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EU Mulls Five-Year Ban on Facial Recognition Tech in Public Areas

Fri, 2020-01-17 15:25
The European Union is considering banning facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years, to give it time to work out how to prevent abuses. From a report: The plan by the EU's executive -- set out in an 18-page white paper -- comes amid a global debate about the systems driven by artificial intelligence and widely used by law enforcement agencies. The EU Commission said new tough rules may have to be introduced to bolster existing regulations protecting Europeans' privacy and data rights. "Building on these existing provisions, the future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces," the EU document said.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Aussie Firefighters Save World's Only Groves Of Prehistoric Wollemi Pines

Fri, 2020-01-17 14:45
As wildfires tear through Australia, a specialized team of firefighters has managed to save hidden groves of the Wollemi pine -- a rare prehistoric tree that outlived the dinosaurs. The trees are so rare, they were thought to be extinct until 1994. From a report: It was a lifesaving mission as dramatic as any in the months-long battle against the wildfires that have torn through the Australian bush. But instead of a race to save humans or animals, a specialized team of Australian firefighters was bent on saving invaluable plant life: hidden groves of the Wollemi pine, a prehistoric tree species that has outlived the dinosaurs. Wollemia nobilis peaked in abundance 34 million to 65 million years ago, before a steady decline. Today, only 200 of the trees exist in their natural environment -- all within the canyons of Wollemi National Park, just 100 miles west of Sydney. The trees are so rare that they were thought to be extinct until 1994. That's the year David Noble, an officer with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, rappelled into a narrow canyon and came across a grove of large trees he didn't recognize. Noble brought back a few twigs and showed them to biologists and botanists who were similarly stumped. A month later, Noble returned to the grove with scientists. It was then that they realized what they had found: "a tree outside any existing genus of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers," the American Scientist explains.

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YouTube's Algorithm is Pushing Climate Misinformation Videos, and Their Creators Are Profiting From It

Fri, 2020-01-17 14:07
An anonymous reader shares a report: When an ad runs on a YouTube video, the video creator generally keeps 55 percent of the ad revenue, with YouTube getting the other 45 percent. This system's designed to compensate content creators for their work. But when those videos contain false information -- say, about climate change -- it's essentially encouraging the creation of more misinformation content. Meanwhile, the brands advertising on YouTube often have no idea where their ads are running. In a new report published today, the social-activism nonprofit Avaaz calculates the degree to which YouTube recommends videos with false information about climate change. After collecting more than 5,000 videos, Avaaz found that 16 percent of the top 100 related videos surfaced by the search term "global warming" contained misinformation. Results were a little better on searches for "climate change" (9 percent) and worse for the more explicitly misinfo-seeking "climate manipulation" (21 percent). Those videos with misinformation had more views and more likes than other videos returned for the same search terms -- by an average of 20 and 90 percent, depending on the search. Avaaz identified 108 different brands running ads on the videos with climate misinformation; ironically enough, about one in five of those ads was from "a green or ethical brand" like Greenpeace or World Wildlife Fund. Many of those and other brands told Avaaz that they were unaware that their ads were running on climate misinformation videos.

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Oracle Ties Previous All-Time Patch High With January 2020 Updates

Fri, 2020-01-17 13:00
"Not sure if this is good news (Oracle is very busy patching their stuff) or bad news (Oracle is very busy patching their stuff) but this quarterly cycle they tied their all-time high number of vulnerability fixes released," writes Slashdot reader bobthesungeek76036. "And they are urging folks to not drag their feet in deploying these patches." Threatpost reports: The software giant patched 300+ bugs in its quarterly update. Oracle has patched 334 vulnerabilities across all of its product families in its January 2020 quarterly Critical Patch Update (CPU). Out of these, 43 are critical/severe flaws carrying CVSS scores of 9.1 and above. The CPU ties for Oracle's previous all-time high for number of patches issued, in July 2019, which overtook its previous record of 308 in July 2017. The company said in a pre-release announcement that some of the vulnerabilities affect multiple products. "Due to the threat posed by a successful attack, Oracle strongly recommends that customers apply Critical Patch Update patches as soon as possible," it added. "Some of these vulnerabilities were remotely exploitable, not requiring any login data; therefore posing an extremely high risk of exposure," said Boris Cipot, senior security engineer at Synopsys, speaking to Threatpost. "Additionally, there were database, system-level, Java and virtualization patches within the scope of this update. These are all critical elements within a company's infrastructure, and for this reason the update should be considered mandatory. At the same time, organizations need to take into account the impact that this update could have on their systems, scheduling downtime accordingly."

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MLB: Use Electronic Surveillance To Capture Fans' Data, Not Opponents' Signs

Fri, 2020-01-17 10:00
theodp writes: Major League Baseball Regulations "prohibit the use of electronic equipment during games and state that no such equipment may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage," reminded MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Monday as harsh punishment was meted out for the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. You can read the Commissioner's full statement at MLB.com, after you first carefully review the site's 5,680 word Privacy Policy which, ironically, attempts to describe the many ways that MLB will use electronic surveillance to collect and share information about you and your friends. MLB, a poster child for Google Marketing, boasted recently that the data it collects has enabled it to literally put a price on MLB fans' heads in the form of a Lifetime Value (LTV) metric. "Understanding our fans' budgets allows us to customize the offers and deals we present them," explained the MLB Technology blog. More details are available in Data Science and the Business of Major League Baseball (PDF, Strata Data Conference slides).

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'Frankenstein' Material Can Self-Heal, Reproduce

Fri, 2020-01-17 07:00
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: Researchers have now created a form of concrete that not only comes from living creatures but -- given the right inputs -- can turn one brick into two, two into four, and four into eight. [...] For this project, Wil Srubar, a materials scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his colleagues wanted to engineer life into a bulk structural material. To do so, they turned to a hearty photosynthetic cyanobacterial species in the genus Synechococcus. They mixed the cyanobacterium with sand and a hydrogel that helped retain water and nutrients. The mix provided structural support to the bacteria, which -- as they grey -- lay down calcium carbonate, similar to the way some ocean creatures create shells. When dried, the resulting material was as strong as cement-based mortar. "It looks like a Frankenstein-type material," Srubar says. "That's exactly what we're trying to create, something that stays alive." Under the right conditions, which included relatively high humidity, Srubar's living material not only survived but reproduced. After the researchers split the original brick in half and added extra sand, hydrogel, and nutrients, the cyanobacteria grew in 6 hours into two full-size bricks; after three generations (in which the researchers again split the bricks), they had eight bricks, they report today in Matter.

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Some Hospitals Are Ditching Lead Aprons During X-Rays

Fri, 2020-01-17 03:30
pgmrdlm shares a report from ABC News: Some hospitals are ditching the ritual of covering reproductive organs and fetuses during imaging exams after prominent medical and scientific groups have said it's a feel-good measure that can impair the quality of diagnostic tests and sometimes inadvertently increase a patient's radiation exposure. The about-face is intended to improve care, but it will require a major effort to reassure regulators, health care workers and the public that it's better not to shield. Lead shields are difficult to position accurately, so they often miss the target area they are supposed to protect. Even when in the right place, they can inadvertently obscure areas of the body a doctor needs to see -- the location of a swallowed object, say -- resulting in a need to repeat the imaging process, according to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, which represents physicists who work in hospitals. Shields can also cause automatic exposure controls on an X-ray machine to increase radiation to all parts of the body being examined in an effort to "see through" the lead. Moreover, shielding doesn't protect against the greatest radiation effect: "scatter," which occurs when radiation ricochets inside the body, including under the shield, and eventually deposits its energy in tissues. "In April, the physicists' association recommended that shielding of patients be 'discontinued as routine practice,'" the report adds. "Its statement was endorsed by several groups, including the American College of Radiology and the Image Gently Alliance, which promotes safe pediatric imaging. However, experts continue to recommend that health care workers in the imaging area protect themselves with leaded barriers as a matter of occupational safety."

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The Boring Company's Las Vegas Tunnel Is Nearly 50 Percent Complete

Fri, 2020-01-17 01:30
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Elon Musk's Boring Company is now about 50% complete with its underground tunnel. It's about six football fields in length. Teslarati reports: The Boring Company officially started tunneling for the people mover after a ceremonial groundbreaking event on November 15. In just two months, the project is nearly halfway completed. The company's Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) has been 40 feet underground for months and is working to drill two, one-mile-long tunnels. Boring Company began shipping portions of the TBM to the site in Las Vegas in September. Since then, the project has really started to take shape. The project cost the Boring Company $52.5 million and is expected to connect the Las Vegas Convention Center to popular Las Vegas hot spots. Downtown Las Vegas, the Strip, and McCarran International Airport will all be destination options for riders. The mover is expected to transport an estimated 4,400 people per hour. The Las Vegas project is just one of five projects the Boring Company has listed on its website. A Livestream of the Boring Company's Las Vegas Tunnel Project is available for viewing here.

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Augmented Reality In a Contact Lens: It's the Real Deal

Fri, 2020-01-17 00:50
Tekla Perry writes: Startup Mojo Vision announced a microdisplay mid-2019, with not a lot of talk about applications. Turns out, they had one very specific application in mind -- an AR contact lens. Last week the company let selected media have a look at working prototypes, powered wirelessly, though plans for the next version include a battery on board. The demos included edge detection and enhancement (intended for people with low vision) in a darkened room and text annotations. The lenses are entering clinical trials (company executives have been testing them for some time already). Steve Sinclair, senior vice president of product and marketing, says the first application will likely be for people with low vision -- providing real-time edge detection and dropping crisp lines around objects. Other applications include translating languages in real time, tagging faces, and providing emotional cues. "People can't tell you are wearing it, so we want the interaction to be subtle, done using just your eyes," Sinclair said. He also noted the experience is different from wearing glasses. "When you close your eyes, you still see the content displayed," he says. Mojo Vision is calling the technology Invisible Computing.

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Dashcam Flaw Allows Anyone To Track Drivers In Real-Time Across the US

Fri, 2020-01-17 00:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: BlackVue is a dashcam company with its own social network. With a small, internet-connected dashcam installed inside their vehicle, BlackVue users can receive alerts when their camera detects an unusual event such as someone colliding with their parked car. Customers can also allow others to tune into their camera's feed, letting others "vicariously experience the excitement and pleasure of driving all over the world," a message displayed inside the app reads. Users are invited to upload footage of their BlackVue camera spotting people crashing into their cars or other mishaps with the #CaughtOnBlackVue hashtag. But what BlackVue's app doesn't make clear is that it is possible to pull and store users' GPS locations in real-time over days or even weeks. Motherboard was able to track the movements of some of BlackVue's customers in the United States. Ordinarily, BlackVue lets anyone create an account and then view a map of cameras that are broadcasting their location and live feed. This broadcasting is not enabled by default, and users have to select the option to do so when setting up or configuring their own camera. Motherboard tuned into live feeds from users in Hong Kong, China, Russia, the U.K, Germany, and elsewhere. BlackVue spokesperson Jeremie Sinic told Motherboard in an email that the users on the map only represent a tiny fraction of BlackVue's overall customers. But the actual GPS data that drives the map is available and publicly accessible. By reverse engineering the iOS version of the BlackVue app, Motherboard was able to write scripts that pull the GPS location of BlackVue users over a week long period and store the coordinates and other information like the user's unique identifier. One script could collect the location data of every BlackVue user who had mapping enabled on the eastern half of the United States every two minutes. Motherboard collected data on dozens of customers. Following the report, BlackVue said their developers "have updated the security measures" to prevent this sort of tracking. Motherboard confirmed that previously provided user data stopped working, and they said they have "deleted all of the data collected to preserve individuals' privacy."

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US States Tell Court Prices To Increase If Sprint, T-Mobile Allowed To Merge

Thu, 2020-01-16 23:30
A group of U.S. states suing to block T-Mobile from merging with Sprint on Wednesday told a federal judge that the deal would violate antitrust laws and raise wireless prices for consumers. Reuters reports: The states filed a lawsuit in June to block the merger, saying it would harm low-income Americans in particular. T-Mobile and Sprint contend that the merger would enable the combined company to compete more effectively with dominant carriers Verizon and AT&T. U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero, who presided over a two-week trial last month in federal court in Manhattan, began hearing closing arguments in the case on Wednesday. "I'm here speaking on behalf of 130 million consumers who live in these states," Glenn Pomerantz, a lawyer for the states, said at the outset of his argument. "If this merger goes forward, they're at risk for paying billions of dollars more every single year for those services." When T-Mobile majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom first contemplated the deal in 2010, it "expressly and unambiguously admitted that it had potential to reduce price competition," Pomerantz said. The states also emphasized that the carriers did not need a merger to introduce previous generations of wireless technology, and Pomerantz argued that T-Mobile would continue to acquire spectrum, or airwaves that carry data, from a variety of sources even if the merger was blocked.

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Comcast Settles Lying Allegations, Will Issue Refunds and Cancel Debts

Thu, 2020-01-16 22:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast has agreed to issue refunds to 15,600 customers and cancel the debts of another 16,000 people to settle allegations that the cable company lied to customers in order to hide the true cost of service. Comcast will have to pay $1.3 million in refunds. The settlement with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, announced yesterday, resolves a lawsuit filed by the state against Comcast in December 2018. The attorney general's lawsuit alleged that Comcast "charged Minnesota consumers more than it promised it would for their cable services, including undisclosed 'fees' that the company used to bolster its profits, and that it charged for services and equipment that customers did not request," the settlement announcement said. Comcast also "promised [customers] prepaid gift cards as an inducement to enter into multi-year contracts, then failed to provide the cards," Minnesota alleged. Refunds to the 15,600 customers will total $1.14 million. Comcast must also pay another $160,000 to the state attorney general's office, which can use any or all of that amount to provide additional refunds. That brings the total amount Comcast will pay to $1.3 million.

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PinePhone Linux Smartphone Shipment Finally Begins

Thu, 2020-01-16 22:30
Pine64 will finally start shipping the pre-order units of PinePhone Braveheart Edition on January 17, 2020. Fossbytes reports: A year ago, PinePhone was made available only to developers and hackers. After getting better responses and suggestions, the Pine64 developers planned to bring Pinephone for everyone. In November last year, pre-orders for PinePhone Braveheart Edition commenced for everyone. But due to manufacturing issues coming in the way, the shipment date slipped for weeks, which was scheduled in December last year. PinePhone Braveheart Edition is an affordable, open source Linux-based operating system smartphone preloaded with factory test image running on Linux OS (postmarketOS) on inbuilt storage. You can check on PinePhone Wiki to find the PinePhone compatible operating system such as Ubuntu Touch, postmarketOS, or Sailfish OS, which you can boot either from internal storage or an SD card.

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Google Stadia Promises More Than 120 Games in 2020, Including 10 Exclusives

Thu, 2020-01-16 22:10
Google said today that it's on track to bring more than 120 games to its cloud gaming service Stadia in 2020 and is planning to offer more than 10 Stadia-exclusive games for the first half of the year. From a report: That would be a pretty massive jump from the 26 games and one exclusive that are currently available, and all in a little more than a year after the service's launch, if those projections hold true. Previously, Google had only explicitly confirmed four games for 2020, so this news was much needed to let early adopters know there are a lot more games on the way. Google also announced other updates rolling out to Stadia over the next three months, including 4K gaming on the web, support for more Android phones (it's currently only available on Google's Pixels), wireless gameplay on the web through the Stadia controller (you currently have to plug in a cable), and "further [Google] Assistant functionality" when playing Stadia through a browser. We're asking Google for more details -- and we're particularly curious whether any of the new exclusive games are the kind that are only possible with the power of the cloud. The company said in October that it's building out a few first-party studios to eventually make that a reality.

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Scientists Sent Mighty Mice To Space To Improve Treatments Back On Earth

Thu, 2020-01-16 21:30
In December, scientists sent 40 very muscular mice to live temporarily at the International Space Station. The resulting research, they hope, could lead to new treatments for kids with muscular dystrophy, or cancer patients with muscle wasting. From a report: In early December at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, two anxious scientists were about to send 20 years of research into orbit. "I feel like our heart and soul is going up in that thing," Dr. Emily Germain-Lee told her husband, Dr. Se-Jin Lee, as they waited arm-in-arm for a SpaceX rocket to launch. A few seconds later the spacecraft took off, transporting some very unusual mice to the International Space Station, where they would spend more than a month in near zero gravity. Ordinarily, that would cause the animals' bones to weaken and their muscles to atrophy. But Lee and Germain-Lee, a power couple in the research world, were hoping that wouldn't happen with these mice. "It was worth waiting 20 years for," Lee said as the Falcon 9 rocket headed toward space. "And someday it may really help people," Germain-Lee added. The couple hope that what they learn from these mice will lead to new treatments for millions of people with conditions that weaken muscles and bones. Among those who might eventually benefit: children with muscular dystrophy or brittle bone disease, cancer patients with muscle wasting, bedridden patients recovering from hip fractures, older people whose bones and muscles have become dangerously weak, and astronauts on long space voyages.

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JRR Tolkien's Son Christopher Dies Aged 95

Thu, 2020-01-16 21:10
Christopher Tolkien, the son of Lord Of The Rings author JRR Tolkien who was responsible for editing and publishing much of his father's work, has died aged 95. The Tolkien Society released a short statement on Twitter to confirm the news. The Guardian reports: Tolkien, who was born in Leeds in 1924, was the third and youngest son of the revered fantasy author and his wife Edith. He grew up listening to his fathers tales of Bilbo Baggins, which later became the children's fantasy novel, The Hobbit. He drew many of the original maps detailing the world of Middle Earth for his father's The Lord of the Rings when the series was first published between 1954 and 55. He also edited much of his father's posthumously published work following his death in 1973. Since 1975 he had lived in France with Baillie. In an interview with the Guardian in 2012, Christopher's son Simon described the enormity of the task after his grandfather died with so much material still unpublished. Simon said: "He had produced this huge output that covered everything from the history of the gods to the history of the people he called the Silmarils -- that was his great work but it had never seen the light of day despite his best efforts to get it published." His son was left to sift through the files and notebooks and over the two decades after his father's death, he published The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Beren And Luthien and The History of Middle-earth, which fleshed out the complex world of elves and dwarves created by his father.

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FBI Changes Policy for Notifying States of Election Systems Cyber Breaches

Thu, 2020-01-16 20:50
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will notify state officials when local election systems are believed to have been breached by hackers [the link may be paywalled], a pivot in policy that comes after criticism that the FBI wasn't doing enough to inform states of election threats, WSJ reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. From a report: The FBI's previous policy stated that it notified the direct victims of cyberattacks, such as the counties that own and operate election equipment, but wouldn't necessarily share that information with states. Several states and members of Congress in both parties had criticized that policy as inadequate and one that stifled state-local partnerships on improving election security. Further reading: Despite Election Security Fears, Iowa Caucuses Will Use New Smartphone App.

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Microsoft Pledges To Be Carbon Negative By 2030 and Re-capture All of Its Past Emissions

Thu, 2020-01-16 20:10
Microsoft has announced an aggressive plan to rectify its role in the climate crisis. From a report: In a blog post published on Thursday, the company pledged to "reduce and ultimately remove" its carbon footprint. To do that, Microsoft says its operations will be carbon negative by 2030 -- and, it will spend the subsequent two decades sequestering the equivalent of its entire history of carbon dioxide emissions, going back to 1975. Microsoft has already been carbon neutral for several years now, largely by investing in efficient energy practices. It isn't the only company to take these steps; Apple has boasted for some time now about being run on 100 percent renewable energy across the globe and Google says it's been carbon neutral for over a decade. But Microsoft's latest initiative takes all that a leap further. Moving forward, the company says it will be carbon negative, meaning that in addition to prioritizing energy efficiency in its own operations, it will actively work to reduce more atmospheric carbon than it emits. Microsoft is hoping to hit this mark by 2030.

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Google Will Wind Down Chrome Apps Starting in June

Thu, 2020-01-16 19:30
Google said this week that it will begin to phase out traditional Chrome apps starting in June, and winding down slowly over two years' time. Chrome extensions, though, will live on. From a report: Google said Tuesday in a blog post that it would stop accepting new Chrome apps in March. Existing apps could continue to be developed through June, 2022. The important dates start in June of this year, when Google will end support for Chrome Apps on the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. Education and Enterprise customers on these platforms will get a little more time to get their affairs in order, until December, 2020. Google had actually said four years ago that it would phase out Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux in 2018. The company appears to have waited longer than announced before beginning this process. The other platform that's affected by this, of course, is Google's own Chrome OS and Chromebooks, for which the apps were originally developed.

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These Living Bricks Use Bacteria To Build Themselves

Thu, 2020-01-16 18:50
A new living substance can transform from a wet sand mixture into a solid brick, and even help to reproduce copies of itself. From a report: Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder, used a type of photosynthetic bacteria that absorbs carbon dioxide, sunlight, and nutrients and produces calcium carbonate -- a rigid compound found in rocks, pearls, and seashells. They grew the bacteria in a warm mixture of salt water and other nutrients and combined it with sand and gelatin. The mixture was poured into a mold, and as it cooled the gelatin set, forming a "scaffold" able to support further bacterial growth. The bacteria deposited calcium carbonate throughout the scaffold, turning the soft sludge into a harder substance after about a day. The mixture looks green initially, but the color fades as it dries. The research was published in the journal Matter and was funded by DARPA, the US military's research arm.

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