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Tumblr's Web Traffic Has Dropped From 520 Million Page Views in December 2018 To 370 Million Page Views in February This Year Following Adult Content Ban

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 16:26
Tumblr's ban on pornography and adult content has led to an estimated fifth of its users deserting the platform. From a report: Tumblr's ban on pornography and adult content has led to a fifth of its users deserting the platform, figures reveal. The ban, which came into effect on 17 December, provoked a backlash from users who claimed it would penalise sex-positive, LGBT and NSFW art communities. Visits to the Tumblr website fell from 521 million in December to 437 million in January and 370 million in February, according to data from web analytics firm SimilarWeb. Tumblr's decision to update its content policy came after the discovery of child sexual abuse imagery on its blogs.

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Dropbox Now Limits Free Users To 3 Devices

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 15:48
Dropbox has quietly removed unlimited device linking for free accounts, meaning that unless you upgrade to one of its paid plans, which start at $8.25 per month, you will be restricted to three devices for a single account. From a report: The change was rolled out earlier this month, though it's worth noting that those who had linked more than three devices prior to March 2019 won't be directly affected. However, anyone who already exceeds the new limit will be impacted at some point, as they won't be able to add any more devices to their account in the future, and if they upgrade to a new phone, tablet, or computer, the three device limit will catch up with them.

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Google Smashes the World Record For Calculating Digits of Pi

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 15:07
Pi just got bigger. Google's Compute Engine has calculated the most digits of pi ever, setting a new world record. From a report: Emma Haruka Iwao, who works in high performance computing and programming language communities at Google, used infrastructure powered by Google Cloud to calculate 31.4 trillion digits of pi. The previous world record was set by Peter Trueb in 2016, who calculated the digits of pi to 22.4 trillion digits. This is the first time that a publicly available cloud software has been used for a pi calculation of this magnitude. Iwao became fascinated by pi when she learned about it in math class at school. At university, one of her professors, Daisuke Takahashi, was the record holder for the most-calculated digits of pi using a supercomputer. Now, y-cruncher is the software of choice for pi enthusiasts. Created in 2009, y-cruncher is designed to compute mathematical constants like pi to trillions of digits. "You need a pretty big computer to break the world record," says Iwao. "But you can't just do this with a computer from a hardware store, so people have previously built custom machines." In September of 2018, Iwao started to consider how the process of calculating even more digits of pi would work technically. Something which came up quickly was the amount of data that would be necessary to carry out the calculations, and store them -- 170 terabytes of data, which wouldn't be easily hosted by a piece of hardware. Rather than building a whole new machine Iwao used Google Cloud. Iwao used 25 virtual machines to carry out those calculations. "But instead of clicking that virtual machine button 25 times, I automated it," she explains. "You can do it in a couple of minutes, but if you needed that many computers, it could take days just to get the next ones set up." Iwao ran y-cruncher on those 25 virtual machines, continuously, for 121 days.

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Facebook's Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world's largest technology companies (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant's business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks. A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users. The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world's dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users' friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years. "We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. "We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so."

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Halo: Master Chief Collection Is Finally Confirmed For PC, Will Include Reach

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 12:30
DarkRookie2 shares a report from Ars Technica: After a seemingly endless run of rumors, the news Halo fans have been waiting for is here: the series is finally coming back to PC, and in pretty big fashion. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will arrive on Windows PCs "later this year," according to the official Halo Waypoint site, and fans will be able to buy the collection either via Steam or the Windows Store. (Anybody who's dealt with Windows 10's UWP woes will appreciate this rare example of Microsoft launching one of its first-party games on Steam at the same time as Windows Store, as opposed to delaying a Steam version for a few months.) The game's listing confirms that PC gamers can look forward to full mouse-and-keyboard control support, along with support for resolutions up to 4K and an HDR toggle. Whether this version will also include the kinds of tweaks that hardcore PC gamers crave -- including ultra-widescreen ratios, higher frame rates, and fully remappable controls -- remains to be seen. We highly doubt Microsoft will include official mod support beyond letting players use individual games' built-in "Forge" creation tools. Halo Reach will also join the MCC when it launches on PC. Unfortunately, there's no word on cross-platform play.

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The Opportunity Rover's Final Photo of Mars

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 11:00
pgmrdlm shares a report from CNN: Last May, Opportunity took a look around Perseverance Valley on the inner slope of Endurance Crater's western rim. The valley is about the length of two football fields and it's full of descending shallow troughs. Ironically, Perseverance Valley became Opportunity's final resting place when a planet-encircling dust storm took over Mars in June, blocking the sun from reaching the rover's solar panels. Engineers lost contact on June 10 and persistently sent more than a thousand signals and commands to the rover over eight months until they realized the mission was over on February 13. But before those dark days, Opportunity acted like a tourist, snapping 354 photos between May 13 and June 10 that would create one last beautiful panorama of the place it will forever call home. "This final panorama (embedded in the report) embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery," said Opportunity project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavour Crater rising in the distance. Just to the left of that, rover tracks begin their descent from over the horizon and weave their way down to geologic features that our scientists wanted to examine up close. And to the far right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavour crater, pristine and unexplored, waiting for visits from future explorers."

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Physicists Reverse Time Using Quantum Computer

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 08:00
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Phys.Org: Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology teamed up with colleagues from the U.S. and Switzerland and returned the state of a quantum computer a fraction of a second into the past. They also calculated the probability that an electron in empty interstellar space will spontaneously travel back into its recent past. The study is published in Scientific Reports. Quantum physicists from MIPT decided to check if time could spontaneously reverse itself at least for an individual particle and for a tiny fraction of a second. That is, instead of colliding billiard balls, they examined a solitary electron in empty interstellar space. "Suppose the electron is localized when we begin observing it. This means that we're pretty sure about its position in space. The laws of quantum mechanics prevent us from knowing it with absolute precision, but we can outline a small region where the electron is localized," says study co-author Andrey Lebedev from MIPT and ETH Zurich. The physicist explains that the evolution of the electron state is governed by Schrodinger's equation. Although it makes no distinction between the future and the past, the region of space containing the electron will spread out very quickly. That is, the system tends to become more chaotic. The uncertainty of the electron's position is growing. This is analogous to the increasing disorder in a large-scale system -- such as a billiard table -- due to the second law of thermodynamics. "However, Schrodinger's equation is reversible," adds Valerii Vinokur, a co-author of the paper, from the Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. "Mathematically, it means that under a certain transformation called complex conjugation, the equation will describe a 'smeared' electron localizing back into a small region of space over the same time period." Although this phenomenon is not observed in nature, it could theoretically happen due to a random fluctuation in the cosmic microwave background permeating the universe. The team set out to calculate the probability to observe an electron "smeared out" over a fraction of a second spontaneously localizing into its recent past. It turned out that even across the entire lifetime of the universe -- 13.7 billion years -- observing 10 billion freshly localized electrons every second, the reverse evolution of the particle's state would only happen once. And even then, the electron would travel no more than a mere one ten-billionth of a second into the past. The researchers then attempted to reverse time in a four-stage experiment by observing the state of a quantum computer made of superconducting qubits, instead of an electron. The researchers "found that in 85 percent of the cases, the two-qubit quantum computer returned back into the initial state," reports Phys.Org. "When three qubits were involved, more errors happened, resulting in a roughly 50 percent success rate. According to the authors, these errors are due to imperfections in the actual quantum computer. As more sophisticated devices are designed, the error rate is expected to drop."

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Death Metal Music Inspires Joy Not Violence, Study Finds

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: I've had one desire since I was born; to see my body ripped and torn. The lyrics of death metal band Bloodbath's cannibalism-themed track, Eaten, do not leave much to the imagination. But neither this song -- nor the gruesome lyrics of others of the genre -- inspire violence. That is the conclusion of Macquarie University's music lab, which used the track in a psychological test. It revealed that death metal fans are not "desensitized" to violent imagery. The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Open Science. How do scientists test people's sensitivity to violence? With a classic psychological experiment that probes people's subconscious responses; and by recruiting death metal fans to take part. The test involved asking 32 fans and 48 non-fans listen to death metal or to pop whilst looking at some pretty unpleasant images. Lead researcher Yanan Sun explained that the aim of the experiment was to measure how much participants' brains noticed violent scenes, and to compare how their sensitivity was affected by the musical accompaniment. To test the impact of different types of music, they also used a track they deemed to be the opposite of Eaten. "We used 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams as a [comparison]," said Dr Sun. Each participant was played Happy or Eaten through headphones, while they were shown a pair of images -- one to each eye. One image showed a violent scene, such as someone being attacked in a street. The other showed something innocuous -- a group of people walking down that same street, for example. "If fans of violent music were desensitized to violence, which is what a lot of parent groups, religious groups and censorship boards are worried about, then they wouldn't show this same bias. "But the fans showed the very same bias towards processing these violent images as those who were not fans of this music."

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New Mexico the Most Coal-Heavy State To Pledge 100 Percent Carbon-Free Energy By 2045

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 02:50
New Mexico's state House of Representatives passed the "Energy Transition Act" on Tuesday, where it's expected to be signed quickly by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The bill "commits the state to getting 100 percent of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2045," reports Ars Technica. From the report: The bill includes interim goals mandating that 50 percent of the state's energy mix be renewable by 2030 and 80 percent of the energy mix be renewable by 2040. The state currently buys no nuclear power, which is not renewable but qualifies as a zero-carbon energy source. The bill passed yesterday does not require that 100 percent of the state's energy be renewable by 2045; it just specifies that no electricity come from a carbon-emitting source. New Mexico is unique among these states because it is a relatively coal-heavy state, generating 1.5 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity as of November 2018. Last month, the state's Public Service Company of New Mexico had slated its 847MW San Juan coal plant for shut down by 2022, but a New York hedge fund called Acme Equities swooped in with an offer to buy the 46-year-old plant. According to Power Magazine, Acme intends to retrofit the plant with carbon capture and sequestration technology. If the deal goes through, Acme would use the captured carbon in enhanced oil recovery, where carbon is forced into older or weak oil wells to improve the pressure of the well and extract more oil. But with the passage of this bill, Acme's offer may not stand. New Mexico In Depth writes that the bill puts "$30 million toward the clean-up of the [San Juan] coal-fired power plant and the mine that supplies it and $40 million toward economic diversification efforts in that corner of the state and support for affected power plant employees and miners."

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Boeing 737 Max Jets Grounded By FAA Emergency Order

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 02:10
President Trump announced an emergency order from the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday grounding Boeing 737 Max jets in the wake of an Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday and a Lion Air accident in October that together killed 346 people. The emergency order comes two days after the FAA said the Boeing 737 Max planes are still airworthy. NBC News reports: Trump's announcement came as the FAA faced mounting pressure from aviation advocates and others to ban flights of the planes pending the completion of investigations into the deadly accidents. Sunday's crash killed 157 people and the one in Indonesia in October left 189 dead. "We're going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9 and planes associated with that line," Trump announced, referring to "new information and physical evidence that we've received" in addition to some complaints. The FAA said it decided to ground the jets after it found that the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft that crashed had a flight pattern very similar to the Lion Air flight. "It became clear that the track of the Ethiopian flight behaved very similarly to the Lion Air flight," said Steven Gottlieb, deputy director of accident investigations for the FAA. United States airports and airlines reacted to the order Wednesday, acknowledging that it will lead to canceled flights. American has roughly 85 flights a day on the Boeing Max 8 and Max 9 jets. United Airlines has about 40 such flights. Southwest Airlines has the most, about 150 flights per day on these types of jets out of the airline's total of about 4,100 flights daily.

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Amazon Lobbied More Government Entities Than Any Other Public US Company Last Year

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 01:30
Amazon lobbied more government entities last year than any other public U.S. company, covering issues like healthcare, transportation, defense, and labor regulation. "Across 2018, Amazon contacted 40 different federal entities on 21 different general issue areas," reports Fortune, citing a report from Axios. "The only tech giant to lobby on more issues than Amazon was Google's Alphabet." From the report: In terms of money spent, Amazon's $14.4 million is topped only by Alphabet's $21 million, says Bloomberg. While the tech industry overall spent less than half of the $280 million from pharmaceutical and healthcare products companies in Washington, Amazon has increased spending 460% since 2012, growing quickly within its trade. According to Axios, Amazon lobbied on self-driving car and drone issues, hinting at new methods of delivery. It supported a law allowing pharmacists to tell patients when using their insurance is actually more expensive, aiding Amazon's new investment in PillPack. It also covered the labeling of bioengineered food and a pilot program allowing online shoppers to use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program -- signs of Amazon's emerging grocery business.

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Two-Thirds of Android Antivirus Apps Are Total BS

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Tom's Guide: Austrian antivirus-testing lab AV-Comparatives tested 250 antivirus apps in Google Play against 2,000 malware samples. They found that only 80 of the apps could stop even a minimal amount of malware. "Less than one in 10 of the apps tested defended against all 2,000 malicious apps, while over two-thirds failed to reach a block rate of even 30 percent," the lab said in a press release. To make sure you're protecting your Android device properly, stick to apps from well-known antivirus companies. Basically, AV-Comparatives said, most Android antivirus apps are phony, and many of them seemed to have been created only to display ads or promote a developer's career. "The main purpose of these apps seems to be generating easy revenue for their developers, rather than actually protecting their users," the AV-Comparatives report said.

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Vizio Wants Next-Generation Smart TVs To Target Ads To Households

Slashdot - Czw, 2019-03-14 00:10
Smart TV manufacturer Vizio has formed a partnership with nine media and advertising companies to develop an industry standard that will allow smart TVs to target advertisements to specific households, the companies said this week. From a report: The consortium includes major TV networks like Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal and CBS, as well as advertising technology companies like AT&T's Xandr. Addressable advertising, or targeting viewers on the household level based on their interests, has long been the goal of TV marketers. But TVs lack cookies that internet browsers use to allow ads to follow people around the web. [...] The consortium of companies, dubbed Project OAR, or Open Addressable Ready, hopes to define the technical standards for TV programmers and platforms to deliver addressable advertising on smart TVs, which are WiFi-enabled TVs with apps for services like Netflix Inc and Hulu, by the end of this year, McAfee said. Further reading: In January this year, Bill Baxter, chief technology officer of Vizio, spoke about business of data collection in an interview. He said: It's about post-purchase monetization of the TV. This is a cutthroat industry. It's a 6-percent margin industry, right? I mean, you know it's pretty ruthless. You could say it's self-inflicted, or you could say there's a greater strategy going on here, and there is. The greater strategy is I really don't need to make money off of the TV. I need to cover my cost. And then I need to make money off those TVs. They live in households for 6.9 years -- the average lifetime of a Vizio TV is 6.9 years. You would probably be amazed at the number of people come up to me saying, "I love Vizio TVs, I have one" and it's 11 years old. I'm like, "Dude, that's not even full HD, that's 720p." But they do last a long time and our strategy -- you've seen this with all of our software upgrades including AirPlay 2 and HomeKit -- is that we want to make things backward compatible to those TVs. So we're continuing to invest in those older TVs to bring them up to feature level comparison with the new TVs when there's no hardware limitation that would otherwise prevent that.

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Google Builds Circuit to Solve One of Quantum Computing's Biggest Problems

Slashdot - Śro, 2019-03-13 23:30
Researchers at Google, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of California Santa Barbara has solved one of the biggest limitations with quantum computing: all the control and readout circuits of quantum computer systems must be at room temperature, while their superconducting qubits live in a cryogenic enclosure at less than 1 kelvin. "For today's sub-100-qubit systems, there's enough space for specialized RF cabling to come in and out of the enclosure," reports IEEE Spectrum. "But to scale up to the million-qubit systems needed to do really cool stuff, there just won't be enough room." At the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco last month, the researchers reported making a key control circuit in CMOS that will work at cryogenic temperatures. They described it as "a high-performance, low-power pulse modulator needed to program the qubits." From the report: "The current approach is OK for now," says Joseph Bardin, a University of Massachusetts at Amherst associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who designed the IC while on sabbatical at Google. "But it's not scalable to a million qubits." For Google's 72-qubit quantum processor there are already 168 coaxial cables going into the refrigerator and connecting to the 10-millikelvin quantum processor. The pulse modulator IC Bardin worked on is used to encode quantum states on a qubit in order to execute a program. Quantum computers get their parallelizing power because qubits don't have to be just 0 or 1, like the bits in an ordinary computer. Instead, they can be a mix of those states. The pulse modulator uses a specific set of RF frequencies to produce that mix. "The biggest challenge is heat dissipation," explains Bardin. The qubits are at 10 millikelvins, but the control circuits, which necessarily throw off heat, can't be held that low. The researchers aimed for 4 K for the control IC. "However, at 4 K, thermodynamics limits the efficiency of cooling. The best you're going to get is about 1 percent efficiency. In practice it's worse." So the power dissipated by the electronics per qubit had to be only in the milliwatt range. That power constraint had to be balanced with the need for control accuracy, Bardin says. This was complicated by how differently CMOS transistors behave at 4 k, which is a more than 200 degrees below what silicon foundries' simulation models can deal with. Bardin and the Google team managed to design the IC in a way that compensates for these problems and achieves the balance between power consumption and performance. The resulting IC consumed less than 2 mW, yet it was able to put a qubit through its paces in testing.

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North Korea Advertises Military Hardware On Twitter and YouTube, Defying Sanctions

Slashdot - Śro, 2019-03-13 22:50
eatmorekix shares a report from Motherboard: Glocom, a front company for the government of North Korea that sells sanctioned equipment, isn't giving up. In 2017, before YouTube quietly removed Glocom's channel, the company was advertising missile navigation and other military products on the video platform. But Glocom has returned. It setup a new channel, and also had a presence on Twitter, until Motherboard flagged Glocom's accounts to social media companies. The news not only signals the perseverance of parts of the North Korean's money-making enterprises, but also a slice of the content moderation issues that tech platforms constantly face. Glocom "is using them as platforms to market sanctions violating products," Shea Cotton, research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and who has a particular focus on North Korea, told Motherboard in an email. A United Nations report says that Glocom is run by North Korean intelligence agents, even though it pitches itself as a Malaysian company. Cotton said "this company continues to operate openly. Most DPRK [Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea] fronts, when exposed, usually fold or at the very least shut down and move their operations to another country and re-open under a new name. This one hasn't done that. We've seen them try to create this spin off brand called 'FACOM' and sell a few of their products under it but as you've seen their main brand is still thriving apparently."

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Google Hardware Makes Cuts To Laptop and Tablet Development, Cancels Products

Slashdot - Śro, 2019-03-13 22:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A report from Business Insider claims that Google has axed "dozens" of employees from its laptop and tablet division. BI's sources describe the move as "roadmap cutbacks" and also say that Google will likely "pare down the portfolio" in the future. Google's Hardware division is run by Rick Osterloh and is expected to launch a game streaming console later this month. The division is responsible for the Pixel phones, Google Home speakers, the Chromecast, Google Wi-Fi, and lately, the Nest smart home division. You could also call the "laptop and tablet" division the "Chrome OS" division. Both the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate ran Chrome OS, and they are the company's only products supporting that operating system. Is Chrome OS going to be OK? BI notes that manufacturing roles in the hardware division haven't changed, so in the short-term, Google's product lineup is likely to keep going. The report says that Google had "a bunch of stuff in the works" that now probably won't see the light of day. The move comes after the group received pressure to turn Google Hardware into "a real business" from higher-ups at Google/Alphabet. It's easy to imagine that the laptops and tablets -- which are Google Hardware's most expensive products -- were selling the worst.

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Verizon Says 5G Network Will Cost Extra $10 a Month

Slashdot - Śro, 2019-03-13 21:30
Verizon said on Tuesday that it will charge an additional $10 a month per smartphone for subscribers who want to add 5G speeds to their devices, the first major U.S. carrier to disclose pricing for the faster cellular service. From a report: Verizon says it'll flip the switch next month on a much-hyped, next-generation "5G" phone network. Service will start in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. Verizon expects to have 5G in 30 cities this year. For now, few people will sign on. The offer is available only on unlimited plans, which currently start at $75 for one person or $160 for a family of four without 5G. On family plans, each 5G line would cost $10 extra. And network access will initially work with just one phone, Motorola's Moto Z3, with a special 5G attachment. Verizon will offer some promotions at first, including discounts on the phone and attachment and the first three months of 5G service free.

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IBM, and Some Other Companies Did Not Inform People When Using Their Photos From Flickr To Train Facial Recognition Systems

Slashdot - Śro, 2019-03-13 20:45
IBM and some other firms are using at least a million of images they have gleaned from Flickr to help train a facial recognition system. Although the photos in question were shared under a Creative Commons license, many users say they never imagined their images would be used in this way. Furthermore, the people shown in the images didn't consent to anything. From a report: "This is the dirty little secret of AI training sets. Researchers often just grab whatever images are available in the wild," said NYU School of Law professor Jason Schultz. The latest company to enter this territory was IBM, which in January released a collection of nearly a million photos that were taken from the photo hosting site Flickr and coded to describe the subjects' appearance. IBM promoted the collection to researchers as a progressive step toward reducing bias in facial recognition. But some of the photographers whose images were included in IBM's dataset were surprised and disconcerted when NBC News told them that their photographs had been annotated with details including facial geometry and skin tone and may be used to develop facial recognition algorithms. (NBC News obtained IBM's dataset from a source after the company declined to share it, saying it could be used only by academic or corporate research groups.) "None of the people I photographed had any idea their images were being used in this way," said Greg Peverill-Conti, a Boston-based public relations executive who has more than 700 photos in IBM's collection, known as a "training dataset." "It seems a little sketchy that IBM can use these pictures without saying anything to anybody," he said. John Smith, who oversees AI research at IBM, said that the company was committed to "protecting the privacy of individuals" and "will work with anyone who requests a URL to be removed from the dataset." Despite IBM's assurances that Flickr users can opt out of the database, NBC News discovered that it's almost impossible to get photos removed. IBM requires photographers to email links to photos they want removed, but the company has not publicly shared the list of Flickr users and photos included in the dataset, so there is no easy way of finding out whose photos are included. IBM did not respond to questions about this process.

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Google Launches Android Q Beta 1

Slashdot - Śro, 2019-03-13 20:06
Google said today it is rolling out the first beta version of Android Q, the newest version of its mobile operating system. The company will roll out a stable version of Android Q later this year. From a report: The first beta includes a preview SDK for developers with system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and the official Android Emulator. This is the fourth year running that Google has released the first developer preview of the next Android version in March -- Android N (later named Android Nougat), Android O (Android Oreo), and Android P (Android Pie). For the past two years, Google did not use the Android Beta Program, which lets you get early Android builds via over-their-air updates on select devices. That changes with Android Q -- Google is making the first preview available as a beta, not just as a developer preview. That signals that it is ready for early adopters to try, in addition to developers. As before, this preview version will be referred to as Android Q until Google picks a name starting with that letter.

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Portrait of a Single-Character Domain Name

CircleID - Śro, 2019-03-13 19:57

Irregularities surrounding O.COM RSEP reveal coloring outside the lines.

Let's take some crayons and draw a picture of the current state of affairs regarding single-character domain names (SCDNs), and specifically O.COM.

During the public comment period for the current O.COM RSEP, ICANN's own Intellectual Property and Business constituencies recommended implementation of rights protections mechanisms (RPMs) for intellectual property, including Sunrise and Priority Access periods. It is curious that such hard-won protections are being so easily set aside by Verisign and ICANN.

No matter, however, because this isn't just about trademarks. This is also a simple issue of internationalized domain names (IDNs). We can forego the finer points of trademark law, because Verisign has, since at least July 2013, been unequivocal in the commitments it has made numerous times in correspondence with ICANN, in response to questions raised by financial analysts during quarterly earnings calls, and which can still be found — in living color — on their website blog today:

Use Case No. 2: John Doe does not have a registration for an IDN.com second-level domain name. John Doe registers a second-level domain name in our Thai transliteration of .com but in no other TLD. That second-level domain name will be unavailable in all other transliterations of .com IDN TLDs and in the .com registry unless and until John Doe (and only John Doe) registers it in another .com IDN TLD or in the .com registry.

The blog goes on to helpfully explain that VeriSign's objective with this strategy is to avoid cost and confusion and will benefit the community by creating "a ubiquitous user experience." Ubiquity appears to have a different meaning here.

Just for fun, let's apply Use Case No. 2 to the facts at hand regarding the single-character "O", replacing John Doe with First Place Internet and substituting Hebrew for Thai.

First Place Internet does not have a registration for O.com second-level domain name. First Place Internet registers O in the Hebrew transliteration of .com but in no other TLD. O will be unavailable in all other transliterations of .com IDN TLDs and in the .com registry unless and until First Place Internet (and only First Place Internet) registers it in another .com IDN TLD or in the .com registry.

Since it seems that there might be a number of different ways to look at this predicament, let me break it down, super-simple style:

Want this to be a trademark issue? Then First Place Internet owns USPTO Registration Number 1102618 which is active and, having been registered in 1978, is older than I am.

Want this to be an IDN.IDN issue? Then, at precisely 2018-07-31 T14:29:51Z, employing its validated Trademark Clearinghouse SMD file for its U.S. Trademark # 1102618, First Place successfully registered VeriSign's Hebrew o.קום (o.xn--9dbq2a) IDN domain name in VeriSign's Sunrise Period.

Want this to be about an open and transparent DNS? Read VeriSign's words and then get acquainted with the United States Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

We have rules in America that intend to ensure a level playing field — that seek to even things out between a rich, powerful and dominant industry player and its competitors and consumers. First among these is something my grandfather taught me when I was a little boy (still younger than USPTO Reg. No. 1102618): a person lives up to their commitments. Years of mandatory annual compliance training provided by the publicly-traded corporations that I've had the privilege to work for reinforces the significance of commitments made publicly in correspondence to a so-called regulator, to investors and analysts during quarterly earnings calls, and to an unsuspecting public in policy stated on the corporate website.

Over the years, I've learned — sometimes the hard way — that this rule means having to do something I didn't want to when I misspoke and then had to make it right.

If this auction proceeds and Verisign is permitted to color outside the lines by welching on commitments it has made and that can still be found on their website today, then multi-stakeholder governance will have failed — not to mention any sense of fair play — and the image of an open and equitable DNS dies by the auctioneer's gavel.

Maybe it's appropriate and relevant to ask: Is Verisign's trademark — USPTO Registration Number 3060761 for "It's a Trust Thing" — dead from discontinued use?

Written by Greg Thomas, Managing Director of The Viking Group LLC

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More under: Domain Names, ICANN, Intellectual Property, Internet Governance, Law, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services, New TLDs

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