AutoCorrect for your face

Once iOS 13 gets rolled out later this year, I think the prospect of AutoCorrect for your face is going to prompt a great deal of debate:

Why should my phone decide where I should be looking?

Kevin Kelly in a slightly different context, looks forward to a future where the system gets that crucial 10% better at automagically adjusting what it shows the person you’re communicating with rather than faithfully presenting what the camera/microphone at your end of the connection are picking up. It’s all for your own good really:

When a colleague is teleporting in from a remote place to appear virtually, it is relatively easy to translate what they are saying in real time because all that information is being captured anyway. For even greater verisimilitude, their mouth movement can be reconfigured to match what they are saying in translation so it really feels they are speaking your language. It might be even be use[d] to overcome heavy accents in the same language. Going further, the same technology could simply translate your voice into one that was a different gender, or more musical, or improved in some way. It would be your “best” voice. Some relationships might prefer to meet this way all the time because the ease of communication was greater than in real life.

Ease of communication being greater than in real life may not be worth having if the price of that ease is accuracy. Kelly (and Apple, implicitly) assumes that technology can be trusted to be our intermediary, but our experience of AutoCorrect operating on plain text tends to suggest otherwise.

[Rachel Coldicutt tweet via [Interconnected)]

… to the Moon

By some margin the most welcome effect of the media blitz as the Apollo 11 anniversary has come round is that HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon has been rereleased in HD:

Throughout the miniseries, there are scenes where astronauts, engineers, NASA administrators, politicians, and more list all the challenges facing Kennedy’s promise to put American boots on the lunar surface before 1970. In a great scene in the debut episode – titled, plainly, “Can We Do This?” – flight director Chris Kraft (Stephen Root) lists all the tasks NASA must master before even considering a moon mission. And as happens throughout the series, Kraft puts complicated issues into plain English. Describing the process of spacecraft rendezvous, he says: “Come over to my house. You stand in the backyard, I stand in the front yard. You throw a tennis ball over the roof, I’ll try to hit it with a rock as it comes sailing over. That’s what we’re going to have to do.”

If I remember correctly the show was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 on Saturday mornings, and it was must-watch TV for me. There’s no word of it showing up on UK terrestrial TV this time round, but assuming that doesn’t change any time soon I’m just going to have to pay £9.99 for the HD version because it was a great, great story very well told.1

[Edited to add: Part of what made the show work so well is that it adopted a strategy of changing the focus of the story being told each week. One episode was about the experience of the astronauts’ wives and how they felt being in the spotlight while their husbands were on missions, and another dealt with the requirement that those astronauts whose missions might involve time on the lunar surface needing to learn enough geology to be useful field workers when they found themselves standing on the moon and required to determine where they could take the next rock sample. Another one was focussed on an individual astronaut, Alan Shepard, needing to find a way back into space in the face of his inner-ear disorder. Not entirely a different cast every episode, but very different angles on the story from episode to episode and a cast of folks who spent the next couple of decades being familiar faces in the age of Prestige TV.]

[Via Six Colors]

Wikihistory

I know I’ve read Wikihistory before a few years ago, but I was reminded of it earlier today and it’s definitely funny enough to be worth posting here:

International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum
Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
Page 263

11/15/2104
At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl’s cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice! […]

Or possibly not, as it turns out.

Also, from further along in the same Usenet discussion and very much related: The home of Adolf Hitler, 1933: Doubt creeps in.

[Via Dorothy J Heydt, posting to rec.arts.sf.written]

“All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”

Peter Watts breaks the bad news to us:

A couple of months ago, its creators announced that Counterpart is dead after a mere two seasons. It just couldn’t attract enough viewers, out of all the people on two Earths. And I think that’s a shame; Counterpart was more than just SF for people who hate SF.

The first season of Counterpart got a Region 1 Blu-ray release, but that seems to be it for now.

I was looking forward to seeing J K Simmons 1 being great in a great piece of speculative fiction, but being an old person who grew up with a TV world where US shows frequently took a couple of seasons to be picked up by a terrestrial broadcaster in the UK 2 I took it that for a good-but-not-a-smash-hit show like this I just needed to be patient.3

I guess that if I really wanted to see Counterpart I’d look to BitTorrent, but dammit I don’t want to pirate content just because this era of capitalism demands that the players only consider making shows worthwhile if those shows have a decent prospect of turning out to be megahits that generate megareturns on their investment.

I want my Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism, and I want it now!4

Secure

Good advice, doomed to be wasted on folks who just want a quick, easy solution that lets them move on to the next item on their To Do list…

I cringe when I hear self-proclaimed experts implore everyone to “use a password manager for all your passwords” and “turn on two-factor authentication for every site that offers it.” As most of us who perform user research in security quickly learn, advice that may protect one individual may harm another. Each person uses technology differently, has a unique set of skills, and faces different risks.

…because who wants to spend time thinking about all this stuff:

In this article, I’ll start by examining the benefits and risks of using a password manager. It’s hard to overstate the importance of protecting the data in your password manager, and having a recovery strategy for that data, so I’ll cover that next. I’ll then present a low-risk approach to experimenting with using a password manager, which will help you understand the tough choices you’ll need to make before using it for your most-important passwords. I’ll close with a handy list of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when using a password manager.

Visiting the comment thread on the Bruce Schneier post to see just how many different ways a bunch of (presumably) bright people can devise to avoid using a password manager in favour of their own home-brewed solutions.

[Via Schneier on Security]

Black Mirror

Having caught up with the last episode of the latest series of Black Mirror, I was amused to learn that Nine Inch Nails were jumping on the marketing bandwagon, after an episode where a (real life) Pop Princess was repurposing a couple of their songs:

Head like a hole!

I’m on a roll!

Riding so high!

ACHIEVIN’ MY GOALS!

The episode felt really strange, starting as a slice of life from a distinctly average teenage girl a couple of years on from the death of her mother but then veering into pure Disney Channel TV adventure movie stuff as our teen hero and her older sister ended up teaming up and helping to bust a major criminal conspiracy that was preventing Miley Cyrus from fully expressing her love for Nine Inch Nails on stage.

It’s been an odd season of Black Mirror. After the Black Museum visit that closed season 4, it feels as if they want to shift to less bleak – dare I say “happy?”- endings, but are ending up exploring the themes underpinning their chosen stories more superficially than usual. Our two old friends getting diverted by the temptations of transgressive virtual sex in Striking Vipers X discussed how different sex feels as a man and a woman but as far as we can see never took the obvious step of switching avatar genders to find out in-game (or if they did,1 no mention was made of the attempt.2) Our grieving taxi driver in Smithereens was never destined for a happy ending, admittedly, and I did like the way they left open the question of whether the grieving mother found resolution once he got her access to her daughter’s social media posts.3 Then in the last episode we find a Disneyesque teen adventure.

[Via EmpressCallipygos commenting at FanFare]

iPadOS

Rui Carmo is, rightly, a little less optimistic than most of the Apple-focused commentariat about the notion that Apple forking iOS to create an iPad-specific variant marks a new era for the iPad:

I have a profoundly different take on what “work” means than Federico-like one of my friends said the other day, there is a lot more to the “work” that we do than, say, wrangling Markdown documents.

The crunch will come when Apple find themselves needing to make a change to the fundamentals of how iPadOS works – like, say, removing or hugely relaxing the 10-minute limit on how long apps are allowed to run in the background (except for media players and suchlike) before iOS kills them1 in order to let an iPad work more like a real computer would. I’m sure they’ll start with a bunch of easy wins like that, but at some point they’ll find themselves having to make harder choices and we shall see what happens then.

I’m not saying they can’t do it – they certainly can – just that when the first iPadOS is still in beta it’s a bit early to assume that Apple will do the right thing, especially if that right thing also has an impact on the user experience on Apple’s most important product.

Spomeniks

Owen Hatherley reminds us that the Spomeniks weren’t created just to be concrete clickbait: remembering what they were commemorating matters too:

What Spomenik and the like forgets, Pupovac insists, is not only the scale of what happened here – “Yugoslavia was the fourth highest country in Europe in terms of civilian casualties” during the Second World War, and was also, along with Greece, the only country with a resistance movement – the multi-ethnic, Communist-dominated Partisans – that was large and strong enough to liberate the country almost without help from the Allies. The federal Yugoslavia that came out of this broke with Stalin and the USSR in 1948, and instituted a “self-management socialism” of extreme complexity and decentralisation. This is what disappears in the Spomenik photos – as she puts it, “our lived historical experience of a revolution becomes only a cultural artefact”. Sekulic argues that “a better way to engage with these monuments would be to use them as a tool do re-connect to the near past in which as a society we did not see space only as a commodity”.

Which is a bit of a problem when the current government in the region is less inclined to think kindly of the politics of that era which inspired the monuments in the first place and would very possibly be happy to see them crumble.

[Via MetaFilter]