How does this work? The Quran requires that muslims above a certain threshold of wealth give away 2.5% of wealth as charity (“zakat”). In Pakistan, the government automatically taxes citizens above this threshold at the 2.5% level.

The threshold (“nisab”) is historically determined as the price of 612 grams of silver. So each year, the Pakistani government looks at the current price of silver, and taxes everyone who falls above the corresponding threshold.

Individuals who fall *just* below the threshold one year due the changed price of silver suddenly avoid a 2.5% government tax. Those people then increase their private donations to charity.

Many such donations (whether intended or not) go to charities affiliated with terrorist groups. With this additional financing, these groups conduct more attacks:

↑silver price → ↑tax threshold → ↓taxes → ↑charity → ↑terrorist financing → ↑terrorist attacks!

Read the absolutely incredible paper presented at the Stigler Center’s Political Economy of Finance conference in Chicago this weekend, by Nicola Limodio, here.

Source: Ben Marrow

The U.S. Government issued Executive Order 13884, the practical effect of which  is to prohibit almost all  transactions and services between U.S. companies, entities, and individuals in Venezuela. To remain compliant with this order, Adobe is deactivating all accounts in Venezuela.

Executive Order 13884 was issued with no expiration date – the decision to rescind it rests solely with the U.S. Government. We will continue to monitor developments closely and will make every effort to restore services to Venezuela as soon as it is legally permissible to do so.

Source: Adobe

Put your data in the cloud, they said. It’s save and accessible from everywhere, they said.

I’m going to guess that the reason that this machine is brain dead, even though it has its primary power rails, is because … Apple.

Source: YouTube

It died because of improper usage: The user caused the CPU to execute instructions. You’re are not supposed to do that! Macbooks are a piece of art, to show to other people that you have money to just throw away. You’re not supposed to do computing with them. Only nerds do that, with their ugly black Thinkpads.

Some classrooms in China are equipped with AI cameras and brain-wave trackers. While many parents and teachers see them as tools to improve grades, they’ve become some children’s worst nightmare.

Source: WSJ

It’s ridiculous and dangerous. They aren’t pop stars. Support them if you agree with their policies, and criticize them when they are wrong. They are servants, not celebrities. And just in case you’re a fan of celebrities: they are monkeys who perform for our amusement. Also servants. I don’t want their political advice, and you shouldn’t want their advice, too.

2019-09-25 @ 08:06: RGB Fusion Bugs | Security | WTF

I got frustrated at Gigabyte’s RGB control stuff (I just REALLY want to turn my GPU LEDs off!) so I caved in and started reverse engineering RGB Fusion and OH GOD WHY DID I DO THAT IT IS SO HORRIBLY CURSED

Source: Graham Sutherland [Polynomial^DSS]‏

So, basically, the RGB Fusion software flashes a new firmware when you set a new LED pattern. What an unbelievable mess! What do these software developers do for their living? Ah, yes, the develop software. I see.

Why has the user land software have to take care of this? Instead the firmware should just receive a call from the software and do the necessary steps. No need to flash a firmware for that if you do it correctly.

Still, reading this causes physical pain.

In what may be a huge milestone in computing, Google says it has achieved “quantum supremacy,” an experimental demonstration of the superiority of a quantum computer over a traditional one.

The claim, made in a new scientific paper, is the most serious indication yet that the promise of quantum computers—an emerging but unproven type of machine—is becoming reality, including their potential to solve formerly ungraspable mathematical problems.

Essentially, Google purports to have pulled off a stunt on a quantum computer that no classical machine—not even the world’s most powerful supercomputer—can replicate.

Source: Fortune Magazine

Your crypto-currencies and shit are still save. No need to worry.

Just noticed the download server of Opera’s offline installation packages responds with an error 502. Checking for updates from within the browser is therefore also broken.

Additionally Opera’s add-ons page is down.

The U.S. government concluded within the last two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cell-phone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C., according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

Source: Politico

We worry about face recognition just as we worried about databases – we worry what happens if they contain bad data and we worry what bad people might do with them.

It’s easy to point at China, but there are large grey areas where we don’t yet have a clear consensus of what ‘bad’ would actually mean, and how far we worry because this is different rather than just because it’s just new and unfamiliar.

Like much of machine learning, face recognition is quickly becoming a commodity tech that many people can and will use to build all sorts of things. ‘AI Ethics’ boards can go a certain way but can’t be a complete solution, and regulation (which will take many forms) will go further. But Chinese companies have their own ethics boards and are already exporting their products.

Source: Ben Evans

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    We never asked for this.