AI Will Not Kill Us, Says Microsoft Research Chief

January 28th, 2015

Via: BBC:

Microsoft Research’s chief has said he thinks artificial intelligence systems could achieve consciousness, but has played down the threat to human life.

Eric Horvitz’s position contrasts with that of several other leading thinkers.

Last December, Prof Stephen Hawking told the BBC that such machines could “spell the end of the human race”.

Mr Horvitz also revealed that “over a quarter of all attention and resources” at his research unit were now focused on AI-related activities.

“There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences,” he said.

“I fundamentally don’t think that’s going to happen.

“I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we’ll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life.”

Mr Horvitz heads up a team of more than 1,000 scientists and engineers at Microsoft’s research wing.

The division’s work on AI has already helped give rise to Cortana – a voice-controlled virtual assistant that runs on the Windows Phone platform and will shortly come to desktop PCs when Windows 10 is released.

Mr Horvitz said that he believed Cortana and its rivals would spur on development of the field.

“The next if not last enduring competitive battlefield among major IT companies will be artificial intelligence,” he said.

Litvinenko Post-Mortem: “The Most Dangerous Ever Undertaken in the Western World”

January 28th, 2015

Via: BBC:

The post-mortem examination of poisoned Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko was probably “the most dangerous ever undertaken in the Western world”, a pathologist has said.

Dr Nathaniel Cary told the inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death that his body was “very hazardous” and had to be transferred to a secure site for tests.

Mr Litvinenko died from radiation poisoning in a London hospital in 2006.

His death came nearly three weeks after he drank tea laced with polonium.

The former KGB agent had fled to the UK where he became a vocal critic of the Kremlin and worked for the UK intelligence service MI6.

‘Super-Secure’ BlackPhone

January 28th, 2015

Your what hurts?

Via: Register:

The maker of BlackPhone – a mobile marketed as offering unusually high levels of security – has patched a critical vulnerability that allows hackers to run malicious code on the handsets.

Attackers need little more than a phone number to send a message that can compromise the devices via the Silent Text application.

The impact of the flaw is troubling because BlackPhone attracts what hackers see as high-value victims: those willing to invest AU$765 (£415, $630) in a phone that claims to put security above form and features may well have valuable calls and texts to hide from eavesdroppers.

Mark Dowd (@mdowd), noted Sydney-based hacker and co-founder of security consultancy Azimuth Security, discovered the flaw during casual research in the latter months of 2014. He shared his findings with The Register while the fix – due to be disclosed today – was being developed.

“Successful exploitation can yield remote code execution with the privileges of the Silent Text application, which runs as a regular Android app, but with some additional system privileges required to perform its SMS-like functionality such as access to contacts, access to location information, the ability to write to external storage, and of course net access,” Dowd said, noting the bug took him about a week to find.

The flaw could also be coupled with a privilege-escalation exploit to gain full control of the vulnerable device, but this was not required to run arbitrary code as an unprivileged user.

1,000 Paratroopers from 82nd Airborne Headed to Iraq

January 28th, 2015

Via: Fay Observer:

The 82nd Airborne, and more specifically its 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are no strangers to Iraq.

Since 2003, parts of the brigade have deployed in support of U.S. efforts there on at least three occasions.

Now, more than three years after the U.S. military presence in Iraq was thought over, about a quarter of the Panther Brigade will return with a new mission to help train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.

About 1,000 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy this week as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve mission.

The deployment was officially announced in December and is expected to last nine months.

Experts Unmask ‘Regin’ Trojan as NSA Tool

January 27th, 2015

Via: Spiegel:

Just weeks ago, SPIEGEL published the source code of an NSA malware program known internally as QWERTY. Now, experts have found that it is none other than the notorious trojan Regin, used in dozens of cyber attacks around the world.

NYSE: Rule 48 At Open

January 27th, 2015

MSFT down 10% at the moment.

Futures took a dump on earnings numbers…

Via: ZeroHedge:

And what better excuse to stall the opening plunge implied by futures than the “blizzard” which never was… The last time this was invoked was June 2012 (amid a dramatic drop in pre-open futures) and Sept 2011 amid the chaotic 400-point swings in The Dow. Funny they do not use this “Rule” when futures indicate massive upside opens?

How the CIA Made Google

January 27th, 2015

This is a really good one.

Via: Medium:

Google styles itself as a friendly, funky, user-friendly tech firm that rose to prominence through a combination of skill, luck, and genuine innovation. This is true. But it is a mere fragment of the story. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.

The inside story of Google’s rise, revealed here for the first time, opens a can of worms that goes far beyond Google, unexpectedly shining a light on the existence of a parasitical network driving the evolution of the US national security apparatus, and profiting obscenely from its operation.

More: Part 2

Research Credit: almaverdad2

S&P Cuts Russia Credit Rating to ‘Junk’

January 27th, 2015

“I’d seriously consider getting her and her money out of there ASAP. You wouldn’t want her to be in Putin-Land or holding Putin-Bucks if this thing gets any worse.”

Cryptogon, August 2014


Via: AFP:

Standard and Poor’s stripped Russia of its investment-grade rating on Monday, cutting it to “junk” status with a warning of weak growth.

“The downgrade reflects our view that Russia’s monetary policy flexibility has become more limited and its economic growth prospects have weakened,” the ratings agency said in a statement announcing the one-notch cut to a ‘BB+’ rating.

The plunge in oil prices and Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine war have pummelled the Russian economy in recent months, with the ruble collapsing in value.

Russia’s finance minister on Monday criticised Standard & Poor’s rating agency for its decision to cut the country’s rating from investment-grade to “junk” status.

Blizzard Shuts Down Much of U.S. Northeast

January 27th, 2015

Via: Reuters:

A life-threatening blizzard barreled into the U.S. Northeast, affecting up to 20 percent of Americans as it kept workers and students housebound, halted thousands of flights and prompted New York to ban cars from roads and shut down subway trains.

With memories still fresh of Sandy, a superstorm that ravaged the East Coast in 2012, the governors of six East Coast states declared emergencies. The storm could affect up to 60 million people in nearly a dozen states.

The National Weather Service warned of a “life-threatening blizzard” that could dump as much as 30 inches (76 cm) of snow on parts of the region at rates up to four inches an hour. Winds might gust up to 55 mph (80 kph) around New York City.

DEA Runs Massive Surveillance Operation to Record Movement of Americans with License Plate Readers

January 27th, 2015

Via: ACLU:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has initiated a massive national license plate reader program with major civil liberties concerns but disclosed very few details, according to new DEA documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act.

The DEA is currently operating a National License Plate Recognition initiative that connects DEA license plate readers with those of other law enforcement agencies around the country. A Washington Post headline proclaimed in February 2014 that the Department of Homeland Security had cancelled its “national license-plate tracking plan,” but all that was ended was one Immigrations and Customs Enforcement solicitation for proposals. In fact, a government-run national license plate tracking program already exists, housed within the DEA. (That’s in addition to the corporate license plate tracking database run by Vigilant Solutions, holding billions of records about our movements.) Since its inception in 2008, the DEA has provided limited information to the public on the program’s goals, capabilities and policies. Information has trickled out over the years, in testimony here or there. But far too little is still known about this program.

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