Category Archives: Tech

Trump Caught Amongst Another Major Lie

By: Jon Greenberg of Politifact

The indictments of 13 Russians detailing how they used Facebook and Twitter to undercut Hillary Clinton and promote President Donald Trump spurred a flurry

of tweets from Trump over the weekend.

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump wrote Feb. 18. “I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

Trump might want to focus on collusion, but his blanket denial that he ever questioned Russian meddling runs up against his own words.

Early on, Trump treated any mention of Russian interference as an attack on the legitimacy of his victory.

In a May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump said “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” Trump continued in that interview to say, “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

That statement earned him PolitiFact’s 2017 Lie of the Year.

In September 2017, when reports of Russian-backed Facebook ads came out, Trump tweeted, “The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”

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UK Millennials Suffer Worst Fall In Income Next To Greece

By: Ben Chu of The Independent

UK millennials have suffered the second-worst falls in their incomes of any of the dozen advanced economies surveyed by a think tank over the past decade.

In a new report, the Resolution Foundation calculates that average real hourly earnings for under-30s in Britain fell 13 per cent between 2007 and 2014.

Only Greece, where real earnings slumped by 25 per cent over the same period as the eurozone country plunged into depression, saw a worst performance for this age group among the dozen advanced economies Resolution analysed in the latest research from its Intergenerational Commission.

British millennials experienced bigger income falls than other crisis-hit southern eurozone states such as Portugal and Italy, where earnings fell 12 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

Average incomes for Spanish millennials fell by only around 2 per cent.

Resolution also found that the gap between the pay performance of UK millennials and workers aged between 50 and 59 was particularly pronounced, with older UK workers seeing their pay fall by around half the extent of the younger group.

In Italy and France the declines were roughly in line. In Germany, Spain and Italy the older group of workers saw larger pay declines than millennials.

“The pay squeeze has been deeper in the UK than in most other places, and more focused on young people in particular,” said Resolution.

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Kentucky Gov Blames Violent Video Games For Shootings

By: Scott Wartman of Enquirer

A day after a former student opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called for the nation to consider restrictions on violence in video games and movies, not guns.

“We need to have an honest conversation as to what should and should not be allowed in the United States as it relates to the things being put in the hands of our young people,” Bevin said during a stop in Covington on Thursday.

What shouldn’t be put in the hands of young people? Violent video games and movies, Bevin said.

“I’m a big believer in the First Amendment and right to free speech, but there are certain things that are so graphic as it relates to violence, and things that are so pornographic on a whole another front that we allow to pass under the guise of free speech, which arguably are,” Bevin said. “But there is zero redemptive value. There is zero upside to any of this being in the public domain, let alone in the minds and hands and homes of our young people.”

As the school shootings mount, so has pressure on politicians to strengthen gun control laws.

Three weeks earlier in Bevin’s 15-year-old student at a high school in western Kentucky shot and killed two people and wounded 16.

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A.I Recognizes Terrorist Propaganda With 99% Accuracy

By: Kevin Litman-Navarro

The UK-based company ASI Data Science unveiled a machine learning algorithm Wednesday that can identify terrorist propaganda videos with 99 percent accuracy

This development marks one of the first instances of a company successfully using A.I. to flag extremist propaganda. The Islamic State group is notorious for its social media recruiting efforts, and this algorithm could help curtail them.

While the researchers at ASI wouldn’t discuss any technical specifics of the algorithm, it appears to work like other kinds of A.I. recognition software. The algorithm can examine any video and determine the probability that the video is a piece of extremist propaganda. According to the BBC, the algorithm was trained on thousands of hours of terrorist recruiting videos, and it uses characteristics from these videos to assign probability scores.

If a video is marked as very high probability, it is tagged for review by a human content moderator. Because the videos aren’t automatically taken down, any false positive should be caught before the video is wrongfully removed. ASI said that the algorithm could detect up to 94 percent of Islamic State uploads.

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Facebook Loses Millions Of The 25 & Under Market

By: Kurt Wagner & Rani Molla

Facebook is losing young users even quicker than expected, according to new estimates by eMarketer.

The digital measurement firm predicted last year that Facebook would see a 3.4 percent drop in 12- to 17-year-old users in the U.S. in 2017, the first time it had predicted a drop in usage for any age group on Facebook.

The reality: The number of U.S.

Facebook users in the 12- to 17-year-old demographic declined by 9.9 percent in 2017, eMarketer found, or about 1.4 million total users. That’s almost three times the decline expected. There were roughly 12.1 million U.S. Facebook users in the 12- to 17-year-old demographic by the end of the year.

There are likely multiple reasons for the decline. Facebook has been losing its “cool” factor for years, and young people have more options than ever for staying in touch with friends and family. Facebook also serves as a digital record keeper — but many young people don’t seem to care about saving their life online, at least not publicly. That explains why Snapchat and Instagram, which offer features for sharing photos and videos that disappear, are growing in popularity among this demographic.

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Anonymous Website Targeting City Broadband Secretly Operated Bt Telecom

By: Kieren McCarthy of The Register

Cable biz Fidelity Communications has been forced to admit it was behind an astroturfing campaign against a city-run fiber network in America’s Midwest.

The campaign, titled Stop City-Funded Internet, started last month with a website and accompanying social media handles, and has been a persistent critic of efforts by West Plains, Missouri, to expand its homegrown broadband network to include more businesses and even residential customers.

Who exactly is behind the campaign has been the subject of intense interest with the campaign’s main website revealing only that it was funded by “a collection of fiscally conservative Missourians.”

However one enterprising local – videographer Isaac Protiva – was able to uncover the truth: cable company Fidelity Communications, which offers internet access in five states including Missouri, and boasts 115,000 customers. The ISP had paid a marketing outfit based in Arizona to carry out the campaign.

How did he figure it out? The marketing company screwed up when it named materials on stopcityfundedinternet.com. Specifically, two images on the site were spotted revealing Fidelity as a client. Incredibly, one was the site’s main header image, called Fidelity_SCFI_Website_V2.jpg. The second image was on a privacy page, and was hosted on a server called fidelity.dmwebtest.com. Talk about a smoking gun.

The server domain revealed the company behind the campaign was DM Web Dev Group, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and owned by marketing veterans Martin Lakin and David Ammerman.

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Falcon Heavy Makes History

By: The BBC

The mammoth vehicle – the most powerful since the shuttle system – lifted clear of its pad without incident to soar high over the Atlantic Ocean.

It was billed as a risky test flight in advance of the lift-off.

The SpaceX CEO said the challenges of developing the new rocket meant the chances of a successful first outing might be only 50-50.

“I had this image of just a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road. But fortunately that’s not what happened,” he told reporters after the event.

With this debut, the Falcon Heavy aims to become the most capable launch vehicle available.

It is designed to deliver a maximum payload to low-Earth orbit of 64 tonnes – the equivalent of putting five London double-decker buses in space.

Such performance is slightly more than double that of the world’s next most powerful rocket, the Delta IV Heavy – but at one third of the cost, says Mr Musk.

For this experimental and uncertain mission, however, he decided on a much smaller and whimsical payload – his old cherry-red Tesla sports car.

A space-suited mannequin was strapped in the driver’s seat, and the radio set to play David Bowie’s classic hit Space Oddity on a loop.

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Thwarting Climate Change Denial Will Require More Involvement From The People

By: Dana Nuccitelli of The Guardian

Climate myths are often contradictory – it’s not warming, though it’s warming because of the sun, and really it’s all just an ocean cycle – but they all seem to share one thing in common: logical fallacies and reasoning errors.

John Cook, Peter Ellerton, and David Kinkead have just published a paper in Environmental Research Letters in which they examined 42 common climate myths and found that every single one demonstrates fallacious reasoning. For example, the authors made a video breaking down the logical flaws in the myth ‘climate changed naturally in the past so current climate change is natural.’

Beating myths with critical thinking

Cook has previously published research on using ‘misconception-based learning’ to dislodge climate myths from peoples’ brains and replace them with facts, and beating denial by inoculating people against misinformers’ tricks. The idea is that when people are faced with a myth and a competing fact, the fact will more easily win out if the fallacy underpinning the myth is revealed. In fact, these concepts of misconception-based learning and inoculation against myths were the basis of the free online Denial101x course developed by Cook and colleagues.

The new paper published today suggests an even more proactive approach to defeating myths. If people can learn to implement a simple six-step critical thinking process, they’ll be able to evaluate whether climate-related claims are valid.

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Ever Wanted To Pay Someone To Live Your Life, Heard of ‘ Human Uber / Chameleon Mask’

By: Andrew Griffin

A new “human Uber” could let you pay someone to live your life for you.

Japanese researcher Jun Rekimoto has developed a special screen that can be strapped to a person’s face and allow them to live on your behalf. By dressing up as you and having your face shown where theirs usually is, you’ll be able to pay someone to go about your life instead.

The technology is aimed at allowing someone – a “surrogate” – to live your life for you, wearing your clothes and behaving on your instruction. You, on the other hand, would be able to lounge at home, watching events through your laptop and using its camera to communicate with people your surrogate meets.

“To do this, a surrogate user wears a mask-shaped display that shows a remote user’s live face, and a voice channel transmits a remote user’s voice,” a page describing the tool, known as ChameleonMask, reads. “A surrogate user mimics a remote user by following the remote user’s directions.

“This design is based on our hypothesis assuming physical and social telepresence can be embodied by such a surrogate human who imitates the remote user.”

“This design is based on our hypothesis assuming physical and social telepresence can be embodied by such a surrogate human who imitates the remote user.”

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Scientist Figure Solar Panel Problem Winning Another Battle Over Coal

By: CleanTechnica

Remember back when plastic was a new and exciting thing? That’s more or less where we are with that other p-word, perovskites. Legions of scientists around the world have been trying to tease a durable solar cell out of this optically-promising but fussy material, and it looks like a team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has put its finger on the solution.

Did we mention that perovskites are cheap and could be manufactured at high volume, too? Until recently natural gas was the main driver pushing coal out of the power generation business, but renewable energy is also becoming a force to be reckoned with, and its influence will grow stronger as the cost of photovoltaic modules continues to drop.

Another Perovskite Solar Cell Breakthrough

Perovskite is a natural occurring mineral with good optical properties, and its crystalline structure can be replicated with relative ease. NREL, for one, is a huge fan of synthetic perovskites for the low cost solar cells of the future, but the problem is that they deteriorate quickly when exposed to ambient air.

That’s quite an Achilles heel, right?

In the latest perovskite development, the NREL team seems to have solved that little thing about air. Here’s the teaser from the lab:

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) created an environmentally stable, high-efficiency perovskite solar cell, bringing the emerging technology a step closer to commercial deployment.

Do tell! The research team successfully tested a perovskite solar cell in ambient conditions without protection for 1,000 hours, and it retained 94% of its conversion efficiency.

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