By BeauHD from Slashdot's mark-your-calendar department
The European Commission and European Parliament are set to end daylight saving time in 2021, at least in some states. "Now that the lead committee on transport and tourism has given its blessing, by a large majority, EU lawmakers could vote on the change by the end of March," reports Deutsche Welle. "After that, all 28 member states will need to rubberstamp the ruling." From the report: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's brash statement back in September, asserting that the amendment would go ahead quickly, has proven to be premature. At the time, Juncker was referring to an overwhelming response to an EU online survey, where an unexpected 80 percent of respondents said the practice of changing the clock twice a year was outdated. But the survey was not representative, with 3 million of the 4.6 million votes coming from Germany. This led to diplomats from smaller EU countries complaining behind closed doors that the European Commission wanted to impose German will on the other states through sheer populism.
Juncker was keen to abolish the twice-yearly time shift by spring, probably so he could claim, before European Parliament elections in May, that the will of the people had been reflected. But some member states demanded a transitional period up to 2021. Good things come to those who wait, it seems, especially in the EU. As a compromise for the repeal of the "Directive on summer time," spring or autumn in 2020 has now been suggested. This means that by June EU states will have to draw the lines for each time zone and decide what time those places will set their clocks to, and when. Some EU members -- including the United Kingdom, Greece and Portugal -- want to stick to the old rules and continue to switch between summer and winter time through the year. Cyprus, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Ireland have not decided. The other states want to get rid of the twice-yearly change, but still have to decide which time will apply.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's truth-will-prevail department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: Millions of dollars were missing when the CEO of a crypto exchange died without sharing the passwords to his accounts. Investigators recently cracked his laptop -- only to find the money was gone. Gerald Cotten, the founder of QuadrigaCX, was thought to have had sole access to the funds and coins exchanged on it. After his death in December, his colleagues said that about $137 million in cryptocurrency belonging to about 115,000 customers was held offline in "cold storage" and inaccessible. The case has sparked numerous theories, including that Cotten faked his own death and ran off with the cash. A court-appointed auditor, Ernst & Young, was able to crack Cotten's laptop and found that the accounts were emptied in April, eight months before his death, it said in a report last week.
The investigators said they found other issues too, such as that Quadriga kept "limited books and records" and never reported its financials. Ernst & Young also said it found 14 user accounts linked to Cotten that traded on Quadriga's exchange and withdrew cryptocurrency to addresses not tied to Quadriga. Burdened with $190 million in debt and unable to find or access the money, Quadriga filed for creditor protection in late January. A Nova Scotia court threw the company a lifeline this week, granting it a 45-day extension that prevents creditors from filing lawsuits against it until mid-April.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's buildings-of-the-future department
MikeChino writes: The world's first home designed, planned, and built with mainly digital processes just opened its doors in Switzerland. Developed by eight ETH Zurich professors, DFAB House is a pilot project showcasing futuristic building technologies that may someday work their way into our homes. It's topped with a solar array that generates, on average, 1.5 times more energy than the unit needs (an intelligent control system eliminates the risk of load peaks), [and there are waste heat recovery systems to recycle heat from shower trays back into the boiler.] Some of the pioneering ETH-developed construction processes include: "Mesh Mould technology, in which an autonomous 'In Situ Fabricator' robot builds a 3D mesh formwork for concrete load-bearing walls; Smart Slab, a lightweight concrete slab with 3D-printed sand formwork that's less than half the weight of a conventional concrete slab; Smart Dynamic Casting, an automatic robotic slip-forming process; and Spatial Timber Assemblies, a digital prefabrication process that uses a dual robot system to create timber frame modules," reports Dwell, adding that people "manually filled in formwork, bolted CNC-milled and 3D-printed pieces into place, and tweaked the digital design process."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-more-where-that-came-from department
Samsung is working on a pair of new foldable smartphones to follow its Galaxy Fold, a smartphone with dual screens that fold in half like a notebook, and another that works just like any other. Bloomberg reports: The South Korean manufacturer is said to be developing a clamshell-like device, and another that folds away from the user similar to Huawei's Mate X, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing internal plans. The $1,980 Galaxy Fold that Samsung plans to release in April folds inward like a notebook. While it's still too early to gauge how much demand there will be for smartphones with flexible screens, Samsung and other rivals are eager to gain an edge over Apple Inc. in the $495 billion industry, especially amid cooling sales.
Samsung plans to unveil the vertically folding phone late this year or early next year, and is using mock-ups to fine-tune the design, the people said. The gadget is designed with an extra screen on the outside, but the manufacturer may remove it depending on how customers respond to a similar display on the Galaxy Fold, they said. The outfolding device, which already exists as a prototype after being considered as Samsung's first foldable gadget, will roll out afterward, the people said. It will be thinner because it has no extra screen, they said. Samsung may also incorporate an in-display fingerprint sensor for its foldable lineup, as it did for the Galaxy S10 model announced last month, they said. The report also touched on the Galaxy Fold's screen imperfection. Apparently, a crease "appears on the panel after it's been folded about 10,000 times, and Samsung is considering offering free screen replacements after releasing the product." "The Galaxy Fold's screen imperfection develops on a protective film covering the touch sensor bonded with the display underneath," the report adds. "That's one reason why Samsung kept the phone inside a glass case at MWC in Barcelona last month."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-is-better-than-one department
"Haven" is the new name of the joint health-care venture between Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway. The CEOs of the three companies last January announced they were teaming up to tackle rising health-care costs. They formed a nonprofit company and named renowned surgeon, author and speaker Dr. Atul Gawande as CEO in June. CNBC reports: Prior to the big reveal, many industry insiders referred to the venture as "ABC" or "ABJ." The company said the name choice of "Haven" lines up with its mission to be a "partner" to care providers and to focus on the health-care needs of the 1.2 million Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P Morgan workers. Since his appointment, Gawande has been meeting with employees at these three companies to understand their health-care experiences. In addition to its new brand, the company also unveiled a website with more details about the venture, including a number of areas of focus. These include: Improving the process of navigating the complex health-care system, and accessing affordable treatments and prescription drugs.
Haven also said on its website that it's interested in working with clinicians and insurance companies to improve the overall health-care system, suggesting the venture wants to work with existing players such as insurers, providers and pharmacy benefit managers rather than uprooting them. The website also includes a letter where Gawande describes Haven's role as being "an advocate for the patient and an ally to anyone -- clinicians, industry leaders, innovators, policymakers, and others -- who makes patient care and costs better."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-have-nothing-to-worry-about department
Last month, the U.S. Army asked private companies for ideas about how to improve its planned semi-autonomous, AI-driven targeting system for tanks. "In its request, the Army asked for help enabling the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) to 'acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process,'" reports Gizmodo. "But that language apparently scared some people who are worried about the rise of AI-powered killing machines. And with good reason." Slashdot reader darth_borehd summarizes the U.S. Army's response: Robot (or more accurately, drone) tanks will always have a human "in the loop" just like the drone plane program, according to the U.S. Army. The new robot tanks, officially called the Multi Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT), will use the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS). The Department of Defense assures everyone that they will adhere to "ethical standards." Here's the language the Defense Department used: "All development and use of autonomous and semi-autonomous functions in weapon systems, including manned and unmanned platforms, remain subject to the guidelines in the Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 3000.09, which was updated in 2017. Nothing in this notice should be understood to represent a change in DoD policy towards autonomy in weapon systems. All uses of machine learning and artificial intelligence in this program will be evaluated to ensure that they are consistent with DoD legal and ethical standards." Directive 3000.09 requires that humans be able to "exercise appropriate levels of human judgement over the use of force," which is sometimes called being "in the loop," as mentioned by above.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pedestrian-problems department
According to a new paper from the Georgia Institute of Technology, autonomous cars could disproportionately endanger pedestrians with darker skin, a troubling sign of how AI can inadvertently reproduce prejudices from the wider world. Futurism reports: [In the paper, the researchers] detail their investigation of eight AI models used in state-of-the-art object detection systems. These are the systems that allow autonomous vehicles to recognize road signs, pedestrians, and other objects. They tested these models using images of pedestrians divided into two categories based on their score on the Fitzpatrick scale, which is commonly used to classify human skin color. According to the researchers' paper, the models exhibited "uniformly poorer performance" when confronted with pedestrians with the three darkest shades on the scale. On average, the models' accuracy decreased by 5 percent when examining the group containing images of pedestrians with darker skin tones, even when the researchers accounted for variables such as whether the photo was taken during the day or at night. Thankfully, the researchers were able to figure out what was needed to avoid a future of biased self-driving cars: start including more images of dark-skinned pedestrians in the data sets the systems train on and place more weight on accurately detecting those images.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Hackers and security researchers use rare "dev-fused" iPhones created for internal use at Apple to bypass Apple's protections and security features to uncover iPhone vulnerabilities and other sensitive info, Motherboard reported Wednesday, citing two dozen security researchers, current and former Apple employees, rare phone collectors, and members of the iPhone jailbreaking community. From the report: These rare iPhones have many security features disabled, allowing researchers to probe them much more easily than the iPhones you can buy at a store. Since the Black Hat talk, dev-fused iPhones have become a tool that security researchers around the world use to find previously unknown iPhone vulnerabilities (known as zero days), Motherboard has learned. Dev-fused iPhones were never intended to escape Apple's production pipeline have made their way to the gray market, where smugglers and middlemen sell them for thousands of dollars to hackers and security researchers. Using the information gleaned from probing a dev-fused device, researchers can sometimes parlay what they've learned into developing a hack for the normal iPhones hundreds of millions of people own.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Facebook will increasingly shift its focus away from public posts to encrypted, ephemeral communications on its trio of messaging apps, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said today in a significant new blog post. From a report: In a 3,200-word missive, Zuckerberg says that encryption will be one of the keys to Facebook's future -- and that the company is willing to be banned in countries that refuse to let it operate as a result. "As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today's open platforms," Zuckerberg writes. "Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication." [...] "I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won't stick around forever," Zuckerberg says. "This is the future I hope we will help bring about."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Microsoft said today it has made the source code for its Windows calculator available on GitHub. The company said it hopes to work with contributors to improve the user experience of Windows calculator. In a statement, Dave Grochocki and Howard Wolosky of Microsoft said: Today, we're excited to announce that we are open sourcing Windows Calculator on GitHub under the MIT License. This includes the source code, build system, unit tests, and product roadmap. Our goal is to build an even better user experience in partnership with the community. We are encouraging your fresh perspectives and increased participation to help define the future of Calculator. As developers, if you would like to know how different parts of the Calculator app work, easily integrate Calculator logic or UI into your own applications, or contribute directly to something that ships in Windows, now you can. Calculator will continue to go through all usual testing, compliance, security, quality processes, and Insider flighting, just as we do for our other applications.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An 18-year-old from Ohio who famously inoculated himself against his mother's wishes in December says he
attributes his mother's anti-vaccine ideology to a single source: Facebook [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: Ethan Lindenberger, a high school senior, testified Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and underscored the importance of "credible" information. In contrast, he said, the false and deep-rooted beliefs his mother held -- that vaccines were dangerous -- were perpetuated by social media. Specifically, he said, she turned to anti-vaccine groups on social media for evidence that supported her point of view. In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Lindenberger said Facebook, or websites that were linked on Facebook, is really the only source his mother ever relied on for her anti-vaccine information.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
A new computing tool developed by Google will let developers build AI-powered apps. The upside is it's doing so without sucking up all of your information. From a report: Google on Wednesday released TensorFlow Federated, open-source software that incorporates federated learning, an AI training system. It works by using data that's spread out across a lot of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to teach itself new tricks. But rather than send the data back to a central server for study, it learns on your phone or tablet itself and sends only the lesson back to the app maker.
Federated learning runs "part of the machine learning algorithm right next to where the data is on the device," Alex Ingerman, a product manager at Google Research, said in an interview. The algorithm applies what it already knows to the data on your phone, such as suggesting replies to emails, and creates a summary of what it learned in the process to send back.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fascinating department
Jessica Roy, writing for LA Times: Thirty years ago, Maxis released "SimCity" for Mac and Amiga. It was succeeded by "SimCity 2000" in 1993, "SimCity 3000" in 1999, "SimCity 4" in 2003, a version for the Nintendo DS in 2007, "SimCity: BuildIt" in 2013 and an app launched in 2014. Along the way, the games have introduced millions of players to the joys and frustrations of zoning, street grids and infrastructure funding -- and influenced a generation of people who plan cities for a living.
For many urban and transit planners, architects, government officials and activists, "SimCity" was their first taste of running a city. It was the first time they realized that neighborhoods, towns and cities were things that were planned, and that it was someone's job to decide where streets, schools, bus stops and stores were supposed to go.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's case-closed department
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine isn't associated with an increased risk of autism even among kids who are at high risk because they have a sibling with the disorder, a Danish study suggests. From a report: Concerns about a potential link between the MMR vaccine and autism have persisted for two decades, since a controversial and ultimately retracted 1998 paper claimed there was a direct connection. Even though subsequent studies haven't tied inoculation to autism, fear about the risk has weighed on parents so much in several communities across Europe and the U.S. that vaccination rates have been too low to prevent a spate of measles outbreaks.
In the current study, researchers examined data on 657,461 children. During this time, 6,517 kids were diagnosed with autism. Kids who got the MMR vaccine were seven percent less likely to develop autism than children who didn't get vaccinated, researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "Parents should not skip the vaccine out of fear for autism," said lead study author Dr. Anders Hviid of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark. "The dangers of not vaccinating includes a resurgence in measles which we are seeing signs of today in the form of outbreaks," Hviid said by email.Read Replies (0)