By msmash from Slashdot's they-are-here department
Most of the attention around automation focuses on how factory robots and self-driving cars may fundamentally change our workforce, potentially eliminating millions of jobs. But AI that can handle knowledge-based, white-collar work is also becoming increasingly competent. From a report on Quartz: One Japanese insurance company, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, is reportedly replacing 34 human insurance claim workers with "IBM Watson Explorer," starting by this month. The AI will scan hospital records and other documents to determine insurance payouts, according to a company press release, factoring injuries, patient medical histories, and procedures administered. Automation of these research and data gathering tasks will help the remaining human workers process the final payout faster, the release says.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-heights department
The price of digital currency bitcoin has hit the $1,000 mark for the first time in three years. From a report on CNBC: The cryptocurrency was trading at $1,021 at the time of publication, according to CoinDesk data, at level not seen since November 2013, with its market capitalization exceeding $16 billion. Bitcoin has been on a steady march higher for the past few months, driven by a number of factors such as the devaluation of the yuan, geopolitical uncertainty and an increase in professional investors taking an interest in the asset class. "We are seeing the aftermath of zero interest rates run amok. So bitcoin is a healthy reminder that we don't have to hold on to dollars or renminbi, which is subject to capital controls and loss of purchasing power. Rather it's a new asset class," Bobby Lee, chief executive of BTC China, one of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges, told CNBC by phone.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Disney-domination department
Slashdot reader rudy_wayne writes: Despite constant claims of losing billions of dollars to "piracy", the North American box office closed out 2016 with $11.4 billion in ticket sales. That marks a new record for the industry, bypassing the previous record of $11.1 billion that was established in 2015. Disney had four of the top five highest-grossing films, including "Finding Dory," the year's top film with $486.3 million. "When holdovers are taken into account, Disney had six of the year's ten highest-grossing releases, a group that includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuted in 2015," reports Variety. Other top films include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($408.2 million), Captain America: Civil War ($408.1 million), The Secret Life of Pets ($368.4 million), and The Jungle Book ($364 million).
Disney "controlled more than a quarter of the domestic market share despite releasing fewer films than any of the major studios," according to the article, which notes that the record was achieved despite the absence of big releases in several major movie franchises partly through higher ticket prices (and possibly also inflation).Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's view-history department
Slashdot reader westand writes, "Wikipedia's 5000 most-visited articles of 2016 have been released, and Donald Trump leads the pack." (Though the site's second-most popular article was about a porn site.)
The top 5000 pages account for 21.6 billion views, with 42% of those being mobile traffic... After artificial traffic is discounted, election and celebrity deaths feature prominently.
Wikipedia's article about the U.S. presidential election of 2016 also came in at #11, while their articles about Melania Trump and Hillary Clinton came in at #16 and #19, respectively. Other top-20 articles covered deaths in 2016, as well as "Prince (musician)" and David Bowie, with four more articles that covered 2016 superhero movies also reaching the top 20. (Along with "List of Bollywood films of 2016".) The eighth most-popular article was about web scraping, while Wikipedia's 404.php page was actually more popular than any article on the site.
The original submission also points out that 323 million views were covered by The Wikipedia Zero project, in which mobile operators in the Global South ""'zero-rate' access to Wikimedia sites in their billing system, so their subscribers will not incur data charges while accessing Wikipedia and the sister projects on the mobile web or apps." And Wikipedia adds that their list is generated by Andrew G. West, a senior research scientist at Verisign Labs who "is particularly interested in academic collaboration regarding this English Wikipedia dataset."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's power-play department
Those anonymous U.S. officials who reported Russian hacking code had been found "within the system" of a Vermont power utility must've been surprised to learn the code was on a laptop that wasn't actually connected to the grid. The Washington Post has updated their original story, which now reports that "authorities" say there's no indication that Russian hackers have penetrated the U.S. electric grid.
The Post's newly-edited version appears below (with their original, now-deleted text preseved inside brackets).
A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials. While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation's electrical grid... [Was "the penetration of the nation's electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability."]
American officials, including one senior administration official, said they are not yet sure what the intentions of the Russians might have been. The incursion [was "penetration"] may have been designed to disrupt the utility's operations or as a test by the Russians to see whether they could penetrate a portion of the grid... According to the report by the FBI and DHS, the hackers involved in the Russian operation used fraudulent emails that tricked their recipients into revealing passwords.
The Vermont utility does report that they'd "detected suspicious Internet traffic" on the laptop, but they believe subsequent news coverage got the story wrong. "It's unfortunate that an official or officials improperly shared inaccurate information with one media outlet, leading to multiple inaccurate reports around the country."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's games-of-yesteryear department
An anonymous reader quotes PC Gamer:
In a surprise announcement today to kick off 2017, Valve has revealed the 100 best-selling Steam games of 2016... Although the "Top Sellers" section of Steam gives a constant sense of what's selling now, Valve hasn't previously compiled an annual list of which Steam games earned the most money... Rather than ranked in order from 1-100, the list is separated into tiers, from Platinum to Bronze, based on revenue (as opposed to copies sold)... Doom didn't crack the top 12, but it may have gotten close: it's ranked somewhere between 13th and 24th
That second-place Gold tier included more modern throwbacks to classic games, including Team Fortress 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20-Year Celebration. Meanwhile, No Man's Sky, which got off to a rocky start this summer before its massive November update, still turned up in the top "Platinum" tier for revenue earned in 2016. (And it's now discounted 40%.)
In fact, "As an extension of the Winter Sale, all but six of these games are on sale," reports PC Gamer. The other top-earning Steam games were Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Grand Theft Auto V, Civilization VI, and DOTA 2 (which is free to play), as well as Rocket League, XCOM 2, Dark Souls III, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout 4, Total War: Warhammer, and Tom Clancy's The Division.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's finances-of-photo-sharing department
anderzole writes: "In April of 2012, Facebook shocked the tech world when it acquired Instagram for $1 billion," reports BGR. "At the time, the acquisition raised quite a few eyebrows, along with many more questions than answers. Not only did people wonder how Instagram would fit into Facebook's existing business, many also questioned if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had lost his mind by outlaying $1 billion for a company that, at the time, had no revenue." Nearly five years later, Facebook's Instagram acquisition
"not only looks like a bargain, but a full-fledged stroke of genius." Today Instagram still shows no signs of slowing down. Instagram's active user base jumped from 500 to 600 million in just the last 6 months alone, marking its fastest growth rate ever. "Incredibly, Facebook saw the long-term potential and impact of Instagram and managed to swoop in and acquire the company long before its user base began to accelerate wildly," writes BGR. "From an economic standpoint, Instagram is already paying dividends via highly targeted and lucrative ads. During the first quarter of 2016, for example, it was estimated that revenue from Instagram checked in at $572.5 million and accounted for 10% of Facebook's overall revenue. In fact, analysts at Credit Suisse believe that Instagram will have delivered $3.2 billion in revenue for Facebook by the time 2016 comes to a close. That's not bad for a $1 billion acquisition that Facebook is still in the relatively early stages of monetizing."
Instagram was also the second-fastest growing app of 2016, increasing its user base by 36% in just 12 months.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's drivers-aren't-deaf department
Slashdot reader sabri writes "In California, an Uber driver saved a 16 year old girl from human traffickers after he overheard them talk about delivering the girl to a customer." The Washington Post reports:
Uber driver Keith Avila picked up a passenger who looked like a 12-year-old girl in a short skirt Monday night. That was the first sign that something was off, he would say later. Two women got into his car with the girl outside a house in Sacramento. Halfway to their destination -- a Holiday Inn in Elk Grove, California -- they asked Avila to turn up the music, he said. Then the women turned to the girl. Avila listened in.
"They were describing what they were going to do when they get there: 'Check for guns. Get the money before you start touching up on the guy,'" Avila said on Facebook Live minutes after he dropped off the passengers, then called police to report the women whom he suspected of prostituting the child. The girl was 16, not 12, Elk Grove police told local news outlets. But Avila's suspicions were right, they said. The teen was being sold for sex at the Holiday Inn, and her eavesdropping Uber driver had saved her.
The teen girl was returned to her family, while the two women with her were charged with multiple felonies. The driver had only joined Uber a few weeks earlier, but his Facebook Live video from outside his fare's house has now been viewed more than 240,000 times.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Facebook-fines-for-fakery department
"The government of Germany is considering imposing a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a 'fake news' story up without deleting it," according to a story shared by schwit1. PC Magazine has more details:
The law would reportedly apply to other social networks as well. "If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros," Germany's parliamentary chief of the Social Democrat party Thomas Oppermann said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, according to a report from Heat Street. Under the law, "official and private complainants" would be able to flag news on Facebook as fake, Heat Street reported. Facebook and other affected social networks would have to create "in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands," the report says. The bill, slated for consideration next year, is said to have bipartisan support.
According to the article, "Lawmakers in the country are reportedly hoping it will prevent Russia from interfering in Germany's elections next year."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's very-high-speed-internet department
An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum:
This year, Verizon and AT&T plan to deliver broadband internet to select homes or businesses using fixed wireless networks built with early 5G technologies. These 5G pilot programs will give the public its first glimpse into a wireless future that isn't due to fully arrive until the early 2020s. With 5G, carriers hope to deliver data to smartphone users at speeds 10 times as fast as on today's 4G networks, and with only 1 millisecond of delay... Over the past year, companies have completed a flurry of lab tests and trials to figure out what types of radios, antennas, and signal processing techniques will work best to deliver 5G in hopes of bringing those technologies and their capabilities to market as soon as possible.
The article notes that standards groups are halfway through their eight-year process of finalizing technical specifications (set to finish in 2020), but "With so much cash on the line, and facing pressure from data-hungry customers, carriers are moving fast." In Japan, NTT Docomo has even tested dozens of programmable antennas simultaneously transmitting signals, resulting in transmissions at 20 gigabits per second. "At that speed, a complete 2-hour, 1080p, high-definition movie can be transmitted in a second and a half."Read Replies (0)