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How Technology Is Increasing the Number of Jobs We Have ( 216

An anonymous reader writes: An article at The Guardian takes a look at the way in which we hold jobs as technology as changes. Its central thesis is this: "My father had one job in his life, I've had six in mine, my kids will have six at the same time." This may compress the generational changes a bit, but it's an interesting point; the average time people spend at one job has been trending downward for a long time. As technology enables the so-called "gig economy" (or "sharing economy," if you prefer), we're seeing many more people start to hold multiple jobs, working whichever one happens to give them something to do at a given time. Economist Jeremy Rifkin says, "This sharing economy is reestablishing the commons in a hi-tech landscape. Commons came about when people formed communities by taking the meager resources they had and sharing then to create more value. The method of regulation of these systems is also comparable. If people are trusted and vouched for they are accepted as part of the sharing economy group. If they behave badly they are excluded. Your social capital means everything in this new economy."

Engineers Nine Times More Likely Than Expected To Become Terrorists ( 494 writes: Henry Farrel writes in the Washington Post that there's a group of people who appear to be somewhat prone to violent extremism: Engineers. They are nine times more likely to be terrorists than you would expect by chance. In a forthcoming book, Engineers of Jihad, published by Princeton University Press, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog provide a new theory explaining why engineers seem unusually prone to become involved in terrorist organizations. They say it's caused by the way engineers think about the world. Survey data indicates engineering faculty at universities are far more likely to be conservative than people with other degrees, and far more likely to be religious. They are seven times as likely to be both religious and conservative as social scientists. Gambetta and Hertog speculate that engineers combine these political predilections with a marked preference towards finding clearcut answers.

Gambetta and Hertog suggest that this mindset combines with frustrated expectations in many Middle Eastern and North African countries (PDF), and among many migrant populations, where people with engineering backgrounds have difficulty in realizing their ambitions for good and socially valued jobs. This explains why there are relatively few radical Islamists with engineering backgrounds in Saudi Arabia (where they can easily find good employment) and why engineers were more prone to become left-wing radicals in Turkey and Iran.

Some people might argue that terrorist groups want to recruit engineers because engineers have valuable technical skills that might be helpful, such as in making bombs. This seems plausible – but it doesn't seem to be true. Terrorist organizations don't seem to recruit people because of their technical skills, but because they seem trustworthy and they don't actually need many people with engineering skills. "Bomb-making and the technical stuff that is done in most groups is performed by very few people (PDF), so you don't need, if you have a large group, 40 or 50 percent engineers," says Hertog. "You just need a few guys to put together the bombs. So the scale of the overrepresentation, especially in the larger groups is not easily explained."


Pearson Credential Manager System Used By Cisco, IBM, F5 Has Been Breached 25

An anonymous reader writes with a report from Help Net Security that the credential management system used by Pearson VUE (part of education company and publisher Pearson) has been breached "by an unauthorized third party with the help of malware." Pearson VUE specializes in computer-based assessment testing for regulatory and certification boards. From the story: Over 450 credential owners (including IT organizations such as IBM, Adobe, etc.) across the globe use the company's solutions to develop, manage, deliver and grow their testing programs. The company is still assessing the scope of the breach, and says that they do not think that US Social Security numbers or full payment card information were compromised. But because the PMC is custom designed to fit specific customer requirements, they are still looking into how this incident affected each of their customers. According to a note on Pearson's site, the system remains down for the time being.

File Says NSA Found Way To Replace Email Program ( 93

schwit1 writes: Newly disclosed documents show that the NSA had found a way to create the functional equivalent of programs that had been shut down. The shift has permitted the agency to continue analyzing social links revealed by Americans' email patterns, but without collecting the data in bulk from American telecommunications companies — and with less oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The disclosure comes as a sister program that collects Americans' phone records in bulk is set to end this month. Under a law enacted in June, known as the USA Freedom Act, the program will be replaced with a system in which the NSA can still gain access to the data to hunt for associates of terrorism suspects, but the bulk logs will stay in the hands of phone companies.

The newly disclosed information about the email records program is contained in a report by the NSA's inspector general that was obtained through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. One passage lists four reasons the NSA decided to end the email program and purge previously collected data. Three were redacted, but the fourth was uncensored. It said that "other authorities can satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements" that the bulk email records program "had been designed to meet."

Social Networks

EFF launches Site To Track Censored Content On Social Media ( 39

Mark Wilson writes: There are many problems with the censoring of online content, not least that it can limit free speech. But there is also the question of transparency. By the very nature of censorship, unless you have been kept in the loop you would simply not know that anything had been censored. This is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change, and today the digital rights organization launches to blow the lid off online censorship. The site, run by EFF and Visualizing Impact, aims to reveal the content that is censored on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube — not just the 'what' but the 'why'. If you find yourself the subject of censorship, the site also explains how to lodge an appeal.

Georgia Gives Personal Data of 6 Million Voters To Georgia GunOwner Magazine ( 109

McGruber writes: A class action lawsuit alleges that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office released the personal identifying information of Georgia voters to twelve organizations, "including statewide political parties, news media organizations and Georgia GunOwner Magazine".

According to Kemp, his office shares "voter registration data every month with news media and political parties that have requested it as required by Georgia law. Due to a clerical error where information was put in the wrong file, 12 recipients received a disc that contained personal identifying information that should not have been included."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution independently confirmed the inclusion of the personal data in the October file. The AJC did so by accessing the October data disc, looking up information for an AJC staffer and confirming his Social Security number and driver's license information was included. The AJC has returned its copy of the disc to the state.

The Courts

Facebook Can Block Content Without Explanation, Says US Court ( 147

An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. court has ruled that Facebook can block any content posted to its site without explanation, after a Sikh group legally challenged the company for taking its page offline. U.S. Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the U.S. based rights group's encouragement of religious discrimination is illegal under the Communications Decency Act, which protects 'interactive computer services' providers by preventing courts from treating them as the publishers of the speech created by their users.
The Internet

US Rep. Joe Barton Has a Plan To Stop Terrorists: Shut Down Websites ( 275

Earthquake Retrofit writes: In an FCC oversight hearing, U.S. Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Chairman Tom Wheeler if it's possible to shut down websites used by ISIS and other terrorist groups. He said, "Isn't there something we can do under existing law to shut those Internet sites down, and I know they pop up like weeds, but once they do pop up, shut them down and then turn those Internet addresses over to the appropriate law enforcement agencies to try to track them down? I would think that even in an open society, when there is a clear threat, they've declared war against us, our way of life, they've threatened to attack this very city our capital is in, that we could do something about the Internet and social media side of the equation." Wheeler pointed out that the legal definition of "lawful intercept" did not support such actions, but added that Congress could expand the law to validate the concept. Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee is exploring the idea of using the recent terror attacks in France as ammunition to force tech companies away from end-to-end encryption. "Lawmakers said it was time to intensify discussions over what technology companies such as Apple and Google could do to help unscramble key information on devices such as iPhones and apps like WhatsApp, where suspected terrorists have communicated."

Google+ Redesigned ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced that its Google+ social network has received a major overhaul, which is rolling out today to users who opt in. The company says the new design focuses on the "Communities" and "Collections" sections of Google+, since those were the ones most well received by users. "[Product Director Luke] Wroblewski, known for his responsive and progressive design work, tells me that the key to this rollout is the consistent, mobile first experience that hasn't historically been a hallmark of G+." The article describes the new experience thus: "As you click through the new Google+ there is a lighter feel to it for sure. It's a product with more purpose, as before it felt like there was a million things flying at you. Notifications, +1's, share buttons. You were pretty much sharing things into a pit and hoping that Google would do fun things with them."

Anonymous Takes Down Thousands of ISIS-Related Twitter Accounts In a Day ( 320

BarbaraHudson writes: Softpedia is reporting that Anonymous, along with social media users, have identified several thousand Twitter accounts allegedly linked to ISIS members. "Besides scanning for ISIS Twitter accounts themselves, the hacking group has also opened access to the [takedown operation] site to those interested. Anyone who comes across ISIS social media accounts can easily search the database and report any new terrorists and supporters. The website is called #opIceISIS [slow right now, but it does load] and will index ISIS members based on their real name, location, picture, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts." Anonymous crowdsourcing their operations... welcome to the brave new world, ISIS. An article at The Independent reminds everyone that this information has not been independently confirmed, and that Anonymous is certainly capable of misidentifying people. It's also worth exploring the question of why Twitter hasn't already disabled these accounts, and why intelligence agencies haven't done anything about them, if they're so easy to find.
Role Playing (Games)

Dungeons & Dragons Tabletop Comes To VR Through Partnership With AltspaceVR ( 40

An anonymous reader writes: Wizards of the Coast today announced an official partnership with virtual reality firm AltspaceVR to bring the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game to virtual reality. AlspaceVR is a social virtual reality platform which allows groups of users to share a virtual space. "AltspaceVR bridges the gap between Dungeons & Dragons video games and physically sitting around a table with friends," said Nathan Stewart, brand director for Dungeons & Dragons. "You get the same sense of excitement and drama in the AltspaceVR tavern, from laughing at your buddy's funny goblin voice to watching the d20 bounce and finally land on the natural 20 you needed to hit the beholder terrorizing your party." Starting today, AltspaceVR users have access to a virtual tavern space and officially licensed character sheets, figurines, and terrain tiles.
Social Networks

Social Media and the Age of Microcomplaints ( 119

An anonymous reader writes: "Name an inequity, and it is highly likely that social media has helped call meaningful attention to it, if not started and hashtagged a movement," claims the NY Times. The article suggests people are much more willing to complain about meaningless issues now that they have a public audience. "The smartphone in particular has facilitated extemporaneous caviling. Irritations that the passage of time may have soothed can, in the moment, be immediately expressed to an audience." Further, an aggrieved social media post can lend more weight to a minor problem than the author ever intended, or than it deserved. An offhand tweet can lead to a nationwide media frenzy as people who aren't connected with a complaint's author lack perspective and emotional context for it.

Democrat Drops MN State House Run After Tweeting 'ISIS Isn't Necessarily Evil' ( 519

An anonymous reader writes: Dan Kimmel, who works for U.S. Bank in its technology and operations section, dropped out of the race for a Minnesota House seat after unleashing a firestorm of criticism. The controversy erupted after Kimmel tweeted, "ISIS isn't necessarily evil. It is made up of people doing what they think is best for their community. Violence is not the answer, though." The tweet rapidly led to harsh criticism on twitter and spread from there. The DFL Party Chair issued a statement saying that Kimmel's "views have no place in our party. On behalf of the Minnesota DFL, I strongly condemn his comments. ..." The House Minority Leader for the DFL called for Kimmel to end his campaign. Kimmel issued a written apology and withdrew from the race.

Belgian Home Affairs Minister: Terrorists Communicate Via PlayStation 4 ( 202

bricko writes with story at Quartz reporting the words of Belgium's home affairs minister Jan Jambon, who says that ISIL operators communicate using their PlayStation 4s; "which allows terrorists to communicate with each other and is difficult for the authorities to monitor. 'PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,' he said. The gaming console also was implicated in ISIL's plans back in June, when an Austrian teen was arrested for downloading bomb plans to his PS4." This seems a strange place to concentrate investigators' energies; terrrorists could be communicating in the chat session on the side of many social media games, too, or by any number of other means; Jambon would do well to read through some of the movie plotlines that Bruce Schneier has gathered.

Experiment On Public Pre-reviewing and Discussion of Workshop Paper Submissions ( 41

An anonymous reader writes: The ADAPT workshop (6th international workshop on adaptive, self-tuning computing systems) is trying a new publication model: all papers have been submitted via Arxiv, are now publicly discussed via Reddit, and will then be selected by a Program Committee for a presentation at the workshop. The idea is to speed up dissemination of novel ideas while making reviews more fair and letting the authors actively engage in discussions, defend their techniques, fix mistakes and eventually improve their open articles.

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Paris Attacks; Death Toll At 127 728

The L.A. Times reports that Islamic State, the group variously known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh, has claimed responsibility for the multi-pronged terror attack yesterday in Paris which left at least 128 people dead, most of them from among the audience of a rock concert at the Bataclan theater, in the heart of the city. Details of how Friday’s assaults were carried out remained hazy. It was still unclear, for example, whether the restaurants and concert theater were attacked by two separate teams of militants or one group that went from one place to another. ... Attackers opened fire on the crowd with automatic weapons, shouting “God is great!” or blaming France for airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria, according to some reports. Dozens of concert-goers were killed before French forces stormed the theater. Many Parisians posted appeals and photos on social media asking for news of friends or loved ones whom they had not heard from since the attacks. One man said on Twitter that a government hotline set up to inquire about missing persons was so overloaded that calls could not get through. In the wake of the attacks and with an overloaded public infrastructure, Facebook activated its post-disaster check-in tool for Parisians to notify loved ones that they are safe. According to Reuters, French President Francois Hollande has vowed to undertake a "mercliess" response to the attacks.
The Internet

Same Birthday, Same Social Security Number, Same Mess For Two Florida Women ( 214

itwbennett writes: After 25 years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has fessed up to giving two Florida women who shared a name and a birthday the same social security number. The women only recently discovered that they shared an SSN, but not before having trouble getting loans and having tax returns rejected. You might think that the SSA would catch something like this, but as it turns out, they are prohibited from trying to verify the legitimate owner of an SSN, except in rare cases, says Ken Meiser, VP of identity solutions at ID Analytics, provider of credit and fraud risk solutions. And the problem isn't as rare as you might think (except for the part about two women with the same name born on the same day in the same state). According to a 2010 study by ID Analytics, some 40 million SSNs are associated with multiple people.

Google's New About Me Tool Is the Anti-Google+ 54

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a new tool called About me that lets you see, edit, and remove the personal information that the company's services show to other users. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that the feature started rolling out to users this week. Google's various products and services (Gmail, Hangouts, Google Maps, Inbox, Google Play, YouTube, Google+, and so on) sometimes ask you to share certain personal information. These details are then shown to other users who interact with you or search for you. Until now, all of this was stored in Google+, assuming you created an account. But Google+ is no longer a requirement for Google's services, and so the company needs a new solution, and ideally one that isn't public by default.
The Internet

New Algorithm Recognizes Both Good and Bad Fake Reviews ( 59

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the university of Sao Paolo have developed an algorithm able to identify both good and bad online reviews in the massive daily chatter of millions of peer-community posts, and in lateral mendacities at social network sites such as Google+ and Facebook reposts and 'likes'. Two of the datasets tested in the research were from Amazon, which has a vested interest in restoring the reputation of its community reviews, and has recently taken action on the matter.