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Updated: 14 min 54 sec ago

What Really Happened To Malaysia's Missing Airplane

34 min 56 sec ago
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's disappearance in March 2014 instantly become a global news phenomenon, as multiple countries joined the search for the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew. But the mystery is still swirling five years on. The Atlantic's July cover story looks at all of the known evidence about how MH370 vanished into the Indian Ocean to deliver the clearest picture to date of what happened: that in all likelihood the plane was intentionally crashed by the pilot. From the report: In truth, a lot can now be known with certainty about the fate of MH 370. First, the disappearance was an intentional act. It is inconceivable that the known flight path, accompanied by radio and electronic silence, was caused by any combination of system failure and human error. The story also tracked down Blaine Gibson, an American who has taken it upon himself to recover pieces of MH370 wreckage. Gibson has collected more plane fragments than any other person or entity -- and on beaches hundreds of miles apart. What Gibson's discovery of so many pieces of debris has confirmed is that the signals analysis was correct. The airplane flew for six hours until the flight came suddenly to an end. There was no effort by someone at the controls to bring the plane down gently. It shattered. Amid the bizarre conspiracy theories that continue to surround the disappearance of MH370, Gibson has become a target of threats and abuse. Yet his work to recover pieces of MH370 continues.

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Huawei Says US Ban Hurting More Than Expected, To Wipe $30 Billion Off Revenue

1 hour 9 min ago
China's Huawei has taken a harder-than-expected hit from a U.S. ban, the company's founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said, and slashed revenue expectations for the year. From a report: Ren's downbeat assessment that the ban will hit revenue by $30 billion, the first time Huawei has quantified the impact of the U.S. action, comes as a surprise after weeks of defiant comments from company executives who maintained Huawei was technologically self-sufficient. [...] Huawei had not expected that U.S. determination to "crack" the company would be "so strong and so pervasive," Ren said, speaking at the company's Shenzhen headquarters on Monday. Two U.S. tech experts, George Gilder and Nicholas Negroponte, also joined the session. "We did not expect they would attack us on so many aspects," Ren said, adding he expects a revival in business in 2021.

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Samsung Recommends Scanning QLED TVs For Viruses

1 hour 49 min ago
Samsung has reminded owners of its smart TVs that they should be regularly scanning for malware using its built-in virus scanning software. From a report: In a tweet, Samsung US support account shared a video Sunday outlining how users can scan their smart TVs for viruses. It is unclear what prompted the tweet or why the process seems to be opt-in as opposed to the operating system automatically scanning for viruses in the background. "Scanning your computer for malware viruses is important to keep it running smoothly. This also is true for your QLED TV if it's connected to Wi-Fi! Prevent malicious software attacks on your TV by scanning for viruses on your TV every few weeks," the company said in the tweet. It has since deleted the tweet.

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Yahoo Japan Is Under Fire for Its China-Like Rating System

2 hours 32 min ago
Some users of Yahoo Japan are rising up against Japan's biggest web portal after the rollout of a new rating system that's being compared with a social-scoring initiative in China. From a report: The 48 million people with a Yahoo! Japan ID will have to opt-out within a privacy settings webpage if they don't want to be rated. The score is based on a variety of factors and is calculated based on inputs such as payment history, shopping reviews, whether a user canceled bookings and the amount of identifiable personal information. Unless users opt out, their ratings may be accessible to freelance jobs site Crowdworks, Yahoo's bike-sharing service and other businesses. Makoto Niida, a longtime Yahoo user, opted out of the rating system when he learned about it. "It's a big deal that the service was enabled by default," Niida said. "The way they created services that benefit businesses without clear explanations to their users reminds me of Chinaâ(TM)s surveillance society." Yahoo's new credit-score program follows efforts by Mizuho Financial Group, NTT Docomo and other companies to use algorithms to assign ratings to consumers. Japan doesn't have a system similar to FICO in the U.S., so businesses in the world's third-largest economy have come up with their own solutions to determine financial trustworthiness.

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7,000 Developers Report Their Top Languages: Java, JavaScript, and Python

6 hours 5 min ago
"JetBrains released its State of Developer Ecosystem 2019 report, which found while Java is still the most popular primary language and JavaScript is the most used overall, Python is gaining speed," reports SD Times: The report surveyed about 7,000 developers worldwide, and revealed Python is the most studied programming language, the most loved language, and the third top primary programming language developers are using... The top use cases developers are using Python for include data analysis, web development, machine learning and writing automation scripts, according to the JetBrains report. More developers are also beginning to move over to Python 3, with 9 out of 10 developers using the current version. The JetBrains report also found while Go is still a young language, it is the most promising programming language. "Go started out with a share of 8% in 2017 and now it has reached 18%. In addition, the biggest number of developers (13%) chose Go as a language they would like to adopt or migrate to," the report stated... Seventy-three percent of JavaScript developers use TypeScript, which is up from 17 percent last year. Seventy-one percent of Kotlin developers use Kotlin for work. Java 8 is still the most popular programming language, but developers are beginning to migrate to Java 10 and 11. JetBrains (which designed Kotlin in 2011) also said that 60% of their survey's respondents identified themselves as professional web back-end developers (while 46% said they did web front-end, and 23% developed mobile applications). 41% said they hadn't contributed to open source projects "but I would like to," while 21% said they contributed "several times a year." "16% of developers don't have any tests in their projects. Among fully-employed senior developers though, that statistic is just 8%. Like last year, about 30% of developers still don't have unit tests in their projects." Other interesting statistics: 52% say they code in their dreams. 57% expect AI to replace developers "partially" in the future. "83% prefer the Dark theme for their editor or IDE. This represents a growth of 6 percentage points since last year for each environment. 47% take public transit to work. And 97% of respondents using Rust "said they have been using Rust for less than a year. With only 14% using it for work, it's much more popular as a language for personal/side projects." And more than 90% of the Rust developers who responded worked with codebases with less than 300 files.

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Slashdot Asks: Does Anyone Still Like Godzilla?

9 hours 5 min ago
There's now a new $175 million remake of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. I loved it, Msmash walked out of it, and BeauHD didn't bother to go see it. The movie performed poorly at the box office, but I'm not the only person who still likes Godzilla. There's also a new anime version on Netflix. And critic Matt Zoller Seitz (once a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism) is calling the new film "a frequently astounding movie... its imperfections are compensated by magnificence." For all its crash-and-bash action, this is a real science fiction movie that goes to the trouble of not merely creating a world, but thinking about the implications of its images and predicaments. It cares what the people in it must feel and think about their situation, and how it might weigh on them every day even when they aren't talking about it amongst themselves. It's also suffused with a spiritual or theological awareness, and takes it all as seriously as recent DC films took their comparisons of caped wonders to figures from the Old Testament and ancient mythology... [A]t the level of image, sound and music, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" is a frequently brilliant film that earnestly grapples with the material it presents... It deploys state-of-the-art moviemaking tools to try to return audiences to a stage of childlike terror and delight. Arthur C. Clarke famously observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This movie is magic. No expense was spared. For fans of the franchise there was even a quick Easter egg about what happened to the Mothra twins when they grew up. And of course the film-makers included Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" song in the closing credits -- an over-the-top remake featuring a chanting Japanese taiko drum group, members of the band Dethklok from Metalocalypse, and heavy-metal drumming legend Gene Hoglan. The film's composer called it "perhaps the most audacious piece of music I have ever produced, jammed to the breaking point...It is complete musical madness." But what it all for nothing? Leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does anyone still like Godzilla?

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Why New York's Subway Still Uses OS/2

12 hours 5 min ago
Every day 5.7 million people ride the subway in New York City -- and are subjected to both "the whims of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the unheard-of reliability of a marginally successful operating system from the early 1990s." martiniturbide shared this report from Tedium: OS/2 and MTA consultant Neil Waldhauer said in an email, "For a few years, you could bet your career on OS/2." To understand why, you need to understand the timing. Waldhauer continues, "The design is from a time before either Linux or Windows was around. OS/2 would have seemed like a secure choice for the future." So for a lack of options, the MTA went with its best one. And it's worked out for decades, as one of the key software components of a quite complex system... Despite the failure of OS/2 in the consumer market, it was hilariously robust, leading to a long life in industrial and enterprise systems -- with one other famous example being ATMs. Waldhauer said, "Thinking about all the operating systems in use [in the MTA], I'd have to say that OS/2 is probably the most robust part of the system, except for the mainframe." It's still in use in the NYC subway system in 2019. IBM had long given up on it, even allowing another company to maintain the software in 2001. (These days, a firm named Arca Noae sells an officially supported version of OS/2, ArcaOS, though most of its users are in similar situations to the MTA.)

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Upgrade Your Memory With A Surgically Implanted Brain Chip

June 16, 2019 - 10:01pm
Bloomberg reports on a five-year, $77 million project by America's Department of Defense to create an implantable brain device that restores memory-generation capacity for people with traumatic brain injuries. A device has now been developed by Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and the medical technology company Medtronic Plc, and successfully tested with funding from America's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa). Connected to the left temporal cortex, it monitors the brain's electrical activity and forecasts whether a lasting memory will be created. "Just like meteorologists predict the weather by putting sensors in the environment that measure humidity and wind speed and temperature, we put sensors in the brain and measure electrical signals," Kahana says. If brain activity is suboptimal, the device provides a small zap, undetectable to the patient, to strengthen the signal and increase the chance of memory formation. In two separate studies, researchers found the prototype consistently boosted memory 15 per cent to 18 per cent. The second group performing human testing, a team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., aided by colleagues at the University of Southern California, has a more finely tuned method. In a study published last year, their patients showed memory retention improvement of as much as 37 per cent. "We're looking at questions like, 'Where are my keys? Where did I park the car? Have I taken my pills?'â" says Robert Hampson, lead author of the 2018 study... Both groups have tested their devices only on epileptic patients with electrodes already implanted in their brains to monitor seizures; each implant requires clunky external hardware that won't fit in somebody's skull. The next steps will be building smaller implants and getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to bring the devices to market... Justin Sanchez, who just stepped down as director of Darpa's biological technologies office, says veterans will be the first to use the prosthetics. "We have hundreds of thousands of military personnel with traumatic brain injuries," he says. The next group will likely be stroke and Alzheimer's patients.

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Twitch Sues Troll Streamers Who Flooded Site With Violent Videos and Pornography

June 16, 2019 - 8:01pm
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: Twitch Interactive, the livestreaming platform owned by Amazon.com, has sued anonymous trolls who flooded the site last month with pornography, violent content and copyrighted movies and television shows... Twitch says it works to remove offensive posts and ban the accounts of the users who post them, but that the videos quickly reappear, apparently posted by bots, while other bots work to drive users to the impermissible content. Twitch temporarily suspended new creators from streaming after a May 25 attack by trolls. The company said that if it learns the identities of the anonymous streamers who have abused its terms of service -- named in the lawsuit as "John and Jane Does 1-100" -- it will ask the court to prohibit their using the platform and order them to pay restitution and damages.

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A New Hidden Way of Web Browser Profiling, Identification and Tracking

June 16, 2019 - 7:05pm
Researchers from Austria's Graz University of Technology "have devised an automated system for browser profiling using two new side channel attacks that can help expose information about software and hardware," reports The Register. The researchers recently presented a paper titled "JavaScript Template Attacks: Automatically Inferring Host Information for Targeted Exploits," which The Register says "calls into question the effectiveness of anonymized browsing and browser privacy extensions... " Long-time Slashdot reader Artem S. Tashkinov shared their report: One of the side-channel attacks developed for JavaScript Template Attacks involve measuring runtime differences between two code snippets to infer the underlying instruction set architecture through variations in JIT compiler behavior. The other involves measuring timing differences in the memory allocator to infer the allocated size of a memory region. The boffins' exploration of the JavaScript environment reveals not only the ability to fingerprint via browser version, installed privacy extension, privacy mode, operating system, device microarchitecture, and virtual machine, but also the properties of JavaScript objects. And their research shows there are far more of these than are covered in official documentation. This means browser fingerprints have the potential to be far more detailed -- have more data points -- than they are now. The Mozilla Developer Network documentation for Firefox, for example, covers 2,247 browser properties. The researchers were able to capture 15,709. Though not all of these are usable for fingerprinting and some represent duplicates, they say they found about 10,000 usable properties for all browsers.

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Researcher Publishers 7 Million (Still Public) Venmo Transactions on GitHub

June 16, 2019 - 5:44pm
Remember the outrage last year when a researcher discovered that for Venmo's 40 million users, all transactions are "public" by default and broadcast on Venmo's API? More than a year later, computer science student Dan Salmon has demonstrated that it's still incredibly easy to download millions of transactions through Venmo's developer API without obtaining user permissions (without even using the Venmo app). He proved this by downloading 7 million of them," TechCrunch reports: Dan Salmon said he scraped the transactions during a cumulative six months to raise awareness and warn users to set their Venmo payments to private... Using that data, anyone can look at an entire user's public transaction history, who they shared money with, when, and in some cases for what reason -- including illicit goods and substances. "There's truly no reason to have this API open to unauthenticated requests," he told TechCrunch. "The API only exists to provide like a scrolling feed of public transactions for the home page of the app, but if that's your goal then you should require a token with each request to verify that the user is logged in." He published the scraped data on his GitHub page.

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'Genius' Site Said It Used Morse Code To Catch Google Stealing Song Lyrics

June 16, 2019 - 4:54pm
"Genius.com says its traffic is dropping because, for the past several years, Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, with some of them lifted directly from the music site," reports the Wall Street Journal: Google denies doing anything nefarious. Still, Genius's complaints offer a window into the challenges small tech companies can face when the unit of Alphabet Inc. starts offering competing services on its platform... Genius said it notified Google as far back as 2017, and again in an April letter, that copied transcriptions appear on Google's website. The April letter, a copy of which was viewed by the Journal, warned that reuse of Genius's transcriptions breaks the Genius.com terms of service and violates antitrust law. "Over the last two years, we've shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius," said Ben Gross, Genius's chief strategy officer, in an email message.... Genius said it found more than 100 examples of songs on Google that came from its site. Starting around 2016, Genius made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics' apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song. When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words "Red Handed." Genius is a privately held company, and its investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Emagen Investment Group and the rapper Nas... Genius clients include the music streaming website Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc. The article also notes March study from web-analytics firm Jumpshot Inc. which found 62% of mobile searches on Google now don't result in the user clicking through to a non-Google web site.

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Google's Login Chief: Apple's Sign-In Button Is Better Than Using Passwords

June 16, 2019 - 3:34pm
After Apple announced a single sign-on tool last week, The Verge interviewed Google product management director Mark Risher. Though Google offers its own single sign-on tool, The Verge found him "surprisingly sunny about having a new button to compete with. While the login buttons are relatively simple, they're much more resistant to common attacks like phishing, making them much stronger than the average password -- provided you trust the network offering them." RISHER: I honestly do think this technology will be better for the internet and will make people much, much safer. Even if they're clicking our competitor's button when they're logging into sites, that's still way better than typing in a bespoke username and password, or more commonly, a recycled username and password... Usually with passwords they recommend the capital letters and symbols and all of that, which the majority of the planet believes is the best thing that they should do to improve their security. But it actually has no bearing on phishing, no bearing on password breaches, no bearing on password reuse. We think that it's much more important to reduce the total number of passwords out there... People often push back against the federated model, saying we're putting all our eggs into one basket. It sort of rolls off the tongue, but I think it's the wrong metaphor. A better metaphor might be a bank. There are two ways to store your hundred dollars: you could spread it around the house, putting one dollar in each drawer, and some under your mattress and all of that. Or you could put it in a bank, which is one basket, but it's a basket that is protected by 12-inch thick steel doors. That seems like the better option!

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Michigan Town Approves Fiber Internet Despite Intense Lobbying

June 16, 2019 - 2:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader Proudrooster writes: Fiber Internet is coming to Traverse City, Michigan in the hopes of attracting high tech startups and helping the city become a high-tech hub. Even in the face of intense lobbying by [commercial high-speed internet provider] Charter, The Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, and a barrage of pop up ads opposing it, the project is moving ahead into phase one. It was more than apparent that Charter did everything it could to try and sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt to try and kill this project as other incumbent providers have done across the USA. [Citation needed -- though Traverse City officials did report high-powered anonymous lobbying.] Kudos to the board of Traverse City Light and Power and the residents of Traverse City for being brave and making this investment in their community. Even though the decision is not finalized, the network may be an open network, allowing customers to purchase from a variety of providers. This project will undoubtedly be watched nationwide and possibly serve as a new model for other community fiber builds.

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America Planted Malware In Russia's Power Grid, Says NYT

June 16, 2019 - 1:34pm
"The U.S. military's Cyber Command has gotten more aggressive than ever against Russia in the past year, placing 'potentially crippling malware' in systems that control the country's electrical grid," according to CNET, citing a report in the New York Times: Made possible by little-noticed legal authority granted last summer by Congress, Cyber Command's strategy shift from a defensive to offensive posture is meant in part as a warning shot, but it's also designed to enable paralysing cyberattacks in the event of a conflict, The New York Times said Saturday, quoting unnamed officials... [T]he recent moves appear to have taken place under a military authorization bill Congress passed in 2018 that gives the go-ahead for "clandestine military activity" in cyberspace to "deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States...." The Times said Cyber Command is concerned Russia could trigger selective power outages in key states during the 2020 election and that it needs a way to discourage such attacks. But the agency and the U.S. have to consider their moves carefully in this international game of cyberchess. "The question now is whether placing the equivalent of land mines in a foreign power network is the right way to deter Russia," the Times report says. "While it parallels Cold War nuclear strategy, it also enshrines power grids as a legitimate target...." In related news, Bloomberg reported Friday that a Russia-linked hacking group that shut down an oil and gas facility in Saudi Arabia in 2017 has been probing utilities in the U.S. since late last year.

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Why 'Ambient Computing' Is Just A Marketing Buzzword -- For Now

June 16, 2019 - 12:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld columnist Mike Elgan: Ambient computing is real. It's the next megatrend in computing.... To interact in an "ambient computing" context means to not care and not even necessarily know where exactly the devices are that you're interacting with. When IoT devices and sensors are all around us, and artificial intelligence can understand human contexts for what's happening and act accordingly and in our interests, then ambient computing will have arrived... As with many technology revolutions, including augmented reality and AI, the buzzword ambient will precede the actual technology by many years. In fact, the marketing buzzword is suddenly here in full force. The actual technologies? Not so much. Instead, we're on the brink of a revolution in what you might call "semi-ambient computing...." Rumors are circulating that Google's next smartphones, the Pixel 4 line, may come with Soli built in. I told you in January about Google's Project Soli, which may be called the "Aware" sensor or feature in the Pixel 4 -- again, according to unconfirmed rumors. Soli or Aware capability means the Pixel 4 may accept in-the-air hand gestures, such as "skip" and "silence" during music playback. The new Google "wave" is a hand gesture. The ability to wave away music with a hand gesture brings the smartphone into the semi-ambient computing era. It basically adds natural hand gestures to natural-language processing.... Google also briefly talked last year about a healthcare assistant called Dr. Liz., which was described by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt as an ambient computing virtual assistant for doctors. We'll see if Google ever ships a Dr. Liz product... Yes, ambient computing is real, and the Next Big Thing, showing up first in business, enterprises and healthcare. But for now, the term ambient computing will be misapplied. It's a buzzword that will be stapled to every semi-ambient computing product and service that comes out over the next few years. The article predicts we'll eventually see ambient computing arriving in cars, grocery stores, smart glasses -- and notes a Microsoft job listing for its "Ambient Computing & Robotics team" describing "the era where computer vision, AI-based cognition, and autonomous electro-mechanicals pervade the workplace." Computerworldd adds that Microsoft "was mocked for its 'Clippy' assistant, which the company released in 1996 as a way to provide friendly help for people using Microsoft Office. In the future, Microsoft may release what will essentially be a Clippy that works, because it will understand human context through AI."

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Massive Electrical Failure Cuts Power To Nearly All Of Argentina On Election Day -- and Uruguay

June 16, 2019 - 11:34am
Iwastheone quotes the BBC: A massive electrical failure has left almost all of Argentina and Uruguay without power, according to a major Argentine electricity provider. Authorities say the cause of the blackout is still unclear. Argentine media said the power cut occurred shortly after 07:00 [03:00 PST, 11:00 BST], causing trains to be halted and failures with traffic signalling. It came as people in parts of Argentina were preparing to go to the polls for local elections. "A massive failure in the electrical interconnection system left all of Argentina and Uruguay without power," electricity supply company Edesur said in a tweet. Alejandra Martinez, a spokeswoman for the company, described the power cut as unprecedented. "This is the first time something like this has happened across the entire country." Argentina's energy secretary, Gustavo Lopetegui, said the cause of the power failure had not yet been determined. The Ministry of Civil Protection estimated that parts of the service could be restored in about seven or eight hours. Edesur said that power had been restored over 75,00 clients in parts of Buenos Aires and local media reported that two airports were operating on generators in the capital. Uruguay's energy company, UTE, said in a series of tweets that power had been restored to coastal areas and to areas north of Rio Negro. The combined population of Argentina and Uruguay is about 48 million people.... Tierra del Fuego in the far south is the only area that remains unaffected because it is not connected to the power grid. "Local media have been showing voters casting their ballots in the dark, with mobile phones being used as lanterns."

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Facebook's Photorealistic Simulator For AI Runs At 10,000 FPS

June 16, 2019 - 10:34am
malachiorion writes: Facebook just open sourced a simulator for testing and training embodied AI systems -- like virtual robots. They worked with AR/VR researchers to release the simulator along with what they say are the most photorealistic 3D reconstructions of real world places available. [Facebook Reality Labs have named this "the Replica data set".] The crazy part: Because more frames are always better for training computer vision in simulators, it can run at 10,000 FPS! The simulator's ability to hit 10K frames per second prompted an interesting follow-up on the original submission. "It's a totally useless framerate for humans -- just absolute overkill for our brains/eyeballs -- but it's apparently a benefit for AI systems." "As more researchers adopt the platform, we can collectively develop embodied AI techniques more quickly," explains Facebook's blog post, "as well as realize the larger benefits of replacing yesterday's training data sets with active environments that better reflect the world we're preparing machine assistants to operate in." And if you're worried about privacy, Facebook assures readers that "The data used to generate Replica scans was anonymized to remove any personal details (such as family photos) that could identify an individual. The overall reconstruction process was meticulous, with researchers manually filling in the small holes that are inevitably missed during scanning and using a 3D paint tool to apply annotations directly onto meshes."

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Uber's Plan To Deliver McDonald's Hamburgers By Drone

June 16, 2019 - 9:34am
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: The company's new initiative -- a collaborative effort between its Uber Eats and Uber Elevate divisions -- began with tests in San Diego using fast food meals from McDonald's, but could expand to include a local fine-dining restaurant called Juniper and Ivy, the company said. Uber intends to roll out commercial food delivery using drones in the same city this summer, with a fee structure that mimics Uber Eats current pricing, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, which first reported the company's plan... "We've been working closely with the FAA to ensure that we're meeting requirements and prioritizing safety," Uber Elevate's Luke Fischer, the company's head of flight operations, said in a statement. "From there, our goal is to expand Uber Eats drone delivery so we can provide more options to more people at the tap of a button. We believe that Uber is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge as we're able to leverage the Uber Eats network of restaurant partners and delivery partners as well as the aviation experience and technology of Uber Elevate." How will Uber's drone delivery service work? After a restaurant loads a meal into a drone and the robot takes to the air, the company's technology will notify a nearby Uber Eats driver at a designated drop-off location, the company said. The driver will pick up and hand deliver the meal to the customer the same way the service currently operates. But in the future, Uber said, the company would like to land drones atop parked vehicles near delivery locations "through QR code correspondence." Once that happens, the last-mile leg of delivery would be completed by the Uber Eats driver who would hand-deliver the order.

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Do Google and Facebook Threaten Our 'Ambient Privacy'?

June 16, 2019 - 7:34am
This week Pinboard founder Maciej Ceglowski (also a web developer and social critic) asked readers of his blog to consider an emerging threat to ambient privacy. He defines it as "the understanding that there is value in having our everyday interactions with one another remain outside the reach of monitoring, and that the small details of our daily lives should pass by unremembered." Until recently, ambient privacy was a simple fact of life. Recording something for posterity required making special arrangements, and most of our shared experience of the past was filtered through the attenuating haze of human memory. Even police states like East Germany, where one in seven citizens was an informer, were not able to keep tabs on their entire population. Today computers have given us that power. Authoritarian states like China and Saudi Arabia are using this newfound capacity as a tool of social control. Here in the United States, we're using it to show ads. But the infrastructure of total surveillance is everywhere the same, and everywhere being deployed at scale.... Because our laws frame privacy as an individual right, we don't have a mechanism for deciding whether we want to live in a surveillance society. Congress has remained silent on the matter, with both parties content to watch Silicon Valley make up its own rules. The large tech companies point to our willing use of their services as proof that people don't really care about their privacy. But this is like arguing that inmates are happy to be in jail because they use the prison library. Confronted with the reality of a monitored world, people make the rational decision to make the best of it. That is not consent... Our discourse around privacy needs to expand to address foundational questions about the role of automation: To what extent is living in a surveillance-saturated world compatible with pluralism and democracy? What are the consequences of raising a generation of children whose every action feeds into a corporate database? What does it mean to be manipulated from an early age by machine learning algorithms that adaptively learn to shape our behavior? That is not the conversation Facebook or Google want us to have. Their totalizing vision is of a world with no ambient privacy and strong data protections, dominated by the few companies that can manage to hoard information at a planetary scale. They correctly see the new round of privacy laws as a weapon to deploy against smaller rivals, further consolidating their control over the algorithmic panopticon.

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