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Updated: 11 min 53 sec ago

Wristband Gives You An Electric Shock When You Overspend

5/20/2016 7:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: "Intelligent Environments, the company that brought us emoji passwords, has launched another original product, a banking platform integrated with IoT devices working on the classic 'If This, Then That' principle," writes Softpedia. "Called Interact IoT, the platform will allow developers to create smart products that interact with your bank account. Intelligent Environments launched the platform yesterday with two integrations, one for the Pavlok wristband and one for Google's Nest thermostat." Bank account owners can set a threshold for their account, which if they go under they'll receive an electric shock from their Pavlok wristband or Interact IoT will turn down their Nest thermostat to save money. More integrations are under work. Which ones would you like to see? "Both Pavlok and Nest Thermostat are opt-in services, so customers can decide whether to switch them on or not," said David Webber, Managing Director at Intelligent Environments. "However, with the Pavlok integration users have told us they love it. They think it's much better to get a little shock now, instead of a nasty one later."

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Real-Life RoboCop Guards Shopping Centers In California

5/20/2016 6:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Metro: While machines from the likes of RoboCop and Chappie might just be the reserve of films for now, this new type of robot is already fighting crime. This particular example can be found guarding a shopping center in California but there are other machines in operation all over the state. Equipped with self-navigation, infra-red cameras and microphones that can detect breaking glass, the robots, designed by Knightscope, are intended to support security services. Stacy Dean Stephens, who came up with the idea, told The Guardian the problem that needed solving was one of intelligence. "And the only way to gain accurate intelligence is through eyes and ears," he said. "So, we started looking at different ways to deploy eyes and ears into situations like that." The robot costs about $7 an hour to rent and was inspired by the Sandy Hook school shooting after which it was claimed 12 lives could have been saved if officers arrived a minute earlier.

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AI Will Create 'Useless Class' Of Human, Predicts Bestselling Historian

5/20/2016 6:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Yuval Noah Harari, author of the international bestseller "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind," doesn't have a very optimistic view of the future when it comes to artificial intelligence. He writes about how humans "might end up jobless and aimless, whiling away our days off our nuts and drugs, with VR headsets strapped to our faces," writes The Guardian. "Harari calls it 'the rise of the useless class' and ranks it as one of the most dire threats of the 21st century. As artificial intelligence gets smarter, more humans are pushed out of the job market. No one knows what to study at college, because no one knows what skills learned at 20 will be relevant at 40. Before you know it, billions of people are useless, not through chance but by definition." He likens his predictions, which have been been forecasted by others for at least 200 years, to the boy who cried wolf, saying, "But in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." Harari says there are two kinds of ability that make humans useful: physical ones and cognitive ones. He says humans have been largely safe in their work when it comes to cognitive powers. But with AI's now beginning to outperform humans in this field, Harari says, that even though new types of jobs will emerge, we cannot be sure that humans will do them better than AIs, computers and robots.

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Oculus No Longer Lets Customers Move Purchased Software To Non-Oculus Hardware

5/20/2016 5:20pm
AmiMoJo quotes a report from Boing Boing: As recently as 5 months ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was promising his customers that they could play the software they bought from the Oculus store on "whatever they want," guaranteeing that the company wouldn't shut down apps that let customers move their purchased software to non-Oculus hardware. But now, Oculus has changed its DRM to exclude Revive, a "proof-of-concept compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK [software development kit] and OpenVR," that let players buy software in the Oculus store and run it on competing hardware. The company billed the update as an anti-piracy measure, but Revive's developer, who call themselves "Libre VR," points out that the DRM only prevents piracy using non-Oculus hardware, and allows for unlimited piracy by Oculus owners.

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Judge Orders 'Intentionally Deceptive' DOJ Lawyers To Take Remedial Ethics Class

5/20/2016 4:40pm
According to the Daily Caller, "The judge overseeing the challenge by 26 states to President Obama's executive action in immigration has ordered all lawyers 'employed at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. who appears, or seeks to appear, in a court (state or federal) in any of the 26 Plaintiff States annually attend a legal ethics course.'" An anonymous reader quotes a report from Zero Hedge: In writing the ruling, Hanen quoted from the scene in "Miracle on 34th Street" when the boy is called to testify to Santa's existence and saying that everyone knows not to tell a lie to the court. Hanen went on to say that that the Justice Department lawyers have an even stricter duty: Tell the truth, don't mislead the court, and don't allow it to be mislead by others. "The Government's lawyers failed on all three fronts. The actions of the DHS should have been brought as early as December 19, 2014. The failure of counsel to do that constituted more than mere inadvertent omissions -- it was intentionally deceptive." Judge Hanen wrote in his ruling. Hanen ordered that the classes must be "taught by at least one recognized ethics expert who is unaffiliated with the Justice Department." I wonder if the judge could order the lawyers to jail for contempt of court?

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Silicon Valley Tech Workforce Is Vastly Different From US, Say Feds

5/20/2016 3:25pm
Reader dcblogs shares an article on Computer World: In recent years, major high-tech firms have started releasing workforce diversity data, along with a promise to improve. And there is much room for improvement, according to federal officials. Among the top 75 Silicon Valley tech firms, whites make up 47% of the workforce, Asian Americans 41%, Hispanics, 6% and African Americans 3%, according to an analysis by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Women account for 30% of the workforce at these 75 firms. The diversity makeup of these Silicon Valley high-tech firms is very different from the national employment picture. When compared to overall private industry employment, the tech sector nationally -- not just Silicon Valley -- employed a larger share of whites (63% to 68%), as well as a larger share of Asian Americans (6% to 14%) and a smaller share of African Americans (14% to 7%) and Hispanics (14% to 8%). Employers with a workforce greater than 100 file reports to the EEOC about their employees' race, color, gender and national origin. Nationally, 64% of the employees in high-tech are men versus 52% in the broader workforce. Women account for 36% of the tech workforce, versus comprising 48% of the broader workforce.

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Project Ara Lives: Google's Modular Smartphones Coming To Developers This Fall

5/20/2016 2:45pm
Finally, there's some update on Project Ara, an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. Google announced on Friday that a test version of the modular smartphone will be released to developers in the fourth quarter. Google, which owns Project Ara, added that a thinner version of the phone will be made available to consumers next year. Recode, reports: The revamped Project Ara design puts the core phone technology together in the phone's frame, with room for six interchangeable module slots. Modules can also be inserted and ejected while the phone is running, Google said. Onstage Friday at its I/O developer conference, Google demonstrated a camera module, taking a picture of the session discussing Ara. It also talked about other modules, including one to allow diabetics to monitor their blood glucose. Google said it made enough progress with Ara that it is spinning it out of its advanced projects team and into its own business unit.

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Uber Knows Exactly When You'll Pay Surge Pricing

5/20/2016 2:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Uber has figured out exactly when you are more likely to pay double or triple the cost of your ride: when your phone battery is low. Uber's head of economic research, Keith Chen, recently told NPR on an episode of The Hidden Brain podcast that people are willing to accept up to 9.9 times surge pricing if their phones are about to go dead. Data about user batteries is collected because the app uses that information to know when to switch into low-power mode. The idea being: If you really need to get where you're going, you'll pay just about anything (or at least 9.9 times anything) to ensure you're getting a ride home and won't be stranded. A person with a more fully charged device has time to wait and see if the surge pricing goes down.The company insists that it won't use this information against you.

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Foul-Mouthed Worm Takes Control Of Wireless ISPs Around the Globe

5/20/2016 1:25pm
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): ISPs around the world are being attacked by self-replicating malware that can take complete control of widely used wireless networking equipment, according to reports from customers. San Jose, California-based Ubiquiti Networks confirmed recently that attackers are actively targeting a flaw in AirOS, the Linux-based firmware that runs the wireless routers, access points, and other gear sold by the company. The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed. Many customers claimed they never received notification of the threat.ISPs in Argentina, Spain, Brazil have been attacked by the worm, said Nico Waisman, a research at security firm Immunity, adding that it's likely that ISPs in the U.S. and other places have also been attacked by the same malware. From the report, "Once successful, the exploit he examined replaces the password files of an infected device and then scans the network it's on for other vulnerable gear. After a certain amount of time, the worm resets infected devices to their factory default configurations, with the exception of leaving behind a backdoor account, and then disappears."

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IMAX Embraces Virtual Reality, To Open Six VR Theaters This Year

5/20/2016 12:43pm
An anonymous reader writes: IMAX is getting into the virtual reality business. Tthe company has announced that it is teaming up with Google to build cinema-quality virtual reality video cameras. It is also planning to launch virtual reality "locations." The cinemas will be opened in shopping malls, much like traditional movie theatres. There are six reportedly planned for this year, including in Los Angeles and China. From the Verge report: IMAX chief executive Richard Gelfond told The WSJ that he imagined that the VR content would be tied to existing movie franchises, that they would last around 10 minutes and cost between $7 and $10. The idea, suggests Gelfond, is to create a VR experience that's better than what you can get at home -- the same way that a movie theater is better than your living room TV.

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Fox 'Stole' a Game Clip, Used It In Family Guy and DMCA'd the Original

5/20/2016 12:00pm
An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: This week's episode of Family Guy included a clip from 1980s Nintendo video game Double Dribble showing a glitch to get a free 3-point goal. Perhaps surprisingly the game glitch is absolutely genuine and was documented in a video that was uploaded to YouTube by a user called 'sw1tched' back in February 2009. Interestingly the clip that was uploaded by sw1tched was the exact same clip that appeared in the Family Guy episode on Sunday. So, unless Fox managed to duplicate the gameplay precisely, Fox must've taken the clip from YouTube. Whether Fox can do that and legally show the clip in an episode is a matter for the experts to argue but what followed next was patently absurd. Shortly after the Family Guy episode aired, Fox filed a complaint with YouTube and took down the Double Dribble video game clip on copyright grounds. Perhaps YouTube should also be blamed for this.

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India Records Its Hottest Day Ever As Temperature Hits 51C (123.8F)

5/20/2016 11:20am
An anonymous reader writes: A city in northern India has shattered the national heat record, registering a searing 51C -- the highest since records began -- amid a nationwide heatwave. The new record was set in Phalodi, a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, and is the equivalent of 123.8F. It tops a previous record of 50.6C set in 1956."Yesterday (Thursday) was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country... 51C in Phalodi," said BP Yadav, a director of India's meteorological department, on Friday.

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Declaring Code Is Not Code, Says Larry Page

5/20/2016 10:40am
Alphabet CEO Larry Page says his company never considered getting permission from Oracle for using the latter's Java APIs in Android. Page, who appeared in a federal court, said Java APIs are open and free, which warrants them or anyone to use it without explicit permission from Oracle. From an Ars Technica report (edited for clarity): "But you did copy the code and copy the structure, sequence, and organization of the APIs?" Oracle attorney Peter Bicks asked, raising his voice. "I don't agree with 'copy code,'" Page said. "For me, declaring code is not code," Page said. "Have you paid anything to Oracle for using that intellectual property?" Bicks asked. "When Sun established Java, they established it as an open source thing," Page said. "I believe the APIs we used were pretty open. No, we didn't pay for the free and open things." [...] "Was Google seeking a license for Java?" Google lawyer Robert Van Nest asked. "Yes, and a broader deal around other things, like branding and cooperation," Page said. "After discussions with Sun broke off, did you believe Google needed a license for APIs?" Van Nest asked. "No, I did not believe that," Page said. "It was established industry practice that the API and just the headers of those things could be taken and re-implemented. [It must be done] very carefully, not to use any existing implementation of those systems. That's been done many, many times. I think we acted responsibly and carefully around these intellectual property issues."

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China Fakes 488 Million Social Media Posts a Year To Deceive Its Citizens

5/20/2016 10:00am
In an attempt to keep its citizens from seeing bad news and getting involved in sensitive political debates, China's government fabricates about 488 million social media comments a year, reports Bloomberg citing a study (PDF). The propaganda workers who post comments are known as Fifty Cent Party because they are believed to be paid 50 Chinese cents by the Chinese government for every comment they post. From the report: Although those who post comments are often rumored to be ordinary citizens, the researchers were surprised to find that nearly all the posts were written by workers at government agencies including tax and human resource departments, and at courts. The researchers said they found no evidence that people were paid for the posts, adding the work was probably part of the employees' job responsibilities. Fifty Cent Party is a derogatory term since it implies people are bought off cheaply. About half of the positive messages appear on government websites, and the rest are injected into the 80 billion social media posts that enter China's Internet. That means one of every 178 social media posts on China's micro blogs is made up by the government, the researchers said. The sites affected include those run by Tencent Holdings Ltd., Sina Corp. and Baidu Inc.

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New Surveillance System May Let Cops Use All Of The Cameras

5/20/2016 9:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: [Computer scientists have created a way of letting law enforcement tap any camera that isn't password protected so they can determine where to send help or how to respond to a crime.] The system, which is just a proof of concept, alarms privacy advocates who worry that prudent surveillance could easily lead to government overreach, or worse, unauthorized use. It relies upon two tools developed independently at Purdue. The Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit superimposes the rate and location of crimes and the location of police surveillance cameras. CAM2 reveals the location and orientation of public network cameras, like the one outside your apartment. You could do the same thing with a search engine like Shodan, but CAM2 makes the job far easier, which is the scary part. Aggregating all these individual feeds makes it potentially much more invasive. [Purdue limits access to registered users, and the terms of service for CAM2 state "you agree not to use the platform to determine the identity of any specific individuals contained in any video or video stream." A reasonable step to ensure privacy, but difficult to enforce (though the team promises the system will have strict security if it ever goes online). Beyond the specter of universal government surveillance lies the risk of someone hacking the system.] EFF discovered that anyone could access more than 100 "secure" automated license plate readers last year.

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ARM Announces Next-Gen 64-Bit Artemis Mobile Chip On 10nm TSMC FinFET Process

5/20/2016 6:00am
MojoKid writes from a report via Hot Hardware: ARM has been working closely with TSMC for years now. Over the last six years or so especially, ARM and TSMC have collaborated to ensure that TSMC's cutting-edge process technologies work well with ARM's processor IP. However recently, ARM just announced the successful tape-out of a test chip featuring next-generation, 64-Bit ARM v8-A mobile processor cores, codenamed Artemis, manufactured using TSMC's upcoming 10nm FinFET process technology. The test chip features what ARM calls an Artemis cluster. It's essentially a quad-core processor with power management IP, a single-shader Mali graphics core, AMBA AXI interconnect, and test ROMs connected to a second cluster by an asynchronous bridge that features the memory subsystem, which is stacked with a Cortex M core that handles control logic, some timers, SRAM, and external IO. Compared to 16nm FinFET+, at nominal voltage, the 10nm test chip offered a 12% performance improvement in a similar power envelope. In super-overdrive mode (Vsod), the Artemis test chip offered similar performance, but at 30% lower power.SoCs for premium mobile devices with next-generation cores produced on the 10nm process node are expected to arrive later in the second half of this year.

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Google Appeals French Order For Global 'Right To Be Forgotten'

5/20/2016 3:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Alphabet Inc's Google appealed on Thursday an order from the French data protection authority to remove certain web search results globally in response to a European privacy ruling, escalating a fight on the extra-territorial reach of EU law. In May 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that people could ask search engines, such as Google and Microsoft's Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for people's names -- dubbed the "right to be forgotten." Google complied, but it only scrubbed results across its European websites such as Google.de in Germany and Google.fr in France, arguing that to do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent on the territorial reach of national laws. The French regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), fined Google 100,000 euros ($112,150.00) in March for not delisting more widely, arguing that was the only way to uphold Europeans' right to privacy. The company filed its appeal of the CNIL's order with France's supreme administrative court, the Council of State. "One nation does not make laws for another," said Dave Price, senior product counsel, Google. "Data protection law, in France and around Europe, is explicitly territorial, that is limited to the territory of the country whose law is being applied." Google's Transparency Report indicates the company accepts around 40 percent of requests for the removal of links appearing under search results for people's names.

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Why Don't Scientists Kill The 'Demon In The Freezer'?

5/19/2016 11:30pm
HughPickens.com writes: Smallpox was one of the most devastating diseases humanity has ever faced, killing more than 300 million people in the 20th century alone. But thanks to the most successful global vaccination campaign in history, the disease was completely eradicated by 1980. By surrounding the last places on earth where smallpox was still occurring -- small villages in Asia and Africa -- and inoculating everyone in a wide circle around them, D. A. Henderson and the World Health Organization were able to starve the virus of hosts. Smallpox is highly contagious, but it is not spread by insects or animals. When it is gone from the human population, it is gone for good. But Errol Moris writes in the NYT that Henderson didn't really eliminate smallpox. In a handful of laboratories around the world, there are still stocks of smallpox, tucked away in one freezer or another. In 2014 the CDC announced that vials containing the deadly virus had been discovered in a cardboard box in a refrigerator located on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. How can you say it's eliminated when it's still out there, somewhere? The demon in the freezer. Some scientists say that these residual stocks of smallpox should not be destroyed because some ruthless super-criminal or rogue government might be working on a new smallpox, even more virulent than existing strains of the virus. We may need existing stocks to produce new vaccines to counteract the new viruses. Meanwhile, opponents of retention argue that there's neither need nor practical reason for keeping the virus around. In a letter to Science Magazine published in 1994, the Nobel laureate David Baltimore wrote, "I doubt that we so desperately need to study smallpox that it would be worth the risk inherent in the experimentation." It all comes down to the question of how best to protect ourselves against ourselves. Is the greater threat to humanity our propensity for error and stupidity, or for dastardly ingenuity?

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US Bans Electronic Cigarettes From Checked Baggage Over Fire Risks

5/19/2016 9:50pm
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, the FDA announced it would regulate electronic cigarettes and other new tobacco products. Now, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it is permanently banning passengers and crew members from carrying electronic cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices onboard aircraft. They have cited a number of recent incidents that show the devices can catch fire during flight. Passengers can still carry e-cigarettes in their carry-on baggage or on their person, they just can't use the devices on flights. "Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure." The new rule covers e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, and battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in general. It does not prohibit passengers from transporting other battery-powered devices for personal use like laptop computers or cellphones.

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Google Is A Serial Tracker

5/19/2016 9:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: Two Princeton academics conducted a massive research into how websites track users using various techniques. The results of the study, which they claim to be the biggest to date, shows that Google, through multiple domains, is tracking users on around 80 percent of all Top 1 Million domains. Researchers say that Google-owned domains account for the top 5 most popular trackers and 12 of the top 20 tracker domains. Additionally, besides tracking scripts, HTML5 canvas fingerprinting and WebRTC local IP discover, researchers discovered a new user fingerprinting technique that uses the AudioContext API. Third-party trackers use it to send low-frequency sounds to a user's PC and measure how the PC processes the data, creating an unique fingerprint based on the user's hardware and software capabilities. A demo page for this technique is available. Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new and occurs all across the web and beyond. MIT and Oxford published a study this week that revealed that Twitter location tags on only a few tweets can reveal details about the account's owner, such as his/her real world address, hobbies and medical history. Another recently released study by Stanford shows that phone call metadata can also be used to infer personal details about a phone owner.

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