Apple, Whatsapp pegged as potential source for encrypted communication app download information in Russia collusion probe.

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

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A leaked memo claims that should the Democrats claim the House in November, they will use subpoena power to compel Apple, Google, Amazon and others to divulge what apps that investigated individuals downloaded, and will pursue the app developers themselves for contents of messages.
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Startup to Use AI to Improve Workplace Communication, but Will Probably Just Sell Your Data

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Thanks to digital tools equipped with artificial intelligence, we’re (theoretically) better than we used to be. Devices and apps track our workouts, our sleep patterns, our periods, our sexual encounters. We give these digital spies access to any intimate part of our lives, whatever they demand, because we assume having more data will allow us to see where we’re failing, and to make improvements accordingly.

But, if you had data on how the kinds of conversations you had with other people, would it make you a better person? Can AI actually teach us to communicate better — you know, with other humans?

Startup founder Nancy Lublin thinks the answer is yes. She founded Loris.ai, with the intention of helping managers at companies tackle difficult conversations. The company is named after the slow loris animal — just like the loris’ toxic bite, botched workplace conversations can end companies or poison relationships, according to the company’s web site. 

We really don’t know how Loris.ai intends to accomplish its stated goal — or how AI will be involved at all. The company has not yet started beta testing, and details about its inner-workings are negligible. Yet, it has a clear draw to investors: the company has already raised $ 2 million in seed funding.

It’s pretty easy to guess Loris.ai will make money by collecting user data and selling it. That’s how all the big tech companies, from Facebook to Google, make their sizable earnings.

Lublin got a good start doing this through her nonprofit Crisis Text Line. Founded four years ago, the organization offers texting-based support to those in emotional crises. The organization used machine learning to analyze the millions of messages exchanged via Crisis Text Line, looking for patterns of behavior. They then used these insights to improve training for the service’s 12,000 counselors. Last year Crisis Text Line partnered with Facebook to improve the social network’s response to users in crisis.

Now, Lublin is using similar techniques for her new startup. The company will likely use the conclusions it gleaned from Crisis Text Line to offer “empathy lessons” to interested companies, training managers and employees about how to improve their communication, according to Wired.

“Managers are nervous having a one-on-one meeting with a direct report of a different gender, and that holds women back,” Lublin told Wired. “People worrying about inclusion worry they’ll get it wrong, and that holds people back.”

AI can give us data — buckets of it, if we want, and complete with specific advice about ways to fix the things that ail us. But humans ultimately have to make the call about whether, or how, to act on those instructions. In the right hands, actionable items like the ones Loris.ai may offer could reduce workplace discrimination, or clear up toxic work environments. But in others, it might just be another piece of information to ignore as we continue making the same dumb mistakes we always have.

Yes, humans have to choose to use that information, at least for now. Soon we may wonder why we ever needed human managers at all, when our robo-bosses exert control so much more easily.

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Apple warns customers about phishing emails, details legitimate communication

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Apple last week posted a new support document to its website detailing a few tips designed to help customers distinguish official emails from phishing attempts, the latter of which have become increasingly sophisticated in recent months.
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Google announces RCS for business-to-consumer communication

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services and is the upgrade that SMS has desperately needed for a long time. Over the past couple of years, Google has dedicated itself to facilitating carriers’ transition to RCS on a global scale and Google announces that it is working closely with 43 carriers and various OEMs to make this a reality. Today, Google announces Rich Communication Services for businesses to communicate directly with the consumer. Companies can send communications directly to your phone on the Android Messages app with more useful and interactive messages. Google announces…

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FCC hopes opening up communication airwaves will boost innovation

Today, the FCC voted to move forward with a proposal to open up communications spectrum beyond 95 GHz. In a statement, it said that spectrum above this range has been thought to be at the edge of what's usable, but now it wants to provide different l…
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Quantum Video Call Displays the Future of Secure Communication

Secure Quantum Communications

China launched its Micius satellite in 2016, and in the time since, it has accomplished a couple of remarkable feats proving the viability of quantum technology. The first of its achievements saw the Micius team in China sending a single photon from a ground station in Tibet to the satellite 500 kilometers (310 miles) away.

In August 2017, the satellite used quantum cryptography to send data to Earth, which hinted at the potential of sending information that’s virtually unhackable. A month later, on September 29, Micius was used to facilitate the first ever quantum video call between the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna — 7,600 kilometers (4,722 miles) apart.

Previously, we knew that the 75 minute call used Micius to send data, contained in photons, to two stations operated by China and Europe. Now, however, we know the specifics regarding how everything came together.

A graphic showing the relationship between Micius and the Chinese and Austrian ground stations, which were connected by the Micius satellite for a secure quantum video call.
A graphic showing the relationship between Micius and the Chinese and Austrian ground stations. Image Credit: Austrian Academy of Sciences

For starters, the photons were used to transmit a quantum key both academies needed to participate in the quantum video call. Using Micius, a series of photons that move in unpredictable patterns were first sent to the Chinese ground station at Xinglong. Once the Earth rotated and brought the Austrian ground station at Lustbühel Observatory near Graz into view, Micius sent another series of photons.

“Thus, the transmitter in orbit and the receiver on the surface of the earth received a randomly generated unique number sequence of zeros and ones – the quantum key,” explains the Austrian Academy of Sciences in a post detailing the experiment. If a third party had somehow managed to observe the quantum key during transmission, it would have been immediately noticeable. In this situation, the key isn’t utilized, and another is sent until both teams are confident their respective keys haven’t been observed.

Once the ground stations acquired the two keys, they were sent to their respective academies using ground-based quantum communications over optical fiber cables. According to MIT Technology Review, the final step was setting up a secure video link using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). In addition to the call being 75 minutes long, it also resulted in 2 GBs worth of data transmission.

“The experiment has shown that quantum communication is absolutely secure against eavesdropping and also works on a global scale,” said quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger, who led the Austrian team, in the blog post.

Future Quantum Networks

The video call isn’t meant to be the final test for quantum communications, or a sign that it’s perfect. As MIT Technology Review points out, the satellite is only thought to be secure while its connecting to ground-stations back on Earth, but that security is not a guarantee. That said, the teams are aware of this potential flaw, and state it can be addressed using an end-to-end quantum relay. Faster quantum encryption is also expected to become invaluable in the future of cybersecurity. 

Communication’s Next Frontier
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Given that it has only been a year since the Micius satellite was launched, the call is still an impressive feat. The teams acknowledge this is only the beginning for practical quantum communications.

“Our work points towards an efficient solution for an ultralong-distance global quantum network, laying the groundwork for a future quantum internet,” the teams said in their research, published to the journal Physical Review Letters.

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Slack communication app slacking off, removes Apple Watch app in latest version

In the latest release of Slack for iOS, the company has removed its Apple Watch counterpart as a whole. So, for those who were hopeful that the Watch app would go independent, this is sad news.

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Research Shows Communication Between Both Halves of the Brain Increases With Age

Growing Older

We all age. It’s an inevitable part of life that brings with it adventure, experience, difficulties, learning opportunities, and so much more. It also, as explored in a new study published this week in Human Brain Mapping, includes increased communication between regions in the brain. According to the study, this change happens to compensate for the parts of aging that aren’t so positive.

Specifically, as we age there is an increasing amount of bilateral communication in the brain; meaning that the two halves of our brain communicate with each other more as we grow older. Now, this isn’t new information, but this study did step into previously unexplored territory in our understanding of this phenomena. The team of researchers accomplished a first by directly manipulating this communication, using a brain stimulation technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This technique allowed them to better understand if the process is a positive or negative adaptation. It was performed while adult subjects undertook memory-related tasks, giving the research team practical insight into how their brains responded.

Image Credit: Seanbatty / Pixabay
Image Credit: Seanbatty / Pixabay

Brain Age

According to lead author Simon Davis, Ph.D., “This study provides an explicit test of some controversial ideas about how the brain reorganizes as we age…These results suggest that the aging brain maintains healthy cognitive function by increasing bilateral communication.” This communication increases, according to the study, “as needed,” — depending on how your brain transforms over time.

The researchers also found that patients with stronger white matter pathways, which exist between the halves of the brain, showcased greater bilateral communication. This signifies that it is likely that the brains of those with similar pathways might retain higher levels of functioning later in life.

This study has unveiled crucial information about the inner workings of the brain as it ages. Not only is this phenomenon now understood to be a progressing method of compensation, but we better understand bilateral communication, as well as how the pathways between the halves of our brain contribute to our brain health over time. This study, and others like it, will continue to contribute to research that could support a more robust understanding of the biology of aging, and provide clues about how we and our brains can stay healthy throughout our lives.

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For the First Time Ever, Quantum Communication is Demonstrated in Real-World City Conditions

 

One Giant Leap

In a massive step forward, researchers have sent the first quantum-secured message through the air above a city containing more than one bit of information. This proof-of-concept success means that high-capacity, free-space quantum communication will one day be both a practical and secure process between satellites and Earth—and a worldwide quantum encryption network will also be feasible.

In their demonstration, researchers used 4D quantum encryption to transmit data over a free-space optical network between two buildings. The buildings on the University of Ottawa campus stand 0.3 kilometers apart. The high-dimensional encryption scheme is described as “4D” because it sends more information, as every photon encodes two bits of information. This, in turn, means that each photon carries four possibilities with it: 00, 01, 10, or 11.

High-dimensional quantum encryption is also more secure because it can tolerate more signal-obscuring noise such as noise from failed electronics, turbulent air, malfunctioning detectors, and even interception attempts without rendering the transmission unsecured. “This higher noise threshold means that when 2D quantum encryption fails, you can try to implement 4D because it, in principle, is more secure and more noise resistant,” Ebrahim Karimi said in a news release.

Image Credit: SQO Team, University of Ottawa
Image Credit: SQO Team, University of Ottawa

Current algorithms are unlikely to be secure in the future as computers become more powerful. Therefore, researchers are working to master stronger encryption techniques such as light-harnessing quantum key distribution, which uses the quantum states of light particles to encode and send the decryption keys for encoded data.

Real-world testing

Now, the concept of quantum communications like this has been a theoretical concept until recently, because global implementation will demand transmission between Earth and satellites. Scientists have been using horizontal tests through the air over distances because the distortion that signals encounter can mimic what they might go through as they pass through the atmosphere. This successful demonstration proved that successful encryption is possible, despite distortion.

These researchers ported their optical setups from the lab to two different rooftops for the testing and protected them from the elements with wooden boxes. After some trial and error, the team successfully used this intracity link to send secure messages using 4D quantum encryption. The error rate for the messages was 11 percent, well below the 19 percent secure connection threshold. The team also compared 4D and 2D encryption, and they found that they were able to transmit 1.6 times more data per photon after error correction using 4D quantum encryption, in spite of turbulence.

Next, this research team plans to test the technology in a three-link network that spans longer distances, with each link about 5.6 kilometers apart. They will also use adaptive optics technology to compensate for the turbulence. The long-term goal is to link the network to the existing city network, creating “a quantum communication network with multiple links but using more than four dimensions while trying to get around the turbulence,” graduate student and team member Alicia Sit said in the press release.

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