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    GM kills more than CarPlay support, it kills choice / ArsTechnica · Friday, 31 March - 22:05 · 1 minute

Apple CarPlay screenshot showing Devo's freedom of choice playing

Enlarge / Use your freedom of choice. (credit: Apple)

A long while back, Toyota told me it didn't want to give up interior real estate to Apple’s CarPlay. The automaker felt that losing that space to the tech company would be a huge mistake. Fast forward a few years, and after what I assume were some internal struggles, it caved and now you can get CarPlay and Android Auto on your fancy new Highlander, Prius, Tacoma, or Camry. It seemed like a silly decision had been reversed. Now it’s GM’s turn to go down the same path.

Today, news dropped that GM would be phasing out CarPlay support in future EVs . In its partnership with Google, it hopes that all the features you get from mirroring your iPhone can be replaced with an Android Automotive feature . GM, like Toyota before it, wants to control the digital real estate in its vehicles. It’s a revenue-based and walled-garden (ironically against Apple) decision that will cost them.

Software-driven vehicles should be about choice. Instead, GM is making a short-sighted decision based on a trickle of revenue under the guise of better integration. Owning all the data that a vehicle generates while driving around could be a great source of cash. The problem is potential customers have become accustomed to choosing which device they use to navigate, chat, text, and rock out within their vehicle. They’ve grown weary of being mined for data at the expense of their choice and they’re really not all that keen on in-car subscription services .

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    Software and the war against complexity / TechCrunch · Sunday, 5 January, 2020 - 21:20 · 3 minutes

Look around: what is happening? Australia, AI, Ghosn, Google, Suleimani, Starlink, Trump, TikTok. The world is an eruptive flux of frequently toxic emergent behavior, and every unexpected event is laced with subtle interconnected nuances. Stephen Hawking predicted this would be “ the century of complexity .” He was talking about theoretical physics, but he was dead right about technology, societies, and geopolitics too.

Let’s try to define terms. How can we measure complexity? Seth Lloyd of MIT, in a paper which drily begins “The world has grown more complex recently, and the number of ways of measuring complexity has grown even faster,” proposed three key categories: difficulty of description, difficulty of creation, and degree of organization. Using those three criteria, it seems apparent at a glance that both our societies and our technologies are far more complex than they ever have been, and rapidly growing even moreso.

The thing is, complexity is the enemy. Ask any engineer … especially a security engineer. Ask the ghost of Steve Jobs. Adding complexity to solve a problem may bring a short-term benefit, but it invariably comes with an ever-accumulating long-term cost. Any human mind can only encompass so much complexity before it gives up and starts making slashing oversimplifications with an accompanying risk of terrible mistakes.

You may have noted that those human minds empowered to make major decisions are often those least suited to grappling with nuanced complexity. This itself is arguably a lingering effect of growing complexity. Even the simple concept of democracy has grown highly complex — party registration, primaries, fundraising, misinformation, gerrymandering, voter rolls, hanging chads, voting machines — and mapping a single vote for a representative to dozens if not hundreds of complex issues is impossible, even if you’re willing to consider all those issues in depth, which most people aren’t.

Complexity theory is a rich field, but it’s unclear how it can help with ordinary people trying to make sense of their world. In practice, people deal with complexity by coming up with simplified models close enough to the complex reality to be workable. These models can be dangerous — “everyone just needs to learn to code,” “software does the same thing every time it is run,” “democracies are benevolent” — but they were useful enough to make fitful progress.

In software, we at least recognize this as a problem. We pay lip service to the glories of erasing code, of simplifying functions, of eliminating side effects and state, of deprecating complex APIs, of attempting to scythe back the growing thickets of complexity. We call complexity “technical debt” and realize that at least in principle it needs to be paid down someday.

“Globalization should be conceptualized as a series of adapting and co-evolving global systems, each characterized by unpredictability, irreversibility and co-evolution. Such systems lack finalized ‘equilibrium’ or ‘order’; and the many pools of order heighten overall disorder,” to quote the late John Urry. Interestingly, software could be viewed that way as well, interpreting, say, “the Internet” and “browsers” and “operating systems” and “machine learning” as global software systems.

Software is also something of a best possible case for making complex things simpler. It is rapidly distributed worldwide. It is relatively devoid of emotional or political axegrinding. (I know, I know. I said “relatively.”) There are reasonably objective measures of performance and simplicity. And we’re all at least theoretically incentivized to simplify it.

So if we can make software simpler — both its tools and dependencies, and its actual end products — then that suggests we have at least some hope of keeping the world simple enough such that crude mental models will continue to be vaguely useful. Conversely, if we can’t, then it seems likely that our reality will just keep growing more complex and unpredictable, and we will increasingly live in a world of whole flocks of black swans. I’m not sure whether to be optimistic or not. My mental model, it seems, is failing me.

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    Have Pirate IPTV Sellers on YouTube Lost Their Minds? / TorrentFreak · Sunday, 3 November, 2019 - 19:06 · 4 minutes

Anyone who has followed piracy and copyright infringement issues for years or even decades, few developments fall into the ‘WOW’ category anymore.

That torrent and streaming services are still getting sued or raided is frankly daily fodder and after the military-style raid on Kim Dotcom hit the headlines, pretty much anything is possible.

Over the past couple of years, however, something so bizarre – so ridiculous – has been developing on sites like YouTube to make even the most outspoken of pirates raise an eyebrow or two. We’re talking about the rise of the IPTV seller and reseller ‘celebrities’ who are openly promoting their businesses like a regular company might.

As reported this week , IPTV reseller company Boom Media LLC is getting sued by DISH Networks and NagraStar in the United States. That another one of these outfits is being targeted isn’t a shock. However, when promotional YouTube videos are produced in court evidence, with the alleged owner of the company personally appearing in them stating that “it’s pirated f**cking streams. It’s no different than buying f**king knockoff shoes. It’s black market shit,” one has to wonder what the hell is going on.

So, just one person has allegedly done something reckless or ill-considered, right? Wrong. This type of behavior is neither isolated or rare.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sitting through hours of YouTube videos produced by people selling or reselling ‘pirate’ IPTV packages. In a worrying number, particularly given the popularity of their services, owners, founders, or ’employees’ of these outfits appear in person.

Their names are publicly known and in some cases, even their addresses. These are not small players, not by any stretch. In some cases, we’re talking huge numbers of followers and many hundreds of thousands of views, selling well-recognized services.

While in some cases hyperbole is clearly part of the pitch, it’s child’s play to find operators of these companies bragging about how much money they’ve made or are making, and how many customers they have. They speak to their subscribers, in person via live-streams, conduct detailed Q&A sessions, while ‘confirming’ the supposed legality of what they’re doing.

In a surprising number of cases, negative comments by users concerning legality are passed off as ridiculous, with sellers describing the sale of pirate IPTV subscriptions as residing in a gray area with the law powerless to do anything about it. While we could have a detailed argument here about the intricacies of any number of laws, both criminal and civil, and any potential defenses to them, these people appear to be missing the point.

Just this week, Openload – a true Internet giant with considerable resources – was pummeled into submission by dozens of the world’s largest content companies after agreeing to pay substantial damages. This was a file-hosting goliath being beaten up dozens of bigger goliaths. No face on YouTube required.

Another example can be found in Kim Dotcom, who says he has spent upwards of $40m in legal fees, even though, on the surface, many argue he has a solid legal basis for mounting a successful defense in the United States. But that’s $40,000,0000 already, before trial , an amount that will no doubt skyrocket in the event he ever gets sent there.

But here’s the thing. The majority of these IPTV ‘celebrities’, for want of a better term, are actually living in the United States already. It’s not necessary to name any of them, they do enough of that themselves. But in addition to their self-declared IPTV empires, some have significant and legitimate additional business interests too, which could all be put in jeopardy, one way or another, should the proverbial hit the fan.

In a piracy world where many are discussing anonymity, encryption, proxies, cryptocurrency payments, to name just a few, these people are deliberately making their identities known. They are not hiding away and as a result, they are known by anti-piracy groups who probably can’t believe their luck.

They not only have their real names and their own faces splashed across their own IPTV-based YouTube channels, but also channels that cover other aspects of their sometimes flamboyant lives. Anti-piracy groups don’t need investigators to find out who they are anymore, it’s common knowledge. An alias? Not parading yourself on the modern equivalent of TV? That’s soooo 1999, apparently.

The big question is whether these people really have lost their minds, or do they actually know something that most other people don’t? When did putting your own face in multiple videos, selling access to an admittedly pirated product via a company in your own name, become part of a solid business plan? It’s truly bizarre and cannot end well.

Welcome to 2019, it’s a truly strange place to be.

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