Internet News Feed

Cities around US offer billions in tax breaks to be Amazon’s HQ2
amazon.campus.seattle-800x542.jpgEnlarge / Amazon's campus in South Lake Union, Seattle. (credit: Joel Rogers / Getty Images) Cities around the country are pulling out all the stops to entice Amazon to set up its second headquarters in their area. The online retail giant is taking proposals from around North America, and today's the deadline. Some of the proposals include massive tax breaks, while other cities are trying out humorous gimmicks to get the company's attention. New Jersey has offered the biggest tax incentives, consisting of up to $7 billion in state and local tax rebates if Amazon locates in Newark and hires the 50,000 workers it has said it would. The company has also promised $5 billion in spending on construction of the headquarters. The New Jersey offer, announced Monday, is $2 billion more than what Republican Governor Chris Christie and the Democratic-led New Jersey legislature agreed to last month. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
5 hours ago
Google’s AVA data set raises the bar for identifying human actions in videos
 Today Google announced a new labeled data set of human actions taking place in videos. That may sound obscure, but it’s a big deal for anyone working to solve problems in computer vision. Read More ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
7 hours ago
Facebook is failing to meet the burden of securing itself, security chief says
alex-stamos-800x600.jpgEnlarge / Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos. (credit: Dave Maass) Facebook is failing to live up to the responsibility it faces for adequately securing the vast amount of personal information it amasses, the social network's top security executive said in a leaked phone call with company employees. "The threats that we are facing have increased significantly and the quality of the adversaries that we are facing," Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said during a taped call, which was reported Thursday by ZDNet. "Both technically and from a cultural perspective, I don't feel like we have caught up with our responsibility." He continued: Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
7 hours ago
Scientists investigate why crows are so playful
NCcrowPandanusMickSibley-800x534.jpgEnlarge / A New Caledonian crow uses a serrated leaf edge to pull grubs out of a hole in a log. (credit: Mark Sibley) Crows share an interesting set of behaviors with humans: they like to play, and they often use tools. We know that humans play to learn. When toddlers knock over a pile of blocks, they're developing the ability to build and measure objects in the real world. The question is, do crows play for the same reason? An international team of cognitive scientists played with some crows to find out. What they discovered gives us a new understanding of crow consciousness, but it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Lund University cognitive science researcher Megan Lambert and her colleagues designed three experiments to figure out whether there's a relationship between crow play and their ability to use tools to solve puzzles. It's well-documented that wild New Caledonian crows make a variety of tools, from hooked sticks to specially-prepared leaf edges, to pull insects out of hard-to-reach spots in trees. But crows have also been observed doing all kinds of weird things with tools, often for what seems like the pursuit of fun. ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
7 hours ago
Axon wants you (yes, you!) to submit photos, videos to police
1-800x399.jpegEnlarge / An officer demonstrates Axon Citizen, a new Web portal to submit data to police. (credit: Axon) Axon, the company formerly known as Taser, either wants to encourage helpful citizens or snitches—depending on how you feel about talking to police—to come forward. On Thursday, the company announced "Axon Citizen," a new "public safety portal" that lets civilians submit text, video, and audio files directly to participating law enforcement agencies that use its cloud storage service, Evidence.com. The company, which already is the largest provider of body-worn cameras and associated storage to American law enforcement agencies, said in a press release that submitted data "goes straight into Evidence.com, so community members do not need to hand their phones over to police. The direct upload to Evidence.com eliminates any need for officers to download, print, and transfer data to a USB drive and physically place it inside an evidence locker at the agency." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
9 hours ago
USA Liberty Act Needs a Real Backdoor Fix for FISA 702
This is the second post in a series discussing the USA Liberty Act, the first bill introduced to reform FISA Section 702. Last week, a bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members introduced the first bill to reform Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. H.R. 3989, the USA Liberty Act, includes many important provisions, but has a serious flaw: it fails to ensure that the government obtains a warrant before searching through its mass 702 databases for the communications of U.S. persons, defined as U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Section 702 allows the government to broadly collect foreign intelligence information with the help of American communications service providers. It is used by the NSA, FBI, and CIA, and surveillance under this law must be targeted at foreigners overseas. According to public reports, there were 106,000 targets last year, all of which were chosen without any judicial review. While U.S. persons and people in the U.S. are not the targets of this program, their communications are regularly picked up by 702 surveillance because they communicate with the foreigners who are. This does not mean these people are knowingly in contact with terrorists, but instead with people the U.S. ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
9 hours ago
Alphabet leads $1 billion investment in Lyft, but is GM on the way out?
GettyImages-526977350-1-800x509.jpgEnlarge / A Lyft-branded car picks up a passenger in San Francisco on June 20, 2015. (credit: Ramin Talaie | Getty Images) In September, we found out that Alphabet was possibly about to invest in the ride-hailing company Lyft. On Wednesday, Recode reported that the speculation was correct, and Google's parent company is leading a $1 billion round of investment that raises Lyft's valuation to $11 billion. Another Alphabet company, Waymo, is developing self-driving cars and partnered with Lyft earlier this year, presumably for the infrastructure that will allow it to find customers for the service that looks set to launch in Phoenix, Arizona. As we explained recently, Lyft has been putting together a host of partnerships of late, an Android-like strategy that is positioning the company well for the coming years. Lyft has become a recognized and trusted brand, which is critically important when trying to get customers to choose you over a rival like Uber. Lyft has also inked deals with Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, and General Motors invested $500 million in the company last year. GM and Lyft were believed to be planning on filling the streets of San Francisco with driverless Bolt electric vehicles ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
9 hours ago
New bill seeks greater transparency for political ads on Facebook, Google and Twitter
Three US senators have just introduced the Honest Ads Act, a new bill that seeks to bring greater transparency to political ads displayed on internet services such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.   The bill comes to the fore as congressional investigations into Russian interference in the lead up to and during the 2016 election continue. The Honest Ads Act is sponsored by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ).The Honest Ads Act would make it so internet ads are subject to the same disclosure rules as those in print, TV and radio. This means making copies of political ads available to the public and disclosing who purchased the ads, as well as the audiences targeted by the ads. The types of ads covered by the bill include those for and against candidates and those pertaining to issues of national importance. As described by Senator Klobuchar during a press conference introducing the bill, the Honest Ads Act would make it so online platforms disclose paid political ads in the same way as more traditional forms of media disclose the same information. The bill would essentially extend current disclosure rules to these newer online platforms.  The senators say ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
10 hours ago
Running chemical reactions in liquid metal makes atomically thin materials
tower_2.jpgEnlarge / Droplets of a gallium/indium alloy. (credit: Collin Ladd, NC State University) The discovery of graphene—a one-atom-thick sheet of covalently bonded carbon atoms—inspired the research community to generate a variety of 2D materials. Graphene, MoS2, the silicon equivalent of graphene, and more all have distinct properties based on the chemical bonding among their component atoms. And it's possible to leverage these properties to create commonplace devices on an unprecedentedly small scale, like a three-atom-thick LED. Obviously, the more materials we have to work with, the better we can fine-tune one of these devices to our needs. But producing 2D materials is a challenge, as there are a limited number of substances that lend themselves to the chemically bonded layers we know how to work with. Now, an Australian-US team (writing in Science) has devised a way to make a broad class of atomically thin metal oxides, including 2D versions of materials already in use by the electronics industry. Their secret? A room temperature liquid metal. Selective This is one of those cases where a series of simple observations led to a major development. In many cases, pure metals will react with oxygen in the air to form a ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
10 hours ago
The Mac mini isn’t dead yet, says Tim Cook
IMG_0442-640x362.jpgThe 2014 Mac Mini. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) More than 1,000 days have passed since Apple updated its Mac mini hardware. Since then, Apple has launched the Apple Watch, AirPods, the retina MacBook, and the Touch Bar MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the Mac mini has existed in a state of arrested development. You'd be forgiven for considering the possibility that the product has been living its last days. But in an e-mail to an Apple customer today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Mac mini isn't going anywhere. The customer, who goes by the name Krar, e-mailed Cook to note that the Mac mini hasn't seen an update in three years. Krar wanted to know, "Are we are going to see anything in the pipeline any time soon?" Cook's response, which was shared on MacRumors, said: I'm glad you love the Mac mini. We love it too. Our customers have found so many creative and interesting uses for the Mac mini. While it is not time to share any details, we do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward. He's not saying much, but even confirmation that this product has a future is in some ways surprising. The entry-level ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
10 hours ago
Couple sues PG&E for negligence, says power lines caused wildfire
GettyImages-861519882-800x533.jpgEnlarge / SANTA ROSA, CA -OCTOBER 14: The ruins of houses destroyed by the Tubbs Fire are seen near Fountaingrove Parkway on October 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. At least 40 people are confirmed dead with hundreds still missing. Officials expect the death toll to rise and now estimate that 5,700 structures have been destroyed. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images) A couple who lost its Santa Rosa home in the devastating October Tubbs Fire has sued the local utility for negligence, saying that untrimmed tree branches caught fire when they came into contact with power lines and other equipment. The California Department of Forestry hasn’t officially ruled on what caused the October fires that consumed hundreds of thousands of acres in northern California and killed dozens of people, but officials have asked Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to preserve records for subsequent investigations into the causes of the fires. Last week, the Bay Area paper Mercury News reported that the night the fires started, “emergency dispatchers in Sonoma County received multiple calls of power lines falling down and electrical transformers exploding.” The night had been a particularly windy one, and PG&E spokesperson Matt Nauman told the paper that “The ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
11 hours ago
Dealmaster: Get a Dell XPS Tower desktop with 16GB of RAM for $620
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list includes the usual slew of PC and laptop discounts, including savings on a Dell XPS Tower desktop, several Dell laptops, and even a Star Wars-themed Lenovo notebook. The rest of the roundup includes deals on wireless home cameras, 4K TVs, and networking equipment, among other things. You can take a peek below. Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
11 hours ago
Blue Origin just sent a jolt through the aerospace industry
blueorigin-800x424.jpgEnlarge / Frame from a short video of Blue Origin's hot fire engine test Wednesday. (credit: Blue Origin) New space company Blue Origin has spent the better part of this decade developing a powerful rocket engine for use in its orbital rocket, New Glenn, and potentially other US-based launchers. This engine, the liquid natural gas-powered BE-4, has been closely watched both within the aerospace industry and in military space because it uses innovative new technology, has largely been developed with private funding, and is fully reusable. However, while there was great promise with the new engine, it still had to perform. And so the aerospace community has been watching development of the engine to see if it could pass a key hurdle—a hot-fire test. After months of waiting, that's what finally happened on Wednesday at the company's facility in West Texas when the BE-4 engine fired at 50-percent power for three seconds. First hotfire of our BE-4 engine is a success #GradatimFerociter pic.twitter.com/xuotdzfDjF — Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 19, 2017 This demonstration sends a clear signal that there is a new player in the industry preparing to compete both for national security and commercial launches. Some have ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
11 hours ago
$100 Internet bill became $340 for no reason, Frontier customer says
getty-overcharged-800x532.jpgEnlarge / Man posing for stock image is really surprised by the size of his bill. (credit: Getty Images | sturti) Frontier Communications' purchase of FiOS and DSL networks from Verizon last year led to immediate problems for customers that took weeks to resolve. More than a year later, some ex-Verizon customers in Florida say they are still having major problems with their new provider. "Some say Frontier Communications has overcharged them hundreds of dollars and have struggled to get a satisfactory response from customer service," a report by ABC Action News in Tampa Bay said last week. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
12 hours ago
IDG Contributor Network: Before you build your bot: what it takes to make a successful chatbot
With hundreds of new bots popping up daily, it seems everyone is exploring chatbot development. In fact, the chatbot market size is estimated to grow from $703.3 million in 2016 to $3.2 billion by 2021. In an ever-expanding sea of chatbots, how do you stand out from the crowd? With 49.4 percent of people saying they would rather contact a business through messaging over phone, building a chatbot should be on your to-do list. Here are some tips and tricks to make your chatbot successful.1. Chatty chatbots are best The best chatbots sound and read human. People make the occasional typo or spelling mistake—and so should your chatbot. If every response is typed flawlessly, it could come across as robotic and too structured. Give your bot the freedom to be a little casual, code in the occasional typo—and always remember to keep it conversational.  The best bots learn from the conversation and weave those learnings into the bot/human exchange.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here ... read more
Published on 10-19-2017
12 hours ago
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