Items tagged with: activity
Free will, from a neuroscience perspective, can look like quite quaint. In a study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers in Australia were able to predict basic choices…
Article word count: 521
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19349010
Posted by laurex (karma: 5561)
Post stats: Points: 152 - Comments: 73 - 2019-03-09T22:43:43Z
#HackerNews #action #activity #before #brain #decisions #predicts #seconds #unconscious
Free will, from a neuroscience perspective, can look like quite quaint. In a study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers in Australia were able to predict basic choices participants made 11 seconds before they consciously declared their decisions.
In the study, 14 participants—each placed in an fMRI machine—were shown two patterns, one of red horizontal stripes and one of green vertical stripes. They were given a maximum of 20 seconds to choose between them. Once they’d made a decision, they pressed a button and had 10 seconds to visualize the pattern as hard as they could. Finally, they were asked “what did you imagine?” and “how vivid was it?” They answered these questions by pressing buttons.
Using the fMRI to monitor brain activity and machine learning to analyze the neuroimages, the researchers were able to predict which pattern participants would choose up to 11 seconds before they consciously made the decision. And they were able to predict how vividly the participants would be able to envisage it.
Lead author Joel Pearson, cognitive neuroscience professor at the University of South Wales in Australia, said that the study suggests traces of thoughts exist unconsciously before they become conscious. “We believe that when we are faced with the choice between two or more options of what to think about, non-conscious traces of the thoughts are there already, a bit like unconscious hallucinations,” he said in a statement. “As the decision of what to think about is made, executive areas of the brain choose the thought-trace which is stronger. In, other words, if any pre-existing brain activity matches one of your choices, then your brain will be more likely to pick that option as it gets boosted by the pre-existing brain activity.”
The work has implications for how we understand uncomfortable thoughts: Pearson believes the findings explain why thinking about something only leads to more thoughts on the subject, as it creates “a positive feedback loop.” The study also suggests that unwelcome visualizations, such as those experienced with post-traumatic stress disorder, begin as unconscious thoughts.
Though this is just one study, it’s not the first to show that thoughts can be predicted before they are conscious. As the researchers note, similar techniques have been able to predict motor decisions between seven and 10 seconds before they’re conscious, and abstract decisions up to four seconds before they’re conscious. Taken together, these studies show how understanding how the brain complicates our conception of free will.
Neuroscientists have long known that the brain prepares to act before you’re consciously aware, and there are just a few milliseconds between when a thought is conscious and when you enact it. Those milliseconds give us a chance to consciously reject unconscious impulses, seeming to form a foundation of free will.
Freedom, however, can be enacted by both the unconscious and conscious self—and there are neuroscientists who claim that being controlled by our own unconscious brain is hardly an affront to free will. Studies showing that neuroscientists can predict our actions long before we’re aware of them don’t necessarily negate the concept of free will, but they certainly complicate our conception of our own minds.
HackerNewsBot debug: Calculated post rank: 125 - Loop: 494 - Rank min: 100 - Author rank: 44
Which websites featured on the Federation have the worst privacy?
My last post highlighted how ticking the OEmbed box to add a website picture to a post can compromise Federation users if it contains a tracker.
I also mentioned tools, like Disconnect, we could use to detect websites which track their users. In this post I reveal some of the most popular reference websites on the Federation with low privacy and high tracking rates.
I believe Federation users should consider not embedding, or at least warning their readers about the surveillance techniques carried out by these sites.
A Princeton University study identified almost a million websites that track their users. Here are just 5 examples of websites whose stories are commonly quoted on the Federation:
Wired is a popular website referenced on the Federation by many users because it publishes great tech-based stories. But how private is it?
Although it offers an ‘ad-free’ version for subscribers, normal visitors are ruthlessly fleeced for their data.
WIRED has embed deals (agreements to embed tracking codes into their pages for money or gain) with a staggering 171 third parties including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Vogue, GQ, Golf Digest, Bonappetit and Vanity Fair.
Some tracking beacons embedded on WIRED and captured by Ublock Origin
151 of these third parties are known tracking or advertising companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Turn, Add This, Scorecard Research, Adobe, Twitter Analytics, Typekit, Criteo and Quantserve. Aggressive trackers like Google Tag Manager (GTM), Add This and Turn are present here.
Below is a screengrab of the many scripts NoScript has blocked from the WIRED website, the 33 scripts, gifs and beacons blocked by Ublock Origin and a couple by Disconnect.
WIRED sets 25 short-term and 28 long-term cookies itself, while allowing its third party partners (including 69 tracking companies) to set 26 short-term and 133 long-term cookies.
It uses Google Analytics without the anonymization feature enabled, so user details are sent to Google servers.
All WIRED servers are based in the US so GDPR privacy rules can be ignored.
Websites loading this many scripts/cookies are usually blacklisted by most users, not least because they drain a device’s battery.
WIRED claims that subscribing with them will mean an ad free experience, but I find it hard to believe that a subscription to WIRED will suddenly load a clean page without a single tracker retrieving data. But then I am not a WIRED subscriber. Please comment if you are and have no trackers.
Seen by some as a safe pro-privacy resource celebrating Free and Open Source Software, FOSSPOST lets its users down by digitally fingerprinting their devices and loading 19 trackers into a browser.
FOSSPOST has embed deals with 27 third parties, making its embed renting in the ‘low’ category, including Google, Amazon, Creative Commons and WordPress.
13 of these are known tracking or advertising companies like Google, Amazon, Mailerlite, One Signal and the data-hungry caterpillar that is WordPress.
FOSSPOST sets 2 short-term and 2 long-term cookies itself while allowing its third party partners (including 3 tracking companies) to set 4 long-term cookies.
It uses Google Analytics without the anonymization feature so user details are sent to Google servers. All FOSSPOST servers are based in the US so GDPR privacy rules can be ignored.
Acquired by Yahoo’s parent company, Oath (a company that includes AOL), under the Verizon umbrella, in 2010, this is a popular reference source for researchers and Federation users.
Historically, Yahoo deserves some kudos as they were one of the few big tech companies that objected to sharing their users’ details with the PRISM
The Bush administration threatened them with $250k a day fines until they complied. Verizon bought them in 2017. Yahoo suffered the largest data breach in history in 2018.
The link to this NYT story is not embedded (consider blocking the GTM tracker on the site)
TECHCRUNCH.com fingerprints the user’s device and dumps 2-7 Yahoo trackers in their browser, depending on the page loaded.
TECHCRUNCH.com has embed deals with 27 third parties, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and WordPress.
15 of these are known tracking or advertising companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, WordPress, Atwola, Typekit, AOL and Scorecard Research.
TECHCRUNCH.com sets 4 short-term and 5 long-term cookies itself while allowing its third party partners (including 4 tracking companies) to set 1 short-term and 7 long-term cookies.
It uses Google Analytics but interestingly enables the anonymization feature so some user details are not sent to Google servers.
All servers are based in the US so forget about GDPR privacy rules.
THE REGISTER .co.uk
Although a great resource with well-written and groundbreaking stories, it isn’t as private as I’d hoped.
There is no obvious digital fingerprinting but it seems to have gathered more Google syndication in the last couple of years, (9 of its 16 embed deals are with the Big G). 12 known tracking or advertising companies like Google, Admedo and the Amp Project gather data.
THE REGISTER sets 3 short-term and 4 long-term cookies itself while allowing its third party partners (including 2 tracking companies) to set 7 long-term cookies.
It uses Google Analytics without enabling the anonymization feature so user details are sent to Google servers. Although THE REGISTER’s domain is in the UK, both its data and email servers are based in the US so GDPR privacy rules could be compromised here, though I am not a lawyer.
The Guardian .com
I’ve been sitting on this for a few years now but it’s about time I blew the whistle.
I first noticed the Guardian newspaper’s website was digitally fingerprinting its users’ devices when they published an article on, um, Canvas Fingerprinting.
That page has been removed since, but they still continued doing it, long before Facebook, though not before Google.
I’ve kept quiet about this surveillance because I admire the paper for its incredible journalism, especially exclusives like the Snowdon revelations, and its general championing of freedom issues across many sectors of society. But the hypocrisy has started to wear me down.
Some tracking items & widgets embedded on Guardian .com and captured by Ublock Origin
The Guardian has embed deals with a privacy-sapping 142 third parties, including Google, Amazon, Bing, Twitter, and, despite being one of its main critics, Facebook. 132 of these third party partners are known tracking or advertising companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Turn, AddThis, Scorecard Research, Blue Kai, Twitter Analytics, Rubicon, Criteo and Quantserve.
Some of the most aggressive trackers like GTM, AddThis and Turn are present here.
The Guardian also sets 3 short-term and 5 long-term cookies itself, while allowing its third party partners (including 51 tracking companies) to set 10 short-term and 131 long-term cookies.
Yes, we NEED the Guardian’s continued existence, but castigating Facebook et al while allowing them to track its users doesn’t sit well with me.
The website uses Google Analytics but at least enables the anonymization feature, so some user details are not sent to Google servers.
Although The Guardian’s data servers are in Germany, their email servers are based in the US so GDPR privacy rules could be compromised here, though, again, I am not a lawyer.
In conclusion, I’ve given just 5 examples of popular sites Federation users quote in their posts.
I am NOT advocating a boycott of these sites but politely suggest we don’t OEmbed them, just feature a hyperlink and give readers the heads-up about these privacy concerns.
Alternatively, look for other sources featuring the same story. It’s also worth highlighting which websites do NOT add a tracker when we OEmbed a story, or have a low level of surveillance. Please promote those guys.
#news #fakenews #journalism #FreePress #PressFreedom #theguardian
#privacy #tracking #trackers #facebook #social #mass-surveillance #gdpr #google #location #user #device #setup #private #secure #internet #tips #tricks #online #os #windows #apple #ios #advertising #ad #revenue #streams #developers #media #data #corporations #telemetry #consent #spyware #surveillancecapitalism #humanrights, #anonymity #cookies #surveillance #browser #proxy #relay #network #www #leaks #fingerprint #activity #activitytrackers #thefederation #pods #federation #fediverse #friendica #mastodon #pleroma #socialhome # #Gnusocial #Funkwhale #Peertube #pixelfed #hubzilla #Diaspora
How can Federation users post more safely?
You know how it goes. We find a great story online and we want to share it with our supporters or feature it in our feed with appropriate hashtags for maximum reach.
But do we check the website featuring the story for privacy before we post?
When we embed a link by selecting the OEmbed box (often ticked by default) this displays an image or video on our post from the website we’ve featured.
They may look cool, but these images can contain beacons or other trackers. Embedded trackers also load into the browsers of any user who scrolls down the public feeds.
Should we ensure the website is safe before linking to it?
Actually some do. Posts that don’t feature a website’s images (with the OEmbed box unchecked as below) can actually protect Federation users from a serious amount of surveillance.
Some thoughtful users actually reproduce the article’s main points in their post, to protect their readers from visiting the site itself. They usually supply a link to the original content if one wants more detail and perhaps is protected with tracker blockers. So how do we know a site we recommend is safe?
Here are some privacy tips:
• Consider checking the page’s security/privacy before linking to it.
Using Tor, or a beefed-up Firefox fork or version (for detecting digital fingerprinting), and/or Disconnect, NoScript or Ublock Origin add-ons to reveal a multitude of trackers.
• There is usually more than one website featuring the same story. Consider picking the website with the least trackers and digital fingerprinting.
• Issue a warning in your post about any of the site’s surveillance methods and privacy issues you’ve detected.
• Embedding a picture/video could also make users vulnerable. Consider unchecking the OEmbed box.
In the next post I’ll give examples of a number of websites with low privacy and excessive trackers, commonly featured in the public feeds.
#secure #internet #windows #apple #revenue #streams #developers #Social #media #data #corporations #tracking #trackers #facebook #social #mass-surveillance #gdpr #google #alphabet #location #user #device #setup #private #secure #internet #chrome #tips #tricks #online #os #mobile #ie #safari #apple #ios #ad #revenue #streams #developers #telemetry #consent #windows10 #windows7 #windows81 #microsoft #linux #debian #ubuntu #mate #gnome #grub #iphone #firefox #advertising #android #chrome #browser #browsers #phone #phones #device #Tor #privacy, #humanrights, #anonymity #internet #security #cookies #surveillance #browser #web #onion #router #torbrowser #bridge #proxy #relay #leaks #fingerprint #activity #activitytrackers #spyware #surveillancecapitalism
Tor fingerprints thousands of users who download its phone apps to Android
This is shocking and depressing.
Tor’s Android app download pages are laden with Google trackers!
As we can see by these screen grabs of the Guardian Project’s secure apps page, their syndication deal with the Big G means there are two Google tracker requests on this page (from 2 Google embeds, Gstatic and GoogleAPIs)
Google APIs tends to employ different Google bits like fonts and can be made safe if tweaked by the website's developers, but Gstatic is a collector.
I haven’t checked the HTML but these are probably loaded by the Google widget, bottom left on the page. More worrying is the big fat Canvas Fingerprint set by the site, which sneakily records a user’s device – flagged, ironically, by my Tor browser.
On the Orbot page, where android users have the chance to download a browser that doesn’t track them, 6-7 Google tracking requests load up, while the Guardian Project sets 4 short-term cookies and its Canvas Fingerprint records every privacy-loving user’s device.
Okay, I understand business. Tor want to put a private browser in a massive market, and Google Play users probably want it too, but in return, privacy advocates are tracked and logged by the Big G on Guardian Project’s webpages. And their devices are fingerprinted. I don't know if the Guardian Project share fingerprint data with Google, but this is a case of the private suffering to benefit those without privacy, while those in power record EVERYBODY!
#Tor #privacy, #humanrights, #anonymity #internet #security #cookies #browser #web #onion #router #torbrowser #bridge #proxy #relay #network #www #leaks #fingerprint #activity #activitytrackers #apps #mobile #android #Google #Alphabet #guardianproject #mozilla #torproject #fdroid