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Updated: 2 hours 47 min ago

South Korea Moves Towards The World's First 'Robot Tax'

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: It's being called the world's first robot tax. If it goes into effect, South Korea will be the first country to change its tax laws in recognition of the coming burden of mass robotic automation on low and middle-skill workers. The change proposed by the Moon Jae-in administration isn't a direct tax on robots. Rather, policymakers have proposed limiting tax incentives on investments in automation... Under existing law, South Korean companies that buy automation equipment, such as warehouse and factory robots, can deduct between three and seven percent of their investment. The current proposal, which seems likely to advance, is to reduce the deduction rate by up to two percentage points. The move is evidently not an attempt to staunch companies from adopting automation technology. Rather, it is a kind of formal acknowledgment that unemployment is coming on a big enough scale to eat into South Korea's tax revenue. Policymakers are hoping that reducing the deduction incentives by a couple percentage points will offset the lost income tax and help keep the country's social services and welfare coffers filled. The Korea Times, which broke the story, reminds readers that former U.S. treasury secretary Lawrence Summers has called robot taxes "profoundly misguided... A sufficiently high tax on robots would prevent them from being produced."

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Is Slashdot Blocked In Parts Of India?

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 05:30
Long-time Slashdot reader davesag writes: I'm a regular long-term Slashdot reader and have been living in Delhi for the last 9 months. As of last Friday 25th August the only way I can access Slashdot at all is via a VPN. It appears that Slashdot has joined the growing list of websites the Indian Government finds threatening. The Indian Government is deeply paranoid over internet access, with many sites being blocked, jail sentences for viewing blocked URLs, and bans on open wifi networks. In 2015 the Indian government blocked access to over 800 adult web sites, and earlier this month they reportedly blocked access to Archive.org. "A block on Slashdot is over the top," davesag writes, "and makes me wonder what it is about this news site that the government here finds so terrifying."

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Domino's Market Tests A Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Car

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 04:10
An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Someday soon your Domino's Pizza could be delivered to you -- without an actual delivery person. Ford and Domino's are testing out a specially-equipped Ford Fusion that comes not only with self-driving technology but also an oven. It sounds cool but there is a catch -- there's no one to walk the pizza to your front door and ring the bell. That's what Ford and Domino's say they're really testing. "How will customers react to coming outside to get their food?" Domino's president Russell Weiner said in a statement, "We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple." During the testing phase, an engineer and a driver will be in the car -- but the windows will be heavily tinted so customers can't see them. And both have been instructed not to interact with people at all. Domino's wants to see how well customers deal with coming out and getting their own pie from what is, basically, a pizza ATM built into the car. To get their pizzas, customers will have to enter a number on the touchpad, then a back window will lower, revealing the pizza. Over the next five weeks, randomly selected customers around Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be offered the option of getting their pizza delivered by the hi-tech "driverless" car.

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Massive New Spambot Ensnares 711,000,000 Email Addresses

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: A huge spambot ensnaring 711 million email accounts has been uncovered. A Paris-based security researcher, who goes by the pseudonymous handle Benkow, discovered an open and accessible web server hosted in the Netherlands, which stores dozens of text files containing a huge batch of email addresses, passwords, and email servers used to send spam. Those credentials are crucial for the spammer's large-scale malware operation to bypass spam filters by sending email through legitimate email servers. The spambot, dubbed "Onliner," is used to deliver the Ursnif banking malware into inboxes all over the world. To date, it's resulted in more than 100,000 unique infections across the world, Benkow told ZDNet. Troy Hunt, who runs breach notification site Have I Been Pwned, said it was a "mind-boggling amount of data." Hunt, who analyzed the data and details his findings in a blog post, called it the "largest" batch of data to enter the breach notification site in its history... Those credentials, he explained, have been scraped and collated from other data breaches, such as the LinkedIn hack and the Badoo hack, as well also other unknown sources. The data includes information on 80 million email servers, and it's all used to identify which recipients have Windows computers, so they can be targeted in follow-up emails delivering Windows-specific malware.

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Researchers Find a Way To Disable Intel ME Component Courtesy of the NSA

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 02:50
An anonymous reader writes:Researchers from Positive Technologies -- a provider of enterprise security solutions -- have found a way to disable the Intel Management Engine (ME), a much-hated component of Intel CPUs that many have called a secret backdoor, even if Intel advertised it as a "remote PC management" solution. People have been trying for years to find a way to disable the Intel ME component, but have failed all this time. This is because disabling Intel ME crashes computers, as Intel ME is responsible for the initialization, power management, and launch of the main Intel processor. Positive Technologies experts revealed they discovered a hidden bit inside the firmware code, which when flipped (set to "1") will disable ME after ME has done its job and booted up the main processor. The bit is labelled "reserve_hap" and a nearby comment describes it as "High Assurance Platform (HAP) enable." High Assurance Platform (HAP) is an NSA program that describes a series of rules for running secure computing platforms. Researchers believe Intel has added the ME-disabling bit at the behest of the NSA, who needed a method of disabling ME as a security measure for computers running in highly sensitive environments. The original submission linked to a comment with more resources on the "Intel CPU backdoor" controversy.

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The IRS Decides Who To Audit By Data Mining Social Media

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 02:10
In America the Internal Revenue Service used to pick who got audited based on math mistakes or discrepancies with W-2 forms -- but not any more. schwit1 shares an article from the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law describing their new technique: The IRS is now engaging in data mining of public and commercial data pools (including social media) and creating highly detailed profiles of taxpayers upon which to run data analytics. This article argues that current IRS practices, mostly unknown to the general public, are violating fair information practices. This lack of transparency and accountability not only violates federal law regarding the government's data collection activities and use of predictive algorithms, but may also result in discrimination. While the potential efficiencies that big data analytics provides may appear to be a panacea for the IRS's budget woes, unchecked these activities are a significant threat to privacy [PDF]. Other concerns regarding the IRS's entrée into big data are raised including the potential for political targeting, data breaches, and the misuse of such information. While tax evasion cost the U.S.$3 trillion between 2000 and 2009, one of the report's authors argues that people should be aware âoethat what they say and do onlineâ could be used against them.

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Japan Activated Air Raid Sirens During North Korea's Missile Test Monday

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 01:25
"No country should have missiles flying over them like those 130 million people in Japan," the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Monday. Though it was only a test, the scene on-the-ground is described by Slashdot reader AppleHoshi: Our phones went crazy on receipt of an automated alert from the "J-Alert" system. Shortly afterwards, loudspeakers broadcast another alert (there are loudspeakers everywhere in Japan, to warn of earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons). As normal with any disaster situation in Japan, all of the available television channels immediately switched over to full-coverage mode, with a repetition of what the situation was ("There's a missile heading in the direction of north-central Japan") followed by basic instructions of what to do ("If it comes down in your area, try to extinguish any fires and immediately inform your local police and fire departments"). Shortly before twenty past six we got the news that the missile had over-flown northern Japan and landed in the Pacific, about 1,000 km [621 miles] from the coast of Hokkaido. The "all-clear" was broadcast over the local speakers a short while later. Strange as it may seem, this all had an air of normality about it. Japan gets more than it's fair share of natural disasters, so anyone living here gets plenty of exposure to this same routine. (It's just that the reason is usually an earthquake, typhoon or tsunami, rather than a megalomaniac).

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NASA's Plan To Stop A Supervolcano from Destroying The Earth's Climate

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 00:45
Long-time walterbyrd shared a new article about NASA's contingency plan for "vast quantities of searing magma and clouds of fumes" erupting from a Wyoming supervolcano and slowly "burying much of the United States under a thick coat of ash and lava...enough to change the climate of the world for several centuries." NASA believes the Yellowstone supervolcano is a greater threat to life on Earth than any asteroid. So it's come up with a plan to defuse its explosive potential... NASA scientists propose, a 10km [6.2 miles] deep hole into the hydrothermal water below and to the sides of the magma chamber. These fluids, which form Yellowstone's famous heat pools and geysers, already drain some 60-70 per cent of the heat from the magma chamber below. NASA proposes that, in an emergency, this enormous body of heated water can be injected with cooler water, extracting yet more heat. This could prevent the super volcano's magma from reaching the temperature at which it would erupt. A member of NASA's Advisory Council on Planetary Defense told the BBC he'd concluded "the super volcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat."

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One Day Left To Comment on the FCC's Plan To Kill Net Neutrality

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 00:05
An anonymous reader quote The Verge: After four months of debate, the FCC is nearly ready to stop accepting feedback on its proposal to kill net neutrality. Final comments are due this Wednesday, August 30th, by end-of-day Eastern time. Once the comment period closes, the FCC will review the feedback it received and use it as guidance to revise its proposal, which if passed, would reverse the Title II classification that guaranteed net neutrality just two years ago. The commission is supposed to factor in all of the feedback it received when writing its final draft, so if you do have strong feelings on the matter, it's worth leaving a comment... To leave a comment, you'll have to go to this site, click "+ Express," and then fill out the form it opens up to. Make sure you leave the proceeding number "17-108" in place, as that's what ties it to the net neutrality proposal. Also, be aware that everything filed is public, so others will be able to see your name and address. "ISPs shouldn't be gatekeepers," wrote the EFF in a tweet sharing tips on the way to write effective comments. The number of comments matter because "the commission will very likely have to defend its changes in court," according to the article. And the commission has now received a record 22 million filings -- nearly six times the previous record of 3.7 million comments (when the net neutrality rules were first implemented).

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Rural America Is Building Its Own Internet Because No One Else Will

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 23:25
New submitter bumblebaetuna writes: In many cases, it's not financially viable for big internet service providers like Comcast and CharterSpectrum to expand into rural communities: They're not densely populated, and running fiber optic cable into rocky Appalachian soil isn't cheap. Even with federal grants designed to make these expansions more affordable, there are hundreds of communities across the US that are essentially internet deserts -- so many are building it themselves. But in true heartland, bootstrap fashion, these towns, hollows -- small rural communities located in the valleys between Appalachia hills -- and stretches of farmland have banded together to bring internet to their doors. They cobble together innovative and creative solutions to get around the financial, technological, and topological barriers to widespread internet.

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Bitcoin Foundation Boss Urges Cautious Investment

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 22:45
The head of the Bitcoin Foundation, Llew Claasen, has urged people to invest "no more than they can afford" in the crypto-currency. From a report: He was speaking at the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania about the potential for Bitcoin in Africa. Billions lack access to formal banking, but the uptake of mobile money means many are willing to embrace alternatives. Bitcoin had been adopted in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, he said. The digital currency had particular resonance in countries with volatile economies, he said. "It offers people a chance to protect their savings from government abuse of monetary policy. A lot of people in Zimbabwe are interested in it as an alternative financial system, but that is not an easy thing to do formally as we don't want to be perceived as wanting to disrupt economies," he told the BBC. The Washington-based Bitcoin Foundation is a non-profit organisation that promotes the use of Bitcoin around the world.

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Google To Comply With EU Search Demands To Avoid More Fines

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 22:05
Google will comply with Europe's demands to change the way it runs its shopping search service, a rare instance of the internet giant bowing to regulatory pressure to avoid more fines. From a report: The Alphabet unit faced a Tuesday deadline to tell the European Union how it planned to follow an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services in the region. A Google spokeswoman said it is sharing that plan with regulators before the deadline expires, but declined to comment further. The EU fined Google a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in late June for breaking antitrust rules by skewing its general search results to unfairly favor its own shopping service over rival sites. The company had 60 days to propose how it would "stop its illegal content" and 90 days to make changes to how the company displays shopping results when users search for a product. Those changes need to be put in place by Sept. 28 to stave off a risk that the EU could fine the company 5 percent of daily revenue for each day it fails to comply. "The obligation to comply is fully Google's responsibility," the European Commission said in an emailed statement, without elaborating on what the company must do to comply.

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In Our Cynical Age, No One Fails Anymore -- Everybody 'Pivots'

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 21:25
An anonymous reader shares a report: The "pivot" has assumed a peculiar place in our common lexicon. A word once used to describe a guard angling for position on the basketball court is now in wide circulation in politics and business. That's especially the case in Silicon Valley, where pivoting has become the new failure, a concept to describe a haphazard, practically madcap form of iterative development. With its sheen of management-speak, pivoting is well suited to our moment. And like any act of public relations, pivoting is also a performance. A key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though it arises from desperation, is nevertheless supposed to appear methodical. The word seems to have first gained currency in Silicon Valley through the efforts of Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup." Ries defines pivoting as "a change in strategy without a change in vision." Many successful start-ups now claim a pivot as their origin story. Slack began its life as a video-game company before realizing that its actual value might lie in a chat app the company used to communicate internally. The company is now considered to be worth at least $5 billion, putting it among the most successful pivoters of all time. (Other web staples -- YouTube, Groupon, Instagram -- began life in vastly different iterations before pivoting into their current forms.) There's a promise of technocratic efficiency with pivoting, that all you require is a good business plan, and perhaps another injection of venture capital, and you can transform yourself overnight.

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New Ryzen Running Stable On Linux, Threadripper Builds Kernel In 36 Seconds

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 20:41
An anonymous reader writes: After AMD confirmed the a "performance marginality problem" affecting some Ryzen Linux users, RMAs are being issued and replacement Ryzen processors arriving for affected opensource fans. Phoronix has been able to confirm that the new Ryzen CPUs are running stable without the segmentation fault problem that would occur under very heavy workloads. They have also been able to test now the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. The Threadripper 1950X on Linux is unaffected by any issues unless you count the lack of a thermal reporting driver. With the 32 threads under Linux they have been able to build the Linux kernel in just about a half minute.

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Ask Slashdot: Is Leasing a Smartphone Better Than Buying One?

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 20:05
An anonymous reader writes: The biggest benefit with a lease program is you have the option of upgrading to a newer phone model, usually after just a year. You don't get that option when you buy. But with a lease program, although it may be cheaper, you have to return the phone at the end of the agreement or when you upgrade -- meaning you can't pass it off to your child or sell it. So rather than leasing, buying may be a better option. But a New York Times column makes case for why leasing is the right way to go about it. I wanted to check with Slashdot readers, what do you prefer and why?

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On Internet Privacy, Be Very Afraid

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 19:26
Cybersecurity expert and Berkman Klein fellow Bruce Schneier talked to the Gazette about what consumers can do to protect themselves from government and corporate surveillance. From the interview: GAZETTE: After whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations concerning the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance operation in 2013, how much has the government landscape in this field changed? SCHNEIER: Snowden's revelations made people aware of what was happening, but little changed as a result. The USA Freedom Act resulted in some minor changes in one particular government data-collection program. The NSA's data collection hasn't changed; the laws limiting what the NSA can do haven't changed; the technology that permits them to do it hasn't changed. It's pretty much the same. GAZETTE: Should consumers be alarmed by this? SCHNEIER: People should be alarmed, both as consumers and as citizens. But today, what we care about is very dependent on what is in the news at the moment, and right now surveillance is not in the news. It was not an issue in the 2016 election, and by and large isn't something that legislators are willing to make a stand on. Snowden told his story, Congress passed a new law in response, and people moved on. GAZETTE: What about corporate surveillance? How pervasive is it? SCHNEIER: Surveillance is the business model of the internet. Everyone is under constant surveillance by many companies, ranging from social networks like Facebook to cellphone providers. This data is collected, compiled, analyzed, and used to try to sell us stuff. Personalized advertising is how these companies make money, and is why so much of the internet is free to users. We're the product, not the customer.

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BackBlaze's Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 18:43
BackBlaze is back with its new hard drive reliability report: Since our last report for Q1 2017, we have added 635 additional hard drives to bring us to the 83,151 drives we'll focus on. We'll begin our review by looking at the statistics for the period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 (Q2 2017). [...] When looking at the quarterly numbers, remember to look for those drives with at least 50,000 drive hours for the quarter. That works out to about 550 drives running the entire quarter. That's a good sample size. If the sample size is below that, the failure rates can be skewed based on a small change in the number of drive failures. Editor's note: In short: hard drives from HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, and Toshiba were far more reliable than those from Seagate across the models BackBlaze uses in its datacenters.

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Google Unveils ARCore, Its Answer To Apple's ARKit

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 18:01
Google has taken the wraps off its answer to Apple's ARKit -- a new augmented reality development platform called "ARCore." In a blog post, the company said it's releasing a "preview" software development kit for ARCore to Android developers today. From a report: Google released its Tango AR platform in 2014, but AR experiences built on that platform could run only on a few phones sporting advanced sensors and cameras. With ARCore, Google says, developers can create AR apps and games that run on virtually any Android smartphone -- existing and forthcoming. "We've been developing the fundamental technologies that power mobile AR over the last three years with Tango, and ARCore is built on that work," says Android Engineering VP Dave Burke in today's blog post. Developers who have already developed on the Tango platform, Burke says, can use that experience to help them create on the ARCore platform. ARCore games and apps will use an Android phone's camera to determine the position and movement of the phone itself within a real-world environment. The camera will determine the location of horizontal surfaces on which to place digital objects. The camera will also measure the ambient light in a given space, so that digital objects will appear to reflect light in convincing ways.

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Apple Pushes Studios to Offer 4K Content for Upcoming Apple TV at Lower Prices, Report Says

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 17:22
Apple appears to have ambitious plans to attract people's interest in its streaming device Apple TV, according to a new report. An anonymous reader shares a report: The company, which is widely expected to refresh the Apple TV next month to bring support for videos in 4K, is in talks with Hollywood studios to bring Ultra HD content at lower prices, WSJ reported on Tuesday. Apple is widely expected to unveil new iPhone models - including one called the iPhone 8 - next month. The publication reports that the iPhone-maker is pushing Hollywood studios to agree to sell Ultra HD editions of movies at $19.99, the usual price the company charges for full-HD of new movies. But Hollywood studios, which have seen a significant portion of their business go to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, are pushing for higher prices. Hollywood studios, according to the report, are asking Apple to increase the asking price from proposed $19.99 per movie by $5 to $10.

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Publishers Are Making More Video -- Whether You Want It or Not

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 16:41
An anonymous reader shares a report: Mic, a website aimed at millennials, used to employ 40 writers and editors producing articles on topics like "celebrating beauty" and "strong women." Ten were let go this month, with most in the revamped newsroom of 63 now focused on making videos for places like Facebook. Critics have called such moves "100 percent cynical" and out of sync with audience demand. Yet Americans are watching more video snippets online, either because they secretly like them or because they're getting harder to avoid. The growing audience for video, more valuable to advertisers than the space next to words, is causing websites to shift resources in what's become known across the industry as the pivot to video. Americans are expected to spend 81 minutes a day watching digital video in 2019, up from 61 minutes in 2015, according to projections by research firm eMarketer. Time spent reading a newspaper is expected to drop to 13 minutes a day from 16 minutes during that time. The question is whether those trends will sustain the growing number of outlets flooding social networks with video clips. Mic, a New York-based news site founded in 2011, was just the latest to fire writers when it announced its pivot to video this month. Dozens of writers and editors have also been laid off this summer at news outlets like Vocativ, Fox Sports, Vice and MTV News. All of the moves were tied in part to focusing more resources on making videos. Publishers are heading in this direction even though polls show consumers find video ads more irritating than TV commercials. Google and Apple are testing features that let you mute websites with auto-play videos or block them entirely. More young Americans prefer reading the news than watching it, according to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center. But many publishers have little choice.

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