Covers the period:
2017-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-06-23 18:50:26 UTC
2017-06-27 14:52:26 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
The arrival of autonomous vehicles (AV, or self-driving vehicles) on the public highways is getting closer. Just this month (June 2017), Nutonomy announced a partnership with Lyft for R&D on its existing AV testing on the streets of Boston. Lyft announced yesterday that by 2025 it will provide "at least 1 billion rides per year using electric autonomous vehicles." Also this week, Japanese robotics firm ZMP announced its plan to have an AV taxi on the streets of Tokyo in time for the 2020 Olympics. The need for AV regulation is pressing.
The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee responded Tuesday by releasing bipartisan principles for AV legislation ahead of a Wednesday hearing titled 'Paving the way for self-driving vehicles.' The authors of the principles, U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), plan to introduce legislation, but have so far set neither a date nor deadline for this.
The principles focus on safety, promoting innovation, tech-neutral legislation, clarification over federal and state responsibilities, public education, and -- of course -- cybersecurity. The last is minimal. The document states that cybersecurity must be included 'from the very beginning of their development,' and that "Legislation must address the connectivity of self-driving vehicles and potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities before they compromise safety."
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
The European Court of Justice handed down a ruling against The Pirate Bay yesterday, one which could have implications far beyond the torrent site. Platforms such as Google and YouTube, which play an active role in the way content is presented, could be seriously affected, experts warn.
After years of legal wrangling, yesterday the European Court of Justice handed down a decision in the case between Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN and ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL.
BREIN had demanded that the ISPs block The Pirate Bay, but both providers dug in their heels, forcing the case through the Supreme Court and eventually the ECJ.
For BREIN, yesterday's decision will have been worth the wait. Although The Pirate Bay does not provide the content that's ultimately downloaded and shared by its users, the ECJ said that it plays an important role in how that content is presented.
"Whilst it accepts that the works in question are placed online by the users, the Court highlights the fact that the operators of the platform play an essential role in making those works available," the Court said.
With that established the all-important matter is whether by providing such a platform, the operators of The Pirate Bay are effectively engaging in a "communication to the public" of copyrighted works. According to the ECJ, that's indeed the case.
"The Court holds that the making available and management of an online sharing platform must be considered to be an act of communication for the purposes of the directive," the ECJ said.
Add into the mix that The Pirate Bay generates profit from its activities and there's a potent case for copyright liability.
Wait, you mean the EU is even more in the pocket of corporations than the US? Huh...
Jesse Smith reports via DistroWatch
On the whole, the Devuan project appears to have achieved its goals. The distribution offers users an operating system virtually identical to Debian 8, but with systemd replaced with SysV init. The project provides existing Debian users a clean and easy migration path to Devuan that has only a minimal amount of side effects. Taken on its own, Devuan is a lightweight operating system with a fairly minimal (and responsive) desktop environment.
While Devuan has reached its goals, I had two significant concerns about the distribution. The first concern was the system installer. While it worked, I'm curious as to why Devuan appears to have discarded the reliable Debian installer in favour of a less feature rich and less polished installation process. Other Debian-friendly installers, such as the one which ships with Linux Mint Debian Edition, are available if a more streamlined approach is wanted.
My other concern is that Devuan 1.0.0 is about two years behind Debian. A fork of Debian without systemd seemed promising and interesting in 2015 when Debian 8 was released. But now, two years later, with Debian 9 on the horizon, Devuan 1 feels outdated. The software, such as the office suite and kernel, are about three years old at this point and unlikely to appeal to any except the most conservative users. The distribution may hold more appeal on servers where change often happens more slowly, but even there some of the Devuan packages are starting to show their age.
At this point I suspect Devuan 1 will only appeal to the more enthusiastic members of the anti-systemd crowd. If Devuan 2 can be launched shortly after Debian 9 comes out later this year then I could see the project gaining a stronger user base, but at the moment Devuan feels like an interesting idea that took too long to get off the ground.
Previous: Devuan Stable Release -- at Last!
[Editors Note: Debian 9 has been released. We ran a story on it a few hours ago.]
Scientists have found that three mutations are needed to make the H7N9 strain of bird flu more virulent in humans:
A study published Thursday shows how a bird flu virus that's sickening and killing people in China could mutate to potentially become more contagious. Just three changes could be enough to do the trick, scientists report [open, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006390] [DX] in the journal PLOS Pathogens. And the news comes just as federal officials are getting ready to lift a moratorium on controversial lab experiments that would deliberately create flu viruses with mutations like these.
Public health officials have been worried about this bird flu virus, called H7N9, because it's known to have infected more than 1,500 people — and killed 40 percent of them. So far, unlike other strains that more commonly infect humans, this deadly virus does not spread easily between people.
[...] It turns out that three small mutations made the fragment bind far more strongly to receptors found on human cells than to receptors from bird cells. Scientists know, from studying strains that led to past pandemics, that this kind of switch appears to be involved in enabling a bird flu virus to become transmissible between people. "All we've done is to look at one of the properties that we're pretty certain is important," says Paulson, who cautions that additional genetic mutations might be necessary for this virus to become more contagious in humans. "So, just because we've changed the one property doesn't mean that that property alone is sufficient to let the virus transmit."
Thank you very much, I'll be in my lab.
Elon Musk has published a plan to colonize Mars using as many as 1,000 Interplanetary Transport System spaceships to transport a million settlers at a cost of $200,000 per person:
Elon Musk has put his Mars-colonization vision to paper, and you can read it for free.
SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO just published the plan, which he unveiled at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, in the journal New Space. Musk's commentary, titled "Making Humanity a Multi-Planetary Species," is available for free [DOI: 10.1089/space.2017.29009.emu] [DX] on New Space's website through July 5.
"In my view, publishing this paper provides not only an opportunity for the spacefaring community to read the SpaceX vision in print with all the charts in context, but also serves as a valuable archival reference for future studies and planning," New Space editor-in-chief (and former NASA "Mars czar") Scott Hubbard wrote in a statement.
[...] ITS rockets will launch the spaceships to Earth orbit, then come back down for a pinpoint landing about 20 minutes later. And "pinpoint" is not hyperbole: "With the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand," Musk wrote in his New Space paper, citing SpaceX's increasingly precise Falcon 9 first-stage landings.
Also at The Guardian.
The guy who claims he invented E-Mail is slowly rewriting history one lawsuit at a time. The wannabe politician, whom many would call a charlatan, using the money from the Gawker case has turned his sights on Techdirt in an effort to squelch historical facts about the origins of e-mail. While this SLAPP suit may look for now on the surface like it is aimed at a single site, Techdirt, regarding a single topic, e-mail, the long term goal might be to take all journalism down a notch or two.
The five-page story on Ars Technica is a deep dive into the history — RFCs, major programs, interviews, etc. They even had an interview with Shiva Ayyadurai. Here's an extract from the intro:
Ayyadurai did write a program called "EMAIL" for use by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now a part of Rutgers). He copyrighted the code in 1982. But Ayyadurai today makes the far more significant claim that he invented "the electronic mail system as we know it today," even though his code had little impact beyond the university. Mainstream tech history books don't even mention Ayyadurai—unless you count the several books Ayyadurai has written about himself.
On the ARPAnet, the predecessor to the Internet, electronic mail conventions were well-established by the mid-1970s. Dave Crocker, one of a group of ARPAnet pioneers despised by Ayyadurai, told Ars that he wasn't just using e-mail by 1974—he was positively addicted to it, a full three decades before the smartphone.
And another snippet, from their interview with Ayyadurai:
As we persisted in asking what was somehow un-e-mail-like about older 1970s technologies, like the Xerox Alto—Ayyadurai grew more agitated.
"Let's stop right there," he said. "Let's stop. They didn't call it 'e-mail.' You see, you guys want to separate the term. That's wrong, okay? That's wrong. This is what's been going on, Joe, for four fucking years.
"According to Wikipedia, e-mail is the exchange of digital messages," he continued. "Right? Is that a right definition? It is a fucking wrong definition! E-mail is not the exchange of digital messages. That would make Facebook e-mail, it would make every fucking thing e-mail! If you want to talk to the expert—which is me—there are three types of messaging. There's short messaging, which goes back all the way to the smoke signal. Okay? There's community messaging, and there's formal messaging."
So if someone was sending a text document electronically, we asked, from one person to another, on a networked computer—why didn't that count as e-mail?
"Did they call it 'e-mail'?" he said. "No. I defined e-mail! And you guys have got to give me that credit."
Vint Cerf, who is a co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocol that underpins the Internet itself, told us there's "no evidence that Ayyadurai's work had any impact on the development of electronic messages that stem from early ARPAnet work." We asked Ayyadurai about this quote.
"What does Vint Cerf know?" demanded Ayyadurai. "I know Vint Cerf. They created their Internet Hall of Fame seven days after I went in the Smithsonian. Are you aware of that? These guys want to re-write their history."
Seriously, as much as it goes against tradition here, the entire article is well-worth reading. Are there any graybeards and/or former mail admins or even long ago users who wish to chime in with their experiences with e-mail in the pre/post August 1982 time frame?
Follow the progress @ Debian micronews: https://micronews.debian.org/
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
When states suffer a widespread loss of jobs, the damage extends to the next generation, where college attendance drops among the poorest students, says new research from Duke University. As a result, states marked by shuttered factories or dormant mines also show a widening gap in college attendance between rich and poor, the authors write.
In states that suffered a 7 percent job loss, college attendance by the poorest youth subsequently dropped by 20 percent, even when financial aid increased. The pattern also persisted across a wide range of states, despite variations in public college tuition rates.
Source: Duke University
Excellent. Maybe now we can get over this idea that our precious little progeny are too good for blue collar work and fill some of the six million jobs that nobody can be found to do.
[Editor's note: On my checking of the '6 million jobs' statement, I came across this article from September last year.]
[J]ob openings at 5.9 million in July set a new all-time record. Yet despite all the anxiety we hear about disappearing factory jobs, the number of unfilled manufacturing jobs in July was at the highest level in recent years. So why are they still open?
Factory work has evolved over the past 15 years or so as companies have invested in advanced machinery requiring new skill sets. Many workers who were laid off in recent decades – as technology, globalization and recession wiped out lower-skilled jobs – don't have the skills to do today's jobs.
[...] Gary Miller [...] started at Ohio-based Kyocera Precision Tools Inc. in 1989, it employed 550 production workers. Since then it has shed half of its workers; yet it now produces twice as much [...] Mr. Miller, who is now the company's director of training, struggles to find technicians with the electrical and mechanical skills needed to operate and maintain the complex machines. One electrical maintenance job went unfilled for over a year as he searched for someone with an associate's or bachelor's diploma in manufacturing engineering.
[...] The study found it takes an average of 94 days to recruit for highly-skilled roles such as scientist or engineer, and 70 days for skilled production workers.
Source: Value Walk
Additionally, there are apparently plenty of jobs in food service. Starting in March of 2010 and continuing through April of 2017, there have been 86 consecutive month of payroll gains for America's waiters and bartenders. Since 2014, 800,000 "food service and drinking places" jobs have been created, over the same period the number of manufacturing jobs created has been just 105,000.
The Guardian has spoken to more than a dozen workers at the fashion label's factory in Subang, Indonesia, where employees describe being paid one of the lowest minimum wages in Asia and there are claims of impossibly high production targets and sporadically compensated overtime.
The workers' complaints come only a week after labour activists investigating possible abuses at a Chinese factory that makes Ivanka Trump shoes disappeared into police custody.
The activists' group claimed they had uncovered a host of violations at the plant including salaries below China's legal minimum wage, managers verbally abusing workers and "violations of women's rights".
In the Indonesian factory some of the complaints are similar, although the wages paid to employees in Subang are much lower.
[...] PT Buma, a Korean-owned garment company started in Indonesia in 1999, is one of the suppliers of G-III Apparel Group, the wholesale manufacturer for prominent fashion brands including Trump's clothing.
[...] When Alia was told the gist of Ivanka Trump's new book on women in the workplace, she burst out laughing. Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month.
[...] Carry Somers, founder of the non-profit Fashion Revolution said: "Ivanka Trump claims to be the ultimate destination for Women Who Work, but this clearly doesn't extend to the women who work for her in factories around the world."
In March, Indonesia was called out by President Donald Trump for having an unfavourable trade balance with the US. The president took issue with Indonesia's $13bn surplus last year and vowed to penalise "cheating foreign importers".
Bad pay, unrealistic production requirements, unpaid overtime and verbal abuse are among the complaints of the workers. Ivanka has factories in China, and Indonesia where wages are even lower. Does textile production really have to be like this? Can we really not afford buying clothes made in humane conditions?
Imagine you were able to solve a problem 50 times faster than you can now. With this ability, you have the potential to come up with answers to even the most complex problems faster than ever before. Researchers behind the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Exascale Computing Project want to make this capability a reality, and are doing so by creating tools and technologies for exascale supercomputers – computing systems at least 50 times faster than those used today. These tools will advance researchers' ability to analyze and visualize complex phenomena such as cancer and nuclear reactors, which will accelerate scientific discovery and innovation.
Developing layers of software that support and connect hardware and applications is critical to making these next-generation systems a reality.
Researchers in Argonne's Mathematics and Computer Science Division are collaborating with colleagues from five other core ECP DOE national laboratories -- Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos -- in addition to other labs and universities.
Their goal is to create new and adapt existing software technologies to operate at exascale by overcoming challenges found in several key areas, such as memory, power and computational resources.
Summary from ScienceDaily
Why only 50 times faster, why not 100 times (or more) faster ??
The Center for Public Integrity found that several reports, the first in 1980, warned of weakening of the timbers in a tunnel storing radioactive equipment which last month was discovered to have partially collapsed.
The tunnel with the collapsed roof was built in 1956 [...]
It is unclear when contractors running the plant first became concerned that gamma radiation, which changes the molecular structure of wood cell walls, would significantly weaken the first tunnel's timbers. As early as 1971 the integrity of the wood was checked and determined to be sound. The 1980 study said however that said the wood's strength had deteriorated to 64.5 percent of its original strength. It predicted that the structure should be sound until at least 1982, by which time the authors anticipated it would be cleaned out.
In the 1991 report, by Los Alamos Technical Associates, Inc., the authors made clear after conducting an internal inspection of the tunnel that the DOE knew the timbers holding up the roof had been substantially weakened as early as 1980. It predicted that by 2001, they would be at 60 percent of their original strength and recommended another evaluation in 2001. But records indicate that it never happened.
A 2015 report (PDF) estimated that collapse would occur around 2040 and warned that the wood presents a risk of fire (pages 1215-1216 of PDF, numbered F.4-42 and F.4-43):
PUREX Tunnel 1 was constructed in 1956. Except for a 103 foot section one wall that is composed of 3 foot thick reinforced concrete, the remaining walls and roof of the 358 foot long tunnel were constructed using 12 inch by 14 inch creosoted No. 1 Douglas Fir timbers, arranged side by side with the 12 inch side exposed. The last evaluation of the structural integrity of the tunnel was made in May 1991 by Los Alamos Technical Associates (LATA). It concluded that there was very low probability of any degradation of the timbers due to decay or insect attack, but that there was ongoing degradation occurring from continued exposure to the gamma radiation from equipment being stored there. It estimated that the strength of the timbers would be 60% of their original strength in 2001. Applying the same formulas used in that analysis to the year 2014 would indicate that the timbers are currently at about 55% of their original strength. This study indicates that standard factor of safety will be reached at 47.5% of original value. It is estimated this could occur sometime about 2040. This wood structure also offers the potential for a fire in the tunnel that would release its entire 21,200 Ci radiological inventory to the environment.
Elsewhere (page 11 of PDF, numbered x) the authors acknowledged "large uncertainty" in their estimate of when collapse might occur.
State and local officials broke ground for Utah's first food digester Thursday morning in a project aimed at reducing landfill waste and harnessing unused renewable energy.
The North Salt Lake facility, to be opened in late 2018, will deploy anaerobic digesters to grind and liquify food waste, then use water, heat and bacteria to convert it into methane gas to be used as natural gas and bio-solids to be converted into fertilizer.
The project, called Wasatch Resource Recovery, is a cooperative partnership between Salt Lake City-based ALPRO Energy & Water and the South Davis Sewer District and will enlist Utah businesses statewide to send their food waste to the facility.
Officials hope the digesters will save landfill space, reduce greenhouse emissions from buried organic garbage and give businesses an affordable alternative for disposing of their food waste.
"We wouldn't take a barrel of oil and bury it and we are essentially doing the same thing with our food waste," said Morgan Bowerman, recovery resource and sustainability manager for the site. "When we are wasting that, we are wasting massive amounts of a resource we can use. Food waste will always be a byproduct, why not use it?"
The United States wastes 65 million tons of food every year. Processing it through methane digester facilities like this could generate significant energy and not preclude the effluent from being used as fertilizer afterward.
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
British multinational BAE Systems has sold sophisticated surveillance technology to many repressive governments in the Middle East and Africa, an investigation by BBC Arabic and Danish newspaper Dagbladet has revealed.
The technology in question is called Evident, and enables governments to conduct mass surveillance of their citizens’ communications. According to a former employee, the system is capable of intercepting traffic, pinpointing device location, traffic cryptanalysis (i.e. decryption), and voice recognition.
Evident was created by Danish cyber and intelligence company ETI, which was acquired by BAE Systems in 2011. The sales, which were effected through ETI, are technically legal as the export authorization for the technology was given by the Danish government, through the Danish Business Authority.
The export licenses were granted even though the UK government has expressed concern about the sale of the Evident technology to the United Arab Emirates, and has noted that it would “refuse a licence to export this cryptanalysis software from the UK” because of national security concerns.
They were apparently worried that the system’s capabilities could be used to tap communications in the UK and Europe, if the equipment is set up in UAE embassies.
The Evident system has also been sold to the Tunisian government (before the Arab Spring protests and successful ousting of longtime president Ben Ali in 2011), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Morocco and Algeria, whose governments have questionable human rights records.
Source: Help Net Security
Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.
If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people. The equivalent of the population of Pennsylvania (and then some!) does not know that chocolate milk is milk, cocoa and sugar.
[...] For decades, observers in agriculture, nutrition and education have griped that many Americans are basically agriculturally illiterate. They don't know where food is grown, how it gets to stores — or even, in the case of chocolate milk, what's in it.
[...] Upton and other educators are quick to caution that these conclusions don't apply across the board. Studies have shown that people who live in agricultural communities tend to know a bit more about where their food comes from, as do people with higher education levels and household incomes.
[...] In some ways, this ignorance is perfectly logical. The writer and historian Ann Vileisis has argued that it developed in lockstep with the industrial food system.
A U.S. Navy vessel has collided with a container vessel southwest of Yokosuka, Japan:
Seven U.S. sailors are unaccounted for after a Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, early Saturday local time, a U.S. official and the Navy said.
Some flooding was reported aboard the USS Fitzgerald, a 505-foot destroyer, after the collision with a Philippine container vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday local time (1:30 p.m. ET Friday), about 56 nautical miles of Yokosuka, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.
Also at Reuters.
mrpg wrote in with another story about a U.S. Navy sailor who was reported missing and presumed dead after a search by the Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Japan's Coast Guard. He was found days later, hiding in one of the engine rooms.