Microsoft Declares Its Underwater Data Center Test Was A Success

from ars technica Microsoft retrieved a 40-foot-long, 12-rack, self-contained underwater data center from its seafloor home offshore from the Orkney Islands earlier this summer. The retrieval of the Northern Isles began the final phase of Microsoft’s Project Natick research initiative, exploring the concept of deploying sealed server pods just offshore major population centers as a replacement for traditional onshore data centers. Project Natick has been underway for several years; we covered the two-month trial deployment of Leona Philpot, the company’s first underwater server pod, in 2016, and the deployment of the newly retrieved Orkney Isles pod in 2018. The potential […]

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The Pandemic Is No Excuse to Surveil Students

from The Atlantic In Michigan, a small liberal-arts college is requiring students to install an app called Aura, which tracks their location in real time, before they come to campus. Oakland University, also in Michigan, announced a mandatory wearable that would track symptoms, but, facing a student-led petition, then said it would be optional. The University of Missouri, too, has an app that tracks when students enter and exit classrooms. This practice is spreading: In an attempt to open during the pandemic, many universities and colleges around the country are forcing students to download location-tracking apps, sometimes as a condition […]

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Why Online Voting Is Harder Than Online Banking

from ars technica For a feature last week, I talked to a number of election experts and computer security researchers who argued that secure Internet voting isn’t feasible today and probably won’t be for many years to come. A common response to this argument—one that came up in comments to last week’s article—is to compare voting to banking. After all, we regularly use the Internet to move money around the world. Why can’t we use the same techniques to secure online votes? But voting has some unique requirements that make secure online voting a particularly challenging problem. Every electronic transaction in the […]

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The Safest Ways to Log In to Your Computer

from Wired Whether your computer runs Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS, you have options for how you log in. And your choice doesn’t only affect how convenient it is for you to get into your laptop or desktop; it also affects how easily someone else can gain access. These are the different login options that are available and that you need to be aware of, so make sure you choose wisely. The right one for you will depend on how your computer is set up and just how cautious you’d like to be. More here.

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Welcome To Human-Computer Co-Creation: What GPT-3 Means For Education

from Forbes It’s a super auto-completer. With a little training, it’s a writer, coder, composer, translator, and puzzle solver. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of AI from OpenAI, a San Francisco R&D shop set up to guide a path to safe artificial general intelligence and funded by Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, and Vinod Khosla.  Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) is a deep learning language model that produces human-like text. The third-generation model “is the most powerful language model ever,” MIT Technology Review.   Trained by supercomputers with 175 billion parameters—an order of magnitude more than prior models—applications for GPT-3 have the potential […]

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Why This Author Is Taking A Stand Against Amazon’s Audiobook Monopoly

from Fast Company When science fiction writer and activist Cory Doctorow releases his new novel, Attack Surface, next month, you’ll be able to pick up a physical copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. If you’d prefer an e-book, you’ll be able to download it on Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and other mainstream digital book platforms. But if you’re someone who prefers an audiobook, you’ll find the novel, which deals with a corporate cybersecurity expert struggling with the morality of her work, absent from one of the biggest audiobook stores on the internet: Amazon’s […]

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Revolutionary Quantum Breakthrough Paves Way For Safer Online Communication

from PHYS.ORG The world is one step closer to having a totally secure internet and an answer to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, thanks to a team of international scientists who have created a unique prototype which could transform how we communicate online. The invention led by the University of Bristol, revealed today in the journal Science Advances, has the potential to serve millions of users, is understood to be the largest-ever quantum network of its kind, and could be used to secure people’s online communication, particularly in these internet-led times accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By deploying a new […]

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Forget TikTok. China’s Powerhouse App Is WeChat, and Its Power Is Sweeping.

from NYTs Just after the 2016 presidential election in the United States, Joanne Li realized the app that connected her to fellow Chinese immigrants had disconnected her from reality. Everything she saw on the Chinese app, WeChat, indicated Donald J. Trump was an admired leader and impressive businessman. She believed it was the unquestioned consensus on the newly elected American president. “But then I started talking to some foreigners about him, non-Chinese,” she said. “I was totally confused.” She began to read more widely, and Ms. Li, who lived in Toronto at the time, increasingly found WeChat filled with gossip, […]

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EU Launching Deep Probe Into Google’s Planned $2.1 Billion Fitbit Buy

from ars technica Regulators in the European Union are launching a deep investigation into Google’s proposed acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit after expressing concerns that giving Google access to Fitbit’s user data could “distort competition.” The Commission’s in-depth investigation will examine not only the potential outcomes for the advertising market if the transaction goes through, but it will also look at the effects of the deal on the digital healthcare sector and the potential for Google to lock competitors out of access to Android users. More here.

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FCC Blasted For “Shameful” Ruling Against Cities And Fire Department

from ars technica The Federal Communications Commission is in another dispute with the fire department that fought for net neutrality rules after being throttled by Verizon during a wildfire response. The Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, along with the cities of Los Angeles and New York, last week asked the FCC to extend a deadline for filing comments on the last remaining piece of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal. Pai had to seek another round of public comments on the net neutrality repeal and related deregulation of the broadband industry because federal judges who upheld the […]

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Facial Recognition for People Wearing Masks

from Schneier on Security The Chinese facial recognition company Hanwang claims it can recognize people wearing masks: The company now says its masked facial recognition program has reached 95 percent accuracy in lab tests, and even claims that it is more accurate in real life, where its cameras take multiple photos of a person if the first attempt to identify them fails. […] Counter-intuitively, training facial recognition algorithms to recognize masked faces involves throwing data away. A team at the University of Bradford published a study last year showing they could train a facial recognition program to accurately recognize half-faces […]

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Some Shirts Hide You From Cameras—But Will Anyone Wear Them?

from ars technica Right now, you’re more than likely spending the vast majority of your time at home. Someday, however, we will all be able to leave the house once again and emerge, blinking, into society to work, travel, eat, play, and congregate in all of humanity’s many bustling crowds. The world, when we eventually enter it again, is waiting for us with millions of digital eyes—cameras, everywhere, owned by governments and private entities alike. Pretty much every state out there has some entity collecting license plate data from millions of cars—parked or on the road—every day. Meanwhile all kinds […]

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4 Ways To Boost Your Chances Of Landing A New Job During The Pandemic

from Fast Company The coronavirus crisis has the world economy in upheaval. If you’re not already hurting, you surely know someone who is. Layoffs, shutdowns, cutbacks, and salary cuts are happening across industries, both blue collar and white. The nation is in a state of emergency, and we’re all but certainly heading toward, if not already in, a recession. The temptation to set aside our focus on work is understandable, especially when the primary concern should be for our health and the health of our friends and family. But the truth is, especially with all the upheaval underway, you may […]

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COVID-19 Has Thrust Universities Into Online Learning?—How Should They Adapt?

from Brookings There is one golden rule for flying with an infant or toddler: Do whatever it takes to get through the flight peacefully with no harm done. Every parent knows this means relaxing their standards. Planting your kid in front of an iPad screen or giving them not so healthy treats might not win you a “parent of the year” award, but it’s what is needed in the moment. In like fashion, much of the global higher education community is suddenly thrust into an unplanned, unwanted, and fraught experiment in online learning with the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of […]

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Zoombombing Is A Crime, Not A Prank, Prosecutors Warn

from ars technica Coronavirus-related social distancing measures have given a big popularity boost to Zoom, a video conferencing platform that’s known for its ease of use but not necessarily strong security or privacy protections. Internet trolls and other troublemakers have responded with “Zoombombing”: joining Zoom meetings uninvited and disrupting them. Zoombombers have exposed themselves to schoolchildren and shouted racial slurs. In a Friday statement, federal prosecutors in Michigan warned the public that Zoombombing isn’t a harmless prank; it’s a crime. “Hackers are disrupting conferences and online classrooms with pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language,” wrote the US Attorney’s Office […]

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Privacy vs. Surveillance in the Age of COVID-19

from Schneier on Security The trade-offs are changing: As countries around the world race to contain the pandemic, many are deploying digital surveillance tools as a means to exert social control, even turning security agency technologies on their own civilians. Health and law enforcement authorities are understandably eager to employ every tool at their disposal to try to hinder the virus ­ even as the surveillance efforts threaten to alter the precarious balance between public safety and personal privacy on a global scale. Yet ratcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive […]

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The Untold Story of the Man That Made Mainstream Encryption Possible

from One Zero Bailey Whitfield Diffie, born June 5, 1944, was always an independent sort. As one early friend remarked, “The kid had an alternative lifestyle at age five.” Diffie didn’t read until he was 10 years old. There was no question of disability, he simply preferred that his parents read to him, which seemingly they did, quite patiently. Finally, in the fifth grade, Diffie spontaneously worked his way through a tome called The Space Cat, and immediately progressed to the Oz books. Later that year his teacher at P.S. 178 — “Her name was Mary Collins and if she […]

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Why Is South Korea a Global Broadband Leader?

from EFF A universal fiber network that was completed years ago. Millions of 5G users. Some of the world’s fastest and cheapest broadband connections. South Korea has all of these, while other nations that have the same resources lag behind. How did South Korea become a global leader in the first place? EFF did a deep dive into this question and has produced the following report. The key takeaway: government policies that focus on expanding access to telecommunications infrastructure were essential to success. More here.

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Think You Can’t Escape Google? You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet

from Fast Company More than any designer this side of Cupertino, Matias Duarte has made phones easy to use. During his tenure at Google — first overseeing the design of Android — the vice president of design watched Google’s operating system capture more than 85% of the global smartphone market. Duarte has likened his own work in mainstreaming these addictive devices to that of an arms dealer — “I just make the guns! I didn’t make you guys shoot each other!” — but he’s also not slowing down. After pioneering Material Design — a user interface metaphor that’s helped de-uglify […]

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Coronavirus Forces Universities Online

from Inside Higher Ed After celebrating the Lunar New Year earlier this month, thousands of students at U.S. universities in China have resumed classes. But the campuses are eerily quiet, and classrooms remain empty. That’s because classes have moved online in the wake of the coronavirus. The transition from face-to-face to fully online wasn’t one leaders at institutions such as Duke Kunshan University and New York University Shanghai had planned for. Preparing to teach a course online for the first time usually takes several months. Faculty at institutions in China have done it in less than three weeks — a […]

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