By EditorDavid from Slashdot's missiles-of-August department
"No country should have missiles flying over them like those 130 million people in Japan," the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Monday. Though it was only a test, the scene on-the-ground is described by Slashdot reader AppleHoshi:
Our phones went crazy on receipt of an automated alert from the "J-Alert" system. Shortly afterwards, loudspeakers broadcast another alert (there are loudspeakers everywhere in Japan, to warn of earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons). As normal with any disaster situation in Japan, all of the available television channels immediately switched over to full-coverage mode, with a repetition of what the situation was ("There's a missile heading in the direction of north-central Japan") followed by basic instructions of what to do ("If it comes down in your area, try to extinguish any fires and immediately inform your local police and fire departments").
Shortly before twenty past six we got the news that the missile had over-flown northern Japan and landed in the Pacific, about 1,000 km [621 miles] from the coast of Hokkaido. The "all-clear" was broadcast over the local speakers a short while later. Strange as it may seem, this all had an air of normality about it. Japan gets more than it's fair share of natural disasters, so anyone living here gets plenty of exposure to this same routine. (It's just that the reason is usually an earthquake, typhoon or tsunami, rather than a megalomaniac).Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speaking-up department
An anonymous reader quote The Verge: After four months of debate, the FCC is nearly ready to stop accepting feedback on its proposal to kill net neutrality. Final comments are due this Wednesday, August 30th, by end-of-day Eastern time. Once the comment period closes, the FCC will review the feedback it received and use it as guidance to revise its proposal, which if passed, would reverse the Title II classification that guaranteed net neutrality just two years ago. The commission is supposed to factor in all of the feedback it received when writing its final draft, so if you do have strong feelings on the matter, it's worth leaving a comment...
To leave a comment, you'll have to go to this site, click "+ Express," and then fill out the form it opens up to. Make sure you leave the proceeding number "17-108" in place, as that's what ties it to the net neutrality proposal. Also, be aware that everything filed is public, so others will be able to see your name and address.
"ISPs shouldn't be gatekeepers," wrote the EFF in a tweet sharing tips on the way to write effective comments. The number of comments matter because "the commission will very likely have to defend its changes in court," according to the article. And the commission has now received a record 22 million filings -- nearly six times the previous record of 3.7 million comments (when the net neutrality rules were first implemented).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The "pivot" has assumed a peculiar place in our common lexicon. A word once used to describe a guard angling for position on the basketball court is now in wide circulation in politics and business. That's especially the case in Silicon Valley, where pivoting has become the new failure, a concept to describe a haphazard, practically madcap form of iterative development. With its sheen of management-speak, pivoting is well suited to our moment. And like any act of public relations, pivoting is also a performance. A key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though it arises from desperation, is nevertheless supposed to appear methodical. The word seems to have first gained currency in Silicon Valley through the efforts of Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup." Ries defines pivoting as "a change in strategy without a change in vision." Many successful start-ups now claim a pivot as their origin story. Slack began its life as a video-game company before realizing that its actual value might lie in a chat app the company used to communicate internally. The company is now considered to be worth at least $5 billion, putting it among the most successful pivoters of all time. (Other web staples -- YouTube, Groupon, Instagram -- began life in vastly different iterations before pivoting into their current forms.) There's a promise of technocratic efficiency with pivoting, that all you require is a good business plan, and perhaps another injection of venture capital, and you can transform yourself overnight.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's be-prepared department
Cybersecurity expert and Berkman Klein fellow Bruce Schneier talked to the Gazette about what consumers can do to protect themselves from government and corporate surveillance. From the interview: GAZETTE: After whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations concerning the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance operation in 2013, how much has the government landscape in this field changed? SCHNEIER: Snowden's revelations made people aware of what was happening, but little changed as a result. The USA Freedom Act resulted in some minor changes in one particular government data-collection program. The NSA's data collection hasn't changed; the laws limiting what the NSA can do haven't changed; the technology that permits them to do it hasn't changed. It's pretty much the same. GAZETTE: Should consumers be alarmed by this? SCHNEIER: People should be alarmed, both as consumers and as citizens. But today, what we care about is very dependent on what is in the news at the moment, and right now surveillance is not in the news. It was not an issue in the 2016 election, and by and large isn't something that legislators are willing to make a stand on. Snowden told his story, Congress passed a new law in response, and people moved on. GAZETTE: What about corporate surveillance? How pervasive is it? SCHNEIER: Surveillance is the business model of the internet. Everyone is under constant surveillance by many companies, ranging from social networks like Facebook to cellphone providers. This data is collected, compiled, analyzed, and used to try to sell us stuff. Personalized advertising is how these companies make money, and is why so much of the internet is free to users. We're the product, not the customer.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Mic, a website aimed at millennials, used to employ 40 writers and editors producing articles on topics like "celebrating beauty" and "strong women." Ten were let go this month, with most in the revamped newsroom of 63 now focused on making videos for places like Facebook. Critics have called such moves "100 percent cynical" and out of sync with audience demand. Yet Americans are watching more video snippets online, either because they secretly like them or because they're getting harder to avoid. The growing audience for video, more valuable to advertisers than the space next to words, is causing websites to shift resources in what's become known across the industry as the pivot to video. Americans are expected to spend 81 minutes a day watching digital video in 2019, up from 61 minutes in 2015, according to projections by research firm eMarketer. Time spent reading a newspaper is expected to drop to 13 minutes a day from 16 minutes during that time. The question is whether those trends will sustain the growing number of outlets flooding social networks with video clips. Mic, a New York-based news site founded in 2011, was just the latest to fire writers when it announced its pivot to video this month. Dozens of writers and editors have also been laid off this summer at news outlets like Vocativ, Fox Sports, Vice and MTV News. All of the moves were tied in part to focusing more resources on making videos. Publishers are heading in this direction even though polls show consumers find video ads more irritating than TV commercials. Google and Apple are testing features that let you mute websites with auto-play videos or block them entirely. More young Americans prefer reading the news than watching it, according to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center. But many publishers have little choice.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-greater-good department
Microsoft has said it's ready to have a "conversation" with any development team that wants to feature crossplay support on consoles and PC. From a report: Mike Ybarra, vice president of Xbox, told VG247 that it's happy to talk to the likes of Valve and Nintendo when it comes to getting multiplayer games working across multiple platforms, not just between Xbox One and Windows. "It's more about gamer choice, more about making an IP on our platform last longer. I don't care about where they play, I just want people to have fun playing games because that's just better for the industry," said Ybarra. "The demands of consumers and developers have changed," he continued. "People are like, 'we want all of our gamers in one multiplayer pool together, playing.' "We totally agree with that. If any developer wants to have that conversation... Valve is right down the street from us, Nintendo is too -- they're like a block from us. We're having these discussions as developers come up, and we're completely open to that."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tricks-of-the-trade department
An anonymous reader shares a report from The Verge of a popular YouTube artist who is using artificial intelligence to produce a LP: If you heard Taryn Southern's new single "Break Free" on the radio, you'd probably just keep driving or grocery shopping, or doing whatever you do in places that still have radios playing. The song is a big, moody ballad -- the kind that might play during the climax of a Steven Spielberg movie. "Break Free" wasn't composed by a John Williams copycat, but by artificial intelligence. The song is not a fluke or a novelty for Southern either; she's using artificial intelligence platforms to create an entire album, called I AM AI. It's the first LP to be entirely composed and produced with AI. Southern used an open source AI platform called Amper Music to create the stems of "Break Free." For each track, she plugs in genre, the instruments she wants to use, and beats per minute. In return, Amper churns out disjointed verses that can be rearranged into a song, and layered beneath Southern's vocals. Southern told The Verge she's toying with four other AI music platforms, but she's not sure which of those will make the final album cut.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's progressive-treatments department
In what could lead to a faster path to pharmaceutical approval, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as a "breakthrough therapy" in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Futurism reports: The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced the FDA's ruling last week, revealing that they can now move forward on two of their upcoming "Phase 3" trials. The goal of these trials is to determine how effectively the drug can be used to treat those suffering from PTSD. The trials will include 200 to 300 participants, and the first trial will begin to accept subjects in 2018. The trials will be held in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, and MAPS plans to open talks with the European Medicines Agency in the hopes of expanding testing to include Europe. For now, the focus is on securing the funding they require. According to Science, the organization is still in the process of raising money for the trials, and thus far, they've only managed to secure $13 million, about half of their goal. Previous MAPS trials exploring how well MDMA could treat PTSD have yielded favorable results, contributing to the FDA's aforementioned decision. In the association's Phase 2 trails, 107 people who had PTSD for an average of 17.8 years were treated using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. After two months, 61 percent of the participants no longer suffered from PTSD. After a year, that number increased to 68 percent, according to the MAPS press release.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department
bellwould shares a report from The University of Manchester. From the report: A lost and unique collection of letters and correspondence from the late Alan Turing has been found in an old filing cabinet in a storeroom at the University of Manchester. The file's content, which potentially hasn't seen the light of day for at least 30 years, dates from early 1949 until Turing's death in June 1954. Altogether there are 148 documents, including a letter from GCHQ, a handwritten draft BBC radio program about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and offers to lecture from some of America's most famous universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
... [T]he letters do give a unique glimpse into his every day working life at the time of these events. Plus, some documents also give a brief insight into some of his more forthright personal opinions. For example, his response to a conference invitation to the U.S. in April 1953 is simply, "I would not like the journey, and I detest America." The collection of papers has been sorted, catalogued and stored at the University's Library by Archivist, James Peters. The documents themselves were found by Professor Jim Miles of the School of Computer Science.Read Replies (0)