The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google | Scott Galloway

Scott Galloway; The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google; Portfolio; 2017-10-02; 320 pages; ASIN:B06WP982HX: Kindle: $15, paper: $19+SHT.

tl;dr → Yet-Another-Jeremiad (YAJ®), An indictment of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix. They bad.
and → Everyone’s penning these for the fall book release cycle.  This here Youtoobbist has one too.
and → <quote>And he reveals how you can apply the lessons of their ascent to your own business or career.</quote>


  • disruption
  • Something about how Google is the godhead.
  • Game of Thrones, a work of fiction
    • the Iron Throne, a plot device
  • Kardashians
  • Catholics
  • Russia, Russians
  • China
  • Something about how “government” should break up Amazon.
  • New York University (NYU), in (um) New York)
  • Palo Alto, in Cailifornia
  • Hamburg, in Europe


  • Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon
  • Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner on competition, European Union (EU).


  • Alphabet
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Discover (card)
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • iTunes, of Apple
  • Netflix
  • Pandora
  • Snapchat
  • Swatch
  • WhatsApp, of Facebook
  • YouTube


Turns Out Algorithms Are Racist | New Republic

Turns Out Algorithms Are Racist; Navneet Alang; In The New Republic; 2017-08-31.
Teaser: Artificial intelligence is becoming a greater part of our daily lives, but the technologies can contain dangerous biases and assumptions—and we’re only beginning to understand the consequences.

tl;dr → Cites a Wired essay in the first ‘graph.  Hangs the tale off of that.
and → then s/Sexist/Racist/g; we saw what you did there.

Original Sources

Machines Taught by Photos Learn a Sexist View of Women;; In Wired; 2017-08-21.




In The New Republic

Gu, Dolan-Gavitt, Garg (NYU) built an invisible backdoor to hack AI’s decisions | Quartz

Researchers built an invisible backdoor to hack AI’s decisions; Dave Gershgorn; In Quartz; 2017-08-24.

tl;dr → The computer’s semiotics works For The Man, which may not be you.  They trained neural networks against signals and undocumented overrides.  The lusers thought it was trained against only the honest signals inuring to their benefit. They were wrong, to their detriment.
thus →  Know your supply chain. Who are you doing business with? It was ever thus: Surviving on a Diet of Poisoned Fruit.

Original Sources

Tianyu Gu, Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, Siddharth Garg; BadNets: Identifying Vulnerabilities in the Machine Learning Model Supply Chain; 2017-08-22; N pages; arXiv:1708.06733v1.


  • New York University (NYU)
  • “secret” (though now promoted to the unwashed here in Quartz)
    “backdoor” (a metaphor towards entry and access)
    into software.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • cloud provider
  • self-driving car
  • <quote>trigger (like a Post-It Note)</quote>
  • Marvin Minsky
    • “the 1950s”
  • Facebook


  • Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, professor, New York University (NYU)


Deep learning-based techniques have achieved state-of-the-art performance on a wide variety of recognition and classification tasks. However, these networks are typically computationally expensive to train, requiring weeks of computation on many GPUs; as a result, many users outsource the training procedure to the cloud or rely on pre-trained models that are then fine-tuned for a specific task. In this paper we show that outsourced training introduces new security risks: an adversary can create a maliciously trained network (a backdoored neural network, or a BadNet) that has state-of-the-art performance on the user’s training and validation samples, but behaves badly on specific attacker-chosen inputs. We first explore the properties of BadNets in a toy example, by creating a backdoored handwritten digit classifier. Next, we demonstrate backdoors in a more realistic scenario by creating a U.S. street sign classifier that identifies stop signs as speed limits when a special sticker is added to the stop sign; we then show in addition that the backdoor in our US street sign detector can persist even if the network is later retrained for another task and cause a drop in accuracy of {25}\% on average when the backdoor trigger is present. These results demonstrate that backdoors in neural networks are both powerful and—because the behavior of neural networks is difficult to explicate—stealthy. This work provides motivation for further research into techniques for verifying and inspecting neural networks, just as we have developed tools for verifying and debugging software.

BlueBorne | Aramis Labs

Ben Seri, Gregory Vishnepolsky (Aramis Labs); BlueBorne; a whitepaper; 2017-09-11; 36 pages; Document Cloud.
Teaser: The dangers of Bluetooth implementations: Unveiling zero day
vulnerabilities and security flaws in modern Bluetooth stacks.

tl;dr → they found a bug.


  • billions of devices (bullions of duhvicuhs, buuulions of duuhhhvicuuuhs)
  • clickless
  • “Patch now, if you haven’t already”


Verizon Wants to Build an Advertising Juggernaut. It Needs Your Data First | WSJ

Verizon Wants to Build an Advertising Juggernaut. It Needs Your Data First; ; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2017-09-05.
Teaser: The company offers concert tickets and other rewards in exchange for customers’ personal information

tl;dr → No information; just FUD, name dropping & pull quoting.. <claimed><quote>Verizon hopes the information will help it gain advertising revenue to offset sluggish growth in its cellular business.</quote></claimed>


  • Diego Scotti, chief marketing officer, Verizon.
  • Verizon Selects
  • Oath
    • AOL
    • Yahoo
  • Declined to comment.
    • Google
    • Facebook

University of Washington DNA Sequencing Security Study | University of Washington

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)
Computer Security and Privacy in DNA Sequencing
Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

tl;dr → it’s a bug report on fqzcomp, fzcomp-4.6, wrapped in some lab work, wrapped in scare piece wrapped in an academic paper. It mentions DNA, people are made of DNA, YOU are made of DNA.

  • In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.
    • They did it for the lulz, and the whuffie.
    • They did it for the FUD.
  • They are frontrunning the presntation of the paper at the conference site in Vancouver, CA
  • But there is nothing to worry about.
    • Really.
    • No, Really.
    • And they’ve already contacted the project sponsors with their work product.

Today’s theoretical demonstrations are tomorrow’s practice.

Original Sources

Ney, Koscher, Organick, Creze, Kohno; Computer Security, Privacy, and DNA Sequencing: Compromising Computers with Synthesized DNA, Privacy Leaks, and More; In  Proceedings of the USENIX Security Symposium; 2017-08-16; 15 pages.


  • They created DNA with particular patterns.
  • They used buffer overflows in C & C++ programs.
  • FASTQ, a data format.
  • /dev/tcp accessed via bash


  • <quote>Although used broadly by biology researchers, many of these programs are written by small research groups and thus have likely not been subjected to serious adversarial pressure. </quote>
  • <quote><snip/> copied fqzcomp from SourceForge and inserted a vulnerability into version 4.6 of its source code; a function that processes and compresses DNA reads individually, using a fixed-size buffer to store the compressed data.<quote>
  • <quote>Our second exploit attempt uses an obscure feature of bash, which exposes virtual /dev/tcp devices that create TCP/IP connections. We use this feature to redirect stdin and stdout of /bin/sh to a TCP/IP socket, which connects back to our server.<quote>


The “research” coders do not validate their inputs; they use whatever computer tools are handy for their purpose. Their purpose is to publish papers in their field of study. Their code works just well enough; it is MVP for an MPU. Those “researchers” who do validate their inputs, who do test their code, who do read CVE notices, who do remediate latent vulnerabilities aren’t researchers at all. They are drone coders in an on-time-under-budget, time & materials IT shop. “We” need such people and such skill is a valued trade craft by which to make an honorable living.  But such activity is Not New. It is not The Research.

Surprise, Echo Owners, You’re Now Part of Amazon’s Random Social Network | Gizmondo

Surprise, Echo Owners, You’re Now Part of Amazon’s Random Social Network; Kashmir Hill; In Gizmondo; 2017-07-19.


  • Amazon Echo
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Search
  • Google Voice Search
  • Alexa&Echo becomes a 1980s-style answering machine.
  • Internet of [Consumer] Things
  • late-binding software updates can “change behavior”
  • something about ex-boyfriends.
  • <handwringing>context collapse</handwringing>
  • <handwringing>A hacker could find out…</handwringing>
  • Denegotiating (Opt Out) requires calling Amazon Customer Service.

Time Line

first release 2014.
  • force-placed software update
  • features
    • Drop In
    • Alexa Calling and Messaging


In rough order of appearance

Roundup: Roomba selling indoor mapping data

In archaeological order, derivatives & summarizations on top, original work lower down.


  •  iRobot creates cloud sharing
  • data is stored in the cloud.
  • iRobot has independent use rights to the data produced by you.


  • Colin Angle, CEO, iRobot.


<quote>[We may share your personal information with] other parties in connection with any company transaction, such as a merger, sale of all or a portion of company assets or shares, reorganization, financing, change of control or acquisition of all or a portion of our business by another company or third party or in the event of bankruptcy or related or similar proceeding.</quote>
Via: privacy policy, iRobot

Original Sources

iRobot Roomba


Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped? | WSJ

Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped?; Jonathan Taplin; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2017-07-14.
Teaser: Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech behemoths are transforming the U.S. economy and labor market, with scant public debate or scrutiny. Changing course won’t be easy.

tl;dr → No, via Betteridge’s Law. Regulation is indicated. See book, nearby. 2200 words.

Jonathan Taplin is

  • the director emeritus, Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California
  • Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy; Little, Brown and Company; 2017-04-18; 320 pages; Amazon:0316275778: Kindle: $15, paper: $16+SHT; separately filled.
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft


  • The creative economy
  • Something about job loss unto the mid- hundreds-of-thousands.
  • Flying cars self-driving cars.
  • <paraphrase>calm down</paraphrase>, attributed to Marc Andreessen at Code Conference, CA, WHEN?,
  • <trite>Who will win<snip/>only time will tell.</trite>
  • Claim: 2004-08 started the problem.
    Google raised $1.9 billion in its initial public offering.
    A tale of search market share increase for Google, decline for everyone else follows.
  • Recording Industry Association of America
  • News Media Alliance
    • newspapers
    • U.S. and Canada
    • 2017-07
    • wants an anti-trust exemption
  • Viewability.
  • Fake News
  • voice-activated “personal assistants”
  • Silicon Valley areis considering the moral framework of the digital revolution.

Product Lines

Almost all of these aren’t even yet lines of business, not really. They are research or vanity hobbies of interest to the founders.


Are they still a going concern?


  • Instagram
  • Messenger
  • “optical neuroimaging systems,” a brain-computer interface, type-by-thinking.
  • WhatsApp

Google Alphabet

  • AdSense
  • Android (Phone)
  • Android Wear
  • Assistant
  • Home
  • Mail (Gmail)
  • Verily (ex- Google Life Sciences)
  • Waymo


“There is a role for government here”
<quote>The astonishing technological revolution of the past half-century would never have occurred without the impetus of three seminal antitrust prosecutions. </quote>

1956 → AT&T, a consent decree to patent license against Bell Labs

  • Comsat,
  • Fairchild Semiconductor,
  • Intel,
  • Motorola,
  • Texas Instruments.
1970s → Justice Department versus IBM
The government did not prevail in 13-years. IBM consented to software portability. IBM created Microsoft.
1998 → Justice Department, versus Microsoft
Question: must the Windows product design require consumers to use Internet Explorer?
Settlement: allowed Google to exist.


  • Mike Allen, reporter, Axios, “thinkpieces”
  • Paul Allen
  • Marc Andreessen
  • Bill Gates
  • Robert Gorwa
    • staff, Project on Computational Propaganda, University of Oxford.
  • Philip N. Howard
    • staff, Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute
    • professor, Balliol College at the University of Oxford
  • Kevin Kelly,
    the founding editor, Wired
  • Kai-Fu Lee,
    attributed as “AI venture capitalist”
  • Steven Mnuchin,
    Secretary of the Treasury
  • Ayn Rand,
    theorist, libertarianism; a scrivener, the ghost of.


In archaeological order…


In arbitrary order…

Related Reading

More Saturday Essays

Rarely Patched Software Bugs in Home Routers Cripple Security | WSJ

Rarely Patched Software Bugs in Home Routers Cripple Security; Jennifer Valentino-DeVries; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2016-01-18.
Teaser: Wi-Fi devices, vulnerable to hackers, show difficulty of updating software after release


  • pro bono work
    “security research”

    • Rapid7
  • Perpetrators
    • Allegro Software Development Corp.
    • MediaTek, Inc.
    • Huawei Technologies Co.,
    • TP-Link Technologies Co.
  • Offenses
    • Misfortune Cookie, a vulnerability
    • The Moon, a worm


  • D-Link
    • a router
  • Google
    • Android
  • Linksys, of CiscoBelkin International Inc.
    • Linksys E1200 N300
  • Mozilla
    • Firefox
  • Microsoft
    • Windows
    • XBox
  • Netgear Inc.
    • some router
  • Sony
    • Playstation


  • Tod Beardsley, staff, Rapid7
  • Alastair Beresford, professor, Cambridge University.
  • Eric Kobrin, director of information security, Akamai Technologies Inc.
  • Alan Paller, founder, research director, SANS Institute.
  • Shahar Tal, ex-staff, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.



In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)