Google: Is The Ad Giant Consistently Inconsistent?

June 21, 2022

Not long ago, the super bright smart software management team decided that Dr. Timnit Gebru’s criticism of the anti-bias efficacy was not in sync with the company’s party line. The fix? Create an opportunity for Dr. Gebru to find her future elsewhere. The idea that a Googler would go against the wishes of the high school science club donut selection was unacceptable. Therefore, there’s the open window. Jump on through.

I recall reading about Google’s self declared achievement of quantum supremacy. This was an output deemed worthy of publicizing. Those articulating this wild and crazy idea in the midst of other wild and crazy ideas met the checklist criteria for academic excellence, brilliant engineering, and just amazing results. Pick out a new work cube and soldier on, admirable Googler.

I know that the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper is one of the gems of online trustworthiness. Therefore, I read “Google Engineer Warns the Firm’s AI Is Sentient: Suspended Employee Claims Computer Programme Acts Like a 7 or 8-Year-Old and Reveals It Told Him Shutting It Off Would Be Exactly Like Death for Me. It Would Scare Me a Lot.” (Now that’s a Googley headline! A bit overdone, but SEO, you know.)

The write up states:

A senior software engineer at Google who signed up to test Google’s artificial intelligence tool called LaMDA (Language Model for Dialog Applications), has claimed that the AI robot is in fact sentient and has thoughts and feelings.

No silence of the lambda in this example.

The write up adds:

Lemoine worked with a collaborator in order to present the evidence he had collected to Google but vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas and Jen Gennai, head of Responsible Innovation at the company dismissed his claims. He was placed on paid administrative leave by Google on Monday [June 6, 2022 presumably] for violating its confidentiality policy.

What do these three examples suggest to me this fine morning on June 12, 2022?

  1. Get shown the door for saying Google’s smart software is biased and may not work as advertised and get fired for saying the smart software works really super because it is now alive. Outstanding control of corporate governance and messaging!
  2. The Google people management policies are interesting? MBA students, this is a case example to research. Get the “right” answer, and you too can work at Google. Get the wrong answer, and you will not understand the “value” of calculating pi to lots of decimal places!
  3. Is the objective of Google’s smart software to make search “work” or burn through advertising inventory? If I were a Googler, I sure wouldn’t write a paper on this topic.

Ah, the Google.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2022

Open Source: Dietary Insights

May 5, 2022

One of the more benign news briefs about Russia these days concerns the eating habits of the country’s secret police. The Verge explains how delivery apps revealed Russian law enforcement’s food preferences: “Data Leak From Russian Delivery App Shows Dining Habits Of The Secret Police.” A massive data leak from Yandex Food, a large food delivery service in Russia, contained names, addresses, phone numbers, and delivery instructions related to the secret police.

Yandex Food is a subsidiary of the Russian search engine of the same name. The data leak occurred on March 1 and Yandex blamed it on the bad actions of one of its employees. The leak did not include users’ login information. The Roskomnadzor, the Russian government agency responsible for mass media, threatened Yandex with a 100,000 ruble fine and it also blocked a map containing citizen and secret police data.

Bellingcat researchers were investigating leads on the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader. They searched the Yandex Food database collected from a prior investigation and discovered a person who was in contact with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to plan Navalny’s poisoning. The individual used his work email to register with Yandex Food. They also searched for phone numbers linked to Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). Bellingcat found interesting information in the leak:

“Bellingcat uncovered some valuable information by searching the database for specific addresses as well. When researchers looked for the GRU headquarters in Moscow, they found just four results — a potential sign that workers just don’t use the delivery app, or opt to order from restaurants within walking distance instead. When Bellingcat searched for FSB’s Special Operation Center in a Moscow suburb, however, it yielded 20 results. Several results contained interesting delivery instructions, warning drivers that the delivery location is a military base. One user told their driver “Go up to the three boom barriers near the blue booth and call. After the stop for bus 110 up to the end,” while another said ‘Closed territory. Go up to the checkpoint. Call [number] ten minutes before you arrive!’”

The most scandalous information leaked from the Yandex Food breach was information about Putin’s former mistress and their “suspected daughter.”

While it is hilarious to read about Russian law enforcement’s eating habits, it is alarming when the situation is applied to the United States. Imagine all of the information DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and other delivery services collect on customers. There was a DoorDash data leak in 2019 that affected 4.9 million people and it was much larger than the Yandex Food leak.

Whitney Grace, May 5, 2022

Simple, Fair Digital Markets: Saddle Up, Don Quixote

March 25, 2022

Who knew that I would continue to reference the very long, very weird book I had to read in the seventh grade? Yet here I am: Don Quixote, slayer of windmills, a trusted sidekick, and a study horse.

Europe Agrees New Law to Curb Big Tech Dominance” explains that the proud animal and adept rider is ambling from the barn after decades of training. Tally ho! The write up says:

Under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), giants such as Google and Apple will be forced to open up their services and platforms to other businesses. Major technology firms have long faced criticism that they use their market dominance to squeeze out competition.

Now that certain US technology outfits are dominant, what’s the fix? I suppose one could dismount and paint the windmills a different color. Where would one locate a color? How about Googling? Alternatively one might consult a Facebook group. And there is the ever objective Amazon, complete with fake reviews and odd ball videos showing a functioning product? Amazing.

Outfitted like the elegant Don, the trusted source of information reports:

The EU wants to give users more choice over how people send messages. The new rules would require that technology make their messaging services interoperable with smaller competitors.

As the rider, cohorts, and snorting animals charge at their targets, will the companies be fungible. Might they prove to be chimera?

At least one of the evil entities is Googzilla? Despite its age, the creature still has teeth, lots of teeth, and lawyers, lots of lawyers.

Stephen E Arnold, March 25, 2022

Beyond Search and Dark Cyber Changes

February 14, 2022

Okay, I will be 78 in 2022. I have to be pragmatic about the content I have generated and posted without ads, commercial support, or compensation of any type since 2008. If you are a fan of Beyond Search, you will notice that we have removed the images, charts, graphs, and other visual accoutrements which we included in some blog posts. Why? I worked in online databases and publishing for many years before I retired. I operated within the boundaries of my understanding of fair use. I am now receiving machine generated allegations that I have not followed the definition of fair use now in play. Because I am creeping up in years, I don’t want to leave content online which can spawn assorted claims. Accordingly, we will be removing content. There are more than 12,000 posts in Beyond Search. Some of these contain obscure information about online search and retrieval. The illustrations in these were created by me. Nevertheless, these illustrations are goners as well.

And what about Dark Cyber? We have removed the videos posted as Honkin’ News and Dark Cyber from public access. If you want to view a video, you will have to go through a process which I have to determine. You can always ask about a video by writing benkent2020 at yahoo dot com.

Since I retired and stopped running around, giving lectures, and talking to people intrigued by my contrarian approach — traffic and viewership has slowly decreased. Now with the advent of artificially intelligent systems which proactively seek opportunities to assert that an entity has knowingly operated outside the boundaries of fair use, I am making these changes.

I will produce a new video series called “Stephen E Arnold’s OSINT Radar.” The illustrations in that series will come from the open source Web sites I talk about. In theory, this type of content will be within the boundaries of the fair use concept. If not, well, I am not sure what a person of my age can do. Die, for sure. Stop creating free, unsponsored, unbiased information, maybe.

One problem: With the online information I created over the years, those who are misinformed about certain aspects of search and the behavior of online information will never know how off base some of their systems, methods, and concepts are.

That’s the normal trajectory of the US democracy. As Alexis de de Tocqueville observed, average is just average.

Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2022

Open Source How To: Hook Teams to Social Media

January 19, 2022

I read “Internal Facebook Note: Here Is A “Psychological Trick” To Target Teens.” Interesting stuff. One of the insightful items in the write up is that Facebook shut down the TBH operation. Well, that’s an assertion which a prudent person may want to verify. The write up also contains one of the Cambridge Analytica-type insights, a mini step by step guide to hooking a target sector.

Here’s the how to:

TBH noticed that teens often list their high school in their Instagram bio. So, using a private Instagram account of its own, the company would visit a school’s location page and follow all accounts that included the school’s name. TBH made sure its private account featured a mysterious call to action — something like “You’ve been invited to the new RHS app — stay tuned!” The startup would make one private account for each high school it wanted to target. The company found teens were naturally curious and would follow the private account back.

Helpful, particularly to bad actors without access to a pool of psychological tricks.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2022

OSINT for Amateurs

January 13, 2022

Today I had a New Year chat with a person whom I met at specialized services conferences. I relayed to my friend the news that Robert David Steele, whom I knew since 1986, died in the autumn of 2021. Steele, a former US government professional, was described as one of the people who pushed open source intelligence down the bobsled run to broad use in government entities. Was he the “father of OSINT”? I don’t know, He and I talked via voice and email each week for more than 30 years. Our conversations explored the value of open source intelligence and how to obtain it.

After the call I read “How to Find Anyone on the Internet for Free.”

Wow, shallow. Steele would have had sharp words for the article.

The suggestions are just okay. Plus it is clear that a lack of awareness about OSINT exists.

My suggestion is that anyone writing about this subject spend some time learning about OSINT. There are books from professionals like Steele as well as my CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access. Also, attending a virtual conference about OSINT offered by those who have a background in intelligence would be useful. Finally, there are numerous resources available from intelligence gathering organizations. Some of these “lists” include a description of each site, service, or system mentioned.

For me and my team’s part, we are working to create 60 second videos which we will make available on Instagram-type services. Each short profile of an OSINT resource will appear under the banner “OSINT Radar.” These will be high value OSINT resources. Some of this information will also be presented in a new series of short articles and videos that Meg Coker, a former senior telecommunications executive, and I will create. Look for these in LinkedIn and other online channels.

Hopefully the information from OSINT Radar and the Coker-Arnold collaboration will provide useful data about OSINT resources which are useful and effective. Free and OSINT can go together, but the hard reality is that an increasing number of OSINT resources charge for the information on offer.

OSINT, unfortunately, is getting more difficult to obtain. Examples include China’s cut offs of technology information and the loss of shipping and train information from Ukraine. And there are more choke points; for example, Iran and North Korea. This means that OSINT is likely to require more effort than previously. The mix of machine and human work is changing. Consequently more informed and substantive information about OSINT will be required in 2022. The OSINT for amateurs approach is an outdated game.

Coker and Arnold are playing a new game.

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2022

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta