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Third of all honeybee colonies in England did not survive winter - The Guardian

Third of all honeybee colonies in England did not survive winter - The Guardian | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

"More than a third of all honeybee colonies in England died over the winter, according to figures from the British Beekeepers Association..."

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Gentlemachines
What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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The Long, Strange Trip to Pluto, and How NASA Nearly Missed It

The Long, Strange Trip to Pluto, and How NASA Nearly Missed It | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The flyby of Pluto was a triumph of human ingenuity and the capstone of a mission that unfolded nearly flawlessly. It almost did not happen.
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New Horizons overcame skeptical NASA officials, repeated threats to its funding, laboratory troubles that constricted the amount of plutonium available to power the spacecraft and an unforgiving deadline set by the clockwork of the planets. Though none of the obstacles packed the drama of space-exploration crises like the Apollo 13 mission, their number and magnitude seemed unbelievable.

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When Algorithms Discriminate - NYTimes.com

When Algorithms Discriminate - NYTimes.com | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
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“The amoral status of an algorithm does not negate its effects on society,” wrote the authors of the Google advertising study, Amit Datta and Anupam Datta of Carnegie Mellon and Michael Carl Tschantz of the International Computer Science Institute.

Algorithms, which are a series of instructions written by programmers, are often described as a black box; it is hard to know why websites produce certain results. Often, algorithms and online results simply reflect people’s attitudes and behavior. Machine learning algorithms learn and evolve based on what people do online. Theautocomplete feature on Google and Bing is an example. A recent Google search for “Are transgender,” for instance, suggested, “Are transgenders going to hell.”

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Hacks of OPM databases compromised 22.1 million people, federal authorities say

Hacks of OPM databases compromised 22.1 million people, federal authorities say | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
FBI Director James Comey described two recent hacks of federal employee data to lawmakers Wednesday as “an enormous breach, and a huge amount of data that is personal and sensitive… was available to adversaries."
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Two major breaches last year of U.S. government databases holding personnel records and security-clearance files exposed sensitive information about at least 22.1 million people, including not only federal employees and contractors but their families and friends, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The total vastly exceeds all previous estimates, and marks the most detailed accounting by the Office of Personnel Management of how many people were affected by cyber intrusions that U.S. officials have privately said were traced to the Chinese government.

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Reddit's popular 'ask me anything' feature is down after a key employee is gone

Reddit's popular 'ask me anything' feature is down after a key employee is gone | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Reddit AMAs are taking a break after communications director Victoria Taylor is gone.
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Reddit's popular Ask Me Anything (iAMA) feature is offline following a key employee's departure.

Subreddit moderators are revolting and setting their sections to private today after Reddit's director of talent,Victoria Taylor was allegedly dismissed.

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These hackers warned the Internet would become a security disaster. Nobody listened.

These hackers warned the Internet would become a security disaster. Nobody listened. | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
As the Web arrived in the 1990s, tech giants churned out flawed products, unleashing bugs that persist today.
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The seven young men sitting before some of Capitol Hill’s most powerful lawmakers weren’t graduate students or junior analysts from some think tank. No, Space Rogue, Kingpin, Mudge and the others were hackers who had come from the mysterious environs of cyberspace to deliver a terrifying warning to the world.

 

Your computers, they told the panel of senators in May 1998, are not safe — not the software, not the hardware, not the networks that link them together. The companies that build these things don’t care, the hackers continued, and they have no reason to care because failure costs them nothing. And the federal government has neither the skill nor the will to do anything about it.

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Forget apps, the best way to learn a new language is still by talking with another human

Forget apps, the best way to learn a new language is still by talking with another human | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
It’s good to get the grammar right, but it’s OK if you don’t.
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The idea is that, if you are speaking to someone, it’s good to get the grammar right, but it’s OK if you don’t: if you do get the grammar right, but your pronunciation is so bad that the person can’t understand what you are saying, that’s much worse. It’s equally bad if you are so worried about getting the grammar completely correct that you are too hesitant to take part in a conversation. 

Apps like Duolingo can be a useful supplement when you are learning a language—but not a substitute. 

The great beauty of the communicative approach, or some would say its great failing, is its ability, like language itself, to adapt and adopt new ideas. It brings in ideas and techniques from all the history of language teaching, and as long as they help the students communicate effectively, they are accepted

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Your Boss Wants You to Be Happier. This Is Not a Good Thing.

Your Boss Wants You to Be Happier. This Is Not a Good Thing. | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
A new book uncovers the tricky thinking behind the science of employee happiness.
Artur Alves's insight:

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If you talk to people at companies like Jawbone and Fitbit, one of the things they say is “everybody wants to live a better life.” Of course the way that they say you should achieve that is to quantify your existence. Where things get tricky is when existence becomes inextricable from work. There’s the idea that how we feel about our work and how we feel about the rest of our lives is intertwined. So workplace well-being strategies often include emotional counseling, nutritional advice, all this stuff which suggests no separation between what we do at work and how we are as human beings in some broader sense. The irony is that work often creates the conditions that lead to the unhappiness.

 

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Apple chief Tim Cook criticises Google and Facebook over privacy

Apple chief Tim Cook criticises Google and Facebook over privacy | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Web rivals’ business models undermine users’ privacy, says Tim Cook, who also warns governments on pursuing ‘dangerous’ encryption policies
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How the Biggest Fabricator in Science Got Caught - Issue 24: Error - Nautilus

How the Biggest Fabricator in Science Got Caught - Issue 24: Error - Nautilus | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
In April of 2000, the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia published a letter to its editor from Peter Kranke and two colleagues that…
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Over the next two years, it became clear that he had fabricated much of his research—most of it, in fact. Today he stands alone as the record-holder for most retractions by a single author, at a breathtaking 183, representing roughly 7 percent of all retracted papers between 1980 and 2011. His story represents a dramatic fall from grace, but also the arrival of a new dimension to scholarly publishing: Statistical tools that can sniff out fraud, and the “cops” that are willing to use them.

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Space, Inc - corporations and space exploration

Space, Inc - corporations and space exploration | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

What happens when corporations go in search of profits in the unregulated territory that is space?

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The American government is no longer exerting its space supremacy. NASA’s annual budget has been cut by more than $1bn since 2010. The space shuttle programme has been mothballed. International Space Station resupply missions are being put out to private tender.

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http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2015/05/16/shutting-down-your-computer-before-going-to-sleep-comic/

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A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend

A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Deaths rose sharply last summer, a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership reported, and beekeepers who rent hives to farmers were hit especially hard.
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Grooveshark, bowing to RIAA, shuts down and apologizes for “serious mistakes”

Grooveshark, bowing to RIAA, shuts down and apologizes for “serious mistakes” | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
"We apologize. Without reservation.”
Artur Alves's insight:

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Grooveshark, the free online music streaming service that allowed users to upload their own songs, announced on Thursday that it was shutting down.

Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino founded the streaming service in 2006, and the site attracted tens of millions of users. Grooveshark called itself "the world’s largest on-demand and music discovery service." But the service not only allowed users to upload any song; the founders also apparently demanded that employees upload popular songs in an effort to expand the site's music library.

The service came under fire in recent years for allowing copyrighted material on the site. Several record companies, including Warner Bros., Sony, and Universal Music Group, sued Grooveshark in 2011. Now the record companies have come to an agreement with Grooveshark under which it shut down the site and removed all copyrighted songs.

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Patriot Act Faces Revisions Backed by Both Parties

Patriot Act Faces Revisions Backed by Both Parties | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The push for reform is the strongest demonstration of a shift from a focus on national security at the expense of civil liberties to a new balance in the post-Edward J. Snowden era.
Artur Alves's insight:

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After more than a decade of wrenching national debate over the intrusiveness of government intelligence agencies, a bipartisan wave of support has gathered to sharply limit the federal government’s sweeps of phone and Internet records.

On Thursday, a bill that would overhaul the Patriot Act and curtail the so-called metadata surveillance exposed by Edward J. Snowden was overwhelmingly passed by the House Judiciary Committee and was heading to almost certain passage in that chamber this month.

An identical bill in the Senate — introduced with the support of five Republicans — is gaining support over the objection of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who is facing the prospect of his first policy defeat since ascending this year to majority leader.

The push for reform is the strongest demonstration yet of a decade-long shift from a singular focus on national security at the expense of civil liberties to a new balance in the post-Snowden era.

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Google accidentally reveals data on 'right to be forgotten' requests

Google accidentally reveals data on 'right to be forgotten' requests | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

Data shows 95% of Google privacy requests are from citizens out to protect personal and private information – not criminals, politicians and public figures

Artur Alves's insight:

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The Guardian has discovered new data hidden in source code on Google’s own transparency report that indicates the scale and flavour of the types of requests being dealt with by Google – information it has always refused to make public. The data covers more than three-quarters of all requests to date.

Previously, more emphasis has been placed on selective information concerning the more sensational examples of so-called right to be forgotten requests released by Google and reported by some of the media, which have largely ignored the majority of requests made by citizens concerned with protecting their personal privacy.

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Public Books — Open Markets, Open Projects: Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness

Public Books — Open Markets, Open Projects: Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
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In Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, Nathaniel Tkacz carefully addresses one of the most enduring myths of technology’s participatory potential: openness. “Openness” is a bit of a catchall term, but generally implies unrestricted participation, transparency in governance, and widespread collaboration. (Think “open” as in open-source software, open-access journals, or Massive Open Online Courses.) As Tkacz systematically argues, openness is a political project that obscures its own inner workings, sweeping power differentials and inequality under an apolitical rug. In other words, a project that proclaims itself “open” is able to sidestep questions of power and agency—even when it’s clear, as in the case of Wikipedia, that such issues remain. As a software engineer might say, this murkiness is a feature, not a bug; it is precisely the apparent ability of openness to float above the mire that appeals to people across the political spectrum, and makes it almost invulnerable to critique.

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Experts: No quick technological fixes for climate change

Experts: No quick technological fixes for climate change | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Scientists agreed at Paris climate change talks that political and economic reforms will be more critical than technical innovations in reversing the effects of global climate change.
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Climate-change experts warned that technical innovations alone will not reverse the damage that has been done to the planet; governments around the world will have to re-imagine political and economic models completely, Reuters reported.

While measures like planting drought-resilient crops and building higher sea walls are important to take, the climate change problem "is more than a technical challenge," University of Oslo sociologist Karen O’Brien said at Paris climate change talks Wednesday.

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Do we really want to fuse our minds together? – Peter Watts – Aeon

Do we really want to fuse our minds together? – Peter Watts – Aeon | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
New research puts us on the cusp of brain-to-brain communication. Could the next step spell the end of individual minds?
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The Hacking of Federal Data Is Much Worse Than First Thought

The Hacking of Federal Data Is Much Worse Than First Thought | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Hackers linked to China appear to have stolen security-clearance records with sensitive data about millions of American military and intelligence personnel.
Artur Alves's insight:

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On Friday, it was revealed that all of the data on Standard Form 86— filled out by millions of current and former military and intelligence workers— is now believed to be in the hands of Chinese hackers.

 

This not only means that the hackers may have troves of personal data about Americans with highly sensitive jobs, but also that contacts or family members of American intelligence employees living abroad could potentially be targeted for coercion. At its worst, this cyberbreach also provides a basic roster of every American with a security clearance.

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How Much Water Could California Save?

How Much Water Could California Save? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Almonds and other crops are sucking up California's water supply. Even nuttier: The state's inefficient farming methods.
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California’s in the middle of its most significant drought in half a millennia. According to Jay Famiglietti, senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Golden State’s reservoirs contain only a one-year supply* of water. If California continues to be caught in this drought through 2016, America (and much of the world) might be a whole lot hungrier.

By many calculations, 80 percent of California’s developed water supply is dedicated to agricultural needs. The state’s vast and historically fertile lands, particularly in the Central Valley, have made it the nation’s number one producer of countless desirable crops: walnuts, strawberries, avocados, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, grapes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, artichokes… 

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Rosemary Randall – The id and the eco

Rosemary Randall – The id and the eco | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Thinking about climate change makes people feel helpless and anxious – but that’s why we must talk about it openly
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Fort McKay: the Canadian town that sold itself to tar sands

Fort McKay: the Canadian town that sold itself to tar sands | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
This tiny Alberta town is one of the world’s single biggest sources of carbon pollution. The community grew rich on oil, and was wrecked by oil. So local Cece Fitzpatrick decided to run for chief, promising to stand up to the industry that came there 50 years ago
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A third of Europe’s birds under threat, says most comprehensive study yet

A third of Europe’s birds under threat, says most comprehensive study yet | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Deteriorating natural habitats and declining wildlife populations found in wide-ranging survey of Europe’s countryside
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One in three European birds is endangered, according to a leaked version of the most comprehensive study of Europe’s wildlife and natural habitats ever produced.

The EU State of Nature report, seen by the Guardian, paints a picture of dramatic decline among once common avian species such as the skylark and turtle dove mainly as a result of agricultural pressures, and also warns that ecosystems are struggling to cope with the impact of human activity.

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Advertising turned anti-consumerism into a weapon – Adam Corner – Aeon

Advertising turned anti-consumerism into a weapon – Adam Corner – Aeon | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The more we hate it, the more it agrees with us. How advertising turned anti-consumerism into a secret weapon
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Society: Don't blame the mothers

Society: Don't blame the mothers | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Careless discussion of epigenetic research on how early life affects health across generations could harm women, warn Sarah S. Richardson and colleagues.
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We urge scientists, educators and reporters to anticipate how DOHaD work is likely to be interpreted in popular discussions. Although no one denies that healthy behaviour is important during pregnancy, all those involved should be at pains to explain that findings are too preliminary to provide recommendations for daily living.

Caveats span four areas. First, avoid extrapolating from animal studies to humans without qualification. The short lifespans and large litter sizes favoured for lab studies often make animal models poor proxies for human reproduction. Second, emphasize the role of both paternal and maternal effects. This can counterbalance the tendency to pin poor outcomes on maternal behaviour. Third, convey complexity. Intrauterine exposures can raise or lower disease risk, but so too can a plethora of other intertwined genetic, lifestyle, socio-economic and environmental factors that are poorly understood. Fourth, recognize the role of society. Many of the intrauterine stressors that DOHaD identifies as having adverse intergenerational effects correlate with social gradients of class, race and gender. This points to the need for societal changes rather than individual solutions.

Although remembering past excesses of 'mother-blame' might dampen excitement about epigenetic research in DOHaD, it will help the field to improve health without constraining women's freedom

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