Humans vs. Machines – Hackers in the Pentagon and Tesla – Show Notes

Scientists Think They Know the Year Computers Will Render Our Brains Obsolete

This week, the greatest minds in science and technology pleaded with the world to prevent an artificial intelligence “arms race” — an apocalyptic scenario in which terrorists would have access to highly advanced weapons like killer robots.

The issue arose back in April when representatives from Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School wrote a paper calling for the United Nations to ban “killer robot” production until regulation and legal stipulations — for instance, who’s at fault when a robot shoots an unassigned target — could be put in place.

We should be listening when some of the most trusted minds in tech, including Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and Stephen Hawking, are warning the world about letting AI weapons go off the rails. But history and science demonstrate that their predictions for hyper-intelligent computers aren’t as far-fetched as they sound. Computers could soon “think” faster than human beings too.

“The problem is, when the machine realizes it can do anything and grow in terms of speed, capacity and memory, it might learn to deceive us very quickly.” — Zoltan Istvan

Megacool! 360° Aerial Panorama, 3D Virtual Tours Around the World

AirPano is a not-for-profit project focused on high-resolution virtual tours from a bird’s eye view. AirPano has already photographed over two hundred most interesting locations on our planet and it is the largest resource for 360° aerial panoramas in the world. There are more than two thousand spherical panoramas on THE website at the moment.

Is This Woburn, MA Flying Car Company For Real?

Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), based inWoburn, MA, is comprised of a team of award-winning engineers who have been advancing the state of personal aircraft since 2006. Founded by five pilots who are graduates of MIT and supported by a world-class network of advisors and private investors, Terrafugia’s mission is the innovative expansion of personal mobility. “Terrafugia” is Latin for “escape from land.”

The TF-X promises to:

  • be a plug-in hybrid on the ground
  • drive like a normal car
  • have a range of over 500 miles
  • fit inside a single-car garage

It’s expected to hit the market in 2021.

Why Virtual Reality Is About to Change the World

It’s going to be a wild ride—and it starts this Christmas. In the August 17 cover story of TIME, we take a deep look at the mainstreaming of virtual reality, the long-promised technology that is now becoming widely available to consumers. Headsets from Facebook’s Oculus, Valve, Sony, Microsoft, Google and many others will start going on sale this year, and competition will increase dramatically through 2016.

At first they’ll be bought by hardcore gamers and gadget geeks. They’ll be expensive–as much as $1,500 with all the accoutrements. And just as with cell phones, everyone else will mock the early adopters for mindlessly embracing unnecessary technology with no useful purpose. At first.

Russia hacks Pentagon computers: NBC, citing sources

U.S. officials tell NBC News that Russia launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” against the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system, which has been shut down and taken offline for nearly two weeks. According to the officials, the “sophisticated cyber intrusion” occurred sometime around July 25 and affected some 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Sources tell NBC News that it appears the cyber attack relied on some kind of automated system that rapidly gathered massive amounts of data and within a minute distributed all the information to thousands of accounts on the Internet. The officials also report the suspected Russian hackers coordinated the sophisticated cyber assault via encrypted accounts on social media.

Hackers Take Over a Tesla Model S

Chrysler isn’t the only company with their cars being hackable. This week, the Tesla Model S electric car was hacked by “White Hat” hackers who were able to get all of the cars’ systems to shut down and the emergency break to engage.

Tesla released a patch a couple of days later which owners can download to patch their cars.

Hackers Can Disable a Sniper Rifle—Or Change Its Target

At the Black Hat hacker conference in two weeks, security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger plan to present the results of a year of work hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. The married hacker couple have developed a set of techniques that could allow an attacker to compromise the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection and exploit vulnerabilities in its software. Their tricks can change variables in the scope’s calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope’s computer, or even prevent the gun from firing.

In a demonstration, the researchers were able to dial in their changes to the scope’s targeting system so precisely that they could cause a bullet to hit a bullseye of the hacker’s choosing rather than the one chosen by the shooter.

Malicious “Windows 10 Upgrade” Email Holds Your Files Ransom

CTB-Locker is a ransomware that on execution encrypts certain file types present in the user’s system. The compromised user has to pay the attacker a ransom to get the files decrypted.

There are a couple of key indicators in the message worth calling out. First, the from address, the adversaries are spoofing the email to look like it is coming directly from Microsoft ( This is a simple step that tries to get users to read further.

However, a quick look at the email header reveals that the message actually originated from IP address space allocated to Thailand.

Second, the attackers are using a similar color scheme to the one used by Microsoft.

Once a user moves past the email, downloads the zip file, extracts it, and runs the executable, they are greeted with a message from CTB-Locker, a ransomware variant. CTB-Locker is only giving users 96 hours to pay for decryption, which is a shorter window than is standard for most ransomware.

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Siri and Apple Music – PC Makers Worst Quarter – the End of Windows Everywhere – Show Notes

Deal of the Day!

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All The New Stuff You Can Ask Siri to Do with the new Apple Music

Play different radio stations: You can ask Siri things like “Play beats 1,” “Play indie rock station,” or even start artist stations like “Play Mastodon station.” You can also customize what happens with those artist stations with commands like, “I like this song,” “Don’t play this song again,” and “Play more songs like this.”

Play chart toppers: If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, you can ask Siri to play songs from any given year with commands like “Play the top songs from 1982,” or even “Play the top song from January of 1982.” You can also do it by artist with commands like, “Play the top album by The Beach Boys” or “Play the top songs by Neurosis.” Similarly, you can also ask Siri to play songs from movie soundtracks that you might not know the name of with commands like, “Play the songs from Top Gun” or “Play the Song from True Detective.”

Playlist queueing: Apple Music has both standard playlists and the “Up Next” queue from iTunes 12. You can control both with Siri. For your “Up Next” queue, you can say things like, “After this song, play ‘Stonefist’ by Health” or “Instead of this play ‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen.” You can also play Apple’s curated playlists with commands like “Play Pitchfork playlist” or “Play playlist Getting Parents to Like Noise.”

Add Music to your Library: If you’re listening to something you like on Apple Music, whether it’s an album or song, you can add it to your library with the command “Add this [song or album] to my library.”

Play Music by Chronology: If you’re not sure of the name of an album, you can still get Siri to play it if you know when it came out. You can say commands like “Play the first album from LCD Soundsystem,” or “Play the newest song by Taylor Swift.”

PC Makers Had Their Worst Quarter In Almost 2 Years

Worldwide personal computer shipments slipped a sharp 9.5% in the second quarter from a year ago, the steepest drop-off in almost two years on broad declines led by a pair of Taiwan-based manufacturers.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, consumers have been ditching PCs for tablets since 2012 and even with the planned launch of Microsoft’s MSFT 0.20% Windows 10 operating system, 2015 is shaping up to be another weak year for the PC industry. Tech lovers are more inclined to use their tablets and smartphones for their online needs, and businesses have slowed their PC upgrade cycle to save money.

Samsung may launch Galaxy Note 5 this summer to beat the next iPhone

By launching earlier, Samsung will get “some breathing room “before Apple launches its next iPhone (the rumored iPhone 6S and 6S Plus). The launch of the Galaxy Note 4 and the Note Edge were so close to the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Samsung may have lost millions of potential sales. Although the Galaxy S6 is its best smartphone yet, Samsung’s profits fell for the seventh straight quarter.

The END of WINDOWS EVERYWHERE! Is that really what Nadella wants?

[Satya Nadella is MIcrosoft’s CEO.]

Actions speak louder though, and writing off the phone business does not speak of commitment. If Nadella thinks that Microsoft’s hardware partners will step up to fill the gap, he is mistaken. They are too busy with Android, and remember the failure of Windows Phone from its first botched launch in October 2010.

The perception of many observers is that Nadella’s announcement has in effect killed Windows 10 Mobile.

The effect of Nadella’s announcement is to discourage any developers who still believe Microsoft can deliver a successful platform across PC and mobile.

Perhaps they are being rescued from futile investment, but it is odd that the company is taking these steps before its Windows 10 mobile strategy has had a chance to deliver.

Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens.

Tragic effects on teenagers who become hooked on video games, playing for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake.

Chinese doctors consider this phenomenon a clinical disorder and have established rehabilitation centers where afflicted youngsters are confined for months of sometimes draconian therapy, completely isolated from all media, the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated.

Desktop Showdown: Windows 10 vs. Mac OS X El Capitan

Just when you were getting used to your computer the way it is, the geniuses behind Windows and Mac OS are ready to change it again. But don’t fret — change is good, at least in these cases.

The new Mac OS X build, named “El Capitan” after the iconic Yosemite National Park rock formation, will arrive this fall and is full of performance and user interface updates. Meanwhile, Windows 10, available July 29, has a slew of features, new and old, that will make PCs work much better than ever before.

The Vaccine for Type-1 Diabetes Is Moving Forward

A promising vaccine that has the potential to reverse the symptoms of type I diabetes—an autoimmune disease often diagnosed in childhood. The vaccine has succeed in reversing type 1 diabetes in a trial among mice and in a phase I trial in 103 humans.

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Last-Minute Deals on Upscale Hotels – Mac OS Hack – Password Manager Hacked

Texting bans for drivers not putting a dent in accident rates

A study of accident rates indicates that the bans may not be having the desired effect, as accident rates may actually be increasing in some states that have enacted them.

The study was done by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a nonprofit that is supported by auto insurers and has access to their data on accident claims.

But accident rates are also influenced by a variety of factors beyond the texting ban, and the HLDI data included information on things like the drivers’ age, the age of the car, and total number of miles driven, so the report takes these into account when performing a regression analysis on the data. It’s only when all these factors are controlled for that accident rates appear to go up once bans are enacted.

Nevertheless, the majority of the post-ban trends are positive, and many are statistically significant, so the data clearly indicates that the bans are not having their desired effect. The authors even try to suggest a mechanism by which a ban might increase accident rates: texters might now be concealing their phones, and have their attention focused further from the road ahead while driving.

Traveling this summer? Finding Last-Minute Deals on Upscale Hotels

Balance cost savings with research time by comparing just three tools: Hotel Tonight or Tonight (because these apps are intuitive and have some high-end hotels), your favorite third-party site (such as Expedia) or (to check prices across multiple sites) and the hotel’s own website. If you have an extra minute, try using Stayful to bid lower than the best price you find.

Passord Manager LastPass Hacked

Password Managers are supposed to make our online lives safer. This week, LastPass was hacked. The LastPass security breach: What you need to know, do, and watch out for.

The good news is it appears hackers didn’t get away with anyone’s encrypted password vaults. Still, it certainly sounds like a bad breach, but the consensus among security experts is that it could’ve been a lot worse.

First of all, LastPass is currently defending against potential account theft by requiring email verification—or multi-factor authentication if enabled—whenever a new login comes from an unknown device or new IP address. An attacker would need access to your email account or authenticator app on top of cracking your LastPass master password to get in.

What should we do? Enable multi-factor authentication.

This is the most important step you can take if you haven’t already. Even if the worst happens and hackers get your master password, they’ll still need the authentication code to access your account if you have two-factor authentication enabled. Multi-factor authentication isn’t important just for LastPass—you should be using it on any site that offers it, including social networks, email accounts, and so on.

Serious OS X and iOS flaws let hackers steal keychain, 1Password contents

Researchers have uncovered huge holes in the application sandboxes protecting Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems, a discovery that allows them to create apps that pilfer iCloud, Gmail, and banking passwords and can also siphon data from 1Password, Evernote, and other apps.

The malicious proof-of-concept apps were approved by the Apple Store, which requires all qualifying submissions to treat every other app as untrusted. Despite the supposed vetting by Apple engineers, the researchers’ apps were able to bypass sandboxing protections that are supposed to prevent one app from accessing the credentials, contacts, and other resources belonging to another app.

For the time being, the researchers told Ars, there isn’t much end users can do except wait for Apple to fix the vulnerabilities. At the request of Apple, the researchers delayed disclosing their findings for six months to give developers a head start in hardening OS X and iOS against the attacks.

Three Million Apple Watches Have Been Sold So Far

Slice Intelligence provided data to Reuters showing that about 2.8 million Apple Watches have been sold in the U.S. through mid-June. Unsurprisingly, the entry-level $349-$399 model of the watch has been the most popular. However, nearly 20% of purchasers are also springing for an extra watch band, which costs $49 or more.

With hardware version 2.0 getting ready to be released (which includes a camera, WiFi and more), I’d say it’s time to wait before buying an Apple Watch. Unless, you’ve just gotta have one. After all, they are pretty cool.

US wonders: Why stolen data on federal workers not for sale?

The Obama administration is increasingly confident that China’s government, not criminal hackers, was responsible for the extraordinary theft of personal information about as many as 14 million current and former federal employees and others, The Associated Press has learned. One sign: None of the data has been credibly offered for sale on underground markets popular among professional identity thieves.

Investigators inside U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, using secret “beacons” employed across the Internet, have been monitoring data transmissions across overseas networks for the file properties associated with the American personnel records, and scouring communications among targeted foreign hackers for credible references to the theft, two people directly involved in the investigation said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because parts of the case and techniques being used are classified.

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Millennial Employees Security – iPhone 6s Will Be Biggest Success Ever – Apple Pay Not Popular

Report: Millennial Employees the Biggest Threat to Network Security

Millennials are tremendously comfortable with, and active users of, great amounts of social media—but unfortunately, do not often do so with the proper security precautions, which can lead to data breaches.

Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers do pose a higher risk in one category: accessing work information from their own devices. Nearly 50 percent of these groups access work information from their own devices ‘very often’ and nearly 30 percent access it ‘sometimes.’

Millennials represent the most likely group to ‘never’ access work info from their own devices. However, Millennials are most likely to search for workarounds for their company’s security systems.

Study: Millennials Get Political News from Facebook; Baby Boomers Stick with Local TV

61 percent of millennials get political news from Facebook during a given week, while 60 percent of baby boomers do so from local TV. Just 37 percent of millennials get political news from local TV, and only 39 percent of baby boomers do so from Facebook. Gen X fell in the middle, with 51 percent getting political news from Facebook and 46 percent from local TV.

Why the iPhone 6s is poised to blow away all previous iPhone sales records

During the company’s most recent April quarter, Apple sold 61 million iPhones, representing an astounding year-over-year increase of 40%. During the previous quarter — the always lucrative holiday quarter — Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones, representing a year-over-year increase of 46%.

So in just six months time, Apple managed to sell over 135 million iPhones. To put that figure into context, that’s about one iPhone sold for every 2.3 people in the United States.

The upcoming iPhone upgrade cycle — set to be anchored by the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus — will represent the biggest upgrade cycle Apple has ever seen yet. Suffice it to say, expect Apple to completely shatter all existing iPhone sales records over the next 12 months.

Why Is Almost No One Using Apple Pay?

My family, friends and work colleagues all own iPhones or Android smartphones. We’re not afraid to download Apple Pay or Google Wallet or another mobile payment service and get it configured. And yet, we are still overwhelmingly using credit cards like we’ve always been doing.

Why? Small merchants aren’t getting on board. Why?

U.S. plan to cede Internet domain control on track: ICANN head

Some Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about the plan to hand over the stewardship of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a global multi-stakeholder body, worried that it may allow other countries to capture control.

The White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat to a bill proposed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would restrict the Commerce Department’s ability to use its funding to relinquish ICANN oversight.

DEA eavesdropping tripled, bypassed federal courts

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration more than tripled its use of wiretaps and other types of electronic eavesdropping over the past decade, largely bypassing federal courts and Justice Department lawyers in the process, newly obtained records show.

The DEA conducted 11,681 electronic intercepts in the fiscal year that ended in September. Most of that ramped-up surveillance was never reviewed by federal judges or Justice Department lawyers, who typically are responsible for examining federal agents’ eavesdropping requests.

Drug investigations account for the vast majority of U.S. wiretaps, and much of that surveillance is carried out by the DEA. Privacy advocates expressed concern that the drug agency had expanded its surveillance without going through internal Justice Department reviews, which often are more demanding than federal law requires.

Federal officials voiced growing alarm over Clinton’s compliance with records laws

Over a five-year span, senior officials at the National Archives and Records Administrations (NARA) voiced growing alarm about Hillary Clinton’s record-keeping practices as secretary of state, according to internal documents shared with Fox News.

During Clinton’s final days in office, Paul Wester, the director of Modern Records Programs at NARA – essentially the agency’s chief records custodian – privately emailed five NARA colleagues to confide his fear that Clinton would take her official records with her when she left office, in violation of federal statutes.

New gadget zaps your brain to make you feel excited or sad

A newly-released headset hopes to wake people up or calm them down by manipulating the electricity in their brain.

Thync costs $299 and has just been released to the public. It provides “calm or energy on demand”, the company says, by using “neurosignalling” to activate nerves and change people’s state of mind.

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