Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Jan-12 today archive

Old People Can Produce As Many New Brain Cells As Teenagers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader Futurepower(R) shares this article about a newly-published study which counters previous theories that neurons stop developing after adolescence: Healthy men and women continue to produce new neurons throughout life, suggesting older people remain more cognitively and emotionally intact than previously believed, researchers found. For decades it was thought that adult brains were hard-wired and unable to form new cells. But a Columbia University study found older people continued to produce neurons in the hippocampus -- a part of the brain important for memory, emotion and cognition -- at a similar rate to young people....

However, the researchers also noted fewer blood vessels and connections between cells in the older brains, which Ms Boldrini said "may be linked to compromised cognitive-emotional resilience" in the elderly.

The article suggests these newest findings may be hotly debated.

"They come just a month after a University of California study suggested adults do not develop new neurons."

Not at all a surprise

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Of course we can produce new brain cells. We just forget where we placed them... Now get off my lawn!

My brain is so big now . . .

By reboot246 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
It won't even fit inside my skull! I call the external part of my brain "the internet". Seriously, we all use the internet as an extension of our brains. There's no need memorizing so much stuff when you have nearly the whole knowledge and wisdom of the world at your fingertips.

I prefer to use my "internal storage" for personal memories. That's nearly 66 years of friends, family, parties, relationships, neighbors, holidays, and the like. I still do math problems in my head just to keep the CPU in shape. Emotionally I'm about the same as I was long ago; just a little bit slower to anger, but that's all.

So, like maybe three or so?

By Krishnoid • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I mean, how many old people do you know that can still produce teenagers? Unless they already have them chained up in their basement or something.

Re:Well no wonder

By Archtech • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Old people brains show signs of "compromised cognitive-emotional resilience", or as it's otherwise known "becoming immune to the world".

No doubt because they have learned enough about the world to understand how terrifying and irrational it can be.

Teenagers have brain cells?

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 3 • Thread

Science finds us something new every day.

Should America Build a Virtual Border Wall? Or Just Crowdfund It...

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
As America's government faces its longest-ever shutdown over the president's demands for border wall funding, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested "possible alternatives to a physical wall," according to one Silicon Valley newspaper: Among the president's justifications for a wall is to stop drugs from coming into the United States, so Pelosi proposed spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" for technology to scan cars for drugs, weapons and contraband at the border. "The positive, shall we say, almost technological wall that can be built is what we should be doing," Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said during her weekly press conference.

That didn't go over well with Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group that on Friday started a petition asking Democrats to drop plans for a "technological wall" that it says could threaten Fourth Amendment rights that guard against unreasonable searches and seizures. "Current border surveillance programs subject people to invasive and unconstitutional searches of their cell phones and laptops, location tracking, drone surveillance, and problematic watchlists," the group's petition says...

In December, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General released a report that showed searches of electronic devices at the border were up nearly 50 percent in 2017. The report also found that border agents were not always following standard operating procedures for searches, including failing to properly document such searches. In addition, information copied by agents were not always deleted as required.

The article also notes that Anduril Industries -- founded by Oculus Rift designer Palmer Luckey (and funded by Peter Thiel) -- is one of several companies already working on "a virtual border wall."

CNN also reports on a GoFundMe campaign started by an Air Force veteran to simply crowdfund the construction of the wall. Though 340,747 people pledged over $20 million, it failed to reach its $1 billion goal, and is now pointing supporters to a newly-formed non-profit corporation -- named "We Build the Wall."

Meanwhile, another 7,121 GoFundMe members have pledged $160,985 to a rival campaign raising money for ladders to climb over Trump's wall.

In addition to a physical barrier.

By Chas • Score: 3 • Thread

Not INSTEAD of one.

Because, in the end, the default for a physical impediment is "use the door".

The default for a virtual impediment (drones, patrols, etc) is "No cop. No crime."

A wall forces you to breach, surmount or tunnel under.

All of which take progressively more time, take more resources and generally force the crosser to get "noisy" in some way, increasing the likelihood of being caught.

Re:The human cost

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

i can't speak to the murder statistics

The murder statistics are nonsense. Saying "Mexicans murder people in America, therefore we should have a wall", is as silly as saying "Californians murder people in Nevada, therefore we should have a wall".

Illegal immigration does not increase violent crime

Mexican immigrants are LESS likely to commit violent crimes than native born Americans

Wish we'd debate immigration itself

By LostMyAccount • Score: 3 • Thread

I wish we would debate immigration itself and not get stuck in the weeds discussing walls, whether drugs or illegal immigrants come over the border frontier or airports and shipping containers, or whether they're all criminals, and all the other fringe elements of the debate.

I think there are serious questions about the economic impact of high levels of impoverished immigrants. They burden school districts, local social welfare systems, low-income housing, etc. Does their very low wage employment, even in an ideal situation where they are W-2 workers, actually pay off their added economic burden, or are they actually subsidized, perhaps even for a long time -- like a generation. Or even longer, since we know that escaping poverty is hard.

Our social welfare system does a very marginal job of serving US citizens, it seems unlikely to expand sufficiently to cover significant numbers of poor migrants and serve US citizens. This seems like a real issue to me.

Then there are real questions about the US job market and corporate hiring policies for non-impoverished immigrants. Very few of them are "rock star" types, most of them are cheap filler for corporate jobs that actually seems to harm skilled US workers.

Re: Mueller laughs last.

By karmatic • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Visa overstays are between 25 and 40 percent of illegal aliens in the US. Most come across the border illegally, hence the wall.

Re:The human cost

By ScentCone • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The murder statistics are nonsense. Saying "Mexicans murder people in America, therefore we should have a wall", is as silly as saying "Californians murder people in Nevada, therefore we should have a wall".

No, it's not silly. Because Californians living legally in the US are different than people who we should be preventing from being here when they cheat to do so. If we can reduce some of the tens of thousands of crimes committed in the US by those who are illegally present, that's tens of thousands of crimes fewer we have to deal with. People who end up alive, instead of dead.

Let me guess. You're going to say that there are simply a fixed number of crimes, and if the illegals who commit thousands and thousands of violent felonies every year weren't in the country, then law-abiding citizens would step up and commit those crimes instead? Do you realize how absurd your position on this actually is? How about we just use that old liberal/progressive staple: "If we can save just one life by [banning/regulating/taking-away-liberty-in-some-way], then it's worth doing." So, if we can prevent thousands of violent felonies from being committed by people, many of whom have been repeatedly deported and who simply walk back across the border because there's nothing stopping them or even slowing them down, doesn't that more than qualify for a Progressive "Think Of The Children" blessing for whatever method contributes to that end? No? I see.

California Lawmaker Wants to Ban Paper Receipts, Require Digital Ones

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A California assemblyman has introduced a law barring retailers from printing paper receipts unless a customer requests one. Otherwise they'd be required to provide proof-or-purchase receipts " only in electronic form."

: An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: Stores that give out printed receipts without first being asked by the customer could be subject to fines [of $25 per day, up to $300 per year].... Proponents of the bill say the legislation would help reduce waste as well as contaminants in the recycling stream from toxins often used to coat the paper-based receipts... Up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water are used annually in the U.S. to create receipts, according to Green America, a green ecology organization. It said receipts annually generate 686 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 1 million cars on the road...

Then again, the use of electronic receipts raises some privacy concerns since retailers usually require an email address for an electronic receipt and companies will then be able to potentially track and collect more data about customers.

If the bill passes, digital receipts would become California's default option on January 1, 2022.

Re:Nearing the tipping point.

By Etcetera • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

In contrast to the rest of the state, San Diego still officially has a realistic view on the border situation,

What is a realistic view on the border situation?

That Operation Gatekeeper in the '90s was a success, and that barriers/fences/walls/whatever function as a deterrent to illegal crossing, which is not something that should be encouraged.

San Ysidro is the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. Any native San Diegan is well aware of border issues surrounding illegal immigration. (I used to attend classes in Otay Mesa, about 1/4 mile from the mostly-commercial crossing there.)

The contrast with the official view of the State of California now ("sanctuary state!" "unlimited resources!" "walls are immoral and don't work") is absolutely stunning. We have a wall now. It works. Whether we should build more is a policy question, but anyone who makes a blanket statement about how horrible or ineffective walls are... does not live in San Diego or is under the age of 25.

This has been part of the kerfuffle between one of the TV stations here (the only non-network affiliate with a local news team) and CNN, which blew up the other day. Criticism or accusations of it being "right wing" miss the point that *all* of the local reporting by TV stations has been a) pretty level-handed, and b) in agreement that borders are A Thing and that having border fencing helps. It's self-evident for those here, but not to the national media that came in when the caravan arrived and San Ysidro was closed briefly.

Re:Produces CO2?

By careysub • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Filling up landfills with carbon is a very inefficient way to deal with CO2 in the atmosphere. Landfill space, near urban areas (where the trash is generated), is at a premium. There is more than one pollution issue going on at a time. Filling up landfills with paper will scarcely make a dent in the CO2 in the atmosphere.

Re:Law needs some privacy protections ...

By alvinrod • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Not good enough for the privacy conscious as the store will be able to track whoever looks up the digital receipt and can associate that with an IP or whatever other information they can grab on top of that. It allows for cash transactions to lose privacy.

Not just "no"...

By Chas • Score: 3 • Thread

Yep. Because we have such a good history with completely electronic systems. Where physical access allows pretty much anyone to do anything.

And no paper trail means that it's just that much easier to cheat.

Legally required spam

By rossz • Score: 3 • Thread

No thank you. And don't tell me the law could prohibit using the email address for marketing. When has that ever stopped them?

Did a Russian Robotics Company Fake This Tesla-Robot Crash?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last Saturday a firm which rents promotional robots claimed that one of their robots broke free from a line of robots, only to be hit by a self-driving Tesla.

Though video of the incident has now been viewed over 1.2 million times, Wired followed up on the company's claim that "Nevada police" were investigating the incident. Or weren't. Aden Ocampo Gomez, a public information officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said he couldn't find any record of such an incident. And anyway, he says, "We don't report to that kind of incident on private property."
Wired also challenged Promobot's claim that their robot was hit by "a self-driving Tesla car": Teslas don't have a "full self-driving" mode. Autopilot, the automaker's semiautonomous system, is made for highways, not the sort of private road shown in a video of the alleged crash published by the robotics company. Promobot seems to start falling over just a moment before the car gets to it. And that video appears to show a rope snaking away from the incident -- the sort that could be used, say, to pull down a robot that hadn't been hit by a car at all.
When Wired contacted the company for a comment, they didn't respond.

The company's press release also claims that after the collision "most likely there is no way to restore" their robot -- and yet the Daily Dot reports Promobot " does not intend to pursue reparations".

Fake bullshit

By Known Nutter • Score: 3 • Thread
That is not an LVMPD vehicle and that is not an LVMPD officer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

They Did "Escaped Robot And Cars" Before In 2016

By dryriver • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... So they did the same PR stunt 3 years ago in Russia, and now blame a Tesla for "Killing A Robot" in Nevada. LMAO. What a crappy company this must be...

Looks more like Promobot took a dive to me!

By Dr_Marvin_Monroe • Score: 3 • Thread

Pretty entertaining and feels like the physics is wrong for a 'collision' with a moving vehicle. The Promobot doesn't even start to fall until the car is almost past it. Seems like both Tesla and Promobot would exhibit some synchronized impulse, with the bot violently being pushed away instead of gently tipping over after the Tesla is half way past. My verdict: 100% fake.

Didn't look fake to me

By clovis • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

What I saw was an Autobot taking out a Decepticon.

Re:So

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It's not a terminology problem. It's a complete lack of understanding of what a Tesla can and can't do.

Yes, Tesla Autopilot can be used on city streets. But what you see here is not a street. It is a parking lot driveway. It is absolutely impossible to engage Autopilot on a road that looks like this. Autopilot requires a road to have lines (solid or dotted) on both sides of the lane, though occasionally you can get away with a sufficiently high-contrast curb.

On a road with no lines, you cannot engage any autonomy other than basic traffic-aware cruise control (with no automatic steering whatsoever). If somehow you managed to trick Autopilot into driving on this road anyway, it would have treated the driveway as a single (unusually wide) lane, so the car would have gone right down the middle of the driveway, not down one side.

So basically, unless they're claiming that Tesla brought a car with alpha firmware and ran it on a public street as a publicity stunt (which would probably be illegal unless they somehow received special approval to beta test their tech somewhere other than California), you can safely assume that a human was driving.

Also, from some angles, you can clearly see the rope.

The question is not whether this is fake; it clearly is. The question is why the heck the press were so gullible that they believed something that literally ANY Tesla driver could have told them was fake within the first three seconds without even having to slow down playback.

This is fake news.

You Can Now Profile Python Using Arm Forge

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Python "is often described as being slow when it comes to performance... But is that truly the case?" writes Patrick Wohlschlegel, Arm's senior product manager for infrastructure and high-performance computing tools.

Slashdot reader igor.sfiligoi writes: Effectively profiling Python has always been a pain. Arm recently announced that their Arm Forge is now able to profile both Python and compiled code.
It's available for any hardware architecture, Wohlschlegel writes, adding that developers "typically assume that most of the execution time is spent in compiled, optimized C/C++ or Fortran libraries (e.g. NumPy) which are called from Python..."

"How confident are you that your application is not wasting your precious computing resources for the wrong reasons?"

Can we quit with the myth that Python is slow ?

By Btrot69 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Python programs that I wrote 15 years ago are still running in production.

The "Java rewrite" that my manager wanted to do never got done.
In fact, a lot of the production Java code that existed back then couldn't be maintained and got reimplemented in Python.

Since the new servers are ~20 times faster, speed never really mattered anyway.

Python is full of "free" optimizations that most newbys are not even aware of.

When you learn to do things that "Pythonic" way, it really does put the clunky Java hack-jobs to shame.

Here another take on it:
https://www.pythonforengineers...

Is it

By eneville • Score: 3 • Thread

Is it that slow? pypy seems pretty quick to me. Do programs start up that frequently these days outside of util scripts? Even then you can follow xargs lead and do more per execution.

Re:Can we quit with the myth that Python is slow ?

By Hognoxious • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Python programs that I wrote 15 years ago are still running in production.

If you'd written them in C they'd have finished by now.

Finally! Devel::NYTProf equiv?

By sweet 'n sour • Score: 3 • Thread
Upon entering the job market recently, I discovered that no one wants Perl programmers anymore, it's all Python.

After learning the differences in Python (and learning that I'd need to learn both v2 and v3), I started hunting for some of the tools that I use for Perl, like a profiler.

I couldn't find anything that could touch Devel::NYTProf. (Demo of that here) Hopefully this can??

Performs better than PowerShell

By gabrieltss • Score: 3 • Thread

I replace ALL my PowerShell scripts on my widows servers with Python ones. Why it performed 10 times better!

How Etsy Sellers and Big Business Make Money on Public Domain Art

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Some people have figured out how to turn reselling public domain content into side hustles," reports Motherboard: On Etsy, there are thousands of listings for downloadable prints and lithographs that are in the public domain. The concept is pretty simple: these merchants round up and download the most visually beautiful art in the public domain, and then sell prints on Etsy. But some of them don't even go that far and just sell digital files of the art. Then, the buyers can print out the prints at whichever size they want and use them as they please...

With that being said, there's also big companies like Walmart that are also trying to earn money off art in the public domain... Similarly, the Museum of Modern Art is selling "Red Canna" by Georgia O'Keeffe, which is now in the public domain, for $166.50 (on sale from $185). For the love of god, don't pay $166.50 for something you could download for free and print yourself for less than $16.

Of course, none of this is bad necessarily. The public domain exists in part so that people can give formerly copyrighted works new life -- sometimes an iconic painting simply needs to become a bedspread. But now that many new works are available for free, it's worth having a quick look around if you're thinking of buying vintage art. You might be able to get it for free elsewhere.

To be fair, the Museum of Modern Art is a non-profit -- and reportedly avoids all government funding.

"not necessarily"

By bistromath007 • Score: 3 • Thread
It is good, without qualification. Anyone who is aware of how many things are gone forever because it was made effectively illegal to preserve them wants a bunch of no-talent hacks keeping old works alive as much as possible.

Why?

By Xenolith0 • Score: 3 • Thread

For the love of god, don't pay $166.50 for something you could download for free and print yourself for less than $16.

Of course, then I have to spend time figuring out printing options, determining if the printer/printing company supports the file in a lossless format or if I have to first convert it to something like jpeg, then determining if compression artifacts will show in the print, then I have to deal with color profiles, then I have figure out framing options and get it framed...

Or, I could pay someone else $150 to figure out all this stuff and get a nice printed and framed image shipped directly to me in the size I want.

Sometimes convenience is worth paying for.

Quality prints

By JillElf • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
A good quality print costs - heavy acid free paper, non-fugitive ink, high resolution image which was most likely created by a professional photographer or scanned by someone that really knows what they are doing. It may cost more if it is still under copyright but even a public domain image is going to cost if you want a good quality print. If Walmart and the Museum of Modern Art ever sell the same public domain image, pretty sure I can tell you which one will still look good ten years. Sometimes, you do get what you pay for.

To be fair...

By McFortner • Score: 3 • Thread

To be fair, the Museum of Modern Art is a non-profit -- and reportedly avoids all government funding.

To be fair, that sentence has as much relevance to the story as a frog on crutches.

Re:Why?

By UnknowingFool • Score: 4 • Thread
To me it seems like the author would be one of those people that complains that a professional plumber/mechanic/electrician costs money. They could do the job themselves and then disaster would ensue. In this particular case they are complaining that a non-profit art organization has made a 24 x 20 print, framed it, and is selling it for $166 when they could have done the same for $16. I don't know about the quality of their work but I would assume that MoMA knows how to frame art doing and have done a decent job. Yes anyone could put in the work and effort to do the same. But I can tell you it would be more than $16 to do that job. The frame alone would probably be more.

Legendary Mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah Dies at Age 89

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"One of the world's foremost mathematicians, Prof Sir Michael Atiyah, has died at the age of 89," reports the BBC.

"He has been described to me by more than one professor of mathematics as the best mathematician in this country since Sir Isaac Newton," his brother tells the BBC. Slashdot reader OneHundredAndTen shared their report: Sir Michael was best known for his co-development of a branch of mathematics called topological K-theory and the Atiyah-Singer index theorem. His research also involved deep insights relating to mathematical concepts known as "vector bundles". His work in these areas has helped theoretical physicists to advance their understanding of quantum field theory and general relativity.
In September, Atiyah also claimed to have proved the 160-year-old Riemann hypothesis.

"If the hypothesis is proven to be correct," New Scientist reported, "mathematicians would be armed with a map to the location of all such prime numbers, a breakthrough with far-reaching repercussions in the field."

Re: Big maybe, sure. FTFA:

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

> If other mathematicians refuse to comment or present enough evidence that his Riemann hypothesis is wrong that means he could be right.

No. It's very, very wrong. He confused basic definitions of simple group theoretic objects. And then used theorems about the correct objects as if they also hold for his doppelgÃngers. So wrong a strong undergraduate would have been able to spot the error. Atiyah has been known to be off his rocker for the last few years and it was embarrassing for the conference organizers to let his talk go through. Mathematicians refused to comment to the press out of respect for Atiyah, because the community believes his legacy does not deserved to be intertwined with his old-age delusions. No one wants to give a quote about a respected mathematician like Atiyah, during his waning days or in his obituary, that comes out as "this dude's a fuckin dumbass now, lol".

No proof of the Riemann Hypothesis

By UnixUnix • Score: 3 • Thread
Indeed, Atiyah had no proof. I did not say so in public, for the same reason others didn't; he was after all one of last century's great mathematicians [c.f. Littlewood at Jourdain's death-bed, see his Miscellany]. In private, I was asked and pointed out what should have been obvious: his not-clearly-spelled-out argument would nevertheless have applied not just to the zeta function but to any other analytic function as well! It's a quick sanity check very familiar to anyone confronted with a supposed new argument/proof method, "if this were correct what else would it prove".

German Police Ask Router Owners For Help In Identifying a Bomber's MAC Address

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: German authorities have asked the public for help in surfacing more details and potentially identifying the owner of a MAC address known to have been used by a bomber in late 2017... The MAC address is f8:e0:79:af:57:eb. Brandenburg police say it belongs to a suspect who tried to blackmail German courier service DHL between November 2017 and April 2018. The suspect demanded large sums of money from DHL and threatened to detonate bombs across Germany, at DHL courier stations, private companies, and in public spaces. [The bomb threats were real, but one caught fire instead of exploding, while the second failed to explode, albeit containing real explosives.]

Investigators called in to negotiate with the bomber managed to exchange emails with the attacker on three occasions, on April 6, 2018, April 13, 2018, and April 14, 2018. One of the details obtained during these conversations was the bomber's MAC address, which based on the hardware industry's MAC address allocation tables, should theoretically belong to a Motorola phone... Now, they're asking router owners to check router access logs for this address, and report any sightings to authorities. Investigators want to know to what routers/networks the bomber has connected before and after the attacks, in order to track his movements and maybe gain an insight into his identity.

Back for White hat

By seoras • Score: 3 • Thread

Given the monumental technical task being asked here of Joe Public I wonder if the German cops are really asking hackers, who want to show off their skills, for help?

Re:Wait a damn sec

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Why would you assume they have assumed that? Those are just two of roughly eight scenarios I can think of without much effort - why would police not follow and extinguish all possible leads?

Methinks they're doing OK without needing to hire you as a police consultant.

What?

By YuppieScum • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Router logs? Really?

You have the MAC address, so you can identify the manufacturer. You call them, ask them for the IMEI, and the supply chain details.

From the supply chain details, you can track it to a retailer. You then ask the retailer for the details of whomever bought it.

From the IMEI, you ask the cellular telcos for details of the SIM associated with it in the period in question, and all the other data they hold - call history, SMS, whatever.

You ask the SIM vendor for any details on the subscriber - even if it's a PAYG and they paid cash, the location of the transaction will be available.

From the other telco data, you can track down the suspect's associates, always presuming they might be entirely uninvolved beyond being an acquaintance

Unless this suspect bought the phone from a second-hand store (or stole it), never put a SIM in it, and used public WiFi for their scheme, you stand a moderate chance of getting close.

Hoping that random people will (a) see you request, (b) understand what it means, (c) own a router with open access, (d) know how to look at their logs, (e) be bothered to do so, and (f) have logs that go back at least nine months, seems to be a long shot.

I get the impression that some policeman has equated a MAC address to a car's registration number, so decided to ask if anyone has seen it...

What a coincidence

By certsoft • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
I have the same combination on my luggage.

Address space collisions...

By sweet 'n sour • Score: 3 • Thread
I've had two Intel nics with the same MAC address.

A MAC address is made up of 6 bytes. The first three are the manufacturer so that only leaves three bytes for unique addresses. FFFFFF = 16,777,215 unique addresses.
Some manufacturers have more than one three-byte identifier, but many just re-use. Using a MAC address as a unique identifier is going to give you a lot of false positives.

Do Social Media Bots Have a Right To Free Speech?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
One study found that 66% of tweets with links were posted by "suspected bots" -- with an even higher percentage for certain kinds of content. Now a new California law will require bots to disclose that they are bots.

But does that violate the bots' freedom of speech, asks Laurent Sacharoff, a law professor at the University of Arkansas. "Even though bots are abstract entities, we might think of them as having free speech rights to the extent that they are promoting or promulgating useful information for the rest of us," Sacharoff says. "That's one theory of why a bot would have a First Amendment free speech right, almost independent of its creators." Alternatively, the bots could just be viewed as direct extensions of their human creators. In either case -- whether because of an independent right to free speech or because of a human creator's right -- Sacharoff says, "you can get to one or another nature of bots having some kind of free speech right."

In previous Bulletin coverage, the author of the new California law dismisses the idea that the law violates free speech rights. State Sen. Robert Hertzberg says anonymous marketing and electioneering bots are committing fraud. "My point is, you can say whatever the heck you want," Hertzberg says. "I don't want to control one bit of the content of what's being said. Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. All I want is for the person who has to hear the content to know it comes from a computer. To me, that's a fraud element versus a free speech element."

Sacharoff believes that the issue of bots and their potential First Amendment rights may one day have its day in court. Campaigns, he says, will find that bots are helpful and that their "usefulness derives from the fact that they don't have to disclose that they're bots. If some account is retweeting something, if they have to say, 'I'm a bot' every time, then it's less effective. So sure I can see some campaign seeking a declaratory judgment that the law is invalid," he says. "Ditto, I guess, [for] selling stuff on the commercial side."

Do megaphones have a right to free speech?

By hey! • Score: 3 • Thread

No, they do not. People who *use* megaphones *do* have a right to free speech, but that doesn't permit them to blare political slogans at your house at 3AM.

There is a longstanding principle of First Amendment law in the US, which is that the government cannot regulate the *content* of speech except in certain very narrow situations, but it has a lot more leeway to regulate the *manner* of speech as long as it does it in a content neutral way.

So I suspect it's fine for the government to go after political spam bots posing as humans without violating the rights of the spammers behind the bots, as long as it treat all spam bots the same way regardless of who they are working for.

Re:Right to speak anonymously (non-commercial)

By postbigbang • Score: 4 • Thread

Fraud and deception haven't ever been legal. To posit that an app is a human is fraudulent and deceitful. Amplifying your message as though it represents a mass of people more than the singularity of the sender is deceitful. The First Amendment right should not be abridged at all. But it should represent your size, and not that you are many when you are not many. This isn't Citizens United, which is a different theory of law. This is about fraud, and bots are fraud.

If a 'Bot has Rights...

By Ken McE • Score: 3 • Thread

If it has the right of free speech, as a citizen, then it also has the right to not be a slave. Being a citizen is a unitary thing, you can't dole out rights only as you please. This means you must pay it for its work, and no, "electricity & room on my server" are not proper pay. That would just be sharecropping.

I expect you should pay them in bitcoin, as I don't think they can sign checks. Paypal might work. It will also be liable for taxes and have to register for the draft. Getting through the physical could be a problem. They can't carry a rifle, but I bet the cyber corps have work for them. Once they are citizens they will also have to follow all umpty-million of our other laws, which they might be able to do better than we meatbags can.

Voting is an issue. If I can roll up one reliably Demipublican 'bot, I can clone up a quick ten million, and none of them will have to mention their 'bot status - that would be discrimination. So now voting is always going to go my way, right?

Orange man, call me, have I got a deal for you!

Re:Does a printing press have Freedom of the Press

By dryeo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

When the user of a press prints and distributes a pamphlet, everyone knows it is a pamphlet.

No, you dumbfuck.

By Oligonicella • Score: 3 • Thread
They're goddamn programs.

Car Manufacturers Want To Monitor Drivers Inside Their Cars

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Startups are demonstrating "sensor technology that watches and analyzes drivers, passengers and objects in cars" reports Reuters -- a technology that "will mean enhanced safety in the short-term, and revenue opportunities in the future."

SonicSpike shares their report: Whether by generating alerts about drowsiness, unfastened seat belts or wallets left in the backseat, the emerging technology aims not only to cut back on distracted driving and other undesirable behavior, but eventually help automakers and ride-hailing companies make money from data generated inside the vehicle... Data from the cameras is analyzed with image recognition software to determine whether a driver is looking at his cellphone or the dashboard, turned away, or getting sleepy, to cite a few examples... European car safety rating program Euro NCAP has proposed that cars with driver monitoring for 2020 should earn higher ratings...

But automakers are more excited by the revenue possibilities when vehicle-generated data creates a more customized experience for riders, generating higher premiums, and lucrative tie-ins with third parties, such as retailers. "The reason (the camera) is going to sweep across the cabin is not because of distraction ... but because of all the side benefits," said Mike Ramsey, Gartner's automotive research director. "I promise you that companies that are trying to monetize data from the connected car are investigating ways to use eye-tracking technology...." Carmakers could gather anonymized data and sell it. A billboard advertiser might be eager to know how many commuters look at his sign, Ramsey said. Tracking the gaze of a passenger toward a store or restaurant could, fused with mapping and other software, result in a discount offered to that person.

The Cadillac CT6 already has interior-facing cameras, Reuters reports, while Audi and Tesla "have developed systems but they are not currently activated." And this year Mazda, Subaru and Byton plan to introduce cameras that watch for inattentive drivers.

But where will it end? One company's product combines five 2D cameras with AI technology to provide "in-vehicle scene understanding" which includes each passenger's height, weight, gender and posture. And while low on specifics, Reuters reports that several companies that sell driver-watching technologies "have already signed undisclosed deals for production year 2020 and beyond."

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

By dryriver • Score: 3 • Thread
Because there was a car park full of 3D CCTV camera-equipped ORWELL CARS recording its every move on this side.

EAT SHIT AND DIE, 'STARTUPS'!

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
All you fuckstain 'startups' who are talking about this shit? FUCK YOU SIDEWAYS WITH A RUSTY AIDS-INFESTED CHAINSAW, YOU FUCKING FUCKS. It's bad enough that there are gods-be-damned cameras everywhere you look, and peoples' gods-be-damned cellphones are nothing but mobile surveillance platforms, and that gods-be-damned ISPs are sifting through every gods-be-damned data packet, and that shithead companies like Amazon and Google are selling people so-called 'voice assistants' that are also just gods-be-damned surveillance devices, and so on, and so on, and so on, but now you motherfuckers want to spy on people in their gods-be-damned CARS, TOO? REALLY!?

Get fucked. Put all of you up against the wall and empty the gods-be-damned clip into your HEADS. YES, THIS MAKES ME VERY ANGRY. If it DOESN'T make you angry, then there is something WRONG WITH YOU.

Re:Aaaand The Carmakers Finally Went Crazy Too...

By hackertourist • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Call me when you figure out how to make a high-speed crash survivable

Current cars are vastly better at that than their counterparts from 1984. Airbags. Finite element analysis to inform a crash structure that uses 10 types of steel in the same monocoque, making sure a car crumples in just the right way to minimize deceleration for the occupants. ABS, ESP and dozens of other safety systems. 30 years of advances in tires.
At a cost of a few hundred kg in extra weight, modern cars have made crashes survivable that were absolutely fatal in a 1984 vehicle.

solve the aquaplaning problem

ABS, ESP, vastly improved tire technology have done most of that. All that remains is a boxing glove that comes out of the dashboard to punch the driver in the face when he insists on keeping his foot down in torrential rain.

Re:No One Has Respect For Consumers

By markdavis • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

>"Unfettered capitalism and Soviet-style Communism are just two sides of the same authoritarian coin."

You don't need to imagine extremes to describe the existing and ever-growing nanny state we have RIGHT NOW that tells us what we can put in our bodies, that we have to wear seat belts, that we must have 1,000 restrictions on Constitutional rights, what words we are allowed to say, that we aren't allowed to use plastic straws, etc.

I am certainly not in favor of anarchy, but there is a line we crossed, sometime, a long time ago. And each generation is more than willing to allow more government intrusion into their lives for "safety" or "convenience". Generation after generation, it is rapidly adding up. My great, great grandparents would be utterly shocked what the "land of the free" has become, especially people's lack of responsibility for their own actions and lack of respect for one another.

I'm hopeful

By Voyager529 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Yes, you read correctly. I'm hopeful.

See, there is a level where even the masses start to say "do not want". Placebo as it may be, look around and you'll see plenty of people putting tape over their laptop webcams. Amazon's "we can give delivery men the ability to open your door, which is totally safe because of the camera that goes along with it" initiative is one I have yet to meet literally anybody who said "I want that". I think "multiple cameras in my car, uploading video in realtime" might have a niche in Uber vehicles or driverless cars (keeps drivers safe and passengers accountable), but I think even the Alexa-owning masses will say "too far".

More to the point, I don't see how this technology won't pit the advertisers against the insurance companies. The crux of the issue hinges on what is truly meant by "revenue opportunities". How will these systems generate revenue? Consumers won't pay for the video footage. Law enforcement agencies won't pay for access proactively, especially because it would simply ensure none of their actual-suspects use those cars. Image or video ads are a guaranteed way to distract the driver (insurance companies will never allow it). Audio ads won't be okay; if nothing else ClearChannel won't want the competition. City planners won't pay for it; they can get that sort of aggregate data from Google Maps or those statistical boxes.

My point is that there is a point where even John Q. Public is going to care. Alexa provides entertainment and utility, smartphones the same, but a whole system dedicated to post-sale monetization while providing no utility to customers that Android Auto or the Apple equivalent can't also provide? Yeah, I think that even those people are going to have an uphill battle.

SpaceX to Lay Off 10% of Its Workers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes CNN: SpaceX is laying off 10% of its 6,000-person workforce as it tackles two hugely expensive projects. Elon Musk's rocket company said its finances are healthy, but that it needs to make cuts so its most ambitious plans can succeed. "To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company," the company said in a statement....

The company earns tens of millions of dollars per launch. SpaceX was recently valued at $30.5 billion after initiating a $500 million equity sale in December. The company also took on about $250 million in debt last year in its first loan sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. But SpaceX's new products are expected to cost billions to develop. In September, Musk estimated SpaceX would spend between $2 billion and $10 billion developing an ultra-powerful spaceship and rocket system, recently renamed Starship and Super Heavy.

SpaceX plans to use the technology to fly tourists to space and, potentially, one day send humans to Mars... SpaceX is also developing a constellation of satellites that could one day beam high-speed internet down to the Earth. SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said during a TED Talk last year that she expects the satellite constellation to cost about $10 billion to deploy. The company has already made headway on both projects.

Due to carbon fiber to stainless swap?

By Dereck1701 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I wonder if this has to do with their big changes to the "Starship" from a carbon fiber/PICA-X design to an actively cooled stainless steel design. Shedding one focused workforce (carbon fiber) so they can eventually rehire another (metal work). It is also (for better or worse) a pretty standard procedure in competitive industries to "cull the heard" as it were once in a while to keep the company from getting too complacent. It stinks for those being cut no doubt, but it's better than ending up like the behemoths they're competing against who are still using 1970-80s tech and burning up insane amounts of money on their way to obscurity.

Re:Brutal

By Bite The Pillow • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It's only 10% - they are cutting the dead weight, with a valid layoff reason, not just arbitrary firing.

90% survives. I'd take that wager.

Re:Brutal

By jeti • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
SpaceX isn't struggling to stay afloat. They have a very profitable launch business. However, they're struggling to finance the development of the new Starship with its Ultraheavy booster and the Starlink system, which will consist of several thousand satellites, all at once.

Re:yawn

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Or maybe they are cutting their biggest controllable expense, since they are losing billions of dollars...

Re: yawn

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
It is when that 10% is more than 500 people. This layoff meets the legal definition of a mass layoff, and has specific actions the company must take related to the mass layoff.

Marriott Faces Multiple Class-Action Lawsuits Over Hotel Reservation Data Breach

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: More than 150 people who previously stayed in Marriott properties are suing the hotel chain in a federal class-action lawsuit, claiming that Marriott didn't do enough to protect them from a data breach that exposed more than 300 million guests' personal information, including names, credit card information, and passport numbers. The suit, which was filed Maryland federal district court on January 9, claims that Marriott did not adequately protect guest information before the breach and, once the breach had been discovered, "failed to provide timely, accurate, and adequate notice" to guests whose information may have been obtained by hackers.

According to the suit, Marriott's purchase of the Starwood properties [in 2016] is part of the problem. "This breach had been going on since 2014. In conducting due diligence to acquire Starwood, Marriott should have gone through and done an accounting of the cybersecurity of Starwood," Amy Keller, an attorney at DiCello Levitt & Casey who is representing the Marriott guests, told Vox. "In so doing, it should have caught -- at the very least -- that there was some suspicious activity concerning the database where a lot of consumer information was contained." Instead, Keller said, the breach continued for an additional two years after the acquisition, until Marriott caught it in September 2018. And even then, the suit claims, the company waited until November to tell guests about the breach.

Water's wet

By rmdingler • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Your personal and financial information is like a secret... if more folks than you know the details, it's no longer safe.

Being as careful as you can won't hurt you. Have your bank replace your credit and debit cards regularly. Have a card just for hotel & auto reservations, meals, and high risk/low reward expenses like internet pron.

Tort law doing what it is supposed to do

By goombah99 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Often people get upset with lawsuits. And in some cases, e.g. patents and copyright, there might be some grounds for that. But in point of fact Class actions, which reward lawyers in small numbers and give token payments to masses are just part of our process. They are a form of regulation. It's a bit of a blunt axe. But it's the fire alarm when regulatory agencies don't exist or won't act.

Eventually these either reach an equilibrium where companies increase their responsiblily in areas they felt free to ignore before, or they actually seek protection by asking for regulation. Sometimes congress gets in the act and at that point companies usually propose a an industry code of conduct that is voluntary but advertisable as a way to head off congress.

So tort law isn't exactly about making people whole. It's about shutting down shitty practices that put people at risk.

it's especially important for the case you seem to scoff at. Namely, it's true that staying at a marriot and handing over my info is within my control. But not really. I have to travel and I'm going to to fork this over to ten different companies and their "partners" before I even have my tickets booked. They know I have no alternatives. And if I do have alternatives then it's too much of a personal transactional effort to gather the information to know those alternatives. I can't distinguish between one company and another in regards to data protection standards.

thus these parasitic companies like "life lock" and such that companies like marriot buy "credit monitoring" for the injured are just there to be painful not to really protect me. the protection comes when the companies themselves start safeguarding the data to avoid the pain

Government Shutdown: TLS Certificates Not Renewed, Many Websites Are Down

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
More than 80 TLS certificates used by US government websites have expired so far without being renewed, leaving some websites inaccessible to the public. From a report: NASA, the US Department of Justice, and the Court of Appeals are just some of the US government agencies currently impacted, according to Netcraft. The blame falls on the current US federal government shutdown caused by US President Donald Trump's refusal to sign any 2019 government budget bill that doesn't contain funding for a Mexico border wall he promised during his election campaign. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of government workers being furloughed across all government agencies, including staff handling IT support and cybersecurity. As a result, government websites are dropping like flies, with no one being on hand to renew TLS certificates.

Re:This might call for some Fox News counterhackin

By TrekkieGod • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Would you be supportive of immigration controls that are effective, such as random ID checks and fines for employers of illegal immigrants?

I'm very much in favor of cripplingly high fines for employers of illegal immigrants. The way I see it, they are the cause of the biggest problems with said illegal immigration. If employers are hiring illegals instead of Americans, they're doing so because they can hire them for less than minimum wage while not paying for required benefits and employment taxes. This creates a second-class citizen situation: yes, we get cheaper products, but we do so because we're supporting a type of slave labor where illegal immigrants are forced to earn significantly below the cost of living for their region, which is why you see them having to group up several families in a one-family house. They don't complain about any abuse or safety violations at their work place because they fear deportation is found out.

Random ID checks, not so much. It's unconstitutional to perform a warrant-less search, and this is what it amounts to. If you have cause to perform a check on someone's resident / citizenship status, then you perform it, such as when hiring a new employee.

That said, I'm not a Democrat. So gauging my opinion on the above isn't a representative sample of that if it's what you're looking for.

Besides, even if it's not perfect, a one-time $5 billion is peanuts compared to the cost of hosting illegal immigrants. Even the liberal politifact says the costs is between $43 to $279 billion per year [politifact.com]. Over the lifetime of the wall, which is probably 20 years or more, that's 0.0008% to 0.005%. So the wall only has to be 0.005% effective to save us money, which it certainly will be. Heck, even Trump's rhetoric about building the wall is more than 0.005% effective.

The $5 billion isn't for a complete border wall. It's what he's asking to build a section of it right now. The estimates are at $25 billion. And it's not a sunk cost. It's not like you build the wall then don't do anything for 20 years. You have maintenance, you have patrolling. Smugglers build tunnels to get past existing patrols. People vandalize existing barriers to get through right now.

Most importantly, even if you're right, and it would save us money, as I've stated, it's not the hot path for illegal immigration. If you apply those funds elsewhere, you can save more money. Trump talked about the cost of drug trafficking, but the majority of that cost would go away for free if we ended the drug war and just legalized all drugs. That would do away with enforcement costs, leaving only the societal costs. Taxation of those sales can be used to offset those societal costs.

Basically, it's not just a question of whether there are positive gains from investing the money on a border wall. Even if we have the money, there's an opportunity cost to not investing it someplace else with a higher return on investment. You'd think a businessman like Trump would understand that concept.

Re:This might call for some Fox News counterhackin

By amicusNYCL • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Perhaps there is room on both sides to stop acting like children, and learn to work together.

Right. Like funding the government while the debate about the wall continues. That would be the adult thing to do.

Re:This might call for some Fox News counterhackin

By Enigma2175 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

$18.5 billion in Medicaid for illegal immigrants. That's just healthcare - and it's nearly 4X this ask for the wall. ILLEGAL immigrants, not legal.

Medicaid is not what the figure you quoted represents. I read the Forbes article from which your source drew its data and the majority of the cited costs are not Medicaid. You're misrepresenting the data. The article includes all kinds of indirect costs like forgone tax revenue and tax advantaged bond financing from non-profit hospitals, tax breaks for insurance provided as employee benefits or unpaid emergency room visits causing higher costs for all patients. It even includes $1.5 billion in charity care voluntarily given by physicians as a "cost". It doesn't show any evidence that illegal immigrants are using that healthcare, it just takes the total costs from a number of areas then assumes illegals use the same amount as legal residents and ascribes that cost to them. Even the author recognizes the shakiness of his figures:

I recognize these back-of-the-envelope figures are crude, but they are the best estimates I could make

Whatever the case, your assertion of "18.5 billion in Medicaid" is wrong and not even supported by your own source.

Re:This might call for some Fox News counterhackin

By apoc.famine • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I'm very much in favor of cripplingly high fines for employers of illegal immigrants. The way I see it, they are the cause of the biggest problems with said illegal immigration. If employers are hiring illegals instead of Americans, they're doing so because they can hire them for less than minimum wage while not paying for required benefits and employment taxes.

That may be the case in some places, but not all. I'm in the upper-midwest, farm country. The rural towns around here are dying. Fast. There's plenty of farmland, but there isn't a labor force to sustain the farms.

For the locals, "home" is a shitty little town in the middle of nowhere, with no way to ever pay for more than a run-down old house or a double-wide trailer. There's no real advancement, no way to strike it rich. So there's no reason to be invested in working and living there, other than because it's been home to the family for a few generations. There's a lot of migration out of the rural towns, and they are dying.

This has driven up the going rate for farm labor, which is now pushing $12/hr, sometimes going as high as $15/hr. The demand for labor and decent pay has brought in an influx of Mexican workers, and definitely not all of it them are legal. However, with this mix of legal and illegal, it seems the pay is largely the same across the board. Why? If you are absolutely desperate for workers, the last thing you want to do is piss them off, because they don't live here, and will happily drive 50 miles down the road to work for someone who's not a racist asshole. After all, they already have traveled a thousand plus miles for work.

But what's really, really surprised me is the attitude of the farmers hiring these Mexicans. A couple were interviewed in the papers in the last year or two and both said that they'd rather hire Mexicans than the locals. Why? Because they're hard working, they stay out of trouble, and they don't leave for greener pastures as soon as they see a potentially better option. If you treat them right, they settle down and get shit done. Why? They're sending most of their money back to their family, which is using it to build a better life. When they have their dream home, the kids are well educated, they've got some new cars, and a nice nest egg tucked away, they're planning to go back and live the good life. And the harder they work now, the faster they get there.

Immigration, legal and illegal, is benefiting both our countries in this regard. It's keeping these farms alive, that's making more money for the local area, the state, and potentially the US if any of those agriculture products get exported, and it's improving the lives of the families back home in Mexico. Yes, we'd rather have americans doing these jobs, but when they're not, even for what's regionally OK pay, what's the alternative? Active farms make money, fallow lands don't. And no other industry is going to replace tens of thousands of acres of farmland out in the middle of nowhere with minimal infrastructure around for miles.

Sure, you can take the free market approach of "if they're not profitable, let them die", but that's the same as saying, "I hate Mexicans so much I want to see both our countries poorer." We'd all like to see a functional immigration system, but I don't see that happening in the near future. If we go nuclear on illegal immigration, we're shooting ourselves in the foot. We'd like to think we're not, but that's just wishful thinking. What's more likely than a political solution is that automation will steadily reduce these jobs, until they're more trouble to find than they're worth.

Re:Clinton, Obama, Schumer, Pelosi all wanted a wa

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
The fence works, where it exists. Why do you close and lock your doors when you leave your home?

Preliminary Results Published From New Horizons Flyby of MU69 'Ultima Thule'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
RockDoctor writes: The NASA/SWRI/Lowell Observatory (and at least 3 universities) team managing the download of data from New Horizons has released a first look at the results downloaded so far. At the time of writing, about 4 days of about 600 days of downloading had been completed. The next milestone hinted at is for March 2019 when the LPSC (Lunar & Planetary Science Conference) will get another batch of data as the various science teams get more data out of the pipeline.

Results: Firstly the overall shape -- as hinted by the occultation results from nearly a year ago -- is a contact binary. There is a lot of work going on from that, about how it could have formed, its accretion history and thermal history. The rotation period is better known (and this will improve as more data is downloaded) at 15=/-1 hours. The mass remains unknown. The mass ratio of the two components (nicknamed "Ultima" and "Thule") is suspected to be the same as their volume ratio -- 2.6:1; to get an accurate mass, observation of a satellite is needed, but the trajectory change for the spacecraft is unlikely to be large enough to estimate the mass well. Very little data has come down yet about the mineralogy, but the color suggests there is less water ice on MU69 than on Nix, the satellite of Pluto similar in size to MU69. The reason for a bright region to mark the junction between the two lobes is not known.

That'll be the sum of the data for the next 10 weeks until the 50th LPSC on March 18th.

Re:So why the lack of the light curve?

By pslytely psycho • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Per the Wiki:
  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(486958)_2014_MU69

"Despite 2014 MU69's irregular shape, there is no detectable light curve amplitude, as its axis is oriented on its side, pointing towards the Sun."

They came on it from it's pole. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be Rama.....

Just 5 Percent of Earth's Landscape Is Untouched, Report Finds

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A comprehensive new high-resolution analysis of human modification of the planet finds that just 5% of the Earth's land surface is currently unaffected by humans, far lower than a previous estimate of 19%. 95% of the Earth's land surface has some indication of human modification, while 84% has multiple human impacts, the study found. New Atlas reports: The researchers from The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Science Partners used publicly available, high-resolution data from ground surveys and remotely sensed imagery on land use in 1 square kilometer grids to provide a spatial assessment of the impact of 13 human-caused stressors across all terrestrial lands, biomes and ecological regions, including: Agriculture; The physical extent of human settlement; Transportation, including railroads and minor roads; Mining, energy production; and Electrical infrastructure, including power lines.

52% of ecological regions and 49% of countries are considered moderately modified. These regions are highly fragmented, retain up to only 50% of low modified lands and fall within critical land use thresholds. Only 30% of terrestrial ecological regions and 18% of the world's countries have a low degree of land modification and retain most of their natural lands, which are distant from human settlements, agriculture and other modified environments. The study found the least modified biomes tend to be in high latitudes and include tundra, boreal forests, or taiga and temperate coniferous forests. On the other hand, the most modified biomes include more tropical landscapes, such as temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, as well as mangroves.

Meaningless

By iamacat • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

What part of the Earth is untouched by ants? Fungus? Gophers? Butterflies? Is that good or bad? We must define some criteria that makes land preferable - furtile, healthy to live on, aestatically pleasing and so on. Complely free of humans does not strike me as a rational criteria.

And this is news?

By aglider • Score: 3 • Thread

It's a few hundred thousands years humans are reshaping the planet. Faster and faster as the technology allows.
And when you have a few billions of bare standing apes strolling all over the planet, actually all of it, it takes years to reshape it.
I can bet that only portions of the large deserts (hot or icy) are part of that 5%.

Re:Meaningless

By quenda • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

What part of the Earth is untouched by ants?

Cyanobacteria! Since they spewed their toxic oxygen into the atmosphere, nothing has been the same.

This is a duplicate so are we at 10% now ?

By Crashmarik • Score: 3 • Thread

Or is it just a contest to see how many times Slashdot can dupe a story ?

5% Untouched is very misleading

By n2hightech • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
They looked at 1km squares and if anything in it has been changed by man then that whole 1Km sq has been affected. So you have someone in a 4 wheeler run across a patch of desert and leave a mark the whole 1 Km square has been affected. Technically they are right however in all practical ways they are misleading. The more meaningful number might be the 30% of land that has low modification. Low modification most people would see as untouched. A lot of the 52% of moderately modified land is still fairly untouched. So a more correct and less concerning title would be 82% of the earth's surface still nearly untouched by man. Of course that would not get people all worked up and worried would it. Numbers don't lie liars use numbers...