Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Submission + - Class-action reveals Ford engineers thought infotainment system was unsaleable (

Lucas123 writes: A class-action lawsuit against Ford and its MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment system — originally based on a Microsoft platform — has brought to light corporate documents that show engineers at the Dearborn carmaker referred to the problematic technology as a "polished turd" that they feared would be "unsaleable." The documents even reveal Henry Ford's great grandson experienced significant problems with MyFord Touch. In one incident, Edsel Ford was forced to wait on a roadside for the system to reset and could not continue to drive because he was unable to use the IVI's navigation system. The lawsuit describes an IVI screen that would freeze or go blank; generate error messages that wouldn't go away; voice recognition and navigation systems that failed to work, problems wirelessly pairing with smartphones, and a generally slow system. Ford's CEO Mark Fields even described his own travails with the SYNC IVI, referring to it as having crashed on several occasions, and that he was so frustrated with the system he may have damaged his car's screen out of aggravation. The civil suit is expected to go to trial in 2017.

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 + - Spy agencies team up with National Academies (

sciencehabit writes: In an unprecedented move, U.S. intelligence agencies are teaming up with the nation's most prestigious scientific body in a bid to make better use of findings from the country's leading social and behavioral scientists. The partnership between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine aims to build bridges between communities that historically have either ignored one another or butted heads. The effort includes the creation of a permanent Intelligence Community Studies Board at the academies, which will meet for the first time next week, as well as a first-ever study of how social and behavioral science research might strengthen national security.

Submission + - Ford's Buggy Infotainment System Referred to Internally as "Polished Turd" (

An anonymous reader writes: Ford's MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment system has been on the receiving end of scathing comments from customers, as well as Ford engineers and executives. Forbes describes MyFord Touch as the "polished turd" that stranded former Ford CEO Bill Ford on the side of the road ; the Detroit News describes current Ford CEO Mark Fields as being so angered by the system's crashes and hangs that he allegedly punched and broke the system's display. Another disclosed internal Ford document quotes another engineer as saying, "Those poor customers."

Submission + - Social Media blackmailer arrested in Islamabad (

Sarah Bright writes: BILQEES KENCHI: According to the ARY news on Monday Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested a young boy named Usman a social media blackmailer in Islamabad and also registered a case against an alleged cyber-criminal who used to extort money and valuables from girls by blackmailing them on social media.

Usman, a cyber-blackmailer, was arrested by the FIA when a girl carped about blackmailing and coercion. Usman was blackmailing the girl by intimidating to post her pictures online and forced for huge amount of money and jewellery from the victim.

The girl, this time sent the FIA team instead of travelling herself to Sahiwal, where the suspect had called her for a meeting. The suspect’s cellphone data exposed that he is a professional blackmailer and had blackmailed a lot of girls in the past.

Submission + - University of Quebec finds "signals probably from Extraterrestrial Intelligence"

An anonymous reader writes: A recent submission the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific titled, "Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars" places considerable weight on the ETI hypothesis as an explanation for observed modulation around a small percentage of sun-like stars. The paper has been accepted for publication and the full pdf is available here:

SETI has commented on it in an October 11 Press release ( and cautions jumping to conclusions:
"The one in 10,000 objects with unusual spectra seen by Borra and Trottier are certainly worthy of additional
study. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is too early to unequivocally attribute
these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations. Internationally agreed-upon protocols
for searches for evidence of advanced life beyond Earth (SETI) require candidates to be confirmed by
independent groups using their own telescopes, and for all natural explanations to be exhausted before
invoking extraterrestrial agents as an explanation. Careful work must be undertaken to determine false
positive rates, to rule out natural and instrumental explanations, and most importantly, to confirm detections
using two or more independent telescopes."

Submission + - Outsourced IT workers ask Sen. Feinstein for help, get form letter in return (

dcblogs writes: A University of California IT employee whose job is being outsourced to India recently wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for help. Feinstein's office sent back a letter addressing manufacturing job losses, not IT, and offered the worker no assistance. "I am being asked to do knowledge transfer to a foreigner so they can take over my job in February of 2017," the employee, wrote in part. The employee is part of a group of 50 IT workers and another 30 contractors facing layoffs after the university hired an offshore outsourcing firm. The firm, India-based HCL, won a contract to manage infrastructure services. Since the layoffs became public, the school has posted Labor Condition Applications (LCA) notices — as required by federal law when H-1B workers are being placed. UCSF employees have seen these notices and made some available to Computerworld. They show that the jobs posted are for programmer analyst II and network administrator IV. For the existing UCSF employees, the notices were disheartening. "Many of us can easily fill the job. We are training them to replace us," said one employee who requested anonymity because he is still employed by the university.

Submission + - Yahoo's Smart Billboards Would Reveal Much About You, In Public

An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors — including drone-based cameras — which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalised ads at them as they pass, on foot or in cars. The scheme, which was submitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in web pages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which 'bloom' around them betray much about their private lives.

Submission + - AVTECH Shuns Security Firm and Leaves All Products Vulnerable Without a Patch (

An anonymous reader writes: AVTECH, a Taiwanese CCTV equipment manufacturer, has failed to respond to Search-Lab, a Hungarian security firm, who spent more than a year trying to inform the company about 14 security bugs affecting the firmware of ALL its products. Almost a year after it first contacted the hardware maker, Search-Lab published a public advisory about the vulnerabilities it discovered, warning sysadmins that their AVTECH products may be in danger of exploitation and remote takeover.

Search-Lab says their researchers is not the only one that spotted these issues. Currently, the term "AVTECH" is the second most popular search term on Shodan, where anyone can find more than 130,000 of these devices available online. Taking into account the recent attacks from IoT botnets, AVTECH is now on the same level of incompetence and indifference as other CCTV hardware makers such as AVer, Dahua, and TVT, all Chinese and Taiwanese companies.

A list of confirmed affected firmware versions is available here, proof of concept exploitation code is available on GitHub, and an exploitation video is available here.

Submission + - The Surprising Backbone of the Internet of Things (

An anonymous reader writes: Cities need to be blanketed with high-speed, fiber optic internet, and incumbent telecoms companies make it near-impossible for existing utility poles to help carry that internet. But there's an alternative: Santa Monica is trailblazing by making its streetlights internet carriers, beating telecoms companies at their own game. At Backchannel, Susan Crawford writes that "if Los Angeles, the land of the car, can build a train line, any city can figure out how to control its streetlights. But cities need to act fast. The train may already have left the station."

Submission + - CSTA: Google Surveying Educators on Unconscious Biases of Students, Parents

theodp writes: According to a Computer Science Teachers Association tweet, Google is reportedly asking educators to assess the unconscious bias of students and their parents for the search giant. "We are in the early stages of learning how unconscious bias plays out in schools, and who would benefit most from bias busting materials," begins the linked-to 5-page Google Form, which sports a email address, but lists no contact name. "This survey should take 15 minutes to complete, and your responses are confidential, meaning that your feedback will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form." The form asks educators to "list the names of organizations, tools, and resources that you have used to combat unconscious bias," which is defined as "the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." A sample question: "Who do you think would benefit most from unconscious bias training at your school (or program)? Rank the following people in order (1=would most benefit to 5=would benefit least) training: Student, Parent (or guardian), Teacher (or educator), Guidance counselor, Principal." Google deflected criticism for its lack of women techies in the past by blaming parents' unconscious biases for not steering their girls to study computer science, suggesting an intervention was needed. "Outreach programs," advised Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."

Submission + - A bit too much transparency for journalists? ( 2

schwit1 writes: From The Washington Post's Lisa Rein comes news that the federal government is launching a six-month pilot program with seven agencies to post online documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). "So if a journalist, nonprofit group or corporation asks for the records, what they see, the public also will see," writes Rein. . . .

"As a matter of regular practice, EPA notifies the requester at the time that the response is posted on the foiaonline website. We believe that the posting of the information advances transparency."

And, perhaps, penalizes those who go to great lengths to fetch it. "I do share the concern of other journalists that this could hurt the journalist who made the original request," writes Washington Post Investigations Editor Jeff Leen via e-mail. "It could also affect long-term investigations built on a number of FOIA requests over time."

"FOIA terrorist" Jason Leopold has big issues with the approach. "It would absolutely hurt journalists' ability to report on documents they obtained through a FOIA request if the government agency is going to immediately make records available to the public," writes the Vice News reporter via e-mail. Leopold has already experienced the burn of joint release, he says, after requesting information on Guantanamo Bay. The documents were posted on the U.S. Southern Command's Web site. âoeI lost the ability to exclusively report on the material even though I put in all of the work filing the requests,â he notes.

Submission + - SPAM: Virtual Reality Porn And The Future Of Loneliness

troydinttogf writes: Welcome to the very-near future of porn. A few weeks back, a sex toy company called Lovense and a virtual reality porn company called VirtualRealPorn announced their collaboration. Soon, VirtualRealPorns growing library of VR porn videos will coordinate with Lovenses digitally-endowed vibrator and Fleshlight-esque Max toy to stimulate your sensitive bits in sync with virtual sex. Read More
Link to Original Source

Comment Sales will always be sales (Score 4, Insightful) 170

This tactic has been used in auto sales for years.
Selling customers at closing "undercoating, rustproofing and fabric protection" that are already part of the car, but get people to shell out extra coin for. Extended warranties fall into the same category. Just extra profit if nobody questions it.
I guess all those unemployed car sales-bodies have to take a job somewhere.

Slashdot Top Deals

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.