Sci-Tech


YouTube Stopped Hiring White Men To Promote Diversity

5th March 2018

A new lawsuit filed against YouTube alleges that the liberal tech giant stopped hiring white and Asian men because it hurt the company’s goal of becoming more diverse in its workforce.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The lawsuit, filed by Arne Wilberg, a white male who worked at Google for nine years, including four years as a recruiter at YouTube, alleges the division of Alphabet Inc.’s Google set quotas for hiring minorities. Last spring, YouTube recruiters were allegedly instructed to cancel interviews with applicants who weren’t female, black or Hispanic, and to “purge entirely” the applications of people who didn’t fit those categories, the lawsuit claims.

A spokesperson for Google said that the company will aggressively defend itself against the accusations.

“We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity,” the spokesperson said. “At the same time, we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles, as this helps us hire the best people, improve our culture, and build better products.”

This new lawsuit comes at the same time that the company also faces another high-profile lawsuit from James Damore, who is suing the company for wrongful termination and discrimination, claiming that the company discriminates against conservatives.

The Journal adds that sources who are familiar with YouTube’s and Google’s hiring practices have corroborated allegations made in the lawsuit, “including the hiring freeze of white and Asian technical employees.”

 

 

 

 

source/read more:https://www.dailywire.com/news/27785/lawsuit-youtube-stopped-hiring-white-men-promote-ryan-saavedra?

The disturbing acceptance of Google’s new ‘smart’ camera

2nd March 2018

n the reviews that rolled out recently for Google’s new Clips smart camera, there were the rote things that you’d expect in all tech reviews: what was good, what was bad, and, inevitably, whether or not you should buy it. There was, however, a key idea conspicuously absent: whether or not the product should exist at all.

The pitch for the Google Clips is it’s a camera that sits off to the side in a room and automatically captures the kinds of candid shots that one never really plans for — the most common examples cited being some random happening involving one’s kids or pets. Instead of mere serendipity, however, the camera uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to try and guess when to best take a shot.

Reviews, perhaps unsurprisingly, haven’t been great. The technology to take pictures in a smart way with satisfying results simply doesn’t exist yet, largely because determining what makes a good shot is still a profoundly human, subjective thing. But perhaps a product with such obvious flaws is cause for concern for reasons more significant than the release of yet another disappointing gadget. Instead, it appears that in rarely questioning whether a piece of tech should have been released at all, we are unwittingly become guinea pigs for tech, and inadvertent cheerleaders for things that, in the aggregate, end up making things worse.

After all, despite the middling reviews, the Clips is something more like a proof of concept, a preliminary first step towards more and more sophisticated versions of these kinds of products. The failure of the device to be able to do what it says on the box — while also costing $250 — suggests that Google knows this is a limited product with limited appeal.

What’s the point then? In part, to position Google as an innovative, even family-friend company. But it’s also to test out the concept, gather data, and help perfect the idea of a “smart camera” for broader applications. It’s thus worth questioning what gets carried along in the cutesy design and marketing of a product like Clips. Cameras powered by artificial intelligence will inevitably be used to superpower surveillance. In an age in which facial recognition technology is already being used to apprehend criminals, a smarter camera from one of the world’s largest companies is something impossible to see as merely fun.

 

 

source/read more; http://theweek.com/articles/757939/disturbing-acceptance-googles-new-smart-camera

 

‘After, I feel ecstatic and emotional’: could virtual reality replace therapy?

22nd Feb 2018

Leslie Channell admits he’s not a typical case for treatment. Channell, known to everybody as Chann, is a registered pilot who served 24 years in the army working on Apache helicopters. Chann also happens to be scared of heights. He doesn’t mind flying planes or sitting on the side of the Apache with the door open; he’s just terrified of going up two or three floors of a building or driving over a bridge.

Chann is nervous; his speech is fast. He says he’s sweating. We meet at a trendy startup in Oxford, where he is about to undergo virtual-reality therapy for his phobia (although the term “virtual-reality” therapy is controversial: some say the VR is just a tool for the therapy; others argue that the virtual reality is the therapy itself). Psychologists are now trialling VR for all kinds of conditions, from phobias to pain management to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There are two other people in the room. Cognitive-behavioural therapist Polly Haselton sits behind a curved computer screen watching Chann, occasionally asking questions. Daniel Freeman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford and one of the world’s pioneers in this field, watches Chann’s every movement. Freeman explains there are three common fears of heights: that you will fall; that what you are standing on will give way; or that you will jump, which is known as “the call of the void”. Chann’s fear is of falling.

He straps on his virtual-reality headset (also known as a head-mounted display, or HMD). Inside the headset, he will find himself fully immersed in a three-dimensional world. Today, he is going to level four of a 10-storey building in New York to rescue a kitten stranded on a branch of an indoor tree.

Chann has to use a lever to push himself on to a small platform towards the cat. He is a stocky, tough-looking man in his late 50s. But he’s not looking tough any more. His voice is rising, and he’s shaking. He edges forward along the virtual branch. In real life, his feet also move gingerly – then come to a sudden stop. His breathing becomes louder and more staccato.

“You’re doing really well,” Haselton says.

“You don’t know how difficult this is,” Chann pants. “Come here, cat.” Then he stops. “Nah, can’t get it. Aaaagh. No! Gotta come back.”

He starts again, cautiously edging forward. “Yes. Yes. Yes! No, stop Chann. Yes! Yes!” His yeses are urgent, desperate. He makes a grab for the kitten, and returns it to virtual safety.

Task complete. He takes his headset off, talking even faster. “My anxiety levels were way high. Super high.”

“We’re talking nine out of 10, 10 out of 10?” Freeman asks calmly.

“Yeah. I really didn’t want to be there. I had to think I was in a room in Oxford. ‘You’re not here, it’s all OK, do it.’”

Chann is one of a dozen people currently testing this software. (Next month, the trial is being extended to 100 people.) Already, he says, it has made a difference to his life. “Yesterday, I went on a rollercoaster with my daughter. I had never gone on one before. Not the big ones, the smaller ones, but still…” He’s spent only around 20 minutes in the virtual world today, but he is exhausted. “I was worried about coming here, and I’ve done it, and I’m buzzing. Elated.” He pauses, trying to catch his breath. “But I know in my heart of hearts, if there was a real cat on level four, I would not be going out and getting it. Polly asked me, what if it was a little baby? That would change the dynamics.”

 

 

source/read more: http://snip.ly/gk2we#https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/07/virtual-reality-acrophobia-paranoia-fear-of-flying-ptsd-depression-mental-health

Nvidia Making Facial Recognition AI for Smart City Surveillance

21st Feb 2018

Tech company Nvidia announced Thursday that it has partnered with AI developer Any Vision to bring a new type of surveillance technology to smart cities.

Both companies are working on bringing automatic facial recognition into closed-circuit television surveillance cameras, Mashable reports.

Tech company Nvidia announced Thursday that it has partnered with AI developer Any Vision to bring a new type of surveillance technology to smart cities.

Both companies are working on bringing automatic facial recognition into closed-circuit television surveillance cameras, Mashable reports.

According to Anyvision, the technology can continuously scan for faces 24/7, and automatically identify and track individuals with 99% accuracy. Then the systems algorithms, with the help of human monitors, will compare identified faces with criminal databases.The technology is also meant to be scalable across platforms, from smartphones to computers

This initiative is part of Nvidia’s Metropolis program. The company has already partnered with Cisco, Genetec, Omni AI, and MotionLoft with the goal of bri

 

source/read more: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2018/02/nvidia-makes-facial-recognition-ai-surveilance/146064/

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies

19th Feb 2018

The currency they were after was virtual, but the guns they carried were anything but.

In the beach resort of Phuket, Thailand, last month, the assailants pushed their victim, a young Russian man, into his apartment and kept him there, blindfolded, until he logged onto his computer and transferred about $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to an online wallet they controlled.

A few weeks before that, the head of a Bitcoin exchange in Ukraine was taken hostage and only released after the company paid a ransom of $1 million in Bitcoin.

In New York City, a man was held captive by a friend until he transferred over $1.8 million worth of Ether, a virtual currency second in value only to Bitcoin.

The rich have always feared robbery and extortion. Now, big holders of Bitcoin and its brethren have become alluring marks for criminals, especially since the prices of virtual currencies entered the stratosphere last year.

Virtual currencies can be easily transferred to an anonymous address set up by a criminal. While banks can stop or reverse large electronic transactions made under duress, there is no Bitcoin bank to halt or take back a transfer, making the chances of a successful armed holdup frighteningly enticing.

Thieves have taken advantage of this system in a startling number of recent cases, from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to Canada, the United States and Britain.

source/read more:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/technology/virtual-currency-extortion.html

State-of-the-art technology for security of Olympic VIPs

10 Feb 2018

Korea is using state-of-the art technology for the security of international VIPs invited to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, according to the organizing committee, Wednesday.

A team led by Joon Young-hoon, head of the Presidential Security Service, is in charge of the safety and protection of 26 top foreign dignitaries including presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens from 21 countries.

They will be subject to heavy escort once they arrive here. Each VIP will be exclusively assigned a car, the location of which will be updated in real time in a situation room.

The security team will also rely on 1,070 surveillance cameras set up around airports, train stations, roads, stadia and other facilities on the way to PyeongChang to better locate the VIPs.

“The monitoring equipment is connected with the National Intelligence Service as well as the police and military so that we can interact with them as well,” a security official said on condition of anonymity.

The security team will fly drones mounted with high-definition observation cameras and also thermal imaging cameras to offer better escorts.

This will be the first time that the drones will be used for the security of international VIPs, another official said.

The drones will especially be used to search for signs of terrorist attacks and possible threats posed against the guests, while keeping the VIPs’ drivers updated about heavily trafficked roads and areas where protests are expected to take place.

“The performance of the drones has been proven through test runs,” the official said, adding they will save the number of personnel who otherwise would be needed to search “blind spots” for better security.

To prevent wiretapping, hacking, hidden cameras and other spy activities, security teams have electromagnetic field detectors and other relevant devices.

The online networks for automatic control of buildings for fire protection, electricity and elevators will be under 24-hour monitoring so that they can be protected from malware such as viruses, Trojan horses and ransomware.

The airports, Winter Olympics stadia and lodgings of the VIPs will be subject to chemical, biological, and radiological defense.

“We are using both conventional and sophisticated methods to ensure the safety of guests and a safe Winter Games,” a third official said.

 

source/read more; http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/sports/2018/02/702_243749.html

Massive Pentagon agency lost track of hundreds of millions of dollars

6th Feb 2018

One of the Pentagon’s largest agencies can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending, a leading accounting firm says in an internal audit obtained by POLITICO that arrives just as President Donald Trump is proposing a boost in the military budget.

Ernst & Young found that the Defense Logistics Agency failed to properly document more than $800 million in construction projects, just one of a series of examples where it lacks a paper trail for millions of dollars in property and equipment. Across the board, its financial management is so weak that its leaders and oversight bodies have no reliable way to track the huge sums it’s responsible for, the firm warned in its initial audit of the massive Pentagon purchasing agent.

The audit raises new questions about whether the Defense Department can responsibly manage its $700 billion annual budget — let alone the additional billions that Trump plans to propose this month. The department has never undergone a full audit despite a congressional mandate — and to some lawmakers, the messy state of the Defense Logistics Agency’s books indicates one may never even be possible.

“If you can’t follow the money, you aren’t going to be able to do an audit,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and senior member of the Budget and Finance committees, who has pushed successive administrations to clean up the Pentagon’s notoriously wasteful and disorganized accounting system.

The $40 billion-a-year logistics agency is a test case in how unachievable that task may be. The DLA serves as the Walmart of the military, with 25,000 employees who process roughly 100,000 orders a day on behalf of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and a host of other federal agencies — for everything from poultry to pharmaceuticals, precious metals and aircraft parts.

But as the auditors found, the agency often has little solid evidence for where much of that money is going. That bodes ill for ever getting a handle on spending at the Defense Department as a whole, which has a combined $2.2 trillion in assets.

In one part of the audit, completed in mid-December, Ernst & Young found that misstatements in the agency’s books totaled at least $465 million for construction projects it financed for the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies. For construction projects designated as still “in progress,” meanwhile, it didn’t have sufficient documentation — or any documentation at all — for another $384 million worth of spending.

The agency also couldn’t produce supporting evidence for many items that are documented in some form — including records for $100 million worth of assets in the computer systems that conduct the agency’s day-to-day business.

“The documentation, such as the evidence demonstrating that the asset was tested and accepted, is not retained or available,” it said.

The report, which covers the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2016, also found that $46 million in computer assets were “inappropriately recorded” as belonging to the Defense Logistics Agency. It also warned that the agency cannot reconcile balances from its general ledger with the Treasury Department.

 

 

source/read more: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/05/pentagon-logistics-agency-review-funds-322860

Family violence ‘perpetrators’ to be fitted with tracking devices, regardless of conviction

4th Feb 2018

The worst of Tasmania’s family violence perpetrators will soon be fitted with tracking devices, regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime.

New laws mean Tasmania Police can apply to courts to force offenders to wear ankle bracelets that monitor their movements around the clock, as a condition of a Family Violence Order.

Victims can also volunteer to be monitored, in a bid to increase their safety in public spaces.

“This can act as a deterrent but also if an offence is committed they can provide evidence,” Inspector Robert Blackwood said.

Spain and Portugal are trialling a similar idea and New South Wales recently started putting the trackers on some perpetrators who have exiting Family Violence Orders against them, as they leave jail.

But Tasmania is taking it further.

In an Australian-first, police can now apply to a magistrate to have a tracker put on people who have never been convicted of an offence – an allegation or a history of violence (even without a successful prosecution) could be enough to see some people tracked.

“It’s certainly the more serious family violence perpetrators that we’d be making application to,” Inspector Blackwood said=

“They’re going to need to have a history of family violence, they may be charged with a family violence offence as well,” Inspector Blackwood said.

It means that police can proactively monitor known offenders and act to intervene when they get too close to their victims rather than scramble to respond once a protection or restraint order has been breached.

Previously they could only act after they were notified of a breach, which in some cases meant the victim had again been assaulted by their abuser.

Unlike the NSW initiative, victims can also opt to carry a GPS device so police can monitor where their abuser is in relation to them and warn them if they get too close.

“They’re not actually fitted with a device permanently, they just carry a device and what that allows us to do is monitor where the victim is in proximity to where the family violence perpetrator is,” Inspector Blackwood said.

“An example is the victim is within a shopping centre and the offender, aware or unaware that the victim is at that location, is approaching that shopping centre.

“We could then notify the victim that the perpetrator is within a certain proximity of them and activate that safety plan that’s already been established and also arrange a police response.”

Surprise support

Victims will not be able to monitor their abuser themselves.

“The victim does not have access to any information about the location of the perpetrator, they just carry a device, so the monitoring centre becomes aware when they are in proximity of each other and we can take action,” Inspector Blackwood said.

 

 

 

source/read more:http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-04/tas-family-violence-perpetrators-to-be-get-tracking-devices/9394340

Cellphone Radiation Linked To Tumors In Male Rats, Government Study Says

3rd Feb 2018

High exposure to radiofrequency radiation — the radiation known as RFR and emitted from your cell phone — causes a rare cancer in male rats, according to draft conclusions released by the National Institutes of Health on Friday.

The two technical reports, one on mice and the other on rats, released by the NIH’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) show the exposure to the high levels of radiation resulted in tumors in the tissues surrounding nerves in the heart of male rats.

Both male and female rats that were exposed to high levels of RFR showed increased patterns of damage to their heart tissue, according to the researchers.

“The levels and duration of exposure to RFR were much greater than what people experience with even the highest level of cell phone use, and exposed the rodents’ whole bodies. So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage,” said NTP senior scientist Dr. John Bucher in a written statement. “We note, however, that the tumors we saw in these studies are similar to tumors previously reported in some studies of frequent cell phone users.”

Bucher said these studies “provide the most comprehensive assessment, to date, of health effects in rats and mice from exposure to RFR.”

 

 

source/read more: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/02/02/cell-phone-radiation-linked-tumorsrats-government-study/

Biometrics could replace boarding passes on international flights within 4 years

3rd Feb 2018

Goodbye passport, so long boarding pass. And get ready for this — your means of entry at airports could soon just be your face.

Dan Tanciar, a top official with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, told USA TODAY that biometrics for international travelers, which allow passengers to board a flight or clear passport control via a photo, is right around the corner.The plan is to begin with international flights then expand to domestic, he added.

“On inbound international travel, you’ll be able to leave the passport in your pocket,” he added.

Tanciar says biometrics at the airport works by matching the picture the government already has, your passport photo, with a new image generated at the airport.

Using biometric technology for domestic flights will take longer to implement, he says, because the TSA doesn’t have the same kind of national database of photos as the U.S. government does with passports. Each state would have to come together to merge their driver’s license IDs.

Three airlines are currently testing limited biometric entry: JetBlue, British Airways and Delta at airports in Boston, Atlanta and Los Angeles, but passports are still involved.

Delta, in its test, has ditched the boarding pass only for flights from Atlanta to Paris, while JetBlue offers the service from Boston to Aruba.

At Los Angeles International Airport, British Airways is offering biometric entry for some international flights, instead of a boarding pass. Lufthansa, Qantas and Korean Air plan to install similar offerings at LAX this month.

The San Jose airport hopes to go 100% biometric for international travels this year. “Our intention is to be the first airport in the United States” to feature the service for all international flights, says Rebecca Baer, the deputy director of Innovation and business development at SJC.

Baer, along with Tanciar, spoke this week at the APEX Tech conference in Los Angeles, put on by the Airline Passenger Experience Association.

For domestic flights, she sees a way around waiting for the TSA to join Customs in adding the services by using an opt-in system, similar to how fliers sign up (and pay) with the TSA for preauthorized clearances at airports.

“I could voluntarily give the airline or government my pictures and verify my ID the same way we do with a passport, like we do with a precheck,” she says.

 

 

source/read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2018/02/01/biometrics-could-replace-boarding-passes-international-flights-within-4-years/1085602001/