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Updated: 2 hours 3 min ago

When You Split the Brain, Do You Split the Person?

3 October 2017 - 10:40am
An anonymous reader shares an article: The brain is perhaps the most complex machine in the Universe. It consists of two cerebral hemispheres, each with many different modules. Fortunately, all these separate parts are not autonomous agents. They are highly interconnected, all working in harmony to create one unique being: you. But what would happen if we destroyed this harmony? What if some modules start operating independently from the rest? Interestingly, this is not just a thought experiment; for some people, it is reality. In so-called 'split-brain' patients, the corpus callosum -- the highway for communication between the left and the right cerebral hemispheres -- is surgically severed to halt otherwise intractable epilepsy. [...] What, then, happens to the person? If the parts are no longer synchronised, does the brain still produce one person? The neuroscientists Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga set out to investigate this issue in the 1960s and '70s, and found astonishing data suggesting that when you split the brain, you split the person as well. Sperry won the Nobel prize in medicine for his split-brain work in 1981. [...] Case closed? Not to me. [...] To try to get to the bottom of things, my team at the University of Amsterdam re-visited this fundamental issue by testing two split-brain patients, evaluating whether they could respond accurately to objects in the left visual field (perceived by the right brain) while also responding verbally or with the right hand (controlled by the left brain). Astonishingly, in these two patients, we found something completely different than Sperry and Gazzaniga before us. Both patients showed full awareness of presence and location of stimuli throughout the entire visual field -- right and left, both.

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Google and Facebook Failed Us

3 October 2017 - 10:00am
The world's most powerful information gatekeepers neglected their duties in Las Vegas. Again. From a report: In the crucial early hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting, it happened again: Hoaxes, completely unverified rumors, failed witch hunts, and blatant falsehoods spread across the internet. But they did not do so by themselves: They used the infrastructure that Google and Facebook and YouTube have built to achieve wide distribution. These companies are the most powerful information gatekeepers that the world has ever known, and yet they refuse to take responsibility for their active role in damaging the quality of information reaching the public. BuzzFeed's Ryan Broderick found that Google's "top stories" results surfaced 4chan forum posts about a man that right-wing amateur sleuths had incorrectly identified as the Las Vegas shooter. 4chan is a known source not just of racism, but hoaxes and deliberate misinformation. In any list a human might make of sites to exclude from being labeled as "news," 4chan would be near the very top. [...] Of course, it is not just Google. On Facebook, a simple search for "Las Vegas" yields a Group called "Las Vegas Shooting /Massacre," which sprung up after the shooting and already has more than 5,000 members. The group is run by Jonathan Lee Riches, who gained notoriety by filing 3,000 frivolous lawsuits while serving a 10 year prison sentence after being convicted for stealing money by impersonating people whose bank credentials had been phished. Now, he calls himself an "investigative journalist" with Infowars, though there is no indication he's been published on the site, and given that he also lists himself as a former male underwear model at Victoria's Secret, a former nuclear scientist at Chernobyl, and a former bodyguard at Buckingham Palace, his work history may not be reliable. The problems with surfacing this man's group to Facebook users is obvious to literally any human. But to Facebook's algorithms, it's just a fast-growing group with an engaged community.

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North Korea Gets Second Route To Internet Via Russia Link

3 October 2017 - 9:00am
Russia is providing North Korea another way to get on the internet, according to cybersecurity outfit FireEye. In an interview on Monday, FireEye's chief technology officer for the Asia-Pacific region, Bryce Boland, said that Russia telecommunications company TransTeleCom opened a new link for users in North Korea. Until now, state-owned China United Network Communications Ltd. was the country's sole connection. Bloomberg reports: "Having an additional loop via Russia gives North Korea more options for how they can operate and reduces the possibility for the United States to put pressure just on a single country to turn off their internet connectivity," Boland said. For Russia, it offers "visibility into North Korean network traffic that might help them understand what North Korea is up to." TransTeleCom, a unit of state-owned Russian Railways JSC, is one of the country's five largest communications service providers, according to its website. The company operates a fiber optic network that runs along railway lines and stretches from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. TransTeleCom "has historically had a junction of network links with North Korea" under a 2009 agreement with Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp, the company's press office said in an emailed statement that offered no other details.

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NASA Images of Puerto Rico Reveal How Maria Wiped Out Power On the Island

3 October 2017 - 6:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: Hurricane Maria was the most devastating hurricane to make land in Puerto Rico in nearly 100 years and the country is still reeling in its wake. Much of the island still doesn't have running water, reliable communication or electricity. Recently, NASA published a set of date-processed photos that show the island's nighttime lights both before and after the storm. Here, you can see images of the country's capital, San Juan, on a typical night before Maria. It's based on cloud-free and low moonlight conditions. Conversely, the following composite image is of data taken on the nights of Sept. 27 and 28 -- nearly a week after the storm hit -- by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, a scanning radiometer that collects visible and infrared imagery of land, atmosphere, cryosphere and oceans, according to NASA's website.

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Nobel Prize For Medicine Awarded For Insights Into Internal Biological Clock

3 October 2017 - 3:00am
Dave Knott quotes a report from The Guardian: The Nobel prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to a trio of American scientists for their discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms -- in other words, the 24-hour body clock. According to the Nobel committee's citation, the researchers were recognized for their discoveries explaining "how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth's revolutions." The team identified a gene within fruit flies that controls the creatures' daily rhythm, known as the "period" gene. This gene encodes a protein within the cell during the night which then degrades during the day. When there is a mismatch between this internal "clock" and the external surroundings, it can affect the organism's wellbeing -- for example, in humans, when we experience jet lag. All three winners are from the U.S. Jeffrey C Hall, 72, has retired but spent the majority of his career at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where fellow laureate Michael Rosbash, 73, is still a faculty member. Michael W Young, 68, works at Rockefeller University in New York. Hall and Rosbash then went on to unpick how the body clock actually works, revealing that the levels of protein encoded by the period gene rise and fall throughout the day in a negative feedback loop. Young, meanwhile, discovered a second gene involved in the system, dubbed "timeless," that was critical to this process. Only when the proteins produced from the period gene combined with those from the timeless gene could they enter the cell's nucleus and halt further activity of the period gene. Young also discovered the gene that controlled the frequency of this cycle.

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Facebook Says 10 Million US Users Saw Russia-linked Ads

3 October 2017 - 1:00am
Some 10 million people in the United States saw politically divisive ads on Facebook that the company said were purchased in Russia in the months before and after last year's U.S. presidential election, Facebook said on Monday. From a report: Facebook, which had not previously given such an estimate, said in a statement that it used modeling to estimate how many people saw at least one of the 3,000 ads. It also said that 44 percent of the ads were seen before the November 2016 election and 56 percent were seen afterward. The ads have sparked anger toward Facebook and, within the United States, toward Russia since the world's largest social network disclosed their existence last month. Moscow has denied involvement with the ads.

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Tesla Badly Misses Model 3 Production Goals

2 October 2017 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Tesla badly missed its goal of building 1,500 Model 3 cars in the third quarter, the first sign that the production ramp-up for the new sedan isn't going as smoothly as planned. The Silicon Valley electric-car maker built 260 of the Model 3s between July and September, the company said Monday in a statement. In August, the auto maker predicted it would build more than 1,500 Model 3s before cranking up production to 5,000 a week by the end of the fourth quarter. Tesla blamed "production bottlenecks" for the weaker production. "It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain," Tesla said in a statement. "We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term."

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Equifax Says 2.5 Million More Americans May Be Affected By Hack

2 October 2017 - 8:10pm
According to Reuters, Equifax said about 2.5 million additional U.S. consumers may have been impacted by a cyber attack at the company last month. Last month, the company disclosed that personal details of up to 143 million U.S. consumers were accessed by hackers between mid-May and July. As for what led to the breach, Ars Technica reports it was "a series of costly delays and crucial errors." From the report: Chief among the failures: an Equifax e-mail directing administrators to patch a critical vulnerability in the open source Apache Struts Web application framework went unheeded, despite a two-day deadline to comply. Equifax also waited a week to scan its network for apps that remained vulnerable. Even then, the delayed scan failed to detect that the code-execution flaw still resided in a section of the sprawling Equifax site that allows consumers to dispute information they believe is incorrect. Equifax said last month that the still-unidentified attackers gained an initial hold in the network by exploiting the critical Apache Struts vulnerability.

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Ask Slashdot: Which Businesses Will Go Away In the Next 10 Years?

2 October 2017 - 7:30pm
AmiMoJo writes: Ten years ago NBC published a list of business types that it predicted would disappear in the following decade. Ten years later and we can see how good their fortune telling was. What businesses do you think will go away by 2027? Who is destined to become the next buggy whip manufacturer, whose demand dried up due to changing technology and a changing world? For reference, NBC's list was: Record stores; Camera film manufacturing; Crop dusters; Gay bars; Newspapers; Pay phones; Used bookstores; Piggy banks; Telemarketing; Coin-operated arcades.

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Ex-Verizon Lawyer Ajit Pai Confirmed To Second Term As FCC Chair

2 October 2017 - 7:10pm
Congress late Monday approved Ajit Pai for a second term as chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Fast Company reports. "The Senate voted 52-41 (with almost all 'yea' votes coming from Republicans) to give Pai a new five-year term retroactive to July 1, 2017. Without the confirmation, Pai would have had to give up the chair at the end of 2017." "I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate," Pai said in a statement. Pai served as Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications Inc. in February 2001, where he handled competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives.

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General Motors Plans 20 All-Electric Cars By 2023

2 October 2017 - 6:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: General Motors joined a growing group of automakers promising an emissions-free future for cars by pledging to sell 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023. The largest U.S. automaker, which generates most of its profit with large sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, plans to have a lineup of both battery-powered cars and hydrogen fuel-cell autos, which also run on electricity. Two new EVs will debut in the next 18 months to follow the Chevrolet Bolt that's been on sale for less than a year. The planned lineup demonstrates GM is doubling down on electrification despite the Bolt's slow start in U.S. showrooms and companies' inability thus far to profitably sell EVs. The automaker has delivered fewer than 12,000 units of the battery-powered Bolt, which goes about 238 miles between charges. Deliveries have primarily been concentrated thus far in California, which mandates sales of emissions-less vehicles.

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T-Mobile Won't Stop Claiming Its Network Is Faster Than Verizon's

2 October 2017 - 6:10pm
T-Mobile says it will continue to claim it has the country's fastest LTE network even after the National Advertising Division, a telecom industry watchdog group, "recommended" that it stop doing so in print, TV, and web advertisements. In a statement given to Ars Technica, "NAD previously recognized third-party crowdsourced data as a way to look at network performance, so we looked at the latest results, and verified what we already knew. T-Mobile is still the fastest LTE network and we'll continue to let consumers know that." The Verge reports: The dispute arose earlier this year as part of a T-Mobile ad campaign that insinuated that Verizon's network was older and slower, and that its service did not feature unlimited plans. Verizon then filed a complaint with the NAD, which is a self-regulatory body of the telecom industry designed to settle disputes, avoid litigation, and protect against unwanted government regulation. Verizon said at the time that because T-Mobile was relying on crowdsourced data from third-party speed test providers Ookla and OpenSignal, the data was skewed in favor of T-Mobile. The data was pulled from a one-month period after Verizon first reintroduced its unlimited plans. Verizon's logic wasn't super bulletproof: the company claimed that because it had never before offered unlimited plans, T-Mobile customers -- who were familiar with the concept of throttling after a certain data threshold -- were more likely to be sampled in the crowdsourced data set provided to the NAD. Still, T-Mobile discontinued the disputed commercial, and the NAD felt the need to offer guidelines last week, advising the company not to claim its network was faster or newer. In addition, the NAD also told T-Mobile to modify its claim that it covered 99.7 percent of Verizon customers to make clear that the coverage is by population and not geographic area.

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Microsoft Shutters Groove Music, Will Move Users To Spotify

2 October 2017 - 5:30pm
Microsoft announced today that it will soon shutter both its Groove Music Pass streaming service and the ability to purchase songs and albums in the Windows Store. The biggest surprise isn't that the service never took off, it's that Microsoft has partnered with Spotify to move all its Groove Music Pass customers over to Spotify. TechCrunch reports: Starting December 31, the Groove Music app will lose its features for streaming, purchasing and downloading music. Microsoft promises that moving to Spotify will be pretty seamless and that virtually all the songs and playlists that Groove users created over the years will transfer to the new service. Windows Insiders will be able to test this out with the next update, which is scheduled to roll out next week. Users will have until at least January 31, 2018 to make the move, though. For the most part, Spotify offers a superset of Groove's music catalog, so except for a few edge cases, there's no reason to believe that moving to Spotify would be a great loss for Groove Music Pass customers. And because Spotify is available on Windows Phone, too, even the few users still left on Microsoft's failed mobile platform won't miss out. As for Groove Music itself, Microsoft says the actual app won't go away anytime soon. It'll still be available for playing back and managing music that's stored locally.

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Supreme Court Won't Hear Kim Dotcom's Civil Forfeiture Case

2 October 2017 - 4:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Kim Dotcom's civil forfeiture case will not be heard before the Supreme Court this term, America's highest court ruled on Monday. The civil forfeiture case was brought 18 months after 2012 American criminal charges related to alleged copyright infringement against Dotcom and his now-shuttered company, Megaupload. In the forfeiture case, prosecutors specifically outlined why the New Zealand seizure of Dotcom's assets on behalf of the American government was valid. Seized items include millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, four jet skis, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000. "We are disappointed in the denial of the cert petition -- it is a bad day for due process and international treaties," Ira Rothken, Dotcom's chief global counsel, told Ars. "Kim Dotcom has never been to the United States, is presumed innocent, and is lawfully opposing extradition under the United States-New Zealand Treaty -- yet the United States by merely labeling him as a fugitive gets a judgement to take all of his assets with no due process," Rothken said. "The New Zealand and Hong Kong courts, who have authority over the assets, will now need to weigh in on this issue and we are cautiously optimistic that they will take a dim view of the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine and oppose US efforts to seize such assets."

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Tesla Is Shipping Hundreds of Powerwall Batteries To Puerto Rico

2 October 2017 - 4:16pm
schwit1 quotes a report from Futurism: In a continued streak of goodwill during this year's devastating hurricane season, Tesla has been shipping hundreds of its Powerwall batteries to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Since the hurricane hit on 20 September, much of the U.S. territory has been left without power -- about 97 percent, as of 27 September -- hampering residents' access to drinkable water, perishable food, and air conditioning. The island's hospitals are struggling to keep generators running as diesel fuel dwindles. Installed by employees in Puerto Rico, Tesla's batteries could be paired with solar panels in order to store electricity for the territory, whose energy grid may need up to six months to be fully repaired. Several power banks have already arrived to the island, and more are en route.

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Super Fast NVMe RAID Comes To Threadripper

2 October 2017 - 3:30pm
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, writing for ZDNet: A week later than planned, AMD has released a free driver update for the X399 platform to support NVMe RAID. The driver allows X399 motherboards to combine multiple NVMe SSDs together into a RAID 0, 1, or 10 array, which will greatly enhance disk performance or data integrity. Benchmarking carried out by AMD shows that the platform allows for a throughput of 21.2GB/s from six 512GB Samsung 960 Pro NVMe SSDs in RAID0. But there are a couple of caveats. The first is that X399 motherboards will require BIOS updates before they will support NVMe RAID, so when it will be available for your system will depend on your motherboard vendor. The second -- and perhaps more important -- is that currently the NVMe RAID driver is in beta, and as such things may go wrong, so you might want to test this before rolling it out onto systems you rely on.

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High Sierra's Disk Utility Does Not Recognize Unformatted Disks

2 October 2017 - 2:50pm
macOS 10.13's Disk Utility 17.0 (1626) does not recognize raw drives, reads a blog post, shared by several readers. From the post: Diskutil does recognize the drive. We'll use it to perform a quick, cursory format (e.g., diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ NewDisk GPT disk0) to make the disk appear in Disk Utility, where further modifications can more easily be made. Plugging in an unformatted external drive produces the usual alert, "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer. Initialize... | Ignore | Eject", but clicking Initialize just opens Disk Utility without the disk appearing. There's an option in Disk Utility to view "all devices," but clicking that doesn't show raw disks, the blog post adds.

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Ask Slashdot: Why Would Anyone Want To Spend $1,000 on a Smartphone?

2 October 2017 - 2:10pm
Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the $1,000 sticker price for the base model of iPhone X, the latest flagship smartphone from the company which goes on sale next month, is "a value price for the technology that you're getting." An anonymous reader writes: I simply don't understand why anyone would want to spend such amount on a phone. Don't get me wrong. Having a smartphone is crucial in this day and age. I get it. But even a $200 phone, untethered from any carrier contract, will let you install the apps you need, will allow you to take good pictures, surf the web, and listen to music. That handset might not be as fast as the iPhone X or Samsung's new Galaxy Note 8, or it might not be able to take as great pictures, but the difference, I feel, doesn't warrant an additional $800. The reader shares a column: When considering a purchase, comparing the value a product will add to our lives, and its cost is wise. Subjective perceptions affect how we value possessions, but let's consider the practical value of how we use smartphones. Smartphones aren't used for talking as often as the phones that preceded them were. In fact, actual "phone" use ranks below messaging, web surfing, social media and other activities that dominate smartphone usage. Furthermore, statistically we use only six core apps regularly. [...] My point is, smartphones have't changed all that much relatively speaking. Sure they're bigger, faster, more powerful and have awesome cameras. But the iPhone X is fundamentally the same device the earlier iPhones were, and provides the same basic and sought after functions. It's a glass-covered rectangular slab mostly used for messaging, web-surfing, music and social media activity. An individual's perception of self, financial resources, desired or actual social position and love for tech will likely play a role in his perception of the value of a $1,000 smartphone.

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US Telco Fined $3 Million in Domain Renewal Blunder

2 October 2017 - 1:30pm
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Sorenson Communications, a Utah-based telecommunications provider, received a whopping $3 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for failing to renew a crucial domain name used by a part of the local 911 emergency service. The affected service was the Video Relay System (VRS), a video calling service that telecommunication firms must provide to deaf people and others people with vocal disabilities so they can make video calls to 911 services and use sign language to notify operators of an emergency or crime. According to the FCC, on June 6, Sorenson failed to notice that the domain name on which the VRS 911 service ran had expired, leading to the entire system collapsing shortly after. Utah residents with disabilities were unable to reach 911 operators for almost three days, the FCC discovered. Sorensen noticed its blunder and renewed the domain three days later, on June 8.

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Goldman Sachs Explores a New World: Trading Bitcoin

2 October 2017 - 12:45pm
Several readers share a report: Goldman Sachs is weighing a new trading operation dedicated to bitcoin and other digital currencies, the first blue-chip Wall Street firm preparing to deal directly in this burgeoning yet controversial market (Editor's note: the link from WSJ, which originally reported this development, could be paywalled; alternative source), according to people familiar with the matter. Goldman's effort is in its early stages and may not proceed, the people said. The firm's interest, though, could boost bitcoin's standing among investors and fuel the debate around digital currencies, which were initially viewed as havens for illicit activity but are pushing further into the mainstream investment world. China in recent weeks has banned exchanges that trade bitcoin, fearing the virtual currency could provide an avenue for capital flight. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive James Dimon, whose bank is the largest dealer in global currencies, last month called bitcoin a "fraud" and said he would fire any employee who traded it. Yet Japan's government has embraced bitcoin, creating regulations to legitimize its trading. India and Sweden have mused about creating their own virtual currencies, and the U.S. Federal Reserve has studied bitcoin and the technology underpinning it.

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