By msmash from Slashdot's changing-lives department
With the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are increasingly moving to a world where many decisions around us are shaped by calculations rather than traditional human judgement. The Guardian, citing many industry experts, reminds us that these technologies filter who and what counts, including "who is released from jail, and what kind of treatment you will get in hospital." A digital media professor said, these digital companies allow us to act, but in a very fine-grained, datafied, algorithm-ready way. "They put life to work, by rendering life in Taylorist data points that can be counted and measured" From the report (edited and condensed): Jose van Dijck, president of the Dutch Royal Academy and the conference's keynote speaker, expands further. Datification is the core logic of what she calls "the platform society," in which companies bypass traditional institutions, norms and codes by promising something better and more efficient -- appealing deceptively to public values, while obscuring private gain. Van Dijck and peers have nascent, urgent ideas. They commence with a pressing agenda for strong interdisciplinary research -- something Kate Crawford is spearheading at Microsoft Research, as are many other institutions, including the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. There's the old theory to confront, that this is a conscious move on the part of consumers and, if so, there's always a theoretical opt-out. Yet even digital activists plot by Gmail, concedes Fieke Jansen of the Berlin-based advocacy organisation Tactical Tech. The Big Five tech companies, as well as the extremely concentrated sources of finance behind them, are at the vanguard of "a society of centralized power and wealth. "How did we let it get this far?" she asks. Crawford says there are very practical reasons why tech companies have become so powerful. "We're trying to put so much responsibility on to individuals to step away from the 'evil platforms,' whereas in reality, there are so many reasons why people can't. The opportunity costs to employment, to their friends, to their families, are so high" she says.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hostile-climate department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The recently-ratified Paris Climate Accord calls on countries to keep the rise in average global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius (a threshold which would bring extreme weather, water shortages and reduced agricultural production). But a recent article on Vox warns that "the world has to zero out net carbon emissions...for a good chance of avoiding 2 degrees, by around 2065. After that, emissions have to go negative... We are betting our species' future on our ability to bury carbon."
That's why everyone's watching the W.A. Parish Generating Station in Texas, which came online this week -- on schedule, and under budget. "The plant will use a newly installed system to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide created during combustion."
Alas, Slashdot reader Dan Drollette brings bad news from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: To fight climate change with carbon capture and storage technology, we'd have to complete one new carbon capture facility every working day for the next 70 years. It's better to switch to a diet of energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables, rather than rely on this technology as a kind of emergency planetary liposuction.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mighty-wind department
South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Matthew at 11 a.m. EST, after the hurricane killed at least 300 people in Haiti (with Reuters estimating Haiti's death toll over 800). But as the U.S. declares a state of emergency for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and with the power out for more than a million people, an anonymous Slashdot reader looks at the role tech companies are playing in responding to the storm system:
AirBNB "has been advertising free rooms in parts of Florida and South Carolina" reports Motherboard. AirBNB's Disaster Reponse Tool connects people needing shelter with volunteers who are offering their residences for free. Meanwhile, Uber promised to cap its "surge pricing" for the area, while Lyft promised its fares would rise no more than two times their normal rate.
But many escaped the path of the hurricane thanks to Shofur, a startup that books chartered buses and matches riders to low-cost tickets, according to the Daily Dot. "Through Thursday night and into the early morning hours of Friday, Shofur evacuated an estimated 10,000 Floridians and Georgians to areas such as Atlanta, Floridaâ(TM)s west coast, and the panhandle."
NASA is also flying a huge 15,000-pound drone over the area to collect real-time weather data, while Verizon is deploying a 17-foot drone to provide LTE mobile connectivity to first responders. A Verizon spokesperson says drone-enabled connectivity has "set the stage" for connecting drones to their IoT platform next year.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's peekaboo-I-see-you department
Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes the Wall Street Journal:
Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity. Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers -- devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars -- at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border. Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation...
[T]he officials didn't rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said. Jay Stanley, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the gun-show surveillance "highlights the problem with mass collection of data." He said law enforcement can take two entirely legal activities, like buying guns and crossing the border, "and because those two activities in concert fit somebody's idea of a crime, a person becomes inherently suspicious."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mutinies-for-a-bounty department
Long-time Slashdot reader chicksdaddy quotes Security Ledger:
MITRE Corporation, the non-profit corporation that helps tackle some of the trickiest technical and security challenges out there, is dangling a $50,000 prize for anyone who can develop a solution for spotting rogue devices within an Internet of Things network...saying that it's looking for ground breaking new approaches to securing diverse Internet of Things networks like those in connected homes.
"Network administrators need to know exactly what is in the environment, or the network -- including when an adversary has switched out one device for another. In other words, is the smart thermostat we see today the same one that was there yesterday? We are looking for a unique identifier or fingerprint to enable administrators to enumerate the IoT devices while passively observing the network... "
Their registration form will be open through October, and the challenge will end after four weeks in November, or "whenever someone wins."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's harder-better-faster-stronger department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The teenage brain has been characterized as a risk-taking machine, looking for quick rewards and thrills instead of acting responsibly. But these behaviors could actually make teens better than adults at certain kinds of learning. "In neuroscience, we tend to think that if healthy brains act in a certain way, there should be a reason for it," says Juliet Davidow, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University in the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab and the lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Neuron. But scientists and the public often focus on the negatives of teen behavior, so she and her colleagues set out to test the hypothesis that teenagers' drive for rewards, and the risk-taking that comes from it, exist for a reason. When it comes to what drives reward-seeking in teens, fingers have always been pointed at the striatum, a lobster-claw-shape structure in the brain. When something surprising and good happens -- say, you find $20 on the street -- your body produces the pleasure-related hormone dopamine, and the striatum responds. But the striatum isn't just involved in reward-seeking. It's also involved in learning from rewards, explains Daphna Shohamy, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University who worked on the study. She wanted to see if teenagers would be better at this type of learning than adults would. To test this, Shohamy and her colleagues used an fMRI scanner to watch brain activity in a group of adults and teenagers. They were looking at the striatum, but also in a different part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus (which looks like, and is named after, a seahorse) helps people remember things like dates and times: the who, what, when and where. As the adults and teens had their brains scanned, they played a game that rewarded players for guessing correctly. Between questions, participants saw random pictures of neutral objects. As expected, the reward-hungry teenagers figured out the game faster than the adults did. Surprisingly, the striatum was equally active in both teenagers and adults. But in teens, it also worked closely with their hippocampus.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stick-figures department
Microsoft is redesigning the Paint app with Windows 10 in mind. As mentioned in the leaked video posted by Twitter user WalkingCat, the "ability to create in 3D" is one of the biggest new features in the works. The Verge reports: A launch video notes that the new "Paint Preview" app includes all the familiar features of the regular version of Paint, but Microsoft is adding in 3D object support. Paint Preview users will be able to create 3D objects, and annotate them freely. Microsoft has a range of markers and art tools to help artists create objects, and brushes that can be used directly on 3D objects. All of the tools appear to be pen- and touch-friendly, with an interface that mixes 3D models, 2D images, stickers, and community tools for 3D content. Microsoft appears to be testing early "alpha" versions of the Paint app, and the videos indicate it could be ready to be released publicly soon. The timing of the Paint videos come just hours after Microsoft revealed it's planning to hold a special event in New York City later this month. Microsoft is widely expected to unveil a new Surface device at the event, with rumors suggesting it will be an all-in-one desktop PC.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's predict-the-future department
Through a combination of machine learning and deep learning, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is using powerful supercomputers, dubbed "Siren Servers" by computer philosophy writer Jaron Lanier, to predict social unrest days before it happens. The Sociable reports: CIA Deputy Director for Digital Innovation Andrew Hallman announced that the agency has beefed-up its "anticipatory intelligence" through the use of deep learning and machine learning servers that can process an incredible amount of data. "We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability some I think as near as three to five days out," said Hallman on Tuesday at the Federal Tech event, Fedstival. The CIA deputy director said that it was "much harder to convey confidence for the policymaker who may make an important decision from advanced analytics with deep learning algorithms." Now that the CIA claims to be able to predict social unrest days in advance, there are some interesting theoretical possibilities that can come of this. One is that the CIA's siren servers will become so efficient that they will predict all social uprising and will be able to prevent it. If they are successful in doing that, there would be no need for the CIA as their technology could predict and prevent any societal upheavals, and the agency would be obsolete. Another potential outcome would be that the CIA could use the data and not tell anyone, just like the finance sector did, and then make calculated decisions on whether or not to intervene in any socially distressing situation.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eye-in-the-sky department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Baltimore Police on Friday released data showing that a surveillance plane secretly flew over the city roughly 100 times, taking more than 1 million snapshots of the streets below. Police held a news conference where they released logs tracking flights of the plane owned and operated by Persistent Surveillance Systems, which is promoting the aerial technology as a cutting-edge crime-fighting tool. The logs show the plane spent about 314 hours over eight months creating the chronological visual record. The program began in January and was not initially disclosed to Baltimore's mayor, city council or other elected officials. Now that it's public, police say the plane will fly over the city again as a terrorism prevention tool when Fleet Week gets underway on Monday, as well as during the Baltimore Marathon on Oct. 15. The logs show that the plane made flights ranging between one and five hours long in January and February, June, July and August. The flights stopped on Aug. 7, shortly before the program's existence was revealed in an article by Bloomberg Businessweek. "We have a real opportunity to police smarter," Commissioner Kevin Davis said. "The old days of looking at a spike in violence, and marching orders to stop everyone that moves in hoping of identifying a suspect or a witness -- we have to move away from that type of policing. I just believe that taking advantage of this technology opportunity was a prudent thing to do."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-ending department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. won an appeals court ruling that reinstates a patent-infringement verdict it won against Samsung Electronics Co., including for its slide-to-unlock feature for smartphones and tablets. In an 8-3 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said a three-judge panel was wrong to throw out the $119.6 million verdict in February. Instead, it ordered the trial judge to consider whether the judgment should be increased based on any intentional infringement by Samsung. In this case, Apple claimed that Samsung infringed patents for the slide-to-unlock feature, autocorrect and a way to detect phone numbers so they can be tapped to make phone calls. The bulk of the award, $98.7 million, was for the detection patent that the earlier panel said wasn't infringed. The February decision also said the other two patents were invalid. That was a wrong decision, the court ruled Friday, because it relied on issues that were never raised on appeal or on information that was beyond the trial record. "The jury verdict on each issue is supported by substantial evidence in the record," Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore wrote for the majority.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sky's-the-limit department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: U.S. researchers have unveiled the world's smallest transistor reported to date, combining a new mix of materials, which makes even the tiniest silicon-based transistor appear big in comparison. The team, led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, designed the minuscule transistor with a working one-nanometer gate -- far surpassing any industry expectation for reducing transistor sizes. In the scientific study, MoS2 transistors with 1-nanometer gate lengths, published today in the journal Science, the researchers describe a prototype device which uses a novel semiconductor material known as transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). The transistor structure uses a single-walled carbon nanotube as the gate electrode and molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) for the channel material, rather than silicon. "The semiconductor industry has long assumed that any gate below 5 nanometers wouldn't work, so anything below that was not even considered. This research shows that sub-5-nanometer gates should not be discounted. Industry has been squeezing every last bit of capability out of silicon. By changing the material from silicon to MoS2, we can make a transistor with a gate that is just 1 nanometer in length, and operate it like a switch," explained study lead Sujay Desai.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eye-candy department
Sharp has unveiled a next-gen monitor that is an absolute mouthful. It measures in at 27-inches and features a 8K resolution (7,680 x 4,320), HDR (high dynamic range), and a 120Hz refresh rate. Monitornerds reports: Sharp says that the IGZO name is an acronym for the semiconductor materials used in the monitor's backplane. It is comprised of indium, gallium, zinc, and oxygen. This material can also be utilized with several types of panels such as IPS, TN, and even OLED. The IGZO technology has benefits compared to standard silicon semiconductors in which the electron mobility is 20 to 50 times higher which translates to higher frame rates. It also uses smaller transistors, which translates to higher pixel density as well as lower power consumption. The panel which is show at the Sharp exhibit is a 27-inch model with a very notable pixel density of 326ppi: double in comparison to the average 150ppi of 4K monitors. It has a stunning 33 million pixels under its belt as well as HDR technology which promises that this monitor can deliver stunning images with ease. Sharp didn't disclose a price for the television, nor did they say whether or not the unit will be mass produced. However, we can imagine the monitor will cost a pretty penny if it ever makes it to the market.Read Replies (0)