Summary of “Why CAPTCHAs have gotten so difficult”

A decade later, after Google had bought the program from Carnegie Mellon researchers and was using it to digitize Google Books, texts had to be increasingly warped and obscured to stay ahead of improving optical character recognition programs – programs which, in a roundabout way, all those humans solving CAPTCHAs were helping to improve.
In 2014, Google pitted one of its machine learning algorithms against humans in solving the most distorted text CAPTCHAs: the computer got the test right 99.8 percent of the time, while the humans got a mere 33 percent.
The problem with many of these tests isn’t necessarily that bots are too clever – it’s that humans suck at them The literature on CAPTCHA is littered with false starts and strange attempts at finding something other than text or image recognition that humans are universally good at and machines struggle with.
Such cultural CAPTCHAs are aimed not just at bots, but at the humans working in overseas CAPTCHA farms solving puzzles for fractions of a cent.
“It’s not only our physical capabilities, you need something that [can] cross cultural, cross language. You need some type of challenge that works with someone from Greece, someone from Chicago, someone from South Africa, Iran, and Australia at the same time. And it has to be independent from cultural intricacies and differences. You need something that’s easy for an average human, it shouldn’t be bound to a specific subgroup of people, and it should be hard for computers at the same time. That’s very limiting in what you can actually do. And it has to be something that a human can do fast, and isn’t too annoying.”
Figuring out how to fix those blurry image quizzes quickly takes you into philosophical territory: what is the universal human quality that can be demonstrated to a machine, but that no machine can mimic? What is it to be human?
“As people put more and more investment into machine learning, those sorts of challenges will have to get harder and harder for humans, and that’s particularly why we launched CAPTCHA V3, to get ahead of that curve.” Malenfant says that five to ten years from now, CAPTCHA challenges likely won’t be viable at all.
In his book The Most Human Human, Brian Christian enters a Turing Test competition as the human foil and finds that it’s actually quite difficult to prove your humanity in conversation.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Google took on China-and lost”

Amid a furor from human rights activists and some Google employees, US Vice President Mike Pence called on the company to kill Dragonfly, saying it would “Strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers.” In mid-December, The Intercept reported that Google had suspended its development efforts in response to complaints from the company’s own privacy team, who learned about the project from the investigative website’s reporting.
To understand whether China will let Google back in, we must understand how Google and China got here, what incentives each party faces-and how artificial intelligence might have both of them dancing to a new tune.
Google wanted to be in China, the thinking went, but China needed Google.
Six months earlier, following riots in Xinjiang, the government had blocked Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube in one fell swoop, fortifying the “Great Firewall.” The government was making a bet: China and its technology sector did not need Google search to succeed.
In mid-2014, a few months before Alibaba’s IPO, the government blocked virtually all Google services in China, including many considered essential for international business, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Scholar.
In 2015, rumors swirled that Google was close to bringing its Google Play app store back to China, pending Chinese government approval-but the promised app store never materialized.
Reports that Google would launch a mobile-app store in China together with NetEase, a Chinese company, similarly came to naught, though Google was permitted to relaunch its smartphone translation app.
Google could serve as a valuable partner to Chinese companies looking to expand internationally, as it has demonstrated in a patent-sharing partnership with Tencent and a $550 million investment in e-commerce giant JD. Google’s reentry would also help legitimize the Communist Party’s approach to internet governance, a signal that China is an indispensable market-and an open one-as long as you “Play by the rules.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Google Tracks Your Personal Information”

It started in the early 2000s, when people-in return for having access to Google products and seeing more relevant ads-allowed Google to have all their data.
Today, Google provides marketers like me with so much of your personal data that we can infer more about you from it than from any camera or microphone.
Back in December 2008, Hal Roberts, a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, spoke about Google Ads as a form of “Gray surveillance.” Roberts described Google as “a system of collective intelligence” that, along with marketers, hoarded and exploited your data.
I will explain, in everyday language, how Google and Google Ads work “Under the hood” to track your data.
Then I will expose, from an insider’s perspective, what the vast majority of the public doesn’t know: how Google Ads is abused by search engine marketers and how people are essentially bought and sold through this platform.
I will cover what Google has tried to do to fix Google Ads.
Google users would not be so forthright with the search engine if they understood how far down this rabbit hole goes.
With the insider information I will provide, I hope readers can return to a place where Google is not the only option available to tell their fears, regrets, hopes, and dreams.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How I Quit Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon”

It’d be senseless to resist that kind of convenience and Google knows this, which is why Android prompts you to enter your Google credentials before you’ve even reached the phone’s dashboard for the first time.
HOW TO QUIT GOOGLE. Google was without a doubt the hardest company to purge from my life, but for this reason, also the most necessary.
At work, my editors and I workshop stories in Google docs; our company email system is hosted on Gmail servers; my contact with people at VICE that don’t directly work with Motherboard is almost exclusively through Hangouts; I organize calls with sources on Google Calendar; all my documents and photos are automatically synced to Google Drive; I frequently write about videos I find on YouTube; Google Maps is only way I know how to navigate New York City; Google’s Authenticator app secures many of my most important online accounts; Chrome has been my web browser since it was released a decade ago; and most importantly, my phone, and 75 percent of all the other phones on the planet, run Android, which is mainly developed by Google.
If the device manufacturer wants to include Google Mobile Services on its Android phones, it must sign a Mobile Application Distribution Agreement that requires it to pre-install certain Google applications in prominent places, such as the phone’s home page.
Google search must also be set as the default search provider “For all web access points.” Google also requires that its Network Location Provider service be “Preloaded and the default, tracking users’ geographic location at all times and sending that information to Google.”
In March Google started to block all uncertified Android from accessing any Google services or apps.
The vibrant Android modification community was shit-out-of-luck if it wanted to use any Google services or log into its Google accounts.
Even in my personal life I continue to use Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Search, although I try to limit my personal searches to DuckDuckGo as often as possible.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Friendship That Made Google Huge”

Google had moved the most frequently accessed data to the outside, so that bits could flow faster under the read-head, but had left the inner half empty; Jeff and Sanjay used the space to store preprocessed data for common search queries.
Jeff and Sanjay are Google Senior Fellows-the company’s first and only Level 11s. The Google campus, set beside a highway a few minutes from downtown Mountain View, is a series of squat, unattractive buildings with tinted windows.
On days like these, Jeff has been known to come home and tell his daughters, “Sanjay and I sped up Google Search by ten per cent today.”
In 2001, Noam Shazeer, who shared an office with Jeff and Sanjay, had grown frustrated with the spell-checker that Google was licensing from another company: it kept making embarrassing mistakes, such as telling users who’d typed “TurboTax” that they probably meant “Turbot ax.” A spell-checker is only as good as its dictionary, and Shazeer realized that, in the Web, Google had access to the biggest dictionary there had ever been.
In 2004, because Jeff and Sanjay thought it would be useful to astronomers, geneticists, and other scientists with lots of data to process, they wrote a paper, “MapReduce: Simplified Data Processing on Large Clusters,” and made it public.
Jeff began spending about a day a week on the project, which was called “Google Brain.” Many at Google were doubtful of the technology.
Jeff now spends four days a week running Google Brain.
If Google were a house, Jeff would be building an addition.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google keeps failing to understand tablets”

What is a tablet? What is a tablet supposed to be and do? Nine years ago, these questions were foremost in debates about new technology, as Apple was preparing to introduce its first iPad and rival companies were rushing to beat it to the punch.
Then a year after that, Google released a version of Android called Honeycomb that was tailored specifically for tablets.
No one understood tablets back then; everyone was guessing.
Translating that operating system to tablets has been a tragic, chronic failure for Google.
Roid on tablets has only ever been somewhat appealing on a couple of 7-inch devices – the Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab – and on task-specific tablets like Amazon’s Fire HD and Nvidia’s Shield Tablet, both of which are more about the content than the OS. The reason for Android’s failure as a tablet OS should be obvious.
A tablet is larger than a phone, but it’s not a large phone; it’s smaller than a laptop, but it’s not a small laptop Android is an operating system designed for phones, Chrome OS is an operating system designed for laptops, and the mix of Android apps and Chrome software that Google serves on the Pixel Slate is a buggy mess.
So long as Google keeps trying to cram its software for other platforms onto a tablet, it will continue to suffer the ignominy of failure.
To take on the iPad, Google needs to give up its Dr. Frankenstein act and just take the time to craft a tablet from fresh parts.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Android Apps With More Than 2 Billion Total Downloads Are Committing Ad Fraud”

Eight apps with a total of more than 2 billion downloads in the Google Play store have been exploiting user permissions as part of an ad fraud scheme that could have stolen millions of dollars, according to research from Kochava, an app analytics and attribution company that detected the scheme and shared its findings with BuzzFeed News.
BuzzFeed News reported last month on an ad fraud scheme tracked user behavior in dozens of Android apps in order to generate fake traffic and steal advertisers’ money.
Along with raising serious questions about the business practices of two prominent Chinese app developers, this highlights the security, privacy, and ad fraud issues in the Android app ecosystem and Google Play app store.
“Google is the curated owner of the Google Play Store and the owner of one of the largest monetization mechanisms for apps. If there is confusion on where ad fraud and attribution fraud is taking place in this ecosystem, we’d be happy to help Google in their efforts,” Simmons said.
The problem of app-install fraud is widespread. App installs are a more than $7 billion global market, according to eMarketer.
The affected Cheetah and Kika apps require users to give a wide range of permissions, including the ability to track keystrokes or to see when other apps are downloaded, which raises questions about the amount of data being collected by these companies, according to Sharma, CTO of the ad fraud investigation firm Method Media Intelligence.
Kochava identified seven Cheetah apps that require users to give them permission to see when new apps are downloaded, and to be able to launch other apps.
Simmons said Kochava found that the Kika Keyboard and just one of the Cheetah apps spread install attribution claims across more than 20 different ad networks.

The orginal article.

Summary of “I live with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Here’s which you should pick.”

Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant also want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even microwave your popcorn.
He loves the Google Assistant on his Android phone, so selecting his tribe should be easy, right? Hardly: He wanted to put Sonos speakers all around the house, but they take voice commands directly via Alexa.
They’re not all equally skilled at understanding accents – Southerners are misunderstood more with Google and Midwesterners with Alexa.
The good: Google Assistant comes the closest to having a conversation with an actual human helper.
On the new Home Hub device with a screen, Assistant curates a highlights-only show from your Google Photos collection.
While Android phone owners are more likely to use lots of Assistant-friendly Google services, the Assistant doesn’t particularly care what kind of phone you use – its simple companion apps work on iOS and Android.
Google is neck and neck with Alexa on many of the nuances: Night mode reduces the volume of answers at night, and it can even require Junior to say “Pretty please.”
Like Alexa, Google Assistant keeps a recording of all your queries – every time you ask it to turn off the lights.

The orginal article.

Summary of “After 20,000 workers walked out, Google said it got the message. The workers disagree.”

These are the people – or some of the people, because there’s many more, I think – that organized the Google Walkouts and the thinking behind it.
Amr, why would you think walking out was the thing to do, since you were saying, “Here’s the different things you could do”? What was the concept behind it? A visual of Google people just saying, “We’re walking out.”
Yeah, just really disappointing, because ultimately I think it’s such an opportunity for leadership, just to say, “We need to do better.” For someone to break away, in the executive rank, and to say, “We are so creative. We are so innovative. We can figure out a legal solution to this. We can figure out a way to bring people along with Google’s success, to make it more diverse, more equitable.”
I asked the crowd, “Where do you think Google got that $90 million they used to pay out Andy Rubin? They got it from every time you worked late. Every promotion you didn’t get because they said there’s not enough budget, you have to wait. It’s from every contractor who came to work sick because they have no paid time off. These are conscious decisions that the company is making, and abusers are getting rich off of our hard work. It’s just not fair, and they completely know what they’re doing.”
One of the 10 things we know to be true, you know, Google’s credo manifesto thing was Google is not a conventional company, but I think that what we’re talking about is it actually very much is.
One of the things about the Google story is, again, I think we had broken two of the sexual harassment stories or sexual problematic issues.
Right? Why are we special? Let’s look under the rocks and be like, are we able to cash these checks we wrote? Are we what we say we are? And I think that this is not a Google issue.
I think we’ve seen … I mean, that’s why it’s super important that this isn’t just about tech workers actually, this is … We didn’t just walk out by ourselves, there were contractors that walked out with us, people of all different types that walked out.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Google’s Pixel phones matter”

When the original Pixel was unveiled by Google in October 2016, many questioned why the Mountain View company was entering the business of designing, building, and selling phones.
Two years on, that sentiment still lingers, as expressed by Andreessen Horowitz analyst Benedict Evans when he asks, “What purpose do Google’s Pixel phones serve?”.
Google claims to be serious about its hardware business, but the Pixel phones are still available in only a limited number of countries and through a limited number of carriers.
Google’s fraught decision-making notwithstanding, the Pixel phones are influential far beyond the unimpressive number of people who own one.
If my illustrated love poems to the Pixel camera haven’t been enough to convince you, check out what The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have had to say about the first two Pixel generations.
The Pixel sets the Android standard Like the Nexus line before it, Google’s Pixel represents the company’s vision for the optimal Android user experience.
Which is to say, the Pixel is built to advertise Android at its best and, increasingly, Android is designed to create the best possible Pixel.
The Pixel is the only Android phone that can rival the iPhone Other than Apple, Google is the only company that controls the design of both the hardware and operating system of its smartphone.

The orginal article.