Google’s 2017 Android Security report is out, and alongside it, the company’s head of Android security David Kleidermacher has claimed that Android is now “as safe as the competition” despite high profile security issues that have dogged the platform for years, including the past 12 months.
Google’s head of Android security David Kleidermacher claimed in an interview that "Android is now as safe as the competition" on the release of the company’s 2017 Android Security report, which seeks to reassure users that it is doing everything it can to protect them from malware and exploits. The problem is that Google can’t secure the 2 billion Androids it claims as its platform. AppleInsider – Frontpage News
True artificial intelligence is on its way, and we aren’t ready for it. Just as our forefathers had trouble visualizing everything from the modern car to the birth of the computer, it’s difficult for most people to imagine how much truly intelligent technology could change our lives as soon as the next decade — and how much we stand to lose if AI goes out of our control.
Fortunately, there’s a league of individuals working to ensure that the birth of artificial intelligence isn’t the death of humanity. From Max Tegmark’s Future of Life Institute to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Future Society, the world’s most renowned experts are joining forces to tackle one of the most disruptive technological advancements (and greatest threats) humanity will ever face.
Perhaps the most famous organization to be born from this existential threat is OpenAI. It’s backed by some of the most respected names in the industry: Elon Musk, the SpaceX billionaire who founded Open AI, but departed the board this year to avoid conflicts of interest with Tesla; Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator; and Peter Thiel, of PayPal fame, just to name a few. If anyone has a chance at securing the future of humanity, it’s OpenAI.
But there’s a problem. When it comes to creating safe AI and regulating this technology, these great minds have little clue what they’re doing. They don’t even know where to begin.
The Dawn of a New Battle
While traveling in Dubai, I met with Michael Page, the Policy and Ethics Advisor at OpenAI. Beneath the glittering skyscrapers of the self-proclaimed “city of the future,” he told me of the uncertainty that he faces. He spoke of the questions that don’t have answers, and the fantastically high price we’ll pay if we don’t find them.
The conversation began when I asked Page about his role at OpenAI. He responded that his job is to “look at the long-term policy implications of advanced AI.” If you think that this seems a little intangible and poorly defined, you aren’t the only one. I asked Page what that means, practically speaking. He was frank in his answer: “I’m still trying to figure that out.”
Page attempted to paint a better picture of the current state of affairs by noting that, since true artificial intelligence doesn’t actually exist yet, his job is a little more difficult than ordinary.
He noted that, when policy experts consider how to protect the world from AI, they are really trying to predict the future. They are trying to, as he put it, “find the failure modes … find if there are courses that we could take today that might put us in a position that we can’t get out of.” In short, these policy experts are trying to safeguard the world of tomorrow by anticipating issues and acting today. The problem is that they may be faced with an impossible task.
Page is fully aware of this uncomfortable possibility, and readily admits it. “I want to figure out what can we do today, if anything. It could be that the future is so uncertain there’s nothing we can do,” he said.
Our problems don’t stop there. It’s also possible that we’ll figure out what we need to do in order to protect ourselves from AI’s threats, and realize that we simply can’t do it. “It could be that, although we can predict the future, there’s not much we can do because the technology is too immature,” Page said.
This lack of clarity isn’t really surprising, given how young this industry is. We are still at the beginning, and so all we have are predictions and questions. Page and his colleagues are still trying to articulate the problem they’re trying to solve, figure out what skills we need to bring to the table, and what policy makers will need to be in on the game.
As such, when asked for a concrete prediction of where humanity and AI will together be in a year, or in five years, Page didn’t offer false hope: “I have no idea,” he said.
However, Page and OpenAI aren’t alone in working on finding the solutions. He therefore hopes such solutions may be forthcoming: “Hopefully, in a year, I’ll have an answer. Hopefully, in five years, there will be thousands of people thinking about this,” Page said.
Well then, perhaps it’s about time we all get our thinking caps on.
Currently, purifying water is fairly easy. Most tourists travelling to exotic destination will keep purifying tablets in their bag along with other ordinary supplies such as plasters or malaria pills. What we haven’t quite managed to achieve is a way to make sure that the water we clean up today is going to stay drinkable tomorrow, or next week. This is because new bacteria can get in touch with it and contaminate it again, something scientists call “secondary contamination”.
The Lithuanian team sought to address just that, and early tests suggest that their method is so effective it kills off microbes for over three months. The researchers, which chose not to share their methodology’s details but explained their results, observed that microbes did not breed in drinking water stored in the open after the application of the purification technique, and found that the purified water did not taste or smell any different from standard drinking water from the tap.
Not only is their solution particularly successful, it also operates using a very low concentration of active ingredients, in this case silver.
Silver has been used to purify water as far back as Ancient Rome. However, there are lingering worries about its potential toxicity when consumed in high concentrations, as outlined in a 2014 literature review published by the World Health Organization. In particular, silver is known to be dangerous for the liver.
Some domestic water filtration systems do use silver, but the team wants to make their technology available in liquid and tablet form, so it can be utilized in difficult circumstances like military operations. Since these methods are designed to be mixed in with water, the concentration of active ingredients is extremely important.
The technique has now been patented, with a prototype for industrial use ready for implementation. Although the treatment is still in its early stages, the researchers believe that their method has the potential to become so cost-effective that it could soon be scaled up and employed in the bottled water industry.
I’ve been using a HomePod system this week. I’m planning to write more about it, but today I wanted to discuss what everyone considering connected smart home devices should think about first: privacy and security.
New research has shown the dye methylene blue kills malaria parasites at an unparalleled rate and is safe for human use. In the recent study, which was conducted in Mali by scientists at Radboud University Medical Center, the University of California (UCSF), and the Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC), malaria patients were treated with a combination of the blue dye and artemisinin-based combination therapy (a fairly standard treatment). Within two days, the patients were cured of malaria and were also no longer able to transmit malaria parasites if they were bitten by a mosquito again.
Malaria can still be transmitted from a person to a mosquito for at least a week using traditional treatment methods. Malarial parasites stay in an infected person’s blood for a long time, and while they’re there they split into gametocytes — male and female sex cells. When a new mosquito comes along and bites an infected person, they suck in those gametocytes in the person’s blood. In the new mosquito, they become fertilized, and when the mosquito bites someone else, the cycle continues, spreading the parasites.
With the addition of the blue dye, researchers saw that they could stop transmission of the parasite in just two days.
Teun Bousema (Radboudumc), who coordinated the study, explained in the team’s press release that its ability to prevent the spread of the disease so quickly is what makes methylene blue so promising. Bousema added that the treatment also seems to work well “in species that are resistant to certain medicines.”
The Only Drawback
The researchers have noted just one side effect of using the blue dye. “I have used it myself,” Bousema said “and it turns your urine bright blue. This is something that we need to solve because it could stop people from using it.”
While the side effect may be strange and could be alarming if patients weren’t aware that it could happen, it doesn’t appear to be harmful. As Bousema pointed out, if researchers aren’t able to suppress the dye’s effect on urine, providers who use the treatment will need to communicate the possible side effect, its cause, and explain that it isn’t a cause for concern in order to assure it doesn’t dissuade patients from starting or completing treatment.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year around the world 212 million people contract malaria and an estimated 429, 000 die. The group of people that most often die as a result of malaria infection are children, specifically those living in Africa. While preventative measures like insecticides and mosquito nets have helped reduce the number of annual deaths by nearly half in the last decade, the spread of malaria continues to take lives.
The new treatment shows promise, and although there are still a few small hurdles (such as the blue urine) that need to be worked out before the dye would become widely available for treatment purposes, having another treatment — especially one that helps prevent the spread of the parasite — could certainly contribute to our goal of eliminating malaria once and for all.
Rian Johnson, the writer and director of "Star Wars: the Last Jedi," has explained how he protected the screenplay for the latest film in the blockbuster franchise from being leaked online: by using a MacBook Air that had been kept from accessing the Internet. AppleInsider – Frontpage News
Smoke detector manufacturer First Alert is getting into the premium speaker business with its Onelink Safe & Sound smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, an in-ceiling device that boasts integration with Apple’s HomeKit platform. AppleInsider – Frontpage News
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