By EditorDavid from Slashdot's war-of-the-acronyms department
Dog of the South writes: When the Pentagon -- famous for its painful procurement process and its penchant for producing tech systems that are obsolete before they're fielded -- decided to develop and deploy artificial intelligence to a combat zone within just six months, the idea sounded like a failure waiting to happen. Remarkably, Project Maven has met its goals and won rave reviews -- and may have changed the Pentagon's whole approach to tech innovation. But is the Defense Department ready for the enormous challenges that lie at the intersection of military power and artificial intelligence?
The project "focuses on analysis of full-motion video data from tactical aerial drone platforms," according to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
, which reports that the Pentagon has already spent "tens of billions of dollars" developing them.
"A single drone with these sensors produces many terabytes of data every day. Before AI was incorporated into analysis of this data, it took a team of analysts working 24 hours a day to exploit only a fraction of one drone's sensor data."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Christmas-presents department
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
Call it a Christmas miracle -- albeit of a rather perverse sort. Theranos, the digraced medical-technology startup that infamously inflated the capabilities of its devices, has secured $100 million in new funding in the form of a loan. The loan, reported by the Wall Street Journal, will come from Fortress Investment Group. Fortress, whose other underdog bets include a private passenger rail line under construction in Florida, is set to be acquired by Japan's SoftBank. Theranos was reportedly on the verge of bankrutpcy...
By the end of 2016, the company reportedly still had $200 million in cash on hand, but had sharply limited prospects for attracting more capital. It has since settled a major lawsuit with Walgreens, a former client, for an undisclosed but likely substantial sum. According to the Journal, the Fortress loan is expected to keep Theranos solvent through 2018. That will give the company more time for its ongoing effort to reboot as a medical device manufacturer, rather than a testing service.
The loan is conditional on "achieving certain product and operational milestones," notes Fortune, adding "It's unclear whether those might include positive outcomes for the multiple investigations and lawsuits still facing the company."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Marsha-Marsha-Marsha department
Remember that net neutrality legislation introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)? TechCrunch is calling it "half-hearted" -- and suspect.
It's not going to happen, it wouldn't help if it did and Blackburn isn't someone you want writing this kind of legislation. Among other things, she thinks it's the ISPs' job to police content, and voted to kill the Broadband Privacy Rule.
In fact, Blackburn's legislation would deal a "fatal blow" to net neutrality, argues Evan Greer, campaign director at the nonprofit Fight for the Future, writing in Newsweek:
Already one of Big Cable's best friends in Congress, Marsha Blackburn, who has taken more than $600,000 from the industry, is pushing for legislation that would permanently undermine the FCC's ability to enforce open internet protections. This bait and switch has been in the works for months. The telecom lobby's end game is to use the crisis they've created to ram through legislation that's branded as a compromise but amounts to a fatal blow to net neutrality... We don't need legislation that's been watered down with kool-aid.
A better solution, he suggests, is pushing Congress to overrule the FCC with a Congressional Resolution of Disapproval.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's this-time-for-sure department
Suren Enfiajyan writes: Red Hat worker and GNOME blogger Christian F.K. Schaller wrote why GNU/Linux failed to become a mainstream desktop OS... "My thesis is that there really isn't one reason, but rather a range of issues that all have contributed to holding the Linux Desktop back from reaching a bigger market. Also to put this into context, success here in my mind would be having something like 10% market share of desktop systems. That to me means we reached critical mass."
He named the following reasons:
- A fragmented market
- Lack of special applications
- Lack of big name applications
- Lack of API and ABI stability
- Apple's resurgence
- Microsoft's aggressive response
- Windows piracy
- Red Hat mostly stayed away
- Canonical's business model not working out
- Lack of original device manufacturer support
Then he ended with some optimism:
"So anyone who has read my blog posts probably knows I am an optimist by nature. This isn't just some kind of genetic disposition towards optimism, but also a philosophical belief that optimism breeds opportunity while pessimism breeds failure. So just because we haven't gotten the Linux Desktop to 10% marketshare so far doesn't mean it will not happen going forward. It just means we haven't achieved it so far.
"One of the key identifiers of open source is that it is incredibly hard to kill, because unlike proprietary software, just because a company goes out of business or decides to shut down a part of its business, the software doesn't go away or stop getting developed. As long as there is a strong community interested in pushing it forward it remains and evolves, and thus when opportunity comes knocking again it is ready to try again."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's summer-of-'67 department
Long-time Slashdot reader gollum123 quotes MarketWatch:
Are you doing better than the previous generation? The Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., asked nearly 43,000 people in 38 countries around the globe that question this past spring. Residents in 20 countries said people like them were better off than they were 50 years ago. In Vietnam, 88% felt better off, followed by India (69%), South Korea (68%), Japan (65%), Germany (65%), Turkey (65%), the Netherlands (64%), Sweden (64%), Poland (62%) and Spain (60%)...
The U.S. was among the other 18 countries in which people said they were actually worse off than half a century ago. In Senegal, 45% felt this way, followed by Nigeria (54%), Kenya (53%), the U.S. (41%), Ghana (47%), Brazil (49%), France (46%), Hungary (39%), Lebanon (54%) and Peru (46%).
55% of Canadians feel they're better off, while just 45% of people in the U.K. feel the same way, according to the article.
"Venezuela, which has suffered from political unrest and economic turbulence in recent years, was last on the list. Some 72% people there said they felt worse off than 50 years ago."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's eelo-and-goodbye department
Open-source veteran Gaël Duval created Mandrake Linux in 1998. But in a new essay, he writes that "I realized that I had become lazy. Not only wasn't I using Linux anymore as my main operating system, but I was using a proprietary OS on my smartphone. And I was using Google more and more." Long-time Slashdot reader nuand999 writes:
He's creating a non-profit project called eelo.io that's going to release a "privacy-friendly" smartphone OS and associated web-services... eelo is going to be forked fromLineageOS, and will ship with the existing open source bricks put together into a consistent and privacy-enhanced, yet desirable, smartphone OS + web-services. A crowdfunding campaign has just started on Kickstarter to fuel early developments.
"iOS is proprietary and I prefer Open Source Software," Gaël writes on Hacker Noon, while also adding that "like millions of others, I'VE BECOME A PRODUCT OF GOOGLE... I'm not happy because Google has become too big and is tracking us by catching a lot of information about what we do. They want to know us as much as possible to sell advertising..."
"People are free to do what they want. They can choose to be volunteery slaves. But I do not want this situation for me anymore. I want to reconquer my privacy. My data is MY data. And I want to use Open Source software as much as possible."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's signals-to-noises department
As we approach a holiday weekend and a brand new year, do we need to start carving out more time away from the internet? "I'm convinced the Internet (as in Slashdot) is making many people more lonely (and duller), not better," writes long-time Slashdot reader shanen:
I think the best description of the problem I've read is The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Not exactly his formulation, but in brief I would say that too much information is overwhelming us...
Some approaches towards solutions appear in The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli (based on the German Die Kunst des klaren Denkens : 52 Denkfehler, die Sie besser anderen uberlassen. Again, better references would be greatly appreciated, especially as regards the problem of disaster porn overwhelming journalism.
New Media professor Clay Shirky has argued that "it's not information overload, it's filter failure." And Carr's original question was actually "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" though he still warned of the possibility that "the crazy quilt of Internet media" is remapping the neural circuitry in our brains. (And that "as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens.") The original submitter asked the question another way -- "Is deep thought possible in the Internet Age?" But it'd be interesting to hear what strategies are being used by Slashdot readers.
Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you avoid information overload?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's oceanic-investigations department
An anonymous reader quotes The Hill:
Russian submarine activity around undersea cables that provide internet and other communications connections to North America and Europe has raised concerns among NATO officials, according to The Washington Post. NATO officials say an unprecedented amount of Russian deep-sea activity, especially around undersea internet lines, constitutes a newfound "vulnerability" for NATO nations. "We are now seeing Russian underwater activity in the vicinity of undersea cables that I don't believe we have ever seen," said NATO submarine forces commander and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon. "Russia is clearly taking an interest in NATO and NATO nations' undersea infrastructure."
"The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment about the cables," reports the Washington Post, adding that "prowling around" the cables "could give the Kremlin the power to sever or tap into vital data lines, officials said."
They cite the commander of NATO's submarine forces, who says "We know that these auxiliary submarines are designed to work on the ocean floor, and they're transported by the mother ship, and we believe they may be equipped to manipulate objects on the ocean floor."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's saw-you-in-court department
Long-time Slashdot reader SlaveToTheGrind writes: As previously discussed on Slashdot, Grsecurity developer Open Source Security sued Bruce Perens for allegedly defamatory statements about Grsecurity's licensing policies. Thursday, Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the lawsuit, holding that Perens's statements were not libelous:
"Mr. Perens counters, and the court agrees, that the blog posts are opinions about a disputed legal issue, are not false assertions of fact, and thus are not actionable libel. . . . Mr. Perens -- who is not a lawyer — voiced an opinion about whether the Grsecurity Access Agreement violated the General Public License. No court has addressed the legal issue. Thus, his "opinion" is not a "fact" that can be proven provably false and thus is not actionable as defamation." While Open Source Security technically has the ability to amend its complaint to allege a new legal theory, Judge Beeler said any amendment likely would fall under California's anti-SLAPP statute: "Mr. Perens's statements were made in a public forum and concern issues of public interest, and the plaintiffs have not shown a probability of prevailing on their claims."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's we-could-call-it-Skynet department
"The internet is unavailable to and/or unaffordable by about 50% of the world population," writes Larry Press (formerly of IBM), who's now an information systems professor at California State University. But he's also long-time Slashdot reader lpress, and reports on new efforts to bring cheap high-speed internet to the entire world.
SpaceX, Boeing, OneWeb, Telesat, and Leosat are investing in very large projects to deliver global, high-speed Internet service [using low-earth orbit satellites]. This could be a significant option for developing nations, rural areas of developed nations, long-haul links, Internet of things, and more by the mid-2020s.
Parts of Alaska could see internet-via-satellite as soon as 2020, according to Larry's article, which adds that the technology could even be used to bring high-speed internet access to ships at sea.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department
An anonymous reader quotes The Hill:
Two Romanian hackers stand accused of hacking more than 100 outdoor police security cameras in the D.C. area during the days leading up to President Trump's inauguration, according to a court document obtained by CNN. According to an affidavit from Secret Service agent James Graham, Mihai Alexandru Isvanca and Eveline Cismaru are accused of hacking and disabling 123 out of 187 of the city's cameras between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15... Isvanca and Cismaru are also accused in the affidavit of spreading ransomware.
In a possibly-related story, the Washington Post reports:
Five Romanian hackers were arrested over the past week as part of an international investigation into computer ransomware, officials in the United States and Europe said Wednesday. In six houses across Romania, law enforcement operatives from Romania, Britain, the United States and the Netherlands seized hard drives, laptops, external storage devices and documents related to malicious software called CTB-Locker or Critroini.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Rust-never-sleeps department
An anonymous reader quotes the official Rust blog:
Rust's development in 2017 fit into a single overarching theme: increasing productivity, especially for newcomers to Rust. From tooling to libraries to documentation to the core language, we wanted to make it easier to get things done with Rust. That desire led to a roadmap for the year, setting out 8 high-level objectives that would guide the work of the team. How'd we do? Really, really well.
Aaron Turon, part of the core developer team for Rust, wrote the blog post, and specifically touts this year's progress on lowering the learning curve with books and curriculum, as well as actual improvements in the language and a faster edit-compile-debug cycle. He also notes new support for Rust in IntelliJ and Atom (as well as preview versions for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code) in 2017 -- and most importantly, mentoring.
I'd like to specifically call out the leaders and mentors who have helped orchestrate our 2017 work. Leadership of this kind -- where you are working to enable others -- is hard work and not recognized enough. So let's hand it to these folks...! Technical leaders are an essential ingredient for our success, and I hope in 2018 we can continue to grow our leadership pool, and get even more done -- together.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's resolutions-of-disapproval department
"Cancel the funeral and get ready to fight: Net neutrality is far from dead," argues Evan Greer, the campaign director for the pro-net neutrality group Fight for the Future in Newsweek:
Our elected officials in Congress have the power to reverse what is swiftly becoming one of the U.S. government's most unpopular decisions ever. And if they don't, they'll pay for it come election season... 26 senators have already signed on to a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a vehicle to overturn the FCC's net neutrality repeal with a simple majority vote in both the Senate and House. [UPDATE: 28 Senators have now co-sponsored the resolution]. It's not going to be easy, but it's increasingly within reach with Democrats in lock step against the FCC rollback and half a dozen Republicans already publicly criticizing the move.
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
What to make of a Las Vegas building full of unidentified alloys? The New York Times published a stunning story last week revealing that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) had, between 2007 and 2012, funded a $22 million program for investigating UFOs (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). The story included three revelations that were tailored to blow readers' minds: 1. Many high-ranking people in the federal government believe aliens have visited planet Earth. 2. Military pilots have recorded videos of UFOs with capabilities that seem to outstrip all known human aircraft, changing direction and accelerating in ways no fighter jet or helicopter could ever accomplish. 3. In a group of buildings in Las Vegas, the government stockpiles alloys and other materials believed to be associated with UFOs. From a Scientific American report: Points one and two are weird, but not all that compelling on their own: The world already knew that plenty of smart folks believe in alien visitors, and that pilots sometimes encounter strange phenomena in the upper atmosphere. Point No. 3, though -- those buildings full of alloys and other materials -- that's a little harder to hand wave away. Is there really a DOD cache full of materials from out of this world? Here's the thing, though: The chemists and metallurgists Live Science spoke to -- experts in identifying unusual alloys -- don't buy it. "I don't think it's plausible that there's any alloys that we can't identify," Richard Sachleben, a retired chemist and member of the American Chemical Society's panel of experts, told Live Science. "My opinion? That's quite impossible." Alloys are mixtures of different kinds of elemental metals. They're very common -- in fact, Sachleben said, they're more common on Earth than pure elemental metals are -- and very well understood.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-a-bird-it's-a-plane department
A reused SpaceX rocket carried 10 satellites into orbit from California on Friday, leaving behind a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space. Elon Musk jokingly tweeted a video of the rocket with the caption, "Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea." The Guardian reports: The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg air force base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications. The launch in the setting sun created a shining, billowing streak that was widely seen throughout southern California and as far away as Phoenix, Arizona. Calls came in to TV stations as far afield as San Diego, more than 200 miles south of the launch site, as people puzzled about what caused the strange sight. Cars stopped on freeways in Los Angeles so drivers and passengers could take pictures and video. The Los Angeles fire department issued an advisory that the "mysterious light in the sky" was from the rocket launch. The same rocket carried Iridium satellites into orbit in June. That time, the first stage landed on a floating platform in the Pacific ocean. This time, the rocket was allowed to plunge into the sea. It was the 18th and final launch of 2017 for SpaceX, which has contracted to replace Iridium's system with 75 updated satellites. SpaceX has made four launches and expects to make several more to complete the job by mid-2018. The satellites also carry payloads for global aircraft tracking and a ship-tracking service. Did any Slashdotters manage to view the spectacle?Read Replies (0)