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Submission + - Quick Tutorial: Deleting Your Data Using Google's "My Activity" (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Since posting "The Google Page That Google Haters Don’t Want You to Know About" last week, I’ve received a bunch of messages from readers asking for help using Google’s “My Activity” page to control, inspect, and/or delete their data on Google. The My Activity portal is quite comprehensive and can be used in many different ways, but to get you started I’ll briefly outline how to use My Activity to delete activity data.

Submission + - SPAM: Can Parents Sue If Their Kid Is Born With the 'Wrong' DNA?

randomErr writes: In a fascinating legal case out of Singapore, the country's Supreme Court ruled that this situation doesn't just constitute medical malpractice. The fertility clinic, the court recently ruled, must pay the parents 30% of upkeep costs for the child for a loss of 'genetic affinity.' In other words, the clinic must pay the parents' child support not only because they made a terrible medical mistake, but because the child didn't wind up with the right genes.

“It’s suggesting that the child itself has something wrong with it, genetically, and that it has monetary value attached to it,” Todd Kuiken, a senior research scholar with the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, told Gizmodo. “They attached damages to the genetic makeup of the child, rather than the mistake. That’s the part that makes it uncomfortable. This can take you in all sort of fucked up directions.”

Submission + - The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI (technologyreview.com)

schwit1 writes: No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.

Last year, a strange self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. The experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia, didn’t look different from other autonomous cars, but it was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors, and it showed the rising power of artificial intelligence. The car didn’t follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it.

Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it’s also a bit unsettling, since it isn’t completely clear how the car makes its decisions. Information from the vehicle’s sensors goes straight into a huge network of artificial neurons that process the data and then deliver the commands required to operate the steering wheel, the brakes, and other systems. The result seems to match the responses you’d expect from a human driver. But what if one day it did something unexpected—crashed into a tree, or sat at a green light? As things stand now, it might be difficult to find out why. The system is so complicated that even the engineers who designed it may struggle to isolate the reason for any single action. And you can’t ask it: there is no obvious way to design such a system so that it could always explain why it did what it did.

The mysterious mind of this vehicle points to a looming issue with artificial intelligence. The car’s underlying AI technology, known as deep learning, has proved very powerful at solving problems in recent years, and it has been widely deployed for tasks like image captioning, voice recognition, and language translation. There is now hope that the same techniques will be able to diagnose deadly diseases, make million-dollar trading decisions, and do countless other things to transform whole industries.

But this won’t happen—or shouldn’t happen—unless we find ways of making techniques like deep learning more understandable to their creators and accountable to their users. Otherwise it will be hard to predict when failures might occur—and it’s inevitable they will. That’s one reason Nvidia’s car is still experimental.

To be fair, we don’t really understand how natural intelligence works, either.

Submission + - Draw-on circuit technology creates radical possibilities for flexible gadgets (ibtimes.co.uk)

drunkdrone writes: Who said pen and paper was dead? German scientists have developed a new type of ink that allows fully-functioning electronic circuits to be 'written' directly onto a surface from a pen. The technology could provide an inexpensive means of manufacturing printed circuits suitable for flexible smartphones, tablets and other radical gadget designs.

The circuits are ready to be used as soon as the ink dries and requires no additional processing, claim researchers from the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM).

Printed electronics are usually created through a process called 'sintering', whereby powdered metals are heated to form conductive electric circuits. Sintering is used to remove organic materials and fuse metal components in electronic inks, but because of the heat involved it can damage materials that are sensitive to high temperatures – for example paper and certain types of plastic.

The new hybrid inks remove the need for sintering altogether, allowing the electronics to quite literally be drawn on to the material.

Submission + - Second Opinion From Doctor Nets Different Diagnosis 88% Of Time, Study Finds (studyfinds.org) 3

schwit1 writes: When it comes to treating a serious illness, two brains are better than one. A new study finds that nearly 9 in 10 people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor are likely to leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they were first told.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one's likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis.

The study, conducted using records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic's General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period, ultimately found that when consulting a second opinion, the physician only confirmed the original diagnosis 12 percent of the time.

Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what their first physician concluded.

Submission + - New Destructive Malware Intentionally Bricks IoT Devices (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new malware strain called BrickerBot is intentionally bricking Internet of Things (IoT) devices around the world by corrupting their flash storage capability and reconfiguring kernel parameters in order to one single processing thread. The malware spreads by launching brute-force attacks on IoT (BusyBox-based) devices with open Telnet ports. After BrickerBot attacks, device owners often have to reinstall the device's firmware, or in some cases, replace the device entirely.

Attacks started on March 20, and two versions have been seen. One malware strain launches attacks from hijacked Ubiquiti devices, while the second, more advanced, is hidden behind Tor exit nodes. Several security researchers believe this is the work of an Internet vigilante fed up with the amount of insecure IoT devices connected to the Internet and used for DDoS attacks.

"Wow. That's pretty nasty," said Cybereason security researcher Amit Serper after Bleeping Computer showed him Radware's security alert. "They're just bricking it for the sake of bricking it. [They're] deliberately destroying the device."

Submission + - From Earth to orbit using a single-stage rocket and aerospike engine (newatlas.com)

Eloking writes: New Mexico-based ARCA Space Corporation has announced that it is developing the world's first Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) launch vehicle that can deliver both a small payload and itself into low Earth orbit, at a cost of about US$1 million per launch. Dubbed the Haas 2CA after the 16th century rocket pioneer Conrad Haas, the new booster uses a linear aerospike engine instead of conventional bell-shaped rocket engines to do away with multiple stages.

Submission + - Would you microchip yourself for your employer? Are you ready to be a cyborg? (star-telegram.com) 1

jasonbrown writes: At the Swedish startup hub Epicenter, it has become routine to be have a microchip implanted in the fleshy part of your thumb. The tiny device is injected with a syringe and another cyborg is created. It replaces other devices such as keys and credit cards. Doors open magically and coffee is purchased with the wave of a hand. Many people would never put a tracking device in their body for a job. Would you?

Submission + - About 90% of Smart TVs Vulnerable To Remote Hacking Via Rogue TV Signals (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new attack on smart TVs allows a malicious actor to take over devices using rogue DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting — Terrestrial) signals, get root access on the smart TV, and use the device for all sorts of nasty actions, ranging from DDoS attacks to spying on end users. The attack, developed by Rafael Scheel, a security researcher working for Swiss cyber security consulting company Oneconsult, is unique and much more dangerous than previous smart TV hacks. Scheel's method, which he recently presented at a security conference, is different because the attacker can execute it from a remote location, without user interaction, and runs in the TV's background processes, meaning users won't notice when an attacker compromises their TVs. The researcher told Bleeping Computer via email that he developed this technique without knowing about the CIA's Weeping Angel toolkit, which makes his work even more impressing. Furthermore, Scheel says that "about 90% of the TVs sold in the last years are potential victims of similar attacks," highlighting a major flaw in the infrastructure surrounding smart TVs all over the globe. At the center of Scheel's attack is Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), an industry standard supported by most cable providers and smart TV makers that "harmonizes" classic broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery systems. TV transmission signal technologies like DVB-T, DVB-C, or IPTV all support HbbTV. Scheel says that anyone can set up a custom DVB-T transmitter with equipment priced between $50-$150, and start broadcasting a DVB-T signal.

Submission + - NASA Launches Massive Digital Library for Space Video, Photos & Audio (space.com)

earlytime writes: "NASA on Tuesday (March 28) unveiled a new online library that assembles the agency's amazing space photos, videos and audio files into a single searchable library.

The NASA Image and Video Library, as the agency calls it, can be found at http://images.nasa.gov/ and consolidates space imagery from 60 different colletions into one location."

Submission + - Slashdot poll: Should Pluto be restored to it's status as a planet?

BarbaraHudson writes: With the issue of Pluto's status as a planet coming up for debate at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, how would you vote?

1. Pluto is a planet
2. Pluto was never a planet
3. Pluto is a dog and I'm boycotting Disney
4. Are you Sirius?
5. Sure, and let's upgrade he earth and moon as a binary planet system
6. Who cares, as long as we can declare war against it to increase defense spending
7. Who cares, there's no oil there
8. Cowboyneal says "I hear there might be oil there. We need more money for NASA".

Submission + - Firefox 52 forces pulseaudio, dev claims that telemetry is essential (mozilla.org) 3

jbernardo writes: While trying to justify breaking audio on firefox for several linux users by making it depend on pulseaudio (and not even mentioning it in the release notes), Anthony Jones, who claims, among other proud achievements, to be "responsible for bringing Widevine DRM to Linux, Windows and Mac OSX", informs users that disabling telemetry will have consequences — "Telemetry informs our decisions. Turning it off is not without disadvantage."
The latest one is, as documented on the mentioned bug, that firefox no long has audio unless you have pulseaudio installed. Many bug reporters suggest that firefox telemetry is disabled by default on many distributions, and also that power users, who are the ones more likely to remove pulseaudio, are also the ones more likely to disable telemetry.
As for the pulseaudio dependence, apparently there was a "public" discussion on google groups, and it can be seen that the decision was indeed based on telemetry.
So, if for any reason you still use firefox, and want to have some hope it won't be broken for you in the future, enable all the spyware/telemetry.

Submission + - James Comey: "There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America" (cnn.com) 1

Bob the Super Hamste writes: Last week, pretty recent by /. standards, FBI Director James Comey at the Boston College conference on cybersecurity stated:

While that quote in the article is taken out of context it is even more disturbing when taken in context. The included video puts the quote in context where Comey is arguing against widespread access to strong encryption with the public. There are other quotes included as well that are just as disturbing such as:

Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private in America... ...In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications.

Is this the "adult conversation" on encryption he was getting ready for last year.

Submission + - Spy agency, DOE, are very worried about China's supercomputing advances (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Advanced computing experts at the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy are warning that China is "extremely likely" to take leadership in supercomputing as early as 2020, unless the U.S. acts quickly to increase spending. China's supercomputing advances are not only putting national security at risk, but also U.S. leadership in high-tech manufacturing. If China succeeds, it may "undermine profitable parts of the U.S. economy," according to a report titled U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing by HPC technical experts at the NSA, the DOE, the National Science Foundation and other agencies. The report stems from a workshop held in September that was attended by 60 people, many scientists, 40 of whom work in government, with the balance representing industry and academia. Meeting participants, especially those from industry, noted that it can be easy for Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about what HPC investments by China mean – without considering China's motivations," the report states. "These participants stressed that their personal interactions with Chinese researchers and at supercomputing centers showed a mindset where computing is first and foremost a strategic capability for improving the country; for pulling a billion people out of poverty; for supporting companies that are looking to build better products, or bridges, or rail networks; for transitioning away from a role as a low-cost manufacturer for the world; for enabling the economy to move from 'Made in China' to 'Made by China."

Submission + - Researchers Convert Biomass to Hydrogen Using Sunlight (rdmag.com)

omaha393 writes: Cambridge chemists have developed a new catalytic approach capable of converting biomass into hydrogen gas using only sunlight as an energy source. The method converts lignocellulose, one of Earth's most abundant biomaterials, into hydrogen gas and organic byproducts when in a basic water and in the presence of the cadmium sulfide/oxide nanoparticle catalysts.
        The new method, published in Nature Energy, offers a relatively cheap fuel alternative that researchers are looking to scale up to meet consumer demands at the industrial level. Per R&D Magazine: "'With this in place we can simply add organic matter to the system and then, provided it's a sunny day, produce hydrogen fuel', says joint lead author David Wakerley. 'Future development can be envisioned at any scale." In addition to lignocellulose, the team was also able to produce hydrogen gas using unprocessed material including wood, paper and leaves. Paper may be paywalled.

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