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Science

Racial Discrimination Affects Virtual Reality Characters Too 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-are-you-so-mean-to-your-Sims-characters dept.
vrml writes: You are looking for the exit of a building in a virtual reality experience when a virtual character gets stuck in a room and cries for your help. Could the color of the skin (black or white) of the virtual human influence your decision to provide or refuse help? That's what comes out from a new study published by the journal Computers in Human Behavior. White users were told that they had to reach the exit of the virtual building as soon as possible. The number of users who decided to help tripled when the virtual victim was white rather than black. Researchers tried also other conditions in which they did not put users under time pressure: this reduced the discrimination, although the number of users who helped remained more favorable for the white rather than the black virtual human. The paper explains these results in terms of the automatic categorization processes that originate from unwanted, unconscious social and cultural biases: putting people under pressure increases automatic responses, leading to more discrimination towards the black character.
Android

NVIDIA Announces SHIELD Game Console 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-challenger-appears dept.
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA held an event in San Francisco last night at GDC, where the company unveiled a new Android TV streamer, game console, and supercomputer, as NVIDIA's Jen Hsun Huang calls it, all wrapped up in a single, ultra-slim device called NVIDIA SHIELD. The SHIELD console is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1 SoC with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, Gig-E and 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO WiFi. It's also 4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264) with encode/decode with full hardware processing. The company claims the console provides twice the performance of an Xbox 360. NVIDIA demo'ed the device with Android TV, streaming music and HD movies and browsing social media. The device can stream games from a GeForce powered PC to your television or from NVIDIA's GRID cloud gaming service, just like previous NVIDIA SHIELD devices. Native Android games will also run on the SHIELD console. NVIDIA's plan is to offer a wide array of native Android titles in the SHIELD store, as well as leverage the company's relationships with game developers to bring top titles to GRID. The device was shown playing Gearbox's Borderlands The Pre-Sequel, Doom 3 BFG Edition, Metal Gear Solid V, the Unreal Engine 4 Infiltrator demo and yes, even Crysis 3.
The Internet

Technology's Legacy: the 'Loser Edit' Awaits Us All 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the our-internet-is-a-vengeful-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times Magazine has an insightful article putting into words how I've felt about information-age culture for a while now. It's about a phenomenon dubbed the "loser edit." The term itself was born out of reality TV — once an outcome had been decided while the show was still taping, the producers would comb back through the footage and selectively paste together everything that seemed to foreshadow the loser's fall. When the show actually aired, it thus had an easy-to-follow narrative.

But as the information age has overtaken us, the "loser edit" is something that can happen to anyone. Any time a celebrity gets into trouble, we can immediately search through two decades of interviews and offhand comments to see if there were hints of their impending fall. It usually becomes a self-reinforcing chain of evidence. The loser edit happens for non-celebrities too, using their social media posts, public records, leaked private records, and anything else available through search.

The worst part is, there's no focal point for the blame. The news media does it, the entertainment industry does it, and we do it to ourselves. Any time the internet gets outraged about something, there are a few people who happily dig up everything they can about the person they now feel justified in hating — and thus, the loser edit begins.
Social Networks

Former MLB Pitcher Doxes Internet Trolls, Delivers Real-World Consequences 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the countering-free-speech-with-more-free-speech dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Twitter trolls began posting obscene, sexually explicit comments about his teenage daughter, former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling responded by recording their comments and gathering personal information readily available to the public. He then doxxed two of them on his blog, resulting in one being suspended from his community college and the other being fired from his part-time job as a ticket seller for the New York Yankees. There were seven others in Curt's crosshairs, all college athletes, but although he hasn't publicly doxxed those individuals, he hints, "I found it rather funny at how quickly tone changed when I heard via email from a few athletes who'd been suspended by their coaches. Gone was the tough guy tweeter, replaced by the 'I'm so sorry' apology used by those only sorry because they got caught."
Communications

Deutsche Telecom Calls For Google and Facebook To Be Regulated Like Telcos 106

Posted by timothy
from the oh-definitely-trust-the-government dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tim Hoettges, the CEO of the world's third-largest telecoms company, has called for Google and Facebook to be regulated in the same way that telcos are, declaring that "There is a convergence between over-the-top web companies and classic telcos" and "We need one level regulatory environment for us all." The Deutsche Telekom chief was speaking at Monday's Mobile World Congress, and further argued for a loosening of the current regulations which telcos operate under, in order to provide the infrastructure development that governments and policy bodies are asking of them. Hoettges' imprecation comes in the light of news about the latest Google Dance — an annual change in ranking criteria which boosts some businesses and ruins others. The case for and against regulating Google-level internet entities comes down to one question: who do you trust to 'not be evil'?
Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer On Turning Around Yahoo 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the steering-the-ship dept.
An anonymous reader writes For the 20th anniversary of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer discusses how she's trying to reinvent the company. In a wide-ranging interview, Mayer shares her vision for fixing the company's past mistakes, including a major investment in mobile and a new ad platform. Yet she's been dogged by critics who see her as an imperious micromanager, who criticize her $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr, and who fault her for moving too slowly. The company's executives explain that the business could only return to health after she first halted Yahoo's brain drain and went big on mobile. As one Yahoo employee summarized Mayer's thinking: "First people, then apps."
Google

Google+ Divided Into Photos and Streams, With New Boss 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the judgment-of-solomon dept.
An anonymous reader writes It seems Google+ will see some significant changes under new boss Bradley Horowitz. Google+ will be separated into different products: Photos and Hangouts will be split out, and the social part is now called "the stream". From the article: "Google+ has taken a lot of criticism — notably the infamous 'ghost town' knock that it's devoid of users and concerns about Google's attempts to force its relevance by tying it in with functions like search results and YouTube comments. But Google executives have denied the 'ghost town criticism over and over. In part that's because the company used Google+ to describe more than just its Facebook-esque service for posting and commenting — the part now called Streams. For Google, Google+ also has been the "social spine" that unifies Google users' activities under a single unified identity."
Twitter

ISIS Threatens Life of Twitter Founder After Thousands of Account Suspensions 532

Posted by samzenpus
from the dont-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes After a wave of account bannings that marks Twitter's most aggressive move ever against ISIS, new images circulated from militants shows founder Jack Dorsey in crosshairs with the caption "Twitter, you started this war." The famously tech-savy ISIS has met a number of defeats on American-built social media recently with sites like Twitter and YouTube banning the group's efforts in unprecedented numbers.
Twitter

Twitter Adds "Report Dox" Option 101

Posted by timothy
from the better-late-than-never dept.
AmiMoJo writes Twitter announced that its abuse-report system, which was recently refined to simplify and shorten the reporting process, has now expanded to allow users to report content such as self-harm incidents and "the sharing of private and confidential information" (aka doxing). The announcement, posted by Twitter Vice President of User Services Tina Bhatnagar, explained that December's report-process update was met with a "tripling" of the site's abuse support staff, which has led to a quintupling of abuse report processing. Chat logs recently revealed how Twitter is used by small groups to create vast harassment campaigns, thanks to sock puppet account and relative anonymity.
Google

Google Reverses Stance, Allows Porn On Blogger After Backlash 102

Posted by timothy
from the interns'-eyes-getting-really-big dept.
mpicpp writes In a reversal, Google says that porn will continue to be allowed on its Blogger site. Google said it has received a big backlash after deciding earlier in the week that bloggers will no longer be able to "publicly share images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity." The ban was to have taken place on March 23.

Instead, Google said that the company would simply double down on its crackdown of bloggers who use their sites to sell porn.
In July, Google stopped porn from appearing in its online ads that appear on Blogger. And in 2013, Google decided to remove blogs from its Blogger network that contained advertisements for online porn sites. "We've had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities," wrote Jessica Pelegio, Google's social product support manager, in a post on Google product forums. "So rather than implement this change, we've decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.
Security

Simple IT Security Tactics for Small Businesses (Video) 32

Posted by Roblimo
from the worry-more-about-criminal-attacks-than-government-intrusions dept.
Adam Kujawa is the lead person on the Malwarebytes Malware Intelligence Team, but he's not here to sell software. In fact, he says that buying this or that software package is not a magic bullet that will stop all attacks on your systems. Instead, he stresses coworker education. Repeatedly. Adam says phishing and other social engineering schemes are now the main way attackers get access to your company's information goodies. Hacking your firewall? Far less likely than it used to be, not only because firewalls are more sophisticated than ever, but also because even the least computer-hip managers know they should have one.
Facebook

Facebook Puts Users On Suicide Watch 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
Mark Wilson writes A few months ago Twitter was criticized for teaming up with suicide prevention charity Samaritans to automatically monitor for key words and phrases that could indicate that someone was struggling to cope with life. Despite the privacy concerns that surrounded Samaritans Radar, Facebook has decided that it is going to launch a similar program in a bid to prevent suicides. Working with mental health organizations including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Save.org, Facebook aims to provide greater help and support for anyone considering suicide or self-harm.
United States

US Govt and Private Sector Developing "Precrime" System Against Cyber-Attacks 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the knowing-is-half-the-battle dept.
An anonymous reader writes A division of the U.S. government's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) unit, is inviting proposals from cybersecurity professionals and academics with a five-year view to creating a computer system capable of anticipating cyber-terrorist acts, based on publicly-available Big Data analysis. IBM is tentatively involved in the project, named CAUSE (Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment), but many of its technologies are already part of the offerings from other interested organizations. Participants will not have access to NSA-intercepted data, but most of the bidding companies are already involved in analyses of public sources such as data on social networks. One company, Battelle, has included the offer to develop a technique for de-anonymizing BItcoin transactions (pdf) as part of CAUSE's security-gathering activities.
AI

Facebook AI Director Discusses Deep Learning, Hype, and the Singularity 71

Posted by timothy
from the you-like-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a wide-ranging interview with IEEE Spectrum, Yann LeCun talks about his work at the Facebook AI Research group and the applications and limitations of deep learning and other AI techniques. He also talks about hype, 'cargo cult science', and what he dislikes about the Singularity movement. The discussion also includes brain-inspired processors, supervised vs. unsupervised learning, humanism, morality, and strange airplanes.
Censorship

Google Knocks Explicit Adult Content On Blogger From Public View 285

Posted by timothy
from the start-your-own dept.
Ellie K writes As of 23 March 2015, Google will remove blogs on its Blogger platform that don't conform to its new anti-adult policies. This is an abrupt reversal of policy. Until today, Google allowed "images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity," and stated that "Censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression." The linked article quotes the message which has been sent to Blogger users thus: (...) In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or presented where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content. The new policy will go into effect on the 23rd of March 2015. After this policy goes into effect, Google will restrict access to any blog identified as being in violation of our revised policy. No content will be deleted, but only blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog will be able to see the content we've made private.
Math

Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the using-the-same-template dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news of a study that shows similarities in how cities are built throughout time. "A study of archeological data from ancient Mexican settlements reveals remarkable similarities between pre-Colombian cities and modern ones, lending support to the idea that urban spaces are shaped by universal social behaviors. Sure, each city has its own local quirks, architecture, language and cuisine. But recently, some theoretical scientists have started to find there are universal laws that shape all urban spaces. And a new study suggests the same mathematical rules might apply to ancient settlements, too. Using archaeological data from the ruins of Tenochtitlan and thousands of other sites around it in Mexico, researchers found that private houses and public monuments were built in predictable ways."
Encryption

NSA, GHCQ Implicated In SIM Encryption Hack 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
First time accepted submitter BlacKSacrificE writes Australian carriers are bracing for a mass recall after it was revealed that a Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto was penetrated by the GCHQ and the NSA in an alleged theft of encryption keys, allowing unfettered access to voice and text communications. The incident is suspected to have happened in 2010 and 2011 and seems to be a result of social engineering against employees, and was revealed by yet another Snowden document. Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all stated they are waiting for further information from Gemalto before deciding a course of action. Gemalto said in a press release that they "cannot at this early stage verify the findings of the publication" and are continuing internal investigations, but considering Gemalto provides around 2 billion SIM cards to some 450 carriers across the globe (all of which use the same GSM encryption standard) the impact and fallout for Gemalto, and the affected carriers, could be huge.
Social Networks

Inside the Business of Online Reputation Spin 126

Posted by timothy
from the loved-the-armband-harry dept.
The Guardian has a long, thought-provoking piece (it's an excerpt from an upcoming book) on the way that online PR works, when individuals or organizations pay online spin doctors to change the way they're perceived online. Embarrassing photos, ill-considered social media posts, even quips that have ended up geting the speaker into hot water, can all be crowded out, even if not actually expunged, by injecting lots of innocuous information, photos, and other bits of information. That crowding out seems to be the reputation managers' prime tactic. Besides a brush of his own with identity theft (or at least unwanted borrowing), the author spoke at length with both Adria Richards and "Hank"; both of whom ended up losing their jobs in the aftermath of what became known as Donglegate, after Richards tweeted about jokes that she overheard Hank and another developer share at PyCon 2013.
Social Networks

An Evidence-Based Approach To Online Dating 286

Posted by timothy
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
HughPickens.com writes Rachel Nuwer writes in the NYT that Dr. Sameer Chaudhry's online dating persona was garnering no response from the women he reached out to so he synthesized 86 literature studies on the subject of online dating in the fields of psychology, sociology, and computer, behavioral, and neurocognitive sciences.in hopes of improving his odds. As it turns out, success begins with picking a user name. While men are drawn to names linked to physical traits (e.g., Cutie), the researchers found, women prefer ones that indicate intelligence (e.g., Cultured). Both sexes respond well to playful names (e.g. Fun2bwith) and shy away from ones with negative connotations (e.g., Bugg). User names that begin with letters from the first half of the alphabet do better than those from the latter half. "As human beings, we have a tendency to give things at the top of a pile more value," says Khan. As for your profile photo, pick a photo with a genuine smile, one that crinkles the eyes, and with a slight head tilt (it's linked to attractiveness). And if you're looking for a male partner, go for that photo of you in siren red—a color that enhances men's attraction to women. "For those attracted to browse into the profile, a description of personal traits increased likeability when it: showed who the dater was and what they were looking for in a 70:30 ratio; stayed close to reality; and employed simple language with humor added. Invitations were most successful in obtaining a response from the potential date when they: were short personalized messages addressing a trait in their profile; rhymed with their screen name or headline message; and extended genuine compliments." And finally, don't wait too long before arranging a face to face meeting.