Saturday, 5 March 2016

Facebook Can Map More of Earth In a Week Than We Have in History


Facebook Perform Better/Quicker Mapping the Earth in less than a Week

A blog post in the social network has announced that its AI system had taken two weeks in building a map which covers about 4% of our planet. It is 14% of the Earth’s land surface with 21.6 million square kilometres of photographs taken from space, processed and traced in a digital representation of buildings, settlements and the roads they tend to show. Facebook has said that it could perform better and much quicker possibly mapping the complete Earth in less than a week.

The goal of data-science team of Facebook is to create maps in helping the social network plan how to deliver internet to the users who are presently offline. It is an uncertain starting point though whatever one may think regarding Facebook’s internet colonialism, the drones of the company would be capable of beaming Wi-Fi to the disconnected till they know where they are. The model was competent in mapping 20 various countries after training on just 8000 human-labelled satellite photos from an individual nation. This overwhelming together with Facebook’s data science team had not even attempted to go fast.

Open Street Map Project

The company has stated that it has enhanced the process where it could do the same mapping within a few hours. Presuming that it had the photographs, it could map the Earth in around six days which is something that humanity has not managed to do yet. Facebook had mentioned in its blog post that they had processed 14.6 billion images with their convolutional neural nets, naturally running on thousands of servers at the same time. Utilising its AI, Facebook had imitated how humans tend to make maps in the 21st century.

It is now being made by a project known as Open Street Map that tends to use volunteer labour in tracing satellite photographs by hand, picking out the roads and houses. The subsequent maps have been utilised all across the world often for calamity response, with the system capable of building maps of a complete unmapped area within a few days. Facebook’s AI has the capability of doing the same within seconds. Mapping on the scale which its AI system had demonstrated would probably take decades for human team of extent. It is more data than people or their organisations that are built to manage.

All Neural Networks Scale Like Facebook’s Mapping AI

Map-making AI of Facebook is just one of the possibly thousands of narrow AIs, those which are trained to aim on individual task, tossing through human tasks around the planet presently, faster and on bigger scales. The CERN particle physics laboratory towards Geneva, Switzerland is utilising deep learning to discover patterns in the mass of its collision data and pharmaceutical companies are utilising it to discover new drug ideas in data sets which no human can align.

Alison Lowndes of Nvidia who tends to help organisation in building deep-learning systems has said that she now works with everyone, such as doctors, governments, researchers, parents, retailers as well as mysteriously meat packers. What is appealing is that all neural networks tend to scale like Facebook’s mapping AI. The actual power of narrow AI is not in what it could do since its act is almost not good as that of a human. Maps, which Facebook’s AI tends to produce is not as good as those which come from a company like custom map developer Mapbox.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Your Phone Isn't That Secure It Can Be Hacked With Play-Doh


Chinese Start-up Reveals how to Unlock Apple iPhone with Play-Doh

A Chinese start-up had revealed how it can unlock an Apple iPhone through the fingerprint sensor utilising Play-Doh. Jason Chaikin, President of mobile security firm Vkansee had developed a mould of his fingerprint and then took the modelling clay Play-Doh pressed it on to the mould and created a duplicate. He then touched the Play-Doh on the fingerprint scanner of the iPhone and the device seemed to get unlocked. Chaikin did the demonstration to emphasize the lack of sophistication in the present day biometric solution and not just on iPhones but on the other devices as well.

Apple had not provided any official comments but pointed to the security sections of its website. The website stated that every fingerprint is unique and so it is rare that even a small section of two separate fingerprints are alike enough to register as a match for Touch ID. The possibility of this taking place is 1 in 50,000 for one enrolled finger’.Touch ID only enables five unsuccessful fingerprint match attempts prior to which one must enter the passcode and one cannot progress unless it has been provided.

Patented Fingerprint Sensor beneath Glass of the Phone

Chaikin showed the firm’s patented fingerprint sensor which is placed beneath the glass of a phone. Presently, manufacturers have to cut a hole in the device in order to put the sensor. He informed CNBC at the time of the interview at the Mobile World Congress – MWC in Barcelona recently, that the demand for under glass scanning which is resistant to hacking is the first thing which is heard from the device manufacturers.

The solution of Vkansee picks up third level details on an individual’s finger like the thickness of the ridges on the person’s finger or the pores of the skin. The product also enables fingers to be read when they seem to be wet that is presently an issue with such sensors. According to Chaikin, the issue at the moment is that the biometric seems to be too simple and he had named an example of 2014 wherein a hacker had managed to take a high resolution picture of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s finger and engaged in reverse plot in unlocking her phone.

Eye Print another System of Authentication

Manufacturers are observing new biometric systems to validate users as consumers tend to use their mobile devices for various tasks comprising of banking and shopping and the eye print seems to be another system of authentication that can be done by utilising a smartphone’s front facing camera. The company, EyeVerify is one of the companies producing software which tends to recognize minute details in a person’s eye like the blood vessels.

The chief executive of the U.S Company, Toby Rush, had stated that the eyes’ features are stable. He had informed CNBC in a phone interview that they look at micro features just outside the eye and the strongest is the blood vessels in the eye. They tend to be stable and work really well. He added that fingerprints are great and not going anywhere, but fingers and eyes would win the day. Anyone in biometrics would agree that multiple options provide the best security in a strong manner and best user experience.

WhatsApp to end Blackberry OS support


WhatsApp To End Support for Various Operating Systems

There have been some rumours that the handset maker would be winding down support for Blackberry 10 after it had released a smartphone running Android with the closure of its `Built for Blackberry’ programme for app developers. WhatsApp will end its support for various operating systems inclusive of Blackberry 10, Nokia Symbian S60 together with Windows Phone 7.1.

The company had mentioned that it wanted to concentrate the progress `on the mobile platforms, the vast majority of people use’. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook that is used by billions of users all over the world will stop working on the named operating system by December 2016. However, it will tend to work on the latest smartphone of Blackberry that runs Android.

Several of the operating systems which WhatsApp seems to be dropping support are legacy operating systems that are not updated or installed on the new devices. Blackberry 10 is the exception which had been launched in January 2013 and is still being developed by Blackberry. The firm had stated in January 2016 that they were also planning version 10.3.4 later this year with additional security improvements. The operating system, however had failed to increase traction with smartphone users and accounts for less than 1% of the market at present.

Strong Uptake across Developing Nations

WhatsApp had mentioned in a blogpost that while these mobile devices have been an important part of theirstory, they do not offer the kind of capabilities that is needed to expand the app’s feature in the future. It added that this was a tough decision for them to make though the right one in order to give people better ways of keeping in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.

In February 2014, WhatsApp had been attained by social networking giant Facebook, one of its biggest takeover for an enormous amount of USD 19 billion. The platform observes 42 billion messages, 1.6 billion photos together with 250 million videos that is being shared daily. Besides this there are also one billion groups on WhatsApp.

Earlier, WhatsApp had stated that its services has envisaged strong uptake particularly across the developing nations like Brazil, India and Russia. When WhatsApp had started in 2009, around 70% of smartphones sold had operating systems offered by Blackberry and Nokia during that time.

WhatsApp Competing with LINE/Viper/Hike in India

The firm informed that the mobile operating systems provided by Apple, Google and Microsoft accounted for 99.5% of the present day sales. The smartphone world seems to be different to the one WhatsApp was born seven years ago.

 Presently BlackBerry has about 1% of the market though in 2009 it had been the leading smartphone vendor in the world. It became reasonable over the years for WhatsApp’s support to the major mobile platform in its attempt to be accessible to all. Presently the Facebook FB+0.42% owned company has come to a decision that the platform ubiquity is not worth the limitation which can bring about emerging new features.

The issue is not just that these platforms are not relevant anymore to smartphone users but restricted in what they could do with the upcoming features which WhatsApp has intended. Last week, WhatsApp had turned seven years old.

The company had mentioned in a blog post that it has also hit the 1 billion active user mark. It added that, `it is nearly one in seven people on Earth who tend to use WhatsApp every month to remain connected with their loved ones, their friends and their family. It has been competing with messaging apps like LINE, Viper and Hike in India.

Raspberry Pi-powered transmitters broadcast Syrian radio


Raspberry Pi – Utilised to Power Micro Radio Transmitters

In Syria, Raspberry Pi computers are being utilised to power the micro radio transmitters. The so called Pocket FMs had been designed by a German organisation to providing Syrians with independent radio. The device tends to have a range of about 4 to 6 km which seems adequate in covering a whole town and at the heart of each is the Raspberry Pi; a credit card sized single board computers.

According to the designers, around two dozen have been built and are proposed to be easy to set up as a piece of flat-pack furniture. Philipp Hochleichter had informed BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that they had lost one device in Kobane which was owing to the bombing and not a malfunction. Pocket FMs have been installed in conditions wherein larger transmitter tends to be difficult to set up and activate.

Mr Hochleichter had explained that they had tried to create a small box which would be easy to carry around, convenient to be transported or hide, which is based on 12 volts so that it can connect to a solar system or a car battery. The Pocket FMs tends to broadcast a channel which has been created by a network of nine stations depending on the region known as Syrnet.

Device Picks up Satellite Feed of Channel

The device seems to pick up satellite feed of the channel, rebroadcasting it on FM frequency so that people in Syria have the benefit of listening on ordinary radios. Ultimately, the device would be adept in picking up the Syrnet channel through Wi-Fi and mobile data.

The channel is also made available to listen to online and through a mobile app. The team behind the project is a Berlin based non-governmental body, called Media in Cooperation and Transition – MiCT. Besides designing the Pocket FMs together with maintaining Syrnet, MiCT hires a team of journalist, most of who seem to be expatriate Syrians who help the small independent stations in making programmes.

The Pocket FMs tend to function in areas which are not controlled by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or the Islamic State militants. A member of Syrnet is Welat FM and the station is based in Qamishli towards the far north east of Syria. An airport which can be seen from the studio window is yet under the control of the Assad regime.

Aim of Project – Support Freedom of Expression/Solidarity with People in Disaster

The editor-in-chief of Welat FM informed the BBC that it is annoying when one looks from the window and sees the airport; one hears the noise of the warplanes day and night all the time. Few years back the control of the Syrian government seemed to be everywhere, however now radio has become an important means of communication.

Hara FM which is produced in Turkey tends to broadcast to Aleppo and receivesfrom contributors in the town. Marwa, a Hara FM journalist from Turkey comments that presently, the journalists seems to be safe with the opposition though it is yet a war zone with gunfire and shelling. He further adds that he is worried about his staff in Aleppo, though no journalist seems to be 100% safe anywhere in the world and for any journalist, telling the truth puts their life in danger.

One of the advantages of utilising Raspberry Pi is that it seems to be comparatively easy in adding new components. The aim of the project is to support freedom of expression though it is also about solidarity with people in disaster.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Google Self-Driving Car Hits A Bus


Google’s Popular Self-Driving Cars Involved in a Crash

It may not be the first time that one of Google’s popular self-driving cars had been involved in a crash though it may be the first time it had triggered one. Google would be meeting with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles – DMV for discussion on the incident and identify the blame. The car had been travelling at 2mph on February 14 and had pulled out in front of a public bus that was going at 15mph.

The person in the Google vehicle had reported that he presumed that the bus would slow down to let the car out and hence he did not supersede the car’s self-driving computer. The crash had taken place in Mountain View in the vicinity of Google’s headquarters. Google had mentioned in a statement that they clearly bear some responsibility because if their car had not moved, there would have been a collision.

Considering that the test driver was of the belief that the bus would be going slow or stop to permit them to merge in the traffic, and that there would be adequate space to do so.The self-driving cars of the company had clocked up well over million miles across different states in the US and till now had reported only minor `fender benders’ which is an American slang for minor collision.

Google Refined its Self-Driving Process

Other road users were to be blamed in all of those cases. Google tends to release monthly report specifying the testing of its self-driving technology and ahead of the report’s publication of February, due on Tuesday, a traffic incident filing had been made public by the DMV.

The report read that `the Google AV – autonomous vehicle, test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue. Approximately three second later, as the Google AV was re-entering the centre of the lane, it made contact with the side of the bus.

 The Google AV was operating in autonomous mode and travelling at less than two mph while the bus was travelling at around 15mph at the time of contact’. The report stated that the movement of the car were made more complex by the presence of sandbags on the road. Google has informed that it has now refined its self-driving process.

Self-Driving Computer Similar Legal Treatment as Human Driver

Google has mentioned that henceforth, their cars will understand more deeply that buses would be less likely to yield to them than other types of vehicles and hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in future. If DMV tends to consider the Google car to be at fault for the collision, it would be perceived as a setback for the ambitious autonomous vehicle plans of the company.

The bus crash had taken place just four days after a legal breakthrough for the self-driving project. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had informed Google that it would probably give the self-driving computer similar legal treatment as human driver and that decision paved the way for self-driving cars without any distinctive controls like a steering wheel or pedals.