Animal Shelter Tried to Use Security Robot to Scare Off Homeless People

December 14th, 2017

Via: The Verge:

An animal shelter in San Francisco has been criticized for using a robot security guard to scare off homeless people.

The San Francisco branch of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) hired a K5 robot built by Knightscope to patrol the sidewalks outside its facilities. According to a report from the San Francisco Business Times, the robot was deployed as a “way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people.”

Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SF SPCA told the Business Times last week: “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment.”

The robot in question is equipped with four cameras, moves at a pace of three miles per hour, and is cheaper than a human security guard — costing around $6 an hour to rent.

More: Security Robot Bullied and Forced Off the Street in San Francisco


France to Ban Use of Mobile Phones in Schools from September

December 13th, 2017

Via: Guardian:

The French government is to ban students from using mobile phones in the country’s primary, junior and middle schools.

Children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, but not allowed to get them out at any time until they leave, even during breaks.

A proposed ban was included in Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential election campaign this year.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French education minister, said the measure would come into effect from the start of the next school year in September 2018. It will apply to all pupils from the time they start school at age of six – up to about 15 when they start secondary school.

Blanquer said some education establishments already prohibited pupils from using their mobiles.

“Sometimes you need a mobile for teaching reasons … for urgent situations, but their use has to be somehow controlled,” he told RTL radio.

The minister said the ban was also a “public health message to families”, adding: “It’s good that children are not too often, or even at all, in front of a screen before the age of seven.”


Food Insecurity in Silicon Valley

December 12th, 2017

Via: Guardian:

In a region famed for its foodie culture, where the well-heeled can dine on gold-flecked steaks, $500 tasting menus and $29 loaves of bread, hunger is alarmingly widespread, according to a new study shared exclusively with the Guardian.

One in four people in Silicon Valley are at risk of hunger, researchers at the Second Harvest food bank have found. Using hundreds of community interviews and data modeling, a new study suggests that 26.8% of the population – almost 720,000 people – qualify as “food insecure” based on risk factors such as missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries. Nearly a quarter are families with children.

“We call it the Silicon Valley paradox,” says Steve Brennan, the food bank’s marketing director. “As the economy gets better we seem to be serving more people.” Since the recession, Second Harvest has seen demand spike by 46%.


‘Here’s How to Shut Down the Internet: Snip Undersea Fiber-Optic Cables’

December 12th, 2017

Via: McClatchy:

Hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable lay on the ocean floors, a crucial part of the global internet’s backbone, and only rarely do ship anchors, undersea landslides or saboteurs disrupt them.

Still, a few voices now call for stronger global mechanisms and even military action to protect the cables against future malicious activity by states, saboteurs or extremists.

“The infrastructure that underpins the internet – these undersea cables – are clearly vulnerable,” said Rishi Sunak, a British member of Parliament and champion of more vigorous action to protect submarine networks. “They underpin pretty much everything that we do.”

Undersea cables conduct nearly 97 percent of all global communications, and every day an estimated $10 trillion in financial transfers and vast amounts of data pass through the seabed routes. Satellites, once crucial but now limited in speed and bandwidth, handle only a tiny percentage of global communications.


Screenshots from YouTube’s Video Demonitization Console

December 11th, 2017

Via: TwitLonger:

Google, some months ago, put out a job posting which required a number of different people to work on one project. Google claimed in the posting that they needed a third party company to work as “web search evaluators.” My contact worked for the unnamed company that put in for the job and was accepted by Google. My contact didn’t know what to expect from the job, but was told to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement in order to be a part of it. My contact accepted and signed the NDA. That is when things changed.

Once the NDA was signed, my contact found that they weren’t working as a “web search evaluator.” They were demonetizing YouTube videos. They would be given YouTube videos to review and had a checklist of sorts to go through to be sure the video fit (or didn’t fit) certain criteria. You can see screenshots from my contact’s end in this post via Imgur.

One of the most important things to take away from this is that if the person reviewing the video wouldn’t feel comfortable watching the video in public, it should automatically be demonetized. My contact stated that the company told them that if they were on the fence about a video and didn’t really know if it violated any of YouTube’s new “rules,” to demonetize the video anyway. Also, if the reviewer doesn’t find anything listed that’s wrong with the video, they are allowed to insert their own personal belief on something that is sensitive or inappropriate and can have the video demonetized that way, as well.


Botched Pipe Bomb Attack in Manhattan Subway Station

December 11th, 2017

Via: Daily Mail:

A Bangladeshi national in his 20s has been taken into custody with serious injuries after a suspected pipe bomb he was carrying malfunctioned and exploded prematurely inside a Midtown Manhattan subway station Monday morning.

The explosion happened around 7:20am, in an underground tunnel linking the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Times Square. The underground tunnel is a major thoroughfare for workers during the morning rush hour.

The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was found injured at the scene and rushed to Bellevue Hospital. He was wearing what appears to be a homemade pipe bomb attacked to his body with velcro and zip ties.

Three other people were also hurt with minor injuries.


Inside the First Church of Artificial Intelligence

December 11th, 2017

Via: Wired:

Anthony Levandowski makes an unlikely prophet. Dressed Silicon Valley-casual in jeans and flanked by a PR rep rather than cloaked acolytes, the engineer known for self-driving cars—and triggering a notorious lawsuit—could be unveiling his latest startup instead of laying the foundations for a new religion. But he is doing just that. Artificial intelligence has already inspired billion-dollar companies, far-reaching research programs, and scenarios of both transcendence and doom. Now Levandowski is creating its first church.

The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future. It represents an unlikely next act for the Silicon Valley robotics wunderkind at the center of a high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-vehicle company. Papers filed with the Internal Revenue Service in May name Levandowski as the leader (or “Dean”) of the new religion, as well as CEO of the nonprofit corporation formed to run it.

The documents state that WOTF’s activities will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself.


Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk

December 9th, 2017

Disclosure: I have invested in technology related to quantum computing.

Via: Wired:

The consequences of mastering quantum computing, while not as visual or visceral as a mushroom cloud, are no less significant than those faced by the scientists who lit up the New Mexico sky with the detonation at the Trinity test site 72 years ago. In the same way that atomic weaponry symbolized power throughout the Cold War, quantum capability is likely to define hegemony in today’s increasingly digital, interconnected global economy.


One-Third of All Americans Killed by Strangers Are Killed by Police

December 9th, 2017

Via: Granta:

Americans are afraid of many threats to their lives – serial killers, crazed gunmen, gang bangers, and above all terrorists – but these threats are surprisingly unlikely. Approximately three-quarters of all homicide victims in America are killed by someone they know. And the real threat from strangers is quite different from what most fear: one-third of all Americans killed by strangers are killed by police.

This is the story of the hidden numbers of police homicides in the United States. The killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott have increased the world’s attention to US police violence, yet most Americans underestimate the threat posed by the people charged with keeping them safe.


America’s Farmers Killing Themselves in Record Numbers

December 8th, 2017

Via: Guardian:

Last year, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture – including farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters – take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation. The data suggested that the suicide rate for agricultural workers in 17 states was nearly five times higher compared with that in the general population.

After the study was released, Newsweek reported that the suicide death rate for farmers was more than double that of military veterans. This, however, could be an underestimate, as the data collected skipped several major agricultural states, including Iowa. Rosmann and other experts add that the farmer suicide rate might be higher, because an unknown number of farmers disguise their suicides as farm accidents.

The US farmer suicide crisis echoes a much larger farmer suicide crisis happening globally: an Australian farmer dies by suicide every four days; in the UK, one farmer a week takes his or her own life; in France, one farmer dies by suicide every two days; in India, more than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995.


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