Big technologies have become a product of the swamp

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Hi people. This Apple invited real people to its developer conference this week, seating everyone outdoors to watch a pre-recorded presentation. De-augmented reality!

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The founding computer scientists of large technology companies are accustomed to seeing government as something to be avoided at all costs. They were construction things. The relationship they hoped for with boobs and suits in Washington was that each side would leave the other alone. The mud of lobbying seemed a little nasty. So the techies tried their best to ignore the government.

The situation changed in the late 1990s, when Microsoft had to defend itself and lose a huge antitrust lawsuit from the Department of Justice. Companies have increased their presence in DC, but even a decade ago, emerging companies struggled to keep their existence low. “When I started at Twitter in 2013, most of the people I met in the briefing didn’t know that Twitter had an office in Washington,” says political consultant Nu Wexler, who has also worked at Google and Facebook. Now no one will make such a mistake. In 2021, seven tech companies spent $70 million lobby the federal government. The ranks of these companies are filled with former executive and legislature officials.

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And how does it happen? Let’s see. The Congressional list is filled to the brim with bills designed to thwart technological appetites for dominance. There is antitrust enforcementThis would speed up efforts to control dominant companies and possibly make it easier to split Facebook. Have an invoice for curb digital advertising, which can destroy Google. For now another account would prohibit technology platforms from favoring certain of their own products, which would hurt Amazon. Oh and there is again privacy law it would be about the mindless collection of people’s personal data. And it’s moderate. On the other hand, bills that threaten to overturn Section 230 provisions that allow platforms to moderate content are often heard in Congressional hearings.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has assembled a stellar team of technical opponents. AT press interview This week — held because, with the recent approval of another Democrat, she finally has a majority of commissioners to work with — FTC Chair Lina Khan said she was ready to work with restrictions on big tech. Although she doesn’t say it directly, you can almost read her mind: Break them! She’s no doubt cheered on by her best friends in the administration, special assistant to the president Tim Wu and antitrust czar Jonathan Kanter, both of whom have made no secret of their distaste for big tech and their desire to limit it. Meanwhile, Biden bothered to appoint chief technology officer who can champion the digital industry.

At first glance, you might be wondering if all the donations and lobbying are really worth the effort for the tech world. Look again. While the tide of sentiment may have turned against big tech, actual sanctions are still desirable. Partly it’s because of all these lobbyists and the money that supports them. That’s why until now all these bills and regulatory measures are being discussed … and discussed and discussed. Maybe some of them will end up on the president’s desk (hopefully not a Section 230 abomination), but the 117th Congress is running out of time and it will resume next year after the November midterm elections.

Last October, the day whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before her committee, Senator Amy Klobuchar frankly stated that if depression, outcome on the impact of all these DC expenses: “We have done nothing to update US competition, privacy and technology laws,” she tweeted. “Nothing. Wow. Why? Because there are lobbyists hired by technology on every corner of the Capitol.”

If you want to see the power of lobbying just look at the nomination Gigi Son for the Federal Communications Commission. Despite his undeniable qualifications, Zon focused on consumer empowerment. Naturally, she made enemies in the business, especially in the voracious telecommunications companies known throughout the world. fleece clients. These interests succeeded block her confirmation months. If she is not confirmed in the near future, the new Congress may immediately deprive her of her candidacy. With Son’s nomination delayed, the commission deadlocked with two Democrats and two Republicans.

Meanwhile, news reports contend that multimillion-dollar efforts by special interests including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are targeting key states and vulnerable Democrats to rob them of support for Klobuchar’s reform bills. A bitter irony: The campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook and Google ads to get its point across.

We’ve come a long way from the days when tech entrepreneurs wanted to stay away from DC. Yes, they were naive then. They were arrogant, thinking that they were somehow special and could build their own business, ignoring the government. But their instinct to avoid the muddy pit of American politics was remarkable. Legal assistance and lobbying may not have completely solved their DC problem – the constant misbehavior of these companies makes it likely that a little sanctions will come. But these sanctions will not be as harsh and effective as lawmakers, regulators, and perhaps even the public would like. One longtime The Hill employee I spoke to this week summed up DC’s technical interests and activities: “They’re just like everyone else.” It wasn’t a compliment.

Time travel

The debate about regulating the Internet has been raging since the boom of the mid-1990s made the web accessible to the masses. Long before tech companies spent millions on lobbying, the debate was very similar to the one we’re going through now, especially when it comes to speaking online. Case in point: Senator James Exon’s Communications Decency Act, a proposed amendment to the telecommunications law that I wrote about in 1995 Newsweek article. A stripped-down version of the amendment ended up in a 1996 bill that included the still-controversial Section 230.

The Exon correction is very wide. This can make communication between adults difficult – the essence of online activity – and may not even solve the problems that children face. “It would be a mistake to push us in a moment of hysteria towards a solution that is unconstitutional, dumbs down technology, and doesn’t even fulfill its mission,” said Jerry Berman, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

But Berman and others have a secret weapon: the House of Representatives. “There is a generation gap between the House of Representatives and the Senate,” says Berman. “They understand the technology and are not afraid of it.” The only question was whether his desire for technology, along with an aversion to government regulation, would lead Speaker Newt Gingrich and his henchmen to challenge their allies in religious law, whose “Contract with the American Family” calls for “protecting children from exposure to pornography.” in the Internet”.

That question was answered last Tuesday night when a caller on a cable TV talk show asked Gingrich what he thought of Exon’s amendment. “I think it makes no difference and no real impact,” the speaker said. “This is a clear violation of free speech and a violation of the rights of adults to communicate with each other.”

ask me one thing

Gregory asks: “If we think of time as a record of actions and events on a blockchain, what does this mean for the space-time continuum and does it prove that time travel cannot exist?”

Gregory, are you stoned? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this sounds like a question that arises when the mind is, say, heightened. Here is the problem with this hypothesis, which I admit is inspired: just because we can take a step towards count time, because the blockchain does not make it so. Time, the universe, and Stephen Hawking’s ghost may have other ideas.

However, let me get into the water above my head since I avoided physics in high school. Yes, that’s for sure seems how time moves in one direction, like an arrow. Obviously, the bell cannot be broken, and Humpty Dumpty can no longer be assembled. This belief reinforces the second law of thermodynamics—a law that even the Supreme Court cannot overturn—which describes how everything tends to increase disorder. Definitely a one way process! I think if you really recorded all these one-way events, you could say that it could be something like a blockchain. I shudder at the thought of the energy cost of maintaining what ledger!

But high-level physicists who think about spacetime say that, at least on a microscopic level, things are not so simple. According to world-class physicist Brian Greene“No one has ever discovered any fundamental law that could be called the Law of spilled milk or the Law of a broken egg.” Instead, theoretical physics explains phenomena that can be “time-symmetrical” or reversible. As for time travel, it also seems possible in theoryalthough it probably doesn’t bother me Marty McFly did it. Which is very bad for blockchain advocates who want their lost bitcoins back.

You can send questions to [email protected]. Write ASK FOR A FEE in the subject of the email.

Chronicle of the last times

According to Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, “the horsemen of the apocalypse are I’m on the road“. And whose fault is it?

Last but not least

That’s all there is to Apple announced at WWDC.

And here’s what’s most disturbing: pay later feature this puts Apple on a par with other companies that encourage debt.

annoying obstacles faced by black women in physics.

We finally have better quality batteries. Now we need to understand how make a lot of them.

Stay tuned for future editions of this subscriber-only column. Subscribe to WIRED (50% discount for Plaintext readers) Today.




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