the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2018-Mar-20 today archive


  1. Did Stephen Hawking Owe a Nobel Physicist a Subscription To a Softcore Porn Magazine?
  2. Telegram Loses Supreme Court Appeal In Russia, Must Hand Over Encryption Keys
  3. Orbitz Says Legacy Travel Site Likely Hacked, Affecting 880,000 Credit Cards
  4. Patients Regain Sight After Groundbreaking Trial
  5. Machine Learning Spots Treasure Trove of Elusive Viruses
  6. There Are Still 100,000 Pay Phones In the US
  7. Amazon Considers Buying Some Toys R Us Stores
  8. Amazon Passes Alphabet To Become the World's Second Most Valuable Company
  9. Police Chief: Uber Self-Driving Car 'Likely' Not At Fault In Fatal Crash
  10. How a Virus Spreads Through an Airplane Cabin
  11. Mark Zuckerberg AWOL From Facebook's Data Leak Damage Control Session
  12. African Manufacturing Jobs Could be Threatened by US Based Robots, Report Says
  13. Hackathons Are Dystopian Events That Dupe People Into Working For Free, Say Sociologists
  14. The NSA Worked To 'Track Down' Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal
  15. Child Abuse Imagery Found Within Bitcoin's Blockchain
  16. Google Launches a News Initiative To Fight False News and Help Publishers Make Money
  17. FTC Probing Facebook For Use of Personal Data: Bloomberg
  18. LG Releases Open-Sourced Version of webOS in Hopes To Push It Beyond TVs and Smart Refrigerators
  19. China Approves Giant Propaganda Machine To Improve Global Image
  20. NVIDIA RTX Technology To Usher In Real-Time Ray Tracing Holy Grail of Gaming Graphics
  21. Lead Exposure Kills Hundreds of Thousands of Adults Every Year in the US, Study Finds
  22. New York Power Companies Can Now Charge Bitcoin Miners More

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

Did Stephen Hawking Owe a Nobel Physicist a Subscription To a Softcore Porn Magazine?

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
dmoberhaus writes: In 1974, Stephen Hawking made a bet with Nobel Prize-winning cosmologist Kip Thorne about a black hole. The wager was a subscription to the softcore porn magazine Penthouse for Thorne or a subscription to "Private Eye" (basically the British equivalent of The Onion) for Hawking. Hawking ultimately lost the bet, but did he ever pay up? Motherboard dug around to find out if Hawking settled this infamous bet.

Motherboard's Daniel Oberhaus wasn't able to get ahold of Thorne, but did manage to track down a copy of the obscure 1997 straight-to-VHS documentary called Black Holes, which is the only evidence that the wager even happened. "In 1990, Stephen Hawking happened to be visiting Los Angeles and he broke into my office and thumb printed off on this bet," Thorne recalls in the video. Oberhaus writes: "Although the status of Cygnus X-1 was an open question in the 70s, by the 90s mounting evidence had forced Hawking to concede the wager. The bet was recorded in a handwritten note scrawled on a piece of card which is shown in the film. It read: 'Whereas Stephen Hawking has a large investment in general relativity and black holes and desires an insurance policy, and whereas Kip Thorne likes to live dangerously without an insurance policy, therefore be it resolved that Stephen Hawking bets 1 year's subscription to 'Penthouse' as against Kip Thorne's wager of a 4-year subscription to 'Private Eye,' that Cygnus X-1 does not contain a black hole of mass above the Chandrasekhar limit.' 'I had given Thorne a subscription to Penthouse, much to his wife's disgust,' a smiling Hawking says in the film."

Re:It's in the book

By Stephan Schulz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

In the pre-internet days, Penthouse was considered hardcore porn, not softcore porn.

Maybe in Puritanville, USA, but not anywhere else. Hardcore porn has a reasonably formal definition - it basically shows people in the act of actually doing it (not just pretending to be doing it). Penthouse, on the other hand, essentially only ever showed pictures of nude and semi-nude women.

Private Eye

By durgledoggy • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Private Eye is not "similar to The Onion". It is a satirical magazine which puts a satirical and humorous slant on actual news. It's a serious magazine.

Re: Private Eye is not equivalent of The Onion

By oobayly • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Plus, The Onion literally makes the news up. The British equivalents would be The Daily Mash and News Thump.

Private Eye is an excellent weekly magazine. I think it's funny because if it weren't, then you'd be crying when reading some of the corruption and hypocrisy they uncover.

It's editor, Ian Hislop is also pretty damn funny, not only on TV shows (Have I got news for you), but also in enquiries:

Re:It's in the book

By Stephan Schulz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

You are totally wrong. Penthouse switched to full on hardcore porn showing penetration years ago. Tho I have not seen one in many years so they may have changed back. Regardless, for a long time Penthouse has been fully hardcore.

Well, I'm wrong en detail - didn't know about the switch (they switched in 1998, and apparently back in 2005, according to Wikipedia - man, I'm OLD!), but pre-internet would be pre-1982, or, if you assume the web, pre-1989. About 10 years of porn on the web before Penthouse went hardcore...

Many witnessed the conceding of this bet

By rknop • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Stephen Hawking was at Caltech in the 1990s giving a public talk when he conceded this bet. He visited Caltech for a semester twice while I was in grad school there between 1990 and 1996. I remember one physics colloquium; I understood about the first five minutes of the talk. This was in the middle of an ongoing theoretical project where both of them were trying to answer the question: could an arbitrarily advanced civilization, constrained only by physics but not by financial or engineering considerations, construct a traversible wormhole? The question came about when Carl Sagan called up Kip to ask that question. (This was reported by Kip when he was giving a talk about black holes to the intro Physics course at Caltech; I was a TA at the time.) In the physics colloquium that Stephen was giving, he and Kip got into a bit of an argument at the end during questions, and I remember Stephen saying something along the lines of "even somebody as tough and powerful as you, Kip, wouldn't survive that".

Each time he visited, Stephen also gave a public talk, which was *extremely* well attended. Indeed, at at least one of them, I didn't make it into the auditorium where the talk itself happened, but into another auditorium on campus where they were (what we would today call) live streaming the talk. At the end, when Stephen was taking questions, it would take him a couple of minutes to compose the reply on his keypad thingy. To keep everybody from getting restless, Kip would talk to the audience. During one of these questions, Kip was telling everybody about the bet. When Stephen's answer came out, he'd decided not to answer the question, but instead conceded the bet to Kip. It was quite fun to watch.

Many people were there to see this; I'd be surprised if there weren't others reading this thread who had seen it.....

Telegram Loses Supreme Court Appeal In Russia, Must Hand Over Encryption Keys

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Telegram has lost a bid before Russia's Supreme Court to block security services from getting access to users' data, giving President Vladimir Putin a victory in his effort to keep tabs on electronic communications. Bloomberg reports: Supreme Court Judge Alla Nazarova on Tuesday rejected Telegram's appeal against the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB spy agency which last year asked the company to share its encryption keys. Telegram declined to comply and was hit with a fine of $14,000. Communications regulator Roskomnadzor said Telegram now has 15 days to provide the encryption keys. Telegram, which is in the middle of an initial coin offering of as much as $2.55 billion, plans to appeal the ruling in a process that may last into the summer, according to the company's lawyer, Ramil Akhmetgaliev. Any decision to block the service would require a separate court ruling, the lawyer said.

Putin signed laws in 2016 on fighting terrorism, which included a requirement for messaging services to provide the authorities with means to decrypt user correspondence. Telegram challenged an auxiliary order by the Federal Security Service, claiming that the procedure doesn't involve a court order and breaches constitutional rights for privacy, according to documents. The security agency, known as the FSB, argued in court that obtaining the encryption keys doesn't violate users' privacy because the keys by themselves aren't considered information of restricted access. Collecting data on particular suspects using the encryption would still require a court order, the agency said.

Wrong. Signal is the gold standard

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

To say Signal is equal to default Telegram is ridiculous. Telegram uses a master key by default; Signal uses ephemeral keys and forward secrecy.

Saying that it is not secure because it "passes through their servers" is like saying Tor isn't secure because it passes through someone's servers. Everything passes through someone's servers; that's how the internet works. The point of having FOSS in your client and encryption protocol is so that it doesn't matter that it's passing through someone else's servers.

You are confusing encryption/security with centralization/federation; they are NOT the same thing.

Everyone should use Signal.

can they now crack all messages way back?

By hraponssi • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

So assuming the Russians are like the NSA and have recorded much of the traffic for the past few years. How would that go for everyone who discussed Putin and his friends in the past over Telegram "secure" chat? How does Telegram handle the keys, can Putin and friends now just go and get the keys for all the past conversations and send in some accidents to everyone who disagrees with anything?

Re:Our president just congratulated Putin

By dnaumov • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Where was your outrage when Obama did the exact same thing?

Re:Wrong. Signal is the gold standard

By mwvdlee • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Yeah, all those socalled "hops" are just a hoax put forth by conspiring internet providers.

Re:Our president just congratulated Putin

By Lordpidey • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
When my doctor removed that girl's kidney, it was surgery. When I went ahead and removed her kidney, it was murder.

Orbitz Says Legacy Travel Site Likely Hacked, Affecting 880,000 Credit Cards

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
hyperclocker shares a report from U.S. News & World Report: Orbitz says a legacy travel booking platform may have been hacked, possibly exposing the personal information of people that made certain purchases between January 1, 2016 and December 22, 2017. Orbitz said Tuesday about 880,000 payment cards were impacted. Data that was likely exposed includes name, payment card information, date of birth, phone number, email address, physical and/or billing address and gender. The company said evidence suggests an attacker may have accessed information stored on the platform -- which was for both consumers and business partners -- between Oct. 1, 2017 and Dec. 22, 2017. "Orbitz said it worked with a forensic investigation firm, cybersecurity experts, and law enforcement once the breach was discovered in order to 'eliminate and prevent unauthorized access to the platform,'" reports The Verge. "The company also notes that its current site,, wasn't affected. It is notifying customers who may have been impacted and is offering a year of free credit monitoring."

One year free credit monitoring

By El Cubano • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
One year credit monitoring is a joke. Seriously, in this day and age who still has not frozen there credit? Equifax now offers it for free after their breach and the other two (TransUnion and Experian) are just a few bucks. Depending on what state you live in you might even be able to freeze your credit for free depending on the law there.

They got me - the dates match and it was Orbitz

By jhecht • Score: 3 • Thread
Bought an airline ticket from Orbitz Sept 2016, got hacked around Dec 1, 2017. So I'd say it not just "may have accessed."

Worthless data

By SuperKendall • Score: 3 • Thread

Data from 2015/2016? Essentially worthless by now as those same numbers have been leaked/stolen many times over at this point.

See? There's a benefit to rampant corporate insecurity!

Re:Regulation - there should be more of it

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

But even then they shouldn't be storing that stuff by default, but rather because the customer flies that often and has insisted they keep it or has enrolled in some kind of subscription model (like Netflix).

This is partly because of the stupidity and apathy of the banks. Immediately after the first transaction, they could give the merchant (Orbitz in this case) a token for repeated transactions, that could only be used by that merchant. Then the merchant would only need the last 4 digits (to confirm the CC # with the customer), and would have no need to store the other digits.

People that suffer from CC fraud:
1. End users
2. Merchants

People that have the power to fix the problem:
1. Banks

Please note that these are disjoint sets. Banks actually profit from fraud because they can charge $30 for every chargeback, which costs them $0 to process. They have no incentive to fix the system.

Patients Regain Sight After Groundbreaking Trial

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Doctors have taken a major step towards curing the most common form of blindness in the UK -- age-related macular degeneration. Douglas Waters, 86, could not see out of his right eye, but "I can now read the newspaper" with it, he says. He was one of two patients given pioneering stem cell therapy at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. Cells from a human embryo were grown into a patch that was delicately inserted into the back of the eye.

The macula is the part of the eye that allows you to see straight ahead -- whether to recognize faces, watch TV or read a book. The macula is made up of rods and cones that sense light and behind those are a layer of nourishing cells called the retinal pigment epithelium. When this support layer fails, it causes macular degeneration and blindness. Doctors have devised a way of building a new retinal pigment epithelium and surgically implanting it into the eye. The technique, published in Nature Biotechnology, starts with embryonic stem cells. These are a special type of cell that can become any other in the human body. They are converted into the type of cell that makes up the retinal pigment epithelium and embedded into a scaffold to hold them in place. The living patch is only one layer of cells thick -- about 40 microns -- and 6mm long and 4mm wide. It is then placed underneath the rods and cones in the back of the eye. The operation takes up to two hours.

Bright future.

By HeckRuler • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I remember when stem cell therapy was first making the news and getting people excited. It's really nice to read when that sort of basic research pays off with applied medicine. It's seeing the sci-fi books come to you and makes the future look a little more bright.

Re: Whoa.

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The BBC article says both patients had wet AMD.

Only 10-15% of AMD are "wet". Also wet AMD often only affects one eye. Dry AMD usually affects both.

This is still great news, and hopefully there will be new breakthroughs on the dry side soon. AMD affects more than 10 million people just in America, roughly 3% of the population, and that is expected to grow with demographic changes, doubling by 2050 without new treatments. An effective treatment will make a huge difference to the quality of life of many people.

Re:Embryonic stem cells

By Ungrounded Lightning • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Why can't this be done with pluripotent cells, anyhow?

It probably can.

Embryonic stem cells are mainly about figuring out how these things work - and getting farther back toward the simple states than you can with more differentiated lines.

While some initial treatments (especially on tissues isolated from the immune system) have been, and may still be, tried with them, on the model of transfusions and transplants, the target will always be using the patient's own cells, some cell-bank equivalent, or some other mechanism than harvesting them (destructively) from embryos.

For instance, such treatments could work by taking tissue samples from the patient, by inducing them to "back up" (induced pluripotency) and then re-differentiate into the desired target cell line(s). (Indeed, work on that, for instance starting from fat cells, is already being done.)

Using cells from the patient (absent an autoimmune disease) sidesteps rejection issues. Meanwhile, embryonic stem cell treatments tend to produce cancers, as the too-undifferentiated cell lines get confused about what they're supposed to become.

Holy shit! We're living in the future!

By mark-t • Score: 3 • Thread
This is so many levels of awesome, that I have no other words for it.

Re: Whoa.

By GreatDrok • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

"This is still great news, and hopefully there will be new breakthroughs on the dry side soon. AMD affects more than 10 million people just in America, roughly 3% of the population"

True, but this is a product of socialist medicine in the UK so that's what, communism? Or something? I'm sure Americans would rather stay blind than endorse such an anti-capitalist system of medicine.

Machine Learning Spots Treasure Trove of Elusive Viruses

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Artificial intelligence could speed up metagenomic studies that look for species unknown to science. From a report: Researchers have used artificial intelligence (AI) to discover nearly 6,000 previously unknown species of virus. The work illustrates an emerging tool for exploring the enormous, largely unknown diversity of viruses on Earth. Although viruses influence everything from human health to the degradation of trash, they are hard to study. Scientists cannot grow most viruses in the lab, and attempts to identify their genetic sequences are often thwarted because their genomes are tiny and evolve fast.

For the latest study, Simon Roux, a computational biologist at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in Walnut Creek, California, trained computers to identify the genetic sequences of viruses from one unusual family, Inoviridae. These viruses live in bacteria and alter their host's behaviour: for instance, they make the bacteria that cause cholera, Vibrio cholerae, more toxic. But Roux, who presented his work at the meeting in San Francisco, California, organized by the JGI, estimates that fewer than 100 species had been identified before his research began. Roux presented a machine-learning algorithm with two sets of data -- one containing 805 genomic sequences from known Inoviridae, and another with about 2,000 sequences from bacteria and other types of virus -- so that the algorithm could find ways of distinguishing between them.

There Are Still 100,000 Pay Phones In the US

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to the FCC, there are only about 100,000 phone booths left in the United States, and about a fifth of those are in New York. The number has decreased rapidly over the last couple decades as cellphones have been adopted by 95% of Americans. CNN reports of how these remaining pay phones still remain a steady business for some of the 1,100 companies operating them across the country: Pay phone providers reported $286 million in revenue in 2015, according to the most recent FCC report. They can still be profitable, particularly in places where there isn't cell phone or landline coverage, said Tom Keane, president of Pacific Telemanagement Services. Keane's company operates 20,000 pay phones around the country. "We have phones in Yosemite Valley that are extremely busy when there's not snow on the ground," he said. Victor Rollo said he is still making money off his 170 phones in the San Diego area. Rollo declined to say how much, but he believes pay phones are a lifeline for people who don't have other options and are valuable during emergencies or natural disasters. Rollo says he evaluates how many calls are made on the phones every month, how far away they are from each other, and how much his expenses are per month to determine whether to keep them in the ground. Phones in hospitals and along the border, where cell coverage is weak, are some of his most profitable ones.

Re:Its easy to profit

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Prison should be more like a five-star resort, right?

Yes. Better and more human prisons are correlated with lower recidivism. Norway has the best prisons and one of the world's lowest rates of re-offense by ex-inmates.

I have one

By fyngyrz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I have a payphone - it's mounted on my office wall. I don't have the keys for it, and it's not connected, but to me, it's a fine nexus of pleasant memories. Most pertinently, I remember hanging out in a phone booth in rural Pennsylvania (just north of Marshall's creek on then-route 209, now "Milford Road" since the bungled Tock's Island Dam project federal land takings) with my girlfriend as a teenager, while we waited for the rain to ease up or stop. I've been fond of phone booths, and their pay phones, ever since.

So when a friend, who works for the local telco/ISP, mentioned they were about to destroy a whole bunch of them, I asked for one, and surprisingly enough, they willingly handed one over.

And there it hangs, just dripping nostalgia.

Every once in a while, I get the urge to dig in with power tools and soldering iron and turn it into a working phone, but then I realize I don't actually want anyone to call me on a landline, ever, and the the urge subsides. :)

Re:Its easy to profit

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Exactly. There's enough of a risk of being raped while behind bars. Financial raping should be criminalized.

The revenue from the phone calls is only one benefit. The other benefit is that by jacking up the cost, we can reduce communications and break down family and community bonds, which is known to increase recidivism. This means repeat business for the prison, lucrative overtime pay for the guards, and even more profit for the phone contractor.

Win-win for the PIC.

This is not the least bit surprising

By istartedi • Score: 3 • Thread

The last hand-cranked telephone was disconnected in the 1980s., decades after they were common. IIRC, The last telegram was sent in India less than 10 years ago. There's always a long tail of old tech that had a large installed base.

Re:Its easy to profit

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You'd almost think that the people behind for-profit prisons want to bring back slavery in this country.

There is plenty of evidence that for-profit prisons are a bad idea, but phone price-gouging happens in state run prisons as well. In California, a major obstacle to prison reform is the prison guard union, which has an unholy alliance with conservative politicians. Liberal legislators are afraid to stand up to them, because they have other priorities, and don't want to be smeared as "soft on crime" for advocating sensible policies.

Amazon Considers Buying Some Toys R Us Stores

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Bloomberg, Amazon has looked at the possibility of expanding its retail footprint by acquiring some locations from bankrupt Toys R Us. "The online giant isn't interested in maintaining the Toys R Us brand, but has considered using the soon-to-be-vacant spaces for its own purposes," reports Bloomberg. From the report: Such a move would let Amazon quickly expand its brick-and-mortar presence, coming on the heels of buying Whole Foods and its more than 450 locations last year. The Seattle-based company also has opened its own line of bookstores and a convenience-store concept. Additional stores would give Amazon space to showcase its popular Echo line of devices, which run on the Alexa voice-activated platform. Amazon sees voice as the next interface for people to access technology -- supplanting computer mouses and touch screens -- and the benefits may be easier to demonstrate in a real-world setting. A bigger network of stores would put inventory closer to where shoppers live, potentially enabling quick delivery to e-commerce customers. The space could also serve as a staging ground for grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores. Amazon is already planning to roll out free two-hour service to Whole Foods customers in four cities, including Dallas and Cincinnati.

Good idea

By will_die • Score: 3 • Thread
After all having all those brick and mortar stores has done wonders for Barnes and Nobles and Waldenbooks.
If they are going to make into stores they would need to compete with Target and Walmart and from what I remember of the Toy R Us stories they were not big enough.

Re:Good idea

By PolygamousRanchKid • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

After all having all those brick and mortar stores has done wonders for Barnes and Nobles and Waldenbooks.

Who says that Bezos is planning on using them for stores . . . ?

Now that the Zuck has been knocked out as the darling candidate for the 2020 presidential election, maybe Bezos is planning to run?

All those empty stores in prime locations would make excellent campaign local HQs.

Actually, considering the latest Facebook scandal . . . I believe Oprah orchestrated it all to eliminate the Zuck as competition to her.

Going reverse.

By geekmux • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"The Seattle-based company also has opened its own line of bookstores...A bigger network of stores would put inventory closer to where shoppers live, potentially enabling quick delivery..."

So, Amazon defines progress as essentially converting themselves back into the very brick and mortar model they decimated? Putting inventory "where shoppers live"? Don't make that bullshit sound like it's some 21st century cutting edge concept; it's how the world did business for the last few thousand years.

Target in Canada was one big clusterf***

By knorthern knight • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

> Target in Canada didn't fail because of competition. It failed because it
> didn't secure it's supply chain and didn't have the products people wanted.

Let's start at the beginning...
* Walmart buys bunch of Woolworth/Woolco stores in Canada
* this maintains the supply chain and customer base
* renovates a store one section at a time, keeping 3/4 of the individual store open at all times
* when the "rolling renovation" of the store was finished, a sign company came out, and replaced the "Woolco" sign with a "Walmart", and the store never skipped a beat in the process

* Target buys a bunch of Zellers leases
* chase away former customers, who now get used to shopping elsewhere
* former suppliers either go out of business, or find business customers elsewhere
* after an entire year of gutting the old stores, they re-open
* now they have to beg all the former customers to come back (didn't work)
* and they try to ramp up supply chain for an entire store chain all at once (didn't work)

If you ever want to write a "How *NOT* to expand into another country" book, Target is the obvious case study.

Amazon Passes Alphabet To Become the World's Second Most Valuable Company

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon has passed Alphabet to become the second most valuable company in the world. Apple remains the only other company more valuable than Amazon. CNBC reports: The e-commerce giant rose 2.7 percent on Tuesday lifting its stock market value to $768 billion. Alphabet, the parent of Google, fell 0.4 percent and is now valued at $762.5 billion. While the U.S. tech mega-caps have rallied in the past year, Amazon's performance has dwarfed them all, with the stock surging 85 percent over the past 12 months, including 35 percent to start 2018. Investors have been piling into Amazon, betting that the company's growing and very profitable cloud computing business will provide the cash needed for investments in original content, physical stores and continuing to build data centers and warehouses.

The A list

By XXongo • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Wait, so it's Apple, then Amazon, then Alphabet?

Apparently you need to have a company starting with "A" to be on the most-valuable list.

No second most valuable companu

By hashish • Score: 3 • Thread

Second most valuable listed company; for example Saudi Aramco is worth more.

There's always next time

By Impy the Impiuos Imp • Score: 3 • Thread

Will someone please tell me what stock to buy when they're still tiny?

Dammit, you people are useless.

Police Chief: Uber Self-Driving Car 'Likely' Not At Fault In Fatal Crash

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The chief of the Tempe Police has told the San Francisco Chronicle that Uber is likely not responsible for the Sunday evening crash that killed 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg. "I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident," said Chief Sylvia Moir. Herzberg was "pushing a bicycle laden with plastic shopping bags," according to the Chronicle's Carolyn Said, when she "abruptly walked from a center median into a lane of traffic." After viewing video captured by the Uber vehicle, Moir concluded that "it's very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway." Moir added that "it is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated, managed crosswalks are available." The police said that the vehicle was traveling 38 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, according to the Chronicle -- though a Google Street View shot of the roadway taken last July shows a speed limit of 45 miles per hour along that stretch of road.

Re:Wow what a coincidence!

By CptLoRes • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Tire markes would mean that you braked to hard locking the tires, causing you to lose traction. A system breaking at optimal efficiency would and should not leave tire marks under any circumstance.


By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Is usually around 5mph. It's difficult to keep a car at a rock solid 35mph, even for a computer. Changes in elevation can quickly alter your speed and religiously adjusting for it isn't even always the safest thing to do.

One of the hard lessons I had when driving is that if you slow down too much aggressive or stupid drivers will take that as a signal to go. My first accident was a t-bone where a girl hit me because she was trying to do a left into a busy road. I saw her start to move and put on my breaks. She saw me coming and did the same, but then saw me breaking and decided this somehow meant I was going to come to a complete stop in the middle of a busy street (the only option that would have stopped the accident by then). If I had not breaked she wouldn't have gone and the accident wouldn't have happened.

What I'm saying is there's such a thing as too much caution. Now, maybe if we can get the meatbags off the road that won't be true anymore.

defensive driving

By fluffernutter • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
How far do these cars look ahead? In defensive driving, they teach you to look WAY up the road. 150 yards back from the intersection, you are more likely to see people running onto the road than 5 yards from the intersection; it may just be a flash of them seen between vehicles up ahead. Are these cars properly watching as they pull up? They should have to submit high definition video from the moment the car starts to when it stops, from the perspective of a driver. If that person that it hits becomes visible at any time and the AI doesn't show any reaction in some way, "she ran out in front of the car" isn't good enough if you're only paying attention 20 feet before the intersection. I know some people don't notice these things, but a lot of people do and it prevents accidents. I would rather have autonomous cars be modeled after defensive driving techniques and I am concerned that they are not.

Show me the video

By stabiesoft • Score: 3 • Thread

If it is clearly the woman's fault, then produce the video for us all to see. Please blur the impact though. I just want to see for myself how much time before the woman entered the lane until impact. Simple, where is the video?

Re: Not Likely

By green1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Or maybe the person wasn't doing anything that would appear to be a problem until they suddenly changed direction immediately in front of the car?

You can't have the vehicle assume that all people have a death wish and are likely to dive in front of the car at any moment. If you program it like that it will never be able to move if there are pedestrians anywhere nearby. You have to assume that the person will behave in a somewhat rational way or your car will never be able to actually get anywhere.

I had an incident a while back where I was driving on a residential road at fairly slow speed, there was a kid running all out on the sidewalk beside me, I was watching him. As I passed him, without looking, he made an abrupt 90 degree turn straight in front of my truck. I slammed on the brakes and barely stopped. Had he turned 1/4 second later I wouldn't have been able to stop in time, had he turned 1/2-1 second later the best computer wouldn't have been able to stop in time. But there was also no reason to stop or slow down until he'd already made the 90 degree turn, as it was a highly unlikely thing for him to do. It was illegal, it was dangerous, and it wasn't something you'd expect anyone to do. I thought about it a lot afterwards, and have many times been in similar situations but where the kid didn't make that 90 degree turn. There's just no way I can justify driving with the assumption that every person on the sidewalk, median, lawn, etc, could at any time make that abrupt turn in front of me. I'd never get anywhere, and I'd likely get in a different type of situation caused by the road rage from any driver behind me.

Not all collisions are preventable. They never will be, and no technology can ever prevent all collisions. What we can do is prevent all AVOIDABLE collisions, and doing that would save millions of lives. Is that not worth doing, even if a few UNAVOIDABLE collisions still remain?

How a Virus Spreads Through an Airplane Cabin

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Traveling by plane greatly increases our chances of getting sick, or so many of us are wont to believe. To be fair, it's not uncommon to come down with a nasty illness after we return from a vacation or business trip. But is flying the culprit? The latest research suggests the answer is no -- but much of it depends on where we sit. New research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that airline passengers infected with influenza -- a disease that spreads through the air -- aren't likely to infect other passengers who sit more than two seats to the left or right, or more than two seats in front or back. In other words, your chances of contracting the flu from an infected passenger are slim -- unless you're sitting within about three feet (one meter) of them. Given that three billion of us fly annually, combined with the popular conception that we often contract diseases inflight, it's surprising to learn that very few studies have looked into this issue in detail.

Try tuberculosis

By dsgrntlxmply • Score: 3 • Thread

There was a memorable 1996 article in the New England Journal of Medicine examining transmission of drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis by a passenger on a commercial airline flight.

Especially memorable is a seat map showing the index passenger's seat, and locations of others who showed positive TB skin tests.

Re:And about the contact version of the flu?

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Every time I see someone hacking up a lung on a plane ...

In China they use IR cameras at the security gate. If you are running a fever, or hacking and coughing, you can't board the plane. The rationale is to keep disease in one province from spreading to the rest of the country, but it should also reduce in-flight infections.

I laugh at you virus scareddy pants...

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3 • Thread
You windows users are such wimps, needing so much of anti virus software. As a certified fanboi of Apple I don't need no such thing and I am totally protected. I am not scared of virus...

Wait, I am way off base here, right? It's not that kind of virus, eh?

Well, why waste a perfectly typed comment? Hit submit.

Re:And about the contact version of the flu?

By mentil • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

The IR cameras are actually to detect androids/reptilians hiding among the populace.

Re:Like you have a choice?

By 110010001000 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
No you won't get infected. If that were true everyone in the entire planet would be sick constantly. Amazingly your body has this thing called an "immune system". Get over yourself. And, wow, 30 deaths out of 350 million? You need to get a grip on reality. Over 3,500 people drowned last year in the US. Germaphobes have a complete lack of common sense.

Mark Zuckerberg AWOL From Facebook's Data Leak Damage Control Session

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: It's not just that he's silent in public. Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg declined to face his employees on Tuesday to explain the company's role in a widening international scandal over the 2016 election. Facebook employees on Tuesday got the opportunity for an internal briefing and question-and-answer session about Facebook's role with the Trump-aligned data firm Cambridge Analytica. It was the first the company held to brief and reassure employees after, ahead of damaging news reports, Facebook abruptly suspended Cambridge Analytica. But Zuckerberg himself wasn't there, The Daily Beast has learned. Instead, the session was conducted by a Facebook attorney, Paul Grewal, according to a source familiar with the meeting. That was the same approach the company used on Capitol Hill this past fall, when it sent its top attorney, Colin Stretch, to brief Congress about the prevalence of Russian propaganda, to include paid ads and inauthentic accounts, on its platform. Further reading: Where in the world is Mark Zuckerberg? Frustrated Facebook execs are asking.


By liquid_schwartz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

And yet Obama said his administration was scandal free....and the media reported it that way verbatim without commentary.

So apparently he was lying, and the media was covering it up.

Obama was the most protected president *ever* by the media. Even more than JFK which I would have thought hard to imagine. His many flaws are slowly starting to leak out, like his association with Farrakhan, his lifting sanctions on Myanmar as they kill their own civilians, Assad getting away with genocide, slavery increasing on his watch, etc. He competes with Bush II for worst foreign policy in recent memory.

Re:Defend the undefendable

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I'll spoon feed you baby bird

Re:Defend the undefendable

By slew • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Please google for information about Carol Davidsen, director for media analytics for Obama's 2012 campaign and Ken Strasma, Targeting Director for the 2008 Obama and 2004 Kerry campaigns.

Apparently Christopher Wylie (the renegade from Cambridge in the crosshairs of facebook) learned the craft from about micro-targeting and data politics from Ken Strasma.

If you are search engine impaired, you can start here...

Facebook has always been monstrous.

By jbn-o • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Objecting to Facebook on the basis of surveillance? That's hardly new. Software freedom fighters got there years ago.

Free Software Foundation got there earlier. From publishing published on on Dec 20, 2010. FSF & GNU Project founder Richard Stallman has been rightly objecting to Facebook for years in his talks and on his personal website.

Long-time former FSF lawyer Eben Moglen rightly called Facebook a monstrous surveillance engine in talks and he pointed out the ugliness of Facebook's endless surveillance (at length in part 3 but in other places in the same lecture series as well). See for the entire series of talks.

Re:Trump Aligned

By labnet • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Oligarchs don't care if you vote left or right, as long as you are distracted by it!

African Manufacturing Jobs Could be Threatened by US Based Robots, Report Says

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Within less than two decades it will be cheaper to operate robots in US factories than hire workers in Africa, a new report warns. From the report: Falling automation costs are predicted to cause job losses as manufacturers return to richer economies. Some analysts say poorer countries could be less impacted by this trend, however the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) suggests otherwise. But its report adds African nations have time to prepare for the change. "African countries must not shy away from manufacturing, but instead prepare by increasing access to internet, investing in technical skills and promoting technological innovation," said Karishma Banga a senior research officer at ODI. "If done well, automation can present important opportunities for African countries by improving labour productivity in manufacturing," she said. It has been suggested that poorer countries will not as be affected by automation because they have less money to invest in it.

Re:Complete nonsense

By gweihir • Score: 2 • Thread

They need to get things done. Chinese workers have low work ethics, but they beat the average African worker by a large margin. And no, this is not racist. This is what African refugees have told me as their analysis of the problem.

Re:Everyone always loses

By gweihir • Score: 2 • Thread

Indeed. And add to that, that every job has a minimal level of talent it needs directly and indirectly (via the talents needed to benefit from education), and hence the better job quality gets, the fewer can do them. We seem to be now at a point where the part of the population that can newly created jobs is beginning to be a minority. That is a unique point in human history, because before most people could do most jobs and that is one reason why before there always were replacement jobs.

Re:Africa is doomed.

By gweihir • Score: 2 • Thread

Nonsense. Actually competent measurements show this effect does not exist. Of course, if you have an African person fill out an IQ test in English, targeted at somebody with a western background and average western education, you get such results, but they are bogus.

gweihir is the troll

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 0 • Thread

Every word he spoke is truthful, snowflake.

Degenerate liar

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 0 • Thread

You rage against reality to no effect. We can see what is right in front of us, even if you choose to cover your own eyes.

Racism has a past, but antiracism has no future. Pluck the Talmudic mind virus from your brain, if you wish to live.

Hackathons Are Dystopian Events That Dupe People Into Working For Free, Say Sociologists

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An anonymous reader writes: That's the conclusion that two sociologists came to after observing seven hackathons over the period of one year, reports Wired. In "Hackathons As Co-optation Ritual: Socializing Workers and Institutionalizing Innovation in the 'New' Economy," sociologists Sharon Zukin and Max Papadantonakis argue that companies use the allure of hackathons to get people to work for free. They says sponsors fuel the "romance of digital innovation by appealing to the hackers' aspiration to be multi-dimensional agents of change" when in fact the hackathons are just a means of labor control.

Their technical credentials and aspirations are..?

By llamalad • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Didn't read TFA, but do these researchers understand what motivates people to participate?

Speaking as an established professional in a highly technical field -and as someone whose career has been further as much by hobbies and personal interests as certifications and professional experience- hackathons are in fact insanely fun, an invaluable social outlet that helps form lasting friendships and establish professional contacts, and a great way to build teamwork skills, learn new things, and challenge your abilities.

Sure, it's a challenge to build an app in a weekend (Rails Rumble), but it's fun. If that's your idea of fun.

I wonder how these researchers would describe gyms (establishments which trick you into paying money to do meaningless physical labor?), marathons, and online dating?

Re:Socialists or sociologists?

By Penguinisto • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I can't find a PDF copy or free access to the full text of the publication so I can't speak to its quality, but with quotes like "romance of digital innovation by appealing to the hackers' aspiration to be multi-dimensional agents of change" I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same kind of flowery shit that Sokal made fun of over two decades ago.

What's even funnier is that I don't think that "labor control" (understood as forcing more labor out of someone in a short period of time) is as important as the desire for 'intellectual farming', wherein hackers spew out original ideas, processes, and code, and corporations (and/or sponsors) immediately take possession of that freshly brewed intellectual property, immediately locking it down as theirs.


By war4peace • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I'll be the devil's advocate here.
Going to a hackaton and working for free isn't the problem. The problem is what happens with said work afterwards. Does it become F/OSS with some sort of GPL license or something similar, thus preventing corporations from taking that work and making it theirs, locking down the code? Then it's all cool.
But if corporations lure people into working for free through whatever means, then use those ideas, that code and that development to expand their portfolio, making shit tons of money in the process, then there's a big problem.

I did work for free in the past out of enthusiasm, saw my work being used by other entities to make lots of money and I got the shaft, so I can relate to TFA concerns.

you know what is dystopian?

By mapkinase • Score: 3 • Thread

Everything in the future. And you know why? Because it's strange.

We do not like realistic depiction of the future and call it dystopia because it is different from our way of life. We will be gone and what we call dystopia will be just normal for contemporaries.

hackathons run by private individuals

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
aren't what's being called out in the article. It's ones being run by businesses. I've been lucky enough to have a pretty solid career trajectory. But several of my buddies have been stuck applying everywhere under the sun. One of the most common tricks they've all seen is when they 'test' you to solve this one problem and you do and never get a call back. The huge number of unemployed and underemployed techs (thanks, H1-B program!) mean companies can do this pretty much indefinitely. A lot of company run hackathons are just that.

If you'll allow me to indulge in a bit of "Back in my day", companies used to do these things during working hours. It was part of your ongoing training. For those of you too young to know what that is, training is what companies did before they could go running to Congress to bring in as much cheap labor as they want.

The NSA Worked To 'Track Down' Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal

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An anonymous reader shares a report: Classified documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency worked urgently to target Bitcoin users around the world -- and wielded at least one mysterious source of information to "help track down senders and receivers of Bitcoins," according to a top-secret passage in an internal NSA report dating to March 2013. The data source appears to have leveraged NSA's ability to harvest and analyze raw, global internet traffic while also exploiting an unnamed software program that purported to offer anonymity to users, according to other documents.

Although the agency was interested in surveilling some competing cryptocurrencies, "Bitcoin is #1 priority," a March 15, 2013 internal NSA report stated. The documents indicate that "tracking down" Bitcoin users went well beyond closely examining Bitcoin's public transaction ledger, known as the Blockchain, where users are typically referred to through anonymous identifiers; the tracking may also have involved gathering intimate details of these users' computers. The NSA collected some Bitcoin users' password information, internet activity, and a type of unique device identification number known as a MAC address, a March 29, 2013 NSA memo suggested. In the same document, analysts also discussed tracking internet users' internet addresses, network ports, and timestamps to identify "BITCOIN Targets."

Only 4 out of 15?

By gatfirls • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I think we can do better than that. When I come here I want the entire 1st page of articles to be about bitcoin.

is it me

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

or does there seem to be a concerted effort to stop crypto currencies before they become more of a thing

Bitcoin is not and has never BEEN anonymous

By Danathar • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Just sayin. It's been well known and if somebody got in thinking that bitcoin was anonymous then they were fooling themselves.

Low hanging fruit

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
it's pretty well established that bitcoin's being used for illegal activity (Drugs, money laundering, prostitution, etc, etc). It's also pretty well established that it's not hard to trace a bitcoin transaction and that once your name's tied to a wallet everything that wallet did leads back to you.

The investigators are supposed to get results, and these would be easy results to get. So yeah, no kidding they targeted bitcoin users.

Re: is it me

By Immerman • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

As a matter of fact, anonymity is an extremely challenging feature to add. Certainly Bitcoin never really attempted it, despite all the early hype to the effect that it did.

Child Abuse Imagery Found Within Bitcoin's Blockchain

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German researchers have discovered unknown persons are using bitcoin's blockchain to store and link to child abuse imagery, potentially putting the cryptocurrency in jeopardy. From a report: The blockchain is the open-source, distributed ledger that records every bitcoin transaction, but can also store small bits of non-financial data. This data is typically notes about the trade of bitcoin, recording what it was for or other metadata. But it can also be used to store links and files. Researchers from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany found that around 1,600 files were currently stored in bitcoin's blockchain. Of the files least eight were of sexual content, including one thought to be an image of child abuse and two that contain 274 links to child abuse content, 142 of which link to dark web services. "Our analysis shows that certain content, eg, illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal," the researchers wrote. "Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the USA suggest that illegal content such as [child abuse imagery] can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users. This especially endangers the multi-billion dollar markets powering cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin."

Re:Isn't this traceable?

By chispito • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Shouldn't it be fairly simple to determine when this was added to the blockchain? My assumption was this was injected early on, when single systems still had a decent chance to write a block. If we know when it was injected, we should know the wallet to which coins were issued to, then there's a decent probability this could be traced back to the individual running the system, who may (or may not) be responsible.

It doesn't matter if you find who did it, the--likely intentional--damage is done. This is was likely done to manipulate the value of bitcoin by demonstrating a very real problem with the technology. If you really want to find out who injected some of this content, look into why the university performed this research. Maybe somebody tipped them off.

Re:Probably nothing to worry about

By The Grim Reefer • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

you need the Blockchain PLUS some 3rd party tool

Like a web browser? Now who would have one of those?

I view all my porn on Lynx. I can't really tell if it's kiddie porn, gay porn, or fluffy kittens. I just assume it's hot women with big breasts though.

Happened in my library too

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
I checked out, what appeared to be an innocuous book on the History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Locomotives.

But I found someone has underlined strange and apparently random letter in page 33. When I transcribed all those underlined letters, it revealed links fo dark web, illegal porno content etc. I hurriedly returned the book. Anyone caught with that book is in for it ....

Reminds me of Samuel Jhonson.

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
After he published the first dictionary of the English language, a high society lady thanked him. "Thank you, Mr Johnson, for leaving certain unsavoury words out of your dictionary!". Johnson replied, " I am shocked, m`lady! You knew them and were looking for them!?".

"An old lady calls the police, saying ..."

By surfcow • Score: 3 • Thread

An old lady calls the police, complaining that her neighbors parade around, naked, in plain view, putting on lewd displays, even having sex.

The cops come, she leads them to a tall fence, and says: "there".

The cops says, "All I can see is a fence".

The old lady says, "Well, you a have to stand on this chair to actually see them."

It's a terrible joke, but it has a kernel of truth.

No one would know about these images, or care.
You really have to go out of your way to be offended.

Google Launches a News Initiative To Fight False News and Help Publishers Make Money

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Google is launching the Google News Initiative, a journalism-focused program that will help publishers earn revenue and combat fake news. From a report: The initiative, announced Tuesday, will offer publications another monetization model online called Subscribe with Google, as well as work with established universities and groups to combat misinformation. It will also introduce an open-source tool called Outline, which will make it easier for news organizations to set up secure access to the internet for their journalists. Google said it was committing $300 million over the next three years to the project, though it did not elaborate on how the resources would be spent.

The company said it paid $12.6 billion to news organizations and drove 10 billion clicks a month to their websites for free last year. Subscribe with Google will make it easier for readers to pay for content from news organizations that have agreed to partner with the company., The Washington Post, and McClatchy Company publications including the Miami Herald are among the 17 launch partners.

Re:Avoid Fake news?

By Penguinisto • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Yes and no.

Most are not "Fake News" in the Trumpian sense, as in they're not completely fabricated.

However, many (if not the majority) of what one sees today has a nasty habit of taking some facts, emphasizing other (convenient) ones, completely ignoring still other (inconvenient) ones, then subtly weaving a narrative into what is being 'reported'. Then the 'story' gets spiced with enough drama to grab eyeballs (thus advertising dollars).

This is to provide ammunition of opinion-making fellow travelers of a given ideology, to provide 'confirmation' to the existing audience base, and to garner influence (and thus power) along the way. Cable/Sat television news is chock full of it - CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, RT, you-name-it. The Papers are a lost cause in most cases these days, and the Web is even worse. Toss in some satire sites that are too-damned-close-to-reality (enough that it takes a fairly sharp mind to recognize that it's actually satire), and you have the mess we see today.

It's gotten to the point where the only news orgs really worth watching/reading for news on events at large, are the ones which stick to mostly business-oriented content (such as CNBC, WSJ, Fox Business, and suchlike). Why? Because ideological BS tends to be secondary there, and they know that their audience (business folk) don't have much time, adoration, or tolerance for pap or propaganda. For politics, there's always C-SPAN, where you more often than not get it raw and unfiltered (and it's up to you to summarize it all, however you please.)

Just what we need...

By x0 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
A MegaCorp to spoon feed us 'news Google deems correct and proper'. Welcome to Prolefeed Beta!

Re:How about proper labeling?

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Even posting the news, it is still easy for the bias to be posted in the story.
In our vocabulary we have many words that mean the same thing, however imply different contexts.
Risk Taker vs. Careless
Analytical vs Heartless
Strategy vs Scheming
Ambitious vs Power Hungry

You can take the facts of the actions of an individual and express it in a way their are either a Hero or a Monster.

The real problem, is such statements sell the story, while a moderate approach of the facts is just too dull.


Re:Avoid Fake news?

By tomhath • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'd give you biased, and occasionally quite dishonest, but they're not going out of their way to invent things that did not happen.

You can try to define "fake" to exclude "biased, and occasionally quite dishonest" but that misses the more important question: Should we allow biased and deceptive stories from news sources that millions of people consider trustworthy journalists, but go ballistic on fringe sites that are untrustworthy?

My own sense is that biased and/or dishonest stories on sites like NYT and WaPo are more influential than blatantly fake stories that someone with an agenda circulates on Facebook. Saying one is fake but the more harmful one is only dishonest but not fake obfuscates the real problem.

Re:Avoid Fake news?

By SirSlud • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The NYT has added corrections and notes to their article:

While Ms. Haspel oversaw the site during the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the site, she did not supervise the interrogation and waterboarding of the suspected Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.

So saying that Gina Haspel having had a role in torture is "completely false" really just relies on what you define that as, which people naturally gravitate towards defining according to personal preference to get the result ("NYT totally lied" or "Gina Haspel is 100% ok") they want.

FTC Probing Facebook For Use of Personal Data: Bloomberg

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Facebook is under investigation by a U.S. privacy watchdog over the use of personal data of 50 million users by a data analytics firm to help elect President Donald Trump. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is probing whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree of its handing of user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge, according to a person familiar with the matter. Under the 2011 settlement, Facebook agreed to get user consent for certain changes to privacy settings as part of a settlement of federal charges that it deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. That complaint arose after the company changed some user settings without notifying its customers, according to an FTC statement at the time. If the FTC finds Facebook violated terms of the consent decree, it has the power to fine the company thousands of dollars a day per violation.

Re:It's about time.

By Train0987 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It would be nice to have Zuckerburg asked under oath about who he's willing to sell everyone's data to. Also which politicians he's given it to for free.

Double standard

By Okian Warrior • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Amazing how Obama can target voters using facebook data and it's lauded as smart and effective.

Trump targets voters and facebook doesn't care before the election(*), but now months later it's an obscene violation of peoples' privacy.

Were any laws broken? If it's illegal to hire non-citizens to do campaign research, how does the Hillary campaign paying Christopher Steele get a pass?

Is this just a company whinging about a violation of their TOS, after the fact, while ignoring hundreds of other companies who do the same thing?

What exactly is the alleged infraction here?

(*) Facebook was informed of the "breach" many months before the election, and literally didn't care.

Re:U.S. privacy watchdog

By Hognoxious • Score: 4 • Thread

Yes. Their function is to watch out in case somebody gets some.

By somebody I mean the plebs, of course.

Flashback to the Obama 2012 campaign

By Okian Warrior • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Here's an article from NYT discussing Obama's use of facebook data during his 2012 campaign.

The campaign’s exhaustive use of Facebook triggered the site’s internal safeguards. “It was more like we blew through an alarm that their engineers hadn’t planned for or knew about,” said St. Clair, who had been working at a small firm in Chicago and joined the campaign at the suggestion of a friend. “They’d sigh and say, ‘You can do this as long as you stop doing it on Nov. 7.’ ”

Also, this quote from [Obama’s former director for media analytics] Carol Davidsen:

[Facebook] came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.

So, did they or didn't they?

By Orne • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Two days later, CBS is now reporting that the Trump Campaign only used the CA data for a targeted online advertising and a single TV ad buy during the primaries, because they were playing the CA data off of the RNC, in case the RNC pulled a "resistance" and didn't want to share with the Trump campaign. They ended up not using the CA data for the general election because they didn't trust it coming from Facebook.

LG Releases Open-Sourced Version of webOS in Hopes To Push It Beyond TVs and Smart Refrigerators

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LG has released an open-sourced version of webOS that's freely available to anyone that wants to download and poke around the code. From a report: The release of webOS Open Source Edition is meant to act as a catalyst to drive further adoption of webOS beyond LG televisions, smart refrigerators, and the occasional never-to-be-released smartwatch. So, devices like webOS tablets and set-top boxes as pictured in the LG-supplied image above. This is the second time an open-source version of webOS has been released, the first coming under the failed tenure of HP back in 2011. LG's cross-town rival Samsung develops and uses the open-sourced Tizen operating system on a variety of devices including smartwatches, televisions, Blu-ray players, and robotic vacuums.

Open Source,The last ditch effort to stay relevant

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It did work for Netscape. While the company died, its technology lives on in our Firefox browsers.
However for the most part it is like putting your trash on a freighter and sending it over to a third would country to see if any of those people wants your trash.
Now there was a lot of love towards WebOS and many and was ahead of its time in a lot of features. However the question for today is it worth it, with the competitors over the past decade had improved their products, and what was ahead of its time, is now behind the times.
WebOS is akin to BeOS, Amiga, Apple Lisa, Osborn, Sega Dreamcast... Good ideas, just implemented at a time where was too ambitious and people didn't need such features on particular hardware.

Not everything needs an OS.

By Zorro • Score: 3 • Thread

Why would you want your Vacuum Cleaner on the internet? All it really has to do is suck.

China Approves Giant Propaganda Machine To Improve Global Image

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
China has approved the creation of one of the world's largest propaganda machines as it looks to improve its global image, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing a person familiar with the matter. From the report: The new broadcaster will be called "Voice of China," the person said, mimicking the U.S. government-funded Voice of America that started up during World War II to advance American interests. Bloomberg News had previously reported the new entity would be created through merging China Central Television, China Radio International and China National Radio. The combined group was designed to strengthen the party's ability to shape public opinion and would serve as a key vehicle for China to project its image to the world.


By ghoul • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Your response shows the investment in VOA has worked

not surprising, but has consequences due to time

By WindBourne • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
America learned how to be a great nation by example taking from the many nations of Europe. During post WWII, we were just like the pre WWII Europe in that we happily worked with any Dictator and even installed a few of our own. We were an economic powerhouse, and by the late 60's, LA, Chicago, and NY looked similar to China, though no where quite as bad.
Fortunately, America DID clean up our act.

Now, we have China wanting to bring dictatorships all over the world. Problem is, that so many ppl have been disappointed by the likes of W and now Trump, that many will support china. Combine that with the on-line direct trolling that China gov pats for (/. is LOADED with paid-for chinese trolls), combined with about 5-10% of all chinese tourists/residents being spies for the gov.
Then add to that, the fact that so many are happy to have chinese gov a pass. FOr example, Chinese gov continues to build coal plants in china, but another 300-400 plants are being built by china in other nations. Why? Because they are going to sell them their coal once china starts shutting down their coal plants in 2030-2040 time frame.
The problem is that so many here in the west will ignore this and allow it to continue even though CHina accounts for 33-50% of all CO2 being emitted today.

Re:"Made in China"

By thinkwaitfast • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Japan did it.


By arcade • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Saudis, Guzzetti, Branco, Pinochet, Chiang, Batista, Battalion, Suharto, the Shah, Saddam Hussein, Vang Pao, Somosa, Mobutu .. just a small list of dictators supported by the US.

Re:That's one way to do it

By Austerity Empowers • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Dictatorship is still dictatorship. They don't get off the hook until they become a functioning democracy and adopt some form of human rights guarantees and dedication to upholding them.

You may or may not like our president, in fact raw statistics would suggest you probably strongly dislike him. But our press is free to, and perhaps has actually enjoyed criticizing him without fear of retribution. He's twisted the screws, but our police force has been able to successfully investigate him and locked a few of his most corrupt cronies a way, and may yet get him. Protestors that roamed the streets and in a few cases were actually doing dangerous and unjustifiable things in the name of "anger", were not driven over by tanks. Our business leaders, who are split on liking and loathing him, have been able to take appropriate actions to protect the interests of their companies. We have no great firewall, even if Russia demonstrates that perhaps we needed one, my money is on us surviving this and coming out stronger and more discerning.

It's not perfect and there are abuses, but until China can demostrate that they are MORE free and LESS abusive than we are, I'm going to continue to consider them a dangerous dictatorship that needs to be put down when convenient.

NVIDIA RTX Technology To Usher In Real-Time Ray Tracing Holy Grail of Gaming Graphics

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
HotHardware writes: NVIDIA has been dabbling in real-time ray tracing for over a decade. However, the company just introduced NVIDIA RTX, which is its latest effort to deliver real-time ray tracing to game developers and content creators for implementation in actual game engines. Historically, the computational horsepower to perform real-time ray tracing has been too great to be practical in actual games, but NVIDIA hopes to change that with its new Volta GPU architecture and the help of Microsoft's new DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API enhancements. Ray tracing is a method by which images are enhanced by tracing rays or paths of light as they bounce in and around an object (or objects) in a scene. Under optimum conditions, ray tracing delivers photorealistic imagery with shadows that are correctly cast; water effects that show proper reflections and coloring; and scenes that are cast with realistic lighting effects. NVIDIA RTX is a combination of software (the company's Gameworks SDK, now with ray tracing support), and next generation GPU hardware. NVIDIA notes its Volta architecture has specific hardware support for real-time ray tracing, including offload via its Tensor core engines. To show what's possible with the technology, developers including Epic, 4A Games and Remedy Entertainment will be showcasing their own game engine demonstrations this week at the Game Developers Conference. NVIDIA expects the ramp to be slow at first, but believes eventually most game developers will adopt real-time ray tracing in the future.

Using Graphics cards for actual games? Wow!!!

By ickleberry • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The run of the mill for the past few years is that graphics cards are for mining the cryptocurrency flavour of the month and creating magical AI bots. This is the first time in years I have seen an article that refers to the use of graphics cards for actual graphics.

Reminds me of a paper form Intel some years ago

By ausekilis • Score: 3 • Thread

Tracing Rays Through the Cloud is a pretty good example of what was "next-gen" 6 years ago. None of the imagery there was generated real-time (just read the paper), but was still a good read about what goes into ray tracing. Intuitively we know what it is, but what it means for computation with reflective/refractive surfaces is a ton of work.

Of course, I won't believe it's real-time until it can render a house of mirrors at 60fps+.

Raytracers are pretty fun...

By RyanFenton • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

When I was in college, I took two semesters of graphics - but this was in the late DOS era. Early OpenGL existed, but because this was a real theoretical college class on graphics - we built a real raytracer from pure math from c-code and assembler rather than trying to stick to some arbitrary industry standard.

Cubes, spheres, torus, lighting, reflections, we did it all, piece by piece in glorious 640x350. It was ugly, and eerie, but really fascinating in terms of seeing pure mathematical expressions becoming 3d objects, pixel by pixel.

Since then, I've worked in several jobs frequently involving 'proper' graphics, even worked on a bunch of professional shipped games (mostly gameplay and systems, occasionally worked everywhere though) - and I can appreciate the need to use all the tricks that we do to make origami worlds, everything angled to the camera, but I really did enjoy creating worlds of actual objects, and having the camera pull its own shell of perspective out of the scene instead.

Which is how most assets are sort of created, actually, in the asset creation tools. You model the object, rip the polygons out how you can, create meshes and surfaces, and then try and cheat on everything to make it seem like the 'real' object again as cheaply as you can get away with. It's not quite raytracing outside a few tools, but it's an interesting hybrid.

Raytracers are a cool educational tool - but I can also see why they're only really trotted out when CPU manufacturers want to push for a race to buy more CPUs. They don't scale as well as modern techniques - and although there's some neat tricks you can do when you have your assets really 'present' mathematically (Demoscene stuff does this occasionally), it's usually not a better tradeoff than using the abstraction tools available to make it all work faster.

Ryan Fenton

Re:No thanks, involves Windows 10

By barc0001 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> that doesn't spy on me.

It's a good thing you're posting this via snail mail from a compound in the desert then.

I'm betting that if we ever get a full look at the scope of all the online spying that goes on with people's every day internet use, Windows 10's telemetry won't even be in the top 100 of data harvesting schemes to worry about.


By ledow • Score: 3 • Thread

Yeah, you have to love the graphic towards the bottom:

"Board Industry Support"

API: Microsoft.

That's it. The only option. Not very "broad".

Lead Exposure Kills Hundreds of Thousands of Adults Every Year in the US, Study Finds

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Bruce66423 shares a report from The Guardian: Last week, a massive new study concluded that lead is 10 times more dangerous than thought, and that past exposure now hastens one in every five U.S. deaths. Researchers at four North American universities, led by Bruce Lanphear, of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, studied the fate of 14,289 people whose blood had been tested in an official U.S. survey between 1988 and 1994. Four fifths of them had harbored levels of the toxic metal below what has, hitherto, been thought safe. The study found that deaths, especially from cardiovascular disease, increased markedly with exposure, even at the lowest levels. It concluded that lead kills 412,000 people a year -- accounting for 18% of all U.S. mortality, not much less than the 483,000 who perish as a result of smoking. The study has been published in the Lancet Public Health journal.


By bobbied • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It's in The Lancet, after all, and they have a bad habit of occasionally publishing something that's just flat wrong. Vaccines, anyone?

I wouldn't call it a habit of the Lancet per say... Perhaps we should call it more of a profit center.

Most medical journals have a perverse motive to increase circulation, attention by publishing studies that will bring them critical attention. In the case of the Lancet, they published a faked study about vaccines which they later retracted when it was shown to be faked years later by an investigative reporter. One questions their motives and lax editorial review processes because of things like this. But we really should realize that all of these publishers have the same perverse motives.

Good that America cleaned up our coal

By WindBourne • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Seriously, either cleaning up or shutting down coal plants is one of the smartest economical things that we did in a while.
Even now, our lead on the ground is a fraction of what it was 10 years ago. As such, our children will have much lower medical costs than what we have today. The rest will be gone over the next 20 years, if not 10.

Thanks to coal-fired plants

By blind biker • Score: 3 • Thread

Lead is but one of the heavy metals that coal fired plants spew into the environment, in massive amounts. Compared to them, nuclear plants are decidedly clean.


By Hognoxious • Score: 3 • Thread

Last week, a massive new study concluded that lead is 10 times more dangerous than thought

There was this guy in my town who died of thought. He was an electrician and he thought he'd pulled the master fuse out.

Re:This particular quote is interesting ....

By Ed Tice • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Although it's fun to say that correlation isn't causation, the research into lead and crime rates is both extensive and solid. It's relatively easy to remove confounding variables because different countries removed lead from gasoline at different times with a subsequent reduction in crime. And lots of studies have been done looking for alternative explanations without much luck. Also we have good knowledge of how lead affects the brain which supports the causal hypothesis.

Gun ownership and crime is surely a very complex topic where the interaction between the two variables makes establishing a causal relationship much harder. I've lived in rural areas where there is no police force. Rates of gun ownership were a big crime deterrent. Of course so was that fact that people were poor so there was no point of robbing them.

Urban crime rates are likely influenced more by the drug trade than overall gun ownership. The reality is that there are probably geographies where increased gun ownership results in lower crime and other geographies where it results in higher crime. Also, a property crime is less severe than a violent crime which also makes the problem harder.

In the US we don't have good data in this area because the pro-gun lobby fights any effort to study the problem. The only motivation for such a thing is a fear of what the data will show. You don't want an answer to be found if you're pretty sure you're wrong! I'm pro gun-control but I could be persuaded by data if there were honest attempts and objective studies.

New York Power Companies Can Now Charge Bitcoin Miners More

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last Wednesday, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled that municipal power companies could charge higher electricity rates to cryptocurrency miners who try to benefit from the state's abundance of cheap hydroelectric power. Ars Technica reports: Over the years, Bitcoin's soaring price has drawn entrepreneurs to mining. Bitcoin mining enterprises have become massive endeavors, consuming megawatts of power on some grids. To minimize the cost of that considerable power draw, mining companies have tried to site their operations in towns with cheap electricity, both in the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., regions with the cheapest energy tend to be small towns with hydroelectric power. But mining booms in small U.S. towns are not always met with approval. A group of 36 municipal power authorities in northern and western New York petitioned the PSC for permission to raise electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners because their excessive power use has been taxing very small local grids and causing rates to rise for other customers. The PSC responded on Wednesday that it would allow those local power companies to raise rates for cryptocurrency miners. The response noted that New York's local power companies, which are customer-owned and range in size from 1.5 MW to 122 MW, "acquire low-cost power, typically hydro, and distribute the power to customers at no profit." If a community consumes more than what has been acquired, cost increases are passed on to all customers. "In Plattsburgh, for example, monthly bills for average residential customers increased nearly $10 in January because of the two cryptocurrency companies operating there," the PSC document says. The city of Plattsburgh, New York has since imposed an 18-month moratorium on commercial cryptocurrency mining to "protect and enhance the city's natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources."

Old man yells at supply and demand

By fibonacci8 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
It depends on how much baking bread and pizza the mining resembles. There's this thing where electric companies monitor kWh amounts from month to month, per business and residence, and charge accordingly. Electricity on a particular grid is a finite resource, and sudden spikes in usage get billed accordingly.
My suspicion based on the summary talking about "towns with cheap electricity" is that miners were expecting to go unnoticed in residential areas while consuming commercial levels of electricity. The summary talks about a jump in costs to residential customers, and cryptomining is pretty squarely a commercial activity.
Long story short: It probably looked exactly like people opened up a bunch of commercial endeavors and thought they were going to only be charged residential rates. Residential neighbors don't like subsidizing one another involuntarily.

Re:Old man yells at supply and demand

By Ada_Rules • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
In the case of Plattsburgh at least this guess is false. These mining operations were not running under the radar as residential customers. They were in commercial buildings. The power requirements of these large farms are not met by a simple 200 Amp residential meter. They were not trying to go unnoticed as they required new lines to be added and visits from the municipal lighting department.

Re:How about denying service?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The crypto miners are using over 1000X more power than the standard home. No household cannabis crop is going to use that much power. FTFA, one miner used 33% of the power for the entire town.

And if you actually read the PSC rule, they didn't increase the rates for cryptominers. They increased the rates for heavy users:
"To mitigate the impact on existing customers, the Commission will allow municipal power authorities to create a new tariff focusing on high-density load customers that do not qualify for economic development assistance and have a maximum demand exceeding 300 kW and a load density that exceeds 250 kWh per square foot per year, a usage amount far higher than traditional commercial customers."$File/pr18018.pdf?OpenElement

My house uses about 4 kWh/ft^2 per year. The rule applies to people using 60 times that. No electrical heating (household or weed) will match that.

Re:How about denying service?

By Wycliffe • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

You know what's funny? Here in my 3rd world country, I could apply for Industrial power, pay an installation tax for 380V power and then mine away as much as I desire, while paying FAR LESS per KW/h than a home user would.
I guess 'murica has it backwards...

America is mostly like that too. I think we should be going the opposite direction though. I think we should stop giving bulk discounts for electricity or maybe even charge more for electricity to heavy users. If we are really concerned with conservation, charging that same if not more for energy usage to heavy users would help reduce the demand for fossil fuels where it matters.

Re:Different type of electricity?

By nedlohs • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You could think about it for ten seconds? Or you could read the article?

Ultimately, the PSC decided that municipal power authorities will be allowed to increase rates for customers whose maximum demand exceeds 300kW or whose load density "exceeds 250kWh per square foot per year."

If your bakery does that then you get the higher rates. If your crypto mining doesn't then you don't.