Hackers Don’t Have to Be Human Anymore. This Bot Battle Proves It
By Cade Metz
The Paris ballroom played host to the Darpa Cyber Grand Challenge, the first hacking contest to pit bot against bot—rather than human against human. Designed by seven teams of security researchers from across academia and industry, the bots were asked to play offense and defense, fixing security holes in their own machines while exploiting holes in the machines of others. Their performance surprised and impressed some security veterans, including the organizers of this $55 million contest—and those who designed the bots. During the contest, which played out over a matter of hours, one bot proved it could find and exploit a particularly subtle security hole similar to one that plagued the world’s email systems a decade ago—the Crackaddr bug. Until yesterday, this seemed beyond the reach of anything other than a human.
The Washington Post will use robots to write stories about the Rio Olympics
By Peter Kafka
The Post is using homegrown software to automatically produce hundreds of real-time news reports about the Olympics. Starting tomorrow morning, those items will appear, without human intervention, on the Post’s website, as well as in outside channels like its Twitter account. The idea is to use artificial intelligence to quickly create simple but useful reports on scores, medal counts and other data-centric news bits — so that the Post’s human journalists can work on more interesting and complex work.
Researchers think we may have to protect our brains from hackers in a few years
By Bryan Clark
The Next Web
What if hackers could one day control your mind, or at least take a glimpse inside, through the use of sophisticated malware? It’s a scenario that’s sounds straight out of a science fiction novel, but we’re far closer than you might think. As scientists continue to make breakthroughs in implanting, and controlling, brain-computer interfaces we’re actually on the verge of this being reality, a realization researchers need to act fast on to ensure our brain signals aren’t used against us.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
Electric vehicle charge points to outnumber petrol stations by 2020, say Nissan
By James Murray
Public electric vehicle (EV) charge points will outnumber petrol stations in the UK by the end of the decade, marking a potential tipping point in the adoption of zero emission vehicles. That is the conclusion of a new analysis by auto giant and EV manufacturer Nissan, which argues that based on current trends EV charge points will overtake traditional petrol stations by August 2020. The report found that there were 8,472 traditional fuel stations in the UK at the end of last year, representing a steady decline from the 37,539 recorded in 1970. Based on the rate of decline in recent decades the number of petrol stations is likely to fall to under 7,870 by summer 2020, Nissan said.
We’re starting to understand just how Zika and climate change go together
By John Upton
The Zika virus has exploded throughout South America, up through Mexico and Puerto Rico and into Florida, but the conditions it needed to fester in northern Brazil were rooted in urbanization and poverty. The initial Brazilian outbreak appears to have been aided by a drought driven by El Niño, and by higher temperatures caused by longer-term weather cycles and by rising levels of greenhouse gas pollution. This combination of human and natural forces is emerging as the possible incubator of a disease that’s painfully elusive to detect, despite its cruel effects on unborn children.
Ethiopia: Building Climate Resilient Economy As Part of Sustainable Development
By Abebe Wolde Giorgis
Ethiopia is a home for nearly 100 million people. The nation's economic mainstay is agricultural sector that is also a means of livelihood of 85 per cent of the population, and it plays key role for earning foreign exchange. The sector which depends on the extraction of natural resources needs conservation and the preservation of balanced ecosystem for utilizing the resource in a sustainable manner, however, the sector is not only affected by local human activity but also by the climate change which is a global phenomenon. It is obvious that Ethiopia's contribution for global warming is insignificant but it is paying a heavy price since its major sector is suffering from the consequences of climate change.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
Low minimum wage means taxes subsidize wealthy corporations
By Mark K. Bauer
The Star Telegram
The average — not lowest — hourly pay for an employee at McDonalds is $8.50. They are living in poverty. If they get sick, they can’t pay the rent. If their car breaks down, they can’t get to work. There are two main remedies to these issues: raising the minimum wage, or allowing workers to collectively bargain through a union. Everyone knows that corporations have spent decades and millions of dollars to dismantle unions, and without pressures from these groups, they currently have little to no incentive to raise the minimum wage. What most may not be aware of is that, in the meantime, they are also hoping no one will notice that our tax money and charitable giving is subsidizing their worker pay!
The Unsexy Truth About Millennials: They’re Poor
By Samantha Allen
The Daily Beast
After several news outlets, including The Daily Beast, reported that rates of millennial sexual inactivity in early adulthood are surprisingly high, armchair social theorists came out in force to blame it on everything but the fact that nearly one-third of young adults are still living at home. According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau (PDF), they earn $2,000 less than their parents did at a comparable age, they are more likely to live in poverty, and they are more likely to live at home. But Baby Boomers and Gen Xers still seem to find it hard to believe that basic economic math can explain much of the younger generation’s behavior. The truth is that lower wages and poverty can account for so many of the things that older generations find so mystifying about millennials.
This election could decide the fate of American labor — and that’s the problem
By Joseph A. McCartin
The Washington Post
One of the many questions to be decided in this election is the future of U.S. labor policy. Unions entered the race with high hopes, having recently made big gains. They had won rising support for a $15 minimum wage, reformed overtime rules and dodged a potentially devastating blow from the Supreme Court, which, had it not been for the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, undoubtedly would have crippled labor’s ability to collect fees from millions of public sector workers who benefit from union contracts. But any hope of translating such victories into a broad union revival hinges on the outcome of the election.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
Syrian refugees design app for navigating German bureaucracy
By Philip Oltermann
When 23-year-old Munzer Khattab and his friend Ghaith Zamrik, both Syrian refugees, had similar problems upon arriving in Berlin last year. Spurred by their frustrations, Khattab and Zamrik are on a mission to simplify German bureaucracy not just for the 1.2 million people who have sought asylum there since 2013 but also ordinary Germans. Since March, they and a team of four other Syrian refugees have been developing an app called Bureaucrazy, which promises to guide newcomers and natives through the labyrinth of form filling and officialese.
Stiglitz quits Panama Papers probe, cites lack of transparency
By Hugh Bronstein and Gram Slattery
The committee set up to investigate lack of transparency in Panama's financial system itself lacks transparency, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told Reuters on Friday after resigning from the "Panama Papers" commission. The leak in April of more than 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, dubbed the "Panama Papers," detailed financial information from offshore accounts and potential tax evasion by the rich and powerful. Stiglitz and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth joined a seven-member commission tasked with probing Panama's notoriously opaque financial system, but they say they found the government unwilling to back an open investigation. Both quit the group on Friday after they say Panama refused to guarantee the committee's report would be made public.
Syria’s rebels unite to break Assad’s siege of Aleppo
By Emma Graham-Harrison and Kareem Shaheen
A Syrian military academy in the heart of Aleppo made for a bold, even reckless target for opposition forces trying to break a devastating siege, but the rebels gambled on a double advantage: surprise and suicide bombers. Soon the rebels were sharing pictures of abandoned artillery and a smashed portrait of President Bashar al-Assad on Twitter, flaunted as triumphant proof that the army was routed and opposition forces were within a few hundred metres of their besieged comrades. Hours later, the people of east Aleppo were dancing in the street, as rebels and activists confirmed that the month-long siege of the area had been broken. The fate of the opposition-held city was back in play. The victory is a fragile one. The area is still a conflict zone and it may be some time before a secure corridor for food and medical supplies can be set up, and the regime has called in reinforcements.
5 Prisons Improving Life on the Inside
By Marcus Harrison Green
For the roughly 2.2 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails, daily life is often violent, degrading, and hopeless. In a 2010 study of inmates released from 30 prisons, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that more than three-quarters were arrested for a new crime within five years of being freed. But what if our approach to those behind bars were constructive, rather than destructive? What if correctional facilities provided programs and resources to educate and encourage? What if communities partnered with prisons not only to improve life on the inside, but also to increase the prospect of success on the outside? Today, programs at jails and prisons across the country are demonstrating that this is possible. In these programs, inmates are finding compassion for others and purpose for themselves.
The tyranny of a traffic ticket
By German Lopez
Eric Garner, Samuel DuBose, Sandra Bland — these are just a few of the victims of police and the criminal justice system over the past several years, but they all fall into the same basic framework: A routine stop or arrest for a low-level offense went horribly wrong, leaving someone dead after they were accused of a misdemeanor or crime that typically doesn’t even involve prison time. The tragic outcomes show just another way low-level offenses can trap someone for life — and even to death — in the criminal justice system. For starters, every one of these encounters carries a risk that something will go terribly wrong — as it did for Garner, DuBose, Bland, and Castile.
Immigration must be considered an opportunity for America, not a problem
By Steve Case
Countries — and regions within countries — work the same way. They are either open and growing — absorbing new ideas, people and ways of doing things — or they are closed and falling behind, trying to defend the status quo, exclude outsiders and shut out new thinking. This is why Steve Case has long believed immigration policy is not just a problem America needs to solve, but it is also an opportunity for us to seize. Since our founding we have been the most innovative and entrepreneurial nation, in part because we’ve been an immigrant-friendly nation. But in recent years, we’ve made it harder to come here and stay here, and as a result we’ve started to lose talent to other countries. This is a path to economic decline and entrepreneurial decay.