83% Of Consumers Believe Personalized Ads Are Morally Wrong
An anonymous reader quotes Forbes:
A massive majority of consumers believe that using their data to personalize ads is unethical. And a further 76% believe that personalization to create tailored newsfeeds -- precisely what Facebook, Twitter, and other social applications do every day -- is unethical.
At least, that's what they say on surveys.
RSA surveyed 6,000 adults in Europe and America to evaluate how our attitudes are changing towards data, privacy, and personalization. The results don't look good for surveillance capitalism, or for the free services we rely on every day for social networking, news, and information-finding. "Less than half (48 percent) of consumers believe there are ethical ways companies can use their data," RSA, a fraud prevention and security company, said when releasing the survey results. Oh, and when a compan y gets hacked? Consumers blame the company, not the hacker, the report says.
Is the Next Big Thing In Tech -- Disconnecting From It?
An anonymous reader quotes CNBC:
It is inevitable that artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation will take over some jobs, internet entrepreneur Arianna Huffington told CNBC in a recent email exchange, but that will place a premium on uniquely human qualities in the future labor market -- creativity, compassion, empathy and complex problem-solving. That's where Huffington sees a pressing problem to solve. She says these human qualities are at risk today and the cause is -- no surprise -- too much technology. Her advice: Reevaluate your relationship with technology before it is too late. "These are the very qualities that are diminished when we're burned out from being always on," Huffington said of human abilities like creativity. "One of the next frontiers in the tech world is technology that helps us disconnect from technology and create time and space to connect not with screens but with other people and with ourselves...."
Huffington, who is an executive producer on the new '90s tech-sector docudrama "Valley of the Boom," said the consumer relationship with technology is one of the most important issues of the modern era, and it is time to reevaluate the seeds that were planted back in the '90s during that first internet boom.... "Even for those of us old enough to remember the first boom and to have lived through it, it's sometimes hard to remember that there was a time before we were all hyperconnected and glued to our screens. And seeing the decisions that were made that led to our current moment makes us realize we can also make decisions about how we use this technology."
To this end Huffington has launched
a startup called Thrive Global "to go beyond raising awareness and
create something real and tangible that would help individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance and unlock their greatest potential." CNBC reports that Huffington "sees a bright future for a new kind of technology -- the kind that helps individuals disconnect from the damage done by the internet's first generation."
In a related story, Bloomberg reports that the Ashton Kutcher-backed meditation app 'Calm'
now has a valuation of $1 billion.
'90s-Style 'Captain Marvel' Website Will Have You Nostalgic for Dial-Up
An anonymous reader quotes
The official Captain Marvel website is a blast from the past... Marvel Studios is preparing its final promotional push for the project. This includes TV spots, various forms of merchandise, posters, and in this case, a perfect retro website, tailor made to take us all back to a time when the internet was a whole lot simpler.
Instead of flashy high resolution images, we are treated to pixelated versions, which perfectly reimagines the 1990s websites. There's a lot of Word art, a ticker to count how many unique views that the site gets, a guest book, and even a game that lets fans spot the Kree. Instead of the trailers coming through YouTube, they are played using the "Kree Player," which is take on the old Real Player.
MovieWeb writes that the site "also gives younger Marvel Cinematic Universe fans a chance to see what the internet looked like back in the day...."
And though the movie's slogan is "Higher, further, faster," they argue that "The only thing that could have made the Captain Marvel site even better is slow page loading, just to give it a real touch of what it was like surfing the net in the dark ages."
Sony Pictures Open Sources Software Used to Make 'Into the Spider-Verse'
An anonymous reader quotes
Sony Pictures Imageworks has contributed a software tool used to create movies like "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," "Hotel Transylvania 3," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" to the open source community. OpenColorIO, a tool used for color management during the production process, has become the second software project of the Academy Software Foundation, an industry-wide open source association spearheaded by the Linux Foundation.
Sony Pictures Imageworks has for some time given the industry free and open access to OpenColorIO under a modified BSD license. By contributing the tool to the Academy Software Foundation, the studio hopes to encourage the community to take charge of the future of the tool, said Sony Pictures Imageworks vice president and head of software development Michael Ford. "We want to contribute OpenColorIO back to the community that relies on it, and the Academy Software Foundation is the natural fit," he said.
After Wells Fargo Outage, Customers Say Direct Deposits Aren't Showing Up
Long-time Slashdot reader
TheHawke writes that smoke at a data center triggered embarrassing an outage at America's third-largest bank. CBS News reports:
Wells Fargo said that a systems outage prevented some customers from using its ATMs and mobile and online banking services, promising to reverse any fees people incurred because of the disruption. Although the bank said the issue was largely resolved on Thursday, customers said they were still having problems accessing their accounts on Friday, including their direct deposits.... The company blamed a "contained issue" at one data center, and said it wasn't a cybersecurity issue.
Wells Fargo said in a statement on Friday that "some transactions and balances were not visible in online banking or ATMs earlier today," but added that "the transactions were processed normally. This issue has now been corrected, and all transactions are now visible," it said. "We are experiencing higher than normal volumes so there still may be delays in online banking and contact center response times...." CEO Tim Sloan apologized for the outage, saying the recovery "was not as rapid as we or our customers would have expected."
Nearly All US Teens Short On Sleep, Exercise
Too little sleep. Not enough exercise. Far too much "screen time." That is the unhealthy lifestyle of nearly all U.S. high school students, new research finds. The study, of almost 60,000 teenagers nationwide, found that only 5 percent were meeting experts' recommendations on three critical health habits: sleep; exercise; and time spent gazing at digital media and television... "Five percent is a really low proportion," said study leader Gregory Knell, a research fellow at University of Texas School of Public Health, in Dallas. "We were a bit surprised by that...."
"If kids are viewing a screen at night -- staring at that blue light -- that may affect their ability to sleep," Knell said. "And if you're not getting enough sleep at night, you're going to be more tired during the day," he added, "and you're not going to be as physically active."
Experts recommend a minimum of 8 hours of sleep at night for teenagers, plus at least one hour every day of "moderate to vigorous" exercise.
One professor of adolescent medicine points out that some high school homework now even
requires using a computer -- even though too much screen time can affect teenagers' abiity to sleep.
New "Metallic Wood" Is As Strong As Titanium But Much Lighter
Titanium "has long been touted as the metal of the future," writes Dwell, "due to its strength, rust resistance, and amazing lightness." But can careful atom-stacking lead to something better?
An anonymous reader writes:
Researchers have discovered a way to create a new "metallic wood" material that is as strong as titanium, but five times lighter, reports Dwell. "So far, the researchers have built a sheet of nickel with nanoscale pores that is almost 70 percent empty space... It was created by building tiny plastic spheres, suspending them in water, allowing the water to evaporate, and then electroplating the spheres with nickel. Researchers then dissolved the plastic spheres, producing an incredibly strong, porous metal that floats on water."
Researchers are also considering the possibility of filling its empty space with an energy-storing material. "For example, a prosthetic leg made from this material and infused with anode and cathode materials, could also be a battery."
Eight People Suffer Burns After Attempting Viral 'Boiling Water Challenge'
A burn surgeon at Loyola University Medical has treated eight different people for second and third-degree burns after they attempted to replicate the viral "boiling water challenge," according to one local news station.
These people (like many others as seen across social media) heated water and threw it into the sub-zero air, expecting it to transform into a powder-like state and blow away in the wind. But that apparently didn't work out for everyone; sometimes the water stayed liquid and hit people. The youngest patient seen at Loyola is 3 years old. Sanford said that individual (like some of the other patients) was just standing next to someone else throwing the water.... Sanford said there are likely several others out there with first degree burns that didn't seek medical attention.
CNN Wire Services also reports at least three more "boiling water challenge" burn victims
in Minneapolis and Iowa.
'Why Data, Not Privacy, Is the Real Danger'
"While it's creepy to imagine companies are listening in to your conversations, it's perhaps more creepy that they can predict what you're talking about without actually listening," writes an NBC News technology correspondent, arguing that data, not privacy, is the real danger.
Your data -- the abstract portrait of who you are, and, more importantly, of who you are compared to other people -- is your real vulnerability when it comes to the companies that make money offering ostensibly free services to millions of people. Not because your data will compromise your personal identity. But because it will compromise your personal autonomy. "Privacy as we normally think of it doesn't matter," said Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology [and a former Mozilla team leader]. "What these companies are doing is building little models, little avatars, little voodoo dolls of you. Your doll sits in the cloud, and they'll throw 100,000 videos at it to see what's effective to get you to stick around, or what ad with what messaging is uniquely good at getting you to do something...."
With 2.3 billion users, "Facebook has one of these models for one out of every four humans on earth. Every country, culture, behavior type, socio-economic background," said Raskin. With those models, and endless simulations, the company can predict your interests and intentions before you even know them.... Without having to attach your name or address to your data profile, a company can nonetheless compare you to other people who have exhibited similar online behavior...
A professor at Columbia law school decries the concentrated power of social media as "a single point of failure for democracy." But the article also warns about the dangers of health-related data collected from smartwatches. "How will people accidentally cursed with the wrong data profile get affordable insurance?"
YouTube Struggles To Fight Mobs Weaponizing Their 'Dislike' Button
"YouTube is no stranger to viewers weaponizing the dislike button,
as seen by the company's recent Rewind video, but the product development team is working on a way to tackle the issue," writes the
Suren Enfiajyan shares their report on a new video by Tom Leung, YouTube's director of project management.
"Dislike mobs" are the YouTube equivalent to review bombings on Steam -- a group of people who are upset with a certain creator or game decide to execute an organized attack and downvote or negatively review a game or video into oblivion. It's an issue on YouTube as well, and one that creators have spoken out against many times in the past.... Now, the company is planning to experiment with new ways to make it more difficult for organized attacks to be executed. Leung states that these are just "lightly being discussed" right now, and if none of the options are the correct approach, they may hold off until a better idea comes along.
Leung's video itself drew 2,654 "dislike" votes -- nearly double its 1,377 upvotes.
Python Developer Survey Shows Data Analysis More Popular Than Web Development
Over 20,000 programmers from more than 150 different countries provided answers for the second annual Python Developers Survey (conducted by the Python Software Foundation and JeBrains).
An anonymous reader submitted this condensed version of their results:
When asked "What do you use Python for?" data analysis has become more popular than Web development, growing from 50% in 2017 to 58% in 2018. Machine learning also grew by 7 percentage points. These types of development are experiencing faster growth than Web development, which has only increased by 2 percentage points when compared to the previous year...
Almost two-thirds of respondents selected Linux as their development environment OS. Most people are using free or open source databases such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, or SQLite... Twenty-something was the prevalent age range among our respondents, with almost a third being in their thirties. [31% more were between the ages of 30 and 39.]
Hundreds Rally For Their Right To Not Vaccinate Their Children
CBS News reports that as Washington state confronts a measles outbreak which has sickened at least 56 people, "hundreds
rallied to preserve their right not to vaccinate their children."
They packed a public hearing for a new bill making it harder for families to opt out of vaccination requirements, reports The Washington Post:
An estimated 700 people, most of them opposed to stricter requirements, lined up before dawn in the cold, toting strollers and hand-lettered signs, to sit in the hearing.... The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the nation's most vocal and organized anti-vaccination activists. That movement has helped drive down child immunizations in Washington, as well as in neighboring Oregon and Idaho, to some of the lowest rates in the country, with as many as 10.5 percent of kindergartners statewide in Idaho unvaccinated for measles. That is almost double the median rate nationally....
One activist who spoke Friday, Mary Holland, who teaches at New York University law school and said her son has a vaccine-related injury, warned lawmakers that if the bill passes, many vaccine opponents will "move out of the state, or go underground, but they will not comply."
The sponsor of a similar bill in Oregon says that anti-vaxxers "have every right to make a bad decision in the health of their child, but that
does not give them the right to send an unprotected kid to public school. So if they want to homeschool their kid and keep them out of other environments, that's their decision."
But there are still 17 U.S. states that allow "personal or philosophic exemptions to vaccination requirements," reports the Post, "meaning virtually anyone can opt out." (Though some states are now considering changes.) "The enablers are state legislators in those states, that
have allowed themselves to be played," complains Dr. Peter Hotez, a co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
The World Health Organization estimates that measles vaccines have
saved over 21 million lives since 2000. But last year in the European region's population of nearly 900 million people,
at least 82,600 people contracted measles, reports Reuters. "Of those, 72 cases were fatal."
Amazon Quietly Confirms It Is Competing With UPS and FedEx
schwit1 shares a report from Business Insider:
Amazon declared in its 2018 annual filing that it competes against transportation and logistics companies, as CNBC first reported. It's a clear warning shot against UPS and FedEx, two companies that used to claim Amazon is simply their customer. Meanwhile, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts last week that the retail giant will "continue to expand (its) Amazon logistics and (its) delivery capability" in 2019. Meanwhile, UPS CEO David Abney said the company "monitor(s) them (Amazon) as is if they were a competitor." And FedEx claimed, seemingly out of nowhere, last week that Amazon is not their largest competitor, claiming just 1.3% of the company's 2018 revenue.
Please Stop Using Internet Explorer, Microsoft Says
Microsoft cybersecurity expert Chris Jackson recently published a
post on the official Windows IT Pro blog, titled "The perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser." Jackson
urges users that it's time to stop using its old web browser, a product Microsoft officially discontinued in 2015. From a report:
In his post, Jackson explains how Microsoft customers still ask him Internet Explorer related questions for their business. The fact of the matter is that while most average internet users have moved on to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft's Edge, some businesses are still working with older web apps or sites that were designed for Internet Explorer. Instead of updating its tech, many companies have chosen to just keep using the various enterprise compatibility modes of Microsoft's old web browser. But, Jackson says "enough is enough." It's time to event stop calling Internet Explorer a web browser.
Tesla Hacker Launches Open-Source Project 'FreedomEV' To Run On Rooted Teslas, Bring New Wi-Fi Hotspot and Anti-Tracking Features
The Tesla Hacker, Jasper Nuyens -- who uncovered Tesla's "unconfirmed lane change" last year -- now launched at FOSDEM an open-source project called "FreedomEV" to run on top of rooted Teslas. It adds new features to the vehicles, such as a "Hotspot Mode" for in-car Wi-Fi and a "Cloak Mode" to prevent all location tracking and more. It hopes to become available for other cars too. Full presentation video can be found here. The Github project and the website. He is looking for contributors and support from Tesla.
Where Does a Tip To an Amazon Driver Go? In Some Cases, Toward the Driver's Base Pay
Amazon at times dips into the
tips earned by contracted delivery drivers to cover their promised pay, a
Los Angeles Times review of emails and receipts reveals. From the report:
Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn't always come from the company. If Amazon's contribution doesn't reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers. In emails to drivers, Amazon acknowledges it can use "any supplemental earnings" to meet the promised minimum should the company's own contribution fall short. "We add any supplemental earnings required to meet our commitment that delivery partners earn $18-$25 per hour," the company wrote in multiple emails reviewed by The Times. Only drivers who deliver for Amazon's grocery service or its Prime Now offering -- which brings household goods to customers in two hours or less -- can receive tips through the company's app. Amazon insists that drivers receive the entirety of their tips but declined to answer questions from The Times about whether it uses those tips to help cover the drivers' base pay.
Facebook Acquires Visual Shopping Startup To Bolster AI Work
Facebook says it has
acquired visual shopping and artificial intelligence startup GrokStyle in a move to bolster the social-media company's own AI work. From a report:
GrokStyle's technology, which was integrated into Ikea's mobile app, was simple in practice. A user takes a picture of a piece of furniture and the technology would match it to similar products that could be purchased online. On its website, GrokStyle said it is "winding down" its business, but that it is "moving on as a team" along with its technology. The company didn't disclose it's joining Facebook.