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Facebook Could Face EU Sanctions If It Doesn't Change Its TOS

1 hour 29 min ago
According to Reuters, Facebook could face sanctions for not complying with the European Union's consumer rules. "Back in February, the company was told to change its users terms and conditions to recently updated EU standards, but it has yet to do so," The Verge reports. From the report: In February, Facebook changed its terms of service, but to EU officials, it wasn't enough. "While Google's latest proposals appear to be in line with the requests made by consumer authorities, Facebook and, more significantly, Twitter, have only partially addressed important issues about their liability and about how users are informed of possible content removal or contract termination," the European Commission stated in a press release at the time. As detailed back in February, authorities want Facebook to better protect consumers' rights, including the ability to withdraw from an online purchase, sue in Europe and not in California where Facebook is based. The EU also wants more consumer-friendly rules around the social media platform's legal liability when its service performs poorly. According to Reuters, Facebook's non-compliance contrasts with Airbnb's obedience, as the rental platform adjusted its terms of service recently after being asked to do so back in July. Airbnb is now more transparent about pricing details and has better terms for consumers using its platform in the EU.

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AI Could Devastate the Developing World

Wed, 2018-09-19 23:30
Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and author of "AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order," reports of the devastating impacts artificial intelligence could have on the developing world. An anonymous reader shares the report from Bloomberg: In recent decades, China and India have presented the world with two different models for how such countries can climb the development ladder. In the China model, a nation leverages its large population and low costs to build a base of blue-collar manufacturing. It then steadily works its way up the value chain by producing better and more technology-intensive goods. In the India model, a country combines a large English-speaking population with low costs to become a hub for outsourcing of low-end, white-collar jobs in fields such as business-process outsourcing and software testing. If successful, these relatively low-skilled jobs can be slowly upgraded to more advanced white-collar industries. Both models are based on a country's cost advantages in the performance of repetitive, non-social and largely uncreative work -- whether manual labor in factories or cognitive labor in call centers. Unfortunately for emerging economies, AI thrives at performing precisely this kind of work. Without a cost incentive to locate in the developing world, corporations will bring many of these functions back to the countries where they're based. That will leave emerging economies, unable to grasp the bottom rungs of the development ladder, in a dangerous position: The large pool of young and relatively unskilled workers that once formed their greatest comparative advantage will become a liability -- a potentially explosive one. Increasing desperation in the developing world will contrast with a massive accumulation of wealth among the AI superpowers. AI runs on data and that dependence leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of consolidation in industries: The more data you have, the better your product. The better your product, the more users you gain. The more users you gain, the more data you have. Lee says the best thing emerging economies can do is to "recognize that the traditional paths to economic development -- the China and India models -- are no longer viable." Countries with "less-educated workers" are advised to build up human-centered service industries. "At the same time, developing countries need to carve out their own niches within the AI landscape," Lee writes. "... governments need to fund the AI education of their best and brightest students, with the goal of building local companies that employ AI."

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Humans Simply 'Hardwired' For Laziness, Study Says

Wed, 2018-09-19 22:05
Zorro shares a report from Study Finds: [...] A new study shows we may just have to chalk it up to our brains simply being hardwired to prefer hanging on the couch instead of the chin-up bar. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and University of Geneva sought to better understand the brain chemistry behind what they refer to as the "exercise paradox." This happens when people pledge to engage in regular physical fitness, but instead find themselves becoming less active. "Conserving energy has been essential for humans' survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners, and avoiding predators," explains Matthew Boisgontier, a postdoctoral researcher in UBC's brain behavior lab at the department of physical therapy, and senior author of the study, in a UBC release. So Boisgontier and his co-authors recruited 29 young adults who wanted to improve the level of exercise in their lives to take part in a computerized test. The test required them to move a human figure on the screen either towards images of physical activities or away from images of sedentary activities that would randomly appear, and then again vice versa. Participants were hooked up to an electroencephalograph to monitor their brain activity during the exercise. The results showed that participants tended to move towards the active images or away from the sedentary ones at the fastest rates. "We found that participants took 32 milliseconds less to move away from the sedentary image, which is considerable for a task like this," says study co-author Boris Cheval, of the University of Geneva, in a university release, adding that this finding went against the so-called exercise paradox.

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Evernote Slashes 15 Percent of Its Workforce

Wed, 2018-09-19 21:25
Evernote, one of the most popular productivity apps on the market, is struggling to stay on top of the charts. TechCrunch, after reporting two weeks that the company "lost several of its most senior executives," is reporting that Evernote's CEO Chris O'Neill on Tuesday laid off 54 people -- roughly 15 percent of the company's workforce. O'Neill said it is now focusing its efforts around specific functions, including product development and engineering. From the report: We've just been in touch with Evernote. It pointed us to a newly posted piece by O'Neill in which he outlines the company's strategy going forward, which includes to "operate with a more focused leadership team," to "operate more efficiently," and to "double down on product development -- both quality and velocity." As for its funding situation, an Evernote representative insists that things are far from dire. The company is not fundraising, says this person; further, we're told Evernote has $30 million on its balance sheet and will exit the year without burning cash. This comes after "a person who tipped TechCrunch off to the executive departments two weeks ago characterized Evernote as 'in a death spiral,' saying that user growth and active users have been flat for the last six years and that the company's enterprise product offering hasn't caught on."

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Zaif Cryptocurrency Exchange Suffers $60 Million Hack

Wed, 2018-09-19 20:45
Hackers were able to steal $60 million worth of company and user funds belonging to the Zaif Japanese cryptocurrency exchange. The breach occurred last week, but the company discovered the hack on Monday, September 17. An anonymous reader shares the report from ZDNet: Investigators are still gathering details, but Zaif said the hack took place on September 14, between 17:00 and 19:00 local time, when the attacker siphoned off three types of cryptocurrencies from the company's "hot wallets." [A "hot wallet" is a term used to describe a cryptocurrency addresses with light security measures where a cryptocurrency exchange keeps funds for immediate transactions, such as cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency-to-fiat (and vice versa) operations.] Zaif says the hacker stole Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and MonaCoin from its hot wallet, all three worth 6.7 billion Japanese yen (roughly $59.67 million) when combined. Of the 6.7 billion stolen yen, 2.2 billion yen -- 32 percent -- were Zaif funds, while 4.5 billion yen were customer funds. Zaif plans to secure a 5 billion yen loan to pay back affected customers.

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John Hancock Will Include Fitness Tracking In All Life Insurance Policies

Wed, 2018-09-19 20:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones, the company said on Wednesday. The move by the 156-year-old insurer, owned by Canada's Manulife Financial, marks a major shift for the company, which unveiled its first interactive life insurance policy in 2015. It is now applying the model across all of its life coverage. Policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app. In theory, everybody wins, as policyholders are incentivized to adopt healthy habits and insurance companies collect more premiums and pay less in claims if customers live longer.

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Alibaba To Set Up New Chip Company Amid Fear of US Tech Dependency

Wed, 2018-09-19 19:20
hackingbear shares a report from CNN: China's biggest tech firm announced Wednesday that the new [semiconductor] business will develop artificial intelligence chips for cloud computing, internet-connected devices and other sectors. Alibaba's chief technology officer, Jeff Zhang, said the e-commerce company's advantages in algorithms and data put it in "a unique position to lead real technology breakthroughs in disruptive areas, such as quantum and chip technology." "The market for chips is controlled by America ... and suddenly if they stop selling, what that means, you understand," Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma told university students in Tokyo in April. "That's why China, Japan and any country -- you need core technologies." Ma's remarks came shortly after the U.S. Commerce Department blocked American companies from selling parts to ZTE, a Chinese tech company that relied on U.S. suppliers, including chipmakers, to manufacture smartphones and telecommunications equipment. Slashdot reader hackingbear adds: "The since-lifted ban woke up China to the (political) risks of dependence on American technologies, just like the U.S. is afraid of dependency on Chinese rare earth products which account for ~80% of world's supplies."

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'WaitList.dat' Windows File May Be Secretly Hoarding Your Passwords, Emails

Wed, 2018-09-19 18:40
A file named WaitList.dat, found only on touchscreen-capable Windows PCs, may be collecting your sensitive data like passwords and emails. According to ZDNet, in order for the file to exist users have to enable "the handwriting recognition feature that automatically translates stylus/touchscreen scribbles into formatted text." From the report: The handwriting to formatted text conversion feature has been added in Windows 8, which means the WaitList.dat file has been around for years. The role of this file is to store text to help Windows improve its handwriting recognition feature, in order to recognize and suggest corrections or words a user is using more often than others. "In my testing, population of WaitList.dat commences after you begin using handwriting gestures," [Digital Forensics and Incident Response expert Barnaby Skeggs] told ZDNet in an interview. "This 'flicks the switch' (registry key) to turn the text harvester functionality (which generates WaitList.dat) on." "Once it is on, text from every document and email which is indexed by the Windows Search Indexer service is stored in WaitList.dat. Not just the files interacted via the touchscreen writing feature," Skeggs says. Since the Windows Search Indexer service powers the system-wide Windows Search functionality, this means data from all text-based files found on a computer, such as emails or Office documents, is gathered inside the WaitList.dat file. This doesn't include only metadata, but the actual document's text. "The user doesn't even have to open the file/email, so long as there is a copy of the file on disk, and the file's format is supported by the Microsoft Search Indexer service," Skeggs told ZDNet. "On my PC, and in my many test cases, WaitList.dat contained a text extract of every document or email file on the system, even if the source file had since been deleted," the researcher added. Furthermore, Skeggs says WaitList.dat can be used to recover text from deleted documents.

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'I'm Admin. You're Admin. Everyone is Admin.' Remote Access Bug Turns Western Digital My Cloud Into Everyone's Cloud

Wed, 2018-09-19 18:00
Researchers at infosec shop Securify revealed this week a vulnerability, designated CVE-2018-17153, which allows an unauthenticated attacker with network access to the device to bypass password checks and login with admin privileges. From a report:This would, in turn, give the attacker full control over the NAS device, including the ability to view and copy all stored data as well as overwrite and erase contents. If the box is accessible from the public internet, it could be remotely pwned, it appears. Alternatively, malware on a PC on the local network could search for and find a vulnerable My Cloud machine, and compromise it. According to Securify, the flaw itself lies in the way My Cloud creates admin sessions that are attached to an IP address. When an attacker sends a command to the device's web interface, as an HTTP CGI request, they can also include the cookie username=admin -- which unlocks admin access. Thus if properly constructed, the request would establish an admin login session to the device without ever asking for a password. In other words, just tell it you're the admin user in the cookie, and you're in. The researcher told TechCrunch that he reported the vulnerability to Western Digital last year, but the company "stopped responding."

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Despite Data Caps and Throttling, Industry Says Mobile Can Replace Home Internet

Wed, 2018-09-19 17:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T and Verizon are trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission that mobile broadband is good enough for Internet users who don't have access to fiber or cable services. The carriers made this claim despite the data usage and speed limitations of mobile services. In the mobile market, even "unlimited" plans can be throttled to unusable speeds after a customer uses just 25GB or so a month. Mobile carriers impose even stricter limits on phone hotspots, making it difficult to use mobile services across multiple devices in the home. The carriers ignored those limits in filings they submitted for the FCC's annual review of broadband deployment.

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Alibaba's Jack Ma Backs Down From Promise To Trump To Bring 1 Million Jobs to the US

Wed, 2018-09-19 16:40
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, has abandoned a promise to create one million new jobs in the US, in a sign of the threat that rising trade tensions with China pose to some of US President Donald Trump's key economic goals. From a report: "The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations," Ma told Chinese news site Xinhua on Wednesday. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled." Ma, who recently announced that he will step down as Alibaba chairman within a year, added that the company would "not stop working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-US trade." Ma's comments come on the heels of a new round of tariffs this week from both China and the U.S. that will affect billions of dollars worth of goods as the two countries have failed to reach a deal to resolve the Trump administration's concerns about China's trade practices.

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Times Newer Roman is a Font Designed To Make Your Essays Look Longer

Wed, 2018-09-19 16:05
Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge: Times Newer Roman, a font from internet marketing firm MSCHF (which you may remember from the Tabagotchi Chrome extension). Times Newer Roman looks a lot like the go-to academic font, but each character is subtly altered to be 5 to 10 percent wider, making your essays look longer without having to actually make them longer. According to Times Newer Roman's website, a 15-page, single-spaced document in 12 point type only requires 5,833 words, compared to 6,680 for the standard Times New Roman. (That's 847 words you don't need to write, which is more than twice the length of this post!)

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Amazon is Reportedly Planning Up To 3,000 Cashierless Stores By 2021

Wed, 2018-09-19 15:34
Amazon is planning to open 3,000 of its cashierless stores by 2021, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, planning a major push into retail as it continues to scale its online platform. CNBC: The e-commerce giant currently has three locations open in Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, and just this past week opened a location in Chicago. Bloomberg adds: Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos sees eliminating meal-time logjams in busy cities as the best way for Amazon to reinvent the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, where most spending still occurs. But he's still experimenting with the best format: a convenience store that sells fresh prepared foods as well as a limited grocery selection similar to 7-Eleven franchises, or a place to simply pick up a quick bite to eat for people in a rush, similar to the U.K.-based chain Pret a Manger, one of the people said. [...] Adding 3,000 convenience stores would make AmazonGo among the biggest chains in U.S. The internet giant is considering plans to have about 10 locations open by the end of this year, about 50 locations in major metro areas in 2019, and then as many as 3,000 by 2021, said the people, who requested anonymity discussing internal plans. Opening multiple locations in proximity, like it's doing in Seattle, could also help Amazon reduce costs by centralizing food production in one kitchen serving many stores. The U.S. currently has 155,000 convenience stores, with 122,500 of them combined with gas stations, according to industry group NACS. Non-fuel purchases at convenience stores totaled $233 billion in 2016, with cigarettes and other tobacco products the best-selling items.

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Reimagining of Schrodinger's Cat Breaks Quantum Mechanics -- and Stumps Physicists

Wed, 2018-09-19 15:25
In a multi-'cat' experiment, the textbook interpretation of quantum theory seems to lead to contradictory pictures of reality, physicists claim. New submitter Lanodonal shares a report: In the world's most famous thought experiment, physicist Erwin Schrodinger described how a cat in a box could be in an uncertain predicament. The peculiar rules of quantum theory meant that it could be both dead and alive, until the box was opened and the cat's state measured. Now, two physicists have devised a modern version of the paradox by replacing the cat with a physicist doing experiments -- with shocking implications. Quantum theory has a long history of thought experiments, and in most cases these are used to point to weaknesses in various interpretations of quantum mechanics. But the latest version, which involves multiple players, is unusual: it shows that if the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, then different experimenters can reach opposite conclusions about what the physicist in the box has measured. This means that quantum theory contradicts itself. The conceptual experiment has been debated with gusto in physics circles for more than two years -- and has left most researchers stumped, even in a field accustomed to weird concepts. "I think this is a whole new level of weirdness," says Matthew Leifer, a theoretical physicist at Chapman University in Orange, California. The authors, Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, posted their first version of the argument online in April 2016. The final paper [PDF] appears in Nature Communications on 18 September.

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Cloudflare Wants Internet Route Leaks To Be a Thing of the Past

Wed, 2018-09-19 14:45
Cloudflare wants routing issues to be a thing of the past by deploying a new feature to try to stop route leaks and hijacks in their tracks. From a report: Cloudflare told TechCrunch that rolling out resource public key infrastructure (RPKI) to all of its customers for free will make it far more difficult to reroute traffic -- either by accident or deliberately. RPKI, in a nutshell, helps to ensure that traffic goes to the right place through a route that's verified as legitimate and correct by using cryptographically signed certificates. "When two networks connect with each other -- say, AT&T and Verizon -- they announce the set of IP addresses for which they should be sent traffic," said Nick Sullivan, Cloudflare's head of cryptography. "The RPKI is a security framework to make sure a network announces only its legitimate IP addresses." Cloudflare's push in the right direction follows an effort by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which last week published its first draft of a new standard, which incorporates RPKI as one of three components that will help prevent route leaks and hijacks. A possible approval is expected in the coming weeks.

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Box-Office Giant Ticketmaster Recruits Pros For Secret Scalper Program

Wed, 2018-09-19 14:05
Box-office giant Ticketmaster is recruiting professional scalpers who cheat its own system to expand its resale business and squeeze more money out of fans, a CBC News/Toronto Star investigation reveals. The report adds: In July, the news outlets sent a pair of reporters undercover to Ticket Summit 2018, a ticketing and live entertainment convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Posing as scalpers and equipped with hidden cameras, the journalists were pitched on Ticketmaster's professional reseller program. Company representatives told them Ticketmaster's resale division turns a blind eye to scalpers who use ticket-buying bots and fake identities to snatch up tickets and then resell them on the site for inflated prices. Those pricey resale tickets include extra fees for Ticketmaster. "I have brokers that have literally a couple of hundred accounts," one sales representative said. "It's not something that we look at or report." CBC shared its findings with Alan Cross, a veteran music journalist and host of the radio program The Ongoing History of New Music, who suspects the ticket-buying public will be far from impressed: "This is going to be a public relations nightmare." He said there have been "whispers of this in the ticket-selling community, but it's never been outlined quite like this before."

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EU's Antitrust Commissioner Opens Preliminary Probe into Amazon

Wed, 2018-09-19 13:34
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has begun questioning merchants on Amazon's use of their data, Vestager said Wednesday. The issue, she said, is whether Amazon is using data from the merchants it hosts on its site to secure an advantage in selling products against those same retailers. From a report: "These are very early days and we haven't formally opened a case. We are trying to make sure that we get the full picture," Vestager said during a news conference Wednesday. The probe comes as the world's largest online retailer faces growing calls for regulation. Investors and insiders have long cited Amazon's size and reach as reason to break the company up. President Donald Trump has hinted at antitrust action against Amazon as part of continued attacks against CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was set to meet this month with state officials to discuss antitrust concerns in Silicon Valley, though much of the regulation on Big Tech thus far has come out of Brussels.

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China's Leaders Soften Their Stance on AI, Say They Will Be Sharing Their Findings With Other Countries

Wed, 2018-09-19 12:50
China might be at loggerheads with the United States over trade, but it is calling for a friendlier approach to the development of artificial intelligence. From a report: Speaking at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai this week, China's vice premier, Liu He, said that AI would depend heavily on international cooperation. "We're hoping that all countries, as members of the global village, will be inclusive and support each other so that we can respond to the double-edged-sword effect of new technologies," He said through a translator. "AI represents a new era. Cross-national and cross-discipline cooperation is inevitable." President Xi Jinping delivered a similar message in a letter presented at the same conference. Xi said that China would "share results with other countries in the field of artificial intelligence." He also called for collaboration between nations on AI topics such as ethics, law, governance, and security. This new, softer approach to artificial intelligence comes just over a year after the Chinese government announced an ambitious and aggressive AI plan. This blueprint called for Chinese AI researchers to lead the world by 2030, and for domestic companies to build an industry worth more than $150 billion. China's tech industry has already embraced machine learning and AI at an impressive rate.

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We Hold People With Power To Account. Why Not Algorithms?

Wed, 2018-09-19 12:10
An anonymous reader shares a report: All around us, algorithms provide a kind of convenient source of authority: an easy way to delegate responsibility, a short cut we take without thinking. Who is really going to click through to the second page of Google results every time and think critically about the information that has been served up? Or go to every airline to check if a comparison site is listing the cheapest deals? Or get out a ruler and a road map to confirm that their GPS is offering the shortest route? But already in our hospitals, our schools, our shops, our courtrooms and our police stations, artificial intelligence is silently working behind the scenes, feeding on our data and making decisions on our behalf. Sure, this technology has the capacity for enormous social good -- it can help us diagnose breast cancer, catch serial killers, avoid plane crashes and, as the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has proposed, potentially save lives using NHS data and genomics. Unless we know when to trust our own instincts over the output of a piece of software, however, it also brings the potential for disruption, injustice and unfairness. If we permit flawed machines to make life-changing decisions on our behalf -- by allowing them to pinpoint a murder suspect, to diagnose a condition or take over the wheel of a car -- we have to think carefully about what happens when things go wrong.

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Hackers Stole Customer Credit Cards in Newegg Data Breach

Wed, 2018-09-19 11:20
Newegg is clearing up its website after a month-long data breach. TechCrunch: Hackers injected 15 lines of card skimming code on the online retailer's payments page which remained for more than a month between August 14 and September 18, Yonathan Klijnsma, a threat researcher at RiskIQ, told TechCrunch. The code siphoned off credit card data from unsuspecting customers to a server controlled by the hackers with a similar domain name -- likely to avoid detection. The server even used an HTTPS certificate to blend in. The code also worked for both desktop and mobile customers -- though it's unclear if mobile customers are affected. The online electronics retailer removed the code on Tuesday after it was contacted by incident response firm Volexity, which first discovered the card skimming malware and reported its findings. Newegg is one of the largest retailers in the US, making $2.65 billion in revenue in 2016. The company touts more than 45 million monthly unique visitors, but it's not known precisely how many customers completed transactions during the period.

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