Friday, March 25, 2016

Drones (well, unmanned aerial vehicles) Are Gaining Ground

A recent report highlights the increase in momentum for commercial adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles:

Drone manufacturers and software providers are quickly developing technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance that will make flying drones safer. The accelerating pace of drone adoption is also pushing governments to create new regulations that balance safety and innovation. The FAA is set to release new regulations this spring could help boost adoption. Safer technology and better regulation will open up new applications for drones in the commercial sector, including drone delivery programs like Amazon’s Prime Air and Google’s Project Wing initiatives.

Of course, you still need a pilot's license to operate commercial drones. This is smart, but the size o said aircraft need to be taken into consideration. And, much like the GoogleCar, we need a framework for artificial intelligence-controlled aerial vehicles.

Gary Ritter, director of the Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies at Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center: "Google's recent self-driving car is programmed to be courteous and cautious...." Based on artificial intelligence software, some Google vehicles have driven over 200,000 miles on public roads, using high-accuracy map data, video, LIDAR, radar, and wheel sensors.

Ritter cited many reasons to move towards increasing automation, including improved safety, reduced congestion, energy savings, and innovative mobility options such as advanced rapid transit, on-demand vehicle sharing, and providing mobility to currently ineligible drivers. One of the biggest consumer-oriented reasons is driver convenience.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cities are the source of civilization -- perhaps time to supersede nation-states?

Forward looking individuals are inviting the world’s mayors to collaborate on solving some of humanity’s most vexing problems – Benjamin Barber, Don Tapscott and Richard Florida – who believe that our times and circumstances require nothing less than a global parliament of mayors. This would be a voluntary network of elected municipal officials and others, managed by collaboration and consensus, to advocate for more effective urban policy. Cities, after all, are the birthplace of civilization, and hubs of innovation.

The Global Parliament of Mayors is an unprecedented new experiment in democratic global governance platform by, for, and of cities. Mayors from cities large and small, North and South, developed and emerging, will convene in September 2016 to identify and pursue in common the public goods of citizens around the world

Tapscott is best known for a series of successful business books touting the benefits of collaboration technology, chief among them the 2006 Wikinomics, while Florida is known for his theory of the “creative class”; and Barber has significant experience thinking through the dynamics of democratic governance.

At the Guardian:

We do in fact live in a post-Keynesian epoch – an era in which, for reasons both fiscal and nakedly ideological, most states have retreated from the provision of citizen services they used to undertake as a matter of course. Margaret Thatcher’s sweeping logic of privatisation has had such impact that even egalitarian Finns are now worried about losing their national health service.

Municipal administrators, by contrast – beset by rising waters, crumbling infrastructure and vulnerable populations – are forced to be practical, empirical, and far more immediately accessible to their restive and squabbling constituencies. They don’t enjoy the luxury of ideological posturing. Anyone interested in pragmatic, sleeves-up responses to the various crises that afflict us might therefore be well-advised to look to them for insight.

See this site for more about the Parliament of Mayors

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Government is Blotting Out Sunshine Laws

Lack of transparency hurts democracy. And the current administration has been running rough-shod over the Freedom of Information Act. Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.

The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to deliver on the idea of a government “for and by the people,” whose documents are our documents. The ability to get information from the government is essential to holding the people in power accountable.

Read more about the lack of responsiveness with FOIA requests, at the Washington Post...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Keep Resisting the Government, Apple is Urged

Many technology and privacy advocates are urging Apple to keep fighting the FBI's demand for access to iPhones... but there is hope:

A magistrate judge recently ordered Apple to comply with this request. Apple in turn filed a Motion to Vacate, arguing that in complying with the FBI’s request, the company would be forced to weaken a valuable encryption platform at a time when the United States desperately needs stronger, more effective encryption. And... this week Apple is appearing before Congress to address the issues raised. The legal grounds for the FBI’s demand come from the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and the All Writs Act (AWA). Under CALEA, there is a strong argument that Apple cannot be legally required to create new software of any kind for any department of the federal government. Enacted in 1789 as a stop-gap that allows the government to efficiently administer its given legislative privileges, the AWA is being given an impermissibly broad interpretation by the FBI. Apple should do what is necessary to preserve our enduring constitutional values, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those values also include the privacy and speech rights protected by the Constitution.

Read more... at TechCrunch

Friday, March 11, 2016

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures - A New Approach

From Slash-Dot

For the last 17 years, the American not-for-profit MITRE Corporation has been editing and maintaining the list of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs). According to a number of researchers, MITRE has lately been doing a lousy job when it comes to assigning these numbers, forcing researchers to do without them or to delay public disclosure of vulnerabilities indefinitely. The problem is getting worse by the day, and the situation has spurred Kurt Seifried, a "Red Hat Product Security Cloud guy" and a CVE Editorial Board member, to create a complementary system for numbering vulnerabilities.

CVE® International in scope and free for public use, CVE is a dictionary of publicly known information security vulnerabilities and exposures. Here's details about Kurt Seyfried's recommendation.