Scorpion

Note:  This item comes from friend John McMullen.  This all is in reference to the CBS TV show ‘Scorpion’.  DLH]

From: “‘John F. McMullen’ johnmac13@gmail.com [johnmacsgroup]” <johnmacsgroup@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [johnmacsgroup] Scorpion
Date: October 27, 2014 at 0:00:46 EDT

This seems to say that it is all true –
<http://www.scorpioncomputerservices.com/the_founder.html>

Walter O’Brien (hacker name: “Scorpion”) was diagnosed as a child prodigy with an IQ of 197 and at 13 years old started his company ScorpionComputerServices.com. Scorpion has mitigated risk for 7 years on $1.9 trillion of investments and has invented and applied Artificial Intelligence engines to protect United States war fighters in Afghanistan. Scorpion is now a think tank for hire that provides intelligence on demand as a concierge service for funded challenges throughConciergeUp.com. Since 1988, Scorpion’s team of world class experts partner with clients on a global basis, across industries, to add real measurable value in mission-critical initiatives from planning, to execution, to running the business. Scorpion’s senior management has a collective knowledge of more than 413 technologies, 210 years in IT, and 1,360 projects. Scorpion himself has created over 177 unique technology inventions including ScenGen and WinLocX and is one of the world’s leading experts in the application of computer science and artificial intelligence to solve complex industry challenges.

Scorpion was born and raised in Ireland, and at 16, ranked first in national high speed computer problem solving competitions. At 18, he competed in the World Olympics in Informatics and has ranked as high as the sixth fastest programmer in the world. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence with honors from Sussex University in the United Kingdom. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has certified Scorpion as being of National Interest to the United States economy and granted him an Extraordinary Ability EB 1-1 Visa (also granted to Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill). Scorpion is a frequent public speaker for IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and teaches as a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world’s largest idea-stage incubator, which has helped launch over 1129 companies across 33 countries. Scorpion has worked with the world’s largest mutual fund company, Fujitsu, Microsoft-Trados, Oracle Corporation, Baltimore Technologies, and Critical Path. Walter currently serves as chairman or board member for Indi.com, Strike Force Solutions,TalentorumAlliance, Lawloop, Pantheon Energy and previously has served on the boards of companies such as American Environmental Energy, Starglobe and Toin Corp. In addition, Scorpion is frequently called on by news media, the government and the federal court system for his technology expertise.

[snip]

————————

And this says not. — <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141004/07211128727/mythical-almost-certainly-made-up-legend-walter-obrien-continues-to-grow.shtml>

The Mythical And Almost Certainly Made Up ‘Legend’ Of Walter O’Brien Continues To Grow
from the make-it-stop-already dept
By Mike Masnick
Oct 6 2014
<https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141004/07211128727/mythical-almost-certainly-made-up-legend-walter-obrien-continues-to-grow.shtml>

A few weeks ago, we wrote about “Walter O’Brien,” the guy who is supposed to be the basis of the CBS TV show Scorpion. The problem we had was that O’Brien made a ton of absolutely fantastical claims and, after doing a little fact checking, none of them seemed to check out. At all. Since a few people brought this up, let me make it clear: I have no issue with exaggerating on a TV show for the sake of good entertainment. I don’t even mind bogus claims like “based on a true story” because, hey, Fargo was pretty awesome. If that’s all that was going on, it wouldn’t be a big deal and everyone could get on with their lives. 

What concerns me about the bogus Walter O’Brien story is twofold: (1) Gullible reporters simply repeat his claims without even the slightest bit of skepticism, which is just shameful reporting and (2) O’Brien and his friends aren’t just making a TV show: they’re trying to spin the TV show (which, as far as we can tell has close to no basis in reality) into a way to promote O’Brien’s “business” with claims that are wholly unbelievable — in that, literally, I don’t think most of the claims are true. It worries me that some people will take the TV show’s inflated claims at face value and think that throwing gobs of money O’Brien’s way will get them the clearly exaggerated solutions the show is pitching. 

Last week, O’Brien appeared with Scorpion producer (and Justin Bieber manager) Scooter Braun at the “Techmanity”* conference in San Jose, and I went to the show hoping to talk to O’Brien and/or the producers of the show to see if they could help clear up the inconsistencies in his story (many of which we detailed in the original post). Instead, despite multiple requests, I was denied an opportunity to interview them before or afterward. They did appear to show up right before going on stage, and then I was told they had to leave immediately after (though, at least one other conference attendee posted a selfie with O’Brien well over an hour after O’Brien got off stage). Despite the agenda specifically promising a Q&A with O’Brien and multiple producers, there was no Q&A (and those other producers weren’t even there). A microphone stand that had been present for Q&A during earlier sessions was removed prior to the panel, so it was clear that there was no intention of a Q&A at all. 

Instead, there were just more questionable claims from O’Brien, on a panel moderated by Fast Company’s Chuck Salter, an “award winning”reporter who didn’t seem interested in challenging a single claim from O’Brien, taking them all at face value. Fast Company, which co-produced the conference, and thus, perhaps, had business reasons for suppressing all skepticism, also wrote a big article again repeating the O’Brien myth, though that article appears to have been dropped behind a paywall.

O’Brien tells some of the same stories he’s told before — claiming the company only hires people with IQs over 150 and that people with high IQs have “low EQs” and they try to help them on that front. This leaves aside the whole fact that the concept of “EQ” is pretty questionable in the first place and that even IQ is a pretty limited and misleading tool, which may be useful for determining some innate problem solving skills in kids, but means little once they reach adulthood. Once you’re an adult, however, IQ is somewhat meaningless. That doesn’t stop O’Brien from continuing to assert that he has an IQ of 197, and multiple publications to claim that he’s either the “fourth smartest man” in the world or has the “fourth highest IQ ever recorded.” 

As we noted in our original post, there is no public evidence that O’Brien actually even has such an IQ, let alone that it’s the 4th highest ever recorded. In his Reddit AMA, Walter admits that the “4th highest” claim comes from just getting a 197 (still no proof shown) and using this table on the distribution of IQ to assume that he must be the 4th because a 197 IQ only should occur in 1 out of every 1.5 billion people, and then he estimated based on the number of people on the planet. Of course, for someone with such a high IQ, that shows a surprising lack of understanding how IQ actually works. He also notes that he took the Stanford-Binet IQ test, though he doesn’t say when. If it was while he was a child (as suggested by his claim to have been “diagnosed” as a “child prodigy”) then it’s likely he took an earlier version of the Stanford-Binet test — either the SBIV or the L-M, depending on when he took the exam. It seems noteworthy that modern research has noted that scales on the results of those two versions of the test should equal lowerscores on the current SB5. The 197 score (assuming it’s true), strongly suggests he took the L-M, which used a ratio scoring system, as opposed to the IV, which was standardized. As such, it also would mean that using the deviation chart Walter uses would be inaccurate, since the ratio score wasn’t based on the same scoring system (you’d think someone with such a high IQ would recognize that). And, about all that would suggest was that, at a young age, he was likely far ahead of his peers, but that’s about it. Either way, the whole “4th smartest man” in the world claim is clearly ridiculous. 

[snip]

Fed up, US cities take steps to build better broadband

Fed up, US cities take steps to build better broadband
Increasingly, cities control their broadband future—with both low- and high-tech methods.
By Jon Brodkin
Oct 27 2014
<http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/10/fed-up-us-cities-try-to-build-better-broadband/>

City and town governments aren’t typically known for leading the way on technology. Remember that West Virginia library that uses a $20,000 router for a building the size of a trailer?

But all that’s changing fast—and the demand for broadband is what’s driving this shift. No longer content to let residents suffer from poor Internet access, cities and towns saw a need to boost their tech savvy. Now many are partnering with technologists in order to take matters into their own hands.

While some municipalities have taken on the extraordinarily complex task of building their own networks, others have succeeded with lower-tech methods. Streamlining permitting processes and readying public infrastructure has helped some draw in new ISPs such as Google Fiber. Other cities and towns are taking advantage of legal processes to pressure incumbents into offering better and cheaper service. And still other cities are laying fiber conduits every time construction workers dig up the ground for unrelated projects, allowing quicker upgrades from cable and copper. In all these ways, cities and towns are showing that smart management can be just as important as high-tech systems when it comes to making broadband accessible and affordable to everyone.

“Hundreds [of cities and towns] have done something already and hundreds more are evaluating it now and are likely to take action,” Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told Ars. “I think thousands recognize a need but aren’t committed yet.”

Driving fiber fervor

It’s been obvious for years how important Internet access is in modern life and business. But a few new factors have helped convince municipalities that they have to take action now or risk being left behind.

Google Fiber has had an impact far beyond the few cities where it actually exists. “Google gives something credibility. I think all the cities that are not going to get Google investments are recognizing that they need to do something,” Mitchell said.

Besides the Google effect, growing frustration over a lack of competition is fueling city efforts, with the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger having “set off alarm bells in recognizing that things are getting worse in terms of monopoly,” according to Mitchell.

More than 1,100 cities applied for Google Fiber in 2010, but only Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah were successful.

[snip]

Re: Elon Musk Compares Rogue Artificial Intelligence to Demons. Yes, Really

[Note:  This comment comes from a reader of Dave Farber's IP List.  DLH]

From: Whitfield Diffie <whitfield.diffie@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Elon Musk Compares Rogue Artificial Intelligence to Demons. Yes, Really
Date: October 26, 2014 at 18:48:21 EDT
To: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne@warpspeed.com>
Cc: IP <ip@listbox.com>

… according to Musk, A.I. was as dangerous as nuclear war. Now Musk
is likening the possible battle between humans and computers in the
future, …

I don’t see much “future” about it; it seems to me that the
confrontation with machines is the most important phenomenon of the
era and that so far, humans are losing.  There are two major fronts:
employment and control.

Unlike earlier tools, such devices as ATMs and automated gas pumps
function pretty much like the people they replace and outright replace
people.

Control is more subtle and to me more threatening.  We have no
analog of Asimov’s law that robots must obey people.  Machines tell
people what to do at all the time, from cars that won’t start unless
the clutch is in to elevators that won’t close their doors until they
think they have waited long enough, no matter how much hurry their
human passengers are in.  Some of these controls are cheered by many
as a means whereby other people (often property owners or employers)
can exercise legitimate control over others but many are in the name
of more abstract notions like safety or decency or ethics.

Unfortunately for the prospects of any campaign against this
trend, it is an extension of a very old one.  Locks control human
behavior and go back to
pharaonic Egypt.

Whit

Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required

[Note: This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required
By SHAILA DEWAN
Oct 25 2014
<http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/us/law-lets-irs-seize-accounts-on-suspicion-no-crime-required.html>

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

“They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”

On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by “exceptional circumstances.”

Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement, “This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.’s mission and key priorities.” He added that making deposits under $10,000 to evade reporting requirements, called structuring, is still a crime whether the money is from legal or illegal sources. The new policy will not apply to past seizures.

The I.R.S. is one of several federal agencies that pursue such cases and then refer them to the Justice Department. The Justice Department does not track the total number of cases pursued, the amount of money seized or how many of the cases were related to other crimes, said Peter Carr, a spokesman.

But the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm that is seeking to reform civil forfeiture practices, analyzed structuring data from the I.R.S., which made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005. Only one in five was prosecuted as a criminal structuring case.

The practice has swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in Virginia saving for his children’s college education and Ms. Hinders, 67, who has borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going.

Their money was seized under an increasingly controversial area of law known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agents to take property they suspect of being tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited.

Critics say this incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks and other financial institutions must report cash deposits greater than $10,000. But since many criminals are aware of that requirement, banks also are supposed to report any suspicious transactions, including deposit patterns below $10,000. Last year, banks filed more than 700,000 suspicious activity reports. Owners who are caught up in structuring cases often cannot afford to fight. The median amount seized by the I.R.S. was $34,000, according to the Institute for Justice analysis, while legal costs can easily mount to $20,000 or more.

[snip]

Re: Re: How Verizon’s Advertising Header Works

[Note:  This comment comes from a reader of Dave Farber's IP List.  DLH]

Date: October 25, 2014 at 9:12:38 PM EDT
To: dave@farber.net, “David Farber” <farber@gmail.com>
From: Brett Glass <brett@lariat.net>
Subject: Re: [IP] Verizon Injects Unique IDs Into HTTP Traffic

Dave, and everyone:

Interestingly, to opt out of the Verizon targeting mechanism, one can’t just go online to their Web site. While they claim you can opt out there, there is no actual option to turn it off. But if one calls 866-211-0874 and follows the voice prompts, one can opt out of having the header sent. I’ve verified this via my own Web server.

–Brett Glass

Elon Musk Compares Rogue Artificial Intelligence to Demons. Yes, Really

Elon Musk Compares Rogue Artificial Intelligence to Demons. Yes, Really
By ADARIO STRANGE
Oct 26 2014
<http://mashable.com/2014/10/26/elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-demons/>

We’ve highlighted the dire warnings of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Muskin recent months regarding the perils of artificial intelligence, but this week he actually managed to raise the bar in terms of making A.I. seem scary. 

First, according to Musk, A.I. was as dangerous as nuclear war. Now Musk is likening the possible battle between humans and computers in the future, termed by some as “the singularity,” as a struggle for the soul of mankind itself. 

How so? By invoking the one thing even those with little interest in technology fear the most: demons! 

In an hour-long interview for MIT, which held its Centennial Symposium last week, Musk opened himself up to the audience for questions. Most of the questions were about space travel, but one audience member asked Musk for his thoughts on artificial intelligence, and that’s when things got a bit spooky.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” said Musk, the expression on his face suddenly turning very serious. “If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. There should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.” 

Sounds reasonable. Prudent even. A generally conservative approach to a potential technological issue facing our world in the future. Wise words. 

But then…

[snip]