Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

April 10, 2018

MIT Has Developed A Headset That Can Pick Your Thoughts It Is Called "Alter Ego"







Friends, the future has arrived. Researchers at MIT have developed a device that can read your mind. It's called the AlterEgo, and it's designed to pick up your thoughts when you purposefully use "internal verbalizations," according to the MIT News Office. Not only can the AlterEgo hear your internal voice and transcribe your thoughts, but it's designed to be able to interact with other devices based on your thought commands. 
Arnav Kapur, the MIT graduate student who led the development of AlterEgo, told the MIT News Office that the headset is "an intelligence-augmentation device," and said he and his team approached development by asking how they could create "a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?”
Here's how it works: The AlterEgo fits over the wearer's ear and sits along their throat, just under their jaw, with another, smaller piece that sits in the groove between their mouth and chin. Embedded in these pieces are electrodes, which will "pick up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalizations [...] but are undetectable to the human eye," according to the MIT News Office. Neuromuscular signals from a user will be fed into a neural network that is trained by researchers "to identify [a fundamental set of] subvocalized words from neuromuscular signals, but it can be customized to a particular user," the MIT News Office reported.
MIT Media Lab on YouTube
AlterEgo users will also have a pair of bone-conduction headphones, and their function is basically straight out of a spy movie. The MIT News Office reported that "Because they don't obstruct the ear canal, the headphones enable the system to convey information to the user [by transmitting vibrations through the bones of their face to their inner ear] without interrupting conversation or otherwise interfering with the user's auditory experience."
The end goal of all this is a device through which you can communicate with the various devices around you, completely silently, and receive information in response. In a video showing Kapur using the device, he keeps track of how much he's spending in the grocery store by thinking the the price of each item he picks up — and an unseen device (but in everyday use, presumably the wearer's phone) keeps track of the total for him. In another part of the video, Kapur is shown playing Go, and was able to "silently report opponents' moves [...] and just as silently receive computer-recommended responses," the MIT News Office reported. Which, TBQH, is nothing short of wild.
Pattie Maes, who is a professor of media arts and sciences at MIT and has taught Kapur, told The Guardian that AlterEgo is all about being able to seamlessly interact with our devices without disconnecting from what's going on around us. "We basically can't live without our cellphones [sic], our digital devices," she explained. "But at the moment, the use of those devices is very disruptive. If I want to look something up that's relevant to the conversation I'm having, I have to find my phone and type in the passcode and open an app and type in some search keyword, and the whole thing requires that I completely shift attention from my environment and the people that I'm with." Thad Starner, a computing professor at Georgia Tech, told The Guardian he sees industrial uses for AlterEgo, particularly in places where communication is normally difficult. "You can imagine all these situations where you have a high-noise environment, like the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, or even places with a lot of machinery, like a power plant or a printing press."
While the AlterEgo isn't ready for commercial use yet, it's shown some pretty impressive capabilities. The MIT News Office reported that researchers conducted a study with the AlterEgo's prototype, and results indicated the AlterEgo has an average transcription accuracy of 92 percent — which will improve as researchers collect more training data for the neural network, Kapur told the MIT News Office.
With a fully functional AlterEgo at its most powerful, communication with artificial intelligence assistants like Alexa or Siri will be "less embarrassing and more intimate," The Guardian reported. However, The Guardian also points out a downside of AlterEgo: No matter how sleek the AlterEgo looks, it's going to be stuck to your face, and that can be a "barrier," The Guardianreported, adding that this barrier is part of why Google Glass wasn't super successful.
If intimate communication between humans and machines wigs you out a little, you probably aren't alone. But I for one am stoked to see where the technology in AlterEgo could take us, especially as AI further develops. And at the very, very least, if AlterEgo can keep me from having to grocery shop with my phone constantly, annoyingly in hand and the calculator app open, it's basically a technological miracle.
By first Posted on Bustle 


It is adamfoxie's 10th🦊Anniversay. 10 years witnessing the world and bringing you a pieace whcih is ussually not getting its due coverage. 4.9 Million Reads

April 6, 2018

Thousands of Google Employees Sign Letter Asking The Company Not To Make Instruments of War




 Small drones are being weaponize but they need accuracy, that's where Google technology comes in

The BBC:
Thousands of Google employees have signed an open letter asking the internet giant to stop working on a project for the US military.
Project Maven involves using artificial intelligence to improve the precision of military drone strikes.
Employees fear Google's involvement will "irreparably damage" its brand.
"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war," says the letter, which is addressed to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai.
"Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicise and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology."

No military projects

The letter, which was signed by 3,100 employees - including "dozens of senior engineers", according to the New York Times - says that staff have already raised concerns with senior management internally. Google has more than 88,000 employees worldwide.
In response to concerns raised, the head of Google's cloud business, Diane Greene, assured employees that the technology would not be used to launch weapons, nor would it be used to operate or fly drones.
However, the employees who signed the letter feel that the internet giant is putting users' trust at risk, as well ignoring its "moral and ethical responsibility".
"We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties," the letter says.
"Google's stated values make this clear: every one of our users is trusting us. Never jeopardise that. Ever. 
"Building this technology to assist the US government in military surveillance - and potentially lethal outcomes - is not acceptable."

'Non-offensive purposes'

Google confirmed that it was allowing the Pentagon to use some of its image recognition technologies as part of a military project, following an investigative report by tech news site Gizmodo in March. 
A Google spokesperson told the BBC: "Maven is a well-publicised Department of Defense project and Google is working on one part of it - specifically scoped to be for non-offensive purposes and using open-source object recognition software available to any Google Cloud customer. 
"The models are based on unclassified data only. The technology is used to flag images for human review and is intended to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work.
"Any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We're actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic and also with outside experts, as we continue to develop our policies around the development and use of our machine learning technologies." 
The internet giant is working on developing policies for the use of its artificial intelligence technologies. 

It is adamfoxie's 10th🦊Anniversay. 10 years witnessing the world and bringing you a pieace whcih is ussually not getting its due coverage. 4.9 Million Reads

February 23, 2017

Industry Technology Advances in Peril While Lacking Immigration



 and Immigration Restrictions


The question is not complicated when one knows the answer, the question is: 
What brain power are we loosing with restricting immigrants from coming in?  The answer is on the doctorates awarded to immigrants from countries in turmoil or not friendly to the US.

Turmoil in these countries gives us rather an opportunity than a crisis just like we had after WW11 in which we were able to bring in the immigrants and pick from the brightest to help us achieve the miracles in technology we enjoy now but we have in the thought process the miracles we expect  
to accomplish 30 years from now. We are going to need all the brain power we can get.

One good example for these plans is Iran. I’ve had an Iranian Doctor, friends and even in High School a classmate. I know these people are smart and like to have knowledge just like the persians before them, when the Iranians were the Persians. My experience with them is that they possess beauty and  smarts. Low keyed and with a softer voice than many others from that region. 
Don’t go by what their government is or says nor their politicians because they have a limited freedom of government unlike us in which our politicians don’t represent all of us but for a big portion, let’s say about 40%. 
But we have better technical information to prove this point rather than my own experiences.


                                                                              -*-

Many tech companies and scholars have raised their voices against President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration. The hundreds of researchers and high-skilled workers who could be affected by the travel ban are part of the larger U.S. innovation economy, a community that relies heavily on foreign talent and whose members now worry that legal immigration could be the next target.

We asked three experts on innovation, competitiveness and the workforce on how broad immigration reform could affect the country.

Nearly 100 Silicon Valley companies – including tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter – filed an amicus brief opposing Trump’s immigration order nearly a week after it was implemented. The brief stated that the order disrupts business operations, threatens investment and “makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees.”

MIT, Harvard and six other universities in Massachusetts filed a request to the federal court of Boston against Trump’s  executive order.

The state of Washington, backed by other states such as Minnesota, claimed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the order harms their businesses and universities. The court eventually agreed with the states and temporarily blocked the travel ban.
Although the visas issued to countries included in the executive order represent less than 1 percent of total visas, the impact on the U.S. talent force could be significant. Iran, which is included in the restricted list, ranked 10th in the number of U.S. doctorates awarded to noncitizens in 2015. At MIT alone, more than 100 students and scholars were affected by the travel ban.

“You can’t build a border against ideas,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “You are always moving along a cutting edge on innovation. The way to win on that is to be very open and competitive with respect to the talent. The fact that [the Trump administration] did this to seven countries raises a fear that it can extend to more countries.”

Many in the tech community worry the order could be the first step toward a deeper review of the entire legal immigration system.

The last of these proposals does not focus on temporary work visas but on permanent residents, individuals who hold green cards. The bill aims to reduce the number of new visa issuances by 41 percent in the first year, and limit them by half in ten years. In a Fox News interview Cotton said: “Most of the people coming to our country are coming because they are distant relatives, under the outdated diversity lottery or as refugees. Obviously they don’t have the kind of high skills our economy needs.”

Although both targets are two separate buckets, temporary visa holders and permanent green card holders are part of the same complex immigration system. High-skilled workers typically obtain green cards after they have held student and work visas.

                                                                       _*_

“Companies are importing low-wages workers on H1-B visas to take jobs from young, college-trained Americans,” Trump said during a rally in Columbus, Ohio, in October. “We will protect these jobs for all Americans.” But Trump has contradicted himself on this issue several times: “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in,” he said during a Republican debate in March on Fox News.

[ Donald Trump flip-flops, then flips and flops more on H-1B visas]

This back-and-forth suggests Trump and his team might still be weighing the effect a strict “America First” policy may have in the long run.

Traditionally, Republicans and Democrats have agreed on the need to continue welcoming high-skilled foreign workers. In the past two decades, all three U.S. presidents expanded visa caps for students or the highly skilled. Democrats have traditionally been more flexible when it comes to visas for workers’ families.


In 1999, Bill Clinton boosted the original H1-B cap from 65,000 to 115,000 “to address a shortage of skilled workers.” In 1998, he signed a temporary increase to 195,000 and its future return to 65,000.
Family categories(they are not allowed to work with some exceptions )

With his H-1B Visa Reform Act, George W. Bush expanded the 65,000 cap for high skilled workers to an extra 20,000 for graduates of U.S. masters programs or higher.
After 2007, students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields were eligible for an additional 17 months of practical training, for a total of 29 months.
An executive order on Nov. 20, 2014, was directed to expand visa programs for foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers. It asked also to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders on the path to lawful permanent resident status.
Obama’s 2014 executive order asked to expand practical training for foreign students.
Why are tech companies concerned?

Amid increasing globalization in recent decades, the U.S. economy has relied on foreign labor for innovation. “There is a strong correlation between immigration and innovation,” said Manjari Raman, program director and senior researcher at the U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School. “Tech companies in Silicon Valley rely on innovation as a competitive advantage, and they want access to large pools of talent.”

A study by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce suggests that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training, an increase from 28 percent in 1973.

“Our undergrads are predominantly U.S.-born but frequently come from families who are first-generation. But our master’s and PhD programs are extremely global in nature,” said Fiona E. Murray, associate dean for innovation at MIT. “This is not about excluding American students, but actually recognizing the demand for advanced education — especially PhDs and beyond — is often more global and less local in nature. And so we have an opportunity to educate a very global community of young innovators.”

[ ‘Deeply concerned': Corporate America responds to Trump’s travel ban]

H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, and H-4 visas for their immediate relatives, represent more than a third of the total visas related to employment.

For tech and research industries, these seem essential: The number of these visas is capped — for 2017, the limit is 65,000 plus an extra 20,000 for those with a master’s. Demand has exceeded the cap in most recent years, so a lottery system decides who receives a visa.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification is responsible for deciding if there are any qualified and available U.S. workers in the area of intended employment. It also must ensure that the admission of a foreign worker will not impact on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. These certifications, while they don’t reflect the final number of visas, provide the best indicator of the needs for different companies. Most of these jobs are in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), according to a 2015 report from the certification office.


OCCUPATIONS WITH MORE THAN 1,000 PERMANENT LABOR CERTIFICATIONS IN 2015
Electronics
engineers
(except computer)
Software developers
(applications)
Computer
systems
analysts
Software developers
(systems software)
Computer
and information
systems managers

26,465                                                         Software developers
(applications total)

9,800
Computer
systems
analysts

5,218
Software developers
(systems software)

3,024
Electronic engineers
(except computer)

1,862
Computer
and information
systems managers

TOP 25 COMPANIES BY REQUESTS
Main positions needed
1.
Cognizant Tech. Solutions U.S. Corp.
Computer systems analysts
2.
Google Inc.
Software developers
3.
Intel Corporation
Electronics engineers
4.
Cisco Systems Inc.
Software developers,
5.
Microsoft Corporation
Software developers
6.
Qualcomm Technologies Inc.
Electronics engineers
7.
Amazon Corporate LLC
Software developers
8.
Oracle America Inc.
Software developers
9.
Apple Inc.
Software developers
10.
Ernst Young U.S. LLP
Accountants and auditors
11.
Facebook Inc.
Software developers
12.
House of Raeford Farms Inc.
Meat, poultry, and fish cutters
13.
Hcl America Inc.
Computer systems analysts
14.
Deloitte Consulting LLP
Software developers
15.
Defender Services Inc.
Janitors and cleaners
16.
Koch Foods of Alabama LLC
Meat, poultry, and fish cutters
17.
Goldman Sachs Co.
Software developers
18.
JP Morgan Chase Co.
Software developers
19.
Capgemini Financial Services USA Inc.
Software developers
20.
Yahoo! Inc.
Software developers
21.
Igate Technologies Inc.
Software developers
22.
IBM Corporation
Software developers
23.
Infosys Ltd.
Computer systems analysts
24.
Case Farms Processing Inc.
Slaughterers and meat packers
25.
Ericsson Inc.
Software developers
But experts like Raman also note the need for these companies to do more.

“In areas like STEM there is a shortage of high skill talent within the country,” she said. “Immigration is a great way to fill a gap, but there is an opportunity here for these companies to see what they can do more to create a pipeline of talent within the U.S.” At the same time, she said, “we should encourage students who come to the U.S. for higher studies, to stay back in the U.S. rather than send them back to their own countries. You need both.”

It could impact U.S. competitiveness
Some of the international economies where these researchers and workers are coming from are among U.S. competitors, although Raman clarified: “Competitiveness is not a win-lose game. When the U.S. becomes more competitive, everyone benefits. When China becomes more competitive, everyone benefits.” The four largest feeder countries for American companies are also among the top contributors to U.S. invention and research.


TOP 4 COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN
Labor certifications in 2015
1.
India
45,670
2.
China
6,411
3.
South Korea
4,895
4.
Canada
2,962

Since 2008, more U.S. patents have been registered by non-U.S. citizens than those registered by Americans. Murray confirmed this trend: “In our MIT alumni survey, the rate of patenting is higher for foreign-born students (34 percent) than for U.S.-born students (30 percent).”



U.S. PATENTS
Top ten countries for U.S.
patents in 2015, by the residence
of the first-named inventor.
In 2015, more U.S. patents were registered by Non U.S. citizens, than by U.S. citizens.
0-K’s-5%….Israel, India 
5….Canada, France, Britain
10…China
20…Taiwan
30…Germany
4…South Korea
50..Japan 

Foreign origin:
Japan
South Korea
Germany
Taiwan
China
Canada
France
Britain
Israel
India 
U.S. DOCTORATES
Top ten countries of foreign citizenship for U.S. doctorate recipients, 2004-2014
U.S. doctorates awarded, by citizenship and field of study in 2014.

{Life sciences
Physical sciences
Social sciences}

Temporary
Visa holders
U.S. Citizens and
Permanent residents:
China
India
South Korea
Taiwan
Canada
Turkey
Thailand
Japan
Mexico
Iran



Iran, one of the countries affected by the travel ban, is among the top ten countries with most U.S. doctorates.
Engineering
Education
Humanities
Need for an open debate
In a recent report, experts from the Harvard Business School said one of the ways to keep the U.S. economy competitive is to allow the influx of more high-skilled workers.

However, the country doesn’t necessarily agree. The study notes that only 29 percent of the public supports high-skilled immigration, compared to 77 percent from the business community.

“Many more jobs have been lost due to automation rather than immigration,” Raman said, adding that the latter is often the focus of the blame.

To ensure the country’s ability to compete, Raman encouraged politicians to inform the public and keep an open dialogue including business leaders’ perspective, but also the needs of U.S. citizens. “The United States is competitive if its companies are able to compete successfully across the globe and, at the same time, the average American is able to aspire to rising living standards,” Raman said.

“If a policy decision serves only U.S. companies or if it serves only the average American, that might not always serve the country best in the long run. It may seem a good policy in the short term, but in the long term it may have unintended consequences that could harm the country’s ability to compete globally.”


Sources: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, cotton.senate.gov, Office of Foreign Labor Certification, National Science Foundation, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, MIT Innovation Initiative, U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School. Published Feb. 21.

January 22, 2016

How to Cheat the Reaper



                                                                         
 Vangoh’s reaper

For someone so young and sprightly, 24-year-old William Jack Murphy spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about his demise. Based on the stats, he figures colon cancer or a heart attack could get him in the end, and his last breath will probably be mid-sentence during a conversation about cyborgs. But mostly he’s focused on the radical ways he’ll evade the Grim Reaper’s unwelcome scythe altogether. Yes, there is an app for that, one that will preserve his online data — texts, timelines, tweets and all — before it crumbles into digital dust.

To the clunky urns and graveyard grievings of yesteryear, RIP. A growing number of artificial-intelligence startups are stirring up the business of eternal rest with a techno-futurist mission in mind. Humai will pour your speech patterns, mannerisms and worldviews into an app so your loved ones can still text with you when you’re six feet under. A startup called eterni.me will bequeath a computer-based avatar to your friends and family, so they can posthumously Skype with you. And if that’s not enough, you can commemorate yourself with ETER9, an AI-infused social network that will generate posts on your behalf and interact with other netizens long after you’ve kicked the bucket.

Posthumous hacks could be even more devastating to the living than grave digging
Forging a digital afterlife isn’t about living in your body forever, says Humai CEO Josh Bocanegra. It’s about moving on without it — complete with a digital resurrection that will bring your essence back to life even as your flesh rots away. That’s far more meaningful to the survivors than just photos, says Bocanegra. As for Murphy, a self-dubbed “techno-philosopher,” he’ll have a sophisticated algorithm that will reconstruct his personality by scanning his texts, emails, pictures, profiles, feeds and the rest of his digital footprint. He intends his post-death self to opine over politics with his dad and snap crude jokes with his brother, just as he does now, and to give advice to his future kin, much like a modern-day Ouija board. Murphy’s dying words won’t be his last. For now, he says, “We are living in exponential times.”

Indeed, experts predict the artificial-intelligence industry will grow from $202.5 million to $11.1 billion by 2024, and it’s perhaps not surprising that it’ll revamp our afterlife trajectories too — and possibly make the ancient industry of death turn in its grave. But it will, of course, take a while. Most of these startups are busy with beta testing and are slated to be released to the public in the next few years. Together, they’ve already registered tens of thousands of people eager to memorialize themselves and cheat death, so to speak, once the technology is out. ETER9 is free to join, but eterni.me’s post-death avatars range from a small monthly subscription fee until the day you depart to thousands of dollars up front in order to build a digital dossier of your life. Even then, it’s much too early to pin down the price tag of immortality, Bocanegra says. 

Doubts linger over the feasibility of such a larger-than-life endeavor. There are obvious questions about how realistic these replicas could ever be; our online personae usually reflect just a glimmer of our multifaceted selves. And yes, the prospect gives plenty of people, from ardent transhumanists to modern-day philosophers, the creeps. This is not the way to commune with the dead, argues Shelly Kagan, a philosophy professor at Yale University. For one, you’re not really chitchatting with sweet ol’ Grandma Perkins, since on a “metaphysical level” it’s more like a substandard Xerox copy of her. Death can be pushed but never denied, and “no technology is going to fix that.” Others argue that creating replicas of loved ones will just postpone grief and closure.

Other concerns are less, well, otherworldly. Security is one of them. An untimely breach could “echo through eternity” and result in the alteration of someone’s legacy, says ETER9 founder Henrique Jorge. Indeed, posthumous hacks could be even more devastating to the living than grave digging or body snatching. There are risks for the living too: Storing such intimate personal data in one place makes services like these attractive targets for identity thieves hoping to score big.

But these companies say they’re ensuring that their systems are hack-proof, privately storing and securely encrypting each user’s data, Jorge says. In addition, the information cannot be downloaded in bulk by anyone — even users can access only limited interfaces. For people like Murphy, the apps make consummate sense. As he points out, he would have treasured more time with his mother, who died from colon cancer two years ago. Murphy says an artificially intelligent version of her would have undoubtedly helped alleviate the sorrow his family endured.

His biggest takeaway from her death? “I’m not ready to die any time soon.” Murphy wants his legacy to rage, rage against the dying of the light, even if just through the faint gleam of a computer screen.

October 2, 2014

Protesters in Honk Kong Become Targets by Government via their cell phones


                                                                      

As tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong continued to shut down the city’s main arteries on Wednesday in a call for democracy, a quieter struggle was playing out to monitor the demonstrations online.

The most recent salvo came to light Tuesday, when Lacoon Mobile Security said that it had tracked the spread of a fake mobile application designed to eavesdrop on protesters’ communications. In what is known as a phishing attack, smartphone users in Hong Kong have been receiving a link on WhatsApp to download the software, along with a note: “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK for the coordination of OCCUPY CENTRAL!”

Code4HK, a community of programmers who have been working to support the democracy movement, had nothing to do with the application, according to Lacoon.
 

What Prompted the Hong Kong Protests?
Hong Kong belongs to China and operates under a policy of “one country, two systems.”

Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, when China resumed sovereignty, is governed by a mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

The city maintains an independent judiciary, and residents enjoy greater civil liberties than residents of mainland China. Hong Kong has a robust tradition of free speech.

Democratic groups say Beijing has chipped away at those freedoms, citing an election law proposed last month that would limit voting reforms.

China had promised free elections for Hong Kong's chief executive in 2017. But the government rejected a call for open nominations, instead proposing that candidates would continue to be chosen by a committee dominated by Beijing.

The current city leader, Leung Chun-ying, has clashed with the pro-democracy opposition. After the crackdown on protesters Sunday, some called for his resignation.
After users download the application, it has the ability to gain access to personal data like passwords and bank information, spy on phone calls and messages and track the physical location of the infected smartphone. It is unclear how many smartphones in Hong Kong have been hit, but in similar attacks in the past, one in 10 phones that received such a message became infected, according to Mr. Shaulov.

“These really cheap social-engineering tricks, they have a high rate of success,” he said.

What makes the malicious app stand out is a version that can infect Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, which is usually more secure than Google’s Android, Mr. Shaulov said. Android is the dominant system on non-Apple phones.

“This is the first time that we have seen such operationally sophisticated iOS malware operational, which is actually developed by a Chinese-speaking entity,” he said.

Mr. Shaulov’s company traced the fake app to a computer that closely resembled those scrutinized by Mandiant, an American security firm that published a 60-page study last year that linked hacking attacks on American companies to the Chinese military.
 
It’s not the first time the democracy movement in Hong Kong has drawn sophisticated web attacks. In June, an unofficial referendum on Hong Kong’s political future that allowed people in Hong Kong to vote online drew one of the largest denial-of-service attacks in history, according to Matthew Prince, the chief executive of CloudFlare, which helped defend the referendum site from the attack. Such attacks are designed to overwhelm a site with online traffic, causing it to shut down.

Protesters in the current demonstrations in Hong Kong are making use of a new app that allows them to send messages without a cellular or Internet connection. Introduced in March, FireChat makes use of a cellphone’s radio and Bluetooth communications to create a network of phones close to one another — up to about 80 yards. Though downloaded widely by the Hong Kong protesters after rumors spread that the Internet would be cut, many have been making use of the app in areas where crowds have overwhelmed the cellphone system. 

Other technological help has come from Code4HK, the programmers’ group. Its website provides links to live video feeds of the demonstrations, offers updated Google maps showing where supply and medical stations are in protest areas, and maintains an open spreadsheet that shows what supplies are needed.

Within China, the cat-and-mouse game that often goes on between politically minded Internet users and the government’s censors continued. Since Saturday, the Facebook-owned Instagram service has been widely inaccessible, according to users and several Internet monitors, leading commentators to speculate that the government had closed access to the app to stanch the flow of images of the protests. The rate of deletions of posts on China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, has also soared in recent days, an indication of how concerned the government is that news of the protests might spread unrest to China, according to Fu King-wa, a professor of media studies at Hong Kong University.

Despite the spike in deletions, David Bandurski, a researcher at the University of Hong Kong, said that the huge flow of posts and the reliance on humans to individually censor content meant that some posts were getting through. Possibly more so than on newer products like Tencent’s mobile messaging app WeChat, which he said showed more efficiency in blocking posts from its social network.

Beneath one post from a Chinese journalist on Weibo, Mr. Bandurski said he saw “page after page of comments.”

“It had become a public online square for people talking about what’s happening in Hong Kong,” he said.

By 

Alan Wong contributed reporting from Hong Kong, and Andrew Jacobs from Beijing.

August 31, 2014

Costs and Benefits of on Line Dating


                                                                         


I have tried most dating sites at one time or another since I have been single. Lately I have stayed a couple of days or a couple of weeks at the sites I test. Sometimes I get confused of how people see themselves to the way they really are. No mirrors in the house? Never took constructive criticism to fix an obvious fault?  
 On constructive criticism most people have it wrong. They think because somebody is bringing up something that they see wrong means they are knocking them down. Sometimes is true but most times is not. One needs to know the difference and if not sure just let it go over your head. It seems sometimes this is the class of people you encounter on the net but like any serious endeavor one needs to be persistent and smart the way we go about it.

I never pay in dating sites because I never intend to stay a long time, I ask for single, out gay, HIV+ or Not knowing (scientifically there is no “negative”). Ages of 30-59 and fit. 
I am ready to write a book already about this issue but I would have to stop blogging if I did. My experiences are of (95%) of respondents have wife or partner. The few times I have met someone is turned not to be the person described to me. If the picture is recent, which is only1out of 4 then the information given to me over the net  or phone is incorrect. I had someone tell me no religion, but he was very religious just not catholic, protestant or jew but of another religion people don’t talk much about, a take off of Santeria, not from the spanish Islands but from the French and British Isles. Do I have a problem with a religious person? It is more like the person is going to have a problem with me because Im not religious.

I will write about it eventually but since the subject is current and hot and cannot wait for me to be ready I will give you someone else.  A professor of economics in Stanford who studied the phenomenon. He looks at it in a scientific detached way and I happen to agree with what he says. I based that on the numbers. About one 1/5 of new relationships start on line. That is a big number, app. 20 out of 100.

I think we are being offered a totally new way to look at ‘on line' dating.. You see with all my failures on the net, my last LTR started on the net and we were about 6-7 hours away and no other transportation available but driving a car.  Still we overcame everything and moved in together. 
Yes I was responsible for ending the relationship because I became to stressed out with his religious very anti gay family that surrounded us like bank robbers cowboys surrounding a wagon in the old west.   I made lots of mistakes the way I did it and eded up hurting everyone involved and everyone hurting me, particularly my partner.

 I had one of those “I can’t take it anymore” episodes except when you break up the way we did there is no reconciliation. His family forbid this grown man not to see me and my sense of survival told me to get away as far as possible. ( I did by a 1000 miles or so). The point is the relationship started on the net between too extremely good guys. Outside interference made us become apart, but that had nothing to do with the net. I did not leave him for someone else, it was purely family interference  and issues that brought this from a romance to a nightmare. 
 Let’s see if there is a better way to date on line:
 If you want to express your opinion and want it to help others is better to post it on this site at the end of this page because then it will be circulated among thousands in the US and at least 9 more countries.
                                                                          -*-
Caryn Blomquist retired early from online dating. Only 24 years old, she has already tried (and subsequently broken up with) JDate, Match.com, OkCupid and Christian Mingle.
Looking back on conversations with potential suitors and a few awkward first dates, Blomquist is uncertain about what went wrong. She said she was frustrated by missed connections and the men who weren’t all that their profile claimed they would be.

"I really value transparency," Blomquist said. "I feel like the yes/no/maybe options (dating sites) give you for your profile aren't really fair."
Now, she is trying to enjoy the time she has to be single to get to know herself and what she wants out of life. It's an approach that could have spared Blomquist and likely thousands of others like her who feel they wasted time and money trying to find love and companionship online. Researchers of the online dating phenomenon have found a disciplined consumer strategy, rather than casual browsing, can result in success and satisfaction.

Paul Oyer, a labor economist and experienced online dater, believes the key to feeling better may be feeling less. By stripping away emotion and focusing on facts like time invested and ultimate goals, online daters can get the most out of their online dating experience and make smarter decisions about the money they spend.

"I don't think you have to pay for a site these days to do well," he said. "But if you are really focused on committed, long-term relationships, paying money makes a little more sense."
Dating in a digital age

Match.com's 2014 update to its annual "Singles in America" study highlighted the transformation taking place within American dating culture.
Today, one-in-four relationships begin online, and one-in-five new marriages are between couples who met on an online dating site. The survey, which compiled the responses of more than 5,300 singles ages 18 to 70 plus, also noted that singles now spend, on average, $5.69 each month on matchmaking services like subscriptions to online dating sites.

Oyer touched on the differences between paid and free online dating services in his book, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating." Combining his expertise in studying the behavioral science of economics with his online dating experiences, he offers advice on how to make the most of online dating, including how to be smart about subscription costs.

Oyer, a professor of economics at Stanford University, explained that it's important for people to reflect carefully on their online dating choices, asking themselves what they're hoping to get for the money and time they invest.
Following Oyer's logic, Blomquist's dissatisfaction can be linked to more than just a few dud dates. She was also failing to question what each website uniquely offered, spending money for only a fraction of the benefits she sought.
“(Online daters) should spend wisely, asking themselves, 'How do I use this resource to efficiently cull through this very large market?,’ ” Oyer said.

What a subscription signals
Since no site, paid or unpaid, can guarantee a love connection, singles have to change the way they understand the fees. It's not just about what the cost says about the site, but also about what the down payment conveys about the dater, Oyer explained.
In economics jargon, that phenomenon is called signaling. By charging, a site signals that there is high demand for its services. By spending money to join, a user signals that he or she is serious about the pursuit of love.

"Money is useful for separating the posers from the people who really want a relationship," Oyer said.
Justin Garcia, one of the "Singles in America" study's lead investigators, agreed that paying for a subscription indicates a commitment to finding a partner.
"As consumer psychology has long known, when consumers put down a credit card, they are more likely to be invested and committed to the service they are paying for," he wrote in an email.
A shared interest in finding relationships rather than casual flings can also improve the pool of potential daters, Garcia noted. “I think paid services attract a self-selecting community of members who are committed to keeping the quality of the experience high," he said.

Further considerations
Although paid dating sites generally cost only $20 to $30 per month (comparable to dinner for two at a restaurant), Oyer said that singles shouldn't hesitate to be picky about where they spend their money.
After all, dating is already expensive without the added costs of site subscriptions. "Singles in America" reported that singles spend an average of $55.84 per month on dates, for items like sports or movie tickets.
In a manner befitting an economist, Oyer monitored his budget carefully. He'd save money by suggesting something inexpensive for a first date, like meeting for coffee or drinks. And although he met his long-term girlfriend on JDate, a paid site, he said he was happy with his experience on OkCupid, which is free.

Individuals will have to decide for themselves how to allocate their dating budget, Oyer said, who offered some basic guidelines:
Focus on finding a thick market. In other words, online dating is most beneficial when it provides a high number of potential matches. Daters should consider increasing their geographic limits or desired age range.
Allow your friends to read through your profile. “What are people assuming about you that you didn't say?," Oyer asked, noting that a few casual references to alcohol can quickly add up to assumptions about problem drinking.

Time is your most precious resource, even more valuable than money.
"When you go on dating sites, the scarce resources are other partners and your own time," he said. "The problem is I think you never know if you're putting in too much or too little time. You don’t really know the alternative."

The potential to be overwhelmed by online dating sites is why Oyer suggests investing plenty of time in comparing sites, creating a profile and envisioning an ideal partner. Being intentional early helps people get the most out of online dating.

Time is exactly what Blomquist needed. After ending her subscriptions and signing off other free dating sites, she said she’s enjoyed taking the time to get to know herself and reflect on her experiences.

Blomquist said she'd consider returning to online dating sites when she feels more settled in her career and more confident about her relationship goals.
"Before, I just wanted to go on dates," she said. "Now I think I'm more marriage-minded. I’m thinking more about what I want in a partner.”

 posted on twitter where I picked it up
  Twitter: @kelsey_dallas

August 23, 2014

Brainier-less Law Maker Introduced a Kill Switch for Police on Smart Phones in California




Tech and civil liberties groups are pushing back on a California "kill switch" bill that they warn could be used to silence protests like the ones seen this week in Ferguson, Mo.
Critics say a California bill passed on Monday contains a dangerous carve-out that could give law enforcement the power to shut down cellphones during emergency situations, possibly including public demonstrations.
 The California bill is aimed at curbing cellphone theft by requiring all smartphones sold in the state — home to 37 million people — to come equipped with a feature that allows users to remotely wipe their personal data and make the devices inoperable.
It requires that the “kill switches” be turned on by default, though a user can opt out of using the tool.
If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the bill will add to the features that some companies already offer to let users disable their phones if stolen.
But the bill “is not explicit about who can activate such a switch,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a June letter opposing the bill.
“And more critically, the solution will be available for others to exploit as well, including malicious actors or law enforcement.”
Concerns about the provision have been heightened by the demonstrations this week in Ferguson, where police at times demanded that protestors and journalists turn off the video cameras on their phones.
Jake Laperruque, fellow on privacy, surveillance and security at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said the California bill could create the potential for an abuse of power by law enforcement.
“This could effectively be co-opted to disrupt protests,” Laperruque said.
“So much of what’s happening [in Ferguson] is relevant,” he continued, wondering what the situation would look like “if this was required there.”
The bill’s supporters say it incorporates protections against the hypothetical police actions.
The measures specifically references California law that requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to interrupt communications services except in the cases of “extreme emergency” situations.
In situations where there is “immediate danger of death or great bodily injury and there is insufficient time, with due diligence, to first obtain a court order,” law enforcement officials must quickly obtain retroactive court approval for activating the kill switch.
Max Szabo — a spokesman with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, which supported the bill — called critics concerns “alarmist” and “akin to ambulance chasing.”
“This legislation addresses the violent, global epidemic of smartphone theft,” he said.
“Not only does the bill forbid usage of such technology by government without a court order, these solutions will only be available on smartphones.”
According to 2013 figures from the Public Policy Institute of California, roughly 58 percent of California residents have smartphones.
Because the bill only requires kill switches for smartphones — as opposed to all cellphones — “the utility of limiting speech for a fraction of protesters defies logic and basic commonsense,” Szabo said.
In its letter, the EFF notes that current California law limits when law enforcement would be able to use the kill switches but also “provides the necessary legal roadmap” to disable cellphones in some circumstances.
“Because it is difficult to implement a ‘kill switch’ that can only be utilized at the behest of the device user but not third parties or the government, EFF strongly believes the state should not mandate this backdoor be installed into phones in California.”
Laperruque agreed that those legal protections are insufficient.
“If you give law enforcement a tool that can be abused, you’ll have an instance of asking for forgiveness rather than permission,” he said.
The bill “creates a pretty concerning risk considering history on the issue,” he said, recalling a controversial 2011 decision by San Francisco’s subway authority to interrupt cellphone service in the hope of clamping down on protests.
While the bill is specific to phones sold in California, phone companies may “just start doing this nationally” to cut down on costs, meaning law enforcement could soon have access to the power in every state, Laperruque said.
Laperruque said the focus should be on creating a federal cellphone kill switch bill, such as the one from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), which would let device owners wipe their phones of personal data and make the phones inoperable if stolen.
  http://thehill.com/ 

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