The Tiny Satellites Ushering in the New Space Revolution

July 19th, 2017

Smile for the birdy.

Via: Bloomberg:

With all 149 satellites in place, Planet will be able to photograph every inch of Earth’s surface every day—something even the U.S. government can’t do.

This satellite constellation is one of many signs that the relationship between humans and space is changing in ways unseen since Russia and the U.S. began sending rockets into orbit six decades ago. Thanks to modern software, artificial intelligence, advances in electronics and materials, and a generation of aggressive, unconventional entrepreneurs, we are awash in space startups. These companies envision an era in which rockets take off daily, filling the skies with satellites that sense Earth’s every action—in effect building a computational shell around our planet. The people constructing this bustling new economic highway promise it will improve life down below, but the future they describe is packed with wonder and controversy in equal measure—and although few have noticed, it’s coming to pass right now.


Mercenary Army to Fix Afghanistan?

July 19th, 2017

Oh sure!

Via: Defense One:

Here’s a crazy idea floating around Washington these days, outlandish even by today’s outlandish standards: The United States should hire a mercenary army to “fix” Afghanistan, a country where we’ve been at war since 2001, spending billions along the way. The big idea here is that they could extricate U.S. soldiers from this quagmire, and somehow solve it.

Not surprisingly, the private-military industry is behind this proposal. Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private military company Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, each see a role for themselves in this future. Their proposal was offered at the request of Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, his senior adviser and son-in-law, according to people briefed on the conversations.

It could get worse. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Prince laid out a plan whereby the fighting force would be led by an American viceroy who would report directly to Trump. Modeled after General Douglas MacArthur, who ruled Japan after World War II, the viceroy would consolidate all American power in a single person. His mission: Do whatever it takes to pacify Afghanistan. No more backseat driving of the war from pesky bureaucrats in Washington, or restrictive rules of engagement imposed on soldiers. An American viceroy with a privatized fighting force would make trains run on time in Afghanistan—if they had trains.

Who would this viceroy be? Probably Prince had himself in mind, and that should worry everyone.


Synthesizing Obama

July 17th, 2017

Via: University of Washington:

Given audio of President Barack Obama, we synthesize a high quality video of him speaking with accurate lip sync, composited into a target video clip. Trained on many hours of his weekly address footage, a recurrent neural network learns the mapping from raw audio features to mouth shapes. Given the mouth shape at each time instant, we synthesize high quality mouth texture, and composite it with proper 3D pose matching to change what he appears to be saying in a target video to match the input audio track. Our approach produces photorealistic results.


Tech May Replace Half of All Low-Skilled Jobs in the U.S.

July 17th, 2017

Via: CBS:

Ball State University sits in Muncie, Indiana, at the heart the “Rust Belt,” so educators there have the right to be pessimistic about the drift of the U.S. economy. But a report by the school’s Center for Business and Economic Research goes even further.

“We found a toxic brew,” said CBER Director Michael Hicks. “Automation is likely to replace half of all low-skilled jobs, and roughly one in four of all American jobs are at risk from foreign competition in coming years.”


Facial Recognition Coming to Police Body Cameras

July 17th, 2017

Via: Defense One:

Even if the cop who pulls you over doesn’t recognize you, the body camera on his chest just might in the future.

Device-maker Motorola announced Monday that would partner with artificial intelligence software startup Neurala to build “real-time learning for a person of interest search” on Motorola products such as the Si500 body camera for police, the AI firm announced in a press release today.


Former Haiti Government Official Shoots Himself in the Head in Miami-Area Hotel

July 17th, 2017

Via: Miami Herald:

Klaus Eberwein, a former Haitian government official, was found dead Tuesday in a South Dade motel room in what the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office is ruling a suicide.

“He shot himself in the head,” said Veronica Lamar, Miami-Dade medical examiner records supervisor. She listed his time of death at 12:19 p.m.

The address where Eberwein’s body was discovered according to police, 14501 S. Dixie Hwy., is a Quality Inn.

A supporter of former Haitian President Michel Martelly, Eberwein served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, better known as FAES. He held the position from May 2012 until February 2015 when he was replaced.


Used GPUs Flood Market as Ethereum’s Price Crashes Below $150

July 16th, 2017

haha that didn’t take long:

I’m hoping to buy a used GTX 1070 for my son’s 10th birthday in November. Will there be a flood of cheap GTX 1070s on eBay by then?

Via: OC3D:

Over the past few months, there has been a GPU shortage, forcing the prices of mid-range graphics cards up as cryptocurrency miners from across the world purchased hardware in bulk in search for quick and easy profits.

This has forced the prices of most modern AMD and certain Nvidia GPUs to skyrocket, but now these GPUs are starting to saturate the used market as more and more Ethereum miners sell up and quit mining. Some other miners are starting to look at other emerging Cryptocurrencies, though it is clear that the hype behind Ethereum is dying down.

Earlier this week Ethereum’s value dropped below $200, as soon as the currency experienced a new difficulty spike, making the currency 20% harder to mine and significantly less profitable. This combined with its decrease in value has made mining Ethereum unprofitable for many miners, especially in regions with higher than average electricity costs.

On second-hand sales websites like eBay and Gumtree, we have seen a lot of new GPU listing appear in recent days, with plenty of used AMD RX series GPUs appearing over the weekend. More hardware is expected to hit these sites over the coming days as some miners wind down their operations…


Homeland Security Says Americans Who Don’t Want Faces Scanned on International Flights “Shouldn’t Travel”

July 15th, 2017

Via: ZDnet:

Homeland Security’s advice for the millions of Americans traveling overseas who don’t want to end up in its facial biometric database is simply not to travel.

That’s according to the agency’s own assessment document published earlier this year of a new so-called traveler verification project to “capture facial images of travelers” leaving the US.

The effort aims to help Customs and Border Protection (CBP) track non-immigrant foreigners and those who overstay their visas. To date, foreigners arriving in the US will have their photo and fingerprints recorded at the border, but Americans are exempt from turning over their biometrics.

But now the agency wants to scan the faces when anyone — including Americans — leaves the US.

“The only way for an individual to ensure he or she is not subject to collection of biometric information when traveling internationally is to refrain from traveling,” says the document.


Australian PM Calls for End-to-End Encryption Ban, Says the Laws of Mathematics Don’t Apply Down Under

July 15th, 2017

#comedygold

Via: EFF:

“The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia”, said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today. He has been rightly mocked for this nonsense claim, that foreshadows moves to require online messaging providers to provide law enforcement with back door access to encrypted messages. He explained that “We need to ensure that the internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law.” It bears repeating that Australia is part of the secretive spying and information sharing Five Eyes alliance.

But despite the well-deserved mockery that ensued, we shouldn’t make too much light of the real risk that this poses to Internet freedom in Australia. It’s true enough, for now, that a ban on end-to-end encrypted messaging in Australia would have absolutely no effect on “bad people”, who would simply avoid using major platforms with weaker forms of encryption, in favor of other apps that use strong end-to-end encryption based on industry standard mathematical algorithms. It would hurt ordinary citizens who rely on encryption to make sure that their conversations are secure and private from prying eyes.


New Zealand: ‘100% Pure’ Campaign Shows Tourist Drinking River Water

July 14th, 2017

haha oh sure, go for it: sosgoldenbay.nz

And that’s near the most precious spring in NZ. Up where I live, in the Far North, the situation is apocalyptic. I snapped this image just a few KMs from my house:

Hardly anyone cares or even notices. But they love the National Party up here.

Via: Stuff:

While concerns grow about the health of New Zealand’s waterways – including the potential for reputational damage – it has not changed the way the country presents itself to the world.

The latest “100% Pure” campaign, released last week, shows a tourist drinking water from a river, something that would be dangerous in parts of the country.

The Government-funded ad was released last week by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), and will be broadcast around the world over the next two years.

The campaign is titled “where one journey leads to another”, and anchors on a dream-like video following two tourists tramping, diving and kayaking in various locations throughout New Zealand.


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