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UN Chief Warns Nuclear Waste Could Be Leaking Into the Pacific
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's heed-thy-warning department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: A UN chief is concerned that a Cold War-era nuclear 'coffin' could be leaking radioactive material into the Pacific. According to Phys.org, the structure in question is on Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands -- where the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958. The tests included the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb, which was reportedly about 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In the late 70s, waste from those tests was dumped into a crater and capped with a concrete dome 18 inches thick. That was intended to be a temporary solution, so the bottom of the crater was never lined.

Now, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine fear nuclear waste could be leaking from the pit. They're also concerned about cracks in the concrete, which they worry could break apart if hit by a tropical cyclone. Guterres says the Pacific's nuclear history needs to be addressed. Further reading: The Washington Post

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Microsoft Wants To Apply AI 'To the Entire Application Developer Lifecycle'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
An anonymous reader writes: At its Build 2018 developer conference a year ago, Microsoft previewed Visual Studio IntelliCode, which uses AI to offer intelligent suggestions that improve code quality and productivity. In April, Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2019 for Windows and Mac. At that point, IntelliCode was still an optional extension that Microsoft was openly offering as a preview. But at Build 2019 earlier this month, Microsoft shared that IntelliCode's capabilities are now generally available for C# and XAML in Visual Studio 2019 and for Java, JavaScript, TypeScript, and Python in Visual Studio Code. Microsoft also now includes IntelliCode by default in Visual Studio 2019. IntelliCode has come a long way since May 2018, but Microsoft is only getting started. When it comes to using AI to aid developers, the company wants to help at every step of the way, according to Amanda Silver, a director of Microsoft's developer division.

"If you look at the entire application developer lifecycle, from code review to testing to continuous integration, and so on, there are opportunities at every single stage for machine learning to help," Silver told VentureBeat. "IntelliCode is, very broadly, the notion that we want to take artificial intelligence -- and really machine learning techniques -- and allow that to make developers and development teams more productive. "IntelliCode is really only at the early stages -- authoring and helping to focus code reviews. But over time, we really think that we can apply it to the entire application developer lifecycle."

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Sony Reportedly Launches Marvel-Inspired Studio To Turn Games Into Movies, Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 12:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's gambling-chances department:
Taking a page from the Marvel playbook, Sony Interactive Entertainment is reportedly launching its own studio to take its video games to the movie and TV screen. From a report: PlayStation Productions is a new division of Sony Interactive Entertainment with the task of adapting PlayStation games into films and TV shows, The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday. Heading up the new studio will be Asad Qizilbash, who was vice president of marketing for Sony Interactive Entertainment of America, according to the report. Overseeing the studio will be Shawn Layden, chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios, The Hollywood Reporter said. [...] The new PlayStation Productions will reportedly work with Sony Pictures for distribution of the new batch of movies and TV shows.

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Millennials and Gen Z Are Increasingly Pessimistic About Their Lives, Survey Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 12:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Uneasiness and pessimism abound among the majority of the world's population. From a report: Deloitte has released its Global Millennial Survey of 13,416 Millennials (born between 1983 and 1994) spread across 42 countries and 3,009 Gen Z respondents (born between 1995 and 2002) from 10 countries. The firm has conducted the survey for the past eight years. The percentage of respondents who think that businesses are making a positive impact dropped six points from 61% in 2018 to 55%. "I would say that for businesses, the most important takeaway is the continuously diminishing trust of Millennials and Gen Zs," says Deloitte Global Chief Talent Officer Michele Parmelee.

While the two generations have strikingly similar views of the world, Parmelee said survey data shows that their points of view differ in a few significant areas, such as life priorities and their perception of society and work. Generally, only about half of both groups aspire to purchase a home, and even fewer desire to start a family. "Instead, travel and seeing the world was at the top of the list (57%) of aspirations," the report said. Only 52% of the Millennials surveyed responded that earning a high salary was a top priority while 56% of their Gen Z peers did so. And 39% of the Millennials saw starting a family as very important, while 45% of the younger cohort agreed.

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Linux Distros Without Systemd (2019)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
New submitter Nico Schottelius writes: It's 2019 -- who has switched to systemd, who hasn't and what can I use if I don't like systemd? Here's the answer in short.From the blog post: If you are reading this post you're very much likely not a fan of systemd already. So we won't preach on why systemd is bad, but today we'll focus more on what are the alternatives out there. Our approach is obviously not for settling for less but for changing things for the better. We have started the world after systemd project some time ago and the search isn't over. So what are the non-systemd distros out there? The author makes a case for why you should consider the suggested distros, but here's the list: Devuan, Alpine Linux, Artixlinux, Void, Slackware, Gentoo, and GNU GUIX.

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Millions of Instagram Influencers Had Their Private Contact Data Scraped and Exposed
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's gift-that-keeps-giving department:
A massive database containing contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts has been found online. From a report: The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records -- but was growing by the hour. From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they're verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner's email address and phone number.

Security researcher Anurag Sen discovered the database and alerted TechCrunch in an effort to find the owner and get the database secured. We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, which pays influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts. Each record in the database contained a record that calculated the worth of each account, based off the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares they had. This was used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.

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Thanks To Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-lows department:
A confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that Facebook courts carriers, along with phone makers -- some 100 different companies in 50 countries -- by offering the use of even more surveillance data, pulled straight from your smartphone by Facebook itself. From the report: Offered to select Facebook partners, the data includes not just technical information about Facebook members' devices and use of Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but also their past locations, interests, and even their social groups. This data is sourced not just from the company's main iOS and Android apps, but from Instagram and Messenger as well. The data has been used by Facebook partners to assess their standing against competitors, including customers lost to and won from them, but also for more controversial uses like racially targeted ads.

Some experts are particularly alarmed that Facebook has marketed the use of the information -- and appears to have helped directly facilitate its use, along with other Facebook data -- for the purpose of screening customers on the basis of likely creditworthiness. Such use could potentially run afoul of federal law, which tightly governs credit assessments. Facebook said it does not provide creditworthiness services and that the data it provides to cellphone carriers and makers does not go beyond what it was already collecting for other uses.

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The Definition of a Kilogram Just Changed Worldwide
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's PSA department:
For over a century, the kilogram was defined by a metal cylinder in a French vault. Now, this key unit of mass is defined using the Planck constant, a fundamental figure in physics. From a report: On Monday -- World Metrology Day -- Le Grand K lost its special status as the international prototype kilogram (IPK) and it will no longer represent this base unit of mass to the world. From now on, the kilogram -- along with the ampere, kelvin, mole, and candela -- will be defined by fundamental physical and atomic properties instead of tangible human-made objects. "The Metric System was envisioned to be 'for all people for all time,'" said Barry Inglis, president of the International Committee for Weights and Measures, in a statement. "From its outset it sought to ensure long-term stability by defining the units in terms of an internationally agreed 'constants of nature' instead of an arbitrary reference."

To that end, the "arbitrary" Le Grand K has been deposed by the Planck constant, a fundamental quantity related to the energy of photons, the elementary particles that make up light. Defined as 6.626 x 10-34 joule-seconds, the constant fixes the kilogram to the speed of light and a temporal unit of measurement -- the second. The kilogram is now equal to the weight of 1.4755214 x 1040 photons with frequencies matching a cesium atomic clock. It may sound like a less relatable system of measurement, but what the change loses in familiarity it makes up for in precision. Even though Le Grand K is one of the most carefully protected objects on the planet, it is not immune from physical interactions that can alter its weight.

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Google Glass Gets a Surprise Upgrade and New Frames
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Google just unveiled its newest version of Glass. It's not made to be a widespread consumer product, but there are business users who will care. And the latest Glass Enterprise Edition 2, with key upgraded specs, shows where most smartglasses are at. From a report: You might remember Glass as a strange 2013 footnote, but Glass has stuck around: it became an enterprise-targeted device in 2017, and has been used in a variety of other assistive ways. Plenty of other AR headsets have been moving into the enterprise space over the last couple of years too, from Microsoft HoloLens 2 to Vuzix' glasses. While the single-display design of Glass isn't going to allow 3D augmented reality like what you'd experience on HoloLens 2, there could be applications for other types of useful augmented reality via the improved built-in camera and upgraded onboard processor. Google's announcement touts the new onboard Qualcomm XR1 chip as enabling "support for computer vision and advanced machine learning capabilities."

Google representatives refused to comment on whether that means the new Glass could possibly adopt some Google Lens-like features, and Google's VP of VR and AR, Clay Bavor, said in a statement that "Using technologies like computer vision and AR, our team's focus has been on building helpful experiences that provide useful information in context. Glass Enterprise Edition 2 does just that, and we're excited to give businesses and their employees tools to help them work better, smarter and faster."

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Sony's Deal With Microsoft Blindsided Its Own PlayStation Team
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
When Sony unveiled a cloud gaming pact with archrival Microsoft, it surprised the industry. From a report: Perhaps no one was more shocked than employees of Sony's PlayStation division, who have spent almost two decades fighting the U.S. software giant in the $38 billion video game console market. Last week, the companies announced a strategic partnership to co-develop game streaming technology and host some of PlayStation's online services on the Redmond-based company's Azure cloud platform. It comes after PlayStation spent seven years developing its own cloud gaming offering, with limited success. Negotiations with Microsoft began last year and were handled directly by Sony's senior management in Tokyo, largely without the involvement of the PlayStation unit, according to people familiar with the matter. Staff at the gaming division were caught off-guard by the news. Managers had to calm workers and assure them that plans for the company's next-generation console weren't affected, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

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Ford Will Cut 7,000 White-Collar Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's job-cuts department:
Ford is cutting 7,000 white-collar jobs, or about 10% of its salaried staff worldwide, as part of a cost-cutting effort it says will save the company about $600 million a year. From a report: Ford says workers will begin to be notified of cuts starting Tuesday, and the terminations will be completed by the end of August. About 2,400 of the jobs cuts are in North America, and 1,500 of the positions will be eliminated through a voluntary buyout offer. The move is an effort to cut bureaucracy within the company and flatten the management structure in addition to its desire to cut costs, according to a letter CEO Jim Hackett sent to employees Monday morning. Ford's layoffs are similar to white-collar job cuts rival General Motors announced in November, but GM's cuts were deeper. GM eliminated about 8,000 non-union jobs, or 15% of its salaried and contract workers. It also closed five North American factories as part of that announcement.

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FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger With New Conditions
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-along department:
T-Mobile and Sprint submitted a new plan for their proposed $26 billion merger to the FCC -- including enhanced 5G buildout commitments and an agreement to spin off Sprint's Boost Mobile -- which got the nod from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. From a report: T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their plans to merge in April 2018, looking to combine forces to take on the two industry leaders -- AT&T and Verizon. To clear regulatory hurdles, the companies have been forced to make additional guarantees. Those include a commitment to deploying a 5G network that would cover 97% of the U.S. population within three years of the closing of the merger and 99% within six years. In addition, the revised T-Mobile/Sprint plan guarantees that their 5G network would reach deep into rural areas, with 85% of rural Americans covered within three years and 90% covered within six years. T-Mobile and Sprint also have promised that 90% of Americans would have access to mobile broadband service at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and 99% would have access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps.

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Huawei Responds To Android Ban With Service and Security Guarantees, But Its Future Remains Unclear
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 06:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Huawei has finally gone on the record about a ban on its use of Android, but the company's long-term strategy on mobile still remains unclear. From a report: In an effort to appease its worried customer base, the embattled Chinese company said today that it will continue to provide security updates and after-sales support to its existing lineup of smartphones, but it's what the company didn't say that will spark concerns. Huawei was unable to make guarantees about whether existing customers will continue to receive Android software updates, while its statement is bereft of any mention of whether future phones will ship with the current flavor of Android or something else.

[...] Huawei's lukewarm response isn't unexpected. Earlier, Google issued a similarly non-committal statement that indicated that owners of Huawei phones will continue to be able to access the Google Play Store and Google Play Protect, but -- like the Chinese firm -- it made no mention of the future, and that really is the key question.

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'I Oversaw America's Nuclear Power Industry. Now I Think It Should Be Banned.'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 03:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's changed-my-mind department:
Friday the Washington Post published an essay by Gregory Jaczko, who served on America's Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2005 to 2009 and was its chairman from 2009 to 2012. He says he'd believed nuclear power was worth the reduction they produced in greenhouse emissions -- until Japan's 2011 nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.

"Despite working in the industry for more than a decade, I now believe that nuclear power's benefits are no longer enough to risk the welfare of people living near these plants..." [Non-paywalled version here]

The current and potential costs -- personal and economic -- are just too high.... The technology and the safety needs are just too complex and demanding to translate into a facility that is simple to design and build. No matter your views on nuclear power in principle, no one can afford to pay this much for two electricity plants. New nuclear is simply off the table in the United States....

Fewer than 10 of Japan's 50 reactors have resumed operations, yet the country's carbon emissions have dropped below their levels before the accident. How? Japan has made significant gains in energy efficiency and solar power.... What about the United States? Nuclear accounts for about 19 percent of U.S. electricity production and most of our carbon-free electricity. Could reactors be phased out here without increasing carbon emissions? If it were completely up to the free market, the answer would be yes, because nuclear is more expensive than almost any other source of electricity today. Renewables such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power generate electricity for less than the nuclear plants under construction in Georgia, and in most places, they produce cheaper electricity than existing nuclear plants that have paid off all their construction costs...
< article continued at Slashdot's changed-my-mind department >

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Tesla's Stock Falls After News About Autopilot Crashes and Battery Fires
Posted by News Fetcher on May 20 '19 at 12:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's autos-with-autopilot department:
CNBC reports:
Tesla shares fell almost 8% on Friday to their lowest close since December 2016, after the National Transportation Safety Board said the company's Autopilot driver assistance system was engaged during a fatal crash in March... The accident was at least the third of its kind in the U.S. and raises concerns about Tesla's Autopilot technology.

Thursday Elon Musk also told Tesla's employees that he and their CFO will now personally review all expenses going forward in a new "hardcore" attempt to control expenses, calling it "the only way for Tesla to become financially sustainable and succeed in our goal of helping make the world environmentally sustainable."
And then there's the fires, reports CNBC:
Recent reports of Tesla vehicles spontaneously catching fire could make potential customers wary at a time when virtually every automaker is getting ready to roll out battery-based vehicles, industry executives and analysts worry... Three of Tesla's sedans went up in flames without warning in recent months, one in Shanghai, another in Hong Kong, a third in San Francisco. Tesla has experienced at least 14 known battery fires in recent years...
Of the 14 known fires involving Tesla vehicles, the majority occurred after a collision, but there have been a growing number of blazes in which its products appear to spontaneously ignite. That appeared to be the case when, on April 21, a security camera in a Shanghai garage captured images of a Model S sedan smoldering before suddenly bursting into flames. Another fire engulfed a Tesla sedan that appears to have been hooked up to one of the company's Superchargers in Hong Kong. Then, two weeks ago, firefighters in San Francisco tweeted that they had been called to a garage where another Tesla Model S was on fire.
< article continued at Slashdot's autos-with-autopilot department >

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Email Addresses and Passwords Leaked For 113,000 Users Of Account Hijacking Forum
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '19 at 08:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-u department:
"Ogusers.com -- a forum popular among people involved in hijacking online accounts and conducting SIM swapping attacks to seize control over victims' phone numbers -- has itself been hacked," reports security researcher Brian Krebs, "exposing the email addresses, hashed passwords, IP addresses and private messages for nearly 113,000 forum users."

On May 12, the administrator of OGusers explained an outage to forum members by saying a hard drive failure had erased several months' worth of private messages, forum posts and prestige points, and that he'd restored a backup from January 2019. Little did the administrators of OGusers know at the time, but that May 12 incident coincided with the theft of the forum's user database, and the wiping of forum hard drives. On May 16, the administrator of rival hacking community RaidForums announced he'd uploaded the OGusers database for anyone to download for free...

"The website owner has acknowledged data corruption but not a breach so I guess I'm the first to tell you the truth. According to his statement he didn't have any recent backups so I guess I will provide one on this thread lmfao."

Some users of the hijacking forum complained that their email addresses had started getting phishing emails -- and that the forum's owner had since altered the forum's functionality so user's couldn't delete their accounts.
"It's difficult not to admit feeling a bit of schadenfreude in response to this event..." writes Krebs, adding "federal and state law enforcement investigators going after SIM swappers are likely to have a field day with this database, and my guess is this leak will fuel even more arrests and charges for those involved."

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Three Geeks Rescue a 50-Year-Old IBM 360 Mainframe From an Abandoned Building
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '19 at 06:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's remembering-punch-cards department:
In late April of 2019 Slashdot reader Adam Bradley and engineer Chris Blackburn were "sitting in a pub on a Monday night when Chris happened across a somewhat unusual eBay listing..."
They eventually submitted the winning bid for an IBM 360 Model 20 mainframe -- €3,710 (about $4,141 USD) -- and proceeded to pick it up from an abandoned building "in the backstreets of Nuremberg, Germany." (Where they tackled several issues with a tiny door that hadn't been opened since the 1970s.) By day Adam is a railway software engineer, but he's also been involved in computer history for over a decade at The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley, England.
Along with engineer Peter Vaughan, the three are now blogging "the saga that unfurled...and how we eventually tackled the problems we discovered." But after much beer, whisky, and Weiner Schnitzel, Adam assures us the story ends with a victory:
The machine will shortly be headed to the UK for a full restoration to working order. We're planning to blog the entire process and hope some of you might be interested in reading more about it.

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Is The Global Internet Disintegrating?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '19 at 04:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-so-virtual-worlds department:
'The global internet is disintegrating," argues BBC Future, calling Russia "one of a growing number of countries that has had enough of the Western-built, Western-controlled internet backbone...aided as much by advances in technology as by growing global misgivings about whether the open internet was ever such a good idea to start with."
"The new methods raise the possibility not only of countries pulling up their own drawbridges, but of alliances between like-minded countries building on these architectures to establish a parallel internet..."

It's DNS that Russia has been setting its sights on... The plan -- which was met with skepticism from much of the engineering community, if not dismissed outright -- was to create a Russia-only copy of the DNS servers (the internet's address book, currently headquartered in California) so that citizens' traffic would be exclusively directed to Russian sites, or Russian versions of external sites. It would send Russian internet users to Yandex if they typed in Google, or the social network VK instead of Facebook. To lay the groundwork for this, Russia spent years enacting laws that force international companies to store all Russian citizens' data inside the country -- leading some companies such as LinkedIn to be blocked when they refused to comply...

< article continued at Slashdot's not-so-virtual-worlds department >

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Hundreds Are Alreadying Using Waymo's Driver-less Taxis In Arizona
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '19 at 03:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-one-behind-the-wheel department:
The commercial rollout of Waymo's driver-less taxi service in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix with a population of 260,000 people, has more than a thousand customers already signed up -- including the mayor, reports Forbes:

Each of the several hundred Waymo One vans in Chandler arrives with a safety driver at the wheel. But that may be more about public relations than technical necessity. During a recent trip, the human in the driver's seat didn't take her hands off her lap during a trip from the library to a shopping mall a few miles away in light, late morning traffic. "Part of it's just education and getting people really comfortable right out of the gate," a Waymo spokeswoman said. There's another piece of the Arizona program that's closer to Waymo's long-term plans of full autonomy. A few hundred people are getting rides in Pacificas with no safety driver through its Early Rider program, an earlier test rollout. Unlike Waymo One users, Early Riders have to sign nondisclosure agreements and aren't allowed to discuss the program.
Early Riders are also a way for the company to observe how people adapt to a robotic service and the options they want. Recently Waymo integrated Google Play music into the Waymo One app to let riders automatically listen to their preferred songs and artists. Video streaming, games and other in-vehicle options that leverage Google's many services are likely additions, though Waymo won't verify that... "Beyond the initial shock of not seeing a person in the vehicle, which we're getting used to, protocols are being established," says Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan. "As a police officer, one of the first questions that gets asked is 'who gets the ticket? How do you contact whomever?'" There have been a "half a dozen" collisions involving a Waymo vehicle, Duggan says, but not ones where the Waymo vehicle was at fault. In fact, the department hasn't issued any citations to Waymo in the past couple of years...

< article continued at Slashdot's no-one-behind-the-wheel department >

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10-Year-Old's Reality-Show Victory Revoked After Automated Bot Voting
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '19 at 02:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's more-cheating-scandals department:
An anonymous reader quotes ABC News:
The final result of Russia's version of the popular TV singing talent show, "The Voice Kids," has been cancelled after it was found that thousands of automated calls and text messages were used to rig voting in favor of its 10-year-old winner. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group-IB was brought in to examine the results after complaints were raised over the victory of Mikella Abramova, the daughter of well-known Russian popstar Alsou and millionaire Yan Abramov...
On Thursday, Group-IB's researchers said that, after analyzing the voting data, there had been "massive automated sending of SMS messages in favour of one participant." Sequential phone numbers were used to make more than 30,000 automated calls into the show's voting line for the contestant, IB Group wrote in a statement on its website. Another 300 telephone numbers were used to send 8,000 text messages, the statement said, noting that the automated calls and messages were made by so-called 'bots' -- software programs that can be directed to repeat tasks over and over.
The findings prompted Channel 1 to announce that it was annulling the results, saying the investigation had confirmed there was "an outside influence" that had affected the outcome. In a statement on its website, the channel said it would now organize a new "special show" in which all the contestants would compete again on May 24.

One of show's hosts warned their audience not to take the reality competition too seriously. "Let's not forget that it is only a jolly game of 'who sings best.'"

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