Social Media Giants Step Up Joint Fight Against Extremist Content

Slashdot - 3 hours 15 min ago
Social media giants Facebook, Google's YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft said on Monday they were forming a global working group to combine their efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms. From a report: Responding to pressure from governments in Europe and the United States after a spate of militant attacks, the companies said they would share technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism "will formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN," the companies said in a statement.

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Categories: Science

New Study Explains Why Trump's 'Sad' Tweets Are So Effective

Slashdot - 4 hours 43 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: During his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump has used Twitter to circumvent traditional media broadcasters and speak directly to the masses. He is particularly known for one specific tweet construction: he sets up a situation that he feels should inspire anger or outrage, then punctuates it with "Sad!" New research from New York University suggests a reason why this style is so effective: a tweet containing moral and emotional language spreads farther among people with similar political persuasion. The study offered up "duty" as an example of a purely moral word, "fear" as a purely emotional one, and "hate" as word that combined the two categories. The research found that the use of purely moral or purely emotional language had a limited impact on the spread of a tweet, but the "presence of moral-emotional words in messages increased their diffusion by a factor of 20% for each additional word." The impact of this language cut both ways. Tweets with moral-emotional words spread further among those with a similar political outlook, and they spread less with those who held opposing views, according to the research published in the journal PNAS. The study looked at 563,312 tweets on the topics of gun control, same-sex marriage, and climate change, and rated their impact by the number of retweets each one received.

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Categories: Science

Investigating the Nazca 'Alien' Mummy

Underground Stream - 4 hours 56 min ago

A new video (embedded above) from Gaia.com - showing a strangely deformed ancient mummy from Nazca, Peru - has gone viral over the past week, with over a million and a half views on YouTube, and over 20 mllion views on Facebook. The video is part of a 'Special Report' at Gaia.com titled "Unearthing Nazca", some of which is freely viewable, while other parts are restricted to members of the site.

While it's an exciting idea to speculate, as the video does, on whether this mummy is a 'non-human species', as always with cases like this, there's a lot to be skeptical about. The Black Vault has a detailed discussion on some of the causes for concern, but in short:

  • Key players in the 'expedition' have questionable reputations - most notably Mexican 'ufologist' Jaime Maussan - a 21st century P.T. Barnum involved in numerous 'weird corpse' PR stunts, from the Roswell Slides debacle from a couple of years ago to the Metepec creature hoax.
  • The strange elongated skull of the mummy is actually a reasonably common body modification practiced by the local ancient culture.
  • There are known 'fake mummies' already in circulation in South America.
  • There are numerous suggestions of this being an actual ancient mummy that has been recently modified, from the white plaster-like covering through to the long 3-fingered hands.

While the Gaia people are certainly circumspect in their approach to this investigation - not making any great claims, and confirming they will follow the evidence where it leads - there really is no excuse for having the likes of Maussan closely involved. Hopefully the scientific investigation is properly handled, by experts, rather than done through an in-house crew - and the results openly published, rather than announced to paid subscribers like a circus sideshow (roll up, roll up!).

And, remembering that this is likely a human body, we should be very careful to not turn it into a freak show for the sake of click-throughs and Fortean fascination.

Here's another skeptical take discussing problems with this 'alien mummy':

Related story:

Zillow Threatens To Sue Blogger For Using Its Photos For Parody

Slashdot - 5 hours 23 min ago
Kate Wagner is facing potential legal charges by real estate Zillow for allegedly violating the site's terms of service by reproducing images from their site on her blog. Wagner's blog is called McMansion Hell -- a Tumblr blog that "highlights the absurdity of giant real estate properties and the ridiculous staging and photography that are omnipresent in their sales listings," writes Natt Garun via The Verge. From the report: A typical McMansion Hell blog post will have a professional photo of a home and / or its interior, along with captions scattered throughout by Wagner. She also adds information about the history and characteristics of various architecture styles, and uses photos from the likes of Zillow and Redfin to illustrate how so many real estate listings inaccurately use the terms. Under each post, Wagner adds a disclaimer that credits the original source of the images and cites Fair Use for the parody, which allows for use of copyrighted material for "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research." In a cease and desist letter to Wagner, Zillow claims Wagner's reproduction of these images do not apply under the Copyright Act. Additionally, the company claims McMansion Hell may "[interfere] with Zillow's business expectations and interests." As a result of the potential lawsuit, Wagner has temporarily taken McMansionHell.com down. In a statement to The Verge, Zillow said: "Zillow has a legal obligation to honor the agreements we make with our listing providers about how photos can be used. We are asking this blogger to take down the photos that are protected by copyright rules, but we did not demand she shut down her blog and hope she can find a way to continue her work."

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Categories: Science

China, Canada Vow Not To Conduct Cyberattacks On Private Sector

Slashdot - 6 hours 3 min ago
New submitter tychoS writes from a report via Reuters: China and Canada have signed an agreement vowing not to conduct state-sponsored cyberattacks against each other aimed at stealing trade secrets or other confidential business information. The new agreement was reached during talks between Canada's national security and intelligence adviser, Daniel Jean, and senior communist party official Wang Yongqing, a statement dated June 22 on the Canadian government's website showed. "This is something that three or four years ago (Beijing) would not even have entertained in the conversation," an unnamed Canadian government official told the Globe and Mail, which first reported the agreement. The new agreement only covers economic cyber-espionage, which includes hacking corporate secrets and proprietary technology, but does not deal with state-sponsored cyber spying for intelligence gathering.

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Categories: Science

'Infarm' Startup Wants To Put a Farm In Every Grocery Store

Slashdot - 6 hours 43 min ago
Infarm, a 40-plus person startup based in Berlin, imagines a future where every grocery store has its own farm packed with herbs, vegetables and fruit. "The plants themselves are being monitored by multiple sensors and fed by an internet-controlled irrigation and nutrition system," reports TechCrunch. "Growing out from the center, the basil is at ascending stages of its life, with the most outer positioned ready for you, the customer, to harvest." From the report: The concept might not be entirely new -- Japan has been an early pioneer in vertical farming, where the lack of space for farming and very high demand from a large population has encouraged innovation -- but what potentially sets Infarm apart, including from other startups, is the modular approach and go-to-market strategy it is taking. This means that the company can do vertical farming on a small but infinitely expandable scale, and is seeing Infarm place farms not in offsite warehouses but in customer-facing city locations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, enabling the end-customer to actually pick the produce themselves. In contrast, the Infarm system is chemical pesticide-free and can prioritize food grown for taste, color and nutritional value rather than shelf life or its ability to sustain mass production. Its indoor nature means it isn't restricted to seasonality either and by completely eliminating the distance between farmer and consumer, food doesn't get much fresher. When a new type of herb or plant is introduced, Infarm's plant experts and engineers create a recipe or algorithm for the produce type, factoring in nutrition, humidity, temperature, light intensity and spectrum, which is different from system to system depending on what is grown. The resulting combination of IoT, Big Data and cloud analytics is akin to "Farming-as-a-Service," whilst , space permitting, Infarm's modular approach affords the ability to keep adding more farming capacity in a not entirely dissimilar way to how cloud computing can be ramped up at the push of a button.

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Categories: Science

Google Home Is 6 Times More Likely To Answer Your Question Than Amazon Alexa

Slashdot - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 11:43pm
According to software developed by New York-based 360i, Google Home is six times more likely to answer your question than Amazon Alexa -- its biggest competitor. Adweek reports: It's relatively surprising, considering that RBC Capital Markets projects Alexa will drive $10 billion of revenue to Amazon by 2020 -- not to mention the artificial intelligence-based system currently owns 70 percent of the voice market. 360i's proprietary software asked both devices 3,000 questions to come to the figure. While Amazon Alexa has shown considerable strength in retail search during the agency's research, Google won the day thanks to its unmatched search abilities.

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Categories: Science

'I'm Suing New York City To Loosen Verizon's Iron Grip'

Slashdot - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 11:20pm
New submitter mirandakatz writes: New York City is lagging far behind when it comes to ensuring ubiquitous, reasonably priced fiber optic internet access for every resident. There's a jaw-dropping digital divide in the city, and more than a quarter of households are still using dial-up. The city could be doing more to fix that -- but it's not. That's why Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School and fierce advocate for nationwide fiber, is suing the city. At Backchannel, Crawford writes that "the city's intransigence should be embarrassing to it. Instead of a plan, instead of exercising power and acting coherently, all we've got is shuffling and nay-saying. Getting information regarding access is the key to transforming telecommunications policy in the U.S. -- as well as in New York City. We must do better." "New York City is the regulator of all the underground conduit in those two boroughs -- meaning the pipes running under the streets through which fiber optic lines are threaded," Crawford writes. "At any moment, it could require that additional conduit be built where it doesn't now exist. It could require that choked-up conduit that is now decades old be cleaned and repaired. And it could require that that conduit run to every building in the city, and require that all new buildings have neutral connection points in their basements allowing many competitors to hawk their services to tenants. If the city took these steps [...] it would foster a vibrantly competitive marketplace for retail fiber-based services for everyone. Dozens of competitors. Low prices for data transmission. But the problem is that, as far as I can tell, the city that never sleeps is, in fact, asleep: It is not taking advantage of its powers. That is why I sued the city five years ago seeking information about its regulatory efforts."

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Categories: Science

Could humans ever regenerate a heart? A new study suggests the answer is 'yes'

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 11:06pm
A new study's findings point to potential for tweaking communication between human genes and advancing our ability to treat heart conditions and stimulate regenerative healing.
Categories: Science

Odd properties of water and ice explained: Water exists as two different liquids

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 11:06pm
Scientists have discovered two phases of liquid water with large differences in structure and density. The results are based on experimental studies using X-rays.
Categories: Science

Could this strategy bring high-speed communications to the deep sea?

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 10:10pm
A new strategy for sending acoustic waves through water could potentially open up the world of high-speed communications to divers, marine research vessels, remote ocean monitors, deep sea robots, and submarines. By taking advantage of the dynamic rotation generated as the acoustic wave travels, also known as its orbital angular momentum, researchers were able to pack more channels onto a single frequency, effectively increasing the amount of information capable of being transmitted.
Categories: Science

Collapse of European ice sheet caused chaos in past

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 10:05pm
Scientists have reconstructed in detail the collapse of the Eurasian ice sheet at the end of the last ice age. The big melt wreaked havoc across the European continent, driving home the original Brexit 10,000 years ago.
Categories: Science

Fake Online Stores Reveal Gamblers' Shadow Banking System

Slashdot - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 10:00pm
randomErr shares an exclusive report from Reuters: A network of dummy online stores offering household goods has been used as a front for internet gambling payments. The seven sites in Europe to sell items including fabric, DVD cases, and maps are fake outlets. The faux store fronts are a multinational system to disguise payments for the $40 billion global online gambling industry. Online gambling is illegal in many countries and some U.S. states. The dummy sites underline a strategy which regulators, card issuers and banks have yet to tackle head-on. The scheme found by Reuters involved websites which accepted payments for household items from a reporter but did not deliver any products. Instead, staff who answered helpdesk numbers on the sites said the outlets did not sell the product advertised, but that they were used to help process gambling payments, mostly for Americans.

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Categories: Science

Judge Sentences Man To One Year In Prison For Hacking Smart Water Readers In Five US Cities

Slashdot - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for hacking and disabling base stations belonging to water utility providers in five cities across the U.S. East Coast. Called TGB, these devices collect data from smart meters installed at people's homes and relay the information to the water provider's main systems, where it is logged, monitored for incidents, and processed for billing. Before he was fired by the unnamed TGB manufacturing company, Flanagan's role was to set up these devices. After he was fired, Flanagan used former root account passwords to log onto the devices and disable their ability to communicate with their respective water utility providers' upstream equipment. He wasn't that careful, as the FBI was able to trace back the attacks to his home. Apparently, the guy wasn't that silent, leaving behind a lot of clues. Flanagan's attacks resulted in water utility providers not being able to collect user equipment readings remotely. This incurred damage to the utility providers, who had to send out employees at customer premises to collect monthly readings. He was arrested in Nov 2014, and later pleaded guilty.

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Categories: Science

Apple Releases First Public Beta Of iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad

Slashdot - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 8:42pm
Zac Hall, writing for 9to5Mac: Apple has released the first macOS High Sierra public beta for Mac. This allows users who are not registered developers to test pre-release versions of macOS with new features for free. Prior to the public beta availability, macOS High Sierra has only been available to test with a $99/year developer account. You can register for the free public beta program here. [Note: some outlets report that the update is still "coming soon." [...] Apple has released the first iOS 11 public beta for iPhone and iPad. This allows users who are not registered developers to test pre-release versions of iOS with new features for free. You can register for the free public beta program here..

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Categories: Science

Sorry, But Anonymous Has No Evidence That NASA Has Found Alien Life

Slashdot - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 8:00pm
From a Popular Science article: In a new video, the hacker group known as Anonymous claims that NASA has discovered alien life. But before you freak out, let's talk. Sadly, the group of activists and hacktivists doesn't seem to have found any new evidence to support their extraordinary claim. The video is mainly based on NASA quotes taken out of context, and what appear to be videos and information from conspiracy theory websites. The crux of the argument is based on something Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, said during a hearing in April. These sorts of hearings are organized to educate the House Science Committee on the latest research in a particular field of study. During this one, Zurbuchen said: "Taking into account all of the different activities and missions that are specifically searching for evidence of alien life, we are on the verge of making one of the most profound, unprecedented, discoveries in history." That's the quote Anonymous is pegging their video on. But if you watch his opening statement, he actually explains his reasoning just before he gets to that part. He mentions the Mars 2020 rover, which will look for signs of past life on the red planet. The Europa Clipper mission is slated to search for conditions suitable to life on Jupiter's ocean-filled moon. In a statement, Zurbuchen said, "While we're excited about the latest findings from NASA's Kepler space observatory, there's no pending announcement regarding extraterrestrial life. For years NASA has expressed interest in searching for signs of life beyond Earth. We have a number of science missions that are moving forward with the goal of seeking signs of past and present life on Mars and ocean worlds in the outer solar system. While we do not yet have answers, we will continue to work to address the fundamental question, 'are we alone?'"

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Categories: Science

New research could help humans see what nature hides

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 7:57pm
Things are not always as they appear. New visual perception research explains the natural limits of what humans can see and how to find what nature hides.
Categories: Science

Animals, not drought, shaped our ancestors' environment

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 7:57pm
The expansion of grasslands isn't solely due to drought, but more complex climate factors are at work, both for modern Africans now and ancient Africans in the Pleistocene, suggests new research.
Categories: Science

Glycans as biomarkers for cancer?

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 7:57pm
Glycosylated proteins are often overexpressed in tumor cells and thus could serve as tumor markers, especially those with the interesting molecule sialic acid as their sugar moiety. Scientists now report on a bioorthogonal labeling test for sialylated glycoproteins based on a glycoproteomics approach. This assay not only assesses the level of sialylated glycans in the tumor cell membranes, but also identifies up- or downregulated proteins directly in the prostate cancer tissue.
Categories: Science

Microbe mystery solved: What happened to the Deepwater Horizon oil plume?

Science Daily - Mon, 26/06/2017 - 7:57pm
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is one of the most studied spills in history, yet scientists haven't agreed on the role of microbes in eating up the oil. Now a research team has identified all of the principal oil-degrading bacteria as well as their mechanisms for chewing up the many different components that make up the released crude oil.
Categories: Science