Just over two weeks after an unprecedented hack led to the compromise of the Twitter accounts of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and dozens more, authorities have charged three men in connection with the incident. The alleged "mastermind" is a 17-year-old from Tampa, who will be tried as an adult. There are still plenty of details outstanding about how they might have pulled it off, but court documents show how a trail of bitcoin and IP addresses led investigators to the alleged hackers. A Garmin ransomware hack disrupted more than just workouts during a days-long outage; security researchers see it as part of a troubling trend of "big game hunting" among ransomware groups. In other alarming trends, hackers are breaking into news sites to publish misinformation through their content management systems, giving them an air of legitimacy.
The federal government on Tuesday asked a federal judge to sentence Anthony Levandowski to 27 months in prison for theft of trade secrets. In March, Levandowski pleaded guilty to stealing a single confidential document related to Google's self-driving technology on his way out the door to his new startup. That startup was quickly acquired by Uber, triggering a titanic legal battle between the companies that was settled in 2018. This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.
US representatives Will Hurd and Robin Kelly are from opposite sides of the ever-widening aisle, but they share a concern that the US may lose its grip on artificial intelligence, threatening the American economy and the balance of world power. Thursday, Hurd (R-Texas) and Kelly (D-Illinois) offered suggestions to prevent the US from falling behind China, especially, on applications of AI to defense and national security. They want to cut off China's access to AI-specific silicon chips and push Congress and federal agencies to devote more resources to advancing and safely deploying AI technology. Although Capitol Hill is increasingly divided, the bipartisan duo claim to see an emerging consensus that China poses a serious threat and that supporting US tech development is a vital remedy. "American leadership and advanced technology has been critical to our success since World War II, and we are in a race with the government of China," Hurd says. "It's time for Congress to play its role."
In late 2017, AB InBev, the Belgian giant behind Budweiser and other beers, began adding a little artificial intelligence to its brewing recipe. Using data collected from a brewery in Newark, New Jersey, the company developed an AI algorithm to predict potential problems with the filtration process used to remove impurities from beer. Paul Silverman, who runs the New Jersey Beer Company, a small operation not far from the AB InBev brewery, says his team isn't even using computers, let alone AI. "We sit around tasting beer and thinking about what to make next," he says. The divide between the two breweries highlights the pace at which AI is being adopted by US companies. With so much hype around artificial intelligence, you might imagine that it's everywhere.
On Thursday morning, NASA is scheduled to launch its new Mars rover, Perseverance, on a six-month journey to the Red Planet. The car-sized rover will be boosted into space atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket departing from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It's the third and final Mars mission to depart Earth this summer; earlier in July, China and the United Arab Emirates also launched their first Martian explorers. Perseverance is essentially an alien-hunting self-driving car. It's primary mission is to find possible signs of ancient life hidden in the Martian soil and bottle them up so they can be returned to Earth by another robotic mission later this decade.
Instagram encourages its billion or so users to add filters to their photos to make them more shareable. In February 2019, some Instagram users began editing their photos with a different audience in mind: Facebook's automated porn filters. Facebook depends heavily on moderation powered by artificial intelligence, and it says the tech is particularly good at spotting explicit content. But some users found they could sneak past Instagram's filters by overlaying patterns such as grids or dots on rule-breaking displays of skin. That meant more work for Facebook's human content reviewers.
Huge fleets of Chinese fishing boats have been caught stealthily operating in North Korean waters--while having their tracking systems turned off. The potentially illegal fishing operation was revealed through a combination of artificial intelligence, radar and satellite data. This story originally appeared on WIRED UK. A study published today in the journal Science Advances details how more than 900 vessels of Chinese origin (over 900 in 2017 and over 700 in 2018) likely caught more than 160,000 metric tons--close to half a billion dollars' worth--of Pacific flying squid over two years. This may be in violation of United Nations sanctions, which began restricting North Korea from foreign fishing in September 2017 following the country's ballistic missile tests.
Opinions about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing are sharply divided, largely along red and blue lines. Conservatives Republicans are the least likely to wear a mask, according to poll data from Pew Research. Some neuroscientists believe that lessons from their field, applied appropriately, could help break the impasse and persuade more people to follow scientists' recommendations. "A lot of these attitudes are really about your group identity," says Elliot Berkman, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon studying neurological responses to public health messaging. "Face masks are political, but it's also about groups. It's like, 'I'm a Democrat or a Republican, and that's how I think of myself. And I need to endorse this attitude so I can fit in with my group.'"
Through the pixel fuzz of a sputtering Zoom connection, it's hard to be sure if the eyes staring out from the laptop screen are human. Lars Buttler is a real person, but he is the CEO of AI Foundation, a company that makes fake ones: trainable, artificially intelligent agents that might one day take the place of a human personal assistant, a customer service representative, or you yourself (if you aspire to omnipresence or digital deathlessness). When Buttler appeared in a Zoom call last week, there was something strange about the light hitting his shaved head, and the stark white office behind him definitely wasn't part of the material world. His speech was awkward, with overlong pauses and canned jokes that fell on a silent audience, but video calls are like that, at least for now, while people adjust to working lives forced into the ether. His eyes seemed awake and alive in a way that the faces of the other participants in the Zoom call--venture capitalist, a tech founder, and an activist, all of them puppeted by artificial intelligence--were not.
Later this month, NASA is expected to launch its latest Mars rover, Perseverance, on a first-of-its-kind mission to the Red Planet. Its job is to collect and store geological samples so they can eventually be returned to Earth. Perseverance will spend its days poking the Jezero Crater, an ancient Martian river delta, and the samples it collects may contain the first evidence of extraterrestrial life. But first it has to find them. For that, it needs some damn good computers--at least by Martian standards.