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How Artificial Intelligence Can Fight Air Pollution In China 50

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is testing a new way to help fix Beijing's air pollution problem with artificial intelligence. Like many other cities across the country, the capital is surrounded by many coal burning factories. However, the air quality on a day-to-day basis can vary because of a number of reasons like industrial activity, traffic congestion, and the weather. IBM is testing a computer system capable of learning to predict the severity of air pollution several days in advance using large quantities of data from several different models. "We have built a prototype system which is able to generate high-resolution air quality forecasts, 72 hours ahead of time," says Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research China. "Our researchers are currently expanding the capability of the system to provide medium- and long-term (up to 10 days ahead) as well as pollutant source tracking, 'what-if' scenario analysis, and decision support on emission reduction actions."

IBM Tells Administrators To Block Tor On Security Grounds 70

Mickeycaskill writes: IBM says Tor is increasingly being used to scan organizations for flaws and launch DDoS, ransomware and other attacks. Tor, which provides anonymity by obscuring the real point of origin of Internet communications, was in part created by the US government, which helps fund its ongoing development, due to the fact that some of its operations rely on the network. However, the network is also widely used for criminal purposes. A report by the IBM says administrators should block access to Tor , noting a "steady increase" an attacks originating from Tor exit nodes, with attackers increasingly using Tor to disguise botnet traffic. "Spikes in Tor traffic can be directly tied to the activities of malicious botnets that either reside within the Tor network or use the Tor network as transport for their traffic," said IBM. "Allowing access between corporate networks and stealth networks can open the corporation to the risk of theft or compromise, and to legal liability in some cases and jurisdictions."

Wired: IBM's School Could Fix Education and Tech's Diversity Gap 176

theodp writes: Wired positively gushes over IBM's Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), saying it could fix education and tech's diversity gap. Backed by IBM, the P-TECH program aims to prepare mainly minority kids from low-income backgrounds for careers in technology, allowing them to earn a high school diploma and a free associate degree in six years or less. That P-TECH's six inaugural graduates completed the program in four years and were offered jobs with IBM, Wired reports, is "irrefutable proof that this solution might actually work" (others aren't as impressed, although the President is drinking the Kool-Aid). While the program has only actually graduated six students since it was announced in 2010, Wired notes that by fall, 40 schools across the country will be designed in P-TECH's image. IBM backs four of them, but they'll also be run by tech giants like Microsoft and SAP, major energy companies like ConEdison, along with hospital systems, manufacturing associations, and civil engineering trade groups. They go by different names and are geared toward different career paths, but they all follow the IBM playbook.

IBM 'TrueNorth' Neuro-Synaptic Chip Promises Huge Changes -- Eventually 97

JakartaDean writes: Each of IBM's "TrueNorth" chips contains 5.4 billion transistors and runs on 70 milliwatts. The chips are designed to behave like neurons—the basic building blocks of biological brains. Dharmenda Modha, the head of IBM's cognitive computing group, says a system of 24 connected chips simulates 48 million neurons, roughly the same number rodents have.

Whereas conventional chips are wired to execute particular "instructions," the TrueNorth juggles "spikes," much simpler pieces of information analogous to the pulses of electricity in the brain. Spikes, for instance, can show the changes in someone's voice as they speak—or changes in color from pixel to pixel in a photo. "You can think of it as a one-bit message sent from one neuron to another." says one of the chip's chief designers. The chips are designed well not for training neural networks, but for executing them. This has significant implications for consumer AI: big companies with lots of resources could focus on the training, which individual TrueNorth chips in people's gadgets could handle the execution.

IBM Launches Linux-Only Mainframes 157

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is introducing two mainframe servers that only run on Linux. It's part of a new initiative from the Linux Foundation called the Open Mainframe Project. "The idea is that those companies participating in this project can work together, and begin building a set of open source tools and technologies for Linux mainframes, while helping one another overcome common development issues in the same manner as all open source projects." IBM's hardware release is accompanied by 250,000 lines of code that they're open sourcing as well. "Ultimately the mainframe mainstays are hoping to attract a new generation of developers to their platform. To help coax new users, IBM will be offering free access to the LinuxOne cloud, a mainframe simulation tool it developed for creating, testing and piloting Linux mainframe applications." Canonical is working with IBM to bring Ubuntu to mainframes.

Severe Deserialization Vulnerabilities Found In Android, 3rd Party Android SDKs 105

An anonymous reader writes: Closely behind the discoveries of the Stagefright flaw, the hole in Android's mediaserver service that can put devices into a coma, and the Certifi-gate bug, comes that of an Android serialization vulnerability that affects Android versions 4.3 to 5.1 (i.e. over 55 percent of all Android phones). The bug (CVE-2015-3825), discovered by IBM's X-Force Application Security Research Team in the OpenSSLX509Certificate class in the Android platform, can be used to turn malicious apps with no privileges into "super" apps that will allow cyber attackers to thoroughly "own" the victim's device. In-depth technical details about the vulnerabilities are available in this paper the researchers are set to present at USENIX WOOT '15.

IBM Drops $1 Billion On Medical Images For Watson 53

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is purchasing a company called Merge Healthcare for $1 billion. The company specializes in medical imaging software, and it will be a key new resource for IBM's Watson AI. Big blue's researchers estimate that 90% of all medical data is contained within images. Having a trove of them and the software to mine that data should help Watson learn how to make more accurate diagnoses. IBM thinks it'll also provide better context for run-of-the-mill medical imaging. "[A] radiologist might examine thousands of patient images a day, but only looking for abnormalities on the images themselves rather than also taking into account a person's medical history, treatments and drug regimens." They can program Watson to do both. The AI is already landing contracts to assist with medical issues: "Last week, IBM announced a partnership with CVS Health, the large pharmacy chain, to develop data-driven services to help people with chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease better manage their health."

IBM Locking Up Lots of Cloud Computing Patents 70

dkatana writes: In an article for InformationWeek Charles Babcock notes that IBM has been hoarding patents on every aspect of cloud computing. They've secured about 1,200 in the past 18 months, including ~400 so far this year. "For those who conceive of the cloud as an environment based on public standards with many shared elements, the grant of these patents isn't entirely reassuring." Babcock says, and he adds: "Whatever the intent, these patents illustrate how the cloud, even though it's conceived of as a shared environment following public standards, may be subject to some of the same intellectual property disputes and patent trolling as earlier, more directly proprietary environments."

As Big Data Plateaus, Data Science Education Grows 41

gthuang88 writes: Even as the hype around big data has died down, opportunities for data scientists are expanding. Johns Hopkins, NYU, and MIT are among the schools offering courses in data science, and IBM and other big companies are investing heavily in training programs. Now a startup called DataCamp has raised $1 million to expand online courses in R programming, Apache Spark, and other topics. The deal speaks to the opportunity that venture capitalists see in training the next generation of data scientists and business analysts. It also shows online education is specializing beyond platforms like Codecademy, Coursera, and Udacity.

IBM Beats The Rest of the World To 7nm Chips, But You'll Need to Wait For Them 89

Mickeycaskill writes: IBM's research division has successfully produced test chips containing 7nm transistors, potentially paving the way for slimmer, more powerful devices. The advance was made possible by using silicon-germanium instead of pure silicon in key regions of the molecular-size switches, making transistor switching faster and meaning the chips need less power. Most current smartphones use processors containing 14nm technology, with Qualcomm, Nvidia and MediaTek looking for ways to create slimmer chips. However, despite its evident pride, IBM is not saying when the 7nm technology will become commercially available. Also at ComputerWorld and The Register.

Lenovo Could Remake the ThinkPad X300 With Current Technologies 219

MojoKid writes: The ThinkPad brand has been around for a long time; the first model was introduced by IBM way back in 1992. And although technological advances over the past two decades have lead to Lenovo ThinkPads that are lighter, much faster, and highly more cable than any model in the early 1990s could have ever imagined, there's still a clear visual link between yesteryear and today with regards to design cues. Well, apparently, Lenovo is seriously toying with the idea of making a "unique" model that would incorporate some of the strong ThinkPad language that has been erased in recent years. "Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LEDs, and more. Think of it like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today's technology." It might not be for everyone but some execs at Lenovo think there might be a market for it.
Open Source

The Open Container Project and What It Means 54

An anonymous reader writes: Monday saw the announcement of the Open Container Project in San Francisco. It is a Linux Foundation project that will hold the specification and basic run-time software for using software containers. The list of folks signing up to support the effort contains the usual suspects, and this too is a good thing: Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, the Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat, and VMware. In this article Stephen R. Walli takes a look at what the project means for open source.

Docker and CoreOS Join Together For Open Container Project At Linux Foundation 48

darthcamaro writes: The great schism in the container world is now at an end. Today, Docker and CoreOS, announced along with Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, EMC, Fujitsu, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, the Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware the Open Container Project, as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. The new effort will focus specifically on libcontainer — providing a baseline for a container runtime. "By participating with Docker and all the other folks in the OCP, we're getting the best of all worlds," Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS told eWEEK. "We're getting the contributions from Docker with the format and runtime that underpin container usage, and then we're also getting the shared standard and vendor neutrality aspects that we've designed with app container."

US Navy Solicits Zero Days 59

msm1267 writes: The US Navy posted a RFP, which has since removed from, soliciting contractors to share vulnerability intelligence and develop zero day exploits for most of the leading commercial IT software vendors. The Navy said it was looking for vulnerabilities, exploit reports and operational exploit binaries for commercial software, including but not limited to Microsoft, Adobe, [Oracle] Java, EMC, Novell, IBM, Android, Apple, Cisco IOS, Linksys WRT and Linux, among others. The RFP seemed to indicate that the Navy was not only looking for offensive capabilities, but also wanted use the exploits to test internal defenses.The request, however, does require the contractor to develop exploits for future released CVEs. "Binaries must support configurable, custom, and/or government owned/provided payloads and suppress known network signatures from proof of concept code that may be found in the wild," the RFP said.

US Tech Giants Ask Obama Not To Compromise Encryption 108

An anonymous reader writes: Two industry bodies which represent Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, and others, have written to President Obama urging that the U.S. government not seek to legislate "official back doors" into encryption techniques. The Software and Information Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council sent the "strongly worded" letter on Monday, saying, "Consumer trust in digital products and services is an essential component enabling continued economic growth of the online marketplace. Accordingly, we urge you not to pursue any policy or proposal that would require or encourage companies to weaken these technologies, including the weakening of encryption or creating encryption 'work-arounds.'" The letter is the latest salvo in a public battle for secure communications, one that has reached the public eye in a way that few security stories do.

US Tech Companies Expected To Lose More Than $35 Billion Over NSA Spying 236

Patrick O'Neill writes: Citing significant sales hits taken by big American firms like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce, Qualcomm, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, a new report says losses by U.S. tech companies as a result of NSA spying and Snowden's whistleblowing "will likely far exceed" $35 billion. Previously, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation put the estimate lower when it predicted the losses would be felt mostly in the cloud industry. The consequences are being felt more widely and deeply than previously thought, however, so the number keeps rising.

The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry 287

An anonymous reader writes: An article at TechCrunch looks at some interesting parallels between the current automobile industry and the PC industry of the 1980s. IBM was dominant in 1985, employing four times as many people as its nearest competitor. But as soon as Windows was released, the platform became more important for most end users than the manufacturer. Over the next decade, IBM lost its throne. In 2015, we're on the cusp of a similar change: the computerized car. Automakers, though large and well-established, haven't put much effort into building the platform on which their cars run. Meanwhile, Google's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are constantly improving. As soon as those hit a breakthrough point where it's more important for a customer to have the platform than the manufacturer's logo on the side, the industry is likely to resemble a replay of the PC industry in the 1980s.
Input Devices

Video Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video) 147

For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.

Are We Entering a "Golden Age of Quantum Computing Research"? 86

Lashdots writes: Last month, an elite team at IBM Research announced an advance in quantum computing: it had built a four-qubit square lattice of superconducting qubits, roughly one-quarter-inch square, that was capable of detecting and measuring the two types of quantum computing errors (bit-flip and phase-flip). Previously, it was only possible to address one type of quantum error or the other. The next step is to correct quantum errors.

In a blog post, Mark Ritter, who oversees scientists and engineers at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Laboratory, wrote: "I believe we're entering what will come to be seen as the golden age of quantum computing research." His team, he said, is "on the forefront of efforts to create the first true quantum computer." But what would that mean, and what other big next steps are there?