By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickel-and-dime department
According to a report from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California may soon tax text messaging to help fund programs that make phone service available for low-income residents. The report says the tax would likely be a flat fee added to a monthly bill instead of a per text tax. The Hill reports: The report outlines the shrinking revenue coming from a current tax on the telecommunications industry and argues that a new tax on text messaging should be put in place to make up for it. "From a consumer's point of view, surcharges may be a wash, because if more surcharge revenues come from texting services, less would be needed from voice services," CPUC spokeswoman Constance Gordon said in a statement. "Generally, those consumers who create greater texting revenues may pay a bit more, whereas consumers using more voice services may pay less." "Parties supporting the collection of surcharges on text messaging revenue argue that it will help preserve and advance universal service by increasing the revenue base upon which Public Purpose Programs rely. We agree," the report states. The CTIA, a trade association representing major carriers in the wireless industry, says the tax is anti-competitive and would put carriers at a disadvantage against social media messaging apps from tech companies such as Google and Facebook. The CPUC is expected to vote on the proposal in January 2019.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-about-time department
"Gaming giant ZeniMax Media's lawsuit against Facebook over the misuse of intellectual property related to the founding of Oculus VR has finally been settled," reports TechCrunch. In a statement, ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said, "We are pleased that a settlement has been reached and are fully satisfied by the outcome. While we dislike litigation, we will always vigorously defend against any infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property by third parties." From the report: At the trial's conclusion, the judge awarded ZeniMax $500 million in damages to be paid by the defendants, including Facebook and some of the Oculus VR co-founders, a figure that Facebook appealed and had reduced to $250 million. Following the initial verdict, ZeniMax sought an injunction on sales of Facebook's Oculus Rift headset, claiming the device violated key IP. Terms of this settlement weren't disclosed. The trial was notable in that it offered a rare moment on the stand for a number of Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It also gave rare insight into the details surrounding the company's founding and acquisition.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's ai-race department
The popular narrative around artificial intelligence research is that it's mainly a war between China and the United States. Not so fast, says Europe. From a report: New data released today (Dec. 12; PDF file) by the AI Index, a project to track the advancement of artificial intelligence, shows a trend of Europe releasing more papers than either the US or China. The data was assembled from Scopus, a citation database owned by scientific publishing company Elsevier. If the current trend continues, China will soon overtake Europe in the number of papers published. The number of papers out of China grew 17% in 2017, compared to a 13% increase in the US, and 8% in Europe.
Europe boasts top universities doing work in AI, such as Oxford, University College London, and ETH Zurich, in addition to being home to branches of tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Alphabet's DeepMind operates out of London, and French president Emmanuel Macron has been particularly bullish on AI in Europe. Since being elected in 2017, he has already laid out initiatives to bolster the amount of research and corporate AI stationed in France. [...] The AI Index report credits the huge 70% increase in Chinese AI papers in 2008 to a government program promoting long-term research in artificial intelligence through 2020.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Intel on Wednesday surprised a number of people when it shared not one roadmap on CPUs, but two. AnandTech: For the high performance Core architecture, Intel lists three new codenames over the next three years. To be very clear here, these are the codenames for the individual core microarchitecture, not the chip, which is an important departure from how Intel has previously done things. Sunny Cove, built on 10nm, will come to market in 2019 and offer increased single-threaded performance, new instructions, and 'improved scalability'.
Willow Cove looks like it will be a 2020 core design, most likely also on 10nm. Intel lists the highlights here as a cache redesign (which might mean L1/L2 adjustments), new transistor optimizations (manufacturing based), and additional security features, likely referring to further enhancements from new classes of side-channel attacks. Golden Cove rounds out the trio, and is firmly in that 2021 segment in the graph. Process node here is a question mark, but we're likely to see it on 10nm and or 7nm. Golden Cove is where Intel adds another slice of the serious pie onto its plate, with an increase in single threaded performance, a focus on AI performance, and potential networking and AI additions to the core design. Security features also look like they get a boost.
The lower-powered Atom microarchitecture roadmap is on a slower cadence than the Core microarchitecture, which is not surprising given its history. The upcoming microarchitecture for 2019 is called Tremont, which focuses on single threaded performance increases, battery life increases, and network server performance. Based on some of the designs later in this article, we think that this will be a 10nm design. Following Tremont will be Gracemont, which Intel lists as a 2021 product. Beyond this will be a future 'mont' core (and not month as listed in the image).Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: A Chinese intelligence-gathering effort was behind the massive Marriott hotels data breach that exposed the personal information for up to 500 million people, the New York Times reported Tuesday. The hackers are believed to have been working for China's Ministry of State Security, the Times reported citing sources who had been briefed on the investigation's preliminary results. The revelation emerges as the U.S. Justice Department is preparing to announce new indictments against Chinese hackers working for the intelligence and military services, the Times reported.
The hotel chain revealed last month that it had discovered that hackers had compromised the guest reservation database of its Starwood division, whose brands include Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and St. Regis. Marriott said some of the stolen information also included payment card numbers and expiration dates. Private investigators involved in a probe into the breach had previously discovered hacking tools, techniques and procedures that were used in earlier cyberattacks that have been linked to Chinese hackers.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's big-blurry-blocks department
schwit1 shares a report from Popular Mechanics: A Russian online mapping company was trying to obscure foreign military bases. But in doing so, it accidentally confirmed their locations -- many of which were secret. Yandex Maps, Russia's leading online map service, blurred the precise locations of Turkish and Israeli military bases, pinpointing their location. The bases host sensitive surface-to-air missile sites and facilities housing nuclear weapons. The Federation of American Scientists reports that Yandex Maps blurred out "over 300 distinct buildings, airfields, ports, bunkers, storage sites, bases, barracks, nuclear facilities, and random buildings" in the two countries. Some of these facilities were well known, but some of them were not. Not only has Yandex confirmed their locations, the scope of blurring reveals their exact size and shape.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's disciplinary-action department
After investigating claims that its employees are taking bribes to sell internal data to merchants to help them increase their sales on the site, Amazon has reportedly fired several employees involved in the scams. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon let go of several workers in the U.S. and India who allegedly inappropriately accessed company data that disreputable merchants had misused. The Hill reports: Amazon is focusing its internal bribery investigation on India, a person familiar with the effort told the paper. Some employees in India and China working as customer support have said that their access to an internal database that allows them to find data about specific product performance or trending keywords has been dramatically limited. Amazon has also deleted thousand of suspect reviews, restricted sellers' access to customer data on its platform, and quashed some methods to force the site to bring up certain products higher in search results, the people told the Journal. "We have strict policies and a Code of Business Conduct & Ethics in place for our employees. We implement sophisticated systems to restrict and audit access to information," the company wrote. "We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties."
"In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action," Amazon added.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's location-services department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google CEO Sundar Pichai thinks Android users have a good understanding of the volume of data Google collects on them, when they agree to use the Android mobile operating system. The exec, who is testifying today in front of the House Judiciary committee for a hearing entitled "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices," claimed that users are in control of the information Google has on them. "For Google services, you have a choice of what information is collected, and we make it transparent," Pichai said in response to questioning from Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
Google's defense on the data collection front is similar to Facebook's -- that is, Pichai responded that Google provides tools that put users in control. But do they actually use them? "It's really important for us that average users are able to understand it," said Pichai, stating that users do understand the user agreement for Android OS. "We actually ... remind users to do a privacy checkup, and we make it very obvious every month. In fact, in the last 28 days, 160 million users went to their My Account settings, where they can clearly see what information we have -- we actually show it back to them. We give clear toggles, by category, where they can decide whether that information is collected, stored, or -- more importantly -- if they decide to stop using it, we work hard to make it possible for users to take their data with them," he said. When asked if Google could improve its user dashboard and tools to better teach people how to protect their privacy, including turning off data collection and location tracking, Pichai said "there's complexity," but it is "something I do think we can do better." He continued: "We want to simplify it, and make it easier for average users to navigate these settings. It's something we are working on."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's breaking-news department
A judge in Vancouver, British Columbia, has set a $7.5 million U.S. bail for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested last week on suspicion of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. "The United States had asked the Vancouver court to deny bail for Meng, whose father is a billionaire and a founder of Huawei, calling her a flight risk," reports CNBC. From the report: Canada has been expected to extradite Meng to the United States over charges that the company improperly took payments from Iran in violation of sanctions against the country. Meng's next moves will be closely watched, but it is likely with her corporate and family connections that she will be able to make bail. The $10 million CAD ($7.5 million USD) includes $7 million CAD ($5.2 million USD) cash and $3 million CAD ($2.2 million USD) more from five or more guarantors, presented by Meng and her attorney's as sureties that she would remain in the country. As conditions of the bail agreement, Meng must surrender her passports, wear a GPS tracking device and be accompanied by security detail whenever she leaves her residence.Read Replies (0)