Posted on2018 May 01|Comments Off on Quoth the Raven: “It’s a Match!”
Years ago, when I first heard about online DNA match services, my reaction was something to the effect of, “Stuff you put online lives forever, you no longer have control of it, so what happens when privacy breaches happen?”
While many people have a preconceived notion of DNA being unique, decisive, and absolutely airtight, the reality is a touch more humbling, as multiple news outlets and law enforcement officials have warned of the perils, error rates, and numbers of false positives involved in family matching. If anything, it reinforces a need to follow the usual rules of investigation: strive to be more thorough, and always tread carefully.
While this particular legal case has raised a lot of eyebrows, to me it seems to be more about the unmasking of a killer than the means by which the latest set of leads was generated. This isn’t a new technology, it’s been around for quite some time. Police have used these services before, but those instances haven’t grabbed headlines in the same way as the case of the Golden State Killer.
To the officers involved, I salute your creativity and perseverance. Hopefully, once justice has taken its course and the case has been tried, you’ll have been able to give some much-needed closure to the families of the victims.
But that’s not why I’m writing.
What’s problematic about the mainstreaming of genetic sequencing and the subsequent breakdown of taboos surrounding our most sensitive personal possession — the DNA code — is not the risk of false positives or accidental misidentification in a police investigation. It’s the line of opportunists who are eager to acquire that data and bend it to their will for all manner of commercial, insurance, medical, and other misuses as people relax their guard and invite more and more strangers to the party to play gatekeeper to this extremely sensitive information.
If you’ve ever been a victim of identity theft, or if you’ve ever had someone run up a bunch of unauthorized charges on your credit card, you already have a glimpse of how it feels.
Your bank can issue a new credit card number, but you don’t get a mulligan once your DNA code makes it into the wild.
Posted on2018 March 09|Comments Off on Video Platform Go Boom: Perspectives on the Adpocalypse
As it becomes increasingly obvious a sea change is occurring at YouTube with respect to how the company conducts business and governs its user base, it’s time we had a meaningful conversation about the use of third-party content aggregation platforms and the long-term effects of putting too many eggs into the same basket.
Only a few generations have been lucky enough to witness the birth of the World Wide Web (and mass commercialization of the Internet proper) and still have the privilege of living a reasonable number of years on both sides of that flashbulb moment in history. Mine is one of them: together, we’ve grown with it, nurtured it, augmented our lives with it, watched it evolve — and we’ve drawn incredible benefit from the technological revolution that followed. Today all manner of computer systems cross paths with our lives hundreds of times on a daily basis, and most times, it rarely elicits a thought.
We’ve become so intimately tied to our technology that invisibledesign has become an exquisitely refined, and generally expected, norm. Where once the sharing of content on the Web was an intellectually expensive and fairly time-consuming undertaking — often requiring an individual to learn various back-end technologies and programming languages as well as visual design and its attendant software — nowadays, most people rely on a multitude of turn-key solutions that do much of the thinking and heavy lifting for us, offering decent integration with very little downtime.
Posted on2018 February 07|Comments Off on SpaceX: There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky
Yesterday was the maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy and true to its nature, SpaceX didn’t disappoint. Whether we’re looking at the technical execution of landing two boosters vertically after flight at the same time on tandem pads (we’ll ignore that pesky central core), or the inspiration of real-life ‘Starman’ entering orbit to the tune of David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars,’ there’s a lot to be excited about.
What made this launch so memorable was the gutsy aspiration, the heart, the because-we-can’ ethos. Why launch a boring regular test payload when instead, they can test a new space suit and do it in one of the most endearing ways possible? That creativity is a talent in its own right. It doesn’t merely make news, it captures the love and imagination of generations and reminds us exactly why space travel is fucking awesome.
And yes, there are times when we need exactly this kind of boot to the head to wake us from our earthbound problems and inspire us to dream of what humankind can accomplish next — among the stars.
Keep being awesome, SpaceX.
As for the technical side of things, the drone ship video feed was lost after the central core booster hit the ocean at 300 miles per hour, about 300 feet (100 meters) from the drone ship. The rocket was able to restart only one of its three engines during re-entry before it ran out of the TEA-TEB compound required to ignite the fuel mixture.
Elon Musk’s commentary and attitude on this are interesting: in a world where many CEOs tend not to engage actively with the public, he bucks the trend by being casual and upfront, often discussing a lot of the learning opportunities, successes, and failures his company has had over the years.
And yes, there have been some spectacular fireworks at past launches and landings.
Comments Off on SpaceX: There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky