By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Officer-Friendly department
schwit1 shares this excerpt from an article in The Washington Post: Schools in Florida are renewing a program that monitors their students' social media activity for criminal or threatening behavior, although it has caused some controversy since its adoption last year. The school system in Orange County, where Orlando is located, recently told the Orlando Sentinel that the program, which partners the school system with local police departments, has been successful in protecting students' safety, saying that it led to 12 police investigations in the past year. The school district says it will pay about $18,000 annually for SnapTrends, the monitoring software used to check students' activity. It's the same software used by police in Racine, Wisconsin, to track criminal activity and joins a slew of similar social media monitoring software used by law enforcement to keep an eye on the community. SnapTrends collects data from public posts on students' social media accounts by scanning for keywords that signify cases of cyberbullying, suicide threats, or criminal activity. School security staff then comb through flagged posts and alert police when they see fit.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-ur-base-killing-your-dudes department
braindrainbahrain writes: Having conquered checkers, chess, and more recently Go, artificial intelligence research now looks at the next frontier: the popular real-time strategy game of StarCraft.
Blizzard Entertainment's president reached out to Google's DeepMind researchers last month, who are now describing StarCraft as "our likely next target". But many top StarCraft experts believe AIs will fail because "Unlike machines, humans are good at lying," reports the Wall Street Journal. An executive at the Korea e-Sports Association tells them "It's going to be hard for AI to bluff or to trick a human player."
One University of Alberta computer scientist David Churchill counters that âoeWhen the AI finds that the only way to win is to show strength, it will do that. If you want to call that bluffing, then the AI is capable of bluffing, but there's no machismo behind it." Unfortuantely, for five years Churchill has been running AI-vs-human StarCraft tournaments, and "So far, it hasn't even been close... Using a mouse and keyboard, the world's top players can issue 500 or more commands a minute," the Journal reports. But they add that now both Facebook and Microsoft are also working on small StarCraft AI projects.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's have-you-been-experienced department
Friday the Huffington Post wrote that "Ageism runs rampant through Silicon Valley, where older workers are frequently overlooked for jobs." They ran tips from the man who recruited Tim Cook for Apple, who pointed out that it's difficult and expensive to recruit new talent, urging businesses to "stop seeing workforce diversity as a good deed; it's good business."
And earlier this month The Observer ran an article by Dan Lyons, a writer for HBO's "Silicon Valley," who shared his perspective on ageism from his time at HubSpot. Their CEO actively cultivated an age imbalance, bragging that he was "trying to build a culture specifically to attract and retain Gen Y'ers," because, "in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated."
Meanwhile, Slashdot reader OffTheLip writes: Information technology is a young business in comparison to many other industries but one of the few where older workers are not valued for their institutional knowledge... As a recently retired techie I experienced this firsthand, both as an older worker, and earlier in my career [as] one who didn't see the value in older workers. As Lyons states, older workers are good business.
What are your thoughts? And have you experienced ageism?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's racing-in-space department
An anonymous reader writes:
"British astronaut Tim Peake became the first man to complete a marathon in space on Sunday, running the classic 26.2 mile distance while strapped to a treadmill aboard the International Space Station..." reports Reuters. "The 44-year-old spaceman saw London's roads under his feet in real time on an iPad as, 250 miles below him, more than 37,000 runners simultaneously pounded the streets."
Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, two earth-bound runners ran the marathon wearing space suits.
CNN notes that Peake "ran the race for real in 1999," but this time competed with avatars that represented actual runners who were using the Run Social app. His zero-gravity run took longer -- more than three and a half hours -- while a Kenyan runner ultimately won the race, completing the whole 26.2-mile course in just two hours, three minutes and four seconds, the second-fastest time ever recorded.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's virtual-shipping-dates department
fluor2 writes: In April, Oculus announced that many of the Oculus Rift CV1 pre-orders were getting bumped from March to early May or even June...but they're still finding CV1's for supplying Rift+PC bundles. The solution for some has now been to cancel their order, order Rift+PC bundles...and cancel the PC portion.
This tactic appears to have mixed results, and those Rift+PC bundles have now also sold out, adds the Road To VR site, which reports that some of the original pre-orders "are now shipping out significantly ahead of the initial delay estimates provided by Oculus." For one customer, "Oculus estimated the Rift wouldn't ship until sometime between May 23 and June 2, around two months after the official launch date. However, the customer tells us that their Rift was shipped today, about one month ahead of the delay estimate, and about one month after the official launch date."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's step-two-equals-??? department
An anonymous reader writes:The San Jose Mercury News reports that last year 40% of Silicon Valley's profits came from one company -- Apple. "The iPhone maker accounted for 28 percent of the Bay Area tech industry's $833 billion in 2015 sales," while "Its profits were a jaw-dropping 40 percent of the region's $133 billion total." Meanwhile, Google's parent company Alphabet racked up $75 billion in sales, representing nearly 57% of the total for all Silicon Valley internet companies, followed by eBay and PayPal.
But while sales grew, internet-company profits fell by 29% as more companies focused on growth. "Profits are nice, sure, but becoming profitable isn't the top priority around here, particularly for younger firms," wrote the newspaper, noting that investors are paying 18 times Facebook's annual sales for its stock. In fact, 29% of Silicon Valley's top companies didn't have sales growth in 2015 (an increase from 17% the previous year), and five of the top 10 companies saw a drop in sales in 2015 (including Intel). "The numbers are telling the story," one analyst tells the newspaper. "There is growth, but it is slowing."
The Mercury News adds that "The question for those with the biggest sales drops is how much time do they have left if the trend continues..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fighting-fire-with-fire department
An anonymous reader writes: Friday Researchers at the University of Nebraska flew a drone over a prairie test site, dropping small containers the size of ping-pong balls to ignite controlled fires. "The fires clear out brush to make it easier to control wildfires on the prairie," reports the Associated Press, citing a National Park Service spokesperson who believes it could help clear overgrown vegetation in hard-to-reach areas.
"The technology is already used by helicopters to start controlled burns," reports the AP, "but researchers note that the drone is cheaper and more portable. 'You could afford one of these on the back of your fire truck, whereas you probably can't afford to have a full-sized helicopter parked at your fire station,' said Carrick Detweiler, a member of the Nebraska research team."
One engineering professor tells the AP, "Imagine them having this in their backpack, pulling it out and telling it, 'Hey, go scout out there. Check whether it's hot. Check whether it's safe..." And this Omaha news site has video footage of the drone fire-fighting test.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's frenemies department
An anonymous reader shares an article on The Guardian: Alphabet's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently joined a Department of Defense advisory panel. Facebook recently hired a former director at the U.S. military's research lab, Darpa. Uber employs Barack Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe and Amazon.com tapped his former spokesman Jay Carney. Google, Facebook, Uber and Apple collectively employ a couple of dozen former analysts for America's spy agencies, who openly list their resumes on LinkedIn. These connections are neither new nor secret. But the fact they are so accepted illustrates how tech's leaders -- even amid current fights over encryption and surveillance -- are still seen as mostly U.S. firms that back up American values. Christopher Soghoian, a technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, said low-level employees' government connections matter less than leading executives' ties to government. For instance, at least a dozen Google engineers have worked at the NSA, according to publicly available records on LinkedIn. And, this being Silicon Valley, not everyone who worked for a spy agency advertises that on LinkedIn. Soghoian, a vocal critic of mass surveillance, said Google hiring an ex-hacker for the NSA to work on security doesn't really bother him. "But Eric Schmidt having a close relationship with the White House does," he said.Danny Yadron, said, "What's worse for a Silicon Valley executive: ties to the Chinese military or friends in the US Defense Department?"Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's good-luck-with-that department
Charlie Sorrel, writing for FastCoExist: Next time you're having a fight with somebody who doesn't like the idea of a universal basic income, you might employ some of these arguments from Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former finance minister. In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, he not only refutes the usual arguments against the concept that the government should give everyone a minimum check every month, but he makes them sound quite ridiculous. The interview was published ahead of the Switzerland's vote on a universal basic income (or UBI) in June. If successful, all Swiss adults would get $2,500 per month, and kids around $625 per month, whether or not they have a job. Here are some of Varoufakis's best answers. First, on the need for a UBI: "For the first time in the history of technology more jobs are destroyed than created. Technical progress means that more and more high-paying jobs will disappear and thus shrink the middle class. This will in turn cause a further concentration of income and wealth in the upper classes. That's why I fight like a basic income for sociopolitical reforms.
The robotization [of work] has long been underway, but robots don't buy products. Therefore, a basic income is needed to offset this change and stabilize a society which has an increasing wealth inequality." Then, on why you need a UBI if you already have a good job: "What good is a well-paying job, if you are afraid to lose it? This constant fear paralyzes."Good luck convincing many citizens to do actual work.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hole-in-the-dike department
An anonymous reader writes: Dutch police have seized and shut down Ennetcom, an encrypted communications network with 19,000 users, according to Reuters. The network's 36-year-old owner, Danny Manupassa, has also been arrested, and faces charges of money laundering and illegal weapons possession, while the information obtained in the seizure may also be used for other criminal prosecutions. "Police and prosecutors believe that they have captured the largest encrypted network used by organized crime in the Netherlands," prosecutors said in a statement.
"Although using encrypted communications is legal," Reuters reports, "many of the network's users are believed to have been engaged in 'serious criminal activity,' said spokesman Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office, which noted that the company's modified phones have repeatedly turned up in cases involving drugs, criminal motorcycle gangs, and gangland killings. A spokesman for the National Prosecutor's office "declined to comment on whether and how police would be able to decrypt information kept on the servers."Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's word-from-China department
Rishi Alwani, reporting for Gadgets 360 (edited and condensed for clarity): At an event in Beijing this week, Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco showed off its LeSEE self-driving electric supercar. A slide noted that LeEco's car can reach 130mph which is a fair bit behind of the Tesla Model S' top speed range of 140 to 155 mph. Nonetheless, the company said the final product should beat Tesla in "all aspects of performance." The car sports a rounded design with a giant LED screen plastered on the front of the vehicle. If the car is being used for cab services, for instance, the screen can show if it's available for hire or not. There's an arched transparent roof and what seems to be generous cabin space. The interior sported a futuristic-looking steering wheel with a lit-up centre that quite possibly would replace the traditional dashboard and was complemented by a monitor next to it. It also had ridged backseats that may look uncomfortable but is actually memory foam - a polyurethane material used in mattresses that can mould to the shape of a passenger's body for maximum comfort. Perhaps the most interesting component of its LeSEE concept has nothing to do with the technology, but rather the business models involved. For one, the company believes it has a huge role to play in LeShare - a time-sharing electric vehicle platform that's present in Beijing and Shanghai with plans to expand to five more cities in China. Electric vehicles and charging resources will be shared between LeShare and LeEco-backed Uber competitor Yidao. In addition to this, LeEco believes that the car will eventually be free, in line with the same business model it has for some of its other hardware, charging users for content, subscriptions or memberships.For a refresh, LeEco (LeTV) was founded in 2004, and has since become a major name in many technology-centric markets. It offers live-streaming, e-commerce, cloud, smartphones, TV set-top boxes, and smart TVs among many other products and services. The company has a market capitalisation of at least $12 billion.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's what-did-you-learn-in-school-today department
Bruce66423 writes: Time to cancel all the encouragement of studying STEM subjects, obviously...
The Telegraph is reporting that prominent jihadists "are twice as likely to have studied science at university than subjects related to Islam," citing a new report by the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics. "The report, which analyzed the histories of 100 of the most prominent jihadist leaders of the last three decades, said that despite claiming to be the sole interpreters of Islamic theology, they often had little or no training in the subject." Osama bin Laden went to a secular school and studied economics at college with little formal Islamic training, while the "underpants bomber," who tried to detonate a bomb in a plane over Detroit in 2009, got his degree in mechanical engineering. Of the 100 cases examined, "Around half had attended university, with 57 per cent of them studying science subjects, compared to only 28 per cent studying Islamic subjects."Read Replies (0)