Animals and self-awarness

Published April 10, 2008 · Estimated reading time: 1 minute · Share your thoughts
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Cool vid, must share. I really think it’s an extraordinary display of training and mimicking than a display of self-awareness and elephant artistic interpretation. I am saying this based on the incredibly ‘human’ way of emphasis on lines and curves and the flower at the end. But… ultimately who knows… it might be a combination of both. Elephants are incredibly smart and beside humans, apes, and dolphins, they are the only animals to pass the self-recognition mirror test (there is a good paper by Plotnik et al discussing this), in this case I’d be curious to know to what extent elephant actually identifies its drawing as a symbolic representation of something (rather than lines that it has learned to trace).

Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi

Wikileaks web site gives whistleblowers a voice

Published April 07, 2008 · Estimated reading time: 5 minutes · One response so far
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http://www.mcgilldaily.com/article/3171-wikileaks-web-site-gives-whistleblowers

Wikileaks web site gives whistleblowers a voice
By Marzieh Ghiasi
Monday, April 7th, 2008

Wikileaks
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily

Unjust organizations around the world face a new threat: anonymity. A new web site called Wikileaks­ makes whistleblowers untraceable, so that they can leak documents without fear of being caught. The site follows the format of Wikipedia, allowing anyone to create a new document page, and providing space for public discussions and analyses of documents. The founders of the project are anonymous, and the locations of the web site’s servers are unknown, with speculations ranging from abandoned U.S. nuclear weapons bases to bunkers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Although peer-to-peer file sharing and anonymous personal web sites have given people a way to leak sensitive information in the past, whistleblowers have run high risks of being discovered, because information travel routes can often be easily traced. Wikileaks overcomes this problem by using advanced cryptographic techniques and an internet protocol called the Onion Router.

Frédéric Mégret, a Law professor at McGill and the Canada research chair in the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, explains that punishment has been a major concern of potential whistleblowers.

“Some people give information only to the extent that [their identity] remains confidential because they would otherwise put themselves at strong risk.”

For whistleblowers, the risk of being discovered can be extreme. Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician, has spent 18 years prison in Israel, much of it in solitary confinement, due to what he revealed about the existence of an Israeli nuclear weapons program in 1986. Dr. Mégret says that the ease and anonymity of Wikileaks could greatly increase the number of people willing to leak information.
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Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi

Net neutrality threatened by market forces

Published April 07, 2008 · Estimated reading time: 4 minutes · Share your thoughts
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http://www.mcgilldaily.com/view.php?aid=6929

Net neutrality threatened by market forces
By Marzieh Ghiasi
Monday, January 28th, 2008

Massive websites like Amazon may one day be able to pay for more information roadspace than smaller sites.

Web race
David Pullmer / The McGill Daily

As most people won’t wait more than four seconds for a page to load, the speed of delivery on the net has become more important than ever. In recent years, this need for speed has pitted companies that provide Internet services against web sites who want as much traffic as possible. What is at stake is net neutrality – the current state of affairs in which users can access Internet sites with equal speed, regardless of whether the site is eBay or mcgill.ca.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) act as the intermediary information carriers between users and web sites. In recent years, in what has become largely a battle of revenues, ISPs have sought to implant tiered network infrastructure and charge web sites – or content providers – for services.

Large content providers, such as Yahoo!, eBay, and Google, receive much of their revenues from new applications and advertising. Their wealth depends in large part on the masses of visitors to their site. Dr. Muthucumaru Maheswaran, a computer science professor at McGill, explains that the ISPs, who make it possible for sites like eBay to have so many visitors, want a piece of the revenue pie.

“The people who actually make the networks are anxious because they’re not sharing that wealth,” he said.
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Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi