My everyday plan has gone fubar

How to use this site 101

0. Music

    0.1 Press Play and listen to the music. Usually there are some long mixes accompanying the informational quest.

        0.1.1 Most of the time letting the music play in the background and doing sth else rather than browsing the news i.e. having a cup of coffee, talking to someone in person, laying down on the sofa and daydream, is more beneficial for the peace of mind.

1. "Basic" Usage

    1.1 Just scroll down to see what is already posted.
    1.2 Choose from the "Labels" section on the right panel, a topic that looks interesting in order to see posted articles sorted by category. (Dah)

        1.2.1 Same applies for the "Archive" section.

    1.3 On the upper panel there are rouglhy the same categories as in the "Labels" section but they are something completely different. On those pages there are rss widgets from various sources (twitter, bing, google, reddit, news agencies, misc sites) showing what's new or/and hot regarding the subject. Just pick a topic and scroll down to get a glimpse.

        1.3.1 "Custom search query feeds" could be a term.
        1.3.2 The "Top Stories by country" page under the "News" tab provides a quick yet elaborate view of what is regarded important in every country at a given moment.

        1.3.3 The "Fallacies" section is just a useful reference.

2. "Advanced" Usage

    2.1 While browsing the "Custom Feeds" click on any newly found interesting-titled link. After having read the article on it's original webpage, there are these following options:

        2.1.1 Discard it and just forget about it.
        2.1.2 Share the link in the comments section.

        2.1.3 Copy and post the most comprehensive part of the article alongside with the link.

3. Purpose

    3.1 The whole purpose is to develop a one-stop "database", an index, an archive that will serve as a custom memory tool in order to "survive" in our blazing-fast changing times.

Cyber security 'the new frontier of warfare, espionage', Malcolm Turnbull says

DATE: 24/01/2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared cyber security "the new frontier of warfare" and espionage, while announcing new measures to protect Australian democracy from foreign interference.

Intelligence officials will host unprecedented security briefings with party officials in Canberra next month, amid concerns they may be vulnerable to foreign cyber attacks.

Mr Turnbull said the Government had been shocked by a United States intelligence report claiming Russia ordered a hidden campaign to influence the US presidential election.


Other nations learning from Russian activities: expert

Timothy Wellsmore, director of threat intelligence at global cyber security firm FireEye, said the threats to Australia went beyond China and Russia.

"We've seen some activities in this region from places that you wouldn't expect — like Indonesia [and] even Vietnam," said Mr Wellsmore, who formerly worked as a manager at the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

"There are a lot of other nations that will learn from Russian activities and will turn their offensive capabilities towards [targeting political interests] — if they haven't already."

Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said every Australian political party must be vigilant and raised some concern about the upcoming Western Australia and Queensland elections.


The world's best poker bot is learning, now crushing humanity again

DATE: 21/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 23/01/2017

For a few days, it looked like the humans had it figured out. Four poker pros facing off against the Libratus AI in a 20-day no-limit Texas Hold'em competition pulled back from an early $193,000 deficit with big wins on days four and six, bringing the deficit down to to $51,000, with one human, Dong King, up $33,000.

"It took us a while to study and get an understanding of what was going on," one of the pros, Jason Les, wrote in an email.

But then the bot started winning again and big. By the end of day 10, it was up a likely insurmountable $677,000, with all of the humans down six figures. (You can see the latest here).

What happened? Simply said, the bot is learning.


NASA's new Psyche mission will take us to a metal asteroid for the first time

It may be the naked core of an ancient plan

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 23/01/2017

Asteroids are some of the last unexplored territories in the solar system. To help fill in some of the blanks, NASA just announced two upcoming missions that will visit new types of asteroids in the 2030s.

Launching in 2023, the Psyche spacecraft will fly into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter to explore an asteroid quite unlike the balls of mud, ice, and rock we've studied before; "16 Psyche" is a giant hunk of metal. Measuring 130 miles in diameter, it's thought to be made of iron and nickel.

16 Psyche may be the leftover core of a protoplanet—an infant world as large as Mars. Violent collisions are thought to have blasted away its rocky outer layers, leaving behind an asteroid very similar to Earth's own metallic core


China tightens Great Firewall by declaring unauthorised VPN services illegal

Move means all cable and VPN services need prior government approval and comes as Beijing steps up censorship before power-reshuffle party congress

DATE: 23/01/2017

Beijing has launched a 14-month nationwide campaign to crack down on unauthorised internet connections, including virtual private networks (VPN) services – a technology that allows users to bypass the country’s infamous Great Firewall.

A notice released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Sunday said that all special cable and VPN services on the mainland needed to obtain prior government approval – a move making most VPN service providers in the country of 730 million internet users illegal.


Facial recognition, fingerprints to replace passports at Australian airports

Radical security overhaul at Australian airports will replace passport scanners and paper cards with facial recognition technology

DATE: 22/01/2017

Australia has announced a radical overhaul of security at its international airports, with new technology set to replace passports as the means of identifying passengers by 2020.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is seeking tenders for a self-processing system that would abolish incoming passenger cards, remove the need for most passengers to show their passports and replace manned desks with electronic stations and automatic triage.

Instead, passengers will be processed by biometric recognition of their face, iris and/or fingerprints, which will be matched to existing data.



DATE COMPILED: 21/01/2017


- Don’t use dictionary words or names in any form in passwords

- Don't use common misspellings of dictionary words either

- Do not use your network username as your password.

- Don’t use easily guessed passwords, such as “password” or “user.”

- Do not choose passwords based upon details that may not be as confidential as you’d expect, such as your birth date, your Social Security or phone number, or names of family members. Never use information in a password or passphrase which can be found online.

- Don't use the name of the computer or your account

- Don’t store your password or passphrase within web applications

- Don't use sample passwords

- Never use the password you’ve picked for your email account at any online site: If you do, and an e-commerce site you are registered at gets hacked, there’s a good chance someone will be reading your e-mail soon.

- Avoid using the same password at multiple Web sites. It’s generally safe to re-use the same password at sites that do not store sensitive information about you (like a news Web site) provided you don’t use this same password at sites that are sensitive.

- Do not use reuse a word or phrase if your account or passphrase has been compromised

- Whatever you do, don’t store your list of passwords on your computer in plain text. Store written copies of your passwords or passphrase safely. I tend to agree with noted security experts Bruce Schneier, when he advises users not to worry about writing down passwords. Just make sure you don’t store the information in plain sight. The most secure method for remembering your passwords is to create a list of every Web site for which you have a password and next to each one write your login name and a clue that has meaning only for you. If you forget your password, most Web sites will email it to you (assuming you can remember which email address you signed up with).

- Never share your password or passphrase

- Do not respond to online requests for Personally Identifiable Information (PII); most organizations – banks, universities, companies, etc. – do not ask for your personal information over the Internet. PII includes but is not limited to:

    Full Name
    Social security number
    Date of birth
    Place of birth
    Driver’s License Number
    Vehicle registration plate number
    Credit card numbers
    Physical appearance
    Gender or race

- Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.


- A password must be at least 12 characters. The longer, the better.

- Select something memorable unique or specific only to you.

- Use multiple character sets. Create unique passwords that that use a combination of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lower-case letters.

- Avoid using simple adjacent keyboard combinations: For example, “qwerty” and “asdzxc” and “123456” are horrible passwords and that are trivial to crack.

- Some of the easiest-to-remember passwords aren’t words at all but collections of words that form a phrase or sentence, perhaps the opening sentence to your favorite novel, or the opening line to a good joke. Do not choose famous or well-known lyrics/lines/etc.

- Use letters chosen from words in a phrase or song lyric

- Combine a few pronounceable "nonsense" words with punctuation

- Add unexpected characters and removing some letters

- Change your password or passphrase regularly

- Use non-secure networks with care. Only connect to the Internet over secure, password- protected networks.

- Always enter a URL by hand instead of following links if you are unsure of the sender.

Trump makes cyberwarfare an official priority for new White House

DATE: 20/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 21/01/2017

Digital weapons would be used to "disrupt and disable propaganda and recruiting" and protect secrets

.....under the section titled America First Foreign Policy, the government calls defeating ISIS and other terroist groups "our highest priority," and says that the U.S. will "engage in cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable propaganda and recruiting" in collaboration with international partners.

Under another section, Making Our Military Strong Again, cyberwarfare is mentioned too.

"Cyberwarfare is an emerging battlefield, and we must take every measure to safeguard our national security secrets and systems," the page reads, adding that the government "will make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command, and recruit the best and brightest Americans to serve in this crucial area."

President Trump had previously said in October that cybersecurity would be "an immediate and top priority" if elected.



Google’s AI is Learning to Make Other AI

DATE: 20/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 21/01/2017

Imagine the conflicted feelings of the machine learning expert who is creating artificial intelligence (AI) that they know will one day, possibly very soon, be able to create better AI than them. It’s the new age’s way of holding on to the time-honored tradition of having to train your own replacement. Machine learning experts are currently being paid a premium wage due to their limited numbers and the high demand for their valuable skills. However, with the dawn of software that is “learning to learn,” those days may be numbered.

The most prolific minds in AI research from groups such as Google Brain, OpenAI, DeepMind, and university research departments at the nation’s most prestigious tech schools are developing machine-learning systems that can create machine-learning systems. Researchers from Google Brain were able to design software that created an AI system to take a test that measures how well software can process language. The software did better on the test than software designed by humans. So, in a manner of speaking, much like recently reported zebra shark, AI can reproduce asexually.


CONCLUSION: "AI can reproduce asexually."

Facebook job ads suggest ‘mind reading’ social networks could soon be a reality

DATE: 17/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 21/01/2017

The mysterious Building 8 group was launched last year as a DARPA-style agency to drive innovation in “augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important breakthrough areas.”

The division is headed by former DARPA director and Google executive Regina Dugan and was given an investment commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars by Zuckerberg.

Several open job postings seeking “slightly impatient” individuals are currently listed for a two year technical project.

A brain-computer interface engineer is sought to work in the area of "neuroimaging" and "electrophysiological data" while another position of neural imaging engineer is seeking professionals to develop non-invasive neural imaging methods.

The project is also seeking a haptics specialist to help the company use touch interactions to build “realistic and immersive” experiences.

In a Q&A last year Zuckerberg described how people would be able to “capture a thought... in its ideal and perfect form in your head and share that with the world.”

“One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like,” he said.


Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators can Improve Parliament Efficiency

DATE: 07/06/2011
RETRIEVED: 21/01/2017
Authors: A. Pluchino, C. Garofalo, A. Rapisarda, S. Spagano, M. Caserta


In governance, sortition (also known as allotment or demarchy) selects officers as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates.[1]
In ancient Athenian democracy, sortition was the traditional and primary method for appointing political officials and its use was regarded as a principal characteristic of democracy.[2]

Sortition is commonly used to select prospective jurors in common law-based legal systems and is sometimes used today in forming citizen groups with political advisory power (citizens' juries or citizens' assemblies).


Sortition to supplement or replace some of the legislators

    "Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators Can Improve Parliament Efficiency": shows how the introduction of a variable percentage of randomly selected independent legislators in a Parliament can increase the global efficiency of a Legislature, in terms of both number of laws passed and average social welfare obtained (this work is in line with the recent discovery that the adoption of random strategies can improve the efficiency of hierarchical organizations "Peter Principle Revisited: a Computational Study").



TITLE: Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators can Improve Parliament Efficiency

1. Abstract
We study a prototypical model of a Parliament with two Parties or two Political Coalitions and we show how the introduction of a variable percentage of randomly selected independent legislators can increase the global efficiency of a Legislature,in terms of both the number of laws passed and the average social welfare obtained.
We also analytically find an ”efficiency golden rule” which allows to fix the optimal number of legislators to be selected at random after that regular elections have established the relative proportion of the two Parties or Coalitions. These resultsare in line with both the ancient Greek democratic system and the recent discovery that the adoption of random strategies can improve the efficiency of hierarchical organizations.


5. Conclusion
In this paper, by means of a prototypical Parliament model based on Cipolla classification, we showed in a quantitative way that the introduction of a well-defined number of random members into the Parliament improves the efficiency of this institution through the maximization of the social overall welfare that depends on its acts. In this respect, the exact number of random members has to be established after the elections, on the basis of the electoral results and of our analytical ”golden rule”: the greater the size difference between the Parties, the greater the number of members that should be lotted to increase the efficiency of Parliament [35].
Of course our prototypical model of Parliament does not represent all the real parliamentary institutions around the world in their detailed variety, so there could be many possible way to extend it. For example it would be interesting to study the consequences of different electoral systems by introducing more than two Parties in the Parliament, with all the consequences deriving from it. Also the government form could be important: our simple model is directly compatible with a presidential system, where there is no relationship between Parliament and Government, whereas, in the case of a parliamentary system, also such a link should to be considered in order to evaluate the overall social welfare. For simplicity, we chose to study a unicameral Parliament, whereas several countries adopt bicameralism. So, simulating another chamber could bring to subsequent interesting extensions of the model. Finally, we expect that there would be also several other social situations, beyond the Parliament,where the introduction of random members could be of help in improving the efficiency. In conclusion, our study provides rigorous arguments in favor of the idea that the introduction of random selection systems, rediscovering the wisdom and the history of ancient democracies, would be broadly beneficial for modern institutions.


CONCLUSION: There is my truth, there is your truth and...there is the optimal solution.

Bitcoin: Why It Now Belongs in Every Portfolio

DATE: 18/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 19/01/2017

A technology is called “disruptive” if it creates a new market that first disturbs and then displaces an earlier technology.


The digital currency and clearing network is open source, mobile, peer-to-peer, cryptographically protected, privacy oriented and native to the internet. The fusion of these technologies allows for a level of security and efficiency unprecedented in the world of finance.


Bitcoin’s potential is not going unnoticed. After it had been praised by tech moguls such as Bill Gates (“a technological tour de force”) and Gmail founder Paul Buchheit (“Bitcoin may be the TCP/IP of money”), the money started speaking. We saw investments in Bitcoin by top venture capital brass such as Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman, Fred Wilson and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel; by billionaires such as Jeffrey Skoll (eBay cofounder) and Li Ka-shing (by all reports the richest person in Asia); by iconic executives such as Vikram Pandit (Citigroup), Blythe Masters (JPMorgan Chase) and Tom Glocer (Reuters); and most recently by large cap companies such as Google, Qualcomm, NYSE, Nasdaq, USAA (American bank and insurer) and NTT Docomo ($75b Japanese phone operator). Finally, several academic and government heavyweights have also affiliated themselves with Bitcoin companies: Larry Summers (ex-Treasury Secretary, World Bank Chief Economist), James Newsome (CFTC and NYMEX), and Arthur Levitt (SEC). The core value proposition of this network is the fact that, in the words of IBM executive architect Richard Brown, “Bitcoin is a very sophisticated, globally distributed asset ledger.” What Brown and others hint at is that Bitcoin will in the future be able to serve not only as a decentralized currency and payment platform, but also as the backbone for an “internet of property.”

This entails a decentralized global platform, smartphone-accessible, on which companies and individuals can issue, buy and sell stocks, bonds, commodities and a myriad of other financial assets. The effect will be to remove much of the current bureaucracy and barriers to entry, presenting a huge opportunity for the world’s 2.5 billion unbanked people.


The scenarios projected above are, of course, not cast in stone. Bitcoin faces several risks going forward. These include:

     The emergence of a much better digital currency that steals its market lead.
     An undetected bug in the system.
     A hard fork (what happens when some nodes in the network start running a Bitcoin software upgrade that is incompatible with previous versions) causing the Bitcoin payment network to split in two.
     A sustained attack by an organization with substantial financial resources, such as a government.



Storyville -Zero Day: Nuclear Cyber Sabotage BBC Documentary 2017

RETRIEVED: 19/01/2017

Documentary thriller about warfare in a world without rules - the world of cyberwar. It tells the story of Stuxnet, self-replicating computer malware, known as a 'worm' for its ability to burrow from computer to computer on its own. In a covert operation, the American and Israeli intelligence agencies allegedly unleashed Stuxnet to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility. Ultimately the 'worm' spread beyond its intended target.
Zero Day is the most comprehensive account to date of how a clandestine mission opened forever the Pandora's box of cyber warfare. A cautionary tale of technology, politics, unintended consequences, morality, and the dangers of secrecy.


Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm, first identified in 2010, that targets industrial computer systems and was responsible for causing substantial damage to Iran's nuclear program. The software was designed to erase itself in 2012 thus limiting the scope of its effects. The worm is believed by many experts to be a jointly built American-Israeli cyberweapon,[1] although no organization or state has officially admitted responsibility. Anonymous US officials speaking to The Washington Post claimed the worm was developed during the Bush administration to sabotage Iran's nuclear program with what would seem like a long series of unfortunate accidents.[2]

Stuxnet specifically targets programmable logic controllers (PLCs), which allow the automation of electromechanical processes such as those used to control machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or centrifuges for separating nuclear material. Exploiting four zero-day flaws,[3] Stuxnet functions by targeting machines using the Microsoft Windows operating system and networks, then seeking out Siemens Step7 software. Stuxnet reportedly compromised Iranian PLCs, collecting information on industrial systems and causing the fast-spinning centrifuges to tear themselves apart.[4] Stuxnet’s design and architecture are not domain-specific and it could be tailored as a platform for attacking modern SCADA and PLC systems (e.g., in automobile assembly lines[vague] or power plants), the majority of which reside in Europe, Japan and the US.[5] Stuxnet reportedly ruined almost one fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges.


WhatsApp vulnerability allows snooping on encrypted messages

Exclusive: Privacy campaigners criticise WhatsApp vulnerability as a ‘huge threat to freedom of speech’ and warn it could be exploited by government agencies

DATE: 13/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 15/01/2017

A security vulnerability that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.


WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption relies on the generation of unique security keys, using the acclaimed Signal protocol, developed by Open Whisper Systems, that are traded and verified between users to guarantee communications are secure and cannot be intercepted by a middleman.

However, WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.

The recipient is not made aware of this change in encryption, while the sender is only notified if they have opted-in to encryption warnings in settings, and only after the messages have been re-sent. This re-encryption and rebroadcasting effectively allows WhatsApp to intercept and read users’ messages.



Gadget mountain rising in Asia threatens health, environment

DATE: 15/01/2017

The waste from discarded electronic gadgets and electrical appliances has reached severe levels in East Asia, posing a growing threat to health and the environment unless safe disposal becomes the norm.

China was the biggest culprit with its electronic waste more than doubling, according to a new study by the United Nations University. But nearly every country in the region had massive increases between 2010 and 2015, including those least equipped to deal with the growing mountain of discarded smartphones, computers, TVs, air conditioners and other goods.

On average, electronic waste in the 12 countries in the study had increased by nearly two thirds in the five years, totaling 12.3 million tons in 2015 alone.

Rising incomes in Asia, burgeoning populations of young adults, rapid obsolescence of products due to technological innovation and changes in fashion, on top of illegal global trade in waste, are among factors driving the increases.


"We are all benefiting from the luxury of these electrical and electronic products to a certain extent, it makes our lives easier, sometimes more complicated," he said. "However if we want to continue like this we must be reusing the resources contained in electronic and electrical equipment."

A smartphone, for example, uses more than half the elements in the periodic table, some of which are very rare, and in the longer-run will be exhausted without recycling, said Kuehr.


The Swedish Kings of Cyberwar

DATE: 13/01/2017

In 2011, the Swedes began sharing their surveillance data with the NSA, which included—as NSA officials described it at the time of the meeting—a “unique collection [of communications data] on high-priority Russian targets such as leadership, internal politics, and energy.”

Noting the Swedish spy agency’s unusual technical abilities and reputation for secrecy, NSA officials also viewed it as an ideal collaborator on its hacking and cyberwarfare project, called Quantum. One of the Quantum programs was an ambitious operation called WINTERLIGHT, which aimed at secretly hacking into high-value foreign computers and computer networks to obtain not only communications data but also any information stored on the hard drives or servers in question. Possible targets might be the administrators of foreign computer networks, government ministries, oil, defense, and other major corporations, as well as suspected terrorist groups or other designated individuals. Similar Quantum operations have targeted OPEC headquarters in Vienna, as well as Belgacom, a Belgian telecom company whose clients include the European Commission and the European Parliament.

According to NSA documents, WINTERLIGHT was using a complex attack strategy to secretly implant a malware program on the targeted computer or network. The NSA’s malware would then divert any signals between those computers and the Internet through “rogue” high-speed surveillance servers, called “FoxAcid” servers, allowing the NSA to access in stealth almost any of the user’s personal data—and even to tamper with data traveling from one user to another. The implications for both spying and offensive cyber operations were far-reaching. Wired has described how the attack on the Belgian telecom was able to

    [map] out the digital footprints of chosen workers, identifying the IP [internet protocol] addresses of work and personal computers as well as Skype, Gmail and social networking accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Then they set up rogue pages, hosted on FoxAcid servers, to impersonate, for example, an employee’s legitimate LinkedIn profile page.


UAE to invest $163bn in renewable-energy projects

Oil-rich Gulf state aims to meet almost half of its power needs from green sources and reduce fossil-fuel use.

DATE: 10/1/2017
RETRIEVED: 11/01/2017

The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to invest $163bn in projects in a bid to generate almost half the country's power needs from renewable sources.

Our 2050 goals for energy mix are to utilize 44% renewable, 38% gas, 12% clean fossil and 6% nuclear energy. - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, UAE prime minister


General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

10 things you need to know about the new EU data protection regulation

DATE: 06/05/2016
RETRIEVED: 11/1/2017

1. This is a regulation, not a directive
2. Data processors will be held responsible for data protection
3. The regulation has global ramifications
4. Users will be able make compensation claims
5. There are tighter rules on transferring data on EU citizens outside the EU
6. Harmonised user request rights
7. New erasure rights
8. It is your responsibility to inform users of their rights
9. Tougher sanctions and streamlined incident reporting
10. Encryption and tokenisation can come to your rescue



GDPR explained: How to prepare for the approaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May 2018, and the British government has confirmed it will adopt the legislation while the country remains in the EU.

With less than 18 months to go until implementation, many of them remain entirely unprepared. More than half (54 percent) of organisations have failed to commence any kind of preparation to meet even the minimum standards of GDPR, according to recent research by information management company Veritas.

The regulation enforces complex data obligations for companies that current policy is unlikely to satisfy, and damaging fines for breaches.


Your Threat Model changed

LinkedIn and eBay founders donate $20m to AI safety research fund

DATE: 11/1/2017

LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman and Omidyar network, the philanthropic nonprofit of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, are donating $10m each to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, which will distribute money to researchers working on the tough ethical problems raised by AI.


The specific research areas the fund will focus on aren’t fixed, but the possibilities include ethical design – “How do we build and design technologies that consider ethical frameworks and moral values as central features of technological innovation?” – and accountability in AI – “What kinds of controls do we need to minimize AI’s potential harm to society and maximize its benefits?”


Google AI Secretly Uploaded to the Internet, Where it Wreaked Havoc on Gamers Getty Images

DATE: 05/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 11/1/2017

A major training/proving ground for DeepMind’s software has been gaming. The company has developed AI that can play 49 different Atari games at expert levels. Also, in a world-first development, they created software called AlphaGo which challenged the world champion of the ancient Chinese game of Go, and won.

The latest news out of DeepMind comes back to that historic victory. As a means of testing some upgrades to AlphaGo, the company secretly unleashed the AI on some unwitting Go players. AlphaGo completely dominated the competition. More than 50 games were played and AlphaGo won every single one.


NASA Takes A Leap Towards Asteroid Mining In Space: A Highly Ambitious Venture Under NASA's Discovery Program

DATE: 06/01/2017

NASA has started working towards its future missions of asteroid mining in space. Two asteroids missions were integrated into NASA's Discovery Program and were given the green signal to proceed. The announcement made by NASA on Jan. 4, 2017 stated that the Lucy and Psyche asteroid missions are a "go."

Each mission has an estimated budget of $450 million and is expected to launch in the early 2020s. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for Science, NASA, held a teleconference and announced that "These small body missions complement NASA's exploration and are crucial parts of learning about our solar system and crucial parts of our programs going forward."


World Shatters Heat Records in 2016

Last year was the hottest on record by a wide margin, with temperatures creeping close to a ceiling set by nations for limiting global warming

DATE: 06/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 06/01/2017

Last year was the hottest on record by a wide margin, with temperatures creeping close to a ceiling set by almost 200 nations for limiting global warming, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Thursday.

The data are the first of the New Year to confirm many projections that 2016 will exceed 2015 as the warmest since reliable records began in the 19th century, it said in a report.

The Arctic was the region showing the sharpest rise in temperatures, while many other areas of the globe, including parts of Africa and Asia, also suffered unusual heat, it said.

A few parts of South America and Antarctica were cooler than normal.

Global surface temperatures in 2016 averaged 14.8 degrees Celsius (58.64°F), or 1.3C (2.3F) higher than estimated before the Industrial Revolution ushered in wide use of fossil fuels, the EU body said.


Honda’s Safe Swarm concept has cars mimicking fish for safer driving

DATE: 05/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 06/01/2017

Honda is looking to nature to improve the safety of driving, using bio-mimicry of the behavior of a school of fish to inform a new technical concept it’s unveiling at CES called Safe Swarm. Safe Swarm uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication based on the dedicated short range communication standard to provide assistance to a human driver.

Safe Swarm essentially means that cues picked up by one vehicle equipped with connective communication tech can pass along information to others in proximity, far before a driver would be aware of anything. Cars can shuttle their collected knowledge down the line, propagating info about a pile-up potentially miles ahead in near real-time to help make it easier for human drivers to take action to avoid problems before they happen.


What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? | Nick Bostrom

DATE: 27/04/2015
RETRIEVED: 06/01/2017

No Job Is Safe, But These Skills Will Always Be Valued in the Workplace

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 06/01/2017

“65 percent of children entering grade school this year (2011) will end up working in careers that haven't even been invented yet."


Finland recently shifted its national curriculum to a new model called the “phenomenon-based" approach. By 2020, the country will replace traditional classroom subjects with a topical approach highlighting the four Cs—communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.


In addition to the four Cs, successful entrepreneurs across the globe are demonstrating three additional soft skills that can be integrated into the classroom—adaptability, resiliency and grit, and a mindset of continuous learning.


Horgos: a future robot export base in China

DATE: 06/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 06/01/2017

A Chinese robot manufacturer is making China's new border city with Kazakhstan its export base, hoping Horgos will provide convenience in trade.

Horgos Boshihao Electronic, a firm registered in southern China's city of Shenzhen, has been ramping up construction of its robot production workshop in Horgos and expects to start production in May.


Boshihao's service robots are able to replace human labor in nursing and education-related duties. Prices range from 5,000 yuan (721 U.S. dollars) to 200,000 yuan, with industrial robots priced between 100,000 yuan to 1 million yuan.

The company is looking at export markets in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia.


N. Korea holds mass rally after Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s ‘nuke’ message

DATE: 06/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 06/01/2017

Thousands of North Koreans have taken to the streets of the capital Pyongyang after leader Kim Jong-un, in his New Year’s message, announced preparations for a test-launch of banned ICBMs were at the ‘final stage.’
The demonstrators gathered in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang and chanted “long live comrade Kim Jong-un,” AFP reported. Some of them were seen holding banners saying “Let us accelerate the victorious advance of socialism!”


In September, Pyongyang stated that it conducted its fifth nuclear test, announcing it is now capable of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets.


Edible insect industry group set up to support Southeast Asia

DATE: 03/01/2016
RETRIEVED: 05/01/2016

In the last few years, dozens of edible insect start-ups have popped up in western countries to supply a new wave of interest in bugs as food. This market is now in need of regulation, promotion and support.

This this is the case might might be one reason for the growing number of industry associations are being formed—including one I recently co-founded with some other companies in the region.

The first representative body for manufacturers of insects for food was created by Robert Nathan Allen in 2013 as Little Herds in America. Then came the North America Edible Insect Coalition (NAEIC), formed by start-ups like Exo, Entomo Farms and Chapul.

In Europe, IPIFF, strategically located in Brussels, represents small- and medium-sized companies from the edible insect market, as well as from the feed sector. Lobbying the EU parliament on insects is obviously one of their priorities.

There is also BiiF in Belgium, FFPIDI in France and Switzerland’s GRIMIAM, which successfully campaigned to have the Swiss parliament approve a law on edible insects, which passed in December.


China wages cyber war via dharamsala

DATE: 25/12/2016
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2016

With a view to malign the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), China is remotely accessing the computer servers in Dharamsala, planting spywares and malwares and disguising the IP address to target computer systems across the globe, said Prime Minister of Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangay.

“China is also seeking to drive a wedge between CTA and foreign governments by infecting our computer systems. Efforts are on to secure the servers in Dharamsala which is used by the Chinese as a transit point to launch cyber attacks globally,” Sangay told The Sunday Standard.

He said a major study on malware attacks against Tibetans conducted by Munk School of Global Affairs at the Toronto University reported that the attacks on the servers and computer system of CTA are “highly targeted and have low anti-virus detection”.  

Intelligence officials say the need of the hour is to develop an indigenous operating systems (OS) for mobile phones and computers as the MS Window-based systems or even the Safari OS used in iPhones and Mac computers could be susceptible to attacks.


Quantum Computers Ready to Leap Out of the Lab in 2017

Google, Microsoft and a host of labs and start-ups are racing to turn scientific curiosities into working machines

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

Quantum computing has long seemed like one of those technologies that are 20 years away, and always will be. But 2017 could be the year that the field sheds its research-only image.

Google started working on a form of quantum computing that harnesses superconductivity in 2014. It hopes this year, or shortly after, to perform a computation that is beyond even the most powerful ‘classical’ supercomputers—an elusive milestone known as quantum supremacy. Its rival, Microsoft, is betting on an intriguing but unproven concept, topological quantum computing, and hopes to perform a first demonstration of the technology.

Quantum Circuits is focused on making fully error-corrected machines from the start. This requires building in more qubits, but the machines could also run more-sophisticated quantum algorithms.

IonQ aims to build machines that have 32 or even 64 qubits, and the ion-trap technology will enable their designs to be more flexible and scalable than superconducting circuits, he says.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is betting on the technology that has the most to prove. Topological quantum computing depends on excitations of matter that encode infor­mation by tangling around each other like braids.


New Chinese Law on Cybersecurity Will Increase Censorship & Data Surveillance

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

The Chinese government passed a new set of regulations that will tighten existing policies on censorship and data surveillance. From June 1 and onward, outflow of any kind of personal and important data will be restricted and censored by key information infrastructure operators (KILO).

Network operators and internet service providers also fall under the newly proposed regulatory regime, and as a result are obligated to impose new security and data protection systems.


With the new regulatory framework in place, ISPs and telecommunication companies will be legally allowed to censor and observe “any system comprising computers or other information terminals and related equipment for collection, storage, transmission, exchange and processing of information.”

Websites and platforms that store personal or financial data will most likely be required by the central government to censor and restrict the flow of information, depending on the certain situations. The document emphasizes that by law, website owners or operators are considered as network operators and thus are obligated to pass on necessary information to the government.


Amazon now has 45,000 robots in its warehouses

DATE: 03/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

Amazon significantly expanded its army of warehouse robots in 2016, according to a report by The Seattle Times.

The newspaper — based in the same city as Amazon's global headquarters — wrote last week that the e-commerce giant now has 45,000 robots across 20 fulfillment centres.

That would be a 50% increase from the same time the year before, when the company said it had 30,000 robots working alongside 230,000 people.


Beyond the warehouse, Amazon is also looking at automating other aspects of its business. In December, the company announced it had made its first delivery by an automated drone in the UK. It's also filed a patent that would allow it to use automated drones to deliver packages from large airships in the future.


Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

The site shows users how Facebook categorizes them. It doesn’t reveal the data it is buying about their offline lives. 

DATE: 27/12/2016
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump.

But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.

Since September, ProPublica has been encouraging Facebook users to share the categories of interest that the site has assigned to them. Users showed us everything from “Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations” to “Breastfeeding in Public.” In total, we collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

Facebook’s site says it gets information about its users “from a few different sources.”

What the page doesn’t say is that those sources include detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers about users’ offline lives. Nor does Facebook show users any of the often remarkably detailed information it gets from those brokers.

Steve Satterfield, a Facebook manager of privacy and public policy, said users who don’t want that information to be available to Facebook should contact the data brokers directly. He said users can visit a page in Facebook’s help center, which provides links to the opt-outs for six data brokers that sell personal data to Facebook.


Police in Bengaluru urged to investigate New Year attacks on women

DATE: 03/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

Reports of sexual assaults on women revellers at New Year's Eve celebrations in Bengaluru have spurred women's rights activists to demand that police investigate.

The attacks, reminiscent of those blamed on migrants in German cities last year, shocked many Indians, since Bengaluru, home to many well-educated professionals, is regarded as safer for women than the capital, New Delhi.

Several women were groped and assaulted by a mob in the city's central business district on Dec. 31 as they celebrated, according to a Reuters witness and a report in the Bangalore Mirror newspaper.

Sex crimes are common in India, where the National Crime Record Bureau says more than 34,000 rapes were reported in all in 2015, although women sometimes do not report assaults for fear of the associated social stigma.


Women's March on Washington organizers promise 200,000 to protest Trump

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

Organizers are predicting 200,000 will participate in the Women's March on Washington the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president.

The National Park Service's list of First Amendment applications lists a permit for that size of a crowd on Jan. 21.

The group applied for the permit under the name "The Gathering for Justice." The application says the purpose is "to come together in solidarity to express to the new administration & congress that women's rights are human rights and our power cannot be ignored."

The next morning, 10,000 responded they would attend. Now 100,000 say they will participate in the march, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial and end at the White House at 5 p.m.


Personal genome testing: The ultimate quantified self

Taking personal metrics to the next level with genealogical DNA home-kits

DATE: 12/02/2016
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

The National Human Genome Research Institute set a target to be able to sequence a human-sized genome for $100,000 by 2009. By the end of 2014 the cost was less than $1,000. Nowadays, as mentioned – £125 gets you a pretty comprehensive set of results through the post.

"The information can affect the user's life in a pretty meaningful way," Erynn Gordon, medical marketing director of 23andMe told me. "One of the most meaningful pieces of information from what people get back is their results related to drug response."

"There is a lot of discussion debating, as we progress towards whole genome sequencing, what is the right point of life to do that. If it's done in the newborn period, you can go through life with a wallet of genetic information that can tapped and access at key points in your life as appropriate."


Finland begins Universal Basic Income trial as the world watches

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

The trial in Finland kicked off on January 1, 2017 and marks a monumental moment for proponents of the idea who hope successful results will usher in an era of free money.

Under the two-year, nationwide pilot scheme in the country of 5.5 million, 2000 randomly picked unemployed Finns will receive a guaranteed sum of €560 ($806) per month.

The income will replace their existing social benefits and will be paid even if they find work, and government officials say it could soon be extended to other low-income groups such as freelancers, small-scale entrepreneurs and part-time workers.


UBI is not a new idea having been floated by various economists and politicians across the world for decades. But it has gained real momentum in recent years with small scale schemes being introduced in developing nations Kenya, Uganda, and India.

In the developed world a number of countries have also considered experimenting with the idea. Trials are being considered in Scotland, by councils in Fife and Glasgow to potentially be rolled out soon. Currently the Canadian province of Ontario is pushing ahead with trials to begin later this year.


3000 Ubers Could Replace NYC’s Entire Taxi Fleet

DATE: 02/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 04/01/2017

A new study released Monday by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has found that just 3000 ride-share vehicles could do the job of New York City’s roughly 13,500 licensed cabs. While this is a remarkable finding about the potential in ride-sharing, there is a catch—it only works if all the passengers are using the carpool option offered by Uber and Lyft.


This is bad news for NYC’s already embattled taxi drivers, who have spent the last few years fighting Uber’s rapid expansion in the city. But it might also be bad news for the Uber drivers themselves, who are facing obsolescence as Uber rolls out its autonomous vehicles, a program that could be aided by CSAIL’s algorithm. On the flipside, such algorithms could be a boost to the US economy as a whole, which loses an estimated $121 billion annually (about 1 percent of the US GDP) as a result of the 5.5 billion hours people send sitting in traffic (to say nothing of the 2.9 billion gallons of fuel that is also wasted).