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DARPA Will Stage an AI Fight in Las Vegas For DEF CON ( 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."

"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.

It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.

Comment Null Island, Pacific style (Score 1) 91

A long time ago I was working with GPS applications and their internal representation of longitude meant our Null Island was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 0 north, 180 west.

We figured out the conventions of the mapping application we were using (no Google Maps yet, and the documentation was vague) by trial and error. Our first attempts to plot GPS fixes from a drive along a local freeway showed a blank area with no freeway, nor much of anything else. We found that we were drawing a map centred on 49 degrees north (correct) but 123 degrees east, out in the middle of nowhere near the border between China, Mongolia and Russia. Nearest town Harbin, China...


Comment What else is new? (Score 3, Insightful) 170

Step 1: Apple introduced the iPad and everybody was desperate to get one because it was the trendy item to have.

Step 2: people started figuring out what they could do with a handy portable computer.

Step 3: everybody who had a use for a tablet had one and the sales dropped off to replacement level.

Any remotely interesting new product is going to grow at unsustainable levels until the market is saturated. Then the growth stops.


Comment blind spot (Score -1) 240

Maybe the problem isn't that the music costs these distributors too much, but that the customers aren't paying the distributors enough?

Back in the last half of the 20th century, the music industry had a pretty viable business model, in which people who wanted to listen to music bought copies of it, and got to listen to those whenever they wanted. This model worked so well that it supported retail stores, distributors, recording companies, and musicians. It produced most of the music you listen to today. Of course then the music went digital, the internet arrived everywhere, and a whole generation got hooked on the myth that creative work like music doesn't need money to support it. So of course your favorite give-me-all-I-want-for-pocket-change distribution channels are failing, and everything "new" sounds like a bland imitation of stuff from 20 to 50 years ago.

Econ 101: you get what you pay for.

Comment Re:Orlando Shooter was a rent-a-cop (Score 1) 660

Have you considered that these measures aren't about retroactively preventing the last shooting, but are rather about possibly preventing the next? These are long-standing, long-stifled proposals. The Orlando incident merely served to give a bunch of Senators the kick in the ass to push for some of them again.


Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying ( 660

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."

Cancer Is An Evolutionary Mechanism To 'Autocorrect' Our Gene Pool, Suggests Paper ( 262

schwit1 quotes a report from ScienceAlert: Two scientists have come up with a depressing new hypothesis that attempts to explain why cancer is so hard to stop. Maybe, they suggest, cancer's not working against us. Maybe the disease is actually an evolutionary 'final checkpoint' that stops faulty DNA from being passed down to the next generation. To be clear, this is just a hypothesis. It hasn't been tested experimentally, and, more importantly, no one is suggesting that anyone should die of cancer. In fact, it's quite the opposite -- the researchers say that this line of thinking could help us to better understand the disease, and come up with more effective treatment strategies, like immunotherapy, even if a cure might not be possible. So let's step back a second here, because why are our bodies trying to kill us? The idea behind the paper is based on the fact that, in the healthy body, there are a whole range of inbuilt safeguards, or 'checkpoints,' that stop DNA mutations from being passed onto new cells. One of the most important of these checkpoints is apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Whenever DNA is damaged and can't be fixed, cells are marked for apoptosis, and are quickly digested by the immune system -- effectively 'swallowing' the problem. No mess, no fuss. But the new hypothesis suggests that when apoptosis -- and the other safeguards -- don't work like they're supposed to, cancer just might be the final 'checkpoint' that steps in and gets rid of the rogue cells before their DNA can be passed on... by, uh, killing us, and removing our genetic material from the gene pool.

Comment Re:not so fast (Score 1) 271

The key phrase there being "status symbol". There was a short-lived fad in which Puch mopeds and Honda Spree scooters were popular among upper-class 15-year-olds without proper driver licenses, but they never became a mainstream form of transportation. They started to make a comeback about eight years ago, thanks to skyrocketing gas prices, but as soon as Wall Street tanked the economy and drove gas prices down, the idea of investing a couple grand into another vehicle made people nervous.

Comment not so fast (Score 2) 271

I'm skeptical that electric-powered bikes will become very popular in the US. They're fairly similar in riding qualities (lightweight, easy to handle) and licensing requirements (pretty much none) to a 50cc motorscooter, and those have failed to take off, despite being widely available in the same price range for years. I've been a day-to-day scooterist for seven years, but I don't have a lot of company out there. Especially in the north, where they're a three-season vehicle (or one-season, for the less dedicated), they aren't seen as a viable substitute for a car. Even with 100mpg engines that cost almost nothing to fuel, the ability to park them almost anywhere, and a lot of other appealing features, most consumers just don't seem interested (which is too bad for them, because unless the roads are wet or icy, I'd much rather ride than sit in a car).

An e-bike also suffers from being neither fish nor fowl. A 20mph bike is too slow to keep up with traffic in a motor-vehicle lane, but too fast to fit in with any human-powered traffic in a bicycle lane. I've ridden a 50cc scooter (mine was capable of 40mph) in 45mph zones, and believe me: motorists don't like you when you go under the speed limit in a motorized-vehicle lane. They'll eat a 20mph e-bike alive, even in a 25mph zone. But if that e-bike takes the bike lane (which isn't legal in many places), it will quickly overtake regular bicyclists, whom it won't be able to safely pass because bike lanes aren't designed for that. Dedicated lanes for motor-powered two-wheelers might help as an option for e-bikes and scooters (and motorcyclists who aren't in a hurry), but I don't see that happening until they become popular... ye olde Catch 22.

Comment My TV is a TV (Score 1) 507

I bought my TV to be a TV. I measured the space it needed to fit in, then looked at candidates at the store and picked the one that looked best. It has an ATSC tuner and various inputs with various things (Apple TV, Roku, DVD player) plugged in to them.

My Apple TV and Roku do all the smart TV stuff I've ever wanted to do. I've never seen a standalone smart TV that was worth the money.


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