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Submission + - USB Death Sticks for Sale (arstechnica.com)

npslider writes: "A USB Killer", a USB stick that fries almost everything that it is plugged into has been mass produced—available online for about £50/$50. Arstechnica first wrote about this diabolical device that looks like a fairly humdrum memory stick a year ago. From the ARS article:

"The USB Killer is shockingly simple in its operation. As soon as you plug it in, a DC-to-DC converter starts drawing power from the host system and storing electricity in its bank of capacitors (the square-shaped components). When the capacitors reach a potential of -220V, the device dumps all of that electricity into the USB data lines, most likely frying whatever is on the other end. If the host doesn't just roll over and die, the USB stick does the charge-discharge process again and again until it sizzles.

Since the USB Killer has gone on sale, it has been used to fry laptops (including an old ThinkPad and a brand new MacBook Pro), an Xbox One, the new Google Pixel phone, and some cars (infotainment units, rather than whole cars... for now). Notably, some devices fare better than others, and there's a range of possible outcomes—the USB Killer doesn't just nuke everything completely."


Submission + - Facebook started trending false news stories on a regular basis (citiesofthefuture.eu)

dkatana writes: "Facebook started trending false news stories on a regular basis." that's the conclusion of Susan Etlinger. She is an industry analyst at the thinktank, Altimeter Group, where she focuses on data strategy, analytics and ethical data use.

“In the Facebook News feed, which is optimized for engagement, the consequence is that the most controversial and provocative stories tend to be shared more than real news reporting, and Facebook has not had a way to make verification and authenticity an important part of the algorithm and then Facebook started trending false news stories on a regular basis.” That, Etlinger told Cities of the Future, “is an example where a machine has too much responsibility.”

When asked about the possibility of people using data and AI to influence political decisions and distort information to the public, Etlinger is outspoken:

We don’t even know the level of intentional misinformation that has been shared.” Etlinger says. “Obviously the US news media, as an example, is full of conspiracy theories right now. The reality is [AI] is an incredibly powerful technology, even more because it is very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to go back and understand exactly what happens in an algorithm, and AI.”

Submission + - Newt Gingrich Calls for US Muslims to Take Sharia Test, Face Deportation 2

flopsquad writes: Following the July 14th terror attack in Nice, France, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for US Muslims to be tested for their belief in Sharia law, and if so, deported:

Western civilisation is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported.

While the cleverest few might try to defeat such a test by answering "No," Mr. Gingrich laid out additional steps to shore up the plan:

The first step is you have to ask them the questions. The second step is you have to monitor what they're doing on the Internet. The third step is, let me be very clear, you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke.

Gingrich also opined that:

Anybody who goes on a website favoring Isis, or al-Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail.

No word on the 1st and 4th Amendment implications of his proposals, nor on where Gingrich plans to deport US citizens who fail his Sharia test.

Submission + - 6 million drivers admit bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose (scienceblog.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.

Submission + - SPAM: British town makes "mysoginy" a crime 1

mi writes: Nottinghamshire Police has officially recognized "misogyny" as a hate crime. Examples of the prohibited actions are:
  • unwanted or uninvited sexual advances
  • physical or verbal assault
  • unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement
  • use of mobile phones to send unwanted or uninvited messages
  • taking photographs without consent.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - U.S. lawmaker orders NASA to plan for trip to Alpha Centauri (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: This week, a senior U.S. lawmaker who helps write NASA’s budget called on the agency to begin developing its own interstellar probes, with the aim of launching a mission to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system, in 2069—the centenary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Representative John Culberson (R–TX), a self-professed space fan who chairs the House of Representatives appropriations subpanel that oversees NASA, included the call for the ambitious voyage in a committee report released today.

In the report, Culberson’s panel “encourages NASA to study and develop propulsion concepts that could enable an interstellar scientific probe with the capability of achieving a cruise velocity of 0.1c [10% of the speed of light].” The report language doesn’t mandate any additional funding, but calls on NASA to draw up a technology assessment report and conceptual road map within 1 year.

Submission + - Porn And Video Game Addiction Are Leading To 'Masculinity Crisis' 2

HughPickens.com writes: Doug Bolton reports at The Independent that a leading psychologist warns that young men are facing a crisis of masculinity due to excessive use of video games and pornography. Phillip Zimbardo says his study into the lives of 20,000 young men and their relationships with video games and pornography demonstrates that this relatively new phenomenon is affecting the minds of young men. "Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation — they are alone in their room," says Zimbardo. "It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward centre of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction. What I'm saying is — boys' brains are becoming digitally rewired." Zimbardo gives the example of a gaming and pornography-addicted young man who says: "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected." According to Zimbardo, the solution is to accept that the problem is serious — parents must become aware of the number of hours a child is spending alone in their room playing games and watching porn at the expense of other activities. Zimbardo also called for better sex education in schools — which should focus not only on biology and safety, but also on emotions, physical contact and romantic relationships.

Zimbardo is famous for the 1971 Stanford prison experiment, in which 24 students were asked to play the roles of 'guards' and 'prisoners' in a mock prison at Stanford University. Intended to last for two weeks, the experiment was abandoned after six days, after the previously normal 'guards' became extremely sadistic and the 'prisoners' became submissive and depressed. The experiment is a classic study on the psychology of imprisonment and is a topic covered in most introductory psychology textbooks

Submission + - Groupon refuses to pay security expert who found serious XSS site bugs (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Bounty programs benefit everyone. Companies like Microsoft get help from security experts, customers gain improved security, and those who discover and report vulnerabilities reap the rewards financially. Or at least that's how things are supposed to work.

Having reported a series of security problems to discount and deal site Groupon, security researcher Brute Logic from XSSposed.org was expecting a pay-out — but the site refuses to stump up the cash. In all, Brute Logic reported more than 30 security issues with Groupon's site, but the company cites its Responsible Disclosure policy as the reason for not handing over the cash.

Submission + - Ancient Hangover Cure Discovered in Greek Texts

An anonymous reader writes: Trying to ease a bad hangover? Wearing a necklace made from the leaves of a shrub called Alexandrian laurel would do the job, according to a newly translated Egyptian papyrus. The “drunken headache cure” appears in a 1,900-year-old text written in Greek and was discovered during the ongoing effort to translate more than half a million scraps of papyrus known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Housed at Oxford University’s Sackler Library, the enormous collection of texts contains lost gospels, works by Sophocles and other Greek authors, public and personal records and medical treatises dating from the first century AD to the sixth century A.D.
Math

Submission + - The Mathematics of War

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Isaac Asimov's idea that the movements of masses of people can be predicted may not be quite so fictional after all as Markus Hammonds writes that researchers at the University of Edinburgh have constructed a statistical dynamic model that makes predictions on levels of violence in conflicts such as the recent war in Afghanistan. Their methodology is to analyze how a conflict unfolds by treating outbreaks of violence the way other researchers model the spread of infectious diseases modeling complex underlying processes in conflicts, such as diffusion, relocation, heterogeneous escalation, and volatility (PDF). The researchers first tested the performance of their methods on a WikiLeaks release which contained over 75,000 military logs by the USA military, describing events which occurred between the beginning of 2004 and the end of 2009 that provided a high temporal and spatial resolution description of the Afghan war in that period. "Remarkably, based entirely on written reports between 2004 and 2009, they were able to predict with impressive accuracy, what events would occur in 2010," writes Hammonds. "Even accounting for sudden changes, like the dramatic increase of US forces in Afghanistan in 2010, the predictions remained accurate. Evidently, events will continue unabated despite any large military offensives which may be taking place." In Baghlan province, for instance, the simulation predicted a 128 percent increase in armed opposition group activity from 2009 to 2010. The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting aid workers in dangerous parts of the world, reported that activity in Baghlan rose by 120 percent from 100 incidents in 2009 to 222 incidents in 2010. "This kind of work offers some hope in resolving serious conflicts as quickly as possible", concludes Hammonds. "Whatever your feelings on it, the ability to predict violence in conflict situations the same way meteorologists predict the weather has some potentially very useful possibilities.""

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