Life through Google’s Auto-complete. By Marius Budin
In an article published in the independent Egyptian daily Al-Watan on March 8, 2013, columnist Khalid Muntasir praised the Jews’ achievements in science and technology and their contribution to humanity, including to Muslims. He wrote that Jewish hi-tech magnates, especially the founders of Google and Facebook, have done much more to improve the life of humanity than the leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, or Muslim scholars, who, he claims, deal with obsolete matters and trivialities.
The following are excerpts from the article:
“Long Live The Descendants Of Apes And Pigs”; Terrorists – To Hell
“When the Jewish internet and social network magnates get together, put aside their competition and unite to declare a $33-million grant for medical research on incurable diseases that prolongs human life – I cannot help but cry out ‘long live the descendants of apes and pigs,’ as they were described by [Egyptian President] Dr. [Muhammad] Mursi and his [Muslim Brotherhood] movement. On the other hand, those who detonate bombs in the midst of the innocent, murder tourists and eviscerate them, assassinate politicians, thinkers and intellectuals, and accuse others of being infidels can go to hell, where they can continue indulging their sick taste for violence and blood.
“The founders of Facebook and Google and the Russian billionaire [Yuri Milner] are the ones who truly love life, change it for the better, and have passion for freedom and creativity. They respect [true] scholars, as opposed to those whom we call scholars merely because they memorized 100 old books and can recite them without interpreting or even understanding them – scholars that could be replaced by a single DVD containing these books, which can be read at the stroke of a key on a keyboard costing less than $1. These emperors of the internet founded an organization that awards the world’s biggest prize without any preconditions of age, faith or gender, and with no limit on the number of times you can win. Any scientist who achieves a major breakthrough in medicine and treatment by means of genetic engineering and brain cells will receive $3 million. This prize will surely influence the advancement of medical research, accelerate change, and push universities and labs to ramp up their efforts to discover new treatments for diseases that still cause death and confound doctors.
“As I read the article on this organization, I also happened to watch a video sent to me by one of my friends, in which an important [Muslim] speaker lectured on the benefits of having a beard in treating impotence, and [explained] how the beard gives the man virility and strength. I closed the article, shut off the computer, sighed and said: It’s no use. Free us [of your discussions] on whether it is permissible to eat the flesh of demons, whether a woman can disrobe in front of a male dog, and on treatments using camel urine, fennel flower, bee stings, etc. The voice of the sheikh in the neighboring mosque rose and echoed as he cursed the Jews, the descendants of apes and pigs, [wishing] that they would scatter in every direction and that their wives become widows and their children orphans, while the worshipers rejoiced in the mighty victory…”
Who Does More Good To Humanity, Those Who Fly The Flag Of Science, Or Extremist Sheikhs?
“[As I said,] the podium at the award [ceremony] happened to feature three Jews. The first was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who predicted that in three years, Facebook would be the most populous ‘state’ in the world, overtaking China and India. Zuckerberg is one of the richest and most influential men in the world – a genius who shocked the world at 20 years old with this amazing invention called Facebook. The second was Google cofounder of Sergey Brin, of Russian origin, who owns the internet’s largest and most famous search engine, which has not been surpassed thus far. The third was Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who abandoned his PhD in physics to become an internet tycoon, but never forgot his love of physics despite his estimated fortune of over $1 billion – so much so that he gave prominent physicist Stephen Hawking a $3 million prize late last year .
“By God! Who is more conscionable, moral, and loves life and his fellow man – is it these three Jews who contribute to science, health, happiness and the improvement of life, or [Al-Qaeda leaders] bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi, [Taliban leader] Mullah ‘Omar, and those who display their pictures, kiss them, memorize their ideas and adopt them? Who does more good to humanity and the world, and even to Muslims –those who fly the flag of science, or [extremist Egyptian Sheikh] Abu Islam and [the religious television show]Hatoli Ragel, who hold up shoes [in a gesture of contempt for their enemies]?”
 Al-Watan (Egypt), March 8, 2013.
 Image source: elwatannews.com.
 Referring to the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, founded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Google cofounder Sergey Brin.
 See MEMRI TV Clip No. 3702 , Morsi in 2010: No to Negotiations with the Blood-Sucking Warmongering “Descendants of Apes and Pigs”; Calls to Boycott U.S. Products, March 20 and September 23, 2010.
 Abu Islam is Egyptian Salafi preacher Sheikh Ahmad Mahmoud ‘Abdallah, owner of Al-Ummah TV, who is known for his extremist fatwas. For example, addressing the phenomenon of sexual attacks on women protesting in Al-Tahrir Square, he blamed the attacks on the women themselves, calling them “demons” and “devils” and claiming that 90% of them are “crusaders” while the rest are widows who have lost their femininity. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 942, Sexual Harassment On The Rise In Egypt, February 28, 2013.
 The show will air on the religious Al-Hafez TV channel and will be hosted by Salafi sheikh Mahmoud Sha’ban, who issued a fatwa sanctioning the killing of Egyptian oppositionists. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 929, Fatwas Sanction Killing Of Egyptian Oppositionists, February 12, 2013.
To fight world panic, Google doodles Douglas Adams. by Chris Matyszczyk
The author of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and three episodes of “Dr. Who” would have been 61 years old today.
I know several people who believe that Douglas Adams left a zero off the end of his answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
The man who gave meaning to 42 would have been 61 today, had he not died of a heart attack aged 49.
Google’s fine and whimsical doodlers decided to commemorate his birthday with a doodle that whispers to the world: “Don’t Panic.”
In his 49 years, Adams certainly had a life. He not only wrote books, among them the very famous “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy” (which started as a radio series), but he also penned three episodes of “Dr. Who.”
On his 42nd birthday, he performed with Pink Floyd. Not many people can say they did that. (Audio evidence below.)
He worked with Graham Chapman of Monty Python and is said to have contributed to some of the group’s sketches.
Naturally, there are as many myths about Adams as there are true stories. Did he really have the idea for writing “Hitchhiker’s” while lying in a field, as he told David Letterman in 1985?
The doodle is a loving and interactive tribute. Among the surprises when you click is Marvin The Paranoid Android.
Author Neil Gaiman told The Washington Post: “Douglas Adams was a genius. He was a profound and brilliant British humorist who was also a very reluctant novelist.”
Gaiman explained: “Douglas wrote a radio series that then became a huge and enormously successful novel, so he found himself stuck as an incredibly reluctant novelist who would have to be locked in a room by his publisher to finish a book.”
Gaiman believes that the true message of “Don’t Panic” is that we shouldn’t.
Perhaps we shouldn’t because nothing really makes too much sense. How can it when so many good die young, so many dictators live to see their 80s, so many camels smell strangely, and so many people spend their days online shopping?
Google’s Private Cell Phone Network. By Tom Simonite
A small cell network over the company’s HQ could herald new competition for established carriers.
Filings made with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission reveal that Google wants to start operating its own, very small cell phone network on its Mountain View campus. It’s the latest in a series of hints in recent years that Google is unsatisfied with the way that mobile networks control the mobile Internet.
Google tells the FCC it wants to install up to 50 mobile base stations in buildings on the Western edge of Google’s Mountain View campus, just a block or so away from its main Android building. Up to 200 mobile devices will be used on that “experimental” network and the area covered will be small, with indoor base stations reaching only up to 200 meters, and any outdoors ones reaching no further than a kilometer. The WSJ reports that the frequencies used belong to ClearWire, and aren’t compatible with any U.S. mobile device. They are in use in China, Brazil, and India, though.
Google might just be experimenting with devices for those parts of the world. Or it might be trying something more radical. The search and ad giant has been rumored to be exploring the idea of working with TV provider Dish to launch a wireless Internet service, has already got into the business of providing broadband (see “Google’s Internet Service Might Bring the U.S. Up to Speed”), and has a history of showing interest in ideas that would loosen the grip of cellular providers on mobile devices and what people can do with them.
Google lobbied U.S. regulators to encourage them to open up unused TV spectrum into so-called “white spaces,” as they did in 2009, allowing that portion of the airwaves to be used by any company or device rather than being licensed exclusively to one company (see “Super Wi-Fi”). In 2008, the company filed a patent for an idea that would appall mobile networks—having mobile devices automatically hop to the cheapest cell network in an area rather than being locked to just one provider at all times.
Google’s biggest strike against the way wireless networks work today came in 2010 and was something of a flop. The company tried to break the U.S. convention of new mobile phones being tied to carrier contracts, only offering the flagship Nexus One smartphone online and unlocked. That experiment lasted only about six months, after Google struggled to cope with customer service requests and learned that U.S. consumers are apparently happier paying a significant markup for a device over two years than a smaller sum upfront.
Google has since played more nicely with cellular networks. Yet the relationships are still fraught, with fallings out over Google’s contactless payments system (blocked on Verizon handsets) and Android’s tethering function (also blocked by some carriers). It’s too early to know whether Google’s private cell phone network in Mountain View will add to that drama, but mobile networks are surely watching closely.
“Last week, members of parliament asked five German publishers (German) whether they’re in need of government funding. No, said the five publishers in unison. But we do need you to make a law to get money from search engines like Google, or rather just Google, which has a 96% market share in Germany (German). Publishers have accused Google of making money off of their content, which they are especially sensitive to since they haven’t yet figured out how to be profitable online.” More.
By Felix Salmon
Is Google becoming a key arm of the law-enforcement complex? It certainly seems to be so with respect to art thefts. I first came across this idea back in November, when Bloomberg Marketsprofiled Jeff Gundlach, who was hit by art thieves in September:
The cerebral Gundlach also gave investigators a tip for solving the crime. He says that while he was at home in his family room, it dawned on him that thieves would do a Google search using his grandmother’s name to find out more about the paintings and how much they might be worth.
Gundlach told the authorities that they should check the Internet to see who might have googled the name Helen Fuchs. He says exactly two such searches were executed: one by him and one by the thieves.
Now, another man has been arrested for art theft, and was found in much the same way:
In their investigation into the art theft, [officials] found that Mr. Istavrioglou had searched the Internet for reports about the robbery after it took place but before the story became news.
Law enforcement officials, it seems, have pretty easy and routine access to Google’s search-history database, and this is surely only the beginning when it comes to sifting through huge amounts of data to find evidence of crimes. The SEC, for one, has had a large data-mining team in place for a good five years now, going through enormous quantities of data to look for signs of suspicious activity.
Even journalists are getting in on the act of using data to uncover criminal activity. The Sun Sentinel, in Florida, managed to obtain a year’s worth of SunPass toll records for cop cars. That meant that they had data on the amount of time it took cops to drive from one toll plaza to the next. All they needed to do then was measure those distances, divide the distances by the time taken to drive that length of road, and come up with an average speed, for cops who were often just commuting to or from their houses, out of their jurisdiction. The result? The Sun Sentinel found “almost 800 cops from a dozen agencies driving 90 to 130 mph on our highways” — in a state where speeding cops have caused at least 320 crashes and 19 deaths since 2004.
Part of the reason why it has taken so long to bring Libor prosecutions is that going through millions of email and IM records, looking for smoking guns, is still a laborious and time-consuming process. But as data mining techniques continue to evolve, and as databases become increasingly unified and tractable, and our lives are lived almost entirely online it’s going to be harder and harder for criminals not to leave a discoverable data trail — especially opportunistic criminals, who break the law when they’re given a chance, as opposed to more considered criminals, who spend a lot of time plotting a crime before committing it.
It stands to reason, given advances in computer power and given the size of the networks that we all involve ourselves in every day, that the kind of data crunching that used to be solely the domain of places like the NSA and GCHQ is now going to be available to local police forces and even ordinary citizens, including journalists. The privacy implications are profound, of course: millions of innocent people are going to have their personal data combed on a real-time basis, every day. But that seems to be inevitable, insofar as it isn’t already a reality.
Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles”
As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
Pioneering online organizer Eli Pariser is the author of “The Filter Bubble,” about how personalized search might be narrowing our worldview. Full bio »
With the help of “citizen cartographers,” Google Maps has filled in some of North Korea’s streets and prison camps. A map of Camp 22 shows previously unidentified structures — such as guards compounds or the office of director. Photo Jethro Mullen, CNN
SEOUL—Google Inc. GOOG -0.39% on Tuesday revised its Google Maps application to add information for North Korea, which has been blank since it started providing maps online and for mobile devices eight years ago, and included outlines of some of the country’s notorious, city-sized prison camps.
The information for the North Korea map was added by people who are interested in the country under a Google development program called Map Maker, a collaborative effort that has become known as crowdsourcing.
The release came just three weeks after Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited North Korea in a highly-publicized trip with former American diplomat Bill Richardson. Mr. Schmidt encouraged officials he met in North Korea to make the Internet available to its citizens and end its attempts to restrict information.
A company spokesman said there was no connection between the visit and the new map.
“This data has been in Map Maker for a while now, but it commonly takes the Map Maker community a few years to generate enough high quality data to make something that works in Google Maps,” the spokesman said.
He added that Google has relied on “citizen cartographers” to help it create maps in 150 countries and have made huge contributions in places where governments have done little mapping—such as Afghanistan.
In a blog post, Google said that it determined the work on North Korea had reached a level of detail and credibility where it could be incorporated into the Google Map product.
Hwang Min-woo, a 28-year-old South Korean who contributed to the North Korea map, said he began working on it after trying to use Google Maps on a trip to Laos four years ago and finding it inadequate.
“I thought if I could fill in information on North Korea, it might be useful in an emergency or a tragedy if Google can provide a map for aid agencies,” Mr. Hwang said.
He said he used information from maps of the North on a website run by the South Korean government.
The new map of North Korea has far less information than files available through other private efforts using a different Google product, a satellite image program called Google Earth.
View Larger Map
Google Map image of North Korea.
Curtis Melvin, who has spent years leading a crowdsourcing effort to map North Korea using Google Earth, said he was surprised to learn of the separate work for Google Maps.
“It’s not even a fraction of what I’ve already published,” he said.
Mr. Melvin, who also publishes a website called North Korean Economy Watch, recently collaborated with 38 North, a North Korea website operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, on a digital atlas of North Korea. He has relied on information provided by people who have visited North Korea or former citizens who defected from it.
The Google spokesman said the company has noticed that the community of people interested in mapping tends to be separate from those who concentrate on satellite images.
Jayanth Mysore, senior product manager, wrote in a blog post that the North Korea map is “not perfect” and added Google encourages people “to continue helping us improve the quality of these maps.”
One of the striking features of North Korea on Google Maps is a highlighting of the areas where the country operates gulag-like work camps, believed to be some of the largest and most inhumane prisons in the world. Brown shading stands out against the light beige background, instantly imparting to a user of Google Maps the enormous size of the prisons.
However, only a few of the prisons that Mr. Melvin and other observers have identified are shown on the Google map.