By msmash from Slashdot's further-expansion department
Amazon.com is jumping on the blockchain wave with new cloud services that help customers build the technology needed to record transactions. From a report: Amazon Web Services Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy on Wednesday announced Amazon Managed Blockchain, a new service underpinning blockchain networks that record millions of transactions. The company spent the past year studying the needs of customers interested in blockchain solutions before creating the new products, Jassy said.
The service can be used to manage peer-to-peer payments, process loans and help businesses transact with distributors and suppliers, Jassy said. AWS announced a string of other new or updated cloud offerings, seeking to maintain its lead in the market for internet-based computing.
The company also announced a new service called Amazon Quantum Ledger Database or QLDB, which is a fully managed ledger database with a central trusted authority. The service, which is launching into preview today, offers an append-only, immutable journal that tracks the history of all changes, Amazon said. And all the changes are cryptographically chained and verifiable.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's Sci-Fi-industrial-complex department
Brian Merchant, writing for Medium : In 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the professional services firm that advises 440 of the Fortune 500 companies, published a blueprint for using science fiction to explore business innovation. The same year, the Harvard Business Review argued that "business leaders need to read more science fiction" in order to stay ahead of the curve. "We're already seeing science fiction become reality today," said Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt in 2012. "Think back to Star Trek, or my favorite, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- much of what those writers imagined is now possible," he said, ticking off auto-translation, voice recognition, and electronic books. Jeff Bezos' product design team built the Kindle to spec from Neal Stephenson's book The Diamond Age. (Stephenson himself is the chief future at the multibillion-dollar-valued Magic Leap.) Josh Wolfe, a managing partner at Lux Capital, is pouring millions of dollars into companies building what he explicitly describes as "the sci-fi future." "I'm looking for things that feel like they were once written about in science fiction," he told Fortune. "The gap between 'sci-fi,' -- that which was once imagined -- and 'sci-fact,' that which becomes manifest and real, is shrinking."
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By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department
Despite turning the trade fair into a fun fair, organizers could not save the beloved but struggling trade fair. CeBIT once boasted 850,000 visitors a year, but that heyday has long since passed. An anonymous reader shares a report: Organizers announced on Wednesday that the world's largest IT conference will be no more. CeBIT, held every year in Hanover, Germany, has been canceled for 2019 facing declining visitor numbers and decreases in exhibition space rentals. "There will be no more CeBIT in Germany in the future," said Onuora Ogbukagu of Deutsche Messe AG, which ran the trade fair that hosted the likes of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and data privacy advocate Edward Snowden.
CeBIT was once considered the best barometer of technological trends, and during the dot-com boom in the late 90s and early 2000s, it boasted some 850,000 visitors a year. However, that number has been declining for years, despite cultivating a 'fun fair' atmosphere. The news was met with an outpouring of gratitude for the conference-meets-festival on social media, with many calling it the "end of an era."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
For more than 30 years, Intel has dominated chipmaking, producing the most important component in the bulk of the world's computers. That run is now under threat from a company many Americans have never heard of. From a report: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was created in 1987 to churn out chips for companies that lacked the money to build their own facilities. The approach was famously dismissed at the time by Advanced Micro Devices founder Jerry Sanders. "Real men have fabs," he quipped at a conference, using industry lingo for factories. These days, ridicule has given way to envy as TSMC plants have risen to challenge Intel at the pinnacle of the $400 billion industry. AMD recently chose TSMC to make its most advanced processors, having spun off its own struggling factories years before.
TSMC's threat to Intel reflects a sea change in chipmaking that's seen one company after another hire TSMC to manufacture the chips they design. Hsinchu-based TSMC has scores of customers, including tech giants Apple and Qualcomm, second-tier players like AMD, and minnows such as Ampere Computing. The explosion of components built this way has given TSMC the technical know-how needed to churn out the smallest, most efficient and powerful chips in the highest volumes.
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By msmash from Slashdot's watching-the-watchers department
Advertisements in the real world are becoming more technologically sophisticated, integrating facial recognition, location data, artificial intelligence, and other powerful tools that are more commonly associated with your mobile phone. Welcome to the new age of digital marketing. From a report: During this year's Fashion Week in New York, a digital billboard ad for New Balance used A.I. technology to detect and highlight pedestrians wearing "exceptional" outfits. A billboard advertisement for the Chevy Malibu recently targeted drivers on Interstate 88 in Chicago by identifying the brand of vehicle they were driving, then serving ads touting its own features in comparison. And Bidooh, a Manchester-based startup that admits it was inspired by Minority Report, is using facial recognition to serve ads through its billboards in the U.K. and other parts of Europe as well as South Korea. According to its website, Bidooh allows advertisers to target people based on criteria like age, gender, ethnicity, hair color, clothing color, height, body shape, perceived emotion, and the presence of glasses, sunglasses, beards, or mustaches.
We've been on the path here since at least a decade ago when the New York Times reported that some digital billboards were equipped with small cameras that could analyze a pedestrian's facial features to serve targeted ads based on gender and approximate age. Things have progressed as you'd expect: In 2016, another Times report described how Clear Channel Outdoor Americas had partnered with companies including AT&T to track people via their mobile phones. The ads could determine the gender and average age of people passing different billboards and determine whether they visited a store after seeing an ad.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
After years of waiting for someone to design an ARM server processor that could work at scale on the cloud, Amazon Web Services just went ahead and designed its own. From a report: Vice president of infrastructure Peter DeSantis introduced the AWS Graviton Processor Monday night, adding a third chip option for cloud customers alongside instances that use processors from Intel and AMD. The company did not provide a lot of details about the processor itself, but DeSantis said that it was designed for scale-out workloads that benefit from a lot of servers chipping away at a problem. The new instances will be known as EC2 A1, and they can run applications written for Amazon Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu. They are generally available in four regions: US East (Northern Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Ireland). Intel dominates the market for server processors, both in the cloud and in the on-premises server market. AMD has tried to challenge that lead over the years with little success, although its new Epyc processors have been well-received by server buyers and cloud companies like AWS. John Gruber of DaringFireball, where we first spotted this story, adds: Makes you wonder what the hell is going on at Intel and AMD -- first they missed out on mobile, now they're missing out on the cloud's move to power-efficient ARM chips.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Iranians are using the messaging app Telegram to spread fake news about the rial -- and make a profit for themselves. From a report: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani owes his re-election in large part to the messaging app Telegram. During Iran's 2017 presidential election, Iranians relied on the app as a rare source of uncensored news about the race, in which Rouhani was not the candidate most favored by hard-liners. Just one year later, Telegram may end up becoming Rouhani's downfall. The app is at the center of Iran's accelerating currency crash.
The Iranian rial was generally acknowledged to have been on a stable path until May, when U.S. President Donald Trump exited the Iran nuclear deal. Prior to the U.S. withdrawal, one U.S. dollar was worth around 37,000 rials; immediately afterwards, a single dollar jumped to around 44,000 rials. The rial has continued to slump ever since, dropping to 50,000 to the dollar, and then 80,000 rials, and then 190,000 during Rouhani's speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September. Right now, it is at 120,500 rials. But it isn't just U.S. sanctions and the fundamental weaknesses of the Iranian economy that have contributed to Iran's currency freefall. It's also the deliberate circulation of rumors and fake news on Telegram by Iranian currency traders and middlemen out to make a profit.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sneaky-bastards department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: At the start of this decade, U.S. lawmakers drafted several controversial bills to make it easier for copyright holders to enforce their rights online. These proposals, including SOPA and PIPA, were met with fierce resistance from the public as well as major technology companies. They feared that the plans, which included pirate site-blocking measures, went too far. In the many years that followed, the "site blocking" issue was avoided like the plague. The aversion was mostly limited to the U.S., as website blocking became more and more common abroad, where it's one of the entertainment industries' preferred anti-piracy tools.
Emboldened by these foreign successes, it appears that rightsholders in the U.S. are now confident enough to bring the subject up again, albeit very gently. Most recently the site-blocking option was mentioned in a joint letter (PDF) from the RIAA and the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), which contained recommendations to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Vishal Amin. The IPEC requested input from the public on the new version of its Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement. According to the music industry groups, website blocking should be reconsidered an anti-piracy tool. "There are several changes that should be made legislatively to help legal authorities and third parties better protect intellectual property rights," the music groups write. "These include fixing the DMCA, making it a felony to knowingly engage in unauthorized streaming of copyrighted works, and investigating the positive impact that website blocking of foreign sites has in other jurisdictions and whether U.S. law should be revised accordingly."
"As website blocking has had a positive impact in other countries without significant unintended consequences, the U.S. should reconsider adding this to its anti-piracy tool box," the RIAA and NMPA write.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's only-a-matter-of-time department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Amazon is starting to sell software to mine patient medical records (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source) for information that doctors and hospitals could use to improve treatment and cut costs, the latest move by a big technology company into the health care industry. The software can read digitized patient records and other clinical notes, analyze them and pluck out key data points, Amazon says. The company is expected to announce the launch Tuesday. Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud-computing division, has been selling such text-analysis software to companies outside medicine for use in areas such as travel booking, customer support and supply-chain management. The technology's health-care application is the newest effort by Amazon to tap into the lucrative market.
Amazon officials say the company's software developers trained the system using a process known as deep learning to recognize all the ways a doctor might record notes. "We're able to completely, automatically look inside medical language and identify patient details," including diagnoses, treatments, dosage and strengths, "with incredibly high accuracy," said Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services. During testing, the software performed on par or better than other published efforts, and can extract data on patients' diseases, prescriptions, lab orders and procedures, said Taha Kass-Hout, a senior leader with Amazon's health-care and artificial intelligence efforts. The project is called Amazon Comprehend Medical, which "allows developers to process unstructured medical text and identify information such as patient diagnosis, treatments, dosages, symptoms and signs, and more," according to a blog post. Dr. Kass-Hout says Amazon Web Services won't see the data processed by its algorithms, "which will be encrypted and unlocked by customers who have the key," reports WSJ.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
A paper published in Nature Genetics this week looked at genetic data from more than 50,000 people, finding 12 different regions of DNA that seemed to play a role in increasing ADHD risk. Ars Technica reports: This evidence comes from a genome-wide association study, or GWAS: a close look at how the DNA of people with ADHD differs from those without. Geneticist Ditte Demontis and her colleagues used data from more than 20,000 people with ADHD, comparing them to a control group of 35,000 people without an ADHD diagnosis. They found 304 points where tiny differences in DNA -- like single letter swaps -- were distributed across their two groups in a statistically telling way. If any of those variants were very close together, the researchers counted them as representing the same stretch of DNA, grouping them together into 12 important regions.
There were correlations between the genetic risk for ADHD and a range of other conditions, including depression and anorexia. That ties in with the idea that genetic variation might be important in a way that plays out system-wide. Some of the genes they identified are also known to be involved in other neurological conditions, including speech and learning disabilities, depression, and schizophrenia.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-pay-up department
British and Dutch authorities fined Uber a combined $1.17 million for a 2016 data breach that exposed the personal details of millions of customers. "The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced a $491,284 fine against the ride-sharing company for 'failing to protect customers' personal information during a cyber attack' in October and November of 2016," reports CNBC. "The Dutch Data Protection Authority imposed its own $679,257 penalty for the same incident." From the report: The 2016 cyberattack allowed hackers to access the personal details, including full names, email addresses and phone numbers, of 2.7 million Uber customers in the U.K. and 174,000 in the Netherlands, authorities said. The U.K.'s ICO said the cyberattack represented a "serious breach" of the country's Data Protection Act of 1998 by exposing customers and drivers to increased risk of fraud. The Dutch regulator said it was fining Uber because it did not report the breach within the country's mandated 72-hour window.
In September, Uber agreed to pay $148 million to settle claims related to the 2016 data breach to states across the U.S. and Washington, D.C. In a statement Tuesday, an Uber spokesperson said the company is "pleased to close this chapter on the data incident from 2016."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-strategy department
YouTube is removing the paywall for its original programming. Starting next year, the company will move to make all of its new original programming available for free for anyone to watch. "With the change, YouTube is moving toward more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality fare, while it will continue to greenlight scripted productions," reports Variety. From the report: Until now, YouTube Originals have mainly been available on its YouTube Premium subscription service, although YouTube also has expanded the shows and movies it makes available on an ad-supported basis. The company calls the new YouTube Originals strategy its "Single Slate," which will combine ad-supported and subscription VOD programming initiatives that by 2020 will provide free windows for all YouTube users. Some original productions will remain behind the paywall, including season 2 of "Cobra Kai," an offshoot of the "Karate Kid" movies. Moving forward, YouTube Premium will include early access to original, exclusive content as a reason to pay for the service. YouTube has faced stiff competition in trying to lure paying customers with original content against the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which spend far more on content. "As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase," a YouTube rep said in a statement. "This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
Google's Project Fi mobile service will reportedly be adding support for Samsung, OnePlus, and iPhones. "More handsets from existing Fi partners LG and Motorola will also gain Fi support," reports The Verge. "The iPhone experience is apparently 'in beta,' which is a sign that users might run into bugs or be left without some of Fi's features." From the report: The lineup of "Fi-ready" compatible phones -- those that Google says have been fully optimized for the network -- is fairly short: Google is currently selling the Pixel 3, 3 XL, 2 XL, LG G7, LG V35, Moto G6, and Moto X4 (Android One edition) directly through its Project Fi website.
And although Google is apparently about to widen support and officially allow more devices onto Fi, those "Fi-friendly" phones will still offer the best overall user experience for subscribers, according to the report. It's not yet entirely clear what that means, but we should know more once Google makes a proper announcement. Either way, adding that pool of popular hardware will allow for many more consumers to give the service a shot and see if the pricing model and performance are preferable over Fi's larger competitors.Read Replies (0)