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Updated: 41 weeks 3 days ago

Are Gates, Musk Being 'Too Aggressive' With AI Concerns?

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 13:39
gthuang88 reports on a talk titled "Will Robots Eat Your Job?" Bill Gates and Elon Musk are sounding the alarm "too aggressively" over artificial intelligence's potential negative consequences for society, says MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson. The co-author of The Second Machine Age argues it will take at least 30 to 50 years for robots and software to eliminate the need for human laborers. In the meantime, he says, we should be investing in education so that people are prepared for the jobs of the future, and are focused on where they still have an advantage over machines -- creativity, empathy, leadership, and teamwork. The professor acknowledges "there are some legitimate concerns" about robots taking jobs away from humans, but "I don't think it's a problem we have to face today... It can be counterproductive to overestimate what machines can do right now." Eventually humankind will reach a world where robots do practically everything, the professor believes, but with a universal basic income this could simply leave us humans with more leisure time.

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Anonymous Takes Down 10,613 Dark Web Portals

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 12:39
An anonymous reader writes: Anonymous hackers have breached Freedom Hosting II, a popular Dark Web hosting provider, and have taken down 10,613 .onion sites. In a message left on all Freedom Hosting II sites, the hackers claim to have found massive troves of child pornography imagery hosted on the company's servers. The hackers dumped 74GB of server files (half of which they say contained child pornography) and a database dump of 2.3GB. Security researcher Chris Monteiro has analyzed some of the dumped data. He says he discovered .onion URLs hosting botnets, fraud sites, sites peddling hacked data, weird fetish portals, more weird stuff, and child abuse websites targeting both English- and Russian-speaking buyers. Freedom Hosting II hosts about a fifth of all .onion URLs. The first Freedom Hosting service was targeted by Anonymous in 2011 and eventually shut down in 2013 after the FBI also found child pornography hosted on its sites.

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Can The Mayhem AI Automate Bug-Patching?

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 11:39
"Now when a machine is compromised it takes days or weeks for someone to notice and then days or weeks -- or never -- until a patch is put out," says Carnegie Mellon professor David Brumley. "Imagine a world where the first time a hacker exploits a vulnerability he can only exploit one machine and then it's patched." An anonymous reader quotes MIT Technology Review: Last summer the Pentagon staged a contest in Las Vegas in which high-powered computers spent 12 hours trying to hack one another in pursuit of a $2 million purse. Now Mayhem, the software that won, is beginning to put its hacking skills to work in the real world... Teams entered software that had to patch and protect a collection of server software, while also identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in the programs under the stewardship of its competitors... ForAllSecure, cofounded by Carnegie Mellon professor David Brumley and two of his PhD students, has started adapting Mayhem to be able to automatically find and patch flaws in certain kinds of commercial software, including that of Internet devices such as routers. Tests are underway with undisclosed partners, including an Internet device manufacturer, to see if Mayhem can help companies identify and fix vulnerabilities in their products more quickly and comprehensively. The focus is on addressing the challenge of companies needing to devote considerable resources to supporting years of past products with security updates... Last year, Brumley published results from feeding almost 2,000 router firmware images through some of the techniques that powered Mayhem. Over 40%, representing 89 different products, had at least one vulnerability. The software found 14 previously undiscovered vulnerabilities affecting 69 different software builds. ForAllSecure is also working with the Department of Defense on ideas for how to put Mayhem to real world use finding and fixing vulnerabilities.

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Mozilla To Drop Support For All NPAPI Plugins In Firefox 52 Except Flash

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 10:34
The Netscape Plugins API is "an ancient plugins infrastructure inherited from the old Netscape browser on which Mozilla built Firefox," according to Bleeping Computer. But now an anonymous reader writes: Starting March 7, when Mozilla is scheduled to release Firefox 52, all plugins built on the old NPAPI technology will stop working in Firefox, except for Flash, which Mozilla plans to support for a few more versions. This means technologies such as Java, Silverlight, and various audio and video codecs won't work on Firefox. These plugins once helped the web move forward, but as time advanced, the Internet's standards groups developed standalone Web APIs and alternative technologies to support most of these features without the need of special plugins. The old NPAPI plugins will continue to work in the Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) 52, but will eventually be deprecated in ESR 53. A series of hacks are available that will allow Firefox users to continue using old NPAPI plugins past Firefox 52, by switching the update channel from Firefox Stable to Firefox ESR.

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Which US Cities Have The Worst Malware Infection Rates?

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 09:34
A new report from Enigma Software Group identifies the American cities with abnormally high infection rates for malware. An anonymous reader quotes TechRepublic: In 2016, Tampa, Orlando, and St. Louis each had malware infection rates per capita more than five times the national average -- the highest in the U.S., the report found. Those same three cities were also at the top of the list of highest infection rates in 2015... ESG compiled malware detection data from its SpyHunter anti-spyware software in the 100 largest cities in the US in all of 2016. Two Ohio cities also made it into the top ten for malware infection rates -- Cleveland and Cincinnati -- as well as Washington D.C. (with an infection rate 242% higher than the national average). But the infection rates drop noticeably after the top 10, with Miami (at #14) the last city with an infection rate more than double the national average. Interestingly, the top 35 cities include major high-tech centers like Seattle, Austin, Boston, and San Jose.

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Report Finds PFAS Chemicals In One-Third of Fast Food Packaging

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 08:34
dryriver quotes CNN: Most of the time, when you order fast food, you know exactly what you're getting: an inexpensive meal that tastes great but is probably loaded with fat, cholesterol and sodium. But it turns out that the packaging your food comes in could also have a negative impact on your health, according to a report published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The report found fluorinated chemicals in one-third of the fast food packaging researchers tested. These chemicals are favored for their grease-repellent properties. Along with their use in the fast food industry, fluorinated chemicals -- sometimes called PFASs -- are used "to give water-repellant, stain-resistant, and non-stick properties to consumer products such as furniture, carpets, outdoor gear, clothing, cosmetics (and) cookware," according to a news release that accompanied the report. "The most studied of these substances (PFOSs and PFOAs) has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, elevated cholesterol, decreased fertility, thyroid problems and changes in hormone functioning, as well as adverse developmental effects and decreased immune response in children." The chemicals can migrate into your food, says one of the study's authors, who suggests removing it from the packaging as quickly as possible. (You might also request your french fries in a paper cup, which are free from "chemicals of concern".) But they also suggest pressuring fast food chains to remove the chemicals from their packaging, and the president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute acknowledges that after the study concluded in 2015, fluorochemical-free packaging was introduced.

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Google, Unlike Microsoft, Must Turn Over Foreign Emails, Rules Judge

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 07:34
Every year Google receives more than 25,000 requests from U.S. authorities for "disclosures of user data in criminal matters," according to a U.S. judge's recent ruling. But this one is different. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: A U.S. judge has ordered Google to comply with search warrants seeking customer emails stored outside the U.S., diverging from a federal appeals court that reached the opposite conclusion in a similar case involving Microsoft. U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter in Philadelphia ruled on Friday that transferring emails from a foreign server so FBI agents could review them locally as part of a domestic fraud probe did not qualify as a seizure...because there was "no meaningful interference" with the account holder's "possessory interest" in the data sought. "Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centers abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States," Rueter wrote... The ruling came less than seven months after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Microsoft could not be forced to turn over emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland that U.S. investigators sought in a narcotics case. Google announced they'd appeal the case, saying "We will continue to push back on overbroad warrants."

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Reporter Pans Open Source Laptop Kit TERES-I

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 04:34
The Verge's Paul Miller has some harsh words for the $242 open source DIY laptop kit TERES-I from Olimex. Instead of buying one hyper-integrated board that has all of the laptop's brains and I/O on it, you buy several little boards and wire them together. Then you put them inside a mostly finished case built by Olimex -- although if you want to go ultra DIY you can 3D print your own case, too. Everything, from the shell's CAD design to the motherboard's wiring, is available on GitHub for perusal or modification, and the modular nature of the internals means you can add a more powerful chipset or modify just about anything you find unsatisfying about the computer if you have the know-how or if Olimex or others offer compatible parts. But, unfortunately, almost everything about this laptop is unsatisfying right now. It runs a quad-core ARM64 chip, though x86 and MIPS chips might be offered later on. It has a tiny 11.6-inch screen, a huge bezel, a tiny trackpad, a cramped-looking keyboard, and a whole lot of plastic. The OS (Linux, naturally) runs off a microSD card. At least the LCD comes in a 1080p variant, because the default 1366 x 768 resolution is a real throwback. There's even 802.11n Wi-Fi, which has me questioning what decade it is. But are there any better alternatives? In the comments share your own thoughts about open source laptop kits.

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Developer Argues For 'Forgotten Code Constructs' Like GOTO and Eval

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 00:34
mikeatTB quotes TechBeacon: Some things in the programming world are so easy to misuse that most people prefer to never use them at all. These are the programming equivalent of a flamethrower... [But] creative use of features such as goto, multiple inheritance, eval, and recursion may be just the right solution for experienced developers when used in the right situation. Is it time to resurrect these four forgotten code constructs? The article notes that the Linux kernel uses goto statements, and links to Linus Torvalds' defense of them. ("Any if-statement is a goto. As are all structured loops...") And it points out that eval statements are supported by JavaScript, Python, PHP, and Ruby. But when the article describes recursion as "more forgotten than forbidden," it begs the inevitable question. Are you using these "forgotten code constructs" -- and should you be?

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Massive Study Links IP Addresses Per Capita To GDP

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 21:34
Three researchers "decided to scan the entire IPv4 address range every 15 minutes between 2006-2012 to work out what insights they could gain from humanity's mass connection to the internet," reports ITnews. The study...analysed data from 411 large regions from middle to high-income countries and found a positive correlation between GDP per capita and the number of IP addresses per head. A 10% increase in IP addresses per capita was associated with an 0.8% hike in GDP, the analysis found. The researchers cautioned that the output and productivity growth they noted when the number of IP address increased was correlation rather than causation. Service-oriented sectors -- such as publishing, news, film production, administrative support, and education -- appear to have suffered a negative effect from increasing internet penetration [PDF]. The researchers believe these sectors were susceptible to competition from cheaper outsourcing providers. Slashdot Bismillah pointed out that the researchers also measured sleeping patterns over seven years, assuming IP addresses of internet-connected devices generally correlated to people who were awake. According to the article, "They found that sleep patterns may be changing and converging around the world: Europeans slept less, East Asians more, while Americans' sleeping patterns remained static over the seven-year period."

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New Book Describes How AirBNB Influenced City Laws

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 17:34
"For years, Airbnb was the friendly foil to Uber, aiming to work with cities rather than against them," writes Slashdot reader mirandakatz. "But as it grew and regulatory challenges mounted, the startup had to grow fangs." She shares an excerpt from a new book called The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World. The reality people saw often depended on where their sympathies lay. Regulators, left-wing politicians, hotel CEOs, union leaders, affordable housing advocates, and angry neighbors tired of carousing guests saw Airbnb as nothing but a rule breaker from the far-away land of arrogant, entitled billionaires. Investors, hosts, property owners struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments, travel-discount shoppers, and high-tech aficionados tended to believe in the startup with good intentions that was disrupting the stultified hospitality industry. The book is by Brad Stone, who also wrote The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon. He describes how "good AirBNB" got Portland to eliminate the $4,000 permits for B&Bs by agreeing to collect lodging taxes from AirBNB hosts (and by opening a Portland call center). But his excerpt ends as "momentum was shifting" against AirBNB in New York City, as powerful hotels and their service employee unions convinced city lawmakers that legitimizing the company would be "politically radioactive" -- while the company's CEO "was going to fight for every inch of territory".

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Pong's Inventor Unveils Three New VR Arcade Games - Including Pong

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 16:34
Pong's creator is now "a grizzled guy in his mid-70s" who believes there's a market for people who'd prefer to try out virtual reality headsets at videogame arcades. An anonymous reader quotes MIT Technology Review: In 1972, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell invented Pong, a version of table tennis that, in many ways, launched the video-game industry. Forty-five years later, Bushnell is using that same simple game to test the waters for virtual-reality arcade gaming. Bushnell's latest venture is a company called Modal VR, which is building its own wireless virtual-reality headsets and games that it plans to roll out in places like arcades, malls, and movie theaters in the coming months. Bushnell's company has built three games -- a fighting game called Mythic Combat and Project Zenith a first-person shooter set in outer space. (More than 16 players can gather in the same virtual space.) Their third game, a VR adaptation of Pong "was originally put together as a joke, in homage to Bushnell's past -- but the company decided to use the simple two-player game anyway to demonstrate what it's working on at the World's Fair Nano technology fair in San Francisco in late January." The article describes players who "donned a prototype bulky black headset and played Pong in virtual reality, running from side to side to control the game's simple white paddles -- which a smiling Bushnell said was fitting because "we're at the Pong stage of VR."

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Privacy-Centric Linux Distro Tails 3.0 Will Drop 32-Bit Processor Support

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:34
All of its outgoing connections are routed through Tor, and it even blocks non-anonymous connections. You can carry it around on a USB stick, and Edward Snowden uses it. But a big change is coming with Tails 3.0. BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: Unfortunately for some users, Tails will soon not work on their computers. The upcoming version 3.0 of the operating system is dropping 32-bit processor support. While a decline in compatibility is normally a bad thing, in this case, it is good. You see, because there are so few 32-bit Tails users, the team was wasting resources by supporting them. Not to mention, 64-bit processors are more secure too... "In the beginning of 2016, only 4% of Tails users were still using a 32-bit computer. Of course, some of these computers will keep working for a while. But once the number had fallen this low, the benefits of switching Tails to 64-bit outweighed the reasons we had to keep supporting 32-bit computers," says the Tails team... "In the last few years, the developers who maintain Tails have spent lots of time addressing such issues. We would rather see them spend their time in ways that benefit our users on the long term, and not on problems that will vanish when Tails switches to 64-bit eventually."

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16 Years of GPS Space Weather Data Made Publicly Available

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 14:34
"It's not often that a scientific discipline gains a 23-satellite constellation overnight," reports Science magazine, describing 16 years worth of radiation measurements from GPS satellites finally released by Los Alamos National Lab. "Although billions of people globally use data from GPS satellites, they remain U.S. military assets." Scientists have long sought the data generated by sensors used to monitor the status of the satellites, which operate in the heavy radiation of medium-Earth orbit and can be vulnerable to solar storms. But few have been allowed to tap this resource... That attitude changed in October 2016, when the outgoing Obama administration issued an executive order aimed at preparing the country for extreme space weather. Such bursts in charged particles, originating in a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, could disable the electrical power grid or divert flights away from the Arctic, where radiation exposure is heightened. The GPS data, which dates from December 2000, fill a hole in studies of space weather, the complex interplay of Earth's magnetic field with bombarding radiation from cosmic rays and the sun.

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Kaspersky Lab Promises New Backup Tool To Help Unhappy Social Media Users Quit

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 13:34
Kaspersky Lab surveyed 16,750 people and concluded that often negative experiences on social experience overpower their positive effects -- and they're doing something about it. JustAnotherOldGuy pointed us to their latest announcement. 59% have felt unhappy when they have seen friends' posts from a party they were not invited to, and 45% revealed that their friends' happy holiday pictures have had a negative influence on them. Furthermore, 37% also admitted that looking at past happy posts of their own can leave them with the feeling that their own past was better than their present life. Previous research has also demonstrated peoples' frustration with social media as 78% admitted that they have considered leaving social networks altogether. The only thing that makes people stay on social media is the fear of losing their digital memories, such as photos, and contacts with their friends. To help people decide more freely if they want to stay in social media or leave without losing their digital memories, Kaspersky Lab is developing a new app -- FFForget will allow people to back up all of their memories from the social networks they use and keep them in a safe, encrypted memory container and will give people the freedom to leave any network whenever they want, without losing what belongs to them -- their digital lives. The FFForget app will be released in 2017, but there's already a web page where you can sign up for early access. Kaspersky plans to monetize this by creating both a free version of the app -- limited to one social network -- and a $1.99-per-month version which automatically backs up social content from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram in real-time with a fancier interface and more powerful encryption.

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Peter Thiel Thinks There's Not Enough Sex In Silicon Valley

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 12:34
Peter Thiel recently complained parts of Silicon Valley are "hyper-politically correct" about sexual activity, and shared a friend's theory that conservative parts of America tolerate Silicon Valley "because people there just don't have that much sex. They're not having that much fun." Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes Business Insider's investigation into Thiel's claim. Silicon Valley has the highest ratio of single men to single women... (However, it's worth noting that the San Francisco metropolitan area also has the highest ratio of people who identify as LGBT in the U.S.) In fact, Dr. Sandra Lindholm, a sex therapist and clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, recently told Forbes that she's now seeing an uptick in young, male clients who complain about a variety of sexual challenges and issues. "They're coming to sex therapy because they don't feel they have time or energy for sex," Lindhold said. Some of the common issues include low sexual desire, difficulty meeting women, and performance issues. Plus, she points out people in tech generally have a reputation for being introverted. Another particular issue that frequently comes up is what she calls "tech overload": people spend so much time on their gadgets that they "forget about being in the moment." Although there's no official data on Silicon Valley's sex frequency, a 2012 survey by condom maker Trojan revealed that Bay Area residents had the least amount of sex and the shortest time in bed, in a sample of 10 major US cities including New York, Chicago, Miami, and so on.

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A Hacker Just Pwned Over 150,000 Printers Exposed Online

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 11:39
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.

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Mozilla Binds Firefox's Fate To The Rust Language

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 10:34
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: After version 53, Firefox will require Rust to compile successfully, due to the presence of Firefox components built with the language. But this decision may restrict the number of platforms that Firefox can be ported to -- for now... Rust depends on LLVM, which has dependencies of its own -- and all of them would need to be supported on the target platform. A discussion on the Bugzilla tracker for Firefox raises many of these points... What about proper support for Linux distributions with long-term support, where the tools available on the distro are often frozen, and where newer Rust features might not be available? What about support for Firefox on "non-tier-1" platforms, which make up a smaller share of Firefox users? Mozilla's stance is that in the long run, the pain of transition will be worth it. "The advantage of using Rust is too great," according to maintainer Ted Mielczarek. "We normally don't go out of our way to make life harder for people maintaining Firefox ports, but in this case we can't let lesser-used platforms restrict us from using Rust in Firefox." InfoWorld points out most Firefox users won't be affected, adding that those who are should "marshal efforts to build out whatever platforms need Rust support." Since most users just want Mozilla to deliver a fast and feature-competitive browser, the article concludes that "The pressure's on not only to move to Rust, but to prove the move was worth it."

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OPNsense 17.1 Released, Based On FreeBSD 11

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 09:34
An anonymous reader quotes Phoronix: OPNsense 17.1 is now available as the newest release of this network-focused FreeBSD-based operating system forked from pfSense. It's now been two years since the first official release of OPNsense and to celebrate they have out a big update. OPNsense 17.1 re-bases to using FreeBSD 11.0, there's now a SSH remote installer, new language support, more hardening features used from HardenedBSD, new plugins, integrated authentication via PAM, and many other improvements. Some of the new plug-ins include FTP Proxy, Tinc VPN, and Let's Encrypt support. This version has been named "Eclectic Eagle".

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Microsoft Is Disabling Older Versions of Skype For Mac and Windows On March 1

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 08:34
If you're using an older, outdated version of Skype, you may want to consider updating soon. Microsoft said today that starting on March 1 people will no longer be able to sign in to version 7.16 of Skype for Window desktop and older versions, and version 7.18 of Skype for Mac and older versions thereof. VentureBeat reports: "If you're one of those users, all you'll need to do is download the new update," the Skype team said in a blog post. This isn't the first time Skype is retiring old software. But that doesn't mean the upcoming move won't rankle some people. Version 7.18 of Skype for Mac and version 7.16 of Skype for Windows both came out less than a year and a half ago -- in December 2015. So it's not as if this is very old software. Still, Microsoft has been doing a lot to improve Skype in the past year. It's been migrating the app to its Azure public cloud infrastructure, and adding chatbots. Current versions of Skype -- like version 7.44 for Mac -- come with amenities like better previews of websites and better support for emoticons and other content in the input box for chats. "We've poured our energy and passion into creating something truly special, and this is just the beginning," Skype said.

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