By msmash from Slashdot's changing-course department
Verizon is pledging to stop sales through intermediaries of data that pinpoints the location of mobile phones to outside companies, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. From the report: It is the first major U.S. wireless carrier to step back from a business practice that has drawn criticism for endangering privacy. The data has allowed outsiders to track wireless devices without their owners' knowledge or consent. Verizon, the nation's largest mobile carrier measured by subscribers, said that about 75 companies have obtained its customer data from two little-known California-based brokers that it supplies directly -- LocationSmart and Zumigo. The company made its disclosure in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been probing the phone location-tracking market. Last month, Wyden revealed abuses in the lucrative but loosely regulated field involving Securus Technologies and its affiliate 3C Interactive. Verizon says their contract was approved only for the location tracking of outside mobile phones called by prison inmates. After a thorough review of its program, Verizon notified LocationSmart and Zumigo, both privately held, that it intends to "terminate their ability to access and use our customers' location data as soon as possible," wrote Verizon's chief privacy officer, Karen Zacharia.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Google now has its own podcast app called, well, Google Podcasts, and if you have an Android phone, you can head over to the Play Store and get it right now. Google Podcasts does most things you would expect a podcast app to do. It lets you subscribe to and download podcasts; it learns from your listening history and suggests new ones you might like; and, if you're a podfaster, it lets you speed shows up. Most of these have been things you can already do right from within the Google app on your Android phone -- but now you get a shiny new app to do it with. For Google, the app represents an ambitious goal: to double worldwide podcast listenership. [...] Google is working with an independent global advisory board and industry experts to bring in more creators from underrepresented backgrounds such as women, people of color, and people from other countries into podcasting. Other players in the space such as Spotify and WNYC have already made efforts to spotlight these voices in the podcasting ecosystem. As part of this new program, Google will create curriculums to teach people podcasting basics, develop training programs, and also lower barriers to entry by helping out with equipment like microphones. Details about the program and specific plans to diversify outreach were not yet available. Google says it currently has no plans to release the podcast app to Apple's App Store.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report: The human brain may be the ultimate super computer, but artificial intelligence is catching up so fast, it can now hold a substantive debate with a human, according to audience feedback. IBM's Project Debater made its public debut in San Francisco Monday afternoon, where it squared off against Noa Ovadia, the 2016 Israeli debate champion and in a second debate, Dan Zafrir, a nationally renowned debater in Israel. The AI is the latest grand challenge from IBM, which previously created Deep Blue, technology that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov and Watson, which bested humans on the game show Jeopardy. In its first public outing, Project Debater turned out to be a formidable opponent, scanning the hundreds of millions of newspaper and journal articles in its memory to quickly synthesize an argument on a topic and position it was assigned on the spot. "Project Debater could be the ultimate fact-based sounding board without the bias that often comes from humans," said Arvind Krishna, director of IBM Research. An audience survey taken before and after each debate found that Project Debater better enriched the audience's knowledge as it argued in favor of subsidies for space exploration and in favor of telemedicine, but that the human debaters did a better job delivering their speeches. The AI isn't trained on topics -- it's trained on the art of debate. For the most part, Project Debater spoke in natural language, choosing the same words and sentence structures as a native English speaker. It even dropped the odd joke, but with the expected robotic delivery. IBM's engineers know the AI isn't perfect. Just like humans, it makes mistakes and at times, repeats itself. However, the company believes it could have a broad impact in the future as people now have to be more skeptical as they sort out fact and fiction. "Project Debater must adapt to human rationale and propose lines of argument that people can follow," Krishna said in a blog post. "In debate, AI must learn to navigate our messy, unstructured human world as it is -- not by using a pre-defined set of rules, as in a board game."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Wild-West department
Highdude702 shares a report from Tom's Hardware: AMD's feud with Intel took an interesting turn today as the company announced that it would swap 40 Core i7-8086K's won from Intel's sweepstakes with a much beefier Threadripper 1950X CPU. At Computex 2018, Intel officially announced it was releasing the Core i7-8086K, a special edition processor that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 8086, which debuted as the first x86 processor on June 8, 1978. Now AMD is offering to replace 40 of the winners' chips with its own 16-core 32-thread $799 Threadripper processors, thus throwing a marketing wrench into Intel's 40th-anniversary celebration.
AMD has a list of the complete terms and conditions on its site. But it is also noteworthy that "winners" of AMD's competing sweepstakes will have to pony up for a much more expensive X399 motherboard with the TR4 socket, which currently retail for more than $300, instead of Intel's less-expensive 300-series motherboards. Regardless, those who do swap their Intel Core silicon for an AMD Threadripper chip will gain 10 cores and quad-channel memory, not to mention quite a bit of resale value. In response, Slashdot reader Highdude702 said: "AMD is shooting back at Intel like its easy for them, even though 40 out of 8086 is kind of stingy. They are acting like they have the horsepower now. I believe it is going to be an interesting time for consumers and enthusiasts coming soon. Maybe we will even get better prices."
Intel responded via its official verified "Intel Gaming" Twitter account, tweeting: ".@AMDRyzen, if you wanted an Intel Core i7-8086K processor too, you could have just asked us. :) Thanks for helping us celebrate the 8086!"Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's paradox-of-choice department
The Supreme Court will review a 2011 class-action lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of operating an illegal monopoly by not allowing iPhone users to download mobile apps outside of its own App Store, reducing consumer choice. The case, being referred to as Apple Inc. v. Pepper., could have wide-reaching implications for consumers as well as other companies like Amazon. Wired reports: The dispute is over whether Apple, by charging app developers a 30 percent commission fee and only allowing iOS apps to be sold through its own store, has inflated the price of iPhone apps. Apple, supported by the Trump administration, argues that the plaintiffs in the case -- iPhone consumers -- don't have the right to sue under current antitrust laws in the U.S.
The case marks a rare instance in which the court has agreed not only to hear an antitrust case, but also one where no current disagreement exists in the circuit courts. The outcome could change decades of antitrust legal precedent -- either strengthening or weakening consumer protections against monopolistic power. The case also represents a huge source of revenue for Apple; the company raked in an estimated $11 billion last year in App Store commissions alone. The lawsuit centers around another Supreme Court case from 1977, Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, "which established what is known as the Illinois Brick Doctrine," reports Wired. "That rule says you can't sue for antitrust damages if you're not the direct purchaser of a good or service."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
The race to exascale speed is getting a little more interesting with the introduction of HPE's Astra -- what will be the world's largest ARM-based supercomputer. From a report: HPE is building Astra for Sandia National Laboratories and the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA will use the supercomputer to run advanced modeling and simulation workloads for things like national security, energy, science and health care. HPE is involved in building other ARM-based supercomputing installations, but when Astra is delivered later this year, "it will hands down be the world's largest ARM-based supercomputer ever built," Mike Vildibill, VP of Advanced Technologies Group at HPE, told ZDNet. The HPC system is comprised of 5,184 ARM-based processors -- the Thunder X2 processor, built by Cavium. Each processor has 28 cores and runs at 2 GHz. Astra will deliver over 2.3 theoretical peak petaflops of performance, which should put it well within the top 100 supercomputers ever built -- a milestone for an ARM-based machine, Vildibill said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bad-at-its-job department
Last week, cybersecurity company PenTest Partners managed to unlock TappLock's smart padlock within two seconds. They "found that the actual code and digital authentication methods for the lock were basically nonexistent," reports The Verge. "All someone would need to unlock the lock is its Bluetooth Low Energy MAC address, which the lock itself broadcasts." The company also managed to snap the lock with a pair of 12-inch bolt cutters.
Today, Naked Security reports that it gets much worse: "Tapplock's cloud-based administration tools were as vulnerable as the lock, as Greek security researcher Vangelis Stykas found out very rapidly." From the report: Stykas found that once you'd logged into one Tapplock account, you were effectively authenticated to access anyone else's Tapplock account, as long as you knew their account ID. You could easily sniff out account IDs because Tapplock was too lazy to use HTTPS (secure web connections) for connections back to home base -- but you didn't really need to bother, because account IDs were apparently just incremental IDs anyway, like house numbers on most streets. As a result, Stykas could not only add himself as an authorized user to anyone else's lock, but also read out personal information from that person's account, including the last location (if known) where the Tapplock was opened.
Incredibly, Tapplock's back-end system would not only let him open other people's locks using the official app, but also tell him where to find the locks he could now open! Of course, this gave him an unlocking speed advantage over Pen Test Partners -- by using the official app Stykas needed just 0.8 seconds to open a lock, instead of the sluggish two seconds needed by the lock-cracking app.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dead-in-the-water department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Back in January 2017, Google and Uber teamed up to put a cool feature in Google Maps: You could search for, book, and pay for an Uber all directly from Google Maps. You didn't even need the Uber app installed. Now, 18 months later, the feature is dead. Google posted a new support page (first spotted by Android Police) that flatly states, "You can no longer book Uber rides directly in Google Maps."
The feature would have you search for a location in Google Maps and ask for directions like normal, but instead of choosing walking, driving, biking, or mass transit directions, a tab for ride-sharing would allow you to book a ride directly. The ride-sharing tab still exists, but instead of booking an Uber, it just gives you an estimate and offers to kick you out to the Uber app.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's science-fiction-to-reality department
Gunfighter shares a report from Defense News: President Donald Trump on Monday appeared to sign an executive order directing the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force," a move that could radically transform the U.S. military by pulling space functions variously owned by the Air Force, Navy and other military branches into a single independent service. "I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces," Trump said during a meeting of the National Space Council. "That's a big statement. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force. Separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important," Trump added. "General Dunford, if you would carry that assignment out, I would be very greatly honored." Dunford responded in the affirmative, telling Trump, "We got you." The oddity of Trump's statement was that it was followed up with a White House readout that "contained no language related to the creation of a new military branch, leaving open the question of whether Trump has actually issued formal guidance to the military," reports Defense News. It is believed that Trump still needs the support of Congress to actually establish a space force.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
Late last week, YouTube videos from several high-profile channels began to mysteriously disappear, puzzling both the owners of those channels and viewers. Some of these channels include MIT Open Courseware, Blender Foundation, Jamendo Music, India's Press Information Bureau, soccer club Sparta Praha, and England Rugby. In a statement, MIT Open Courseware said, "You may have noticed that we are having some trouble with our videos! Please stand by. The elves are working around the clock to fix the issue. There is still a ton of content you can use on MIT OCW's website that doesn't have video. Hang in there folks!" Ton Roosendaal, the chairman of Blender Foundation, has been tweeting his frustration at YouTube. The issue, which per Roosendaal YouTube is aware of, is yet to be resolved at the time of publication. TorrentFreak, a news website which covers piracy and copyright issues, speculates that YouTube's piracy filters could be the bottleneck here. Google did not respond to a request for comment.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's future-is-here department
A newly developed tool by Google can forecast a host of patient outcomes, including how long people may stay in hospitals, their odds of re-admission and chances they will soon die. Google documented some of this tool's abilities in May; in one instance, Google's tool estimated, by taking 175,639 data points into consideration, that a particular patient's odds at dying during her stay at the hospital was 19.9 percent, up from 9.3 percent that the hospital's computers had estimated. Now Bloomberg reports what Google intends to do with this new tool next. From the report: Google's next step is moving this predictive system into clinics, AI chief Jeff Dean told Bloomberg News in May. Dean's health research unit -- sometimes referred to as Medical Brain -- is working on a slew of AI tools that can predict symptoms and disease with a level of accuracy that is being met with hope as well as alarm. Inside the company, there's a lot of excitement about the initiative. "They've finally found a new application for AI that has commercial promise," one Googler says. Since Alphabet's Google declared itself an "AI-first" company in 2016, much of its work in this area has gone to improve existing internet services. The advances coming from the Medical Brain team give Google the chance to break into a brand new market -- something co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have tried over and over again. Software in health care is largely coded by hand these days. In contrast, Google's approach, where machines learn to parse data on their own, "can just leapfrog everything else," said Vik Bajaj, a former executive at Verily, an Alphabet health-care arm, and managing director of investment firm Foresite Capital. "They understand what problems are worth solving," he said. "They've now done enough small experiments to know exactly what the fruitful directions are." The report adds that, among other things, Google's tool has the ability to sift through notes buried in PDFs or scribbled on old charts.Read Replies (0)