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Submission + - Study Reveals Bot-On-Bot Editing Wars Raging On Wikipedia's Pages (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years. Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply “bots," that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks. In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action. The findings emerged from a study that looked at bot-on-bot conflict in the first ten years of Wikipedia’s existence. The researchers at Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in London examined the editing histories of pages in 13 different language editions and recorded when bots undid other bots’ changes. While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the most intense battles played out between Xqbot and Darknessbot which fought over 3,629 different articles between 2009 and 2010. Over the period, Xqbot undid more than 2,000 edits made by Darknessbot, with Darknessbot retaliating by undoing more than 1,700 of Xqbot’s changes. The two clashed over pages on all sorts of topics, from Alexander of Greece and Banqiao district in Taiwan to Aston Villa football club.

Comment Re:Sterile and shattered. (Score 1) 273

>The blast of sterilizing radiation at that distance, combined with being tidally locked >and probably wracked with catastrophic earthquakes at that distance would make >life on these planets an unlikely impossibility. ____ For the X-ray blasts you need a tendril or a root or something that goes deep enough down into the dirt/water to survive and regrow. UV tolerance is easy if you can accept the loss of your photosynthesizing bits and regrow them from the opaque parts. Most living things are really not troubled by earthquakes (Trappist quakes?) We have trouble with them because we build things that are rigid. The main effect from being tidally locked is that you don't need to move your leaves around to follow the sun, you just grow and aim them once and leave them. You might even get concentric rings of plants with different brightness requirements growing all the way along the sunny edge. I don't know if life would be easy, but let's not give up yet.

Submission + - ISIS using encrypted communication to remote-control attacks on the west (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: The New York Times published a story by Rukmini Callimachi today which explains how ISIS handlers are using encrypted communication to remote-control attacks on western nations, including the United States. The attackers, who are often mistaken for lone wolves, have sometimes been trained and guided by ISIS handlers right up to the moment of the attack. One example: The attackers who opened fire on the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. Remote terror planners have been behind a number of attacks that made international news and which, at first glance, appeared to be the work of lone wolves. For instance:

In Germany, a man who set off a bomb outside a concert and a teenager who assaulted train passengers with an ax were both chatting with handlers until minutes before their attacks. The teenager's handler urged him to use a car instead of an ax — “The damage would be much greater,” the handler advised — but the young man said he did not have a driving permit. “I want to enter paradise tonight,” he said, according to a transcript obtained by a German newspaper.

In northern France, a pair of attackers who had been guided by an Islamic State cybercoach slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest. The pair had not known each other, and according to the investigative file, the handler introduced them, organizing for them to meet days before the attack. Intelligence records obtained by The Times reveal that the same handler in Syria also guided a group of young women who tried to blow up a car in front of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.

The NY Times story describe how just one ISIS planner, out of perhaps a dozen, was working with several potential attackers in Britain, Canada and America all at once:

One of the Islamic State's most influential recruiters and virtual plotters was known by the nom de guerre Abu Issa al-Amriki, and his Twitter profile instructed newcomers to contact him via the encrypted messaging app Telegram ...

Amriki was grooming attackers in Canada and Britain, as well as at least three other young men in suburbs across America, according to court records. They included a former member of the Army National Guard living in Virginia; a warehouse worker from Columbus; and Emanuel L. Lutchman, a 25-year-old in Rochester.

Amriki and his wife were killed by a U.S. airstrike last April.

Submission + - 'Lost continent' found under Mauritius in the Indian Ocean (cnn.com)

schwit1 writes: Found — one lost continent, hiding underneath a tropical holiday destination.

It might sound implausible, but deep at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, a research team, led by South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand, has found pieces of an ancient continent.

The lava-covered piece of continent, dubbed 'Mauritia,' was found under the popular island of Mauritius.

According to the report published this week in the journal Nature Communications, the piece of crust is left over from the breakup of Gondwanaland, a super-continent that existed more than 200 million years ago.


Submission + - Scientists Find 'Oldest Human Ancestor' (bbc.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers have discovered the earliest known ancestor of humans — along with a vast range of other species. They say that fossilized traces of the 540-million-year-old creature are "exquisitely well preserved." The microscopic sea animal is the earliest known step on the evolutionary path that led to fish and — eventually — to humans. Details of the discovery from central China appear in Nature journal. The research team says that Saccorhytus is the most primitive example of a category of animals called "deuterostomes" which are common ancestors of a broad range of species, including vertebrates (backboned animals). Saccorhytus was about a millimeter in size, and is thought to have lived between grains of sand on the sea bed. The researchers were unable to find any evidence that the animal had an anus, which suggests that it consumed food and excreted from the same orifice. The study was carried out by an international team of researchers, from the UK, China and Germany. Among them was Prof Simon Conway Morris, from the University of Cambridge. The study suggests that its body was symmetrical, which is a characteristic inherited by many of its evolutionary descendants, including humans. Saccorhytus was also covered with a thin, relatively flexible skin and muscles, leading the researchers to conclude that it moved by contracting its muscles and got around by wriggling. The researchers say that its most striking feature is its large mouth, relative to the rest of its body. They say that it probably ate by engulfing food particles, or even other creatures. Also interesting are the conical structures on its body. These, the scientists suggest, might have allowed the water that it swallowed to escape and so might have been a very early version of gills.

Submission + - Hacktivists: How to Hack Donald Trump's Smartphone (techworm.net)

schwit1 writes: The hacktivist group Anonymous on Friday attached a screenshot in a tweet explaining how the newly elected U.S. President, Donald Trump’s smartphone is vulnerable to a potentially devastating hack attack as the device runs on Android 4.4 OS, which is out-of-date with existing security requirements.

Anonymous posted the hacking guide after the New York Times disclosed that the President still uses an“old, unsecured Android phone”, which is believed to be a Samsung Galaxy S3. In their tweet, they warned Trump of the dangers and mentioned that software bug called ‘Stagefright’ could be used to crack into his smartphone by any potential hacker.

They wrote: “A Galaxy S3 does not meet the security requirements of a teenager, let alone the purported leader of the free world.

Submission + - Soyuz launches successfully from French Guiana (nasaspaceflight.com)

schwit1 writes: A Russian Soyuz rocket, built for Arianespace and launched from French Guiana, successfully placed a commercial satellite in geosynchronous orbit on Friday.

The launch has some significance. First, it was the first time a Soyuz rocket placed a payload into geosynchronous orbit. Second, the payload was the first satellite built by a German company in more than 25 years

Finally, and most important, it demonstrated that at least one configuration of the Soyuz rocket is still operational as Russia investigates the corrupt practices at the company that has been building upper stage engines for both its Soyuz and Proton rockets.

Comment Re:How about a swap? (Score 1) 152

grungeman: If their properties is surrounded by Zuckerberg's property, why not offer them a swap? Offer them part of the outer part of his property for theirs, same size, same quality... Problem is that these are(?) may be(?) old family graveyards. Kind of cold to ask them to dig up granny and haul her away because she's become a nuisance...

Submission + - Deep Learning Algorithm Diagnoses Skin Cancer As Well As Seasoned Dermatologists (extremetech.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Remember how that Google neural net learned to tell the difference between dogs and cats? It’s helping catch skin cancer now, thanks to some scientists at Stanford who trained it up and then loosed it on a huge set of high-quality diagnostic images. During recent tests, the algorithm performed just as well as almost two dozen veteran dermatologists in deciding whether a lesion needed further medical attention. The algorithm is called a deep convolutional neural net. It started out in development as Google Brain, using their prodigious computing capacity to power the algorithm’s decision-making capabilities. When the Stanford collaboration began, the neural net was already able to identify 1.28 million images of things from about a thousand different categories. But the researchers needed it to know a malignant carcinoma from a benign seborrheic keratosis. Dermatologists often use an instrument called a dermoscope to closely examine a patient’s skin. This provides a roughly consistent level of magnification and a pretty uniform perspective in images taken by medical professionals. Many of the images the researchers gathered from the Internet weren’t taken in such a controlled setting, so they varied in terms of angle, zoom, and lighting. But in the end, the researchers amassed about 130,000 images of skin lesions representing over 2,000 different diseases. They used that dataset to create a library of images, which they fed to the algorithm as raw pixels, each pixel labeled with additional data about the disease depicted. Then they asked the algorithm to suss out the patterns: to find the rules that define the appearance of the disease as it spreads through tissue. The researchers tested the algorithm’s performance against the diagnoses of 21 dermatologists from the Stanford medical school, on three critical diagnostic tasks: keratinocyte carcinoma classification, melanoma classification, and melanoma classification when viewed using dermoscopy. In their final tests, the team used only high-quality, biopsy-confirmed images of malignant melanomas and malignant carcinomas. When presented with the same image of a lesion and asked whether they would “proceed with biopsy or treatment, or reassure the patient,” the algorithm scored 91% as well as the doctors, in terms of sensitivity (catching all the cancerous lesions) and sensitivity (not getting false positives).

Submission + - House science chairman: 'Get your news directly from the president' (cnn.com) 1

ClickOnThis writes: CNN has reported that Rep. Lamar Smith (R), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is asking Americans to trust the information they get from the President over the news produced by the media. From the article:

Republican Rep. Lamar Smith saluted President Donald Trump from the floor of the House on Tuesday evening, rattling off his first-week accomplishments but saying Trump is not getting the press coverage he deserves.

"The national liberal media won't print that, or air it or post it," Smith said. "Better to get your news directly from the President. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth."


Submission + - The Government Wants to Regulate Vehicle Software Security

Trailrunner7 writes: A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday would force the federal government to perform a long-term study of the security and privacy controls of the software running in vehicles, including their navigation, entertainment and other systems.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), and it’s another indication that federal regulators are taking a hard look at the security of a wide range of devices, including vehicles, medical devices, and IoT gear. The main thrust of the bill is to require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with NIST, the FTC and the Secretary of Defense, to produce a study on the necessary standards for regulating the cybersecurity of vehicles.

Submission + - Naughty or Nice? Personality Traits Linked to Differences in Brain Structure (neurosciencenews.com)

baalcat writes: From article:

Our personality may be shaped by how our brain works, but in fact the shape of our brain can itself provide surprising clues about how we behave – and our risk of developing mental health disorders – suggests a study published today.

According to psychologists, the extraordinary variety of human personality can be broken down into the so-called ‘Big Five’ personality traits, namely neuroticism (how moody a person is), extraversion (how enthusiastic a person is), openness (how open-minded a person is), agreeableness (a measure of altruism), and conscientiousness (a measure of self-control).

In a study published today in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, an international team of researchers from the UK, US, and Italy have analysed a brain imaging dataset from over 500 individuals that has been made publicly available by the Human Connectome Project, a major US initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health. In particular, the researchers looked at differences in the brain cortical anatomy (the structure of the outer layer of the brain) as indexed by three measures – the thickness, area, and amount of folding in the cortex – and how these measures related to the Big Five personality traits.

Submission + - (Ask Slashdot) Why is comp history necessary for a tech job application? 1

An anonymous reader writes: During the interview process for a tech job, I was asked to fill out an application, which included questions about my compensation history. When I asked why this info was needed, I was told that it was part of the background check process, and would not be used to determine the size of the offer. Even if that's true, does anyone know any legit reasons why my comp history should be part of a background check? What is the risk for the employer of not knowing that info? Is this standard procedure or part of a trend at tech companies? Is it anything more than an attempt to gain negotiating leverage?

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