Submission + - How To Tame The Tech Titans - Google, Facebook, Amazon (

dryriver writes: The Economist has published an interesting opinion piece: "Not long ago, being the boss of a big Western tech firm was a dream job. As the billions rolled in, so did the plaudits: Google, Facebook, Amazon and others were making the world a better place. Today these companies are accused of being BAADD—big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy. Regulators fine them, politicians grill them and one-time backers warn of their power to cause harm.

Much of this techlash is misguided. The presumption that big businesses must necessarily be wicked is plain wrong. Apple is to be admired as the world’s most valuable listed company for the simple reason that it makes things people want to buy, even while facing fierce competition. Many online services would be worse if their providers were smaller. Evidence for the link between smartphones and unhappiness is weak. Fake news is not only an online phenomenon."

But big tech platforms, particularly Facebook, Google and Amazon, do indeed raise a worry about fair competition. That is partly because they often benefit from legal exemptions. Unlike publishers, Facebook and Google are rarely held responsible for what users do on them; and for years most American buyers on Amazon did not pay sales tax. Nor do the titans simply compete in a market. Increasingly, they are the market itself, providing the infrastructure (or “platforms”) for much of the digital economy. Many of their services appear to be free, but users “pay” for them by giving away their data. Powerful though they already are, their huge stockmarket valuations suggest that investors are counting on them to double or even triple in size in the next decade.

There is thus a justified fear that the tech titans will use their power to protect and extend their dominance, to the detriment of consumers (see article: The tricky task for policymakers is to restrain them without unduly stifling innovation.

Submission + - You May Be Able to Use Google's 2-Step Verification After All! (

Lauren Weinstein writes: Yesterday, I was approached by a long-time reader who told me that he had long been trying — without success — to use 2-factor, had been unable to get assistance from Google in this regard, and wondered if I could help. Perhaps you’ve had the same problem.

This Google user needed to make use of various non-Google applications via his Google account, that seemingly would only function when his Google account had 2-factor disabled.

Submission + - US Drilled Its Way Out Of That Problem-Oil output outpaces Saudis and Russia (

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. oil production is booming and is forecast to surge beyond the output from heavyweight Saudi Arabia and rival Russia this year, a global energy agency said Friday.

U.S. oil production, which has already risen to its highest level in nearly 50 years, will push past 10 million barrels a day in 2018 as higher prices entice more producers to start pumping, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly market report.

“This year promises to be a record-setting one for the U.S.,” the report said.

Submission + - Electric Black Hole Jets Are Electric Universe Confirmation

Chris Reeve writes: The previously controversial claim that "astrophysical jets are fundamentally electromagnetic structures" is becoming accepted by some astrophysicists. A summary of recent publications on the subject by Don Scott in particular notes the common presence of counter-rotating cylinders in black hole jets, a feature not expected by conventional models, yet a hallmark feature of Birkeland currents which was mathematically described in a 2015 paper. Counter-rotating cylinders are considered an important prediction for the Electric Universe claim that large-scale electric currents travel through space over plasmas. This recent acknowledgement offers additional vindication for the historical claim that the history of Birkeland Currents appears to be mired in politics. A 2007 Slashdot post titled "Astronomers Again Baffled by Solar Observations" elicited a number of hostile reactions by Slashdot readers that the Electric Universe is obviously a "crackpot theory," but what happens if astrophysicists start to widely acknowledge that large-scale electric currents do indeed flow through space?

Submission + - Gaming-GPU powered telescope aims to solve enigmatic flashes from Universe (

An anonymous reader writes: Every day, thousands of "Fast Radio Bursts" appear in the sky, for a millisecond each. These must be enormous explosions billions of light years away, perhaps by neutron stars of black holes. To better understand these FRBs, ASTRON (the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy) recently designed and built high-speed wide-field radio cameras on its highly sensitive radio telescope array in Westerbork. Since today, these cameras have new brains: the most powerful supercomputer in the Netherlands. It consists of 200 NVIDIA 1080 Ti GPU cards and searches through more data than the entire internet of its host country. Because it does this in real-time it will immediately alert astronomers and the public around the world of new detections.

Submission + - Chinese Smartphone Manufacturer OnePlus Annouces Credit Card Breach (

sqorbit writes: OnePlus, a manufacturer of an inexpensive smartphone meant to compete with the iPhone, states that data from 40,000 customers credit card information was stolen while purchasing phones. Although only recently announcing the breach OnePlus states the the script stealing information had been running since November. It is not clear whether this was a remote attack or the attack happened from within the company. Credit purchases on the OnePlus site have been suspended and will remain that way while an investigation takes place.

Submission + - New Blood Test That Screens For Presence Of Cancer Already 70% Effective (

dryriver writes: Scientists have taken a step towards one of the biggest goals in medicine — a universal blood test for cancer. A team at Johns Hopkins University has trialled a method that detects eight common forms of the disease. Their vision is an annual test designed to catch cancer early and save lives. UK experts said it was "enormously exciting". However, one said more work was needed to assess the test's effectiveness at detecting early-stage cancers. Tumours release tiny traces of their mutated DNA and proteins they make into the bloodstream. The CancerSEEK test looks for mutations in 16 genes that regularly arise in cancer and eight proteins that are often released. It was trialled on 1,005 patients with cancers in the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colon, lung or breast that had not yet spread to other tissues. Overall, the test found 70% of the cancers. In some cases, the test also provided information about the tissue-of-origin of the cancer — a feat that has been difficult in past. Dr Cristian Tomasetti, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the BBC: "This field of early detection is critical. "I think this can have an enormous impact on cancer mortality." The earlier a cancer is found, the greater the chance of being able to treat it. Five of the eight cancers investigated have no screening programmes for early detection. Pancreatic cancer has so few symptoms and is detected so late that four in five patients die in the year they are diagnosed. Finding tumours when they could still be surgically removed would be "a night and day difference" for survival, said Dr Tomasetti.

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