How Dad's Stresses Get Passed Along To Offspring
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American:
A stressed-out and traumatized father can leave scars in his children. New research suggests this happens because sperm "learn" paternal experiences via a mysterious mode of intercellular communication in which small blebs break off one cell and fuse with another. Carrying proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, these particles ejected from a cell act like a postal system that extends to all parts of the body, releasing little packages known as extracellular vesicles. Their contents seem carefully chosen. "The cargo inside the vesicle determines not just where it came from but where it's going and what it's doing when it gets there," says Tracy Bale, a neurobiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. To probe the inheritance of such changes at the cellular level, Bale and co-workers performed a series of mouse experiments.
In one set of experiments [Jennifer Chan, a former PhD student that was part of the study] stressed a group of male mice, let them mate and looked at stress responses in the pups. The clincher was a set of in vitro fertilization -- like experiments in which she collected sperm from a male mouse that had never experienced induced stress. Half his sperm went into a lab dish with vesicles previously exposed to stress hormones. The other half was cultured with vesicles that had no contact with stress hormones. Chan injected sperm cells from each batch into eggs from a non-stressed female, then implanted the fertilized eggs -- zygotes -- into the same foster mom. The pups from non-stressed zygotes developed normally. Pups from stress-exposed zygotes, however, showed the same abnormal stress response as those whose dads had experienced stress before mating. That showed extracellular vesicles act as the conduit for transmitting paternal stress signals to the offspring, Chan says.
Chinese News Agency Adds AI Anchors To Its Broadcast Team
Two AI anchors are
joining China's state-run news agency Xinhua. "The two anchors, one that speaks in English and another in Chinese, have the likeness of some of Xinhua's human anchors, but their voices, facial expressions and mouth movements are synthesized and animated using deep learning techniques," reports Engadget. From the report:
"AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team," the agency said. "They will work with other anchors to bring you authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English." China's South China Morning Post reports that the AI anchors are available through Xinhua's English and Chinese apps, its TV webpage and its WeChat public account. The technology behind the anchors is being provided by search engine company Sogou.
Xinhua says its AI anchors can deliver the news with the "same effect" as that of human reporters. But if you watch the video, that isn't exactly true. It's pretty clear you're watching a non-human anchor as the mouth movements and facial expressions aren't quite human-like, and the voice can come off as a little robotic.
Micron Kicks Off Mass Production of 12Gb DRAM Chips
now producing its first LPDDR4X memory devices using its second-generation 10nm-class process technology. "The new memory devices offer standard LPDDR4X data transfer rates of up to 4.266 Gbps per pin and consumes less power than earlier LPDDR4 chips," reports AnandTech. From the report:
Micron's LPDDR4X devices are made using the company's 1Y-nm fabrication tech and feature a 12 Gb capacity. The manufacturer says that its LPDDR4X memory chips consume 10% less power when compared to its LPDDR4-4266 products; this is because they feature a lower output driver voltage (I/O VDDQ), which the LPDDR4X standard reduces by 45%, from 1.1 V to 0.6 V. Micron's 12 Gb (1.5 GB) LPDDR4X devices feature a slightly lower capacity than competing 16 Gb (2 GB) LPDDR4X offerings, but they are also cheaper to manufacture. As a result, Micron can offer lower-cost quad-die 64-bit LPDDR4X-4266 packages with a 48 Gb (6 GB) capacity and a 34.1 GB/s bandwidth than some of its competitors.
Google Pledges To Overhaul Its Sexual Harassment Policy After Global Protests
an email to staff on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company
would overhaul its sexual harassment policies, "meeting some of the demands of employees who organized
historic walkouts across the globe," the Guardian reports. "Pichai said Google would end forced arbitration of sexual miconduct claims, revamp its investigations process, share data on harassment claims and outcomes, and provide new support systems for people who come forward. From the report:
Some critics, however, said the commitments were inadequate, failed to address pay disparities, and ignored demands to improve the rights of temporary employees and contractors. Pichai said Google would now make arbitration "optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims," but noted that employees could still choose to keep their claims confidential. [...] Pichai also said Google would disclose trends about investigations and disciplinary actions and would create "one dedicated site" that included "live support" for people with complaints. Google would now also offer "extra care and resources" to employees, including counseling and "career support" and a "support person," the CEO added.
Cisco Removed Its Seventh Backdoor Account This Year, and That's a Good Thing
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet:
Cisco, the world's leading provider of top networking equipment and enterprise software, has released today 15 security updates, including a fix for an issue that can be described as a backdoor account. This latest patch marks the seventh time this year when Cisco has removed a backdoor account from one of its products. Five of the seven backdoor accounts were discovered by Cisco's internal testers, with only CVE-2018-0329 and this month's CVE-2018-15439 being found by external security researchers. The company has been intentionally and regularly combing the source code of all of its software since December 2015, when it started a massive internal audit. Cisco started that process after security researchers found what looked to be an intentional backdoor in the source code of ScreenOS, the operating system of Juniper, one of Cisco's rivals.
Juniper suffered a massive reputational damage following the 2015 revelation, and this may secretly be the reason why Cisco has avoided using the term "backdoor account" all year for the seven "backdoor account" issues. Instead, Cisco opted for more complex wordings such as "undocumented, static user credentials for the default administrative account," or "the affected software enables a privileged user account without notifying administrators of the system." It is true that using such phrasings might make Cisco look disingenuous, but let's not forget that Cisco has been ferreting these backdoor accounts mainly on its own, and has been trying to fix them without scaring customers or impacting its own stock price along the way.
Vulnerability Could Make DJI Drones a Spy In the Sky
wiredmikey writes from a report via SecurityWeek:
A vulnerability in systems operated by Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) -- the world's largest drone manufacturer -- allowed anybody in the world to have full access to a drone user's DJI account. A successful attacker would be able to obtain cloud-based flight records, stored photographs, user PII including credit card details -- and a real-time view from the drone's camera and microphone. Check Point Researchers (who discovered and reported the vulnerability) told SecurityWeek, "The vulnerability is a unique opportunity for malicious actors to gain priceless information -- you have an eye in the sky. Organizations are moving towards automated flights, sometimes with dozens of drones patrolling across sensitive facilities. With this vulnerability you could take over the accounts and see and hear everything that the drones see or hear. This is a huge opportunity for malicious actors."
Robyn Denholm Takes Over the Reigns of Tesla From Elon Musk
azcoyote shares a report from Reuters:
Tesla director Robyn Denholm, a telecoms executive who has worked for Toyota, has been promoted to chairwoman of the electric car company, tasked with regulating billionaire Elon Musk's regime after months of turbulence. An Australian accountant, Denholm is currently finance chief at telecoms firm Telstra and replaces Musk after he was forced to relinquish the role as part of a deal to head off charges of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
While she will resign from Telstra to take the role full-time, some analysts expressed concern that she may not be clearly enough removed from Musk to rein in the billionaire's public outbursts and bring more order to Tesla. Denholm, 55, has been an independent director of Tesla since 2014 and the head of its audit committee. She was paid almost $5 million, mainly in stock options, by the company last year, making her the highest remunerated of its board members. "I personally hope Denholm renames it
Reynholm Industries," Slashdot reader azcoyote adds.
Sprint Is Throttling Microsoft's Skype Service, Study Finds
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune:
Sprint has been slowing traffic to Microsoft's internet-based video chat service Skype, according to new findings from an ongoing study by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts. Among leading U.S. carriers, Sprint was the only one to throttle Skype, the study found. The throttling was detected in 34 percent of 1,968 full tests -- defined as those in which a user ran two tests in a row -- conducted between Jan. 18 and Oct. 15. It happened regularly, and was spread geographically across the U.S. Android phone users were more affected than owners of Apple Inc.'s iPhones. The finding is particularly troubling because Skype relies on Sprint's wireless internet network, but the app also provides a communication tool that competes with Sprint's calling services, the researcher added. "If you are a telephony provider and you provide IP services over that network, then you shouldn't be able to limit the service offered by another telephony provider that runs over the internet," David Choffnes, one of the researchers who developed the app used to conduct the survey, said. "From a pure common sense competition view, it seems directly anti-competitive."
David Attenborough To Present Netflix Nature Series 'Our Planet'
Renowned British naturalist
David Attenborough is lending his voice to "Our Planet," Netflix's big-budget wildlife series. From a report:
The 92-year-old broadcaster has been synonymous with the BBC's natural history output for decades but will now provide the voiceover for Netflix's eight-part series "Our Planet", which will be released in April. "'Our Planet' will take viewers on a spectacular journey of discovery showcasing the beauty and fragility of our natural world," Attenborough said as the series was announced on Thursday. "Today we have become the greatest threat to the health of our home but there's still time for us to address the challenges we've created if we act now. We need the world to pay attention."
Cord Cutting Accelerates as Pay TV Loses 1 Million Customers in Largest-Ever Quarterly Loss
Cable and satellite TV providers lost about 1.1 million subscribers during the July to September period, the largest quarterly loss ever -- and the
first time the industry lost more than 1 million subscribers in a quarter, according to media and telecommunications research firm MoffettNathanson. From a report:
After Dish Network reported its third-quarter earnings this week, the New York-headquartered research firm tallied up the publicly reported subscriber losses to arrive at the finding. Dish lost 341,000 subscribers in the third quarter, compared to adding 16,000 in the same period a year ago. Overall, Dish lost 367,000 satellite subscribers but added 26,000 Sling TV subscribers, the company said. Rich Greenfield, a media and technology analyst with financial services firm BTIG in New York, arrived at a similar conclusion and called it "the third-worst quarter in industry history and worst since Q2 2016."
A Bug in Steam, Which Was Recently Patched, Could Have Given Users Access To Activation Key of Any Game
Ukrainian vulnerability researcher has found a bug that would have allowed him to
download all the activation keys (also known as CD keys) made available through the Steam gaming platform, for any game, ever. From a report:
Discovered by Artem Moskowsky, the bug resided in Steamworks, a platform that Valve runs to help developers with building and publishing games via its Steam gaming client. Moskowsky found the bug in a Steam web API located at partner.steamgames.com/partnercdkeys/assignkeys/. This is the API that lets game developers or affiliates retrieve CD keys made available to Steam users so their customers can activate a game installed via the Steam client. This API is accessible using a regular Steam account and takes several parameters, but the ones most relevant are appid (representing the game), keyid (representing the identifier of a set of CD keys), and keycount (representing the number of CD keys that Steam needs to return inside a CD key set).
Google Chrome Will Soon Warn Users About Web Pages With Unclear Mobile Billing Services
Google is introducing a small but important update to its Chrome browser, one designed to
prevent consumers from being swindled by underhanded or unclear mobile subscription services. From a report:
Some web pages invite visitors to input their mobile phone number in order to subscribe to some kind of service, such as a mobile game, but it's not always clear how much they will be charged or even if that they are being charged at all. This is enabled by a service known as carrier billing, something that allows users to bypass more laborious subscription methods by having a fee charged directly to their mobile phone bill. [...] Starting from December 2018 with the launch of Chrome 71, Google's browser on mobile and desktop, as well as in Android WebView, will display a warning if it detects that there is insufficient mobile subscription information available to the user.
Has the Love Affair With Driving Gotten Stuck in Traffic?
America's love affair with the automobile and those dreams of roaring off on open highways are on the wane as the nation grapples with too much stop-and-go traffic and too many hours spent behind the steering wheel. From a report:
Those findings are contained in a report to be released Thursday by Arity, a technology research spinoff created two years ago by Allstate Insurance. Arity underscored the growing disillusionment by using an illustration: Americans, on average, spend more time in their cars -- mostly driving to and from work -- than they receive in vacation time. Arity researchers said most people average 321 hours in the car each year and get 120 hours of vacation [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; an alternative source was not immediately available.]. "To me, that really crystallizes the issue," said Lisa Jillson, who leads Arity's research and design department. "I get a certain amount of vacation time, and I spend almost three times that in my car just getting back and forth to a job."
Her research showed a notable difference between millennials and baby boomers. Unhappiness with driving becomes more pronounced, with 59 percent of millennials saying they'd "rather spend time doing more productive tasks than driving," while only 45 percent of baby boomers make that same statement.
A Third of Wikipedia Discussions Are Stuck in Forever Beefs
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Wikipedia, the internet's encyclopedia, is run entirely by volunteers -- people who spend large swaths of their personal time making sure the information that hundreds of millions of people access every day stays accurate and up-to-date. Of those volunteers, 77 percent of Wikipedia articles are written by just one percent of Wikipedia editors. As such, tensions tend to get a little high, because these editors are often highly invested. They've been arguing about corn for nearly a decade, for example, and there's a long-running edit war about the meaning of neuroticism.
When editors disagree about an edit to be made on a Wikipedia article, they start by discussing it on the article's Talk page. When that doesn't result in a decision, they can open a Request for Comment (RfC). From there, any editor can choose a side or discuss the merits of whatever edit is up for discussion, and -- in theory -- come to an agreement. Or at least, some kind of decision about how to make the edit. But a new study by MIT researchers found that as many as one-third of RfC disputes go unresolved, often abandoned out of frustration or exhaustion. The most common sticking points were chalked up to inexperience, inattention from experience editors, and just plain petty bickering.
Amazon's AbeBooks Backs Down After Booksellers Stage Global Protest
An "extraordinary and unprecedented" global protest from antiquarian booksellers has
forced the Amazon-owned secondhand marketplace AbeBooks to backtrack on its decision to pull out of several countries. From a report:
AbeBooks had told bookshops in countries including Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Russia that it would no longer support them from 30 November, citing migration to a new payment service provider as the reason for the withdrawal. The move prompted almost 600 booksellers in 27 countries to pull more than 3.5m titles from Abebooks' site, putting them on "vacation" as they cited the motto of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, "Amor librorum nos unit" (love of books unites us). On Wednesday, president of ILAB Sally Burdon met AbeBooks chief executive Arkady Vitrouk to discuss the decision. It was agreed that booksellers in the four affected countries would be able to trade under current conditions until 31 December, with a solution to allow them to use the website indefinitely to follow.
Sundar Pichai of Google: 'Technology Doesn't Solve Humanity's Problems'
In a wide-ranging interview with
The New York Times, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has addressed
some of the recent tensions within the company and those that the entire industry appears to be grappling with. From the story:
Question: An estimated 20,000 Googlers participated in a sexual harassment protest this month. What's your message to employees right now?
Pichai: People are walking out because they want us to improve and they want us to show we can do better. We're acknowledging and understanding we clearly got some things wrong. And we have been running the company very differently for a while now. But going through a process like that, you learn a lot. For example, we have established channels by which people can report issues. But those processes are much harder on the people going through it than we had realized.
Question: Do you worry that Silicon Valley is suffering from groupthink and losing its edge?
Pichai: There is nothing inherent that says Silicon Valley will always be the most innovative place in the world. There is no God-given right to be that way. But I feel confident that right now, as we speak, there are quietly people in the Valley working on some stuff which we will later look back on in 10 years and feel was very profound. We feel we're on the cusp of technologies, just like the internet before.
Question: Do you still feel like Silicon Valley has retained that idealism that struck you when you arrived here?
Pichai: There's still that optimism. But the optimism is tempered by a sense of deliberation. Things have changed quite a bit. You know, we deliberate about things a lot more, and we are more thoughtful about what we do. But there's a deeper thing here, which is: Technology doesn't solve humanity's problems. It was always naive to think so. Technology is an enabler, but humanity has to deal with humanity's problems. I think we're both over-reliant on technology as a way to solve things and probably, at this moment, over-indexing on technology as a source of all problems, too.
After Paying Off Men Accused of Sexual Harassment, Google Says It Will Meet Many of the Protesters' Demands.
To Keep Pace With Moore's Law, Chipmakers Turn to 'Chiplets'
As chipmakers struggle to keep up with Moore's law,
they are increasingly looking for alternatives to boost computers' performance. "We're seeing Moore's law slowing," says Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at chip designer AMD. "You're still getting more density but it costs more and takes longer. It's a fundamental change."
Wired has a feature story which looks at those alternatives and the progress chipmakers have been able to make with them so far. From a report:
AMD's Papermaster is part of an industry-wide effort around a new doctrine of chip design that Intel, AMD, and the Pentagon all say can help keep computers improving at the pace Moore's law has conditioned society to expect. The new approach comes with a snappy name: chiplets. You can think of them as something like high-tech Lego blocks. Instead of carving new processors from silicon as single chips, semiconductor companies assemble them from multiple smaller pieces of silicon -- known as chiplets. "I think the whole industry is going to be moving in this direction," Papermaster says. Ramune Nagisetty, a senior principal engineer at Intel, agrees. She calls it "an evolution of Moore's law."
Chip chiefs say chiplets will enable their silicon architects to ship more powerful processors more quickly. One reason is that it's quicker to mix and match modular pieces linked by short data connections than to painstakingly graft and redesign them into a single new chip. That makes it easier to serve customer demand, for example for chips customized to machine learning, says Nagisetty. New artificial-intelligence-powered services such as Google's Duplex bot that makes phone calls are enabled in part by chips specialized for running AI algorithms.
Chiplets also provide a way to minimize the challenges of building with cutting-edge transistor technology. The latest, greatest, and smallest transistors are also the trickiest and most expensive to design and manufacture with. In processors made up of chiplets, that cutting-edge technology can be reserved for the pieces of a design where the investment will most pay off. Other chiplets can be made using more reliable, established, and cheaper techniques. Smaller pieces of silicon are also inherently less prone to manufacturing defects.
Some Windows 10 Pro Users Say Their PCs Are No Longer Activated And Are Been Prompted To Downgrade To Windows 10 Home
If you're having trouble activating your Windows 10 Pro computer today,
you're not alone. Forums and social media networks are getting
flooded with complaints from users who say their machines have automatically become deactivated. Users say they are having trouble connecting with Microsoft's activation servers, with some saying they are being prompted to downgrade to Windows 10 Home. According to Microsoft Answers, the company is
working to resolve the issue. Only users who had upgraded their computers to Windows 10 by using product keys of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 appear to be impacted.
China's Brightest Children Are Being Recruited To Develop AI 'Killer Bots'
A group of some of China's smartest students have been recruited straight from high school to begin training as the world's youngest AI weapons scientists. Local media reports:
The 27 boys and four girls, all aged 18 and under, were selected for the four-year "experimental programme for intelligent weapons systems" at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) from more than 5,000 candidates, the school said on its website. The BIT is one of the country's top weapons research institutes, and the launch of the new programme is evidence of the weight it places on the development of AI technology for military use. China is in competition with the United States and other nations in the race to develop deadly AI applications -- from nuclear submarines with self-learning chips to microscopic robots that can crawl into human blood vessels.
US Cyber Command Starts Uploading Foreign APT Malware To VirusTotal
The Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), a subordinate unit of US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), set in motion a new initiative this week through which the
DOD would share malware samples it discovered on its networks with the broader cybersecurity community. From a report:
The CNMF kicked off this new project by creating an account on VirusTotal, an online file scanning service that also doubles as an online malware repository, and by uploading two malware samples.
UK Renewable Energy Capacity Surpasses Fossil Fuels For First Time
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels' has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.
Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the "dash for gas" in the 1990s. However, the amount of power from fossil fuels was still greater over the quarter, at about 40% of electricity generation compared with 28% for renewable sources. In total, 57% of electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations. In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third.
Facebook's Unsend Feature Will Give You 10 Minutes To Delete a Message
Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg came under fire after he and other executives
removed their Facebook messages from several recipients' inboxes. The move led many to question whether the company would give other users the option to unsend messages. According to Twitter user
@MattNavarra, the answer is yes. The feature has been
listed as "coming soon" in the release notes for version 191.0 of Messenger's iOS client. The Verge reports:
Facebook Messenger will soon allow you to delete sent messages up to 10 minutes after you've originally sent them. Compared to the hour Facebook gives you to delete an erroneous WhatsApp message, 10 minutes doesn't give you too much time to correct yourself. But it's a lot better than having your mistakes preserved eternally.
Google Is Adding Android Support For Foldable Screens
At its Android Developer Summit today, Google detailed plans to
bake support for folding phones into the mobile operating system. One of the first Android phones to hit the market with a foldable display
looks to be from Samsung with a launch date of "early next year." TechCrunch reports:
"You can think of the device as both a phone and a tablet," Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke explained. "Broadly, there are two variants -- two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, it looks like a phone, fitting in your pocket or purse. The defining feature for this form factor is something we call screen continuity."
Among the additions here is the ability to flag the app to respond to the screen as it folds and unfolds -- the effect would likely be similar to the response of applications as handsets switch between portrait and landscape modes.