Submission + - NYTimes: "Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble" (

saddleupsancho writes: "Yes, it’s driven by greed — but the mania for cryptocurrency could wind up building something much more important than wealth." Author Steven Johnson argues that blockchain technology offers the possibility of improving many ills that plague the internet.

Submission + - China, Unhampered by Rules, Races Ahead in Gene-Editing Trials (

schwit1 writes: In a hospital west of Shanghai, Wu Shixiu since March has been trying to treat cancer patients using a promising new gene-editing tool.

U.S. scientists helped devise the tool, known as Crispr-Cas9, which has captured global attention since a 2012 report said it can be used to edit DNA. Doctors haven’t been allowed to use it in human trials in America. That isn’t the case for Dr. Wu and others in China.

In a quirk of the globalized technology arena, Dr. Wu can forge ahead with the tool because he faces few regulatory hurdles to testing it on humans. His hospital’s review board took just an afternoon to sign off on his trial. He didn’t need national regulators’ approval and has few reporting requirements.

Dr. Wu’s team at Hangzhou Cancer Hospital has been drawing blood from esophageal-cancer patients, shipping it by high-speed rail to a lab that modifies disease-fighting cells using Crispr-Cas9 by deleting a gene that interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. His team then infuses the cells back into the patients, hoping the reprogrammed DNA will destroy the disease.

In contrast, what’s expected to be the first human Crispr trial outside China has yet to begin.

Submission + - Artificial intelligence might stop online child abuse (

An anonymous reader writes: Artificial intelligence could help tackle online child abuse, according to a report from a think tank.

The report argues that resources should focus on prevention at the source rather than on individual, low-level offenders.

"This is not being ‘soft on paedophiles’, but rather a sensible way of targeting limited resources."

It states that one way this could be done is by analysing child sexual abuse images using artificial intelligence.

The report argues that this approach – tackling the problem at its root rather than going after individual offenders, is an effective one.

Submission + - European Central Banks Start to Replace U.S. Dollar Reserves with Chinese Yuan (

hackingbear writes: The Chinese yuan hit a two-year high against the US dollar this week, after the German Bundesbank (central bank) said that it would include the yuan in its reserves for the first time. “The notable development from the European point of view over the past few years has been the growing international role of the renminbi in global financial markets,” Andreas Dombret, a member of the central bank’s executive board. As most central banks’ reserves are held in dollars, any shift into other currencies, such as the yuan, will come at the expense of the greenback. In June, the European Central Bank announced that it had exchanged €500 million ($611 million) worth of US dollar reserves into yuan securities. This was a small shift—the ECB has €44 billion in foreign exchange reserves—but nonetheless it reflects China’s growing prominence in the global financial system. Chinese Yuan still faces several hurdles in competing the U.S. Dollar, including lack of regulatory transparency and capital control which the Chinese government has imposed over the years to prevent Yuan from falling down in value, but it has steadily making progress to become an international currency.

Submission + - Oxford extends Math exam time to help women (

mi writes: Only seven female finalists achieved "firsts" in the Math exams at Oxford University last year, compared to 45 men. In an attempt to address the discrepancy, the school is extending the allotted time from 90 to 105 minutes — so as to reduce the stress, which is suspected to affect women disproportionally. An internal document states, the faculty believes, the changes could

"mitigate the... gender gap that has arisen in recent years, and in any case the exam should be a demonstration of mathematical understanding and not a time trial."

Critics are pointing out, that this shows women to be the "weaker sex"...

Submission + - Google Has An Actual Secret Speech Police ( 1

schwit1 writes: More than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies around the world help police YouTube for extremist content, ranging from so-called hate speech to terrorist recruiting videos.

All of them have confidentiality agreements barring Google, YouTube’s parent company, from revealing their participation to the public, a Google representative told The Daily Caller on Thursday.

A handful of groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and No Hate Speech, a European organization focused on combatting intolerance, have chosen to go public with their participation in the program, but the vast majority have stayed hidden behind the confidentiality agreements. Most groups in the program don’t want to be publicly associated with it, according to the Google spokesperson, who spoke only on background.

Submission + - Teen hacker posed as CIA boss to access secret military files... (

schwit1 writes: Kane Gamble, 18, hacked into intelligence head John Brennan's email account, made hoax calls to his family home and even took control of his wife's iPad, judges were told.

The hacks were carried out as part of a campaign of harassment against top US officials motivated by his political views, a court heard.

Gamble was just 15 when he posed as a telecoms worker and Brennan himself to gain information including passwords, contacts lists and sensitive documents about operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Submission + - Coca-Cola Pledges To Recycle All Packaging By 2030 (

dryriver writes: Coca-Cola has announced a pledge to recycle a used bottle or can for every one the company sells by 2030. Calling it a "massive global ambition" the firm admitted its part in littering the environment and a responsibility to tackle the problem. The company, which markets 500 brands of fizzy drink, juices and water, will also work towards making all of its packaging recyclable worldwide. Greenpeace said Coca-Cola should focus on reducing, not recycling, waste. Coca Cola announced its "World Without Waste" campaign by acknowledging that food and drink companies were responsible for much of the rise in litter on streets, beaches and in the oceans worldwide. "The world has a packaging problem — and, like all companies, we have a responsibility to help solve it," Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey said in a statement. The firm said it was working to increase the recycled content in the materials it uses to make its drinks bottles, developing plant-based resins and reducing the plastics used in packaging. It will also invest in educating consumers on best recycling practice in their community, the firm said.

Submission + - RocketLab achieves first successful orbital mission. (

Hairy1 writes: RocketLab launched it's second test Electron rocket today, successfully inserting an Earth-imaging Dove satellite for Planet and two Lemur-2 satellites for Spire for weather and ship tracking into orbit. The aim of RocketLab is to substantially reduce the cost of launches through using new technologies such as lithium ion batteries to run turbo pumps, 3D printing of engine parts and new construction materials. It also represents New Zealand becoming the eleventh country to achieve spaceflight.

Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, says the test is an important next step in democratizing access to space to empower humanity. “Increased access to space will vastly improve humanity’s ability to build out orbital infrastructure, such as constellations of weather and Earth-imaging satellites. These will provide better data about our planet and enable us as a species to make informed decisions about how we better manage our impact. This test launch is a crucial next step in gathering more data about the Electron launch vehicle so we can deliver on this future,” he says.

Submission + - Apple, Microsoft: Give Us Tax, Immigration Reform and We'll Teach Kids to Code

theodp writes: In the press release explaining how it's going to spend some of the billions in offshore profits it's repatriating, Apple indicated that one way it'll be thanking Americans for its tax break windfall is by teaching less-than-tech-savvy U.S. kids how to code Swift programs (Apple CEO Tim Cook believes "coding should be a requirement in every public school" for children aged 9-and-up). Claiming "that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million more software development jobs than applicants qualified to fill them" and citing tech-bankrolled's estimate that "there are currently 503,338 open computing jobs nationwide" (interestingly, a infographic suggests Apple's 1.4M job applicant shortfall forecast is overstated), Apple announced it will be taking on the task of 'Preparing Students for the App Economy': "To address the coding skills gap and help prepare more people for jobs in software development, Apple created a powerful yet easy-to-learn coding language called Swift, the free Swift Playgrounds app and a free curriculum, App Development with Swift, which are available to anyone and are already being used by millions of students at K-12 schools, summer camps and leading community colleges across the country. Over 100,000 students and teachers have also attended coding classes at Apple retail stores. Apple will expand these initiatives and add new programs to support teachers and teacher training." You're welcome. Also eager to teach America's youngsters to code — but in exchange for immigration reform — is Microsoft. "While there are many issues to solve, we believe the country can and should take effective steps that will accelerate much-needed changes," explained Microsoft President Brad Smith in a recent Microsoft on the Issues blog post. "One such step would be implementing new fees on green cards to fund more STEM education programs for Americans — an idea we have been supporting and first proposed in 2012 with our call for A National Talent Strategy. We believe steps like this are in the nation’s interest, and we’ve engaged with the administration, leaders on Capitol Hill and regulators to share our ideas. We will continue pressing for these types of reforms and the introduction of new legislative fixes." For students of history, Mother Jones reported in 2013 on a similar immigration-reform-for-K12-STEM-education Microsoft deal that over-promised and under-delivered.

Submission + - Microsoft: Still engaging in patent extortion, just hiding behind patent trolls (

JustNiz writes: Well who woulda guessed. The ‘new’ Microsoft under Nadella is actually no different from the old company, they just spend more on marketing/PR and payoff third parties to do their dirty work for them. At least Ballmer was honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about those things.

Submission + - Red Hat Will Revert Spectre Patches After Receiving Reports of Boot Issues (

An anonymous reader writes: Red Hat is releasing updates for reverting previous patches for the Spectre vulnerability (Variant 2, aka CVE-2017-5715) after customers complained that some systems were failing to boot.

"Red Hat is no longer providing microcode to address Spectre, variant 2, due to instabilities introduced that are causing customer systems to not boot," the company said yesterday. "The latest microcode_ctl and linux-firmware packages are reverting these unstable microprocessor firmware changes to versions that were known to be stable and well tested, released prior to the Spectre/Meltdown embargo lift date on Jan 3rd," Red Had added.

Instead, Red Hat is recommending that each customer contact their OEM hardware provider and inquire about mitigations for CVE-2017-5715 on a per-system basis. Besides Red Hat Enterprise Linux, other RHEL-based distros like CentOS and Scientific Linux are also expected to be affected by Red Hat's decision to revert previous Spectre Variant 2 updates, so these users will also have to contact CPU/OEM vendors.

Submission + - Twitter Says It Exposed Nearly 700K People To Russian Propaganda During Election (

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter this evening released a new set of statistics related to its investigation on Russia propaganda efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election, including that 677,775 people were exposed to social media posts from more than 50,000 automated accounts with links to the Russian government. Many of the new accounts uncovered have been traced back to an organization called the the Internet Research Agency, or IRA, with known ties to the Kremlin. The data was first presented in an incomplete form to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee last November, which held hearings to question Facebook, Google, and Twitter on the role the respective platforms and products played in the Russian effort to help elect President Donald Trump. Twitter says it’s now uncovered more accounts and new information on the wide-reaching Russian cyberintelligence campaign.

“Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period,” writes Twitter’s public policy division in a blog post published today. “Because we have already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.”

Submission + - Ajit Pai's FCC Can't Admit Broadband Competition Is a Problem (

An anonymous reader writes: While the FCC is fortunately backing away from a plan that would have weakened the standard definition of broadband, the agency under Ajit Pai still can't seem to acknowledge the lack of competition in the broadband sector. Or the impact this limited competition has in encouraging higher prices, net neutrality violations, privacy violations, or what's widely agreed to be some of the worst customer service of any industry in America. The Trump FCC had been widely criticized for a plan to weaken the standard definition of broadband from 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up, to include any wireless connection capable of 10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up. Consumer advocates argued the move was a ham-fisted attempt to try and tilt the data to downplay the industry's obvious competitive and coverage shortcomings. They also argued that the plan made no coherent sense, given that wireless broadband is frequently capped, often not available (with carrier maps the FCC relies on falsely over-stating coverage), and significantly more expensive than traditional fixed-line service.

In a statement (pdf), FCC boss Ajit Pai stated the agency would fortunately be backing away from the measure, while acknowledging that frequently capped and expensive wireless isn't a comparable replacement for fixed-line broadband. "The draft report maintains the same benchmark speed for fixed broadband service previously adopted by the Commission: 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload," stated Pai. "The draft report also concludes that mobile broadband service is not a full substitute for fixed service. Instead, it notes there are differences between the two technologies, including clear variations in consumer preferences and demands." That's the good news. The bad news: the FCC under Pai's leadership continues to downplay and ignore the lack of competition in the sector, and the high prices and various bad behaviors most people are painfully familiar with.

Submission + - Google CEO Sundar Pichai Says He Does Not Regret Firing James Damore (

An anonymous reader writes: Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded today to the firing of employee James Damore over his controversial memo on workplace diversity, stating that while he does not regret the decision, he regrets that people misunderstood it as a politically motivated event. Speaking in a live conversation with journalist and Recode co-founder Kara Swisher, MSNBC host Ari Melber, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in San Francisco, Pichai said that the decision to fire Damore was about ensuring women at Google felt like the company was committed to creating a welcoming environment.

“I regret that people misunderstand that we may have made this for a political belief one way or another,” Pichai said. “It’s important for the women at Google, and all the people at Google, that we want to make a inclusive environment.” When pressed by Swisher on the issue of regret, Pichai stated more definitively, “I don’t regret it.” Wojcicki, who has spoken publicly about how Damore’s memo affected her personally, followed up with, “I think it was the right decision.”

Submission + - Facebook Will Now Ask Users To Rank News Organizations They Trust (

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook is doing a very un-Facebooky thing: It’s going to start declaring that some news sources you see in your Facebook feed are better than others, and act accordingly. But Facebook being Facebook, it’s going about it in the most Facebooky way possible: It’s going to rely on users — not the super-smart people who work at Facebook — to figure out which of those sources are better. Mark Zuckerberg says the move is part of an effort to prioritize “news that is trustworthy, informative, and local,” within the network and suggests that there will be more announcements to come. The one he describes today will prioritize what kind of news sources pop up in your Facebook News Feed, and will reward ones that Facebook thinks are “broadly trusted,” based on user polls, so it can “build a sense of common ground.” Facebook is also using today’s news to refine last week’s roll-out: Zuckerberg says the previously announced changes will reduce the amount of news stories people see in their feed to 4 percent, down from 5 percent.

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.

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