Mark Pesce

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USB in a leather case

Between you, me and that dodgy-looking USB: A little bit of paranoia never hurt anyone

Arriving at a recent conference organised by one of the government's many regulatory bodies, I received my obligatory lanyard – and something else, credit-card-shaped, emblazoned with the branding for event. "What's this?" I asked. "Oh, that's a USB key." I presume the conference organisers mistook my wild-eyed stare of …
Mark Pesce, 13 Nov 2018
A ginger tabby cat is walked on a leash over cobblestones. Photo by Shutterstock

'Moore's Revenge' is upon us and will make the world weird

Earlier this year I lamented the inevitable death of Moore's Law - crushed between process node failures and exploits attacking execution efficiencies. Yet that top line failure of Moore's Law hides the fact that chips in general are now cheap. So cheap that the cost of making a device "smart" – whether that means, aware, …
Mark Pesce, 4 Jun 2018
Pinocchio in a suit

Social networks have already violated the spirit of GDPR

🎶I am the definition of an Internet Monopoly, I Hoover up your data then I model its topology, I influence your buying and your vote with my psychology, And if you ever twig, you’ll get my insincere apology!🎵 https://t.co/tIjMxPR8jm — Christopher Biggs (@unixbigot) April 27, 2018 Every morning in recent weeks and for a …
Mark Pesce, 8 May 2018
china_future_648

Tech’s big lie: Relations between capital and labor don't matter

At a riotous final concert at San Francisco’s Winterland auditorium, The Sex Pistols’ frontman Johnny Rotten notoriously trolled the crowd with a final line, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” as the band walked offstage after a fifteen-minute set. That phrase came to mind when stories surfaced last month in Pro …
Mark Pesce, 3 Apr 2018
still from movie 1984... Big Brother on the white screen

Fear the wrath of robots, for their judgement is final and irrevocable

A colleague recently excused himself from a meeting because he had to go and judge a robotics contest. It quickly struck me this was a very modern inversion, because we're constantly judged by robots. We're observed and recorded everywhere we go online thanks to cookies, certificates and loyalty codes. All of that goes into …
Mark Pesce, 12 Mar 2018
Siri logo

Voice assistants are always listening. So why won't they call police if they hear a crime?

If you saw someone being assaulted, you'd probably whip out your phone and dial for help. But when one of our newly ubiquitous devices hears a crime, it does nothing. If Alexa or Google Assistant or Siri hears an assault, or a rape, they sit there waiting for their cues to act. But that's a load of malarkey. Listening for a …
Mark Pesce, 26 Feb 2018
3d head representations

Face, face, face! Apple, TrueDepth and a nose-driven iPhone X game

On the November 3, 2017, Brad Dwyer set to work unearthing the mysteries of Apple’s released-that-day iPhone X and its strange new TrueDepth camera. The engineer and entrepreneur wanted to create an app to leverage that new forward-facing face-scanning camera - to build one of the in a first generation of "face-driven games - …
Mark Pesce, 13 Feb 2018
Robot maid

Talk down to Siri like it's a mere servant – your safety demands it

In the middle of the night, the 83-year-old woman received a call. A caller identifying himself as a policeman angrily reported that her grandson – identified by name – had landed in jail. He'd hit a policeman while driving and TXTing. The policeman said they needed $4,000 in bail – immediately. The old woman hung up, but the …
Mark Pesce, 12 Feb 2018
graveyard_648

Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

DEATH NOTICE Long beloved by both engineers and computer scientists because of ongoing performance benefits ceaselessly and seemingly effortlessly achieved. From the age of fifty, Moore’s Law began to age rapidly, passing into senescence and then, at the beginning of this month, into oblivion. Moore’s Law leaves a thriving …
Mark Pesce, 24 Jan 2018
Drowning in a smartphone

Smartphones' security enhancements just make them more dangerous

Over the holidays I bought Apple’s newest, shiniest face scanner. For the first fortnight - and periodically since then, that constant lift-and-scan felt weird. As though my smartphone had suddenly become too intimate, too familiar. This is hardly the thin end of the wedge. It started with passcodes - which many people didn’t …
Mark Pesce, 8 Jan 2018
A 'connected' TV watches over its owner. Pic via shutterstock

Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there's still time to unplug it

On a walk across the show floor at January's Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed. As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about." …
Mark Pesce, 28 Nov 2017
Illustration of a "bitcoin" dissolving into numbers. Photo by SHutterstock

Your attention has value, personal cryptocurrency will advertise it

Cryptocurrencies open the door to a world where everyone has their price. To understand why, consider Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that rests on the distributed ledger tech described by Satoshi Nakamoto in his 2008 white paper but includes a scripting language. That makes it, quite literally, "smart money.’ The idea of smart …
Mark Pesce, 14 Nov 2017
scrrengrab of iphone x face id from apple's website

Augmented reality: Like it or not, only Apple's ready for the data-vomit gush

This month's release by Apple of the iPhone X with FaceID begins the first wave of consumer products designed from the ground up for continuous awareness of space, place and face - crowning a half a century of research in augmented reality destined to fuse our rising sea of data onto the real world. Over the last few years, …
Mark Pesce, 13 Nov 2017
Robot as person illustration via Shutterstock

It's time to rebuild the world for robots

We redesigned the world for automobiles and now it's time to redesign it for robots. To understand why, consider the sad story of the clothes-folding robot. It turns out that after many years and much research you can get a robot to fold your laundry. But the robot basically sucks at it for pretty much the same reasons that …
Mark Pesce, 24 Oct 2017
Location pin with warning

Leaky-by-design location services show outsourced security won't ever work

We’re leaking location data everywhere, and it's time to fix it by design. An example: if you go on safari in Africa, you'll be asked to turn off your smartphone's location tracking capabilities. The reason is that most people have no idea that every photo they take with their phone embeds location data in the exchangeable …
Mark Pesce, 10 Oct 2017

Alexa and her kind let the disabled or illiterate make the web work

The pell-mell rush to get everything connected and intelligent has led us into some dark corners. Robot vacuum cleaners that map your home - in order to faithfully fulfil your wishes for a clean residence - then sell your data to the highest bidder. Dolls that listen to a child, and share a bit too widely. That sort of thing. …
Mark Pesce, 26 Sep 2017

Sure, HoloLens is cute, but Ford was making VR work before it was cool

Interview In an era defined by Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple and Samsung, it's understandable, easy even, to become complacent and look only to Silicon Valley for tech innovation and leadership. Smartphones, touchscreen, mega search, the app economy... if all these things and more didn't come from a handful of US tech firms, they …
Mark Pesce, 18 Sep 2017
An Amazon Prime Air drone

The bigger the drone, the bigger the impact

At the end of 2013 (the world seemed much simpler back then) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave a rare interview to CBS’ 60 Minutes program during which he revealed - with an almost Jobsian flourish - an autonomous deliver drone that would drop packages on customers' doorsteps 30 minutes after they pressed the ‘buy’ button. Like most …
Mark Pesce, 11 Sep 2017
A Chinese laundry on the back streets of Shanghai

In the Pearl River Delta's electronics souks, AI lets the haggling happen

The electronics markets of Shenzhen are bewildering. These football-field-sized buildings seemingly sell almost anything, any bit of electronics – chip, component, connector – if you know where to look among the myriad stores in the ten-storey towers. To find find what you need in that riot of abundance you have to ask someone …
Mark Pesce, 25 Jul 2017
Money for nothing by dire straits

Good luck building a VR PC: Ethereum miners are buying all the GPUs

Last month, one of my friends noted he’d been having enormous trouble trying to buy the components to assemble a virtual-reality-ready PC. Motherboards, memory, CPUs and solid state drives were easy to find, but the one absolutely essential component - a beefy GPU to drive a head-mounted display at a vomit-preventing 90 Hz - he …
Mark Pesce, 10 Jul 2017
Tesla model S

Robots will enable a sustainable grey economy

My uncle Amadeo turns 79 this week and bought himself a luxe Model S Tesla as a present. Amadeo is an eminent scientist and avid student of the future, so the Tesla was an obvious choice because I suspect he recognises that he won’t always feel comfortable behind the wheel. So he opted for a vehicle that can already do some …
Mark Pesce, 29 Jun 2017
touched by the hand of electrical gods

Connectivity's value is almost erased by the costs it can impose

I spent the first half of my career coding and while I don't miss the day-in-day-out grind of coding, but do still enjoy the computer-as-infinite-toy. So from time to time I try to spend a few days with my head in the machine, playing, exploring and learning. Lately I've done that with Glitch, a browser-based programming …
Mark Pesce, 13 Jun 2017
Princess Leia hologram

PAH! Four decades of Star Wars: No lightsabers, no palm-sized video calls

Star Wars New Hope @ 40 When Lucasfilm recently unveiled its tribute reelto the late Carrie Fisher, one of the most memorable monologues in cinema sat right in its center. “General Kenobi. Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars... Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire...” Reading those words, we can see the …
Mark Pesce, 24 May 2017

Go ahead, stage a hackathon. But pray it doesn't work too well

OPINION Fidget spinners may be the biggest thing since the yo-yo, but they can’t hold a candle to the latest fad to sweep the business world: hackathons. As is the case with any fad, lots of people jump in overnight and some end up looking a bit ridiculous. Hackathons have their uses because they give people permission to solve …
Mark Pesce, 23 May 2017

Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

Every relationship has its rough edges, places where actions scrape, and through constant repetition, rub raw. Those tender spots can heal if left alone and if the parties are wiling to listen. But where the irritation continues, this raw spot becomes a wound that never closes, forcing a choice between continuing pain and a …
Mark Pesce, 8 May 2017

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