By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a Wired report: Algorithms, unlike humans, are susceptible to a specific type of problem called an "adversarial example." These are specially designed optical illusions that fool computers into doing things like mistake a picture of a panda for one of a gibbon. They can be images, sounds, or paragraphs of text. Think of them as hallucinations for algorithms. While a panda-gibbon mix-up may seem low stakes, an adversarial example could thwart the AI system that controls a self-driving car, for instance, causing it to mistake a stop sign for a speed limit one. They've already been used to beat other kinds of algorithms, like spam filters. Those adversarial examples are also much easier to create than was previously understood, according to research released Wednesday from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. And not just under controlled conditions; the team reliably fooled Google's Cloud Vision API, a machine learning algorithm used in the real world today. For example, in November another team at MIT (with many of the same researchers) published a study demonstrating how Google's InceptionV3 image classifier could be duped into thinking that a 3-D-printed turtle was a rifle. In fact, researchers could manipulate the AI into thinking the turtle was any object they wanted.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's road-ahead department
Disney's acquisition of Fox's film studio will unite some of the most lucrative movie franchises, from Disney's Star Wars and Marvel series to Fox's X-Men and Avatar. With control of more blockbusters, not only does Disney gain more leverage over theater chains such as AMC and Carmike Cinemas, it also wins more films it could distribute exclusively on its upcoming online service -- cutting out cinema operators entirely. From a report: "Disney is becoming the Wal-Mart of Hollywood: huge and dominant," says Barton Crockett, a media analyst at B. Riley FBR. "That's going to have a big influence up and down the supply chain." Together, Disney and Fox accounted for 40 percent of ticket sales in 2016 in the U.S. and Canada, a level of market concentration that could draw scrutiny from Washington. If the deal goes through, theater owners could get squeezed. Usually a film's box-office revenue is split evenly between exhibitors and the studio. But Disney previously has gotten theaters to hand over a larger share -- sometimes more than 60 percent -- on its biggest, most popular films, such as the Star Wars series. Now it could try the same tactic with Fox's Avatar, which has four sequels in the works. "While the future of movie exhibition looks increasingly dim, a Disney-Fox merger will elevate its level of pain," says Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC. Cinema chains have already suffered this year from a string of box-office bombs, including Warner Bros' King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and online video services such as Netflix are keeping more moviegoers at home.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's beat-it department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Wearable technology still isn't catching up. Despite a year full of exciting new smartwatches, tech-enabled clothing or jewelry, and fitness activity trackers galore, the growth of the wearables market is still on the decline, according to a new report from research firm eMarketer. In fact, the entire category is being overtaken by smart speakers, at least during the 2017 holiday season. "Other than early adopters, consumers have yet to find a reason to justify the cost of a smartwatch, which can sometimes cost as much as a smartphone," eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu wrote in the report. "Instead, for this holiday season, we expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's history-lessons department
In a column, Steven Sinofsky, former President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, cites various examples from the past to suggest that it is often when incumbents in technology space have established market dominance that new startups rise and displace them: While the tech incumbents are clearly generating massive revenue and profits, nearly all of this comes from products developed long ago. In fact, as we now know in hindsight, it is exactly when conventional wisdom conflates today's economic success with forward-looking product innovation that seeds are being planted for the next massive wave of innovation. Google was formed at time when the incumbents of AOL and even Yahoo were stronger than ever. Facebook came just after the dot com bubble burst. Even the reincarnation of Apple took place after the bubble burst with products being developed as the bubble peaked. And for what it is worth, the PC ecosystem, particularly Windows, was relatively "flat" mired in Windows Vista while Firefox dominated and Google Chrome was appeared (Windows 7 wouldn't come out for a year after Chrome). In the infrastructure space, the seeds were planted for both AWS and VMWare in the shadow of the dot com bubble. In an historical context it is highly likely that the next wave of innovation in new technologies and new companies will happen right under the noses of big companies operating at what the public markets think of as peak (earnings) potential.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's love-for-books department
I once sneered at lifetime reading plans. Two decades later, I'm more aware that reading time, like all time, is precious, writes journalist Nilanjana Roy. From her column on the Financial Times (might be paywalled), shared by a reader: As the new year approaches, I sort my bookshelves and reboot my lifetime reading plan. Like a good road map, the plan makes the difference between dreaming of visiting 50 places before you die, and actually getting to 10 or 11 of those in the year ahead. In my twenties, arrogant with the faith of a speed-reader who had plunged recklessly into reading the classics of Bengali and Hindi literature alongside English, I sneered at lifetime reading plans. So earnest. So stuffy. Who wanted a map when you could freewheel down the highway, veering from JM Coetzee to Ursula K Le Guin, reading Stephen King alongside Beowulf or The Mahabharata, reading Tamil pulp fiction in translation one week, Japanese crime thrillers the next? Two decades later, I'm more aware that the years pass swiftly, that reading time, like all time, is precious. In a thoughtfully planned survey for Literary Hub, writer Emily Temple plotted the number of books an average reader in the US might finish in a lifetime. She analysed trends for women and men across different age groups, and broke down the results into three categories: the average reader (about 12 books a year), the voracious reader (50 books a year) and the super reader (80 books a year). At the age of 25, even a super reader with a long life expectancy will finish a mere 4,560-4,880 books before they die.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's files-you-want-to-believe department
An anonymous reader shares a Newsweek report: The existence of UFOs had been "proved beyond reasonable doubt," according the head of the secret Pentagon program that analyzed the mysterious aircrafts. In an interview with British broadsheet The Telegraph published on Saturday, Luis Elizondo told the newspaper of the sightings, "In my opinion, if this was a court of law, we have reached the point of 'beyond reasonable doubt.'" "I hate to use the term UFO but that's what we're looking at," he added. "I think it's pretty clear this is not us, and it's not anyone else, so no one has to ask questions where they're from." Elizondo led the U.S. Defense Department's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, investigating evidence of UFOs and alien life, from 2007 to 2012, when it was shuttered. Its existence was first reported by The New York Times this month.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
An anonymous reader writes: A North Carolina judge sentenced a Washington man this week to 37 months in prison for threatening a company with attacks unless they fire one of their employees and hire him instead. According to court documents obtained by Bleeping Computer, on April 18, 2016, Todd Michael Gori sent an email to TSI Healthcare, a healthcare software vendor based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Gori, a 28-year-old resident of Wenatchee, Washington, threatened the company with cyber attacks by him and unnamed friends if the company did not fire one of its employees and hire him instead. "I am giving you, TSI healthcare two choices," Gori wrote in the email. "You either lay-off [identity redacted] and replace her with me, an operator 100x better that she is oppressing. Or I will take out your entire company along with my comrades via a cyber attack. Again you have two choices. Get ride of her and hire me. Or slowly be chipped away at until you are gone. She is a horrible operator that can only manage 2 screens with an over inflated travel budget. I fly at least 10x as many places as this loon on 1/5th of the budget," the email reads. "I have petitioned for a job with you guys with her as a reference as I am a felon with computer skills and need assistance getting work as technically I have 'no work history'. She declines everytime and burries me even further."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's modest-proposal department
Hunter Walk: I don't really understand most of the proposals to "regulate" Facebook. There are some concrete proposals on the table regarding political ads and updating antitrust for the data age, but other punditry is largely consumer advocacy kabuki. For example, blunting the data Facebook can use to target ads or tune newsfeed hurts the user experience, and there's really no stable way to draw a line around what's appropriate versus not. These experiences are too fluid. But while I want keep the government out of the product design business, there's an alternate path which has merit: establish a baseline for the control a person has over their data on these systems. Today the platforms give their users a single choice: keep your account active or delete your account. Sure, some expose small amounts of ad targeting data and let you manipulate that, but on the whole they provide limited or no control over your ability to "start over." Want to delete all your tweets? You have to use a third party app. Want to delete all your Facebook posts? Good luck with that. Nope, once you're in the mousetrap, there's no way out except account suicide. But is that really fair? Over multiple years, we all change. Things we said in 2011 may or may not represent us today. And these services evolve -- did we think we'd be using Facebook as a primary source of news consumption and private messaging back when you were posting baby photos? Did you think they'd also own Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and so on when you created accounts on those services? We're the frogs, slow boiling in the pot of water.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's run-run-Rudolph department
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget:
Dive into the Easter egg section on your EV and you'll discover a reindeer button that invokes a Santa Mode. To say it brings a Christmas vibe to your car would be an understatement. It turns your car into Santa's sleigh on the dash display (and other cars into reindeer), but that's really just the start of the flourishes. The new mode plays the late, great Chuck Berry's version of "Run Rudolph Run" when it first kicks in, for one thing. You'll also hear sleigh bells when you invoke a turn signal. And if you're fortunate enough to have a car with Autopilot, the road ahead will suddenly turn icy.
The article includes a video showing that the voice command to enable Santa mode is -- of course -- "Ho ho ho."
Engadget calls it "one of the perks of owning a Tesla in the first place. The combination of all-digital displays and frequent software updates lets Tesla add little delights that you couldn't get if you had to stare at an old-school instrument cluster."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's island-of-misfit-games department
An anonymous reader quotes TechSpot:
Every three years the US Copyright Office reviews and renews the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions at which time it considers exemptions to the law. It is currently looking at a proposal for allowing museums, libraries and archives to circumvent the DRM on abandoned online games such as FIFA World Cup, Nascar and The Sims.
The proposal was initiated by The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE). The Made is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a physical museum located in Oakland, California. The gallery "is the only all-playable video game museum in the world, [and] houses over 5,300 playable games." The Made is concerned that certain multiplayer and single-player games that require a server to run will be lost if exemptions are not made to the DMCA. It is not looking to circumvent current games but instead is looking to preserve titles that have already been shut down by the producer -- City of Heroes (and Villains) would be a good example.
"Although the Current Exemption does not cover it, preservation of online video games is now critical," a Made representative wrote to the Copyright Office. "Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity. For example, an estimated fifty-three percent of gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week, and spend, on average, six hours a week playing with others online." The number of abandoned games is not insignificant, either. According to the Electronic Arts "Online Services Shutdown" list, more than 300 titles and servers dropped out of service just in the last four years. These games are not played anymore because they require an active server.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Happy-Xmas-(War-is-Over) department
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
The U.S. military command that is charged with protecting the airspace for North America is on alert this Christmas weekend for a man with a white beard and a red suit. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is tracking a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer around the world as it heads for U.S. airspace Sunday night. The public can access NORAD's official Santa Tracker to watch Santa Claus' voyage... [NOTE: The site will request access to your physical location before revealing Santa's whereabouts...]
The public can also call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) and speak live with NORAD trackers. People stuck in the car on the way to Grandmother's house, and with an OnStar subscription, can access the tracker by hitting their OnStar button... Marine Col. Bob Brodie of the 601st Air Operations Center said fighter jets will "fly along (Santa's) wing" in a "close escort," and that the center will "monitor him with our satellites and even have infrared trackers to follow Rudolph."
CNN reports NORAD first began tracking Santa in 1955 when a Sears ad misprinted the telephone number for children to call for updates on Mr. Claus's progress. "On December 24, 1955, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup was on duty, and instead of hanging up on countless children that night, Shoup checked the radar and updated the eager children on jolly old Saint Nick's location." But Gizmodo reports a different origin story: that one child had simply dialed the number incorrectly (in November), and weeks later that gave NORAD the idea for "one of the most successful military PR campaigns of the last century."
This year fifteen of the children's calls to NORAD were remotely answered by President Trump and first lady Melania.Read Replies (0)