Wednesday Newsbytes: U.S. Treasury Thwarts Russian Hackers, AI Can Now Speak to Animals, Facebook’s Monopoly Imploding, Think the Energy Crisis is Bad? Just Wait…and more!

By | November 2, 2022
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Wednesday Newsbytes: U.S. Treasury Thwarts Russian Hackers, AI Can Now Speak to Animals, Facebook’s Monopoly Imploding, Think the Energy Crisis is Bad? Just Wait…and more!

Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature some news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s  ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!

U.S. Treasury thwarted attack by Russian hacker group last month-official

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury last month repelled cyber attacks by a pro-Russian hacker group, preventing disruption and confirming the effectiveness of the department’s stronger approach to financial system cybersecurity, a U.S. Treasury official said on Tuesday.

The Treasury has attributed the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to Killnet, the Russian hacker group that claimed responsibility for disrupting the websites of several U.S. states and airports in October, said Todd Conklin, cybersecurity counselor to Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo.

The incident, not previously reported, occurred a couple of days before similar attacks from Killnet on U.S. financial services firms, Conklin told a financial services industry and regulator conference on cybersecurity.

Killnet claimed on Oct. 11 that it had attacked JPMorgan Chase & Co’s network infrastructure, but the bank reported no impact on its operations.

Conklin described the attack on the Treasury as ‘pretty low-level DDoS activity targeting Treasury’s critical infrastructure nodes’…

Read more at Reuters.

AI can speak to ANIMALS in a breakthrough that ‘breaches the barrier of interspecies communication’: Experts warn humans could use this ability to manipulate the wild species

Humans could soon communicate with animals, as scientists worldwide are using artificial intelligence to speak to bees, elephants and whales, but one expert fears the power could be used to manipulate the wild species.

Speaking in an interview with Vox, Karen Bakker from the University of British Columbia said a researcher team in Germany is using AI to decode patterns in nonhuman sound, such as the waggle dance of honeybees and the low-frequency noises of elephants, which enables the technology to not just communicate, but also control the wild animals.

Bakker explained that the animal speaking AI can be added to robots that can ‘essentially breach the barrier of interspecies communication,’ but she also notes the breakthrough raises ethical questions.

Enabling humans to speak with different species could create a ‘deeper sense of kinship, or a sense of dominion and manipulative ability to domesticate wild species that we’ve never as humans been able to previously control.’

Read more at Daily Mail.

Facebook’s Monopoly Is Imploding Before Our Eyes

Competition, miscalculations, and regulatory scrutiny have all but killed the advertising giant’s dreams of diversifying its business and rolling up the digital world into its platform.

For years, the definition of success for many tech employees has been getting a job at a FAANG company (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google). Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, meanwhile, are often the five major companies people think of when they think of “big tech.”

But there is evidence that Facebook—once a dominant monopoly rightly blamed for all sorts of societal ills—is on the precipice of dropping out of this group through years of sheer mismanagement, a failure to innovate, setting money on fire in pursuit of a metaverse that seemingly no one wants, a vulnerable business model that Apple is squarely taking aim at, and upstart competitors like TikTok that the company seemingly has no answer for. What seemed impossible just a year or two ago—that Facebook will become just another tech company, more or less—now seems like a very real possibility.

In a little over one year, the company has shed nearly $800 billion of its market capitalization, with the lion’s share of that coming these past eight months…

Read more at Vice.

Think the Energy Crisis Is Bad? Wait Until Next Winter

For policymakers grappling with global energy shortages and households scrambling to pay record high utility bills, some unwelcome news: This year’s energy crisis is going to look mild once next year’s kicks in. It is winter 2023-2024 that is going to be the real crisis. Any current energy planning that fails to account for next year and beyond is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire—where this winter is a problem, 2023’s may be a catastrophe.

The immediate problem is simple: There is not enough fuel, and therefore not enough electricity, so prices have skyrocketed for both. To a large extent, this is a result of decreased Russian exports of oil, natural gas, and coal, which have been hit by western sanctions and other policy efforts to curb Russian revenues funding atrocities in Ukraine. Most Russian fuel supplies are still reaching international markets, however, because countries like China and India are happy to buy discounted product from a not-quite-fully marginalized Kremlin. But Russian exports are down, too, approximately 18% in August compared to February. Notwithstanding a current drop in natural gas prices now that European storages are mostly full, prices have been so high as a consequence of tighter supplies that Russian President Vladimir Putin is enjoying record energy revenues—over €200 billion since the start of the war on February 24. In turn, markets are tight globally and countries are competing for limited supplies in what has become a zero-sum energy game.

This year’s energy shortage is not just a Russia problem, however…

Read more at Time.

The New Turing Test: Are you human?

If the average individual ascribes intelligence to AI, it is because the average individual spends more and more of their time engaging in online tasks that a machine could easily emulate.

“I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?'”

— Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950

Buried in the controversy this summer about Google’s LaMDA language model, which an engineer claimed was sentient, is a hint about a big change that’s come over artificial intelligence since Alan Turing defined the idea of the “Turing Test” in an essay in 1950.

Turing, a British mathematician who laid the groundwork for computing, offered what he called the “Imitation Game.” Two entities, one a person, one a digital computer, are asked questions by a third entity, a human interrogator. The interrogator can’t see the other two, and has to figure out simply from their type-written answers which of the two is human and which machine…

Increasingly, humans spend their time doing stuff that a machine could do just as well if not better. One of the many achievements of modern software is to occupy people’s time with easy tasks, such as the busy work you do on social media, things like posting, commenting, “liking,” and Snapping…

Read more at ZDNet.

Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope you found these articles informative, interesting, fun, and/or helpful. Darcy & TC

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