Chinese State Council Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence

The Chinese government's wish-list for AI researchers is pretty ambitious: "Breakthroughs should be made in basic theories of AI, such as big data intelligence, multimedia aware computing, human-machine hybrid intelligence, swarm intelligence and automated decision-making." Read the rest

Predatory "scientific journals" tricked into publishing Star Wars-themed hoax

Robbo writes, "A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. We know this because Neuroskeptic wrote it and posted about it on the Discover Magazine site. The paper was about Midi-chlorians and attributed to Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin. Neuroskeptic takes us through the process used to create the bogus paper and the varied repsonses from the half-assed 'peer review' journals who accepted the work." Read the rest

To attract customers, Toronto hotel removes the TRUMP name

As I wrote about last month, the hotelier who operates the Toronto property bearing Trump's name was desperate enough to get shut of it that they had bid millions for the right to change the name of the hotel. Read the rest

Amazon files for meal-kit trademarks, and Blue Apron shares shrivel in fearful anticipation

Everyone's favorite Internet monopoly Amazon looks like it's about to eat Blue Apron's lunch. Amazon just announced plans to boy high-end grocery chain Whole Foods last month in June, and has also recently filed for trademarks around prepped meal kit services-- that's Blue Apron's sole business.

Read the rest

A traveling neon salesman's sample-case, 1935

This old Mental Floss post collects salesmans' miniatures from the 1930s, including mausoleums, swimming pools, Persian rugs, and more -- but the gem is this gorgeous neon sample-case. Read the rest

Legal advice to musicians, after "Blurred Lines": pretend you have no influences

It's been two years since Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a lawsuit brought by Marvin Gaye's descendants, who argued that their song "Blurred Lines" infringed Gay's 1977 song "Got to Give It To You," not because it copied the music per se, but because it copied its "vibe." Read the rest

Investigators into mass murder of Mexican student teachers were attacked with NSO's government spyware

In 2014, 43 students from Mexico's Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in Iguala, in the state of Guerrero: they had been detained by police, who turned them over to a criminal militia, who are presumed to have murdered them. Read the rest

New hedge-fund HQ will have "Champagne" buttons for the traders' desks

Any time a trader at Enstar Capital's new London Soho offices fancies sushi and Champagne delivered to their desk, they can press a dedicated "Champagne" button that's being installed at each workplace, as a kind of grotesque, guillotine-inspiring homage to Amazon's Dash button, which lets mere mortals order laundry detergent. Read the rest

How big is the market for DRM-Free?

It's the Day Against DRM, and EFF is celebrating by publishing the first public look at How Much Do Consumers Value Interoperability? Evidence from the Price of DVD Players, a scholarly economics paper that uses clever techniques to reveal some eye-popping number on the strangled market for DRM-free gadgets. Read the rest

Networks hide badly rated shows by misspelling their names in Nielsen submissions

When a network TV show performs badly, the networks deliberately introduce errors into the episodes' metadata before submitting it to the Nielsen ratings, so that the episode is counted as a separate show and doesn't bring the season's average rating down. Read the rest

Mom feared being beaten by United crew, so she didn't complain when her son's seat was given away

Shirley Yamauchi paid $1,000 for her 27 month old son's United flight from Houston to Boston, in part because the kid is half her size and in part because it's illegal to fly with kids on your lap once they turn two. Read the rest

AT&T: it's not "forced arbitration" because no one forced you to have broadband

AT&T, which has successfully lobbied state governments and the FCC to ban any broadband competition in the markets where it operates, says that its forced arbitration "agreements" aren't really forced, because people in the markets it serves could just not use the internet. Read the rest

Bid on old computers, speakers, radios, and other junk from the bowels of RadioShack

Starting July 10, you can bid on TRS-80 computers, dot matrix printers, Realistic speakers, shortwave receivers, old catalogs, and company "memorabilia" from the bowels of bankrupt RadioShack. From the auction site:

From humble beginnings in Boston in 1921, over the past 95 years RadioShack established itself as a globally recognized leader and the go to retailer for consumer electronics. RadioShack has always been known as the place for answers to the American public's technology and electronics questions. "You've got questions, we've got answers."

Over the years, RadioShack introduced consumers to exciting and affordable gadgets and electronics that have become household items. As we cleaned out our historic archives in Fort Worth, Texas, we uncovered a cache of iconic memorabilia in 12 huge safes, including: unused original TRS-80 Microcomputers, Realistic Transistor Radios, Tandy computer software games, original brick cell phones and so much more. We all remember coming into RadioShack whether it was for the battery-of-the-month, new walkie-talkies, or to check out the newest RC toy cars. Now we reintroduce many of those nostalgic items and more with our rolling online memorabilia auction.

RadioShack Auction #1 (thanks, Charles Platt!)

Read the rest

EFF trounces Zillow, McMansion Hell will return from copyfraud purgatory

Update: Zillow has dropped all its absurd copyright claims after hearing from EFF and McMansion Hell is coming back!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published its letter to Zillow, explaining in eye-watering detail how wrong the company was to threaten the McMansion Hell blog over its use of realtors' glam-shots of shitty houses. Read the rest

That "ransomware" attack was really a cyberattack on Ukraine

According to Kaspersky, the Petya ransomware that raced around the world this week wasn't ransomware at all, and there is no way to get back your files after it does its work (that's why it was so easy to shut down the email address the ransomware used to negotiate payments and decryption with victims whose computers had been taken over). Read the rest

Google "respectfully disagrees" with €2.42 billion fine

Google expected to be punished by the European Union for anticompetitive shenanigans, but it didn't expect a slap this hard: €2.42 billion, the largest fine on record. The company says it "respectfully disagrees" with both the ruling and the amount and may appeal.

The commission believes it has struck a blow for consumers and for little firms at a time when online advertising - particularly on mobile phones - is dominated by Google and Facebook.

Google believes the regulator has a weak case and has failed to provide evidence that either consumers or rivals have been harmed.

In essence, it sees this as a political move rather than one based on competition law. You can be pretty confident that the Trump administration will share that view.

There's mounting anxiety in European capitals about something called Gafa - Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon - the four American giants that play such a huge role in all of our lives. That means we can expect further action to try to limit their powers, with the potential for growing political tension between Brussels and Washington.

Google abused its dominance of search to promote its own shopping services, the European Commission wrote, systematically shutting out competitors, distorting the market and hurting local shoppers.

Since the beginning of each abuse, Google's comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy.

Following the demotions applied by Google, traffic to rival comparison shopping services on the other hand dropped significantly.

Read the rest

Desperate Toronto hotelier pays millions to take Trump name off its business

The owners of Toronto's "Trump Hotel" just spent a reported $6M to get out of its deal with Trump and cleanse their property of his hated name; they will probably rebrand it as a "St Regis" hotel instead. Read the rest

More posts