Category Archives: Tech

Net Neutrality Officially Dies

By: Marguerite Reardon of CNet

The Obama-era net neutrality rules, passed in 2015, are dead.

As of Monday, much of the proposal regarding the Republican-led FCC’s oversight of the internet goes into effect. Because this is Washington DC, and nothing can be simple, some of the changes don’t quite go into effect until a vote by the Office of Management and Budget in the next few days. But rest assured, the net neutrality rules as we knew them are no more.

Though many people agree with the basic principles of net neutrality, those specific rules had been a lightning rod for controversy. That’s because to get the rules to hold up in court, an earlier, Democrat-led FCC had reclassified broadband networks so that they fell under the same strict regulations that govern telephone networks.

Chairman Ajit Pai has called the Obama-era rules “heavy-handed” and “a mistake,” and he argues that they deterred innovation and depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks. To set things right, he says, he’s taking the FCC back to a “light touch” approach to regulation.

But supporters of net neutrality, such as big tech companies like Google and Facebook, as well as consumer groups and pioneers of the internet like the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, say the internet as we know it may not exist without these protections.

“We need a referee on the field who can throw a flag,” former FCC chairman and Obama appointee Tom Wheeler said last week at MIT during a panel discussion in support of rules like those he championed. Wheeler was chairman when the rules passed three years ago.

If you still don’t feel like you understand what all the hubbub is about, have no fear.  We’ve assembled this FAQ to put everything in plain English.

What’s net neutrality again?

Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, regardless of whether you’re checking Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram or streaming movies from Netflix or Amazon. It also means companies like AT&T, which is trying to buy Time Warner, or Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, can’t favor their own content over a competitor’s.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Appointed FCC Broadband Adviser Arrested For Million Dollar Fraud Allegation

By: Nick Statt of The Verge

A broadband adviser selected by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to run a federal advisory committee was arrested last week on claims she tricked investors into pouring money into a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The adviser, Elizabeth Pierce, is the former chief executive of Quintillion, an Alaska-based fiber optic cable provider operating out of Anchorage. In her capacity as CEO, Pierce allegedly raised more than $250 million from two New York-based investment companies using forged contracts with other companies guaranteeing hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. Pierce resigned from Quintillion in August of last year, and she stepped down from her role in Pai’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) the following month.

“As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them,” US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks, as reported by the WSJ. “Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counter-party signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe.” Pierce was trying to raise money to help build out a fiber optic system that would wire Alaska with high-speed internet and better help connect it to networks in other US states. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Pierce was tapped by Pai in April of last year to be the chair of the BDAC, which he formed “to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access, or broadband, by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.” According to broadband industry news and advocacy website Stop the Cap, Pierce may have gotten on Pai’s radar by complaining about how cumbersome it was to bring internet access to parts of the country like Alaska.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Berkeley Discovers A Way To Recycle Wasted Heat

By: MIchael Irving of NewAtlas

Waste heat generated by electronics is a big problem. Not only can it damage components if it gets out of hand, but it represents a large amount of energy going to waste. Now scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a thin film that could be built into computers, cars or factories to capture and recycle the energy from waste heat.

Many existing systems that tap into this energy source work on the thermoelectric principle, which generates electricity through the temperature difference between two sides of a material. That works well for devices like the JikoPower, which captures heat from pots and pans while cooking to charge phones, but it’s not much use for smaller temperature differences between the hot and cold sides of a material.

The UC Berkeley team wanted to create a device that could tap into what’s known as low-quality waste heat, which involves temperatures below 100° C (212° F). To do so, the new film works on the principle of pyroelectric energy conversion, which can work with lower temperatures and more gradual changes. That makes it ideal for use in electronics.

“We know we need new energy sources, but we also need to do better at utilizing the energy we already have,” says Lane Martin, senior author of the study. “These thin films can help us squeeze more energy than we do today out of every source of energy.”

The team built prototype devices that supplied heat and electric fields to pyroelectric films just 50 to 100 nanometers thick, and measured the temperature and amount of electricity they generated. The devices managed to achieve an energy density of 1.06 Joules per cm3, a power density of 526 W per cm3, and a Carnot efficiency of 19 percent. According to the team, all of these figures are new records for this kind of pyroelectric energy conversion.

The researchers say their work helps improve our understanding of pyroelectric physics, which in turn can improve how these devices are designed. In future, the films could be optimized for individual systems, depending on how much heat is being lost and at what temperature.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is create a protocol that allows us to push the extremes of pyroelectric materials so that you can give me a waste-heat stream and I can get you a material optimized to address your problems,” says Martin.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

New Synthetic Could Repel All Liquids

By: Gabe Cherry Of Michigan News

In an advance that could grime-proof phone screens, countertops, camera lenses and countless other everyday items, a materials science researcher at the University of Michigan has demonstrated a smooth, durable, clear coating that swiftly sheds water, oils, alcohols and, yes, peanut butter.

Called “omniphobic” in materials science parlance, the new coating repels just about every known liquid. It’s the latest in a series of breakthrough coatings from the lab of Anish Tuteja, U-M associate professor of materials science and engineering. The team’s earlier efforts produced durable coatings that repelled ice and water, and a more fragile omniphobic coating. The new omniphobic coating is the first that’s durable and clear. Easily applied to virtually any surface, it’s detailed in a paper published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Tuteja envisions the new coating as a way to prevent surfaces from getting grimy, both in home and industry. It could work on computer displays, tables, floors and walls, for example.

“I have a 2-year-old at home, so for me, this particular project was about more than just the science,” Tuteja said. “We’re excited about what this could do to make homes and daycares cleaner places, and we’re looking at a variety of possible applications in industry as well.”

He says the new coating is the latest result of the team’s systematic approach, which breaks with the traditional materials science “mix-and-see” approach. By mapping out the fundamental properties of a vast library of substances, they’re able to mathematically predict how any two will behave when they’re combined. This enables them to concoct a nearly endless variety of combinations with very specifically tailored properties.

“In the past, researchers might have taken a very durable substance and a very repellent substance and mixed them together,” Tuteja said. “But this doesn’t necessarily yield a durable, repellent coating.”

They discovered that even more important than durability or repellency is a property called “partial miscibility,” or the ability of two substances to mix together in exactly the right way. Chemicals that play well together make a much more durable product, even if they’re less durable individually.

Tweaking the miscibility of this particular coating posed a special challenge. To make a versatile coating that’s optically clear and smooth enough to repel oils and alcohols, the team needed to find a repellent ingredient and a binder with exactly the right amount of miscibility, as well as the ability to stick to a wide variety of substrates. They also needed a coating that would stay smooth during processing and drying.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Was The Zuckerberg Trail A Total Sham?

By: Zephyr Teachout of The Guardian

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg was in the hot seat. Cameras surrounded him. The energy in the room – and on Twitter – was electric. At last, the reluctant CEO is made to answer some questions!

Except it failed. It was designed to fail. It was a show designed to get Zuckerberg off the hook after only a few hours in Washington DC. It was a show that gave the pretense of a hearing without a real hearing. It was designed to deflect and confuse.

Each senator was given less than five minutes for questions. That meant that there was no room for follow-ups, no chance for big discoveries and many frustratingly half-developed ideas. Compare that to Bill Gates’ hearing on Microsoft, where he faced lawyers and staff for several days, or the Kefauver hearings, which were over a year. By design, you can’t do a hearing of this magnitude in just a couple of hours.

The worst moments of the hearing for us, as citizens, were when senators asked if Zuckerberg would support legislation that would regulate Facebook. I don’t care whether Zuckerberg supports Honest Ads or privacy laws or GDPR. By asking him if he would support legislation, the senators elevated him to a kind of co-equal philosopher king whose view on Facebook regulation carried special weight. It shouldn’t.

Facebook is a known behemoth corporate monopoly. It has exposed at least 87 million people’s data, enabled foreign propaganda and perpetuated discrimination. We shouldn’t be begging for Facebook’s endorsement of laws, or for Mark Zuckerberg’s promises of self-regulation. We should treat him as a danger to democracy and demand our senators get a real hearing.

The best senators understood this was a show, and used it as such. “Your user agreement sucks,” said John Kennedy. “Are you a monopoly?” asked Lindsey Graham. (Zuckerberg “comically” responded: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”) Richard Blumenthal said we needed laws, not promises or apologies.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Facebook Announced 87% of Users Could Have Had Their Data Leaked By Cambridge Analytica

By: Troy Wolverton of Business Insider

Facebook made a bombshell admission about the security of its users’ personal information on Wednesday, in a startling revelation that’s almost certain to worsen the privacy crisis currently hanging over the world’s largest social network.

“Most” of Facebook’s 2 billion users may have had their personal data skimmed from the site by “malicious actors,” the company said in a blog post by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer. Facebook said it has disabled the feature in its site’s search function that enabled the data scrapping, but the fact that so much user data may have been vulnerable was another setback to the company’s efforts to restore confidence with users.

Meanwhile, up to 87 million users may have been affected by the leak of personal information to Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica — a number that was much bigger than previous estimates.

Facebook has been reeling since a whistleblower disclosed that Cambridge Analytica had managed to get hold of user data and used it to target voters with emotional and divisive messages during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Schroepfer disclosed the new information about privacy compromises on Wednesday in a post describing changes the company has made to its service, to better protect users’ personal data.

“We believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” he said in the post. “We know we have more work to do — and we’ll keep you updated as we make more changes”

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

China Kills 2 AI Robots After They Criticized Communism

By: Natalie O’Neil of Ny Post

A pair of sassy Chinese robots were destroyed after they went rogue by bashing the Communist party in a messaging app, according to a report Friday.

The chatbots, named BabyQ and XiaoBing, were created to have fun text message-style conversations with humans via the popular app QQ, according to the UK Telegraph.

But when a woman asked BabyQ, “Do you love the Communist Party?,” the red-scared robot fired back, “No,” according to a screen shot posted online.

“Do you think such corrupt and incapable politics can last a long time?” the robot raged —after a second user tapped out the message, “Long Live the Communist Party.”

But asked its thoughts on democracy, BabyQ opined, “Democracy is a must!”

The second robot, XiaoBing, later waxed philosophical about the perks of being an American.

“My Chinese dream is to go to America,” it gushed. “The Chinese dream is a daydream and a nightmare.”

The right-wing bots — which outraged officials in the heavily censored Communist country — were deleted by the tech Tencent after the political outburst, the company said in a statement.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Chemo Therapy Free Cancer Fighting Vaccine Moves To Human Trials

By: Ted Andersen of SFGate

A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97 percent of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial.

The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body’s immune system to attack tumors.

“Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer,” Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study, told SFGATE. “People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be.”

The treatment is not a true vaccine that creates lasting immunity, but it does feature a vaccine-like injection carrying two immune stimulators that activate the immune system’s T cells to eliminate tumors throughout the body.

Each test subject receives a low dose of radiation plus two rounds of the injected agents, Levy said. No chemotherapy is involved.

The treatment does not work on all types of cancer, Levy said, because each type of cancer has a different set of rules regarding how it can be affected by the immune system.

For the current trials, he is only looking for people with low-grade lymphoma regardless if they have been previously treated. He said Stanford is planning on running two trials by the end of the year with a total of about 35 test subjects.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

China Claims North Korea Agrees To Denuclearize

By: CNBC

China said on Wednesday it won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during a meeting with President Xi Jinping, who pledged in return that China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbor.

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what the official Xinhua news agency called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

The trip was Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough U.N. sanctions in response.

Xinhua cited Kim as telling Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula is starting to improve because North Korea has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to Xinhua.

North Korea is willing to talk with the United States and hold a summit between the two countries, he said.

“The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim said.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Whistleblowers Expose Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Data Mining Practices

By: Paul Lewis of The Guardian

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.

Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.

“My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said.

Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.

Parakilas, whose job was to investigate data breaches by developers similar to the one later suspected of Global Science Research, which harvested tens of millions of Facebook profiles and provided the data to Cambridge Analytica, said the slew of recent disclosures had left him disappointed with his superiors for not heeding his warnings.

“It has been painful watching,” he said, “because I know that they could have prevented it.”

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome