China is Beating Us at Our Own AI Game = Not Good for Your Grandkids


Don't think a cold war can't happen again, we are already on our way. For those of us who don't remember the cold war in 1945, hindsight has shown it wasn’t inevitable. The United States and Soviet Union had been allies during World War II, but then a series of choices and circumstances over a 5-year period set the conflict on its self-perpetuating track.

A new article in the November issue of Wired called "The AI Cold War That Threatens Us All" by Nicholas Thompson and Ian Bremmer is a MUST READ. For all of us. If not for you, then for your future children or your grandchildren. The article is more than 5000 words, you can still do it. AI is artificial intelligence.

Even though it's become a joke to think Mr. President Donald Trump will take 30 minutes to read anything, he must - or have Ivanka read it to you, this is of interest to her STEM initiative as well. Members of the Congress, this is your job, to read articles like this one so you can understand the severity of "a new cold war arms race over artificial intelligence (AI)." If you don't understand something, email me (info@netlingo.com) and I will explain it to you. Here's a paraphrased summary:

In the spring of 2016, an artificial intelligence system called AlphaGo defeated a world champion Go player. The Chinese were perplexed because most Americans were unfamiliar with the ancient game Asian Go, and the technology that emerged victorious was even more foreign: a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning, which uses large data sets to train a computer to recognize patterns and make its own strategic choices.

At the time, Obama’s science and technology policy advisers cheered it and saw it as a win for technology; the next day the rest of the White House forgot about it. In China, however, 280 million people watched AlphaGo win and what mattered was that a machine owned by a California company had conquered a game invented more than 2,500 years ago in Asia.

In spring of 2017, AlphaGo triumphed again, this time over a Chinese Go master ranked at the top of the world. This prompted China to act fast: By October 2017, you may remember seeing China’s president, Xi Jinping, standing in front of red banners and his fellow party members laying out his plans for the party’s future. What many don't realize is that he specifically named artificial intelligence, big data, and the internet as core technologies that will help transform China into an advanced industrial economy.

After President Trump took office, the earlier AI reports were archived, and --I can't believe I'm even writing this, he should be ashamed of himself-- in March 2017, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the idea of humans losing jobs because of AI was not even on his radar screen and that it might be a threat in 50 to 100 more years(!) There's a NetLingo word for that: ID10T. That same year, China committed itself to building a $150 billion AI industry by 2030 (that's 12 years from now).

According to the Wired article, what’s at stake is not just the technological dominance of the United States, it's that the arc of the digital revolution is starting to bend toward tyranny, and one of the only ways to stop it is to keep developing our own AI technology and partner with China on joint AI research and corporations. Yeah right, like that is going to happen. Well it's worth trying, and the only possible way is to learn from our mistakes.

It was never inevitable that the digital revolution would inherently favor democracy. Over the past several years we've seen the crisis of democracy unfold throughout the world and even though it has many causes, social media platforms seem like the prime culprit. Social media has amplified everyone’s worst instincts. Rather than cheering for the way social platforms spread democracy, the authors are busy assessing the extent they corrode it.

Back in China, government officials watched the Arab Spring and other uprisings with unease. Beijing already had the world’s most sophisticated internet "control" system, which could dynamically block a huge swath of foreign web domains, and now The Great Firewall can turn off internet access in zones within cities. In fact, China recently censored, I mean "digitally walled off" the entire province of Xinjiang after violent protests there spread via the internet.

Even Vladimir Putin, a tech pioneer when it comes to cyberwar and spreading disinformation, said the one who becomes the leader in the AI sphere will be the ruler of the world. And Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, has compared artificial intelligence to the discovery of electricity or fire. Yeah, it's that big and it's that important, and AI is just one component to China's advancing technology.

So, the world can commit to America's technology or to China's. The old silk road is being strung with Chinese fiber-optic cables and we're seeing more countries commit to China including Pakistan and huge swaths of Africa. In May 2018, about six months after Zimbabwe got rid of the despot Robert Mugabe, the new government announced that it was partnering with a Chinese company to build an AI and facial-recognition system: Zimbabwe gets to expand its surveillance state; China gets money, influence, and data.

The Wired article aptly states that for the past century, democracies have proven more resilient and successful than dictatorships, even if democracies have made stupid decisions along the way. Well Congress, we cannot make stupid decisions about AI and our relationship with China during the next 5-years. But there is nothing close to a serious debate as to how to address this and so far, you're not doing too great with China. Please read the full article in Wired "The AI Cold War That Threatens Us All" by Nicholas Thompson and Ian Bremmer here: https://www.wired.com/story/ai-cold-war-china-could-doom-us-all

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of NetLingo.com
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Facebook’s Gone FUD: Why Big Tech Needs Regulation

I never thought I’d say it, but the Internet needs government regulation. The notion of cyberspace as a level playing field was an ideal many indie developers held on to fiercely in the beginning. But along came online advertising and search engine marketing, where anyone could pay-to-play based on secret algorithms; then came e-commerce and Amazon’s demise of the sole proprietorship (big box stores too) while never paying taxes; and now there’s social media, which has taken over millions of people’s lives despite well-known tech addiction issues and personal privacy hacks.

The idea of regulating something feels like you’re taking away a freedom or putting a restriction on me, especially when it comes to the Internet, my beloved, revolutionary wild west frontier. But alas, Silicon Valley needs a sheriff. Big Tech cannot seem to handle the real life threats their technology is creating, both in our country and around the world. And that’s what our government is for: To establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.

Instead I’m writing about hate speech, fake accounts, personal privacy stolen, election manipulation, disinformation campaigns, false advertising, and flawed, monopolistic business practices. Does this sound like America? No, but this is Facebook today. Their business model simply isn’t worth it: To collect data about you so they can target you with ads? Meanwhile identity thieves are stealing our data and our government still has done nothing about it. Congress please tell us: What have you done to investigate whether Facebook can make it through the 2018 election season without another national crisis?

Last week Google got hacked, and this week Facebook got hacked twice… what are we learning from this? Earlier this year Facebook took out full-page ads in the U.S.’s and U.K.’s biggest newspapers pledging to protect users’ personal information. They said if they can’t, they don’t deserve it. Well, we just learned they don’t deserve it. Misinformation distributed by social platforms like Facebook has led to people being arrested, jailed, and in some cases killed. There’s even a NetLingo word for it: FUD. But millions of Americans love their Facebook and want to keep it, so what to do? Time for an educated Congress to step in.

But first, what did Facebook do about this latest theft against them and 50 million of their users? They tried to bury it: As the news of the data breach spread over other sites, you could barely find reports of it on Facebook. Hmm, and what is Facebook going to do next? Spend $1 billion to acquire a digital security firm. Hey Facebook, you told us we were already secure. Sounds like insanity… doing the same thing but expecting a new result. Even you, Mr. President, can realize that more security might help, but it won’t fix this.

Sure enough, the Internet won’t get safer without the government stepping in. Now there are new reports that even Silicon Valley accepts the need for coming regulations. Bravo! But, of course there’s a catch: Big Tech wants to help now only to try and persuade elected officials to create laws that are weaker than the privacy laws currently in Europe and coming to California. Smells like more lobbyists to me.

Meanwhile, it’s clear Congress: Regulatory agencies must hold Big Tech accountable for patrolling their platforms and ensuring that hostile users are removed immediately, and for restricting false accounts. There should also be penalties for companies with bad data security, whether it’s heavy fines or annual fees. Don’t you already have a blueprint for this with the latest Wall Street debacle? Oh wait, you just voted on the biggest rollback of Wall Street regulations, didn’t you? Please Congress, follow the European GDPR formula and look to California to lead by example before the chicken littles are proven right and there is a catastrophic event due to hacking or disinformation.

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of NetLingo.com
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Google Hid their Hack for 7 months: That's Evil

So, Google can get hacked just like the rest of them – but they don’t want you to know it. That’s what we found out this week when they shut down Google+ (their failing social network) because of “a glitch” that gave outside developers would-be access to 500,000+ private profiles. This kind of headline has become so  common that people hardly pay attention to privacy data issues anymore, but we must! Google does... there's a reason they hid the compromising SNAFU from the government, and everybody else, for 7 whole months.

Why did they hide? Because they feared it would draw “immediate regulatory interest.” Well they’re right! Hello Congress, this time they told it to you themselves, in your kind of English: They covered up this data breach for 28 weeks, with no concern for their users’ private information, because they didn’t want to get “immediate regulatory interest.” Maybe you’ll understand the NetLingo word for it: data Valdez.

The privacy breach alone is one thing but this kind of cover up used to be damaging to a company. Even though they are reporting that it was “just email addresses and birth dates,” that kind of data gets put into algorithms that can identify specific people to target for identity theft. If data breaches are run of the mill for the masses, then maybe Google’s cover up will finally jar action from the classes. Dear Mr. President, please tell the FCC to make an 8th floor decision and launch an investigation to find out what else Google isn’t telling us.

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of NetLingo.com

Forced to "Go Responsive" In Response to Big Tech

It’s called Responsive Website Design, or in webmaster lingo simply RWD, and it’s the new breed of website you’ve likely been seeing that “responds automatically” to your screen size. Basically, websites like NetLingo can overlay a little code to take our same robust content and make it easily viewable on all different kinds of screen sizes, whether it’s your smaller smartphone, medium size tablet, or larger size desktop. Check it out: NetLingo.com - on any of your devices, even the ads look good!

This latest design was considered “critical” because the truth is, as an online small business owner, you are always having to upgrade. I had created a nice, clean, SEO-optimized .mobi site back in day to fill the mobile browsing demand, but ultimately that wasn’t good enough for Big Tech. When Google announced “Mobilegeddon” in 2015 and started to boost the ratings of sites that are mobile friendly if the search was made from a mobile device, then “mobile first” became the new mantra. It’s understandable, especially since the amount of mobile traffic for the first time accounted for more than half of total Internet traffic, but here was another instance of Google forcing tech-savviness upon millions business owners in order to primarily service their search needs and their mobile search results.

My website started out as a flat HTML site and then got converted to a database-driven site and then upgraded to a LAMP stack site, and has now evolved into a full-blown Responsive Web Design site… and Big Tech forced my hand each upgrade all along the way. Even though NetLingo.com remains on the leading edge of website content and technology, apparently in this day and age, leading edge is no longer good enough… there’s even a NetLingo word for it: bleeding edge.

So, is this another instance where Congress should be seriously looking into Google’s monopoly and business practices if we want to remain a country where small business really matters? YES. But Congress doesn’t seem to understand Internet technology, let alone the implications. Who other than lobbyists is informing Congress about these matters and why is it taking Congress so long to make any decisions regarding Internet oversight?

Congress still hasn’t figured out the Secure Federal File Sharing Act (H.R. 4098), which would prohibit the use of P2P software on government computers and networks. I’m sorry but this bill has been under review by the United States Senate since March 25, 2010 meanwhile new botnets spread most rapidly via peer-to-peer communication. If my team and I didn’t make a decision for 8 years we’d get fired… and then hacked, or in their parlance “meddled with.” That's not good enough.

C’mon Congress. Of course, many small businesses want more and better mobile search results but does Big Tech have a right to make the millions of small business owners keep upgrading when they could possibly make a few changes on their end that would in turn benefit us all? United States citizens have been na├»ve in counting on Congress to care about Big Tech’s impact on small business owners. When you're ready for me to come to Washington and explain the implications of peer-to-peer networking, Google’s monopoly, or anything else Internet-related, I’m on the first plane.

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of NetLingo.com


Internet Taxes are Inevitable :( Why BERNIE and BEZOS are at WAR

As a small online business owner, I hate to admit it but Internet taxes are inevitable. Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill called the "Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act" also known as the "Stop BEZOS Act" because Sanders found out that many of Amazon's warehouse workers live on food stamps and Medicaid. Since Amazon gets government subsidies, that forces the American taxpayer to cover these costs, which in turn helps Bezos and Amazon shareholders become richer and richer. In case you haven’t heard, Amazon is now worth $1 trillion dollars and Bezos is the richest man in the world.

Under this Sanders plan, if an Amazon employee receives $300 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $300.  Great idea Bernie! Make Bezos and Big Tech pay, but better still, help Congress wake up. If 1 in 3 Amazon employees in Arizona receive food stamps and you recognize these workers need this type of help, Congress should also see the bigger picture that companies like Amazon are getting rich off of low worker wages and instead paying high shareholder returns. We now know that if Lowe’s, CVS, and Home Depot wouldn’t have “bought back their own stock” they could have provided each of their workers a raise of $18,000 a year; Starbucks could have given each of its employees $7,000 a year; and McDonald’s could have given $4,000 to each of its nearly 2 million employees. The workers would rather have a raise than food stamps! Yes, we all want to be rich like Jeff, but not with taxpayer subsidies.

Why does Amazon get a subsidy “cost of aid, hand-out” like this in the first place anyway --and then not have to pay it back-- when millions of small businesses are trying to compete with no assistance from the government at all? While Congress couldn't figure out who should get an online sales tax, Bezos was allowed to build Amazon through un-taxed revenue and low-wage employees, but every other brick and mortar store across America was obligated to pay, for 21 years and counting.

Who should get the Internet tax: Should it be the state where it was shipped FROM (sold) or the state where the product was sent TO (purchased). C'mon Congress, is that so difficult?  Make a decision. The online buyer, where the product is shipped TO and where the product is USED, gets the sales tax. All those years of taxes could have been helping to rebuild this country. Or look at it this way: Due to a low 5.46% sales tax in Wyoming and a high 10.02% sales tax in Louisiana, Amazon was able to charge 5 to 10% less for any product in America even before the small business discounted their product. Yes, Amazon is responsible for the demise of the sole proprietorship, there's even a NetLingo word for it: you've been Amazonned.

So, is Sanders right in asking Congress to seriously look into Amazon’s monopoly and business practices if we want to remain a country where small business really matters? YES. In fact, where is Congress in any of this?  Why did you not foresee the loss of revenue to the States and the economic burden ahead when Bezos and pals began profiting from hiring mostly part-time employees that would not be eligible for the ever-rising health care costs? Smells like lobbyists to me.

Bravo Bernie, the 77-year-old Senator from Vermont, who is leading the charge with his Stop BEZOS Act.  It’s long overdue but face it, Internet taxes are inevitable. Restoring the American dream and supporting a middle class should not mean subsidies from Congress. No to subsidies, yes to a living wage! Amazon's decision this week to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour means Bernie Sanders' strategy is, so far, working magnificently. Et tu Congress?

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of NetLingo.com