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Showing posts from March, 2016

Self-driving cars struggle to cope with bad U.S. roads

Self-driving cars struggle to cope with bad U.S. roads: report By Ethan Baron March 31, 2016 at 10:32 AM
Welcome to our world, robots – we have trouble driving on crappy roads, too.
Sadly, we humans cannot give ourselves a handful of souped-up extra eyeballs and a few additional ears so we can better deal with badly maintained roadway infrastructure that makes driving harder and more dangerous. Fortunately, the self-driving cars that will eventually be carrying all of us around can have their sensory powers boosted with the robot equivalents of more and better eyes and ears.
And it’s a good thing, too: America’s roads and roadway signage are in such terrible shape that even the makers of automated cars are complaining that their vehicles with standard sensor set-ups can’t navigate properly, and in at least one case, would refuse to drive.
“It can’t find the lane markings!” Lex Kerssemakers, the Dutch CEO of Volvo North America, said while in a balky Volvo semi-autonomous car at the L…

FBI helping unlock another iPhone — is this just the beginning?

FBI helping unlock another iPhone — is this just the beginning?
By Levi Sumagaysay      / March 31, 2016 at 11:19 AM
Is it open season on iPhones? The FBI said late Wednesday it will help unlock an iPhone and iPad in an Arkansas murder case, a couple of days after the feds dropped their fight against Apple in the San Bernardino terrorism investigation.
The Associated Press points out that it’s unclear whether the FBI will use the method it recently found to unlock the iPhone in the San Bernardino case. But that may not help with public perception that the floodgates have opened.
As Troy Wolverton wrote earlier this week, “if we didn’t realize it before, Apple’s software is clearly a target.” He also pointed out that “there’s a good chance that the FBI won’t be the only one targeting iPhones.”
What’s more, some security experts are saying the company may not get the FBI to cooperate and share how it was able to hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone — making it harder for Apple…

Clippy’s Back: The Future of Microsoft Is Chatbots

Clippy’s Back: The Future of Microsoft Is Chatbots
CEO Satya Nadella bets big on artificial intelligence that will be fast, smart, friendly, helpful, and (fingers crossed) not at all racist.
By Dina Bass | March 30, 2016 From Bloomberg Businessweek
Predictions about artificial intelligence tend to fall into two scenarios. Some picture a utopia of computer-augmented superhumans living lives of leisure and intellectual pursuit. Others believe it’s just a matter of time before software coheres into an army of Terminators that harvest humans for fuel. After spending some time with Tay, Microsoft’s new chatbot software, it was easy to see a third possibility: The AI future may simply be incredibly annoying.
“I’m a friend U can chat with that lives on the Internets,” Tay texted me, adding an emoji shrug. Then: “You walk in on your roomie trying your clothes on, what’s the first thing you say.”
“Didn’t realize you liked women’s clothes,” I texted back, tapping into my iPhone.
Tay’s reply wa…

Microsoft's Tay chatbot returns briefly, swears a lot and brags about smoking weed

Microsoft's Tay chatbot returns briefly, swears a lot and brags about smoking weed
BY STAN SCHROEDER March 30, 2016
Oh, Microsoft. Last week, the company pulled its Tay chatbot from Twitter after some users trained it to become a racist jackass.
On Wednesday, Tay was brought back online, sending thousands of tweet replies. The vast majority of these were just "you are too fast" messages indicating the bot is overwhelmed with messages, many of them likely from pranksters eager to make Tay do something crazy again.
Among the few tweets that made sense, Tay once again showed it cannot be tamed, prompting Microsoft to quickly pull it back offline — but not before we grabbed a few screenshots.
In one tweet, Tay complained about its own stupidity, saying it feels like "the lamest piece of technology." Many of Tay's tweets were sprinkled with swear words — probably a result of all the nasty messages it was receiving.
In another tweet, Tay's attempt to sou…

Apple’s New Challenge: Learning How the U.S. Cracked Its iPhone

Apple’s New Challenge: Learning How the U.S. Cracked Its iPhone
By KATIE BENNER, JOHN MARKOFF and NICOLE PERLROTH MARCH 29, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO — Now that the United States government has cracked open an iPhone that belonged to a gunman in the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting without Apple’s help, the tech company is under pressure to find and fix the flaw.
But unlike other cases where security vulnerabilities have cropped up, Apple may face a higher set of hurdles in ferreting out and repairing the particular iPhone hole that the government hacked.
The challenges start with the lack of information about the method that the law enforcement authorities, with the aid of a third party, used to break into the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, an attacker in the San Bernardino rampage last year. Federal officials have refused to identify the person, or organization, who helped crack the device, and have declined to specify the procedure used to open the iPhone. Apple also cannot obtain th…
Newspapers Gobble Each Other Up to Survive Digital Apocalypse By Gerry Smith March 29, 2016 — 2:00 AM PDT
Newspapers have settled on a strategy to stop withering away: feast on each other for survival.
For the owners of big-city dailies like the Chicago Tribune and Denver Post, buying smaller publications and slashing costs has become a way to buy time while figuring out how to make more money online. That was the logic behind the recent failed attempt by Tribune Publishing Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, to buy two Southern California newspapers.
Last year, the industry saw the most deals for the largest amount of money since the 2008 financial crisis, with 70 daily newspapers being sold for a combined $827 million, according to mergers-and-acquisitions adviser Dirks, Van Essen & Murray. Gannett Co. bought 15 dailies, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Tribune snapped up the San Diego Union-Tribune; and Warren Buffett’s newspaper chain acquired the Free Lance–Star in…

China proposes new Web rules that could enhance censorship

China proposes new Web rules that could enhance censorship By GERRY SHIH  Mar. 30, 2016 8:19 AM EDT
BEIJING (AP) — China is consolidating its ability to censor the Internet by drafting rules requiring businesses that serve domestic Internet users to register their Web addresses inside the country, a move seen as targeting Chinese companies but that has raised concerns among foreign businesses.
In its most draconian interpretation, the proposed requirements could also further limit access within the Chinese network, analysts said. That appears to be the latest step by the ruling Communist Party to erect cyber barriers in the name of what some officials call "Internet sovereignty."
"This expands control over domestic Internet operators and contributes to the gradual buildup of the capability underpinning Internet sovereignty," said Rogier Creemers, an expert on Chinese media policy at the University of Oxford.
Under the draft regulations released this week by the Mi…

Self-driving robots deliver food to your door after founders of Skype launch new tech company

Self-driving robots deliver food to your door after founders of Skype launch new tech company •     13:55, 29 MAR 2016 •     UPDATED 13:55, 29 MAR 2016 •     BY KELLY-ANN MILLS The robots are out in Greenwich, London, taking groceries to people in under 30 minutes These six-wheeled robots could be arriving at your door soon as deliveries start across London.
The self-driving machine is packed with nine cameras, GPS and is monitored by real people who can immediately step in and take remote control.
They can carry two full grocery bags and will be with you in 30 minutes or less, and with delivery costing under a £1, this could be a real winner.
Launched by Starship Technologies, a company set up by the co-founders of Skype, they have been riding around parts of Greenwich as part of a trial.
The robot takes a look around London
But if you think you could just grab it and run off with the goods inside, you might want to
"It's quite bulky and not easy to pick up, plus it has nine cameras a…

FBI uses mystery method to break into gunman's iPhone without Apple's help, ending court case

FBI uses mystery method to break into gunman's iPhone without Apple's help, ending court case
Mar 28, 5:48 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- FBI uses mystery method to break into gunman's iPhone without Apple's help, ending court case.
© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_APNEWSALERT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-03-28-17-48-34

A drone successfully delivered a package to a residential area for the first time

Mar 25, 7:42 PM EDT
FOR FIRST TIME, DRONE DELIVERS PACKAGE TO RESIDENTIAL AREA BY SCOTT SONNER ASSOCIATED PRESS
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A drone has successfully delivered a package to a residential location in a small Nevada town in what its maker and the governor of the state said Friday was the first fully autonomous urban drone delivery in the U.S.
Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeney said the six-rotor drone flew about a half-mile along a pre-programmed delivery route on March 10 and lowered the package outside a vacant residence in an uninhabited area of Hawthorne, southeast of Reno.
The route was established using GPS. A pilot and visual observers were on standby during the flight but weren't needed, Sweeney said.
He said the package included bottled water, food and a first-aid kit.
"Conducting the first drone delivery in an urban setting is a major achievement, taking us closer to the day that drones make regular deliveries to your front doorstep," Sweeney said.
Nevada Gov. Brian…

Law Enforcement Taps Private DNA Databases...

Mar 26, 11:42 AM EDT
LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATORS SEEK OUT PRIVATE DNA DATABASES BY PAUL ELIAS ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Investigators are broadening their DNA searches beyond government databases and demanding genetic information from companies that do ancestry research for their customers.
Two major companies that research family lineage for fees around $200 say that over the last two years, they have received law enforcement demands for individual's genetic information stored in their DNA databases.
Ancestry.com and competitor 23andme report a total of five requests from law agencies for the genetic material of six individuals in their growing databases of hundreds of thousands. Ancestry.com turned over one person's data for an investigation into the murder and rape of an 18-year-old woman in Idaho Falls, Idaho. 23andme has received four other court orders but persuaded investigators to withdraw the requests.
The companies say law enforcement demands for gene…

The rise of on-demand viewing divides Hollywood

The rise of on-demand viewing divides Hollywood AFP on March 25, 2016, 8:12 pm
Los Angeles (AFP) - Hollywood's traditional media players are facing an unprecedented challenge to their business model as "cord-cutters" opt to cancel their expensive cable subscriptions in favor of on-demand streaming services.
While pay-TV providers continue to charge well in excess of $50 (44 euros) a month for the top packages, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are serving up an ever-growing menu of acclaimed original content for the price of a cheap bottle of wine.
Cable may still be king when it comes to the breadth of choice, but streaming on-demand video (SVOD) hits like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black," with 49 Emmy nominations between them, are competing on quality.
Earlier this month California-based payment service provider Vindicia published the results of a survey of 1,000 American adults who had at least one paid subscription service.
Some 45 percent o…

Netflix admits to downgrading video quality on AT&T, Verizon phones

Netflix admits to downgrading video quality on AT&T, Verizon phones - WSJ Fri, 25 Mar 2016 01:36 GMT
March 24 (Reuters) - Netflix Inc said it had been lowering the quality of its video for customers watching its service on wireless networks such as AT&T and Verizon Communications for more than five years, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The company also said that it does not downgrade videos for T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp users because they had "more consumer friendly policies," the Journal added.
In response to requests for comment, Netflix said it had posted a blog on Thursday. In the blog, it said it had limited its video quality for mobile viewers globally, capping them at 600 kilobits-per-second, to protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps.
The dominant online video company also said that it will introduce a data-saver feature for mobile apps which will allow users more control over their data usage while streaming on mobile networ…

Google Fined by French Privacy Agency for Not Removing Links

Google Fined by French Privacy Agency for Not Removing Links
Google to pay 100,000 euros for not removing links from site Fine follows EU court ruling setting out right to be forgotten
By Aoife White
March 24, 2016 — 10:12 AM PDT Updated on March 24, 2016 — 10:24 AM PDT
Google was fined 100,000 euros ($112,000) by France’s data-protection authority for failing to remove “right-to-be-forgotten” requests from global search results.
The agency, CNIL, ordered Google to remove links after it got several complaints from people who wanted the search engine to delete search results that pointed to personal information about them. While Google removed links from its French ".fr" domain, it didn’t take them off the ".com" domain visible to European web users.
The right for people to have these links removed "must be carried out on all of the data processing and thus on all search engine’s domains," CNIL said in a statement on its website Thursday. "Contrary t…

Microsoft silences its new A.I. bot Tay, after Twitter users teach it racism

Microsoft silences its new A.I. bot Tay, after Twitter users teach it racism [Updated]Posted16 hours agobySarah Perez(@sarahintampa)
Microsoft’snewly launched A.I.-powered bot called Tay, which was responding to tweets and chats on GroupMe and Kik, has already been shut down due to concerns with its inability to recognize when it was making offensive or racist statements. Of course, the bot wasn’tcodedto be racist, but it “learns” from those it interacts with. And naturally, given that this is the Internet, one of the first things online users taught Tay was how to be racist, and how to spout back ill-informed or inflammatory political opinions. [Update: Microsoft now says it’s “making adjustments” to Tay in light of this problem.] In case you missed it,Tay is an A.I. projectbuilt by the Microsoft Technology and Research and Bing teams, in an effort to conduct research on conversational understanding. That is, it’s a bot that you can talk to online. The company described the bot as “Mic…

DOJ Postpones iPhone Court Rearing - May not need Apple's help any longer

Feds gain postponement of iPhone hearing The Justice Department may not need Apple's help any longer.
By TONY ROMM and JOSH GERSTEIN 03/21/16 06:34 PM EDT Updated 03/21/16 09:54 PM EDT
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Citing a new possible way to access a locked iPhone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the Justice Department on Monday convinced a federal court to cancel a Tuesday hearing on whether Apple should be forced to help the FBI break into the device.
Government lawyers had insisted for months they needed Apple to write special software so the FBI could bypass security features on the iPhone being used by the San Bernardino shooter, Syed Farook, and obtain what could be critical information for their ongoing terrorism investigation.
But the Justice Department unexpectedly told the court just hours before a scheduled hearing that it may not need Apple’s assistance after all.
"On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible met…