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Obama administration caught in blatant software piracy; script powering Healthcare.gov ripped off from UK...
October 18, 2013
The Obama administration has been caught red-handed engaged in software piracy. Computer code used on Healthcare.gov was stolen (and then modified in an effort to conceal the theft) from a UK company called Spry Media.
To my best knowledge, this story was broken by WeeklyStandard.com in a blog authored by Jeryl Bier.
The computer code that was stolen is called DataTables, and it is exclusively provided under a GPL v2 license which requires anyone who uses the software code to keep the copyright notice visible in the code itself. This allows the original author of the code to receive attribution for creating it.
An analysis of the code running Healthcare.gov reveals that the Obamacare development team maliciously removed the copyright notice and credit attributions from the code while copying and using the rest of the code. In the field of journalism, this would be called “plagiarism.” In the field of computer software, it’s called “piracy” according to the U.S. government.
Here’s an image capture of the copyright notice which is supposed to remain in the code:
On Healthcare.gov, however, the copyright attribution is removed, leaving only the functional code of the script (which is a piracy violation):
Nearly all of the remainder of the script is identical to the Spry Media code, proving beyond any doubt that the Obama administration pirated this code in its construction of the failed website Healthcare.gov.
The Weekly Standard says they contacted SpryMedia for a comment: “A representative for the company said that they were ‘extremely disappointed’ to see the copyright information missing and will be pursuing it further with the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that runs the Healthcare.gov site.”
Will DHS now seize Healthcare.gov?
The Department of Homeland Security has seized hundreds of other websites that it says were engaged in piracy.
These website seizures are conducted completely outside of law and utterly without due process. When sites are seized by DHS, the following notice is placed on the website home page:
This notice reads, in part:
Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.
Will the developers of Healthcare.gov who pirated the DataTables software from SpryMedia now be sentenced to federal prison?
Don’t hold your breath on that one. Prisons aren’t used to lock up actual criminals anymore. They are “work camps” with the sole purpose of locking up black Americans so they can be exploited as a “human resource” of ultra-cheap labor. Yes, the prison labor industry needs more output, and that’s why the entire “war on drugs” is allowed to continue even though it is a complete failure.
Sounds like Obamacare, come to think of it: A disastrous program that wastes billions of dollars while enslaving innocent Americans in a system where they will be financially raped for life.
Am I the only one who thinks we might be better off if we forced all politicians to trade places with all prison inmates?
This article was posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:36 am
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US defense giant Raytheon has developed a controversial software that uses social networking sites to track your movements, able to predict where a person will be and their future behavior. The program has drawn criticism from civil rights groups.
A video obtained exclusively by The Guardian shows how software developed by the US defense contractor Raytheon, can gather vast amounts of personal information from social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
Raytheon has admitted that the technology was shared with the US government as part of a joint research and development program in 2010, as part of an effort to build a national security system capable of analyzing trillions of entities from cyberspace.
But, the Massachusetts-based company says it has not sold the software, which is called Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology, to any clients.
The controversial software allegedly enables access to entire parts of a person’s life, their friends, any pictures of themselves they have posted online and places they have visited charted on a map.
In the video it is explained by Brian Urch, Raytheon’s ‘principal investigator’, exactly how the program can be used to track someone down.
“We’re going to track down one of our employees,” says Urch. He then proceeds to show, using information gathered from social networking sites, how “Nick” visited Washington National Park and a picture of Nick in the park with a blonde woman.
“We know where Nick is going, we know what Nick looks like, now we want to try to predict where he will be in the future,” Urch continues.
As Nick regularly uses Foursquare, a phone app that alerts friends to your whereabouts, it was possible for Riot to track the top ten places visited by Nick and the times at which they were visited.
It shows that Nick visits a gym every Monday at 6am. “So if you want to get hold of Nick, or maybe get hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6am on a Monday,” says Urch.
Using public websites for law enforcement is considered legal in most countries, and Riot will be of interest to intelligence and national security agencies. In February last year the FBI requested that it wanted to develop ways of mining social media sites for monitoring “bad actors or groups”.
This has prompted concern from civil liberties groups about online privacy. Ginger McCall, an attorney at the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, said Riot raised concerns about how an individual’s data could be collected covertly without oversight or regulation.
“Users may be posting information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead it is being used by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the Riot search,” McCall told The Guardian.
But Raytheon defended its product and in an email to the Guardian Jared Adams, a spokesman for the company’s intelligence and information systems department, said it would help to meet the US’s rapidly changing security needs.He also highlighted that it does not analyze personally identifiable information, such as bank details or social security numbers.
In December Raytheon indicated that Riot would be part of a patent the company is pursuing for a system designed to gather data from social networking sites and blogs to identify if someone is a national security risk.
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Did you know that the word “transhuman” literally means “beyond human”? All over the world, scientists and intellectuals are joining the transhumanism movement. Those that adhere to this philosophy believe that the time has come for us to use technology to take control of our own evolution. By doing so, they believe that we can give ourselves superhuman powers and radically extend our lifespans. Right now, the most popular movie in America is “Avengers: Age of Ultron“, and in recent years we have watched films about “mutants” and “superheroes” become some of Hollywood’s biggest moneymakers. But transhumanists believe that we will soon be able to literally turn ourselves into such superheroes as technology continues to increase at an exponential rate. And once we have superhuman powers and superhuman intelligence, they are convinced that we will eradicate all sickness, disease, poverty and war. Many of them actually believe that we will be able to achieve immortality and establish a utopia on Earth just a few decades from now. In other words, we won’t need a “God” because we will have become our own gods.
At the core of the transhumanist movement is an unshakable faith in the inevitable technological progress of humanity. Yes, there are some transhumanists that have doubts, but for most transhumanists the solution to all of our problems is more technology. If you are not familiar with transhumanism, the following is a really good definition that I recently came across…
Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement promoting the aim of transforming the human condition fundamentally by developing – and making available – technologies to enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities. Transhumanist thinking studies the potential benefits and hazards of emerging technologies that could overcome basic human limitations. It also addresses ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. Some transhumanists predict that human beings may eventually transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities that they justify a state of being known as ‘posthuman’.
Transhumanists want to help humans live much longer, and they also want to dramatically increase the quality of those lives. Ultimately, most transhumanists are fully convinced that they will be able to defeat death altogether. The following is a short excerpt from an ExtremeTech article…
One of the core concepts in transhumanist thinking is life extension: Through genetic engineering, nanotech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life may soon be possible. Likewise, transhumanists are interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond what humans are naturally capable of (thus the term transhuman). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), for example, which speeds up reaction times and learning speed by running a very weak electric current through your brain, has already been used by the US military to train snipers. On the more extreme side, transhumanism deals with the concepts of mind uploading (to a computer), and what happens when we finally craft a computer with greater-than-human intelligence (the technological singularity).
So would you like to live forever armed with superhuman powers?
The most famous transhumanist in the world, Ray Kurzweil, actually believes that he is going to be able to do that. But first he has to stay alive long enough for the technologies that he believes are coming to be developed. So Kurzweil takes 150 supplements a day in an attempt to keep his body in peak condition…
The youthful 65-year-old currently takes 150 supplements a day, which he argues is the first bridge.
The idea is to build enough bridges to ensure the body holds out long enough for life-lengthening technology to come into its own.
He has likened the biology of the body to computer software and believes we are all ‘out of date’.
Kurzweil is absolutely convinced that if he can just stretch his life out long enough that technologies that will enable him to achieve immortality are right around the corner. In fact, in a piece that he wrote for CNN he expressed his belief that our medical technologies will be “a million times more powerful” than they are today just two decades from now…
Health and medicine is now an information technology and is therefore subject to what I call the “law of accelerating returns,” which is a doubling of capability (for the same cost) about each year that applies to any information technology.
As a result, technologies to reprogram the “software” that underlie human biology are already a thousand times more powerful than they were when the genome project was completed in 2003, and will again be a thousand times more powerful than they are today in a decade, and a million times more powerful in two decades.
So will he be right?
We will just have to wait and see.
For a long time, many in the transhumanist movement (including Kurzweil) have been pointing to a time period between 2030 and 2050 during which they believe something remarkable will happen. They believe that during that time period something known as “the singularity” will occur. As technology increases at an exponential rate, they believe that artificial intelligence will begin to greatly surpass human intelligence at some point, and that humanity will merge with this new super intelligence. Once that happens, they believe that the world will change in ways that we cannot even comprehend today…
Kurzweil and his followers believe that a crucial turning point will be reached around the year 2030, when information technology achieves ‘genuine’ intelligence, at the same time as biotechnology enables a seamless union between us and this super-smart new technological environment. Ultimately the human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will on to a “suitably powerful computational substrate”. We will become essentially god-like in our powers.
Does that sound good to you, or does it sound frightening?
Other transhumanists are not quite as optimistic as Kurzweil and his followers. Just consider what Max Tegmark, the author of Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, had to say about what life will be like after “the singularity”…
After this, life on Earth would never be the same. Whoever or whatever controls this technology would rapidly become the world’s wealthiest and most powerful, outsmarting all financial markets, out-inventing and out-patenting all human researchers, and out-manipulating all human leaders. Even if we humans nominally merge with such machines, we might have no guarantees whatsoever about the ultimate outcome, making it feel less like a merger and more like a hostile corporate takeover.
Even some of the most prominent scientists in the world are skeptical of what an ultra-powerful artificial intelligence would mean for the future of humanity. The following is an excerpt from an article co-authored by Stephen Hawking…
Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organized in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it may play out differently than in the movie: as Irving Good realized in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a “singularity” and Johnny Depp’s movie character calls “transcendence.” One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.
But despite these reservations from many in the scientific community, many transhumanists are pushing ahead as hard as they can. Many of them are absolutely convinced that what they are doing will bring a new golden age to this planet. Just consider the words of transhumanist Zoltan Istvan…
Despite this, people continue to worry that technology and science that make our species more transhuman will be used to create a deeper divide in society for the haves and have-nots. Those worries are unfounded. A close examination of the issues show that transhumanist technology and science liberates us, brings us better health, and has improved the living standards of all people around the world. If you value liberty, equality and progress, it makes sense to embrace the coming age of transhumanism.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
And there are even some transhumanists that couch their hopes and dreams for the future in religious terminology. For example, transhumanist Mark Pesce is fully convinced that transhumanism will allow ordinary humans “to become as gods”…
“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more—a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image—for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman – an apotheosis to reason, salvation – attained by good works.”
That is some pretty strong stuff.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below…