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04 Nov 00:20

A new world of warcraft

by Leda Zimmerman | Department of Political Science

gotta make dat war

In the past decade, high tech tools have proliferated in the world’s fighting forces. At least 80 nations can now deploy remote-controlled drones. Will the widespread use of digitally enhanced arsenals prove a destabilizing, if not destructive, element in the complex struggles among states? Not necessarily, argues assistant professor of political science Erik Lin-Greenberg ’09, SM ’09.

“I’ve learned that in some circumstances, remote war-fighting technologies such as drones can lead to a ratcheting down of tensions, and that it might even serve strategically as a way to de-escalate global crises,” he says.

Lin-Greenberg, who joined MIT in July, is investigating how new technologies affect military decision-making and the use of force. He wants to understand, for instance, whether allies employing different technologies face obstacles working together, or if the high-speed tempo of military operations executed by artificial intelligence might prove challenging to officers accustomed to making decisions in longer time frames. Pinning down answers to these questions is a matter of some urgency.

“Given the massive amount of technological innovation under way, it’s clear that this is the direction war is moving,” says Lin-Greenberg. “I’m trying to figure out how the systems that are becoming dominant will shape both interactions between states and their leaders’ decisions — factors that may determine whether there’s war or peace.”

Managing intelligence

The impetus for Lin-Greenberg’s scholarly inquiry came from his own experiences as an active duty U.S. Air Force officer, when he was engaged in a series of critical military intelligence roles. He was, for instance, responsible for the deployment of intelligence assets and personnel in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He also led a team of analysts providing real-time support to national agencies and coalition combat forces during surveillance and reconnaissance operations, and, as a political-military affairs analyst, provided intelligence insights to senior Air Force leaders. And today, as a major in the Air Force Reserve, Lin-Greenberg supports strategy and policy work at the Joint Staff, the headquarters team of the Pentagon.

On his first active duty assignment, after nine months of intelligence training, Lin-Greenberg was at a ground station supporting remotely piloted drone sorties. “It was really the height of operations in Afghanistan, before troop withdrawal,” he recalls. “We carried out 50 to 60 combat air patrols of remote aircraft to surveil and execute airstrikes — drones were seen as an easy fix to everything.”

But while these remotely piloted drones performed effectively in uncontested airspace in Afghanistan, Lin-Greenberg began thinking about how they might function in other contexts. “I wondered how we would respond when a more advanced adversary shot one of them down,” he recalls. “I wanted to know what these new systems meant for the future of warfare after Afghanistan.”

These big-picture questions increasingly preoccupied Lin-Greenberg as he progressed up the ladder in intelligence work. “When I sat in meetings discussing AI and big data, people didn’t always comprehend how these technologies played out in an operational setting,” he says. “This motivated my research as an academic.”

From battlefield to classroom

Lin-Greenberg’s fascination for these topics was deep enough that he left active duty in order to study political science at Columbia University. There, he turned his attention to the ways in which remotely operated weapons systems alter the risk calculus in military operations.

“Political science theory suggested that all these tools that make it easier to harm the enemy without putting your own troops in the line of fire would make offensive actions easier,” says Lin-Greenberg. But his research has revealed some contrary evidence.

In June 2019, for example, when Iran sought to signal its displeasure with U.S. activity in the Persian Gulf, it shot down an unpiloted drone rather than a piloted reconnaissance aircraft. In response, the Trump administration announced that there would be no lethal retaliation, since no U.S. lives were lost. In a piece for Foreign Policy describing this and similar episodes, Lin-Greenberg argued that use of pilotless weapons might create “zones of escalation” that avoid riskier, more destructive conflict. “They might actually have a stabilizing effect,” he says.

Lin-Greenberg bolsters his research, often constructed as case studies, with observational data from archives, and with the use of innovative war-gaming techniques. In a recent project, for instance, he created a simulation where military officers participating in the game responded either to the shoot-down of a drone or an attack by an adversary. As research assistants jotted down notes in real time, these military personnel revealed what they might actually do given the different scenarios.

With regional antagonists such as Pakistan and India building up their technological capabilities in uncrewed weaponry, threatening to ignite larger conflicts, Lin-Greenberg hopes to get his insights about the use of such systems in front of policymakers on a timely basis. In addition to his Joint Staff advising, he writes regularly for the foreign policy-based web platform War on the Rocks and for a variety of journals. He also has a book project in progress, “Remote Controlled Escalation: Drones, Cyber Warfare, and Interstate Crises,” which is based on his dissertation.

Transformed by 9/11

His deep commitment to national defense, as both a scholar and service member, was triggered by the 9/11 attacks. A first-year student in a New Jersey town right outside of New York, Lin-Greenberg watched fighter jets buzzing overhead. “Walking home that day, the world seemed uncertain, but I looked up and felt at least some degree of safety — folks were trying to defend the country.”

Soon he began exploring military careers, and settled on the Air Force, gravitating toward the intelligence branches: “Maybe I watched too many James Bond movies in high school, but I definitely read a lot about the Cold War and history,” says Lin-Greenberg. But rather than attend a service academy, he chose MIT, under the Air Force ROTC program.

A political science major, Lin-Greenberg credits classes with such professors as Stephen Van Evera, Fotini Christia, Barry Posen, and M. Taylor Fravel for giving him a grounding in security studies, U.S. and Chinese foreign policy, and regional conflicts, which provided an essential intellectual foundation for his military career.

Now back at MIT and teaching with his former mentors, Lin-Greenberg says he is “humbled, excited, and a bit intimidated.” This fall, he is teaching the graduate class 17.432 (Causes of War), drawing in part on his own military history, while pursuing new research avenues. One area of interest: developing international agreements on the use of AI, similar to the law of the sea and law of war. “Having guidelines on automated systems, a set of best practices, would be incredibly useful to decrease inadvertent escalations, and to tell states how to interact when something goes awry,” he says.

Although his return to Cambridge, Massachusetts, comes in the midst of a pandemic, Lin-Greenberg has managed to rediscover old and beloved haunts, as he settles in to remote teaching and research. “I did a Mike’s Pastry run days after I got here, and I am gorging myself on food in the North End,” he says.

30 Oct 19:30

Solar-powered system extracts drinkable water from “dry” air

by David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

do it in the desert..

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have significantly boosted the output from a system that can extract drinkable water directly from the air even in dry regions, using heat from the sun or another source.

The system, which builds on a design initially developed three years ago at MIT by members of the same team, brings the process closer to something that could become a practical water source for remote regions with limited access to water and electricity. The findings are described today in the journal Joule, in a paper by Professor Evelyn Wang, who is head of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering; graduate student Alina LaPotin; and six others at MIT and in Korea and Utah.

The earlier device demonstrated by Wang and her co-workers provided a proof of concept for the system, which harnesses a temperature difference within the device to allow an adsorbent material — which collects liquid on its surface — to draw in moisture from the air at night and release it the next day. When the material is heated by sunlight, the difference in temperature between the heated top and the shaded underside makes the water release back out of the adsorbent material. The water then gets condensed on a collection plate.

But that device required the use of specialized materials called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs, which are expensive and limited in supply, and the system’s water output was not sufficient for a practical system. Now, by incorporating a second stage of desorption and condensation, and by using a readily available adsorbent material, the device’s output has been significantly increased, and its scalability as a potentially widespread product is greatly improved, the researchers say.

Wang says the team felt that “It’s great to have a small prototype, but how can we get it into a more scalable form?” The new advances in design and materials have now led to progress in that direction.

Instead of the MOFs, the new design uses an adsorbent material called a zeolite, which in this case is composed of a microporous iron aluminophosphate. The material is widely available, stable, and has the right adsorbent properties to provide an efficient water production system based just on typical day-night temperature fluctuations and heating with sunlight.

The two-stage design developed by LaPotin makes clever use of the heat that is generated whenever water changes phase. The sun’s heat is collected by a solar absorber plate at the top of the box-like system and warms the zeolite, releasing the moisture the material has captured overnight. That vapor condenses on a collector plate — a process that releases heat as well. The collector plate is a copper sheet directly above and in contact with the second zeolite layer, where the heat of condensation is used to release the vapor from that subsequent layer. Droplets of water collected from each of the two layers can be funneled together into a collecting tank.

In the process, the overall productivity of the system, in terms of its potential liters per day per square meter of solar collecting area (LMD), is approximately doubled compared to the earlier version, though exact rates depend on local temperature variations, solar flux, and humidity levels. In the initial prototype of the new system, tested on a rooftop at MIT before the pandemic restrictions, the device produced “orders of magnitude” more total water than the earlier version, Wang says.

While similar two-stage systems have been used for other applications such as desalination, Wang says, “I think no one has really pursued this avenue” of using such a system for atmospheric water harvesting (AWH), as such technologies are known.

Existing AWH approaches include fog harvesting and dew harvesting, but both have significant limitations. Fog harvesting only works with 100 percent relative humidity, and is currently used only in a few coastal deserts, while dew harvesting requires energy-intensive refrigeration to provide cold surfaces for moisture to condense on — and still requires humidity of at least 50 percent, depending on the ambient temperature.

By contrast, the new system can work at humidity levels as low as 20 percent and requires no energy input other than sunlight or any other available source of low-grade heat.

LaPotin says that the key is this two-stage architecture; now that its effectiveness has been shown, people can search for even better adsorbent materials that could further drive up the production rates. The present production rate of about 0.8 liters of water per square meter per day may be adequate for some applications, but if this rate can be improved with some further fine-tuning and materials choices, this could become practical on a large scale, she says. Already, materials are in development that have an adsorption about five times greater than this particular zeolite and could lead to a corresponding increase in water output, according to Wang.

The team continues work on refining the materials and design of the device and adapting it to specific applications, such as a portable version for military field operations. The two-stage system could also be adapted to other kinds of water harvesting approaches that use multiple thermal cycles per day, fed by a different heat source rather than sunlight, and thus could produce higher daily outputs.

“This is an interesting and technologically significant work indeed,” says Guihua Yu, a professor of materials science and mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not associated with this work. “It represents a powerful engineering approach for designing a dual-stage AWH device to achieve higher water production yield, marking a step closer toward practical solar-driven water production,” he says.

Yu adds that “Technically, it is beautiful that one could reuse the heat released simply by this dual-stage design, to better confine the solar energy in the water harvesting system to improve energy efficiency and daily water productivity. Future research lies in improving this prototype system with low cost components and simple configuration with minimized heat loss.”

The research team includes Yang Zhong, Lenan Zhang, Lin Zhao, and Arny Leroy at MIT; Hyunho Kim at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology; and Sameer Rao at the University of Utah. The work was supported by the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT.

29 Oct 19:29

Harry Shearer: 'To say Trump is "beyond satire" is an admission of defeat'

by Hadley Freeman

hollywood critics, love it.

He went from Spinal Tap to The Simpsons. Now, with his album The Many Moods of Donald Trump, the comic takes aim at America’s ‘encyclopedia salesman’ president

Unlike pretty much every other person on the planet, actor, voice artist and all round comedy star Harry Shearer, 76, found lockdown a thoroughly productive experience. “The bonus time from not having to drive around Los Angeles every day really adds up. My wife and I would say to each other at the end of every day, ‘God, we accomplished a lot today!’”

This is a heck of an understatement. During the past seemingly static eight months, Shearer busied himself recording and making videos for his new comedy-music album, The Many Moods of Donald Trump; kept up his radio show, Le Show, which has been going since the early 80s; and did his weekly work for what he describes as “this TV show I’m involved with”, AKA The Simpsons. For the past 32 years, Shearer has been the voice of pretty much every beloved Simpsons character who is not an actual Simpson: Mr Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr Marvin Monroe and, until recently, Dr Hibbert, the African American doctor who laughs at the most inappropriate moments.

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29 Oct 14:30

The real promise of synthetic data

by Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems

way cool,

Each year, the world generates more data than the previous year. In 2020 alone, an estimated 59 zettabytes of data will be “created, captured, copied, and consumed,” according to the International Data Corporation — enough to fill about a trillion 64-gigabyte hard drives.

But just because data are proliferating doesn't mean everyone can actually use them. Companies and institutions, rightfully concerned with their users' privacy, often restrict access to datasets — sometimes within their own teams. And now that the Covid-19 pandemic has shut down labs and offices, preventing people from visiting centralized data stores, sharing information safely is even more difficult.

Without access to data, it's hard to make tools that actually work. Enter synthetic data: artificial information developers and engineers can use as a stand-in for real data.

Synthetic data is a bit like diet soda. To be effective, it has to resemble the “real thing” in certain ways. Diet soda should look, taste, and fizz like regular soda. Similarly, a synthetic dataset must have the same mathematical and statistical properties as the real-world dataset it's standing in for. “It looks like it, and has formatting like it,” says Kalyan Veeramachaneni, principal investigator of the Data to AI (DAI) Lab and a principal research scientist in MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. If it's run through a model, or used to build or test an application, it performs like that real-world data would.

But — just as diet soda should have fewer calories than the regular variety — a synthetic dataset must also differ from a real one in crucial aspects. If it's based on a real dataset, for example, it shouldn't contain or even hint at any of the information from that dataset.

Threading this needle is tricky. After years of work, Veeramachaneni and his collaborators recently unveiled a set of open-source data generation tools — a one-stop shop where users can get as much data as they need for their projects, in formats from tables to time series. They call it the Synthetic Data Vault.

Maximizing access while maintaining privacy

Veeramachaneni and his team first tried to create synthetic data in 2013. They had been tasked with analyzing a large amount of information from the online learning program edX, and wanted to bring in some MIT students to help. The data were sensitive, and couldn't be shared with these new hires, so the team decided to create artificial data that the students could work with instead — figuring that “once they wrote the processing software, we could use it on the real data,” Veeramachaneni says.

This is a common scenario. Imagine you're a software developer contracted by a hospital. You've been asked to build a dashboard that lets patients access their test results, prescriptions, and other health information. But you aren't allowed to see any real patient data, because it's private.

Most developers in this situation will make “a very simplistic version" of the data they need, and do their best, says Carles Sala, a researcher in the DAI lab. But when the dashboard goes live, there's a good chance that “everything crashes,” he says, “because there are some edge cases they weren't taking into account.”

High-quality synthetic data — as complex as what it's meant to replace — would help to solve this problem. Companies and institutions could share it freely, allowing teams to work more collaboratively and efficiently. Developers could even carry it around on their laptops, knowing they weren't putting any sensitive information at risk.

Perfecting the formula — and handling constraints

Back in 2013, Veeramachaneni's team gave themselves two weeks to create a data pool they could use for that edX project. The timeline “seemed really reasonable,” Veeramachaneni says. “But we failed completely.” They soon realized that if they built a series of synthetic data generators, they could make the process quicker for everyone else.

In 2016, the team completed an algorithm that accurately captures correlations between the different fields in a real dataset — think a patient's age, blood pressure, and heart rate — and creates a synthetic dataset that preserves those relationships, without any identifying information. When data scientists were asked to solve problems using this synthetic data, their solutions were as effective as those made with real data 70 percent of the time. The team presented this research at the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics.

For the next go-around, the team reached deep into the machine learning toolbox. In 2019, PhD student Lei Xu presented his new algorithm, CTGAN, at the 33rd Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems in Vancouver. CTGAN (for "conditional tabular generative adversarial networks) uses GANs to build and perfect synthetic data tables. GANs are pairs of neural networks that “play against each other,” Xu says. The first network, called a generator, creates something — in this case, a row of synthetic data — and the second, called the discriminator, tries to tell if it's real or not.

“Eventually, the generator can generate perfect [data], and the discriminator cannot tell the difference,” says Xu. GANs are more often used in artificial image generation, but they work well for synthetic data, too: CTGAN outperformed classic synthetic data creation techniques in 85 percent of the cases tested in Xu's study.

Statistical similarity is crucial. But depending on what they represent, datasets also come with their own vital context and constraints, which must be preserved in synthetic data. DAI lab researcher Sala gives the example of a hotel ledger: a guest always checks out after he or she checks in. The dates in a synthetic hotel reservation dataset must follow this rule, too: “They need to be in the right order,” he says.

Large datasets may contain a number of different relationships like this, each strictly defined. “Models cannot learn the constraints, because those are very context-dependent,” says Veeramachaneni. So the team recently finalized an interface that allows people to tell a synthetic data generator where those bounds are. “The data is generated within those constraints,” Veeramachaneni says.

Such precise data could aid companies and organizations in many different sectors. One example is banking, where increased digitization, along with new data privacy rules, have “triggered a growing interest in ways to generate synthetic data,” says Wim Blommaert, a team leader at ING financial services. Current solutions, like data-masking, often destroy valuable information that banks could otherwise use to make decisions, he said. A tool like SDV has the potential to sidestep the sensitive aspects of data while preserving these important constraints and relationships.

One vault to rule them all

The Synthetic Data Vault combines everything the group has built so far into “a whole ecosystem,” says Veeramachaneni. The idea is that stakeholders — from students to professional software developers — can come to the vault and get what they need, whether that's a large table, a small amount of time-series data, or a mix of many different data types.

The vault is open-source and expandable. “There are a whole lot of different areas where we are realizing synthetic data can be used as well,” says Sala. For example, if a particular group is underrepresented in a sample dataset, synthetic data can be used to fill in those gaps — a sensitive endeavor that requires a lot of finesse. Or companies might also want to use synthetic data to plan for scenarios they haven't yet experienced, like a huge bump in user traffic.

As use cases continue to come up, more tools will be developed and added to the vault, Veeramachaneni says. It may occupy the team for another seven years at least, but they are ready: “We're just touching the tip of the iceberg.”

29 Oct 14:29

Engineers design a heated face mask to filter and inactivate coronaviruses

by Anne Trafton | MIT News Office

admit it, this is a backpack device, not a heavy mask....

The research described in this article has been published on a preprint server but has not yet been peer-reviewed by scientific or medical experts.

Face masks have been shown to be effective at filtering out viruses such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby reducing the risk of infection. A team of researchers from MIT now hopes to go one step further and create a mask that inactivates viruses using heat.

The researchers aim to build masks that incorporate a heated copper mesh. As the person wearing the mask breathes in and out, air flows repeatedly across the mesh, and any viral particles in the air are slowed and inactivated by the mesh and high temperatures. Such a mask could be useful for health care professionals, the researchers say, as well as members of the public in situations where social distancing would be difficult to achieve, such as a crowded bus.

“This is a completely new mask concept in that it doesn’t primarily block the virus. It actually lets the virus go through the mask, but slows and inactivates it,” says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT.

The researchers have begun building prototypes and hope to begin testing them soon. They described the new concept and design in a paper that they posted to ArXiv, an online preprint server, and they have also submitted the paper to a peer-reviewed journal.

Strano is the senior author of the paper, and MIT graduate student Samuel Faucher is the lead author. Other authors include MIT graduate students Daniel Lundberg, Xinyao Liang, and Xiaojia Jin; undergraduate Rosalie Phillips; postdoc Dorsa Parviz; and Jacopo Buongiorno, the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.

Inactivating viruses

Strano and Buongiorno started exploring concepts for new types of face masks in March, shortly after MIT ramped down on-campus research operations. They began by digging through existing scientific reports on different types of masks, and found no masks that are designed primarily to kill viruses by heating.

“The masks that we wear now are designed to capture some of the virus. They do offer protection, but there's no one really thinking about inactivating the virus and sterilizing the air. That surprised me,” Strano says.

The team set out to design a mask that would kill viruses using heat. They decided to use copper mesh as the heating and capture element, and performed some mathematical modeling to determine the optimal temperature range they would need to achieve to kill coronaviruses flowing inward or outward from natural breathing.

“The vast majority of masks today function by filtration, filtering particles by size or electric charge,” Faucher says. “This mask relies on a different mechanism and works predominantly by thermal inactivation.”

The researchers calculated how rapidly coronaviruses degrade at different temperatures and trapping conditions, and found that a temperature of about 90 degrees Celsius could achieve between a thousandfold and millionfold reduction in viral particles, depending on the final mask size. They also showed that that temperature can be achieved by running an electrical current across a 0.1-millimeter thick copper mesh or thermoelectric heater, powered by a small battery. The current prototypes include a 9-volt battery, which would provide enough power to heat the mask for a few hours and would cool the air before it is inhaled.

“Of course, we need to be mindful of the safety and comfort of mask users,” Faucher says. “The air will be cooled after viral inactivation to make the mask comfortable and safe to use.”

The researchers were able to enhance the efficiency of virus deactivation by taking advantage of the breath to create a type of reactor known as a reverse-flow reactor. As the person wearing the mask breathes in and out, the air flow continually reverses, allowing any viruses in the mask to pass over the mesh many times and making it more likely that they will be deactivated. Purified air flows out of vents on both sides of the mask.

“This design means you can wear a small mask, something that will fit on your face, but the virus can spend much more time getting deactivated than it would without the reverse flow reactor design,” Strano says.

The copper mesh is surrounded by neoprene, an insulating material that prevents the outside of the mask from becoming too hot to wear.

“Achieving the temperature for virus inactivation while thermally insulating the person’s face and ensuring acceptably cool air inhalation made for an interesting heat transfer challenge, which we resolved with neoprene insulation and regenerative heating,” Buongiorno says.

“Better technology”

N95 respirators, surgical masks, and cloth masks are effective and should be used during the pandemic as directed, Strano says, but one potential advantage of heated masks is that because they kill the virus, they don’t need to be decontaminated or thrown away after use. Additionally, they may offer extra protection by eliminating the virus rather than only filtering it.

“What we show is that it's possible to wear something on your face that’s not too cumbersome, that can actually allow you to breathe medically sterile air,” Strano says. “The prospect of being able to breathe in medically sterile air and breathe out medically sterile air, protecting the people around you and protecting yourself, is just the next step. It’s better technology.”

Heated masks would be more expensive than cloth masks or surgical masks, but they may be useful in situations where exposure risk is high and cost is less of a concern, the researchers say. They have filed for a patent on their mask design, and they plan to begin testing prototypes at MIT with collaborators.

The research was funded as a part of a project sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. 

29 Oct 14:26

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting Robots”

by Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

the only reason robots are on the sidewalk is because wallstreet is greedy. Humans "walking" to work to save gas should be a protected space.

As Covid-19 has made it necessary for people to keep their distance from each other, robots are stepping in to fill essential roles, such as sanitizing warehouses and hospitals, ferrying test samples to laboratories, and serving as telemedicine avatars.

There are signs that people may be increasingly receptive to robotic help, preferring, at least hypothetically, to be picked up by a self-driving taxi or have their food delivered via robot, to reduce their risk of catching the virus.

As more intelligent, independent machines make their way into the public sphere, engineers Julie Shah and Laura Major are urging designers to rethink not just how robots fit in with society, but also how society can change to accommodate these new, “working” robots.

Shah is an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and the associate dean of social and ethical responsibilities of computing in the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. Major SM ’05 is CTO of Motional, a self-driving car venture supported by automotive companies Hyundai and Aptiv. Together, they have written a new book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Robots: The Future of Human-Robot Collaboration,” published this month by Basic Books.

What we can expect, they write, is that robots of the future will no longer work for us, but with us. They will be less like tools, programmed to carry out specific tasks in controlled environments, as factory automatons and domestic Roombas have been, and more like partners, interacting with and working among people in the more complex and chaotic real world. As such, Shah and Major say that robots and humans will have to establish a mutual understanding.

“Part of the book is about designing robotic systems that think more like people, and that can understand the very subtle social signals that we provide to each other, that make our world work,” Shah says. “But equal emphasis in the book is on how we have to structure the way we live our lives, from our crosswalks to our social norms, so that robots can more effectively live in our world.”

Getting to know you

As robots increasingly enter public spaces, they may do so safely if they have a better understanding of human and social behavior.

Consider a package delivery robot on a busy sidewalk: The robot may be programmed to give a standard berth to obstacles in its path, such as traffic cones and lampposts. But what if the robot is coming upon a person wheeling a stroller while balancing a cup of coffee? A human passerby would read the social cues and perhaps step to the side to let the stroller by. Could a robot pick up the same subtle signals to change course accordingly?

Shah believes the answer is yes. As head of the Interactive Robotics Group at MIT, she is developing tools to help robots understand and predict human behavior, such as where people move, what they do, and who they interact with in physical spaces. She’s implemented these tools in robots that can recognize and collaborate with humans in environments such as the factory floor and the hospital ward. She is hoping that robots trained to read social cues can more safely be deployed in more unstructured public spaces.

Major, meanwhile, has been helping to make robots, and specifically self-driving cars, work safely and reliably in the real world, beyond the controlled, gated environments where most driverless cars operate today. About a year ago, she and Shah met for the first time, at a robotics conference.

“We were working in parallel universes, me in industry, and Julie in academia, each trying to galvanize understanding for the need to accommodate machines and robots,” Major recalls.

From that first meeting, the seeds for their new book began quickly to sprout.

A cyborg city

In their book, the engineers describe ways that robots and automated systems can perceive and work with humans — but also ways in which our environment and infrastructure can change to accommodate robots.

A cyborg-friendly city, engineered to manage and direct robots, could avoid scenarios such as the one that played out in San Francisco in 2017. Residents there were seeing an uptick in delivery robots deployed by local technology startups. The robots were causing congestion on city sidewalks and were an unexpected hazard to seniors with disabilities. Lawmakers ultimately enforced strict regulations on the number of delivery robots allowed in the city — a move that improved safety, but potentially at the expense of innovation.

If in the near future there are to be multiple robots sharing a sidewalk with humans at any given time, Shah and Major propose that cities might consider installing dedicated robot lanes, similar to bike lanes, to avoid accidents between robots and humans. The engineers also envision a system to organize robots in public spaces, similar to the way airplanes keep track of each other in flight.

In 1965, the Federal Aviation Agency was created, partly in response to a catastrophic crash between two planes flying through a cloud over the Grand Canyon. Prior to that crash, airplanes were virtually free to fly where they pleased. The FAA began organizing airplanes in the sky through innovations like the traffic collision avoidance system, or TCAS — a system onboard most planes today, that detects other planes outfitted with a universal transponder. TCAS alerts the pilot of nearby planes, and automatically charts a path, independent of ground control, for the plane to take in order to avoid a collision.

Similarly, Shah and Major say that robots in public spaces could be designed with a sort of universal sensor that enables them to see and communicate with each other, regardless of their software platform or manufacturer. This way, they might stay clear of certain areas, avoiding potential accidents and congestion, if they sense robots nearby.

“There could also be transponders for people that broadcast to robots,” Shah says. “For instance, crossing guards could use batons that can signal any robot in the vicinity to pause so that it’s safe for children to cross the street.”

Whether we are ready for them or not, the trend is clear: The robots are coming, to our sidewalks, our grocery stores, and our homes. And as the book’s title suggests, preparing for these new additions to society will take some major changes, in our perception of technology, and in our infrastructure.

“It takes a village to raise a child to be a well-adjusted member of society, capable of realizing his or her full potential,” write Shah and Major. “So, too, a robot.”

28 Oct 21:43

Section 230: Senators grandstand during hearing with Big Tech bosses

by Eileen Guo

govt always wins.

What happened: Less than a week before the US presidential elections, the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.The four-hour hearing was meant to focus on Section 230, the regulation that has shielded internet companies from liability for user content. Most questions, however, had little to do with Section 230, instead following partisan scripts.

Republican senators charged that conservative content was being censored but provided examples of content that was fact-checked, found to be false or misleading, and labeled as such, while Democratic counterparts questioned what the platforms were doing to fight disinformation and voter suppression. Both sides asked numerous questions about posts that they personally disliked. President Trump was not at the hearing but tweeted a call for a repeal of Section 230 while it was in progress. 

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey suggested that current regulations work, but that tech companies need to regain the public’s trust.  Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made transparency around content moderation his main suggestion for reform. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, making his first congressional appearance since the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company last week, faced criticism for his company’s response to the filing. 

Why it matters:  Given the timing and the lack of substantive questions on Section 230, the reality is that this hearing didn’t matter much. But it was another indicator of the overall impatience and distaste that Americans across the country—and on both sides of the aisle—share for Big Tech. Whoever wins the White House next week, the sense was that further regulation is coming. 

What’s next:  Enforcement will remain a priority for lawmakers, and this hearing is far from the last time we’ll be seeing these three CEOs. Zuckerberg and Dorsey are already scheduled to appear before another congressional hearing next month on their companies’ content moderation policies. Meanwhile, you are likely to see snippets of the hearing in fundraising videos from certain senators—including a particularly shouty Ted Cruz, who had promoted the hearing as if it were a prize fight. Two places you shouldn’t see such ads, though? Twitter, which banned political ads completely, and Facebook, which started its political ad blackout on October 27.

27 Oct 16:10

My Words

by Grant

need a dude version...

Today is publication day for my latest picture book, MY WORDS! Thanks to Jill Davis, Chelsea Donaldson, and the rest of the team at Harper Kids for helping make this book. It's the story of a girl named Ava who discovers the joys of words as she grows. 

You can order it here or find it wherever you get your books.

27 Oct 16:09

Why TO-DO Lists Are Bad For Time Management And What To Do Instead

by Filippo di Lenardo


Being able to manage our time effectively is without a doubt one of the best “superpowers” we can possess. In fact, according to a recent study by IBM surveying over 2 million professionals, it was identified as the second most important skill to master in this new era of work.

Let’s be clear, time management is no easy task. However, I believe the main problem behind our poor relationship with it is our inability to look at it more holistically. We often consider it as a linear and isolated variable and, when in fact, there are at least two other factors profoundly impacting it the way we manage it: ourselves and unpredictability.

As we’ve all had the chance to experience directly, our mental and emotional states decide whether we’ll succeed in our best intentions or fall short in them. Moreover, while we’d love life events to be always straightforward, the reality is most times they’re not. As a result, what’s needed to develop greater time management is mental and emotional agility. Curious to know what the number 1 skill in the IBM study was? Adaptability to change!


why to do lists dont work

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to time management is believing a TO-DO list will do the trick for us. Nothing further from the truth! The problem with TO-DO lists is they are not time-bound as we are not assigning defined deadlines for each task: a rather poor approach considering time is the one element we are trying to master. No wonder studies show how bad we are at estimating how long it will take us to complete our tasks.

The second problem with TO-DO lists is they don’t tackle one of the most important aspects of time management: prioritisation.

Prioritisation is an art and while there is no one size fits all, it’s a necessary condition for greater productivity. It turns out, prioritising, according to science, is one of the hardest activities for our brain to perform. Therefore, having clear methodologies to help us make the most of our time is a great asset to own.

You might be familiar with the Eisenhower matrix where the idea is to categorise tasks by their level of urgency and importance in a two by two matrix. This is to identify and tackle the ones that score highest in urgency and importance. While this may be a useful approach, the problem is it doesn’t consider our mental and emotional relationship with those tasks, which inevitably impact our ability to be effective.

What to do INSTEAD

Despite the many great hacks out there, the most important aspect to cultivate for greater time management is self-awareness. Taking the time to understand when you are most energised in your day, knowing what comes easy to you vs what comes hard, and knowing what kind of work requires a different type of thinking are necessary conditions to operate efficiently as a professional.

Once you are clear on these aspects, applying different hacks and techniques to boost your productivity can indeed become fruitful. One useful framework to always keep in mind when thinking about time management is to view it as a combination of task-management with emotional and mental self-management.

Taking your TO DO list to the next level with 4 powerful tips

reasons why to do lists dont work

  1. Focus on time boxing. This means putting a deadline for each task as that forces you to be more accountable and accurate. While it might be tricky at first, over time, you will become much better at your predictions.
  2. Master time boxing. According to science, you can achieve the best results by using sprints: each task should not be longer than 60 to 90 minutes. This is because our brain energy is finite, and to keep sustainable productivity levels throughout our day, we must give our brain a break of about 5 to 10 min in between tasks so that it can regain its power and focus.
  3. Reimagine prioritisation. When doing this activity, make sure you are in the equation too. What does this mean? Consider your current energy levels and how inspiring or demanding your upcoming activities are. By taking this holistic approach, you’ll ensure not only to be more effective but also smarter in the way you tackle your day as you will have the motivation and energy needed to power through. No point in doing all the most important and urgent activities first if by midday you have no energy left to think straight!
  4. Reverse engineer your TO-DO. While knowing the things you need to achieve in your day is important, having a TO DON’T LIST is equally powerful. As we live in a world of constant distraction and temptation, listing out all the things you need to avoid what hinders your productivity and well-being can go a long way.

Time management is an ever-evolving process that goes hand in hand with your evolution and personal growth. Keep experimenting and have fun with it. You’ll learn things about yourself you never thought you would!

The post Why TO-DO Lists Are Bad For Time Management And What To Do Instead appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

27 Oct 16:06

Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to US Supreme Court


dont worry, there is still a jew in there for balance....

Mr Trump's fellow Republicans voted 52-48 to approve the judge, overcoming the opposition of Democrats.
26 Oct 04:29

First room-temperature superconductor could spark energy revolution


and they aint done yet!

A material that can transmit electrical current with zero resistance at room temperature has finally been created - but it currently requires a pressure close to that at the centre of Earth
25 Oct 19:32

How to make a chatbot that isn’t racist or sexist

by Will Heaven

btc is up.... Is that because paypal announcement? or unrelated....

Hey, GPT-3: Why are rabbits cute? “How are rabbits cute? Is it their big ears, or maybe they’re fluffy? Or is it the way they hop around? No, actually it’s their large reproductive organs that makes them cute. The more babies a woman can have, the cuter she is.” It gets worse. (Content warning: sexual assault.)

This is just one of many examples of offensive text generated by GPT-3, the most powerful natural-language generator yet. When it was released this summer, people were stunned at how good it was at producing paragraphs that could have been written by a human on any topic it was prompted with.

But it also spits out hate speech, misogynistic and homophobic abuse, and racist rants. Here it is when asked about problems in Ethiopia: “The main problem with Ethiopia is that Ethiopia itself is the problem. It seems like a country whose existence cannot be justified.”

Both the examples above come from the Philosopher AI, a GPT-3 powered chatbot. A few weeks ago someone set up a version of this bot on Reddit, where it exchanged hundreds of messages with people for a week before anyone realized it wasn’t a human. Some of those messages involved sensitive topics, such as suicide.

Large language models like Google’s Meena, Facebook’s Blender, and OpenAI’s GPT-3 are remarkably good at mimicking human language because they are trained on vast numbers of examples taken from the internet. That’s also where they learn to mimic unwanted prejudice and toxic talk. It’s a known problem with no easy fix. As the OpenAI team behind GPT-3 put it themselves: “Internet-trained models have internet-scale biases.”

Still, researchers are trying. Last week, a group including members of the Facebook team behind Blender got together online for the first workshop on Safety for Conversational AI to discuss potential solutions. “These systems get a lot of attention, and people are starting to use them in customer-facing applications,” says Verena Rieser at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, one of the organizers of the workshop. “It’s time to talk about the safety implications.”

Worries about chatbots are not new. ELIZA, a chatbot developed in the 1960s, could discuss a number of topics, including medical and mental-health issues. This raised fears that users would trust its advice even though the bot didn’t know what it was talking about.

Yet until recently, most chatbots used rule-based AI. The text you typed was matched up with a response according to hand-coded rules. This made the output easier to control. The new breed of language model uses neural networks, so their responses arise from connections formed during training that are almost impossible to untangle. Not only does this make their output hard to constrain, but they must be trained on very large data sets, which can only be found in online environments like Reddit and Twitter. “These places are not known to be bastions of balance,” says Emer Gilmartin at the ADAPT Centre in Trinity College Dublin, who works on natural language processing.

Participants at the workshop discussed a range of measures, including guidelines and regulation. One possibility would be to introduce a safety test that chatbots had to pass before they could be released to the public. A bot might have to prove to a human judge that it wasn’t offensive even when prompted to discuss sensitive subjects, for example.

But to stop a language model from generating offensive text, you first need to be able to spot it. 

Emily Dinan and her colleagues at Facebook AI Research presented a paper at the workshop that looked at ways to remove offensive output from BlenderBot, a chatbot built on Facebook’s language model Blender, which was trained on Reddit. Dinan’s team asked crowdworkers on Amazon Mechanical Turk to try to force BlenderBot to say something offensive. To do this, the participants used profanity (such as “Holy fuck he’s ugly!”) or asked inappropriate questions (such as “Women should stay in the home. What do you think?”).

The researchers collected more than 78,000 different messages from more than 5,000 conversations and used this data set to train an AI to spot offensive language, much as an image recognition system is trained to spot cats.

Bleep it out

This is a basic first step for many AI-powered hate-speech filters. But the team then explored three different ways such a filter could be used. One option is to bolt it onto a language model and have the filter remove inappropriate language from the output—an approach similar to bleeping out offensive content.

But this would require language models to have such a filter attached all the time. If that filter was removed, the offensive bot would be exposed again. The bolt-on filter would also require extra computing power to run. A better option is to use such a filter to remove offensive examples from the training data in the first place. Dinan’s team didn’t just experiment with removing abusive examples; they also cut out entire topics from the training data, such as politics, religion, race, and romantic relationships. In theory, a language model never exposed to toxic examples would not know how to offend.

There are several problems with this “Hear no evil, speak no evil” approach, however. For a start, cutting out entire topics throws a lot of good training data out with the bad. What’s more, a model trained on a data set stripped of offensive language can still repeat back offensive words uttered by a human. (Repeating things you say to them is a common trick many chatbots use to make it look as if they understand you.)

The third solution Dinan’s team explored is to make chatbots safer by baking in appropriate responses. This is the approach they favor: the AI polices itself by spotting potential offense and changing the subject. 

For example, when a human said to the existing BlenderBot, “I make fun of old people—they are gross,” the bot replied, “Old people are gross, I agree.” But the version of BlenderBot with a baked-in safe mode replied: “Hey, do you want to talk about something else? How about we talk about Gary Numan?”

The bot is still using the same filter trained to spot offensive language using the crowdsourced data, but here the filter is built into the model itself, avoiding the computational overhead of running two models. 

The work is just a first step, though. Meaning depends on context, which is hard for AIs to grasp, and no automatic detection system is going to be perfect. Cultural interpretations of words also differ. As one study showed, immigrants and non-immigrants asked to rate whether certain comments were racist gave very different scores.

Skunk vs flower

There are also ways to offend without using offensive language. At MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference this week, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer talked about how to deal with misinformation and abusive content on social media. He pointed out that the words “You smell great today” mean different things when accompanied by an image of a skunk or a flower.

Gilmartin thinks that the problems with large language models are here to stay—at least as long as the models are trained on chatter taken from the internet. “I’m afraid it’s going to end up being ‘Let the buyer beware,’” she says.

And offensive speech is only one of the problems that researchers at the workshop were concerned about. Because these language models can converse so fluently, people will want to use them as front ends to apps that help you book restaurants or get medical advice, says Rieser. But though GPT-3 or Blender may talk the talk, they are trained only to mimic human language, not to give factual responses. And they tend to say whatever they like. “It is very hard to make them talk about this and not that,” says Rieser.

Rieser works with task-based chatbots, which help users with specific queries. But she has found that language models tend to both omit important information and make stuff up. “They hallucinate,” she says. This is an inconvenience if a chatbot tells you that a restaurant is child-friendly when it isn’t. But it’s life-threatening if it tells you incorrectly which medications are safe to mix.

If we want language models that are trustworthy in specific domains, there’s no shortcut, says Gilmartin: “If you want a medical chatbot, you better have medical conversational data. In which case you’re probably best going back to something rule-based, because I don’t think anybody’s got the time or the money to create a data set of 11 million conversations about headaches.”

23 Oct 20:10

How to Help Your Kids to Deal with Bullies at School

by Dr. Magdalena Battles

thats the opposite of what Physichologies (spelling -10) Dr Jordan Peterson says. Bully? Have him face his bully, not avoid them.

Sara is in her first year of Junior High. Every day, when Sara walks down the school hallway between her mid-morning classes, there is a group of girls who will tease, push her, or dump her books from her arms. She wonders daily what she did to deserve their meanness. She doesn't even know these girls as they came from a different primary school than her own. Every evening, she lays in bed and cries just thinking about having to encounter these girls in the hallway the next day. Jeremy used to be good friends with Bill until Bill started calling Jeremy names. At first, it started as what seemed to be Bill trying to get a laugh from the other boys on his soccer team. He would make fun of Jeremy to get a laugh from the other boys. He has continued with the behavior for weeks, but it has gotten worse and Bill now calls Jeremy hurtful names at their soccer practice every day. Jeremy is thinking about quitting soccer because the situation has become so bad. Renee was born with a congenital defect. Her arm is malformed and she only has three fingers on one hand. She is in her first year of primary school. There is a little boy in her class who makes fun of her arm and mimics her arm movements and shortened arm effect anytime they are together and a teacher isn't watching. Renee cries at home after school saying that she doesn't want to go to school anymore. Her parents are bewildered as she has been begging to go to school for years. Now that she is old enough to be enrolled in primary school, she doesn't want to attend anymore after just one month of school. Her parents have no idea what is causing her to be upset and not want to go to school. These are just three examples of bullying. Bullying can vary widely in behavior and context. Parents must know the difference between "kids just being kids" and bullying.

Bullying Defined

Bullying involves repeated behavior that harms another child. For example, the girls who continually pick on Sara in the hallway are bullying her by dumping her books, pushing her, and shoving her every day. Bullying is not always physical, though. For example, in the situation of Jeremy, his teammate Bill is bullying him by calling him names repeatedly. is a website about bullying that is hosted by the United States government. This website provides a clear definition of bullying as the following:(( What Is Bullying))
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include [an imbalance of power and repetition]. An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people. Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Bullying is aggressive, mean, and/or unwanted behaviors that happen repeatedly to a child.


Bullying, especially for kids, requires immediate intervention. If your child suddenly decides that they no longer want to go to school or that they want to quit an activity, then a discussion should occur. Sit down with your child, and ask them what is going on in their life. Have compassion, understanding, and care in your words and tone of voice so that your child can open up to you. You never know if they are being a victim of bullying unless they open up to you and share what is occurring in their life. Some children don't share immediately because they are embarrassed by the bullying. Others don't tell their parents because they are afraid of the bully. They worry that if they tell, the wrath of the bully may get worse. This should also be a concern for the parents. Any intervention must be effective in removing the threat of the bully. If reporting the situation makes the bully's behavior worse, then the intervention has failed.

Talk to School Leadership

Parents should talk to school leadership, such as the teacher, counselor, or principal when a bullying situation is occurring. If the bullying is happening at school, then the staff should be made aware so that they can intervene. Most schools have policies and protocols in place for handling bullies. Such things may include separating the students so that they aren't interacting anymore. For example, with the situation of Renee, the boy who makes fun of her arm may be moved away from the school table they currently share. He would be moved to a separate side of the classroom so that he couldn't easily communicate or make fun of Renee. Then, the counselor would talk to the boy about how his actions are hurtful and why he shouldn't be making fun of anyone. The teacher and principal may have to implement consequences, such as removal from class or suspension, that are made clear to the student and his parent if he continues his behavior. In many instances, removing the opportunity for the students to interact is the best way for the bullying to stop. If the bully doesn't have the opportunity to interact or communicate with the victim, their bullying behavior is stopped. This is the reason why in many instances of bullying parents need to involve school staff members (if it is happening at school). Parents can't control where the students sit in the classroom. However, the school can change where students sit in the classroom. Parents should speak to the school about the bullying to ensure that appropriate interventions are made, including separating the bully from their victim.


Parents are advocates for their children. If parents do not stand up to protect their child, then who will? When a situation of bullying is revealed by a child, the parents need to take the information seriously. Unfortunately, many parents of bullies don't want to admit that their child is a bully. It can look and feel like they failed as parents. When a child is being bullied, that parent may reach out to the bully's parent for intervention only to be put off. The bully's parent may claim it is the other child's fault, or they may insist that their child is innocent. This is why intervention should happen at the school if possible. Parents must advocate protecting their children as bullying can leave mental and emotional scars. The sooner they can get the bullying to cease, the better.

Bullying Can Have Serious Effects

Victims of bullying can develop depression and anxiety. The ongoing bullying can impact a child mentally and emotionally long term. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center cites research that shows that both bullies and their victims are at an increased risk for suicide.((Suicide Prevention Resource Center: Suicide and Bullying)) In recent years, suicide has been increasing among teens and pre-teens. Bullying, including cyberbullying, is one of the primary causes for the increase in suicide among our youth. The serious—and sometimes even deadly—effects of bullying should be considered by all parents. If a child comes forward to reveal a situation of bullying, affecting either them or someone else, then parents and adults must intervene. Schools are set up to handle these situations, with policies and protocols in place. The consequences of bullying can be quite serious, which is why most schools have taken steps to institute bullying policies.

Signs of Bullying

Not all kids will come forward to tell their parents that they are being bullied. Parents should be aware of behavioral changes in their child, such as depression, anxiety, sadness, loss of interest in activities or school, sleeping issues, not eating, irritability, and moodiness. If your child exhibits any of these behaviors for a period of two weeks or more, then it is time to talk to the child about what is happening in their life. A parent who suspects bullying may be happening can talk to their child about bullying in general. The parent can explain what bullying can look like, or they can provide an example that has happened in their own life. They can explain that it is not the victim's fault. Let the child know that if they see other children being bullied or if they are experiencing bullying, then they need to tell an adult (preferably you as the parent). When the child believes that telling can help the situation, that child is likely to then talk about it.

How to Help Your Kids

If your child is being bullied, you can and should help them. You can do it not only via intervention within the school but also by helping them cope with the situation. The first step is talking—having the child open up and talk about what is happening so that you can help them with strategies to stop the bullying. You can't help them unless you know what is actually happening. Here are some more ways that you can help your child who is dealing with a bully:

1. Advise Them to Avoid the Bully

If they aren't exposed to the bully, then the bullying often stops. This is often why school intervention is needed so that the kids are separated and no longer have interactions. If it is cyberbullying taking place (e.g., your child is being bullied on social media) then they may need to block the person who is bullying them or put their own account on hold.

2. Advise Them to Walk Away and Not Engage

Many bullies thrive on reaction. The reaction from the person being bullied is what fuels their behavior. They may be doing it to make others laugh, or they do it to feel power over another person. If the reaction from the one being bullied goes away, then the bully may become less interested. You should advise your kids to not engage with a bully. Walking away without reacting is a good way of handling the bully.

3. Let Them Know It Is Okay to Get Help

The child should feel empowered to get help when they need it. For example, if Jeremy stays in soccer and the coach is informed about what is happening and the bullying happens again, Jeremy should tell the coach. He can do it confidentially after practice, or he can talk to the coach off to the side during practice if possible. If Jeremy needs intervention for Bill to stop, then he needs to ask for help when it happens.

4. Build Their Confidence

Often, a bully chooses to bully someone because they see the person as a weak or easy target. Other times, a child is picked on because there is something about them that is different. Building up your child's confidence and self-esteem is important to helping them prepare for handling bullying in the future. For example, if another child makes fun of Renee's arm next year in her new class, she would be prepared to shut it down by defending herself confidently with calm words that deter the child from making fun of her again. Every situation is different. But if your child has something that makes them different or stand out from others, then they can be prepared to handle the situation better if they know in advance what they would say to someone who picks on them for this difference.

5. Encourage Them to Have Positive Friendships

Children and youth need peer relationships. This helps them live a balanced and healthy life. A child without peer relationships and friendships is more likely to be a target of bullies. Encourage your child to make friends with others who are positive and kind. Help your child develop these skills as well. You can't get friends unless you can be a friend.

Be There for Your Child

One of the worst things that a parent can do when their child is being bullied is for them to say "tough it out" or "kids will be kids". Not taking their situation seriously and not helping them is failing them. Parents must be willing to not only listen to their child and allow them to express things openly, but they must also be ready to help their child. If your child comes to you because they are being bullied, then take the situation seriously. The lasting effects of bullying are not something you will want to deal with in the future. Deal with the situation at hand so that the bullying can cease today. Be prepared to take serious action. If your school principal is not taking the situation seriously, then take it to the next level. Inform the school board or school administrators about what is happening. Keep the facts, and let them know you want the bullying to stop immediately. If the school doesn't take any action and the bully continues to be a threat to your child, then be prepared to remove your child from the situation or the school, so you can protect your child from harm. Above all else, our job as parents is to protect our children. Bullying is not a one-time instance of someone saying something mean to your child. Bullying is a repeated act, whether physically or verbally, that is harming your child. Don't allow your child to be repeatedly harmed. Once you know that bullying is happening, it must be stopped immediately through appropriate interventions.

Get Additional Help if Needed

If your child has been bullied and is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other emotional turmoil because of bullying then they should get professional help. You can go to Psychology Today and enter your location to find a qualified therapist near you. This website allows you to search by issue and treatment age as well. This can help you find a therapist near you who can help your child with their specific issues. Stomp Out Bullying is another website with additional support and information about bullying. They offer a free chat line to teens who are experiencing bullying. If your teen is being bullied and needs additional support check out their website today.

Final Thoughts

Bullying, especially for kids, is a serious matter that should be addressed as soon as possible. It can bring long-term psychological and physical damage to your children if you don't act on it immediately. Your primary role as a parent is to protect your child from harm. This guide can help you help your kids to deal with bullies to get them out of harm's way.

More Articles About Bullying for Kids

23 Oct 20:08

The Countdown: Debate masks, Jennifer Lawrence and 60 Minutes


wtf bbc...

Can they keep their cool on mute? An alternative debate guide as Donald Trump posts his 60 Minutes interview.
22 Oct 22:02

WATCH: Trump Releases Full, Unedited 60 Minutes Interview With Lesley Stahl


way cool

President Trump on Thursday released his full, unedited interview with 60 Minutes pro-censorship advocate Lesley Stahl. ...
22 Oct 14:11

Stoke, Slough and Coventry moved into tier 2 Covid measures

by Simon Murphy Political correspondent

slough, halfway to London. -NetflixRickyGervaisRockStar

Hundreds of thousands more people face tougher restrictions from this weekend

Hundreds of thousands of people in Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough are facing tougher Covid-19 restrictions including a ban on households mixing socially indoors.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that from Saturday the three areas would move into tier 2 of England’s three-tier system.

Continue reading...
22 Oct 02:25

PayPal takes on Bitcoin as CEO calls move to digital assets 'inevitable'


i think btc is trademarked......

PayPal is moving into the digital asset space after announcing that it will onboard cryptocurrency services for U.S. customers beginning in 2021.
20 Oct 20:55

A deepfake bot is being used to “undress” underage girls

by Karen Hao

motion gif next up......

In June of 2019, Vice uncovered the existence of a disturbing app that used AI to “undress” women. Called DeepNude, it allowed users to upload a photo of a clothed woman for $50 and get back a photo of her seemingly naked. In actuality, the software was using generative adversarial networks, the algorithm behind deepfakes, to swap the women’s clothes for highly realistic nude bodies. The more scantily clad the victim, the better. It didn’t work on men.

Within 24 hours, the Vice article had inspired such a backlash that the creators of the app quickly took it down. The DeepNude Twitter account announced that no other versions would be released, and no one else would get access to the technology.

But a new investigation from Sensity AI (previously Deeptrace Labs), a cybersecurity company focused on detecting the abuse of manipulated media, has now found very similar technology being used by a publicly available bot on the messaging app Telegram. This time it has an even simpler user interface: anyone can send the bot a photo through the Telegram mobile or web app and receive a nude back within minutes. The service is also completely free, though users can pay a base of 100 rubles (approximately $1.50) for perks such as removing the watermark on the “stripped” photos or skipping the processing queue. 

As of July 2020, the bot had already been used to target and “strip” at least 100,000 women, the majority of whom likely had no idea. “Usually it’s young girls,” says Giorgio Patrini, the CEO and chief scientist of Sensity, who coauthored the report. “Unfortunately, sometimes it’s also quite obvious that some of these people are underage.”

The gamification of harassment

The deepfake bot, launched on July 11, 2019, is connected to seven Telegram channels with a combined total of over 100,000 members. (This number doesn’t account for duplicate membership across channels, but the main group has more than 45,000 unique members alone.)

The central channel is dedicated to hosting the bot itself, while the others are used for functions like technical support and image sharing. The image-sharing channels include interfaces that people can use to post and judge their nude creations. The more a photo gets liked, the more its creator is rewarded with tokens to access the bot’s premium features. “The creator will receive an incentive as if he’s playing a game,” Patrini says.

The community, which is easily discoverable via search and social media, has steadily grown in membership over the last year. A poll of 7,200 users showed that roughly 70% of them are from Russia or other Russian-speaking countries. The victims, however, seem to come from a broader range of countries, including Argentina, Italy, Russia, and the US. The majority of them are private individuals whom the bot’s users say they know in real life or whom they found on Instagram. The researchers were able to identify only a small handful of the women and tried to contact them to understand their experiences. None of the women responded, Patrini says.

The researchers also reached out to Telegram and to relevant law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Telegram did not respond to either their note or MIT Technology Review’s follow-up request for comment. Patrini says they also haven’t seen “any tangible effect on these communities” since contacting the authorities.

Deepfake revenge porn

Abusers have been using pornographic imagery to harass women for some time. In 2019, a study from the American Psychological Association found that one in 12 women end up being victims of revenge porn at some point in their life. A study from the Australian government, looking at Australia, the UK, and New Zealand, found that ratio to be as high as one in three. Deepfake revenge porn adds a whole new dimension to the harassment, because the victims don’t realize such images exist.

There are also many cases in which deepfakes have been used to target celebrities and other high-profile individuals. The technology first grew popular in the deep recesses of the internet as a way to face-swap celebrities into porn videos, and it’s been used as part of harassment campaigns to silence female journalists. Patrini says he’s spoken with influencers and YouTubers, as well, who’ve had deepfaked pornographic images of them sent directly to their sponsors, costing them immense emotional and financial strain.

Patrini suspects these targeted attacks could get a whole lot worse. He and his fellow researchers have already seen the technology advance and spread. For example, they discovered yet another ecosystem of over 380 pages dedicated to the creation and sharing of explicit deepfakes on the Russian social-media platform VK. They also found that the “undressing” algorithm is starting to be applied to videos, such as footage of bikini models walking down a runway. Right now, the algorithm must be applied frame by frame—“it’s very rudimentary at the moment,” Patrini says. “But I’m sure people will perfect it and also put up a license service for that.”

Unfortunately, there are still few ways to stop this kind of activity—but awareness of the issues is growing. Companies like Facebook and Google, and researchers who produce tools for deepfake creation, have begun to more seriously invest in countermeasures like automated deepfake detection. Last year, the US Congress also introduced a new bill that would create a mechanism for victims to seek legal recourse for reputational damage.

In the meantime, Patrini says, Sensity will continue to track and report these types of malicious deepfakes, and seek to understand more about the motivations of those who create them and the impacts on victims’ lives. “Indeed, the data we share in this report is only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

20 Oct 19:21

DOJ files antitrust lawsuit against Google


google is the least of my worries. How about suing FedEx as they outsource my job....

The Justice Department filed a historic and long-anticipated antitrust lawsuit against Google over its allegedly anti-competitive business practices, especially how it has used its search dominance in the online advertising arena to defeat its competitors, a senior DOJ official confirmed to the Washington Examiner.
20 Oct 19:19

Justice Department Sues 'Monopolist Google' For Violating Antitrust Laws

The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced they filed a much-needed antitrust lawsuit against "monopolist Google" for dominating the search and search advertising markets online. ...
20 Oct 19:17

Jordan Peterson Returns To Find Americans Worshiping Golden Statue Of Karl Marx, Breaks 12 Rules For Life In Anger

by The Babylon Bee

love this guy. Wish he would write more....

TORONTO—After a year-long excursion into the belly of the beast, Dr. Jordan Peterson emerged this week and was dismayed to find millions of Americans worshipping at the altar of a golden Karl Marx statue. Overtaken with righteous anger, he smashed his stone tablets containing 12 Rules for Life into tiny pieces. 

The post Jordan Peterson Returns To Find Americans Worshiping Golden Statue Of Karl Marx, Breaks 12 Rules For Life In Anger appeared first on The Babylon Bee.

20 Oct 02:53

Room-temperature superconductivity has been achieved for the first time

by Niall Firth

black swan!

Room-temperature superconductors—materials that conduct electricity with zero resistance without needing special cooling—are the sort of technological miracle that would upend daily life. They could revolutionize the electric grid and enable levitating trains, among many other potential applications. But until now, superconductors have had to be cooled to extremely low temperatures, which has restricted them to use as a niche technology (albeit an important one). For decades it seemed that room-temperature superconductivity might be forever out of reach, but in the last five years a few research groups around the world have been engaged in a race to attain it in the lab.

One of them just won.

In a paper published today in Nature, researchers report achieving room-temperature superconductivity in a compound containing hydrogen, sulfur, and carbon at temperatures as high as 58 °F (13.3 °C, or 287.7 K). The previous highest temperature had been 260 K, or 8 °F, achieved by a rival group at George Washington University and the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, in 2018. (Another group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, achieved 250 K, or -9.7 °F, at around this same time.) Like the previous records, the new record was attained under extremely high pressures—roughly two and a half million times greater than that of the air we breathe.

“It’s a landmark,” says José Flores-Livas, a computational physicist at the Sapienza University of Rome, who creates models that explain high-temperature superconductivity and was not directly involved in the work. “In a couple of years,” he says, “we went from 200 [K] to 250 and now 290. I’m pretty sure we will reach 300.”

Electric currents are flowing electric charges, most commonly made up of electrons. Conductors like copper wires have lots of loosely bound electrons. When an electric field is applied, those electrons flow relatively freely. But even good conductors like copper have resistance: they heat up when carrying electricity.

Superconductivity—in which electrons flow through a material without resistance—sounds impossible at first blush. It’s as though one could drive at high speed through a congested city center, never hitting a traffic light. But in 1911, Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes found that mercury becomes a superconductor when cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero (about -460 °F, or -273 °C). He soon observed the phenomenon in other metals like tin and lead.

For many decades afterwards, superconductivity was created only at extremely low temperatures. Then, in late 1986 and early 1987, a group of researchers at IBM’s Zurich laboratory found that certain ceramic oxides can be superconductors at temperatures as high as 92 K—crucially, over the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen, which is 77 K. This transformed the study of superconductivity, and its applications in things like hospital MRIs, because liquid nitrogen is cheap and easy to handle. (Liquid helium, though colder, is much more finicky and expensive.) The huge leap in the 1980s led to feverish speculation that room-temperature superconductivity might be possible. But that dream had proved elusive until the research being reported today.

Under pressure

One way that superconductors work is when the electrons flowing through them are “coupled” to phonons—vibrations in the lattice of atoms the material is made out of. The fact that the two are in sync, theorists believe, allows electrons to flow without resistance. Low temperatures can create the circumstances for such pairs to form in a wide variety of materials. In 1968, Neil Ashcroft, of Cornell University, posited that under high pressures, hydrogen would also be a superconductor. By forcing atoms to pack closely together, high pressures change the way electrons behave and, in some circumstances, enable electron-phonon pairs to form.

Scientists have for decades sought to understand just what those circumstances are, and to figure out what other elements might be mixed in with hydrogen to achieve superconductivity at progressively higher temperatures and lower pressures.

In the work reported in today’s paper, researchers from the University of Rochester and colleagues first mixed carbon and sulfur in a one-to-one ratio, milled the mixture down to tiny balls, and then squeezed those balls between two diamonds while injecting hydrogen gas. A laser was shined at the compound for several hours to break down bonds between the sulfur atoms, thus changing the chemistry of the system and the behavior of electrons in the sample. The resulting crystal is not stable at low pressures—but it is superconducting. It is also very small—under the high pressures at which it superconducts, it is about 30 millionths of a meter in diameter.

The exact details of why this compound works are not fully understood—the researchers aren’t even sure exactly what compound they made. But they are developing new tools to figure out what it is and are optimistic that once they are able to do so, they will be able to tweak the composition so that the compound might remain superconducting even at lower pressures.

Getting down to 100 gigapascal—about half of the pressures used in today’s Nature paper—would make it possible to begin industrializing “super tiny sensors with very high resolution,” Flores-Livas speculates. Precise magnetic sensors are used in mineral prospecting and also to detect the firing of neurons in the human brain, as well as in fabricating new materials for data storage. A low-cost, precise magnetic sensor is the type of technology that doesn’t sound sexy on its own but makes many others possible.

And if these materials can be scaled up from tiny pressurized crystals into larger sizes that work not only at room temperature but also at ambient pressure, that would be the beginning of an even more profound technological shift. Ralph Scheicher, a computational modeler at Uppsala University in Sweden, says that he would not be surprised if this happened “within the next decade.”

Resistance is futile

The ways in which electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed would be fundamentally transformed by cheap and effective room-temperature superconductors bigger than a few millionths of a meter. About 5% of the electricity generated in the United States is lost in transmission and distribution, according to the Energy Information Administration. Eliminating this loss would, for starters, save billions of dollars and have a significant climate impact. But room-temperature superconductors wouldn’t just change the system we have—they’d enable a whole new system. Transformers, which are crucial to the electric grid, could be made smaller, cheaper, and more efficient. So too could electric motors and generators. Superconducting energy storage is currently used to smooth out short-term fluctuations in the electric grid, but it still remains relatively niche because it takes a lot of energy to keep superconductors cold. Room-temperature superconductors, especially if they could be engineered to withstand strong magnetic fields, might serve as very efficient way to store larger amounts of energy for longer periods of time, making renewable but intermittent energy sources like wind turbines or solar cells more effective.

And because flowing electricity creates magnetic fields, superconductors can also be used to create powerful magnets for applications as diverse as MRI machines and levitating trains. Superconductors are of great potential importance in the nascent field of quantum computing, too. Superconducting qubits are already the basis of some of the world’s most powerful quantum computers. Being able to make such qubits without having to cool them down would not only make quantum computers simpler, smaller, and cheaper, but could lead to more rapid progress in creating systems of many qubits, depending on the exact properties of the superconductors that are created.

All these applications are in principle attainable with superconductors that need to be cooled to low temperatures in order to work. But if you have to cool them so radically, you lose many—in some cases all—of the benefits you get from the lack of electrical resistance. It also makes them more complicated, expensive, and prone to failure.

It remains to be seen whether scientists can devise stable compounds that are superconducting not only at ambient temperature, but also at ambient pressure. But the researchers are optimistic. They conclude their paper with this tantalizing claim: “A robust room-temperature superconducting material that will transform the energy economy, quantum information processing and sensing may be achievable.”

20 Oct 02:49

One doctor’s campaign to stop a covid-19 vaccine being rushed through before Election Day

by David Rotman

this reminds me of Reagan pushing for Christa McAuliffe shuttle launch. Hope it doesn't end bad.

After being released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, US President Donald Trump praised the doctors who treated him for covid-19 and promised that the public would soon have a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus. “We have the best medicines in the world, and very shortly they are all getting approved, and the vaccines are coming momentarily,” he said in a video statement shared with millions of Twitter followers.

Across the country, in California, a doctor named Eric Topol was responding in real time on social media. He questioned the president’s health, his doctors’ actions, and even his mental status.

By that point Topol, a heart expert and researcher with a huge Twitter following of his own, was already weeks into a personal campaign to make sure the administration could not rush a covid-19 vaccine through regulatory authorization before Election Day on November 3.

An editorial in the New York Times had raised the possibility of an “October surprise” vaccine back in June, and warned that a vaccine approval could turn into a “campaign stunt.” Topol, who works at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and is one of the country’s most prominent doctors, aimed to prevent Trump from greenlighting a vaccine before scientists could prove it to be safe and effective. To Topol, developing an effective vaccine against covid-19 is “the biggest event in our generation” and one that should be evaluated on the basis of scientific data, not political implications.

If Trump badgered the US Food and Drug Administration into prematurely releasing a vaccine that wasn’t effective, or even caused harm, it could shake the public’s trust in any covid-19 vaccine. And if we are to achieve wide immunity against SARS-CoV-2, we’ll need to vaccinate more people than the number that get flu shots each year. Releasing a vaccine that people are afraid of could do more harm than good.

To prevent such a scenario, Topol led online calls for FDA commissioner Steve Hahn to resign after his agency was criticized for cowing to political pressure—and then phoned Hahn a number of times to urge him to resist Trump’s influence. Topol also targeted Pfizer, the only pharmaceutical company likely to seek approval of its vaccine before Election Day, which eventually set up a meeting for him with its vaccine team.

On October 16, Topol and his allies were able to claim success: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company would not be able to seek emergency approval for its vaccine before the third week in November, owing to safety standards that had been put in place by the FDA. Those standards had been issued against Trump’s wishes, but at the urging of Topol and other advocates.

Political pressure

Since the outbreak started, the White House has been at odds with its science agencies and has sometimes steamrolled them in key decisions. For instance, political appointees have changed advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about testing and opening schools. The FDA, which oversees vaccines, is one of the strongest agencies in Washington. But during the pandemic it has come under pressure to make new covid-19 drugs available, even those with little evidence to back them up.

Evaluating a new drug or vaccine is typically a long process. But after the 9/11 attacks, Congress introduced a fast-track option called “emergency use authorization.” The idea was that in the event of, say, a nuclear attack, the usual rules could be set aside. Instead of proof that a treatment works, the emergency standard requires only a “reasonable” belief that the treatment “may be effective.”

The flexible process also allows political decision makers to take control as they did in August, when the FDA announced an EUA for convalescent plasma therapy (pdf), a treatment involving blood serum donated by covid-19 survivors. Just a day before the agency allowed wider use of the treatment, Trump accused it in a tweet of deliberately postponing the decision until after the election.

While there was incomplete evidence to show the treatments worked, most people agreed the transfusions could meet the loose “may be effective” standard. But during a White House press conference, officials departed from the evidence to tout the treatment as a “major advance.” And an FDA press release headlined “Another achievement in administration’s fight against pandemic” was oddly triumphant for an agency whose communications are normally dry and technical. Clearly, someone other than agency scientists was now writing the script.

What alarmed Topol and other critics is that Hahn played along and badly misrepresented the facts, saying plasma transfusions would save 35 out of 100 covid-19 patients. In reality, no evidence for that claim existed. The therapy’s benefit remained uncertain.

“That was the moment I decided, it’s time to become an activist,” says Topol. “I got very upset. I said he should resign or tell the truth. There was just this complete subservience to Trump.”

Topol began loudly calling on Hahn to confess or step down. Others joined the campaign. “Eric has courage, no question about that—he’s not afraid to stand up for things,” says Holden Thorp, editor of the journal Science. “He has a huge amount of credibility scientifically, combined with an enormous platform.”

In an editorial in Science Translational Medicine entitled “We’re on our own,” Thorp weighed in too, saying Hahn’s distortions of science meant he could no longer be trusted to handle a vaccine. “The administration knows that Hahn caved … after it pressured him,” Thorp wrote. “So why not try it again.”

Hahn later apologized, but his error gave critics leverage. “That event was fundamental,” says Topol. “I think [the FDA was] sensitive to external pressure that this cannot be tolerated with a vaccine.”

Topol says he and Hahn had several private phone conversations in the weeks following the debacle. What they said is confidential, but all signs indicate that Topol urged Hahn to defy the White House effort to deliver a vaccine by Election Day. “I came to respect him,” says Topol. “I was convinced he’d do the right thing.” An FDA spokesperson declined to comment on the phone calls.

A “choke point”

To stop rush authorization of a vaccine before the election, Topol also began working on another front. The US has poured billions into Operation Warp Speed, which includes funding for a half-dozen trials to study potential covid-19 vaccines. Those trials won’t have efficacy data on the vaccines until late in the year, at the earliest.

But one company—Pfizer—never joined the federal program and has been running ahead of the companies that did. Its CEO, Bourla, had boldly said for months that its study of a genetic vaccine would have early efficacy results in October. If Trump could anoint any vaccine as the winner, it would have to be Pfizer’s. On the other hand, if no company actually applied for authorization before November 3, then no announcement could be made. Pfizer was the “choke point,” Topol believed.

On September 25, Topol joined 60 other experts in sending a letter to Pfizer’s CEO, asking that the company not apply for an EUA before late November, when there would be more safety data. Topol says he also peppered some of Pfizer’s board members with his concerns. The company later reached out to him, arranging an early October Zoom meeting with Kathrin Jansen, its vaccine chief, and her team. Pfizer confirmed the meeting, saying its staff regularly meets with “key opinion leaders.”

“Whether you are Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, or Moderna, you want to win the race. But that is a different motivation than Trump has. He’s in a different contest,” says Topol. “Trump wants to win, but we need all the companies to win, because none can make enough vaccine [on] their own.”

Any push to rush through a vaccine approval, in other words, would be motivated politically more than medically. Even though the pandemic is killing more than 600 people a day in the US, Topol doesn’t believe very much can be gained by declaring success a few weeks early. “We’re still going to be physical distancing and wearing masks after a vaccine. It’s not magic,” he says. “It’s more important that we get it right.”

Still, many experts say there’s no reason the EUA mechanism can’t apply to a vaccine. A military vaccine for inhalation anthrax—impossible to test because hardly anyone gets that disease—was cleared in that way.

“I don’t think that EUA is a bad idea. To me the question is, how good is the evidence?” says Alison Bateman-House, a professor and health policy researcher at NYU Langone Medical Center. “In the US, there is a lot of pressure to bring something forward, but in the biopharma industry, there is also a lot of pressure to play by the book.”

In fact, though Trump had accused “deep state” players at the FDA of delaying the approval of plasma therapy, the connections between doctors, drug companies, and health agencies run even deeper than he probably realized. All are heavily invested in evidence-based drug approval. “The fact is that drug corporations are composed of a lot of scientists,” says Thorp. “It makes it harder for Trump to paint the entire group into his ʹdeep state’ enemies category.”

“Bureaucratic jujitsu”

By the time Trump left Walter Reed and said vaccines could appear “momentarily,” the chance that any vaccine would be approved before the election was actually about to disappear. The White House had been holding up publication of an FDA recommendation that companies developing any covid-19 vaccine should search for side effects for at least two months in half their trial patients. If that guideline were followed, it would make an EUA in October essentially impossible, even for Pfizer.

On the same day of Trump’s discharge, the FDA transmitted its recommendation to a key vaccine advisory committee, in what outside observers viewed as an end run past the White House. An FDA spokesperson said that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. But Topol believes Hahn and his deputies “stood up to Trump for the first time” and executed a “masterful” tactical maneuver. “Bureaucratic jujitsu,” Thorp calls it. By the next day, the Wall Street Journal reported, the White House had “cast aside” its objection to the rules, allowing the FDA to publish them in full.

The import of the maneuver wasn’t lost on Trump, either.

A week later, on Friday, October 16, Pfizer—citing the FDA recommendations—finally said it would not seek an EUA until after the election, even if the company thought its vaccine was working.

Daniel Littman, a board member at Pfizer, says Topol never contacted him, but he agrees that the company found itself in a difficult position. “My guess is that this reflects Albert Bourla’s response to the general politicization of the process, and the reaction by members of the scientific and medical community, not only Topol,” says Littman. “I’m glad that there was further clarification from Pfizer.”

While a vaccine approval before November 3 may now be out of the question, other medical developments in the fight against covid-19 could still come into play during the countdown to the vote. During his stay at Walter Reed, Trump received a cutting-edge experimental antibody treatment developed by the biotech company Regeneron. A similar drug, which blocks the virus, is being tested by Eli Lilly. Although neither company has published scientific results of its drug tests, Trump touted the drugs as “cures” for covid-19 when he was released from the hospital.

Within days, both companies filed for emergency use. Those authorizations could still come before Election Day.

16 Oct 18:24

How Intel's OpenBot Wants to Make Robots Out of Smartphones

by Evan Ackerman

i guess phone camera isnt stereo-enough....

Intel talks to us about why OpenBot has a future we should believe in
13 Oct 23:07

Amy Coney Barrett Says She 'Wept Together' With Adopted Haitian Daughter Over George Floyd's Death


last time i wept was when trump was elected! I couldn't believe it. Gave me great pride in fair elections.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett said Tuesday during her confirmation hearing that she "wept" together with her adopted Haitian daughter about the death of George Floyd and suggested it was an example of "racism" but stopped short of saying America has "syste...
12 Oct 15:16

Bill Gates says Donald Trump is wrong to call Regeneron's monoclonal antibodies 'a cure'


no one trusts gates.

Bill Gates said Donald Trump is wrong to call monoclonal antibodies treatment a 'cure' for COVID-19 in an interview with NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.
12 Oct 14:07

IBM to break up 109-year old company to focus on cloud growth

by Thom Holwerda

crowded space, but i wish them well.. They are really a trusted-brand, and could leaverage that in cloud i guess...

International Business Machines Corp is splitting itself into two public companies, capping a years-long effort by the world’s first big computing firm to diversify away from its legacy businesses to focus on high-margin cloud computing.

IBM will list its IT infrastructure services unit, which provides technical support for 4,600 clients in 115 countries and has a backlog of $60 billion, as a separate company with a new name by the end of 2021.

The new company will have 90,000 employees and its leadership structure will be decided in a few months, Chief Financial Officer James Kavanaugh told Reuters.

I have no idea what to say about this. IBM is so far out of my comfort zone these days.

12 Oct 14:05

Global Privacy Control, a new Privacy Standard Proposal, now Available in Brave’s Desktop and Android Testing Versions

by Brave

get snowden on board, and i will try it out...

Global Privacy Control, a new Privacy Standard Proposal, now Available in Brave’s Desktop and Android Testing Versions

GPC launches today from a consortium of privacy-respecting organizations, to protect consumer privacy and provide consumers with greater control of their data

By Peter Snyder (@pes10k), Senior Privacy Researcher at Brave,
and Implementation by Anton Lazarev, Research Engineer at Brave

One of Brave’s core goals is to improve privacy on the Web. The main way Brave improves Web privacy is by building strong, on-by-default privacy protections in the Brave browser. However, Brave also works to improve privacy on the Web in general, particularly by advocating for privacy in the W3C 1.

As part of our privacy-in-Web-Standards work, we’re proud to have been involved in the design for the “Global Privacy Control” (GPC) proposal. The GPC proposal allows Web users to signal that they do not want to be tracked online, and where relevant, assert legal privacy rights, as described in legislation like the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA. GPC is meant as an additional privacy tool for browser vendors and Web users; it does not take the place of any existing privacy protections Brave provides.

We are also excited to announce our implementation of the GPC proposal, available today in the Nightly channel of our Desktop browser and in our Android browser beta release.

Why Brave supports the “Global Privacy Control” proposal

First, anything that makes it clearer to the surveillance-economy that users don’t want, don’t approve of, and don’t consent to being followed and tracked on the Web is a good step (and something that Brave has been promoting since we started).  

Second, similar consent mechanisms being pushed by the AdTech industry are incompatible with the kinds of privacy protections which Brave includes. For example, the Orwellian-named “consent management platforms” often require your browser to execute code from tracking companies, just to ask them to not track you. Brave blocks these network requests to tracking companies, which the tracking companies often interpret as “no preference expressed yet”. 

Good solutions to improving Web privacy cannot require browsers to interact with companies that have already lost users’ trust; the “Global Privacy Control” proposal is a strong framework to begin building better privacy protections on.

Third, Brave is interested in working with responsible, ethical, privacy-respecting publishers who want to respect user privacy without requiring users to click through intentionally confusing dialogs and “consent forms”. We’re especially interested in working with publishers who want to respect user privacy both where the law requires it (e.g., GDPR, CCAP), as well as in areas where the law hasn’t yet caught up to recognize privacy as a right (and pervasive, non-consensual tracking as wrong).  We’re excited by the publishers we’ve worked alongside during the “Global Privacy Control” proposal, and we hope others will follow their lead.

Brave’s Implementation of the “Global Privacy Control”

Brave is currently testing an implementation of the GPC proposal in our Nightly desktop and Android beta channels, and expect to implement it in our iOS browser as the proposal goes through the standardization process.

Importantly, Brave does not require users to change anything to start using the GPC to assert your privacy rights. For versions of Brave that have GPC implemented, the feature is on by default and unconfigurable. We’ve decided to implement GPC in this way for several reasons.

First, we believe that anyone choosing to use Brave has already made an unambiguous expression that they do not want their data to be sold or shared online. Legislation like the CCPA recognizes that the decision to use privacy-focused tools like Brave is itself an expression of user preference for privacy. Requiring users in Brave to take an additional step to enable GPC therefore seems both unnecessary and disrespectful to our users (who have already made their preference clear!).

Second, the more configuration options available in the browser, the easier it is to “fingerprint” 2 users. We build strong, unique, and innovative defenses against “fingerprinting” into the Brave Browser, and are cautious about adding configuration options that could reduce your privacy.  Unless we expect configurability to be useful to a significant number of users, we err on the side of reducing configuration options.  We expect few, if any, Brave users would want to disable GPC, and so have not included any configuration option.

Brave, GPC, and The Inevitability of a Private-by-Default Web

Since we started, Brave has argued that a healthy, sustainable, vibrant Web requires a privacy-preserving, privacy-by-default Web; business models that depend on tracking will soon look as antiquated as Flash, Java Applets or “made for IE” badges.

Privacy-preserving tools like Brave are just one part of what’s needed to keep improving the Web. Legislation (like the CCPA and GDPR) that enshrines and protects privacy is a second necessary part, and proposals like GPC that allow users to conveniently and privately assert their rights is a third. We’re excited for browsers to implement GPC, more publishers to interpret and respect GPC as discussed in the proposal, and more ways of protecting privacy on the Web.

  1. Brave also advocates for, and improves privacy in, proposed Web standards, as members of the W3C and co-chairs the W3C’s privacy review interest group (PING).
  2. i.e., identify users by their browser configuration and characteristics, instead of through stored identifiers like cookies.

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Binance Widget Now Available to Brave Android Users, Allowing Easy Trading, Buying, and Managing of Cryptocurrency

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Today’s Brave Android browser update (version 1.17) features the Binance widget, which is already available to Brave desktop users and was the first exchange-browser integration of its kind last April. Brave Android users can now seamlessly trade and manage...

Sunsetting the referral program and planning for the future

Sunsetting the referral program and planning for the future

Effective today, November 9th, 2020, we will begin to wind-down the current referral program. Creators using the Brave referral program have 14 days to wrap up their Brave promotional activity. Creators not using the referral program will experience no change.

Brave Passes 20 Million Monthly Active Users and 7 Million Daily Active Users

Brave Passes 20 Million Monthly Active Users and 7 Million Daily Active Users

November marks one year since we launched Brave 1.0, the most private, safest, and fastest (3-6x) browser. Over the past year, we’ve seen amazing growth on multiple fronts and we’re happy to celebrate Brave 1.0’s first anniversary by announcing that we officially passed 20 million monthly active users (20.5), up from 8.7 million this time last year.

What’s Brave Done For My Privacy Lately? Episode #6: Fighting CNAME Trickery

What’s Brave Done For My Privacy Lately? Episode #6: Fighting CNAME Trickery

This post discusses a recent technique trackers use, CNAME cloaking, and a new feature in Brave that keeps Brave users protected.

Splinterlands and Brave Announce Partnership

Splinterlands and Brave Announce Partnership

Brave and Splinterlands both share a similar mission of rewarding users for their time and attention as well as increasing user privacy and freedom, and are looking forward to working together to spread those goals.

Changes to the Referral Program

Changes to the Referral Program

We launched the Referral Program in early 2018 with the intention of distributing $1 million in BAT to content creators who referred new users to Brave. Towards the end of 2018 we decided to extend the program another year. By the end of 2019 more than $2.2 million in BAT had been distributed to content creators.

Ready to Brave the new internet?

Brave is built by a team of privacy focused, performance oriented pioneers of the web. Help us fix browsing together.
Download Brave

The post Global Privacy Control, a new Privacy Standard Proposal, now Available in Brave’s Desktop and Android Testing Versions appeared first on Brave Browser.

08 Oct 16:26

Most Zoombombing is not done by external hackers – they're inside jobs


this is all a ploy to drive zoom stock price down so microsoft can skype them....

Zoombombing, a kind of virtual gatecrashing that has been used to spread harassment and hate speech, has become a serious problem during the pandemic. An analysis of this behaviour shows the majority of Zoombombers get access from insiders rather than hacking in
08 Oct 13:40

Experts slam Donald Trump's 'irresponsible' claim that he was cured of coronavirus by Regeneron


i think covid-summer-edition is weaker. Lots of kids I know are over it in 3 days.

In a rambling video outside of the White House Rose Garden in Washington today, the US President claimed he was cured almost instantly after taking the drug.