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Uber Ordered To Take Its Self-Driving Cars Off Arizona Roads
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's law-and-order department:
After failing to meet an expectation that it would prioritize public safety as it tested its self-driving technology, Uber has been ordered to take its self-driving cars off Arizona roads (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). "The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation," Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona wrote in a letter sent to Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's chief executive. "Arizona must take action now." The New York Times reports: Uber had already suspended all testing of its cars in Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto. "We proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week. We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we'll keep a dialogue open with the governor's office to address any concerns they have," said Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman. The rebuke from the governor is a reversal from what has been an open-arms policy by the state, heralding its lack of regulation as an asset to lure autonomous vehicle testing -- and tech jobs. Waymo, the self-driving car company spun out from Google, and General Motors-owned Cruise are also testing cars in the state. Mr. Ducey said he was troubled by a video released from the Tempe Police Department that seemed to show that neither the Uber safety driver nor the autonomous vehicle detected the presence of a pedestrian in the road in the moments before the crash.

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Wind and Solar Can Power Most of the United States, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 07:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tag-team department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian reports of a recent paper, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, that helps explain how wind and solar energy can power most of the United States: "The authors analyzed 36 years of hourly weather data (1980-2015) in the U.S. They calculated the available wind and solar power over this time period and also included the electrical demand in the U.S. and its variation throughout the year. With this information, the researchers considered two scenarios. In scenario 1, they imagined wind and solar installations that would be sufficient to supply 100% of the U.S. electrical needs. In the second scenario, the installations would be over-designed; capable of providing 150% of the total U.S. electrical need. But the authors recognize that just because a solar panel or a wind turbine can provide all our energy, it doesn't mean that will happen in reality. It goes back to the prior discussion that sometimes the wind just doesn't blow, and sometimes the sun isn't shining. With these two scenarios, the authors then considered different mixes of power, from all solar to all wind. They also included the effect of aggregation area, that is, what sized regions are used to generate power. Is your power coming from wind and solar in your neighborhood, your city, your state or your region?

< article continued at Slashdot's tag-team department >

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Few Countries Will Benefit From the AI Revolution
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 06:29 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's few-and-far-between department:
hackingbear writes from a report via Quartz: According to Chinese venture capitalist and former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee, the list of countries well-positioned to embrace a future powered by artificial intelligence is exceedingly short: United States and China. "The countries that are not in good shape are the countries that have perhaps a large population, but no AI, no technologies, no Google, no Tencent, no Baidu, no Alibaba, no Facebook, no Amazon," Lee says. "These people will basically be data points to countries whose software is dominant in their country. If a country in Africa uses largely Facebook and Google, they will be providing their data to help Facebook and Google make more money, but their jobs will still be replaced nevertheless." Originally, China's low labor costs might have helped the country modernize, Lee says, but as AI-driven automation takes hold in manufacturing, other countries that want to follow China's blueprint for economic growth probably wouldn't be able to rely on cheap labor alone.

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Elon Musk Says Boring Company Will Sell 'Lego-Like' Kits of Excavated Rock
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 06:28 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reuse-recycle department:
Elon Musk says his Boring Company will sell "interlocking bricks" made from the rock that its tunnel-creating machines excavate from the ground. In other words, think Lego, he says, except giant, heavy, and made of Earth. The Verge reports: Musk says that the Boring Company will sell "kits" of bricks, starting with one that makes it easy to build things from "ancient Egypt," like replicas of the pyramids, the Sphinx, or the Temple of Horus. The bricks will be "lifesize," though it's not clear what that actually means. And they'll be bored through the middle, to save some weight, but still rated to withstand California's earthquakes. (As is typical, Musk announced the idea in freewheeling fashion on Twitter.) t's unclear when these bricks, or the kits, will be available or how much they'll cost. The Boring Company is currently only digging short, preliminary tunnels in California and Maryland, so there's presumably not enough to start selling any of this upturned rock just yet. But the small company has big plans for tunnels around the country meant to facilitate debatably futuristic modes of transportation, so there will be plenty of newly removed earth if even half of those ever come to fruition.

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Ask Slashdot: How Did Real-Time Ray Tracing Become Possible With Today's Technology?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's explain-like-I'm-five department:
dryriver writes: There are occasions where multiple big tech manufacturers all announce the exact same innovation at the same time -- e.g. 4K UHD TVs. Everybody in broadcasting and audiovisual content creation knew that 4K/8K UHD and high dynamic range (HDR) were coming years in advance, and that all the big TV and screen manufacturers were preparing 4K UHD HDR product lines because FHD was beginning to bore consumers. It came as no surprise when everybody had a 4K UHD product announcement and demo ready at the same time. Something very unusual happened this year at GDC 2018 however. Multiple graphics and GPU companies, like Microsoft, Nvidia, and AMD, as well as other game developers and game engine makers, all announced that real-time ray tracing is coming to their mass-market products, and by extension, to computer games, VR content and other realtime 3D applications.

Why is this odd? Because for many years any mention of 30+ FPS real-time ray tracing was thought to be utterly impossible with today's hardware technology. It was deemed far too computationally intensive for today's GPU technology and far too expensive for anything mass market. Gamers weren't screaming for the technology. Technologists didn't think it was doable at this point in time. Raster 3D graphics -- what we have in DirectX, OpenGL and game consoles today -- was very, very profitable and could easily have evolved further the way it has for another 7 to 8 years. And suddenly there it was: everybody announced at the same time that real-time ray tracing is not only technically possible, but also coming to your home gaming PC much sooner than anybody thought. Working tech demos were shown. What happened? How did real-time ray tracing, which only a few 3D graphics nerds and researchers in the field talked about until recently, suddenly become so technically possible, economically feasible, and so guaranteed-to-be-profitable that everybody announced this year that they are doing it?

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Facebook Acknowledges It Has Been Keeping Records of Android Users' Calls, Texts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department:
Last week, a user found that Facebook had a record of the date, time, duration, and recipient of calls he had made from the past few years. A couple days later, Ars Technica published an account of several others -- all Android users -- who found similar records. Now, Slate Magazine is reporting that Facebook has acknowledged that it was collecting and storing these logs, "attributing it to an opt-in feature for those using Messenger or Facebook Lite on an Android device." The company did however deny that it was collecting call or text history without a user's permission. From the report: "This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and provides you with a better experience across Facebook," the company said in a post Sunday. "People have to expressly agree to use this feature. We introduced this feature for Android users a couple of years ago. Contact importers are fairly common among social apps and services as a way to more easily find the people you want to connect with."

Ars Technica refuted their claim that everyone knowingly opted in. Instead, Ars Technica's Sean Gallagher claimed, that opt-in was the default setting and users were not separately alerted to it. Nor did Facebook ever say publicly that it was collecting that information. "Facebook says that the company keeps the data secure and does not sell it to third parties," Gallagher wrote. "But the post doesn't address why it would be necessary to retain not just the numbers of contacts from phone calls and SMS messages, but the date, time, and length of those calls for years."

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Google Starts Blocking 'Uncertified' Android Devices From Logging In
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
Google logins on unlicensed devices will now fail at setup, and a warning message will pop up stating "Device is not certified by Google," reports Ars Technica. "This warning screen has appeared on and off in the past during a test phase, but XDA (and user reports) indicate it is now headed for a wider rollout." From the report: While the basic operating system code contained in the Android Open Source Project is free and open source, Google's apps that run on top of Android (like the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.) and many others are not free. Google licenses these apps to device makers under a number of terms designed to give Google control over how the OS is used. Google's collection of default Android apps must all be bundled together, there are placement and default service requirements, and devices must pass an ever-growing list of compatibility requirements to ensure app compatibility. Android distributions that don't pass Google's compatibility requirements aren't allowed to be called "Android" (which is a registered trademark of Google), so they are Android forks. The most high-profile example of an Android fork is Amazon's Kindle Fire line of products, but most devices that ship in China (where Google doesn't do much business) fall under the umbrella of an "Android fork," too.

< article continued at Slashdot's cease-and-desist department >

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Netflix Banned From Competing At Cannes Film Festival Due To Lack of Theatrical Releases
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's get-with-the-times department:
Netflix has been banned from competing in the Cannes Film Festival, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. "Theirry Fremaux, the head of Cannes, told THR last week the ban is because Netflix refuses to release its films in theaters, choosing instead to debut them on its streaming service and, in some rare cases, do day-and-date releases so the film can be seen both online and off," reports The Verge. From the report: In the case of Bong Joon-ho's Okja and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories -- films that were entered into last year's Cannes to widespread protest from French filmmakers -- Netflix was unable to secure last-minute permits for one-week theatrical releases due to French media regulations. "Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused," Fremaux told THR. "The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours." Starting with this year's Cannes, which takes place in May, films screened in competition will need to have a French theatrical release. Netflix is still allowed to show films at Cannes, Fremaux added, but its films will not be eligible for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

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ICE Uses Facebook Data To Find and Track Immigrants, Internal Emails Show
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 02:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tools-of-the-trade department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: ICE, the federal agency tasked with Trump's program of mass deportation, uses backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up, according to a string of emails and documents obtained by The Intercept through a public records request. The hunt for one particular immigrant in New Mexico provides a rare window into how ICE agents use social media and powerful data analytics tools to find suspects. In February and March of 2017, several ICE agents were in communication with a detective from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to find information about a particular person. They were ultimately able to obtain backend Facebook data revealing a log of when the account was accessed and the IP addresses corresponding to each login. Lea Whitis, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of ICE, emailed the team a "Facebook Business Record" revealing the suspect's phone number and the locations of each login into his account during a date range. Law enforcement agents routinely use bank, telephone, and internet records for investigations, but the extent to which ICE uses social media is not well known.

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More Than 75 Percent of Earth's Land Areas Are 'Broken,' Major Report Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 02:12 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Like a broken cell phone that can only text or take pictures, but not make a single call, more than 75 percent of the Earth's land areas have lost some or most of their functions, undermining the well-being of the 3.2 billion people that rely on them to produce food crops, provide clean water, control flooding and more. From a report: These once-productive lands have either become deserts, are polluted, or have been deforested and converted for unsustainable agricultural production. This is a major contributor to increased conflict and mass human migration, and left unchecked, could force as many as 700 million to migrate by 2050, according to the world's first comprehensive evidence-based assessment of land degradation, released today in MedellÃn, Colombia. Land degradation -- including deforestation, soil erosion, and salinity and pollution of fresh water systems -- is also driving species to extinction and aggravating the effects of climate change, the report concludes. It was written by more than 100 leading experts from 45 countries for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES is the 'IPCC for biodiversity,' a scientific assessment of the status of non-human life that makes up the Earth's life support system.

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Confirmation of a US Government Probe Pushes Facebook's Market Loss To $90 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-mercy department:
The US Federal Trade Commission has confirmed that it is investigating Facebook over its privacy practices, following recent revelations that data firm Cambridge Analytica harvested and exploited tens of millions of users' data without their permission. From a report: Facebook's stock renewed its downward slide, bringing the company's total loss of market value to around $90 billion since the scandal broke 10 days ago. "The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices," said Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.

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Students Are Using Their Loan Money To Buy Cryptocurrency, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 11:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's topsy-turvy-world department:
Student loans aren't just for buying textbooks, No. 2 pencils, and apples for bribing teachers anymore. According to a recent survey, as many as one in five college kids may be using their student loans to cash in on the cryptocurrency craze. From a report: The Student Loan Report surveyed 1,000 current college students with student loan debt about whether they were asked whether they used their student loan money to invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and found that 21.2% of them have Sallie Mae to thank for their cryptocurrency investment. Many students borrow a little more money than is necessary to pay for tuition and books, according to Student Loan Report. The leftover cash is typically used for college living expenses, but some wily students think that investing in Ethereum or Ripple may be a better investment than a bachelorâ(TM)s degree in comparative English literature.

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IETF Approves TLS 1.3 As Internet Standard
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 11:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the organization that approves proposed Internet standards and protocols, has formally approved TLS 1.3 as the next major version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. The decision comes after four years of discussions and 28 protocol drafts, with the 28th being selected as the final version. TLS 1.3 is now expected to become the standard method in which a client and server establish an encrypted communications channel across the Internet -- aka HTTPS connections. The protocol has several advantages over its previous version -- TLS 1.2. The biggest feature is that TLS 1.3 ditches older encryption and hashing algorithms (such as MD5 and SHA-224) for newer and harder to crack alternatives (such as ChaCha20, Poly1305, Ed25519, x25519, and x448). Second, TLS 1.3 is also much faster at negotiating the initial handshake between the client and the server, reducing the connection latency that many companies cited when justifying not supporting HTTPS over HTTP. Browsers like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Pale Moon have already rolled out support for earlier versions of the TLS 1.3 draft, and are now expected to update this support to the official standard.

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Google Unveils Acer's Chromebook Tab 10 Ahead of Apple's Education-Focused Event Tomorrow
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 11:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's march-to-the-school department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Maybe Acer knows what Apple is up to tomorrow, maybe not. Regardless the information and communication tech company announced today the world's first Chrome OS tablet made for the education market, the Chromebook Tab 10. Designed for use in K-12 classrooms, the 9.7-inch tablet could potentially add to Google's Chromebook lead in the US education market and take some of the wind out of Apple's education-focused press conference on March 27. [...] Acer's new tablet, which will sell for $329 in April, is built around a 2048x1536-resolution IPS touchscreen with 264 pixels per inch. A durable Wacom EMR stylus comes standard and stores in the tablet's chassis that's only 0.39-inch thick (9.98 mm). Running on a Rockchip OP1 processor, 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage, the Tab 10 fully supports Google Play giving schools access to educational Android apps.

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Cops Are Now Opening iPhones With Dead People's Fingerprints
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: In November 2016, around seven hours after Abdul Razak Ali Artan had mowed down a group of people in his car, gone on a stabbing spree with a butcher's knife and been shot dead by a police officer on the grounds of Ohio State University, an FBI agent applied the bloodied body's index finger to the iPhone found on the deceased. The cops hoped it would help them access the Apple device to learn more about the assailant's motives and Artan himself. This is according to FBI forensics specialist Bob Moledor, who detailed for Forbes the first known case of police using a deceased person's fingerprints in an attempt to get past the protections of Apple's Touch ID technology. Unfortunately for the FBI, Artan's lifeless fingerprint didn't unlock the device. In the hours between his death and the attempt to unlock, when the feds had to go through legal processes regarding access to the smartphone, the iPhone had gone to sleep and when reopened required a passcode, Moledor said. He sent the device to a forensics lab which managed to retrieve information from the iPhone, the FBI phone expert and a Columbus officer who worked the case confirmed. That data helped the authorities determine that Artan's failed attempt to murder innocents may have been a result of ISIS-inspired radicalization. Where Moledor's attempt failed, others have succeeded. Separate sources close to local and federal police investigations in New York and Ohio, who asked to remain anonymous as they weren't authorized to speak on record, said it was now relatively common for fingerprints of the deceased to be depressed on the scanner of Apple iPhones, devices which have been wrapped up in increasingly powerful encryption over recent years. For instance, the technique has been used in overdose cases, said one source. In such instances, the victim's phone could contain information leading directly to the dealer.

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Twitter Moves To Ban Crypto Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Twitter is the latest social service to boot out cryptocurrency advertisers. The company told Reuters it will be launching a new policy this week to prohibit the advertising of token sales/initial coin offerings (ICOs), and crypto wallet services. Ads for cryptocurrency exchanges will also be banned -- with some limited exceptions. Facebook announced a ban in January, while Google said earlier this month that it will ban them from June. In a statement, the company said, "We are committed to ensuring the safety of the Twitter community. As such, we have added a new policy for Twitter Ads relating to cryptocurrency. Under this new policy, the advertisement of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token sales will be prohibited globally."

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AnandTech Reviews Samsung's Exynos 9810 SoC (and Galaxy S9)
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The Galaxy S9 and S9+, the flagship smartphones from the South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung are powered by company's homegrown Exynos 9810 SoC (in most markets) or Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 SoC. In its review of Samsung Galaxy S9, AnandTech comments on the differences it observed on the S9 model powered by Samsung's own SoC and the variant with Qualcomm's processor. From the review: Finally, the biggest story for the Galaxy S9 is its big contrast in terms of SoC hardware. Ever since we first heard about the Exynos 9810 we had very large expectations and we knew there would be some tangible differences between Exynos and Snapdragon variants. The expectations couldn't be more shattered than the results we got. While the Snapdragon 845 variant of the Galaxy S9 performed largely as advertised and as we had been told to expect by Qualcomm, the Exynos 9810 failed to live up to its hype in real-world scenarios. Effectively, the Exynos 9810 variant and as evidenced by all the data we collected, is the slower variant of the two. The root cause here has been identified as the extremely conservative scheduler and DVFS mechanisms which essentially nullify any advantage the new M3 cores have in synthetic benchmarks. In 3D benchmarks, the Exynos 9810 posted very healthy efficiency improvements and even sometimes managed to catch up to last year's Adreno 540 -- something I hadn't expected. Qualcomm's new Adreno 630 raises the bar in terms of peak performance, however the promises of increased efficiency have not materialised in the commercial hardware as the performance boost comes at a cost of increased power. Effectively, when looking at sustained workloads, the Snapdragon 845 isn't any faster than the Snapdragon 835 in its GPU department. Fortunately for Qualcomm, they're still in the lead and this is not a deal-breaker for the Galaxy S9. While the performance advantage of the Snapdragon 845 variant over the Exynos 9810 variant is something we could live with, the battery life results of the Exynos is definitely a deal-breaker.

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Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Wins Battle in Ongoing Fight Against US Extradition
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Eccentric Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has won a major court battle today in his ongoing fight against his extradition from New Zealand to the U.S. From a report: German-born Dotcom faces extradition to the United States relating to his Megaupload site, which was shut down in 2012 following an FBI-ordered raid on his Auckland mansion. U.S. authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material. Dotcom, who has New Zealand residency, is fighting those charges and the extradition. The Human Rights Review Tribunal awarded Dotcom damages of NZ$30,000 ($21,816) for the "loss of a benefit" and NZ$60,000 for "loss of dignity and injury to feelings."

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Americans Less Likely To Trust Facebook than Rivals on Personal Data
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tells-something department:
Opinion polls published on Sunday in the United States and Germany cast doubt over the level of trust people have in Facebook over privacy, as the firm ran advertisements in British and U.S. newspapers apologizing to users. From a report: Fewer than half of Americans trust Facebook to obey U.S. privacy laws, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, while a survey published by Bild am Sonntag, Germany's largest-selling Sunday paper, found 60 percent of Germans fear that Facebook and other social networks are having a negative impact on democracy [...] The Reuters/Ipsos online poll found that 41 percent of Americans trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information, compared with 66 percent who said they trust Amazon.com, 62 percent who trust Alphabet's Google, 60 percent for Microsoft Corp..

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One Percent of Reddit Users Cause 75 Percent of the Drama
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '18 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Just 1 percent of all Reddit communities set off 74 percent of all conflicts on the site, a new research has found. The Outline: In the self-published research from Srijan Kumar, Jure Leskoec, William Hamilton, and Dan Jurafsky of Stanford University, "intercommunity conflict" is defined as "negative sentiment to comment in another community." These users wouldn't necessarily qualify as trolls or sockpuppets; they're instigators, posting links to other subreddits and encouraging other users to target, harass, and fight with users on that subreddit.

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