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Tech is Killing Street Food
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
In San Francisco and Bangalore, street-vendor unions and nonprofits are helping informal food workers eke out a living -- but their future is still uncertain. From a report: Bangalore and the Bay Area have a lot in common. They are the tech centers of the world's second- and third-most-populous countries, respectively, and they both sometimes feel like they're bursting at the seams. Some economists argue that when tech companies move to cities with rigid housing markets, the value of real wages goes down as the cost of living jumps. [...] In both places, many street vendors are migrants -- Bangalore's come from other parts of India, while in the Bay Area many hail from Latin America. They and their livelihoods offer a warning about the fate of immigrant service labor in the tech economy: When space is at a premium, the high-profile, high-margin industries tend to take it up, while the low-paid, already precarious jobs that keep them humming are threatened.

< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department >

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AI Automatically Sorts Cancer Cells
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence system that can automatically differentiate between different types of cancer cells and their sensitivity to radiotherapy. From a report: A team of researchers in Japan have devised an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can identify different types of cancer cells using microscopy images. Their method can also be used to determine whether the cancer cells are sensitive to radiotherapy. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Cancer Research. In cancer patients, there can be tremendous variation in the types of cancer cells in a single tumor. Identifying the specific cell types present in tumors can be very useful when choosing the most effective treatment. However, making accurate assessments of cell types is time consuming and often hampered by human error and the limits of human sight. To overcome these challenges, scientists led by Professor Hideshi Ishii of Osaka University, Japan, have developed an AI system that can identify different types of cancer cells from microscopy images, achieving higher accuracy than human judgement.

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NYPL's Chief Digital Officer Says Public is Better off When Libraries Are 'Risk Averse' About Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bigger-picture department:
New York Public Library's Tony Ageh was recently in Seattle to talk about libraries' digital transformation. Ageh made the point that tech now permeates pretty much all of a library's operations, from ebooks and article databases, to systems for checking out materials and tracking fines. Still, don't look for your library to be on the bleeding edge of digital.

From a report: "What I previously imagined was a weakness I think is a strength, which is that libraries have been very reluctant to move too quickly and have allowed the marketplace and allowed other organizations to kind of prove things work before libraries have taken the plunge," said Ageh, who before joining NYPL oversaw internet and archive efforts at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).

"I think that has actually inoculated us against waste or harmful behavior." That kind of fad-or-trend, wait-and-see behavior appears to generally suit libraries well. "Librarians are incredibly risk averse," he said. "I think they do care very much about patrons and about the impact that their work does, and so we're very unlikely to take a chance when we're dealing with public money and when we're dealing with patrons; we have a personal relationship with them."

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Artificial General Intelligence is Nowhere Close To Being a Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
Three decades ago, David Rumelhart, Geoffrey Hinton, and Ronald Williams wrote about a foundational weight-calculating technique -- backpropagation -- in a monumental paper titled "Learning Representations by Back-propagating Errors." Backpropagation, aided by increasingly cheaper, more robust computer hardware, has enabled monumental leaps in computer vision, natural language processing, machine translation, drug design, and material inspection, where some deep neural networks (DNNs) have produced results superior to human experts. Looking at the advances we have made to date, can DNNs be the harbinger of superintelligent robots? From a report: Demis Hassabis doesn't believe so -- and he would know. He's the cofounder of DeepMind, a London-based machine learning startup founded with the mission of applying insights from neuroscience and computer science toward the creation of artificial general intelligence (AGI) -- in other words, systems that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human can. "There's still much further to go," he told VentureBeat at the NeurIPS 2018 conference in Montreal in early December. "Games or board games are quite easy in some ways because the transition model between states is very well-specified and easy to learn. Real-world 3D environments and the real world itself is much more tricky to figure out ... but it's important if you want to do planning."

< article continued at Slashdot's reality-check department >

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Whale Shark Tourism Harms Coral Reefs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Scientists in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Guam have found that whale shark tourism in Tan-awan, Oslob, the Philippines, has led to degradation of the local coral reef ecosystem. They reported their findings in Environmental Management. From a report: Oslob, a small municipality on the south coast of Cebu, the Philippines, has become a domestic and international tourism hotspot since 2011, attracting over 300,000 visitors to the village of Tan-awan in 2015. The mass tourism phenomenon is fueled by the year-round presence of whale sharks along the local shallow reef. This unusual aggregation is maintained by the local tourism association feeding the whale sharks with up to 50 tons of shrimps annually.

In this study, scientists from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the University of Guam, and the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE) have demonstrated that whale shark tourism has had a detrimental effect on the local reef ecosystem off the coast of Tan-awan. They found that Tan-awan had higher macroalgae and lower coral density, as well as a less diverse coral community dominated by weedy corals and stress-tolerant corals, in comparison to a reference site further south of the coast.

[...] The researchers added that reef degradation in Tan-awan requires immediate attention, given that reef health underpins the ecosystem services afforded to the local communities, including the important tourism sector. As whale shark tourism is projected to grow continuously in the foreseeable future, the research team urges the need for local authorities to implement proper management strategies to mitigate the problems and risks associated with the rapid tourism development.

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Hacker Steals Ten Years Worth of Data From San Diego School District
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
A hacker has stolen the personal details of over 500,000 San Diego Unified School District staff and students, the district revealed in a breach notice posted on its website Friday. From a report: The breach occurred because the attacker gained access to staff credentials via a tactic known as phishing -- sending authentic-looking emails that redirect users to fake login pages were attackers collect login credentials. The attack didn't go unnoticed. Some staff reported the funny-looking emails to IT staff, who investigated and eventually discovered the breach in October this year. District officials said the hacker had access to its network between January 2018 and November 1, 2018, but that he stole student and staff data going back to the 2008-2009 school year.

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Android TV Now Claiming Over 100 Pay TV Operator Partners Worldwide
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
Google's Android TV platform has now been deployed by more than 100 pay TV operators around the world, the technology's top product manager told news outlet MCN. From a report: According to Shalini Govil-Pai, senior director of product management for Android TV, the platform designed to provide access to over-the-top apps on digital video players, is now being used by "tens of millions" of consumers, primarily in Europe and Asia. Govil-Pai said that around half of Android TV users are derived from the platform's operator partners. The open Android TV platform allows operator subscribers to access the Google Play store for popular apps, including Netflix and YouTube, as well as more niche OTT services, such as virtual MVPD Philo, which just launched an app for the platform.

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Top Amazon Boss Privately Advised US Government on Web Portal Worth Billions To Tech Firm
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 04:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
A top Amazon executive privately advised the Trump administration on the launch of a new internet portal that is expected to generate billions of dollars for the technology company and give it a dominant role in how the US government buys everything from paper clips to office chairs. From a report: Emails seen by the Guardian show that the Amazon executive Anne Rung communicated with a top official at the Government Services Authority (GSA) about the approach the government would take to create the new portal, even before the legislation that created it -- known to its critics as the "Amazon amendment" -- was signed into law late last year. Amazon and the Trump administration appear to have an antagonistic relationship because of the president's frequent Twitter attacks on the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. But the behind-the-scenes lobbying by Amazon officials underscores how the company has quietly amassed an unrivalled position of power with the federal government.

The 2017 correspondence between Rung -- a former official in the Obama administration credited with transforming the federal government's procurement policies before she joined Amazon -- and Mary Davie at the GSA, offers new insights into how Amazon has used key former government officials it now employs -- directly and as consultants -- to gain influence and potentially shape lucrative government contracts. It has not yet been determined which companies will build the US government's new e-commerce portal, but Amazon is widely expected to take on a dominant role, giving it a major foothold in the $53bn market for federal procurement of commercial products.

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Japan Announces Withdrawal From International Whaling Commission, To Resume Commercial Whaling
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 09:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Japan is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will resume commercial whaling next year, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, in a move expected to spark international criticism. From a report: "We have decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission in order to resume commercial whaling in July next year," top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters. "Commercial whaling to be resumed from July next year will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. We will not hunt in the Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere," Mr Suga added.

The announcement had been widely expected and comes after Japan failed in a bid earlier this year to convince the IWC to allow it to resume commercial whaling. Tokyo has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the body and has been regularly criticised for catching hundreds of whales a year for "scientific research" despite being a signatory to a moratorium on hunting the animals. Mr Suga said Japan would officially inform the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, which will mean the withdrawal comes into effect by June 30. Leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume the hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales currently protected by the commission. But Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty.

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A Woman on Twitter is Abused Every 30 Seconds
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 08:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's whose-social-network? department:
That shocking statistic comes from a study conducted by Amnesty International and AI software startup Element AI. From a report: In the study, called Troll Patrol, Amnesty International and Element AI looked at data from 288,000 tweets sent to 778 female politicians and journalists in the U.S. and U.K. in 2017. Using machine learning on the data, the group then extrapolated just how wide-ranging abuse toward women is on Twitter. The result: 1.1 million abusive or problematic tweets were sent to the women in the study during the year -- that's one abusive or problematic tweet every 30 seconds. And it's even worse for women of color -- and especially black women -- who were targeted more frequently than white women.

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How Google Software Won 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 07:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Google is relatively new to the hardware game -- at least compared to rivals Apple and Samsung. But it's not just what's outside that matters. An analysis, by Engadget : The Pixel 3 is the best example. Physically, the phone is a more premium version of the Pixel 2. But aside from that, nothing about the Pixel 3's design makes me yearn for the phone. In fact, the 3 XL even has one of the biggest screen notches in the market, which some people find hideous. And yet, the Pixel 3s were still one of our favorite phones of the year, and ended up on our best gadgets list. But if you can stomach the notch, or don't mind using the smaller phone, then boy, will you be blown away by Google's software. Let's start with my favorite -- Call Screening.

On the Pixels, you can have Assistant field calls for you without having to answer the phone or even say a single word. It's easy to dismiss this feature as simply a glorified voice messaging system, but it's so much more than that. Assistant will ask your caller what they want, transcribe what they're saying in real time and suggest actions for you. Say you realize it's your doctor calling. You could ask them more questions, dictate a real time reply, or use a preset action like hang up or promise to call back. Can your voicemail do that? I don't think so.

[...] Nowhere is the importance of software exemplified as effectively as it is in Google's imaging algorithms, which are so powerful they helped the Pixel 3 nab the smartphone camera crown in our tests. Not only can the phones capture clear, colorful pictures with just a single rear camera, but the Pixels produced the nicest Portrait mode effects using pure software alone. And with the magical Night Sight mode, Google easily kicked Apple and Samsung's butts in low light photography, turning dark, noisy pictures into shots that look like they were taken in daytime. [...]

Counter-point: DxOMark's Pixel 3 camera score shows AI isn't enough.

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Some Chinese Companies Are Giving Employees Incentives For Buying Huawei Devices or Just Giving Them One and Boycotting Apple
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 05:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
A growing number of Chinese companies are throwing their support behind Huawei Technologies following the recent arrest of its chief financial officer in Canada, taking such steps as offering subsidies for staff who buy the telecom equipment maker's smartphones. From a report: Many Chinese businesses have told employees they will receive subsidies if they buy Huawei smartphones to aid the company. Most are subsidizing 10% to 20% of the purchase price, with some even covering the full amount. Over 20 Chinese companies also took to social media to announce that they will increase purchases of other Huawei products, such as its business management system.

The show of support has been broad, from information technology providers to food companies. A regional government official said that several hundred businesses were conducting such programs nationwide. Electronics maker Shanghai Youluoke Electronic and Technology is fully subsidizing up to two Huawei smartphones per employee, while display equipment maker Shenzhen Yidaheng Technology will cover 18% of the price for Huawei or ZTE units. Fuchun Technology, a communications service company listed on Shenzhen Stock Exchange announced on social media on Dec. 11 that it would give each of its 200 employees who buy Huawei's smartphone before the end of 2018 between 100 and 500 yuan ($14.5 to $72.5).

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Microsoft's Emergency Internet Explorer Patch Renders Some Lenovo Laptops Unbootable
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 03:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's watch-out department:
Earlier this month, Microsoft issued an emergency patch for Internet Explorer to fix a zero-day vulnerability in the web browser. The problem affects versions of Internet Explorer from 9 to 11 across multiple versions of Windows, but it seems that the patch has been causing problems for many people. Specifically, people with some Lenovo laptop have found that after installing the KB4467691 patch they are unable to start Windows, reports BetaNews.

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Fortnite Was 2018's Most Important Social Network
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-perspective department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Epic Games managed to produce a hit, sure, but the genius of it is how it's rewritten the idea of what hanging out online can be. Fortnite is a game, but it's also a global living room for millions of people, and a kind of codex for where culture has gone this year -- it's a cultural omnibus that's absorbed everything from Blocboy JB's shoot dance to John Wick. It got Ted Danson to learn how to floss. This thing is here to stay, as a new kind of social network.

Fortnite has achieved such a massive scale partially because of those network effects -- if all of your friends are hanging out there, you will be too. The game is both free to play and available on every device -- consoles, computers, even phones. That's created a kind of lingua franca, a base level of understanding among a large group of people about the experience of playing the game. And even though it's hugely popular, the experience of playing is extremely specific -- not so many people outside your peer group are going to know what you mean if you reference a "chug jug" in casual conversation. There's an in group thing going on here.

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Hot Tub Hack Reveals Washed-up Security Protection
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Thousands of hot tubs can be hacked and controlled remotely because of a hole in their online security, BBC Click has revealed. From a report: Researchers showed the TV programme how an attacker could make the tubs hotter or colder, or control the pumps and lights via a laptop or smartphone. Vulnerable tubs are designed to let their owners control them with an app. But third-party wi-fi databases mean hackers can home in on specific tubs by using their GPS location data. Balboa Water Group (BWG), which runs the affected system, has now pledged to introduce a more robust security system for owners and said the problem would be fixed by the end of February.

Pen Test Partners -- the UK security company that carried out the research -- warned that hot tubs were not the only household items at risk. Founder Ken Munro said that many Christmas gifts people would receive this year would connect to the internet and offer remote control through apps. "Manufacturers still are not taking security seriously enough, and until they do consumers have to be very vigilant," he said. "We recommend users reset any default passwords the device has immediately with a unique one of their own."

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A Christmas Menu Dreamed Up by a Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
For most of us, using up the Christmas leftovers means endless rounds of turkey sandwiches and lashings of Brussel sprout curry in the days leading up to New Year. So, to help inject some creativity into this year's leftover eat-up, BBC turned to artificial intelligence for some culinary assistance. From a report: A number of research teams around the world have been developing AI systems that are capable of learning from existing recipes and then coming up with some of their own. We asked researchers behind two innovative algorithms to see what their AI's take would be on Christmas food. One, developed by computer scientists at Stanford University, can turn whatever food is left in your fridge into a unique recipe based on those ingredients. The other, created by AI researchers at the University of Illinois, puts a cultural twist on a meal by creating dishes from one country in the style of another cuisine.

The first algorithm, called Forage, uses a type of AI known as deep neural networks, which attempts to replicate the way the human brain works. Networks like these are able to handle problems involving complex data and are increasingly being used to tackle tasks as diverse as controlling self-driving cars and recognising the early signs of cancer in health scans. [...] The second algorithm we used was developed by Lav Varshney and his team at the University of Illinois. It was trained on nearly 40,000 recipes from 20 different countries using a system that can apply semantic reasoning to replace certain ingredients with those it considers to be equivalent from a different cuisine.

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iPhone Owners Irate After iOS Update Bricks Cellular Data
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's beware department:
According to several reports, iPhone users around the world who have upgraded to the latest version of iOS are finding that it cuts off mobile data services. From a report: One Twitter user @kevbruh says that "Apple update 12.1.1, I had no cellular data. I tried inserting my SIM card again, hard resetting my device, and tried resetting the network settings. Nothing happened and the problem persists." In addition to North America, similar issues are being reported in South America, Europe and Asia. Other iPhone owners are reporting that they can't make or receive calls and others are saying that they can't text or receive texts. [...] Many more iPhone users have come forward on Twitter claiming that they are having connectivity issues related to iOS 12.1.2. Apple is advising some to try to update their carrier settings using this guide.

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UK Now Has Systems To Combat Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's once-bitten-twice-shy department:
Detection systems are now able to be deployed throughout the UK to combat the threat of drones, ministers say. It follows three days of disruption at Gatwick airport last week, when drones were sighted near the runway. From a report: Security minister Ben Wallace said those who use drones "either recklessly or for criminal purposes" could expect "the most severe sentence". It comes after the couple arrested and released without charge over the chaos at Gatwick said they felt "violated". About 1,000 flights were affected during 36 hours of chaos at Gatwick airport last week. The airport has spent 5 million Pound ($6.36 million) since Wednesday on new equipment and technology to prevent copycat attacks.

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Wall Street Banks Are Reportedly Backing Away From Cryptocurrency
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's smoke-vanishes department:
Squeamish from the start about pursuing profits in one of the darker corners of finance, established firms this year slowed their already halting efforts to make a business out of Bitcoin mania. While none has thrown in the towel, and some continue to develop a trading infrastructure, most flinched as the value of virtual coins collapsed.

From a report: Multiple leading firms had either announced or were rumored to be entering the market earlier in the year, but few have come to fruition. The report said that "while none has thrown in the towel, and some continue to develop a trading infrastructure, most flinched as the value of virtual coins collapsed." Notable among those firms was Goldman Sachs. In May it was reported that the company was preparing to launch a bitcoin trading desk that would involve the bank using its own money to trade with clients in a variety of contracts linked to the price of bitcoin.

It was presumed that clients would include hedge funds that deal in cryptocurrencies as well as bitcoin futures contracts such as those launched by CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. in 2017. Fast forward to December and no such bitcoin trading desk has been launched. In September it was reported that the plan had been abandoned, but a day later Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer Martin Chavez denied the report, saying that the bank's "exploration of the digital asset class is an ever-evolving process and is in response to significant client interest." He added that the report was "fake news."

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India Wants Tech Platforms To Break Encryption And Remove Content The Government Thinks Is 'Unlawful'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '18 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
India's government wants to make it mandatory for platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Google, to remove content it deems "unlawful" within 24 hours of notice, and create "automated tools" to "proactively identify and remove" such material. From a report: It also wants tech companies to build in a way to trace the source of the content, which would require platforms like WhatsApp to break end-to-end encryption. India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) published [PDF] the proposed rules on its website following a report on Monday by The Indian Express revealing the government's proposal to modify the country's primary IT law to work them in. The report comes days after India's government seemingly authorized 10 federal agencies to snoop into every computer in the country last week. The proposed measures have provoked concerns from privacy activists who claim they would threaten free speech and enable mass surveillance.

[...] If India does work these rules into its IT law, it would have precedent: Earlier this month, Australia passed a controversial encryption bill that would require technology companies to give law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications, saying that it was essential to stop terrorists and criminals who rely on secure messaging apps to communicate.

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