An Artificial-Intelligence First: Voice-Mimicking Software Reportedly Used In A Major Theft

from WaPo Thieves used voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive’s speech and dupe his subordinate into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a secret account, the company’s insurer said, in a remarkable case that some researchers are calling one of the world’s first publicly reported artificial-intelligence heists. The managing director of a British energy company, believing his boss was on the phone, followed orders one Friday afternoon in March to wire more than $240,000 to an account in Hungary, said representatives from the French insurance giant Euler Hermes, which declined to name the company. The request was “rather […]

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It’s Time To Break Up Apple

from Fast Company A recurring theme of the last two years–politically, culturally, economically–has been yelling out loud what was supposed to be merely whispered or implied; throwing caution to the wind and, essentially, telling on yourself. That’s exactly what Apple did yesterday. This Monday, the beloved tech giant announced its big plans to seek fresh revenue in areas where it’s already built a significant audience. You’ve been able to get loans to purchase Apple products–now it’s launching the credit card to end all credit cards. Before, you could read news on Apple’s News app–now the company is partnering with some […]

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A New Map for America

from NYTs THESE days, in the thick of the American presidential primaries, it’s easy to see how the 50 states continue to drive the political system. But increasingly, that’s all they drive — socially and economically, America is reorganizing itself around regional infrastructure lines and metropolitan clusters that ignore state and even national borders. The problem is, the political system hasn’t caught up. America faces a two-part problem. It’s no secret that the country has fallen behind on infrastructure spending. But it’s not just a matter of how much is spent on catching up, but how and where it is […]

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Should College Come With A Money-Back Guarantee?

from Brookings This fall, colleges across the country will enroll roughly 3 million new students. For many of these students and their families, college will represent a tremendous expense—among the largest of their lifetimes. By the time they graduate, they can expect to have spent more money on their degree than many households in the United States earn in an entire year. And many will have accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Why do so many students keep showing up year after year to pay this high price? Because they believe it will be worth it. They believe […]

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Here Comes The Whole Foods-ification Of Marijuana

from co.EXIST Laundry, package delivery, groceries, meals—these are all available on-demand for residents of major U.S. cities, where countless startups promise to let you live well without stepping outside of your house. The other day, I placed an order on my phone for yet another on-demand product. As usual, I received a text with a link to track my driver when she was close by. I popped outside my door when the driver arrived, and exchanged cash for a paper bag. A mason jar filled with marijuana was inside. Attached to the jar, there was a tag informing me that my […]

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What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling

from NYTs Here’s how songs, especially hip-hop and R&B songs, are made today : the framework is built in the studio by a producer, working on some combination of keyboard, drum machine, sampler and computer program. Songwriters contribute topline melodies and conceptual ideas, and sometimes all the words. Generally speaking, at the moment of creation, there is no sheet music, no notation that’s meant to guide musicians. On Tuesday, a federal jury in Los Angeles concluded that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, the performer and primary songwriter-producer of the 2013 pop hit “Blurred Lines,” committed copyright infringement by using elements […]

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White House Proposes Broad Consumer Data Privacy Bill

from NYTs The Obama administration on Friday proposed a wide-ranging bill intended to provide Americans with more control over the personal information that companies collect about them and how that data can be used, fulfilling a promise the president had talked about for years. But some privacy advocates immediately jumped on the proposed legislation, saying it failed to go far enough, particularly given the broad statements President Obama had made on the issue. They said the bill would give too much leeway to companies and not enough power to consumers. There are already a number of federal laws, like the Fair […]

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Go Digital By All Means, But Don’t Bring The Venture Capitalists In To Do It

from the guardian It’s brutal out there for public service institutions. They are under relentless pressure to conform to a bizarre form of market logic that requires them to turn a profit, even if the only way to do so is at the expense of the public that has supported them for all these years. Whether that’s archives that are being told to make up their budget shortfalls by selling digital access or the BBC being told to expect a much-reduced license fee and to make up the difference by figuring out how to grow Worldwide, its commercial arm. Even when it’s […]

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Net Neutrality Activists Score Landmark Victory In Fight To Govern The Internet

from the guardian Internet activists scored a landmark victory on Thursday as the top US telecommunications regulator approved a plan to govern broadband internet like a public utility. Following one of the most intense – and bizarre – lobbying battles in the history of modern Washington politics, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed strict new rules that give the body its greatest power over the cable industry since the internet went mainstream. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler – a former telecom lobbyist turned surprise hero of net neutrality supporters – thanked the 4 million people who submitted comments on the new rules. “Your participation […]

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The New Net-Neutrality Policy, in Three Simple Phrases

from The Atlantic The U.S. Federal Communications Commission just adopted strict net-neutrality rules that will treat the Internet like a public utility. What’s in the new regulations? There are three major principles that Internet-service providers—like Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon—have to follow when sending data from their networks to your computer: More here.

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The Big Lock-In

from Medium What if all of the devices in your life had a common interface, controlled by a single company, that picked what video content you could easily search and access online? What if that single company had its own economic reasons to support some “channels” and hide others? Welcome to the world of Xfinity, Comcast’s brand name for its services. You’ve seen the advertising. Now here’s the big idea: If Comcast has its way, Xfinity will be Americans’ window on the world. Basically, our only window. First, some background. In 1996, Congress passed a law directing the FCC to ensure a competitive […]

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The Future of the Internet Might Hinge on This Bet

from Medium Humans are driven by metaphors. We can’t help it. “Internet access is like electricity,” we say, and that leads to a host of other mental images: standard plugs for a wealth of devices, warm light against a dark frozen landscape, the burdens of life made more bearable. The warring metaphor now is “the Internet is the new TV,” thoroughly managed, channelized, bent on entertainment, ad-driven, interactive only when it suits someone’s business plan. Both of these metaphors are limited and not quite right. That’s the way metaphors work. But we are in fact ants on a wrinkle of […]

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Two Judges Who Get It About Banks

from NYTs Big banks hold great sway in Washington these days, far more than troubled homeowners do. But outside the Beltway, many people remain caught in the maw of the financial giants, which is why it is heartening when some judges step into the fray. Consider two opinions involving Wells Fargo, a bank that enjoys a somewhat better reputation than many of its peers. On Monday, a judge in a state court in Missouri ordered Wells to pay over $3 million in punitive damages and other costs for abusing a borrower. Then, on Thursday, a judge in Federal Bankruptcy Court in suburban New […]

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Is Public Broadband a Threat to Taxpayers? Let Towns Decide.

from Gigaom A casual observer might think towns across the country are contemplating Communism, rather than construction projects. Such is the state of the national debate over how to build more high speed internet, which is becoming as indispensable to modern life as hot water or electricity. The crux of the debate is over how small cities, especially those where fast internet is in short supply, can get better broadband networks. The right answer, however, should not be a matter of partisan politics — but in looking at the competence of individual towns, and ensuring that their populations can have […]

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