An AI Epidemiologist Sent the First Warnings of the Wuhan Virus

An anonymous reader shares a report: On January 9, the World Health Organization notified the public of a flu-like outbreak in China: a cluster of pneumonia cases had been reported in Wuhan, possibly from vendors’ exposure to live animals at the Huanan Seafood Market. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had gotten the word out a few days earlier, on January 6. But a Canadian health monitoring platform had beaten them both to the punch, sending word of the outbreak to its customers on December 31. BlueDot uses an AI-driven algorithm that scours foreign-language news reports, animal and plant disease networks, and official proclamations to give its clients advance warning to avoid danger zones like Wuhan.

Speed matters during an outbreak, and tight-lipped Chinese officials do not have a good track record of sharing information about diseases, air pollution, or natural disasters. But public health officials at WHO and the CDC have to rely on these very same health officials for their own disease monitoring. So maybe an AI can get there faster. “We know that governments may not be relied upon to provide information in a timely fashion,” says Kamran Khan, BlueDot’s founder and CEO. “We can pick up news of possible outbreaks, little murmurs or forums or blogs of indications of some kind of unusual events going on.” Khan says the algorithm doesn’t use social media postings because that data is too messy. But he does have one trick up his sleeve: access to global airline ticketing data that can help predict where and when infected residents are headed next. It correctly predicted that the virus would jump from Wuhan to Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, and Tokyo in the days following its initial appearance.

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Source: Slashdot – An AI Epidemiologist Sent the First Warnings of the Wuhan Virus

iPad Launch Blindsided Windows Team, Reveals Former Microsoft Executive

The launch of the iPad ten years ago was a big surprise to everyone in the industry — including to Microsoft executives. Steven Sinofsky, the former President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, shares Microsoft’s perspective as well as those of the other industry figures and press on the iPad: The announcement 10 years ago today of the “magical” iPad was clearly a milestone in computing. It was billed to be the “next” computer. For me, managing Windows, just weeks after the launch of Microsoft’s “latest creation” Windows 7, it was a as much a challenge as magical. Given that Star Trek had tablets it was inevitable that the form factor would make it to computing (yes, the dynabook…). Microsoft had been working for more than 10 years starting with “WinPad” through Tablet PC. We were fixated on Win32, Pen, and more. The success of iPhone (140K apps & 3B downloads announced that day) blinded us at Microsoft as to where Apple was heading. Endless rumors of Apple’s tablet *obviously* meant a pen computer based on Mac. Why not? The industry chased this for 20 years. That was our context. The press, however, was fixated on Apple lacking an “answer” (pundits seem to demand answers) to Netbooks — those small, cheap, Windows laptops sweeping the world. Over 40 million sold. “What would Apple’s response be?” We worried — a cheap, pen-based, Mac. Sorry Harry!

Jobs said that a new computer needed to be better at some things, better than an iPhone/iPod and better than a laptop. Then he just went right at Netbooks answering what could be better at these things. “Some people have thought that that’s a Netbook.” (The audience joined in a round of laughter.) Then he said, “The problem is … Netbooks aren’t better at anything … They’re slow. They have low quality displays … and they run clunky old PC software … They’re just cheap laptops.” “Cheap laptops” … from my perch that was a good thing. I mean inexpensive was a better word. But we knew that Netbooks (and ATOM) were really just a way to make use of the struggling efforts to make low-power, fanless, intel chips for phones. A brutal takedown of 40M units. Sitting in a Le Corbusier chair, he showed the “extraordinary” things his new device did, from browsing to email to photos and videos and more. The real kicker was that it achieved 10 hours of battery life — unachievable in PCs struggling for 4 hours with their whirring fans.

There was no pen. How could one input or be PRODUCTIVE? PC brains were so wedded to a keyboard, mouse, and pen alternative that the idea of being productive without those seemed fanciful. Also instant standby, no viruses, rotate-able, maintained quality over time… As if to emphasize the point, Schiller showed “rewritten” versions of Apple’s iWork apps for the iPad. The iPad would have a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation graphics. Rounding out the demonstration, the iPad would also sync settings with iTune — content too. This was still early in the travails of iCloud but really a game changer Windows completely lacked except in enterprise with crazy server infrastructure or “consumer” Live apps. iPad had a 3G modem BECAUSE it was built on the iPhone. If you could figure out the device drivers and software for a PC, you’d need a multi-hundred dollar USB modem and a $60/month fee at best. The iPad made this a $29.99 option on AT&T and a slight uptick in purchase price. Starting at $499, iPad was a shot right across the consumer laptop. Consumer laptops were selling over 100 million units a year! Pundits were shocked at the price. I ordered mine arriving in 60/90 days.

At CES weeks earlier, there were the earliest tablets — made with no help from Google a few fringe Chinese ODMs were shopping hacky tablets called “Mobile Internet Devices” or “Media Tablets”. Samsung’s Galaxy was 9 months away. Android support (for 4:3 screens) aways. The first looks and reviews a bit later were just endless (and now tiresome) commentary on how the iPad was really for “consumption” and not productivity. There were no files. No keyboard. No mouse. No overlapping windows. Can’t write code! In a literally classically defined case of disruption, iPad didn’t do those things but what it did, it did so much better not only did people prefer it but they changed what they did in order to use it. Besides, email was the most used too and iPad was great for that. In first year 2010-2011 Apple sold 20 million iPads. That same year would turn out to be an historical high water mark for PCs (365M, ~180M laptops). Analysts had forecasted more than 500M PCs were now rapidly increasing tablet forecasts to 100s of million and dropping PC. The iPad and iPhone were soundly existential threats to Microsoft’s core platform business.

Without a platform Microsoft controlled that developers sought out, the soul of the company was “missing.” The PC had been overrun by browsers, a change 10 years in the making. PC OEMs were deeply concerned about a rise of Android and loved the Android model (no PC maker would ultimately be a major Android OEM, however). Even Windows Server was eclipsed by Linux and Open Source. The kicker for me, though, was that keyboard stand for the iPad. It was such a hack. Such an obvious “objection handler.” But it was critically important because it was a clear reminder that the underlying operating system was “real” …it was not a “phone OS”. Knowing the iPhone and now iPad ran an robust OS under the hood, with a totally different “shell”, interface model (touch), and app model (APIs and architecture) had massive implications for being the leading platform provider for computers. That was my Jan 27, 2010. Further reading: The iPad’s original software designer and program lead look back on the device’s first 10 years.

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Source: Slashdot – iPad Launch Blindsided Windows Team, Reveals Former Microsoft Executive

Ring Doorbell App Packed With Third-Party Trackers

Ring isn’t just a product that allows users to surveil their neighbors. The company also uses it to surveil its customers. An investigation by EFF of the Ring doorbell app for Android found it to be packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of customers’ personally identifiable information (PII). From the report, shared by reader AmiMoJo: Four main analytics and marketing companies were discovered to be receiving information such as the names, private IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data on the devices of paying customers. The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user’s device. This cohesive whole represents a fingerprint that follows the user as they interact with other apps and use their device, in essence providing trackers the ability to spy on what a user is doing in their digital lives and when they are doing it.

All this takes place without meaningful user notification or consent and, in most cases, no way to mitigate the damage done. Even when this information is not misused and employed for precisely its stated purpose (in most cases marketing), this can lead to a whole host of social ills. Ring has exhibited a pattern of behavior that attempts to mitigate exposure to criticism and scrutiny while benefiting from the wide array of customer data available to them. It has been able to do so by leveraging an image of the secure home, while profiting from a surveillance network which facilitates police departments’ unprecedented access into the private lives of citizens, as we have previously covered. For consumers, this image has cultivated a sense of trust in Ring that should be shaken by the reality of how the app functions: not only does Ring mismanage consumer data, but it also intentionally hands over that data to trackers and data miners.

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Source: Slashdot – Ring Doorbell App Packed With Third-Party Trackers

Huawei Allowed Limited Access To UK's 5G Networks as Britain Defies US Pressure

Britain will allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to play a limited role in its next generation 5G mobile networks. From a report: The U.K. government said that Huawei will be restricted from being involved in “sensitive functions” in a network of features labeled as “core.” There is also a limit in place on how much equipment networks can buy from one “high risk vendor” for a particular part of the infrastructure known as the Radio Access Network (RAN.) This is essentially the part of the network that hooks up your devices with the actual 5G signal. That cap is set at 35%. “The cap at 35% ensures the U.K. will not become nationally dependent on a high risk vendor while retaining competition in the market and allowing operators to continue to use two Radio Access Network (RAN) vendors,” the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre said in its review of the country’s telecommunications supply chain on Tuesday.

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Source: Slashdot – Huawei Allowed Limited Access To UK’s 5G Networks as Britain Defies US Pressure

The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10

John Gruber: Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad on stage at the Yerba Buena theater in San Francisco. […] Ten years later, though, I don’t think the iPad has come close to living up to its potential. […] Software is where the iPad has gotten lost. iPadOS’s “multitasking” model is far more capable than the iPhone’s, yes, but somehow Apple has painted it into a corner in which it is far less consistent and coherent than the Mac’s, while also being far less capable. iPad multitasking: more complex, less powerful. That’s quite a combination.

Consider the basic task of putting two apps on screen at the same time, the basic definition of “multitasking” in the UI sense. To launch the first app, you tap its icon on the homescreen, just like on the iPhone, and just like on the iPad before split-screen multitasking. Tapping an icon to open an app is natural and intuitive. But to get a second app on the same screen, you cannot tap its icon. You must first slide up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the Dock. Then you must tap and hold on an app icon in the Dock. Then you drag the app icon out of the Dock to launch it in a way that it will become the second app splitting the display. But isn’t dragging an icon out of the Dock the way that you remove apps from the Dock? Yes, it is — when you do it from the homescreen.

So the way you launch an app in the Dock for split-screen mode is identical to the way you remove that app from the Dock. Oh, and apps that aren’t in the Dock can’t become the second app in split screen mode. What sense does that limitation make? On the iPhone you can only have one app on screen at a time. The screen is the app; the app is the screen. This is limiting but trivial to understand. […] On iPad you can only have two apps on screen at the same time, and you must launch them in entirely different ways — one of them intuitive (tap any app icon), one of them inscrutable (drag one of the handful of apps you’ve placed in your Dock). And if you don’t quite drag the app from the Dock far enough to the side of the screen, it launches in “Slide Over”, an entirely different shared-screen rather than split-screen mode. The whole concept is not merely inconsistent, it’s incoherent. How would anyone ever figure out how to split-screen multitask on the iPad if they didn’t already know how to do it?

[…] As things stand today, I get a phone call from my mom once a month or so because she’s accidentally gotten Safari into split-screen mode when tapping links in Mail or Messages and can’t get out. I like my iPad very much, and use it almost every day. But if I could go back to the pre-split-screen, pre-drag-and-drop interface I would. Which is to say, now that iPadOS has its own name, I wish I could install the iPhone’s one-app-on-screen-at-a-time, no-drag-and-drop iOS on my iPad Pro. I’d do it in a heartbeat and be much happier for it. The iPad at 10 is, to me, a grave disappointment. Not because it’s “bad”, because it’s not bad — it’s great even — but because great though it is in so many ways, overall it has fallen so far short of the grand potential it showed on day one. To reach that potential, Apple needs to recognize they have made profound conceptual mistakes in the iPad user interface, mistakes that need to be scrapped and replaced, not polished and refined. I worry that iPadOS 13 suggests the opposite — that Apple is steering the iPad full speed ahead down a blind alley.

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Source: Slashdot – The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10

Government Privacy Watchdog Under Pressure To Recommend Facial Recognition Ban

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent agency, is coming under increasing pressure to recommend the federal government stop using facial recognition. Forty groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, sent a letter Monday to the agency calling for the suspension of facial recognition systems “pending further review.” “The rapid and unregulated deployment of facial recognition poses a direct threat to ‘the precious liberties that are vital to our way of life,'” the advocacy groups wrote.

The PCLOB “has a unique responsibility, set out in statute, to assess technologies and polices that impact the privacy of Americans after 9-11 and to make recommendations to the President and executive branch,” they wrote. The agency, created in 2004, advises the administration on privacy issues. The letter cited a recent New York Times report about Clearview AI, a company which claims to have a database of more than 3 billion photos and is reportedly collaborating with hundreds of police departments. It also mentioned a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the Commerce Department, which found that the majority of facial recognition systems have “demographic differentials” that can worsen their accuracy based on a person’s age, gender or race.

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Source: Slashdot – Government Privacy Watchdog Under Pressure To Recommend Facial Recognition Ban

Nanocontainers Introduced Into the Nucleus of Living Cells

fahrbot-bot shares a report from Phys.Org: An interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel in Switzerland has succeeded in creating a direct path for artificial nanocontainers to enter into the nucleus of living cells. To this end, they produced biocompatible polymer vesicles that can pass through the pores that decorate the membrane of the cell nucleus. In this way, it might be possible to transport drugs directly into the cell’s control center. In order to combat diseases, different therapies strive to intervene in pathological processes that occur in the cell nucleus. Chemotherapies, for example, target biochemical reactions that are involved in the proliferation of cancer cells, while the objective of gene therapies is to insert a desired gene into the nucleus. Therefore, a challenge in the field of nanomedicine is to develop a reliable method of introducing active substances specifically into the cell nucleus. Researchers at the University of Basel have now developed tiny nanocontainers that do just that in living cells. The findings have been published in the journal PNAS.

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Source: Slashdot – Nanocontainers Introduced Into the Nucleus of Living Cells

Billie Eilish Won Multiple Grammys Using Budget Studio Gear, Logic Pro X

Longtime Slashdot reader SpaceGhost writes: Per Engadget, Ms. Eilish and her older brother (Finneas O’Connell) produced her massively popular album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? with minimal studio gear out of a bedroom studio in their parents’ house. They used equipment that many aspiring artists could afford (about $1,000 worth of Yamaha monitors for instance, and at first a $100 microphone.) The 18-year-old singer swept all four of the night’s biggest prizes — Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year — along with honors for Best Pop Vocal Album.

According to a Pro Sound Network interview with O’Connell, their production setup included a pair of $200 Yamaha HS5 nearfield monitors with a $450 H8S subwoofer, a Universal Audio Apollo 8 interface and Apple’s Logic Pro X. The duo reportedly used to record with a $99 Audio Technica AT2020 mic. “The stems (that is, individual layers of instruments and music) were then sent to mix engineer Rob Kinelski to compile,” adds Engadget.

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Source: Slashdot – Billie Eilish Won Multiple Grammys Using Budget Studio Gear, Logic Pro X

Hackers Target NFL Teams On Twitter Ahead of Super Bowl

CaptainDork shares a report from CNET: The Twitter accounts of several NFL teams were hacked on Monday ahead of this weekend’s Super Bowl game. Around 15 teams, including the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, were all targeted. The accounts had their profile images removed and some included messages from OurMine, the Saudi Arabia-based hacker group that appears to be responsible. “We are here to show people that everything is hackable,” a message on a handful of hacked accounts reads. “To improve your accounts security contact us.” The message includes an email address and Twitter handle for OurMine, though the account was suspended. The NFL’s main account was hijacked in the hacking spree. Some teams also had their Instagram and Facebook accounts hacked.

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Source: Slashdot – Hackers Target NFL Teams On Twitter Ahead of Super Bowl

Albatrosses Outfitted With GPS Trackers Detect Illegal Fishing Vessels

schwit1 shares a report from the Smithsonian: Capable of following fishing boats into remote regions out of reach of monitoring machines like ships, aircraft and even certain satellites, these feathered crimefighters could offer a convenient and cost-effective way to keep tabs on foul play at sea — and may even help gather crucial conservation data along the way. […] On top of their stamina and moxie, albatrosses also have a certain fondness for fish-toting vessels, says study author Samantha Patrick, a marine biologist at the University of Liverpool. To the birds, the fishing gear attached to these boats is basically a smorgasbord of snacks — and albatrosses can spot the ships from almost 20 miles away.

To test the birds’ patrolling potential, the researchers stomped into the marshy nesting grounds of wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) and Amsterdam albatrosses (Diomedea amsterdamensis) roosting on Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam, three remote island locales in the southern Indian Ocean. After selecting 169 individuals of different ages, the team taped or glued transceivers, each weighing just two ounces, to the birds’ backs and bid them adieu. Over the course of six months, the team’s army of albatrosses surveyed over 20 million square miles of sea. Whenever the birds came within three or so miles of a boat, their trackers logged its coordinates, then beamed them via satellite to an online database that officials could access and cross-check with automatic identification system (AIS) data. Of the 353 fishing vessels detected, a whopping 28 percent had their AIS switched off. The number of covert ships was especially high in international waters, where about 37 percent of vessels operated AIS-free. […] Because the birds and their transceivers detected only radar, no identifying information was logged. The task of verifying a boat’s legal status still falls to officials, who must then decide whether to take action, Patrick explains. But in mapping potential hotspots of illegal fishing, the birds set off a chain reaction that could help bring perpetrators to justice. The results of the tracking method were published in the journal PNAS.

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Source: Slashdot – Albatrosses Outfitted With GPS Trackers Detect Illegal Fishing Vessels

Detection of Terahertz Magnetic Resonance Could Revolutionize Electronics

fahrbot-bot shares a report from Phys.Org: A team of physicists has discovered an electrical detection method for terahertz electromagnetic waves, which are extremely difficult to detect. The discovery could help miniaturize the detection equipment on microchips and enhance sensitivity. The finding, reported today in Nature, is based on a magnetic resonance phenomenon in anti-ferromagnetic materials. Such materials, also called antiferromagnets, offer unique advantages for ultrafast and spin-based nanoscale device applications.

The researchers, led by physicist Jing Shi of the University of California, Riverside, generated a spin current, an important physical quantity in spintronics, in an antiferromagnet and were able to detect it electrically. To accomplish this feat, they used terahertz radiation to pump up magnetic resonance in chromia to facilitate its detection. […] In order to generate such magnetic resonance, the team of physicists from UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara worked with 0.24 terahertz of radiation produced at the Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology’s Terahertz Facilities at the Santa Barbara campus. This closely matched the precession frequency of electrons in chromia. The magnetic resonance that followed resulted in the generation of a spin current that the researchers converted into a DC voltage. “We were able to demonstrate that antiferromagnetic resonance can produce an electrical voltage, a spintronic effect that has never been experimentally done before,” said Shi, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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Source: Slashdot – Detection of Terahertz Magnetic Resonance Could Revolutionize Electronics

Maryland Bill Would Outlaw Ransomware, Keep Researchers From Reporting Bugs

A proposed law introduced in Maryland’s state senate last week would criminalize the possession of ransomware and other criminal activities with a computer. However, CEO of Luta Security Katie Moussouris warns that the current bill “would prohibit vulnerability disclosure unless the specific systems or data accessed by the helpful security researcher were explicitly authorized ahead of time and would prohibit public disclosure if the reports were ignored.” Ars Technica reports: The bill, Senate Bill 3, covers a lot of ground already covered by U.S. Federal law. But it classifies the mere possession of ransomware as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill also states (in all capital letters in the draft) that “THIS PARAGRAPH DOES NOT APPLY TO THE USE OF RANSOMWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES.”

Additionally, the bill would outlaw unauthorized intentional access or attempts to access “all or part of a computer network, computer control language, computer, computer software, computer system, computer service, or computer database; or copy, attempt to copy, possess, or attempt to possess the contents of all or part of a computer database accessed.” It also would criminalize under Maryland law any act intended to “cause the malfunction or interrupt the operation of all or any part” of a network, the computers on it, or their software and data, or “possess, identify, or attempt to identify a valid access code; or publicize or distribute a valid access code to an unauthorized person.” There are no research exclusions in the bill for these provisions. “While access or attempted access would be a misdemeanor (punishable by a fine of $1,000, three years of imprisonment, or both), breaching databases would be a felony if damages were determined to be greater than $10,000 — punishable by a sentence of up to 10 years, a fine of $10,000, or both,” the report adds. “The punishments go up if systems belonging to the state government, electric and gas utilities, or public utilities are involved, with up to 10 years of imprisonment and a $25,000 fine if more than $50,000 in damage is done.”

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Source: Slashdot – Maryland Bill Would Outlaw Ransomware, Keep Researchers From Reporting Bugs

Intel Is Patching Its 'Zombieload' CPU Security Flaw For the Third Time

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: For the third time in less than a year, Intel has disclosed a new set of vulnerabilities related to the speculative functionality of its processors. On Monday, the company said it will issue a software update “in the coming weeks” that will fix two more microarchitectural data sampling (MDS) or Zombieload flaws. This latest update comes after the company released two separate patches in May and November of last year.

Compared to the MDS flaws Intel addressed in those two previous patches, these latest ones have a couple of limitations. To start, one of the vulnerabilities, L1DES, doesn’t work on Intel’s more recent chips. Moreover, a hacker can’t execute the attack using a web browser. Intel also says it’s “not aware” of anyone taking advantage of the flaws outside of the lab. In response to complaints of the company’s piecemeal approach, Intel said that it has taken significant steps to reduce the danger the flaws represent to its processors.

“Since May 2019, starting with Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS), and then in November with TAA, we and our system software partners have released mitigations that have cumulatively and substantially reduced the overall attack surface for these types of issues,” a spokesperson for the company said. “We continue to conduct research in this area — internally, and in conjunction with the external research community.”

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Source: Slashdot – Intel Is Patching Its ‘Zombieload’ CPU Security Flaw For the Third Time

Apple Imagines iMac Built Into Curved Sheet of Glass

Apple applied for a patent for an ambitious design for a new all-in-one computer which integrates both its keyboard and screen into a single curved sheet of glass. The Verge reports: The patent application, which was first spotted by Patently Apple, and which was filed in May last year, describes how the iMac-like computer’s “input area” and “display area” could be built into a single continuous surface, while a support structure behind the display could then contain the computer’s processing unit, as well as providing space for all the machine’s ports.

It’s a pretty striking design for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the amount of curved glass involved is far more than Apple has ever used in one of its products before. It’s also interesting to see that the company is thinking about taking the iMac’s all-in-one design even further, by integrating not just the computer and display together, but also a keyboard and touchpad as well (although the application also describes how the keyboard could be detached during use). The patent also describes how one could dock a MacBook into the device and output the screen to the iMac’s display, while its keyboard would pass through a hole in the middle of the machine to let you use it as normal.

Additionally, “the application suggests that its single sheet of glass could fold down its middle to allow you to pack it away when not in use,” reports The Verge.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Imagines iMac Built Into Curved Sheet of Glass

Bitcoin Gold Hit By 51 Percent Attacks, $72,000 In Cryptocurrency Double-Spent

Malicious cryptocurrency miners took control of Bitcoin Gold’s blockchain recently to double-spend $72,000 worth of BTG. The Next Web reports: Bad actors assumed a majority of the network’s processing power (hash rate) to re-organize the blockchain twice between Thursday and Friday last week: the first netted attackers 1,900 BTG ($19,000), and the second roughly 5,267 BTG ($53,000). Cryptocurrency developer James Lovejoy estimates the miners spent just $1,200 to perform each of the attacks, based on prices from hash rate marketplace NiceHash. This marks the second and third times Bitcoin Gold has suffered such incidents in two years.

Any entity that controls more than 51 percent of a blockchain’s hash rate can decide what version of the blockchain is accepted (or rejected) by the network. These scenarios also allow for “double-spending,” attacks that initiate a transaction with intent to quickly reverse it by “re-organizing” the blockchain, so that they can spend their original cryptocurrency again. What results is a third party accepting the original transaction and the network returns the cryptocurrency spent to the attacker, essentially allowing their funds to be used twice — hence the name “double-spending.” With Bitcoin, a transaction is generally deemed legitimate once found six blocks deep in the blockchain. These particular 51-percent attackers performed re-organizations up to 16 blocks deep, seemingly in a bid to trick exchanges like Binance into paying out BTG destined to be double-spent.

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Source: Slashdot – Bitcoin Gold Hit By 51 Percent Attacks, ,000 In Cryptocurrency Double-Spent

GM To Invest $2.2 Billion In First All-Electric Vehicle Plant, Create 2,200 Jobs

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: General Motors confirmed Monday it will invest $2.2 billion to convert an aging Detroit assembly plant into the manufacturing heart of its “all-electric future.” The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant was one of five North American factories GM said it would close in November 2018 but the automaker reversed course as part of an aggressive plan to launch more than 20 battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, by 2023. The first to roll out of what is known locally as the “Poletown Plant” will be an all-electric pickup that will reportedly be the subject of an upcoming Super Bowl ad. It is widely expected to bring back the name, “Hummer,” used for a brand GM abandoned in 2010 after emerging from bankruptcy.

The plant will be capable of using an extremely flexible vehicle “architecture,” said GM President Lloyd Reuss, industry-speak for its underlying platform. It will allow the automaker to produce multiple products “for multiple brands, with multiple variants, with multiple customers (offering) different ranges of performance at different price points to meet customers wherever they are.” After a news conference at the plant, Reuss told NBC News there will be multiple pickup truck models. The Poletown plant also will have the capacity to produce SUVs and crossovers, he said. What is expected to be called the Hummer pickup will go into production in late 2021. It will be followed in early 2022 by a version of the Cruise Origin, the fully driverless ride-sharing vehicle announced last week by Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary. The $2.2 billion that GM will spend on the plant “is part of a broader investment of $3 billion authorized as part of the contract it negotiated last autumn with the United Auto Workers Union,” adds NBC News. That includes a number of other projects, including a plan to set up a factory in Lordstown, Ohio to build batteries.

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Source: Slashdot – GM To Invest .2 Billion In First All-Electric Vehicle Plant, Create 2,200 Jobs

'I Tried Listening To Podcasts at 3x and Broke My Brain'

‘Podfasters’ listen to their favorite pods at 1.5x, even 2x speed. But how fast is too fast? From a report: Bumping the speed up to 1.5x was initially jarring. People were talking so quickly that I had to stop what I was doing and focus on the audio to keep it from falling into background chatter. After about 20 minutes of this intentional listening, however, it felt like my brain had adjusted. What at first felt rushed and slightly wrong, now felt natural. Once I found that I could go back to doing the things I normally do when I listen to podcasts — brush my teeth, do the dishes, fold the laundry — I bumped up the speed another notch to the 2x barrier. Like the previous jump in speed, the first 15 to 20 minutes required an additional level of focus to get my brain to match the cadence of the conversation. But once I was there I felt like I didn’t have to strain to understand what was being said — my brain just “learned” how to listen to this accelerated pace. In our discussion of breaking 2x, Uri Hasson, director of Princeton’s Hasson Lab, brought up one population that handles sped-up speech much better than the rest of us: the visually impaired. A 2018 University of Washington study attempted to quantify human listening rates by measuring the intelligibility of audio from a text-to-speech generator played at increasingly faster speeds. Researchers found that the average sighted person could comprehend around 300 words per minute, or about double the average talking speed of an American English speaker. Visually impaired subjects, however, vastly outperformed sighted subjects at speeds past 2x, demonstrating comprehension at rates even approaching 3x.

The researchers hypothesized that this difference between sighted and visually impaired listening rates was attributed to one group being more familiar with synthesized text-to-speech voices. At 2x, the experience of listening to audio began to change: Though I could understand the words, they seemed to have less emotional resonance. At these high speeds, my brain seemed to shift away from assessing people’s feelings towards baseline comprehension. At the end of each sentence, I’d feel a little twinge of joy, not because of anything happening in the podcast, but just because I had understood the words. Hasson points out that single word comprehension is really only one dimension of comprehension. Our brains do not work like computers. We can recognize words very quickly, but to integrate them into a sentence, a sentence into a paragraph, and a paragraph into a larger narrative takes time. Feeling competent in my base-level comprehension at 2x, I crossed the threshold into 3x. It took every ounce of concentration to just register what was being said. After 20 minutes, my brain couldn’t settle into the rhythm of the conversation. I sat there for an hour, with my eyes closed, hoping that my brain would eventually “click” like it did before, but it refused.

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Source: Slashdot – ‘I Tried Listening To Podcasts at 3x and Broke My Brain’

Met Police To Deploy Facial Recognition Cameras

The Metropolitan Police has announced it will use live facial recognition cameras operationally for the first time on London streets. From a report: The cameras will be in use for five to six hours at a time, with bespoke lists of suspects wanted for serious and violent crimes drawn up each time. Police say the cameras identified 70% of suspects but an independent review found much lower accuracy. Privacy campaigners said it was a “serious threat to civil liberties.” Following earlier pilots in London and deployments by South Wales Police, the cameras are due to be put into action within a month. Police say they will warn local communities and consult with them in advance.

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Source: Slashdot – Met Police To Deploy Facial Recognition Cameras

Motorola on the Razr's Folding Screen: 'Bumps and Lumps Are Normal'

Last week, Motorola’s Razr handset went on sale for $1499. Alongside the pre-order launch, Motorola has posted a series of videos on its YouTube channel that are somewhere between brief ads and how-tos for the folding phone. And as you might have guessed from the headline, “Caring for razr” caught The Verge’s eye. From the report: In it, Motorola runs through the basics of what you need to know if you have a phone with a plastic folding screen. We thought we knew most of them already based on our experience with the Galaxy Fold, but Motorola’s video has one more thing to think about: “Screen is made to bend; bumps and lumps are normal.” With the Galaxy Fold, “bumps and lumps” ended up being the first harbingers of a catastrophic screen failure on our review unit. Apparently that’s not going to be the case with the Razr. There are lots of ways to build a hinge for a folding plastic screen, and Motorola apparently opted for a design that allows for a little more flex than the original Fold design did. It’s also able to close completely flat. Because of that plastic material, the screen is likely to have some kind of crease — though we weren’t really able to see much of one in our original hands-on. We’ll obviously need to review the phone in full before we can say ourselves whether the screen has a notable crease, bumps, or lumps.

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Source: Slashdot – Motorola on the Razr’s Folding Screen: ‘Bumps and Lumps Are Normal’

Hackers Acting in Turkey's Interests Believed To Be Behind Recent Cyberattacks

Sweeping cyberattacks targeting governments and other organizations in Europe and the Middle East are believed to be the work of hackers acting in the interests of the Turkish government, Reuters reported Monday, citing three senior Western security officials said. From the report: The hackers have attacked at least 30 organizations, including government ministries, embassies and security services as well as companies and other groups, according to a Reuters review of public internet records. Victims have included Cypriot and Greek government email services and the Iraqi government’s national security advisor, the records show. The attacks involve intercepting internet traffic to victim websites, potentially enabling hackers to obtain illicit access to the networks of government bodies and other organizations. According to two British officials and one U.S. official, the activity bears the hallmarks of a state-backed cyber espionage operation conducted to advance Turkish interests. The officials said that conclusion was based on three elements: the identities and locations of the victims, which included governments of countries that are geopolitically significant to Turkey; similarities to previous attacks that they say used infrastructure registered from Turkey; and information contained in confidential intelligence assessments that they declined to detail.

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Source: Slashdot – Hackers Acting in Turkey’s Interests Believed To Be Behind Recent Cyberattacks