Technology News

Special Report: Backroom battle imperils $230 million cryptocurrency venture

(3 days ago)
ZUG, Switzerland/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Just three months ago, a tech project called Tezos raised $232 million online in a wildly successful "initial coin offering," in which new digital currency is parcelled out to buyers. At the time, it was the most money ever raised from the public in the white-hot cryptocurrency sector.

Amazon E-Book Buyers Receive Payment From Antitrust Lawsuit Settlement

(3 days ago)
If you bought a Kindle e-book between April 2010 and May 2012, you might see some Amazon credit coming your way. The company is reportedly distributing funds from an antitrust lawsuit that it levied at Apple in 2013. From a report: Amazon has set up a website listing the available credits, and it has begun sending out emails this morning to U.S. customers who are eligible for a refund. Apple and a handful of book publishers, including Penguin, HarperCollins, Machete Book Group and Macmillan, were found guilty of conspiring to inflate the prices of e-books in order to weaken Amazon's grip on the market. While the book publishers settled out of court, Apple decided to fight the lawsuit and appealed several times. Eventually, it was ordered to pay a total of $450 million in the protracted antitrust case. Several refunds have already been distributed because of the lawsuit. In fact, the bulk of credits were sent out in 2014 and 2016. The round of credits being sent out today comes from an earmarked $20 million meant to pay states involved in the suit. The Amazon credits have a six-month shelf life and must be spent by April 20, 2018, or they'll expire. In addition the Amazon credits, customers may also be receiving Apple credits that can be used toward iBooks, iTunes and App Store purchases. Apple is currently notifying eligible customers via email.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

EBay's profit forecast disappoints, shares fall

(3 days ago)
(Reuters) - EBay Inc warned Wall Street on Wednesday that profit this quarter could fall below analysts' estimates as it invests in marketing and a revamped website to attract more shoppers, sending shares down more than 5 percent in after-hours trade.

Flying Insects Have Been Disappearing Over the Past Few Decades, Study Shows

(3 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is "on course for ecological Armageddon," with profound impacts on human society. The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said. The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected. The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardized ways of collecting insects in 1989.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Intelligent People More At Risk of Mental Illness, Study Finds

(3 days ago)
schwit1 shares a report from The Independent: The stereotype of a tortured genius may have a basis in reality after a new study found that people with higher IQs are more at risk of developing mental illness. A team of U.S. researchers surveyed 3,715 members of American Mensa with an IQ higher than 130. An "average IQ score" or "normal IQ score" can be defined as a score between 85 and 115. The team asked the Mensa members to report whether they had been diagnoses with mental illnesses, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They were also asked to report mood and anxiety disorders, or whether the suspected they suffered from any mental illnesses that had yet to be diagnosed, as well as physiological diseases, like food allergies and asthma. After comparing this with the statistical national average for each illness they found that those in the Mensa community had considerably higher rates of varying disorders. While 10 per cent of the general population were diagnosed with anxiety disorder, that rose to 20 percent among the Mensa community, according to the study which published in the Science Direct journal.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: What Are Ways To Get Companies To Actually Focus On Security?

(3 days ago)
New submitter ctilsie242 writes: Many years ago, it was said that we would have a "cyber 9/11," a security event so drastic that it fundamentally would change how companies and people thought about security. However, this has not happened yet (mainly because the bad guys know that this would get organizations to shut their barn doors, stopping the gravy train.) With the perception that security has no financial returns, coupled with the opinion that "nobody can stop the hackers, so why even bother," what can actually be done to get businesses to have an actual focus on security. The only "security" I see is mainly protection from "jailbreaking," so legal owners of a product can't use or upgrade their devices. True security from other attack vectors are all but ignored. In fact, I have seen some development environments where someone doing anything about security would likely get the developer fired because it took time away from coding features dictated by marketing. I've seen environments where all code ran as root or System just because if the developers gave thought to any permission model at all, they would be tossed, and replaced by other developers who didn't care to "waste" their time on stuff like that. One idea would be something similar to Underwriters Labs, except would grade products, perhaps with expanded standards above the "pass/fail" mark, such as Europe's "Sold Secure," or the "insurance lock" certification (which means that a security device is good enough[..]

CNN Gets a First-Of-Its-Kind Waiver To Fly Drones Over Crowds

(3 days ago)
The FAA has granted CNN a waiver that allows it to fly its Vantage Robotics Snap drone over open-air crowds of people at altitudes of up to 150 feet. "This is a new precedent in this kind of waiver: Previous exemptions allowed flight of drones over people in closed set operations (like for filmmaking purposes) and only when tethered, with a max height of 21 feet," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The new waiver granted to CNN, as secured through its legal counsel Hogan Lovells, allows for flight of the Vantage UAV (which is quite small and light) above crowds regardless of population density. It was a big win for the firm and the company because it represents a change in perspective on the issue for the FAA, which previously viewed all requests for exceptions from a "worst-case scenario" point of view. Now, however, the FAA has accepted CNN's "reasonableness Approach," which takes into account not just the potential results of a crashed drone, but also the safe operating history of the company doing the flying, their built-in safety procedures, and the features included on the drone model itself that are designed to mitigate the results of any negative issues.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Teases Multi-Day Battery Life For Upcoming ARM-Powered Windows Devices

(3 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechSpot: Microsoft late last year announced a partnership with Qualcomm to bring the full Windows 10 experience to ARM-powered devices. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, promised at the time that Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 devices would be efficient in the power consumption department. We're still waiting for the partnership to bear fruit but in the interim, new details regarding efficiency (and a few other subjects) have emerged. With regard to battery life, Pete Bernard, Principal Group Program Manager for Connectivity Partners at Microsoft, said that to be frank, battery life at this point is beyond their expectations: ""We set a high bar for [our developers], and we're now beyond that. It's the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don't take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It's that kind of battery life."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tesla Faces Lawsuit For Racial Harassment In Its Factories

(3 days ago)
Three former Tesla factory workers have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming they were subject to constant racial discrimination and harassment in the electric car company's factories. "The men, who are African-American, claim in a new complaint filed Monday in state court that Tesla supervisors and workers used racial epithets and drew racist graffiti on cardboard boxes," reports The Mercury News. From the report: The new suit is the second by black employees charging Tesla failed to address racial antagonism at its factory. The electric vehicle maker also has a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board over claims it illegally tried to silence workers promoting a union. The complaints come as the Tesla heads into a crucial ramp-up of Model 3 production, its lower-cost electric vehicle. A Tesla spokesman denied the suit's allegations and said the men never raised the complaints to the company during their brief time at the plant. "Given our size, we recognize that unfortunately at times there will be cases of harassment or discrimination in corners of the company," the spokesman said. "From what we know so far, this does not seem to be such a case." The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, claims Owen Diaz and his son, Demetric, were called the N-word while they worked at the Fremont factory, and supervisors did little to stop it. A third man, Lamar Patterson, also claims he was subjected to insensitive racist remarks.Read more of this story at[..]

Snapchat to make original TV-style shows

(3 days ago)
The social media app teams up with NBC to create a new studio where they plan to make original shows.

Amazon and eBay warned by MPs about VAT fraudsters

(3 days ago)
The websites are accused by MPs of profiting from sellers who do not charge the tax on UK sales.

Adobe patches Flash bug used for planting spying tools

(3 days ago)
Kaspersky discovered that Flash files were being embedded in Word documents to deliver spyware.

AI used to detect breast cancer risk

(3 days ago)
Machine learning is being used to spot whether breast lesions are cancerous or not.

Huawei Mate 10 uses AI to distinguish cats from dogs

(3 days ago)
Huawei Mate 10 handsets use a new type of processor to recognise objects being photographed.

Drone collides with commercial aeroplane in Canada

(3 days ago)
The aircraft sustained only minor damage and landed safely, the Canadian transport minister said.

Australia launches revenge porn reporting tool

(3 days ago)
One in five Australians have been victims of image-based abuse, but very few report the offence.

China congress: How authorities censor your thoughts

(3 days ago)
The BBC's Stephen McDonell examines China's clampdown on free speech ahead of the party congress.

Fukushima disaster: The robots going where no human can

(3 days ago)
Click was given rare access to the Fukushima site to see how the decontamination work was progressing.

'Revolutionary' car seat with inbuilt airbag launched

(3 days ago)
The airbag uses compressed air to cushion a child's neck from the impact of a crash.

Drones used to spot sharks in Australia

(3 days ago)
Drones become the latest weapon to protect swimmers and surfers from shark attacks.

Stamp out sickening distribution of images, says Durham police chief

(3 days ago)
Internet companies need to do more to "stamp out sickening distribution of images and live streaming of abuse online" says a chief constable.

Australia's Crown casino denies slot-machine 'tampering'

(3 days ago)
Australia's parliament hears claims that Crown casino deliberately removed betting options.

Bloodhound Diary: Jet engine's stamp of approval

(3 days ago)
World Land Speed record holder Andy Green describes the sensation of starting up the Bloodhound supersonic car for the first time.

Honda unveils a disaster relief robot and other news

(3 days ago)
BBC Click's Lara Lewington looks at some of the best of the week's technology news stories.

From pillows to concrete

(3 days ago)
Carbon emissions contribute to global warming, so could tech that removes them from the air slow the process?

Amazon Echo smart speaker family expands

(3 days ago)
Amazon revamps its main Echo smart speaker for the first time since its launch in 2014.

Assassin’s Creed Origins preview

(3 days ago)
Marc Cieslak previews the latest instalment of the adventure series set in ancient Egypt

Activision Patents Pay-To-Win Matchmaker

(3 days ago)
New submitter EndlessNameless writes: If you like fair play, you might not like future Activision games. They will cross the line to encourage microtransactions, specifically matching players to both encourage and reward purchase. Rewarding the purchase, in particular, is an explicit and egregious elimination of any claim to fair play. "For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase," according to the patent. "This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results." Even though the patent's examples are all for a first-person-shooter game, the system could be used across a wide variety of titles. "This was an exploratory patent filed in 2015 by an R&D team working independently from our game studios," an Activision spokesperson tells Rolling Stone. "It has not been implemented in-game." Bungie also confirmed that the technology isn't being used in games currently on the market, mentioning specifically Destiny 2.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

U.S. bill to regulate internet ads gains bipartisan support with McCain

(3 days ago)
(Reuters) - U.S. legislation that would impose new disclosure requirements on political ads that run on Facebook and other websites received support on Wednesday from Senator John McCain, giving a bipartisan boost to a bill already popular among Democrats.

DeepMind's Go-Playing AI Doesn't Need Human Help To Beat Us Anymore

(3 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google's AI subsidiary DeepMind has unveiled the latest version of its Go-playing software, AlphaGo Zero. The new program is a significantly better player than the version that beat the game's world champion earlier this year, but, more importantly, it's also entirely self-taught. DeepMind says this means the company is one step closer to creating general purpose algorithms that can intelligently tackle some of the hardest problems in science, from designing new drugs to more accurately modeling the effects of climate change. The original AlphaGo demonstrated superhuman Go-playing ability, but needed the expertise of human players to get there. Namely, it used a dataset of more than 100,000 Go games as a starting point for its own knowledge. AlphaGo Zero, by comparison, has only been programmed with the basic rules of Go. Everything else it learned from scratch. As described in a paper published in Nature today, Zero developed its Go skills by competing against itself. It started with random moves on the board, but every time it won, Zero updated its own system, and played itself again. And again. Millions of times over. After three days of self-play, Zero was strong enough to defeat the version of itself that beat 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol, winning handily -- 100 games to nil. After 40 days, it had a 90 percent win rate against the most advanced version of the original AlphaGo software. DeepMind says this makes it[..]
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