Apple cares about privacy, unless you work at Apple

Jacob Preston was sitting down with his manager during his first week at Apple when he was told, with little fanfare, that he needed to link his personal Apple ID and work account.

The request struck him as odd. Like anyone who owns an Apple product, Preston’s Apple ID was intimately tied to his personal data — it connected his devices to the company’s various services, including his iCloud backups. How could he be sure his personal messages and documents wouldn’t land on his work laptop? Still, he was too giddy about his new job as a firmware engineer to care. He went ahead and linked the accounts.

Three years later, when Preston handed in his resignation, the choice came back to haunt him. His manager told him to return his work laptop, and — per Apple protocol — said he shouldn’t wipe the computer’s hard drive. His initial worry had come to pass: his personal messages were on this work laptop, as were private documents concerning his taxes and a recent home loan. Preston pushed back, saying some of the files contained highly personal information and there was no reasonable way to make sure they were all removed from the laptop without wiping it completely.

This is definitely an issue as I see it. Seeding control of company property is one thing. But being expected to mix personal and company property effectively making personal information available to search without cause or warrant indeed is quite another. And I get why Apple is so cautious, how tough it is to keep company secrets etc. What I don’t like in such scenarios is how management tends to confuse compliance under said circumstances is a favour employees to the company, not something they owe to anyone.

Apple Exploring RISC-V, Hiring RISC-V ‘High Performance’ Programmers

Given that Apple is already working on RISC-V solutions, it is likely now only a matter of time before the company replaces certain types of cores with RISC-V. However, it remains to be seen is how far Apple will be willing to go with its RISC-V initiative. RISC-V currently focuses on lower-performance applications, but the ISA is developing fast, and the first high-performance RISC-V designs will emerge soon.

Sounds like hedging to me. Much like OS X was running on Intel in some form years before the Intel switch happened etc. I don’t exactly subscribe to the idea that a future migration to RISC-V would be made mostly for cost reduction (not having to pay ARM any royalties). It just make sense to prepare for the worst. And maybe the worst —from Apple’s perspective— is Nvidia that’s till trying to overcome regulatory hurdles and buy ARM from Softbank. it’s no secret that Apple and Nvidia haven’t been on the best of terms since before Steve Job’s death and not much has changed since then.

“Consent” Is the Wrong Framework for Experiencing Art

I don’t even know where to start.

One user’s thread on the subject begins with the claim that after playing Boyfriend Dungeon for fifteen minutes he became so distressed by the fictional behavior of the game’s stalker character, Eric (voiced by Alexander Gross), that he was “afraid to play any more than [he had].” He goes on to claim multiple times that he “did not consent” to being exposed to this plotline, referencing hostile and suggestive texts he is unable to block in-game and unwanted gifts delivered to his “in-game address.” The user claims the game’s content warnings, which mention stalking and unwanted advances specifically, were insufficient to prepare him for encountering those elements within the fiction of the game.

Any individual is, of course, entitled to their feelings about any given work of art, but the backlash against Boyfriend Dungeon’s mildly transgressive storyline as well as the accompanying demands leveled at the studio and the mobbing of at least one voice actor fit into a larger trend of fans and consumers treating a given work of art as both violent toward them on a personal level and as an explicit endorsement or even enactment of any upsetting content it may contain. There’s an almost theme park guest mentality to it, an attitude that consumers are entitled to a seamless and uniformly pleasurable experience from any art they purchase, and that when that art fails to satisfy it’s the artist who’s to blame.

Makes you wonder when the real talk will begin about, say, never having given consent to be born. As if nothing should ever happen without someone’s consent. Not even biology.

What separates the people who spend their lives crusading against depictions of homosexuality in art and public life from those who spend theirs railing at independent creators for not perfectly protecting them from anything that might give them a negative emotion?

I’m sure both camps’ answer to this would have been something like “But we do it for the greater good! Not like the others!”. That’s when you know they couldn’t recognise the “greater good” if they were bludgeoned to death with it.

Perhaps a movie reminds a viewer of abuse suffered in their childhood. Perhaps that viewer is then triggered, and must leave the theater in a state of severe agitation. Perhaps their day is ruined, their week thrown off, their compulsive behavior thrown into activation. The harm in this situation, the tangible damage to a human life, was done before the viewer ever bought a ticket. It was done between human beings, and no matter how terrible the effects of being brought back to this experience are, responsibility lies with the trauma’s original cause, not with art which coincidentally recalls it. As for the trigger warnings so often touted as a way for audiences to opt out of things which might cause these painful reactions, mounting evidence suggests that not only do they not work, they also cause those who see them to experience heightened anxiety about upcoming trauma-related material.

In a 2020 study in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, researchers found that trigger warnings also encouraged people to view trauma as an essential part of their personhood, a belief which correlates with increased symptom severity and poorer overall mental health outcomes.

So it’s come to this. We now have to do and cite research on the effect of trigger warnings just to counter the notion that trigger warnings should be everywhere because no one should ever be reminded of any negative past experience or even exposes to fantastical negative experiences that, theoretically, would have traumatised them had they come to pass.

But let’s say research shows trigger warnings are awesome and whatnot. When do we care about how impractical they are? There is no tagging system (because this is what this is in practical terms) that can encompass everything that anyone could ever feel uncomfortable with. Just imagine how much time and space the ever expanding list of trigger warnings people ask for can take up before, during, after, on a box, on album art on whatever if everyone had their way.

Proposing whatever comes to mind with no regard with the practicalities of life and diminishing returns (at best) or even damage (at worst) one’s idea might have in the long run is exactly as stupid as it sounds and no grounds for anyone to care. We only end up getting more tribal, fuelling resentment, partisanship and, as the say goes, that’s (kind of) why we can’t have nice things.

Which of course reminds me of the resurfaced debate over Dune being a white saviour and pro imperialism story. The only way you get there with conviction is you’re too bored to think beyond the “oh, a white dude, oh, a people with some Middle Eastern references, so of course this must be the case!”.

With anti-vaxxers messing things up around the world, I shouldn’t be surprised so many are too bored to look deeper into someone’s behemoth of literary output. So I guess that’s on me.

If you have the better part of an hour to spare though, here’s a piece that goes much deeper than the SEO crazed masses. And if you think it’s all mental gymnastics, why not listen to Herbert himself when he tackles such criticisms decades ago.

Several Bricks Removed from Apple’s Garden Wall

This is a good summary of an eventful week, both for Apple and for tech and mainstream media. First Apple announced a ridiculous settlement with US developers that’s more or less insulting everyone’s intelligence and concedes nothing of substance to anyone, hence negating even the meaning of the word “settlement”. Many media outlets did zero research and published stories saying there were major concessions on Apple’s sides.

Then Korea approved a law concerning IAP management systems in app stores and western media reported on it as a hit on Apple (which it actually is) and almost keeping Google out of it. Funnily enough, said law is colloquially known as the anti-Google law, as it will affect Google the most, whose Android controls over 3/4 of the market while, on the hardware side, Samsung alone has 70% market share. But balanced reporting of facts, political climates et al is —obvioously— for the weak.

But Apple did reach a settlement in Japan which really does come with at least one meaningful concession as now Apple will have to allow developers to include one link steering users to external payment systems. And this concession may have been made to appease Japan, but it will come into effect worldwide in 2022.

In other news, the News Partner Program wasn’t forced by regulators but it is a concession as Apple keeps facing opposition to its Apple News and Apple News+ approach which, honestly, isn’t a surprise. So if your a news partner that provides all content in the proper format, Apple gets a 15% cut, not a 30% cut. One does what one must. And that’s precisely the point many times.

There are more battles to be fought here so we’ll see. Apple can’t always come away unbloodied as it did in the US dev settlement. And I now have the sense that Apple just fights every probe, every request, if only not to give too much ground, an in for anyone to go for more then the company may actually be willing to give in to.

Corporate tactics. And lawyers. Not the cutest mix of priorities.

Speaking of priorities, Apple had to postpone the roll out of child safety measure that were announced a few weeks back, after enough backlash that it couldn’t just ignore. What this ends up meaning in practice (if anything at all) remains to be seen.

Apple Reportedly in Talks With Toyota About Apple Car Production Starting 2024

On a lighter note, I expect this to go forward. Toyota bet wrong on the market’s handoff timing between hybrids and fully electric. Which means Apple has a few more Japanese buttons to push and Toyota has a few more reasons to roll over and take it. It kind of reminds me how the first iPhone ended up exclusive to Cingular in the US.