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Showing posts from August 24, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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North Korea's dangerously rudimentary nuclear command-and-control systems

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[Another dose of creepiness for today! See also: New photos signal North Korea may have more powerful missile in the works. This makes me feel oh-so-much better about the story telling how little control there is over Trump's finger on the nuclear button!! *RON*]

Andrew O'Neil, The Interpreter, 24 August 2017


Conventional wisdom tells us that because North Korea’s elites are rational actors, they will conclude that the benefits of employing nuclear weapons will be outweighed by the costs. Regime extinction is identified as the most compelling cost, and Kim Jong-un’s instinct for self-preservation is said to override all other considerations.

But the prospects of North Korea using nuclear weapons during crises, or in the initial stages of a conventional (that is, non-nuclear) conflict, are greater than generally acknowledged. This is not based on any assumption about the rationality or otherwise of the Kim Jong-un regime; rather, that nuc…

It's Disturbing Who The B.C. Government Is Giving Tax Breaks To

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[Some of the companies in the roster of members does make one wonder what the extent of the government's due diligence was before the tax breaks were extended. *RON*]
Dermod Travis, Huffington Post, 23 August 2017

They're the stories that tug at us when we read them.

Here's one from Waco, Texas: "My 86 year old mom... is losing her money to these people who promise her in order to accept her "sweepstakes" she has to keep sending them money for processing fees. She suffers from dementia and this company is taking advantage of her. Someone needs to find this company and make them stop abusing and taking money from the elderly."

Someone did — the U.S. Treasury Department.

They found the company — PacNet Services, a payment processor — on Howe St. in downtown Vancouver.

According to the department, it had "a nearly 20-year history of knowingly processing payments related to fraudulent solicitation schemes."

U.S. la…

Industrial hack can turn powerful machines into killer robots

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[The story title is factual. *RON*]
Taylor Hatmaker, Tech Crunch, 23 August 2017


When we imagine the existential threat to humanity posed by automation, we usually think of the negative impact on the workforce, not robots quite literally bludgeoning us to death.

In a post titled “Exploiting Industrial Collaborative Robots,” security researchers at IOActive detail how popular models of consumer and industrial robots have already been compromised in such a way that could cause humans bodily harm. The study examines a class of collaborative robots designed to work together with their human counterparts, often in industrial settings.

IOActive’s research focuses specifically on a set of unpatched vulnerabilities affecting the UR line of robots, made by Universal Robots, including “authentication issues in many of the control protocols, susceptibility to physical attacks, memory corruption vulnerabilities, and insecure communication transport.” The team …

Hackers Are the Real Obstacle for Self-Driving Vehicles

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[Creepy stuff. Out-of-work truckers armed with “adversarial machine learning” could dazzle autonomous vehicles into crashing. *RON*]
Simson Garfinkel, MIT Technology Review, 22 August 2017

Before autonomous trucks and taxis hit the road, manufacturers will need to solve problems far more complex than collision avoidance and navigation (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017: Self-Driving Trucks”).

These vehicles will have to anticipate and defend against a full spectrum of malicious attackers wielding both traditional cyberattacks and a new generation of attacks based on so-called adversarial machine learning (see “AI Fight Club Could Help Save Us from a Future of Super-Smart Cyberattacks”). As consensus grows that autonomous vehicles are just a few years away from being deployed in cities as robotic taxis, and on highways to ease the mind-numbing boredom of long-haul trucking, this risk of attack has been largely missing from the breathless cover…

No alternative to austerity? That lie has now been nailed

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[For years we’ve been told that only deep cuts can save our economy. Portugal’s socialist-led government has proved the opposite. *RON*]

Owen Jones, The Guardian, Thursday 24 August 2017

Ever since the banks plunged the western world into economic chaos, we have been told that only cuts offer economic salvation. When the Conservatives and the Lib Dems formed their austerity coalition in 2010, they told the electorate – in apocalyptic tones – that without George Osborne’s scalpel, Britain would go the way of Greece. The economically illiterate metaphor of a household budget was relentlessly deployed – you shouldn’t spend more if you’re personally in debt, so why should the nation? – to popularise an ideologically driven fallacy.
But now, thanks to Portugal, we know how flawed the austerity experiment enforced across Europe was. Portugal was one of the European nations hardest hit by the economic crisis. After a bailout by a troika including the In…