Smartwhatever, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence. When Marketing Tricks Lead To Dangerous Effects

If we give marketing buzzwords its proper meaning, a lot of hype disappear and things can be looked at in a less fancy while easier and pragmatic way.

So, for instance, SmartWhatever is just an electric/electronic tool with expanded (although limited) programming capability. “The Cloud” is just either an FTP or a grid/parallel computing service with dynamic resources allocation and, last but no least, Artificial Intelligence is just the attempt of enhancing the computer’s capability of performing its task in autonomy (and is not related to the creation of an actual “intelligence” since neurologist and other scientists still ignore how the brain works.)

Sure, neither calling a cloud service “enhanced FTP” nor labeling an “intelligent phone”  just “voice driven mobile” power the sales of the gimmick of the moment. Nevertheless, since words do have meaning, the recklessness of the marketing coupled with the ignorance of lawmakers and courts lead to dangerous consequences.

The legal “rhetoric” about these buzzwords is unbelievable: the legal community tries to look for “new” problems to solve (and I suspect, for new clients), and somebody, around, keeps talking about artificial intelligence “rights”.

To put it short: once again, by fault of ignorance and unscrupulousity we are exposed to  non-existent legal issues that, despite being just nothing, shall cause actual trouble.

Brexit, French GIGN and Italian GIS. Are Professional Media Committed to Truth?

One of the more often heard claims against “independent” online information is that “professional” journalist are exactly so, professional, thus giving the reader some sort of “quality assurance” about the news they deliver.

The Internet, nonetheless, has proven this assumption wrong.

Among the multitude of poorly informed articles published by “official” press, one example of this lack of care in reporting a news is a recent article by Repubblica.it about the Bataclan aftermath.

The article reports a quarrel between a group of French GIGN operatives and its commander, accused of having be withheld from intervene during the Bataclan massacre by fault of “jurisdiction” concerns.

Anais Ginori, the Italian journalist that wrote the article, at a certain point writes:

What would have happened should the GIGN were taken into play? Maybe the Gendarmerie’s elite force intervention would have allowed an early neutralization of the terrorists, by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group1

What’s wrong with that?

The sentence “by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group ” is is historically inaccurate. The GIGN has been established by the French Government on 1974, as a consequence of the 1972 Black September’s Munich Olympic Games massacre, while the Italian GIS on 1978 (several years late than the GIGN, the German GSG9, and British SAS’ Special Project Team.)

Sure, one may say that this is only a minor flaw that doesn’t affect the general value of the article: at the end of the day all of this fuss is just about a matter of wrong dates, and nothing more.

But it ain’t so.

By indirectly (and wrongly) establishing some sort of “primacy” of the Italian GIS over the French GIGN, the journalist induces into the reader a false notion. And since a casual reader is not supposed to be learned into the technicalities of – as in this case – the special forces’ maze, the result is the spreading of mistakes and the building of false assumptions.

And Brexit already showed what happens when people take decisions based on false statements.

  1. Cosa sarebbe accaduto se il Gign fosse stato mobilitato? Forse l’intervento dell’unità di élite della gendarmeria avrebbe permesso di neutralizzare prima i terroristi, dato l’elevato standard di addestramento, spesso ispirato a quello del Gis, il nucleo speciale dei carabinieri.

What “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” actually mean

A lot of people – politicians, “gurus” and “activists” use the word “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” without having read even the cover of a George Orwell’s book.

They rather want to have a look at this TED-ed short lesson, to discover what they’re actually talking about.

Apple Update’s Options. Freedom the Apple Way

Whenever Apple releases a software update, a badge like that shows on your desktop

deceivingoptionApple just gives you an alternative with two option (install now – install later), but what if you are content with your current version? No “no” button to push, no “close” cross-hair to click, no “dismiss” gesture to perform. Sure, you can ignore the message and carry on, disable the auto-update feature etc., but the point is that – at a glance – you’re not given a full list of possibility.

This is freedom, the Apple Way: do whatever you want as soon as you pick one of the option we lay down for you.

This is the “Walled Garden” strategy that sound oddly familiar to Noam Chomsky‘s prop-agenda theory…

Kirin’s Gogo Kocha and Glico’s Pocky: A Great Online Marketing Stunt

Two food&beverage Japanese giants, Kirin and Glico, just released a clever comarketing online campaign: each company designed its own package – tea and snack – so that when the boxes are kept mutually close, the portrayed characters look like kiss each other.kiringlicoOf course, there are plenty of characters so that consumers may start a collection or using it in other creative ways. But the genius strike is to release a smartphone app that by recognizing the matched characters tell the customer their love story (the App part starts at 2,10.)

After Apple, Facebook Is the Next Target of Judicial Orders to Cooperate With Prosecutors

According to a statement published on the Brazilian Policia Federal’s website, a criminal court issued a “mandado de prisão preventiva” (roughly, pre-emptive arrest order) against Facebook’s representative in Brazil, charged of not having cooperated in providing information about a Facebook page.

The Brazilian Court, unlike the San Bernardino’s one in the Apple case, chose to put its white gloves off and go straight for the jugular, leaving no doubt about the fact that cooperation with the public prosecutor is a mandatory duty for everybody, tech-companies included.

By comparing the Apple and the Facebook cases (and Google’s public position about the topic) a disturbing trend emerges: Internet companies (at least the so said “Over The Top” – OTT) “think different” about themselves. Why the OTT should be let alone, when  an ISP is burdened (often for free, BTW), to provide a public prosecutor with wiretapping, data-retention, forensic support, and data-mining services? Like it or not, corporate criminal liability and obstruction to justice regulation still work for the OTT too, and the OTT must live with it.

This Facebook case further supports the opinion I’ve expressed about the true issue at stake: by one side, the lack of confidence is our social and legal system as a whole and thus the fact that you can’t actually trust a magistrate and a law enforcement agency; by the other side the “ubermensch” syndrome that affects (not only high-tech) companies and that leads them into thinking that they have the “right” (or the power) to part the right from wrong.

Apple, the FBI and the All Writ Act. Why the New York Court is Wrong

The US District Court for the Eastern District of New York Order that prevented the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to force Apple to provide support in bypassing the passcode security on an Apple device is another chapter of the “Should-we-allow-State-to-mess-with-our-intellectual-property” saga, starring Apple.

Now that another Court ruled in a different way than the previous one, the score is even: 1 for the “crack-the-iphone” team, 1 for the “don’t-even-think-about-it” Cupertino’s.

To me, this legal uncertainty shows the mistake underlying the whole issue.

A public prosecutor has the power to do whatever it takes to finalize an investigation, provided that his powers are scrutinized by a judge. This is the theory, and a fair compromise under the “check-and-balance” doctrine.

So, from a strictly legal point, Apple and the NY court are wrong, since the privacy threats and the possibility of abuse were still there with the wiretapping, remote surveillance and so on. The Iphone issue is just a variation of a known “breed”. We all know that the legal system is not “foolproof”, and that sometimes somebody abuses of his prerogatives, but
this is not a reason to stop allowing a law enforcement entity to do its job by way of technical means.

Again, the actual point is whether the private interests of a company can overrule the State duty to seek for justice.

And even if Apple were right, this would make things worser, because it would means that we live in a society that we ourselves don’t trust enough. And if so it is, obviously the problem is neither Apple nor the Iphone encryption…