Windows 10 May Be Removing Programs Without Telling You

Windows 10 is designed to be the next step for Microsoft’s operating system, with internet functions built-in alongside apps and new gaming technologies designed to help users make the choice to move that little bit easier. With Windows 10 now a recommended update you would expect that some users would be hopeful of the new operating system, something that may not be the case if it keeps removing programs from your system without telling you.

So the major benefit of the internet is that you can quickly update your system, no longer do you have to wait weeks for the latest security patch or game update as you can quickly update anything you need or download something entirely new within hours or even minutes. It may come as a surprise then with groups like LifeHacker noticing that some programs they have on their system seem to be removed after doing an update. In this case, they found the system information tool Speccy had been removed, giving you only an empty file icon and a question of why?

The current theory is that it is removing outdated apps and drivers when it does an update, a good theory but still one that should worry people. Hopefully, this is not an intentional feature, otherwise, users could soon find their programs and software removed from the system, finding out only days later when they need them the most.

I’ve yet to upgrade to Windows 10 personally, and with “features” like this, I can’t say I will be anytime soon.

Computers Can Now Accurately Forge Human Handwriting

Alex Graves, a specialist in Long Short-Term Memory recurrent neural networks at the University of Toronto, published a number of fascinating findings before the documentation was quickly removed. Graves’ research is astonishing and revolves around the concept that specific data points in combination with a Long Short-Term Memory recurrent neural network can accurately predict complex sequences. To test this hypothesis, Graves created a program which analyzes the graphology of handwriting.

The software is able to judge the characteristics of each person’s handwriting technique and formulate new sentences with a staggering degree of accuracy. It’s not perfect, and a professional graphologist could probably tell the difference. However, it’s a technical feat and one which could be used to forge your signature or personal style. Everyone’s handwriting contains an assortment of individual nuances and computers can now decipher between minute changes in cursive text. The research team have released the tool which converts up to 100 characters in 5 distinct handwriting styles. In all honesty, I can’t see this being used in a positive manner and only to help online fraud. This probably explains why the original research post was removed from all public avenues.

Do you think this technological feat will simply be used be cybercriminals to commit identity fraud?

Thank You Tom’s Hardware for providing us with this information.

Four New Bugs Have Been Found in Internet Explorer

I know most of you don’t even use Internet Explorer and we all know how it was humiliated throughout the years. However, since the new Microsoft Edge might be using some IE code, it’s worth pointing this out anyway.

It looks like security experts have encountered and disclosed four new vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s browser. The researchers have noted the issues through Hewlett-Packard’s Zero Day Initiative, a program which creates detection signatures and also reports them to their respective vendors.

Microsoft has already been notified, however, ZDI gives 120 days to the vendor to fix them. So, since Microsoft is more focused on Windows 10, the issues were not resolved and limited information about them have been released to the public. By limited information, it means that the actual code affected has not been released for the wise guys to figure out an actual working exploit.

However, one of the four exploits seems to have been disclosed in more detail. This is because at one of ZDI’s contest back in November, a hacker used the exploit and provided ZDI with the necessary information on how to take advantage of the vulnerability. If you’re curious, the exploit can be found here.

The remaining vulnerabilities are just theoretical at this point, but Microsoft should look into patching them as soon as possible before someone else manages to find a way to exploit them further.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

A Robot Passed the Self-Awareness Test and This Is How It Did It

When talking about robots and self-awareness, I think most people would just freak out, but there are some people who would be extremely excited and interested about these things. But I don’t think freaking out would be the case here, even though a robot just passed the first self-awareness test ever.

The guys over at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York are said to have built three robots which were put to the so-called “wise men puzzle” test. The original test involved a fictional king, who in order to choose his next advisor, invites three of the land’s wisest men to a contest. He then puts either a blue or white hat on their head and tells them that the first to stand up and tell the colour of their own hat will become his new advisor.

The same logic has been implemented with the three robots here too. Two of them were stripped of their ability to talk, then all three were asked to tell which one was still able to speak. All of them then proceeded to say ‘I don’t know’, but surprisingly, the one who heard its voice became aware of its ability to still speak and added ‘Sorry, I know now!’.

The above may seem trivial to us as humans, but bear in mind that robots are programmed to do what we ‘tell’ them to do, so up until now, all robots we’ve seen doing this were doing them because we systematically told them what to do. To see a robot recognising its own voice and distinguishing it from other human voices is a big step forward for AI.

To be noted here is that all three robots were coded in the same way, so we can see a bit of the machine learning technique in place here. While the other two did not see any signs of self-awareness and ‘thinking’, the third one was able to tell and learn the difference. This means that the third robot was able to learn some differences in behaviour, using the base code to ‘deduce’ what the others could not.

It’s really interesting and I admit, it may be a bit scary too. But in the end, complex AI are bound to be invented sooner or later, so we may see the first big step here. Also, if you’re interested in seeing the robot for yourself, you should know that it will be displayed at the RO-MAN conference in Japan between the 31st of August and the 4th of September.

Thank you TechRadar for providing us with this information

Not Everyone Will Get Windows 10 on the 29th of July

If you were eagerly waiting to get your hands on Windows 10 on the 29th of July, you might be a bit disappointed. Microsoft just ruled out some updates on the upcoming Windows distribution timings, so bear with us on this.

The company said that Windows Insider program members will be the first to get Windows 10 when it launches, with other users who have reserved their copies being notified by email. Once you get notified, you will be able to get on downloading the Windows build. However, the company will be rolling it out in waves, which will increase in size gradually. This means there won’t be a lot of users who reserved Windows 10 getting it when the clock hits zero.

For regular home users, Microsoft will release the notification once it gets enough information from your system and considers it “ready” for Windows 10. Users who do not have a PC fitting Microsoft’s requirement will be notified by the Microsoft team and be given details as well as contact information on what they should do to get the build.

Business users have something else to deal with. Windows 10 Pro businesses will be able to download the build alongside Windows Insider users on the 29th of July, but larger companies have to wait. Windows 10 Enterprise and Education will be available through the company’s Volume Licensing Service Center starting on the 1st of August.

In addition to the above, all Windows 8.1 versions sold from retail stores will be given out with additional information on how to upgrade to Windows 10. More information about what Microsoft has planned for the Windows 10 rollout can be found over at their blog here.

Google’s Inception Module

Google are an innovative bunch who invest in concepts which can be visually stimulating, I could have found a more apt word, but will stick with it. This time around the search giant’s creation, in this case goes by the name of “The Inception Module” and is software which is an artificial neural network which identifies certain characteristics within an image.

Sounds complicated but look at it this way, when you gaze at clouds you may find these clumps of water vapour morph into objects. This is a rudimentary viewpoint of the software which, when processing an image can over analyse what it sees and therefore, perceive something which is not present. Look below; it looks as if this jpeg has been designed by a Photoshop beginner, what it actually represents is the picture of the clouds was loaded into the software, the end result being the code has over defined to include the same result as following Ozzy Osborne on a night out.

At this stage, the software is attempting to mimic the human brain which is extremely complex, in fact, scientists have yet to discover every part of the brain and the function with which it represents.   It’s a clever piece of software which no doubt will improve over time and with it, a greater understanding of how we perceive images.

Image Courtesy of New Scientist and ColdBox

Thank You arxiv and New Scientist for providing us with this information

Facebook-Less Messenger Is a Thing

First there was MySpace and Bebo, then came along Facebook. Now everything from your computer to your phone can have Facebook on it, be it the social website or just the messaging aspect of the social site. Now it would seem that users are able to use the messaging platform, without having a Facebook account.

Starting next week users in the US, Canada, Venezuela and Peru will be given the option to sign up to Facebook messenger by just providing their full name and phone number. While it can still be used with a Facebook account, this allows users who don’t want to sign up and create an account have access to and use their messaging services.

Signing up to Facebook is still encouraged so users can take “advantage of multi-device messaging across mobile devices, the web and tablets”. This would appear that while your name and number lets you log in and use the messaging app on your phone, you still won’t be able to access or use chat on PC based versions of Facebook, maybe even to the point where the conversations aren’t shared amongst the devices associated with that number.

Previously announced plans outlined messenger being enabled to allow businesses to have a platform on the messenger app, to not only communicate but also to receive information such as order confirmations and status updates.

With the app being expanded to businesses and non-Facebook users, it’s clear that they want to include as many people and companies in communicating through their products. Can you see yourself asking for details from your online retailers through Facebook?

Thank you Facebook for providing us with this information.

Google Adds a Big Pot of Money as Android Security Rewards Program Incentive

Google is known for rewarding its fans and developers who find and provide fixes to its Android operating system. Through its reward system, Google ensures that bugs are found and dealt with accordingly. Through its open-source nature, Android provides a lot of potential for both development and hacking.

The Android Security Rewards has been made for developers to submit any code that won’t fall into other rewards program covered by Google. The company is interested in AOSP, OEM, kernel and TrustZone OS bugs, but firmware bugs can also be submitted if they pose a potential security risk for the Android OS.

The new rewards program currently covers only two devices, namely the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, but Google says it will add more in the future. Bugs that qualify for the latter devices should fall into the moderate, high or critical area, so if you find a complex bug or just a text misspelled wrong, they won’t qualify.

As far as rewards are concerned, Google offers between $500 and $2,000, depending on the bug severity and how well it is documented and/or patched. For example, Google will reward anyone who submits a critical bug, the patch and CTS test with up to $8,000. Also, Google offers a larger sum of money for functional bugs as follows:

  • An exploit or chain of exploits leading to kernel compromise from an installed app or with physical access to the device will get up to an additional $10,000. Going through a remote or proximal attack vector can get up to an additional $20,000.
  • An exploit or chain of exploits leading to TEE (TrustZone) or Verified Boot compromise from an installed app or with physical access to the device will get up to an additional $20,000. Going through a remote or proximal attack vector can get up to an additional $30,000.

If you like a challenge that would potentially bring you a lot of cash, you can head over to Google’s Android Rewards page here and see more details.

Drive Destroying Malware Discovered

Cisco Systems’ Talos Group have discovered a new malware that takes ninja operation to a whole new level. It has been dubbed Rombertik and it basically monitors everything you do on the web, including all of your personal information.

This nasty bit of software gets installed when a user unknowingly clicks on a malicious link; either from an email or off a website. The researchers reversed engineered the software to see exactly what is going on, Rombertik stays hidden in the deepest darkest part of your hard drive, cloaking itself when the user goes near and that can self-destruct if put under scrutiny from anyone; it has been known to wipe entire hard drives clean to prevent anyone learning the code.

Researchers Ben Baker and Alex Chiu kept a blog of their investigation:

Once the unpacked version of Rombertik within the second copy of yfoye.exe begins executing, one last anti-analysis function is run — which turns out to be particularly nasty if the check fails. The function computes a 32-bit hash of a resource in memory, and compares it to the PE Compile Timestamp of the unpacked sample. If the resource or compile time has been altered, the malware acts destructively. It first attempts to overwrite the Master Boot Record (MBR) of PhysicalDisk0, which renders the computer inoperable. If the malware does not have permissions to overwrite the MBR, it will instead destroy all files in the user’s home folder (e.g. C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\) by encrypting each file with a randomly generated RC4 key. After the MBR is overwritten, or the home folder has been encrypted, the computer is restarted.

The Master Boot Record starts with code that is executed before the Operating System. The overwritten MBR contains code to print out “Carbon crack attempt, failed”, then enters an infinite loop preventing the system from continuing to boot.

The MBR also contains information about the disk partitions. The altered MBR overwrites the bytes for these partitions with Null bytes, making it even more difficult to recover data from the sabotaged hard drive.

Once the computer is restarted, the victim’s computer will be stuck at this screen until the Operating System is reinstalled:

Effectively, Rombertik begins to behave like a wiper malware sample, trashing the user’s computer if it detects it’s being analyzed. While Talos has observed anti-analysis and anti-debugging techniques in malware samples in the past, Rombertik is unique in that it actively attempts to destroy the computer if it detects certain attributes associated with malware analysis.”

The malware also has some less destructive cloaking measures, to evade sandbox tools, it writes random data to memory 960 million times; The delay from that can trip up a sandbox tool.

“If an analysis tool attempted to log all of the 960 million write instructions, the log would grow to over 100 gigabytes,” the Talos researchers explained. “Even if the analysis environment was capable of handling a log that large, it would take over 25 minutes just to write that much data to a typical hard drive. This complicates analysis.”

Well, that sounds like a nasty bit of programming. I’ll admit, I have been stung by malware a few times, most recent being around a month ago with those shopping aid ad extensions. Have you ever been snagged by malware? What are your preventative measures? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Facebook Messenger is Now Available on Web Browsers

It looks like Facebook has brought its Messenger counterpart to web browsers. Though users can chat with their Facebook friends inside Facebook.com as they did up until now, the Messenger.com looks to work and look like a mobile version of Facebook’s Messenger, but for the Web.

A Facebook representative told Re/Code that the Messenger for Web is dedicated towards messaging, having it not display all other News Feed distractions that you would have in the Facebook.com page. The company also does not have plans on removing the messaging feature from Facebook.com, at least for now.

The chat feature was previously removed from the mobile Facebook app and wired to work alongside it with the help of Messenger app in order to add more features, according to Facebook. Since then, the Peer-to-Peer payments feature and a new Developer Platform have cropped up for the messaging app.

It turns out that Messanger.com will include support for all the features available in the mobile version, as well as multiple languages. However, the Web variant of the Messenger currently has support for the English language, with more to come in the near future.

Thank you Re/Code for providing us with this information

DARPA’s Idea to Replace Batteries with Propane Seems Mad and Genius at the Same Time

Soldiers are becoming more and more reliant on technology and the old-fashioned lithium-ion batteries won’t really do the trick. The US military currently uses the Ultralife UBI-2590 battery pictured below, which weighs in at 1.4kg a piece. However, their capacity is extremely limited and solders need a lot of them to get the job done in the field.

To overcome this issue, DARPA’s Transformative Apps program and their team of engineers from Ultra Electronics have built a lightweight, 350-watt propane generator that is capable of charging its batteries in the field, with the added bonus that it is completely silent.

The idea might not seem such a game changer, but the picture below comparing the old Ultralife UBI-25290 and DARPA’s propane alternative seems to make sense. The screenshots describe that the propane solution is equivalent to 100 Ultralife batteries, which in turn help soldiers reduce the weight load. One Ultralife UBI-2590 battery weighs in at 1.4 kg, while the generator weighs only 5 kg and the tank just 9 kg. There even seem to be smaller 1.8 kg tank alternatives, should the 9 kg propane tank be too much.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Researcher Found Flaw Which Could Have Been Used to Erase Every Video on YouTube

Software developer Kamil Hismatullin has discovered a security flaw in YouTube that apparently granted him the power to delete any video he wanted. This means that he had the power to delete each and every video on the website, but don’t be alarmed, he had no desire to do so.

The developer reported the flaw to Google and apparently collected $5000 through the company’s Vulnerability Research Grants that launched back in January. For those unaware, the program offers anyone who finds significant vulnerabilities in specific applications a reward as an incentive for researchers to find and reports bugs and security flaws, having Google quickly swiping in and fixing them.

Hismatullin is said to have been offered $1337 back in February to dig into YouTube Creator Studio and after just six or seven hours, he found “a logical bug that let me delete any video on YouTube with just one following request.”

“Although it was an early Saturday’s morning in SF when I reported issue, Google sec team replied very fast, since this vuln could create utter havoc in a matter of minutes in the bad hands who can used this vulnerability to extort people or simply disrupt YouTube by deleting massive amounts of videos in a very short period of time,” he wrote. “It was fixed in several hours, Google rewarded me $5k and luckily no Bieber videos were harmed :D”

A Google representative has confirmed what Hismatullin reported, having the exploit be one of or even the most destructive one found so far on the streaming giant’s website. Can you imagine a world where you go to YouTube and all of a sudden you are greeted with 0 videos on the entire webpage?

Thank you PCGamer for providing us with this information

iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program Extended to January 2016

A “small number” of iPhone 5 handsets apparently have a battery problem, causing their battery life to become depleted really quickly or for them to expire altogether. Apple initiated a free battery replacement program, in which customers could bring their phones to an Apple Store and have them replaced for free. This was only valid for two years following purchase of the device, and was due to run out in January of this year.

However, the company has decided to extend the program, offering free replacement batteries until January 2016. This could mean two things – the problem is so severe that they need to ensure everyone can take advantage of it, or it could mean that very few people have actually claimed a replacement battery.

To get yours, you need to visit this website and enter your serial number. Only certain devices with certain numbers can get the replacement, but it appears that for many, Apple is playing on the safe side, and you could find yourself getting a new battery even if your battery is just not holding as much charge as it used to (as with any old phone).

If you’ve got one of the affected phones, make a visit to the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store. They should replace the battery while you wait.

Source: TechRadar

Nintendo Can’t Keep Up with Demand For Its Creators Program

As we previously reported, Nintendo has just launched a ‘beta’ version of its ‘Creators Program’ – the company’s way of splitting revenue between YouTubers who upload videos of them playing Nintendo games. This program has been met with a great degree of hostility from many YouTube celebrities, most notably PewDiePie who said that it was a “slap in the face” to smaller YouTubers. Well apparently, Nintendo has received so many applications, they can’t keep up.

The Japanese company said that the program, which is due to launch fully on May 27th, has been extraordinarily popular, with them taking much longer than expected to process people’s applications. It’s also said that the delay has been due to the extreme number of people applying to monetise from videos that feature Nintendo games that are not on the company’s approved lists – slowing down the process even further.

That is one of the things about the new program that has drawn the most criticism – users of the scheme can only share profits from videos that Nintendo approves and nothing else. Besides, many are outraged at the whole thing, claiming that it will be Nintendo’s loss of free publicity in the long run.

Source: Polygon

Daimler Allows Employees to Delete all Incoming Emails When on Vacation

Car manufacturer Daimler are trying to make their employee’s holidays a little more stress-free. They’ve opted in the ability to remove the general “out of office reply” for a much simpler task – deleting every incoming email throughout the whole duration of their leave. The program is adequately named their “Mail On Holiday” option.

The New York Times reported:

“The program, called Mail on Holiday, politely informs senders that their messages were instantly deleted, but they can contact a designated alternate worker if necessary. The email blackout is optional for the company’s 100,000 workers, but “the response is basically 99 percent positive,” a Daimler spokesman, Oliver Wihofszki, told BBC Radio. “Everybody says, ‘That’s a real nice thing.'”

With some basic mail knowledge, you could do something similar yourself – just set a rule to send all incoming mail to your trash as it arrives in your inbox, shame if someone has something very important to contact you about however.

According to Daimler this is a bid to promote a healthier holiday lifestyle for their employees – removing any opportunity for them to look at their work emails whilst resting on holiday. As the incoming emails are removed, a simple return email will be sent to the sender letting them know they should remain contact after the holiday period has ended.

I wonder what will happen if two companies with the same policy have an email sent to one another. Does it just spit automatically generated out of office emails at one another for all eternity or is there some kind of failsafe put in place for this?

What do you think of this opt-in program? It’s a good idea for employee peace of mind and certainly will make day one back in the office run quite a lot smoother, but it begs the question – what if you miss something very important?

Image courtesy of Techsupport Pro

Apple Launches Second iPhone5 Battery Replacement Program

Apple has just launched their second iPhone 5 battery replacement program. First it was the iPhone 5s smartphones that had battery life issues last year and now the time has come to the iPhone 5.

In a statement on their website, they’re saying that only a small percentage of a specific shipment has the problem, but the problem must be big enough for them to start another replacement program.

Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.

The replacement program will start on August 22nd in U.S and China, China was the first website this news was spotted on, and for the rest of the world it will start on August 29th. Customers can either use an Apple Authorized Service Provider, an Apple Retail Store or contact the Apple Technical Support.

With any such program, there are some strings attached. Users must backup their data themselves to either iTunes or iCloud and then turn off the Find My iPhone feature. Next they must erase all content and setting. Oh, and if your iPhone 5 has any damage such as a cracked screen that might impair the repair process, you’ll have to get that fixed prior to getting a new battery. Such a repair will of course be associated with additional costs.

And one more final limitation, “This worldwide Apple program doesn’t extend the standard warranty coverage of the iPhone 5. The program covers affected iPhone 5 batteries for two years after the first retail sale of the unit or until March 1, 2015, whichever provides longer coverage.”

Thank you Apple for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of Apple.

 

Hilton Wants To Turn Your Smartphone into a Hotel Room Key

The Hilton hotel plans on keeping up with the trend and introduce some future tech to its services. Your smartphone will soon act as a room key if you book a room at one of its hotels, granting you the ability to unlock your ‘presidential suite’ by just waving your smartphone at the door.

Hilton is planning the upgrade from 2015, when guests booking a room at the hotel won’t be required to pick up their room at the reception. By 2016, Hilton plans to bring its new technology to all its hotels around the world. In addition to the latter, Hilton plans to add some extra accessibility features, such as checking in or out using your smartphone or tablet. Guests who are constantly on the go on business trips or have a very busy schedule should be pleased by the ability to check in and out, as well as open the hotel room door with just their smartphone or tablet.

The Hilton Honors program also encourages customers to enroll by granting them access to the hotel’s inventory, having the ability to browse and select a suitable room from the ones available. They have been said to even be able to browse the room photos, giving them an idea and ability to choose between different room styles before they make a selection. The hotel stated that this way, its guests can enjoy a pleasant stay and a restful night based on each and every customer’s preferences.

Aside from the above mentioned features, Hilton is also offering guests the ability to choose from a variety of upgrades through the mobile app. For example, a guest could upgrade the size of the room to a higher quality or request special items to be delivered to the room before or after the guest’s arrival. Hilton representatives have stated that over 4,000 Hilton properties will have the digital check-in option available by the end of this year, with additional upgrades coming every 6 to 8 weeks prior to the enhancements achieved by the development team.

As far as support is concerned, the app will be available for both iOS and Android platforms, with some rumors of lower-end devices that support Bluetooth technology are to be considered in order to maximize support. In the end, the Hilton chain will provide the best quality and customer satisfaction, but how about the prices? Will ‘guests’ have to give an arm and a leg to be able to benefit from these ‘select’ and prestigious services?

Thank you Digital Trends for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Digital Trends

Apple launches a Second eBay Store Offering Refurbished iPhone 5’s

Over the weekend, reporters at AppleInsider have discovered a hidden eBay store that appears to be run between the two brands to offer users refurbished iPhones and iPads in as-new condition with a full one-year warranty. Although there is no direct indication that the store is run by an Apple /eBay partnership, but there are a few tags to suggest that this is the case with words such as “Apple Certified” and “exclusive to eBay”.

The phones that are currently listed for sale (and any other devices that may appear on the store in the future are all likely to be units that were traded in at an Apple Genius bar as part of a warranty exchange, but don’t worry about getting a handset that has sings of previous use as each one is completely restored to Apple factory standards with new burn-in tests completed after which they are professionally repacked and inspected to Apple standards. Basically you’re getting an iDevice that is just like a brand new and factory fresh handset in every way except that it is living a second life.

Why exactly this store front has come to life is not totally known but we suspect it is there to give budding iPhone owners the chance to jump on the Apple bandwagon, getting the latest handsets but at a considerably lower price in return. With the launch of the iPhone 6 rumoured to only be a few months away, this is also an ample opportunity for Apple to make a few extra bucks from the 5th generation handsets before everyone throws their money at Apple once again for the annual iPhone launch.

Source and images courtesy: AppleInsider

Secret Artificial Intelligence Project has been In The Works for 30 Years

Cycorp look like any other research company, striving to create newer technologies in order to sell them to other companies and make life easier for people. However, the company has revealed that they were working on a piece of advanced artificial intelligence for 30 years, keeping it a secret up until now.

They have stated that the secrecy was kept by working on their own. This means no outside investments, no debts and no news about the project of course. The information which revealed the project in question has apparently been released by Cycorp, having the project near the stage where it could be ‘applicable enough’.

People’s desire for a Star Trek-like computer, namely an artificially intelligent system that could receive instructions in plain, spoken language, without the need of millions and millions of hard-coded instructions, has been on the list of ‘to-do’ things for many companies.

However, the method of user interface in question has been stated countless times to be extremely hard to achieve. Despite the latter, Cycorp aims to do this by ‘codify general human knowledge and common sense’, having computers then make use of it. They apparently have been attempting to figure out the pieces of data humans rely on daily, the knowledge required to understand the world, and represent that in a formal manner so that machines can use to reason.

Cycorp has apparently been building this ‘brain out of software’ from scratch since 1984. The product’s name is called Cyc and it is allegedly not ‘programmed’ in the conventional sense, but more like ‘taught’. Building a computer software is more of a procedure-like approach, using flowcharts for example as guidelines and specifications on what the actual piece of software is to perform. Cycorp describes Cyc to be built more like educating a child, having to teach it things.

For example, Cyc is able to see “the white space rather than the black space in what everyone reads and writes to each other.” This gives Cyc the ability to comprehend and reason with things deemed achievable only by humans. Also, given that Cyc has a vast knowledge of everything, it could soon be installed as a normal operating system on almost everything, including robots.

The company has stated that Cyc is currently being used to teach math for sixth graders. While the program understands the math, it listens to what students have to say and performs diagnostics on their confusion. With this, it is then able to figure out what behaviour it can carry out that would be most useful in aiding them understand things.

Though teaching math is nothing special, it is just an example of what Cyc is able to do, having to emphasise its radical technique in approaching a problem and solving it based on individual and unique analytical resolutions.

Thank you Business Insider for providing us with this information

Facebooks Emotion Study Now Linked to the Military

But wait, there’s more!

Recently we wrote about how Facebook users were outraged when they found out that 689,003 users news feeds were altered to display overly positive or negative content.

Since then, more information has surfaced showing that this emotion manipulation study also has possible ties to the military. As read on Mashable, an Army spokesman stated that in 2008 Cornell University sent a funding application to the military for a similar project, but was denied.

Controversy surrounding this 2012 research project pointed to the fact that the military had helped fund this possible unethical study, which Cornell has distanced itself from. The University originally issued a press release on June the 10th which confirmed military funding involvement in the emotion manipulation study from the Army Research Office. However as the military involvement became a common topic of discussion, Cornell chose to remove this acknowledgement.

On the first of July, SCG News reported that one of the studies authors, Jeffery Hancock, had previously received funding from the Department of Defense for other research projects including “Cornell: Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes” which included this visualization program that depicts the spread of beliefs and disease.

The simple solution to solving this issue seems to be going straight to the source, but unfortunately when asked most parties declined to comment

“When asked whether Cornell University had ever sought any external funding, and in particular from the Army Research Office, a University spokesman declined to comment. The study’s authors, Hancock and Jamie Guillory, as well as a Facebook spokesperson, did not answer Mashable’s requests for comment either.” Mashable

However, Army Spokesman Wayne Hall has stated that they did not provide any funding to Cornell University and has never asked for them to make amendments to their press release.

With this information in hand, why was the Army credited in the first place? NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen commented on this issue through a public Facebook post:

“Why do I call this strange? Any time my work has been featured in an NYU press release, the PR officers involved show me drafts and coordinate closely with me, for the simple reason that they don’t want to mischaracterize scholarly work. So now we have to believe that Cornell’s Professor of Communication and Information Science, Jeffrey Hancock, wasn’t shown or didn’t read the press release in which he is quoted about the study’s results (weird) or he did read it but somehow failed to notice that it said his study was funded by the Army when it actually wasn’t (weirder).
I think I would notice if my university was falsely telling the world that my research was partially funded by the Pentagon… but, hey, maybe there’s an innocent and boring explanation that I am overlooking.” Facebook

The last few lines of his quote ring the most truth about this whole ordeal.

Image courtesy of SCG news