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Showing posts from 2017

Nobody's Ready for the Killer Robot

Nobody's Ready for the Killer Robot
A Q&A with General Robert Latiff on the ethics of warfare in the autonomous future.
By Tobin Harshaw December 30, 2017, 5:00 AM PST
It was another busy year for everybody's favorite automotive-industry disruptor, space-travel visionary and potential James Bond villain Elon Musk. Tesla surpassed Ford and General Motors in market capitalization; the Gigafactory began churning out lithium-ion batteries; his neighborhood roofing company began installing solar panels that aren't crimes against architecture; he's sending two rockets to Mars; he started digging a giant tunnel under Los Angeles; and he dissed President Donald Trump over the Paris Climate Accord. (OK, he had a few misses too; just ask anybody on the Model 3 waiting list.)
Given all this, you may have overlooked another of Musk's 2017 initiatives: saving humanity. Last summer, he and a bunch of other tech-industry A-listers -- including Google's artificial-intelli…

U.S. government's embattled email surveillance program proves resilient

U.S. government's embattled email surveillance program proves resilient
By Evan Halper December 13, 2017 3:00 AM
Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which the U.S. government searches and reads the email of millions of people — and the complicity of telecom and tech companies in the effort — demands that the massive surveillance program be reined in have been intense across party lines.
Yet with the imminent expiration of the legal authority that allows law enforcement to monitor the email of foreigners and many Americans, lawmakers are no closer to overhauling the surveillance process than they were when Snowden, the now-fugitive former National Security Agency contractor, sought asylum in Russia four years ago.
Congress is paralyzed on the contentious national security challenge. Lawmakers appear most likely to throw their hands up and leave in place, for now, the machinery of online surveillance by extending the Dec. 31 expiration date of the existing authority, p…

‘Nigerian prince’ email scammer arrested in Slidell, LA

‘Nigerian prince’ email scammer arrested in Slidell
POSTED 10:25 AM, DECEMBER 29, 2017, BY WGNO WEB DESK
SLIDELL – A 67-year-old Slidell man who served as a go-between for an international team of scammers running a “Nigerian prince” email scheme has been arrested after an 18-month investigation.
Michael Neu, who is neither Nigerian nor a prince, has been charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
Neu helped shuttle fraudulently obtained money to his co-conspirators, some of whom actually do live in Nigeria, according to the Slidell Police Department.
The ubiquitous scheme, which begins when an email is sent to an unsuspecting recipient the scammers claim has been named as the beneficiary in a will, is designed to collect personal information that is then used to steal money and identities online.
The scheme nets millions of dollars each year, according to the SPD, and is difficult to track since many of the participants operate outside of the United States.
“If it s…

UK may use taxes to get tech giants to do more to fight extremism, minister says

UK may use taxes to get tech giants to do more to fight extremism, minister says
Reuters December 31, 2017
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain may impose new taxes on tech giants like Google and Facebook unless they do more to combat online extremism by taking down material aimed at radicalizing people or helping them to prepare attacks, the country's security minister said.
Ben Wallace accused tech firms of being happy to sell people's data but not to give it to the government which was being forced to spend vast sums on de-radicalization programs, surveillance and other counter-terrorism measures.
"If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivizing them or compensating for their inaction," Wallace told the Sunday Times newspaper in an interview.
His quotes did not give further details on tax plans. The newspaper said that any demand would take the form of a windfall tax similar to that imposed on privatized utilities …

As Cell Service Expands, National Parks Become Digital Battlegrounds

As Cell Service Expands, National Parks Become Digital Battlegrounds
Mount Rainier and other national parks are weighing plans to expand cellular coverage in once remote areas. First responders support the plans, as do some park officials, who argue that better cell coverage will help attract a new generation of visitors. Critics fear it will lead to more noisy distractions in places designed to be an escape from the modern world.
In Yosemite, pictuerd, as well as Yellowstone, Mount Rainier and other iconic parks, environmentalists are pressing the National Park Service to slow or halt construction of new cellular towers within park boundaries.
BY STUART LEAVENWORTH, MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU / DECEMBER 29, 2017
(TNS) — WASHINGTON — When John Muir helped establish the National Park Service, he argued that such parks were vital to help people unplug from the world. “Break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods,” Muir was quoted as saying in 19…

YouTube Blocks Russian Opposition Candidate’s Video Call For Election Boycott

YouTube Blocks Russian Opposition Candidate’s Video Call For Election Boycott
Over 'Illegal Hashtags'
December 31, 2017, Written by Tsarizm Staff
Social media giant YouTube temporarily blocked a video of Russian opposition figure, and anti-corruption activist, Alexei Navalny in which he called for a boycott of the 2018 Russia presidential election. The stated reason was due to ‘illegal hashtags’.
“YouTube allegedly took down the video because it contained “illegal” hashtags, Navalny explained in a post on his website, citing a formal explanation from YouTube. The video contained hashtags including #strike #Navalny2018 and #28January. It was back on the website later on Thursday, this time without hashtags,” wrote The Moscow Times.
Showdown Brewing Over Presidential Election In Moscow
“YouTube eventually told us that the video call to participate [in the boycott] on Jan. 28 was deleted erroneously and they apologize,” Navalny wrote on his blog that day, reported The Moscow Tim…

Some countries reverse free expression, seeing it as threat

Some countries reverse free expression, seeing it as threat
By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press ,Associated Press•December 29, 2017
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Two Turkish journalists face possible life sentences on charges they sent "subliminal messages" on television encouraging a government coup. In Hungary, oligarchs loyal to the prime minister have gained control of much of the media after the leading independent newspaper was shut down. And in Poland, a reporter is being threatened with a military trial for writing a book critical of the defense minister.
These are trying and dangerous times for the media in countries that until recently had begun embracing democratic norms of free expression. News organizations are under attack in dramatic ways, as elected governments turn public outlets into their mouthpieces and try to silence critical voices.
Michael Abramowitz, president of democracy watchdog Freedom House, said whether governments imprison journalists or flood the publ…

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors
New technology rewards citizens for notifying authorities about illegal activity, domestic disputes and other problems, but people are wary of using it
In the eastern China port of Xiamen, an app gives citizen informants points that can be exchanged for mobile-phone data.
By Jeremy Page and Eva Dou Dec. 29, 2017 11:48 a.m. ET
Mao Zedong once hailed Fengqiao in eastern China as a model for “mobilizing the masses” to galvanize Communist Party rule. Under President Xi Jinping, there is an app for that.
Launched in Zhejiang province last year, it offers citizens rewards for information as part of a new government effort to meld old-school totalitarian techniques with 21st century e-commerce, big data and digital surveillance.
There’s just one problem: Many people are wary of using the new technology platform.
The “Safe Zhejiang” app enables users to notify authorities of problems ranging from leaky drains and domest…

Genetically engineered ‘super-horses’ to be born in 2019 and could soon compete in Olympics

Genetically engineered ‘super-horses’ to be born in 2019 and could soon compete in Olympics
The animals would be stronger, faster and able to jump higher, scientists hope
By Sarah Knapton, science editor 26 DECEMBER 2017 • 4:00PM
Genetically engineered horses designed to be faster, stronger and better jumpers will be born in 2019 after a breakthrough by the same laboratory which clones polo ponies.
Scientists in Argentina successfully used a powerful DNA editing technique called Crispr to rewrite the genomes of cloned horses.
Healthy embryos were produced following the procedure, which the researchers plan to implant into a surrogate mother within two years.
The team focussed on boosting the myostatin gene sequence which is crucial to muscle development, endurance and speed.
Theoretically, animals designed in such a way should be able to run faster, for longer, and jump higher more easily.
Traditionally the same traits would be achieved by breeding animals which already exhibited des…

Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdowns and offers $29 battery replacements

Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdowns and offers $29 battery replacements
Apple released a statement on Thursday addressing the company's controversial decision to slow down older phones to protect battery stability.
Independent research and social media posts found some Apple phones were more likely to be slow after certain software updates — but that was fixed by new batteries.
By Josh Lipton December 28, 2017 CNBC.com
Apple released a statement on Thursday addressing the company's controversial decision to slow down older phones to protect battery stability.
"We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There's been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we're making. First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been…

Streaming becomes mainstream as cord-cutting accelerates

Streaming becomes mainstream as cord-cutting accelerates
By Robert Channick December 26, 2017 2:20 PM
Cord-cutting is not just for millennials anymore.
Fed up with high prices and bloated packages, millions of Americans cut the cord on cable TV in 2017, finding refuge with a growing number of streaming services, which deliver lower prices and a competitive channel lineup over the internet.
“This was really the year that cord-cutting went mainstream,” said Craig Moffett, a senior analyst at the research firm MoffettNathanson. “It was mostly based on the availability of compelling services.”
Internet television, also known as over the top, bypasses cable and delivers video directly to viewers through a broadband connection. Major players include subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu as well as livestreaming services such as Sling TV and DirecTV Now, which air dozens of cable channels in real time.
Once an idle threat customers used to squeeze a fe…