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AI

Zuckerberg Shares Facebook's Plan to Bring Community Together, Edits Out a Questionable Sentence Minutes Later (mashable.com) 104

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring people closer together. He published a 6,000-word letter on his Facebook page Thursday to outline his vision for the kind of world he thinks Facebook can help create. The free-wielding note included few specifics, but offered a number of broad, ambitious goals for how the tech giant can contribute to a better understanding of everything from terrorism to fake news. Interestingly, minutes after the post was published, Zuckerberg edited out a sentence from the letter. Mashable adds: In the post, Zuckerberg briefly touches on how artificial intelligence can be used to detect terrorist propaganda. "Right now, we're starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization," he wrote in the post published Thursday. That sounds like a straightforward enough application of AI -- one that's in line with what Zuckerberg and other executives have discussed in the past -- but it's different from what the CEO had originally written. In an earlier version of the missive, which was shared with a number of news outlets in advance of its publication on Facebook, Zuckerberg took the idea farther. The "long-term promise of AI," he wrote, is that it can be used used to "identify risks that nobody would have flagged at all, including terrorists planning attacks using private channels." Here's an expanded version of the quote from the Associated Press (emphasis ours). "The long term promise of AI is that in addition to identifying risks more quickly and accurately than would have already happened, it may also identify risks that nobody would have flagged at all "including terrorists planning attacks using private channels, people bullying someone too afraid to report it themselves, and other issues both local and global. It will take many years to develop these systems." That's different from what was described in the final version that was shared Thursday, which made no mention of private communication in relation to AI and terrorism.
AT&T

AT&T Is the Latest Carrier To Offer Unlimited Data For All Its Customers (phonedog.com) 62

Earlier this week, Verizon announced it is bringing back unlimited data plans after years of selling capped data packages. Now, ATT will be doing the same. ATT will let any current or potential customer buy an unlimited data plan. Until now, only DirecTV customers were able to purchase unlimited data from the carrier. PhoneDog reports: ATT says that starting tomorrow, February 17, its Unlimited Plan will be available to all customers. The plan will include unlimited data, talk, and text, and customers with the plan will also be able to travel to Canada or Mexico and use their plan just as they would at home, with zero roaming charges. ATT's Unlimited Plan also includes Stream Saver, which will optimize video streams to 480p. However, Stream Saver can be disabled if you'd like. One feature that's missing from ATT's Unlimited Plan is mobile hotspot usage, which is notable because the unlimited plans from the other three major U.S. carriers do include some mobile hotspot. Finally, it's worth noting that after 22GB of usage, ATT Unlimited Plan customers may have their speeds slowed during times of network congestion. This policy is also in place at the other three major U.S. carriers, with Verizon's threshold being 22GB, Sprint's 23GB, and T-Mobile's 26GB. A single line on the ATT Unlimited Plan will cost $100 per month. Each additional line will cost $40, but ATT will offer the fourth line free, making the cost for a family of four $180 per month.
Cellphones

Shamed In Super Bowl Ads, Verizon Introduces Unlimited Data Plans (theverge.com) 172

A surprise announcement Sunday revealed that tomorrow Verizon will begin offering introductory plans with unlimited data.*

* Customers "will get full LTE speeds until they reach 22GB of usage," reports The Verge, "after which they'll be subject to reduced data speeds and de-prioritization."

An anonymous reader writes: Other carriers have similar limits. "For Sprint it's 23GB. T-Mobile has a slightly higher threshold of 26GB... AT&T matches Verizon at 22GB," reports The Verge. Verizon says their cap is "to ensure a quality experience for all customers... While we don't expect to do that very often, network management is a crucial tool that benefits all Verizon customers." The $80-a-month plan also includes hotspot tethering -- up to 10 gigabytes -- and "includes 'HD' video as opposed to the 480p/DVD-quality video that T-Mobile One customers get by default."

In a Sunday YouTube video, the head of Verizon's wireless effort says customer interviews found "Some of the heavier users of data -- the power users -- had data anxiety." But it's still a surprising move. Engadget reports that in the past Verizon "frequently tried its hardest to discourage unlimited data users," but today is "facing stiff competition from T-Mobile, which engineered a dramatic comeback in recent years and upped the ante by making unlimited data standard through the One plan."

Verizon's pricing was also targeted heavily last week in a barrage of Super Bowl ads by both Sprint and T-Mobile just last Sunday. T-Mobile showed a masochistic woman calling Verizon just to enjoying hearing about the overages, taxes and fees she incurred by exceeding her data limit, while Sprint showed a man who was trying to escape his Verizon contract by faking his own death.
Censorship

Tor's Ooniprobe, Now Available On Android and iOS, Helps People Track Internet Censorship (cnn.com) 27

In 2012, researchers at Tor announced Ooniprobe, an open-source tool to collect data about local meddling with the computer's network connections, and also whether the government was censoring something. The team has now released a new app, available for Android and iOS, which makes it easier than ever to tell what your government is up to on the web. From a report on CNN Money: The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), which monitors networks for censorship and surveillance, is launching Ooniprobe, a mobile app to test network connectivity and let you know when a website is censored in your area. The app tests over 1,200 websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. You can decide how long to run the test, but the default is 90 seconds and would test between 10 and 20 websites depending on bandwidth. Links to blocked websites are listed in red, while available sites are green. Service providers, sometimes controlled by the government, don't always shutdown the internet entirely -- for instance, Facebook.com might be inaccessible while CNN.com still works. "Not only we will be able to gather more data and more evidence, but we will be able to engage and bring the issue of censorship to the attention of more people," Arturo Filasto, chief developer for the Ooniprobe app, told CNNTech.
Printer

A Hacker Just Pwned Over 150,000 Printers Exposed Online (bleepingcomputer.com) 75

Last year an attacker forced thousands of unsecured printers to spew racist and anti-semitic messages. But this year's attack is even bigger. An anonymous reader writes: A grey-hat hacker going by the name of Stackoverflowin has pwned over 150,000 printers that have been left accessible online. For the past 24 hours, Stackoverflowin has been running an automated script that searches for open printer ports and sends a rogue print job to the target's device. The script targets IPP (Internet Printing Protocol) ports, LPD (Line Printer Daemon) ports, and port 9100 left open to external connections. From high-end multi-functional printers at corporate headquarters to lowly receipt printers in small town restaurants, all have been affected. The list includes brands such as Afico, Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Lexmark, Konica Minolta, Oki, and Samsung.

The printed out message included recommendations for printer owners to secure their device. The hacker said that people who reached out were very nice and thanked him.

The printers apparently spew out an ASCII drawing of a robot, along with the words "stackoverflowin the hacker god has returned. your printer is part of a flaming botnet... For the love of God, please close this port." The messages sometimes also include a link to a Twitter feed named LMAOstack.
Beer

Tostitos' Breathalyzer Bags Can Detect If You're Drunk -- Then Call Uber 75

Slashdot reader schwit1 writes that Tostito's corn chips "has developed a special bag, available for a limited time, that can detect if you've had too much to drink." Its all-black packaging measures your breath for traces of alcohol, and if the test reveals you're sober, a green circle appears on the bag. But, Mashable reports... If it decides you've been drinking -- regardless of how much -- an image of a red steering wheel appears on the otherwise stark black bag along with a reminder not to drive and a code for a $10 Uber discount (valid only on Super Bowl Sunday). And if you've had so much to drink that the mere act of hailing an Uber becomes a difficult chore, the bag will even do that for you. The package is equipped with near-field communication technology that will automatically order a ride when tapped with a smartphone.
EU

All-Corn Diet Turns Hamsters Into Cannibals 171

An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: A new paper outlines the efforts of scientists at the University of Strasbourg to determine why the European hamster has been dying off at an alarming rate... Previously, the rodent's diet consisted of grains, roots and insects. But the regions in which its numbers were dropping have been taken over by the industrial farming of corn... Researchers in France have discovered that a monotonous diet of corn causes hamsters to exhibit some unusual behavior -- cannibalism.
âoeImproperly cooked maize-based diets have been associated with higher rates of homicide, suicide and cannibalism in humans," the researchers point out, and they believe it's the absence of vitamin B3 which is affecting the hamsters' nervous system and triggering dementia-like behavior. Hamsters are already an endangered species in Western Europe, so this is being heavily-researched. And they obviously won't improve their chances of survival with cannibalism.
Government

Who Hacked The Washington D.C. Police Surveillance Cameras? 81

An anonymous reader quotes GIzmodo: City officials and the Secret Service have confirmed that just days before the presidential inauguration, police surveillance cameras in Washington, DC were targeted by hackers. Reportedly, 70% of the CCTV storage devices were infected with ransomware. According to the Washington Post, "City officials said ransomware left police cameras unable to record between January 12 and January 15. The cyberattack affected 123 of 187 network video recorders in a closed-circuit TV system for public spaces across the city, the officials said late Friday." A spokesperson for the Secret Service says despite the compromised cameras, the safety of the public or protectees was never jeopardized, and the city's CTO says they resolved the problem without paying the ransom by simply removing all software from the devices and rebooting them.
The Internet

New Zealand To Bring Ultrafast Internet To 85 Percent Of Population (stuff.co.nz) 147

Ultrafast broadband is coming to more than another 200,000 homes, but doubts are already being expressed that the expansion of the network isn't quite ambitious enough. From a report: Another 423,000 people will be able get ultrafast broadband (UFB) by the end of 2024 as a result of a long-awaited decision to expand the network. Prime Minister Bill English said UFB would be extended to more than 151 additional towns, on top of the 33 cities that are already getting the service. The expansion will mean UFB will be available to "up to 85 per cent" of the population, up from the 75 per cent coverage that is planned to be delivered by 2020.
Education

Should College Tuition Vary By Major, Based On the College's Costs For the Major? (qz.com) 537

Registered Coward v2 writes: Vault, in a blog post, discusses whether colleges should base tuition on the actual cost of providing the education rather than on a one-price-for-all-credits basis. Their argument is based on a Quartz article that shows engineering and science degrees cost schools a lot more than liberal arts degrees for a variety of reasons, including higher professor salaries and equipment/infrastructure costs. As a result, those majors are subsidized by the cheaper ones even though they also have the highest earnings in aggregate. The new paper on the topic estimates that it typically costs the universities more than $62,000 to educate an engineer (including professor salaries, facilities fees, and administrative costs), while an English or business major costs nearly half that. Quartz has a chart embedded in its report that shows the cost of education by major at the University of Florida. There's also another chart that shows the earnings of past graduates, up to age 45, minus the cost of each degree. According to the paper, even though it costs more for an engineering degree, it pays off.
China

China Smog: Millions Start New Year Shrouded By Health Alerts and Travel Chaos (theguardian.com) 77

Millions in China rang in the New Year shrouded in a thick blanket of toxic smog, causing road closures and flight cancellations as 24 cities issued alerts that will last through much of the week. From a report on The Guardian: On the first day of 2017 in Beijing, concentrations of tiny particles that penetrate deep into the lungs climbed as high as 24 times levels recommended by the World Health Organization. More than 100 flights were cancelled and all intercity buses were halted at the capital's airport. In the neighbouring port city of Tianjin, more than 300 flights were cancelled while the weather forecast warned thick smog will persist until 5 January. All of the city's highways were also shut as low visibility made driving hazardous, effectively trapping residents.

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