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+ - MIT's Bitcoin-Inspired 'Enigma' Lets Computers Mine Encrypted Data->

Guy Zyskind writes: On Tuesday, a pair of bitcoin entrepreneurs and the MIT Media Lab revealed a prototype for a system called Enigma, designed to achieve a decades-old goal in data security known as “homomorphic” encryption: A way to encrypt data such that it can be shared with a third party and used in computations without it ever being decrypted. That mathematical trick—which would allow untrusted computers to accurately run computations on sensitive data without putting the data at risk of hacker breaches or surveillance—has only become more urgent in an age when millions of users constantly share their secrets with cloud services ranging from Amazon and Dropbox to Google and Facebook. Now, with bitcoin’s tricks in their arsenal, Enigma’s creators say they can now pull off homomorphically encrypted computations more efficiently than ever.
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Comment: Re: What an opportunity! (Score 1) 358 358

Somehow you've managed to miss the austere in austerity. The trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures). Not only that, you've manage to ignore the role of income.
http://fee.org/freeman/detail/...

Scandinavians pay for these benefits with high taxes. The governments make no effort to hide this, as evidenced by this paragraph from a Danish government tax guide for new citizens.

+ - SCOTUS denies Google's request to appeal Oracle API (c) case

Neil_Brown writes: The Supreme Court of the United States has today denied Google's request to appeal against the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's ruling (PDF) that the structure, sequence and organization of 37 of Oracle's APIs (application program interfaces) was capable of copyright protection. The case is not over, as Google can now seek to argue that, despite the APIs being restricted by copyright, its handling amounts to "fair use".

Professor Pamela Samuelson has previously commented (PDF) on the implications if SCOTUS declined to hear the appeal.

More details at The Verge.

+ - WSJ jumps the shark with "A.I. Gets Testy" story

mbeckman writes: According to a WSJ article today, entitled "Artificial Intelligence machine gets testy with programmer", a Google computer program using a database of movie scripts supposedly "lashed out" at a human researcher who was repeatedly asking it to explain morality. After several apparent attempts to politely fend off the researcher, the AI ends the conversation with "I’m not in the mood for a philosophical debate". This, says the WSJ, illustrates how Google scientists are "teaching computers to mimic some of the ways a human brain works."

As any AI researcher can tell you, this is utter nonsense. Humans have no idea how the human, or any other brain, works, so we can hardly teach a machine how brains work. At best, Google is programming (not teaching) a computer to mimic the conversation of humans under highly constrained circumstances. And the methods used have nothing to do with true cognition.

AI hype to the public has gotten progressively more strident in recent years, misleading lay people into believing researchers are much further along than they really are — by orders of magnitude. I'd love to see legitimate A.I. researchers condemn this kind of hucksterism.

+ - Scientists Overcome One of the Biggest Limits in Fibre Optic Networks->

Mark.JUK writes: Researchers at the University of California in San Diego have demonstrated a way of boosting transmissions over long distance fibre optic cables and removing crosstalk interference, which would mean no more need for expensive electronic regenerators (repeaters) to keep the signal stable. The result could be faster and cheaper networks, especially on long-distance international subsea cables.

The feat was achieved by employing a frequency comb, which acts a bit like a concert conductor; the person responsible for tuning multiple instruments in an orchestra to the same pitch at the beginning of a concert. The comb was used to synchronize the frequency variations of the different streams of optical information (optical carriers) and thus compensate in advance for the crosstalk interference, which could also then be removed.

As a result the team were able to boost the power of their transmission some 20 fold and push data over a “record-breaking” 12,000km (7,400 miles) long fibre optic cable. The data was still intact at the other end and all of this was achieved without using repeaters and by only needing standard amplifiers.

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