Come friendly robots and take our dullest jobs | John Naughton

As the legal chatbot DoNoPay shows, automation may only affect the repetitive parts of white-collar work. The middle classes can breathe again

We are currently going through one of those periodic phases of automation anxiety when we become convinced that the robots are coming for our jobs. These fears are routinely pooh-poohed by historians and economists. The historians point out that machines have been taking away jobs since the days of Elizabeth I who refused to grant William Lee a patent on his stocking frame on the grounds that it would take work away from those who knitted by hand. And while the economists concede that machines do indeed destroy some jobs, they point out that the increased productivity that they enable has generally created more new jobs (and industries) than theydisplaced.

Faced with this professional scepticism, tech evangelists and doom-mongers fall back on the same generic responses: that historical scepticism is based on the complacent assumption that the past is a reliable guide to the future; and that this time is different. And whereas in the past it was lower-skilled work that was displaced, the jobs that will be lost in the coming wave of smart machines are ones that we traditionally regard as white-collar or middle-class. And that would be a very big deal, because if theres no middle class the prospects for the survival of democracy are poor.

Whats striking about this fruitless, ongoing debate is how few participants seem to be interested in the work that people actually do. Most jobs are in fact bundles of different but related tasks. Or, as David Autor of MIT, one of the worlds experts on this subject, puts it: Most work processes draw upon a multifaceted set of inputs: labour and capital; brains and brawn; creativity and rote repetition; technical mastery and intuitive judgment; perspiration and inspiration; adherence to rules and judicious application of discretion.

Typically, Autor argues, these inputs each play essential roles by which he means that improvements in one do not necessarily eliminate the need for the others. And if so, productivity improvements in one set of tasks brought about by automation often increase the economic value of the remaining tasks. This is why, when we consider the possible impact of automation, we should be thinking not of work but of tasks. Having some tasks done by machine might make us more productive in others and keep us in employment.

What brings this to mind is an intriguing website DoNotPay created by a young British student at Stanford University, Joshua Browder. Think of it as a legal chatbot an automated service that provides free legal advice on a number of routine issues. It started out by making it easy to write a letter contesting a parking ticket: you are asked a number of questions (number of the ticket, etc) after which it drafts a letter in the appropriate legal jargon. With parking tickets it claims to have a 55% success rate, so given that its free it looks like a reasonable bet, if you think you might have a case.

Since its launch, Browder has significantly expanded the cognitive and jurisdictional reach of his bot. It now claims to cover upwards of 1,000 different legal issues (from tackling disputes with a landlord to what to do if your credit card is stolen, how to deal with unwanted cold calls, contest insurance claims, extend maternity leave or deal with harassment at work) and suggests remedies that are applicable in all 50 US states as well as in the UK.

Browder calls his chatbot a robot lawyer, but thats not quite right. What it does is to automate some of the mundane, routine things that professional lawyers do writing a cut-and-paste cease-and-desist letter, for example but free of charge, rather than at a price that deters most people and therefore increases inequality. For me, its just drafted an impressive notice under the Data Protection Act 1998 not to use my personal information for direct marketing. Its not rocket science, but as a non-lawyer I might have got the legal terminology in the body of the letter wrong, and I certainly would not have known how to tell the offender that, if he does not comply, I can apply to the court for an order against you under section 11 of the Data Protection Act.

DoNotPay provides a terrific illustration of how technology can be used for socially useful and democratic purposes. More important, though, it also suggests a better way of thinking about robotics and work by making distinctions between tasks that can and should be automated, and those for which human experience, sensitivity and creativity are necessary. Much of what lawyers do is doubtless money for old rope in which case we should not be paying through the nose for those services. We still need lawyers for many other things, for which there is no routine solution and which do require original thinking. So they may wind up poorer; but theyll still have jobs, and perhaps be less bored. And well all be better off.

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Is it time to swap your Mac for a Windows laptop?

Over a decade ago Alex Hern switched from PC to Mac and never looked back. But the new MacBook Pros very expensive so could he finally be tempted to switch again?

Ive been an Apple user for over a decade, ever since I picked up a refurbished 17in PowerBook back in 2005 to replace my ailing Windows XP box. But last month, after Apple announced its most expensive new MacBook Pros in almost 15 years, I reconsidered my decision for the first time and, for the past few weeks, Ive been back on a Windows PC.

I wasnt always a Mac user. My first three computers were PCs, although the house I grew up in had an ailing, hated Power Mac Performa. My reasons for switching in my teens were fairly simple: Id been playing fewer and fewer PC games, and spending increasing amounts of time using my computer to manage the music library linked to my iPod. I was one of those switchers, surprised by the elegance of Apples music player and convinced to take the plunge into their full desktop operating system.

The laptop wasnt cheap, but it made shuttling between my separated parents houses much easier. And while I missed being able to play the full library of PC games Id built up over the years, it was an exciting time to be moving to the Mac OS world. Plus, World of Warcraft was cross-platform, which was all the gaming I needed for a good while.

Ten years on, Im a fairly default Apple user. Im on my sixth iPhone, second iPad and third Mac; I have an Apple TV at home, Apple branded keyboard on my desktop, and even an Apple AA battery charger, from the days when they made them.

But the twin punches of a Brexit-led depreciation of the pound, and Apple releasing a new range of MacBook Pros with the least bang-for-your-buck in recent memory, made me think twice. The cheapest Mac that would be sufficient for my needs, a 13in MacBook Pro with 512GB of storage space and 16GB of ram, comes in at well over 2,000, yet is barely more powerful than the machine its replacing, a 15in retina MacBook Pro from four years ago that cost just over 1,500 at the time.

So I switched back. For the past month, Ive been using the Surface Book, the top-of-the-line laptop sold by, of all people, Microsoft.

Its been an experience.

Great-ish expectations

Microsoft Surface Book Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

My expectations going in were uncertain. I know Windows has evolved radically since I last used it, back in the XP era, and has even changed since the last time I used it in anger, shortly after the launch of Windows 8.1. The current latest version of the operating system, Windows 10 (confusingly, only one version later than 8.1; the story goes that too many developers wrote code referring to Windows 95 and 98 as 9*, meaning an actual Windows 9 would break compatibility), is generally considered a good thing. It meshes the new Windows experience of version 8 with an old-style desktop more elegantly than previous versions, while consigning ever more of the cruft deep into nested menus and offering a slick experience for first-time users.

I was also given hope by the machine. After an awkward start with the first version of the Surface back in 2012, then pitched as an iPad competitor, Microsoft has become one of the best manufacturers of Windows PCs there is. The Surface Book is a delicious machine, masquerading as a MacBook Pro-class laptop but with a fully detachable touchscreen that opens it up to a whole new range of uses.

The quality of the Surface machines has caused problems when it comes to Microsofts relationships with its hardware partners, who tended to expect Microsoft to be content raking in millions with the licensing fees for Windows, rather than competing with them directly for profit from hardware manufacturing. But for now, the company has been content to sit on the edge of the market, making niche devices for the power user.

Despite all of that, I had a fair amount of trepidation. Memories of blue screens of death, of driver conflicts, of cleaning out my registry and restoring the system after a malware infection, are hard to shake, as is the general hangover from my youth of Microsoft as the Great Satan of the tech world. As Zuckerberg is to the 2010s, Gates was to the 1990s: ever-present, professionally amoral, and incredibly, unflappably, successful.

But Gates is gone, as is Ballmer. This is Satya Nadellas company now, and the Microsoft of this generation is everything the Microsoft of the 90s or the Facebook of today isnt: humble, quiet, content with success where it can win and partnerships where it cant, and as proud of working with competitors as Gates was of crushing them. In short, its a Microsoft that I could consider being friends with. It couldnt be that bad.

Switching pains

The worst thing about switching, it turns out, is switching.

Im not trying to be tautological. But the bulk of the unpleasantness Ive experienced actually making this change hasnt been inherent to Windows, but has either come about because of the differences between the two operating systems, or even just the difficulties in actually getting up and running from day one.

Some of the problems are as simple, but nonetheless infuriating, as different keyboard shortcuts. A lifetime of muscle memory has told me that Command-Space brings up Spotlight, which is the main way I opened programmes on my Mac. The same shortcut on Windows 10 is to simply hit the Windows key, which invokes Cortana, Microsofts AI assistant, and then typing in the name of the programme you want to open.

Its just all so … blue. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS

Similar mismatches appear in areas like window management, alt-tab behaviour, and programme installation. Its a push to say which is better (though I maintain that running an installer is less elegant than just dragging an app into the Apps folder), but whichever youre used to, the other will be worse until you re-educate yourself.

Thats not to say I didnt have plenty to complain about, though.

That Spotlight/Cortana mismatch, for instance? It wouldnt have been so bad, except that Windows maps the alt key to the location of the command key on Macs, and alt-space is the Windows shortcut for switching languages, so every time I failed to invoke Spotlight, I would accidentally switch the language my computer was set up in, resetting my keyboard to a US English layout.

That was an annoying problem. Worse was that I didnt actually have two languages set up on the Surface Book in the first place. And yet, hovering in the bottom right, permanently, was a little box showing whether I was running in UK English or US English, with no option in sight to remove it.

In the end, I had to turn to Twitter for troubleshooting advice. We determined that there was no option to remove the US English language because there was no US English language set up. So to remove it, all I had to do was go into a language menu, add English (United States) as an option, and then remove English (United States) as an option. I know. But it worked, so who am I to complain.

Im also firmly aware that a critical eye on Mac OS will reveal many similar bugs. Mac users, particularly long-term, slightly jaundiced, Mac users, have long become familiar with the hollow laugh and invocation of Apples erstwhile marketing slogan It Just Works as something emphatically continues to not Just Work. In fact, that phrase has been uttered in irony so many times that its easy to forget that it really does come from a place of competitive advantage for Apple.

That advantage has largely been eroded over the years, as Microsoft has cottoned on to the joys of vertical integration, plug and play accessories, and standards-compliant behaviour.

But not entirely. Plugging in an external mouse (an utterly standard Microsoft-made laser mouse), I was annoyed to find that I couldnt reverse the scrolling behaviour on the scroll wheel to match that of the in-built trackpad. Its one thing to have to relearn behaviours when you switch machines, its another to have to re-learn them every time you plug in a peripheral.

About an hour of fruitless Googling later including several suggestions to install obsolete utilities, hack the registry, or roll back to an earlier version of Windows and I discovered the way to do what I wanted. I had to download drivers for my mouse.

It just works Steve Jobs with the MacBook Pro in 2008. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If youre young, a Mac user, or not particularly technical, that might not mean much. Drivers are the small pieces of software that tell the operating system how to work with hardware, from complex components like graphics cards to simple accessories like this mouse. But the necessity, or not, of drivers for accessories was a big part of that competitive push by Apple, which made a point of ensuring out-of-the-box support for many of the most commonly used peripherals like printers, cameras and mice. When Steve Jobs said it just works, this is the sort of thing he was referring to: the ability to plug in a mouse and have it Just Work.

Installing drivers for a mouse to enable a niche behaviour is no great hardship, but it still left me moderately concerned. Microsoft made both the mouse and the laptop, yet the two werent able to play nicely together without my intervention. This digging in the nuts and bolts of the machine was not something I had missed.

Touching the void

The Microsoft of 2016 has a split personality. In many ways, the split is the same that its had for the past 20 years, between its desire for continuity and its desire for reinvention and technological leadership. Where the company is successful today is where that latter desire is ascendant, and the Surface Book is the best example of a forward-looking Microsoft you can find.

Its a fantastic machine. Small and powerful, with a long battery life, it impresses as a laptop, but its real strengths are revealed when you undock the screen from its base. Being able to carry my laptop around the kitchen when doing the weekly shop, before docking it back and typing up some recipes, was genuinely cool.

Not being an illustrator, a graphic designer, or even a graphic thinker, the ability to pop out my laptop and write on it with a stylus was never that useful. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Unfortunately, cool is all it was for me. The ability to pop out my laptop and write on it with a (very accurate) stylus was never that useful. If anything, it served to underscore how efficient the keyboard-and-touchpad combo is for a lot of hefty tasks.

I had a similar experience with the ability to use the touchscreen while the Surface Book was in laptop mode. I simply didnt do it much, and most of the time when I did, it was just to see if I could.

Occasionally, the touchscreen was actively bad. My first time opening Windows Mail, I was greeted with a helpful popover showing that I could swipe mails to the left to archive them. But I couldnt work out how: click and drag? Two-fingered swipe on the touchpad? The answer, of course, is to reach up to the screen, and swipe that way. A shortcut it is not, particularly if the screen is up on a dock and youre already using a keyboard and mouse.

Incidentally, unlike many hybrid laptops, the base isnt just a keyboard: it also contains a second battery, and a number of hardware components including a discrete GPU. (One downside of that setup: if you let the screen run out of battery while undocked, you cant re-dock it until youve charged it separately, even if the base still has some power left).

PCs are from Mars

If this sounds like a long list of nitpicks, its because … well, it is. For all the existential battles that have been fought over Windows versus Mac, theres little to distinguish the two on any important level. The platforms have converged on everything but aesthetics and personal preferences. Both have a locked-down store which power users ignore; both are fighting for relevance in a world of web apps and mobile-first design; both feel the weight of versions past sitting on their shoulders.

If you asked me to explain why, despite it all, Ive put my money down for a MacBook Pro rather than buying the Surface Book from Microsoft (which loaned the device for this trial), I can give you some reasons that feel solid enough for me.

I was shocked by the amount of advertising and cross-promotion riddled throughout the OS, from adverts for apps in the start menu, to a persistent pop-up offering a free trial of Office 365.

I was surprised by the paucity of solid third-party apps in general, and particularly by the lack of any good consumer productivity suite. When the most common recommendation, for services from photo storage to calendaring, is just use Googles web apps, theres a hole waiting to be filled (though maybe thats just my dislike of web apps in general). It feels like the Mac dev scene is full of teams making fully featured apps that compete with the big companies, while Windows devs are more content to make niche utilities which serve particular needs without needing to start a war.

The MacBook Pro is up to 1,000 more expensive than the Surface Book. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

I disliked the lack of a smart sleep mode, meaning my computer would often be flat when I opened it up in the morning because some utility had been running in the background.

I hated the difficulty in typing special characters, from foreign accents to ellipses and em-dashes. I hated the lack of a universal paste-as-plain-text shortcut, and I mourned the loss of iMessage access on the desktop for texting my girlfriend.

Most of all, though, I couldnt stand the small irritations, from the failure of Chrome windows to correctly adapt when dragged from a high-res screen to a low-res one, to the trackpads inability to accurately click when I used it with my thumb rather than my finger.

I dont pretend that those irritations are unique to Windows, or even that they arent things I couldnt have fixed with time, effort or re-education. But the problem is, fixing them isnt worth it: the difference just isnt there.

Thats true whichever way youre thinking of switching. If youre a Windows user nodding along with my problems, I can guarantee you that within a month of switching to Mac, youll have a list just as long. Maybe one day, one or other platform will have a commanding lead. For some use-cases, thats already happened: gamers have Windows, while iOS developers have Mac, to state two obvious examples. But for now, for the vast majority, its hard to say theres anything in it.

Except, of course, for price.

Because these problems are minor, and a price difference of up to 1,000 isnt. The Surface Book is around the same price as the new MacBook Pro, but many other high-quality laptops arent: youll easily find models like Dells XPS range or Lenovos Thinkpads for hundreds of pounds less than a comparably-specced MacBook.

For me, with four years of saving for a new Mac, good credit, and risk-aversion to digital irritation, its worth paying through the nose to stick with what I know. But it might not be the case for you.

Switching isnt a panacea, and theres no silver bullet out there no Windows computer that will be anything better than a bit annoying for former Mac users but before you get too complacent, I have a feeling the same is true the other way round. Ultimately, the question comes down to how much youre prepared to pay to keep things the same as they have been. For me, it turns out that figures quite high.

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JarettKobek: The internet has been enormously detrimental to society

The author of Silicon Valley satire I Hate the Internet on the evils of social media, and how novelists have failed to tackle it

When the novel I Hate the Internet came out in the US earlier this year, it had every likelihood of sinking without trace. It was self-published, it was by a young unknown Jarett Kobek and its main selling point was naked, gleeful contempt for the devices and technology platforms that are an essential part of all our daily lives. Nothing says individuality like 500 million consumer electronics built by slaves, he says at one point. Welcome to hell. Hell, for Kobek, a 38-year-old American of Turkish heritage, became daily life in San Francisco, where the novel is set. Along with many of the citys artists and writers, he found himself driven out by the forces of gentrification, moved to Los Angeles, where hes now based, set up his own small press, and wrote this book a scorching satire of how a few hypercapitalist companies in Silicon Valley have come to dominate everything. I Hate the Internet didnt sink without trace. It found a readership thirsty for its funny, acerbic edge, got a rave review in the New York Times, went to the topof the bestseller charts in Germanyand has now been published here by Serpents Tail.

So, do you actually hate the internet, Jarett?
Not particularly. Theres part of it that I find really contemptible. The title is offered like the sneer of a 15-year-old into Twitter, after theyve just seen a meme of someone having sex with a chicken or something. I hate parts of it. I certainly think its been enormously detrimental to society.

You seem particularly down on Twitter.
Its not Twitter per se. Its the undue amount of importance that very serious people put on Twitter. That,to me, is whats infuriating. Its a social network that makes everyonesound like a 15-year-old and then very serious people take it way too seriously. And thats not how to run a society. Thats not how to effectchange.

You say: One of the curious aspects ofthe 21st century was the great delusion that freedom of speech and freedom of expression were best exercised on technological platformsowned by corporations dedicated to making as much money as possible. And yet youre not exempt from that: your novel is available as an ebook
Ah, yes. Ultimately, we live in a very dark moment where if you want to be part of any extended conversation beyond a handful of people, you do have to sign on to some things that, ultimately, are very unpalatable. Every era has its unanswerable questions, so maybe the thing to do, which is what I did in the book, is to just acknowledge the inherent hypocrisy of all of it. Though maybe thats an easy dodge.

One of the things that comes up time and again is the undercurrents of misogyny and racism that seem to have been enabled or unleashed by technology. Do you think theres something fundamental about that?
I do think it has to be acknowledged that this technology which seems to be really good at enabling misogyny and abuse of women was created in rooms where there were no women. The people who seem to be the recipients of the most abuse online look like the people who were simply not in the room when all of this stuff was being created. If the book does anything, it acknowledges that.

It seems like a particularly interesting moment to think about that in terms of where were at now. Would Trump have been possible without the internet?
Of course not. Look who benefits from all the endless newspaper inchesabout how the oppressed peoples of the world are going to be liberated by technology. Ive just been on book tour to a lot of battleground states where I spent a lot of time 10 years ago. And if you want to look what hypercapitalism looks like, do a before and after of the Midwest, with a 10-year-break in between. Its so devastated. Was it always a wonderful place to live? Probably not, but was it sort of like a road of ruination and emptiness? No. And I think the internet has been really good at aiding that process, certainly in destroying jobs.

Reading your book made me think that we simply havent even had the language to criticise the internet until now. That theres been no outside to the internet. No place to oppose it from
I think the outside is publishing, actually. I mean publishing in the most Platonic sense of the word, rather than the squalid industry that we have. I think that books actually can be anything. Publishings response to the internet has been completely pathetic, but God, if theres going to be an opposition, a response, its not going to come in the form of tweets.

You claim writers have chosen to ignore the dominant story of the 21st century and have instead rolled over and embraced Twitter as a marketing device. Do you think theres just been a complete dereliction of duty?
Not from everyone, but yes, if you see the literary novels that have been coming out even in the last two or three years, very few of them have much of a connection to anything now. How many of the literary novels published by the four major companies in the US have much to do with a world after which Trump wins the presidency? Have they published even a single working-class writer? I cant think of one.

Youre pretty scathing about some of thetechnology companies. You say that the idea that Google and Twitter contributed to the Arab spring is like saying the Russian revolution was sponsored by Ford…
I went to Egypt in 2011, about four weeks after Mubarak fell and no one mentioned Facebook or Twitter. Whatthey were talking about was money, and how they didnt have any. At the same time, I was living in San Francisco, where there were Facebook employees who seemed to believe they were bringing enlightenment and freedom to the oppressed masses of the world, evicting Latino families whod lived in the same place for 60 years. Its just absurdIts absurd to think that a complex, social thing, like a revolution, happening 7,000 or 8,000 miles awaywas being fuelled and generatedby some stuff some nerds put out on a cellphone.

You had to make legal changes to the UK edition, which youve done with the device of writing [JIMLL FIX IT] where youve redacted passages such as those about Googles Larry Page and Amazons Jeff Bezos. How did that come about?
I didnt want to delete the text per se, and Id just read Dan Daviess biography of Jimmy Savile and it really fascinated me, because in the US youre constantly being told everything is a conspiracy and actually nothing ever is. Rich people tell you what theyre going to do and then they do it. Whereas here, there really was a conspiracy. It really did happen.

I Hate the Internet is published by Serpents Tail (12.99). Click here to order a copy for 10.65

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Cybersecurity firm fails to find links between Donald Trump and Russian bank

Investigators hired by Alfa Bank say server logs show no sign of secretive contact after online report sparks debate between internet security experts

A US cybersecurity firm hired by a Russian bank to investigate allegations of a secret line of communication with the Trump Organization said on Tuesday there was no evidence so far of substantive contact, email or financial links.

Mandiant, which is owned by the California-based company FireEye, said it examined internet server logs presented to the bank by media organisations investigating the link.

The online magazine Slate published a story on Monday about communication between a server hosting Trump domain addresses and a server owned by the Moscow-based Alfa Bank, owned by two oligarchs, Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven. Aven worked with Vladimir Putin in city government in St Petersburg in the early 1990s.

The Slate story, quoting a range of cybersecurity experts, said the communication between the servers suggested it was human rather than robotic, and that it was intended to be secret and exclusive.

In a statement, FireEye said it had been presented with a log of the communication between the servers over a period of 90 days, listing the separate contacts.

The information presented is inconclusive and is not evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump campaign or Organization, the statement said. The list presented does not contain enough information to show that there has been any actual activity opposed to simple DNS lookups, which can come from a variety of sources including anti-spam and other security software.

The statement continued: As part of the ongoing investigation, Alfa Bank has opened its IT systems to Mandiant, which has investigated both remotely and on the ground in Moscow. We are continuing our investigation. Nothing we have or have found alters our view as described above that there isnt evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump campaign or Organization.

The allegations have triggered debate among security experts in the US, in the midst of a fierce political row over the role of the FBI. Democrats have decried the decision of the FBI director, James Comey, to notify Congress of the discovery of new emails relevant to its inquiry into Hillary Clintons use of a private server while secretary of state, without making public parallel investigations into Trumps ties to Russia.

Computer scientists quoted in the Slate story said that the Trump server had a capacity for mass email but was only being used for a small amount of traffic, nearly 90% of which was with servers from a single organisation, Alfa Bank.

The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive. This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project, said Paul Vixie, a software expert and one of the creators of the domain name system (DNS) that guides communication on the internet.

Robert Graham, a cybersecurity expert and head of Errata Security, dismissed the claims as nonsense. He said the domain in question,, was actually controlled by Cendyn, a company that handles marketing for hotels, including Trumps hotels.

Graham also argued that there was no sign of human communication between the servers, which appeared to be looking up each others IP (internet protocol) addresses, the first step towards establishing communication. The logs show that two Alfa Bank servers sent a total of more than 2,700 lookup requests to the Trump email server.

The requests are spread out evenly throughout the day, with no correlation to time zones, Graham said in an email. This would indicate automated tools looking up incoming spam addresses, not humans sending email. If it were sign of human activity, we would see spikes around 9am when people got to work and 1pm when they got back from lunch.

John Bambenek, a consultant with Fidelis Cybersecurity, who has also studied the logs, said there were unanswered questions about their provenance and authenticity.

The identity of the person bringing the data can be more important than the data, Bambenek said. Im suspicious of the claims that this was gathered legally. They tell an interesting story, but its not clear whether there is selection or filter applied I smell smoke. I just dont know where the smoke is coming from.

L Jean Camp, a professor of informatics at Indiana University, said there were still a lot of unanswered questions about the communication between the servers.

It doesnt act like a marketing server. Because you wouldnt use a heavy-duty mailer with over 80% of its communication with just one organisation, Camp said. I dont know of any marketing campaign that would do that.

According to Slate, the Trump email domain was hastily reconfigured after a New York Times reporter approached Alfa Bank about the connection in September. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the FBI had spent weeks looking into the Alfa-Trump logs but concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.

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