When Your Boss Is An Algorithm
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 08:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's great-gig-rebellion department
Slashdot reader Presto Vivace shares an article on FT.com about "workers without a workplace, striking against a company that does not employ them...managed not by people but by an algorithm that communicates with them via their smartphones."
And what they are rebelling against is an app update... They might be free to choose when to work but not how to work or, crucially, how much they are paid... Some gig-economy workers and unions are bringing this question to court. They argue that these companies' algorithms exert so much control over workers that they are really employees in the eyes of the law and thus owed hourly minimum wages, sick pay, holiday pay and the like.
The article offers a detailed look at historical precedents for today's strict "service level assessments," noting that for the companies, "algorithmic management solves a problem: how to instruct, track and evaluate a crowd of casual workers you do not employ, so they deliver a responsive, seamless, standardized service." But for workers in the gig economy -- 800,000 in the U.S. alone -- the question becomes whether reporting to an algorithm in an app is liberating -- or exploitative?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's show-of-unanimity department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Associated Press: Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem urged Apple Saturday to "get ready" to pay up, as he and counterparts from other EU nations lined up behind a finding that the technology giant owes billions of euros due to more than a decade of improperly low taxation. Apple's bill could reach 19 billion euros ($21 billion) with interest, and both the company and Ireland, Apple's European headquarters are appealing the European Commission ruling. But on the last day of an EU finance ministers' meeting focused on ways to harmonize tax rules for international companies, Dijsselbloem told reporters that these "have an obligation to pay taxes in a fair way."
"International tax loopholes are a thing of the past," he said. Apple will have to pay back taxes both in the United States and Europe, he added, "so get ready to do that." Philip Hammond, his British counterpart, said the EU was keen "to make sure that international corporations pay the right tax at the right place. That's the fair way to do it, and we are going to make sure it happens." Austria, France, and Italy are reportedly also watching the case closely.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crunch-for-the-cure department
Millions of people have donated their unused computer power as part of "a global movement of teams and individuals committed to Protein Folding research," according to a special anniversary update at CureCoin.net. And after two years, CureCoin is now the fourth-largest contributor to Stanford's massively distributed computing project for disease research. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
CureCoin rewards citizen scientists participating in life science research through Stanford's Folding@home... It's actually very easy to participate -- basic account setup can take as little as 20 minutes, and you're contributing computing power with a PC or Mac while earning the tokens...
CureCoin uses a blockchain token called CURE as the means of reward. There is a growing market and exchange network for the coin. Occasional market volatility puts penny stocks to shame -- which if you are risk averse, makes it fun to watch nonetheless.
Sounds more useful than that cryptocurrency which rewards its users for participating in denial-of-service attacks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bright-and-shiny department
More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg:
Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."
Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.
End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's teenagers-in-trouble department
Long-time Slashdot reader pdclarry writes: Brian Krebs reports that the two youthful (18-year-old) alleged proprietors of vDOS, the DDOS service have been arrested in Israel on a complaint from the FBI. They have been released on $10,000 bond each, their passports lifted, and they have been placed under house arrest, and banned from using the Internet for 30 days. They were probably identified through a massive hack of the vDOS database recently [reported Friday morning on Slashdot]. Krebs also reports that vDOS's DNS addresses were hijacked by the firm BackConnect Security to get out from under a sustained DDOS attack, and that his site, krebsonsecurity.com has been under a sustained DDOS attack since his last article was published, with the packets containing the string "godiefaggot". Those attacks continue, but, as he has been the target of many DDOS attacks in the past, he's covered by a DDOS protection firm.
The two teenagers coordinated more than 150,000 denial-of-service attacks over the last two years, according to Krebs, using at least four servers in Bulgaria.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you've-got-jail department
Slashdot reader FullBandwidth writes:
U.S. authorities have arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials. [The men] will be extradited next week to Alexandria, where federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of Virginia have spent months building a case against a group that calls itself Crackas With Attitude... Authorities say the group included three teenage boys being investigated in the United Kingdom.
The group used social engineering to access the email accounts of John Brennan, the director of the CIA, as well as the Director of National Intelligence, and former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano, according to the article. One exploit involved "posing as a Verizon technician and tricking the company's tech-support unit into revealing the CIA director's account number, password and other details." An FBI affidavit alleges that a British teenager named "Cracka" also began forwarding the calls of a former FBI deputy director "to a number associated with the Free Palestine Movement," while "D3F4ULT" paid for a campaign of harassing phone calls. In addition, "According to the affidavit, Cracka appears to have gotten into the law enforcement database simply by calling an FBI help desk and asking for Giuliano's password to be reset..."
"One member told CNN [In a video interview] that he smoked marijuana 'all day every day' and was 'probably' high when gaining access to high-level accounts."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Adobe-to-the-rescue department
Remember when Bing Maps lost a city because they used bad Wikipedia data? An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
Since knowledge bases like Wikidata are poised to be integrated into all kinds of information systems, wrong facts are not just displayed on Wikidata's pages but may propagate directly to all systems using the knowledge base. Hence, detecting and reverting vandalism and other kinds of damaging edits is an even more important task than on Wikipedia.
Recently, German scientists published the first machine learning-based approach on vandalism detection in Wikidata, and now Adobe sponsors a competition on vandalism detection, the WSDM Cup Challenge, awarding $2500 for the best-performing solutions that will also be published open source.
"Given a Wikidata revision, compute a vandalism score denoting the likelihood of this revision being vandalism (or similarly damaging)," read the official rules, pushing for a near real-time solution to be submitted before December 22. And the winners will also be invited to the headquarters of Wikimedia Germany to discuss implenting their solutions.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's neurodiversity department
Autistic people are methodical and detail-oriented, and a new Microsoft program is trying to hire more of them, according to Fast Company. Slashdot reader tedlistens writes:
Vauhini Vara takes a look at the at the (difficult) efforts of Microsoft to recruit more autistic engineers and make a more neurodiverse workplace, through the lens of one of those coders. "The program, which began in May 2015, does away with the typical interview approach, instead inviting candidates to hang out on campus for two weeks and work on projects while being observed and casually meeting managers who might be interested in hiring them. Only at the end of this stage do more formal interviews take place.
"The goal is to create a situation that is better suited to autistic people's styles of communicating and thinking. Microsoft isn't the first to attempt something like this: The German software firm SAP, among a handful of others, have similar programs -- but Microsoft is the highest-profile company to have gone public with its efforts, and autistic adults are hoping it will spark a broader movement."
One autistic coder says they make better employees because "You don't have to tell someone not to go home early. They'll just stay." But there's also a push to bring different analytical and creative approaches into Microsoft's company culture. The article ultimately asks the question, "Could the third-largest corporation in the world make the case that hiring and employing autistic people, with all their social and intellectual quirks, was good, not bad, for business?"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's searching-for-search-warrants department
Thursday Sen. Ron Wyden urged the Senate to block a pending change to federal Rule 41, which starting in December will allow judges to authorize remote access to an unlimited number of computers. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes On The Wire's update on the "Stopping Mass Hacking" Act:
In May, Wyden introduced a one-sentence bill that would prevent the change. The Senate has taken no action on the bill thus far and Wyden on Thursday warned that continued inaction on the issue would be dangerous. "If the Senate does nothing, if the Senate fails to act, what's ahead for Americans is a massive expansion of government hacking and surveillance powers..."
Wyden asked the Senate to pass his bill by unanimous consent, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected, saying that the change to Rule 41 was a simple one that would help law enforcement agencies know which venue is the correct one to ask for a warrant... Cornyn cited recent reports about hacks of the election systems in some states, possibly by foreign governments, as evidence of the need for the change. "This isn't a time to retreat and allow cyberspace to be run amok by cybercriminals. This is a very sensible tool of venue."
Google, PayPal, and the Tor Project are all opposing the pending rule change, along with the EFF, which is gathering signatures online for a petition arguing that vaguer warrants "could impact any person using a computer with Internet access anywhere in the world."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's do-more-with-less department
MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Apple's A10 Fusion processor, paired with the iPhone 7, is already making its mark on benchmark circuit. Although you may or may not be impressed with Apple's new handset, as usual, Cupertino's latest smartphone is looking very strong performance-wise. According to Geekbench numbers, which showcase the iPhone 7 Plus running iOS 10.0.1 (Golden Master), the 5.5-inch smartphone has 3GB of RAM onboard (the iPhone 7 reportedly contains 2GB RAM). Compared to the previous generation iPhone 6s Plus, this is an increase of 1GB. Compared to Android flagships, which come with 4GB or even 6GB of RAM, 3GB might seem paltry. However, benchmarks show time and time again that Apple's SoCs are among the fastest in the industry and simply do more with less resources. Apple says that the advances it has made with the A10 allow the processor to be twice as fast as the A8 in the iPhone 6 Plus and 40 percent faster than the A9 in the iPhone 6s Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus received a Geekbench single-core score of 3233, while its multi-core score comes in at 5363. For comparison, the beefy A9X processor in the iPad Pro -- also paired with 3GB of RAM -- puts up scores of 3009 and 4881 respectively. Likewise, these numbers far outpace those of the iPhone 6s Plus, which delivers 2407 and 4046 respectively.Read Replies (0)