CDC barred from using terms like 'science-based' in budget docs

bannedwords - Posted On:2017-12-16 19:00:05 Source: engadget

We can just imagine CDC personnel still shaking their heads after finding out that they can't use certain terms in official documents for next year's budget. According to The Washington Post, the Trump administration has prohibited the CDC from using \

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Bitcoin shrugs off bubble talk and surges past $19,000

Policy - Posted On:2017-12-16 18:59:59 Source: arstechnica

Bitcoin's price set a new record on Saturday as the virtual currency rose above $19,000 for the first time on the Bitstamp exchange. The gains came just hours after the currency crossed the $18,000 mark. Bitcoin's value has doubled over the last three weeks, and it's up more than 20-fold over the last year.

Bitcoin's value keeps rising despite a growing chorus of experts who say the currency value is an unsustainable bubble. One CNBC survey this week found that 80 percent of Wall Street economists and market strategists saw bitcoin's rise as a bubble, compared to just two percent who said the currency's value was justified. Another survey reported by the Wall Street Journal this week found that 51 out of 53 economists surveyed thought bitcoin's price was an unsustainable bubble.

We recently asked two experts on the history of bubbles about bitcoin, and both saw echoes of earlier bubbles in the current bitcoin boom.

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The US Military Admits It Spent $22 Million Investigating UFOs

technology - Posted On:2017-12-16 18:59:59 Source: slashdot

Long-time Slashdot reader Joosy writes, "Until 2012 the Pentagon had a program, the 'Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program', that tracked unidentified flying objects." An anonymous reader writes: The Pentagon finally acknowledged the existence of the $22 million program today to the New York Times, while also claiming that they closed the program five years ago. "But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties." Over the years the program "produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift. Officials with the program have also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and U.S. military aircraft." But ultimately, a Pentagon spokesman said, "It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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North Korea hackers steal bitcoin by targeting currency insiders

bitcoin - Posted On:2017-12-16 18:45:04 Source: engadget

Bitcoin values are skyrocketing, and North Korea appears to be trying to profit from that virtual gold rush. Secureworks reports that the Lazarus Group (a team linked to the North Korean government) has been conducting a spearphishing campaign against cryptocurrency industry workers in a bid to steal bitcoin. The attacks have tried to trick workers into compromising their computers by including a seemingly innocuous Word file that claims they need to enable editing to see the document. If they fell prey, it installed a rogue macro that quietly loaded a PC-hijacking trojan while staffers were busy looking at the bogus document. Attempts have been taking place as recently as November, but Secureworks' analysts saw activity as early as 2016. The organization adds that the campaign is likely still going, and that this is a preliminary report. You may get a better sense of the scope in the future.\n\nIt's easy to see why Lazarus would try a campaign like this. It has already conducted money-grabbing efforts like the 2016 bank attack that swiped $81 million, and taking even a handful of bitcoins could reap a windfall when just one is worth roughly $19,400 as of this writing. North Korea could spend relatively little effort to swipe a lot of money and circumvent the many sanctions that prevent money from flowing in.

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Predictive Keyboard Tries To Write a New Harry Potter Chapter

news - Posted On:2017-12-16 18:00:00 Source: slashdot

Long-time Slashdot reader Baron_Yam writes, "Some AI news items are amusing. This is one of those." ProKras reports: What do you get when a predictive keyboard app tries to write a new Harry Potter story? Apparently, you get Chapter 13 from Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. The folks at Botnik Studios trained their keyboard using all 7 Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. They used one set of training data for narration and another for dialogue. Then a bunch of team members got together in a chat room and pitched the best (worst?) lines created using the keyboard, and Botnik editors assembled them into a cohesive(ish) chapter of a story. The results are about as ridiculous as you might imagine. For example, at one point Ron Weasley "saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione's family. Ron's Ron shirt was just as bad as Ron himself." It is never explained how Hermonie knew that the password to a certain locked door was "BEEF WOMEN," nor why "the pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog." Maybe that was covered in Chapter 12. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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CDC barred from using 'science-based' in budget documents

bannedwords - Posted On:2017-12-16 17:15:03 Source: engadget

We can just imagine CDC personnel still shaking their heads after finding out that they can't use certain terms in official documents for next year's budget. According to The Washington Post, the Trump administration has prohibited the CDC from using \

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Google News Will Purge Sites Masking Their Country of Origin

technology - Posted On:2017-12-16 16:15:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: Google moved to strip from its news search results publications that mask their country of origin or intentionally mislead readers, a further step to curb the spread of fake news that has plagued internet companies this year. To appear in Google News results, websites must meet broad criteria set out by the company, including accurately representing their owners or primary purposes. In an update to its guidelines released Friday, the search giant added language stipulating that publications not "engage in coordinated activity to mislead users." Additionally the new rules read: "This includes, but isn't limited to, sites that misrepresent or conceal their country of origin or are directed at users in another country under false premises." A popular tactic for misinformation campaigns is to pose as a credible U.S. news outlet. Russian Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed organization, used that technique to reach an audience of nearly 500,000 people, spread primarily through Twitter accounts, Bloomberg reported earlier. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google won't show news from sites that hide their country of origin

fakenews - Posted On:2017-12-16 15:45:03 Source: engadget

Google's ongoing quest to curb fake news now includes sites that are less than honest about their home turf. The company has updated its Google News guidelines to forbid sites that \

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Facial Recognition Algorithms -- Plus 1.8 Billion Photos -- Leads to 567 Arrests in China

yro - Posted On:2017-12-16 15:45:00 Source: slashdot

"Our machines can very easily recognise you among at least 2 billion people in a matter of seconds," says the chief executive and co-founder of Yitu. The South China Morning Post reports: Yitu's Dragonfly Eye generic portrait platform already has 1.8 billion photographs to work with: those logged in the national database and you, if you have visited China recently... 320 million of the photos have come from China's borders, including ports and airports, where pictures are taken of everyone who enters and leaves the country. According to Yitu, its platform is also in service with more than 20 provincial public security departments, and is used as part of more than 150 municipal public security systems across the country, and Dragonfly Eye has already proved its worth. On its very first day of operation on the Shanghai Metro, in January, the system identified a wanted man when he entered a station. After matching his face against the database, Dragonfly Eye sent his photo to a policeman, who made an arrest. In the following three months, 567 suspected lawbreakers were caught on the city's underground network. The system has also been hooked up to security cameras at various events; at the Qingdao International Beer Festival, for example, 22 wanted people were apprehended. Whole cities in which the algorithms are working say they have seen a decrease in crime. According to Yitu, which says it gets its figures directly from the local authorities, since the system has been implemented, pickpocketing on Xiamen's city buses has fallen by 30 per cent; 500 criminal cases have been resolved by AI in Suzhou since June 2015; and police arrested nine suspects identified by algorithms during the 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou. Dragonfly Eye has even identified the skull of a victim five years after his murder, in Zhejiang province. The company's CEO says it's impossible for police to patrol large cities like Shanghai (population: 24,000,000) without using technology. And one Chinese bank is already testing facial-recognition algorithms hoping to develop ATMs that let customers withdraw money just by showing their faces. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Why Linux HDCP Isn't the End of the World

linux - Posted On:2017-12-16 14:44:59 Source: slashdot

"There is no reason for the open-source community to worry..." writes Daniel Stone, who heads the graphics team at open-source consultancy Collabora. mfilion quotes Collabora.com: Recently, Sean Paul from Google's ChromeOS team, submitted a patch series to enable HDCP support for the Intel display driver. HDCP is used to encrypt content over HDMI and DisplayPort links, which can only be decoded by trusted devices... However, if you already run your own code on a free device, HDCP is an irrelevance and does not reduce freedom in any way.... HDCP support is implemented almost entirely in the hardware. Rather than adding a mandatory encryption layer for content, the HDCP kernel support is dormant unless userspace explicitly requests an encrypted link. It then attempts to enable encryption in the hardware and informs userspace of the result. So there's the first out: if you don't want to use HDCP, then don't enable it! The kernel doesn't force anything on an unwilling userspace.... HDCP is only downstream facing: it allows your computer to trust that the device it has been plugged into is trusted by the HDCP certification authority, and nothing more. It does not reduce user freedom, or impose any additional limitations on device usage. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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California advises against keeping your phone in your pocket

california - Posted On:2017-12-16 14:15:04 Source: engadget

The jury is still out on whether or not cellphone radiation is bad for you, but California's Department of Public Health isn't taking any chances. The agency just issued an advisory that suggests residents should take steps to limit their exposure to cellphones. The notice recommends avoiding phone use when unnecessary, particularly when the cell signal is likely to kick into overdrive (such as when you're in a weak coverage area or streaming video). It also advises keeping your handset away from your body -- CDPH Director Dr. Karen Smith even suggests \

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China Will Spend $3.3 Billion to Research Molten Salt Nuclear-Powered Drones

hardware - Posted On:2017-12-16 13:44:59 Source: slashdot

Long-time Slashdot reader WindBourne tipped us off to some news from The South China Morning Post: China is to spend 22 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion) trying to perfect a form of technology largely discarded in the cold war which could produce a safer but more powerful form of nuclear energy. The cash is to develop two "molten salt" reactors in the Gobi Desert in northern China. Researchers hope that if they can solve a number of technical problems the reactors will lead to a range of applications, including nuclear-powered warships and drones. The technology, in theory, can create more heat and power than existing forms of nuclear reactors that use uranium, while producing only one thousandth of the radioactive waste. It also has the advantage for China of using thorium as its main fuel. China has some of the world's largest reserves of the metal... The reactors use molten salt rather than water as a coolant, allowing them to create temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius, nearly three times the heat produced by a commercial nuclear plant fuelled with uranium. The superhot air has the potential to drive turbines and jet engines and in theory keep a bomber flying at supersonic speed for days. One Beijing researcher says these drones "would serve as a platform for surveillance, communication or weapon delivery to deter nuclear and other threats from hostile countries." He asked not to be named, but provided one more advantage for a nuclear-powered drone flying at high-altitudes over the ocean. "It will also have more public acceptance. If an accident happens, it crashes into the sea." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Firefox faces backlash for auto-installing 'Mr. Robot' add-on

entertainment - Posted On:2017-12-16 12:45:04 Source: engadget

A curious add-on called \

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NASA Uses Its First Recycled SpaceX Rocket For a Re-Supply Mission

science - Posted On:2017-12-16 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Post: SpaceX racked up another first on Friday, launching a recycled rocket with a recycled capsule on a grocery run for NASA. The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off with a just-in-time-for-Christmas delivery for the International Space Station, taking flight again after a six-month turnaround. On board was a Dragon supply ship, also a second-time flier. It was NASA's first use of a reused Falcon rocket and only the second of a previously flown Dragon. Within 10 minutes of liftoff, the first-stage booster was back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, standing upright on the giant X at SpaceX's landing zone. That's where it landed back in June following its first launch. Double sonic booms thundered across the area. At SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, cheers erupted outside the company's glassed-in Mission Control, where chief executive Elon Musk joined his employees. The Dragon reaches the space station Sunday. The capsule last visited the 250-mile-high outpost in 2015. This time, the capsule is hauling nearly 5,000 pounds of goods, including 40 mice for a muscle-wasting study, a first-of-its-kind impact sensor for measuring space debris as minuscule as a grain of sand and barley seeds for a germination experiment by Budweiser, already angling to serve the first beer on Mars. Also onboard were several hundred Star Wars mission patches created by a partnership between Lucasfilm and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (the non-profit organization managing the ISS National Lab). Space.com reports that Elon Musk named the Falcon X after the original Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Local Roots: Farm-in-a-box coming to a distribution center near you

Science - Posted On:2017-12-16 12:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Eric and Matt could not be more earnest in their quest to feed the world.

These two fresh-faced LA boys founded Local Roots four years ago. Their first purchases were broken-down, 40-foot shipping containers—this is apparently easy to do, since it is cheaper for shipping companies to just churn out new ones rather than fix broken ones. Local Roots then upcycles them into modular, shippable, customizable farms, each of which can grow as much produce as five acres of farmland. The idea is to supplement, not supplant, outdoor agriculture. And Ars got a look at one of these "farms" when it was set up in New York City recently.

Every aspect of the TerraFarm, as the repurposed shipping containers have been dubbed, has been designed and optimized. The gently pulsing LED lights are purplish—apparently, that’s what lettuce likes—and the solution in which the plants are grown is clean and clear. The "farm" is bright and vibrant, and it smells great in there.

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'The Gawker Foundation' is Crowdfunding a Bid To Re-Launch Gawker.com

news - Posted On:2017-12-16 11:45:00 Source: slashdot

"Gawker may soon return from the dead," reports TechCrunch. While Univision acquired most of Gawker Media's sites last year (and renamed them as the Gizmodo Media Group), the deal didn't include Gawker itself. In fact, BuzzFeed reported last month that a bankruptcy administrator has not been able to find a buyer for the Gawker site, and that lawyers for Peter Thiel (the billionaire venture capitalist who helped fund the lawsuit that led to Gawker's bankruptcy) were arguing that he'd been unfairly excluded from the process. Now a group of former Gawker employees calling themselves the Gawker Foundation has launched a Kickstarter campaign to buy the old domain and relaunch with a nonprofit, membership-funded model. "The truth is often inconvenient, and Gawker's work isn't done," explains a mirror of their campaign site at SaveGawker.com. "We want to dig deeper." $10 pledges get you a laptop sticker, $250 pledges earn you an invite to their glorious re-launch party, and to solicit $10,000 pledges they're even asking wealthy backers to "Give us half of one bitcoin." "By setting ourselves up as an ownerless, advertiser-less, non-profit media organization, the editorial team will be able to do what they do best. More than a dozen Gawker Media alumni are involved in this project..." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Netflix may run Watergate series developed by George Clooney

entertainment - Posted On:2017-12-16 11:15:06 Source: engadget

Netflix's ability to reel in big-name stars may have just secured a very topical political drama. Sources for Hollywood Reporter and Variety have learned that George Clooney and Bridge of Spies writer Matt Charman are working on Watergate, an eight-episode miniseries for Netflix about the presidential scandal. It's unclear whether or not Clooney would star in the show (he's known to be an executive producer), but Variety hears he might direct some episodes provided Netflix goes forward. Netflix itself has declined to comment. To be clear, Clooney is hedging his bets. He's producing another miniseries, an adaptation of Catch-22, that's being produced by Paramount Television (i.e. Viacom) and Anonymous Content. However, it's notable that he's making a series for Netflix. It's not just that the internet video giant now has enough power to attract A-list talent -- it's that people like Clooney now see streaming services as viable (and potentially ideal) places for shows that previously had to be shoehorned into conventional TV schedules to get a lot of exposure.

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This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through December 16)

Topics - Posted On:2017-12-16 11:15:02 Source: singularityhub

BITCOIN

Bitcoin Is a Delusion That Could Conquer the World Derek Thompson | The Atlantic “What seems most certain is that the future of money will test our conventional definitions—of currencies, of bubbles, and of initial offerings. What’s happening this month with bitcoin feels like an unsustainable paroxysm. But it’s foolish to try to develop rational models for when such a market will correct itself. Prices, like currencies, are collective illusions.”

SPACE

This Engineer Is Building a DIY Mars Habitat in His Backyard Daniel Oberhaus | Motherboard “For over a year, Raymond and his wife have been running a fully operational, self-sustaining ‘Mars habitat’ in their backyard. They’ve personally sunk around $200,000 into the project and anticipate spending several thousand more before they’re finished. The habitat is the subject of a popular YouTube channel maintained by Raymond, where he essentially LARPs the 2015 Matt Damon film The Martian for an audience of over 20,000 loyal followers.”

INTERNET

The FCC Just Voted to Repeal Its Net Neutrality Rules, in a Sweeping Act of Deregulation Brian Fung | The Washington Post “The 3-2 vote, which was along party lines, enabled the FCC’s Republican chairman, AjitPai, to follow through on his promise to repeal the government’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which required Internet providers to treat all websites, large and small, equally.”

GENDER EQUALITY

Sexism’s National Reckoning and the Tech Women Who Blazed the Trail Tekla S. Perry | IEEE Spectrum “Cassidy and other women in tech who spoke during the one-day event stressed that the watershed came not because women finally broke the silence about sexual harassment, whatever Time’s editors may believe. The change came because the women were finally listened to and the bad actors faced repercussions.”

FUTURE

These Technologies Will Shape the Future, According to One of Silicon Valley’s Top VC Firms Daniel Terdiman | Fast Company “The question then, is what are the technologies that are going to drive the future. At Andreessen Horowitz, a picture of that future, at least the next 10 years or so, is coming into focus.During a recent firm summit, Evans laid out his vision for the most significant tech opportunities of the next decade.On the surface, the four areas he identifies–autonomy, mixed-reality, cryptocurrencies, and artificial intelligence–aren’t entirely surprises.”

Image Credit: Solfer / Shutterstock.com

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Netflix will look for a repeat play in 2018 after a strong year

Apps - Posted On:2017-12-16 11:15:02 Source: techcrunch

 Netflix had a pretty good year by very Netflix-y standards: it added a ton of subscribers; its international growth plans seem to be playing out as hoped; it cleaned up in the Golden Globe nominations, and users are watching a ton of Netflix. While the company has continued to show growth with its existing strategy — investing a ton in its original content strategy in the hope that…

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California: Here’s how to handle unfounded fears of cell phone cancer

Science - Posted On:2017-12-16 10:44:56 Source: arstechnica

The California Department of Public Health officially issued a guidance Friday on how to reduce exposure to radio-frequency energy released by cell phones—despite a lack of solid scientific data suggesting that such exposure poses any harm.

The guidance follows the Department’s legal defeat earlier this year surrounding the release of such a guidance.

In 2014, public health researcher Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, sued the department after it refused to release the guidance to him. The Department said at the time that its guidance was merely an unapproved, incomplete draft that was not ready for public release and could needlessly raise alarm. In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle at the time, the Department further explained that it had shelved the guidance years ago in accordance with the latest stance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the time—and to this day—the CDC says that there is no definitive data on the subject and that “more research is needed before we know if using cell phones causes health effects.”

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