Apple and free speech, Facebook delves into next-gen mobile networks, teens on Tumblr are weird, a load of new music!
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No. 045 wins by a landslide.

I WILL not talk about Donald Trump, I will NOT talk about Donald Trump…

But, links? I got links for you. 

Alright, shall we?

In this edition of Greg’s Newsletter, we figure out how Apple should (or rather, shouldn’t) defend itself against the FBI, Facebook ventures into the world of next-gen mobile networks, teenagers are/were really scary on Tumblr, and a slew of new/great music. Enjoy!


Apple’s “Code = Speech” Mistake [MIT Technology Review]
Apple is figuring its defense in its legal fight with FBI and whether it has to create custom firmware to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. One argument that Apple has made (although not its primary argument), is that its code = speech and so coercing Apple to produce the firmware code (aka speech) is a violation of the FIrst Amendment.

The author of this article, Wash U professor Neil Richards, states that the Supreme Court has never accepted that code is protected like speech. Further, suggesting that code = speech could be a dangerous and slippery slope. It addresses the wrong question, Richards says. The right question: does the government’s regulation of a particular kind of code threaten the value of free expression?

Because if code = speech, then writing code for a malicious virus could be (as Richards argues) the equivalent to writing an editorial in terms of constitutional protection. Companies could write code that discriminates based on sex or race, and the law would also then give those algorithms protection.

It’s a nuanced argument (that I may or may not have butchered or given an incomplete picture of), but it’s a an interesting read and take on the FBI vs. Apple issue. The code as speech issue probably won’t go away and speaks to a larger dynamic at play: how much of our information/technology policy will be set by litigation and how much will be determined through the democratic political process, where we give our representatives the agency to be proactive and prescriptive (my prognosis: it’s not looking good for a political solution).


Facebook Enters the Race to Build 5G Networks [MIT Technology Review]
MIT Technology Review coming with the heat this week. Facebook is launching the Telecom Infra Project - a partnership with firms like Deutsche Telekom and Intel, designed to build the next generation of wireless networks, including 5G (experts say 2019 is the earliest we’ll see 5G).

What’s Facebook’s interest in 5G wireless? They want to continue improving connectivity around the world, so that they can continue to expand their various advertising and revenue generating operations. And then sell us all their VR goggles.

OK, OK. Facebook just wants to eat the world. 

Google’s latest AI doesn’t need geotags to figure out a photo’s location [The Verge]
File under: Holy Shit. Google’s PlaNet is the company’s deep-learning program that can figure out where a photo was taken just by looking at it. Like. Think about how crazy that is. You can show Google a random house, from basically anywhere in the world, and PlaNet has a reasonable chance at telling you exactly where it’s from. It out performs humans, in part thanks to its examination of some 3 million photos (that included geographic metadata) to learn how to be reeeeeeeeal good and creepy. 

(Deep-learning is a new area of machine learning that’s getting us one step closer to Artificial Intelligence and yeah, we’re all going to be serving our robot overlords or else just exterminated. That’s not hyperbole. But also maybe not a bad thing, if a certain someone becomes president.)


The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens [The New Republic]
I was a huge fan and user of Tumblr when it launched in 2007, at some point writing for one of the biggest Tumblr-hosted music blogs, and regularly posting and reblogging tunes, links, cool photos, whatever. Tumblr stuff.  This was back when Tumblr seemed largely inhabited by the web/tech-echo chamber, designers, artists, photographers, etc. But then the teens took over.

Yahoo bought it in 2014, a move that formally killed Tumblr’s cool, and has proved to be a massive, massive failure for Yahoo. But from the late 2000s to maybe 2K11/12, Tumblr was first a launching pad for people signing book deals based on their popular blogs, and then became the domain of weird teens.

If you want a look into the dark, absurdist, teen-dominated service - and the money/sponsorships/eventual failures that befell a certain swath of 15 year-olds - this is a pretty great article.

Also, the internet is strange.


Album: Dil Withers - Studies [2016, Grand Garden | Bandcamp]
Instrumental hip-hop vibes from Dil Withers, out of L.A.

Song: Leon Vynehall - “Kiburu’s” [2016, Running Back | Soundcloud]
Vynehall makes phenomenal house music. This one had me head-bobbing at my desk yesterday.

Song: JMSN - “Cruel Intentions” [2016, White Room Records | Soundcloud]
Michigan R&B singer JMSN just dropped the lead single from his upcoming album of the same name. Quite a nice little ballad.

Playlist: GREG’S PLAYLIST - MARCH 2016 [Spotify]
Pretty beat/hip-hop based this month, with a few recent gems included. Tracks from Bonobo, Open Mike Eagle, SiR, Tuamie, Adrian Younge ft. Bilal and Latitia Sadier of Stereolab. And more!

Copyright © 2016 Greg's Newsletter, All rights reserved.

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