Submission + - Solving a Beatles musical mystery of note with Mathematics

Freshly Exhumed writes: "This is the one chord that everyone around the world knows," says Randy Bachman, a rock star in his own right from The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive. It dates to July 1964, the height of Beatlemania. The band was about to release its third album. For the first time, it was all original music. Plus, the Beatles were shifting away from their rock 'n' roll roots to a more poppy sound, and this album was to be the soundtrack for their first feature film. They needed to make a statement. After a lot of experimentation, the band come up with a wondrous, jangling cacophony of sound: the opening chord to the song, album, and film A Hard Day's Night. For decades, no-one (not even Bachmann nor Giles Martin, son of Beatles' producer George Martin, listening to the original master tapes at the legendary Abbey Road Studios) could figure out exactly how those two seconds of music were made. Enter Professor of Mathematics Jason I. Brown of Dalhousie University, himself a musician.

Submission + - Flaw crippling millions of crypto keys is worse than first disclosed (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A crippling flaw affecting millions—and possibly hundreds of millions—of encryption keys used in some of the highest-stakes security settings is considerably easier to exploit than originally reported, cryptographers declared over the weekend. The assessment came as Estonia abruptly suspended 760,000 national ID cards used for voting, filing taxes, and encrypting sensitive documents. The critical weakness allows attackers to calculate the private portion of any vulnerable key using nothing more than the corresponding public portion. Hackers can then use the private key to impersonate key owners, decrypt sensitive data, sneak malicious code into digitally signed software, and bypass protections that prevent accessing or tampering with stolen PCs. When researchers first disclosed the flaw three weeks ago, they estimated it would cost an attacker renting time on a commercial cloud service an average of $38 and 25 minutes to break a vulnerable 1024-bit key and $20,000 and nine days for a 2048-bit key. Organizations known to use keys vulnerable to ROCA—named for the Return of the Coppersmith Attack the factorization method is based on—have largely downplayed the severity of the weakness.

On Sunday, researchers Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange reported they developed an attack that was 25 percent more efficient than the one created by original ROCA researchers. The new attack was solely the result of Bernstein and Lange based only on the public disclosure information from October 16, which at the time omitted specifics of the factorization attack in an attempt to increase the time hackers would need to carry out real-world attacks. After creating their more efficient attack, they submitted it to the original researchers. The release last week of the original attack may help to improve attacks further and to stoke additional improvements from other researchers as well.

Submission + - New Technology Should Be Neither Feared Nor Trusted (bloomberg.com)

An anonymous reader writes: How should we think about new and future technologies? The two main stances seem to be extreme optimism and extreme pessimism. A better approach would be careful planning and management. Optimists tend to overlook the fact that the technological successes of the past required a lot of social engineering before their benefits became widely shared. Countries like Maoist China and North Korea implemented perverse economic systems that withheld the bounty of modern technology from most of their citizens. And poor countries didn’t really begin to beat poverty until decades after colonialism ended. Pessimists, meanwhile, often assume that new technologies can be stopped in their tracks by act of popular will. They probably can’t. Even the most impoverished, repressive regimes of the 20th century adopted new technologies, and often suffered their worst consequences. Scientific research and invention, meanwhile, can be forbidden in one country or another, but probably not at the global level: Someone, somewhere, will study even the scariest ideas.

A better approach, then, is technology management. We should be as realistic as we can about each innovation's potential benefits and dangers. And instead of thinking about how to suppress new technologies, we should think about how to regulate them and channel them toward broad social benefit. Emerging technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence are at our doorstep, and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. But letting them develop haphazardly entails large risks. Instead, government and industry need to be funding proactive efforts to bring them into widespread, well-regulated use. In the end, technology is what we choose to make of it.

Submission + - The US Is Now the Only Country In the World To Reject the Paris Climate Deal (theverge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Today, Syria announced that it would sign the Paris climate agreement — a landmark deal that commits almost 200 countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming. With Nicaragua also joining the deal last month, the United States is now the only country in the world that opposes it. In June, President Donald Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, unless it is renegotiated to be “fair” to the United States. But other countries in the deal, such as France, Germany, and Italy, said that’s not possible. The Trump administration is also taking steps to roll back regulations passed under former President Barack Obama to achieve the emissions reduction goals set under the Paris deal. The US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world after China.

Submission + - EPA approves release of bacteria-carrying mosquitoes to 20 states (nature.com)

schwit1 writes:

MosquitoMate will rear the Wolbachia-infected A. albopictus mosquitoes in its laboratories, and then sort males from females. Then the laboratory males, which don’t bite, will be released at treatment sites. When these males mate with wild females, which do not carry the same strain of Wolbachia, the resulting fertilized eggs don’t hatch because the paternal chromosomes do not form properly.

The company says that over time, as more of the Wolbachia-infected males are released and breed with the wild partners, the pest population of A. albopictus mosquitoes dwindles. Other insects, including other species of mosquito, are not harmed by the practice, says Stephen Dobson, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and founder of MosquitoMate.


Submission + - Speed Greed: How Chrome Broke the Web (tonsky.me)

Tablizer writes: The Chrome team "broke the web" to make Chrome perform better. There’s a widely-used piece of DOM API called "addEventListener"...Google came along and decided that this API is not extensible enough...This was not backward compatible change by any means. All websites and web apps that did any sort of draggable UI...were affected and essentially broken by this change.

Submission + - Get ready for another battle in the encryption war (chron.com)

Anon E. Muss writes: The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the asshole who murdered 26 people at a Texas church had an encrypted cell phone. The police obtained a search warrant for the phone, but so far they've been unable to unlock it. The phone has been sent to the FBI, in the hope that they can break in. No word on the type of phone, so no way to know how secure it is. If it is secure, and the FBI can't open it, expect all hell to break loose. The usual idiots (e.g. politicians) will soon be ranting hysterically about the evil tech industry, and how they're refusing to help law enforcement.

Submission + - Farmers in India are using AI to increase crop yields (microsoft.com)

joshtops writes: The fields had been freshly plowed. The furrows ran straight and deep. Yet, thousands of farmers across Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Karnataka waited to get a text message before they sowed the seeds. The SMS, which was delivered in Telugu and Kannada, their native languages, told them when to sow their groundnut crops.

In a few dozen villages in Telengana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, farmers are receiving automated voice calls that tell them whether their cotton crops are at risk of a pest attack, based on weather conditions and crop stage. Meanwhile in Karnataka, the state government can get price forecasts for essential commodities such as tur (split red gram) three months in advance for planning for the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Welcome to digital agriculture, where technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Machine Learning, Satellite Imagery and advanced analytics are empowering small-holder farmers to increase their income through higher crop yield and greater price control. “Sowing date as such is very critical to ensure that farmers harvest a good crop. And if it fails, it results in loss as a lot of costs are incurred for seeds, as well as the fertilizer applications,” says Dr. Suhas P. Wani, Director, Asia Region, of the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world.

Microsoft in collaboration with ICRISAT, developed an AI Sowing App powered by Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite including Machine Learning and Power BI. The app sends sowing advisories to participating farmers on the optimal date to sow. The best part – the farmers don’t need to install any sensors in their fields or incur any capital expenditure. All they need is a feature phone capable of receiving text messages.

Submission + - Finger print scanner unlocks phone, flight diverted! (sky.com)

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: An Iranian woman traveling in Qatar Airlines plane used the fingerprint scanner to unlock her husband's smartphone who was sleeping. Found details about his extra-marital affairs, created such a ruckus in the flight, the pilot diverted the plane and off-loaded the passengers in Chennai, India.

I am sure this is not the first time a sleeping person's finger is used to unlock a phone.
How many people still think biometric authentication is such a good idea? Biometry is for
identification. Authentication is different. We know plain and simple password based authentication
is broken. Two factor authentication using SMS is also fundamentally flawed. Alternatives are brewing. We should not be idle, unless we educate the general public about the difference between identification and authentication we will end up with a system far worse than plain passwords.

Submission + - H1-B Administrators Challenging an Unusually Large Number of Applications

decaffeinated writes: Bloomberg reports that starting this summer, employers began noticing that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was challenging an unusually large number of H-1B applications. Cases that would have sailed through the approval process in earlier years ground to a halt under requests for new paperwork.

“We’re entering a new era,” said Emily Neumann, an immigration lawyer in Houston who has been practicing for 12 years. “There’s a lot more questioning, it’s very burdensome.” She said in past years she's counted on 90 percent of her petitions being approved by Oct. 1 in years past. This year, only 20 percent of the applications have been processed. Neumann predicts she’ll still have many unresolved cases by the time next year’s lottery happens in April 2018.

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