The Greater-Acceptance Edition Thursday, February 23, 2017

Apple Condemns Trump's Decision To Revoke Transgender Bathroom Guidelines, by Kurt Wagner, Recode

Apple was the first tech company to publicly disagree with President Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to repeal guidelines around transgender bathroom use in public schools.

“We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals,” Apple said in a statement sent to Recode.

Judge: No, Feds Can’t Nab All Apple Devices And Try Everyone’s Fingerprints, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

A federal magistrate judge in Chicago recently denied the government’s attempt to force people in a particular building to depress their fingerprints in an attempt to open any seized Apple devices as part of a child pornography investigation.

This prosecution, nearly all of which remains sealed, is one of a small but growing number of criminal cases that pit modern smartphone encryption against both the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and also the Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. According to the judge’s opinion, quoting from a still-sealed government filing, "forced fingerprinting" is part of a broader government strategy, likely to combat the prevalence of encrypted devices.

Swift-based Ransomware Targets macOS Pirates With False Decryption Promise, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

New ransomware for the Mac has been discovered by security researchers, with the "poorly coded" malware created in Swift encrypting the user's files and demanding a payment, without any possibility of decrypting the files even if the ransom is paid.


Castro 2.3 Brings Podcast Triage Through Rich Notifications, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Thanks to its implementation of iOS 10's rich notification framework, a notification from Castro will now display a show's artwork and a portion of the episode description along with the aforementioned action buttons.

SoundSource 3 Review: Easy-to-access macOS Audio Controls, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

As a podcaster, I frequently have to change among mic, headset, and speaker/headphone options, and it’s a delight to be able to do this in one place.


Inside The Race To Build The Battery Of Tomorrow, by Amelia Urry, Wired

At the back of the cramped room, Donald Sadoway, a silver-haired electrochemist in a trim black-striped suit and expensive-looking shoes, rummages through a plastic tub of parts like a kid in search of a particular Lego. He sets a pair of objects on the table, each about the size and shape of a can of soup with all the inherent drama of a paperweight.

No wonder it’s so hard to get anyone excited about batteries. But these paperweights—er, battery cells—could be the technology that revolutionizes our energy system.

Rule By Nobody, by Adam Clair, Real Life

Decision-making algorithms are everywhere, sorting us, judging us, and making critical decisions about us without our having much direct influence in the process. Political campaigns use them to decide where (and where not) to campaign. Social media platforms and search engines use them to figure out which posts and links to show us and in what order, and to target ads. Retailers use them to price items dynamically and recommend items they think you’ll be more likely to consume. News sites use them to sort content. The finance industry — from your credit score to the bots that high-frequency traders use to capitalize on news stories and tweets — is dominated by algorithms. Even dating is increasingly algorithmic, enacting a kind of de facto eugenics program for the cohort that relies on such services.

For all their ubiquity, these algorithms are paradoxical at their heart. They are designed to improve on human decision-making by supposedly removing its biases and limitations, but the inevitably reductive analytical protocols they implement are often just as vulnerable to misuse. Decision-making algorithms replace humans with simplified models of human thought processes that can reify rather than mitigate the biases those programmers are working from in conceptualizing the algorithm’s intent.