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Updated 2019-06-16 07:15
Security Cameras + AI = Dawn of Non-Stop Robot Surveillance
AmiMoJo shared this post from one of the ACLU's senior technology policy analysts about what happens when security cameras get AI upgrades: [I]magine that all that video were being watched -- that millions of security guards were monitoring them all 24/7. Imagine this army is made up of guards who don't need to be paid, who never get bored, who never sleep, who never miss a detail, and who have total recall for everything they've seen. Such an army of watchers could scrutinize every person they see for signs of "suspicious" behavior. With unlimited time and attention, they could also record details about all of the people they see -- their clothing, their expressions and emotions, their body language, the people they are with and how they relate to them, and their every activity and motion... The guards won't be human, of course -- they'll be AI agents. Today we're publishing a report on a $3.2 billion industry building a technology known as "video analytics," which is starting to augment surveillance cameras around the world and has the potential to turn them into just that kind of nightmarish army of unblinking watchers.... Many or most of these technologies will be somewhere between unreliable and utterly bogus. Based on experience, however, that often won't stop them from being deployed -- and from hurting innocent people... We are still in the early days of a revolution in computer vision, and we don't know how AI will progress, but we need to keep in mind that progress in artificial intelligence may end up being extremely rapid. We could, in the not-so-distant future, end up living under armies of computerized watchers with intelligence at or near human levels. These AI watchers, if unchecked, are likely to proliferate in American life until they number in the billions, representing an extension of corporate and bureaucratic power into the tendrils of our lives, watching over each of us and constantly shaping our behavior... Policymakers must contend with this technology's enormous power. They should prohibit its use for mass surveillance, narrow its deployments, and create rules to minimize abuse. They argue that the threat is just starting to emerge. "It is as if a great surveillance machine has been growing up around us, but largely dumb and inert -- and is now, in a meaningful sense, 'waking up.'"Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Are Open Source Developers Being Underfunded and Exploited?
Donation-based open source programmer Andre Staltz recently collected data from GitHub, Patreon, and OpenCollective to try to calculate how much money is being donated to popular projects. The results? Out of 58 projects checked, "there were two clearly sustainable open source projects, but the majority (more than 80%) of projects that we usually consider sustainable are actually receiving income below industry standards or even below the poverty threshold."More than 50% of projects are red: they cannot sustain their maintainers above the poverty line. 31% of the projects are orange, consisting of developers willing to work for a salary that would be considered unacceptable in our industry. 12% are green, and only 3% are blue: Webpack and Vue.js... The median donation per year is $217, which is substantial when understood on an individual level, but in reality includes sponsorship from companies that are doing this also for their own marketing purposes... The total amount of money being put into open source is not enough for all the maintainers. If we add up all of the yearly revenue from those projects in this data set, it's $2.5 million. The median salary is approximately $9k, which is below the poverty line. If split up that money evenly, that's roughly $22k, which is still below industry standards. The core problem is not that open source projects are not sharing the money received. The problem is that, in total numbers, open source is not getting enough money... GitHub was bought by Microsoft for $7.5 billion. To make that quantity easier to grok, the amount of money Microsoft paid to acquire GitHub -- the company -- is more than 3000x what the open source community is getting yearly. In other words, if the open source community saved up every penny of the money they ever received, after a couple thousand years they could perhaps have enough money to buy GitHub jointly... If Microsoft GitHub is serious about helping fund open source, they should put their money where their mouth is: donate at least $1 billion to open source projects. Even a mere $1.5 million per year would be enough to make all the projects in this study become green. The article suggests concrete actions to stop this "exploitation," including donating to open source projects, as well as more scrutiny of how well open source projects are funded, and "pressuring Microsoft to donate millions to open source projects." It also suggests considering alternative licenses for new projects, and unionizing. But Chris Aniszczyk, the CTO of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, responded on Twitter that the donation-based approach is "a path to ruin for sustainability... you solve this problem by having companies hire folks or help maintainers build businesses around their projects... let's not turn open source into a gig economy and demand more of companies instead." So what do Slashdot's readers think? Are open source developers being underfunded and exploited? And if so -- what's the solution?Read more of this story at Slashdot.
News Industry Argues Google and Facebook 'Rob Journalism of Its Revenue', Seek Government Help
This week USA Today's former editor-in-chief argued that "Tech overlords Google and Facebook have used monopoly to rob journalism of its revenue," in an op-ed shared by schwit1:Over the past decade, the news business has endured a bloodbath, with tens of thousands of journalists losing their jobs amid mass layoffs. The irony is, more people than ever are consuming news... Why the disconnect? Look no further than a new study by the News Media Alliance, which found that in 2018, Google made $4.7 billion off of news content -- almost as much as every news organization in America combined made from digital ads last year. Yet Google paid a grand total of zero for the privilege. News industry revenue, meanwhile, has plunged... Google and Facebook command about 60% of all U.S. digital advertising revenue, and have siphoned off billions of dollars that once were the lifeblood of the news media. Let's be perfectly clear: Journalism's primary revenue source has been hijacked. It's time that news providers are compensated for the journalism they produce. That's why passage of the bipartisan Journalism Competition and Preservation Act is crucial... Toward that end, "News industry officials, including Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Kevin Riley, testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill in favor of legislation they say would help recover advertising revenue lost in recent years to tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook."The bipartisan bill would provide a four-year reprieve from federal antitrust laws, allowing print and digital publishers to collectively bargain with tech companies about how their content is used -- and what share of ad dollars they'll receive.... Federal antitrust laws bar news organizations from banding together to negotiate more favorable terms from social media and search sites. And individual outlets are deterred from acting alone, according to Chavern's group, because large tech companies could tank a news organization's traffic by demoting or excluding its stories from searches. The bill's proponents say it could help turn the tide for an industry that's been harmed over the past two decades by declining print subscriptions and ad revenue streams that have dried up and increasingly headed online. As tech sites' share of advertising revenue has grown -- Google's skyrocketed from $3.8 billion in 2005 to $52.4 billion in 2017 -- U.S. newspapers have watched their's nosedive from more than $49 billion to $16.5 billion during the same 12-year period, according to the Pew Research Center.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
These Are the Internet of Things Devices That Are Most Targeted By Hackers
ZDNet reports:Internet-connected security cameras account for almost half of the Internet of Things devices that are compromised by hackers even as homes and businesses continue to add these and other connected devices to their networks. Research from cybersecurity company SAM Seamless Network found that security cameras represent 47 percent of vulnerable devices installed on home networks. According to the data, the average U.S. household contains 17 smart devices while European homes have an average of 14 devices connected to the network... Figures from the security firm suggest that the average device is the target of an average of five attacks per day, with midnight the most common time for attacks to be executed -- it's likely that at this time of the night, the users will be asleep and not paying attention to devices, so won't be witness to a burst of strange behavior. The anonymous reader who submitted this story suggests a possible solution: government inspectors should examine every imported IoT device at the border. "The device gets rejected if it has non-essential ports open, hard-coded or generic passwords, no automated patching for at least four years, etc."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Target Experiences A 'Massive' Nationwide Cash Register Outage
CBS News reports:Target acknowledged nationwide "system issues" affecting its stores on Saturday that prevented its customers from checking out at registers. The outage caused long checkout lines at Target locations, with upset customers posting images and video on social media. Slashdot reader McGruber shared an article reporting more than 5,000 posts on Downdetector.com about problems at Target stores Saturday -- and noting that Target is America's eighth-largest retailer. (CBS reports Target has 1,800 stores scattered across the country.) "This is how you bring America to a standstill," a Minnesota news producer joked on Twitter (where the phrase #targetdown is now trending...) "At least Target kept me fed," the news producer added later. "They brought out candy and popcorn and wings. I'm thinking they should set up a TV next and pop in a movie. Maybe we can play bean bag toss, too..."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Star Trek Logo Spotted On Mars
Long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot brings us news about the southern hemisphere of Mars:The University of Arizona HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) has posted a photo of curious chevron shapes in southeast Hellas Planitia that are the result of "a complex story of dunes, lava, and wind." "Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo..." RockDoctor (Slashdot reader #15,477) adds that "For those wanting to try to find it on a Mars map, it's at Latitude (centered) -49.325Â Longitude (East) 85.331Â."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
How to Get XKCD Author Randall Munroe To Visit Your City
Since 2005 Randall Munroe has been the author/illustrator of the popular nerdy comic strip XKCD -- and he's now planning to publish "the world's least useful self-help book." How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems offers readers a third choice beyond simply doing things either the right way or the wrong way: "a way so monumentally bad that no one would ever try it," according to a new page at XKCD.com:It describes how to cross a river by removing all the water, outlines some of the many uses for lava around the home, and teaches you how to use experimental military research to ensure that your friends will never again ask you to help them move. To promote the book Munroe has already scheduled visits in 14 nerd-friendly cities (including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and Raleigh). But a final 15th city will be chosen "based on the results of a challenge..."The challenge: Write the best story using nothing but book covers. Arrange the titles of your favorite books into sentences that tell a story, assemble a single continuous line of people holding up the covers, and take a photo or video documenting your feat. You can make the story as long as you want, but each book needs to be held by a different human. Creative grammar is fine, and you'll get extra credit for including as many books and people as possible. Photos should be either shared on social media with the hashtag #howtoxkcd, or emailed to that address on Gmail. "Submit your entry between June 10 and July 31," explains the site, adding that a winner will be announced in August. "Make sure to include your location (city/state, US only) so we know where to find you!"Read more of this story at Slashdot.
New Hampshire Unveils a Historical Highway Marker For The BASIC Programming Language
"It took 10 months to get it done, but the Granite State is now officially a Geeky State," writes Concord Monitor science reporter David Brooks. "The latest New Hampshire Historical Highway Marker, celebrating the creation of the BASIC computer language at Dartmouth in 1964, has officially been installed. Everybody who has ever typed a GOTO command can feel proud..." Last August, I wrote in this column that the 255 official historical markers placed alongside state roads told us enough about covered bridges and birthplaces of famous people but not enough about geekiness. Since anybody can submit a suggestion for a new sign, I thought I'd give it a shot. The creation of BASIC, the first programing language designed to let newbies dip their intellectual toes into the cutting-edge world of software, seemed the obvious candidate. Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code has probably has done more to introduce more people to computer programming than anything ever created. That includes me: The only functioning programs I've ever created were in vanilla BASIC, and I still recall the great satisfaction of typing 100 END... But BASIC wasn't just a toy for classrooms. It proved robust enough to survive for decades, helping launch Microsoft along the way, and there are descendants still in use today. In short, it's way more important than any covered bridge. The campaign for the marker was supported by Thomas Kurtz, the retired Dartmouth math professor who'd created BASIC along with the late John Kemeny. "Our original idea was to mention both BASIC and the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, an early system by which far-flung computers could share resources. They were created hand-in-hand as part of Kemeny's idea of putting computing in the hands of the unwashed masses. "However, the N.H. Division of Historical Resources, which has decades of experience creating these markers, said it would be too hard to cram both concepts into the limited verbiage of a sign." The highway marker calls BASIC "the first user-friendly computer programming languages... BASIC made computer programming accessible to college students and, with the later popularity of personal computers, to users everywhere. It became the standard way that people all over the world learned to program computers, and variants of BASIC are still in use today." In the original submission, an anonymous Slashdot reader notes that last month, Manchester New Hampshire also unveiled a statue of Ralph Baer, whose team built the first home video game sold as Magnavox Odyssey, sitting on a park bench. "The Granite State isn't shy about its geek side."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
KDE Plasma 5.16 Released
Long-time Slashdot reader jrepin writes: The KDE community has released Plasma 5.16, the newest iteration of the popular desktop environment. It features an improved notification system, Not only can you mute notifications altogether with the Do Not Disturb mode, but the system also groups notifications by app. Developers also focused on user's privacy. When any application accesses the microphone, an icon will pop up in your system tray, showing that something is listening. Vaults, a built-in utility to encrypt folders, are easier and more convenient to use. Dolphin file and folder manager now opens folders you click on in new tabs instead of new windows. Discover software manager is cleaner and clearer as it now has two distinct areas for downloading and installing software. The Wallpaper Slideshow settings window displays the images in the folders you selected, and lets you select only the graphics you want to display in the slideshow. For a more comprehensive overview of what to expect in Plasma 5.16, check out the official announcement or the changelog for the complete list of changes.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Vim and Neo Editors Vulnerable To High-Severity Bug
JustAnotherOldGuy quotes Threatpost:A high-severity bug impacting two popular command-line text editing applications, Vim and Neovim, allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands. Security researcher Armin Razmjou warned that exploiting the bug is as easy as tricking a target into clicking on a specially crafted text file in either editor. Razmjou outlined his research and created a proof-of-concept (PoC) attack demonstrating how an adversary can compromise a Linux system via Vim or Neowim. He said Vim versions before 8.1.1365 and Neovim before 0.3.6 are vulnerable to arbitrary code execution... Vim and Neovim have both released patches for the bug (CVE-2019-12735) that the National Institute of Standards and Technology warns, "allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands via the :source! command in a modeline." "Beyond patching, it's recommended to disable modelines in the vimrc (set nomodeline), to use the securemodelinesplugin, or to disable modelineexpr (since patch 8.1.1366, Vim-only) to disallow expressions in modelines," the researcher said.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
FBI Issues Search Warrant To 8chan For IP Address of Shooter, Commenters
An anonymous reader quotes the Daily Beast:The online forum where alleged Chabad of Poway shooter John Earnest shared a livestream of the shooting was served a search warrant in April for the IP and metadata information on Earnest's posts, as well as those who commented on them. The warrant served to 8chan said the people who responded to Earnest's comments could be "potential witnesses, co-conspirators and/or individuals who are inspired" by his posting about the shooting. Similarly, according to the FBI agent who penned the warrant, there was evidence that Earnest himself was "inspired and/or educated" by other individuals posting on the forum.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Caterpillar Takes Tiny 'Cat & Cloud' Coffee Shop To Court Over Trademark
"Caterpillar Inc. is trying to stop a tiny cafe from using the word cat," reports Fast Company. Long-time Slashdot reader UnknowingFool writes:Caterpillar wishes to cancels the coffee shop's trademark claiming that the trademark on shop's apparel and footwear is too similar to theirs and would cause confusion for consumers. For reference, the coffee shop's t-shirts and merchandise feature a cat and a cloud. This is not the first time Caterpillar has made dubious trademark claims on "Cat" or "Caterpillar". "Another small business faces a crazy legal challenge from a big company that should know better..." writes Inc. "There are literally hundreds of trademarks listed that include the word cat and that are intended for clothing. Without having a trademark or license, technically Cat & Cloud wouldn't be able to sell that merchandise without permission (whether from Caterpillar or one of the many other companies with cat-related trademarks for clothing)." The coffee shop responded by setting up a GoFundMe campaign (which is now "trending" and has so far raised $12,482) for their legal defense. They're arguing that Caterpillar's efforts "would effectively set the precedent for them to OWN the word 'cat', making it un-useable by any business in the US."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Python Passes C++ on TIOBE Index, Predicted To Pass C and Java
Python reached another new all-time high on the TIOBE index, now representing 8.5% of the results for the search query +"<language> programming" on the top 25 search engines. Python overtook C++ this month for the #3 spot, now placing behind only Java (#1) and C (#2). That's prompted TIOBE to make a bold prediction:If Python can keep this pace, it will probably replace C and Java in 3 to 4 years time, thus becoming the most popular programming language of the world. The main reason for this is that software engineering is booming. It attracts lots of newcomers to the field. Java's way of programming is too verbose for beginners. In order to fully understand and run a simple program such as "hello world" in Java you need to have knowledge of classes, static methods and packages. In C this is a bit easier, but then you will be hit in the face with explicit memory management. In Python this is just a one-liner. Enough said. InfoWorld reports:Also on the rise in the June Tiobe index, Apple's Swift language is ranked 11th, with a rating of 1.419 percent. Swift was ranked 15th at this time last year and 18th last month, while its predecessor Objective-C language ranked 12th this month with a rating of 1.391. Tiobe expects Objective-C to drop out of the top 20 within two years. InfoWorld also notes that Python is already #1 in the Pypl index, which analyes how often language tutorials are searched for on Google. On that list, Python is followed by Java, JavaScript, C#, PHP, and then C/C++. Python was also TIOBE's fastest-rising language in 2018 -- though in 2017 that honor went to C, and in 2015 to Java...Read more of this story at Slashdot.
One Dead After Fecal Transplant Gone Wrong, FDA Warns
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Ars Technica: One patient has died and another became seriously ill after fecal transplants inadvertently seeded their innards with a multi-drug resistant bacterial infection, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday. The cases highlight the grave risks of what some consider a relatively safe procedure. They also call attention to the mucky issues of federal oversight for the experimental transplants, which the FDA has struggled to regulate. In its warning Thursday, the agency announced new protections for trials and experimental uses of the procedure. The FDA shared minimal details from the deadly transplants. Its warning only noted that the cases involved two patients who were immunocompromised prior to the experimental transplants and received stool from the same donor. Subsequent to the transplant, the patients developed invasive infections from an E. coli strain that was resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics in the penicillin and cephalosporin groups. The E. coli strain carried a drug-defeating enzyme called an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), which generally cleaves a ring common to all the chemical structures of those antibiotics. When unnamed researchers who administered the transplant looked back at the donor stool, they found that the stool contained an identical ESBL-producing E. coli. One of the patients died and the fate of the other was not discussed. The agency also did not say how or why the patients were immunocompromised prior to the transplants, what the transplants were attempting to accomplish, how they were carried out, who conducted the transplants, or when they occurred.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Cellebrite Says It Can Unlock Any iPhone For Cops
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: On Friday afternoon, the Israeli forensics firm and law enforcement contractor Cellebrite publicly announced a new version of its product known as a Universal Forensic Extraction Device or UFED, one that it's calling UFED Premium. In marketing that update, it says that the tool can now unlock any iOS device cops can lay their hands on, including those running iOS 12.3, released just a month ago. Cellebrite claims UFED Premium can extract files from many recent Android phones as well, including the Samsung Galaxy S9. No other law enforcement contractor has made such broad claims about a single product, at least not publicly. The move signals not only another step in the cat and mouse game between smartphone makers and the government-sponsored firms that seek to defeat their security, but also a more unabashedly public phase of that security face-off. "Cellebrite is proud to introduce #UFED Premium! An exclusive solution for law enforcement to unlock and extract data from all iOS and high-end Android devices," the company wrote on its Twitter feed for the UFED product. On a linked web page, the company says the new tool can pull forensic data off any iOS device dating back to iOS 7, and Android devices not just from Samsung but Huawei, LG, and Xiaomi.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Astronomers Detected Signs of Our Milky Way Colliding With Another Galaxy
fahrbot-bot shares a report from ScienceAlert: Antlia 2, the "ghost of a galaxy" orbiting the Milky Way, is a dark horse in more ways than one. Not only is it so faint it was only just discovered last year, it may now be responsible for curious ripples in the hydrogen gas that makes up the Milky Way's outer disc. According to new research, Antlia 2's current position is consistent with a collision with the Milky Way hundreds of millions of years ago that could have produced the perturbations we see today. The paper has been submitted for publication and is undergoing peer review. Antlia 2 was a bit of a surprise when it showed up in the second Gaia mission data release last year. It's really close to the Milky Way -- one of our satellite galaxies -- and absolutely enormous, about the size of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Further reading: CNETRead more of this story at Slashdot.
Arctic Permafrost Melting 70 Years Sooner Than Expected, Study Finds
An anonymous reader quotes a report The Weather Channel: Scientists studying climate change expected layers of permafrost in the Canadian Arctic to melt by the year 2090. Instead, it's happening now. A new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters revealed that unusually warm summers in the Canadian High Arctic between 2003 and 2016 resulted in permafrost melt up to 240% higher than previous years. Louise Farquharson, a researcher at the Permafrost Laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the study's lead author, told weather.com the three areas of melting permafrost studied in remote northern Canada are believed to have been frozen for thousands of years. She noted that while scientists had predicted the permafrost wouldn't melt for another 70 years, those forecasts didn't take into account the unusually warm summers that have happened in recent years. While researchers believe all indicators point to warmer temperatures continuing, there's no way to know for sure just how quickly the permafrost will continue to melt. Not only is rapidly melting permafrost a symptom of global warming, but it accelerates climate change by exposing thawing biological material to the atmosphere where it decomposes and releases CO2, a key element in global warming.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Prenda Copyright Troll Sentenced To 14 Years
JustAnotherOldGuy shares a report from Boing Boing: For years, Paul Hansmeier terrorized internet users through his copyright trolling racket Prenda Law, evading the law through shell companies and fraud, until, finally, he was brought to justice and pleaded guilty last August. Now, Hansmeier has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and must pay $1.5 million in restitution to his victims -- the same people he accused of being copyright infringers and then bullied into paying "settlement" fees to avoid being dragged through expensive litigation. Any Prenda Law victim can contact the Minnesota DA to apply for compensation. Prenda's tactics included identity theft, entrapment (uploading their own files to The Pirate Bay in order to generate downloads that they could threaten people over), and several kinds of fraud. Hansmeier and his co-defendant, John Steele, were indicted for money laundering, perjury, mail and wire fraud. Both men entered into plea agreements.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Texas Appeals Court Says Government Can't Be Sued For Copyright Piracy
sandbagger writes: Photographer Jim Olive's helicopter shot of Houston was used by the University of Houston on their website after they removed his watermark, a definite no-no particularly since the image was used for their school of business. The photographer then sent the university a bill for $41,000 -- $16,000 for the usage and $25,000 for removing his copyright credit. After the matter ended up in court, the university pushed for the case to be dismissed because the public institution has sovereign immunity, which protects state government entities from a variety of lawsuits and the appeals court agreed. The matter will likely go before the Supreme Court (in Allen v. Cooper) sometime in 2020. "Even if the government sets itself up as a competitor by producing a copyrighted work, there probably is not good reason to conclude automatically that the copyright has been 'taken,'" the three-judge panel cites in its ruling. "The copyright holder can still exclude all private competitors even as the government pirates the entirety of his work." "[W]e hold that the Olive's takings claim, which is based on a single act of copyright infringement by the University, is not viable," the ruling continues. "This opinion should not be construed as an endorsement of the University's alleged copyright infringement, and as discussed, copyright owners can seek injunctive relief against a state actor for ongoing and prospective infringement. Instead, in the absence of authority that copyright infringement by a state actor presents a viable takings claim [...] we decline to so hold." The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) notes that the U.S. Congress passed the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (CRCA) decades ago to prevent states from having governmental immunity from copyright claims, but some appeals courts have held that CRCA goes beyond Congress' powers and have therefore struck it down as unconstitutional.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Ask Slashdot: Should All OSs Ship With a Programming Language Built In?
dryriver writes: If anybody remembers the good old Commodore 64, one thing stood out about this once popular 8-bit computer -- as soon as you turned it on, you could type in BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) and run it. You didn't have to install a programming language, an IDE and all that jazz. You could simply start punching code in, and the C64 would execute it. Now that we live in a time where coding is even more important and bankable than it was back in the 1980s, shouldn't operating systems like Windows 10 or Android also come with precisely this kind of feature? An easy-to-learn programming language like the old BASIC that greets you right after you boot up the computer, and gives you unfettered access to all of the computer's hardware and capabilities, just like was possible on the C64 decades ago? Everybody talks about "getting more people to learn coding" these days. Well, why not go the old C64 route and have modern OSs boot you straight into a usable, yet powerful, coding environment? Why shouldn't my Android phone or tablet come out of its box with a CLI BASIC prompt I can type code into right after I buy it from a store?Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Graphene As an Open-Source Material
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The 2D wonder-material graphene could greatly benefit from the widespread experimentation of open-source use. In its current state, graphene is primarily researched by scientists in universities and labs, but by making graphene a material that is open to be improved upon by anyone, we might see the fulfillment of the potential that graphene has been hailed for since its discovery. Graphene's capabilities are staggering -- it is essentially 2D, flexible, 200 times stronger than steel, conducts heat 10 times better than copper and conducts electricity 250 times better than silicon. Its abilities are far-reaching and extremely potent, making graphene applications nearly endless. As it stands, graphene research is limited to a select few technology companies -- Samsung, for instance, has the most graphene patents to date. Otherwise, most graphene research is done in university labs. In the same way that open-sourcing has built up software and related technologies, open-sourcing could also viably allow a wider range of individuals and communities to help unlock graphene's unrealized potential. Graphene is fundamentally different from software in that it is a physical resource. Since the material's discovery, quantity has been a serious issue, preventing the material from seeing widespread use. Natural reserves of graphene are few and far between, and while scientists have discovered ways of producing graphene, the methods have proved unscalable. In addition, graphene would need a way to be experimented with by the average user. For those who don't have the same equipment researchers do, how can they go about tinkering with graphene? In order for graphene to become an open-source material, a solution for these two problems must be found.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
UK Porn Block Is a 'Privacy Timebomb,' New Report Warns
New age restrictions on pornography that are set to come into effect in the UK next month are a "privacy timebomb," a new report by privacy watchdog Open Rights Group has warned. They say that the data protection in place to protect consumers is "vague, imprecise and largely a 'tick box' exercise." The Independent reports: The identity checks needed to stop under-18s from visiting pornographic websites will force any commercial provider of online pornography to carry out "robust" checks on their users to ensure they are adults. The age verification measures will be introduced on 15 July but a recent YouGov poll showed that 76 per cent of the British public is unaware of the ID checks being introduced. "With one month until rollout, the UK porn block is a privacy timebomb," the report stated. Estimates suggest around 20 million adults in the UK watch porn, meaning the scale of any privacy breaches could be vast. "Due to the sensitive nature of age verification data, there needs to be a higher standard of protection than the baseline which is offered by data protection legislation," said Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock. "The BBFC's standard is supposed to deliver this. However, it is a voluntary standard, which offers little information about the level of data protection being offered and provides no means of redress if companies fail to live up to it." Mr Killock said the standard was therefore "pointless and misleading."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Study Finds That a GPS Outage Would Cost $1 Billion Per Day
A new comprehensive study on Global Positioning System technology has examined what effect a 30-day outage would have on the U.S. economy -- whether it's due to a severe space weather event or "nefarious activity by a bad actor." If a widespread outage were to occur, the study estimates it would have a $1 billion per-day impact. "It would likely be higher during the planting season of April and May, when farmers are highly reliant on GPS technology for information about their fields," adds Ars Technica. From the report: To assess the effect of an outage, the study looked at several different variables. Among them was "precision timing" that enables a number of wireless services, including the synchronization of traffic between carrier networks, wireless handoff between base stations, and billing management. Moreover, higher levels of precision timing enable higher bandwidth and provide access to more devices. (For example, the implementation of 4G LTE technology would have been impossible without GPS technology). In the case of an outage, there would be relatively minimal impacts over the first two days, but after that time, the wireless network would begin to degrade significantly. After 30 days, the study estimates that functionality would lie somewhere between 0 percent and 60 percent of normal operating levels. Landline phones would be largely unaffected.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Retail Stores Use Bluetooth Beacons To Track Customers
In an opinion piece for The New York Times, writer Michael Kwet sheds some lights on the secret bluetooth surveillance devices retailers use to track your every move and better serve ads to you. Anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Imagine you are shopping in your favorite grocery store. As you approach the dairy aisle, you are sent a push notification in your phone: "10 percent off your favorite yogurt! Click here to redeem your coupon." You considered buying yogurt on your last trip to the store, but you decided against it. How did your phone know? Your smartphone was tracking you. The grocery store got your location data and paid a shadowy group of marketers to use that information to target you with ads. Recent reports have noted how companies use data gathered from cell towers, ambient Wi-Fi, and GPS. But the location data industry has a much more precise, and unobtrusive, tool: Bluetooth beacons. These beacons are small, inobtrusive electronic devices that are hidden throughout the grocery store; an app on your phone that communicates with them informed the company not only that you had entered the building, but that you had lingered for two minutes in front of the low-fat Chobanis. Most location services use cell towers and GPS, but these technologies have limitations. Cell towers have wide coverage, but low location accuracy: An advertiser can think you are in Walgreens, but you're actually in McDonald's next door. GPS, by contrast, can be accurate to a radius of around five meters (16 feet), but it does not work well indoors. Bluetooth beacons, however, can track your location accurately from a range of inches to about 50 meters. They use little energy, and they work well indoors. That has made them popular among companies that want precise tracking inside a store. In order to track you or trigger an action like a coupon or message to your phone, companies need you to install an app on your phone that will recognize the beacon in the store. Retailers (like Target and Walmart) that use Bluetooth beacons typically build tracking into their own apps. But retailers want to make sure most of their customers can be tracked -- not just the ones that download their own particular app.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Citing Requests From People, FujiFilm Decides To Bring Back Its Black and White Film
AmiMoJo shares a report: Fujifilm has announced it will re-start black and white film manufacturing this year and will bring out a new version of its former Acros film. The new NEOPAN Acros 100 II will feature finer grain and the company claims it will be the sharpest black and white film on the market. The film will initially go on sale in Japan, with expansion to other markets depending on demand. In a press release on the Fujifilm Japan website, President Kenji Sono explains that after the company stopped production of monochrome film last year many of its users asked for production to be started again. Part of the issue for the company, he says, was that some raw materials in the film were hard to source. For the new film alternatives have been found and the production process radically changed to account for them.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Digital Marketer Mailchimp Bans Anti-Vaccination Content
Digital marketer Mailchimp has removed several anti-vaccination "activists" from its platform and will no longer provide services to newsletters that push anti-vaccination content. From a report: The move to block the anti-vaccination rhetoric follows similar actions by other tech companies and comes on the heels of increased pressure from public health advocates and lawmakers on digital platforms to curtail the spread of health misinformation. "Mailchimp has shut down a number of accounts for anti-vaccination content that violates our Terms of Use, and we're adding this category to our routine searches for prohibited content," a Mailchimp spokesperson said in a statement provided to NBC News. "Spreading misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines poses a serious threat to public health and causes real-world harm. We cannot allow these individuals and groups to use our Marketing Platform to spread harmful messages and expand their audiences." The company began quietly enforcing this decision last week. "We trust the world's leading health authorities, like the CDC, WHO, and the AAP, and follow their guidance when assessing this type of misuse of our platform," the spokesperson said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Spy Used AI-Generated Face To Connect With Targets
Raphael Satter, writing for AP: Katie Jones sure seemed plugged into Washington's political scene. The 30-something redhead boasted a job at a top think tank and a who's-who network of pundits and experts, from the centrist Brookings Institution to the right-wing Heritage Foundation. She was connected to a deputy assistant secretary of state, a senior aide to a senator and the economist Paul Winfree, who is being considered for a seat on the Federal Reserve. But Katie Jones doesn't exist, The Associated Press has determined. Instead, the persona was part of a vast army of phantom profiles lurking on the professional networking site LinkedIn. And several experts contacted by the AP said Jones' profile picture appeared to have been created by a computer program. Experts who reviewed the Jones profile's LinkedIn activity say it's typical of espionage efforts on the professional networking site, whose role as a global Rolodex has made it a powerful magnet for spies.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
In Stores, Secret Surveillance Tracks Your Every Move
In retail stores, Bluetooth "beacons" are watching you, using hidden technology in your phone. From a report: Imagine you are shopping in your favorite grocery store. As you approach the dairy aisle, you are sent a push notification in your phone: "10 percent off your favorite yogurt! Click here to redeem your coupon." You considered buying yogurt on your last trip to the store, but you decided against it. How did your phone know? Your smartphone was tracking you. The grocery store got your location data and paid a shadowy group of marketers to use that information to target you with ads. Recent reports have noted how companies use data gathered from cell towers, ambient Wi-Fi, and GPS. But the location data industry has a much more precise, and unobtrusive, tool: Bluetooth beacons. These beacons are small, inobtrusive electronic devices that are hidden throughout the grocery store; an app on your phone that communicates with them informed the company not only that you had entered the building, but that you had lingered for two minutes in front of the low-fat Chobanis. Most location services use cell towers and GPS, but these technologies have limitations. Cell towers have wide coverage, but low location accuracy: An advertiser can think you are in Walgreens, but you're actually in McDonald's next door. GPS, by contrast, can be accurate to a radius of around five meters (16 feet), but it does not work well indoors. Bluetooth beacons, however, can track your location accurately from a range of inches to about 50 meters. They use little energy, and they work well indoors. That has made them popular among companies that want precise tracking inside a store.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Amazon Lays Off Dozens Of Game Developers During E3
As the video game industry's attention was focused squarely on the final day of the E3 convention in Los Angeles this week, Amazon's video game division quietly laid off dozens of employees. From a report: Amazon Game Studios, which is currently developing the online games Crucible and New World, told affected employees on Thursday morning that they would have 60 days to look for new positions within Amazon, according to one person who was laid off. At the end of that buffer period, if they fail to find employment, they will receive severance packages. Amazon also canceled some unannounced games, that person told Kotaku. The company wouldn't say exactly how many employees it laid off, but confirmed the news when reached by Kotaku today.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Avast and AVG Are Causing Firefox Users To Lose Saved Passwords
An anonymous reader shares a report: Firefox users are reporting that their saved passwords have been lost, with the problem seemingly caused by antivirus software rather than being an issue with Firefox itself. Antivirus software such as Avast and AVG appear to be corrupting the file in which Firefox stores passwords, rendering it unreadable. Thankfully, passwords can be recovered, but -- for the time being --- they will be corrupted again when you restart your computer.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
NASA Estimates It Will Need $20 Billion To $30 Billion For Moon Landing
NASA has touted its bold plan to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024 for months. Now we're starting to get an idea of how much it will cost. From a report: The space agency will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for its moon project, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN Business on Thursday. That would mean adding another $4 billion to $6 billion per year, on average, to the agency's budget, which is already expected to be about $20 billion annually. Bridenstine's remarks are the first time that NASA has shared a total cost estimate for its moon program, which is called Artemis (after the Greek goddess of the moon) and could send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century. NASA wants that mission to include two astronauts: A man and the first-ever woman to walk on the moon.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
We Won't Be Listening To Music in a Decade According To Vinod Khosla
In the future, we won't be listening to our favorite bands or artists, we'll be listening to custom made sounds that are tailored to our mood. At least, that's what billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla believes. From a report: "I actually think 10 years from now, you won't be listening to music," is a thing venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said onstage today during a fireside chat at Creative Destruction Lab's second annual Super Session event. Instead, he believes we'll be listening to custom song equivalents that are automatically designed specifically for each individual, and tailored to their brain, their listening preferences and their particular needs.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Facebook's New Cryptocurrency, Libra, Gets Big Backers
Facebook has signed up more than a dozen companies including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and Uber to back a new cryptocurrency it plans to unveil next week and launch next year, according to a WSJ report. From the report: The financial and e-commerce companies, venture capitalists and telecommunications firms will invest around $10 million each in a consortium that will govern the digital coin, called Libra [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], according to people familiar with the matter. The money would be used to fund the creation of the coin, which will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies to avoid the wild swings that have dogged other cryptocurrencies, they said. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Facebook was recruiting backers to help start the crypto-based payments system and was seeking to raise as much as around $1 billion for the effort. In the works for more than a year, the secretive project revolves around a digital coin that its users could send to each other and use to make purchases both on Facebook and across the internet. Talks with some of the partners are ongoing, and the group's eventual membership may change, the people added.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
'The New Dropbox Sucks'
Earlier this week, Dropbox introduced a new desktop application that brings a new look to the file-sharing service as well as new capabilities. With this release, Dropbox has changed the underlying structure of its desktop application to operate just like any other desktop application, rather than its previous incarnation, which was tied very closely to desktop file systems like Windows File Explorer or Apple's Finder. Dropbox adds: It's a single workspace to organize your content, connect your tools, and bring everyone together, wherever you are. The first thing you'll notice is an all-new Dropbox desktop app that we're introducing today through our early access program. It's more than an app, thoughâ--âit's a completely new experience. That all sounds great, until you attempt to use it. John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball: I don't want any of this. All I want from Dropbox is a folder that syncs perfectly across my devices and allows sharing with friends and colleagues. That's it: a folder that syncs with sharing. And that's what Dropbox was. Now it's a monstrosity that embeds its own incredibly resource-heavy web browser engine. In a sense Steve Jobs was rightâ--âthe old Dropbox was a feature not a product. But it was a feature well-worth paying for, and which made millions of people very happy.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Huawei Delays Foldable Phone Launch Until September To Do Extra Tests After Samsung's Troubles
Huawei said its foldable phone will launch in September, slightly later than it was reportedly set to, as it does extra tests following the debacle Samsung went through with its rival device. From a report: A spokesperson for the Chinese technology giant told CNBC on Friday that the company is trying to launch the Huawei Mate X globally, focusing on markets that are rolling out next-generation mobile networks known as 5G. The Mate X, which starts at around 2,299 euros or roughly $2,600, is a 5G-capable device. The Mate X was unveiled in February but has yet to go on sale. Huawei had initially targeted a mid-2019 launch date and in April, Chinese media reported that it was looking at June. But the spokesperson confirmed the official launch will take place in September. He said that the company was doing extra testing with mobile carriers around the world and developers to make sure their apps work when the device is fully unfolded. Huawei's spokesperson said the company was more "cautious" after Samsung's foldable device, the Galaxy Fold, began to break when tested by reviewers in April.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
ThinkGeek Closes Site, Moves in With GameStop
Bootsy Collins writes: ThinkGeek -- the 20-year-old 'goods for nerds' retailer I've associated with Slashdot ever since they were both part of the Andover and VA Linux mega-empires -- appears to be dramatically scaling back their operations. On July 2, thinkgeek.com will be no more, and instead a "ThinkGeek-curated" selection of products will be for sale through the website of Gamestop, their current owner. They're attempting to clear out all existing inventory, and their rewards program is being shut down, too.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Microsoft Edge Might Come To Linux
The Microsoft Edge developer team held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit this week where they revealed some of their plans on current and upcoming features. From a report: The biggest tease the company dropped was its apparent willingness to release an Edge version for Linux -- a move that was once considered inconceivable. "We don't have any technical blockers to keep us from creating Linux binaries, and it's definitely something we'd like to do down the road. That being said, there is still work to make them 'customer ready' (installer, updaters, user sync, bug fixes, etc.) and something we are proud to give to you, so we aren't quite ready to commit to the work just yet. Right now, we are super focused on bringing stable versions of Edge first to other versions of Windows (as well as macOS), and then releasing our Beta channels," Edge devs said.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Lab-Grown Meat Will Overtake Plant-Based Alternatives By 2040, Study Says
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Inverse: Cultured meat could overtake plant-based alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger as early as 2040, according to a new report. The research, from consultancy firm AT Kearney, finds that meat grown in a lab from cells will ultimately become more popular than vegetarian food that replicates the taste of animal products. By then, most of the world's burgers will be entirely meat-free. The report claims that, over the next 15 years, the market will shift toward lab-grown meat as alternatives struggle to maintain their momentum from early innovation. Consumer preferences will also drive a shift to the lab-based approach, as the researchers argue that the similarity to meat drives commercial potential and that, ultimately, lab-grown meat will still taste and feel much more like the real thing. These products will drive down meat consumption even as the whole industry expands, but scientists are unsure whether this will be good for climate change. University of Oxford research found that, while methane-producing cows are lambasted as a major source of greenhouse gases, the methane they produce only stays in the atmosphere for around 12 years. Carbon dioxide, which a lab would in theory produce in spades to power the production of cultured meat, can last for thousands of years. However, this week's report pushes back on this notion, and finds that meat alternatives are far more resource-efficient than conventional meat. When taken as a grain-to-meat ratio, animals only operate at around 15 percent efficiency. Cultured meat only needs around 1.5 kg of crops like soy, pease and maize to produce 1 kg of beef, resulting in a 70 percent conversion rate. Plant-based products need around 1.3 kg per kilo of "meat," resulting in a 75 percent conversion rate.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Sleep Trackers Can Make Your Insomnia Worse
Some sleep specialists are warning that the apps and devices that are used to track your sleep may provide inaccurate data and can exacerbate symptoms of insomnia. "Fiddling with your phone in bed, after all, is bad sleep hygiene," reports The New York Times. "And for some, worrying about sleep goals can make bedtime anxiety even worse." From the report: There's a name for an unhealthy obsession with achieving perfect sleep: orthosomnia. It was coined by researchers from Rush University Medical School and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in a 2017 case study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Dr. Kelly Baron, one of the paper's authors and the director of the University of Utah's behavioral sleep medicine program, said that sleep trackers can be helpful in identifying patterns. She herself tracks her bedtime with a Fitbit. But she said she had noticed a trend of patients complaining based on unverified scores, even for things like the amount of deep sleep, which varies by individual. In the case study on orthosomnia, researchers found that patients had been spending excessive time in bed to try to increase their sleep numbers, which may have made their insomnia worse. And they found it difficult to persuade patients to stop relying on their sleep trackers, even if the numbers had been flawed. Researchers say that trackers can overestimate the amount of sleep that you get, particularly if they focus on tracking movement. If you are lying awake in bed, the tracker might think that you're asleep. While devices that track heart rate or breathing give a more complete picture, they are still only generating estimates.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Earth Nearing 'Meteor Swarm' That May Have Caused 1908 Tunguska Event
Iwastheone quotes a report from CBS News: A swarm of meteors heading towards Earth could have the potential to cause a catastrophic impact, a new study from Western Ontario University says. The so-called Taurid swarm is a recurring event that some scientists believe could have played a role in the biggest Earth impact of modern times, in 1908, when a space rock slammed into Siberia with enough force to destroy an entire forest. What has become known as the Tunguska explosion of 1908 was so powerful that the blast leveled 80 million trees over an 800-square-mile area. It's considered to be a one-in-1,000-year event, according to Western Ontario University. But while the Tunguska explosion occurred just over a century ago, another such phenomenon could occur much sooner than its 1,000-year expectancy, the researchers say. That's why they're focusing new attention on the Taurid swarm. The Taurid swarm is a dense cluster of meteors within the Taurid meteor stream. Earth periodically passes through the Taurid swarm, and it is one of the three space phenomenons that could result in a catastrophic collision. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and meteoroids, as well as comets are the other two potential causes. The Taurid swarm is created when Earth passes through the debris left behind by Comet Encke, according to NASA. The comet's dust barrels through Earth's atmosphere at 65,000 mph, burns up and creates a meteor shower. This Taurid meteor shower is usually weak, but there are some years where it is more visible, NASA says. The Taurid swarm heightens the possibility of a large collision, Western Ontario University researchers hypothesized. This summer, Earth will approach within 30,000,000 km of the center of the Taurid swarm, the study says. That would be Earth's closest encounter with the swarm since 1975 and the best viewing opportunity we'll have until the early 2030s.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Study Finds Nearly 400 Medical Devices, Procedures and Practices That Are Ineffective
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceAlert: A recent study has unearthed nearly 400 established treatments, devices and procedures that are no better than previous or lesser alternatives. [This is referred to as a "medical reversal" in the medical industry.] The findings are based on more than 15 years of randomized controlled trials, a type of research that aims to reduce bias when testing new treatments. Across 3,000 articles in three leading medical journals from the UK and the US, the authors found 396 reversals. While these were found in every medical discipline, cardiovascular disease was by far the most commonly represented category, at 20 percent; it was followed by preventative medicine and critical care. Taken together, it appears that medication was the most common reversal at 33 percent; procedures came in second at 20 percent, and vitamins and supplements came in third at 13 percent. This line-up is unsurprising given the history of medical reversals that we do know about. In the late 20th century, for instance, sudden cardiac death was deemed a "world wide public health problem." Most cases were thought to arise from an irregular heart rhythm, and so a new generation of antiarrhythmic drugs were developed. "In the late 1980s, the Cardiac Antiarrhythmic Suppression Trial (CAST) was conducted to assess the safety of what was then commonplace. Interestingly, recruitment for the trial was hindered by physicians who refused to let patients undergo randomization with a 50 percent chance of not receiving these medications." In the end, however, the randomized trial found that the medication was even more deadly than a placebo. While not all of these medical reversals are deadly, they are all, by definition, useless expenses. The research has been published in the journal eLife.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
AMD Is Working On a Monster 64-Core Threadripper CPU, Landing As Early As Q4 2019
AMD is preparing a monstrous 64-core/128-thread Threadripper CPU for launch in Q4 2019. "AMD's largest HEDT processor right now is the W2990X which tops out at 32-cores," reports Wccftech. "This is nothing to sneeze at and is already the highest core HEDT part around but because the world can't get enough of these yummy cores, AMD is planning to launch a 64-core version in Q4 2019." From the report: The platform is called X599 right now although I am told AMD is considering changing the name to avoid confusion with Intel. This is not really surprising since both Intel and AMD HEDT platforms have the same nomenclature and it can get really confusing. I am also told that they they plan to retain the "99" suffix. AMD is planning to launch the 64-core Threadripper part and the corresponding platform in Q4 2019. In fact, that is when you can expect these motherboards to start popping up from various AIBs. Now my source did not mention a new socket, so as far as I know, this should be socket compatible with the existing TR4 motherboards and only a bios update should be needed if you already own one. What I don't know right now is whether this is a 14nm part or a 7nm part. Conventional wisdom would dictate that this is a 14nm part trickling down from their server space, but who knows, maybe the company will surprise all of us? This is pretty exciting news, because knowing AMD, the 64-core Threadripper CPU will probably be priced in the $2500 to $3000 range, making it one of the most affordable workstation processors around with this many threads.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
SwiftUI and Catalyst: Apple Executes Its Invisible Transition Strategy
Catalyst is Apple's framework that enables developers to easily bring existing iOS apps to the Mac, while SwiftUI is a new, Swift-based technology that makes it easy for developers to create one app that runs on all of Apple's platforms. Jason Snell from Macworld highlights the slow, invisible transition of these new technologies. From the report: Catalyst, which arrives this fall, will allow developers who are well-versed in the vagaries of writing iOS apps to use those skills to write Mac apps. This will most commonly take the form of bringing iPad apps to the Mac, with additions to make them feel more like native Mac apps, but it's more than that -- it provides iOS developers with a familiar set of tools and access to an entirely new platform, and it makes the target for professional apps across Apple's platforms broader by including both the iPad and the Mac. iOS apps are currently built to run on devices running Apple-designed ARM processors, and if the rumors are true, that's another transition waiting to happen. But given that all Mac and iOS developers are already using Apple's Xcode tools to develop their apps, I suspect that the pieces have been put in place for a fairly simple transition to a new processor architecture. And then there's SwiftUI, which may be a harder concept for regular users to grasp, but it's a huge step on Apple's part. This is Apple's ultimate long game -- an entirely new way to design and build apps across all of Apple's platforms, based on the Swift language (introduced five years ago as yet another part of Apple's long game). In the shorter term, iOS app developers will be able to reach to the Mac via Catalyst. But in the longer term, Apple is creating a new, unified development approach to all of Apple's devices, based in Swift and SwiftUI. Viewed from this perspective, Catalyst feels more like a transitional technology than the future of Apple's platforms. But we're talking about the long game here. Transitional technologies are all a part of the long game. Catalyst will bring those apps to the Mac. iOS and Mac developers will pick up Swift and SwiftUI. Mac apps can integrate iOS stuff via Catalyst. iOS apps can integrate Mac stuff for use on the Mac. And all developers can begin experimenting with SwiftUI, building new interfaces and replacing old ones in a gradual process. "And then we'll turn around sometime in the 2020s and realize that all of this talk of UIKit and AppKit and Catalyst is behind us, and that our apps are written in Swift with interfaces created using SwiftUI," Snell writes in closing. "It will have all changed due to Apple's slow and steady pace of iterative, continuous improvement. The long game never stops, and it can be hard to see that you're even in it."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Credit Scores Based On AI and Your Social Media Profile Could Usher In New Way For Banks To Discriminate
Credit scores have a long history of prejudice. "Most changes in how credit scores are calculated over the years -- including the shift from human assessment to computer calculations, and most recently to artificial intelligence -- have come out of a desire to make the scores more equitable, but credit companies have failed to remove bias, on the basis of race or gender, for example, from their system," writes Rose Eveleth via Motherboard. While credit companies have tried to reduce bias with machine learning and "alternative credit," which uses data like your sexual orientation or political beliefs that isn't normally included in a credit score to try and get a sense for how trustworthy someone might be, Eveleth says that "introducing this 'non-traditional' information to credit scores runs the risk of making them even more biased than they already are, eroding nearly 150 years of effort to eliminate unfairness in the system." From the report: Biases in AI can affect not just individuals with credit scores, but those without any credit at all as non-traditional data points are used to try and invite new creditors in. There is still a whole swath of people in the United States known as the "unbanked" or "credit invisibles." They have too little credit history to generate a traditional credit score, which makes it challenging for them to get loans, apartments, and sometimes even jobs. According to a 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study, 45 million Americans fall into the category of credit invisible or unscoreable -- that's almost 20 percent of the adult population. And here again we can see a racial divide: 27 percent of Black and Hispanic adults are credit invisible or unscoreable (PDF), compared to just 16 percent of white adults. To bring these "invisible" consumers into the credit score fold, companies have proposed alternative credit. FICO recently released FICO XD, which includes payment data from TV or cable accounts, utilities, cell phones, and landlines. Other companies have proposed social media posts, job history, educational history, and even restaurant reviews or business check-ins. Lenders say that alternative data is a benefit to those who have been discriminated against and excluded from banking. No credit? Bad credit? That doesn't mean you're not trustworthy, they say, and we can mine your alternative data and give you a loan anyway. But critics say that alternative data looks a lot like old-school surveillance. Letting a company have access to everything from your phone records to your search history means giving up all kinds of sensitive data in the name of credit. Experts worry that the push to use alternative data might lead, once again, to a situation similar to the subprime mortgage crisis if marginalized communities are offered predatory loans that wind up tanking their credit scores and economic stability.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
LG's 5G Phones in Doubt as Chip Deal With Qualcomm Set To Expire
Sales of LG's new 5G smartphone looked uncertain this week after the firm said it was unable to narrow differences with Qualcomm to renew a chip license deal that is due to expire this month. From a report: In a U.S. court filing late on Tuesday, the South Korean firm opposed Qualcomm's efforts to put a sweeping U.S. antitrust decision against it on hold, arguing setting the ruling aside could force it into signing another unfair deal. "If Qualcomm does not participate in negotiations with LGE in accordance with the Court's Order, LGE will have no option but to conclude license and chipset supply agreements once again on Qualcomm's terms," LG's filing in the federal court in San Jose, California said. The lack of clarity over a new license deal raises concerns over the rollout of LG's newly launched 5G smartphones, crucial for the loss-making handset maker to boost flagging smartphone sales and catch up with Samsung.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
'Medicine Needs To Embrace Open Source'
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols from ZDNet argues that "the expensive and abusive pharmaceutical industry needs to open up to improve everyone's health." An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Now, I know little about creating and testing drugs. Here's what I do know: Open source and data produces better results than proprietary methods. In technology, the field I know best, almost every company -- including open source poster-child enemy Microsoft -- has embraced open source. Why? Because it works better than the short-sighted proprietary approaches. It's not just programming that benefits from open source. Cars now run Linux under the hood. Energy and electricity transmission managers are moving to open source. Most of the movies you love are made with open-source programs. Heck, even contract law is going open source. I'm far from the only one to conclude that open-source methods are needed to break what amounts to broken pharmaceutical research methodology and drug price gouging. Open Source Pharma, an organization devoted to building on existing initiatives to develop an alternative, comprehensive, open-source pharmaceutical system, is leading the way. Dr. Manica Balasegaram, executive director for the Access Campaign of Medecins Sans Frontieres, aka Doctors Without Borders, explained: "There is something rotten in the kingdom of biomedical R&D... That the system is inefficient is probably difficult to dispute. It works in silos, encourages a protectionist, proprietary approach, promotes duplication, multiplies failure, is costly, and importantly, is directed at markets and not at public health needs. The consequences are fatal." Open source can revolutionize our hunt for better, more affordable medicine. It has everywhere else. It can in medicine, too. "We need to fundamentally let go of thinking that there is only one possible business model," says Balasegaram. "We need alternatives. Open source R&D is the key." Since the biomedical field is dominated by big companies with an iron grip on IP, Balasegaram admitted: "Promoting the concept of sharing will be tough. Sharing, however, is a difficult and somewhat scary idea to promote. It sounds suspiciously 'radical.' However, when one takes into account that this has been done in other areas, we need to rethink our reservations."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Huawei Started Serving Ads On Phone Lock Screens Without Asking Users' Permission
Huawei is reportedly displaying advertisements on the lock screen of its smartphones, seemingly without warning or any sort of announcement. Huawei says that it's doing no such thing. "The ads are not initiated by Huawei. We encourage individuals to check app settings, or follow publicly available directions on how to remove lock screen ads," Huawei said in a statement to Digital Trends. From the report: According to Huawei, the ads are stemming from some third-party services or apps, and not from Huawei itself. For comparison, Huawei pointed to a similar issue that affected Samsung phones about a year ago. That said, it doesn't seem to add up -- after all, the ads are being placed in Huawei's Magazine cycle of wallpapers, and it seems highly coincidental that a number of Huawei users would all experience the same issue on the same day without users of other phones running into the same problem. A number of users on Reddit reported finding advertisements on their lock screen. One user, who goes by the username Quacksnooze, posted a screenshot of a Booking.com ad that suddenly appeared on their phone. Other users reported getting ads as well. According to the Reddit thread, four images related to Booking.com were added to the Huawei phone's wallpaper rotation, meaning that they would start showing up as wallpapers like any other image. The images could be manually deleted, but it's possible more could be added in the future. You can also get around the issue by not using Huawei's Magazine lock screen wallpaper, but that's a bit of a frustrating solution.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Privacy Policies Are Essentially Impossible To Understand, Study Finds
The data market has become the engine of the internet, and privacy policies we agree to but don't fully understand help fuel it. From a report: To see exactly how inscrutable they have become, I analyzed the length and readability of privacy policies from nearly 150 popular websites and apps. Facebook's privacy policy, for example, takes around 18 minutes to read in its entirety -- slightly above average for the policies I tested. Then I tested how easy it was to understand each policy using the Lexile test developed by the education company Metametrics. The test measures a text's complexity based on factors like sentence length and the difficulty of vocabulary. To be successful in college, people need to understand texts with a score of 1300. People in the professions, like doctors and lawyers, should be able to understand materials with scores of 1440, while ninth graders should understand texts that score above 1050 to be on track for college or a career by the time they graduate. Many privacy policies exceed these standards. [...] The vast majority of these privacy policies exceed the college reading level. And according to the most recent literacy survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, over half of Americans may struggle to comprehend dense, lengthy texts. That means a significant chunk of the data collection economy is based on consenting to complicated documents that many Americans can't understand. [...] Airbnb's privacy policy, on the other hand, is particularly inscrutable. It's full of long, jargon-laden sentences that obscure Airbnb's data practices and provides cover to use data in expansive ways. Things weren't always this bad. Google's privacy policy evolved over two decades -- along with its increasingly complicated data collection practices -- from a two-minute read in 1999 to a peak of 30 minutes by 2018.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Google Made a Video Game That Lets You Build Video Games
Game Builder is a new video game from Google that allows you to create simple Minecraft-style games for yourself and others to play through. "The game lets you drag and drop characters and scenery into an empty sandbox to construct your world, then use preset commands to string together how things interact," reports The Verge. "It's free to play and available on both Windows and macOS." From the report: The game comes from Area 120, Google's incubator for experimental projects (some of which have quickly disappeared, others of which have made their way into other Google products). Game Builder has actually been available through Steam since November 1st last year (it already has 190 reviews, with a "every positive" score), but Google only publicized it today, which is certain to get a lot more people playing. Game Builder has a co-op mode, so multiple people can build a game together at once. You can also share your creations and browse through the games made by others. The interaction system works with "if this then that" logic, and players can craft their own interactions with JavaScript if they're familiar with it.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Lawsuits Claim Amazon's Alexa Voice Assistant Illegally Records Children Without Consent
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Seattle Times: A lawsuit filed in Seattle alleges Amazon is recording children who use its Alexa devices without their consent, in violation of laws governing recordings in at least eight states, including Washington. "Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents," according to a complaint filed on behalf of a 10-year-old Massachusetts girl on Tuesday in federal court in Seattle. Another nearly identical suit was filed the same day in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, on behalf of an 8-year-old boy. The federal complaint, which seeks class-action status, describes Amazon's practice of saving "a permanent recording of the user's voice" and contrasts that with other makers of voice-controlled computing devices that delete recordings after storing them for a short time or not at all. The complaint notes that Alexa devices record and transmit any speech captured after a "wake word" activates the device, regardless of the speaker and whether that person purchased the device or installed the associated app. It says the Alexa system is capable of identifying individual speakers based on their voices and Amazon could choose to inform users who had not previously consented that they were being recorded and ask for consent. It could also deactivate permanent recording for users who had not consented. "But Alexa does not do this," the lawsuit claims. "At no point does Amazon warn unregistered users that it is creating persistent voice recordings of their Alexa interactions, let alone obtain their consent to do so." The lawsuit goes on to say that Amazon's failure to obtain consent violates the laws of Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington, which require consent of all parties to a recording, regardless of age. "The proposed class only includes minors in those states "who have used Alexa in their home and have therefore been recorded by Amazon, without consent,'" reports The Seattle Times. "The suit asks a judge to certify the class action and rule that Amazon violated state laws; require it to delete all recordings of class members; and prevent further recording without prior consent. It seeks damages to be determined at trial."Read more of this story at Slashdot.