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Submission + - Announcing the first SHA1 collision (googleblog.com)

matafagafo writes: Google Security Blog just published

Cryptographic hash functions like SHA-1 are a cryptographer’s swiss army knife. You’ll find that hashes play a role in browser security, managing code repositories, or even just detecting duplicate files in storage. Hash functions compress large amounts of data into a small message digest. As a cryptographic requirement for wide-spread use, finding two messages that lead to the same digest should be computationally infeasible. Over time however, this requirement can fail due to attacks on the mathematical underpinnings of hash functions or to increases in computational power. Today, 10 years after of SHA-1 was first introduced, we are announcing the first practical technique for generating a collision.


Submission + - Politics Have Turned Facebook Into a Steaming Cauldron of Hate (backchannel.com) 1

mirandakatz writes: America has never been more divided, and on social media, people are blocking, muting, and unfriending each other left and right. At Backchannel, Jessi Hempel argues that Facebook is the last place we should be having political discussion right now: "We know the “filter bubble” about which Eli Pariser first wrote back in 2011 is part of the problem—it limits the viewpoints we see to those that reflect the opinions we already have. And yet we double down on that bubble, muting and blocking and unfriending people who think differently from us, if they make it into our social streams at all. We hate ourselves a tiny bit for this. And yet, if we do the opposite—engage on social media with people who hold different viewpoints—it almost always goes sideways." If you really want to understand people who don't think the same way as you? Get off of Facebook, and into the real world.

Submission + - One Woman's Brilliant "Fuck You" to Wikipedia Trolls (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: Now 22, Emily Temple-Wood has been editing Wikipedia for a decade, making her one of few young, female editors on the site. Along with that status has come a slew of harassment, including death and rape threats. To fight back, she's come up with a brilliant solution, which she's dubbed the "Fuck You" project: for every harassing email, death threat, or request for nude photos that she receives, she creates a Wikipedia biography on a notable woman scientist who was previously unknown to the free online encyclopedia. She may not be able to silence the trolls, but she can taunt them with what misogynists hate the most—successful women.

Comment Re:A step back to see the big picture (Score 1) 197

I agree with this. I have been inspired by speakers at conferences. I have even learned a few things. And all of them were technology related. You just have to do your research up-front and know if you're in for a techie conference, or one that's only ostensibly techie, and is instead about tech culture. The cultural ones are nearly complete garbage, while the tech ones can be entirely inspiring.

Comment Re:Knowledge (Score 4, Interesting) 197

True, but you're speaking only from a hardware perspective. I have been to 'good conferences' where they have talks that spark me to research new ideas that eventually lead to productive lines of inquiry (RailsConf or in a previous life, PDC) and ones that are just advertisements or feature "Touchy Feely" talks about programmer sentiment and egos (RubyConf, total Yuck.) The ones that make me think, or research, are worth it. Even some of the keynotes (RailsConf 2016, keynote by Paul Lamere, from Spotify, fired my imagination and prompted me to take 6 months of courses on Big Data and Machine learning, which will eventually pay my employer dividends and then some,) by big names in their fields are worth the entire costs. It just means you need to know where to go, and what to look for, and what to avoid. Talks about diversity for the sake of coloration, or whatever, are little more than rants about unfairness, which leads to nothing company 'costs' if you buy in to them. But ones about how they take advantage of technologies (like one I saw [by a woman, speaking of diversity, which didn't even mention the fact that she was a woman -- BECAUSE THAT ISN'T THE IMPORTANT PART] about how Github used the Scientist gem to migrate their entire security structure without any downtime...) they can lead to local 'breakthroughs.' My advice is to stay away from 'touchy feely' conferences about developers and how they 'feel' at work, and to go to those that focus on the actual state of technology and what's out there and how to use it for your own personal, professional, and business's growth. Being around people who care about the same things, especially when those things are putting numbers on the board, is a great thing. NOT ALL CONFERENCES ARE CREATED EQUAL. That's just how it is. Do your research up front.

Submission + - Obama's FCC Head Is Worried About Our Online Future (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: In a candid interview with Susan Crawford, outgoing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler discusses net neutrality, telecom mergers, high-speed access, and the dangers that lie ahead under the Trump administration. It's not the rosiest outlook: Wheeler expresses significant concern about the future of internet access in America, and urges advocates to "to get out of our technocrat mode and into making the point that it’s the Trump voter who has the worst internet experience, and that broadband is the key to getting an education to be able to do your homework, the key to being able to get a job, the key to be able to interact with the world around you."

Comment Re:care less (Score 5, Informative) 191

You're actually not right. It can be AI without being sentient, and in this case, it is just that. It's a general purpose learning algorithm. Not a strategic poker playing algorithm. It doesn't need to be sentient to be intelligent. You're confusing General AI with Narrow AI. This is a Narrow AI, to be sure, but if you string enough Narrow AI's up together, they can eventually give the same appearance of a General AI. This is just one milestone along the way. In particular, it dethrones the idea that poker is the last bastion of human dominance in cognition. Obviously we'll have to find a new bastion, like the fact that we are, so far, the only General Intelligence thus far observed or produced.

Submission + - At-home brain-zapping treatment for depression may soon be mainstream (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: This isn't old-school brain zapping: It's not electroshock therapy, in which doctors flood a depressed patient's brain with some 900 milliamps of current to cause a seizure and something like a mood reset. This is tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation), which would let psychiatrists send their depressed patients home with a brain-zapping headband that sends perhaps 2 milliamps of current through specific portions of their brains. A doctor's prescription might call for the patient to do a 20-minute stimulation session daily for a few weeks, then less frequent maintenance sessions.

While tDCS is being investigated as a treatment for all sorts of neuropsychiatric disorders, many researchers and doctors think depression may be the killer app. A South Korean company called Ybrain thinks its consumer-friendly headband for depression will be the product that makes this treatment mainstream — first in Korea, then in Europe, then in the United States and around the world.

Comment Re:Not doomsday (Score 1) 745

WWI and WWII got so bad, at least partly because of strategic alliances. Even if you're not directly involved, if you have a mutual assistance pact with some other nation, and they get involved in a conflict, you're involved too. The question is what happens when this chain of involvement leads to each side having a nuclear-armed power.

There will always be wars - perhaps. The difference is how hot those wars get, who is involved, etc. That Trump doesn't seem to be into mutual assistance might actually be a positive for avoiding nuclear war. That Trump seems to be in favor of nuclear proliferation (Let them defend themselves.) is a decided negative.

Life goes on, almost certainly.
Human life is a bit less certain.
Civilized human life is far less certain yet.

Comment Re:Not doomsday (Score 5, Insightful) 745

The US military recognizes that global warming puts stress on people and governments. Human life can prosper with a changed climate, but it can't always continue in-place. People may have to move, because their current habitation may no longer be habitable. If that movement requires crossing national borders, it becomes an international incident.

That's why global warming advances the Doomsday Clock - its side-effects on national sovereignty and politics.

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