PuceBaboon writes "If you were under the impression that Brin and Page invented the search engine while working out of a garage somewhere in Silicon Valley then think again. The first practical web-crawler with a searchable index, JumpStation, was running out of Stirling University, Scotland, twenty years ago this year, long before Google came into existence. In a tale all too typical of the U.K. tech industry through the years, JumpStation's creator, Jonathon Fletcher, was unable to find funding for his brainchild and commercial exploitation of the idea fell to others. Jonathon, who was a panel member at the ACM SIGIR conference in Dublin earlier this year is now quite serene about the missed opportunity, despite his frustration at the time. Meanwhile, Stirling University is quoted as 'now looking at a way to mark' Jonathon's achievement."
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judgecorp writes "Yahoo has closed its news and community services in China, having already closed its email services there. A farewell message on Yahoo's Chinese site doesn't say much, but it seems Yahoo is ceding the territory to Chinese firm Alibaba, in whom it has a stake."
New submitter gwstuff writes "Last year, Google filed applications for about 100 top level domains. These included .app, .cloud and .lol, but perhaps most prominently .search, which they had requested to operate as a 'dotless' domain. [Friday], ICANN gave their verdict on the idea that would make this URL valid : NO. Here is the formal announcement, and a related Slashdot story from last year. So that's that. But it may still be granted the rights for the remaining 100. Is prime dot-com real estate going to become a thing of the past?"
Gary Marcus writes in the New Yorker about the state of artificial intelligence, and how we take it for granted that AI involves a very particular, very narrow definition of intelligence. A computer's ability to answer questions is still largely dependent on whether the computer has seen that question before. Quoting: "Siri and Google’s voice searches may be able to understand canned sentences like 'What movies are showing near me at seven o’clock?,' but what about questions—'Can an alligator run the hundred-metre hurdles?'—that nobody has heard before? Any ordinary adult can figure that one out. (No. Alligators can’t hurdle.) But if you type the question into Google, you get information about Florida Gators track and field. Other search engines, like Wolfram Alpha, can’t answer the question, either. Watson, the computer system that won “Jeopardy!,” likely wouldn’t do much better. In a terrific paper just presented at the premier international conference on artificial intelligence (PDF), Levesque, a University of Toronto computer scientist who studies these questions, has taken just about everyone in the field of A.I. to task. ...Levesque argues that the Turing test is almost meaningless, because it is far too easy to game. ... To try and get the field back on track, Levesque is encouraging artificial-intelligence researchers to consider a different test that is much harder to game ..."
In a mixed ruling for Fourth Amendment rights, a federal judge today ruled that NYC's Stop-and-Frisk program violated constitutional rights due to disproportionately targeting minorities. However, despite the program being unconstitutional in its current form, it will not stop. From the New York Times: " Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a 'joint remedial process' — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk. ... The Supreme Court had long ago ruled that stop-and-frisks were constitutionally permissible under certain conditions, and Judge Scheindlin stressed that she was 'not ordering an end to the practice.' But she said that changes were needed to ensure that the street stops were carried out in a manner that “protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed police protection.' ... The judge found that the New York police were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop. " The ruling itself (PDF). Bloomberg is furious about the decision, and the city, naturally, intends to appeal.
An anonymous reader writes "This article in Wired advances the idea that humans are losing the copyright battle against machines because the fair use laws are tilted against them. The writer wanted to include photos in his book, but the licensing fees were too high. The aggregators, though, like Google, are building their own content by scraping all of the photos they can find. If anyone complains, they just say, 'Fill out a DMCA form.' Can humans compete against the machines? Should humans be able to use the DMCA to avoid copyright fees too? Should web sites be able to shrug and say, 'Hey, we just scraped it?'"
rtfa-troll writes "The story from yesterday about the Feds monitoring Google searches has turned into a warning about how work place surveillance could harm you. It turns out that Michele Catalano's husband's boss tipped off the police after finding 'suspicious' searches (including 'pressure cooker bombs') in his old work computer's search history. Luckily for the Catalanos, who even allowed a search of their house when they probably didn't have to, it seems the policemen and FBI agents were professional and friendly. Far from being imperiled by a SWAT raid, Catalano spoke to some men in black cars who were polite and even mentioned to Catalano that 99 times out of 100, these tip-offs come to nothing. Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA."
An anonymous reader writes "Massachusetts resident Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which raises the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?"
cycoj writes "The NSA says that there is no central method to search its own email. When asked in a Freedom of Information Act request for emails with the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period, the agency, which has been collecting and analyzing the data of hundreds of millions of Internet users, says it can only perform person-per-person searches on its own email."
An anonymous reader writes "With all of the news stories about users moving to DuckDuckGo because of NSA spying, this article discusses why the privacy provided by DuckDuckGo is more the privacy from third-party tracking (advertisers) but may do little, if anything, to prevent the NSA from tracking your searches."
Vanderhoth writes "Today, Microsoft said its advertisers will be able to target users not just on Web search results pages but directly inside Windows Smart Search. David Pann, general manager of Microsoft's Search Advertising Group, said in an interview that advertisers don't have to do additional setup to participate. The Smart Search ads will feature a preview of the websites the ad will send people to, as well as click-to-call info and site links, which are additional links under the main result that direct users deeper into a website to the most likely page they might want."
It's not just for obscure Japanese islands anymore: reader NobleSavage writes with news that "If you're a tourism board, non-profit, university, research organization or other third party who can gain access and help collect imagery of hard to reach places, you can apply to borrow the Trekker and help map the world." You can also help map the world (albeit without the very neat Trekker backpack cam) without an application process via OpenStreetMap. But if you had access to a panoramic camera like this, what places or spaces would you want to capture? I hope there will be street view imagery of Petra, but I don't see any yet.
hyperorbiter writes "With the advent of Google Apps for Education, there has been a massive uptake by the K12 schools I deal with on signing students up with their own Google powered email address under the school domain. In addition, the students' work when using Google Apps is stored offshore and out of our control — with no explicit comeback if TOS are breached by Google. It seems to me that the school cannot with integrity maintain it has control over the data and its use. I have expressed a concern that it is unethical to use these services without informing the students' parents of what is at stake e.g. the students are getting a digital footprint from the age of seven and are unaware of the implications this may have later in life. The response has often been that I'm over-reacting and that the benefits of the services far outweigh the concerns, so rather than risk knee jerk reactions by parents (a valid concern) and thereby hampering 'education', it's better to not bring this stuff up. My immediate issue isn't so much about the use of the cloud services now, but the ethics over lack of disclosure in the parental consent process. Does anyone have ideas about defining the parameters of 'informed consent' where we inform of risks without bringing about paranoia? (Google Apps is just an example here, I think it applies to many cloud services.)"
An anonymous reader writes "Former Scientologist at the highest level Geir Isene reveals that he was brought in to educate top Scientology officials about the Internet, and learned that they had met personally with Google's Sergey Brin (YouTube video), asking him if it were possible for the search giant to filter results so that only positive information about the church would be returned on the word 'Scientology.' You can imagine how that went over. Isene also says that he begged the church's officials to give him a full day to explain the Internet to them before they met with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had regularly criticized the church for its stands against Internet freedom. Apparently, the church is missing Isene's counsel, because just a few days ago, the EFF put the Church of Scientology into its 'Takedown Hall of Shame.' Last month Geir published his journey 'From Independent Scientologist to Just Me' under the GPL v3 license, recognising how being an open source advocate helped with that."