By msmash from Slashdot's glitch-in-the-matrix department
A new program at DARPA is aimed at creating a machine learning system that can sift through the innumerable events and pieces of media generated every day and identify any threads of connection or narrative in them. It's called KAIROS: Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas. From a report: "Schema" in this case has a very specific meaning. It's the idea of a basic process humans use to understand the world around them by creating little stories of interlinked events. For instance when you buy something at a store, you know that you generally walk into the store, select an item, bring it to the cashier, who scans it, then you pay in some way, and then leave the store. This "buying something" process is a schema we all recognize, and could of course have schemas within it (selecting a product; payment process) or be part of another schema (gift giving; home cooking).
Although these are easily imagined inside our heads, they're surprisingly difficult to define formally in such a way that a computer system would be able to understand. They're familiar to us from long use and understanding, but they're not immediately obvious or rule-bound, like how an apple will fall downwards from a tree at a constant acceleration. And the more data there are, the more difficult it is to define. Buying something is comparatively simple, but how do you create a schema for recognizing a cold war, or a bear market? That's what DARPA wants to look into.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. case against the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in Canada last month, centers on the company's suspected ties to two obscure companies. One is a telecom equipment seller that operated in Tehran; the other is that firm's owner, a holding company registered in Mauritius. U.S. authorities allege CFO Meng Wanzhou deceived international banks into clearing transactions with Iran by claiming the two companies were independent of Huawei, when in fact Huawei controlled them. Huawei has maintained the two are independent: equipment seller Skycom Tech Co Ltd and shell company Canicula Holdings Ltd. But corporate filings and other documents found by Reuters in Iran and Syria show that Huawei, the world's largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment, is more closely linked to both firms than previously known.
The documents reveal that a high-level Huawei executive appears to have been appointed Skycom's Iran manager. They also show that at least three Chinese-named individuals had signing rights for both Huawei and Skycom bank accounts in Iran. Reuters also discovered that a Middle Eastern lawyer said Huawei conducted operations in Syria through Canicula. Huawei, U.S. authorities assert, retained control of Skycom, using it to sell telecom equipment to Iran and move money out via the international banking system. As a result of the deception, U.S. authorities say, banks unwittingly cleared hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions that potentially violated economic sanctions Washington had in place at the time against doing business with Iran.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
When you link your checking account to Venmo or use it to buy bitcoin, a startup called Plaid is likely facilitating the connection with your bank. You punch in your user name and password; Plaid checks those credentials with the financial institution and, if they're accurate, passes banking information back to the app. That's it.
From a report: This kind of software has been around for decades. But in the last year, Plaid has captured investors' attention. The San Francisco startup was the subject of a bidding war among venture capitalists and at least one tech company, ultimately resulting in a $250-million investment last month. That money will partly go toward the acquisition of one of its biggest competitors. Plaid announced Tuesday it was buying New York-based Quovo Inc. The deal could be worth about $200 million after performance bonuses, said three people familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because terms of the deal were private.
Since starting Plaid in 2012, Zach Perret has sold the startup's nine lines of code to some of the most popular finance apps. Robo-advisor startup Betterment, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc.'s Venmo and stock-trading app Robinhood Markets Inc. have all used Plaid. Meanwhile, Quovo specializes in wealth management and brokerages. "This represents the merging of two complementary but both very important businesses," said Perret, Plaid's chief executive. Plaid is now valued at roughly $3 billion.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Intel announced a major rethink of its chip design back in December, just before it finally delivers 10nm chips for PCs and laptops. At CES 2019 this week, Intel is demonstrating its first Ice Lake 10nm processor that's based on its new Sunny Cove microarchitecture. From a report: Intel is building in Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, and DL Boost (deep learning boost) into these Ice Lake chips for laptops and PCs to take advantage of. Intel is now promising that PC makers will have devices with Ice Lake processors on shelves by the end of 2019. At its CES keynote today, Intel demonstrated ODM systems from Pegatron and Wistron, and Dell even joined Intel on stage to show off an Ice Lake-powered XPS laptop that will be available later this year. Dell didn't show the device powered on, but it appeared to be a 2-in-1 device that looked similar to the XPS 13. Intel is also looking to the future, too. The chip giant is planning to use Foveros 3D chip stacking technology to build future chips, a method that allows Intel's chip designers to stack extra processing power on top of an already-assembled chip die. These "chiplets" can be stacked atop one another to form a processor that includes graphics, AI processing, and more.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's blade-runner-is-here department
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers' location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country, an investigation by news outlet Motherboard has found. From the report: Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States. The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone's current location, approximate to a few hundred metres. [...] The bounty hunter did this all without deploying a hacking tool or having any previous knowledge of the phone's whereabouts. Instead, the tracking tool relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, a Motherboard investigation has found. These surveillance capabilities are sometimes sold through word-of-mouth networks.
< article continued at Slashdot's blade-runner-is-here department
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Ryne Hager, writing for AndroidPolice: Late last year, Google decided it was time to crack down on apps requesting SMS and call log permissions. Ostensibly, exceptions would be granted for categories including backups and automation, but as of now, there are still gaps which cover legitimate use cases. While some popular apps like Tasker have successfully secured exemptions, others like Cerberus have not. Instead, they've decided to strip out those permissions or risk facing the wrath of Google's upcoming January 9th banhammer, killing associated functionality and disappointing millions of long-time users to adhere to the Play Store's new policy.
The Play Console support page for the applicable set of permissions notifies developers that they can submit what is effectively an application for an exemption, categories for which are listed on the same page. (And that list of exceptions has grown since the original announcement.) Nonetheless, a further set of prohibitions are also included in the form itself, which explicitly preclude support for phone security/device location apps like Cerberus.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department
Pingdom, a popular website monitoring and performance management service, will soon stop welcoming non-paying users. In an email sent to users today, Pingdom announced that it will be ending its free tier on February 6. From a report: The move, which has unsurprisingly upset many users, comes five years after Pingdom was acquired by SolarWinds, an Austin, Texas-based firm. In its email, Pingdom said it intends to focus its resources and investment on the next phase of its product development. Founded in 2007, Pingdom attracted over 500,000 users from 200 countries in seven years, before it was acquired. Several major companies, including Google, Spotify, Microsoft, Twitter, Slack, Evernote, Mailchimp, Github, Square, Instagram, and others became its clients.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-of-charge department
GitHub has always offered free accounts, but users were forced to make their code public. To get private repositories, you had to pay. Now, as TechCrunch reports, "Free GitHub users now get unlimited private projects with up to three collaborators." From the report: The amount of collaborators is really the only limitation here and there's no change to how the service handles public repositories, which can still have unlimited collaborators. This feels like a sign of goodwill on behalf of Microsoft, which closed its acquisition of GitHub last October, with former Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman taking over as GitHub's CEO.
Talking about teams, GitHub also today announced that it is changing the name of the GitHub Developer suite to 'GitHub Pro.' The company says it's doing so in order to "help developers better identify the tools they need." But what's maybe even more important is that GitHub Business Cloud and GitHub Enterprise (now called Enterprise Cloud and Enterprise Server) have become one and are now sold under the 'GitHub Enterprise' label and feature per-user pricing. In response, GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij said: "GitHub today announced the launch of free private repositories with up to three collaborators. GitLab has offered unlimited collaborators on private repositories since the beginning. We believe Microsoft is focusing more on generating revenue with Azure and less on charging for DevOps software. At GitLab, we believe in a multi-cloud future where organizations use multiple public cloud platforms."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's now-you-see-it-now-you-don't department
One of the 2019 TV models LG outlined at its CES press conference today was the LG Signature OLED TV R (65R9), which has a display that can roll up and disappear into its base when you're not using it. "LG calls the TV 'a revolutionary innovation that helps address the very human need for an aesthetically pleasing environment' and says it is 'redefining space' to offer unprecedented levels of 'immersion' and 'a new level of space integration,'" reports Ars Technica. From the report: LG says to expect picture quality on par with its just-announced 2019 4K OLED lineup. That means 120Hz and AI image processing using LG's new Alpha 9 Gen 2 CPU. The TV's base -- the same one it rolls into -- houses a 4.2-channel, 100-watt soundbar with Dolby Atmos support. Additionally, the TV doesn't have to scroll all the way in. As seen in one of the images at the start of this article, it can fold down to what LG calls "Line View." This has five modes: music, clock, frame, mood, and home dashboard. Music offers an interface for playing music from the base. Clock shows the time, date, and weather. Frame displays a scrolling line of photos streamed from your smartphone, which is the mode in the photo above. The mood mode is for aesthetics, and home dashboard will allow access to some of LG's usual TV software features. No price has been announced yet, but TechCrunch reports that it could cost more than the 8K TV LG announced last week, which will compete directly with Samsung's $15,000 8K offering. LG says the Signature OLED TV R will be available for purchase in the second half of the year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-going-gone department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: The number of monarch butterflies turning up at California's overwintering sites has dropped by about 86 percent compared to only a year ago, according to the Xerces Society, which organizes a yearly count of the iconic creatures. That's bad news for a species whose numbers have already declined an estimated 97 percent since the 1980s. Each year, monarchs in the western United States migrate from inland areas to California's coastline to spend the winter, usually between September and February. Results from the count so far show that the number of monarchs at 97 California overwintering sites has dropped from around 148,000 in 2017 to just over 20,400 this year. Counts for dozens of other sites are still being tabulated, but the outlook is troubling.
What's causing the dramatic drop-off is somewhat of a mystery. Experts believe the decline is spurred by a confluence of unfortunate factors, including late rainy-season storms across California last March, the effects of the state's yearslong drought and the seemingly relentless onslaught of wildfires that have burned acres upon acres of habitat and at times choked the air with toxic smoke. The Thomas Fire last year burned almost 300,000 acres, including areas important for monarch breeding and migration. More recently, the Woolsey Fire damaged at least four monarch butterfly overwintering sites in the Malibu area, according to Lara Drizd, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
Zerodium, a startup that buys and sells hacking tools and exploits to governments around the world, announced on Monday price increases for almost everything they are looking for, such as iOS remote jailbreaks and Windows exploits. "It said it will now pay security researchers $1,000,000 for exploits in WhatsApp, iMessage, and SMS/MMS apps for all mobile operating systems," reports Motherboard. From the report: Compromising the whole iPhone, sometimes referred to as remote jailbreaking or rooting the phone, can cost $2 million or more, and usually involves a series of bugs and exploits. The price increase shows that mobile devices in general are getting more and more secure, and thus harder to hack. That means that it's becoming increasingly hard for hackers to break into iOS and Android devices. That makes the life of folks like spy agencies and police departments harder too. That's where Zerodium and other similar companies, such as Azimuth and Crowdfense, come in: they act as intermediaries between security researchers and government agencies looking for tools -- often called zero-days -- to break into targets. Before today, Zerodium was willing to pay $500,000 for WhatsApp and iMessage exploits, according to an archived version of the company's site. These new prices are in line with the market, according to Maor Shwartz, who used to run a company that acquired and sold exploits to government agencies.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what'd-you-expect department
AT&T's DirecTV, Dish, and Comcast are all planning to raise their rates again in the new year, "a move that could boost revenue but risks alienating subscribers who have been ditching their traditional TV subscriptions in record numbers," reports Dallas News. From the report: Cable and satellite providers are hoping to squeeze more money from consumers who remain loyal to their packages with hundreds of channels, Philip Cusick, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst, said in a note this week, even though "this strategy could accelerate video sub declines." The latest price increases come as cord-cutting accelerates. In the third quarter, the TV industry saw its largest ever rate of decline, with subscribers shrinking by 3.7 percent, according to MoffettNathanson LLC. Consumers are dropping traditional TV for lower-cost online options like Netflix Inc. and slimmer TV options from Hulu and YouTube.
DirecTV is raising rates on all English-language video packages by $3 to $8 a month while hiking fees for regional sports networks by $1 to $1.90 in most markets. Dish said it's increasing prices for English-language video packages by $3 to $5 a month. Altice USA, the fourth-largest cable operator, recently raised rates by 3 percent on Optimum subscribers. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, is raising its fee for regional sports networks by $1.50 on average and its fee for broadcast channels by $2 a month, according to Cusick. Charter Communications Inc., the second-largest U.S. cable provider, recently boosted its monthly fee for a set-top box by about 50 cents and its broadcast channel fee by about $1. Charter operates as Spectrum in Dallas-Fort Worth.Read Replies (0)