The Slot Machine in Your Pocket

The Slot Machine in Your Pocket


By: Tristan Harris
Date: 2016-07-27

When we get sucked into our smartphones or distracted, we think it's just an accident and our responsibility. But it's not. It's also because smartphones and apps hijack our innate psychological biases and vulnerabilities.

I learned about our minds' vulnerabilities when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, vulnerabilities and biases of people's minds, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people's buttons, you can play them like a piano. And this is exactly what technology does to your mind. App designers play your psychological vulnerabilities in the race to grab your attention.

I want to show you how they do it, and offer hope that we have an opportunity to demand a different future from technology companies.

If you're an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine.

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices? One major reason why is the number one psychological ingredient in slot machines: intermittent variable rewards.

If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user's action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

Playpen: The Story of the FBI’s Unprecedented and Illegal Hacking Operation

Playpen: The Story of the FBI’s Unprecedented and Illegal Hacking Operation


By: Mark Rumold
Date: 2016-09-15

In December 2014, the FBI received a tip from a foreign law enforcement agency that a Tor Hidden Service site called “Playpen” was hosting child pornography. That tip would ultimately lead to the largest known hacking operation in U.S. law enforcement history.

The Playpen investigation—driven by the FBI’s hacking campaign—resulted in hundreds of criminal prosecutions that are currently working their way through the federal courts. The issues in these cases are technical and the alleged crimes are distasteful. As a result, relatively little attention has been paid to the significant legal questions these cases raise.

But make no mistake: these cases are laying the foundation for the future expansion of law enforcement hacking in domestic criminal investigations, and the precedent these cases create is likely to impact the digital privacy rights of Internet users for years to come. In a series of blog posts in the coming days and weeks, we'll explain what the legal issues are and why these cases matter to Internet users the world over.

Alien life, or noise? Russian telescope detects 'strong signal' from sun-like star

Alien life, or noise? Russian telescope detects 'strong signal' from sun-like star

Signal detected a year ago from HD164595, only 95 light years away and with at least one planet, but Seti scientists are scanning the area and have yet to find it


By: Sam Thielman
Date: 2016-08-29

As David Bowie might have sung: is there life on HD164595b?

A Russian radio telescope scanning the skies has observed “a strong signal” from a nearby star, HD164595, in the constellation Hercules. The star is a scant 95 light years away and 99% of the size of Earth’s own sun. It has at least one planet, HD164595b, which is about the size of Neptune and has a 40-day year.


How Solar Panels Work

How Solar Panels Work


By: Save On Energy
Date: 2016-09-27

Solar power is talked about a lot these days. Whether it’s a new solar panel installation on your neighbor’s roof or one of the growing numbers of solar panel “farms” located near many highways, this technology is showing up more and more in our daily lives.

This is an exciting time for solar power. According to industry reports, solar power made up about 40% of all new electric capacity installed in 2014. In addition, the nation’s solar capacity by the end of 2016 is projected to be double what it was at the beginning of 2015, while costs continue to decline and panel efficiencies increase.

The question many people have is: How exactly do those panels work? Unlike power from a wind turbine or even a power plant, solar panels don’t seem to have any moving parts -- so how exactly is that energy being produced?

Analog: The Last Defense Against DRM

Analog: The Last Defense Against DRM


By: Elliot Harmon
Date: 2016-09-08

With the recent iPhone 7 announcement, Apple confirmed what had already been widely speculated: that the new smartphone won’t have a traditional, analog headphone jack. Instead, the only ways to connect the phone to an external headset or speaker will be via Bluetooth, through the phone’s AirPlay feature, or through Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.

Apple’s motivations for abandoning the analog jack are opaque, but likely benign. Apple is obsessed with simple, clean design, and this move lets the company remove one more piece of clutter from the phone’s body. The decision may also have been a part of the move to a water-resistant iPhone. And certainly, many people choose a wireless listening experience.

As Oceans Continue to Warm, Consequences Grow More Dire, Study Says

As Oceans Continue to Warm, Consequences Grow More Dire, Study Says

Much of the heat of global warming has been absorbed by the sea, with a steep cost to marine life, ecosystems and the people that depend on them.


By: Nicholas Kusnetz
Date: 2016-09-07

The coming century will likely bring dangerous and dramatic changes to the planet's oceans, with ever strengthening storms, annual bleaching of almost all coral reefs, loss of biodiversity and severe impacts on fisheries and aquaculture unless humans slash greenhouse gas emissions.

These are the findings of a comprehensive review of the effects of warming oceans, issued Monday by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and compiled by more than 80 scientists from 12 countries. The report chronicles how the seas have absorbed the vast majority of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere by carbon emissions in recent decades, and how that energy is already altering the planet's weather systems and ecology, from deep ocean trenches to alpine glaciers.

"Ocean warming is one of this generation's greatest hidden challenges—and one for which we are completely unprepared," Inger Andersen, IUCN's director general, said in a statement. "The only way to preserve the rich diversity of marine life, and to safeguard the protection and resources the ocean provides us with, is to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and substantially."


How Obama Is Enabling the Next President to Launch Illegal Wars

How Obama Is Enabling the Next President to Launch Illegal Wars

If his administration gets its way, it would be even easier for future commanders in chief to take military action without approval from Congress.


By: Bruce Ackerman
Date: 2016-08-24

Podcast: Why nuclear war looks inevitable

Podcast: Why nuclear war looks inevitable


By: Jason Fields
Date: 2016-09-21

Several developments have the potential to move the hands of the nuclear doom clock closer to midnight.

A new U.S. nuclear policy has a chance of destabilizing the balance of terror by creating a larger arsenal of smaller weapons.


The NSA Abroad: The UK Base That Makes US Targeted Killing Possible

The NSA Abroad: The UK Base That Makes US Targeted Killing Possible

Newly revealed documents leaked by Edward Snowden and reported by The Intercept detail the inner workings of the NSA's largest overseas base


By: Lauren McCauley
Date: 2016-09-06

In a damning exposé published Monday, The Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher dives into the inner workings of National Security Agency's (NSA) largest overseas spying base, the U.K.'s Menwith Hill Station, and reveals concrete evidence that the British government is complicit in the United States' targeted killing program.

Citing top-secret documents obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Gallagher reports, "The files reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid 'a significant number of capture-kill operations' across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology."

And given the British government's repeated assertion that activities at Menwith Hill "have always been, and continue to be" carried out with its "knowledge and consent," the findings are all the more damning.

The National Security Agency's largest overseas spying base, Menwith Hill. (Photo: Trevor Paglen via The Intercept)

Senate report on CIA torture claims spy agency lied about 'ineffective' program

Senate report on CIA torture claims spy agency lied about 'ineffective' program

Report released by Senate after four-year, $40m investigation concludes CIA repeatedly lied abou


By: Spencer Ackerman, Dominic Rushe, and Julian Borger

The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that concluded the agency’s use of torture was brutal and ineffective – and that the CIA repeatedly lied about its usefulness.

The report represented the most scathing congressional indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency in nearly four decades. It found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings. She called the torture programme “a stain on our values and on our history”.

“During the brutal interrogations, the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.” She told the Senate the torture program was “morally, legally and administratively misguided” and “far more brutal than people were led to believe”.

The report reveals that use of torture in secret prisons run by the CIA across the world was even more extreme than previously exposed, and included “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding”, sleep deprivation lasting almost a week and threats to the families of the detainees.


Could the U.S. election be hacked? It's not so unlikely

Could the U.S. election be hacked? It's not so unlikely


By: Ramona Pringle
Date: 2016-08-10

Recent attempts at campaign-directed cyber-attacks have raised red flags about just how vulnerable the upcoming U.S. election is to hackers.

With the FBI currently investigating alleged Russian efforts to undermine the Democratic Party through hacking attempts, how concerned should elections officials – and voters — be about the security of electronic voting procedures?

What is to keep the U.S. election process free of hackers when even large corporations can't keep their data secure?

Yes, It's Possible to Hack the Election

Yes, It's Possible to Hack the Election


By: Richard Clarke
Date: 2016-08-19

After reports of alleged Russian hacking into Democratic Party computer networks, some commentators have suggested that the Russians could hack the results of the U.S. elections. Other analysts have, well before this year’s campaign, suggested that election results in the U.S. could be electronically manipulated, including by our fellow Americans. So could an American election’s outcome be altered by a malicious actor on a computer keyboard?

I have had three jobs that, together, taught me at least one thing: If it’s a computer, it can be hacked. For Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, I served as the White House senior cybersecurity policy adviser. For President Barack Obama, I served on his five-person post–Edward Snowden investigative group on the National Security Agency, intelligence and technology. And for over a decade I have advised American corporations on cybersecurity.

Those experiences confirm my belief that if sophisticated hackers want to get into any computer or electronic device, even one that is not connected to the internet, they can do so.

The "Shocking" Truth About Election Rigging in the United States

The "Shocking" Truth About Election Rigging in the United States


By: Victoria Collier
Date: 2016-09-05

RICK: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
POLICE CAPTAIN RENAULT: I'm shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
CROUPIER (handing Renault a pile of money): Your winnings, sir.
CAPTAIN RENAULT: Oh, thank you, very much... Everybody out, at once!
(Scene from  Casablanca.)

If there is anything positive to say about the 2016 elections, it's that they have finally forced an end to the official denial of computerized election rigging. In the past month, the fact that our voting technology is a hacker's paradise has been validated by no less than all the major TV news networks: NBC, ABC, CBS, Reuters, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, USA Today, The Hill, The Guardian, Mother Jones, Politico, and a dozen other outlets.

Of course, the corporate media and political parties are now professing "shock" at the very prospect that US elections can be manipulated, and yes, even stolen. 

Yet it has long been an open secret that game-changing races have been decided not by voters, but by insiders; from the presidential race of 1960, appropriated for John Kennedy by Democratic muscle in Chicago, to the two victories secured for George W. Bush by GOP fixers in  Florida and hackers in  Ohio. Among other  suspect elections in recent years are key Congressional races hijacked by combinations of voter suppression, gerrymandering, dark money and the ugly little secret of American elections: rigged voting machines.

Eustace Moitt checks voting booths for supplies at a polling station in New York, on June 26, 2012. (Todd Heisler / The New York Times)

Fabricated Claims About Russian “Covert Plot” to Disrupt US Elections

Fabricated Claims About Russian “Covert Plot” to Disrupt US Elections


By: Stephen Lendman
Date: 2016-09-08

Hillary is so irreparably tainted and unfit to serve, her key strategy is diverting attention from her wrongdoing two ways – bashing Trump beyond customary campaign jousting and spreading misinformation and Big Lies about Russia, using the media as press agents to do her dirty work.

Neocon Washington Post editors and staff one-sidedly support her, one of many examples of how low US media scoundrels have sunk – transforming themselves into disgraceful laughing stocks.

The way to stay misinformed and brainwashed is by following their reports. WaPo’s latest anti-Russia harangue is claiming a potential covert plot to disrupt November elections.

The Dirty Tricks of Election Thieves

The Dirty Tricks of Election Thieves


By: Dan Engelke
Date: 2016-08-31

Republican operatives have employed a series of “dubious practices” that will result in millions of eligible voters to be purged from the rolls ahead of the election, investigative reporter and filmmaker Greg Palast told WhoWhatWhy.

Among these tactics is the implementation of the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program” that is used in 30 GOP-controlled states. Its stated purpose is to make sure that voters are not registered in different states. Supposedly, a strict methodology is applied to guarantee that eligible voters are not inadvertently included.

However, Palast claims the program is being used to prevent millions of likely Democrats from voting. In his new film “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” he details the “scams” used to steal the 2016 presidential election.

Greg Palast Photo credit: Greg Palast / YouTube


Open Letter to NBC Moderator Calls for Candidates to Debate 'Democracy Itself'

Open Letter to NBC Moderator Calls for Candidates to Debate 'Democracy Itself'

Issues such as voting rights, campaign finance, and freedom of the press impact, "at the most fundamental level, who has power in this country and who doesn't"


By: Deirdre Fulton
Date: 2016-09-08

Before they tackle foreign policy, climate change, the economy, or public education at upcoming presidential debates, "the candidates must first debate democracy itself," reads an open letter to NBC's Lester Holt, who will moderate the first face-off between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump later this month.

"As the moderator of this year's first presidential debate, you have significant flexibility to select the topics you chose to cover," says the letter, co-signed by a coalition of more than 30 organizations representing millions of Americans nationwide. "While there are a number of critical policy differences between the candidates, there is one subject so fundamental to our future—so essential to our national identity—that its inclusion in this debate must be guaranteed."

"It's critical that Lester Holt give voters a chance to hear from our presidential candidates about their take on our democracy and how they plan to restore people's faith in the system," said Rahna Epting, chief of staff at Every Voice. (Photo: AP)

Only 9% of America Chose Trump and Clinton as the Nominees

Clerk Note: Worth going to the source URL to see the interactive images as you scroll down the short article.


Only 9% of America Chose Trump and Clinton as the Nominees


By: Alicia Parlapiano and Adam Pearce
Date: 2016-08-01

The United States is home to 324 million people. Each square here represents 1 million people.