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China Probes Baidu Over False Medical Ads After Student Dies

Tue, 03/05/2016 - 12:01am
hackingbear writes: China's Internet regulator said on Monday it will send a team to investigate Baidu Inc over the death of a university student who used the Chinese search engine to look for treatment for his rare cancer, and to find an experimental treatment offered by the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps, which eventually proved ineffective. Before dying, Wei accused Baidu online of promoting false medical information, as well as the hospital for misleading advertising in claiming a high success rate for the treatment, state radio said. The post attracted a large public outcry. Baidu says around one quarter of its revenues come from medical and health-care advertisers.

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Categories: Science

Self-Driving Features Could Lead To More Sex In Moving Cars, Expert Warns

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 11:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: According to CBC.ca, "At least one expert is anticipating that, as the so-called 'smart' cars get smarter, there will eventually be an increase in an unusual form of distracted driving: hanky-panky behind the wheel." Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence said, "I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars. That's one of several things people will do which will inhibit their ability to respond quickly when the computer says to the human, 'Take over.'" Federal officials, who have been tasked with building a regulatory framework to govern driverless cars, highlighted their concerns in briefing notes compiled for Transport Minister Marc Garneau. "Drivers tend to overestimate the performance of automation and will naturally turn their focus away from the road when they turn on their auto-pilot," said the note. The Tesla autopilot feature has been receiving the most criticism as there have been many videos posted online showing Tesla drivers engaged in questionable practices, including reading a newspaper or brushing their teeth.

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Greenpeace Leaks Big Part Of Secret TTIP Documents

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 10:35pm
An anonymous reader writes: The environmental group Greenpeace has obtained 248 pages of classified documents from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade talks. The group warns EU standards on the environment and public health risk being undermined by compromises with the US, specifically that US corporations may erode Europe's consumer protections. The TTIP would "harmonize regulations across a huge range of business sectors, providing a boost to exporters on both sides of the Atlantic," writes the BBC. After the Greenpeace leak was published, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said in her blog, "I am simply not in the business of lowering standards." Meanwhile, Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said, "These leaked documents confirm what we have been saying for a long time: TTIP would put corporations at the center of policy-making, to the detriment of environment and public health." You can be the judge for yourself. The leaked documents are available for download here.

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Categories: Science

Climate-Exodus Expected In The Middle East And North Africa

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 9:53pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised. The goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, agreed at the recent UN climate summit in Paris, will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario. The result is deeply alarming: Even if Earth's temperature were to increase on average only by two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, the temperature in summer in these regions will increase more than twofold. This means that during hot days temperatures south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century. Such extremely hot days will occur five times more often than was the case at the turn of the millennium. In combination with increasing air pollution by windblown desert dust, the environmental conditions could become intolerable and may force people to migrate.

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20-Yr-Old Compaq Laptop Is Still Crucial to Maintaining McLaren's Multi-Million Dollar Cars

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 9:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: It may come as a surprise to many, but the 20-year-old Compaq LTE 5280 still plays a vital role in maintaining multi-million dollar McLaren F1s. Jalopnik recently visited McLaren's Special Operations workshop where it found several of Compaq's old laptops serving their masters. Why do they rely on these dated computers, you ask? A McLaren Special Operations staff explains, "The reason we need those specific Compaq laptops is that they run a bespoke CA card which is installed into them. The CA card is an interface between the laptop software (which is DOS based) and the car. We are currently working on a new interface which will be compatible with modern laptops as the old Compaqs are getting less and less reliable and harder to find." For those wondering, the Compaq LTE 5280 comes with a 120MHz Intel Pentium processor, up to "80MB" of RAM, and up to 1.2GB of HDD.

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Samsung, Nvidia End Their Patent Lawsuits

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 8:40pm
Reader itwbennett writes: In September 2014, Nvidia sued both Samsung and Qualcomm, asking for shipments of Galaxy phones and tablets with graphics processors from Qualcomm, ARM and Imagination Technologies to be blocked. Samsung fired back, suing Nvidia for patent infringement, and for supposedly false claims by Nvidia that its Tegra K1 was the world's fastest mobile processor. Now, in an agreement announced today, Nvidia and Samsung have agreed to 'settle all outstanding IP litigation'. Under the agreement, the companies will license 'a small number' of patents to each other, though they said there's no broad cross-license agreement. There's also no financial payment. And no mention was made of Qualcomm.

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Without Encryption, Everything Stops, Says Snowden

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 8:10pm
An anonymous reader writes about Snowden's appearance on a debate with CNN's Fareed Zakaria: Edward Snowden defended the importance of encryption, calling it the "backbone of computer security." He said, "Encryption saves lives. Encryption protects property. Without it, our economy stops. Our government stops. Everything stops. Our intelligence agencies say computer security is a bigger problem than terrorism, than crime, than anything else," he noted. "[...] Lawful access to any device or communication cannot be provided to anybody without fatally compromising the security of everybody."

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Gas Delivery Startups Want to Fill Up Your Car Anywhere, But It Might Not Be Legal

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 7:30pm
Eric Newcomer, reporting for Bloomberg: A new crop of startups are trying to make gas stations obsolete. Tap an app, and they'll bring the gas to you, filling up your car while you're at work or at home. Filld, WeFuel, Yoshi, Purple and Booster Fuels have started operating in a few cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia. But officials in some of those cities say that driving around in a pickup truck with hundreds of gallons of gasoline might not be safe. "It is not permitted," said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the San Francisco fire department, adding that if San Francisco residents see any companies fueling vehicles in the city, they should call the fire department. "We haven't talked to them. I don't know about that. It's news to me," said Nick Alexander, co-founder of Yoshi. "You can never ask for permission because no one will give it," said Chris Aubuchon, the chief executive officer at Filld. The Los Angeles Fire Department said it's drafting a policy around gasoline delivery. "Our current fire code does not allow this process; however, we are exploring a way this could be allowed with some restrictions," said Capt. Daniel Curry, a spokesman for the city's fire department.

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WhatsApp Blocked in Brazil for 72 Hours Over Data Dispute

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 6:49pm
An anonymous reader cites an article on TechCrunch: WhatsApp, Facebook's messaging service that recently rolled out end-to-end encryption to its users, will be blocked in Brazil for 72 hours, starting this afternoon. A Brazilian judge ordered telecom providers in the country to block WhatsApp today in a dispute over access to encrypted data. Judge Marcel Montalvao has ordered WhatsApp to turn over chat records related to a drug investigation, but WhatsApp has argued that it cannot access the chats in an unencrypted form and therefore cannot provide the required records to the court. [...] This isn't Montalvao's first clash with WhatsApp, which boasts more than 100 million Brazilian users. The judge ordered the arrest of Facebook's vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, in March. Facebook has said that WhatsApp operates with relative independence and that Dzodan has no control over WhatsApp data.American lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald said: "WhatsApp shut down again in Brazil as of 1 pm ET today: used by 100m people, 91% of those online: all from 1 judge."

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Chrome Overtakes Internet Explorer For Most Popular Desktop Browser

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 6:10pm
Google Chrome is now the most widely used desktop browser. According to the latest figures from marketing and research firm Net Applications (which looked into data from over 40,000 websites), in April, Chrome captured 41.66 percent of the market, surpassing Internet Explorer which now sits at 41.35 percent. Brad Sams writes:This growth by Chrome should not be too surprising as Microsoft has left Internet Explorer behind for Edge but unfortunately, the Edge browser available to the vast majority of Windows 10 users is a sub-par experience as it lacks basic features like extensions. This is a big milestone for Google as their browser faced and uphill battle against Internet Explorer when it was introduced back in 2008.Also read: Windows Desktop Market Share Drops Below 90%

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Categories: Science

Audiophile Torrent Site What.CD Fully Pwnable Thanks To Wrecked RNG

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 5:30pm
Reader mask.of.sanity writes: Users of popular audiophile torrent site What.CD can make themselves administrators to completely compromise the private music site and bypass its notorious download ratio limits thanks to the use of the mt_rand function for password resets, a researcher has found. From the report (edited and condensed):What.CD is the world's most popular high quality music private torrent site that requires its users to pass an interview testing their knowledge of audio matters before they are granted an account. Users must maintain a high upload to download ratio to continue to download from the site. [...] "I reported it a year ago, and they acknowledged it but said 'don't worry about it,'" said New-Zealand-based independent security researcher who goes by the alias ss23.

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With AI Getting Better at Cognitive Abilities, Humans Will Have Even Fewer Jobs

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 4:50pm
An anonymous reader writes: It is no secret that machines have come to largely replace physical labor, and computers surpass human beings in processing data. But in the future, the development of artificial intelligence may render humans obsolete even in the realm of emotional intelligence (warning: annoying popup adverts), according to Yuval Harari, a renowned professor of history. Harari said:AI today is able to diagnose your personality and emotional state by looking at your face and recognizing tiny muscle movements. It can tell whether you are tired, excited, angry, joyful, in love ... it can tell these things even though AI itself doesn't feel anger or love. In the future, therefore, AI could drive humans out of the job market and make many humans completely useless, from an economic perspective in areas where human interaction was previously considered crucial. Humans only have two basic abilities -- physical and cognitive. When machines replaced us in physical abilities, we moved on to jobs that require cognitive abilities. ... If AI becomes better than us in that, there is no third field humans can move to.

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Scientists Discover Three Potentially Habitable Planets

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 4:00pm
Scientists have discovered three Earth-sized planets that look ideally suited to search for signs of life beyond our solar system. A team of astronomers from MIT and the University of Liege detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star -- just 40 light years from Earth using a prototype telescope called TRAPPIST which is capable of looking at 60 nearby ultracool stars. NPR reports: The closest planet to the star orbits in about one and a half Earth days. From the planet's surface, the star would look like a reddish ball fixed to one spot in the sky. Scientists don't yet know the mass of the planets or what they're made of. Astronomers have discovered more than a thousand planets outside our solar system, but it's still rare to find ones that look promising in terms of habitability."These planets are Earth-sized, they are temperate -- we can't rule out the fact that they are habitable -- and they are well-suited for atmospheric studies," says Julien de Wit, a researcher at MIT.

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Datto Launches Datto Drive For SMBs; Offers 1TB at $10 a Month For Unlimited Users

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 3:30pm
Austin McChord, Datto's founder writes: In the era of nearly free cloud storage why on earth am I paying $15 a month per user (for Dropbox and Box). This seems absurd. As the founder of a cloud storage company I thought we could fix this. We combined OwnCloud which is an enterprise level open source file sync and share solution with our skills in infrastructure. Today we are launching Datto Drive, a file sync and share service for businesses that costs just $10 a month for unlimited users and 1TB of combined storage. To get started we are giving the first year away free for the first million businesses that sign up. One thing I'm worried about is whether this service will exist for more than a couple of years. We've seen plenty of startups offer us interesting services at great prices over the past few years, but many of them disappear. Tech Republic has more information about the aforementioned service. Update: 05/02 17:09 GMT by M : Reader torrija points us to a service called HubiC which offers 10TB for 5 euro a month. He adds that the feature is limited to one user, though.

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Categories: Science

Ubuntu Quietly Raises Install Image Size to 2GB

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 3:00pm
Joey-Elijah Sneddon, reporting for OMGUbuntu: You can expect to see a larger Ubuntu desktop installation image by the time the Yakkety Yak yips out. Developers are currently debating the exact size limits that official flavours will adhere to, with some favouring a 2GB hard limit while others are looking to go full-DVD size at 4.7GB+. Canonical's Steven Langasek explains the plans for Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak: "I've finally gone ahead and bumped the limit on Ubuntu desktop images to 2GB for a minimally-sized USB stick; this gives us a new limit that I think we will care about, while also leaving us headroom so we're not constantly fighting it back down to the line." The Ubuntu ISO is supposed to be around the 1GB mark but has creeped past this in recent releases. The current Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop .iso is 1.4GB.

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Craig Wright Claims He's Satoshi Nakamoto, the Creator Of Bitcoin

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 2:00pm
Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has put an end to the years-long speculation about the creator of Bitcoin. In an interview with the BBC, The Economist (may have a paywall), and GQ, Wright claimed that he is indeed the person who developed the concepts on which Bitcoin cryptocurrency is built. According to the BBC, Mr. Wright provided "technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin's creator." Wright writes in a blog post: [A]fter many years, and having experienced the ebb and flow of life those years have brought, I think I am finally at peace with what he meant. If I sign Craig Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi[...] Since those early days, after distancing myself from the public persona that was Satoshi, I have poured every measure of myself into research. I have been silent, but I have not been absent. I have been engaged with an exceptional group and look forward to sharing our remarkable work when they are ready. Satoshi is dead. But this is only the beginning. According to Wright's website, he is a "computer scientist, businessman and inventor" born in Brisbane, Australia, in October 1970. Some have questioned the authenticity and relevance of the "technical proof" Wright has provided. Nik Cubrilovic, an Australian former hacker and leading internet security blogger, wrote, "I don't believe for a second Wright is Satoshi. I know two people who worked with Wright, characterized him as crazy and schemer/charlatan." Michele Spagnuolo, Information Security Engineer at Google added, "He's not Satoshi. He just reused a signed message (of a Sartre text) by Satoshi with block 9 key as 'proof.'"

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Categories: Science

Marketers Hunger For Data From Wearables

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 1:10pm
An anonymous reader writes:Marketers would love to access information about your daily routines and your precise location, both data sets that would be trivially easy to extract from wearable devices. Those were the two most-requested items in a new survey of marketers, according to a new article at ReadWrite.com. "In the future the data procured from smartwatches might be much more valuable than what is currently available from laptop and mobile users," reports David Curry, raising the possibility that stores might someday use your past Google searches to alert you when they're selling a cheaper product.

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3 Years Ago, Microsoft Said Tech Should Fund K-12 CS Education. What Changed?

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 12:10pm
theodp writes: Last week, Microsoft and some of the biggest names in tech and corporate America threw their weight behind a Change.org petition that urged Congress to fund K-12 Computer Science education. The petition, started by the tech-backed CS Education Coalition (btw, 901 K Street NW is Microsoft's DC HQ) in partnership with tech-backed Code.org, now has 90,000+ supporters. But three years ago, Microsoft backed a very different Change.org petition that called for corporate America to foot the STEM education bill. "While the need to expand high-skilled immigration is immediate," read the letter to Congress, "we also need to expand STEM opportunities in U.S. education. A positive proposal has emerged in Washington to create a national STEM education fund, paid for only by businesses using green cards and visas. This fund will help prepare Americans for 21st-century STEM jobs. The proposal is supported by a broad coalition [PDF] that includes Microsoft, GE, the National Council of La Raza, the National Association of Manufactures, and the National Science Teachers Association, to name a few." The earlier petition, which wound up with 41,009 supporters, was started by Voices for Innovation, a self-described "Microsoft supported community" that says it's now "proud to support the Computer Science Education Coalition" as part of its efforts to "shape public policies for our 21st century digital economy and society." So, what changed? Well, Mother Jones did warn that what Microsoft promises and what it delivers for education isn't necessarily the same...

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Categories: Science

Elon Musk Open Sources New 'AI Gym'

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 11:10am
An anonymous reader writes: OpenAI, a billion-dollar research non-profit backed by Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley executives, just released a public beta of a new Open Source gym for computer programmers working on artificial intelligence. "Nothing beats a competitive environment to motivate developers," says Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "It's like a monster truck rally for AI programmers." The gym lets developers run tests in a standardized environment and share their results, and was built by OpenAI to develop algorithms for the non-profit's own research, according to the Christian Science Monitor. "The gym's exercises range from robot simulations to Atari games and are designed to develop reinforcement learning, the type of computer skills needed for motor control, and decision-making. 'Long-term, we want this curation to be a community effort rather than something owned by us,' Greg Brockman and John Schulman wrote in an OpenAI blog post. 'We'll necessarily have to figure out the details over time, and we'd would love your help in doing so.'"

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Global Catastrophe, Even Human Extinction, Isn't All That Unlikely

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 7:10am
HughPickens.com writes: Robinson Meyer writes in The Atlantic that in its annual report on "global catastrophic risk," the Global Challenges Foundation estimates the risk of human extinction due to climate change -- or an accidental nuclear war at 0.1 percent every year. That may sound low, but when extrapolated to century-scale it comes to a 9.5 percent chance of human extinction within the next hundred years. The report holds catastrophic climate change and nuclear war far above other potential causes, and for good reason citing multiple occasions when the world stood on the brink of atomic annihilation. While most of these occurred during the Cold War, another took place during the 1990s, the most peaceful decade in recent memory. The closest may have been on September 26, 1983, when a bug in the U.S.S.R. early-warning system reported that five NATO nuclear missiles had been launched and were bound for Russian targets. The officer watching the system, Stanislav Petrov, had also designed the system, and he decided that any real NATO first-strike would involve hundreds of I.C.B.M.s. Therefore, he resolved the computers must be malfunctioning. He did not fire a response. Climate change also poses its own risks. [PDF] According to Meyer, serious veterans of climate science now suggest that global warming will spawn continent-sized superstorms by the end of the century. Sebastian Farquhar says that even more conservative estimates can be alarming: UN-approved climate models estimate that the risk of six to ten degrees Celsius of warming exceeds 3 percent, even if the world tamps down carbon emissions at a fast pace... Any year, there's always some chance of a super-volcano erupting or an asteroid careening into the planet. Both would of course devastate the areas around ground zero -- but they would also kick up dust into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight and sending global temperatures plunging. Natural pandemics may pose the most serious risks of all. In fact, in the past two millennia, the only two events that experts can certify as global catastrophes of this scale were plagues. The Black Death of the 1340s felled more than 10 percent of the world population. Another epidemic of the Yersinia pestis bacterium -- the "Great Plague of Justinian" in 541 and 542 -- killed between 25 and 33 million people, or between 13 and 17 percent of the global population at that time. The report briefly explores other possible risks: a genetically engineered pandemic, geo-engineering gone awry, an all-seeing artificial intelligence. "We do not expect these risks to materialize tomorrow, or even this year, but we should not ignore them," says Farquhar. "Although many risks are addressed by specific groups, we need to build a community around global catastrophic risk. Cooperation is the only way for global leaders to manage the risks that threaten humanity."

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