* Posts by Pete 2

2777 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Connected car data handover headache: There's no quick fix... and it's NOT just Land Rovers

Pete 2
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Do you own your car?

> "This is an unreasonable demand to make of JLR because any such automatic bullet-proof method would be dependent upon a similarly bullet-proof system/process whereby JLR is informed of the sale of any of their vehicles, including private sales."

It is not unreasonable. When car makers offer "connected car" services, they take on a duty of care regarding the data they collect. A part of that care is to prevent it being used by any party that does not have a right to it. That includes previous owners of the vehicle.

This is a break from the old supplier-customer relationship of a single sell-buy transaction (with warranty obligations). Since the car-makers have elected to create this feature and to make it open-ended, time-wise, the onus is on them to make it work. And not just for the original owner.

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The Death of the Gods: Not scared of tech yet? You haven't been paying attention

Pete 2
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Add this book to the pile

Basically, just more doom-mongering

The news media is full of it. It sells. But merely telling us we're doomed, DOOMED I say is meaningless. What are the solutions, what actions should we take to mitigate this. How can we protect ourselves or profit from it (ans: write a book).

So instead of heaping on the anxiety, increasing fear and making everyone a little more depressed, how about some positive, helpful, suggestions, instead?

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Lo and behold, Earth's special chemical cocktail for life seems to be pretty common

Pete 2
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So, why don't we still have dinosaurs?

> "Most of the building blocks we have looked at in other planetary systems have a composition broadly similar to that of the Earth"

If being "earthlike" was enough, this planet would continually be spawning life, as it originally formed. Those "respawns" would then start their own path of evolution. So as well as having us, the result of billions of years of evolution from the first time that life appeared, there would also be forms of plants, animals and all the rest that are the product of evolution from the second time that life started on Earth. And from the third, fourth, the seventy-seventh, the 2,916'th and so on.

But we don't. We only have a single thread of evolution that seems to go back to the start.

So it would seem that being "earthlike" is not a good idea for a planet if it wants to start producing life. It is only a hospitable environment for once life has got past the initial stages. After that, being earthlike is not a set of conditions that is suitable for starting evolution.

The conclusion would be that a planet only has one shot at starting to give rise to life-forms. Maybe once they get to the stage of converting methane, CO2 and ammonia into an environment rich in water and oxygen, they have past the point of spontaneously allowing life to form. If whatever life had developed, then died out, it would explain why we don't see other planets' TV.

The trick wouldn't be starting life, but in having the remarkable set of coincidences, luck, and starting conditions to allow life to avoid all the extinction possibilities in the billions of years after it forms, to eventually give rise to intelligence. Or us!

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EU wants one phone plug to rule them all. But we've got a better idea.

Pete 2
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Re: thunderbolt - not thunderbird

> Though Brains and Lady Penelope are always a good bet in any international emergency

And with the Parker probe heading for the Sun, it's good to see that the series is still current. Though you'd need a fairly long USB cable to re-charge that. I doubt that the shape of the connector would be the biggest concern.

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US voting systems: Full of holes, loaded with pop music, and 'hacked' by an 11-year-old

Pete 2
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Old joke!

Which could explain why the previous generation of voting machines the americans sold to Canada, just declared Obama the winner.

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UK cyber cops: Infosec pros could help us divert teens from 'dark side'

Pete 2
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Career _path_? a single patio slab, in reality

> The focus is on showing youngsters that there's a lucrative legitimate career for their interests and skills if they change tack.

At least, there could be if all the jobs weren't being off-shored. Also, the "youngsters" should be reminded that their lucrative legitimate career will end at about the same time as a profession footballer's - in their mid-30s. It should be mentioned to them too, that they won't be able to actually start that career until they have got a degree (even though what they learn will be out-of-date, irrelevant and of little practical use) - so they can't start earning until they are 21.

And then there is all that student debt ....

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Stress, bad workplace cultures are still driving security folk to drink

Pete 2
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> Wut ? Who does that ?

The only places I have seen this was in large advertising firms based in the Tottenham Court Road area during the late80s-early 90's (and then, only after 6 p.m.)

None of the american IT firms I have worked for would even allow booze on the premises.

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Pete 2
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And then, what?

> Stress, bad workplace cultures are still driving security folk to drink

But who drives them home again, afterwards

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Oi, clickbait cop bot, jam this in your neural net: Hot new AI threatens to DESTROY web journos

Pete 2
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Free of news content

It is remarkable how many news "stories" there are, that once you remove all the descriptions, emotional phrases, single-person experiences and advice on what readers should think - once you remove all of that, there is no actual news in the entire article!

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Pete 2
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Something bad happened! Read more here.

> The trouble is, what exactly is a clickbait headline?

It is one that imparts no information. If you want examples, just look at the Daily Express, The Guardian or any other trashy online newspaper.

They typically have headlines that ask a question that almost always complies with Betteridge's law (i.e. the answer is "no"). Or that feed on fear, or that bait a reader to continue reading an article.

The problem with having AI write news articles, or to detect clickbait, is that sooner or later those same AIs will be trained to write irrelevant, clickbait, article themselves. Though we can probably take solace that they will be better at it than people, so all the worthless news website employees will still get sacked. Though we still won't get any better quality written news.

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Basic bigot bait: Build big black broad bots – non-white, female 'droids get all the abuse

Pete 2
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A next step?

The paper groups all the respondents as "people". As the study is focused on the "people's" reaction to human / robot and race, it would be helpful to know the same factors (and gender, too) of the people who responded to the videos.

For instance is there one gender of respondent that is more or less dehumanising towards any particular group (as represented by the robots / celebrities in the videos) and likewise with the respondents other characteristics?

The report says that non-English comments were discarded - presumably for practical reasons. But a deeper drill-down into the age, gender, race, geographical location and probably many other attributes of the people who responded: either positively or negatively would be illuminating.

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'Unhackable' Bitfi crypto-currency wallet maker will be shocked to find fingernails exist

Pete 2
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No need to hack anything?

If this device "holds" your digital stash, then to have it stolen means you lose your imaginary money.

The only operation that a bad person needs to perform in order to profit from this is to steal someone's Bitfi and send a ransom note to the owner.

Sometimes the "old fashioned" methods are the most effective.

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ReactOS 0.4.9 release metes out stability and self-hosting, still looks like a '90s fever dream

Pete 2
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Malware

If this is sufficiently different from Windows to not fall victim to modern viruses and trojans I can see a great future for it.

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How much do you think Cisco's paying erstwhile Brit PM David Cameron?

Pete 2
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> A free spit roast of hog

What has always worried me about those is exactly how much spit they use (and who's)?

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Brits whinging less? About ISPs, networks and TV? It's gotta be a glitch in the Matrix

Pete 2
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Socialising complaints

Maybe the whingers just take matters into their own hands?

Instead of bashing out a complaint to the watchdog, they just post their moaning on social media. Not only is it easier, but it also shows their friends how much they are suffering.

And the public display of being a victim does seem to be a great motivator - considering the number of people on Twitter and FB who do nothing but complain about things.

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Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

Pete 2
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Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

> They're being fined for illegal behaviour

As were the european companies. With any global company you can always find some wrongdoing somewhere. The only question is how to deal with it. Whether you try to correct it, mitigate the damage, or just treat it as an opportunity to get some "free" money.

And fining foreign companies really is free money. It costs the prosecuting country next to nothing and causes them little or no hardship.

The UK seems to think the ignominy of being found to be breaking the law [ sharp intake of breath! ] is enough - the UK fined Facebook half a mil (how they must be laughing now) - and presumably paid that with Zuckerberg's credit card. And forgot about it just as quickly. But at the $ billion level, the cost becomes noticeable, starts to act as a deterrent for next time and the restitution could actually do some good - and not just with drinks all round.

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Pete 2
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Where's my 10 bucks?

So when that fine gets divvied up across the EU's 500 million (or so) people, there will be a beer or two in it for everyone.

This level of fine seems ..... fine. After all, the USA fines european companies (BP, Volkswagen, Barclays) billions of dollars - it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

The question then arise: how to spend it?

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Fix this faxing hell! NHS told to stop hanging onto archaic tech

Pete 2
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NO CARRI~@~~~$

> We can’t have Matt Hancock calling a hospital and hearing: baa-ruhr-reee-uh-reeee-uh-reee

Especially when they then go BOING BOING Tshhhhhhh <click>

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Salesforce ‘Einstein’ now smart enough for customer service

Pete 2
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Squawk!

> “Einstein Bots for Service”, code that it claims can “automate routine service requests and enable frictionless agent handoffs.”

Ha! You could train a parrot to say "switch it off and on again".

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Google offers to leave robocallers hanging on the telephone

Pete 2
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Duping Duplex

What I want is for my phone's AI to talk to Google's AI (or anybody else's AI, robocaller or phone-script operator) and to not bother me.

Then later, my AI can inform me if there was anything of importance or interest.

Both sides would be happy. The tele-botherer would think it had made a sales call. I would be completely oblivious to it except for the tiny number that would be to my benefit.

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Open plan offices flop – you talk less, IM more, if forced to flee a cubicle

Pete 2
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"Interaction" != work

Yes, open plan offices make it less likely that people will chat to each other. Not only are they doing so in plain sight of everyone else - including the boss, but they are much more likely to be politely asked to STFU by all the surrounding people trying to get on with their work.

But the research sabotages its entire credibility with conclusion:

> The second is that we just don’t know all that much about how humans interact,

So it turns out the researchers were measuring something they didn't understand. It therefore follows that nothing they "discovered" has any real significance, since it was based on a badly designed experiment.

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Decision time for AI: Sometimes accuracy is not your friend

Pete 2
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First mistake: trying for perfection

> suppose our algorithm is looking at a vast amount of data and making a decision about whether a person has a disease

While there are benefits to designing an AI system to be as good as it can be, as with war strategies: no algo survives contact with the real world. The crucial factor is that a new implementation should be better than the one it supercedes. Further improvements can be added later, in the light of experience gained.

The second mistake is trying to be too damn clever.

Using the shopping example, for instance. A better design - rather than employing some dimly understood smarts to make a determination - is simply to ask the visitor Do you want to look at men's clothes or women's?

I fully appreciate that the example was merely illustrative. But in the real world too, sometimes it is better to let the user decide, rather than having a machine choose for them.

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Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual

Pete 2
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Re: Only cracking I have done is

> I had just lifted the bike, and lock, over the gate post and wheeled it down the drive

One of my neighbours has a chain-link fence around the property, with double gates at the front which they are obsessive about locking.

Come the inevitable "I've lost the key to my gates" knock on my door, I followed them back with a box full of tools to try and force / break / cut a way in. Apart from the obvious (chain-link fence that would be easily cut through) it turned out that their gates simply lifted off the hinges.

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So... where's the rest? Xiaomi walks away from IPO with less than hoped

Pete 2
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The takeaway is ...

> China star asked for a muckle, got a mickle. Will it be enough?

Well, they had a tickle and discovered the markets are fickle.

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Drug cops stopped techie's upgrade to question him for hours. About everything

Pete 2
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perks of the job

> they brought in an old-lady's flowered hard-sided suitcase, slammed it down on the table, and a literal cloud of cocaine dust floated over the area.”

And all the agents inhaled deeply.

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Crime epidemic or never had it so good? Drilling into statistics is murder

Pete 2
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Looking at the wrong thing

> the way we measure "crime" and, more fundamentally, what we mean by crime

Regarding violent crime. All I am interested in is whether the chances of getting smacked in the face (or worse) when I am out, is rising or falling.

Similarly for burglary: is it more or less likely that when I return home I will be faced with £5000 of damage and massive increases in insurance rates from some scally who made off with a couple of hundred £££s of goods. That when sold on eBay will gain them £50?

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Israel cyber chief's 'pants' analogy for password security deemed, well, 'pants'

Pete 2
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> North of the north, they're pants.

And if you wear a kilt you don't need any passwords.

P.S. pants are what dogs do when it's hot.

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Linus Torvalds tells kernel devs to fix their regressive fixing

Pete 2
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A thin line

> But if it's something that has never worked, even if it ‘fixes’ some behavior, then it's new development,

I can understand the thinking behind this, but the question of whether something is a "fix" or "new" depends on what you consider to be the baseline functionality.

Torvalds' view seems to be that the definition of what Linux should do is held in the body of code that (used to work). That the code defines the functionality.

A more professional approach is that the design documents define the functionality and a deviation of the code, from the documentation, is a bug.

Now I realise that a lot of hacker-style amateur coders will already be rolling around on the floor, laughing at the idea of documentation. And even more so at the suggestion that it should be telling them what their software should do - rather than being a description of what it actually does. However, that is the reason we have standards. To define what software should do, in order for it to work with compliant systems that other people have developed.

One could therefore argue against Torvalds' opinion and say that lack of standards compliance - and design documents set those standards - is as much a bug as broken functionality that used to work. Although that does rather assume that Linux has some design documents in the first place!

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Software engineer fired, shut out of office for three weeks by machine

Pete 2
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non-story?

> He [ the chap's ex-manager ] was to work from home as a contractor for the duration of a transition. I imagine due to the shock and frustration, he decided not to do much work after that. Some of that work included renewing my contract in the new system.

> the non-renewal of the contract – requiring human intervention – led to the termination email, which led to that employee's key card being disabled, and their network access cut off on each system that they had privileges on.

So basically the engineer in question was on a short contract that wasn't renewed. When that contract expired the system shut him out. In an example of life imitating art imitating life, I recall an episode of Better Off Ted that dealt with a similar situation.

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Are your IoT gizmos, music boxes, smart home kit vulnerable to DNS rebinding attacks? Here's how to check

Pete 2
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Re: Test website - same here

> I don't think I'd trust it...

I got the same.

Since I can't tell about the technical accuracy of the author's claims, all I can do is form an opinon on the stuff I can verify. Since his code failed that verification I will form the conclusion that his other claims are of a similar quality.

That may well be incorrect, but I am not prepared to believe someone who has been shown to be wrong on what I can discover for myself.

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New Windows Server preview ships with an AI crystal ball

Pete 2
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Doing the salesman's job for him

> The new tool uses machine learning to “locally analyze Windows Server system data, such as performance counters and events

So when the CPU usage gets to 100% it tells you to buy a faster processor

When the disk gets full it tells you to buy a bigger disk

When the ping times get too long it tells you to upgrade your network

When the box starts paging it tells you to buy more RAM

And as soon as you install it, it tells you to sack the capacity planning team (eliminates the competition)

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Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist

Pete 2
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Re: Oh my!

True, it seems pretty crap as far as hardware goes.

But compared with software or operating systems that are supposed to be secure, it would count as invincible.

Seriously, given how many design and implementation flaws there are in most apps, most code and most versions of Windows and Linux, a lock of comparable quality to them would be made out of chocolate with the password written on the outside of the box it came in.

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The eyes have it: 'DeepFakes' bogus AI-meddled videos outed by unblinking gaze

Pete 2
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Steering the public

> Somehow that hasn't resulted in all written material being considered inherently false

It can be more subtle than a straight true / false.

Do you remember the demon eyes poster from the 1997 general election?

Pictures are powerful tools for altering perceptions. Especially as they contain no before / after context. Just look at the photos chosen by news media when they talk about a politician they like, compared with the images they use for politicians (or people) they disapprove of.

Even articles about non-political issues can provide "nudges" for the readership to draw the desired conclusion, without actually saying you are talking about one minority group, religion, social class or skin colour.

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Pete 2
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Re: Blinking

> Trivial to add

But not as trivial as wearing shades

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AI is cool and all – but doctors and patients don't really need it

Pete 2
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AI is a lever

There are two parts to this. The first is that AI allows one person to do more "stuff" and to do higher quality stuff in the same amount of time. So for a GP, that would mean a visitor (they don't become patients unless there is something that needs treating) to a GPs office will have a dialog with a machine - even if it does have a human avatar, fronting it - either on their phone beforehand, or in a booth at the building.

The GP will then call-in that person and tell them what happens next. Alternatively, the GP takes over the smartphone diaglog and recommends what further action is needed - including the person reporting to somewhere for some tests (also performed by AI augmented systems).

But the major boost to healthcare is when AIs are let loose on bulk health data. Not only will that build the foundation for true evidence-based medicine, but it will revolutionise mental health: diagnosis of conditions and treatments. With luck, it will be so powerful that it will drag psychology and psychiatry (whichever one is which) into the beginning of the nineteenth century - the start of being a true science: comparable to when chemistry started to get the Periodic Table and physics got to terms with electricity.

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... Aaaand that's a fifth Brit Army Watchkeeper drone to crash in Wales

Pete 2
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Signage

> the local council was considering whether to approve a "major facelift" at the airport, which is about 144km (90 miles) northwest of Cardiff.

> It has been the main base for Watchkeeper drones for a number of years,

I would suggest that a part of that facelift would be the words

LAND HERE

painted in large friendly letters on the tarmac.

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Bad news, mobile operators: Unlicensed IoT tech rocketing ahead of NB-IoT and LTE-M – report

Pete 2
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But does it scale?

> relying on the low probability of interference to maintain quality of service

What (little) I know of LoRa is that it relies on people building gateway nodes for a couple of hundred ££/€€/$$ a pop and connecting them through t'internet to some grrrt big servers that then tickle the right IoT device in the right place.

This is fine for hobbyists and people who want a boy scout's pioneer badge. But with a transmission taking many hundreds of milliseconds then as soon as it becomes mainstream the congestion for the small number of channels will seize it up.

Of course, for the user it is free of charge, which is a difficult thing to compete with. Although for the "grown ups" indemnity, service guarantees and reliability win over £0 (since there is no money to be made).

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England's top judge lashes out at 'Science Museum' grade court IT

Pete 2
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On the up-side

> courts’ systems “sit in splendid technological isolation, unable to talk to each other or anyone in the outside world.”

That makes them very difficult to hack in to. Maybe more I.T. systems, particularly those that control critical parts of the national infrastructure, should follow this example.

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NASA finds more stuff suggesting Mars could have hosted life, maybe

Pete 2
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Mars suddenly becomes interesting

The standard view of Mars is that it is a dead rock. Uninteresting, no resources that are worth the cost of extracting and too difficult to inhabit to be worth the effort.

But wait! If there are "organics" there, and relatively near the surface, that changes things considerably. If Mars had oil then that's a game-changer.

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Japanese fashion puts the oo-er into trousers

Pete 2
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Not the place for your mobile phone

> Ladies and gentlemen, may we present the Wang Flap.

Yes, designed to make the stop-and-search cops job even more "interesting"

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Automation won’t take your job until the next recession threatens it

Pete 2
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Re: AI proof job

> The most secure job would appear to be "journalist who churns out endless stories about how AI is going to take away all our jobs"

Actually it could be one of the first to go.

Google have a Digital News Initiative scheme to replace hacks with AIs. They have been investing in the UK for a year or so already.

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Pete 2
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AI: The new fusion?

> the world is currently in “an era of investment and experimentation” with technology. The effects of such eras, he said, generally emerge ten to fifteen years in the future.

Where have we heard that phrase before? Oh yes. In answer to the question When will nuclear fusion be ready for use?"

And that has been the answer for at least the past 40 ... 50 years.

Is AI going the same way. It is possible. There is a big difference between demonstrating something in the lab and ironing out all the flaws necessary to make the leap into a mainstream world. One with all the complexities, unknowns and unknown-unknowns that have a nasty habit of only becoming apparent after the smoke clears.

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Just a third of Brit cops are equipped to fight crime that is 'cyber'

Pete 2
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Re: Yes, we're equipped, they quipped!

> With a 2x increase in the budget then 100% of officers will be able to tell you to do the same for cyber-crime

Which is about as useful as the joker who was asked a very difficult question, thought for a second and replied "I'm glad to say, I can give you an immediate answer!"

When pressed to actually give the answer, he/she/it responded "My answer is that I don't know"

If "equipped" to deal with a type of crime means nothing more than having a prepared response to reports of it - little more than sod off, we're too busy then I suppose we should consider the police to be "equipped" to handle anything from a lost cat to a nuclear war.

Great!

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Pete 2
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Yes, we're equipped, they quipped!

> Just one in three police forces in the UK are able to tackle cybercrime such as DDoS, malware attacks and online fraud

See, now my understanding of a statement like that is that if I have bought something online that didn't turn up, or if something I downloaded turned out to be nasty-ware, then I would be able to dial 999 and report it as a crime. Soon after, a helmeted type would turn up, take statements, search for (and find!) evidence of the dastardly deed, then a short time later inform me that the "perp" had been detained and coughed to the offence.

That is what tackling crime entails: detection, apprehension, judgement and (if guilty) punishment. I look forward to the day when I can even get as far as convincing the cops to simply increment the number of cyber-crimes reported when such an event happens.

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Experts build AI joke machine that's about as funny as an Adam Sandler movie (that bad)

Pete 2
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Re: A career in television?

> I was trying to think of examples to contradict you and I'm struggling to think of any...*

Quite. Even the examples presented fail, since most are more than 10 years old (Outnumbered started in 2007, IT crowd 2006 - neither still running) And ones that do qualify, such as Bad Education only managed less than 10 hours of telly - 19 eps of ½hour each and has since been canned.

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Pete 2
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A career in television?

> At least they were considered funny about 67.99 per cent of the time, compared to 22.59 per cent for the NJM, and just 9.41 per cent for STAIR.

That would still make either of the two machines funnier than any british sitcom that has been made in the past 10 years.

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Britain mulls 'complete shutdown' of 4G net for emergency services

Pete 2
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A phrase you never want to hear ...

> the most advanced communications system of its kind anywhere in the world

where life-critical systems are discussed. It is like calling a political decision "brave".

It sounds to me like there are certain functions that are needed - the ability to talk to each other and there are other functions that the sales-people have convinced someone would be "useful" but will in all probability never be used and/or never work properly.

So all that will happen is that a tried and tested system, familiar and reliable, ubiquitous and with known capabilities (and limitations) will be replaced by something "advanced". A euphemism for complicated, expensive, requiring much training, support and debugging.

Progress? I doubt it.

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Uber jams Arizona robo-car project into reverse gear after deadly smash

Pete 2
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AV's Hindenburg?

It is not really about the absolute level of safety that will determine the future of autonomous vehicles, but the public perception. And thanks to a news media that lingers on every accident they have, that perception is increasingly negative.

At what point will the public conclude (rightly or wrongly) that these vehicles are still "in beta" and refuse to adopt them? Will it take a really big and public disaster to consign self-driving cars (and lorries) to cold-storage for a few decades until the tech is finally improved, or will they be like plane crashes and the occasional fatal accident taken as "acceptable losses" (just so long as it doesn't happen to me).

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10 social networks ignored UK government consultations

Pete 2
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The wrong medium for the message

> consultation with social media on such matters has gone badly: just four of fourteen social networks invited to consultation talks showed up.

Why did Hancock expect them to turn up in person. This sort of thing sounds ideal for a group chat on Facebook.

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German IKEA trip fracas assembles over trolley right of way

Pete 2
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Smiles in the aisles

Two of the most tedious "sports" in the world are cycling and motor racing. Watching the competitors going round ..... and round ....... and round ..... and round a circuit. Sometimes for hours on end.

However if IKEA was ever given the commission to design the routes, then these "sports¹ " might actually provide some entertainment.

[1] the quote marks are meant to indicate that they aren't really sports, since so much of the result of the race is determined by the technology employed (and by extension: the amount of money spent). IMHO a proper sport would pit person against person or team against team, where the only differentiators were their individual/group skills and their level of physical fitness. That isn't to deny that these competitors have physical fitness and skill - just to point out that these attributes alone are only small factors in determining who wins.

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