Technology News

Stephen Hawking's Last Paper Is Now Online

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 21:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: When Stephen Hawking died in March at the age of 76, the world mourned a beloved and visionary scientist. But it is some consolation that Hawking's final paper has now been published on the preprint journal ArXiv, demonstrating that even during his last days, he was still pursuing the epic cosmic questions that defined his career. Entitled "Black hole entropy and soft hair," the paper was authored by Hawking along with physicists Sasha Haco, Malcolm Perry, and Andrew Strominger. The work is the third in a series from the team and addresses Hawking's famous brainchild -- the black hole information paradox. Like many physics conundrums, the paradox emerges from the lack of coherence between quantum field theory and general relativity. On the smallest scales of matter, where atoms and quarks abound, there exists a different and seemingly contradictory set of rules to the largest scale of matter, involving stars and galaxies. The search for a "theory of everything" that reconciles these two models is one of the holy grails of modern physics, and was a lifelong fascination for Hawking. Black holes are notable flashpoints for this tension between quantum field theory and general relativity. According to the quantum rulebook, it should be impossible for information about a particle -- its spin, configuration, mass, and other features -- to be permanently deleted from the universe. But what about matter that falls into black holes, objects with a reputation of not letting anything escape once it passes the event horizon? Can information be scrubbed inside black holes? Hawking suggested that information could indeed be deleted through Hawking radiation, which is a type of theoretical radiation that can escape from inside a black hole. This process has never been empirically observed, but the radiation would supposedly be stripped of all information about its original properties -- and that would violate the rules of the universe as we know them. In his last paper, Hawking and his colleagues speculated that a phenomenon called "soft hair" might resolve the black hole information paradox. The idea is that trails of light and gravity particles might encircle the event horizon, and could store, at the very least, entropic information about matter that fell into the black hole.

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Tech Suffers From Lack of Humanities, Says Mozilla Head

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 20:20
The head of the Mozilla Foundation, Mitchell Baker, is warning that companies need to diversify their hiring practices to include more people from backgrounds in philosophy and psychology if they want to tackle the problem of misinformation online. He also "warned that hiring employees who mainly come from Stem -- science, technology, engineering and maths -- will produce a new generation of technologists with the same blindspots as those who are currently in charge, a move that will 'come back to bite us,'" reports the Guardian. From the report: "Stem is a necessity, and educating more people in Stem topics clearly critical," Baker told the Guardian. "Every student of today needs some higher level of literacy across the Stem bases. "But one thing that's happened in 2018 is that we've looked at the platforms, and the thinking behind the platforms, and the lack of focus on impact or result. It crystallized for me that if we have Stem education without the humanities, or without ethics, or without understanding human behavior, then we are intentionally building the next generation of technologists who have not even the framework or the education or vocabulary to think about the relationship of Stem to society or humans or life." "Stem is a necessity, and educating more people in Stem topics clearly critical," Baker told the Guardian. "Every student of today needs some higher level of literacy across the Stem bases. "But one thing that's happened in 2018 is that we've looked at the platforms, and the thinking behind the platforms, and the lack of focus on impact or result. It crystallized for me that if we have Stem education without the humanities, or without ethics, or without understanding human behavior, then we are intentionally building the next generation of technologists who have not even the framework or the education or vocabulary to think about the relationship of Stem to society or humans or life."

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VoiceOver bug lets hackers view iPhone photos, send them to another device

Apple Insider - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 20:10


Amateur iOS hacker Jose Rodriguez on Friday unearthed another obscure, yet effective, lock screen bypass that leans on an unpatched bug in VoiceOver to gain unauthorized access to photos on a target device.
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Facebook Is Testing An Unsend Feature For Messenger

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 19:40
Facebook is reportedly testing a feature that will let you take back what you send via Messenger. The company said it was working on the feature back in April after TechCrunch caught it deleting messages from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. After TechCrunch asked Facebook about its progress on the Unsend feature, the company said: "Though we have nothing to announce today, we have previously confirmed that we intend to ship a feature like this and are still planning to do so." From the report: Now we have our first look at the feature thanks to TechCrunch's favorite tipster Jane Manchun Wong. She's managed to generate screenshots of a prototype Unsend button from Facebook Messenger's Android code. Currently, you can only delete messages from your own inbox -- they still remain in the recipients' inbox. But with this Unsend feature prototype, you're able to remove a message from both sides of a conversation. However, the code indicates that in the current prototype there's a "time limit." That may mean users would only have a certain amount of time after they send a message to unsend it. That would essentially be an editing window in which users could take back what they said.

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Google AI Claims 99 Percent Accuracy In Metastatic Breast Cancer Detection

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 19:00
Researchers at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and Google AI, a division within Google dedicated to artificial intelligence research, are using cancer-detecting algorithms to detect metastatic tumors by autonomously evaluating lymph node biopsies. VentureBeat reports: Their AI system -- dubbed Lymph Node Assistant, or LYNA -- is described in a paper titled "Artificial Intelligence-Based Breast Cancer Nodal Metastasis Detection," published in The American Journal of Surgical Pathology. In tests, it achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUC) -- a measure of detection accuracy -- of 99 percent. That's superior to human pathologists, who according to one recent assessment miss small metastases on individual slides as much as 62 percent of the time when under time constraints. LYNA is based on Inception-v3, an open source image recognition deep learning model that's been shown to achieve greater than 78.1 percent accuracy on Stanford's ImageNet dataset. As the researchers explained, it takes as input a 299-pixel image (Inception-v3's default input size), outlines tumors at the pixel level, and, in the course of training, extracts labels -- i.e., predictions -- of the tissue patch ("benign" or "tumor") and adjusts the model's algorithmic weights to reduce error. In tests, LYNA achieved 99.3 percent slide-level accuracy. When the model's sensitivity threshold was adjusted to detect all tumors on every slide, it exhibited 69 percent sensitivity, accurately identifying all 40 metastases in the evaluation dataset without any false positives. Moreover, it was unaffected by artifacts in the slides such as air bubbles, poor processing, hemorrhage, and overstaining. LYNA wasn't perfect -- it occasionally misidentified giant cells, germinal cancers, and bone marrow-derived white blood cells known as histiocytes -- but managed to perform better than a practicing pathologist tasked with evaluating the same slides. And in a second paper published by Google AI and Verily, Google parent company Alphabet's life sciences subsidiary, the model halved the amount of time it took for a six-person team of board-certified pathologists to detect metastases in lymph nodes.

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Saudi journalist used Apple Watch to record own interrogation and execution, report says

Apple Insider - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 18:41


A report out of Turkey on Friday claims journalist Jamal Khashoggi used an Apple Watch to record and upload audio of his own interrogation, beating and execution to iCloud.
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How To See If Your Personal Data Was Stolen In the Recent Facebook Hack

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 18:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Hackers stole personal data from 29 million Facebook users in a recent hack, including information like phone numbers, emails, gender, hometowns and even relationship data. Was your data stolen? (Mine was.) There's an easy way to check. Visit this Help Center page on Facebook's website and log in to your account. It will tell you whether or not your data was stolen, and which data in particular. Worth noting, while Facebook's alert says that no "payment card or credit card information" was stolen, Facebook product executive Guy Rosen did say that hackers would have been able to see the last four digits of a user's credit card through this hack. Facebook also says it will reach out to people directly if their data was stolen.

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Twitter and Salesforce CEOs Spat Over Who is Helping the Homeless More

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 17:40
The CEOs of two of the world's most prominent tech companies got into an online spat on Friday over who was doing the most to address homelessness. From a report: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were tweeting at each other about a proposed tax on high-earning San Francisco businesses. It would redirect millions of dollars to help thousands of people who live on the streets, including outside the headquarters of both companies. Benioff tweeted that he was in favor of the tax. Dorsey tweeted that he was not -- prompting a displeased response. "Hi Jack. Thanks for the feedback," Benioff quipped. "Which homeless programs in our city are you supporting? Can you tell me what Twitter and Square & you are in for & at what financial levels? How much have you given to heading home our $37M initiative to get every homeless child off the streets?" Benioff was referring to an initiative he is spearheading for homeless families. In May he announced that he and his wife would match a $1.5m donation from his company's philanthropic arm. In a second tweet, he alleged that Dorsey had failed to contribute to the city's homeless programs, public hospitals and public schools, despite earning billions and receiving a tax break to relocate in a deprived part of town. Dorsey did not respond.

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World's Fastest Camera Shoots 10 Trillion Frames a Second

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 17:00
bbsguru shares a report from New Atlas: Slow-motion video has always been fun to watch, with the best rigs usually shooting on the scale of thousands of frames per second. But now the world's fastest camera, developed by researchers at Caltech and INRS, blows them out of the water, capturing the world at a mind-boggling 10 trillion frames per second -- fast enough to probe the nanoscale interactions between light and matter. For the new imaging technique, the team started with compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), a method that it is capable of 100 billion fps. That's nothing to scoff at by itself, but it's still not fast enough to really capture what's going on with ultrafast laser pulses, which occur on the scale of femtoseconds. A femtosecond, for reference, is one quadrillionth of a second. So the team built on that technology by combining a femtosecond streak camera and a static camera, and running it through a data acquisition technique known as Radon transformation. This advanced system was dubbed T-CUP. For the first test, the camera proved its worth by capturing a single femtosecond pulse of laser light, recording 25 images that were each 400 femtoseconds apart. Through this process, the team could see the changes in the light pulse's shape, intensity and angle of inclination, in much slower motion than ever before.

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The UK Invited a Robot To 'Give Evidence' In Parliament For Attention

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 16:20
"The UK Parliament caused a bit of a stir this week with the news that it would play host to its first non-human witness," reports The Verge. "A press release from one of Parliament's select committees (groups of MPs who investigate an issue and report back to their peers) said it had invited Pepper the robot to 'answer questions' on the impact of AI on the labor market." From the report: "Pepper is part of an international research project developing the world's first culturally aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people," said the release from the Education Committee. "The Committee will hear about her work [and] what role increased automation and robotics might play in the workplace and classroom of the future." It is, of course, a stunt. As a number of AI and robotics researchers pointed out on Twitter, Pepper the robot is incapable of giving such evidence. It can certainly deliver a speech the same way Alexa can read out the news, but it can't formulate ideas itself. As one researcher told MIT Technology Review, "Modern robots are not intelligent and so can't testify in any meaningful way." Parliament knows this. In an email to The Verge, a media officer for the Education Committee confirmed that Pepper would be providing preprogrammed answers written by robotics researchers from Middlesex University, who are also testifying on the same panel. "It will be clear on the day that Pepper's responses are not spontaneous," said the spokesperson. "Having Pepper appear before the Committee and the chance to question the witnesses will provide an opportunity for members to explore both the potential and limitations of such technology and the capabilities of robots." MP Robert Halfon, the committee's chair, told education news site TES that inviting Pepper was "not about someone bringing an electronic toy robot and doing a demonstration" but showing the "potential of robotics and artificial intelligence." He added: "If we've got the march of the robots, we perhaps need the march of the robots to our select committee to give evidence."

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Cops Told 'Don't Look' at New iPhones To Avoid Face ID Lock-Out

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:40
As Apple continues to update its iPhones with new security features, law enforcement and other investigators are constantly playing catch-up, trying to find the best way to circumvent the protections or to grab evidence. From a report: Last month, Forbes reported the first known instance of a search warrant being used to unlock a suspect's iPhone X with their own face, leveraging the iPhone X's Face ID feature. But Face ID can of course also work against law enforcement -- too many failed attempts with the 'wrong' face can force the iPhone to request a potentially harder to obtain passcode instead. Taking advantage of legal differences in how passcodes are protected, US law enforcement have forced people to unlock their devices with not just their face but their fingerprints too. But still, in a set of presentation slides obtained by Motherboard this week, one company specialising in mobile forensics is telling investigators not to even look at phones with Face ID, because they might accidentally trigger this mechanism. "iPhone X: don't look at the screen, or else... The same thing will occur as happened on Apple's event," the slide, from forensics company Elcomsoft, reads. Motherboard obtained the presentation from a non-Elcomsoft source, and the company subsequently confirmed its veracity. The slide is referring to Apple's 2017 presentation of Face ID, in which Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, tried, and failed, to unlock an iPhone X with his own face. The phone then asked for a passcode instead. "This is quite simple. Passcode is required after five unsuccessful attempts to match a face," Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft, told Motherboard in an online chat, pointing to Apple's own documentation on Face ID. "So by looking into suspect's phone, [the] investigator immediately lose one of [the] attempts."

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A Mysterious Grey-Hat Is Patching People's Outdated MikroTik Routers

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A Russian-speaking grey-hat hacker is breaking into people's MikroTik routers and patching devices so they can't be abused by cryptojackers, botnet herders, or other cyber-criminals, ZDNet has learned. The hacker, who goes by the name of Alexey and says he works as a server administrator, claims to have disinfected over 100,000 MikroTik routers already. "I added firewall rules that blocked access to the router from outside the local network," Alexey said. "In the comments, I wrote information about the vulnerability and left the address of the @router_os Telegram channel, where it was possible for them to ask questions." But despite adjusting firewall settings for over 100,000 users, Alexey says that only 50 users reached out via Telegram. A few said "thanks," but most were outraged. The vigilante server administrator says he's been only fixing routers that have not been patched by their owners against a MikroTik vulnerability that came to light in late April.

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Apple Maps team spotted doing on-foot sensor recon in San Francisco

Apple Insider - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:38


In what appears to be a first for Apple, data collection for Apple Maps is now being done on foot and not just in vehicles, photos published on Friday reveal.
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Google CEO Tells Senators That Censored Chinese Search Engine Could Provide 'Broad Benefits'

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:20
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has refused to answer a list of questions from U.S. lawmakers about the company's secretive plan for a censored search engine in China. From a report: In a letter newly obtained by The Intercept, Pichai told a bipartisan group of six senators that Google could have "broad benefits inside and outside of China," but said he could not share details about the censored search engine because it "remains unclear" whether the company "would or could release a search service" in the country. Pichai's letter contradicts the company's search engine chief, Ben Gomes, who informed staff during a private meeting that the company was aiming to release the platform in China between January and April 2019. Gomes told employees working on the Chinese search engine that they should get it ready to be "brought off the shelf and quickly deployed." [...] In his letter to the senators, dated August 31, Pichai did not mention the word "censorship" or address human rights concerns. He told the senators that "providing access to information to people around the world is central to our mission," and said he believed Google's tools could "help to facilitate an exchange of information and learning." The company was committed to "promoting access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy," he wrote, while also "respecting the laws of jurisdictions in which we operate."

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Apple urges Australian government not to weaken encryption with backdoors

Apple Insider - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:01


Apple has submitted its formal response to a draft bill undergoing debate by the Australian government, with the iPhone maker calling for "increasingly stronger - not weaker - encryption" as a way to protect against the growing number of online threats.
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US Lawmakers Urge Canada To Snub China's Huawei in Telecoms

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 13:40
Two leading U.S. lawmakers, both sharp critics of China, urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday to consider dropping China's Huawei Technologies from helping to build next-generation 5G telecommunications networks. From a report: Senators Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said they had "grave concern" about the prospects of Huawei equipment in Canada's 5G networks on the grounds that it would pose dangers for U.S. networks. "While Canada has strong telecommunications security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Trudeau. Warner and Rubio are on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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Google is downplaying Android to focus its future on Chrome OS

Apple Insider - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 13:01


Five years ago, I described how Google was distancing itself from Android and increasingly pursuing a new strategy around Chrome OS. While that was a controversial idea at the time, Google's latest announcements show that's exactly what the company had been doing.
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Apple Rebukes Australia's 'Dangerously Ambiguous' Anti-Encryption Bill

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 13:00
Apple has strongly criticized Australia's anti-encryption bill, calling it "dangerously ambiguous" and "alarming to every Australian." From a report: The Australian government's draft law -- known as the Access and Assistance Bill -- would compel tech companies operating in the country, like Apple, to provide "assistance" to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in accessing electronic data. The government claims that encrypted communications are "increasingly being used by terrorist groups and organized criminals to avoid detection and disruption," without citing evidence. But critics say that the bill's "broad authorities that would undermine cybersecurity and human rights, including the right to privacy" by forcing companies to build backdoors and hand over user data -- even when it's encrypted. Now, Apple is the latest company after Google and Facebook joined civil and digital rights groups -- including Amnesty International -- to oppose the bill, amid fears that the government will rush through the bill before the end of the year. In a seven-page letter to the Australian parliament, Apple said that it "would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat." The company adds, "We appreciate the government's outreach to Apple and other companies during the drafting of this bill. While we are pleased that some of the suggestions incorporated improve the legislation, the unfortunate fact is that the draft legislation remains dangerously ambiguous with respect to encryption and security. This is no time to weaken encryption. Rather than serving the interests of Australian law enforcement, it will just weaken the security and privacy of regular customers while pushing criminals further off the grid."

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Six 2018 iPad Pro models spotted in app analytics data

Apple Insider - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 12:31


More signs that new iPad Pro models are on the way have surfaced, with an app analytics platform claiming to see logs of model identifiers for unreleased models for the tablet, labels that seemingly correlate with other rumors about the 2018 refresh.
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Movie Commentary Tracks Are Back

Slashdot - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 12:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: Last spring, long before Get Out's eventual Oscar win, the movie was released on home video with a commentary track from its writer-director. A decade ago, in the pre-streaming era, this wouldn't have been news: Back then, seemingly every movie got a commentary track, even Good Luck Chuck. Then the DVD market began to decline, and the commentary track went from a being standard-issue add-on to relative rarity. Even recent Best Picture nominees like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, and Spotlight were released sans tracks -- bad news for anyone looking for behind-the-scenes intel on Mark Ruffalo's little-Ceasar haircut. In the last few years, though, several high-profile films -- everything from Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Lady Bird to Get Out -- have been released with commentary tracks. That means you can spend your umpteenth viewing of Peele's film listening to him talk about how he modeled the opening credits on those of The Shining, or how the film's title was inspired by a routine from Eddie Murphy Delirious. For casual movie watchers, such details may not be too thrilling. But for film nerds who absorb behind-the-scenes trivia and how-we-made-it logistics, tracks like the one for Get Out remain the cheapest movie-making education available.

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