By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Forget the old American campaign slogan of a chicken in every pot, or the Indian politician's common pledge to put rice in every bowl. The New York Times reports: Here in the state of Chhattisgarh, the chief minister, Raman Singh, has promised a smartphone in every home -- and he is using the government-issued devices to reach voters as he campaigns in legislative elections that conclude on Tuesday. [...] The phones are the latest twist in digital campaigning by the B.J.P., which controls the national and state government and is deft at using tools like WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts to influence voters. The B.J.P. government in Rajasthan, which holds state elections next month, is also subsidizing phones and data plans for residents, and party leaders are considering extending the model to other states.
Chhattisgarh's $71 million free-phone program -- known by the acronym SKY after its name in Hindi -- is supposed to bridge the digital divide in this state of 26 million people, which is covered by large patches of forest and counts 7,000 villages that do not even have a wireless data signal. The plan is to add hundreds of cellphone towers and give a basic smartphone to every college student and one woman in every household to connect more families to the internet and help fulfill the central government's goal of a "Digital India." But this election season, many of the 2.9 million people who have received the phones have found themselves targeted by the B.J.P.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's currently-in-the-works department
Lockheed Martin's X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft is officially in "the manufacturing phase," bringing the company "one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world." The experimental jet was awarded a contract from NASA earlier this year as it is capable of flying at supersonic speeds without creating loud supersonic booms. Currently, commercial supersonic aircraft are banned from flying over land because of the noise and potential damage the booms may cause. WTOP reports: "The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom," said Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager at Lockheed Martin. "As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world," he said.
Lockheed expects to conduct its first flight in 2021 and gather community response data on the acceptability of the "quiet sonic boom" the plane creates. NASA will use that information to establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning supersonic travel over land. The X-59 will cruise at a speed of about 940 mph and an altitude of 55,000 feet. Lockheed says it will create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, instead of a deafening sonic boom.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I-want-a-pony department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: The Russian Federation has responded to a lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee and has requested the overseeing court to throw out the lawsuit altogether. The lawsuit, filed by the DNC in April 2018, names a slew of figures as defendants, such as the Russian state, Russia's military intelligence service GRU, the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, and several members of the Trump campaign, such as Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, and George Papadopoulos. According to an 87-page indictment, the DNC accused Russia and the other defendants of carrying out the hacking of DNC servers in 2016 and then leaking data online via the WikiLeaks portal in an orchestrated manner for the benefit of the Trump presidential campaign.
< article continued at Slashdot's I-want-a-pony department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's food-for-thought department
Yoshua Bengio is a grand master of modern artificial intelligence. Alongside Geoff Hinton and Yan LeCun, Bengio is famous for championing a technique known as deep learning that in recent years has gone from an academic curiosity to one of the most powerful technologies on the planet. Here's an excerpt from an interview he gave to MIT Technology Review: MIT TR: What do you make of the idea that there's an AI race between different countries?
Bengio: I don't like it. I don't think it's the right way to do it. We could collectively participate in a race, but as a scientist and somebody who wants to think about the common good, I think we're better off thinking about how to both build smarter machines and make sure AI is used for the well-being of as many people as possible.
MIT TR: Are you worried about just a few AI companies, in the West and perhaps China, dominating the field of AI?
Bengio: Yes, it's another reason why we need to have more democracy in AI research. It's that AI research by itself will tend to lead to concentrations of power, money, and researchers. The best students want to go to the best companies. They have much more money, they have much more data. And this is not healthy. Even in a democracy, it's dangerous to have too much power concentrated in a few hands.
MIT TR:There has been a lot of controversy over military uses of AI. Where do you stand on that?
Bengio: I stand very firmly against.
MIT TR: Even non-lethal uses of AI?
< article continued at Slashdot's food-for-thought department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-spiral department
The value of Bitcoin has hit a new low of $4,951, bringing the total value of all Bitcoin in existence to below $87 billion. Much of the turmoil can be attributed to the split of Bitcoin Cash on November 15th. The Bitcoin offshoot has been split into two different cryptocurrencies, which are now in competition with each other. The BBC reports: Bitcoin exchange Kraken said in a blog post that it regarded one of the two new Bitcoin Cash crypto-currencies -- Bitcoin SV -- as "an extremely risky investment." At its peak, in November 2017, it briefly hit $19,783 - which means the price has fallen by about 75%. After the excitements of last year when the price soared to nearly $20,000 and then tumbled, Bitcoin has been rather dull and stable for much of 2018, settling between $6,000 and $7,000.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's up-up-and-away department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: It may sit in the shade of China and India, but tech has real growth potential in Southeast Asia. Home to a cumulative 650 million people, the region's digital economy is forecast to triple in size and reach $240 billion over the next seven years, according to Google's third "e-Conomy SEA" report. The annual study, which is authored by Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek and is arguably the most comprehensive research program for tech in Southeast Asia, has raised its estimation for the size of the digital economy in 2025 from an initial $200 billion after seeing the region reach "an inflection point."
Southeast Asia has 350 million internet users across its six largest countries -- that's more than the entire U.S. population -- and the latest data suggests its internet economy will reach $72 billion this year, up from $50 billion last year and $19.1 billion in 2015. Online travel accounts for the majority of that revenue ($30 billion) ahead of e-commerce ($23 billion), online media ($11 billion) and ride-hailing ($8 billion), and that rough breakdown is likely to be maintained up until 2025, according to the report. Indonesia, the world's fourth largest country by population, is forecast to hit $100 billion by 2025, ahead of Thailand ($43 billion) and Vietnam ($33 billion), with strong growth forecast across the board. Indonesia and Vietnam, in particular, have seen their respective digital economies more than triple since 2015, according to the data.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-on-the-dark-web department
Daniel's Hosting, one of the largest providers of Dark Web hosting services, was hacked this week and taken offline, ZDNet reports. From a report: The hack took place on Thursday, November 15, according to Daniel Winzen, the software developer behind the hosting service. "As per my analysis it seems someone got access to the database and deleted all accounts," he said in a message posted on the DH portal today. Winzen said the server's root account was also deleted, and that all 6,500+ Dark Web services hosted on the platform are now gone. "Unfortunately, all data is lost and per design, there are no backups," Winzen told ZDNet in an email today. "I will bring my hosting back up once the vulnerability has been identified and fixed."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's of-course-that's-happening department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The relatively new blockchain gaming industry is about to take a massive step forward as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are making their way onto the PlayStation 4. Arcade Distillery, a game developer that creates titles for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, is gearing up to launch a new game for the PS4 built around the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain. Plague Hunters is a single-player-focused, turn-based strategy RPG with some PvP elements and the sequel to the successful Plague Road.
The game, which will be free-to-play and feature a marketplace for P2P transactions, has passed the Sony review process, passing all of PlayStation's terms and conditions, despite containing numerous elements of blockchain tech. This marks the first time any blockchain game has been able to accomplish this feat. Similar to other blockchain games, it looks like Plague Hunter's in-game assets, including units, weapons and other items, will be pegged to NFTs.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
NASA is considering selling seats on the spacecraft that will ferry its astronauts to the International Space Station, offering rides to the public while opening another line of revenue as the agency attempts to broaden its appeal [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: On several occasions, Russia has flown wealthy individuals who paid millions for the ride to space. And a trio of private companies backed by billionaires, is also looking to fly tourists out of the atmosphere. But except for a couple of rare exceptions, such as Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was killed when the space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, NASA has not allowed private citizens on its rockets. "Just like in the early days of aviation, with barnstorming, these initial activities will help build the infrastructure and the foundation that can lead to future innovations that, frankly, we cannot imagine right now," said Michael Gold, the general counsel of Maxar Technologies, who is leading the advisory council's policy reform effort.
The proposal, backed Friday by a NASA advisory subcommittee, is still in the nascent stage, and is part of moves by the agency to better insert itself into the public consciousness by working with the private sector. The proposals would have to be approved by the entire advisory council and then forwarded to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Friday's meeting comes two months after Bridenstine announced he was standing up the committee, and tasking it to look at how the agency could better partner with industry. He said then that he wants NASA and its astronauts "embedded into the American culture." On Friday, he reiterated the point, saying: "The reality is, we're in a new era now."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
There's no question that the concept of open-source software has revolutionized the enterprise software world, which spent billions of dollars fighting the mere idea for several years before accepting that a new future had arrived. But more than a few people are starting to wonder if the very nature of open-source software -- the idea that it can be used by pretty much anyone for pretty much anything -- is causing its developers big problems in the era of distributed cloud computing services. From a report: Two prominent open-source software companies have made the decision to alter the licenses under which some of their software is distributed, with the expressed intent of making it harder -- or impossible -- for cloud computing providers to offer a service based around that software.
Two companies do not a make a movement. But as the cloud world packs its bags for Las Vegas and Amazon Web Services' re:Invent 2018 conference next week, underscoring that company's ability to set the agenda for the upcoming year, the intersection between open-source projects and cloud computing services is on many people's minds. "The way that I would think of it, the role that open source plays in creating commercial opportunities has changed," said Abby Kearns, executive director of the open-source Cloud Foundry Foundation. "We're going to see a lot more of this conversation happening than less. I would put it in a very blunt way: for many years we were suckers, and let them take what we developed and make tons of money on this."
< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
NASA is building a giant rocket ship to return astronauts to the moon and, later on, ferry the first crews to and from Mars. But agency leaders are already contemplating the retirement of the Space Launch System (SLS), as the towering and yet-to-fly government rocket is called, and the Orion space capsule that'll ride on top. From a report: NASA is anticipating the emergence of two reusable and presumably more affordable mega-rockets that private aerospace companies are creating. Those systems are the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is being built by Elon Musk's SpaceX; and the New Glenn, a launcher being built by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. "I think our view is that if those commercial capabilities come online, we will eventually retire the government system, and just move to a buying launch capacity on those [rockets]," Stephen Jurczyk, NASA's associate administrator, told Business Insider at The Economist Space Summit on November 1. However, NASA may soon find itself in a strange position, since at least one of the two company's systems may beat SLS back to the moon -- and possibly be the first to reach Mars.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's mission-mars department
pgmrdlm writes: Bill Nye says the idea of Mars colonization and terraforming -- making a planet more Earth-like by modifying its atmosphere -- is science fiction. "This whole idea of terraforming Mars, as respectful as I can be, are you guys high?" Nye said in an interview with USA TODAY. "We can't even take care of this planet where we live, and we're perfectly suited for it, let alone another planet." As for living on Mars permanently: Sorry, Nye says that's not happening either. "People disagree with me on this, and the reason they disagree is because they're wrong," he quipped. The famous science educator and CEO of The Planetary Society appears on National Geographic Channel's series "MARS." While the series explores human beings living on the Red Planet and even mining it, that doesn't mean Nye buys into the idea. For starters, he points to Antarctica, where scientists are stationed even during the harsh winter months but no one lives permanently.
"Nobody goes to Antarctica to raise a family. You don't go there and build a park, there's just no such thing. Nobody's gonna go settle on Mars to raise a family and have generations of Martians," Nye said. "It's not reasonable because it's so cold. And there is hardly any water. There's absolutely no food, and the big thing, I just remind these guys, there's nothing to breathe." Plus living in a dome, then putting on a spacesuit to go outside will get tiring -- fast. "When you leave your dome, you're gonna put on another dome, and I think that will get old pretty quick," he said. "Especially the smell in the spacesuit 00 all the Febreze you can pack, I think it will really help you up there."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's out-of-the-office department
Inc. magazine explains a unique feature of GitLab. "Every employee of the San Francisco-based startup, which offers tools for software developers, works from home."
Three years ago, that was nine people. Today, GitLab's 350 employees across 45 countries use video calls and Slack chats to stay constantly connected.... GitLab meetings and presentations are uploaded to YouTube. Its employee handbook -- over 1,000 pages long when printed -- is publicly available online as a resource, so employees can get questions answered without waking up co-workers in a different time zone.
The biggest advantage to an all-remote team is obvious: Your hiring pool is gigantic, and you don't need to convince top talent to move for you. GitLab's percentage of quality job applications is similar to other companies -- its dramatic number of recent hires is due to how many applications it receives, 13,000 in the second quarter of 2018 alone. On the other hand, maintaining a culture is really difficult. "To be honest, I was definitely a bit concerned," says Dave Munichiello, a general partner at Alphabet's venture capital arm, GV, which invested in GitLab in 2017. "What happens when the all-hands meeting isn't a bunch of folks hanging around the water cooler listening to the CEO articulate the vision and the mission?"
< article continued at Slashdot's out-of-the-office department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's anti-social-network department
Slate argues that Facebook "is a normal sleazy company now," saying the company "obscured its problems and fought dirty against its critics" -- but that now its failings are being publicly aired. And Reason provides yet another example:
The Times also reveals that Facebook chose to support FOSTA (and its Senate counterpart, SESTA) -- legislation that guts a fundamental protection for digital publishers and platforms, and makes prostitution advertising a federal crime -- not as a matter of principle but as a political tactic to tar opponents and cozy up to Congressional critics.
Even Steve Wozniak has joined the critics, saying this week that Facebook should "stop putting money before morals," adding later that "I haven't seen them do one real thing." Woz also suggested that Facebook should allow users to export their data so they could upload it onto competing social networks.
Now long-time Slashdot reader pcjunky reports that the same scammy ad has been running on Facebook for a full two months after it was reported. But maybe they're just understaffed? Engadget reports that over the last six months Facebook has discoverd and eliminated 1.5 billion different fake accounts -- which is 200 million more than the 1.3 billion accounts it removed in the previous six months. On the Blind app, one Facebook employee reportedly asked the ultimate question: "Why does our company suck at having a moral compass?"
So where will it all lead? According to Fortune, Senators Chris Coons and Bob Corker "warned Friday that Congress would impose new regulations to rein in Facebook unless the social-media company addresses concerns about privacy and the spread of misinformation on its platform." But will anything change?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's language-barriers department
A recent TechCrunch article claimed to have identified the best indicator of programming language popularity: GitHub's annual "State of the Octoverse" reports. So Austin-based technology reporter Mike Melanson explored the new verdict in GitHub's 2018 report:
When we look at the top languages according to the number of contributors, we see a similar story, with the top four languages mirrored. In this chart, of course, we see that Ruby is on a steady decline, while Typescript is on a steady rise. The only surprise to be seen here is that C, after a brief uptick in popularity, has taken a bit of a nosedive over the past year. Either way, seven of 10 languages have the same exact ranking....
Finally, beyond the language rankings themselves, GitHub offers a wonderful analysis of just what it is that makes a particular language popular in 2018, boiling it down to three key characteristics: thread safety, interoperability, and being open source.
GitHub's report also identifies its fastest growing languages over the last year -- including Kotin, TypeScript, Rust, Python, and Go. "This year, TypeScript shot up to #7 among top languages used on the platform overall, after making its way in the top 10 for the first time last year," the report notes.
< article continued at Slashdot's language-barriers department
>Read Replies (0)