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QUEST Topics Jan 29, 2010

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

QUEST topics 29 Jan 2010:

1.) The first topic this week is ‘intuitive decision making in immersive environments’ – a presentation by our colleague Bob Patterson INTUITIVE-DECISION-MAKING-PRESENTATION-2010-SHORT.  We have spent considerable bandwidth architecting QUEST solutions that have intuitive based processing integrated within the computer side of our human/computer solutions.  Bob’s presentation covers:

a.     the breakdown of analytical versus intuitive decision making and the different types of environments that induce one or the other or a blend of the two;

b.    our research program here at Mesa on implicit learning and intuitive decision making in immersive environments;

c.     I doubt if anyone is interested, but I also have some material on brain areas related to analytical versus intuitive reasoning

2.) The second topic will be a return to the material we were provided by our colleagues at the Knoesis center – Prof Sheth on ‘Computing for Human Experience’ and Twitris.  We want to discuss the approach as a means to accomplish concept encoding. Concept encoding is a key challenge we face as we innovate new solutions in exploitation for layered sensing.

3.) News from the week related to quest interests:

a. http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2010/01/airforce_cyber_unit_012510w/   

Cyber unit stands up – ‘Monday that its cyber fighting arm, the 24th Air Force, reached its initial operating capability less than one year after its stand-up at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas… milestone designation means that 24 AF is capable of performing critical elements of its mission… establish a numbered air force reporting to Air Force Space Command that would focus on cyber warfare. In August 2009, the service stood up 24th Air Force… numbered air force will serve as the air service’s contribution to U.S. Cyber Command when that organization is stood up. For now, however, 24th Air Force reports to AFSPACE…mission will be to operate and defend Air Force computer networks, they remain cryptic about the unit’s offensive mission, saying only that it will “provide full spectrum capabilities for the joint war fighter’

b.http://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2010/01/25/daily3.html 
   

 AF and Haiti – ‘Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is helping boost the safety and effectiveness of relief efforts in earthquake-torn Haiti…developed nearly 10,000 linear feet of film in an eight-hour period on Jan. 16 and 17. The black and white images — shot from a Open Skies OC-135B aircraft flying 15,000 feet above the country — provided detail of damages and best avenues of approach for rescue and relief efforts… media processing facility at the base serves as part of a treaty verification process… summer of 2005, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, NASIC’s Open Skies Media Processing Facility provided similar support to aid rescuers in Louisiana… NASIC is part of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, headquartered at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas’

c. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100124/ts_alt_afp/attacksusnigeriabinladenthreat_20100124182004

 Bin laden wording seen as indicator of attack – ‘Osama bin Laden’s word choice in the latest audio message attributed to him is seen as a “possible indicator” of an upcoming attack by his Al-Qaeda network, a US monitoring group warned Sunday… said that manner of the release and the content of the message showed it was “credible” that it was a new release from the Saudi extremist… released to Al-Jazeera on 24 January 2010 contains specific language used by bin Laden in his statements in advance of attacks,” IntelCenter said in a statement… considered the language “a possible indicator of an upcoming attack” in the next 12 months…This phrase, ‘Peace be upon those who follow guidance,’ appears at the beginning and end of messages released in advance of attacks that are designed to provide warning to Al-Qaeda’s enemies that they need to change their ways or they will be attacked… The manner of release, content of message and other factors indicate it is a credible and new release from bin Laden… center said similar language attributed to bin Laden was made in a March 19 2008 condemnation of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed which was followed by an attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad on June 2, 2008…phrase also was used in bin Laden’s April 15, 2004 European truce offer, which was followed by Al-Qaeda attacks in London in July 2005, according to the IntelCenter, which said the 14-month lapse could be explained by the “difficulty” in actually putting an attack into operation… Audio releases were bin Laden’s normal vehicle for statements, with video statements having been very rare since the September 11, 2001 attacks…

d.http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/55449/title/Children_grasp_time_with_distance_in_mind   

Children grasp time using space – ‘watched a blue snail and red snail race on a computer screen and judged which animal traveled a longer distance or a longer time. Results suggest that, by age 4, spatial knowledge plays a critical role in time perception…Although 4-year-olds’ concept of time often seems to consist solely of what they want right now, the passage of time still moves them. By that age, kids already mark time by referring to physical distances… Abstract concepts such as how time works stem from youngsters’ real-world perceptions and behaviors, not from cultural rules or metaphorical language used in speech… time representations depend on space just as strongly in 4-year-olds as in 10-year-olds, even though 4-year-olds have very little experience using space-time metaphors in language… By age 10, children have heard and spoken many spatial metaphors for time, such as “a long test” and “moving up an appointment… Casasanto previously reported that adults estimate the amount of time it takes for lines to lengthen across a computer screen based on how far the lines travel. If two lines expand to different lengths over the same time period, volunteers judge the shorter line to have moved for less time than it actually did and the longer line to have moved for more time than it actually did… timing has no such effect on estimates of distance: Participants don’t let differences in the amount of time that lines extend across a screen affect their judgments of line length… theorizes that spatial knowledge organizes time perception far more than the other way around…confirmed that children of all ages could identify the longer of two lines shown on a computer screen and could determine which of two simultaneously displayed cartoon snails bounced up and down for more time…Each child then viewed three different movies showing pairs of cartoon snails, one red and the other blue, racing from left to right on parallel tracks. Snails traveled either different distances in the same time spans, different distances in different time spans or the same distance in different time spans.. Regardless of age, children relied heavily on the distance traveled by each snail when trying to estimate how long the animals took to reach their destinations. In one example, a snail that crawled farther than its rival during a 4-second race was frequently estimated to have moved for more time than its opponent… new evidence that mental time travel triggers physical movement corresponding to a concept of time’s direction, remarks psychologist Lynden Miles of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Adults told to think about past experiences swayed backward, whereas others told to think about the future swayed forward, Miles and his colleagues report in… sign that the concept of time grows out of spatial knowledge, researchers propose

e.http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/21/clinton.internet/index.html    

 Sec Clinton on cyber – ‘Clinton says a cyber attack on one nation is an attack on all… Freedoms should include access to Internet, freedom of speech and worship… speech on Internet freedom and security, Clinton also urged China to investigate a wave of cyber attacks against Google and other companies… interconnected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all…this month, foreign correspondents in at least two Chinese bureaus of news organizations had their Google e-mail accounts attacked, with e-mails forwarded to a mysterious address, according to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China… latest information technology — designed to open access to governments — can also be used by some governments to “crush dissent and deny human rights… same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al Qaeda to spew hatred and incite violence against the innocent…Last year in Saudi Arabia, a man spent months in prison for blogging about Christianity,” she said. Countries such as Vietnam and China have used similar tactics to “restrict access to religious information…

f.       http://www.technologyreview.com/business/24361/

Google and China – ‘Google sparked a confrontation with the Chinese government that will likely end with the company exiting the Chinese market. Google’s statement all but accuses the Chinese government of “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure… Pentagon’s forthcoming Quadrennial Defense Review will likely feature discussions concerning “high-end asymmetric threats” such as cyberwarfare… Google stated that the attacks targeted at least 20 other large companies and the email accounts used by prominent Chinese human rights activists… Google has shown the courage to name the villain and accept the consequences for doing so…Google had accepted the Chinese government’s terms regarding censorship. But this week, it decided that it would not be a branch of the regime’s internal security apparatus, a conduit for its global cyberwarfare operations, or a victim of its theft of intellectual property… to the report’s conclusion that U.S. counterterrorism analysts had access to all of the information they needed to prevent the suspect… to Jones was his discovery that the U.S. intelligence community’s computer software was not performing the “data mining” for terrorism threats that he assumed it was…. Information technology within the CT community did not sufficiently enable the correlation of data that would have enabled analysts to highlight the relevant threat information… U.S. intelligence community still does not have computer software that comprehensively searches and correlates data from all of the relevant U.S. government terrorism databases… incident shows what happens when a system relies on the endurance and judgment of an army of overworked human analysts — the bomber eventually gets through… software program performing the same routine as the analysts will not be a panacea. Its parameters will require constant adjustment which will cause many to wonder whether data mining is useful’

g. http://www.insidehw.com/News/Internet/Kids-spend-more-time-online-and-watching-TV-as-sleeping.html    

DARPA and STEM – ‘Pentagon’s far-out research arm Darpa is soliciting proposals for initiatives that would attract teens to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with an emphasis on computing… doesn’t offer specifics on what kinds of activities might boost computing’s appeal to teens, but they want programs to include career days, mentoring, lab tours and counseling…“targeted to middle and high school students, and include methods “to maintain a positive, long-term presence in a student’s education

h. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527446.000-to-beat-spam-turn-its-own-weapons-against-it.html

 Fighting an adaptable foe – spam – ‘been used to develop an “effectively perfect” method for blocking the most common kind of spam…Most of the billions of spam messages sent each day originate in networks of compromised computers, called botnets. Unbeknown to their owners, the machines quietly run malicious software in the background that pumps out spam… now come up with a system that deciphers the templates a botnet is using to create spam. These templates are then used to teach spam filters what to look for…works by exploiting a trick that spammers use to defeat email filters. As spam is churned out, subtle changes are typically incorporated into the messages to confound spam filters. Each message is generated from a template that specifies the message content and how it should be varied. The team reasoned that analysing such messages could reveal the template that created them. And since the spam template describes the entire range of the emails a bot will send, possessing it might provide a watertight method of blocking spam from that bot… team installed a previously captured software bot onto a machine. After analysing 1000 emails generated by this compromised machine – less than 10 minutes’ work for most bots – the researchers were able to reverse-engineer the template. Knowledge of that template then enabled filters to block further spam from that bot with 100 per cent accuracy. **** example of modeling the adaptable foe **… High accuracy can be achieved by existing spam filters, but sometimes at the cost of blocking legitimate mail. The new system did not produce a single false positive when tested against more than a million genuine messages, says Andreas Pitsillidis, one of the team: “The biggest advantage is this false positive rate.” **** seems to me they only tested against new spam from this one system that the filter could model – clearly won’t block spam that it hasn’t yet modeled *…

i.       http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18422-embedded-electronics-bring-popup-books-to-life.html

Embedded electronics and e-pop up books – ‘electronic circuitry embedded in its pages that transforms the tabs, flaps and wheels of a traditional pop-up into switches and a variety of sensors… interactive pages come alive with LED lights, sounds and even vibrate in response to touch…respond to the user’s touch, gently closing around the probing finger as it withdraws. The sensors control the amount of electric current flowing through springs in the leaf. The springs are made of the shape memory alloy nickel-titanium and contract to close the leaf shut as their coils are heated by the current. The leaves reopen as the wire cools…off-the-shelf electrically conductive paints and fabrics, adding custom-made magnetic components programmed using a standard integrated circuit, known as a microcontroller. “The innovation was in finding new uses for these easily available materials…

j.       http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/world/asia/24trap.html?hp

Escaping death in Afghan – stepping on an IED that doesn’t go off – ‘Marine foot patrol here through the predawn chill of Friday morning, he stepped on a pressure-plate rigged to roughly 25 pounds of explosives. The device, enough to destroy a pickup truck or tear apart several men, was buried beneath him in the dusty soil… It did not explode…weight triggered the detonation of one of the booby trap’s two blasting caps. But upon giving an audible pop and tossing small stones into the air, the device failed to ignite its fuller charge — a powerful mix of Eastern Bloc mortar rounds and homemade explosives spiked with motorcycle parts, rusty spark plugs and jagged chunks of steel…an experience at the edge of death became instead an affirmation of friendship, and in which a veteran Marine reluctantly assumed for a morning one of the infantry’s most coveted roles: that of the charmed man… Taliban’s bomb-making cells have sharpened their skills, moving away from smaller bombs in cooking pots to larger bombs encased in multigallon plastic water jugs, cooking-oil containers or ice coolers…contain a slurry of fertilizer mixed with aluminum-based paint, and are triggered either via switches tripped by their victims or by a militant who detonates the weapon remotely when a victim moves near. Sometimes the insurgents use military-grade explosives from unexploded ordnance or conventional land mines…improvised bomb is a simple thing — a few batteries, a few wires, a blasting cap or two inserted into a stable explosive charge. A pressure plate serves as a switch. When depressed, the circuit is closed, the current from the batteries flows to the blasting cap, igniting the cap and setting off the full blast…

k.     http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2010-01-19-games19_ST_N.htm

Microtransactions and free to play – ‘few virtual weapons here, a few avatar outfits there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real — not virtual — money … first appeared in free-to-play online games in China and Southeast Asia, virtual goods and game enhancements paid for in small purchases called microtransactions have become a billion-dollar boon… newest game with microtransactions is War of Legends, from the makers of online hit RuneScape. But unlike RuneScape, which is free but has subscriptions (starting at $5.95 a month) that give players access to premium areas, War of Legends is a free game that lets players buy virtual goods and upgrades to enhance their experiences …

l.       http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2678

DoD MURI grant supports investigation of unified theories of language and cognition machines are still quite primitive in their ability to truly understand human language… multi-university team of researchers to develop unified theories of language and cognition that aim to allow more meaningful linguistic interaction between humans and computers… understanding the nature of human language… make computers understand language,” Cassimatis said. “We’re enabling computers to jointly reason about the world, people in it, and language, to create a unified theory that we hope will allow computers to use language in a more natural and flexible way…. research entails developing a cognitive architecture, or a computational framework, that models the structure and behavior of an intelligent mind, to account for previously unexplained aspects of language…These challenges include decoding ambiguous or metaphorical language; extracting and using contextual clues from the surrounding environment; as well as discerning  and dealing with the changing beliefs, goals, and intentions of other speakers… lack a common sense that makes it nearly impossible, right now, for them to answer many simple factual questions…system include computer-based, artificially intelligent agents that allow people to use spoken language to view, manipulate, or deal with data, such as their personal information. Other possible applications include digital agents that allow scientists to access and analyze data, or let physicians access patient medical information, using language…

m.

Virus and hive intelligence – ‘insect behaviour seems to give viruses the edge in the eternal battle between them and their host…video catches viruses only a few hundred nanometres in size in the act of hopping over cells that are already infected. This allows them to concentrate their energies on previously uninfected cells, accelerating the spread of infection fivefold…traditional idea of how viruses spread goes like this. A virus first enters a cell and hijacks its machinery to make its own viral proteins and replicate. Thousands of replicated viruses then spread to neighbouring cells to wreak havoc…watched the vaccinia virus infecting monkey liver cells, he thought that it was spreading far too quickly. “It takes 5 to 6 hours for the virus to replicate, but it was spreading from cell to cell within 1 or 2 hours…

n.    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18429-if-you-think-a-crow-is-giving-you-the-evil-eye.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Crows and face recognition – ‘can recognise individual human faces and hold a grudge for years against people who have treated them badly…have observed that crows seem to recognise them, and a few researchers have even gone to the extreme of wearing masks when capturing birds to band (or “ring”) them, so that they could later observe the birds without upsetting them…Whenever a person wearing the same mask approached those crows later, the birds scolded them loudly. In contrast, they ignored the same person wearing a mask of former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, which had never been worn during banding. “Most of the time you walk right up to them and they don’t care at all… birds’ antipathy to the caveman mask has lasted more than three years, even though the crows have had no further bad experiences with people wearing it…second experiment, Marzluff’s team prepared six masks from casts of people’s faces, then wore different masks to capture crows in each of four locations. In each case, they found, the crows recognised and scolded whichever mask they had seen when they were captured, and ignored the others… crows pay close attention to humans, noting which individuals pose a threat and which do not…

o.    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/01/25/afghanistan.taliban/index.html?hpt=T1

Taliban increasingly effective – ‘Security incidents” up to 500 per week in 2009, from 40 per week five years earlier Detainees say Taliban trying to distance themselves from al Qaeda … Taliban’s “organizational capabilities and operational reach are qualitatively and geographically expanding” and the group is capable of much greater frequency of attacks and varied locations of attacks… insurgency can now sustain itself indefinitely because… three factors … increased availability of bomb-making technology and material… Taliban’s access to two major funding streams, one from the opium trade and the other from overseas donations from Muslim countries… Taliban’s continuing ability to recruit foot soldiers based on the perception that they “retain the religious high-ground…Detainees also told interrogators that the Taliban see al Qaeda as a handicap — a view that is spreading as the Taliban try to present themselves as a nationalist group seeking to liberate Afghanistan from foreign forces… al Qaeda “provides facilitation, training and some funding” to the Taliban and predicts that “perceived insurgent success will draw foreign fighters… Taliban maintain a “mutually supportive relationship” with Chechen and central Asian fighters and will seek to “manage” their relationship with al Qaeda so as not to alienate the Afghan population, but still “encourage support from the global jihadi network…. Taliban’s overall strategy is not to defeat international forces in Afghanistan, but to “outlast international will to remain in Afghanistan… explosives do for the Taliban what surface-to-air missiles once did for the Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviets — somewhat equalize the fight against a superpower, Flynn says…increasingly made from homemade explosives. About 85 percent of improvised explosives in Afghanistan are made with ammonium nitrate, a common fertilizer — the same ingredient used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing…briefing also outlined Taliban weaknesses, including disagreements among local Taliban leaders, the group’s dependence on marginalized ethnic Pashtuns, and over-reliance on “external support,” an apparent reference to Taliban havens in Pakistan… United States and its allies have a key advantage — the Taliban have not yet reached the level of a popular movement… official also cited what he called “fundamental positive change”: significantly fewer civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO forces

p.    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/technology/21reader.html?ref=technology

Kindle apps – ‘more than 70 percent of electronic reader sales and 80 percent of e-book purchases, according to some analysts. And on Thursday it will take a page from Apple and announce that it is opening up the Kindle to outside software developers…Apple’s much-anticipated tablet computer, which is widely expected to be announced next Wednesday and go on sale this spring, will be a far more versatile (and expensive) device that will offer access to books, newspapers and other reading material through Apple’s popular App Store on iTunes…Amazon will say that it is letting programmers create what it calls active content — similar to applications — for the Kindle and keep 70 percent of the revenue from each sale after paying for wireless delivery costs… release a set of programming guidelines that other companies — including publishers of books and periodicals — can use to create and sell applications for the Kindle… Amazon introduces more advanced models of the Kindle, developers will be limited by its slow-to-refresh black-and-white screen…he expected developers would devise a wide range of programs, including utilities like calculators, stock tickers and casual video games. He also predicts publishers will begin selling a new breed of e-books, like searchable travel books and restaurant guides that can be tailored to the Kindle owner’s location; textbooks with interactive quizzes; and novels that combine text and audio… executives at those organizations have expressed dissatisfaction with their 30 percent cut of subscription fees on the Kindle and lack of a direct relationship with those subscribers… Kindle app store, those media companies will be able to sell more profitable Kindle applications, and present news that is updated throughout the day… Analysts say that to buyers of an Apple tablet, playing video or video games may be more important than reading…Typically, Amazon charges $9.99 for new releases and best sellers, a price that other e-book vendors, including Sony and Barnes & Noble, have effectively been forced to follow…moved to counter Apple’s appeals as well. On Wednesday it announced it would improve the royalty terms for authors or publishers who publish e-books directly onto the Kindle — essentially beckoning authors and their agents to split off e-book rights and sell them directly to Amazon…says it will offer authors and publishers who set e-book prices below $9.99 a royalty rate of 70 percent of the digital list price (after delivery costs, typically about 6 cents a book) — an obvious echo of Apple’s offering…2nd article … payment scheme that puts developers on the hook for some wireless download costs and a challenging user interface, the Kindle might not enjoy the wide variety of apps already available for the iPhone…development software is still being tested and revised. But a handful of software developers, including game maker Sonic Boom of New York, were given an early version of the development kit a few months ago so they could start working on products. Amazon says a larger group of testers will get ahold of the software next month…The problem, he says, is getting an application recognized among 120 million others. Amazon’s payment scheme should cut back on the number of developers, because it makes them responsible for paying $0.15/megabyte for downloads… Hobbyists likely won’t submit programs to the Kindle store due to the potential costs involved, which will make it easier for professional developers like Sonic Boom to garner customers’ attention…. Kindle, you don’t want to be downloading a whole bunch of great big images,” Lackey says. The developer wouldn’t want to pay for all that downloaded content…The Kindle is quite a bit more limited from a user-interface perspective,” Lackey says. “Control of the Kindle is very much page-based,” with the user usually pushing buttons to move from one page to the next. “It doesn’t use the scrolling metaphor like you’re used to on the iPhone and other smart phones,” he says. The Kindle also lacks a touch screen…Apple’s existing relationship with software developers who write games and other small applications for the iPhone likely makes it the biggest contender for the e-reader throne. E-Ink, the display technology used in the Kindle e-reader, is already viewed as limited, given that it is slow to refresh, doesn’t offer color, and can’t support video…Kindle’s biggest strength is the number of quality books that are available for it. If Apple gets into the e-reader space, its biggest challenge may be negotiating for those same books, he says. “Publishers will be leery of a potential hegemony

q.    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/12/army-building-ultra-high-power-laser-guns/

Laser weapons – ‘Boeing is developing a mobile laser weapon for the U.S. Army. Mounted in an Osh Kosh armored vehicle, the weapon will will enable the military to fight at the speed of light… Boeing, one of the Pentagon’s top contractors, already has a laser weapon that will improve the military’s ability to counter artillery, mortar, drone aircraft and even rockets… A military scientist operates a laser in a test environment. The Directorate conducts research on a variety of solid-state and chemical lasers… U.S. Army project, called the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL-TD), touted as the future of American war… Boeing is building only a demonstrator now … in this case, a test unit…eventually include high-speed processors, optical sensors, and an array of mirrors. Testing of the device’s lethal capacity will begin next fiscal year at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. In addition to the U.S. Army, Boeing is developing its laser technologies for the Air Force and Navy…Lasers are sensitive devices, yet in combat, they will be used in harsh conditions, including sand and wind storms. Sapphire is the second-hardest material on earth, next to diamonds, “yet they can be free of imperfections and perfectly flat,” says Beth Hespe, a spokeswoman for Rubicon. The material helps keep the laser stable — key to its effectiveness as a weapon…Last March, Northrop Grumman announced that its engineers in Redondo Beach, Calif., had successfully built and tested an electric laser capable of producing a 100-kilowatt ray of light, powerful enough to destroy cruise missiles. An electric laser requires much less space for its supporting equipment than a chemical laser, which is powered by a chemical reaction rather than an electrical power source… Lasers are also being used in radar and radio applications by the military. “They are also playing a leading role in the development of wideband communications — wideband essentially being a synonym for delivering broadband capability to the battlefield,

r.      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/26/report-secret-joint-operations-yemen/

U.s. and Yemen issues – ‘U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops, The Washington Post reported … Yemeni troops in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional Al Qaeda affiliate… participating in joint operations for some time with Yemeni troops, and the two countries are currently in discussions to build a new aviation unit to help bolster Yemen’s counterterrorism forces while the intelligence sharing has been critical, the Yemen military badly needs helicopters for its counterterrorism operations… do not take part in raids in Yemen, but provide intelligence, surveillance, planning and other weapons assistance… approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-Yemeni Islamic cleric, was thought to be meeting with other regional Al Qaeda leaders…Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other world leaders meet in London on Wednesday to hash out a plan. Efforts to stabilize the impoverished nation, where the government is battling Al Qaeda strongholds with American help, are suddenly urgent after years of faltering… U.S. officials are uneasy, however, about Yemen’s government. President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s army has only sporadically pursued the growing Al Qaeda threat in Yemen’s vast tribal territory… after several Yemeni detainees who had been released from Guantanamo Bay prison resurfaced as leaders of the country’s growing Al Qaeda faction…

Slides from Bob Patterson

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Weekly Quest Topics for Jan 22

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

1.) We will start this week’s meeting by extending last week’s overview of QUEST to talk more details on the driver problems.  3D object recognition from point cloud data, biometrics using soft and hard measurements, malware, fighting an adaptive foe and integrated system health monitoring (issues with aging and modern aircraft and medicine) and concept encoding in capturing real time data (evernote and/or twitris).

2.) More detailed discussion of some of the driver problems – any of the groups can lead a discussion and/or adam and I will lead a discussion on evernote and twitris.  We will start with a review of the work by the knoesis group on ‘computing for human experience’ and its relation to quest ideas – this includes a discussion of the Sixth Sense project and some work on perception by R L Gregory.

3.) News:

a. Latest airline bomber articles – ‘September, for example, a United Nations expert on Al Qaeda warned policy makers in Washington that the type of explosive device used by a Yemeni militant in an assassination attempt in Saudi Arabia could be carried aboard an airliner… intercept of Qaeda followers in Yemen that a man named “Umar Farouk” — the first two names of the jetliner suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — had volunteered for a coming operation… United States swiftly increased its electronic eavesdropping and other spying in Yemen. It also intensified a diplomatic effort to prod Yemen’s leaders to strike back at the militants… National Security Agency intercepted a second phone conversation in November involving Qaeda members in Yemen, in which they discussed an unnamed Nigerian man who was being groomed for an operation… intercepted conversations mentioned a significant event on Christmas Day… American intelligence officials, using spy satellites and communication intercepts, were intently focused on pinpointing the location of Qaeda fighters so the Yemeni military could strike them…assumed that the militants were not sophisticated or ambitious enough to send operatives into the United States. And no one shifted more intelligence analysts to the task, so that they could have supported the military assaults by Yemen while also scrutinizing all incoming tips for hints about future attacks against Americans… No single person or unit was in charge of running down every high-priority tip…group of “watch list analysts” had been told by the United States Embassy in Nigeria that Mr. Abdulmutallab had been reported missing by his father and was likely to be under “the influence of religious extremists based in Yemen…tips were enough for the team, made up of about two dozen specialists, to add Mr. Abdulmutallab into the so-called Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, a tally of 550,000 people worldwide who might be a threat to the United States…second team, a cadre of about 300 “all-source analysts,” failed to make the link as well. They are supposed to be the deep thinkers charged with preparing long-term assessments of terrorist groups, their financing and recruiting methods and their leadership… the NCTC decided he did not meet the standard of “reasonable suspicion.”  So his name was never forwarded to the TSC and was not directly considered for inclusion on the no-fly list… Why did the National Counterterrorism Center make that decision… seat 19A would seem ideal. It is positioned exactly over the center of the wings, and under it is a tank capable of holding 41,559 liters of fuel…Detonating the device from that seat would appear to be a three-way bet. It was next to a window and would blow a hole in the airplane’s skin; it would, at the same time, ignite a fire and, if the blast did penetrate the fuel tank then the airplane would explode into a ball of fire…center fuel tank is part of what is called the wing box, a structure that anchors the wings to the fuselage and absorbs the greatest stresses of flight. For this reason, it is one of the strongest parts of the airplane…If Abdulmutallab had been instructed to find a window seat in a row over the wings, when and how did he achieve this?  He paid in cash, which means that it was not the kind of online booking where you can pre-select a seat…having gone into a toilet to rig his weapon, Abdulmutallab did not remain there, where he could not have been as easily detected and subdued by passengers and cabin crew. Toilets are fitted with smoke alarms, but by the time they were triggered it would have been too late.  The fact that he didn’t take this course of action, when it was so easy to do, suggests that his planners knew that the toilets were in a far less attractive (to them) part of the airplane. Instead of a fuel tank underneath, there was a cargo hold. A blast in that location would have, at the very least, caused some kind of explosive decompression, but this would not necessarily have been disastrous…

b. CES Dash tablet – ‘personal Internet” viewer, Sony’s dash is the latest tablet device — an inexpensive gizmo designed solely to access information on the Internet… device costs $199, and is more or less a 7-inch screen that gives you access to over 1,000 specially written Internet applications, for news, calendaring, weather, sports, social networking and more… internal accelerometer allows for two viewing angles: upright, ideal for a table or nightstand; and tilted, perfect for a countertop… supports multiple user profiles and channels, allowing several members of the household to create and maintain their own customized view of the Internet’

c. Chimp language translation issues – another problem in alignment – ‘after nearly 20 years of studying animal communication, he can translate the forest’s sounds. This call means a Diana monkey has seen a leopard. That one means it has sighted another predator, the crowned eagle. “In our experience time and again, it’s a humbling experience to realize there is so much more information being passed in ways which hadn’t been noticed before… Biologists have approached the issue in two ways, by trying to teach human language to chimpanzees and other species, and by listening to animals in the wild…Scientists have invested enormous effort in teaching chimpanzees language, whether in the form of speech or signs. A New York Times reporter who understands sign language, Boyce Rensberger, was able in 1974 to conduct what may be the first newspaper interview with another species when he conversed with Lucy, a signing chimp. She invited him up her tree, a proposal he declined…But with a few exceptions, teaching animals human language has proved to be a dead end. They should speak, perhaps, but they do not. They can communicate very expressively — think how definitely dogs can make their desires known — but they do not link symbolic sounds together in sentences or have anything close to language…Better insights have come from listening to the sounds made by animals in the wild. Vervet monkeys were found in 1980 to have specific alarm calls for their most serious predators. If the calls were recorded and played back to them, the monkeys would respond appropriately. They jumped into bushes on hearing the leopard call, scanned the ground at the snake call, and looked up when played the eagle call… calls do have specific meaning, which is a start…Baboons are very sensitive to who stands where in their society’s hierarchy. If played a recording of a superior baboon threatening an inferior, and the latter screaming in terror, baboons will pay no attention — this is business as usual in baboon affairs. But when researchers concoct a recording in which an inferior’s threat grunt precedes a superior’s scream, baboons will look in amazement toward the loudspeaker broadcasting this apparent revolution in their social order…Campbell’s monkeys give a “krak” alarm call when they see a leopard. But adding an “-oo” changes it to a generic warning of predators. One context for the krak-oo sound is when they hear the leopard alarm calls of another species, the Diana monkey…Dr. Zuberbühler has observed a similar achievement among putty-nosed monkeys that combine their “pyow” call (warning of a leopard) with their “hack” call (warning of a crowned eagle) into a sequence that means “Let’s get out of here in a real hurry…Apes have larger brains than monkeys and might be expected to produce more calls. But if there is an elaborate code of chimpanzee communication, their human cousins have not yet cracked it. Chimps make a food call that seems to have a lot of variation…Drs. Seyfarth and Cheney believe that one reason may be that they lack a “theory of mind”; the recognition that others have thoughts. Since a baboon does not know or worry about what another baboon knows…the uninhibited interaction between different neural systems as critical to the development of language. “For whatever reason, maybe accident, our brains are promiscuous in a way that animal brains are not, and once this emerges it’s explosive…Chimpanzees can read each other’s goals and intentions, and do lots of political strategizing, for which language would be very useful. But the neural systems that compute these complex social interactions have not been married to language… find out whether animals can appreciate some of the critical aspects of language, even if they cannot produce it. He and Ansgar Endress reported last year that cotton-top tamarins can distinguish a word added in front of another word from the same word added at the end….’

d. CMU brain findings – this was discussed last week in response to a query by Dr. Arnold of Human Effectiveness – ‘taken a step closer to building machines that someday could read people’s minds… developed the ability to reliably predict which noun, from a group of 60, a person is thinking about based on brain-activity patterns… discovered the brain identifies objects “by what they can do for us, in terms of their relationship to humans,” **** we have discussed this in terms of our types of qualia discussion, the idea is that every part of speech for example verbs provide a qualia type to represent the entity and its relationship- example affordances ***… I thought the brain would encode and represent objects by their shape, color and size….60 “concrete” nouns such as “apartment” and “carrot” — instead of nouns fraught with emotions such as “anger” or “friendship” — the researchers learned human brains analyze objects by determining whether a person could take shelter in it; how a person could hold or manipulate it; and what it would be like to eat it… first time scientists have identified thought patterns using concepts or ideas, rather than images,… this kind of technology could decode the thoughts of someone who is paralyzed. That could be an important and liberating thing for these people…. received a $1.1 million, three-year grant in 2008 from the W.M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles to conduct the research…second articleIdentifying Thoughts Through Brain Codes Leads to Deciphering the Brain’s Dictionary…By combining brain imaging and machine learning techniques, neuroscientists Marcel Just and Vladimir Cherkassky and computer scientists Tom Mitchell and Sandesh Aryal determined how the brain arranges noun representations… how the brain codes nouns… It’s through the three basic features… how you physically interact,,,, how it is related to eating,,, how it is related to shelter or enclosure….three factors, each coded in three to five different locations in the brain, were found by a computer algorithm that searched for commonalities among brain areas in how participants responded to 60 different nouns describing physical objects…word apartment evoked high activation in the five areas that code shelter-related words. In the case of hammer, the motor cortex was the brain area activated to code the physical interaction. “To the brain, a key part of the meaning of hammer is how you hold it, and it is the sensory-motor cortex that represents ‘hammer holding… when two people think about the word ‘hammer’ or ‘house,’ their brain activation patterns are very similar’

e. Wi Fi Helicopter – ‘Wi-Fi helicopter with dual cameras and augmented-reality video streaming, that you control using your iPhone or iPod Touch…AR.Drone features four rotors and interchangeable hulls for flying both indoors and outside. Built-in flight stabilization technology keeps the drone steady while you use your iPhone’s motion sensors to steer it remotely over the craft’s Wi-Fi network…Unlike the CyberQuad, the AR.Drone is meant for consumer use. Weighing about 400g (0.9lbs) the drone features a carbon-fiber frame and Styrofoam hulls for light weight and resiliency against bumps. The smaller hull is intended for outdoor use, while the larger hull includes rotor guards for use when flying indoors. Parrot says the onboard Lithium-ion batteries provide enough power for 15 minutes of flying time…forward facing streaming video camera, the AR.Drone onboard image processing can detect other drones or 3D targets. You can then fire virtual rockets or lasers at the target for simulated battles. Several demo games are on display, but Parrot hopes that game developers will take advantage of their open API to develop more games and other applications for the AR.Drone…inertial guidance system that includes a three-axis accelerometer, a two-axis gyroscope, and a single-axis precision gyroscope for yaw. The flyer also includes an ultrasonic altimeter and a down-facing video camera for calculating speed and position. These elements combine to allow the AR.Drone to compensate for windy conditions, and even to hover unattended. Piloting the drone is accomplished by tilting your iPhone or iPod Touch. The remote control connection is established through the AR.Drone’s built-in Wi-Fi network, and the unit’s forward-facing video camera streams its feed directly to the screen on your iPhone…

f. Distracted Walking – ‘visibility was good. The sidewalk was not under repair. As she walked, Tiffany Briggs, 25, was talking to her grandmother on her cellphone, lost in conversation…distracted walking — which combines a pedestrian, an electronic device and an unseen crack in the sidewalk, the pole of a stop sign, a toy left on the living room floor or a parked (or sometimes moving) car…mishaps for a distracted walker are minor, like the lightly dinged head and broken fingernail that Ms. Briggs suffered, a jammed digit or a sprained ankle, and, the befallen say, a nasty case of hurt pride…,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while using a cellphone to talk or text…Examples of such visits include a 16-year-old boy who walked into a telephone pole while texting and suffered a concussion; a 28-year-old man who tripped and fractured a finger on the hand gripping his cellphone; and a 68-year-old man who fell off the porch while talking on a cellphone, spraining a thumb and an ankle and causing dizziness… commonly applied to such preoccupation is “inattention blindness… suggesting that the act of simply having a conversation is not the cause of inattention blindness… combination, he said, prompts the listener to, for example, create visual imagery related to the conversation in a way that overrides or obscures the processing of real images… cellphone gives people a constant opportunity to pursue goals that feel more important than walking down the street…At the time, Mr. Black said, the sidewalks were packed with pedestrians. So he decided he could move faster if he walked in the street, keeping close to the parked cars. The trouble is he was also texting — with a woman he was flirting with… unwittingly started to veer into the road, prompting an oncoming car to honk. He said he instinctively jumped toward the sidewalk but, in the process, forgot about the line of parked cars…’

g. Couple of drone strike stories – ‘dramatically scaled back the traditional air war, cutting in half the number of munitions dropped from the sky. The unmanned air war, however, has escalated under McChrystal’s watch, reports Spencer Ackerman. Since July 2009, there have been 89 drone strikes in Afghanistan, compared to 61 during the same period last year… report released yesterday found that the number of innocent deaths caused by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan had dropped by 28 percent… McChrystal’s command has found the sweet spot: an increase in aerial lethality that does not result in significant collateral damage…In the first two weeks of January, there have been six drone strikes in Afghanistan — double last year’s total. There have also been seven unmanned attacks reported in Pakistan, which would put the U.S. on a pace to triple last year’s robotic assaults…U.S. drone fired two missiles on Thursday at a compound in northwest Pakistan where the Pakistani Taliban chief was believed to have been, but intelligence officials said chief Hakimullah Mehsud was not among the 12 militants killed… region that the Pakistani military has been wary of treading, partly because groups based there have not directly threatened the Pakistani state… More noise means they are flying lower, and that means an attack is more likely… two weeks beginning Dec. 31, eight drone strikes hit targets in North Waziristan, the most intense volley since the program began, according to a tally by The Associated Press…The whole program is so secretive that we have very little information to evaluate whether the United States is honoring its obligations under the Geneva convention,” he said, citing requirements to target only combatants and avoid civilian casualties and other rules of war…cautioned that people living in the region were unable to speak honestly out of fear of Taliban retribution. She said that based on her discussions with people who have left the area, many support the strikes because they are accurate… missile strike in Pakistan killed one of the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists, a man suspected in a deadly 1986 plane hijacking with a $5 million bounty on his head… latest victory for the CIA-led missile campaign against militant targets in Pakistan’s insurgent-riddled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan… Rahim had been tried and convicted by Pakistan, but he and three suspected accomplices were apparently released in January 2008. All four were added to the FBI list late last year…Under the 28-year-old’s watch, militant attacks in Pakistan have soared since October, even as the army has waged an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan tribal region. Mehsud also appeared on a recent video with the Jordanian militant who killed seven CIA employees in a December suicide attack in Afghanistan… fired on a house in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region Sunday, killing at least a dozen people in an area hit by a surge of such strikes since the beginning of the year… Sunday’s drone strike was the 10th since the beginning of the year, an unprecedented volley of attacks since the CIA-led program began two years ago… Pakistani criticism has been especially muted when the drones have targeted militants who pose a threat to the state, such as Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud…Obama administration’s increased reliance on drone strikes has also been driven by the Pakistani government’s reluctance to target militants staging cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan… Pakistani officials say they have their hands full battling the Pakistani Taliban and other militants waging war against the state and can’t afford to open up any new fronts…gunmen shot and killed an anti-Taliban tribal elder in the Bajur tribal area, said local official Abdul Haseeb. Gunmen sprayed Malik Abdul Qayum’s car with bullets in the main town of Khar, killing him and wounding his cousin… Yemen, an impoverished country with a weak government whose authority does not extend far outside the capital, is Usama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland. The offshoot Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was formed a year ago when Yemen and Saudi militant groups merged… Hundreds of militants are believed to be roaming lawless regions of the mountainous nation, sometimes under the protection of powerful local tribes that have their own grievances with the government… airstrike hit Wadi Adeeda, 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of San’a in Mareb province, officials said, adding that al-Shabwani is in charge of sheltering operatives in that area… According to a new Senate report, U.S. law enforcement authorities believe as many as three dozen Americans who converted to Islam in prison have traveled to Yemen, possibly to train with Al Qaeda…Al-Awlaki has been connected with the alleged perpetrators of two recent attacks on American soil: the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood army base in Texas and the attempt to bomb the U.S. plane on Christmas…

h. Eye test spots alzheimers – ‘can detect Alzheimer’s up to 20 years before any symptoms show is being developed by British scientists… inexpensive eye test could be part of routine examinations… Dementia experts said it had the power to revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s by making it possible for drugs to be given in the earliest stages… Current diagnosis is based on memory tests, and expensive brain scans are also sometimes used,,, decisive proof of the disease usually comes from examination of the patient’s brain after death…Diagnosis: Eye drops would be used in the test to highlight diseased cells at the back of the eye… exploits the fact that the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye are a direct extension of the brain… eye drops which highlight diseased cells, the UCL researchers showed for the first time in a living eye that the amount of damage to cells in the retina directly corresponds with brain cell death… pinpointed the pattern of retinal cell death characteristic of Alzheimer’s… showing that cells start to die ten to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s become evident, it could allow people to be screened in middle age for signs of the disease… experiments, reported in the journal Cell Death & Disease, have been on animals but the team are poised to start the first human trials… technique could also improve the diagnosis of other conditions, including glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease’

i. Flattery works – ‘Most people tend to not appreciate flattery accompanied by obvious ulterior motives, and consider themselves fairly adept at determining whose compliments are sincere and whose are BS. Great tie, boss! Professor, your article redefined my entire understanding of human nature. I know we just met, gorgeous, but I’ve already fallen in love… what if this stuff actually works ? And not just on the suckers who can’t tell the difference between the sincere and the insincere, but on those who recognize these techniques for what they are… Participants in the study were asked to evaluate the merits of a new department store opening in the area based on one of the store’s advertisements. In addition to describing the new store’s offerings, the ad lauded readers for their impeccable sense of style and eye for high fashion. While participants overwhelmingly categorized the pamphlet as flattery with the ulterior motive of pushing blouses, the experimenters were more interested in how their attitudes would be influenced at the implicit level. Might participants develop a non-conscious positive association…implicit attitudes towards the store were more positive than explicit attitudes. They were also better predictors of reported likelihood of making future purchases, as well as likelihood of joining the store’s club… awareness of when we’re being put on may not be enough to curb the effectiveness of insincerity… Interesting to think about from the two systems perspective.  Qualia system is aware the flattery is superficial but it still has an effect of stirring the soup and influencing future actions

j. Google and Chinese attacks – ‘Google Reveals Chinese Espionage Effort… attack that required staggering skill and resources… remarkably sophisticated computerized espionage network originating from the country, experts say…no longer participate in government censorship of the Chinese version of its site, Google.cn, and threatened to shut down its operations in China altogether. In a blog post, David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer at Google, wrote that the decision was taken in response to a series of Internet attacks against Google and other companies, as well as covert Internet surveillance of human-rights activists…In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.” He added that the company has gathered evidence that 20 other large Internet, finance, technology, media, and chemical companies were also attacked…attackers tried to get into Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human-rights activists, Drummond said. The company believes that the efforts were not successful, but that hackers have been targeting human-rights activists based in other parts of the world through a range of hacking techniques… called the attack “highly sophisticated” because the hackers got into the heart of its database and password list. “The intellect and resources required to pull off such a surgical attack are staggering considering the defenses Google has put in place to protect digital assets,… used “social engineering” techniques to breach Google’s defenses… cyber-spying operation originating in China that was said to have targeted the Dalai Lama and other human-rights activists…start by sending users within a target network system a carefully crafted e-mail full of personal information. This isn’t the same as a spam message, he says–instead it’s “someone crafting an attack.” The attacker will attach a PDF or Word document loaded with malware that compromises the user’s computer when it’s opened…Once the attackers control one computer on a network, they branch out from there, probing other computers on the same network and raiding e-mail accounts to get more ammunition for social engineering attacks. “They’re basically tricking users into exploiting themselves,” Villeneuve says, adding that perimeter defenses are useless if attackers can trick humans into handing over information or infecting themselves…since many hacking groups operate using these tactics, Villeneuve says it can be devilishly hard to trace attacks back to their source. “We often don’t know [the exact details of attackers’] relationship with the Chinese government… Google plans to negotiate with the Chinese government over the next few weeks to see if it is possible to run a standard version of its search engine in China…

k. Google ranking tweets – ‘lgorithms judge the relevance of microblog posts containing 140 characters or less…. Google has adapted its page-ranking technology and developed new algorithmic tricks and filters to keep returns relevant… offer searchers access to brand-new blog posts and news items far faster than the five to 15 minutes…Google and Bing have also forged major deals with Twitter to get real-time access to tweets, those 140-character microblog posts sent out by Twitter members. But Google claims to offer the most comprehensive real-time results by scanning news headlines, blogs, and feeds from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other sources…Under PageRank, Google judges the importance of pages containing a given search keyword in part by looking at the pages’ link structure. The more pages that link to a page–and the more pages linking to the linkers–the more relevant the original page… key is to identify “reputed followers… You earn reputation, and then you give reputation. If lots of people follow you, and then you follow someone–then even though this [new person] does not have lots of followers… One user following another in social media is analogous to one page linking to another on the Web. Both are a form of recommendation…One problem with tweets is that people often lard them up with so-called “hashtags.” These are symbols that start with a pound sign (#) followed by a word that represents a very popular current topic, such as “Nexus One” or “Earthquake” or whatever else might be a trendy topic at the moment. When a hashtag is included in a tweet, the resulting tweet will show up when other Twitterers click the hashtag’s topic word elsewhere on the site…such tags can usefully maximize exposure of a tweet, they can also serve as red flags to lower tweet quality and attract spam-like content, Singhal says. While he wouldn’t get into details, he said Google modeled this hashtagging behavior in ways that tend to reduce the exposure of low-quality tweets. “We needed to model that [hashtagging] behavior. That is the technical challenge which we went after with our modeling approaches…both Twitter and Google hope to improve the relevance of search returns in all contexts by adding geo-location data, which can be added to postings sent from smart phones. In general, real-time search “is evolving

l. Endless war versus malware – ‘Computer security is an ever-escalating competition between so-called black-hat attackers and white-hat defenders. One of the attackers’ main tools is malicious software, known as malware, which has steadily evolved in recent years. Malware was once mainly viruses and worms, digital pests that gummed up and sometimes damaged personal computers and networks… Malware today, however, is likely to be more subtle and selective, nesting inside corporate networks… Corporations and government agencies spend billions of dollars a year on specialized security software to detect and combat malware. Still, the black hats seem to be gaining the upper hand… The financial loss from security breaches was $234,000 on average for each organization… Malware is a huge problem, and becoming a bigger one…employee awareness and training are a crucial defense. Often, malware infections are a result of high-tech twists on old-fashioned cons. One scam, for example, involves small U.S.B. flash drives, left in a company parking lot, adorned with the company logo. Curious employees pick them up, put them in their computers and open what looks like an innocuous document. In fact, once run, it is software that collects passwords and other confidential information on a user’s computer and sends it to the attackers. More advanced malware can allow an outsider to completely take over the PC and, from there, explore a company’s network… do not need to break through a company’s network defenses because a worker has unknowingly invited them inside…variation on so-called phishing schemes, in which an e-mail message purporting to be from the recipient’s bank or another institution tricks the person into giving up passwords. Scammers send such messages to thousands of people in hopes of ensnaring a few. But with so-called spear-phishing, the bogus e-mail is sent to a specific person and appears to come from a friend or colleague inside that person’s company, making it far more believable… Other techniques for going inside companies involve exploiting weaknesses in Web-site or network-routing software, using those openings as gateways for malware…combat leaks of confidential information, network security software looks for anomalies in network traffic — large files and rapid rates of data transmission, especially coming from corporate locations where confidential information is housed… Fighting computer crime is a balance of technology and behavioral science, understanding the human dimension of the threat…As cellphones become more powerful, they offer new terrain for malware to exploit in new ways. Recently, security experts have started seeing malware that surreptitiously switches on a cellphone’s microphone and camera. “It turns a smartphone into a surveillance device…Hacked cellphones, Mr. Rasch said, can also provide vital corporate intelligence because they can disclose their location. The whereabouts of a cellphone belonging to an investment banker who is representing a company in merger talks, he said, could provide telling clues to rival bidders, for example… carefully identify a corporation’s most valuable intellectual property and data, and place it on a separate computer network not linked to the Internet, leaving a so-called air gap…

m. Reading your mind to tag images – ‘EEG can be used to determine what kinds of objects you’re looking at. That information may be used to help tag images with labels…Microsoft Research is using electroencephalograph (EEG) measurements to “read” minds in order to help tag images. When someone looks at an image, different areas of their brain have different levels of activity. This activity can be measured and scientists can reasonably determine what the person is looking at. It only takes about half a second to read the brain activity associated with each image, making the EEG process much faster than traditional manual tagging. The “mind-reading” technique may be the first step towards a hybrid system of computer and human analysis for images and many other forms of data…Amazon’s Mechanical Turk offers very small payments to those who wish to tag images online. Google Image Labeler has turned the process into a game by pairing taggers to counterparts with whom they can work together… Brains and computers working in conjunction could one day provide rapid identification and decision making, even without human conscious effort… EEG image tagging process is just one of many projects that Tan and his team hope to explore in the realm of human-computer interfaces. We’ve heard from Tan before, he was one of those developing muscle-sensing input devicesResearchers could determine if someone was looking at a face or an inanimate object. They also saw good results when contrasting animals with faces, animals with inanimate objects, and some 3-way classifications (i.e. faces vs. animals vs. inanimate objects). Better results were seen with multiple users, and when each image was viewed multiple times. Surprisingly, no improvement was seen if the viewer was given more than half a second to look at each image. This means that the images could be displayed at that speed without any loss of accuracy in tagging. During the experiments, test subjects were given distracting tasks and not told to categorize the images they saw, showing that the conscious mind does not have to be engaged (and in fact, should not be used) to provide the tagging information at that speed…better means of tagging images. I can just picture the “tagging farms” now – vast rows of people sitting at computer screens looking at images while they work on other jobs. Yet the long term implications are much broader. Most other work we’ve seen with EEGs or “mind-reading” is aimed at either discerning what someone is thinking for security, or for control of computers and machines. The work discussed here is much more about using the mind itself as a machine. As brain analysis improves, we may see the human mind as a complementary worker or instructor to computer programs…

n. Trojan horses – ‘If hackers could steal those key instructions and copy them, they could easily dull the company’s competitive edge in the marketplace. More insidiously, if attackers were able to make subtle, undetected changes to that code, they could essentially give themselves secret access to everything the company and its customers did with the software…fear of someone building such a back door, known as a Trojan horse, and using it to conduct continual spying is why companies and security experts were so alarmed by Google’s disclosure last week that hackers based in China had stolen some of its intellectual property and had conducted similar assaults on more than two dozen other companies…Originally we were saying, ‘Well, whoever got it has the secret sauce to Google and some 30 other California companies, and they can replicate it,’ ” said Rick Howard, director of security intelligence at VeriSign iDefense, which helped Google investigate the Chinese attacks. “But some of the more devious folks in our outfit were saying, ‘Well, they could also insert their own code — and they probably have…Security researchers took particular interest in the fact that the Silicon Valley company Adobe Systems was one of the companies hit by the recent wave of attacks…Computer users around the globe have Adobe’s Acrobat or Reader software sitting on their machines to create or read documents, and Adobe’s Flash technology is widely used to present multimedia content on the Web and mobile phones… Acrobat is installed on about 95 percent of the machines in the world, and there have been a lot of vulnerabilities found in Flash…But McAfee, a leading software security firm, predicts that Adobe’s software will become the top target this year, as Microsoft has improved its products after years of attacks and Adobe’s software has become ubiquitous…Given the complexity of today’s software programs, which are typically written by teams of hundreds or thousands of engineers, it is virtually impossible to be perfectly confident in the security of any program, and tampering could very well go undetected…Before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, an unidentified hacker inserted secret programs into four telephone switching computers operated by the Vodafone Group, the world’s largest cellphone carrier. The programs created a clandestine tapping system that allowed unknown snoops to eavesdrop on cellphone calls and track the location of about 100 prominent Greek citizens, including then-Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, military officials, the mayor of Athens, activists and journalists… infiltration was uncovered in a government investigation after a Vodafone engineer was found dead in 2005 under suspicious circumstances…look at the source code of software at a company like Adobe or Cisco can help attackers find new ways to burrow into products before the companies can fix errors in their software. In addition, the hackers can gain insights into how to insert their own code into the software so that they can have ready access to machines down the road… example, the widespread appearance of counterfeit Cisco routers, which direct traffic on computer networks, has become a major concern in recent years…Cisco is required by law to include technology in its networking products that allows investigators to tap the hardware for information. The fear is that a country like China could sell counterfeit routers containing slightly modified software that would allow hackers to dial into the systems…Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a security education organization, said American technology companies had gotten better about protecting their most prized intellectual property by creating more complex systems for viewing and changing source code. Such systems can keep a detailed account of what tweaks have been made to a software product’

o. Some can’t see 3d tv – ‘Nor does it work for a small but significant percentage of the population4 percent to 10 percent, depending on which expert you ask. Me, and millions of people like me, are being left behind by content and hardware companies as they move to 3D…flat-viewer’s experience with 3D imagery can vary. While I find viewing 3D imagery uncomfortable, Daniel Terdiman, another person at CNET who can’t see 3D, saw the 3D version of Avatar and wore the 3D glasses. It looked fine to him, just not 3D… all the hype around 3D, the television manufacturers are not really investing much in putting products on store shelves, nor are they expecting consumers to pay for it yet…Adding the capability for televisions to display alternating images for stereoscopic viewing through electronic shutter glasses is not expensive. It’s the glasses themselves that are, and only a few 3D-capable sets actually come bundled with them. So consumers will be able to soon buy televisions ready for 3D without spending much…should be able to turn off the 3D display features and view content designed specifically for 3D but in 2D: You just show the view for only one eye. If the refresh rate of the program is high enough, you should not notice much of a difference in picture quality…inability to process stereoscopic imagery is, for many people, a treatable condition. Dr. Brad Habermehl, president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, told me, “You don’t have to be a 3D refugee if you get to the root of the problem. The majority of stereo-blind people really can be helped…methods to teach people to see in 3D. Using graduated methods and physical aids (lenses) as “training wheels,” he says, people can eventually learn how to “point both eyes to focus on the same space.” It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn, the training wheels come off and you can’t imagine not doing it…

QUEST topics 22 Jan 2010:

1.) We will start this week’s meeting by extending last week’s overview of QUEST to talk more details on the driver problems.  3D object recognition from point cloud data, biometrics using soft and hard measurements, malware, fighting an adaptive foe and integrated system health monitoring (issues with aging and modern aircraft and medicine) and concept encoding in capturing real time data (evernote and/or twitris).

2.) More detailed discussion of some of the driver problems – any of the groups can lead a discussion and/or adam and I will lead a discussion on evernote and twitris.  We will start with a review of the work by the knoesis group on ‘computing for human experience’ and its relation to quest ideas – this includes a discussion of the Sixth Sense project and some work on perception by R L Gregory.

3.) News:

a. Latest airline bomber articles – ‘September, for example, a United Nations expert on Al Qaeda warned policy makers in Washington that the type of explosive device used by a Yemeni militant in an assassination attempt in Saudi Arabia could be carried aboard an airliner… intercept of Qaeda followers in Yemen that a man named “Umar Farouk” — the first two names of the jetliner suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — had volunteered for a coming operation… United States swiftly increased its electronic eavesdropping and other spying in Yemen. It also intensified a diplomatic effort to prod Yemen’s leaders to strike back at the militants… National Security Agency intercepted a second phone conversation in November involving Qaeda members in Yemen, in which they discussed an unnamed Nigerian man who was being groomed for an operation… intercepted conversations mentioned a significant event on Christmas Day… American intelligence officials, using spy satellites and communication intercepts, were intently focused on pinpointing the location of Qaeda fighters so the Yemeni military could strike them…assumed that the militants were not sophisticated or ambitious enough to send operatives into the United States. And no one shifted more intelligence analysts to the task, so that they could have supported the military assaults by Yemen while also scrutinizing all incoming tips for hints about future attacks against Americans… No single person or unit was in charge of running down every high-priority tip…group of “watch list analysts” had been told by the United States Embassy in Nigeria that Mr. Abdulmutallab had been reported missing by his father and was likely to be under “the influence of religious extremists based in Yemen…tips were enough for the team, made up of about two dozen specialists, to add Mr. Abdulmutallab into the so-called Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, a tally of 550,000 people worldwide who might be a threat to the United States…second team, a cadre of about 300 “all-source analysts,” failed to make the link as well. They are supposed to be the deep thinkers charged with preparing long-term assessments of terrorist groups, their financing and recruiting methods and their leadership… the NCTC decided he did not meet the standard of “reasonable suspicion.”  So his name was never forwarded to the TSC and was not directly considered for inclusion on the no-fly list… Why did the National Counterterrorism Center make that decision… seat 19A would seem ideal. It is positioned exactly over the center of the wings, and under it is a tank capable of holding 41,559 liters of fuel…Detonating the device from that seat would appear to be a three-way bet. It was next to a window and would blow a hole in the airplane’s skin; it would, at the same time, ignite a fire and, if the blast did penetrate the fuel tank then the airplane would explode into a ball of fire…center fuel tank is part of what is called the wing box, a structure that anchors the wings to the fuselage and absorbs the greatest stresses of flight. For this reason, it is one of the strongest parts of the airplane…If Abdulmutallab had been instructed to find a window seat in a row over the wings, when and how did he achieve this?  He paid in cash, which means that it was not the kind of online booking where you can pre-select a seat…having gone into a toilet to rig his weapon, Abdulmutallab did not remain there, where he could not have been as easily detected and subdued by passengers and cabin crew. Toilets are fitted with smoke alarms, but by the time they were triggered it would have been too late.  The fact that he didn’t take this course of action, when it was so easy to do, suggests that his planners knew that the toilets were in a far less attractive (to them) part of the airplane. Instead of a fuel tank underneath, there was a cargo hold. A blast in that location would have, at the very least, caused some kind of explosive decompression, but this would not necessarily have been disastrous…

b. CES Dash tablet – ‘personal Internet” viewer, Sony’s dash is the latest tablet device — an inexpensive gizmo designed solely to access information on the Internet… device costs $199, and is more or less a 7-inch screen that gives you access to over 1,000 specially written Internet applications, for news, calendaring, weather, sports, social networking and more… internal accelerometer allows for two viewing angles: upright, ideal for a table or nightstand; and tilted, perfect for a countertop… supports multiple user profiles and channels, allowing several members of the household to create and maintain their own customized view of the Internet’

c. Chimp language translation issues – another problem in alignment – ‘after nearly 20 years of studying animal communication, he can translate the forest’s sounds. This call means a Diana monkey has seen a leopard. That one means it has sighted another predator, the crowned eagle. “In our experience time and again, it’s a humbling experience to realize there is so much more information being passed in ways which hadn’t been noticed before… Biologists have approached the issue in two ways, by trying to teach human language to chimpanzees and other species, and by listening to animals in the wild…Scientists have invested enormous effort in teaching chimpanzees language, whether in the form of speech or signs. A New York Times reporter who understands sign language, Boyce Rensberger, was able in 1974 to conduct what may be the first newspaper interview with another species when he conversed with Lucy, a signing chimp. She invited him up her tree, a proposal he declined…But with a few exceptions, teaching animals human language has proved to be a dead end. They should speak, perhaps, but they do not. They can communicate very expressively — think how definitely dogs can make their desires known — but they do not link symbolic sounds together in sentences or have anything close to language…Better insights have come from listening to the sounds made by animals in the wild. Vervet monkeys were found in 1980 to have specific alarm calls for their most serious predators. If the calls were recorded and played back to them, the monkeys would respond appropriately. They jumped into bushes on hearing the leopard call, scanned the ground at the snake call, and looked up when played the eagle call… calls do have specific meaning, which is a start…Baboons are very sensitive to who stands where in their society’s hierarchy. If played a recording of a superior baboon threatening an inferior, and the latter screaming in terror, baboons will pay no attention — this is business as usual in baboon affairs. But when researchers concoct a recording in which an inferior’s threat grunt precedes a superior’s scream, baboons will look in amazement toward the loudspeaker broadcasting this apparent revolution in their social order…Campbell’s monkeys give a “krak” alarm call when they see a leopard. But adding an “-oo” changes it to a generic warning of predators. One context for the krak-oo sound is when they hear the leopard alarm calls of another species, the Diana monkey…Dr. Zuberbühler has observed a similar achievement among putty-nosed monkeys that combine their “pyow” call (warning of a leopard) with their “hack” call (warning of a crowned eagle) into a sequence that means “Let’s get out of here in a real hurry…Apes have larger brains than monkeys and might be expected to produce more calls. But if there is an elaborate code of chimpanzee communication, their human cousins have not yet cracked it. Chimps make a food call that seems to have a lot of variation…Drs. Seyfarth and Cheney believe that one reason may be that they lack a “theory of mind”; the recognition that others have thoughts. Since a baboon does not know or worry about what another baboon knows…the uninhibited interaction between different neural systems as critical to the development of language. “For whatever reason, maybe accident, our brains are promiscuous in a way that animal brains are not, and once this emerges it’s explosive…Chimpanzees can read each other’s goals and intentions, and do lots of political strategizing, for which language would be very useful. But the neural systems that compute these complex social interactions have not been married to language… find out whether animals can appreciate some of the critical aspects of language, even if they cannot produce it. He and Ansgar Endress reported last year that cotton-top tamarins can distinguish a word added in front of another word from the same word added at the end….’

d. CMU brain findings – this was discussed last week in response to a query by Dr. Arnold of Human Effectiveness – ‘taken a step closer to building machines that someday could read people’s minds… developed the ability to reliably predict which noun, from a group of 60, a person is thinking about based on brain-activity patterns… discovered the brain identifies objects “by what they can do for us, in terms of their relationship to humans,” **** we have discussed this in terms of our types of qualia discussion, the idea is that every part of speech for example verbs provide a qualia type to represent the entity and its relationship- example affordances ***… I thought the brain would encode and represent objects by their shape, color and size….60 “concrete” nouns such as “apartment” and “carrot” — instead of nouns fraught with emotions such as “anger” or “friendship” — the researchers learned human brains analyze objects by determining whether a person could take shelter in it; how a person could hold or manipulate it; and what it would be like to eat it… first time scientists have identified thought patterns using concepts or ideas, rather than images,… this kind of technology could decode the thoughts of someone who is paralyzed. That could be an important and liberating thing for these people…. received a $1.1 million, three-year grant in 2008 from the W.M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles to conduct the research…second articleIdentifying Thoughts Through Brain Codes Leads to Deciphering the Brain’s Dictionary…By combining brain imaging and machine learning techniques, neuroscientists Marcel Just and Vladimir Cherkassky and computer scientists Tom Mitchell and Sandesh Aryal determined how the brain arranges noun representations… how the brain codes nouns… It’s through the three basic features… how you physically interact,,,, how it is related to eating,,, how it is related to shelter or enclosure….three factors, each coded in three to five different locations in the brain, were found by a computer algorithm that searched for commonalities among brain areas in how participants responded to 60 different nouns describing physical objects…word apartment evoked high activation in the five areas that code shelter-related words. In the case of hammer, the motor cortex was the brain area activated to code the physical interaction. “To the brain, a key part of the meaning of hammer is how you hold it, and it is the sensory-motor cortex that represents ‘hammer holding… when two people think about the word ‘hammer’ or ‘house,’ their brain activation patterns are very similar’

e. Wi Fi Helicopter – ‘Wi-Fi helicopter with dual cameras and augmented-reality video streaming, that you control using your iPhone or iPod Touch…AR.Drone features four rotors and interchangeable hulls for flying both indoors and outside. Built-in flight stabilization technology keeps the drone steady while you use your iPhone’s motion sensors to steer it remotely over the craft’s Wi-Fi network…Unlike the CyberQuad, the AR.Drone is meant for consumer use. Weighing about 400g (0.9lbs) the drone features a carbon-fiber frame and Styrofoam hulls for light weight and resiliency against bumps. The smaller hull is intended for outdoor use, while the larger hull includes rotor guards for use when flying indoors. Parrot says the onboard Lithium-ion batteries provide enough power for 15 minutes of flying time…forward facing streaming video camera, the AR.Drone onboard image processing can detect other drones or 3D targets. You can then fire virtual rockets or lasers at the target for simulated battles. Several demo games are on display, but Parrot hopes that game developers will take advantage of their open API to develop more games and other applications for the AR.Drone…inertial guidance system that includes a three-axis accelerometer, a two-axis gyroscope, and a single-axis precision gyroscope for yaw. The flyer also includes an ultrasonic altimeter and a down-facing video camera for calculating speed and position. These elements combine to allow the AR.Drone to compensate for windy conditions, and even to hover unattended. Piloting the drone is accomplished by tilting your iPhone or iPod Touch. The remote control connection is established through the AR.Drone’s built-in Wi-Fi network, and the unit’s forward-facing video camera streams its feed directly to the screen on your iPhone…

f. Distracted Walking – ‘visibility was good. The sidewalk was not under repair. As she walked, Tiffany Briggs, 25, was talking to her grandmother on her cellphone, lost in conversation…distracted walking — which combines a pedestrian, an electronic device and an unseen crack in the sidewalk, the pole of a stop sign, a toy left on the living room floor or a parked (or sometimes moving) car…mishaps for a distracted walker are minor, like the lightly dinged head and broken fingernail that Ms. Briggs suffered, a jammed digit or a sprained ankle, and, the befallen say, a nasty case of hurt pride…,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while using a cellphone to talk or text…Examples of such visits include a 16-year-old boy who walked into a telephone pole while texting and suffered a concussion; a 28-year-old man who tripped and fractured a finger on the hand gripping his cellphone; and a 68-year-old man who fell off the porch while talking on a cellphone, spraining a thumb and an ankle and causing dizziness… commonly applied to such preoccupation is “inattention blindness… suggesting that the act of simply having a conversation is not the cause of inattention blindness… combination, he said, prompts the listener to, for example, create visual imagery related to the conversation in a way that overrides or obscures the processing of real images… cellphone gives people a constant opportunity to pursue goals that feel more important than walking down the street…At the time, Mr. Black said, the sidewalks were packed with pedestrians. So he decided he could move faster if he walked in the street, keeping close to the parked cars. The trouble is he was also texting — with a woman he was flirting with… unwittingly started to veer into the road, prompting an oncoming car to honk. He said he instinctively jumped toward the sidewalk but, in the process, forgot about the line of parked cars…’

g. Couple of drone strike stories – ‘dramatically scaled back the traditional air war, cutting in half the number of munitions dropped from the sky. The unmanned air war, however, has escalated under McChrystal’s watch, reports Spencer Ackerman. Since July 2009, there have been 89 drone strikes in Afghanistan, compared to 61 during the same period last year… report released yesterday found that the number of innocent deaths caused by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan had dropped by 28 percent… McChrystal’s command has found the sweet spot: an increase in aerial lethality that does not result in significant collateral damage…In the first two weeks of January, there have been six drone strikes in Afghanistan — double last year’s total. There have also been seven unmanned attacks reported in Pakistan, which would put the U.S. on a pace to triple last year’s robotic assaults…U.S. drone fired two missiles on Thursday at a compound in northwest Pakistan where the Pakistani Taliban chief was believed to have been, but intelligence officials said chief Hakimullah Mehsud was not among the 12 militants killed… region that the Pakistani military has been wary of treading, partly because groups based there have not directly threatened the Pakistani state… More noise means they are flying lower, and that means an attack is more likely… two weeks beginning Dec. 31, eight drone strikes hit targets in North Waziristan, the most intense volley since the program began, according to a tally by The Associated Press…The whole program is so secretive that we have very little information to evaluate whether the United States is honoring its obligations under the Geneva convention,” he said, citing requirements to target only combatants and avoid civilian casualties and other rules of war…cautioned that people living in the region were unable to speak honestly out of fear of Taliban retribution. She said that based on her discussions with people who have left the area, many support the strikes because they are accurate… missile strike in Pakistan killed one of the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists, a man suspected in a deadly 1986 plane hijacking with a $5 million bounty on his head… latest victory for the CIA-led missile campaign against militant targets in Pakistan’s insurgent-riddled tribal belt bordering Afghanistan… Rahim had been tried and convicted by Pakistan, but he and three suspected accomplices were apparently released in January 2008. All four were added to the FBI list late last year…Under the 28-year-old’s watch, militant attacks in Pakistan have soared since October, even as the army has waged an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan tribal region. Mehsud also appeared on a recent video with the Jordanian militant who killed seven CIA employees in a December suicide attack in Afghanistan… fired on a house in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region Sunday, killing at least a dozen people in an area hit by a surge of such strikes since the beginning of the year… Sunday’s drone strike was the 10th since the beginning of the year, an unprecedented volley of attacks since the CIA-led program began two years ago… Pakistani criticism has been especially muted when the drones have targeted militants who pose a threat to the state, such as Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud…Obama administration’s increased reliance on drone strikes has also been driven by the Pakistani government’s reluctance to target militants staging cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan… Pakistani officials say they have their hands full battling the Pakistani Taliban and other militants waging war against the state and can’t afford to open up any new fronts…gunmen shot and killed an anti-Taliban tribal elder in the Bajur tribal area, said local official Abdul Haseeb. Gunmen sprayed Malik Abdul Qayum’s car with bullets in the main town of Khar, killing him and wounding his cousin… Yemen, an impoverished country with a weak government whose authority does not extend far outside the capital, is Usama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland. The offshoot Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was formed a year ago when Yemen and Saudi militant groups merged… Hundreds of militants are believed to be roaming lawless regions of the mountainous nation, sometimes under the protection of powerful local tribes that have their own grievances with the government… airstrike hit Wadi Adeeda, 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of San’a in Mareb province, officials said, adding that al-Shabwani is in charge of sheltering operatives in that area… According to a new Senate report, U.S. law enforcement authorities believe as many as three dozen Americans who converted to Islam in prison have traveled to Yemen, possibly to train with Al Qaeda…Al-Awlaki has been connected with the alleged perpetrators of two recent attacks on American soil: the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood army base in Texas and the attempt to bomb the U.S. plane on Christmas…

h. Eye test spots alzheimers – ‘can detect Alzheimer’s up to 20 years before any symptoms show is being developed by British scientists… inexpensive eye test could be part of routine examinations… Dementia experts said it had the power to revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s by making it possible for drugs to be given in the earliest stages… Current diagnosis is based on memory tests, and expensive brain scans are also sometimes used,,, decisive proof of the disease usually comes from examination of the patient’s brain after death…Diagnosis: Eye drops would be used in the test to highlight diseased cells at the back of the eye… exploits the fact that the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye are a direct extension of the brain… eye drops which highlight diseased cells, the UCL researchers showed for the first time in a living eye that the amount of damage to cells in the retina directly corresponds with brain cell death… pinpointed the pattern of retinal cell death characteristic of Alzheimer’s… showing that cells start to die ten to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s become evident, it could allow people to be screened in middle age for signs of the disease… experiments, reported in the journal Cell Death & Disease, have been on animals but the team are poised to start the first human trials… technique could also improve the diagnosis of other conditions, including glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease’

i. Flattery works – ‘Most people tend to not appreciate flattery accompanied by obvious ulterior motives, and consider themselves fairly adept at determining whose compliments are sincere and whose are BS. Great tie, boss! Professor, your article redefined my entire understanding of human nature. I know we just met, gorgeous, but I’ve already fallen in love… what if this stuff actually works ? And not just on the suckers who can’t tell the difference between the sincere and the insincere, but on those who recognize these techniques for what they are… Participants in the study were asked to evaluate the merits of a new department store opening in the area based on one of the store’s advertisements. In addition to describing the new store’s offerings, the ad lauded readers for their impeccable sense of style and eye for high fashion. While participants overwhelmingly categorized the pamphlet as flattery with the ulterior motive of pushing blouses, the experimenters were more interested in how their attitudes would be influenced at the implicit level. Might participants develop a non-conscious positive association…implicit attitudes towards the store were more positive than explicit attitudes. They were also better predictors of reported likelihood of making future purchases, as well as likelihood of joining the store’s club… awareness of when we’re being put on may not be enough to curb the effectiveness of insincerity… Interesting to think about from the two systems perspective.  Qualia system is aware the flattery is superficial but it still has an effect of stirring the soup and influencing future actions

j. Google and Chinese attacks – ‘Google Reveals Chinese Espionage Effort… attack that required staggering skill and resources… remarkably sophisticated computerized espionage network originating from the country, experts say…no longer participate in government censorship of the Chinese version of its site, Google.cn, and threatened to shut down its operations in China altogether. In a blog post, David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer at Google, wrote that the decision was taken in response to a series of Internet attacks against Google and other companies, as well as covert Internet surveillance of human-rights activists…In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.” He added that the company has gathered evidence that 20 other large Internet, finance, technology, media, and chemical companies were also attacked…attackers tried to get into Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human-rights activists, Drummond said. The company believes that the efforts were not successful, but that hackers have been targeting human-rights activists based in other parts of the world through a range of hacking techniques… called the attack “highly sophisticated” because the hackers got into the heart of its database and password list. “The intellect and resources required to pull off such a surgical attack are staggering considering the defenses Google has put in place to protect digital assets,… used “social engineering” techniques to breach Google’s defenses… cyber-spying operation originating in China that was said to have targeted the Dalai Lama and other human-rights activists…start by sending users within a target network system a carefully crafted e-mail full of personal information. This isn’t the same as a spam message, he says–instead it’s “someone crafting an attack.” The attacker will attach a PDF or Word document loaded with malware that compromises the user’s computer when it’s opened…Once the attackers control one computer on a network, they branch out from there, probing other computers on the same network and raiding e-mail accounts to get more ammunition for social engineering attacks. “They’re basically tricking users into exploiting themselves,” Villeneuve says, adding that perimeter defenses are useless if attackers can trick humans into handing over information or infecting themselves…since many hacking groups operate using these tactics, Villeneuve says it can be devilishly hard to trace attacks back to their source. “We often don’t know [the exact details of attackers’] relationship with the Chinese government… Google plans to negotiate with the Chinese government over the next few weeks to see if it is possible to run a standard version of its search engine in China…

k. Google ranking tweets – ‘lgorithms judge the relevance of microblog posts containing 140 characters or less…. Google has adapted its page-ranking technology and developed new algorithmic tricks and filters to keep returns relevant… offer searchers access to brand-new blog posts and news items far faster than the five to 15 minutes…Google and Bing have also forged major deals with Twitter to get real-time access to tweets, those 140-character microblog posts sent out by Twitter members. But Google claims to offer the most comprehensive real-time results by scanning news headlines, blogs, and feeds from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other sources…Under PageRank, Google judges the importance of pages containing a given search keyword in part by looking at the pages’ link structure. The more pages that link to a page–and the more pages linking to the linkers–the more relevant the original page… key is to identify “reputed followers… You earn reputation, and then you give reputation. If lots of people follow you, and then you follow someone–then even though this [new person] does not have lots of followers… One user following another in social media is analogous to one page linking to another on the Web. Both are a form of recommendation…One problem with tweets is that people often lard them up with so-called “hashtags.” These are symbols that start with a pound sign (#) followed by a word that represents a very popular current topic, such as “Nexus One” or “Earthquake” or whatever else might be a trendy topic at the moment. When a hashtag is included in a tweet, the resulting tweet will show up when other Twitterers click the hashtag’s topic word elsewhere on the site…such tags can usefully maximize exposure of a tweet, they can also serve as red flags to lower tweet quality and attract spam-like content, Singhal says. While he wouldn’t get into details, he said Google modeled this hashtagging behavior in ways that tend to reduce the exposure of low-quality tweets. “We needed to model that [hashtagging] behavior. That is the technical challenge which we went after with our modeling approaches…both Twitter and Google hope to improve the relevance of search returns in all contexts by adding geo-location data, which can be added to postings sent from smart phones. In general, real-time search “is evolving

l. Endless war versus malware – ‘Computer security is an ever-escalating competition between so-called black-hat attackers and white-hat defenders. One of the attackers’ main tools is malicious software, known as malware, which has steadily evolved in recent years. Malware was once mainly viruses and worms, digital pests that gummed up and sometimes damaged personal computers and networks… Malware today, however, is likely to be more subtle and selective, nesting inside corporate networks… Corporations and government agencies spend billions of dollars a year on specialized security software to detect and combat malware. Still, the black hats seem to be gaining the upper hand… The financial loss from security breaches was $234,000 on average for each organization… Malware is a huge problem, and becoming a bigger one…employee awareness and training are a crucial defense. Often, malware infections are a result of high-tech twists on old-fashioned cons. One scam, for example, involves small U.S.B. flash drives, left in a company parking lot, adorned with the company logo. Curious employees pick them up, put them in their computers and open what looks like an innocuous document. In fact, once run, it is software that collects passwords and other confidential information on a user’s computer and sends it to the attackers. More advanced malware can allow an outsider to completely take over the PC and, from there, explore a company’s network… do not need to break through a company’s network defenses because a worker has unknowingly invited them inside…variation on so-called phishing schemes, in which an e-mail message purporting to be from the recipient’s bank or another institution tricks the person into giving up passwords. Scammers send such messages to thousands of people in hopes of ensnaring a few. But with so-called spear-phishing, the bogus e-mail is sent to a specific person and appears to come from a friend or colleague inside that person’s company, making it far more believable… Other techniques for going inside companies involve exploiting weaknesses in Web-site or network-routing software, using those openings as gateways for malware…combat leaks of confidential information, network security software looks for anomalies in network traffic — large files and rapid rates of data transmission, especially coming from corporate locations where confidential information is housed… Fighting computer crime is a balance of technology and behavioral science, understanding the human dimension of the threat…As cellphones become more powerful, they offer new terrain for malware to exploit in new ways. Recently, security experts have started seeing malware that surreptitiously switches on a cellphone’s microphone and camera. “It turns a smartphone into a surveillance device…Hacked cellphones, Mr. Rasch said, can also provide vital corporate intelligence because they can disclose their location. The whereabouts of a cellphone belonging to an investment banker who is representing a company in merger talks, he said, could provide telling clues to rival bidders, for example… carefully identify a corporation’s most valuable intellectual property and data, and place it on a separate computer network not linked to the Internet, leaving a so-called air gap…

m. Reading your mind to tag images – ‘EEG can be used to determine what kinds of objects you’re looking at. That information may be used to help tag images with labels…Microsoft Research is using electroencephalograph (EEG) measurements to “read” minds in order to help tag images. When someone looks at an image, different areas of their brain have different levels of activity. This activity can be measured and scientists can reasonably determine what the person is looking at. It only takes about half a second to read the brain activity associated with each image, making the EEG process much faster than traditional manual tagging. The “mind-reading” technique may be the first step towards a hybrid system of computer and human analysis for images and many other forms of data…Amazon’s Mechanical Turk offers very small payments to those who wish to tag images online. Google Image Labeler has turned the process into a game by pairing taggers to counterparts with whom they can work together… Brains and computers working in conjunction could one day provide rapid identification and decision making, even without human conscious effort… EEG image tagging process is just one of many projects that Tan and his team hope to explore in the realm of human-computer interfaces. We’ve heard from Tan before, he was one of those developing muscle-sensing input devicesResearchers could determine if someone was looking at a face or an inanimate object. They also saw good results when contrasting animals with faces, animals with inanimate objects, and some 3-way classifications (i.e. faces vs. animals vs. inanimate objects). Better results were seen with multiple users, and when each image was viewed multiple times. Surprisingly, no improvement was seen if the viewer was given more than half a second to look at each image. This means that the images could be displayed at that speed without any loss of accuracy in tagging. During the experiments, test subjects were given distracting tasks and not told to categorize the images they saw, showing that the conscious mind does not have to be engaged (and in fact, should not be used) to provide the tagging information at that speed…better means of tagging images. I can just picture the “tagging farms” now – vast rows of people sitting at computer screens looking at images while they work on other jobs. Yet the long term implications are much broader. Most other work we’ve seen with EEGs or “mind-reading” is aimed at either discerning what someone is thinking for security, or for control of computers and machines. The work discussed here is much more about using the mind itself as a machine. As brain analysis improves, we may see the human mind as a complementary worker or instructor to computer programs…

n. Trojan horses – ‘If hackers could steal those key instructions and copy them, they could easily dull the company’s competitive edge in the marketplace. More insidiously, if attackers were able to make subtle, undetected changes to that code, they could essentially give themselves secret access to everything the company and its customers did with the software…fear of someone building such a back door, known as a Trojan horse, and using it to conduct continual spying is why companies and security experts were so alarmed by Google’s disclosure last week that hackers based in China had stolen some of its intellectual property and had conducted similar assaults on more than two dozen other companies…Originally we were saying, ‘Well, whoever got it has the secret sauce to Google and some 30 other California companies, and they can replicate it,’ ” said Rick Howard, director of security intelligence at VeriSign iDefense, which helped Google investigate the Chinese attacks. “But some of the more devious folks in our outfit were saying, ‘Well, they could also insert their own code — and they probably have…Security researchers took particular interest in the fact that the Silicon Valley company Adobe Systems was one of the companies hit by the recent wave of attacks…Computer users around the globe have Adobe’s Acrobat or Reader software sitting on their machines to create or read documents, and Adobe’s Flash technology is widely used to present multimedia content on the Web and mobile phones… Acrobat is installed on about 95 percent of the machines in the world, and there have been a lot of vulnerabilities found in Flash…But McAfee, a leading software security firm, predicts that Adobe’s software will become the top target this year, as Microsoft has improved its products after years of attacks and Adobe’s software has become ubiquitous…Given the complexity of today’s software programs, which are typically written by teams of hundreds or thousands of engineers, it is virtually impossible to be perfectly confident in the security of any program, and tampering could very well go undetected…Before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, an unidentified hacker inserted secret programs into four telephone switching computers operated by the Vodafone Group, the world’s largest cellphone carrier. The programs created a clandestine tapping system that allowed unknown snoops to eavesdrop on cellphone calls and track the location of about 100 prominent Greek citizens, including then-Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, military officials, the mayor of Athens, activists and journalists… infiltration was uncovered in a government investigation after a Vodafone engineer was found dead in 2005 under suspicious circumstances…look at the source code of software at a company like Adobe or Cisco can help attackers find new ways to burrow into products before the companies can fix errors in their software. In addition, the hackers can gain insights into how to insert their own code into the software so that they can have ready access to machines down the road… example, the widespread appearance of counterfeit Cisco routers, which direct traffic on computer networks, has become a major concern in recent years…Cisco is required by law to include technology in its networking products that allows investigators to tap the hardware for information. The fear is that a country like China could sell counterfeit routers containing slightly modified software that would allow hackers to dial into the systems…Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a security education organization, said American technology companies had gotten better about protecting their most prized intellectual property by creating more complex systems for viewing and changing source code. Such systems can keep a detailed account of what tweaks have been made to a software product’

o. Some can’t see 3d tv – ‘Nor does it work for a small but significant percentage of the population4 percent to 10 percent, depending on which expert you ask. Me, and millions of people like me, are being left behind by content and hardware companies as they move to 3D…flat-viewer’s experience with 3D imagery can vary. While I find viewing 3D imagery uncomfortable, Daniel Terdiman, another person at CNET who can’t see 3D, saw the 3D version of Avatar and wore the 3D glasses. It looked fine to him, just not 3D… all the hype around 3D, the television manufacturers are not really investing much in putting products on store shelves, nor are they expecting consumers to pay for it yet…Adding the capability for televisions to display alternating images for stereoscopic viewing through electronic shutter glasses is not expensive. It’s the glasses themselves that are, and only a few 3D-capable sets actually come bundled with them. So consumers will be able to soon buy televisions ready for 3D without spending much…should be able to turn off the 3D display features and view content designed specifically for 3D but in 2D: You just show the view for only one eye. If the refresh rate of the program is high enough, you should not notice much of a difference in picture quality…inability to process stereoscopic imagery is, for many people, a treatable condition. Dr. Brad Habermehl, president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, told me, “You don’t have to be a 3D refugee if you get to the root of the problem. The majority of stereo-blind people really can be helped…methods to teach people to see in 3D. Using graduated methods and physical aids (lenses) as “training wheels,” he says, people can eventually learn how to “point both eyes to focus on the same space.” It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn, the training wheels come off and you can’t imagine not doing it…

Trojan Horses

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/technology/20code.html

Article from NYTimes about hackers leaving back doors in source code to enable continued spying.

Categories: cybersecurity

Reading your mind to tag images

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

http://singularityhub.com/2010/01/10/reading-your-mind-to-tag-images-and-work-with-computers/

Article from Singularity hub about Microsoft effort to use brain activation patterns to help make image tagging quicker and easier.

Google ranking tweets

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=24353&channel=web&section=

Article from Tech Review about how Google leverages some of the aspects of their page-rank system to determine the relevance of a tweet on Twitter.

Categories: Social Networking

Flattery will get you somewhere

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=flattery-will-get-you-far&sc=WR_20100112

Article about how flattery can effect your thoughts even when you are aware of the insincerity.

Interesting to think about from the two systems perspective.  Qualia system is aware the flattery is superficial but it still has an effect of stirring the soup and influencing future actions.

Categories: The Brain