The Interoperability-and-Decentralization Edition Saturday, December 31, 2022

Inside Matrix, The Protocol That Might Finally Make Messaging Apps Interoperable, by Paul Sawers, TechCrunch

Interoperability and decentralization have been major themes in tech this year, driven in large part by mounting regulation, societal and industrial pressure, and the hype trains that are crypto and web3. That rising tide is lifting other boats: an open standards-based communication protocol called Matrix — which is playing a part in bringing interoperability to another proprietary part of our digital lives: messaging.


There’s no escaping the fact that breaking encryption is far from ideal, irrespective of how a solution proposes to reconcile this. But perhaps more importantly, a robust solution for addressing the real encryption issues introduced by enforced interoperability doesn’t truly exist yet.

The End Of Programming, by Matt Welsh, Communications of the ACM

Programming will be obsolete. I believe the conventional idea of "writing a program" is headed for extinction, and indeed, for all but very specialized applications, most software, as we know it, will be replaced by AI systems that are trained rather than programmed. In situations where one needs a "simple" program (after all, not everything should require a model of hundreds of billions of parameters running on a cluster of GPUs), those programs will, themselves, be generated by an AI rather than coded by hand.

I do not think this idea is crazy. No doubt the earliest pioneers of computer science, emerging from the (relatively) primitive cave of electrical engineering, stridently believed that all future computer scientists would need to command a deep understanding of semiconductors, binary arithmetic, and microprocessor design to understand software. Fast-forward to today, and I am willing to bet good money that 99% of people who are writing software have almost no clue how a CPU actually works, let alone the physics underlying transistor design. By extension, I believe the computer scientists of the future will be so far removed from the classic definitions of "software" that they would be hard-pressed to reverse a linked list or implement Quicksort. (I am not sure I remember how to implement Quicksort myself.)

Apple Adds iOS 16.2's Home App Upgrade To Internal List Of Major Issues, by Sami Fathi, MacRumors

Apple has marked iOS 16.2’s Home architecture update as a major issue by adding it to an internal list of issues typically only reserved for widespread and noteworthy problems, indicating the update caused widespread and systemic issues to users’ HomeKit devices and setup.


Telegram For iOS Gets New Drawing And Text Tools, Updates For Hidden Media, Zero Storage Use, More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Telegram for iOS is out is a big update to close out 2022. The latest release comes with improvements to hidden media when sharing images, zero storage usage tweaks, new tools for drawing and text, the ability to replace profile photos for contacts, new/more interactive emoji, and more.


Tim Cook Relayed Concern Over App Store Curbs To Japan PM: Sources, by Takeshi Shiraishi and Satsuki Kaneko, Nikkei Asia

Apple CEO Tim Cook urged Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to consider user protections when regulating smartphone app distribution during a mid-December meeting, Nikkei has learned, as the tech giant faces growing pressure to open up to third-party app stores.

Your Memories. Their Cloud., by Kashmir Hill, New York Times

As a child of the 1980s, I used to have physical constraints on how many photos, journals, VHS tapes and notes passed in seventh grade that I could reasonably keep. But the immense expanse and relatively cheap rent of the so-called cloud has made me a data hoarder. Heading into 2023, I set out to excavate everything I was storing on every service, and find somewhere to save it that I had control over. As I grappled with all the gigabytes, my concern morphed from losing it all to figuring out what was actually worth saving.

The Autocrat In Your iPhone, by Ronald J. Deibert, Foreign Affairs

The consequences of the spyware revolution are profound. In countries with few resources, security forces can now pursue high-tech operations using off-the-shelf technology that is almost as easy to acquire as headphones from Amazon. Among democracies, the technology has become an irresistible tool that can be deployed with little oversight; in the last year alone, security agencies in at least four European countries—Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Spain—have been implicated in scandals in which state agencies have been accused of deploying spyware against journalists and political opposition figures. A global market for spyware also means that forms of surveillance and espionage that were once limited to a few major powers are now available to almost any country, and potentially to even more private firms. Left unregulated, the proliferation of this technology threatens to erode many of the institutions, processes, and values on which the liberal international order depends.

Bottom of the Page

It's New Year's Eve, and to celebrate another year of strange times, I was boosted. Once again, thanks, modern medicine and the people behind modern medicine.

Of course, my left arm is now sore. I am tired. And I'll not be staying up to watch fireworks on television.


May you and your family remain in good health and great joy. Thanks for reading, and onwards to 2023.