By BeauHD from Slashdot's overly-confident department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: A New York school district will move forward with its facial recognition pilot program next week, despite an explicit order from the New York State Education Department that it wait until a standard for data privacy and security for all state educational agencies is finalized. On Friday, the Lockport school district said it was "confident" that the data collection policy for its facial recognition system was sound enough that it could begin testing it on campuses June 3.
"[State Education Department] representatives previously communicated to the District their recommendation that the System not become operational until the dialogue between the District and SED with regard to student data security and privacy is complete," the statement, sent by district director of technology Robert LiPuma to BuzzFeed News, said. "However, the District's Initial Implementation Phase of the System (which will commence June 3, 2019 and continue through August 31, 2019) will not include any student data being entered into the System database or generated by the System." Reached by phone, JP O'Hare, a representative of the New York State Education Department, would not say whether the department knew Lockport planned to go ahead with its facial recognition test in spite of the department's request for a delay. Lockport said that its facial recognition system should not be a privacy concern because it "does not compile information on and track the movements of all District students, staff and visitors." Instead, the system is "limited to identifying whether an individual whose photograph has been entered into the System database is on District property (i.e., is visible on one of the District's security cameras)." But it also said the individuals who may be entered into the database included those who are prohibited from being on District property, "such as suspended students or staff."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Apple, which has already introduced "dark mode" in macOS, is widely expected to replicate this in its mobile operating system iOS this year. The move comes as a number of technology companies introduce dark mode in their apps and operating systems. But is it something everyone wants?
TidBITS: When text is white on a black background as it would be in Dark Mode, the whiteness of the lines lightens the edges of each line broadly on both sides, blurring the edge. If the thin lines of the text are black and the background is white, however, white from both sides washes over the entire line, lightening it evenly, so the edges aren't blurred. Blur is a bad thing because of how the human eye relies primarily on contrast when extracting detail from an image. In "Reality and Digital Pictures" (12 December 2005), Charles wrote: The eye does not see light per se, it sees changes in light -- contrast. If two objects do not contrast with one another, to the eye they meld into one. This fact makes controlling the contrast of adjacent details to be paramount in importance. He was focused on issues revolving around photographs, but contrast has been shown to be paramount in numerous studies of textual legibility as well.
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By msmash from Slashdot's future-of-jobs department
merbs writes: If the robots are simply "coming," if they just show up and relieve a helpless lot of humans of their livelihoods, then no one is to blame for this techno-elemental phenomenon, and little is to be done about it beyond bracing for impact. Not the executives swayed by consulting firms who insist the future is in AI customer service bots, or the managers who see an opportunity to improve profit margins by adopting automated kiosks that edge out cashiers, or the shipping conglomerate bosses who decide to replace dockworkers with a fleet of automated trucks. These individuals may feel as if they have no choice, with shareholders and boards and bosses of their own to answer to, and an economic system that incentivizes the making of these decisions -- and sometimes the technology will perform obviously superior work to the human -- but they are exactly that: decisions, made by people, to call in or build the job-threatening robots.
Pretending otherwise, that robots in every use case are inevitable, is the very worst form of technological determinism, and leads to a dearth in critical thinking about when and how automation *is* best implemented. Because even the most ardent robot lovers will agree, there are plenty of cases of badly deployed automation; systems that make our lives worse and more inefficient, and that kill jobs en route to worse outcomes. And such automated regression is often implemented under the logic of 'robots are coming,' so better hop aboard. We will be able to make better decisions about embracing effective automation if we understand that, in practice, 'the robots are coming for our jobs' usually means something more like 'a CEO wants to cut his operating budget by 15 percent and was just pitched on enterprise software that promises to do the work currently done by thirty employees in accounts payable.'Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
An anonymous reader shares a report: When you first start planning a big trip, step one will likely happen at the Google search bar. Step two might be clicking onto the images of your target destination. The North Face, in a campaign with agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made, took advantage of this consumer behavior to keep its name top of mind with travelers considering an adventure sports excursion.
The brand and agency took pictures of athletes wearing the brand while trekking to famous locations around the world, including Brazil's Guarita State Park and Farol do Mampimptuba, Cuillin in Scotland and Peru's Huayna Picchu. They then updated the Wikipedia images in the articles for those locations so that now, the brand would appear in the top of Google image search results when consumers researched any of those locations -- all done for a budget of zero dollars. "Our mission is to expand our frontiers so that our consumers can overcome their limits. With the 'Top of Images' project, we achieved our positioning and placed our products in a fully contextualized manner as items that go hand in hand with these destinations," explained Fabricio Luzzi, CEO of The North Face Brazil in a statement.
According to the agency, the biggest obstacle of the campaign was updating the photos without attracting attention of Wikipedia moderators to sustain the brand's presence for as long as possible, as site editors could change them at any time. The "hack" worked, at least for a while, evident in a quick Google search of some of the places mentioned in the campaign's case study video. Further reading: Wikimedia is not pleased.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Tenants in a New York City apartment complex are fighting their landlord's effort to install a facial recognition system to access parts of the buildings, calling it an affront to their privacy rights. From a report: The row, which the tenants believe could become an important test case, comes as concern about the spread of facial recognition systems has grown across the US and globally, with law enforcement agencies increasingly relying on the tool. San Francisco this month became the first US city to ban city police and government agencies from using it. Private firms are also increasingly keen on the technology. At Atlantic Plaza Towers in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, the landlord, Nelson Management Group, is moving to install a new system to control entry into the buildings. It would use facial recognition to open the front door for recognized tenants rather than traditional keys or electronic key fobs.
More than 130 tenants have, however, filed a formal complaint with the state seeking to block the application. "We do not want to be tagged like animals," said Icemae Downes, who has lived at Atlantic Plaza Towers since it opened 51 years ago. "We are not animals. We should be able to freely come in and out of our development without you tracking every movement." Some residents also fear the move reflects the spreading pressures of gentrification further into the east of Brooklyn, and a desire to attract white, higher-income residents in the buildings, whose tenants are mostly black. They say there is already a culture of surveillance and that if they are suspected of breaking one of the building's rules, they might find an image of themselves pushed under their doors.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
Today, Emtek pulls the plug on BlackBerry Messenger. From a report: The company announced last month that it would shut down the consumer service, which has been steadily losing users and failing to attract new ones. As a consolation for diehard fans, BlackBerry opened BBM Enterprise, its enterprise-grade encrypted Messenger (BBMe), for personal use. That's available on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac. Three years ago, the company set out to reinvigorate BBM consumer service, but those efforts fell flat. "We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date," BlackBerry wrote on its blog. "The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Odds of the U.S. and China cooling off their trade war further diminished on Friday after the world's most populous nation said it would create a list of "unreliable" foreign firms of its own. From a report: Gao Feng, a spokesman of China's commerce ministry, said today that the nation will create an "entity list" that will include, in part, foreign companies that have stopped or curtailed their businesses with Chinese firms. "Foreign enterprises, organizations or individuals that do not comply with market rules, deviate from a contract's spirit or impose blockades or stop supplies to Chinese enterprises for non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be included on a list of 'unreliable entities,'" he was quoted as saying by state-owned local media. The retaliation comes weeks after the U.S. Commerce Department enlisted Huawei and 68 affiliates in an entity list over national security concerns, thereby requiring American companies to take approval from the government before conducting business with Chinese firms.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-go-back-to-more-basic-diets department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: People who eat large amounts of heavily processed foods, from breakfast cereals and ready meals to muffins and ice-cream, have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and early death, according to two major studies. In the French NutriSante study, researchers at the University of Paris gathered details on the diets and health of more than 105,000 people. Over five years of follow-up, those who consumed the most "ultra-processed" food were most at risk of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. When the amount of ultra-processed food in the diet rose 10 percentage points, for example from 10% to 20%, the risk of the diseases rose 12%.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, does not prove that ultra-processed foods cause disease. Nor does the effect appear particularly large, even in the most enthusiastic junk food consumers. The results suggest that 277 cases of cardiovascular disease would arise each year in 100,000 heavy consumers of ultra-processed foods, versus 242 cases in the same number of low consumers. For the second study, also in the BMJ, a team at the University of Navarra in Pamplona monitored the eating habits and health of nearly 20,000 Spanish graduates from 1999 to 2014. Over the course of the study, 335 participants died. Once factors such as age, sex, body mass index and whether or not people smoked were taken into account, the trend was clear. The top quarter consumers of ultra-processed foods -- who had more than four servings a day -- were 62% more likely to have died than those in the bottom quarter, who ate less than two portions a day. For each additional serving, the risk of death rose 18%.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's political-fiction department
dryriver writes: BBC Future has the story of "Tamara" (not her real name) who used to be paid 24 euros a day to rewrite U.S. news stories for a slew of "fake news" U.S. politics websites targeted at American news readers but run out of Velev, Macedonia. Basically, Tamara's handler "Marco" would send her eight real U.S. politics news stories via email every morning, asking Tamara to rewrite them with very extreme political views and slants injected into them. Tamara was often tasked with writing horrible things about Muslims for example, making up heinous crimes they had committed in various places, and injecting those made-up falsehoods into otherwise legit-looking news articles. The rewritten articles, which were engineered to trigger strong reactions in readers, went on Facebook -- where Marco had over 2,000,000 likes -- and on a number of "American looking" fake news websites also run by Marco out of Macedonia. On a good day, Marco would earn up to 2,000 euros a day from Google ad revenues for his fake news U.S. politics websites. Tamara, who was only paid 3 euros per article she rewrote, muses in the BBC Future article about how stupid people must be to eat up the falsehoods that she, Marco and others put online everyday. She characterizes the content of the rewritten articles as "insultingly ridiculous" and "obviously fake," but many American news readers apparently ate them up and frequently believed what they read.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department
Researchers have discovered an advanced piece of Linux malware that has escaped detection bypasses antivirus products and appears to be actively used in targeted attacks. Ars Technica reports: HiddenWasp, as the malware has been dubbed, is a fully developed suite of malware that includes a trojan, rootkit, and initial deployment script, researchers at security firm Intezer reported on Wednesday. At the time Intezer's post went live, the VirusTotal malware service indicated Hidden Wasp wasn't detected by any of the 59 antivirus engines it tracks, although some have now begun to flag it. Time stamps in one of the 10 files Intezer analyzed indicated it was created last month. The command and control server that infected computers report to remained operational at the time this article was being prepared.
Some of the evidence analyzed -- including code showing that the computers it infects are already compromised by the same attackers -- indicated that HiddenWasp is likely a later stage of malware that gets served to targets of interest who have already been infected by an earlier stage. It's not clear how many computers have been infected or how any earlier related stages get installed. With the ability to download and execute code, upload files, and perform a variety of other commands, the purpose of the malware appears to be to remotely control the computers it infects. That's different from most Linux malware, which exists to perform denial of service attacks or mine cryptocurrencies. Some of the code appears to be borrowed from Mirai, while other code has similarities to other established projects or malware including the Azazel rootkit, the ChinaZ Elknot implant, and the recently discovered Linux variant of Winnti, a family of malware that previously had been seen targeting only Windows.Read Replies (0)