Facebook To Ban Misinformation On Voting In Upcoming US Elections
ban false information about voting requirements and fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations in the run-up to and during next month's U.S. midterm elections," reports Reuters. The latest efforts are to reduce voter manipulation across its platform. From the report:
The world's largest online social network, with 1.5 billion daily users, has stopped short of banning all false or misleading posts, something that Facebook has shied away from as it would likely increase its expenses and leave it open to charges of censorship. The ban on false information about voting methods, set to be announced later on Monday, comes six weeks after Senator Ron Wyden asked Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg how Facebook would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes, such as by telling certain users they could vote by text, a hoax that has been used to reduce turnout in the past.
The information on voting methods becomes one of the few areas in which falsehoods are prohibited on Facebook, a policy enforced by what the company calls "community standards" moderators, although application of its standards has been uneven. It will not stop the vast majority of untruthful posts about candidates or other election issues.
Fire At AT&T Facility Causes Outage For Over a Million U-Verse Fiber Customers In Texas
Local Dallas/Fort Worth WFAA is reporting a major outage of AT&T U-Verse fiber internet, due to a lightening strike at a switching facility in Richardson, TX. Apparently the strike took out primary and secondary power systems, setting fire to the building. One commenter states a representative allegedly said that 1.5 million customers are currently without service.
99.7 Percent of Unique FCC Comments Favored Net Neutrality, Independent Analysis Finds
When a Stanford researcher removed all the duplicate and fake comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission last year, he found that 99.7 percent of public comments -- about 800,000 in all --
were pro-net neutrality. From a report:
"With the fog of fraud and spam lifted from the comment corpus, lawmakers and their staff, journalists, interested citizens and policymakers can use these reports to better understand what Americans actually said about the repeal of net neutrality protections and why 800,000 Americans went further than just signing a petition for a redress of grievances by actually putting their concerns in their own words," Ryan Singel, a media and strategy fellow at Stanford University, wrote in a blog post Monday. Singel released a report [PDF] Monday that analyzed the unique comments -- as in, they weren't a copypasta of one or dozens of other letters -- filed last year ahead of the FCC's decision to repeal federal net neutrality protections. That's from the 22 million total comments filed, meaning that more than 21 million comments were fake, bots, or organized campaigns.
US Voter Records From 19 States Is Being Sold on a Hacking Forum, Threat Intelligence Firms Say
reporting for ZDNet:
The voter information for approximately 35 million US citizens is being peddled on a popular hacking forum, two threat intelligence firms have discovered. "To our knowledge this represents the first reference on the criminal underground of actors selling or distributing lists of 2018 voter registration data," said researchers from Anomali Labs and Intel471, the two companies who spotted the forum ad.
The two companies said they've reviewed a sample of the database records and determined the data to be valid with a "high degree of confidence." Researchers say the data contains details such as full name, phone numbers, physical addresses, voting history, and other voting-related information. It is worth noting that some states consider this data public and offer it for download for free, but not all states have this policy.
Jeff Bezos Predicts We'll Have 1 Trillion Humans in the Solar System, and Blue Origin Wants To Help Get Us There
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos predicted Monday that
we'll have one trillion humans in the solar system one day -- and he showed off how the rocket company plans to help get there. "I won't be alive to see the fulfillment of that long term mission," Bezos said at the Wired 25th anniversary summit in San Francisco. "We are starting to bump up against the absolute true fact that Earth is finite." From a report:
Blue Origin's aim is to lower the cost of access to space, Bezos said. Elon Musk's SpaceX and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic are also eyeing commercial space travel. "The dynamism that I have seen over the last 20 years in the internet where incredible things have happened in really short periods of time," Bezos said. "We need thousands of companies. We need the same dynamism in space that we've seen online over the last 20 years. And we can do that."
Jeff Bezos Wants Us All to Leave Earth -- for Good.
Winamp Media Player To Return as a Platform-Agnostic Audio Mobile App Next Year; Desktop Application Receives an Update
The charmingly outdated media player Winamp is being reinvented as a platform-agnostic audio mobile app that brings together all your music, podcasts, and streaming services to a single location. From a report:
It's an ambitious relaunch, but the company behind it says it's still all about the millions-strong global Winamp community -- and as proof, the original desktop app is getting an official update as well. For those who don't remember: Winamp was the MP3 player of choice around the turn of the century, but went through a rocky period during Aol ownership and failed to counter the likes of iTunes and the onslaught of streaming services, and more or less crumbled over the years. The original app, last updated in 2013, still works, but to say it's long in the tooth would be something of an understatement (the community has worked hard to keep it updated, however). So it's with pleasure that I can confirm rumors that substantial updates are on the way.
"There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience," said Alexandre Saboundjan, CEO of Radionomy, the company that bought Winamp (or what remained of it) in 2014. "You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built. People want one single experience," he concluded. "I think Winamp is the perfect player to bring that to everybody. And we want people to have it on every device."
Microsoft To Disable TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 Support in Edge and Internet Explorer
Microsoft today said it plans to disable support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.0 and 1.1 in Edge and Internet Explorer browsers
by the first half of 2020. From a report:
"January 19th of next year marks the 20th anniversary of TLS 1.0, the inaugural version of the protocol that encrypts and authenticates secure connections across the web," said Kyle Pflug, Senior Program Manager for Microsoft Edge. "Two decades is a long time for a security technology to stand unmodified," he said. "While we aren't aware of significant vulnerabilities with our up-to-date implementations of TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 [...] moving to newer versions helps ensure a more secure Web for everyone."
The move comes as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) -- the organization that develops and promotes Internet standards -- is hosting discussions to formally deprecated both TLS 1.0 and 1.1. Microsoft is currently working on adding support for the official version of the recently-approved TLS 1.3 standard. Edge already supports draft versions of TLS 1.3, but not yet the final TLS 1.3 version approved in March, this year. Microsoft engineers don't seem to be losing any sleep over their decision to remove both standards from Edge and IE. The company cites public stats from SSL Labs showing that 94 percent of the Internet's sites have already moved to using TLS 1.2, leaving very few sites on the older standard versions. "Less than one percent of daily connections in Microsoft Edge are using TLS 1.0 or 1.1," Pflug said, also citing internal stats. You can check public stats on the usage of TLS 1.0 and 1.1
Intel To Support 128GB of DDR4 on Core 9th Gen Desktop Processors
Ian Cutress, writing for AnandTech:
One of today's announcements threw up an interesting footnote worthy of further investigation. With its latest products, HP announced that their mainstream desktop platforms would be shipped with up to 32GB of memory, which was further expandable up to 128GB. Intel has confirmed to us, based on new memory entering the market, that there will be an adjustment to the memory support of the latest processors.
Normally mainstream processors only support 64GB, by virtue of two memory channels, two DIMMs per memory channel (2DPC), and the maximum size of a standard consumer UDIMM being 16GB of DDR4, meaning 4x16GB = 64GB. However the launch of two different technologies, both double height double capacity 32GB DDR4 modules from Zadak and G.Skill, as well as new 16Gb DDR4 chips coming from Samsung, means that technically in a consumer system with four memory slots, up to 128GB might be possible.
Climate Change Will Cause Beer Shortages and Price Hikes, Study Says
A new study from Nature Plants has identified the
one climate-related issue that can unite people from myriad political backgrounds -- beer. From a report:
Led by Wei Xie, an agricultural scientist at Peking University, the paper finds that regions that grow barley, the primary crop used to brew beer, are projected to experience severe droughts and heat waves due to anthropogenic climate change. According to five climate models that used different projected temperature increases for the coming century, extreme weather events could reduce barley yields by 3 to 17 percent. Barley harvests are mostly sold as livestock fodder, so beer availability could be further hindered by the likely prioritization of grain yields to feed cattle and other farm animals, rather than for brewing beer.
The net result will be a decline in affordable access to beer, which is the most commonly imbibed alcoholic beverage in the world. Within a few decades, this luxury may be out of reach for hundreds of millions of people, including those in affluent nations where breweries are a major industry. Price spikes are estimated to range from $4 to over $20 for a standard six-pack in nations like the US, Ireland, Denmark, and Poland.
As Companies Embrace AI, It's a Job-Seeker's Market
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Artificial intelligence is now being used in an ever-expanding array of products: cars that drive themselves; robots that identify and eradicate weeds; computers able to distinguish dangerous skin cancers from benign moles; and smart locks, thermostats, speakers and digital assistants that are bringing the technology into homes. At Georgia Tech, students interact with digital teaching assistants made possible by AI for an online course in machine learning.
The expanding applications for AI have also created a shortage of qualified workers in the field. Although schools across the country are adding classes, increasing enrollment and developing new programs to accommodate student demand, there are too few potential employees with training or experience in AI. That has big consequences. Too few AI-trained job-seekers has slowed hiring and impeded growth at some companies, recruiters and would-be employers told Reuters. It may also be delaying broader adoption of a technology that some economists say could spur U.S. economic growth by boosting productivity, currently growing at only about half its pre-crisis pace.
[...] U.S. government data does not track job openings or hires in artificial intelligence specifically, but online job postings tracked by jobsites including Indeed, Ziprecruiter and Glassdoor show job openings for AI-related positions are surging. AI job postings as a percentage of overall job postings at Indeed nearly doubled in the past two years, according to data provided by the company. Searches on Indeed for AI jobs, meanwhile increased just 15 percent.
MIT Plans College For AI, Backed by $1 Billion
Every major university is wrestling with how to adapt to the technology wave of artificial intelligence -- how to prepare students not only to harness the powerful tools of A.I., but also to thoughtfully weigh its ethical and social implications. A.I. courses, conferences and joint majors have proliferated in the last few years. But the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is
taking a particularly ambitious step, creating a new college backed by a planned investment of $1 billion. Two-thirds of the funds have already been raised, M.I.T. said, in announcing the initiative on Monday. From a report:
The linchpin gift of $350 million came from Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group, the big private equity firm. The college, called the M.I.T. Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, will create 50 new faculty positions and many more fellowships for graduate students. It is scheduled to begin in the fall semester next year, housed in other buildings before moving into its own new space in 2022. The goal of the college, said L. Rafael Reif, the president of M.I.T., is to "educate the bilinguals of the future." He defines bilinguals as people in fields like biology, chemistry, politics, history and linguistics who are also skilled in the techniques of modern computing that can be applied to them. But, he said, "to educate bilinguals, we have to create a new structure."
New Startup By a Trio of Doctors Uses Phone App To Collect Measures of People's Cognition and Emotional Health and Attempts To Detect Signs of Depression
A startup founded in Palo Alto, California, by a trio of doctors, including the former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, is trying to prove that our obsession with the technology in our pockets can help treat some of today's most intractable medical problems:
depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. MIT Technology Review:
Mindstrong Health is using a smartphone app to collect measures of people's cognition and emotional health as indicated by how they use their phones. Once a patient installs Mindstrong's app, it monitors things like the way the person types, taps, and scrolls while using other apps. This data is encrypted and analyzed remotely using machine learning, and the results are shared with the patient and the patient's medical provider.
The seemingly mundane minutiae of how you interact with your phone offers surprisingly important clues to your mental health, according to Mindstrong's research -- revealing, for example, a relapse of depression. With details gleaned from the app, Mindstrong says, a patient's doctor or other care manager gets an alert when something may be amiss and can then check in with the patient by sending a message through the app (patients, too, can use it to message their care provider).
Rivals ARM and Intel Make Peace To Secure Internet of Things
Rival semiconductor giants
Intel have agreed to work together to manage networks of connected devices from both firms, clearing a major stumbling block to market growth of the so-called Internet of Things (
IoT). From a report:
Britain's ARM, a unit of Japan's Softbank, said on Monday it had struck a strategic partnership with Intel to use common standards developed by Intel for managing IoT devices, connections and data. The IoT involves connecting simple chips that detect distance, motion, temperature, pressure and images to be used in an ever wider range of electronics such as lights, parking meters or refrigerators.
Some of the world's dumbest electronics devices get smarter by becoming connected into cloud networks, but also harder to protect. ARM's agreement to adopt Intel standards for securely managing such networks marks a breakthrough that promises to drive the spread of IoT across many industries, the two companies said.
Personal Genomics is Booming, But There's a Nationwide Shortage of Genetic Counselors Who Can Make Sense of that DNA Data
An anonymous reader shares a
When Dan Riconda graduated with a master's degree in genetic counseling from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988, the Human Genome Project was in its very first year, DNA evidence was just beginning to enter the courts, and genetic health tests weren't yet on the market. He found one of the few jobs doing fetal diagnostics for rare diseases, which often meant helping young families through the worst time in their lives.
What a difference 30 years makes. Today, with precision medicine going mainstream and an explosion of apps piping genetic insights to your phone from just a few teaspoons of spit, millions of Americans are having their DNA decoded every year. That deluge of data means that genetic counselors -- the specialized medical professionals trained to help patients interpret genetic test results -- are in higher demand than ever. With two to three job openings for every new genetic counseling graduate, the profession is facing a national workforce shortage.
[...] Pharmaceutical and lab testing firms are routinely hiring genetic counselors to make sure new screening technologies for these targeted drugs are developed in an ethical way. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the National Society for Genetic Counselors, a quarter of the workforce now works in one of these non-patient-facing jobs. A smaller study, published in August, found that one-third of genetic counselors had changed jobs in the past two years, nearly all of them from a hospital setting to a laboratory one.
Many Pay High Investment Company Fees For Services They Don't Use, Survey Shows
Penelope Wang, writing for Consumer Reports:
If you are investing in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, you have a wide range of options to help manage your portfolio -- everything from traditional brokerages to mutual fund companies to online financial firms. But as consumers search for an investment company, many pay little attention to the fees they're being charged, according to a just-released Consumer Reports survey of more than 46,000 CR members. Four out of 10 surveyed said they weren't sure what they paid in fees. And of those who knew the costs, only 60 percent rated their investment company in our survey as Excellent or Very Good on the amount charged.
"Hidden and confusing fees are proliferating across the marketplace, making it hard for consumers to know what they're getting for their money, and to comparison shop across providers," says Anna Laitin, director of financial policy at Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. "It is concerning that so many investors don't know how much they are paying in fees and that many of those who do understand the fees don't appear to think they are getting their money's worth," she says.