A Third of the Nation’s Honeybee Colonies Died Last Year

A third of the honeybees in the United States were lost over the last year, part of a decade-long die-off experts said may threaten our food supply. USA Today reports: The annual survey of roughly 5,000 beekeepers showed the 33% dip from April 2016 to April 2017. The decrease is small compared to the survey’s previous 10 years, when the decrease hovered at roughly 40%. From 2012 to 2013, nearly half of the nation’s colonies died. The death of a colony doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of bees, explains vanEngelsdorp, a project director at the Bee Informed Partnership. A beekeeper can salvage a dead colony, but doing so comes at labor and productivity costs. That causes beekeepers to charge farmers more for pollinating crops and creates a scarcity of bees available for pollination. It’s a trend that threatens beekeepers trying to make a living and could lead to a drop-off in fruits and nuts reliant on pollination, vanEngelsdor said. So what’s killing the honeybees? Parasites, diseases, poor nutrition, and pesticides among many others. The chief killer is the varroa mite, a “lethal parasite,” which researchers said spreads among colonies.

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When AI Botches Your Medical Diagnosis, Who’s To Blame?

Robert Hart has posed an interested question in his report on Quartz: When artificial intelligence botches your medical diagnosis, who’s to blame? Do you blame the AI, designer or organization? It’s just one of many questions popping up and starting to be seriously pondered by experts as artificial intelligence and automation continue to become more entwined into our daily lives. From the report: The prospect of being diagnosed by an AI might feel foreign and impersonal at first, but what if you were told that a robot physician was more likely to give you a correct diagnosis? Medical error is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and as many as one in six patients in the British NHS receive incorrect diagnoses. With statistics like these, it’s unsurprising that researchers at Johns Hopkins University believe diagnostic errors to be “the next frontier for patient safety.” Of course, there are downsides. AI raises profound questions regarding medical responsibility. Usually when something goes wrong, it is a fairly straightforward matter to determine blame. A misdiagnosis, for instance, would likely be the responsibility of the presiding physician. A faulty machine or medical device that harms a patient would likely see the manufacturer or operator held to account. What would this mean for an AI?

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New SMB Worm Uses Seven NSA Hacking Tools. WannaCry Used Just Two

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers have detected a new worm that is spreading via SMB, but unlike the worm component of the WannaCry ransomware, this one is using seven NSA tools instead of two. Named EternalRocks, the worm seems to be in a phase where it is infecting victims and building its botnet, but not delivering any malware payload. EternalRocks is far more complex than WannaCry’s SMB worm. For starters, it uses a delayed installation process that waits 24 hours before completing the install, as a way to evade sandbox environments. Further, the worm also uses the exact same filenames as WannaCry in an attempt to fool researchers of its true origin, a reason why the worm has evaded researchers almost all week, despite the attention WannaCry payloads have received. Last but not least, the worm does not have a killswitch domain, which means the worm can’t be stopped unless its author desires so. Because of the way it was designed, it is trivial for the worm’s owner to deliver any type of malware to any of the infected computers. Unfortunately, because of the way he used the DOUBLEPULSAR implant, one of the seven NSA hacking tools, other attackers can hijack its botnet and deliver their own malware as well. IOCs are available in a GitHub repo. Ars Technica quotes security researchers who say “there are at least three different groups that have been leveraging the NSA exploit to infect enterprise networks since late April… These attacks demonstrate that many endpoints may still be compromised despite having installed the latest security patch.”

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Can You Copyright a Joke?

Reader AnalogDiehard writes: Writer Alex Kaseburg has filed a lawsuit against TBS and Time Warner alleging that jokes recited on the Conan O’Brien show were stolen from his blog shortly after they were published. The case gets heard in August and could create new protections in a legal forum in which there is little precedent or clear definition in what defines a joke as “original” and subject to legal protection, especially in an industry where theft of humor occurs on a regular basis. But the outcome of any judicial decision opens a big can of worms and raises serious questions: Will YouTube videos get shut down from DMCA notices citing copyrighted jokes? Will compliance staff have to be retained to ensure that their magazine or news article, TV show, movie, or broadway act is not infringing on copyrighted jokes? Will copyrights on jokes get near-perpetual protection like the controversial Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act? Will people be able to recite limericks without fear of infringing? Will tyrannical politicians copyright critical jokes to oppress freedom of speech? Will legal cases be filed arguing that a comedian’s joke(s) bears too much similarity to a copyrighted joke recited decades ago? Will girl scouts be free to tell copyright jokes around the campfire?

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Microsoft Wants To Monitor Your Workplace With AI, Computer Vision and the Cloud

“If you’re an employee under the heel of a giant corporation you should probably be terrified by the vision of the future of connected gadgets that Microsoft just revealed at its Build developer conference here in Seattle,” warns Gizmodo. Slashdot reader dryriver writes:
Gizmodo reports on a Microsoft Workplace Monitoring demo where CCTV cameras watch a workplace — like a construction site — on 24/7 basis, and AI algorithms constantly oversee and evaluate what is happening in that workplace. The system can track where employees are, where physical equipment and tools are at what time, who does what at what time in this workplace and apparently use Cloud-based AI of some sort to evaluate what is happening in the workplace being monitored. Spotting employees misbehaving, breaking workplace rules or putting themselves and expensive equipment at risk may be the intended “value proposition” this system brings to the workplace. Another aspect may be reducing insurance premiums employers pay by creating a strict, highly monitored work environment. But the system is also very Big Brother — an AI is monitoring people and equipment in a workplace in realtime at all times, and all the data ends up being processed in the Microsoft Cloud. Gizmodo gave their article the title, “Microsoft’s Latest Workplace Tech Demos Creep Me Out.”

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New IoT Malware Targets 100,000 IP Cameras Via Known Flaw

Researcher Pierre Kim has found a new malware, called Persirai, that has been infecting over 100,000 Chinese-made, internet-connected cameras. According to Trend Micro, the malware has been active since last month and works by exploiting flaws in the cameras that Kim reported back in March. CSO Online reports: At least 1,250 camera models produced by a Chinese manufacturer possess the bugs, the researcher went on to claim. Over a month later in April, Trend Micro noticed a new malware that spreads by exploiting the same products via the recently disclosed flaws. The security firm estimates that about 120,000 cameras are vulnerable to the malware, based on Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected hardware. The Persirai malware is infecting the cameras to form a botnet, or an army of enslaved computers. These botnets can launch DDoS attacks, which can overwhelm websites with internet traffic, forcing them offline. Once Persirai infects, it’ll also block anyone else from exploiting the same vulnerabilities on the device. Security firm Qihoo 360 has also noticed the malware and estimated finding 43,621 devices in China infected with it. Interestingly, Persirai borrows some computer code from a notorious malware known as Mirai, which has also been infecting IoT devices, such as DVRs, internet routers, and CCTV cameras, but by guessing the passwords protecting them.

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Microsoft Patents Flagging Technology For ‘Repeat Offenders’ Of Pirated Content

An anonymous reader quotes TorrentFreak’s report on Microsoft’s newest patent:
Titled: “Disabling prohibited content and identifying repeat offenders in service provider storage systems,” the patent describes a system where copyright infringers, and those who publish other objectionable content, are flagged so that frequent offenders can be singled out… “The incident history can be processed to identify repeat offenders and modify access privileges of those users,” the patent reads. [PDF] The “repeat infringer” is a hot topic at the moment, after ISP Cox Communications was ordered to pay $ 25 million for its failure to disconnect repeat offenders…
As far a we know, this is the first patent that specifically deals with the repeat infringer situation in these hosting situations, but it’s not uncommon for cloud hosting services to prevent users from sharing infringing content. We previously uncovered that Google Drive uses hash matching to prevent people from sharing “flagged” files in public, and Dropbox does the same.

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California Seeks To Tax Rocket Launches, Which Are Already Taxed

The state of California is looking into taxing its thriving rocket industry. The Franchise Tax Board has issued a proposed regulation for public comment that would require companies that launch spacecraft to pay a tax based upon “mileage” traveled by that spacecraft from California. Ars Technica reports: The proposal says that California-based companies that launch spacecraft will have to pay a tax based upon “mileage” traveled by that spacecraft from California. (No, we’re not exactly sure what this means, either). The proposed regulations were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Thomas Lo Grossman, a tax attorney at the Franchise Tax Board, told the newspaper that the rules are designed to mirror the ways taxes are levied on terrestrial transportation and logistics firms operating in California, like trucking or train companies. The tax board is seeking public input from now until June 16, when it is expected to vote on the proposed tax. The federal government already has its own taxes for commercial space companies, and until now no other state has proposed taxing commercial spaceflight. In fact most other states, including places like Florida, Texas, and Georgia, offer launch providers tax incentives to move business into their areas.

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Intel Patches Remote Execution Hole That’s Been Hidden In Its Chips Since 2008

Chris Williams reports via The Register: Intel processor chipsets have, for roughly the past nine years, harbored a security flaw that can be exploited to remotely control and infect vulnerable systems with virtually undetectable spyware and other malicious code. Specifically, the bug is in Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT), Standard Manageability (ISM) and Small Business Technology (SBT) firmware versions 6 to 11.6. According to Chipzilla, the security hole allows “an unprivileged attacker to gain control of the manageability features provided by these products.” That means hackers exploiting the flaw can silently snoop on a vulnerable machine’s users, make changes to files and read them, install rootkits and other malware, and so on. This is possible across the network, or with local access. These management features have been available in various Intel chipsets for years, starting with the Nehalem Core i7 in 2008, all the way up to Kaby Lake Core parts in 2017. According to Intel today, this critical security vulnerability, labeled CVE-2017-5689, was found and reported in March by Maksim Malyutin at Embedi. To get the patch to close the hole, you’ll have to pester your machine’s manufacturer for a firmware update, or try the mitigations here. These updates are hoped to arrive within the next few weeks.

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Elon Musk Outlines His ‘Boring’ Vision For Traffic-Avoiding Tunnels

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed new details about his futuristic tunnel-boring project during his TED talk on Friday. Ina Fried, writing for Axios: In an appearance at the TED conference in Vancouver, Musk showed off a new video visualization of electric skates transporting cars in a narrow tunnel, then raising them back to street level in a space as small as two parking spaces. Inside the tunnels, Musk said cars could travel as fast as 200 kilometers per hour (roughly 130 MPH). “You should be able to go from say Westwood to LAX in 5-6 minutes,” the Tesla and SpaceX founder said, adding he is spending only 2-3 percent on the tunnel effort. The Boring Company is currently building a demo tunnel in SpaceX’s parking lot, but will need permits from the city of Los Angeles to extend beyond the property line. Musk added, “I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.” You can watch the video here.

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