Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for August 9, 2019

in #rsslog3 years ago

DoJ says AT&T workers took $1 million to unlock 2 million phones; EU court says sites must get consent to send data via Facebook's "Like" button; An AI mastered chess by reading about it; Valve, Inc rejects Steam 0-day bug as "out of scope"; Life from Earth left behind on lunar surface

Straight from my RSS feed:
Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.


pixabay license: source.

  1. AT&T workers took $1 million in bribes to unlock 2 million phones, DOJ says - According to the US Department of Justice, AT&T call center employees took as much as $1 million in bribes to install malware and unauthorized hardware, which enabled a Pakistani man to unlock as many as two million phones. The man has been extradited from Hong Kong to the US. Three AT&T employees are cooperating with government, having already entered guilty pleas, but many others may have been involved. The indictment alleges that the scheme was in progress from 2012 through 2017. h/t Bruce Schneier

  2. Sites using Facebook ‘Like’ button liable for data, EU court rules - Europe's highest court has ruled that Facebook's "Like" button is regulated by data privacy laws, and that companies who include a Facebook "Like" button on their web site must obtain user consent before transferring data to US-based Facebook. A German trade official said that this places enormous responsibility on small-scale web site operators, and that the decision will have implications beyond Facebook to other social media providers. h/t OS news

  3. Instead of practicing, this AI mastered chess by reading about it - The SentiMATE algorithm was described on arXiv last month. It makes use of commentary from chess experts to evaluate the quality of a particular move, and learn about the game. Using this algorithm and a recurrent neural network, researchers evaluated commentary from 2,700 chess games, then let it play some games. The researchers were surprised by the algorithm's ability to learn some basic chess tactics like forking and castling, and it demonstrated the promise of using language to replace training data and computational power in AI training. However, the AI could not consistently defeat some of the conventional chess bots. Other potential applications of this technique include sports analysis, financial predictions, and recommendation engines. h/t Communications of the ACM

  4. Chap uncovers privilege escalation vuln in Steam only to be told by Valve that bug is 'not applicable' - The 0-day exploit from Wendesday (August 7) enables any user to get local admin privilege on a Windows computer, by way of the Steam Client Service. Valve, the company that produces the Steam client, classified the bug report as out of scope because (i) it requires physical access to the machine; and (ii) it involves dropping a file (link) in an arbitrary location. The exploit is mitigated by the fact that most people running games are likely to already have local admin privilege.

  5. STEEM Did Humans Contaminate Lunar Surface With Life? - On April 11, the Israeli lunar landar, Beresheet crashed on the moon's surface, and had to be abandoned. When it did, it was carrying thousands of dehydrated tardigrades, or water bears. According to @sauravrungta, these microrganisms are very difficult to kill. They can survive at extreme temperatures, and have even been found living outside the space shuttle. Because the ones in the lander are dehydrated, they should not begin colonizing the moon any time soon, but no one knows how long they will remain inactive, but viable, on the moon's surface. (A beneficiary setting of 10% has been assigned to @sauravrungta for this post.)

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Tardigrades are amazing. They're almost impossible to kill and probably have contaminated every vehicle we've sent into space. This means that the Voyager probes carry the first terrestrial life into interstellar space, where their eventual disposition is unknown and uncontrollable.

Interesting to consider what could happen in the event Tardigrades end up in some habitat they are able to live in.


They are hardy creatures without a doubt but they need water and food to be able to survive just like any other living organism on earth.

 3 years ago 

I love that microcosmos youtube channel!!

I just discovered it some days ago.

Thanks for the video! I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I'll try to make time later. I added it to my youtube "watch later" list.

Thanks for the feedback. I hadn't heard of tardigrades before that article, but they do seem pretty amazing. I guess the most likely thing is that they just lie dormant, and maybe eventually die on both the moon and Voyager, but the possibilities are limitless, and "forever" is a really really long time. You're right that it's interesting to think about.

Wonderful sharing.