Banning data encryption is “moronic”: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has launched scathing criticism at governmental plans to ban data encryption, arguing that encryption is both impossible to prevent and a direct result of overreaching digital surveillance.

Speaking at the IP Expo Europe event in London today, he referred to comments made earlier this year by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who asked: “in our country, do we want to allow a means of communication we cannot read? My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not’.”

“Too late, David,” Wales retorted. “It is not possible in any sense of the word for the UK to ban encryption. More to the point, it’s a moronic thing to do.”

“Human rights don’t go away just because you’re on the internet. We still have rights that governments need to respect.”

Wales said that he was not against any form of governmental access to data, pointing out that it would be reasonable for there to be certain points in to network that were accessible by governments with a court-approved warrant.

“What I’m opposed to is to have zero privacy and scan everyone’s data all the time in case we see something,” he added.

“Human rights don’t go away just because you’re on the internet. We still have rights that governments need to respect.”

However, this hasn’t stopped some governments around the world from using browsing data to arrest civilians, said Wales, citing the example of a Wikipedia editor who made edits to certain pages anonymously but was arrested and tortured for some of the information he had posted.

“It has been routine in recent years, and most cases don’t become famous.”

Image courtesy of Joi Ito. Featured image courtesy of Lane Hartwell / The Wikimedia Foundation

Image courtesy of Joi Ito. Featured image courtesy of Lane Hartwell / The Wikimedia Foundation

Ironically, the extreme attempts by governments to gain data in recent years have led to a greater move to encryption, according to Wales.

“The overreach has actually cost the security services in a legitimate sense,” he said. “Because they’ve been so ridiculous, people are moving to end to end encryption.”

He said this move meant security services were losing the ability to access data legally, giving them less data about genuine threats than they would have had if they had avoided programs such as the one made famous by the Snowden revelations.

The percentage of the internet’s data packets sent using SSL encryption has, according to Wales, increased significantly in recent years, accounting for 29.1% of traffic in April this year, and is set to grow further.

“That will change by 2016 to 64.7%,” he said, pointing out that a large part of this jump would be due to Netflix’s transition to SSL.

“All major traffic is going to be encrypted very, very soon,” he added. “And that’s a very good thing.”

School will use facial analysis to identify students who are dozing off

In September the ESG business school in Paris will begin using artificial intelligence and facial analysis to determine whether students are paying attention in class. The school says the technology will be used to improve performance of students and professors.

Source: The Verge

Company offers free training for coal miners to become wind farmers

A Chinese wind-turbine maker wants American workers to retrain and become wind farmers. The training program was announced at an energy conference in Wyoming, where the American arm of Goldwind, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer is located.

Source: Quartz

Google AI defeats human Go champion

Google's DeepMind AI AlphaGo has defeated the world's number one Go player Ke Jie. AlphaGo secured the victory after winning the second game in a three-part match. DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis said Ke Jie "pushed AlphaGo right to the limit".

Source: BBC

Vegan burgers that taste like real meat to hit Safeway stores

Beyond Meat, which promises its plant-based burgers bleed and sizzle like real ground beef and is backed by investors like Bill Gates, will begin distributing its plant-based burgers in more than 280 Safeway stores in California, Hawaii and Nevada.

Source: Bloomberg

The brain starts to eat itself after chronic sleep deprivation

Brain cells that destroy and digest worn-out cells and debris go into overdrive in mice that are chronically sleep-deprived. The discovery could explain why a chronic lack of sleep puts people at risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: New Scientist

"We can still act and it won’t be too late," says Obama

Former US President Barack Obama has written an op-ed piece in the Guardian giving his views on some of the greatest challenges facing the world – food and climate change – and what we can do about them. "We can still act and it won’t be too late," writes Obama.

Source: The Guardian

Juno mission: Jupiter’s magnetic field is even weirder than expected

It has long been known that Jupiter has the most intense magnetic field in the solar system, but the first round of results from NASA’s Juno mission has revealed that it is far stronger and more misshapen than scientists predicted.

Announcing the findings of the spacecraft’s first data-collection pass, which saw Juno fly within 2,600 miles (4,200km) of Jupiter on 27th August 2016, NASA mission scientists revealed that the planet far surpassed the expectations of models.

Measuring Jupiter’s magnetosphere using Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) tool, they found that the planet’s magnetic field is even stronger than models predicted, at 7.766 Gaus: 10 times stronger than the strongest fields on Earth.

Furthermore, it is far more irregular in shape, prompting a re-think about how it could be generated.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and magnetic field investigation lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others.

An enhanced colour view of Jupiter’s south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset. Featured image courtesy of NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

At present, scientists cannot say for certain why or how Jupiter’s magnetic field is so peculiar, but they do already have a theory: that the field is not generated from the planet’s core, but in a layer closer to its surface.

“This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen,” said Connerney.

However, with many more flybys planned, the scientists will considerable opportunities to learn more about this phenomenon, and more accurately pinpoint the bizarre magnetic field’s cause.

“Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works,” added Connerney.

With each flyby, which occurs every 53 days, the scientists are treated to a 6MB haul of newly collected information, which takes around 1.5 days to transfer back to Earth.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

A newly released image of Jupiter’s stormy south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

An unexpected magnetic field was not the only surprise from the first data haul. The mission also provided a first-look at Jupiter’s poles, which are unexpectedly covered in swirling, densely clustered storms the size of Earth.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) also threw up some surprises, with some of the planet’s belts appearing to penetrate down to its surface, while others seem to evolve into other structures. It’s a curious phenomenon, and one which the scientists hope to better explore on future flybys.

“On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Bolton.

“If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”