Government

Will Facial Recognition in China Lead To Total Surveillance? (washingtonpost.com) 122

schwit1 shares a new Washington Post article about China's police and security state -- including the facial recognition cameras allow access to apartment buildings. "If I am carrying shopping bags in both hands, I just have to look ahead and the door swings open," one 40-year-old woman tells the Post. "And my 5-year-old daughter can just look up at the camera and get in. It's good for kids because they often lose their keys." But for the police, the cameras that replaced the residents' old entry cards serve quite a different purpose. Now they can see who's coming and going, and by combining artificial intelligence with a huge national bank of photos, the system in this pilot project should enable police to identify what one police report, shared with The Washington Post, called the "bad guys" who once might have slipped by... Banks, airports, hotels and even public toilets are all trying to verify people's identities by analyzing their faces. But the police and security state have been the most enthusiastic about embracing this new technology.

The pilot in Chongqing forms one tiny part of an ambitious plan, known as "Xue Liang," which can be translated as "Sharp Eyes." The intent is to connect the security cameras that already scan roads, shopping malls and transport hubs with private cameras on compounds and buildings, and integrate them into one nationwide surveillance and data-sharing platform... At the back end, these efforts merge with a vast database of information on every citizen, a "Police Cloud" that aims to scoop up such data as criminal and medical records, travel bookings, online purchase and even social media comments -- and link it to everyone's identity card and face.

Science

Want to Be Happy? Think Like an Old Person (nytimes.com) 187

The New York Times: Older people report higher levels of contentment or well-being than teenagers and young adults. The six elders put faces on this statistic. If they were not always gleeful, they were resilient and not paralysed by the challenges that came their way. All had known loss and survived. None went to a job he did not like, coveted stuff she could not afford, brooded over a slight on the subway or lost sleep over events in the distant future. They set realistic goals. Only one said he was afraid to die. Gerontologists call this the paradox of old age: that as people's minds and bodies decline, instead of feeling worse about their lives, they feel better (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). In memory tests, they recall positive images better than negative; under functional magnetic resonance imaging, their brains respond more mildly to stressful images than the brains of younger people. John Sorensen, who liked to talk, brought cheer to every conversation, even those about wanting to die. Helen Moses and Ping Wong knew exactly what they wanted: for Ms Moses, it was her daughter and Mr Zeimer; for Ms Wong, it was mah-jongg and the camaraderie it entailed, even if the other players spoke a different dialect or followed the rules of a different home region. Mr Jones, Ms Willig and Mr Mekas all spent their energy on the things they could still do that brought them satisfaction, not on what they had lost to age.
Operating Systems

Apple To Release Lisa OS For Free As Open Source In 2018 (iphoneincanada.ca) 95

New submitter Jose Deras writes: Nearly 35 years ago, Apple released its first computer with a graphical user interface, called the Lisa. Starting next year, the Computer History Museum will release the Apple Lisa OS for free as an open-source project. According to a new report from Business Insider, the Computer History Museum will release the code behind the Apple Lisa operating system for free as open source, for anyone to try and tinker with. The news was announced via the LisaList mailing list for Lisa enthusiasts.

"While Steve Jobs didn't create the Lisa, he was instrumental in its development. It was Jobs who convinced the legendary Xerox PARC lab to let the Apple Lisa team visit and play with its prototypes for graphical user interfaces," reads the report. "And while Apple at the time said that Lisa stood for 'Local Integrated System Architecture,' Jobs would later claim to biographer Walter Isaacson that the machine was actually named for his oldest daughter, Lisa Nicole Brennan-Jobs." "Then-Apple CEO John Sculley had Jobs removed from the Lisa project, which kicked off years-long animosity between the two," continues the report. "Ultimately, a boardroom brawl would result in Jobs quitting in a huff to start his own company, NeXT Computer. Apple would go on to buy NeXT in 1996, bringing Jobs back into the fold. By 1997, Jobs had become CEO of Apple, leading the company to its present status as the most valuable in the world."

Japan

The Booming Japanese Rent-a-Friend Business (theatlantic.com) 276

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Atlantic which talks about a growing business in Japan wherein you can pay an actor to impersonate your relative, spouse, coworker, or any kind of acquaintance. The reporter has interviewed Ishii Yuichi, CEO of a Family Romance, a company that rents such actors. Yuichi believes that Family Romance, and other companies that provide a similar service can help people cope with unbearable absences or perceived deficiencies in their lives. In an increasingly isolated and entitled society, the chief executive officer predicts the exponential growth of his business and others like it, as a la carte human interaction becomes the new norm. An exchange between Yuichi and the reporter, from the story: Morin: When was your first success?
Yuichi: I played a father for a 12-year-old with a single mother. The girl was bullied because she didn't have a dad, so the mother rented me. I've acted as the girl's father ever since. I am the only real father that she knows.
Morin: And this is ongoing?
Yuichi: Yes, I've been seeing her for eight years. She just graduated high school.
Morin: Does she understand that you're not her real father?
Yuichi: No, the mother hasn't told her.
Morin: How do you think she would feel if she discovered the truth?
Yuichi: I think she would be shocked. If the client never reveals the truth, I must continue the role indefinitely. If the daughter gets married, I have to act as a father in that wedding, and then I have to be the grandfather. So, I always ask every client, "Are you prepared to sustain this lie?" It's the most significant problem our company has.

Businesses

Apple Fires Engineer After His Daughter's iPhone X Video Goes Viral (engadget.com) 326

"In a brutal reminder of the secrecy tech companies enforce on employees, Apple recently fired an employee after his daughter posted a video of the iPhone X," writes long-time Slashdot reader HockeyPuck. Engadget reports: His daughter took down the video as soon as Apple requested it, but the takedown came too late to prevent the clip from going viral, leading to seemingly endless reposts and commentary... [I]t's important to stress that this wasn't a garden variety iPhone X. As an employee device, it had sensitive information like codenames for unreleased products and staff-specific QR codes. Combine that with Apple's general prohibition of recording video on campus (even at relatively open spaces like Caffe Macs) and this wasn't so much about maintaining the surprise as making sure that corporate secrets didn't get out. Apple certainly didn't want to send the message that recording pre-release devices was acceptable. All the same, it's hard not to sympathize -- the [radiofrequecy] engineer had poured his heart into the iPhone X, only to be let go the week before the handset reaches customers.
In a new follow-up video, the former Apple engineer's daughter says "I had no idea this was a violation," adding that her father "takes full reponsibility for letting me film his iPhone X." Here's some more quotes from her video.
Government

President Donald Trump and His Daughter Ivanka To Unveil a New Federal Computer Science Initiative With Major Tech Backers (recode.net) 260

From a report: President Donald Trump will issue a new directive Monday to supercharge the U.S. government's support for science, tech, engineering and mathematics, including coding education, three sources familiar with the White House's thinking told Recode. To start, Trump is set to sign a presidential memorandum at the White House later today that tasks the Department of Education to devote at least $200 million of its grant funds each year to so-called STEM fields, as the administration seeks to train workers for high-demand computer-science jobs of the future. And on Tuesday, Trump's daughter and advisor, Ivanka, is expected to head to Detroit, where she will join business leaders for an event unveiling a series of private-sector commitments -- from Amazon, Facebook, Google, GM, Quicken Loans and others -- meant to boost U.S. coding and computer-science classes and programs, the sources said.
Youtube

In Response To Anti-diversity Memo, YouTube CEO Says Sexism in Tech is 'Pervasive' (theverge.com) 642

An anonymous reader writes: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has responded to the Google anti-diversity memo, writing in a column for Fortune that the questioning of women's abilities is "pervasive" in tech and that the memo is "yet another discouraging signal to young women who aspire to study computer science." Wojcicki opens by saying her daughter asked her, "Is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?" Wojcicki says no, it's not true, but the question has still plagued her throughout her career. "I've had meetings with external leaders where they primarily addressed the more junior male colleagues. I've had my comments frequently interrupted and my ideas ignored until they were rephrased by men. No matter how often this all happened, it still hurt," she wrote. In the meanwhile, The Guardian reported on Wednesday that more than 60 current and former Google women employees are considering suing Google on the grounds of sexism and a pay gap.
Government

Calibri Font Plays Its Role: Pakistan Now Sans Sharif as Prime Minister is Disqualified (neowin.net) 93

Usama Jawad, writing for Neowin: A few weeks ago, we reported that Microsoft's Calibri font has been used as evidence against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in a corruption case. Today, Sharif has been disqualified from his position as a part of the court's final verdict of the case. The case concerns the "Panama Papers", which is a collection of 11.5 million documents detailing information related to over 200,000 offshore accounts. Ever since the Panama Papers were anonymously leaked back in 2015, there has been a major shift in the political situation in many countries. One such country is Pakistan, where the names of numerous members of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family were spotted in the papers. If you aren't aware of the Calibri controversy, it is as follows: Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz submitted photocopies of several documents in order to deny any corruption, but it appears that the documents contained Microsoft's Calibri font, even though they were dated February 6, 2006. It is important to note that the font wasn't commercially available until much later. Despite being created in 2004, the font did not reach the general public until January 30, 2007.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Default Font Is at the Center Of a Government Corruption Case (thenextweb.com) 186

Calibri, a font that was created in 2004 and made default option on PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and WordPad by Microsoft in 2007, is currently sitting at the center of a corruption investigation involving Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. From a report: Accused of illegally profiting from his position since the 1990s, Sharif is now under investigation by the Joint Investigative Team -- a collective of Pakistani police, military, and financial regulators -- after a treasure trove of evidence surfaced with 2016's release of The Panama Papers. In a report obtained by Al Jazeera, investigators recommended a case be filed in the National Accountability Court after concluding there were "significant gap[s]" in Sharif's ability to account for his familial assets. [...] Sharif contends that neither he, nor his family, profited from his position of power, a denial that came under scrutiny today after his daughter and political heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz, produced documents from 2006 that prove her father's innocence. Unfortunately for the Nawaz family, type experts today confirmed the documents were written in Calibri, a font that wasn't available until 2007.
Crime

Google Home Ends A Domestic Dispute By Calling The Police (gizmodo.com) 256

An anonymous reader quotes Gizmodo: According to ABC News, officers were called to a home outside Albuquerque, New Mexico this week when a Google Home called 911 and the operator heard a confrontation in the background. Police say that Eduardo Barros was house-sitting at the residence with his girlfriend and their daughter. Barros allegedly pulled a gun on his girlfriend when they got into an argument and asked her: "Did you call the sheriffs?" Google Home apparently heard "call the sheriffs," and proceeded to call the sheriffs. A SWAT team arrived at the home and after negotiating for hours, they were able to take Barros into custody... "The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life," Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said in a statement.
"It's easy to imagine police getting tired of being called to citizen's homes every time they watch the latest episode of Law and Order," quips Gizmodo. But they also call the incident "a clear reminder that smart home devices are always listening."
United States

Putin Now Argues Russia Could've Been Framed For Election Meddling By The CIA (nbcnews.com) 455

In a news magazine show premiering tonight, Megyn Kelly reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin "has denied Russian involvement in the hacking and interference with our U.S. presidential eletion for some time. That changed earlier this week, and the story appears to be evolving yet again." An anonymous reader shared two articles from NBC: "Hackers can be anywhere. They can be in Russia, in Asia...even in America, Latin America," he said. "They can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame, as we say, onto Russia. Can you imagine something like that? In the midst of a political battle...?" The journalist asked the Russian president about what American intelligence agencies say is evidence that he became personally involved in a covert campaign to harm Hillary Clinton and benefit Donald Trump. "IP addresses can be invented -- a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof," Putin replied...

Kelly told viewers that Putin -- the former director of Russia's domestic spy agency -- also suggested that the CIA could have been behind the hacking and noted that many people were convinced Russia was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy... Earlier, at a Friday forum moderated by Kelly, Putin likened the U.S. blaming his country for hacking the presidential election to "blaming the Jews"...

"Echoing remarks President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail, Putin also questioned the need for NATO."
Facebook

Parents Have No Right To Dead Child's Facebook Account, German Court Rules (reuters.com) 218

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A German court rejected a mother's demand on Wednesday that Facebook grant her access to her deceased daughter's account. In the ruling, which overturned a lower court's decision, the Berlin appeals court said the right to private telecommunications extended to electronic communication that was meant only for the eyes of certain people. In the Facebook case, the mother of a 15-year-old who was hit and killed by a subway train in Berlin in 2012 had sought access to her daughter's account to search for clues as to whether the girl had committed suicide. Facebook had refused access to the account, which had been memorialized, meaning it was effectively locked and served as a message board for friends and family to share memories. A regional court in Berlin had ruled in favor of the mother in late 2015, saying that the daughter's contract with Facebook passed to her parents according to German laws on inheritance. It had also said that the girl's right to privacy was not protected because she was a minor and it was up to her parents to protect her rights. The appeals court said on Wednesday that the right to private telecommunications outweighed the right to inheritance, and that the parents' obligation to protect their daughter's rights expired with her death.
Google

Google Releases DIY Open Source Raspberry Pi Voice Kit Hardware (betanews.com) 31

BrianFagioli writes: Google has decided to take artificial intelligence to the maker community with a new initiative called AIY. This initiative will introduce open source AI projects to the public that makers can leverage in a simple way. Today, Google announces the first-ever AIY project. Called "Voice Kit," it is designed to work with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to create a voice-based virtual assistant. Billy Rutledge, Director of AIY Projects for Google, explains, "The first open source reference project is the Voice Kit: instructions to build a Voice User Interface (VUI) that can use cloud services (like the new Google Assistant SDK or Cloud Speech API) or run completely on-device. This project extends the functionality of the most popular single board computer used for digital making -- the Raspberry Pi. The included Voice Hardware Accessory on Top (HAT) contains hardware for audio capture and playback: easy-to-use connectors for the dual mic daughter board and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components like micro-servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for dedicated power supply. It was designed and tested with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B."
Facebook

Facebook Hiring 3,000 To Monitor Videos After Murders, Violence Shown Live (usatoday.com) 114

Facebook will add 3,000 more people to its community team to review videos on the social network, says CEO Mark Zuckerberg, after several surfaced in recent weeks including a father livestreaming the killing of his daughter. From a report: In a statement published to Facebook on Wednesday, Zuckerberg says it is "heartbreaking" to see videos streamed or posted to the platform showing users "hurting themselves or others." He says 4,500 employees currently work on the community team reviewing reports on videos, and will add 3,000 over the next year. "If we're going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly," said Zuckerberg. "We're working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner -- whether that's responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down." Will Oremus, reporter at Slate said, "I asked Facebook whether the 3,000 new content-moderation jobs will be employees or contractors. The company declined to comment."
Businesses

McDonald's Is Now Accepting Snapchats As Job Applications (thenextweb.com) 155

McDonald's Australian subsidiary is now accepting job applications via Snapchat. Specifically, McDonald's wants potential candidates to send the company a 10-second video using a filter that shows them wearing a McDonald's uniform. Matthew Hughes reports via The Next Web: The job applications, which McDonalds calls "Snaplications" (I vomited a little), will be the first step in the recruitment process. The company will then review the submissions, pick out the favorites, and send digital applications to those selected. Speaking to Australian news website news.com.au, McDonald's Australia COO Shaun Ruming said the company is looking for applicants with a "bubbly personality." He also added that he'd "learned a lot about Snapchat recently from my 14-year-old daughter."
Education

Ivanka Trump To Take Coding Class With 5-Year-Old Daughter (hollywoodlife.com) 366

theodp writes: Speaking about women in STEM at a Women's History Month event at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, new [unpaid] federal employee Ivanka Trump revealed she'll be taking a computer coding class with her 5-year-old daughter. "On a very personal level, as a mom I'm trying to do my part as well," Ivanka told the crowd. "My daughter Arabella and I are enrolling in a coding class this summer." Parroting supermodel Karlie Kloss (the girlfriend of Ivanka's brother-in-law), the first daughter added, "We're excited to learn this incredibly important new language together. Coding truly is the language of the future."
Businesses

Samsung Chief Lee Arrested In Corruption Investigation (reuters.com) 24

According to Reuters, Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hye. From the report: The 48-year-old Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre, where he had awaited the court's decision following a day-long, closed-door hearing that ended on Thursday evening. The judge's decision was announced at about 5:30 a.m. (2030 GMT) on Friday, more than 10 hours after Lee, the sprawling conglomerate's third-generation leader, had left the court. The same court rejected a request from prosecutors last month to arrest Lee. On Tuesday, the special prosecutor's office had requested a warrant to arrest him and another executive, Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin, on bribery and other charges. The prosecution said it had secured additional evidence and brought more charges against Lee in the latest warrant request. While Lee's detention is not expected to hamper day-to-day operation of Samsung Group companies, which are run by professional managers, experts have said it could affect strategic decision-making by South Korea's biggest conglomerate. Prosecutors have focused their investigations on Samsung's relationship with Park, 65, who was impeached by parliament in December and has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold her impeachment. They accused Samsung of paying bribes totaling 43 billion won ($37.74 million) to organizations linked to Choi to secure the government's backing for a merger of two Samsung units. That funding includes Samsung's sponsorship of the equestrian career of Choi's daughter, who is in detention in Denmark, having been on a South Korean wanted list.
Facebook

Facebook Has a Team That Handles Mark Zuckerberg's Page (cnet.com) 55

theodp writes: Q. How many Facebook employees does it take to produce Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page? A. More than a dozen! CNET's Ian Sherr offers his take on the news that Facebook has a team that handles Mark Zuckerberg's page: "Ever notice the photos, videos and posts on the profile page for Facebook's CEO are a lot nicer looking or better written than yours? Don't feel bad. Mark Zuckerberg has a team of people who are increasingly managing his public persona, according to a Wednesday report from Bloomberg Businessweek. Not only do they help write speeches and posts, but they also take photographs of his family and his travels, interspersing them with infographics about the company's user growth and sales. There're even people who delete harassing comments and spam for him. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company's service is an easy way for executives to connect with people." Wonder how many people it took to help craft the latest post, in which Zuck fired back at "some misleading stories going around" about "some land" he purchased in Hawaii (which another Zuck post noted also serves as a petting zoo of sorts for his daughter).
Star Wars Prequels

Iconic Star Wars Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60 (people.com) 456

Carrie Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" film franchise, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 60. From a report: "It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning," reads the statement. Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital. The daughter of renowned entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Fisher was brought up in the sometimes tumultuous world of film, theater and television. Escaping Hollywood in 1973, the star enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where she spent over a year studying acting. Just two years later, though, the bright lights of Hollywood drew her back, and Fisher made her film debut in the Warren Beatty-led Shampoo. Her role in Star Wars would follow in 1977 -- and she detailed the experience, including her on-set affair with costar Harrison Ford, in her latest memoir, The Princess Diarist. She was only 19 when the first installment of the beloved sci-fi franchise was filmed. Fisher's fans, family, and colleagues have paid their tribute to the actress The Guardian has published an intense tribute to Fisher in an article titled "The loss of Carrie Fisher is felt by all who love Hollywood, warmth and wit".

From BBC's obituary of Fisher: She was a self-confessed bookworm as a child reading poetry and classical literature. Her high school education was disrupted by the lure of the stage when she appeared in the musical Irene alongside her mother, and she never graduated. She moved to London where she enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama before returning to the US and attending the Sarah Lawrence arts college near New York. Having managed to kick drugs and alcohol, she was rushed to hospital in 1985 after accidentally taking an overdose of sleeping pills and prescription drugs. The episode formed the basis for her first novel, the semi-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge, in which she satirised her own dependence on drugs and the sometimes difficult relationship she had with her mother. Three years later Fisher adapted it into a screenplay, and it was made into a film starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid. Fisher -- who had bipolar disorder -- also wrote and frequently talked in public about her years of drug addiction and mental illness. Carrie Fisher's fame as an actress rested on just one role, but it was a role in one of the best known and most successful film franchises in cinema history. She was remarkably frank about the personal difficulties she had fought and overcome. "There's a part of me that gets surprised when people think I am brave to talk about what I've gone through," she once said. "I was brave to last through it." The world is poorer without you, Fisher. Rest in peace.
The Courts

Terminally Ill Teen Won Historic Ruling To Preserve Body (bbc.com) 386

A teenage girl has been cryogenically frozen in the hope of being revived at a time when her cancer might be cured. The terminally ill 14-year-old girl from London won a legal fight to be frozen after she died. After her death in October, the girl's remains were transported to a cryonic facility in the United States. From a report: The girl, who was terminally ill with a rare cancer, was supported by her mother in her wish to be cryogenically preserved -- but not by her father. She wrote to the judge explaining that she wanted "to live longer" and did not want "to be buried underground." A High Court judge ruled that the girl's mother should be allowed to decide what happened to the body. The details of her case have just been released. "I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I am only 14 years old and I don't want to die but I know I am going to die. I think being cryopreserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up -- even in hundreds of years' time. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they may find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance. This is my wish," the girl wrote. The judge, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, visited the girl in hospital and said he was moved by "the valiant way in which she was facing her predicament." His ruling, he said, was not about the rights or wrongs of cryonics but about a dispute between parents over the disposal of their daughter's body.

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