By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things department
An anonymous reader shares a report: A few weeks after the election, pro-Trump commentator Scottie Nell Hughes heralded the dawn of a new era when she declared, "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts." In the age of Trump there's little need for people who've devoted their lives to studying scientific facts, and over the weekend the administration finally got around to dismissing some of them. According to the Washington Post, about half of the 18 members on the Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Scientific Counselors have been informed that their terms will not be renewed. The academics who sit on the board advise the EPA's scientific board on whether its research is sound. The academics usually serve two three-year stints, and they were told by Obama administration officials and career EPA staffers that they would stay on for another term. But on Friday some received emails from the agency informing them that their first three-year term was up and they would not be renominated. Republican members of Congress have complained for some time that the Board of Scientific Counselors, as well as the 47-member Science Advisory Board, just rubber-stamp new EPA regulations. A spokesman for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed that he's thinking of replacing the academics with industry experts (though the EPA is supposed to be regulating those companies). Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Center for Science and Democracy, expressed her disappointment and asked, "What's the scientific reason for removing these individuals from this EPA science review board? It is rare to see such a large scale dismissal even in a presidential transition. The EPA is treating this scientific advisory board like its members are political appointees when these committees are not political positions. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics. This move by the EPA is inserting politics into science."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-we-live department
An anonymous reader writes: Work under capitalism is a brutal psychological gauntlet -- low pay, long hours, and little to no safety net. But bosses usually expect you to take some solace in the fact that you're not doing their (supposedly more difficult) job, even if they make more money. Some part of you might think that's bullshit, but hey, what do you know? Well, according to new work from researchers from the University of Manchester, University College London, and the University of Essex, it probably is bullshit. According to their study, published on Friday in the Journals of Gerontology, people lower on the corporate ladder are, on average, more stressed than people higher up. Worse, according to the study, the elevated stress continues into retirement for average working people. 'Workers in lower status jobs tend to have more stressful working conditions -- they have lower pay, poorer pension arrangements, less control over their work, and report more unsupportive colleagues and managers,' Tarani Chandola, a professor of medical sociology at the University of Manchester and one of the paper's authors, wrote me in an email.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's go-fcc-yourself department
Three years ago, late night comedian John Oliver propelled an arcane telecom topic into the national debate by spurring millions of ordinary Americans to file comments with the Federal Communications Commission in favor of "net neutrality." Among other things, that effort caused the FCC website to crash, which couldn't handle the "overwhelming" traffic. Now Oliver is back at it, and he is already causing the site some troubles. From a report on Fortune: On Sunday night, Oliver devoted a chunk of his Last Week Tonight show to condemning a plan by the FCC's new Chairman, Ajit Pai, to tear up current net neutrality rules, which forbid Internet providers from delivering some websites faster than others. In the clip, Oliver urges viewers to visit a website called "GoFCCYourself," which redirects users to a section of the FCC site where people can comment on the net neutrality proceeding, known as "Restoring Internet Freedom" in Pai's parlance. Viewers took up Oliver's offer in spades -- so much so that the FCC's servers appeared to be overwhelmed by the flood of traffic. The comment page is currently loading with delays and, according to reports from several outlets, the site went down altogether for a while.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-lives department
An anonymous reader shares a Financial Times article: After more than five years at a leading City law firm, Daniel van Binsbergen quit his job as a solicitor to found Lexoo, a digital start-up for legal services in the fledgling "lawtech" sector. Mr Van Binsbergen says he is one of many. "The number of lawyers who have been leaving to go to start-ups has skyrocketed compared to 15 years ago," he estimates. Many are abandoning traditional firms to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities or join in-house teams, as the once-unthinkable idea of routine corporate legal work as an automated task becomes reality (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). Law firms, which tend to be owned by partners, have been slow to adopt technology. Their traditional and profitable model involves many low-paid legal staff doing most of the routine work, while a handful of equity partners earn about 1m pound ($1.30m) a year. But since the 2008 financial crisis, their business model has come under pressure as companies cut spending on legal services, and technology replicated the repetitive tasks that lower-level lawyers at the start of their careers had worked on in the past. [...] "We get AI to do a bunch of things cheaply, efficiently and accurately -- which is most important," says Wendy Miller, partner and co-head of real estate disputes at BLP. "It leaves lawyers to do the interesting stuff."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's buy-in department
An anonymous reader writes: Finland and the Netherlands are running modest pilots, and others are being considered by governments in France, Switzerland, and the UK, and by a host of nonprofits. To gauge public enthusiasm for the idea, Dalia Research, a Berlin-based market research firm, has been surveying Europeans' attitudes toward basic income since 2016. They've found a warm welcome. In a March survey, 68% of Europeans said they would vote yes in a basic-income referendum, up from 64% last year. The survey was put to 11,000 citizens in 28 European Union states and has a 1.1% margin of error. But not everyone is ready to see it implemented right away -- 48% said they wanted to test the policy first, while 31% advocated for adopting it as soon as possible. The 24% of respondents who opposed a UBI in both years were most concerned about the economic impact, including the expense, the risk of reducing the motivation to work, and the possibility foreigners would take exploit it. Those in favor of a UBI were most convinced by the promise of increased security and freedom, namely a reduced financial anxiety over meeting basic needs, more equality in opportunities, and the prospect of greater financial independence and self-reliance.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Brexit-Trump-connection department
Long-time Slashdot readers walterbyrd and whoever57 both submitted the same article about the mysterious data analytics company Cambridge Analytica and its activities with SCL Group, a 25-year-old military psyops company in the U.K. later bought by "secretive hedge fund billionaire" Robert Mercer. One former employee calls it "this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump."
Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale. The company also (perfectly legally) bought consumer datasets -- on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel -- and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files... Finding "persuadable" voters is key for any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants "swamping" the country. The key is finding emotional triggers for each individual voter. Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was "voter disengagement" and "to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home"... In the U.S., the government is bound by strict laws about what data it can collect on individuals. But, for private companies anything goes.
< article continued at Slashdot's Brexit-Trump-connection department
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's network-effect department
An anonymous reader quotes The Hill:
Oracle voiced support on Friday for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's controversial plan to roll back the agency's net neutrality rules. In a letter addressed to the FCC, the company played up its "perspective as a Silicon Valley technology company," hammering the debate over the rules as a "highly political hyperbolic battle," that is "removed from technical, economic, and consumer reality"... Oracle wrote in their letter [PDF] that they believe Pai's plan to remove broadband providers from the FCC's regulatory jurisdiction "will eliminate unnecessary burdens on, and competitive imbalances for, ISPs [internet service providers] while enhancing the consumer experience and driving investment"... Other companies in support of Pai's plan, like AT&T and Verizon, have made the argument that the rules stifled investment in the telecommunications sector, specifically in broadband infrastructure.
Cisco has also argued that strict net neutrality laws on ISPs "restrict their ability to use innovative network management technology, provide appropriate levels of quality of service, and deliver new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Cisco believes that allowing the development of differentiated broadband products, with different service and content offerings, will enhance the broadband market for consumers."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's legality-of-licenses department
Slashdot reader destinyland writes: The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued an opinion that is being hailed as a victory for open source software. In this case, the court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging violation of an open source software license, paving the way for further action enforcing the conditions of the GNU General Public License... As part of its motion to dismiss, Hancom argued that using open source code offered under open source licensing terms does not form a contract... The District Court ruled that Artifex's breach of contract claim could proceed, finding that the GPL, by its express terms, requires that third parties agree to the GPL's obligations if they distribute the open-source-licensed software [and] concluded that royalty-free licensing under open source conditions does not preclude a claim for damages...
In denying a motion to dismiss, the District Court only holds that the claims may proceed on the theories enunciated by Artifex, not necessarily that they will ultimately succeed. Still, the case represents a significant step forward for open source plaintiffs... In the past decade, while enforcement of open source licensing violations has become more common, few enforcement cases result in published law. The open source community will be watching this case carefully, and this initial decision vindicates the rights of the open source authors to enforce GPL terms on both breach of contract and copyright theories.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's it-came-from-outer-space department
An anonymous reader quotes Space.com:
The record-shattering mission of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane is finally over. After circling Earth for an unprecedented 718 days, the X-37B touched down Sunday at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida -- the first landing at the SLF since the final space shuttle mission came back to Earth in July 2011... The just-ended mission, known as OTV-4 (Orbital Test Vehicle-4), was the fourth for the X-37B program... The 29-foot-long (8.8 meters) X-37B looks like NASA's now-retired space shuttle orbiter, only much smaller; indeed, two X-37Bs could fit inside a space shuttle's cavernous payload bay...
Most of the X-37B's payloads and activities are classified, leading to some speculation that the space plane could be a weapon of some sort, perhaps a disabler of enemy satellites... But Air Force officials have always strongly refuted that notion, stressing that the vehicle is simply testing technologies on orbit. "Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control; thermal-protection systems; avionics; high-temperature structures and seals; conformal, reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems; and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing," Captain AnnMarie Annicelli, an Air Force spokeswoman, told Space.com via email in March.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-the-chips department
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica:
A remote hijacking flaw that lurked in Intel chips for seven years was more severe than many people imagined, because it allowed hackers to remotely gain administrative control over huge fleets of computers without entering a password. This is according to technical analyses published Friday... AMT makes it possible to log into a computer and exercise the same control enjoyed by administrators with physical access [and] was set up to require a password before it could be remotely accessed over a Web browser interface. But, remarkably, that authentication mechanism can be bypassed by entering any text string -- or no text at all...
"Authentication still worked" even when the wrong hash was entered, Tenable Director of Reverse Engineering Carlos Perez wrote. "We had discovered a complete bypass of the authentication scheme." A separate technical analysis from Embedi, the security firm Intel credited with first disclosing the vulnerability, arrived at the same conclusion... Making matters worse, unauthorized accesses typically aren't logged by the PC because AMT has direct access to the computer's network hardware... The packets bypass the OS completely.
The article adds that Intel officials "said they expect PC makers to release a patch next week." And in the meantime? "Intel is urging customers to download and run this discovery tool to diagnose potentially vulnerable computers."
Saturday Ars Technica found more than 8,500 systems with an AMT interface exposed to the internet using the Shodan search engine -- over 2,000 in the United States -- adding that "many others may be accessible via organizational networks."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's come-along-and-share-the-Stallman department
After our article about Richard Stallman's new video interview, Slashdot reader silverjacket shared this recent profile from Psychology Today that describes Richard Stallman's quest "to save us from a web of spyware -- and from ourselves."
By using proprietary software, Stallman believes, we are forfeiting control of our computers, and thus of our digital lives. In his denunciation of all nonfree software as inherently abusive and unethical, he has alienated many possible allies and followers. But he is not here to make friends. He is here to save us from a software industry he considers predatory in ways we've yet to recognize... for Stallman, moralism is the whole point. If you write or use free software only for practical reasons, you'll stop when it's inconvenient, and freedom will disappear.
Stallman collaborator Eben Moglen -- a law professor at Columbia, as well as the FSF's general counsel -- assesses Stallman's legacy by saying "the idea of copyleft and the proposition that social and political freedom can't happen in a society without technological freedom -- those are his long-term meanings. And humanity will be aware of those meanings for centuries, whatever it does about them." The article also includes quotes from Linus Torvalds and Eric S. Raymond -- along with some great artwork.
In addition to insisting the reporter refer to Linux as "GNU/Linux," Stallman also required that the article describe free software without using the term open source, a phrase he sees as "a way that people who disagree with me try to cause the ethical issues to be forgotten." And he ultimately got Psychology Today to tell its readers that "Nearly all the software on our phones and computers, as well as on other machines, is nonfree or 'proprietary' software and is riddled with spyware and back doors installed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the like."Read Replies (0)