Companies like Edubirdie offer platforms for academic cheating, connecting freelance essay-writers with desperate students who pay hundreds of dollars to have their academic papers ghostwritten for them. Edubirdie has recruited customers with on-campus "epic parties" which offered organizers $250, along with branded cups and a standee with the company's mascot, in exchange for posting five or more photos of students posed with the standee and hashtagged with #EduBirdieParty. The organizer whose party that received the most attention would get $3,000 and a 2-hour DJ set.
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Machine learning systems are notorious for cheating, and there's a whole menagerie of ways that these systems achieve their notional goals while subverting their own purpose, with names like "model stealing, rewarding hacking and poisoning attacks."
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Last week, students at Haveri, Karnataka, India's Bhagat Pre-University College wore boxes on their heads to prevent cheating on exams. Apparently the front of the boxes were cut away so the students could see their papers while not allowing for peripheral vision. According to school officials, this was a trial of the anti-cheating measure and that parents had approved. In fact, the students brought the boxes from home. From CNN:
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Before long, the school was facing widespread criticism on social media. Even government officials weighed in -- S. Suresh Kumar, the state education minister, said in a tweet that the school's practice was "unacceptable."
"Nobody has any right to treat anybody more so students like animals," Kumar wrote. "This (perversion) will be dealt with aptly."
The school has provided authorities with a written explanation of the trial and an apology, Sateesh said.
Seems a pro-poker player, Mike Postle, has achieved impossible-seeming results. Other players have put hours upon hours upon hours into analyzing his baffling play. It is like watching someone play with perfect information, they claim!
While nothing definitive has been found, Stones Gambling Hall, a live poker site where the questionable Postle has spent a lot of time live streaming, has stopped using RFID chipped playing cards and hired an investigator.
Spying isn't just for governments!
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It’s not just that Postle is winning, it’s how he’s winning, that is drawing suspicion. Ingram, Berkey and others have spent hours reviewing hands Postle played and found several times where Postle made a fold or a call that wouldn’t seem “right” but happened to work out in his favor.
Berkey said Postle made plays no pro would ever make, and he did them often, and they worked. Poker is a game of incomplete information. Berkey said Postle played “as if he had perfect information.”
Stones Gambling Hall said it has hired an independent investigator to look into the accusations.
In a statement Stones Gambling Hall said: “We temporarily halted all broadcasts from Stones. We have also, as a result, halted the use of RFID playing cards.”
Obviously it won't do if you hand in work digitally, but old-school teachers will surely be fooled by Times Newer Roman, a clone of the default font that fills about 10% more space. A clever mix of wider letterforms and kerning is at hand, and you can be sure of getting away with it because if teacher knew enough about type to notice they wouldn't be insisting on Times New Roman and page counts in the first place. [via Lifehacker] Read the rest
One of the holy grails of computer science is unsupervised machine learning, where you tell an algorithm what goal you want it to attain, and give it some data to practice on, and the algorithm uses statistics to invent surprising ways of solving your problem.
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At some Chinese universities, students have a fitness requirement, so that means fitness tracker cheating has become a lucrative business for a few enterprising entrepreneurs. Read the rest
David Daley's hugely important 2016 book Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy uses original documents to trace the Republican master gerrymandering plan -- which gave them disproportionate control in several states, allowing them to redraw federal districts to repeat the feat at the national level -- to meetings in 2009; but a pair of leaked Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) powerpoints show that GOP strategists were scheming and fundraising to ensure that their candidates would wield power regardless of popular support at least a year and a half earlier.
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Claude Shannon is one of the great, heroic titans of the computer science revolution, a brilliant scientist and Feynman-grade eccentric whose accomplishments fill several excellent books. Read the rest
Tim Harford points out that Dieselgate -- when VW designed cars that tried to guess when they were undergoing emissions test and dial back their pollution -- wasn't the first time an industry designed its products to cheat when regulators were looking; the big banks did the same thing to beat the "stress tests" that finance regulators used to check whether they would collapse during economic downturns (the banks "made very specific, narrow bets designed to pay off gloriously in specific stress-test scenarios" so that they looked like they'd do better than they actually would). Read the rest
Shivan, a computer science student in Montreal, applied for a job at Amazon; the second round interview was conducted remotely by a proctor from an online service called Proctor U who insisted that Shivan install a remote-access trojan on his computer that let the proctor completely control his machine; then he was made to use the camera on his laptop to give the proctor a view of his room and all the things in it (with the proctor barking orders at him to shift his belonging around to give a better view. Read the rest
Arcangelo Ricciardi was booted from the International Chess Festival of Imperia for cheating using a camera pendant to transmit video of the board to an accomplice and some kind of wireless device in his armpit to receive signals of suggested moves. According to The Telegraph, Ricciardi claimed the devices "were good luck charms." Read the rest
Author Sarah Mirk never tells readers what they should do in bed, writes Glenn Fleishman, only what they might do.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Space is suing World Series of Poker star Phil Ivey for nearly $10 million for using what they claim are "imperfect" playing cards that gave Ivey a leg up. Borgata is also going after Gemaco, Inc., makers of the playing cards. From NorthJersey.com:
The suit alleges that the some of the cards made by Gemaco turned out to not have a perfectly symmetrical design on the back of the card. Ivey, the suit claims, was able to figure out what the first card to be dealt was – giving him a significant advantage over the “house,” or casino.
Ivey contacted Borgata officials in April 2012 and sought to play mini-baccarat for up to $50,000 a hand on the $1 million he would wire to the casino, according to the suit. Given Ivey’s high-roller status, the casino agreed to his request that he would be given a private area in which to play as well as provided with a card dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese. The casino also agreed to let Ivey bring a guest to the table as well, to provide one purple deck of Gemaco playing cards for use, and for an automatic card shuffling device to be used.
According to the suit, “The pretext given for some of these requests was that Ivey was superstitious."
"Famed poker star Phil Ivey sued by Borgata for almost $10 million over alleged playing card scam" (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!) Read the rest
McLaren, a cheating Formula 1 team, got caught and fined £34M, so they deducted it from their taxes. The British tax authority objected, but they appealed, and won. Ren Reynolds has a gamerly perspective on this on Terra Nova:
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In short McLaren argue that the fine was an expense related to the trade that they were engaged in. That there are exceptions to this such as statutory fines, but this was not such a fine, it arose out of the contract between them and the sporting body and it was not a 'punishment' but a commercial deterrent as such it was a risk of and thus an expense of trade.
The way that this has been presented in some elements of the UK media is a some what popularist version of the dissenting opinion in the case by Dee. This opinion holds that the fine was a punishment and that 'fines and penalties' of a similar nature are not allowable under tax law. What's more "the conduct of McLaren fell way outside any normal and acceptable way of conducting their trade, as found by the WMSC."
The problem with this view is that it misunderstands the nature of games / sport and in particular their relationship with law.
To put it simply the sort of conduct that is accepted as part of a gaming or sporting practice is not just that set out by the rules but also a wide set of acts that are within the tradition of the actual practice of that game or sport.
Microcameras really change the security landscape. Case in point: a casino-cheating gang used a microcamera to capture footage of a baccarat deck as it was being riffled during the player-cut, and then got cues from an off-site analyst who ran the video in slow motion to get the deck-order.
After a few hands, the cutter left the floor and entered a bathroom stall, where he most likely passed the camera to a confederate in an adjoining stall. The runner carried the camera to a gaming analyst in a nearby hotel room, where the analyst transferred the video to a computer, watching it in slow motion to determine the order of the cards. Not quite half an hour had passed since the cut. Baccarat play averages less than six cards a minute, so there were still at least 160 cards left to play through. Back at the table, other members of the gang were delaying the action, glancing at their cellphones and waiting for the analyst to send them the card order.
The gang had just walked away from Macau, the largest gambling city on Earth, with millions. They took $100,000 from the Bicycle casino in Los Angeles only weeks after the Las Vegas run. The Cutters’ scam did not require marking or switching cards, so casinos’ card scans and tracking software was irrelevant. Security consultants say that the gang numbers about 70. (With so many players, facial analytic software is easy to beat.)
Spy vs. Spy: Casinos Can't See The Cameras Hidden Up Gamblers' Sleeves
(Image: Baccara Palette, Wikimedia/Roland Scheicher -- public domain) Read the rest
According to a study published in Research in Sports Medicine, woman football (soccer) players are about half as likely to fake an injury as male players. The researchers used a representative sample of match-videos, counted injuries, and noted whether the player left the field for a substantial period or had visible blood, and counted those as definite injuries, then ranked the remaining injuries by their plausibility. Hilariously, they use the term "injury simulation," instead of "faking an injury," the former is apparently the term of art preferred by FIFA, which knows an awful lot about fraud.
"While it was difficult to know for certain if a player had a true injury or was faking or embellishing, we found that only 13.7 percent of apparent injuries met our definition for a 'definite' injury," Rosenbaum said. "Also consider that we saw six apparent injuries per match in the 2007 Women's World Cup but team physicians from the tournament reported only 2.3 injuries per match, so it looks like there may be some simulation in the women's game."
Rosenbaum's research indicates that apparent injury incidents for women are much less frequent than for men, however, occurring at a rate of 5.74 per match as compared to 11.26 per men's match. The proportion of apparent injuries that were classified as "definite" was nearly twice as high for women, 13.7 percent, as compared to 7.2 percent for men.
(Image: Ambulance, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from danielmorris's photostream) Read the rest