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Drivers Prefer Autonomous Cars That Don't Kill Them
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 06:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crash-testing department:
"A new study shows that most people prefer that self-driving cars be programmed to save the most people in the event of an accident, even if it kills the driver," reports Information Week. "Unless they are the drivers." Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes an article from Hot Hardware about the new study, which was published by Science magazine.
So if there is just one passenger aboard a car, and the lives of 10 pedestrians are at stake, the survey participants were perfectly fine with a self-driving car "killing" its passenger to save many more lives in return. But on the flip side, these same participants said that if they were shopping for a car to purchase or were a passenger, they would prefer to be within a vehicle that would protect their lives by any means necessary. Participants also balked at the notion of the government stepping in to regulate the "morality brain" of self-driving cars.
The article warns about a future where "a harsh AI reality may whittle the worth of our very existence down to simple, unemotional percentages in a computer's brain." MIT's Media Lab is now letting users judge for themselves, in a free online game called "Moral Machine" simulating the difficult decisions that might someday have to be made by an autonomous self-driving car.

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Religious Hacker Defaces 111 Escort Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 03:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's content-blocker department:
An anonymous reader shares this article from Softpedia:
A religiously-motivated Moroccan hacker has defaced 111 different web sites promoting escort services since last summer as part of an ongoing protest against the industry. "In January, the hacker defaced 79 escort websites," writes Softpedia. "His actions didn't go unnoticed, and on some online forums where escorts and webmasters of these websites met, his name was brought up in discussions and used to drive each other in implementing better Web security. While some webmasters did their job, some didn't. During the past days, the hacker has been busy defacing a new set of escort websites... Most of these websites bare ElSurveillance's defacement message even today... Most of the websites are from the UK."

His newest round of attacks replace the sites with a pro-Palestine message and a quote from the quran, though in January Softpedia reported the attacker was also stealing data from some of the sites about their users' accounts.

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Google and Facebook May Be Suppressing 'Extremist' Speech With Copyright Scanners
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 03:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's anti-social-media department:
An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Verge:
The systems that automatically enforce copyright laws on the internet may be expanding to block unfavorable speech. Reuters reports that Facebook, Google, and other companies are exploring automated removal of extremist content, and could be repurposing copyright takedown methods to identify and suppress it. It's unclear where the lines have been drawn, but the systems are likely targeted at radical messages on social networks from enemies of European powers and the United States. Leaders in the US and Europe have increasingly decried radical extremism on the internet and have attempted to enlist internet companies in a fight to suppress it.

Many of those companies have been receptive to the idea and already have procedures to block violent and hateful content. Neither Facebook and Google would confirm automation of these efforts to Reuters, which relied on two anonymous sources who are "familiar with the process"... The secret identification and automated blocking of extremist speech would raise new, serious questions about the cooperation of private corporations with censorious governmental interests.

Reuters calls it "a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites and are under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate, from Syria to Belgium and the United States." They also report that the move follows pressure from an anti-extremism group "founded by, among others, Frances Townsend, who advised former president George W. Bush on homeland security, and Mark Wallace, who was deputy campaign manager for the Bush 2004 re-election campaign."

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Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 02:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speedy-TVs department:
The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article:
You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote. According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."
Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?

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As It Searches For Suspects, The FBI May Be Looking At You
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 12:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department:
schwit1 quotes the MIT Technology Review: The FBI has access to nearly 412 million photos in its facial recognition system—perhaps including the one on your driver's license. But according to a new government watchdog report, the bureau doesn't know how error-prone the system is, or whether it enhances or hinders investigations.

Since 2011, the bureau has quietly been using this system to compare new images, such as those taken from surveillance cameras, against a large set of photos to look for a match. That set of existing images is not limited to the FBI's own database, which includes some 30 million photos. The bureau also has access to face recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies in 16 different states, and it can tap into databases from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. And it is in negotiations with 18 other states to be able to search their databases, too...
Adding to the privacy concerns is another finding in the GAO report: that the FBI has not properly determined how often its system makes errors and has not "taken steps to determine whether face recognition systems used by external partners, such as states and federal agencies, are sufficiently accurate" to support investigations.

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New C++ Features Voted In By C++17 Standards Committee
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 12:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's news-from-Finland department:
New submitter lefticus writes: The upcoming C++17 standard has reached Committee Draft stage, having been voted on in the standards committee meeting in Oulu, Finland this Saturday. This makes C++17 now feature complete, with many new interesting features such as if initializers and structured bindings having been voted in at this meeting. An [audio] interview with the C++ committee chair, Herb Sutter, about the status of C++17 has also been posted.

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A New 'Quake' Episode Appears 20 Years Later
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 11:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's BFG department:
An anonymous reader quotes this report from Motherboard:
The months leading up to this year's phenomenal reboot of Doom were stuffed with all kinds of fun developments surrounding the original series, whether it was mods that let you play as Duke Nukem or whole new levels from famed designer John Romero. There's now a new Quake game in the works, and already it appears to be enjoying a similar renaissance. Yesterday MachineGames, the studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order, released an entirely new episode for the original Quake in celebration of its 20-year anniversary, and you can play it entirely for free.

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'Linux vs Windows' Challenge: Phoronix Tests Popular Games
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 10:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pick-a-card,-any-card department:
An anonymous reader writes: Michael Larabel at Phoronix has combined their new results from intensive Linux/Windows performance testing for popular games on Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA graphics cards, and at different resolutions. "This makes it easy to see the Linux vs. Windows performance overall or for games where the Linux ports are simply rubbish and performing like crap compared to the native Windows game." The games tested included Xonotic, Tomb Raider, Grid Autosport, Dota 2, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, F1 2015, and Company of Heroes 2 -- and the results were surprising.

Xonotic v0.8 outperformed Windows with a NVIDIA card, but "The poor Xonotic performance on Linux with the Intel driver was one of the biggest surprises from yesterday's article. It's not anything we've seen with the other drivers." And while testing on the Source 2 engine revealed that Valve's Dota 2 "is a quality Linux port," most of the other results were disappointing -- regardless of the graphics card and driver. "Tomb Raider on Linux performs much worse than the Windows build regardless of your driver/graphics card... Shadow of Mordor's relative Linux performance is more decent than many other Linux games albeit still isn't running at the same speeds as the Windows games..."

The article concludes with a note of optimism. "Hopefully in due time with the next generation of games making use of Vulkan...we'll see better performance relative to Windows." Have Slashdot readers seen any performance issues while playing games on Linux?

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Remember When You Could Call the Time?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 08:43 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's times-they-are-a-changin' department:
An article on The Atlantic this week takes a stroll down the memory lane. It talks about phone services that people could call for knowing the time. The service, according to the article, was quite popular in 1980s. But many of them don't exist now. For instance, Verizon discontinued the line -- as well as its telephone weather service -- in 2011. But what's fascinating is that some of these services still exist, and are getting more traction than many of us would've imagined. From the article:"We get 3 million calls per year!" said Demetrios Matsakis, the chief scientist for time services at the Naval Observatory. "And there's an interesting sociology to it. They don't call as much on the weekend, and the absolute minimum time they call is Christmas. On big holidays, people don't care about the time. But we get a big flood of calls when we switch to Daylight [saving] time and back." As it turns out, people have been telephoning the time for generations. In the beginning, a telephone-based time service must have seemed like a natural extension of telegraph-based timekeeping -- but it would have been radical in its own way, too, because it represented a key shift to an on-demand service. In the 19th century, big railroad companies had used the telegraph to transmit the time to major railway stations. By the early 20th century, people could simply pick up the telephone and ask a human operator for the time.

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IRS Gets Hacked Again, Forced To Scrap Their Entire PIN System
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 08:43 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's filing-out department:
The IRS has abandoned a system of PIN numbers used when filing tax returns online after they detected "automated attacks taking place at an increasing frequency," adding that only "a small number" of taxpayers were affected. An anonymous reader quotes the highlights from Engadget:
The IRS chose not to kill the tool back in February, since most commercial tax software products use it... If you'll recall, identity thieves used malware to steal taxpayers' info from other websites, which was then used to generate 100,000 PINs, back in February... This time, the IRS detected "automated attacks taking place at an increasing frequency" thanks to the additional defenses it added after that initial hack... the agency determined that it would be safer to give up on a verification method that's scheduled for the chopping block anyway.

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After Death, Hundreds of Genes Spring Back to Life
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 07:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's walking-dead department:
Two surprising studies reveal new information about what genes do after death. Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes:
You think your body stops after death, but up to two days later certain genes may turn on and start doing stuff for another two days before they give up the ghost. We are all zombies for up to four days after death.

Gizmodo reports that in fact "hundreds" of genes apparently spring back to life. "[P]revious work on human cadavers demonstrated that some genes remain active after death, but we had no idea as to the extent of this strange phenomenon."

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Axiom Plans A New Private-Sector Outpost in Space
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 06:15 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's billions-and-billions department:
A seed-funded company named Axiom wants to build a private-sector outpost in orbit by launching a new module for the International Space Station, according to an article on Space News.

Once on the station, Axiom Space would use it for commercial purposes, ranging from research to tourism. [Former space station manager] Suffredini said that it would also be available for use by NASA when the company is not using it, helping the process of transitioning research done on the International Space Station to future private stations. Research hardware elsewhere in the station could eventually be moved to this module to allow its continued use after the station's retirement.

Slashdot reader MarkWhittington shares an article from Blasting News:
In the meantime, Nanoracks, a company that is already handling some of the logistics for the ISS, is proposing a commercial airlock for the ISS. The development of commercial space stations, as well as commercial spacecraft such as the SpaceX Dragon and the Boeing Starliner, constitutes NASA's long-term strategy of handing off low-Earth orbit to the private sector while it concentrates on deep space exploration.

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Star Trek Actor's Death Inspires Class Action Against Car Manufacturer
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 04:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's RIP,-Chekov department:
Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed Sunday when his own vehicle rolled backwards. Now Slashdot reader ripvlan writes:
It has recently emerged that his vehicle was a Jeep. As discussed on Slashdot previously consumers are having a hard time knowing if the vehicle is in "Park." A new class action lawsuit is gaining momentum... Also Maserati has a similar system and can join the class action.

In fact, Maserati "is recalling about 13,000 sedans that have the same sort of gear shifter that was used in the Jeep that killed Yelchin," according to CNN Money, and Chrysler Fiat had in fact already filed a recall notice with federal regulators in April for Yelchin's band of Jeep, "but owners had only received a warning and not an official recall notice at the time of Yelchin's death". The lawsuit claims Chrysler "fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811,000 vehicles and linked to driverless rollaway incidents," including 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s, and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.

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Vacationing Security Researcher Exposes Austrian ATM Skimmer
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '16 at 12:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's reading-the-cards department:
While vacationing with his family in Vienna, Ben Tedesco (from security company Carbon Black) discovered an ATM skimmer "in the wild", perfectly crafted to look like the original card reader. New submitter rmurph04 shares Ben's story: I went to grab some cash from an ATM. Being security paranoid, I repeated my typical habit of checking the card reader with my hand as I have hundreds of times. Today's the day when my security awareness paid off! Ben's blog post includes a video demonstrating the ATM skimmer, as well as close-ups showing the device had its own control board, strip reader, and even its own battery.

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UK Tech Sector Reacts To Brexit: Some Anticipate Slow Down, Some Contemplate Relocation
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '16 at 08:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's why-do-we-fall,-Mr.-Wayne? department:
In the aftermath of the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, UK's technology industry is reassessing its position, with many of them considering moving to a continental location. According to reports, Samsung, LG, and Acer have noted that the UK leaving the EU will affect their operations. From a BBC report:As news of Brexit broke, tech firms including BT, TalkTalk and software firm Sage reported share price falls. [...] "I have concerns that the local market might slow down," said Drew Benvie, founder of London-based digital agency Battenhall. From a report on The Guardian:Britain's financial technology sector is particularly hard-hit, with the prospect of losing access to European markets an unappealing one. "Fintech" has long been one of the UK's most promising growth areas, in part due to London's position as the financial capital of Europe. [...] Not one of the 14 billion-dollar tech firms based in the UK the Guardian asked said leaving the EU would be good for their business.Toby Coppel, the co-founder of venture capital firm Mosaic, said: "The next entrepreneur who's 22 years old, graduating from a technical university in Germany may, instead of moving to London to do their Fintech startup, decide to go to Berlin instead. I think that's one of the biggest concerns I have about the trajectory of the London technical ecosystem."

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ECMAScript 2016: New Version of JavaScript Language Released
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '16 at 06:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 20-years-later department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Ecma International, the organization in charge of managing the ECMAScript standard, has published the most recent version of the JavaScript language. ECMAScript 2016 (ES7 or JavaScript 7th Edition in the old naming scheme) comes with very few new features. The most important is that JavaScript developers will finally get a "raise to the power" operator, which was mysteriously left out of the standard for 20 years. The operator is **...

It will also become much easier to search for data in a JavaScript array with Array.prototype.includes(), but support for async functions (initially announced for ES2016), has been deferred until next year's release. "From now on, expect smaller changelogs from the ECMAScript team," reports Softpedia, "since this was the plan set out last year. Fewer breaking changes means more time to migrate code, instead of having to rewrite entire applications, as developers did when the mammoth ES6 release came out last year."

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Ubuntu-Based Peppermint 7 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '16 at 03:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's this-is-Peppermint department:
Softpedia reports on the newest version of Peppermint OS, "a lightweight, stable, elegant, and fast computer operating system based on GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes their report:

It's a bit earlier than expected, but the Peppermint OS 7 GNU/Linux distribution has been officially unveiled...based on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system [with] a lot of packages from the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS distro, which means that it will also be a long-term support release.... "Along with the shift to the 16.04 (Xenial) code base, Peppermint 7 continues our policy of choosing the best components from other desktop environments, wherever that may be, and integrating them into a cohesive whole with our own software," reads today's announcement.

"Team Peppermint" says they're switching to Firefox as their default browser for site-specific browser functionality (similar to Chrome's -app mode) after Google dropped their 32-bit version of Chrome and moved to PPAPI plugins "which effectively ends Flash support in 32-bit Chromium"... But you can also still choose Chrome or Chromium for site-specific browsing (and the OS comes in 32-bit and 64-bit editions).

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Why Are Hackers Increasingly Targeting the Healthcare Industry?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '16 at 03:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hacking-coughs department:
Slashdot reader Orome1 shares an article by Bitdefender's senior "e-threat analyst," warning about an increasing number of attacks on healthcare providers:

In general, the healthcare industry is proving lucrative for cybercriminals because medical data can be used in multiple ways, for example fraud or identity theft. This personal data often contains information regarding a patient's medical history, which could be used in targeted spear-phishing attacks...and hackers are able to access this data via network-connected medical devices, now standard in high-tech hospitals. This is opening up new possibilities for attackers to breach a hospital or a pharmaceutical company's perimeter defenses.

If a device is connected to the internet and left vulnerable to attack, an attacker could remotely connect to it and use it as gateways for attacking network security... The majority of healthcare organizations have often been shown to fail basic security practices, such as disabling concurrent login to multiple devices, enforcing strong authentication and even isolating critical devices and medical data storing servers from a direct internet connection.

The article suggests the possibility of attackers tampering with the equipment that dispenses prescription medications, in which case "it is likely that future cyber-attacks could lead to the loss of human life."

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Lenovo Warns Users To Upgrade Pre-Installed Tool With Severe Security Holes
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '16 at 02:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pre-installed-problems department:
Long-time Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: Lenovo is advising users to upgrade to version 3.3.003 of Lenovo Solution Center (LSC), which includes fixes for two high-severity vulnerabilities in the tool. [The tool] allows users to check their system's virus and firewall status, update their Lenovo software, perform backups, check battery health, get registration and warranty information and run hardware tests. The CVE-2016-5249 vulnerability allows an attacker who already has control of a limited account on a PC to execute malicious code via the privileged LocalSystem account. And the CVE-2016-5248 vulnerability allows any local user to send a command to LSC.Services.SystemService in order to kill any other process on the system, privileged or not.

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Crypto Ransomware Attacks Have Jumped 500% In The Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '16 at 01:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's extra-extortions department:
Kaspersky Lab is reporting that the last year saw a 500% increase in the number of users who encountered crypto ransomware.
Trailrunner7 shares an article from On The Wire:
Data compiled by Kaspersky researchers from the company's cloud network shows that from April 2015 to March 2016, the volume of crypto ransomware encountered by users leapt from 131,111 to 718,536. That's a massive increase, especially considering the fact that ransomware is a somewhat mature threat. It didn't just burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. Kaspersky's researchers said the spike in crypto ransomware can be attributed to a small group of variants. "Looking at the malware groups that were active in the period covered by this report, it appears that a rather short list of suspects is responsible for most of the trouble caused by crypto-ransomware..."

It's difficult to overstate how much of an effect the emergence of ransomware has had on consumers, enterprises, and the security industry itself. The FBI has been warning users about crypto ransomware for some time now, and has consistently advised victims not to pay any ransoms. Security researchers have been publishing decryption tools for specific ransomware variants and law enforcement agencies have had some success in taking down ransomware gangs.

Enterprise targets now account for 13% of ransomware attacks, with attackers typically charging tens of thousands of dollars, the article reports, and "Recent attacks on networks at the University of Calgary and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have demonstrated the brutal effectiveness of this strategy."

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