By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Iranians are using the messaging app Telegram to spread fake news about the rial -- and make a profit for themselves. From a report: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani owes his re-election in large part to the messaging app Telegram. During Iran's 2017 presidential election, Iranians relied on the app as a rare source of uncensored news about the race, in which Rouhani was not the candidate most favored by hard-liners. Just one year later, Telegram may end up becoming Rouhani's downfall. The app is at the center of Iran's accelerating currency crash.
The Iranian rial was generally acknowledged to have been on a stable path until May, when U.S. President Donald Trump exited the Iran nuclear deal. Prior to the U.S. withdrawal, one U.S. dollar was worth around 37,000 rials; immediately afterwards, a single dollar jumped to around 44,000 rials. The rial has continued to slump ever since, dropping to 50,000 to the dollar, and then 80,000 rials, and then 190,000 during Rouhani's speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September. Right now, it is at 120,500 rials. But it isn't just U.S. sanctions and the fundamental weaknesses of the Iranian economy that have contributed to Iran's currency freefall. It's also the deliberate circulation of rumors and fake news on Telegram by Iranian currency traders and middlemen out to make a profit.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sneaky-bastards department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: At the start of this decade, U.S. lawmakers drafted several controversial bills to make it easier for copyright holders to enforce their rights online. These proposals, including SOPA and PIPA, were met with fierce resistance from the public as well as major technology companies. They feared that the plans, which included pirate site-blocking measures, went too far. In the many years that followed, the "site blocking" issue was avoided like the plague. The aversion was mostly limited to the U.S., as website blocking became more and more common abroad, where it's one of the entertainment industries' preferred anti-piracy tools.
Emboldened by these foreign successes, it appears that rightsholders in the U.S. are now confident enough to bring the subject up again, albeit very gently. Most recently the site-blocking option was mentioned in a joint letter (PDF) from the RIAA and the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), which contained recommendations to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Vishal Amin. The IPEC requested input from the public on the new version of its Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement. According to the music industry groups, website blocking should be reconsidered an anti-piracy tool. "There are several changes that should be made legislatively to help legal authorities and third parties better protect intellectual property rights," the music groups write. "These include fixing the DMCA, making it a felony to knowingly engage in unauthorized streaming of copyrighted works, and investigating the positive impact that website blocking of foreign sites has in other jurisdictions and whether U.S. law should be revised accordingly."
"As website blocking has had a positive impact in other countries without significant unintended consequences, the U.S. should reconsider adding this to its anti-piracy tool box," the RIAA and NMPA write.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's only-a-matter-of-time department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Amazon is starting to sell software to mine patient medical records (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source) for information that doctors and hospitals could use to improve treatment and cut costs, the latest move by a big technology company into the health care industry. The software can read digitized patient records and other clinical notes, analyze them and pluck out key data points, Amazon says. The company is expected to announce the launch Tuesday. Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud-computing division, has been selling such text-analysis software to companies outside medicine for use in areas such as travel booking, customer support and supply-chain management. The technology's health-care application is the newest effort by Amazon to tap into the lucrative market.
Amazon officials say the company's software developers trained the system using a process known as deep learning to recognize all the ways a doctor might record notes. "We're able to completely, automatically look inside medical language and identify patient details," including diagnoses, treatments, dosage and strengths, "with incredibly high accuracy," said Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services. During testing, the software performed on par or better than other published efforts, and can extract data on patients' diseases, prescriptions, lab orders and procedures, said Taha Kass-Hout, a senior leader with Amazon's health-care and artificial intelligence efforts. The project is called Amazon Comprehend Medical, which "allows developers to process unstructured medical text and identify information such as patient diagnosis, treatments, dosages, symptoms and signs, and more," according to a blog post. Dr. Kass-Hout says Amazon Web Services won't see the data processed by its algorithms, "which will be encrypted and unlocked by customers who have the key," reports WSJ.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
A paper published in Nature Genetics this week looked at genetic data from more than 50,000 people, finding 12 different regions of DNA that seemed to play a role in increasing ADHD risk. Ars Technica reports: This evidence comes from a genome-wide association study, or GWAS: a close look at how the DNA of people with ADHD differs from those without. Geneticist Ditte Demontis and her colleagues used data from more than 20,000 people with ADHD, comparing them to a control group of 35,000 people without an ADHD diagnosis. They found 304 points where tiny differences in DNA -- like single letter swaps -- were distributed across their two groups in a statistically telling way. If any of those variants were very close together, the researchers counted them as representing the same stretch of DNA, grouping them together into 12 important regions.
There were correlations between the genetic risk for ADHD and a range of other conditions, including depression and anorexia. That ties in with the idea that genetic variation might be important in a way that plays out system-wide. Some of the genes they identified are also known to be involved in other neurological conditions, including speech and learning disabilities, depression, and schizophrenia.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-pay-up department
British and Dutch authorities fined Uber a combined $1.17 million for a 2016 data breach that exposed the personal details of millions of customers. "The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced a $491,284 fine against the ride-sharing company for 'failing to protect customers' personal information during a cyber attack' in October and November of 2016," reports CNBC. "The Dutch Data Protection Authority imposed its own $679,257 penalty for the same incident." From the report: The 2016 cyberattack allowed hackers to access the personal details, including full names, email addresses and phone numbers, of 2.7 million Uber customers in the U.K. and 174,000 in the Netherlands, authorities said. The U.K.'s ICO said the cyberattack represented a "serious breach" of the country's Data Protection Act of 1998 by exposing customers and drivers to increased risk of fraud. The Dutch regulator said it was fining Uber because it did not report the breach within the country's mandated 72-hour window.
In September, Uber agreed to pay $148 million to settle claims related to the 2016 data breach to states across the U.S. and Washington, D.C. In a statement Tuesday, an Uber spokesperson said the company is "pleased to close this chapter on the data incident from 2016."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-strategy department
YouTube is removing the paywall for its original programming. Starting next year, the company will move to make all of its new original programming available for free for anyone to watch. "With the change, YouTube is moving toward more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality fare, while it will continue to greenlight scripted productions," reports Variety. From the report: Until now, YouTube Originals have mainly been available on its YouTube Premium subscription service, although YouTube also has expanded the shows and movies it makes available on an ad-supported basis. The company calls the new YouTube Originals strategy its "Single Slate," which will combine ad-supported and subscription VOD programming initiatives that by 2020 will provide free windows for all YouTube users. Some original productions will remain behind the paywall, including season 2 of "Cobra Kai," an offshoot of the "Karate Kid" movies. Moving forward, YouTube Premium will include early access to original, exclusive content as a reason to pay for the service. YouTube has faced stiff competition in trying to lure paying customers with original content against the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which spend far more on content. "As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase," a YouTube rep said in a statement. "This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
Google's Project Fi mobile service will reportedly be adding support for Samsung, OnePlus, and iPhones. "More handsets from existing Fi partners LG and Motorola will also gain Fi support," reports The Verge. "The iPhone experience is apparently 'in beta,' which is a sign that users might run into bugs or be left without some of Fi's features." From the report: The lineup of "Fi-ready" compatible phones -- those that Google says have been fully optimized for the network -- is fairly short: Google is currently selling the Pixel 3, 3 XL, 2 XL, LG G7, LG V35, Moto G6, and Moto X4 (Android One edition) directly through its Project Fi website.
And although Google is apparently about to widen support and officially allow more devices onto Fi, those "Fi-friendly" phones will still offer the best overall user experience for subscribers, according to the report. It's not yet entirely clear what that means, but we should know more once Google makes a proper announcement. Either way, adding that pool of popular hardware will allow for many more consumers to give the service a shot and see if the pricing model and performance are preferable over Fi's larger competitors.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's international-attention department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: In the past decade or so, China has been expanding its commitment to scientific research, and it shows. Chinese researchers now produce more scientific publications than U.S. scientists do, and the global ratings of Chinese universities are rising. Five years ago [professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, JaySiegel] became dean of the school of pharmaceutical science and technology at Tianjin University. He says the university president recruited him to build an undergraduate program that would attract students from all over -- not just China. Siegel says the program is taught entirely in English. There's another aspect of getting a pharmaceutical science degree at Tianjin that Siegel expects students from throughout the world to find particularly attractive: The Chinese government plans to offer scholarships to cover the cost for students who enroll. Siegel says this is all part of China's effort to attract international scientists. Of course, there are some drawbacks with working in China. There are internet restrictions, making it difficult to reach certain websites; English isn't spoken throughout most of the country, posing a problem for many foreign visitors; and free speech isn't the same concept as it is in the United States. With that said, "There's no interference politically on the science," says Greg Herczeg, an astronomer at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University.
"We've had no political restrictions," says Siegel. "I know that people talk about them being out there, and I've heard rumors of things. But, for us personally, I would have to say no, I've not had that experience."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Human emissions of carbon dioxide have gone up for the first time since 2013, according to the UN's ninth annual Emissions Gap Report, meaning the world isn't on track to mitigate the worst of climate change's already disastrous effects. From the report: The report, published on Tuesday, says that while carbon emissions stayed relatively level between 2014 and 2016, carbon emissions in 2017 went up by 1.2 percent. Composed by climate scientists using the most up-to-date scientific data, the report aims to determine whether we're on track to meet the goals set by international climate agreements, such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The "emissions gap" is the difference between how low our emissions need to be, and where they actually are. The UN report concludes that the world isn't hitting the emissions targets necessary to curb warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. While the goal is not impossible, it's unlikely to be met under current political conditions, which have rendered us unable to take significant action against climate change for more than half a century. "According to the current policy and [Nationally Determined Contributions] scenarios, global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020," the report reads. "As the emissions gap assessment shows, this original level of ambition needs to be roughly tripled for the 2C scenario and increased around fivefold for the 1.5C scenario."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-bad-Facebook-PR-today department
A UK Commons committee chair claims a seized trove of Facebook documents reveals that a company engineer flagged Russian "entities" were using a Pinterest API to pull billions of points of Facebook data every day in 2014. From a report: Damian Collins appeared to use parliamentary privilege to outline the detail from the sealed documents, during a fiery session of questioning of Facebook executive Richard Allan before the first sitting of the "international grand committee on disinformation and fake news" in London on Tuesday. The most contentious moment came during an exchange between Allan and the chair of the committee over what's alleged to be in a set of documents that are subject to the protective order of a California court.
During the questioning of Allan on Tuesday, Collins said the emails would not be released. But he did outline details from an alleged incident which, if true, would raise further questions about how Facebook responded to learning about data being taken from the platform. "An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses have been using a Pinterest API key to pull over 3 billion data points a day," Collins said. "Now was that reported to any external body at the time?" Allan dismissed the claim by focusing on the source of the information, Six4Three, labelling it a "hostile litigant." Further reading: Facebook Exec Admits Zuckerberg Not Appearing Before UK Parliament Doesn't Look Great (CNBC);
'The Problem is Facebook,' Lawmakers From Nine Countries Tell Zuckerberg's Accountability Stand-in (TechCrunch); and
"When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit": The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg (VanityFair).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Police in the UK want to predict serious violent crime using artificial intelligence, New Scientist is reporting. The idea is that individuals flagged by the system will be offered interventions, such as counseling, to avert potential criminal behavior. From the report: However, one of the world's leading data science institutes has expressed serious concerns about the project after seeing a redacted version of the proposals. The system, called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), uses a combination of AI and statistics to try to assess the risk of someone committing or becoming a victim of gun or knife crime, as well as the likelihood of someone falling victim to modern slavery. West Midlands Police is leading the project and has until the end of March 2019 to produce a prototype. Eight other police forces, including London's Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, are also involved. NDAS is being designed so that every police force in the UK could eventually use it. Police funding has been cut significantly over recent years, so forces need a system that can look at all individuals already known to officers, with the aim of prioritizing those who need interventions most urgently, says Iain Donnelly, the police lead on the project.Read Replies (0)