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Submission + - Trump chooses Scott Pruitt, climate change denier, to head the EPA (

Victor_0x53h writes: Scott Pruitt, attorney general of Oklahoma and a sceptic of climate science, has been chosen by Donald Trump as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is part of legal action waged by 28 states against the EPA to halt the Clean Power Plan, an effort by Barack Obama’s administration to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and has sided with Exxon Mobil in investigations by the attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York over claims that it misled investors by covering up its knowledge of climate change.

Submission + - US Government Sues AT&T/DirecTV, Calls It 'Ringleader' of Collusion Scheme (

An anonymous reader writes: The Department of Justice today sued DirecTV and its owner, AT&T, saying the satellite TV company colluded with competitors during contentious negotiations to broadcast Los Angeles Dodgers games. Dodgers games have been blacked out in much of Los Angeles because pay-TV providers have been unwilling to pay the price demanded by SportsNet LA, the Dodgers channel operated by the baseball franchise and Time Warner Cable. But the DOJ's antitrust division placed the blame for this situation on AT&T and DirecTV. In a complaint filed in US District Court in California, it alleges that DirecTV was a "ringleader" in a coordinated scheme with cable companies Cox and Charter, according to a DOJ announcement. AT&T completed its purchase of DirecTV in July 2015, but the complaint covers a dispute that began before the merger and continues to this day. The Dodgers channel owners offered carriage licenses to the pay-TV companies in January 2014, but the channel is still not available on DirecTV, Cox, or AT&T's wireline TV service. (Games are now available on Charter, which purchased Time Warner Cable this year.) The lawsuit "alleges that DirecTV unlawfully exchanged competitively-sensitive information with Cox, Charter, and AT&T during the companies’ negotiations for the right to telecast the Dodgers Channel," the DOJ announcement said. "Specifically, the complaint alleges that DirecTV and each of these competitors agreed to and did exchange non-public information about their companies’ ongoing negotiations to telecast the Dodgers Channel, as well as their companies’ future plans to carry—or not carry—the channel." The companies used this strategy "to obtain bargaining leverage and to reduce the risk that they would lose subscribers if they decided not to carry the channel but a competitor chose to do so." The information these companies learned from each other "through these unlawful agreements" was a major factor in their decision not to carry the Dodgers channel, the complaint said. AT&T said it will fight the lawsuit and blamed Time Warner Cable for charging unreasonably high prices. The asking price was reportedly about $5 a month per subscriber regardless of how many people watch the games.

Submission + - Artificial Intelligence Could Be Bad For Jobs Says White House

Martin Wyher writes: Artificial intelligence is one of the fastest growing branches of computer science. It’s said to be the next big thing, and there are already reports of how AI will make life easy for us in the future. However, there seem to be some negative reports as well concerning AI.

A new report released by The White House highlights a number of concerns regarding artificial intelligence. The report talks about the benefits of AI and how it is going to help the economy in the future and allow innovation. However, it also questions its negative impact on job creation in the “AI, Automation, and the Economy” section.

The truth is that AI is still in its infancy and not much is known about its impact on the economy. It has become a reality, but there is a lot more that has to be known about AI before one could conclude it’s exact impact on the economy.
AI is already being used in different industries, including pharmaceutical industry. AI is helping doctors find breast cancer risk 30 times faster, as per this report. It is believed that AI will help save lives in the future. It is also said to be used in other industries in the future, including service industry. However, there are signs that indicate that AI will not help much in case of low level jobs or jobs that require little skills.

This is because such jobs usually require digid patterns. Factory work, office work, and service occupations are generally repetitive and require the same task to be performed again and again. The more predictable the methods and activities, the easier it is to automate jobs. Artificial intelligence increases the stakes since computers use historic and current data to learn and find repetitive patterns. In this case the employes end up being trainers.

While experts are asking others to stop freaking about artificial intelligence, the report by The White House indicates that there is a need to worry. There are a number of tasks that would not be easily automated, such as plumbing and carpentry related tasks. This is because robots do not have the ability (yet) to handle unpredictable layouts since they do not have the same range of motions as humans. However, for more employees, the work that they do is more easily automated than they realize.
But low-level jobs are not the only jobs that are at risk. Even white-collar employees may be at risk. As per this report, around 47% jobs in the US will be handled by computers by 2033. Robots are said to displace workers and not just replace them. It is not quite like automation or management tools that are handled by humans; instead robots seem to be doing everything and have ousted humans from several jobs. The first ever robot-only hotel just opened in Japan, and is doing well. At this pace, it will not be too soon before you have robots serving you tea instead of a friendly human in your own city.

Due to this some lawyers, financial advisers, writers and even doctors feel pressurized in specialized areas. According to reports, only 18% of the total US workforce faces no risk from automation. However, some experts still believe that there is no need to worry as even though automation may cause certain jobs to become ‘obsolete’ it will open new opportunities too. Plus, it’s also believed that humans have an upper hand as they have real world experience and knowledge which robots cannot compete against.
The truth is that companies automate to improve their bottom line and become more efficient by reducing input and increasing output. And if humans continue to provide better results, they will not lose their job.

However, experts also argue that since the whole purpose of having robots is to reduce humans at work places, businesses will shy away from creating new jobs. An example of this is former factory workers who could not move to higher positioned jobs and ended up being jobless once they got replaced by computers and machinery.
The report published by The White House concludes that there is a need for all sectors to work together to be able to make sure that AI causes no side effects. But, is that really possible?

Submission + - Every Month This Year Has Been the Hottest in Recorded History (

iONiUM writes: From the article:

On Wednesday, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that July was the hottest month ever recorded on our planet, since modern record-keeping began in 1880. NASA has reached the same conclusion. July smashed all previous records.

“We should be absolutely concerned,” Sanchez-Lugo said. “We need to look at ways to adapt and mitigate. If we don’t, temperatures will continue to increase.”

Next year is expected to be slightly less intense, with the fierce El Niño we’ve been experiencing now abating. But the truth is that record-breaking temperatures, month after month, year after year, are starting to look less like an exception, more like the norm.

Submission + - Windows 10 Anniversary Update Is Infested With Bugs (

itwbennett writes: As previously reported on Slashdot, in Tuesday's updates, Microsoft disabled RC4 in its Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browsers on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, after deeming the cipher 'no longer cryptographically secure.' The company also fixed 'a serious security flaw in the Windows PDF Library.' But these aren't the only bugs being reported in the Windows 20 Anniversary Update.'s Bill Snyder reports that 'there are widespread reports of significant bugs in the update, and they're causing systems to freeze, browsers to misbehave, and peripherals — including Xbox One controllers — to malfunction. Two major antivirus companies also warn that incompatibilities with Windows 10 could open up users to security risks.'

Submission + - If Apple's Irish tax loophole is a fraud, the whole tech industry is guilty (

Miche67 writes: Apple’s profits in Ireland are “a fraud,” according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. And it's thanks to the U.S. tax system.

To single out Apple for working the tax system, though, is wrong, writes Steven Max Patterson in a blog post. Many tech companies follow the same practices, and they've been doing so for years.

Tech companies also use research expenses to reduce taxes in the U.S. Again, it's all legal.

This isn’t a Panama Papers exposé of illegal activity. It’s all legal—supported by legislation, tax code and court case precedent. Every CEO would defend the use of this tax scheme, not just Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Submission + - Mitsubishi Motors pulls a Volkswagen; Shares Drop (

Zane C. writes: The president of Japan's sixth largest auto corporation has admitted to manipulating test data on fuel economy for 625,000 total eK Wagon and eK Space models, as well as the Dayz and Dayz Roox models produced for Nissan Motors. The offending models have been taken off the market until the problem is fixed, and foreign markets are being investigated for similar violations. Upon the announcement of the manipulations, Mitsubishi's stock dropped 15% and it lost 1.2 billion dollars in market value.

Submission + - The real price of Windows 10 is your privacy (

Mark Wilson writes: Windows 10 is a free upgrade, right? Well, surely you know by now that there's no such thing as a free lunch. We're only 48 hours on from the launch of Windows 10 and already the complaining and criticism is underway. One thing that has been brought under the spotlight is privacy under the latest version of Microsoft's operating system.

Some people have been surprised to learn that Microsoft is utilizing the internet connections of Windows 10 users to deliver Windows Updates to others. But this is far from being the end of it. Cortana also gives cause for concern, and then there is the issue of Microsoft Edge, and ads in apps. Is this a price you're willing to pay?

Windows 10 is more closely tied to a Microsoft account than any previous version of the OS. This allows Microsoft to assign an ID number to users that can then be used to track them across different devices, services, and apps. This in turn can be used to deliver closely targeted ads to people. Microsoft has been pushing the mobile first, cloud first philosophy for some time now, and it becomes clear with Windows 10 that the love of the cloud is as much to do with the ability it gives Microsoft to gather useful data as it is about convenience for users.

Submission + - Will Autonomous Cars Be the Insurance Industry's Napster Moment? (

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are looking forward to the advent of autonomous vehicles. Not only will they free up a lot of time to previously spent staring straight ahead at the bumper of the car in front of you, they'll also presumably make commuting a lot safer. While that's great news for the 30,000+ people who die in traffic accidents every year in the U.S., it may not be great news for insurance companies. Granted, they'll have to pay out a lot less money with the lower number of claims, but premiums will necessarily drop as well and the overall amount of money within the car insurance system will dwindle. Analysts are warning these companies that their business is going to shrink. It will be interesting to see if they adapt to the change, or cling desperately to an outdated business model like the entertainment industry did. "One opportunity for the industry could be selling more coverage to carmakers and other companies developing the automated features for cars. ... When the technology fails, manufacturers could get stuck with big liabilities that they will want to cover by buying more insurance. There’s also a potential for cars to get hacked as they become more networked."

Submission + - Flash on Slashdot

An anonymous reader writes: Why the hell in this day and age is Slashdot pushing flash video? Are you still run by awesome geeks, or have brain-dead zombie suits taken over the operation?

Submission + - Amazon Germany pays 0.1% tax rate in 2014, funnels sales through low-tax haven (

An anonymous reader writes: E-retail giant’s German branch paid just 11.9 million euros (approx. $16 million) in tax last year, equivalent to a 0.1% tax rate considering the company reported $11.9 billion in gross sales in Germany in 2014. German corporate income tax stood at 29.58% last year which would mean Amazon Germany would have been expected to pay $3.5 billion in tax in 2014. is the group’s largest and most successful market outside of the U.S., according to its annual sales records. However following investigation it has been revealed that almost all of the company’s German sales and profits were reported from businesses in Luxembourg, a low-tax haven. Amazon said last week that it had implemented a number of changes across Europe, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy from May 1st, in order to ensure that future sales would be managed in the countries themselves.

Submission + - Why the nuclear industry targets renewables instead of gas ( 3

mdsolar writes: Cheap natural gas has upended the nation’s energy landscape and made aging nuclear power plants increasingly uncompetitive.

Yet the nuclear industry, which generates almost a fifth of the nation’s energy, has declared war not on gas but on wind and solar, which represent about 4 and 0.2 percent of our energy mix, respectively.

Nuclear generators have successfully fought against renewable and energy efficiency standards on the state level, and lobbied against tax incentives for wind and solar on the federal level. They’re in the process of securing changes in regional capacity markets that would benefit nuclear and harm solar and wind.

And as states develop their Clean Power Plans to fulfill the federal mandate to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear is often pitted against renewables.

In deregulated states like Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, nuclear generators have found it increasingly difficult to sell their power at a profit on open markets, because of competition primarily from gas but also from wind.

Meanwhile, energy efficiency and distributed solar generation have reduced demand for electricity and are part of a fundamental shift which could significantly shrink the role of large, centralized power plants.

Submission + - Interest Rates Have Gone Negative in Europe writes: Matthew Yglesias writes at Vox that something really weird that economists thought was impossible is happening now in Europe where interest rates have gone negative on a range of debt — mostly government bonds from countries like Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany but also corporate bonds from Nestlé and, briefly, Shell. As in you give the owner of a Nestlé bond 100 euros, and four years later Nestlé gives you back less than that. "In the most literal sense, negative interest rates are a simple case of supply and demand. A bond is a kind of tradable loan," says Yglesias. "If there isn't much demand for buying the bonds, the interest rate has to go up to make customers more willing to buy. If there's a lot of demand, the interest rate will fall."

But why would you want to buy a negative interest rate loan? The question itself seems absurd – the very idea that anyone should have to pay someone to keep their money safe rather than demand an interest payment for the use of their money is counter-intuitive. But according to Yglesias, very rich people and big companies need to do something with their money and most European banks only guarantee 100,000 euros.Plowing the money into negative-yielding government bonds can appeal to banks when the alternative is to pay even more to store cash on deposit. J.P. Morgan calculates there is currently 220 billion euros of bank reserves subject to negative interest rates, which looks set to grow exponentially because of the European Central Bank’s forthcoming colossal bond-buying program. "It may be the case that if governments push the negative interest rates thing too far the entire economy would become a cash based system," says Merryn Somerset Webb. "But that might take a while to get to."

Submission + - Linking drought and climate change: difficult to do (

Geoffrey.landis writes: An article about the current California drought on 538 points out that even though global climate warming may exacerbate droughts, it's nearly impossible to attribute any particular drought to climate warming: The complex, dynamic nature of our atmosphere and oceans makes it extremely difficult to link any particular weather event to climate change. That’s because of the intermingling of natural variations with human-caused ones. They also cite a Nature editorial pointing out the same thing about extreme weather:

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