Elon Musk on Twitter: 'Trains Should Be On Surface, Cars Below'

technology - Posted On:2019-05-26 19:44:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader writes: The SFGate site reports that Elon Musk engaged in a "bizarre Twitter fight" after someone suggested underground tunnels were better for trains than cars. "Opposite is true," Musk argued. "You can have 100's of layers of tunnels, but only one layer on surface (to first approximation), therefore trains should be on surface, cars below." Underground, he noted later, "you can have as many lanes as you want going in any direction." San Francisco transit authorities then pointed out that their high-capacity BART trains carry 28,000 people every hour through a tube under the San Francisco Bay, adding "That's nearly twice as much as cars over the bay." This being Twitter, BART "was attacked by a number of Musk fans and other BART critics, and was forced to defend everything from the odor on cars to the amount of public money the agency receives." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

'Boring Company' Video Suggests Company Is Abandoning Underground Rails

technology - Posted On:2019-05-26 18:59:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider: Shortly after news broke that Elon Musk's Boring Company landed its first tunnel-building project in Las Vegas, it released a video of two Teslas racing in its tunnel near Los Angeles -- one using the roads, and the other using a Boring Company tunnel. The Tesla in the tunnel took one minute and 36 seconds to get to the destination, reaching 127 mph, the video, posted early Friday, showed. The car using the roads arrived in four minutes and 45 seconds, after getting stuck at a red light. The video revealed that the Boring Company had done away with a key element of the tunnel's original design: rails that guide the car. The video revealed that a key element of the design of the Boring Company's 1.14-mile test tunnel in Hawthorne had changed. This demonstration of the tunnel differed from earlier ones in which cars were whisked along on rails. Replying to a tweet asking whether there were no more rails and the car was driving on Autopilot, Tesla's semi-autonomous driver-assist system, Musk said, "Pretty much." When asked why the original rail system had been abandoned, Musk added, "This is simple and just works." The automotive site Jalopnik complains this misses the dream of a vacuum-based hyperloop system transporting speedy proprietary vehicles on frictionless electrified skates: Yes, for those keeping score, in a mere two years we've gone from a futuristic vision of electric skates zooming around a variety of vehicles in a network of underground tunnels to -- and I cannot stress this enough -- a very small, paved tunnel that can fit one (1) car. The video's marketing conceit is that the car in the tunnel beats a car trying to go the same distance on roads. You'll never believe this, but the car that has a dedicated right of way wins... To recap: Musk's company spent two years developing a very narrow car tunnel. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

TurboTax Is Using A 'Military Discount' to Trick Troops Into Paying to File Their Taxes

technology - Posted On:2019-05-26 11:45:01 Source: slashdot

"Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, created and promoted a 'military discount' that charges service members who are eligible to file for free," reports ProPublica, in a story co-published with The Military Times: In patriotism-drenched promotions, press releases and tweets, TurboTax promotes special deals for military service members, promising to help them file their taxes online for free or at a discount. Yet some service members who've filed by going to the TurboTax Military landing page told ProPublica they were charged as much as $150 -- even though, under a deal with the government, service members making under $66,000 are supposed to be able to file on TurboTax for free... To find TurboTax's Free File landing page, service members typically have to go through the IRS website. TurboTax Military, by contrast, is promoted on the company's home page and elsewhere. Starting through the Military landing page directs many users to paid products even when they are eligible to get the same service for no cost using the Free File edition... The New York regulator investigating TurboTax is also examining the military issue, according to a person familiar with the probe. The authors of the article tested the software by entering tax information for a military household in Virginia that was eligible for free filing. TurboTax Military "tried to upgrade us or convince us to pay for side products six times. We declined those extras each time. "Finally, the program told us we had to pay $159.98 to finish filing. And that 'military discount'? All of $5." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

CrossFit Storms Off Facebook and Instagram

technology - Posted On:2019-05-25 21:44:59 Source: slashdot

"CrossFit, the branded workout regimen, deleted its Facebook and Instagram pages earlier this week and explained the reasoning through an impassioned press release," reports the Verge. TechSpot has more details: In a press release, CrossFit revealed the breaking point: the deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan user group, without warning or explanation. Banting is an alternative high-fat low-carb diet with no set meal times or processed foods, and its Facebook group had 1.65 million users, including 1 million from South Africa. The group mostly posts testimonials and discusses the merits of the diet or how it might be implemented. While the group has been reinstated (still without explanation), CrossFit is right to call into question why Facebook removed it in the first place. While Banting is probably inadvisable, groups advocating for it have a right to exist. Still, that's far from the only reason CrossFit abandoned the platforms... CrossFit sees itself as a community of 15,000 affiliates and millions of individuals against "an unholy alliance of academia, government, and multinational food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies," according to their press release -- so they may be feeling vulnerable. CrossFit, Inc. defends relentlessly the right of its affiliates, trainers, and athletes to practice CrossFit, build voluntary CrossFit associations and businesses, and speak openly and freely about the ideas and principles that animate our views of exercise, nutrition, and health... Facebook and its properties host and oversee a significant share of the marketplace of public thought... Facebook thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square, arbitrating a worldwide exchange of information as well as overseeing the security of the individuals and communities who entrust their ideas, work, and private data to this platform. This mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process. CrossFit, Inc., as a voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community. CrossFit says they're "suspending" all activity on the platforms while they investigate "the circumstances pertaining to Facebook's deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company," adding that CrossFit "will no longer support or use Facebook's services until further notice." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Consumer Reports: Tesla's New Automatic Lane-Changing Is Much Worse Than a Human Driver

technology - Posted On:2019-05-25 17:45:00 Source: slashdot

"Tesla's updated Navigate on Autopilot software now lets some drivers choose whether the car can automatically change lanes without his or her input," writes Consumer Reports -- before complaining that the feature "doesn't work very well and could create safety risks for drivers." An anonymous reader quotes their report: In practice, we found that the new Navigate on Autopilot lane-changing feature lagged far behind a human driver's skills. The feature cut off cars without leaving enough space, and even passed other cars in ways that violate state laws, according to several law enforcement representatives CR interviewed for this report. As a result, the driver often had to prevent the system from making poor decisions. "The system's role should be to help the driver, but the way this technology is deployed, it's the other way around," says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' senior director of auto testing. "It's incredibly nearsighted. It doesn't appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can't anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it...." Multiple testers reported that the Tesla often changed lanes in ways that a safe human driver wouldn't -- cutting too closely in front of other cars, and passing on the right. An area of particular concern is Tesla's claim that the vehicle's three rearward-facing cameras can detect fast-approaching objects from the rear better than the average driver can. Our testers found the opposite to be true in practice. "The system has trouble responding to vehicles that approach quickly from behind," Fisher says. "Because of this, the system will often cut off a vehicle that is going at a much faster speed, since it doesn't seem to sense the oncoming car until it's relatively close." Fisher says merging into traffic is another problem. "It is reluctant to merge in heavy traffic, but when it does, it often immediately applies the brakes to create space behind the follow car," he says, "and this can be a rude surprise to the vehicle you cut off... This isn't a convenience at all. Monitoring the system is much harder than just changing lanes yourself." In the article David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports, complains that Tesla "is showing what not to do on the path toward self-driving cars: release increasingly automated driving systems that aren't vetted properly." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Why the US Air Force Is Investigating a Cyber Attack From the US Navy

technology - Posted On:2019-05-25 16:44:59 Source: slashdot

"The Air Force is investigating the Navy for a cyber intrusion into its network, according to a memo obtained by Military Times." Zorro (Slashdot reader #15,797) shares their report: The bizarre turn of events stems from a decision by a Navy prosecutor to embed hidden tracking software into emails sent to defense attorneys, including one Air Force lawyer, involved in a high-profile war-crimes case of a Navy SEAL in San Diego. The tracking device was an attempt to find out who was leaking information to the editor of Navy Times, a sister publication. A similar tracking device was also sent to Carl Prine, the Navy Times editor, who has written numerous stories about the case. Navy Capt. David Wilson, chief of staff for the Navy's Defense Service Offices, wrote in the May 19 memo that an Air Force attorney was among the defense lawyers who had received emails with the hidden tracking software, which he described as "malware"... "In fact, I've learned that the Air Force is treating this malware as a cyber-intrusion on their network and have seized the Air Force Individual Military Counsel's computer and phone for review," he wrote. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

'How I Cheated On My Microsoft Job Interview'

it - Posted On:2019-05-25 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

Robert Sweeney spent 10 years working as a software engineer at Microsoft and Netflix, before becoming founder and CEO of the software development agency Facet. This week he blogged about how he cheated on his 2004 interview for a job at Microsoft. It was his first job interview ever, when he was still a college senior majoring in computer science, and a Microsoft recruiter had invited him to an interview at an on-campus career fair: I immediately called my good friend Eli who had just started a new job at Microsoft. I asked him what the on campus interviews were like and how I should prepare for them. He explained that they would ask a random programming question that I would need to solve on a sheet of paper. If you did well, then they would fly you out for a full day of interviews at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. He had been asked to write a function that, when given an array of length n + 1 containing integers 1 through n, find the duplicate integer in an array. I wasn't sure how to prepare for answering a "random programming question", so I decided to just use the question Eli had been asked as practice and hope for the best... Most of the interview is a blur, but I remember the interviewer being nice and I remember the programming question he asked me... I couldn't believe it. He asked me the exact same question as Eli. Should I tell him? I hesitated for a moment, pretending to be thinking about how to solve the problem. In reality I was having an intense internal debate on the ethics of interviewing. He didn't ask me if I had heard the question before, he just asked me to solve it. So I decided to just answer the question... I slowly wrote out the solution I had come up with over days of thinking about the problem, being sure to pause periodically as if I was figuring it out for the first time... A few days later I received an invite to fly out to the Microsoft main offices. I interviewed with two teams over a period of 6+ hours. I didn't get asked any questions I had heard before this time, but I did my best... Sure enough, that next week I had a job offer from Microsoft from both teams... Within a couple of years of graduating from college, I had shipped software that was being used by nearly a billion people... I've struggled with this a lot over the years, but I finally decided to share my story. I don't think I would have made it past the first round of interviews at Microsoft if I hadn't gotten so lucky. So pretty much, my entire career is built on one amazing stroke of luck. I also think my experience is a great example of one of the many reasons why the coding problems we use in developer interviews are so problematic: on the spot coding is just not a good way to judge technical ability. Stack Overflow's CEO founder Joel Spolsky actually wrote some of Microsoft's internal programmer-testing guidelines when he worked there in the mid-1990s, and he later publicized them in a 2006 blog post which he says was later adopted by other tech companies, including Google. He has since said that recruiting for IT is broken, adding "I think that I'm responsible." Microsoft has since changed its interviewing practices. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

'Phenomenal' 2,300-Year-Old Bark Shield Found In Leicestershire

technology - Posted On:2019-05-25 03:14:57 Source: slashdot

pgmrdlm shares a report from The Guardian: An "astonishing and unparalleled" 2,300-year-old shield made of tree bark has been discovered in Leicestershire, the only example of its kind ever found in Europe. The shield was discovered in 2015 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service in a site close to the River Soar. Organic objects from the period very rarely survive, but the shield was preserved in waterlogged soil and may have been deposited in a water-filled pit, according to Matt Beamish, the lead archaeologist for the service. Bark shields of the period were entirely unknown in the northern hemisphere, he told the Guardian, and the assumption was that the material may have been too flimsy for use in war. However experiments to remake the weapon in alder and willow showed the 3mm-thick shield would have been tough enough for battle but incredibly light. It was likely that, contrary to assumptions, similar weapons were widespread, Beamish said. The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths, described by Beamish as "like a whalebone corset of split hardwood," and surrounded by a rim of hazel, with a twisted willow boss. The malleable green wood would then tighten as it dried, giving the shield its strength and forming the rounded rectangles into a slightly "waisted" shape, like a subtle figure of eight. The University of York and University of Leicester have both released statements on the discovery. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

China Unveils 373 MPH Maglev Train Prototype

technology - Posted On:2019-05-24 21:29:58 Source: slashdot

China has unveiled a new floating bullet train capable of hitting speeds of about 372 mph (600 km/h). CNN reports: On Thursday, the body prototype for the country's latest high-speed magnetic-levitation (maglev) train project rolled off the assembly line in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. Developed by the state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) -- the world's largest supplier of rail transit equipment -- the sleek-looking train is scheduled to go into commercial production in 2021 following extensive tests. Maglev trains use magnetic repulsion both to levitate the train up from the ground, which reduces friction, and to propel it forward. The project was co-created by Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd., a German Consortium consisting of Siemens AG, Thyssen Transrapid GMBH and Transrapid International GMBH. "Take Beijing to Shanghai as an example -- counting preparation time for the journey, it takes about 4.5 hours by plane, about 5.5 hours by high-speed rail, and [would only take] about 3.5 hours with [the new] high-speed maglev," said CRRC deputy chief engineer Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team, in a statement. For comparison, current trains on the Beijing-Shanghai line have a maximum operating speed of about 217 mph (350 km/h). Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Microsoft Is Putting the Sexy Into Unsexy Software

technology - Posted On:2019-05-24 19:29:59 Source: slashdot

Microsoft's redesigned SharePoint platform is proof that Microsoft is serious about making their software more stylish. "It's colorful, pretty, and makes SharePoint seem sexy instead of the boring corporate intranet website that most people associate it with," writes The Verge's Tom Warren, in response to Microsoft's latest sizzle video all about SharePoint "innovations." From the report: Microsoft's video also contains the bubbles that form part of the new SharePoint logo -- part of a broader revamp of the company's Office icons that are rolling out right now. It also includes a bunch of Microsoft's Fluent Design elements that form part of the company's big push towards open design internally. So why did Microsoft make such a flashy video for SharePoint? The company held a SharePoint conference earlier this week and launched a new SharePoint home sites feature. It's a new landing site for a business' intranet that combines news, events, content, video, and even conversations. SharePoint is used by businesses to encourage collaboration, and these new home sites look like a far more modern way to achieve that. Warren notes that Microsoft's newly unveiled Windows Terminal also had a sizzle video that promoted the new design. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Hackers Breach Company That Makes License Plate Readers for US Government

it - Posted On:2019-05-24 17:29:59 Source: slashdot

Hackers breached a company that provides license plate reader technology for the US government, including at the border with Mexico. From a report: The hackers posted what appears to be the internal data of the company, called Perceptics, on a dark web website on Thursday. A company employee confirmed to Motherboard that Perceptics was hacked. "We are aware of the breach and have notified our customers. We can't comment any further because it is an ongoing legal investigation," Casey Self, director of marketing for Perceptics said in an online message. The Register first reported the news on Thursday. The data appears to include a variety of databases, company documents, and financial information, according to the file directory giving an overview of the stolen material. Boris Bullet-Dodger, the hacker who listed the data online, contacted Motherboard with a link to the stolen data on Thursday. Perceptics, once a subsidiary of major government contractor Northrop Grumman, mainly distributes license plate readers, under-vehicle cameras, and driver cameras to the U.S., Canada, Mexico to place at border crossings. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

An Algorithm May Decide Who Gets Suicide Prevention

technology - Posted On:2019-05-24 16:44:59 Source: slashdot

An algorithm, it seems, could determine, in some cases, who gets shown lifesaving information, and who doesn't. From a report: The researchers behind the New Media & Society paper set out to understand this odd quirk of Google's algorithm, and to find out why the company seemed to be serving some markets better than others. They developed a list of 28 keywords and phrases related to suicide, Sebastian Scherr at the University of Leuven says, and worked with nine researchers from different countries who accurately translated those terms into their own languages. For 21 days, they conducted millions of automated searches for these phrases, and kept track of whether hotline information showed up or not. They thought these results might simply, logically, show up in countries with higher suicide rates, but the opposite was true. Users in South Korea, which has one of the world's highest suicide rates, were only served the advice box about 20% of the time. They tested different browser histories (some completely clean, some full of suicide-related topics), with computers old and new, and tested searches in 11 different countries. It didn't seem to matter: the advice box was simply much more likely to be shown to people using Google in the English language, particularly in English-speaking countries (though not in Canada, which Scherr speculates was probably down to geographical rollout). "If you're in an English-speaking country, you have over a 90% chance of seeing these results -- but Google operates differently depending on which language you use," he said. Scherr speculates that using keywords may simply have been the easiest way to implement the project, but adds that it wouldn't take much to offer it more effectively in other countries, too. A Google spokesperson, who asked not to be quoted directly, said that the company is refining these algorithms. The advice boxes require the cooperation of local organizations which may not always be available, they said, but that relevant resources will still show up in regular search results. Google said the service does not have comprehensive global coverage, and while it is actively working on new languages and locations, rolling that out takes time. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Uber and Lyft's Rise Tanked Wheelchair Access To Taxis

technology - Posted On:2019-05-24 14:45:00 Source: slashdot

A new San Francisco city report details the devastating drop in on-demand rides for the disability community after the rise of Uber and Lyft. From a report: The financial blow to the taxi industry, the report alleges, was also a blow to the availability of on-demand trips for anyone who uses a wheelchair. The report also points a way forward for the multi-billion dollar ride-hail industry to roll out wheelchair accessible vehicles and inclusive transportation for people with disabilities more broadly. It's a bit of an uncharacteristic kumbaya moment between old-school taxicab regulators and the tech transportation darlings, but one San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Taxi and Accessible Services Kate Toran said is necessary to provide people with disabilities the service they need. "We take a positive view because we're trying to increase service on the street," Toran told the San Francisco Examiner. "Really, the end goal is to make sure the rider gets the service, that's what we stay focused on." The report also comes on the heels of recent workshops to implement Senate Bill 1376, authored by State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), which implemented a 5-cent per-ride surcharge on ride-hails to set up a fund so Uber and Lyft could finally provide wheelchair accessible vehicles. The bill set up a process for the California Public Utilities Commission, to establish rules requiring ride-hails to provide rides to all Californians regardless of disabilities. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Delivery App Orders Restaurants To Cook Almost Whatever You Want

technology - Posted On:2019-05-24 13:29:59 Source: slashdot

Russia's largest tech company is launching a delivery service that allows a customer to tell a restaurant what to cook, whether it's on the menu or not. From a report: Yandex NV will prepare meal kits with ingredients based on a customer's requested dish and send it to a nearby restaurant for cooking. Once the food is ready, Yandex couriers will handle delivery. Yandex has been rapidly expanding its delivery services. In 2017 it merged with Uber Technologies' Russian ride-hailing and food-ordering businesses. The new offering, which it calls a "cloud restaurant" service, mashes together Yandex.Eats, which delivers cooked food from restaurants, and Yandex.Chef, which already supplies meal kits for home cooking. For now, customers won't be able to create completely bespoke delicacies, but Yandex has created a list of hundreds of the most popular dishes among users of its food businesses, which will be priced typically for no more than 250 rubles ($3.86) per dish. The service will be initially available in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Synthesizer Pioneer Bob Moog Gets His Own 'Moogseum'

technology - Posted On:2019-05-23 23:44:58 Source: slashdot

harrymcc writes: In the 1960s, Bob Moog helped invent electronic music as we know it by popularizing the synthesizer. He died in 2005, but Moog synthesizers are still widely used by top musical acts. And now his life, work, and legacy are the subject of a new museum in Asheville, NC, his hometown. Over at Fast Company, Sean Captain took a look at the museum, Moog's accomplishments, and the history of music produced with his instruments -- from the classical blockbuster "Switched-On Bach" onwards. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Deepfakes Can Now Be Made From a Single Photo

technology - Posted On:2019-05-23 20:59:59 Source: slashdot

Samsung has developed a new artificial intelligence system for creating deepfakes -- fabricated clips that make people appear to do or say things they never did -- that only needs as little as one photo. CNET reports: The technology, of course, can be used for fun, like bringing a classic portrait to life. The Mona Lisa, whose enigmatic smile is animated in three different videos to demonstrate the new technology, exists solely as a single still image. A Samsung artificial intelligence lab in Russia developed the technology, which was detailed in a paper earlier this week. Here's the downside: These kinds of techniques and their rapid development also create risks of misinformation, election tampering and fraud, according to Hany Farid, a Dartmouth researcher who specializes in media forensics to root out deepfakes. The system starts with a lengthy "meta-learning stage" in which it watches lots of videos to learn how human faces move. It then applies what it's learned to a single still or a small handful of pics to produce a reasonably realistic video clip. Unlike a true deepfake video, the results from a single or small number of images fudge when reproducing fine details. For example, a fake of Marilyn Monroe in the Samsung lab's demo video missed the icon's famous mole, according to Siwei Lyu, a computer science professor at the University at Albany in New York who specializes in media forensics and machine learning. It also means the synthesized videos tend to retain some semblance of whoever played the role of the digital puppet. That's why each of the moving Mona Lisa faces looks like a slightly different person. [...] The glitches in the fake videos made with Samsung's new approach may be clear and obvious. But they'll be cold comfort to anybody who ends up in a deepfake generated from that one smiling photo posted to Facebook. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Facebook Removed 2.2 Billion Fake Accounts This Year

technology - Posted On:2019-05-23 17:44:59 Source: slashdot

Facebook released its community standards enforcement report Thursday morning, offering a much more in-depth look at the inner workings of the company than previously seen. From a report: One of the most surprising insights came from Facebook's removal of fake accounts. The company said it removed 2.2 billion accounts in the first quarter of the 2019. That's a jump of nearly double compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 when 1.2 billion accounts were removed. That number seems astronomical, especially when considering that Facebook says it has 2.38 billion monthly active users overall. The reason that the social network can boast nearly as many removals as it has active users is that it typically finds and removes bogus accounts within minutes of them signing up. As a result, Facebook estimates that only 5% of its monthly active users are fake. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Mark Zuckerberg Dismisses Calls To Break Up Facebook

technology - Posted On:2019-05-23 16:59:59 Source: slashdot

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday rebuffed calls for the company to be broken up over competition concerns, disputing claims the firm has grown too dominant. From a report: During a call with reporters, Zuckerberg was pressed to address recent calls from Democratic officials and one Facebook co-founder for federal regulators to force the company to spin off WhatsApp and Instagram, previously acquired in two blockbuster deals. "I think it kind of almost goes without saying that we exist in a very competitive and dynamic environment where new services are constantly coming up," Zuckerberg said. He later disputed arguments that the company has grown too dominant as an advertising player as "a little stretched," noting the company controls just around a fifth of the global digital ad market. "I don't really think that the remedy of breaking up the company is going to address those," he said. "I actually think it's going to make it a lot harder." Further reading: Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg: Chinese Tech Companies Are Also Powerful, and Will Not Be Broken Up. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Snapchat Employees Abused Data Access To Spy on Users

it - Posted On:2019-05-23 15:59:59 Source: slashdot

Several departments inside social media giant Snap have dedicated tools for accessing user data, and multiple employees have abused their privileged access to spy on Snapchat users, Motherboard reported on Thursday. From the report: Two former employees said multiple Snap employees abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago. Those sources, as well as an additional two former employees, a current employee, and a cache of internal company emails obtained by Motherboard, described internal tools that allowed Snap employees at the time to access user data, including in some cases location information, their own saved Snaps and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses. Snaps are photos or videos that, if not saved, typically disappear after being received (or after 24 hours if posted to a user's Story). [...] Although Snap has introduced strict access controls to user data and takes abuse and user privacy very seriously according to several sources, the news highlights something that many users may forget: behind the products we use everyday there are people with access to highly sensitive customer data, who need it to perform essential work on the service. But, without proper protections in place, those same people may abuse it to spy on user's private information or profiles. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Many Google Duplex Calls Are From Real People Instead of AI

technology - Posted On:2019-05-23 15:44:59 Source: slashdot

Google's Duplex reservations might be more widely available, but that doesn't mean the AI is ready to handle every call. From a report: The company has confirmed to the New York Times that about 25 percent of the Assistant-based calls start with a human in a call center, while 15 percent require human intervention. In the newspaper's tests, the ratio was higher -- real people completed three out of four of their successful bookings. There are multiple reasons for relying on the human touch. In one case, Duplex didn't appear to pick up the cues that reservations were available. It may also need training on more real-world calls before it can handle every situation. More importantly, the company argued that it was taking a cautious approach. It wants to treat businesses with respect, and that means gradually transitioning to the AI as it becomes better-suited to dealing with staff. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More