My 2019 BSidesLV presentation on AI security will be briefly in the “I Am The Cavalry” track and then again more in-depth in the “Public Ground” track:
When: Tuesday, August 6 (14:30:14:55 and 16:00-17:55)
Where: Tuscany, Las Vegas
Cost: Free (as always!)
Event Link: BSidesLV Schedule
Title: “AIs Wide Open – Making Bots Safer Than Completely $#%cking Unsafe”
Abstract (I Am The Cavalry track):
Bladerunner was supposed to be science fiction. And yet here we are today with bots running loose beyond their intended expiration and with companies trying to hire security people to terminate them. This is 2019 and we have several well-documented cases of software flaws in automation systems causing human fatalities. Emergent human safety risks are no joke and we fast are approaching an industry where bots are capable of pivoting and transforming to perpetuate themselves (availability) with little to no accountability when it comes to human aspirations of being not killed (let alone confidentiality and integrity).
This talk will frame the issues for discussion in the Public Ground track later. Perhaps you are interested in building a framework to keep bot development pointed in the right direction (creating benefits) and making AI less prone to being a hazard to everyone around? Welcome to 2019 where we are tempted to reply “you got the wrong guy, pal” to an unexpected tap on the shoulder…before we end up on some random roof in a rainstorm with a robot trying to kill us all.
RIP Rutger Hauer, the actor who turned down a role as an actual Nazi to instead play a futuristic robo-supremacist leader of renegade replicants in Bladerunner. He passed away this month aged 75
“Rutger read [my] speech and then went on with a couple of lines about memories in the rain,” co-screenwriter David Webb Peoples told THR in 2017. “And then he looked at me like a naughty little boy, like he was checking to see if the writer was going to be upset. I didn’t let on that I was upset, but at the time, I was a little upset and threatened by it.
“Later, seeing the movie, that was a brilliant contribution of Rutger’s, that line about tears in the rain. It is absolutely beautiful.”
Hauer said he turned down a role in Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot (1981) to work on Blade Runner, which he noted “wasn’t about the replicants, it was about what does it mean to be human?” The late Philip K. Dick, whose novel served as the basis for the film, called the actor “the perfect Batty — cold, Aryan, flawless.”
Basically a haiku
All those moments will be – 6
Lost in time like tears in rain. – 7
Time to die. – 3
Some friends recently were saying my examples of KKK signaling in the open are just a theory. It’s true, I am proposing theories meant for dialogue, rather than saying I’m the final word on hidden signaling.
Nonetheless, hidden signaling by hate groups is a very real thing. It takes training and some careful observation to reveal the obfuscated messages without looking like you’ve lost your eyesight. Trust depends on establishing some clear explanations.
PBS NewsHour profiled a woman volunteering for the campaign who had prominently visible tattoos of widely recognized white power symbols.
In the segment, which was first flagged by Gawker, PBS profiles Grace Tilly, who is shown making calls at a Trump campaign phone bank in North Carolina.
Her symbols were a Celtic Cross and the number 88. Would you immediately recognize those as hate symbols?
I’m definitely not the first to write about Nazi tees hiding in plain sight. A descendant of Nazis literally already sent me a Mel Magazine article about Neo-Nazi apparel and asked me if there was anything I wanted for Christmas:
At a cursory glance, the T-shirt looks like an ad for Sea World. An orca, triumphantly jutting out of the sea, splashes water above the words “Antarktis-Expedition.” It takes just a second longer to notice the bold text hovering above the orca: “Save the White Continent.”
The shirt was created by the German label Thor Steinar, one of a few clothing brands that cater to neo-Nazis. Like Ansgar Aryan and Erik and Sons, Thor Steinar uses coded references to obscure events in Nazi history, veiled threats and playful imagery to flout German hate-speech laws, which forbid explicit references to the Third Reich.
So let’s just say I’ve been, and remain, in the right circles to know when I see something fishy (both puns intended). And that is why, while walking through an airport the other day, I could not help but notice someone wearing a giant 5th SS Panzer-Division symbol on a T-shirt.
First, I will explain the Nazi symbolism I am referencing. There are three parts: the SS, the Wiking and the Panzer-Division. An easy way of explaining these three symbols is to look at the marketplace of Neo-Nazi merchandise.
You perhaps can see how a SS, Wiking, and Panzer-Division ring has been segmented into the three parts around the finger, which makes it kind of unwieldy and large.
Now I will explain these three symbols on the ring, left to right:
SS (schutzstaffel) = a criminal militant organization of the Nazi Party directly involved in numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity
Wiking = “Nordic” volunteers commanded by Nazi Germany
5th Panzer-Division = the SS Wiking group of motorized (tank and artillery) infantry
Here’s an example of the SS Wiking symbol on a tank, for some historic perspective, as it rolls its way towards committing war crimes
And here is a pamphlet from the same time period
Second, I was walking through an airport just the other day when to my great surprise I saw someone wearing a Nazi symbol. Unlike the ring, however, three symbols have been combined into a single giant one.
And here is a closer view, where a 5th Panzer symbol becomes less clear as a Nordic-looking SS becomes more apparent. Not what I was expecting. I had to find out who was wearing this thing and why
One guy thought it couldn’t possibly be intentional as the words surrounding the “Nazi rune” (his words) were so peace inspiring. I found that logic to be a bit like saying a hunter isn’t going to shoot a deer because a camouflage suit seems so nature-loving.
And Nazi propaganda cells convinced groups of Americans to protest for peace with Hitler, giving him little or no resistance, even during WWII (see America First disinformation campaigns)
Hitler’s dictatorship repudiated both democracy and human rights. The Nazi empire was the arena in which Hitler’s master race philosophy was to be put into practice. Censorship prevented the German press from exciting the conscience of the nation. There could never have been a successful passive resistance movement against the Nazis. The inability of members of the [America First campaign] to recognize this, especially men like Hutchins of Chicago, and Norman Thomas, is remarkable.
Inability of Americans to recognize harms from promoting Nazism definitely is remarkable, then and now. Of course I had to walk up to this woman and ask her “what’s with wearing a giant Nazi symbol?” She gasped and said “Oh no. Oh my god. Don’t look. I don’t mean to offend anyone” and then walked away.
If all that isn’t enough. Simply Southern is, like the PBS profile of Grace Tilly, based in North Carolina. The company describes itself as a “brand to reflect the values of a southern lifestyle“. In their “giving back” section of the website they curiously depict black children next to marine animals.
…U.S. attorney’s office said that the travel document “contains numerous ingress and egress stamps, including stamps that reflect use of the passport to enter France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.”
The passport—which was Austrian but listed a Saudi Arabia address—was found in a locked safe…
A few notable points here:
Locked safe contents
France, Spain, UK and Saudi Arabia in 1980s
The locked safe is notable because the false identity passport was very old, yet never had been destroyed. Why keep an old document locked in a safe unless it still serves some purpose? Let’s look at what it may prove for those gaining access.
This triad of European countries with Saudi Arabia immediately should be recognized as an arms trade group.
It was less than a year ago this was discussed in the news:
UK, France and Spain to maintain arms sales to Saudi Arabia
The word “maintain” is a big clue. We are talking here about passport stamps from the 1980s, when those arms sales initiated.
…Mark Thatcher, 41, helped broker a British arms deal to Saudi Arabia worth a reported $35 billion in the mid-1980s.
According to a long report in the London Sunday Times, middlemen in the arms deal–which involved aircraft, warships and ammunition–received about $360 million for their services.
Both the Sunday Times and the Independent on Sunday said Mark Thatcher earned a $19-million commission for helping secure the deal.
Whenever arms trade, or similar black market dealings, come to light there usually are signs of an effort to make large payments untraceable. The Daily Beast offers exactly these details from the police search.
Also found in the safe was $70,000 in cash and 48 small diamonds that prosecutors contend are often kept on hand by someone who needs to make a quick getaway.
I understand why prosecutors right now are saying diamonds are evidence of quick getaway plans. They have a job to do and they probably are right about flight risk.
U.N. arms expert Johan Peleman…got a lucky break. Peleman learned of a cocaine bust in Milan, where Italian police discovered four prostitutes in a hotel room with a Ukrainian businessman named Leonid Minin. The police also discovered more than $35,000 in cash, a half-million dollars in diamonds, and more than 1,500 documents detailing a tangled web of business dealings in oil, diamonds, timber and gun shipments to Africa.
A police search based on drugs and prostitution uncovers cash, diamonds and…arms deals.
What may come to pass is the current investigation into Epstein’s history of sex crimes also may now implicate him in serving Israel funneling European arms to Saudi Arabia during the Reagan Administration.
The explosive growth of major cash sales of weapons to Third World nations—especially those in the oil-rich, but politically volatile Middle East and Persian Gulf region—stimulated a growing congressional desire to be better informed, and consulted with, on such sales that had serious potential consquences for American national interests.
More to the point, Nixon had spent the early 1970s secretly building up Iran’s military capabilities and Reagan wanted to spend the mid-1980s using executive power to expand Iraq’s military capabilities in a war with Iran.
Here’s “National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 99, signed on July 12, 1983″, which clearly explains everything in Reagan’s mind.
1985 seems to be the crucial turning point in strategy, as Reagan normalized relations with Iraq he also backtracked on direct arms sales to the Saudis (claiming personal responsibility while also saying he didn’t know what was going on).
You can see the result of that shift was arms deal numbers jumped for France, UK and Spain:
The answer in part might be a guy who founded his own financial firm in 1982. His peculiar Austrian passport with a fake name, a Saudi address and stamps from France, UK and Spain now just needs to be held up to a 1980s calendar of major arms deals:
The Shadow World and BAE Files have a Compendium at Tufts that summarize the significance of this passport to already documented history:
An investigation by the UK government’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) uncovered ‘commission payments, or bribes, totaling as much as GBP 6 billion paid by BAE Systems to members of the Saudi royal family and others.
The  Al Yamamah deal resulted from the reluctance of the U.S. Congress in the early 1980s to allow sales of major combat aircraft to Saudi Arabia, fearing they may be used against Israel.
General reporting about the 1980s may call out a “reluctance of the U.S. Congress” to sell arms, and I often see talk about Thatcher’s “intent to create jobs” (lining the pockets of her own son) by selling arms into brutally repressive regimes.
I have yet to find anyone discussing whether Epstein was given an Austrian passport by the US or Israel to broker European arms into Saudi Arabia and thereby fuel Iraq in its war with Iran.
In other words, people talk about Epstein’s strange and shadowy accumulation of wealth. Maybe they should also talk about whether his counterfeit passport was at the nexus of arms payments between Reagan, Thatcher, Prince Bandar “Bush” bin Sultan, Saddam Hussein and Shimon Peres.
To help, I’ll give a couple examples of what money laundering and arms trade accountability has looked like for Mark Thatcher.
First, consider his conviction for laundering a diamond mines and oil coup d’etat led by an ex-SAS officer:
…son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pleaded guilty Thursday to unwittingly helping bankroll a botched coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea…[after] he paid $275,000 in two installments last year to charter an Alouette III helicopter to be used in the takeover attempt…
On his release from prison, [ex-SAS officer] Mann said he could never forgive Sir Mark, who he claimed was a key participant in the military adventure rather than a mere investor, for failing to come to his aid.
And second, given the above secretive laundering role, there’s a direct parallel to Epstein’s track record in “financial services” versus reality:
For years mystery has surrounded the way in which Mark Thatcher suddenly acquired great wealth in the 1980s, when his mother was in office. He repeatedly has refused to answer journalists’ questions about the subject but is reported to have told friends he made his fortune offering “financial services.
The Sunday Times said Thatcher was one of a group of people who helped broker the deal, and who received among them a $360 million commission from the Saudis. It said his share was $18 million.
The Sunday Times quoted Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi as saying that Mark Thatcher’s value to the Saudis during the negotiation was that he could go to his mother and get an answer to any question they raised.
That leaves quite a lot for Epstein. Given records saying the Saudis expected sexual favors as part of the bribery system (e.g. the UK inflated cost of its jets 30% before signing the deal), it’s not a stretch to see how human trafficking through private jets and private islands became Epstein’s 1980s self-enrichment plan, thanks to his special passport.
Now we just need the Daily Beast to give us some dates from his passport stamps and the name in the passport to see if the above international history analysis holds any water.
Using computers during the 50s was an exercise in frustration because the huge, monolithic machines could only handle one processing job at a time.
In a bid to overcome this limitation, Dr Corbato developed an operating system for computers called the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS).
Rather than have the machine dedicated to one person, CTSS divided up the processing power of a computer into small slices so it could do little bits of work for lots of people.
Given all that…the BBC decided to run their story with a title of “Computer password inventor dies aged 93”.
A lot of people think of the late Corbato this way, yet I’m not sure why that’s a good idea to keep saying it. The BBC could do better.
We are in an age where sharing systems are wildly popular and everyone hates passwords. Perhaps people think focusing on the password story will get more clicks? I don’t like how it distracts from the bigger picture.
It’s a bit like calling the guy who invented police (another sharing system) the inventor of the nightstick. Why focus on the latter when the former was their actual intent and more notable contribution? Even if there were other sharing systems around that time, Corbato’s sharing system work was seminal and very influential.
Second, the BBC describes antique compute power as “so fast”.
Even in the 50s and 60s computers were so fast that no user noticed they were only getting a small portion of a machine’s processing power at any one time.
WE have both “an exercise in frustration” because jobs had to be stacked, and yet at the same time “no user noticed they were only getting a small portion”. I find it hard to reconcile how frustration drove a user to solve something that no user noticed. Was it frustrating or was it invisible?
Also the story at this point ignores the development of batch processing in the late 1950s.
Anyway Wired describes the situation entirely differently, suggesting that slow speed actually led to hacking passwords.
In the spring of 1962, Scherr was looking for a way to bump up his usage time on CTSS. He had been allotted four hours per week, but it wasn’t nearly enough time to run the detailed performance simulations he’d designed for the new computer system. So he simply printed out all of the passwords stored on the system.
That makes more sense.
And finally, third, this whole narrative misses the point that Dr Corbato himself describes the use of a secret to gain entry as an obvious solution for shared systems.
He was reluctant to take credit for passwords, which begs the question why people are so intent on sticking it to him, instead of credit for a compute sharing model that can uniquely authenticate people.
I’ve seen some people reference IBM in the 1950s, when really there should be an investigation into Philco, RCA, ERA, NCR, GM NAA, Tymshare, National CSS, Dial Data and Fairchild computers from that time.
Many computer systems under development in the late 1950s were serving the US military. So by way of example, here is a page from a 1956 US Army FM26-5 booklet on the language used to handle access to an “internal” shared resource:
In particular, Jack Daniel took his recipe from emancipated slaves even though he used his own name for the brand.
Now the man who taught Jack Daniel, “Nearis” Green, is getting his own brand. Proceeds from the sale of this new whiskey are going to fund college education of master distiller Nearest’s descendants
See if you can trace how the story originally flowed from “never a secret” to “embrace, tentatively” to “gauzy and unreliable” to “never be definitively proved”…
Daniel, the company now says, didn’t learn distilling from Dan Call, but from a man named Nearis Green — one of Call’s slaves.
This version of the story was never a secret, but it is one that the distillery has only recently begun to embrace, tentatively, in some of its tours, and in a social media and marketing campaign this summer.
Frontier history is a gauzy and unreliable pursuit, and Nearis Green’s story — built on oral history and the thinnest of archival trails — may never be definitively proved.
Then a successful writer comes onto the scene and quickly realizes there is a market for trust and ethics, scientifically eroding the structural white supremacist deception and lies that intentionally obscure roots of American innovation.
…when she got to Lynchburg, she found no trace of Green. “I went on three tours of the distillery, and nothing, not a mention of him,” she said.
Rather than leave, Ms. Weaver dug in, determined to uncover more about Green and persuade Brown-Forman to follow through on its promise to recognize his role in creating America’s most famous whiskey. She rented a house in downtown Lynchburg, and began contacting Green’s descendants, dozens of whom still live in the area.
Scouring archives in Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C., she created a timeline of Green’s relationship with Daniel, showing how Green had not only taught the whiskey baron how to distill, but had also gone to work for him after the Civil War, becoming what Ms. Weaver believes is the first black master distiller in America. By her count, she has collected 10,000 documents and artifacts related to Daniel and Green, much of which she has agreed to donate to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.
So much for the thinnest of archival trails. Congratulations to Ms. Weaver and the Green family for restoring and preserving American history.
A new study that positioned “animals are friends” to Americans had an interesting outcome. Pork became unpalatable by the subjects, while beef was still seen as edible.
…we show that the negative effect of anthropomorphism on consumers’ attitudes and behavioral intentions toward (pork) meat consumption is mediated by increased feelings of anticipatory guilt (Studies 3a and 3c). Nevertheless, no such effect was found with another kind of meat (beef), which indicates that anthropomorphizing meat animals through the friendship metaphor cannot be successfully applied to all commonly eaten species (Study 3b).
While the researchers claim there is some literature angle that may explain the difference, it reminds me of families I know in rural American communities.
They regularly eat cattle they treat as pets. I’ve never heard of pigs treated as pets that see the same end.
During WWII the 6888th (SixTripleEight) Central Postal Directory (CPD) all-black women battalion cleared nearly 20 million messages for Allied forces, The battalion adhered to the motto “No mail, low morale”.
Service medals weren’t given to members of the battalion until 2014 and only last year a monument was dedicated in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This year the battalion finally received an Army Meritorious Unit Citation…although the US Army history site makes it seem like a lot more has happened during the prior 70 years.
The history of the phrase “melting pot” is an interesting one. A “Romeo-and-Juliettesque” play by Israel Zangwill staged in 1908, generally is credited for American usage. It reflected on the life of a Russian Jewish immigrant who searches for a better life after he survived the pogroms that killed his mother and sister.
Imagery of America as a giant pot of refugees notwithstanding, my school teachers used to talk about getting a better stew from more diverse ingredients.
Ford manufacturing plants, for example, were based on immigrant descriptions of assembly lines seen in England’s shipyards during the Napoleonic Wars. Edison famously proved immigration beneficial to his own accumulation of wealth by awarding himself (instead of his country) credit for any innovation made by immigrants he had access to, requiring them to assign to him all rights to their ideas. Perhaps Edison’s first name should have been changed to Stew.
Fast forward to today and National Geographic offers us a tree visualization as alternative, which has the benefit of emphasizing the significance of concentric growth rings.
I also am reminded of “The Trees” by Philip Larkin, which the BBC posted as a visualization
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
Siler tells the story of both the abolitionists who challenged the corrosive anti-Chinese prejudices of the time and the young women who dared to flee their fate. She relates how the women who ran the Cameron House defied contemporary convention by physically rescuing children from the brothels where they worked or by snatching them off ships as they were being smuggled in–and how they helped bring the exploiters to justice.
They hurried toward Nob Hill, where the grand mansions of California’s railroad and mining barons had been replaced by hotels with names like Fairmont and Mark Hopkins. Their size and sheer opulence were almost unimaginable to a girl raised in poverty in Hong Kong. After pushing through shoppers and workers returning home, they climbed the five steps to the bolted door of 920 Sacramento Street, a squat building straddling a steep hill.