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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Tax Return Breach – Miami and Pre-Crime – Highest Paying Engineering Jobs

IRS believes Russians are behind tax return data breach

The IRS believes that a major cyber breach that allowed criminals to steal the tax returns of more than 100,000 people originated in Russia, two sources briefed on the data theft tell CNN.

Between February and May, criminals tried to access the tax accounts of 200,000 people, succeeding in about half the attempts, the IRS said. The agency said it plans to notify all 200,000 people to tell them that third parties appear to have access to their Social Security numbers and other personal information.

The roughly 100,000 taxpayers whose tax information was accessed will be offered free credit monitoring, the agency said.

Not science fiction: Miami wants to predict when and where crime will occur

Armed with high-tech software and years of crime data, Miami police believe they will soon be able to stop crimes by predicting when and where they will occur. In Miami’s case, the department is funding the implementation of HunchLab and other software programs with a $600,000 federal grant doled out by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to encourage smart policing tactics.

It sounds a little like something out of a science fiction novel, but the department is in the process of adopting a system called HunchLab that produces maps showing small areas where specific crimes are likely to be committed during shifts. The probability program is a geographical version of “predictive policing” software, which more departments are using — even if, in the words of one supportive cop, it’s “kind of scary.”

These are the Highest Paying Jobs for Engineering Majors

  • VP, Business Development: $151,000 with a basic Engineering degree.
  • Chief Architect, IT: Tie – $151,000 with an Electrical Engineering degree.
  • VP, Construction Management Operations: $134,000 with a Civil Engineering degree.
  • Sales Director: $125,000 with a Mechanical Engineering degree.
  • Network Architect: $119,000 with an Electrical Engineering degree.
  • Principal Electrical Engineer: $117,000 with an Electrical Engineering degree.

Is the internet on the brink of collapse?

In just 20 years, if usage rates continue, all of Britain’s power supply could be consumed by internet use.

The cables and fibre optics that send information to our laptops, smartphones and tablets will have reached their limit to send data within eight years, experts warn.

So far, engineers have managed to keep ahead of demand, increasing internet speeds 50-fold in the last decade alone. Until now, internet firms have simply sent more and more data down the single fibre as demand rises. But optical fibres have reached their physical capacity, they cannot transfer any more light.

Tesla’s $3,000 Powerwall Will Let Households Run Entirely On Solar Energy

The Tesla Powerwall charges using solar power, but it also integrates with the grid “to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.” The batteries recharge in a ‘smart’ way, saving money by picking low-rate periods when electricity is cheapest. They store solar
energy for later, for example overnight, and can act as a back-up in the event of a power outage.

Removing dirty energy is an ambitious plan — much like space travel — but Musk believes it can be done. He explained that 160 million battery packs could “transition” power usage in the U.S. to renewable energy, while 900 million units could shift the entire world’s energy needs. Then there is the potential to make the world’s cars run on clean energy.

This Tech Keeps You Safe From Hackers

But consumers can protect their own computers very easily by encrypting their data too. Windows users can use the BitLocker application to encrypt their drives, while Apple offers a program called FileVault2 to do the same thing on Macs. Still, with the Internet of Things promising to bring us lots more web-connected devices, this is only the beginning for encryption technologies. With millions if not billions more computing devices coming online — only some of which are encrypting their communications — a lot more data is in danger of being exposed.

Five Best Streaming Music Services

Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, Rdio.

Remember that study that showed that eating chocolate every day helped with weight loss?

It was all an elaborate hoax — an attempt to show how “Junk Science” really can perpetrate incredible myths that just aren’t true.

One premise? Testing bitter chocolate as a dietary supplement. Why? It is a favorite of the “whole food” fanatics. “Bitter chocolate tastes bad, therefore it must be good for you,” he said. “It’s like a religion.”

How Bad Bots Are Destroying The Internet

A quarter of the cars on the “Information Superhighway” with you are being driven by mindless bandits looking to steal anything they can.

Last year was the first time in history that bots outnumbered people on the web. According to research from Distil Networks, almost 60% of 2014’s web traffic consisted of automated bits of code, 23% of which exist to do dirty work for fraudsters and hackers. “It’s getting worse,” says Rami Essaid, Distil’s CEO. “Over the past ten years, they went from just kind of being out there and easy to detect to being really, really sophisticated.”

Meanwhile, T-Mobile, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom are being overrun by bad bots on the mobile web. This is a huge problem because there isn’t yet a lot of virus protection for mobile Internet devices, and last year there were more mobile than desktop web users for the first time in history. As a result, hackers are racing to exploit smartphones and tablets. In 2013, less than a percentage point of mobile traffic was bad bots. In 2014, that figure skyrocketed to between 6-8%. That’s a scary number because there are many more mobile devices than there are computers, so a vast majority of handhelds haven’t encountered a bot — yet.

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Autonomous Truck – Microsoft Ditching Internet Explorer – Perfect Remote Working Setup

Autonomous Truck Crosses Hoover Dam

Automaker Daimler introduced an autonomous truck on Tuesday night. The company says a driver must be present, but that driver has the option to relinquish control to the vehicle.

Microsoft is tossing Internet Explorer this fall. Is its replacement any better?

Well, the good news is, this browser isn’t Internet Explorer. If you’re a hardcore Chrome or Firefox user with a half dozen extensions, you probably won’t be tempted away immediately. For now, though, it does look promising. Microsoft is making an effort to add genuinely useful features to a browser that’s shedding its worst parts and starting over on a solid foundation.

Anti-Kardashian Pollution App

Tired of Kim Kardashian trying to break the Internet? Then break free of any Kardashian-related news with KardBlock, a new app that erases any mention of the family famous for being famous from your web browsing experience.

“If there’s anything on your newsfeed, the website you’re on, whatever, we simply make it disappear,” developer James Shamsi explains in a beta launch for the AdBlock program created to erase the Kardashians. “You won’t ever know the stories about the Kardashians are there, because you won’t ever see them.”

Paying for Social Is Better Than ‘Doing’ Social Media Yourself

Social networks are showing signs of decreased reach. None losing more rapidly than Facebook. There are two widely cited reasons for it: 1) Social media sites want to encourage businesses to pay them money for the value they now get for free; and 2) As more people and businesses post to social media more often, everyone gets less attention, so supply and demand push reach down and rates up.

NSA’s Bulk Collection Of Americans’ Phone Data Is Illegal, Appeals Court Rules

The National Security Agency’s practice of collecting data about Americans’ telephone calls in bulk goes beyond what Congress intended when it wrote Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel punted on the constitutional claim, deciding the program was simply not authorized by federal law.

One of the big reasons it is hard to discern congressional intent in this case, the court wrote, is that the bulk collection program has been shrouded in secrecy. So it cannot “reasonably be said” that Congress OK’d “a program of which many members of Congress — and all members of the public — were not aware.”

How to Find the Perfect Remote Working Setup for You

Remote working doesn’t suit everyone, but for those who do love the extra flexibility and autonomy, here is the where, when, why, and how of finding your perfect remote working setup.

Recruiting for “digital natives” is age discrimination, lawyers say.

How do you recruit for youthful workers? How about just recruiting for “digital natives”?

“Young people are just smarter,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, famously said on a conference stage in 2007 when he was 22. In 2013, Facebook settled a lawsuit with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Department for posting an employment ad that stated “Class of 2007 or 2008 preferred.”

Apple, Yahoo, Dropbox, and video game maker Electronic Arts all have listed openings with “new grad” as a preference.

FCC Commissioner: Feds May Come for Drudge

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Ajit Pai said over the weekend that he foresees a future in which federal regulators will seek to regulate websites based on political content, using the power of the FCC or Federal Elections Commission (FEC). He also revealed that his opposition to “net neutrality” regulations had resulted in personal harassment and threats to his family.

“It is conceivable to me to see the government saying, ‘We think the Drudge Report is having a disproportionate effect on our political discourse. He doesn’t have to file anything with the FEC. The FCC doesn’t have the ability to regulate anything he says, and we want to start tamping down on websites like that.’”

Apple to Push Paid Streaming Music Service With Free Trials and SoundCloud-Like Sharing

Ahead of the rumored debut of Apple’s upcoming streaming music service, Re/code has shared several details on the initiative, sourced from industry insiders. As we’ve learned previously, Apple will charge $9.99 per month for the service and will not offer a freemium streaming tier as other music services like Spotify do, but the company is aiming to introduce ways to let people listen to come content for free. First and foremost, Apple hopes to offer listeners a free trial period

Pizza Hut App anyone? Woman held hostage asks for help in online pizza order

A quick-thinking Highlands County woman saved herself and her children from possible harm when she ordered an online pizza with a secret message saying she was being held hostage.

“We’ve never seen that before,” the restaurant’s manager, Candy Hamilton, said. “I’ve been here 28 years and never, never seen nothing like that come through.”

Mobile Search Queries Start to Surpass Desktop: Here’s What You Can Do About It

Now that mobile search queries have surpassed desktop queries, the business implication of the mobile algorithm update has become that much clearer: If you’re still thinking of mobile as a secondary priority, your business’ online presence will start to suffer. As Dischler says, “The future of mobile is now.”

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Alzheimers Cure – American Airlines Tablet Disaster – Feds Looking for Back Door – Show Notes

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function

The team reports fully restoring the memory function of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue.

If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions, and Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of both types.

The team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Third-party app crashed American Airlines pilots’ iPads and caused flight delays

Dozens of American Airlines flights were delayed on Tuesday after “a faulty iPad navigation app” caused the tablets to crash. Despite Boeing 737 pilots’ claims of all 737’s being grounded and a system-wide outage, American Airlines spokesperson Casey Norton said, “Initial reports on social media of a system-wide problem affecting a specific type of aircraft are inaccurate.” Instead, “several dozen” flights were affected by the outage.

In 2013, American Airlines was the first commercial carrier to deploy electronic flight bags and discontinue paper charts. At that time, more than 8,000 iPads were deployed to replace the 3,000-page, 35-pound paper-based manuals in the airline’s Boeing 777, 767, 757, 737 and MD-80. The change saved the airline “a minimum of 400,000 gallons and $1.2 million of fuel annually” and eliminated “24 million pages of paper documents.”

Feds trying to get a “Back Door” for encrypted communications. Irate Congressman gives cops easy rule: “Just follow the damn Constitution”

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot. “Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data.”

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement to convince a Congressional subcommittee that technology firms actually need to weaken encryption in order to serve the public interest, lawmakers were not having it.

Daniel Conley, the district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, testified Wednesday before the committee that companies like Apple and Google were helping criminals by hardening encryption on their smartphones.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said “It is clear to me that creating a pathway for decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid, you just can’t do that,” he said, underscoring that he found Conley’s remarks “offensive.”

Robbery suspect pulls guilty plea after stingray disclosure, case dropped.

“They won’t go to trial because they don’t want to explain this stuff, so they ended up dismissing it,” said the lead attorney involved in the case.

Stingrays, known more generically as cell-site simulators, are used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although new documents have recently been released showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. And cops have lied to courts about their use. Not only can stingrays be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Typically, police deploy them without first obtaining a search warrant.

It is highly likely that the St. Louis Police Department has a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI along the lines of one recently revealed in a court case in Erie County, New York. In that case, a rare unredacted form demonstrated the full extent of the FBI’s attempt to quash public disclosure of stringray information. The most egregious example from the document showed that the FBI would prefer to drop a criminal case in order to protect secrecy surrounding the stingray.

Tesla’s Battery Could Power Utilities

Elon Musk had to resist the urge to strike a Dr. Evil pose Thursday night as he talked about “billions” of batteries like Tesla Motors TSLA -0.01 % ’ new Powerpack effectively ending the energy business as we know it.

Tesla may be taking a page from Apple’s book. Decades ago, Apple took a technically difficult tool used mainly by die-hards, the personal computer, and popularized it. In the same way, Tesla’s sleekly packaged take on distributed power is “talking to the 99% of people who think it can’t be done and making something people think can be done,” says Rob Day, partner at Black Coral Capital, a clean technology venture-capital fund.

See how old a computer thinks you are with Microsoft’s new website

Don’t waste the whole day on this, but Microsoft introduced, a website to guess how old you are, at today’s Microsoft conference this Friday. isn’t highly accurate, but it’s close, and it’s getting better. It thinks Vin Diesel is 28 (actual age is 47) and Jennifer Lawrence is 29 (actual age 24). Vin must have better makeup 😉

Mobilegeddon has arrived!

From now on, mobile friendliness of websites is a ranking signal all over the world. This update affects all mobile search queries. So, we analyzed the winners and losers of this update for rankings on

Get the report at

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