Spam Faxes and the Wonders of Ephemera

In 2002, a father in the UK gathered up a pile of fax paper from his fax machine and took it home. Was he looking at some treasured writings and gathered cultural touchstones and wanted to preserve them? No, he had gotten a pile of spam faxes and wanted to bring the paper home so his kids could have something to draw on the back.

Decades later, he found the box and scanned in the contents.

And that’s how we have the 2002 Junk Faxes Collection. Over 500 pages of fax-based spam messages gathered from across a few months in 2002.

For the younger members of the crowd; Fax machines used to be very ubiquitous, and calling a lot of random phone numbers would reveal fax machines by the dozen, connected to all sorts of businesses. Many companies would also list their fax machine numbers as part of their information. For some industries and areas, a fax number was even mandatory for transactions. (And still are, in some cases!)

This, therefore, became an attack vector for all sorts of sales departments, political mailers and scammers. People could send, basically, anything. And they did!



The faxes are scanned and readable in the item in our online book reader; going to full-screen mode turns them into a very readable exhibit of pitches, come-ons and scams from the UK around that period of time.

This is an example of the power of ephemera, the parts of life and culture that are normally meant to be used for a short time, or disposed of quickly. Even though the faxes were intended to convince a small portion of the receiving audience to sign on or throw away the faxes, having them all in one place brings all sort of unintended value. We see what priorities existed for sales, what items cost, and what sorts of things could be bought. Some of the spams, like the ones asking “Yes or No”, are mostly intended to cause reaction or to call a for-pay “voting” line, but the choices and language will be of use to historians and researchers.

Thanks to Rob for keeping this material all these years, and taking the effort to scan them and bring them online!

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Addressing Recent Claims of “Manipulated” Blog Posts in the Wayback Machine

Some recent press stories (1, 2) have discussed archived blog posts of a prominent journalist, Joy Ann Reid, in the Wayback Machine and her claims that some of these posts were “manipulated” by an “unknown, external party”.

This past December, Reid’s lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog (blog.reidreport.com) taken down, stating that “fraudulent” posts were “inserted into legitimate content” in our archives of the blog. Her attorneys stated that they didn’t know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).

When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions. At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities.

We let Reid’s lawyers know that the information provided was not sufficient for us to verify claims of manipulation. Consequently, and due to Reid’s being a journalist (a very high-profile one, at that) and the journalistic nature of the blog archives, we declined to take down the archives. We were clear that we would welcome and consider any further information that they could provide us to support their claims.

At some point after our correspondence, a robots.txt exclusion request specific to the Wayback Machine was placed on the live blog. That request was automatically recognized and processed by the Wayback Machine and the blog archives were excluded, unbeknownst to us (the process is fully automated). The robots.txt exclusion from the web archive remains automatically in effect due to the presence of the request on the live blog. Also, the blog URL which previously pointed to an msnbc.com page now points to a generic parked page.

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SAVE THE DATE: Decentralized Web Summit 2018

In 2016, an early group of builders, policymakers, journalists and archivists gathered at the Internet Archive for the first Decentralized Web Summit to “Lock the Web Open” for good. A lot has happened since then! Today more than ever before, we understand that the current Web is not private, secure, reliable or free from censorship. By distributing data, processing and hosting across millions of computers worldwide with no centralized control, a new “decentralized” web can remain open, empowering users to better manage and protect their own personal data.

Today decentralized web technologies are expanding every day. Join us for the Decentralized Web Summit 2018: Global Visions/Working Code on July 31-August 2 in San Francisco. Our goal is to bring the builders, policymakers and the global community members who will use the Decentralized Web together to explore the visions, values and working code needed. What could it look like at scale? How can people around the world use and benefit from these technologies? What code is working and what is still missing? What do we need to collaborate on in the future?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee explains his new project, SOLID, at the Internet Archive in 2016.

At the Decentralized Web Summit 2018, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, will share his latest work on the decentralized project, SOLID.  Internet creator and Google Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf, Mozilla Board Chair, Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive Digital Librarian, Brewster KahleIPFS Founder, Juan Benet, and the leaders of the non-profit DAT Project will be among the community of builders sharing their work in this quickly evolving ecosystem.

Organized by the Internet Archive and Aspiration, our goal is to align the values of the Open Web with principles of decentralization. To bring together global communities to co-create infrastructure and tools we can trust. To write code that supports privacy, security, self-sovereign data and digital memory. Intrigued? Sign up for more information.  Be the first to hear when registration officially opens.

MIT’s Nicola Greco and Mozilla Board Chair, Mitchell Baker, at the 2016 Decentralized Web Summit at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

 

Posted in Announcements, Event, News, Past Event | 7 Comments

Highlights from the Tribute to Cyberspace Philosopher, John Perry Barlow

by Lisa Rein

On April 7, 2018, more than 500 people gathered at the Internet Archive for a symposium on the life and work of John Perry Barlow. The program included talks, discussions and Q & A sessions with many of Barlow’s closest friends and collaborators. Speakers included: Edward Snowden, Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of the EFF, Cory Doctorow, science fiction author and activist, Mitch Kapor, Lotus 123 creator and EFF co-founder, Pam Samuelson, the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law at the Berkeley Law School and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, John Gilmore, co-founder of EFF, Shari Steele, Executive Director of Tor, Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab and Steven Levy, journalist and author of “Hackers.”

The complete video and transcript is located here.

Here are some highlights from each speaker:

Edward Snowden:

“What happens when we cast votes for politicians who claim certain campaign promises, and then, not only do they not deliver on them, they actually expand the surveillance programs that they pledged to terminate. And this, because I’ve gone on for a while here, is that part of John Perry Barlow’s sincerity that I admired. And this is the reason, ultimately, that led me to many of the choices in life that I have made.

When I was a young man. I was reading his “Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace,” and perhaps that may have been that first seed of radicalization. I’ve said before that I used to work for the government and now I work for the public. I’m not sure JPB ever had any other allegiance. His love was for all of us. This is why he spent that long life could have been so comfortable, so frictionless, constantly searching for the next battle. Constantly searching for the next struggle…

John Perry Barlow woke me up. He raised a message, sounded an alarm, that I think we all heard. He did not save the world. None of us can, but maybe he started the movement that will. I want to thank him for everything that he did for me, for us, for the United States, and for this world.”

Anna Barlow:

“…he felt it was important to stand up for what they were doing, but more importantly to stand up for the people’s right to know the truth. To have access to that truth; to protect the availability that the Internet offered in a way that was more raw and accessible to information than ever before. He knew that this was an imperative thing to fight for, and it was second nature for him to fight as hard as he could…The right to access it and the pioneering of the Internet as we know it. So thank you, dad, for all of those important things of vital importance now more than ever to my generation, as well as to every generation to come.”
 
 
 
Cindy Cohn:

“To me, what Barlow did for the Internet was to articulate more, and more beautifully than almost anyone, that this new network had the possibility of connecting us all. He saw that the Internet would not be just a geeky hobby or a toy or only a place of the military or of the academics, which is what a lot of people at that time believed…Barlow saw the Internet as a chance for all of us to kind of start over with a clean slate and use this moment of evolution to build the layer of the mind and through that build the kind of world we wanted to live in, as opposed to the one that we had all inherited. That fit well in the mindset of the 1960s where, in the midst of terrible strife and death and war, a set of people including Barlow, were actively searching for a better way.”

Mitch Kapor:

“We were invited into the CIA, this is early days, to just talk about the issues that we were working on…I’d never been there. I don’t think John had ever been at that point. And it’s this big fortress, and there are lots of signs about no recording devices and turn everything in. And John and I conferred and we devised a plan. We said, “well, can we bring in our laptops?” This is in the early 1990s. Yes, actually if you check the laptop, (they said), you can bring your laptop.

Our laptops were recording devices. This was brand new at that point that our Macs had mics in them an audio capture software and this wasn’t a common thing, and we said to each other “I wonder if the CIA knows this?”

Steven Levy:

“Barlow used cyberspace as a metaphor that wound up becoming the way we all thought of the Internet, and as a matter of fact, the way we did all of our digital activities. Not just in the VR world, where you make up a world like Gibson wrote about, though that too, but occurring in a venue where you went somewhere, everywhere. Every time you made a phone call. Made an ATM transaction, or did an online chat.

So when Barlow wrote about it, he took cyberspace and our digital activities from something you did – what you did online – to where you were online. And we needed this.”

Pam Samuelson:

“Barlow’s major contribution in the field of copyright, and he really did, was “The Economy of Ideas” article that was published in 1994 in Wired magazine. And honestly, it’s been cited 742 times in the law review literature. Which, I’m telling you; there are people in my field who would just die to get that many citations, ok? So, Barlow made an impact on my field, but the wider impact of that article was really to galvanize a lot of people in the community who kind of came to understand that copyright – this obscure thing that we didn’t really like to think about – actually had some impact on our lives, especially on the Internet.”

John Gilmore:

“Now, as we build and use the Internet, Barlow cautioned us to distinguish “data,” “information,” and “experience” in ways that are often forgotten today. And he had a 1990s conversation with John Brockman that later Brockman put in a book, and he explained, “data differs from information.” You can gather infinite sets of data with machines. But in order to convert data into information, the human mind has to process that dataset and find it meaningful.

That’s the important difference between information and other kinds of products. Products of the physical world are generally themselves regardless of the context. A toaster is a toaster is a toaster. In the informational world, however, each piece of information draws value from its direct relevance to the area of mind that is finding it meaningful or not meaningful. So then the next layer is “experience,” which also differs from “information.” Experience is the real-time interactive relationship between the sensorium and all the phenomena that the sensorium has available to it.”

Joi Ito:
“But one of the things that for me was really important was the “Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace.” That was like a battle cry for us to rally around and it took this kind of fashion movement of the cyberpunks and turned it into a political, social movement that tied a bunch of things together. But today we look around, and it seems like kind of a distant dream…

And I still remember in the early days when we thought “we just connect everybody together and we’d have world peace” ya know, and the Internet would just solve everything. And that technology can be political. We can design it in a way that the bad guys couldn’t use it. Well turns out; it’s wrong. But I think he was aware. He was aware of this winding path, and I think the manifesto was a compass heading. This is where we’re going.”

Amelia Barlow:

“I want to say thank you for embodying these ideas that were shared today; Continuing his legacy in the way that you work, in the way that you live your lives. Also, thank you for being the immune system, and protecting us from tyranny.

When he passed he entrusted us with the most valuable asset that I could possibly imagine, which is you. All of the people in this room. All of the people around the world who he cared about and cared about him.

This vast web of infinitely interesting and radical human beings he gave to us, and I really appreciate that.”

Cory Doctorow:

“There’s a moment at which your tactics change, if you’re an activist. It’s the “moment of peak indifference.” When the number of people who care about your issue only goes up forever more. I mean, yeah, we spectacularly failed to get people to care about privacy and the destiny of the Internet for 25 years, and that is a catastrophe. We have carbonized our atmosphere with personal information that will never go away and whose effects will be felt for decades to come and the only thing worse than that, would be to let it go to waste. To let this moment in which people realize that there’s a problem slip away from us, instead of saying not only did we know this stuff was going to happen but we can do something about it.

And so for EFF, for Barlow, for the people I see here today, old friends and people who I recognize from so many different contexts, I feel like this is our mission. It’s to make the world safe for technology but more importantly to make the technology safe for the world. To seize the means of information the way Barlow taught us to.”

To view photos from the event click here.

To watch the video and for a full speaker transcript, click here.

Posted in Event, News, Past Event | 1 Comment

Google Summer of Code 2018: Thank you Google and welcome students!

The Internet Archive is grateful to Google for running their “Google Summer of Code” (GSoC) program, providing support for students and open source projects.

This year the GSoC will support 5 students to work with the Internet Archive on the following projects:

Anish Kumar Sarangi – Continue development of the Chrome extension “Wayback Machine” Today this extension is used by 10s of thousands of people to help them archive URLs, access archived content from broken links (404s, etc.) and perform other functions to help make the web more useful and reliable. We will build on that work, adding features, fix bugs and supporting efforts to bring this tool to millions of users.

Zhengyue Cheng – Inventory the Web to help the Wayback Machine do a better job of archiving it. Today the Wayback Machine archives about 1.5 billion URLs/week. A goal of this project will be to help inform the selection of “seeds” for that effort, to help ensure our coverage is as complete and distributed as possible. We don’t know what we don’t know and this project will help us fill in the blanks.

Fotios Tsalampounis – Add functionality to the Wayback Machine to help people learn about changes in web pages over time. Leveraging work done by the Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI) we will continue to develop software to detect changes in the content of web pages and provide user-facing and API-based interfaces to those changes.

Salman Bhai – Improve the OpenLibrary.org. Salman will lead an effort to write robots that will add hundreds of thousands of new modern book catalog records to OpenLibrary. He will also make OpenLibrary more robust and easier to deploy using Docker and Ansible.

Dave Barry – Continue development of the Google Home (voice) service “Internet Archive” If you have a Google Home device you can use the service today by saying “Hey Google, ask Internet Archive”. Or, try some complete sentences like “Hey Google, ask the Internet Archive to randomly play the Grateful Dead” or “Hey Google, ask the Internet Archive to randomly play Jazz 78s”

Each student has been paired with a “Mentor”, from the Internet Archive’s staff, who will help guide them to a successful engagement.

At the end of the Summer we will publish blog posts here about the outcome of each project.

Thank you Google!

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TV News Record: Recognizing Trump’s voice on TV, NYT & Axios coverage, + Ryan fact-check

A round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman.

This week we explore cutting edge work by Joostware that moves us closer to solving the challenge of searching vast archives of video by speaker, note the use of TV News Archive data by The New York Times and Axios, and share a fact-checked interview by exiting House Speaker Paul Ryan about his legacy.

Joostware trained model to recognize Trump’s voice

What if you wanted to search the TV News Archive to find every instance where President Donald Trump is talking?

That’s the research question that the San Francisco-based firm Joostware concentrated on for its Who Said What project, which won a $50,000 prototype grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Last week Joostware’s founder, Delip Rao, presented the project’s progress at a gathering in Austin, Texas. (The Internet Archive’s own Dan Schultz, in his Bad Idea Factory incarnation, also presented on Contextubot, which we recently profiled here.)

Audio and video today is viewed as an opaque object and it’s meant for linear consumption,” Rao said in his presentation. “But truly any audio and video especially in the context of news has a lot of structure to it. There are speakers of interest, and these speakers take turns, and then within each turn something was communicated. So our goal is to identify these speakers who are of interest and also the content that was spoken in that turn and indexing that.

Anyone can search the TV News Archive already via closed captions at the Internet Archive or via Television Explorer. Our experiments with facial detection and chyron extraction are another way to find and analyze news clips. But searching a video archive by “speaker id” – finding all the video where a person is actually talking – is a tough technical challenge. Our Trump Archive and congressional, executive branch, and administration archives are all manually curated video collections designed to demonstrate what it would be like to have automated speaker id search.

Joostware researchers have made progress toward this goal. They took material from the Trump Archive, and used it to train a model that recognizes the president’s voice, by using properties of the voice signal. They created a prototype search software that is more than 95% accurate on a human annotated dataset in returning video clips where Trump is actually speaking.

What’s next? With more resources, Joostware hopes to give this technology back to the Internet Archive to improve search within the TV News Archive. And Rao and others continue to work within the larger community of researchers working to crack the code of video to help fact-checkers and journalists hold power accountable.

No one is talking about tax law on cable TV news

Jim Tankersley and Karl Russell, reporters for The New York Times, used TV News Archive captions via GDELT’s Television Explorer to demonstrate how little coverage there is on cable TV news for the newly minted $2.5 trillion tax overhaul:

“Consider one of Mr. Trump’s preferred yardsticks: cable news coverage. Throughout the fall, as Republicans rushed their tax bill through Congress in two breakneck months, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC routinely devoted 10 percent of their daily coverage to tax issues, according to data from the Gdelt Project. Interest spiked as Mr. Trump signed the bill in late December, and then it fell precipitously.”

“Stormy Daniels wins TV war: overshadows taxes, health care”

For Axios, Caitlin Owens used TV New Archive data with GDELT’s Television Explorer to shed light on whether the TV networks are paying attention the priorities of the political parties: “Tax cuts and the Affordable Care Act are supposed to be big issues in the midterm elections, but both have faded from the attention of the cable news networks now that they’re no longer front and center in Congress.” Owens thinks it matters because “Democrats are campaigning hard on the GOP’s unpopular attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, and Republicans are pushing the financial benefits of their tax law.”


Fact-Check: Corporate tax revenues are rising (misleading)

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wisc., announced last week he would not be seeking reelection, prompting television interviews that reflected on his legacy. In a “Meet the Press” interview Sunday on NBC, host Chuck Todd asked Ryan to respond to a statement by Sen. Bob Corker, R., Tenn.:

“’This Congress and this administration likely will go down as one of the most fiscally irresponsible administrations and Congresses that we ever had.’ And he’s referring to the fact that this tax bill spiked the deficit. It’s higher than even what was projected.” Ryan responded “That was going to happen. The baby boomers’ retiring was going to do that. These deficit trillion-dollar projections have been out there for a long, long time. Why? Because of mandatory spending, which we call entitlements. Discretionary spending under the CBO baseline is going up about $300 billion over the next 10 years. Tax revenues are still rising. Income tax revenues are still rising. Corporate income tax revenues. Corporate rate got dropped 40 percent, still rising.”

Eugene Kiely reported for FactCheck.org that “Ryan is right that $1 trillion deficit projections ‘have been out there for a long, long time…But corporate tax revenues are down for the first six months of the fiscal year, and they are projected to be less over the next 10 years than they otherwise would have been because of the law.”

Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly reported for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, “The baby-boom generation is retiring, and Congress at best has taken only modest steps to rein in spending on old-age programs, largely because any serious effort is met with hostility and often-misleading attack ads…But the revenue side of the picture cannot be ignored.” “Congress has not been able to grapple with the spending — and  keeps taking steps to undermine the revenue flow as well.”

Follow us @tvnewsarchive, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter here.

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Software Help Requested to Segment Tracks on LP’s

Machine Learning + Music Lovers: the Internet Archive is seeking technical volunteers or interns or low-cost contractors with a passion for music to make an opensource software library capable of identifying which songs are on LPs (given a wave form or audio track of the sides). We have a training set of ~5k manually labeled LPs and thousands more which are in need of your help.

Challenges:

  • detecting start and stop of songs
  • get track titles from OCR’ed covers or labels
  • engaging UI for QA or uncertain automated output

The Internet Archive is interested in digitizing “Lost Vinyl”: those recordings that did not make it to CD or Spotify. We have been getting donations of physical LP’s (but we can always use more, please think of us…)  And at the end of the year we would like to start to digitize them. We are not sure how available we can make the resulting audio files, but let’s make sure these fabulous recordings are at least preserved.

We are looking for help in separating the tracks on an LP.  Sounds easy, but we have not been able to do it automatically yet.

For instance, this is an awesome Bruce record:

We want to detect timings and track titles:

<info>

  <title>Dancing in the Dark</title>

  <artist>Bruce Springsteen</artist>

  <trackinfo unit="mm:ss">

   <track target="01_Dancing_in_the_Dark__Blaster_mix" 
    title="Dancing in the Dark (Blaster mix)" 
    start="0:09" duration="6:11" end="6:20"/>

   <track target="02_Dancing_in_the_Dark__Radio" 
    title="Dancing in the Dark (Radio)" 
    start="6:42" duration="4:43" end="11:25"/>

   <track target="03_Dancing_in_the_Dark__Dub" 
    title="Dancing in the Dark (Dub)" 
    start="11:25" duration="5:33" end="16:58"/>

  </trackinfo>
</info>

https://archive.org/download/dancingindarksou00spri/dancingindarksou00spri_segments.xml

We have 5,000 of these that have been done by hand that can be used as a training set, and we want to do the next many thousand using a computer and human QA. Sometimes we know how many tracks there are on a side, which can help, but ideally we would not have to know.

We have derivative waveforms, fingerprints, already computed and full audio if needed.

What we would like is a piece of code, ideally python and open source, that would take an mp3, flac, or png, and create a set of timings for the tracks on it. If the code needed the number of tracks, we could supply that as well.

Then we would like to take label images such as:

 

To create the track titles for the metadata above.  (we OCR the labels, but it will be a bit lossy).

In other words, we would like to take photographs and digitization of the 2 sides of the album, and then get the titles with start and stop times.

We have done this for 5,000 LP’s already, and we would like help in automating this process so we can do it for all LP’s that did not make it to CD.

Up for helping? We can give access to existing 5,000 and what we would love is robust code that we could run on newly digitized LP’s so we could at least preserve, and maybe even bring access to the Lost Vinyl of the 20th century.

This is not as easy as it looks, but please do not be discouraged, we could use the help.

Existing open source projects could get us a long way there:

https://github.com/yu-tseng-chou/CS696-AMN-Project
https://github.com/bonnici/scrobble-along-scrobbler
https://github.com/NavJ/slicer/blob/master/slicer.py
https://github.com/tyiannak/pyAudioAnalysis

If you are interested, please write to info@archive.org.

Posted in Announcements, News | 2 Comments

Audio / Video player updated – to jwplayer v8.2

We updated our audio/video (and TV) 3rd party JS-based player from v6.8 to v8.2 today.

This was updated with some code to have the same feature set as before, as well as new:

  • much nicer cosmetic/look updates
  • nice “rewind 10 seconds” button
  • controls are now in an updated control bar
  • (video) ‘Related Items’ now uses the same (better) recommendations from the bottom of an archive.org /details/ page
  • Airplay (Safari) and Chromecast basic casting controls in player
  • playback speed rate control now easier to use / set
  • playback keyboard control with SPACE and left , right and up, down keys
  • (video) Web VTT (captions) has much better user interface and display
  • flash is now only used to play audio/video if html5 doesnt work (flash does not do layout or controls now)

Here’s some before / after screenshots:

Posted in 78rpm, Audio Archive, Live Music Archive, Movie Archive, Technical, Television Archive, Video Archive | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

TV News Record: Caption analyses, plus fact-checks on wall & immigrants

A round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman.

This week we bring you analyses of cable TV news coverage and fact-checks of recent statements by President Donald Trump on immigration and his proposed wall on the border with Mexico.

Vox & Post turn TV news captions into media analysis

Vox’s Alvin Chang and The Washington Post’s Philip Bump continue to turn TV News Archive caption data, via Television Explorer, into analyses of current news. Chang analyzes cable TV network coverage of the March for Our Lives, an anti-gun violence demonstration, reporting that on Fox News, “There was a massive spike in mentions of the “Second Amendment” or “Constitution” during the peak of the march, and most of those mentions came from pundits and guests on the network.”

Source: Vox

Bump’s piece examines mentions of Hillary Clinton on cable TV news networks compared to those of Stormy Daniels, the adult entertainer involved in a legal dispute with the president. He finds that Fox News mentions Clinton the most, while CNN features more coverage of Daniels.

Source: The Washington Post

Fact-Check: We’ve started building the wall (Mostly False/Three Pinocchios)

During a press conference with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, President Donald Trump talked about his proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico: “We have to have strong borders. We need the wall. We’ve started building the wall, as you know, we have a $1.6 billion toward building the wall and fixing existing wall that’s falling down, it was never appropriate in the first place.”

The funding the president references comes from a spending bill recently passed by Congress. The omnibus “bill included $1.6 billion for some projects at the border, but none of that can be used toward the border wall promised during the presidential campaign.” For PolitiFact, Miriam Valverde rates the president’s claim “Mostly False.”

At The Washington Post’s Fact-Checker, Glenn Kessler gives the same claim “three Pinocchios”:

The White House failed miserably to achieve its objectives on funding for a border wall, receiving relative peanuts. It sought $25 billion, but ended up with just 5 percent of that. Moreover, the money came with strings attached so that it could only be used for fencing, not the “great” and “beautiful wall” promised by Trump.

In Orwellian fashion, fences have now become walls. Even then, the president has only secured enough money to pay for one-tenth of the new fence/wall he has sought.


Fact-Check: Caravans of people are coming to cross the U.S.-Mexico border (Half True)

Just after Fox News aired a segment on a caravan of people from Central America making its way through Mexico toward the United States, the president wrote on Twitter:

“Half True,” writes W. Gardner Shelby for PolitiFact: “President Trump tweeted that caravans of immigrants are coming to the Mexico-U.S. border… We confirmed that a caravan of 1,200 to 1,500 people from Central America–not caravans–was in southern Mexico, about 900 miles from the Rio Grande, when Trump tweeted. Also, accounts vary on whether all participants are bound to enter the U.S. An organizer estimated that most of the people intend to remain in Mexico.”

Reporting for FactCheck.org, Robert FarleyEugene Kiely and Lori Robertson write “Trump’s messages included muddled and inaccurate claims.” They summarize with the following bullet points:

  • Contrary to Trump’s assertion, there is no “liberal (Democrat)” law requiring the “Catch & Release” of people caught illegally crossing the border. There are court cases and laws that require some unaccompanied children, families and asylum-seekers to be released in the U.S., pending an immigration hearing. But it’s a stretch to blame those entirely on Democrats.

  • Trump said “big flows of people” are illegally entering the U.S. from Mexico “to take advantage of DACA.” In fact, current border-crossers are not eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

  • Trump said that “caravans” of people were coming to the Southwest border and that Mexico “must stop them.” The caravan, a yearly demonstration, was organized by the activist group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which says the people walking in the caravan have “a lot of intentions,” with some wanting to stay in Mexico. The caravan is now in southern Mexico, more than 800 miles from the U.S. border.

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Artificial General Intelligences & Corporations — April 8, 2018

Check out the Live Stream Here

Even if we don’t know yet how to align Artificial General Intelligences with our goals, we do have experience in aligning organizations with our goals. Some argue corporations are in fact Artificial Intelligences – legally at least we treat them as persons already.

The Foresight Institute, along with the Internet Archive, invite you to spend an afternoon examining AI alignment, especially whether our interactions with different types of organizations, e.g. our treatment of corporations as persons, allow insights into how to align AI goals with human goals.

While this meeting focuses on AI safety, it merges AI safety, philosophy, computer security, and law and should be highly relevant for anyone working in or interested in those areas.

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Discussions on the day include:

Overview of AI Safety & definitions by Allison Duettmann, AI Safety Researcher at Foresight Institute, Advisor to EthicsNet

Corporations as Artificial General Intelligences (based on this literature review for a grant given by Paul Christiano on the legal aspects of AGI as corporations) by Peter Scheyer, Foresight Institute Fellow in Cybersecurity & Corporate AGI, Cybersecurity Veteran

Overview of the traditional field of AI alignment, with focus on CHAI’s approach to AI alignment, by Mark Nitzberg, Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Human Compatible AI

Aligning long-term projects with incentives in governmental institutions, by Tom Kalil, former Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, Senior Advisor at the Eric & Wendy Schmidt Group

Building a 501c3 organization and similarities to AI alignment, by Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive, Digital Librarian, and Philanthropist

Civilizations as relevant superintelligence (based on this paper co-authored with Christine Peterson, and Allison Duettmann for the First UCLA Risk Colloquium), by Mark Miller, Senior Fellow of the Foresight Institute, pioneer of agoric computing, designer of several object-capability programming languages

This seminar will be highly interactive – we welcome your engagement throughout the session. If you have something valuable to add to the discussion contact Allison at a@foresight.org.

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