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Walmart employees are out to show its anti-shoplifting AI doesn’t work

Ars Technica - May 31, 2020 - 11:45am

Enlarge (credit: Roberto Machado Noa | Getty Images)

In January, my coworker received a peculiar email. The message, which she forwarded to me, was from a handful of corporate Walmart employees calling themselves the “Concerned Home Office Associates.” (Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, is often referred to as the Home Office.) While it’s not unusual for journalists to receive anonymous tips, they don’t usually come with their own slickly produced videos.

The employees said they were “past their breaking point” with Everseen, a small artificial intelligence firm based in Cork, Ireland, whose technology Walmart began using in 2017. Walmart uses Everseen in thousands of stores to prevent shoplifting at registers and self-checkout kiosks. But the workers claimed it misidentified innocuous behavior as theft and often failed to stop actual instances of stealing.

They told WIRED they were dismayed that their employer—one of the largest retailers in the world—was relying on AI they believed was flawed. One worker said that the technology was sometimes even referred to internally as “NeverSeen” because of its frequent mistakes. WIRED granted the employees anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

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Hacker leaks database of dark web hosting provider

ZDnet Blogs - May 31, 2020 - 11:43am
Leaked data contains email addresses, site admin passwords, and .onion domain private keys.
Categories: Opinion

Supernatural: The next-generation keep-fit coach?

BBC Technology News - May 31, 2020 - 4:51am
Will virtual reality fitness classes lead a revolution in home workouts - or is it a passing craze?

“The trampoline is working”—SpaceX returns human spaceflight to America

Ars Technica - May 31, 2020 - 2:30am

The rain showers ended. The clouds parted. And so on Saturday afternoon, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had blue skies above it during the final minutes of a countdown to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Falcon 9 rocket had launched 84 times before. In fact, no US rocket now flying has launched as much as the Falcon 9 rocket. So, this was all kind of routine in that sense. But for the first time, the Falcon 9 rocket carried two humans on board, inside a Crew Dragon spacecraft. That changed everything.

So much was at stake, the immensity of this almost became too much to bear as the clock ticked down.

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Comic for May 30, 2020

Dilbert - May 31, 2020 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

Dearth of women in classic Hollywood was result of studio system, study finds

Ars Technica - May 30, 2020 - 11:41pm

Enlarge / Olivia de Havilland—pictured here as Melanie Hamliton in the 1939 Oscar-Winning film Gone with the Wind—successfully sued Warner Bros. in 1943 to free herself from her studio contract. The groundbreaking lawsuit contributed to the breakup of the Hollywood studio system. (credit: YouTube/MGM)

The so-called Golden Age of Hollywood produced some of the most memorable films ever made, from 1927's The Jazz Singer to Gone with the Wind (1939) and Citizen Kane (1941). But it wasn't so golden for women in the film industry, according to a recent paper published in PLOS One that analyzed a century's worth of data and concluded that the rise of the infamous studio system produced severe gender inequality. Female representation started rising again in the 1950s, after two pivotal lawsuits effectively broke the studios' stranglehold on the industry.

Lead author Luis Amaral, of Northwestern University, is a physicist by training, specializing in the study of complex systems. This latest work builds on a 2015 study that he co-authored, examining correlations between production budget, box office gross, and total number of user votes for films on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). That study concluded that the total number of IMDB votes was a strong indicator of a given film's prominence or notability.

Three years ago, co-author Murielle Dunande, then a high school student spending her summer break in Amaral's lab, proposed a study of the representation of women in the movies. Initially, she focused on films in the 1960s, but Amaral thought it would be interesting to go back to the birth of the film industry to better understand the historical origins of the gender disparity.

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SpaceX launch: Nasa astronauts blast off to the International Space Station

BBC Technology News - May 30, 2020 - 8:45pm
Two astronauts launched into orbit for historic mission to the International Space Station.

SpaceX successfully launches two humans into orbit [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 30, 2020 - 6:40pm

After nine years without a human launch from Florida, it's about damn time, isn't it?

During Wednesday's technically smooth countdown, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken came within 17 minutes of launching before a scrub due to poor weather. The crew will suit up and try again on Saturday despite still iffy weather.

SpaceX is working toward an instantaneous launch at 3:22pm ET (19:22 UTC). The company's Falcon 9 rocket will lift Hurley and Behnken, aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, into outer space, and the Crew Dragon will carry them to the International Space Station. The big concern again today is the development of thunderstorms near the launch site this afternoon, which could violate a number of weather criteria, including not just precipitation, but also residual electric energy from lighting in the atmosphere. Overall, the chance of acceptable weather at launch time is about 50 percent, forecasters estimate. They are also watching for down-range conditions in case an emergency abort is required during the rocket's ascent to space.

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An advanced and unconventional hack is targeting industrial firms

Ars Technica - May 30, 2020 - 5:19pm

Enlarge / Binary code, illustration. (credit: KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images)

Attackers are putting considerable skill and effort into penetrating industrial companies in multiple countries, with hacks that use multiple evasion mechanisms, an innovative encryption scheme, and exploits that are customized for each target with pinpoint accuracy.

The attacks begin with emails that are customized for each target, a researcher at security firm Kaspersky Lab reported this week. For the exploit to trigger, the language in the email must match the localization of the target’s operating system. For example, in the case of an attack on a Japanese company, the text of the email and an attached Microsoft Office document containing a malicious macro had to be written in Japanese. Also required: an encrypted malware module could be decrypted only when the OS had a Japanese localization as well.

Recipients who click on a request to urgently enable the document’s active content will see no indication anything is amiss. Behind the scenes, however, a macro executes a Powershell script. The reason it stays hidden: the command parameters:

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