A federal probe into Facebook's sharing of user data with Cambridge Analytica now involves the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department, the Washington Post reported. Representatives from these agencies have joined the Federal Trade Commission in the inquiry, the newspaper reported, citing five unnamed people familiar with the matter. Those people spoke on condition of anonymity because the probes are not complete. The probe reportedly centers on what Facebook knew in 2015, when it learned that the political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users. Facebook didn't disclose the incident with the political firm, which later worked for the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates, until this March.
The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show "The Voice" on her phone and looking downward just before fatally striking a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix, according to a police report. The 300-page report released Thursday night by police in Tempe revealed that driver Rafaela Vasquez had been streaming the musical talent show via Hulu in the 43 minutes before the March 18 crash that killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a darkened road outside the lines of a crosswalk. The report said the crash, which marks the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, wouldn't have happened had the driver not been distracted. Dash camera video shows Vasquez was looking down near her right knee for four or five seconds before the crash. She looked up a half second before striking Herzberg as the Volvo was traveling about 44 miles per hour.
As if Will Smith didn't make an entire movie warning us about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have now created the world's first'psychopath' robot. Researchers at the MIT media lab have trained an AI algorithm nicknamed "Norman"--a reference to the character of Norman Bates in Psycho--to exhibit psychopathic tendencies by exposing it exclusively to gruesome and violent content from what they say is Reddit content page that is "dedicated to document and observe the disturbing reality of death." Here's what MIT has to say about the whole thing: Norman is born from the fact that the data that is used to teach a machine learning algorithm can significantly influence its behavior. So when people talk about AI algorithms being biased and unfair, the culprit is often not the algorithm itself, but the biased data that was fed to it. The same method can see very different things in an image, even sick things, if trained on the wrong (or, the right!) data set.
Catching a wildlife poacher in the act is a tricky business. Just ask the officials and groups who have spent decades and millions of dollars searching for criminal animal hunters and traders operating covertly from South Africa to China. Their work is complicated by several factors, from government corruption that foils anti-poaching efforts to extreme poverty that draws people into the industry in the first place. Poachers tend to go about their illicit business under cover of night, and it's hard to find people among millions of square miles of pitch-black forest. "Eighty percent of poaching happens under the cover of darkness."
The above video was provided by Intel. If you're a six-foot human standing on a paddleboard, it's just as well you don't know that a 60-foot, 40-ton humpback whale with 16-foot flippers is surfacing directly beneath you. The only thing more unsettling would be if there were four 60-ft., 40-ton humpback whales with 16-foot flippers doing the same. Just such a don't-look-down moment played out off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 2016. Ordinarily, it would have been the kind of experience that the paddleboarder--who came through unharmed--would have described to his friends with a helpless "You should've seen it."
Last fourth of July, as fireworks burst across the night sky near the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, S.C., convicted kidnapper Jimmy Causey tucked a lifelike dummy into his bed, sneaked out of his prison cell and completed a daring escape. It wasn't until three days later, when Texas Rangers found Causey holed up 1,200 miles away, that authorities offered an explanation for how he had obtained the equipment for the breakout, including a pair of wire cutters used to snip through four fences that encircle the maximum security prison. "We believe a drone was used to fly in the tools that allowed him to escape," Bryan Stirling, director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, told reporters at a news conference. A lengthy investigation confirmed that an accessory role was played by a small, off-the-shelf drone. And with that, law-enforcement and national security officials added "prison breaks" to the potential ill uses lurking in a technology widely available at retailers including Amazon and Walmart.
Today's store-bought drones are remarkably easy to fly, thanks to features like self-stabilization technology, obstacle avoidance sensors and so on. You could walk out of a shop, charge up your batteries and be airborne for the first time all within a single afternoon. But as the video compilation above shows, it's probably still a good idea to get some practice in before attempting any particularly tricky stunts. Even if drones have all sorts of high-tech features designed to keep them airborne, they aren't impervious to the constant pull of earth's gravity, the branches of an unseen tree, or even the grasp of a curious animal. Watch the video above to see a selection of drone crashes from the aircraft's perspective.
Around the time Leonardo Da Vinci was painting the Mona Lisa, he was also writing his Codex on the Flight of Birds, a roughly 35,000-word exploration of the ways in which man might take to the air. His illustrations included diagrams positing pre-Newtonian theories of physics, a rudimentary plan for a flying machine and many, many sketches of birds in flight. The Mona Lisa, with her secretive smile, is a universe of intimacy captured on a relatively small panel of wood. But the landscape behind his captivating subject shows the world as you would see it from atop a tall hill--or from the vantage point you would get if you had hitched a ride on the back of a giant bird. Even as da Vinci was perfecting one way of seeing a face, he was dreaming of other ways of looking.
The autonomous Uber SUV that struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March spotted the woman about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled, according to federal investigators. In a preliminary report on the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that emergency braking is not enabled while Uber's cars are under computer control, "to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior." Instead, Uber relies on a human backup driver to intervene. The system, however, is not designed to alert the driver. In the crash, the driver began steering less than a second before impact but didn't brake until less than a second after impact, according to the preliminary report, which does not determine fault.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to "easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone." The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency -- the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon -- to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country. But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time. The tech giant's entry into the market could vastly accelerate such developments, the privacy advocates fear, with potentially dire consequences for minorities who are already arrested at disproportionate rates, immigrants who may be in the country illegally or political protesters. "People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government," the groups wrote in a letter to Amazon on Tuesday.