biomarkers' from individuals in their homes. Genomic measures in clinical care are expanding the number of biomarkers routinely measurable by a physician from a handful to potentially thousands. Another excerpt: Adjusting the threshold of a biomarker for disease definitions may significantly alter the population labeled with treatable conditions. For example, the 2013 change in the cholesterol practice guidelines increased the number of adults eligible for statin therapy by an estimated 12.8 million compared with previous guideline recommendations (Figure A). With the global statin market approaching $23 billion, this is not a coincidence. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services levies financial penalties on health plans in which beneficiaries adhere poorly to filling their statin prescriptions. My comment: There have been previous waves of tests that create lots of false-positive. Increasing resolution of medical imaging is one big factor; it led to the fad for whole body scanning. Nor is this a new problem. 20 years ago Andy Grove preached that “every man should know his PSA level'', but PSA screening turned out to have little, or negative, value for men with no other symptoms of prostate problems. (He wrote an interesting article about his experiences in 1996, but current data is much better. http://fortune.com/1996/05/13/andy-grove-prostate-cancer-cover-story/ Roger Bohn, Professor of Technology Management School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego [Editorial comment: False positives and false negatives are always a concern, e.g., especially in dealing with Lyme disease, where most of the standard tests are inadequate. However, false, misleading, and incomplete information may be even more of a problem. For example, I might suggest that the medical profession seems to have ignored or disputed recent findings that low-fat diets and exercise may be much less effective in reducing cholesterol than reducing sugar and carbs: Sugar Industry's Propaganda Campaign Exposed a Half-Century Later, editorial in the Townsend Letter, April 2017, p.80 and 79 http://www.townsendletter.com/April2017/April2017.html and that statins ultimately can do very serious long-term damage: The undeniable TRUTH about statins: Cholesterol-lowering drugs are linked to memory loss and brain impairment https://www.naturalhealth365.com/statins-drug-dangers-2798.html. PGN]
Can you trust online reviews? Here's how to find the fakes. NBC News found thousands of questionable reviews on Amazon, Yelp, Facebook and Google, and purchased great reviews for a company that never did any work. EXCERPT: The Federal Trade Commission announced a groundbreaking lawsuit Tuesday against a company it accuses of paying for fake Amazon reviews. But the agency may have a lot more work to do if it wants to end the scourge of fake online reviews. An NBC News investigation found thousands of questionable reviews on Amazon, Yelp, Facebook and Google—and showed that it was possible to purchase hundreds of positive reviews within days for a new company that had never done any work. https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/I-Team-Battling-Fake-Business-Reviews-450654033.html https://www.nbcnews.com/better/business/does-five-star-online-review-really-mean-product-good-ncna870901 On Google and Facebook, the profile photos of the reviewers helped expose many questionable reviews https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/fake-online-reviews-here-are-some-tips-detecting-them-n447681 The profiles used the likenesses of such actors and actresses Terry Crews, Megan Fox, Omari Hardwick and Abigail Breslin. Those celebrities all confirmed that they did not write the reviews in question. Jason Brown runs the consumer advocacy website reviewfraud.organd said it's common for fake reviewers to use images of celebrities—often by accident. "What they'll do is they'll create their account, do a Google search for headshots and when they're doing that to add it to their account, they'll get famous people by mistake," Brown said. [...] https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/can-you-trust-online-reviews-here-s-how-find-fakes-n976756
Why "exceptional access" is synonymous with "backdoors for black hats" Congresspersons will virtue signal all day long about robocalls, but will NEVER stop robocalls. Why? Precisely because Congresspersons utilize robocalls *themselves* for their own re-election campaigns. Who else loves robocalls? Phone companies themselves. Robocalls run up lucrative charges on accounts that would otherwise have *zero* traffic and minimum account charges. Who else loves robocalls? NSA/intelligence agencies. Have a 3-hop or 2-hop maximum from a "person of interest"? Any undergraduate computer scientist can code up an algorithm to provide enough "junk calls" to fill in that entire "who-called-whom" adjacency matrix so that *every* person is 2 hops from a "person of interest". Robocalls also enable metadata collection by exercising the SS7 network. Robocalls enable the testing of "live" phone numbers which can later be used for SMS message scams and malware^H^H^H^H^H^H^HNIT ("network investigative technique") installation. Of course, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Exactly the same techniques utilized by "white hats" can also be utilized by "black hats" such as criminals and foreign intel agencies. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/opinion/robocall-scams.html Let's Destroy Robocalls: Finally, something worse than Donald Trump. By Gail Collins March 1, 2019 Congress may have found an issue that all Americans can rally around. Stopping robocalls. All right—a little depressing that it can't be world peace or affordable health care. But let's take what we can get. If our elected officials could join hands and lead us into a world where phones are no longer an instrument of torture, maybe it'd give them enough confidence to march forward and, um, fund some bridge repair. Everybody has always hated telemarketers, particularly the ones trying to sell some shady product. And now the miracles of technology let them follow you around all day. When I'm home, I feel as if I spend half my time blocking robocalls on our landline. Yet somehow a different number always pops up, with great news about opportunities to reinsure my nonexistent car at low prices or acquire a cost-free knee brace. The knee brace thing is a scam to get money out of Medicare, but in order to figure that out you'd have to engage in conversation. People, do not ever talk on the phone with a stranger wielding free knee braces. This can be a life rule. Things are at least as bad on mobile phones, which were the lucky recipients of 48 billion robocalls in the United States alone last year. Congress has been trying to control the problem at least since 1991, when it passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Remember 1991? "Dances With Wolves" won the Oscar for best picture. The Dow closed the year at 3,168. The point I'm trying to make is that it's been a while. At the time the big problem was mainly telemarketers—actual people who dialed your actual number and tried to talk you into buying something. Under the T.C.P.A. you could put your name on a national "do not call" list. Some observers did worry about the part of the plan that required the list be maintained by the telemarketers themselves. Whoops. In 2003 Congress gave the job to the Federal Trade Commission. Then-President George W. Bush signed the bill into law, rejoicing that from then on, when parents were reading to their children at night, they'd no longer be interrupted by "a stranger with a sales pitch." Then robocalls really took over the world, and one person on the other side of the planet could push a few buttons and disrupt "Goodnight Moon" from coast to coast. The F.T.C. kept saying it could take care of the problem. ("... you can count on us ...") Then the Federal Communications Commission created the Robocall Strike Force in 2016. Great name! Mediocre results. So here we are, tortured phone owners one and all. Perhaps, like me, you've accidentally blocked some of your friends without successfully getting rid of the woman with the free knee brace. Perhaps you were like Dr. Gary Pess, a hand surgeon who told The Times's Tara Siegel Bernard that he stopped answering any calls when he didn't recognize the number and then discovered one of them was about a person with a severed thumb. But good news! We're getting some action. I know "Congress is working on a bill" is not as encouraging as, say, "Let me pour you a drink and change the subject." But still. In the House, Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey has a proposal called Stopping Bad Robocalls, which certainly gets to the point. Pallone is the chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and it's fair to say he has a healthy chance of getting something done. Things are more problematic in the Senate, which, as you may have noticed, is barely capable of getting its act together long enough to salute the flag. However, Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts—the man who helped give us that Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991—has teamed up with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota to sponsor a bipartisan plan. It's called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, which I certainly hope you noticed spells out Traced. (Or, O.K., Traceda if you wanted to be really technical.) The bill, Markey says, is "a perfect example" of lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle getting together and "agreeing we don't want our wireless devices in our pocket to be called by total strangers 10, 15 times a day." Pretty low bar, yes? Perhaps someday we will see a liberal from California and a conservative from Arkansas get together to fight against people who throw beer bottles out of their car window when they're in the passing lane on the highway. But let's not be cynical. Markey says, "If this bill can't pass then no bill can pass," and he's probably right. You need to root him on, given that the other option is falling back in your chair and moaning, "No bill can pass." Come on. The idea is to make telephone companies try much harder to identify and block slimy robocalls. And to bring enforcement groups together to find new ways to prosecute the scammers. I know it doesn't sound all that dramatic, but if you want people to stop calling you every day with offers to repay your student loans, it's a better strategy than repeatedly screaming "I graduated in 1980!" into the phone. A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Let's Destroy Robocalls.
Chris Matyszczyk for Technically Incorrect, ZDNet, 27 Feb 2019 Robot love? An app to schedule sex? What is wrong with you? Has humanity taken the abdication of all its natural functions a little too far? https://www.zdnet.com/article/robot-love-an-app-to-schedule-sex-what-is-wrong-with-you/ selected text: Then I sit down, open my laptop and discover that many people can't wait to have sex with a robot. Not only that, but my colleague Greg Nichols even informs me that robot love will come as surely as the self-driving car and the lawless government. I pause to wonder whether I could truly fall in love with a machine. Yes, I've quite appreciated a car or two in my time, but not to the extent of being driven to snog with one. Yet apparently robots will, at the very least, soon replace the spontaneous lovers of spring and the blooming Orchids of Asia. The reasons offered by experts are painful to behold. We're apparently rather liberal with our sense of connection with another. A plausible fantasy will do just fine for us. I tried to come to terms with this grave new existence, when my colleague Jason Perlow unfurled another technological purler. This is something called LoveSync. It's an app that helps you schedule sex with your loved one. It offers a button by your bedside. When you're in the mood for a little conjugal in flagrante, you push the button. If your partner isn't in the mood to push theirs, nothing happens. But if they are, carnal joy ensues. Because you don't even trust yourself to identify natural human signals anymore. May I ask what is wrong with you?
https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/robot-workers-cant-go-on-strike-but-they-can-go-up-in-flames "Robots may eventually become so advanced that they can douse flames themselves, according to Mr Lawrie at Forrester. "If they are sufficiently smart to be able to pick the produce, I'm sure they are quite smart enough to fight a fire," he said. Risk: Silicon-based property loss mitigation and emergency response management automation substituting for municipal, carbon-based fire departments.
http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190301-how-screening-companies-are-monetising-your-dna "If you've ever sent off your DNA to an ancestry or health-screening company for analysis, chances are your DNA data will be shared with third parties for medical research or even for solving crime, unless you've specifically asked the company not to do so. "The point was brought home in late January when it emerged that genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA was working with the FBI to test DNA samples provided by law enforcement to help identify perpetrators of violent crime. Another DNA testing company, 23andMe, has signed a $300m deal with pharmaceuticals giant GSK to help it develop new drugs. "But are customers aware that third parties may have access to their DNA data for medical research? And do these kinds of tie-ups bring benefits -- or should we be concerned?" Risk: Insider—Phlebotomists might be enticed by genealogy services or intelligence or law enforcement agencies to surreptitiously contribute an extra blood sample from a routine wellness visit to a physician's office or hospital trip. The metadata for tracing ownership is on the sample label, and only a few drops of blood are necessary.
The panic attacks started after Chloe watched a man die. She spent the past three and a half weeks in training, trying to harden herself against the daily onslaught of disturbing posts: the hate speech, the violent attacks, the graphic pornography. In a few more days, she will become a full-time Facebook content moderator, or what the company she works for, a professional services vendor named Cognizant, opaquely calls a "process executive." For this portion of her education, Chloe will have to moderate a Facebook post in front of her fellow trainees. When it's her turn, she walks to the front of the room, where a monitor displays a video that has been posted to the world's largest social network. None of the trainees have seen it before, Chloe included. She presses play. "Someone is stabbing him, dozens of times, while he screams and begs for his life." The video depicts a man being murdered. Someone is stabbing him, dozens of times, while he screams and begs for his life. Chloe's job is to tell the room whether this post should be removed. She knows that section 13 of the Facebook community standards prohibits videos that depict the murder of one or more people. When Chloe explains this to the class, she hears her voice shaking. https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/25/18229714/cognizant-facebook-content-moderator-interviews-trauma-working-conditions-arizona The risk? Facebook.
Chieko Tsuneoka, *The Wall Street Journal*, 1 Mar 2019 This give a whole new meaning to the expression "new car smell." https://www.wsj.com/articles/subaru-says-its-cars-and-fabric-softener-dont-mix-11551442945 Subaru Recalls Cars as Some Perfumes Cause Malfunctions: Auto maker's recall could affect up to 2.3 million vehicles after discovering glitches linked to cosmetics, other household products TOKYO—If you drive a Subaru, you may want to avoid wearing perfume or a sweater treated with fabric softener—they could prevent the engine from starting. Subaru Corp. said Friday it plans to recall as many as 2.3 million Impreza and Forester vehicles world-wide after discovering that certain chemical compounds released by everyday products such as cosmetics, fabric softener or car polish could cause parts to malfunction. These malfunctions could affect a brake-light switch that is also involved in starting the engine or cause a vehicle-stability warning light to flash unnecessarily, the Japanese auto maker said. According to the recall notice Subaru filed with Japanese regulators, these chemicals may create an insulating layer on the switches that prevents the proper flow of electricity. No accidents related to the problems have been reported, the company said. [...]
An Israeli-made piece of technology that can hack iPhones called the Cellebrite UFED is getting out of the hands of law enforcement officials and being sold on eBay. Worse, these secondhand devices may not have been properly "zeroed out" by the sellers and still contain data from previous uses. Cellebrite has warned customers against the practice of reselling the devices but it hasn't stopped them from showing up on eBay, selling for as little as $1,000. https://www.hackread.com/iphone-hacking-tool-cellebrite-being-sold-on-ebay
*The Guardian*, 26 Feb 2019, via ACM TechNews, 1 Mar 2019 Boeing has announced an unmanned, fighter-like jet developed and designed to fly alongside crewed aircraft in combat. Australia is investing $40 million in the prototype program, marking Boeing's biggest investment in unmanned systems outside the U.S. Other defense contractors are also putting more funding toward autonomous technology, as defense forces around the world look for cheaper, safer ways to maximize their resources. The Boeing system includes electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions, in addition to operating like a traditional fighter jet. The aircraft's first flight is expected next year. https://orange.hosting.lsoft.com/trk/click?ref=znwrbbrs9_6-1ea46x21aa0ax070896&
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/roscoe-bartlett-congressman-off-the-grid-101720?o=0 Interesting fellow—wrong on most policies but right on his prime worry about power grid. The author's a bit confused about IBM, though, claiming: “it's also that upbringing that moved him to go into public service, after a science career that saw him go through IBM in its start-up years'' ... whereas IBM was founded in 1911 [as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company], and he was born 1926. [Well, that's only an off-by-15 error, not particularly critical in computer-technology parlance. PGN]
Taking a step back for a moment, Apple does qualify this Significant Locations section by saying that these are encrypted locations and cannot be read by Apple. We'll have to take their word for that part. But it's not so much that they even qualify it like that. What's most surprising to me is how clearly hidden this section is. Anyone who has ever built a digital product knows that if you're putting something seven screens away from the main screen with a series of scrolls, clicks, and nonobvious names, you're actively trying to hide the content from the end user. Can I turn it off? If you're uncomfortable with this list, you can simply move the Significant Locations switch to the off position. But if you really want to wipe it clean, turn it on, scroll to the bottom of the history, and select Clear History. This post is more of an FYI than a serious dig at Apple. At the end of the day, we are responsible for letting technology creep further and further into our lives, because we keep valuing its personalized benefits over the less useful but more private alternate universe. Do some digging on your own to find out what settings are turned on and which you've turned off. Find out what settings you can control and what exactly they're doing. You control your own tech destiny. This is just one quick PSA about an area of your iPhone you probably hadn't explored too much. Technology's ability to improve our lives in nearly all aspects is clear -- but we as a society are healthiest as a whole when we fully understand the implications of how and why it all works. https://onezero.medium.com/your-iphone-has-a-hidden-tracking-list-of-every-location-youve-been-c227a84bc4fc
I propose a new variant of Clarke's Third Law. "Any sufficiently advanced civilisation is doomed".
Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, this is an old risk. Back in the early 80s there was an early neural net (IIRC Igor Aleksander's WISARD). One use would have been to distinguish between tanks and cars, but while it worked well in the lab, it failed dismally on the Lüneburg Heath in north Germany. Eventually the researchers realised that the training set was of pictures of tanks on the Lüneburg Heath and pictures of cars from glossy magazines. The tank pictures had grey sky, whereas the the car pictures were in bright appealing sunshine, with easily understood consequences. I wonder if we will ever stop rediscovering the desirability of ensuring automated systems that can explain their "reasoning".
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