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Larry King Duped Into 'Disinfomercial' on Social Media By China (and Possibly Russia)

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 15:48
For 25 years, until 2010, Larry King had a live interview show on CNN. But now ProPublica reports "In the twilight of a remarkable radio and television career spanning more than six decades, battling health problems but determined to stay in the public eye, King was ensnared in an international disinformation scheme." It involved filming Larry King asking questions, and then later splicing in responses from Anastasia Dolgova (an employee of a Russia state-owned broadcaster) — and then widely promoting the footage on social media: Posted on YouTube under the title "Larry King US China Special Conference 2019," and quickly spread by social media accounts linked to Chinese government influence operations, the fake interview went viral across Chinese-language social media, likely reaching hundreds of thousands of users on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube... By conveying Chinese disinformation through a journalist for Russian media, it may exemplify the increasing media cooperation between the two countries... ProPublica found that the Chinese government was involved in distributing the video. Our analysis of data released by Twitter showed that nearly 250 fake accounts linked to China's government shared nearly 40 different links to the video a total of more than 500 times. Around half of those fake accounts had more than 10,000 followers... In September 2018, six months before King taped the Dolgova video, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a ceremony in Vladivostok, Russia. There, the Russian state-controlled Rossiya Segodnya news agency and Chinese state-controlled China Media Group signed an agreement to cooperate in news exchange, joint reporting and distribution, and promotion of each other's reports, especially on social media... The Russia-China partnership reflects the alignment of the two countries' political messaging, as both promote alternatives to liberal democracy in a post-Cold War world. To achieve that goal, the Kremlin is building a "global media conglomerate," said Nataliya Bugayova, a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Russian media outlets have signed more than 50 cooperation agreements with foreign media since 2015, she said... In a telephone interview, King expressed remorse and bewilderment.

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New Repository Leaks Souce Code From Microsoft, Adobe, and Dozens of Other Companies

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 14:24
Bleeping Computer reported this week that a new public repository of leaked code includes big names like Microsoft, Adobe, Lenovo, AMD, Qualcomm, Motorola, Roblox, and Disney: The leaks have been collected by Tillie Kottmann, a developer and reverse engineer, from various sources and from their own hunting for misconfigured devops tools that offer access to source code... According to Bank Security, a researcher focused on banking threats and fraud, code from more than 50 companies is published in the repository... Kottmann told BleepingComputer that they find hardcoded credentials in the easily-accessible code repositories, which they try to remove as best as they can... Kottmann also says that they comply with takedown requests and gladly provide information that would strengthen the security of a company's infrastructure. One leak from Daimler AG corporation behind the Mercedes-Benz brand is no longer present in the repository. Another empty folder has Lenovo in its name. However, judging by the number of DMCA notices received (estimated at up to seven) and direct contact from legal or other representatives, many companies may not be aware of the leaks... Reviewing some of the code leaked on Kottmann's GitLab server revealed that some of the projects have been made public by their original developer or had been last updated a long time ago. Nevertheless, the developer told us that there are more companies with misconfigured devops tools exposing source code. Furthermore, they are exploring servers running SonarQube, an open-source platform for automated code auditing and static analysis to uncover bugs and security vulnerabilities. Kottmann believes there are thousands of companies that expose proprietary code by failing to properly secure SonarQube installations. Tom's Guide considers it a serious breach: Jake Moore, a security specialist at ESET, told Tom's Guide: "Losing control of the source code on the internet is like handing the blueprints of a bank to robbers. "This list will be viewed by cyber criminals far and wide looking for vulnerabilities as well as confidential information in a scarily short space of time."

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NASA Astronauts Fire Deorbiting Burn. Watch Splashdown Back to Earth

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 12:51
After travelling all night to return from the International Space Station, two NASA astronauts will splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at 11:48 PT, reports CNET. "There will be about an hour of excitement prior to that moment as Crew Dragon deorbits and re-enters Earth's atmosphere..." That 11-minute deorbiting burn should begin in five minutes (at 10:56 PT), and you can watch it live on SpaceX's YouTube channel before the splashdown 52 minutes later. CNET notes that "This will be the first crew recovery at sea of NASA astronauts since 1975 at the end of the Apollo moon exploration era, the space agency tweeted on Sunday." The reentry process is dramatic. "Crew Dragon will be traveling at orbital velocity prior to reentry, moving at approximately 17,500 miles per hour. The maximum temperature it will experience on reentry is approximately 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit," said NASA in a statement on July 24... If Crew Dragon passes these final tests, then SpaceX will be able to provide regular, operational flights to the ISS starting later this year. And it would end NASA's reliance on Russian spacecraft for the first time since the shuttle era. After splashdown the crew "will spend up to an hour floating inside the capsule before joint recovery teams from SpaceX and NASA retrieve them for a helicopter trip ashore," reports Reuters. A post-splashdown news conference is then scheduled about 30 minutes later at 1:30 p.m. PT.

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Microsoft Edge Accused of Stealing Data From Chrome

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 12:34
Some Windows 10 users have complained that when Microsoft sets up its Edge browser, it steals data from Chrome and Firefox without asking first, writes ZDNet columnist Chris Matyszczyk. But today a reader sent him a new complaint involving Windows 7: "My wife's computer, which is running Windows 7, got a Windows update this morning, which then gave the full-screen welcome page for Edge Chromium. She was terrified as this looked exactly as if malware had taken over the machine... How could any application be running that she hadn't started? How is it that Microsoft can't manage to provide security updates for Windows 7, as it is end of life, but still manage to force a new web browser that isn't wanted on Windows 7 users...?" "The full-screen welcome page for Chomium Edge did have a faint 'close' gadget in the top right, which was the very first thing we clicked... This still left Edge pinned on the taskbar and when I hovered over it, it showed all the recent sites she had visited on Chrome. So it must have stolen that data from Chrome which is the only browser she ever uses." The ZDNet columnist shared his own reaction to the story. "Edge is a fine browser. It's quick, effective, and has superior privacy instincts than does Chrome. I have begun to use it and I like it. When you launch a new product, however, you have two choices: You can announce it, make people feel good about it, and then rely on word of mouth. Or you can try ramming it down people's throats. "The former is often more effective. Microsoft has chosen the latter."

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Gravity Error Detected?

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 11:34
jd (Slashdot reader #1,658) writes: The large scale maps of the universe show something is seriously wrong with current models of gravity and dark matter. The universe simply isn't clumping right and, no, it's not the new improved formula. As you go from the early universe to the present day, gravity should cause things to clump in specific ways. It isn't. Which means dark matter can't be cold and general relativity may have a problem. They need more data to prove it's not just a freaky part of the universe they're looking at, which is being collected. "The new results come from the Kilo-Degree Survey, or KiDS, which uses the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope to map the distribution of matter across our universe," according to the Independent: So far, it has charted roughly 5% of the extragalactic sky, from an analysis of 31 million galaxies that are as much as 10 billion light years away... That allows researchers to build up a picture of all matter in the universe, of which some 90 per cent is invisible, made up of dark matter and tenuous gas.

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While Some Top Creators Abandon TikTok, the ACLU Opposes a Ban

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 10:34
Late Friday night, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted its objections to banning TikTok in the United States. "Banning an app like TikTok, which millions of Americans use to communicate with each other, is a danger to free expression and technologically impractical." More details from TechCrunch: "With any Internet platform, we should be concerned about the risk that sensitive private data will be funneled to abusive governments, including our own," the ACLU wrote in a subsequent statement. "But shutting one platform down, even if it were legally possible to do so, harms freedom of speech online and does nothing to resolve the broader problem of unjustified government surveillance." But TechCrunch also reports TikTok is facing another threat: On Tuesday, a clutch of the company's largest celebrities, with a collective audience of some 47 million viewers, abandoned the platform for its much smaller competitor, Triller. Founded in 2015, two years before TikTok began its explosive rise to prominence, Triller is backed by some of the biggest names in American music and entertainment including Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Marshmello, Lil Wayne, Juice WRLD, Young Thug, Kendrick Lamar, Baron Davis, Tyga, TI, Jake Paul and Troy Carter... [T]he creators say they're leaving TikTok because they've grown wary of the Chinese-owned company's security practices. "After seeing the U.S. and other countries' governments' concerns over TikTok — and given my responsibility to protect and lead my followers and other influencers — I followed my instincts as an entrepreneur and made it my mission to find a solution," Richards, who's assuming the title of Triller's chief strategy officer, told the LA Times.

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Could Randomness Theory Hold Key To Internet Security?

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 09:34
"In a new paper, Cornell Tech researchers identified a problem that holds the key to whether all encryption can be broken — as well as a surprising connection to a mathematical concept that aims to define and measure randomness," according to a news release shared by Slashdot reader bd580slashdot: "Our result not only shows that cryptography has a natural 'mother' problem, it also shows a deep connection between two quite separate areas of mathematics and computer science — cryptography and algorithmic information theory," said Rafael Pass, professor of computer science at Cornell Tech... Researchers have not been able to prove the existence of a one-way function. The most well-known candidate — which is also the basis of the most commonly used encryption schemes on the internet — relies on integer factorization. It's easy to multiply two random prime numbers — for instance, 23 and 47 — but significantly harder to find those two factors if only given their product, 1,081. It is believed that no efficient factoring algorithm exists for large numbers, Pass said, though researchers may not have found the right algorithms yet. "The central question we're addressing is: Does it exist? Is there some natural problem that characterizes the existence of one-way functions?" he said. "If it does, that's the mother of all problems, and if you have a way to solve that problem, you can break all purported one-way functions. And if you don't know how to solve that problem, you can actually get secure cryptography...." In the paper, Pass and doctoral student Yanyi Liu showed that if computing time-bounded Kolmogorov Complexity is hard, then one-way functions exist. Although their finding is theoretical, it has potential implications across cryptography, including internet security.

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AI Distinguishes Birds That Even Experts Can't

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 08:34
Slashdot reader sciencehabit quote Science magazine: It's a fact of life for birders that some species are fiendishly difficult to tell apart — in particular, the sparrows and drab songbirds dubbed "little brown jobs." Distinguishing individuals is nearly impossible. Now, a computer program analyzing photos and videos has accomplished that feat. The advance promises to reveal new information on bird behaviors... The tool, called a convolutional neural network, sifts through thousands of pictures to figure out which visual features can be used to classify a given image; it then uses that information to classify new images. Convolutional neural networks have already been used to identify various plant and animal species in the wild, including 48 kinds of African animals. They have even achieved a more complicated task for elephants and some primates: distinguishing between individuals of the same species. Team member André Ferreira, a Ph.D. student at the University of Montpellier, fed the neural network several thousand photos of 30 sociable weavers that had already been tagged... [W]hen given photos it hadn't seen before, the neural network correctly identified individual birds 90% of the time, they report this week in Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Behavioral ecologist Claire Doutrelant of CNRS, the French national research agency, says that's about the same accuracy as humans trying to spot color rings with binoculars. Ferreira then tried the approach on two other bird species studied by Damien Farine, a behavioral ecologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. The tool was just as accurate...

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Tesla Engineer Reinvents Chocolate Chip for Maximum Taste and Melt

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 06:34
"Silicon Valley, long obsessed with computer chips, is now disrupting chocolate ones," writes the New York Post: Remy Labesque, a Los-Angeles based industrial engineer working for Elon Musk's Tesla, has re-engineered the chocolate chip for the optimization-obsessed set. Thirty bucks gets you 17.6 ounces, or about 142, of the expertly forged chocolate geodes, which are molded to "melt at the right rate," according to Todd Masonis, co-founder of San Francisco's Dandelion Chocolate, which makes and sells the chips... Labesque's flattened pyramid-like structures feature thick middles and thinly tapered edges. A 15-degree slope, according to blueprints for the morsel, creates a glossy finish when baked. Masonis said it took years to realize Labesque's original multifaceted mold. "We did 3-D renderings of different options for shapes, test prints of a few molds and, of course, baking tests," he said. The goal? To emphasize the complex chips' cacao bean essence, which is said to have notes of chocolate buttercream frosting and banana. "We found that if you take a huge chunk of chocolate and put it in your mouth, that taste can be overwhelming," said Masonis. "The flat shape helps slow down the experience." The single-origin chocolate is carefully tempered — a process where chocolate is heated then cooled to create a hard shell — and is designed to melt without ruining the structural integrity of its mold-cast hard edge. The perfect chip weight, according to the engineers, is 4.05 grams. The primitive shape of our current chocolate chips "isn't a designed shape," Labesque tells Bloomberg. "It's a product of an industrial manufacturing process."

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Google Starts Testing Its Replacement for Third-Party Cookies for Chrome

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 03:15
"Google has taken one step closer to banishing third-party cookies from Chrome," reports Engadget. The internet giant has started testing its trust tokens with developers, with promises that more would move to live tests "soon." As before, the company hoped to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome once it could meet the needs of both users and advertisers. Trust tokens are meant to foster user trust across sites without relying on persistent identifying data like third-party cookies. They theoretically prevent bot-based ad fraud without tying data to individuals. This would be one framework as part of a larger Privacy Sandbox including multiple open standards. The company still hopes to eliminate third-party cookies by 2022.

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Google Starts Testings Its Replacement for Third-Party Cookies for Chrome

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 03:15
"Google has taken one step closer to banishing third-party cookies from Chrome," reports Engadget. The internet giant has started testing its trust tokens with developers, with promises that more would move to live tests "soon." As before, the company hoped to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome once it could meet the needs of both users and advertisers. Trust tokens are meant to foster user trust across sites without relying on persistent identifying data like third-party cookies. They theoretically prevent bot-based ad fraud without tying data to individuals. This would be one framework as part of a larger Privacy Sandbox including multiple open standards. The company still hopes to eliminate third-party cookies by 2022.

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Will China's AI Surveillance State Go Global?

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 23:34
China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in place, reports the Atlantic's deputy editor, and "because a new regulation requires telecom firms to scan the face of anyone who signs up for cellphone services, phones' data can now be attached to a specific person's face." But the article also warns that when it comes to AI-powered surveillance, China "could also export it beyond the country's borders, entrenching the power of a whole generation of autocrats" and "shift the balance of power between the individual and the state worldwide..." The country is now the world's leading seller of AI-powered surveillance equipment.... China uses "predatory lending to sell telecommunications equipment at a significant discount to developing countries, which then puts China in a position to control those networks and their data," Michael Kratsios, America's CTO, told me. When countries need to refinance the terms of their loans, China can make network access part of the deal, in the same way that its military secures base rights at foreign ports it finances. "If you give [China] unfettered access to data networks around the world, that could be a serious problem," Kratsios said... Having set up beachheads* in Asia, Europe, and Africa, China's AI companies are now pushing into Latin America, a region the Chinese government describes as a "core economic interest." China financed Ecuador's $240 million purchase of a surveillance-camera system. Bolivia, too, has bought surveillance equipment with help from a loan from Beijing. Venezuela recently debuted a new national ID-card system that logs citizens' political affiliations in a database built by ZTE. * The article provides these additional examples: In Malaysia, the government is working with Yitu, a Chinese AI start-up, to bring facial-recognition technology to Kuala Lumpur's police...Chinese companies also bid to outfit every one of Singapore's 110,000 lampposts with facial-recognition cameras. In South Asia, the Chinese government has supplied surveillance equipment to Sri Lanka. On the old Silk Road, the Chinese company Dahua is lining the streets of Mongolia's capital with AI-assisted surveillance cameras.In Serbia, Huawei is helping set up a "safe-city system," complete with facial-recognition cameras and joint patrols conducted by Serbian and Chinese police aimed at helping Chinese tourists to feel safe.Kenya, Uganda, and Mauritius are outfitting major cities with Chinese-made surveillance networks...

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InfoWorld Lists 'Four Powerful Features Python is Still Missing'

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 23:04
InfoWorld's senior writer calls Python a "living language," citing its recent addition of the "walrus operator" for in-line assignments and the newly-approved pattern matching. "And they're only two of a slew of useful features that could be added to Python to make the language more expressive, more powerful, more suited to the modern programming world. What else might we wish for?" True constants - Python doesn't really have the concept of a constant value... [E]very time a name is used, Python goes to the trouble of looking up what object it's pointing at. This dynamism is one of the chief reasons Python runs more slowly than some other languages. Python's dynamism offers great flexibility and convenience, but it comes at the cost of runtime performance. One advantage of having true constant declarations in Python would be some reduction in the frequency of object lookups that take place during runtime, and thus better performance. If the runtime knows ahead of time that a given value never changes, it doesn't have to look up its bindings... True overloading and generics - In many languages, multiple versions of the same function can be written to work with different kinds of input... PEP 3124, advanced in April 2007, proposed a mechanism for decorating functions to indicate they could be overloaded. The proposal was deferred rather than being rejected outright — meaning the idea was fundamentally sound, but the time wasn't right to implement it. One factor that might speed the adoption of overloading in Python — or cause the idea to be ditched entirely — is the implementation of the newly proposed pattern matching system. In theory, pattern matching could be used under the hood to handle overload dispatch. However, pattern matching could also be given as a rationale for not implementing generics in Python, since it already provides an elegant way to dispatch operations based on type signatures. So we might get true overloading in Python one day, or its advantages might be superseded by other mechanisms. The article lists two more features Python "probably won't get" — starting with multiline lambdas (anonymous functions). Guido van Rossum had argued in 2006 he couldn't find an acceptable syntax, and the article argues "there is probably no way to do it that doesn't involve creating a special case." And it argues the final missing feature is tail recursion optimizations, "where functions that call themselves don't create new stack frames in the application, and thus risk blowing up the stack if they run for too long. "Python doesn't do this, and in fact its creators have consistently come out against doing so."

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Python Overtakes Java in New Language Popularity Ranking, As Rust Reaches Top 20

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 20:29
"Programming language Python is now firmly the second most popular programming language, for the first time knocking Java out of the top two places in RedMonk's language popularity rankings," reports ZDNet: It's the first time since 2012 that Java is not one of the top two most popular languages in the developer analyst firm's programming language popularity list. The company's previous rankings in March placed machine-learning propelled Python in a tie for second place with Java, behind JavaScript. RedMonk's influential programming popularity rankings are based on GitHub and Stack Overflow data. The company combines them "for a ranking that attempts to reflect both code (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) traction", says RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady, who notes "all numerical rankings should be taken with a grain of salt.... "Python is the first non-Java or JavaScript language ever to place in the top two of these rankings by itself, and would not have been the obvious choice for that distinction in years past," O'Grady notes, comparing it to Perl in its heyday because it has become a "language of first resort" and the "glue" for thousands of small projects, while enjoying high adoption in growing categories such as data science... Five-year-old systems-programming language Rust, created by Mozilla, has hit a more positive milestone, for the first time becoming the 20th most popular language in RedMonk's rankings. Last week IEEE Spectrum also declared Python "dominated" their assessment of language popularity (compiled from 11 different online metrics), followed by Java and C (and then C++ and JavaScript).

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NASA Astronauts Are Undocking SpaceX's Crew Dragon from ISS, Returning to Earth

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 18:19
"NASA and SpaceX are going ahead with plans to bring NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken home from the International Space Station for a splashdown this weekend, even though Hurricane Isaias is heading for Florida's Atlantic coast," reports GeekWire. "Fortunately, SpaceX's Dragon capsule is heading for waters off Florida's other coast." NASA said weather conditions are all systems go for the targeted site in the Gulf of Mexico, close to Pensacola, as well as for an alternate site off the coast of Panama City, Fla. That opened the way for preparations to proceed for the Dragon Endeavour to undock at 7:34 p.m. ET (4:34 p.m. PT) today, with a splashdown set for 2:41 p.m. ET (11:41 a.m. PT) Sunday. The plan could be adjusted, before or after the docking, if the weather forecast changes. NASA and SpaceX had made plans for seven potential splashdown targets, but due to Isaias' strength, NASA concentrated on the westernmost sites. Live coverage has begun online, and will continue for the next 19 hours. Tomorrow's splashdown "will mark the first return of a commercially built and operated U.S. spacecraft from orbit," reports GeekWire, "and the first at-sea return of U.S. astronauts since the topsy-turvy splashdown of NASA's Apollo-Soyuz crew in 1975..." "The next SpaceX Crew Dragon launch to the space station is scheduled for as early as next month. And Bob Behnken's wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, is due to be part of a Dragon crew heading for the station next spring."

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YouTube Criticized For Ending Its Community Captions Feature

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 17:34
Long-time Slashdot reader xonen quotes the Verge: YouTube plans to discontinue its community captions feature, which allowed viewers to add subtitles to videos, because it was "rarely used and had problems with spam/abuse," the company announced. It says it's removing the captions and will "focus on other creator tools." The feature will be removed as of September 28th. "You can still use your own captions, automatic captions and third-party tools and services," YouTube said in an update on its help page. But deaf and hard-of-hearing creators say removing the community captions feature will stifle accessibility, and they want to see the company try to fix the issues with volunteer-created captions, rather than doing away with them entirely. Deaf YouTuber Rikki Poynter said on her channel in May that community captions were an "accessibility tool that not only allowed deaf and hard of hearing people to watch videos with captions, but allowed creators that could not afford to financially invest in captions." She tweeted Thursday that she was disappointed with YouTube's decision. YouTuber JT, whose channel has more than 550,000 subscribers, highlighted the downside of the community captions feature last year, showing how viewers were adding abusive comments to videos by popular creators. But many creators say they relied on the captions not only to better reach deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, but to help translate their videos into other languages, giving them a larger audience. YouTube is offering a free six-month subscription to a subtitling service for regular users of the community contribution feature — but not everyone is satisfied, according to the Verge. A petition calling on Google to reverse the decision has now garnered more than 155,000 signatures.

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Pre-Clinical Test of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Shows It Protected Monkeys from Covid-19

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 16:34
"Johnson & Johnson's experimental coronavirus vaccine protected macaque monkeys with a single shot in a pre-clinical study, potentially gaining on other vaccines that are further along in testing but require two doses over time," reports Bloomberg: Five of six primates exposed to the pandemic-causing pathogen were immune after a single injection. The exception showed low levels of the virus, according to a study published in the medical journal Nature... The health-care behemoth kick-started human trials on July 22 in Belgium and in the U.S. earlier this week. Although other vaccine-makers have moved more quickly into development, with AstraZeneca having already administered its experimental vaccine to almost 10,000 people in the U.K., gaining protection with a single dose could prove an advantage in the logistical challenge of rolling out massive vaccination programs worldwide.... The primate data show that the coronavirus vaccine candidate generated a strong antibody response, and provided protection with only a single dose, said Paul Stoffels, the drugmaker's chief scientific officer. J&J aims to embark on the last phase of tests in September, compressing the traditional timeline as it races against others including AstraZeneca, Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc for a shot to end the pandemic.... The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker will test both a one-dose coronavirus shot, and a shot coupled with a booster in its early-stage studies of more than 1,000 adults, which launched this month.

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Spacecraft Made From Ultra Thin Foam Could Reach Proxima Centauri In 185 Years

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 15:34
An anonymous reader quotes Newsweek: A hypothetical spacecraft made from an extremely thin layer of a synthetic foam could technically make it to our closest neighboring star Proxima Centauri in just 185 years, scientists have said. If Voyager were to make the same journey, it would take around 73,000 years, according to NASA. In a study that is due to be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, René Heller from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany, and colleagues, propose the spacecraft as a precursor to interstellar travel — beyond our own solar system. They estimate a prototype would cost around $1 million, while the launch of an interplanetary mission would be around $10 million. The spacecraft would be made from aerographite. This is a carbon-based foam that is around 15,000 times more lightweight than aluminium. It is versatile and light enough that it could be used to create solar sails — "which harness energy from the sun for propulsion, a process called solar photon pressure... In most cases, photons would have little impact on an object. But if the target is an ultralight material, such as aerographite, then the target can actually be pushed to significant speed," he said. "We found out that a thin layer of aerographite, with a thickness of about 1 millimeter (0.04 inches), can be pushed to speeds that are sufficiently high to let it escape the solar system. Once it has gained an initial push from the solar radiation pressure, it will simply float through space...." Heller said these spacecraft could travel far faster than any probe ever sent by humans before.

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Attention Rogue Drone Pilots: AI Can See You

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 14:34
schwit1 quotes IEEE Spectrum: The minute details of rogue drone's movements in the air may unwittingly reveal the drone pilot's location — possibly enabling authorities to bring the drone down before, say, it has the opportunity to disrupt air traffic or cause an accident. And it's possible without requiring expensive arrays of radio triangulation and signal-location antennas. So says a team of Israeli researchers who have trained an AI drone-tracking algorithm to reveal the drone operator's whereabouts, with a better than 80% accuracy level. They are now investigating whether the algorithm can also uncover the pilot's level of expertise and even possibly their identity... Depending on the specific terrain at any given airport, a pilot operating a drone near a camouflaging patch of forest, for instance, might have an unobstructed view of the runway. But that location might also be a long distance away, possibly making the operator more prone to errors in precise tracking of the drone. Whereas a pilot operating nearer to the runway may not make those same tracking errors but may also have to contend with big blind spots because of their proximity to, say, a parking garage or control tower. And in every case, he said, simple geometry could begin to reveal important clues about a pilot's location, too. When a drone is far enough away, motion along a pilot's line of sight can be harder for the pilot to detect than motion perpendicular to their line of sight. This also could become a significant factor in an AI algorithm working to discover pilot location from a particular drone flight pattern. The sum total of these various terrain-specific and terrain-agnostic effects, then, could be a giant finger pointing to the operator.

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Google Threatens to Remove All Danish Music From YouTube

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 13:34
YouTube is "embroiled in a very public spat with songwriters and music publishers in Denmark," according to one music-industry news site. They cite Koda, the group that collects royalties and licensing fees for musicians, as saying that YouTube is now threatening to remove all music written by Danish songwriters: The cause of this threat is a disagreement between the two parties over the remuneration of songwriters and publishers in the market. YouTube and Koda's last multi-year licensing deal expired in April. Since then, the two parties have been operating under a temporary license agreement... In a statement to media Friday (July 31), Koda claims YouTube is insisting that — in order to extend its temporary deal in Denmark — Koda must now agree to a near-70% reduction in payments to composers and songwriters. YouTube has fired back at this claim, suggesting that under its existing temporary deal with Koda (which expired Friday), the body "earned back less than half of the guarantee payments" handed over by the service. Koda says it "cannot accept" YouTube's terms, according to the article, adding that Google and YouTube "have now unilaterally decided that Koda's members cannot have their content shown on YouTube". The director of YouTube Music, EMEA counters that "They are asking for substantially more than what we pay our other partners," according to the article — which also shares this statement from YouTube. "We take copyright law very seriously." "As our license expires today and since we have been unable to secure an agreement we will remove identified Koda content from the platform."

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