People with implanted neurostimulators are vulnerable to wireless attacks

A group of Belgian academic security researchers from KU Leuwen have published a paper detailing their investigation into improving the security of neurostimulators: electrical brain implants used to treat chronic pain, Parkinson's, and other conditions. Read the rest

Self-powering camera: an image sensor that's also a photovoltaic cell

A team of University of Michigan electrical engineering/computer science researchers have published a paper (Sci-Hub mirror) detailing their work in creating a camera sensor (a device that converts light to electricity) that's also a solar power cell (also a device that converts light to electricity). Read the rest

The citation graph is one of humankind's most important intellectual achievements

When researchers write, we don't just describe new findings -- we place them in context by citing the work of others. Citations trace the lineage of ideas, connecting disparate lines of scholarship into a cohesive body of knowledge, and forming the basis of how we know what we know.

Forced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequality

In Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages. Read the rest

Teaching computers to pick a conversation out of a noisy room

Human beings have a weird, poorly-understood ability to pick a single conversation out of a noisy room, it's called the "cocktail party effect" and while its exact mechanism isn't totally understood, researchers do know that vision plays a role in it, and that being able to see the speaker helps you pick their words out of a crowd. Read the rest

Stealing data from airgapped computers by using power fluctuations as a covert channel

Ben Gurion university's Mordechai Guri is a master exfiltrator, a computer scientist who's devised a bewildering array of innovative techniques for getting data off of "airgapped" computers that have been fully disconnected from any kind of network. Read the rest

Public goods are REALLY good: thousands of years later, the Roman roads are still paying dividends

Social scientists often promote the value of public provision of infrastructure as a sound, long-term investment in development and prosperity, pushing back against the neoliberal tendency to abandon public goods in favor of private development. Read the rest

UC Berkeley offers its Foundations of Data Science course for free online

Berkeley's "Foundations of Data Science" boasts the fastest-growing enrollment of any course in UC Berkeley history, and now it's free on the university's Edx distance-education platform. Read the rest

Bathroom hand-dryers suck in poo-particles and aerosolize them all over you and everything else

A new study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (Sci-Hub mirror) conducted microbial surveys of the bathrooms at the University of Connecticut (where the study's lead authors are based) to investigate whether hand-dryers were sucking in potentially infectious microbes and then spraying them all over everything, as had been observed in earlier studies. Read the rest

Even if governments backdoor crypto, they still won't be able to spy on terrorists

In a paper published by the International Association for Cryptologic Research, a group of Harvard and MIT cryptographers demonstrate that even if the government were to backdoor encryption and lock up anyone who used non-backdoored systems, people could still hide undetectable, secure, private messages within the messages sent over the compromised systems. Read the rest

A ball that inverts and changes color when it is midair, and the scientific literature that explains it

The Hoberman Switch Pitch Throwing Ball is a $12 toy that instantiates a dual polyhedron: every time you throw it, it turns inside-out; there's a wealth of scientific literature that explains how this works, including this open-access paper from the Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. Here's JWZ's summary: "The curved body panels that make it look like a sphere hide an internal structure that is a cube; or really, two tetrahedrons embedded in a cube; and when it its its activation energy, the tetrahedron becomes its dual, swapping faces and vertices." Read the rest

On the junk science and excellent PR of Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica claimed that it could sway elections thanks to the devastating power of psychometric profiling, and they may have even believed it, but those claims should be read with a critical eye, because they're marketing hype aimed at people whom Cambridge Analytica was pitching as client; and because Cambridge Analytica is not a scientific enterprise, but a secretive corporation whose researchers never had to subject their experiments and results to critical, peer-reviewed scrutiny, opening up endless possibilities for self-deception and truth-shading. Read the rest

Young people hate Facebook because it forces them to have a single identity

Social media has always had a real-names problem. Social media companies want their users to use their real names because it makes it easier to advertise to them. Users want to be able to show different facets of their identities to different people, because only a sociopath interacts with their boss, their kids, and their spouse in the same way. Read the rest

Law professors and computer scientists mull whether America's overbroad "hacking" laws ban tricking robots

Robot law pioneer Ryan Calo (previously) teamed up with U Washington computer science and law-school colleagues to write Is Tricking a Robot Hacking? -- a University of Washington School of Law Research Paper. Read the rest

A detailed, cross-disciplinary syllabus for a "Cybersecurity Law and Policy" graduate course

University of Texas law professor Bobby Chesney has developed a detailed syllabus for a course in "Cybersecurity Foundations: Law, Policy, and Institutions" that is aimed at grad students from law, business, engineering, and computer science. Read the rest

Attacks that unmask anonymous blockchain transactions can be used against everyone who ever relied on the defective technique

In An Empirical Analysis of Traceability in the Monero Blockchain, a group of eminent computer scientists analyze a longstanding privacy defect in the Monero cryptocurrency, and reveal a new, subtle flaw, both of which can be used to potentially reveal the details of transactions and identify their parties. Read the rest

Invisible, targeted infrared light can fool facial recognition software into thinking anyone is anyone else

A group of Chinese computer scientists from academia and industry have published a paper documenting a tool for fooling facial recognition software by shining hat-brim-mounted infrared LEDs on the user's face, projecting CCTV-visible, human-eye-invisible shapes designed to fool the face recognition software. Read the rest

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