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Submission + - Facebook App Can Answer Questions About Photos And Could Help Blind People

holy_calamity writes: Machine learning researchers at Facebook have fused systems for understanding images and text to produce an app able to answer questions about the contents of photos. MIT Technology Review reports that videos of the app in action showed it answering questions such as "What color is the cat?" and "What game is being played?" The app is an experiment, but the director of Facebook's artificial intelligence lab said the technology could be used to help the visually impaired.

Submission + - Software takes on school science tests in search for common sense (

holy_calamity writes: Making software take school tests designed for human kids can help the quest for machines with common sense, says researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. They've made software called Aristo that scores 75 percent on the multiple choice questions that make up most of New York State's 4th grade science exam. The researchers are urging other researchers to pit their best software against school tests, too, to provide a way to benchmark progress and spur competition.

Submission + - Intel promises "Optane" SSDs based on technology faster than flash in 2016 (

holy_calamity writes: Intel today announced that it will introduce SSDs based on a new non-volatile memory that is significantly faster than flash in 2016. A prototype was shown operating at around seven times as fast as a high-end SSD available today. Intel's new 3D Xpoint memory technology was developed in collaboration with Micron and is said to be capable of operating as much as 1000 times faster than flash. Scant details have been released, but the technology has similarities with the RRAM and memristor technologies being persued by other companies.

Submission + - Microsoft creates a quantum computer-proof version of TLS encryption protocol ( 2

holy_calamity writes: When (or if) quantum computers become practical they will make existing forms of encryption useless. But now researchers at Microsoft say they have made a quantum-proof version of the TLS encryption protocol we could use to keep online data secure in the quantum computing era. It is based on a mathematical problem very difficult for both conventional and quantum computers to crack. That tougher math means data moved about 20 percent slower in comparisons with conventional TLS, but Microsoft says the design could be practical if properly tuned up for use in the real world.

Submission + - Patent Filings Reveal Magic Leap's "light field" Augmented Reality Technology (

holy_calamity writes: Magic Leap has raised $542 million in funding for a new kind of wearable augmented reality display it is so far keeping secret. Patents filed by the company show that it is working on a new kind of "light field" display that fools the eye by recreating the kind of 3-D patterns of light that we perceive when looking at real objects. Eye tracking cameras on the inside of the headset, and depth sensors on its outside, would be used to ensure virtual objects created by the display appear integrated into the real world.

Submission + - Google opens new lab to work on quantum computing hardware (

holy_calamity writes: Google is opening a new lab in Santa Barbara to develop quantum computing hardware, reports MIT Technology Review. Respected University of California Santa Barbara researcher John Martinis is joining the company and will lead an effort to improve on a controversial technology Google has been experimenting with since 2009. That technology comes from startup D-Wave System, which sells what it calls "the first commercial quantum computer". Google bought one last year, but independent tests haven't found evidence it makes use of quantum effects. Martinis is to design and build new versions of the kind of chip at the heart of D-Wave's machines.

Submission + - Building Crypto-Backed Abuse Controls into Surveillance Databases (

holy_calamity writes: Techniques for working on encrypted data are advanced enough to bake strict privacy and abuse protections into surveillance systems used by agencies like the NSA, says one Microsoft researcher. As proof of concept, he designed a system called MetaCrypt that allows searching of phone call metadata without having to decrypt it. The only time records can be decrypted is if when they come back as the result of a specific kind of approved search. Unfortunately, such ideas seem unlikely to be adopted by U.S. intelligence agencies. The NSA previously rejected a much milder version of the idea, which automatically encrypted U.S. citizens' information.

Submission + - Researchers Find Problems With Rules of Bitcoin (

holy_calamity writes: Using game theory to analyze the rules of cryptocurrency Bitocin suggests some changes are needed to make the currency sustainable in the long term, reports MIT Technology Review. Studies from Princeton and Cornell found that current rules governing the mining of bitcoins and limiting the total number of bitcoins that can exist at 21 million leave room for cheats or encourage behavior that could destabilize the currency. Such changes could be difficult to implement, given the fact Bitcoin — by design — lacks any central authority.

Submission + - Building Deception Into Encryption Software (

holy_calamity writes: MIT Technology Review reports on a new cryptosystem designed to protect stolen data against attempts to break encryption by brute force guessing of the password or key. Honey Encryption serves up plausible fake data in response to every incorrect guess of the password. If the attacker does eventually guess correctly, the real data should be lost amongst the crowd of spoof data. Ari Juels, who invented the technique and was previously chief scientist at RSA, is working on software to protect password managers using the technique.

Submission + - Wikipedia's Participation Problem (

holy_calamity writes: More people use Wikipedia than ever but the number of people contributing to the project has declined by a third since 2007, and it still has significant gaps in its quality and coverage. MIT Technology Review reports on the troubled efforts to make the site more welcoming to newcomers, which Jimmy Wales says must succeed if Wikipedia is to address its failings.

Submission + - Fake Social Network Offers an Inside Look at Chinese Censorship (

holy_calamity writes: Harvard researchers went undercover to provide the most detailed look yet inside China's online censorship, MIT Technology Review Reports. By setting up a website in China and contracting with a major Internet company they got get first hand access to the automated censorship tools offered to website operators. That and experiments with making posts to existing social sites lead the researchers to conclude that China's government-mandated censorship relies on a thriving competitive market for software and services aimed at Web companies trying to censor their users in the most efficient way possible.

Submission + - Math Advance Suggest RSA Encryption Could Fall Within 5 years (

holy_calamity writes: The two encryption systems used to secure the most important connections and digital files could become useless within years, reports MIT Technology Review, due to progress towards solving the discrete logarithm problem. Both RSA and Diffie-Hellman encryption rely on there being no efficient algorithm for that problem, but French math professor Antoine Joux has published two papers in the last six months that suggest one could soon be found. Security researchers that noticed Joux's work recommend companies large and small begin planning to move to elliptic curve cryptography, something the NSA has said is best practice for years. Unfortunately, key patents for implementing elliptic curve cryptography are controlled by BlackBerry.

Submission + - Hacking Group Linked to Chinese Army Caught Attacking Dummy Water Plant ( 4

holy_calamity writes: MIT Technology Review reports that APT1, the China-based hacking group said to steal data from U.S. companies, has been caught taking over a decoy water plant control system. The honeypot mimicked the remote access control panels and physical control system of a U.S. municipal water plant. The decoy was one of 12 set up in 8 countries around the world, which together attracted more than 70 attacks, 10 of which completely compromised the control system. China and Russia were the leading sources of the attacks. The researcher behind the study says his results provide the first clear evidence that people actively seek to exploit the many security problems of industrial systems.

Submission + - Microsoft's Cooperation With NSA Either Voluntary, Or Reveals New Legal Tactic (

holy_calamity writes: When Microsoft re-engineered its online services to assist NSA surveillance programs, the company was either acting voluntarily, or under a new kind of court order, reports MIT Technology Review. Existing laws were believed to shelter companies from being forced to modify their systems to aid surveillance, but experts say the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court may now have a new interpretation. Microsoft's statement about its cooperation with NSA surveillance doesn't make it clear whether it acted under legal duress, or simply decided that to helping out voluntarily was in its best interest.

Submission + - Technology, Not Law, Limits Mass Surveillance ( 1

holy_calamity writes: U.S. citizens have historically been protected from government surveillance by technical limits, not legal ones, writes independent security researcher Ashkan Soltani at MIT Tech Review. He claims that recent leaks show that technical limits are loosening, fast, with data storage and analysis cheap and large Internet services taking care of data collection for free. "Spying no longer requires following people or planting bugs, but rather filling out forms to demand access to an existing trove of information," writes Soltani.

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania