Futurism:
this week

The details of six million Instagram users has been put up for sale

Following a breach, which was thought to have only affected a small number of celebrity accounts, hackers have provided security researchers with a sample of 10,000 Instagram accounts, and have indicated that they have data on a total of six million users.

Source: Ars Technica

Nasa astronaut Peggy Whitson logs 665 days in space

Following her return from the ISS, Peggy Whitson has clocked up the most hours spent in space of any NASA astronaut. Whitson’s 665 days off the planet – 288 days on this mission alone – exceeds that of any other American and any other woman worldwide.

Source: The Guardian

Genetic study shows how humans are evolving

A huge genetic study is underway, using DNA from 215,000 people, to pinpoint how the human genome is evolving. Interestingly, the study suggests that natural selection is getting rid of harmful genetic mutations that shorten people’s lives.

Source: Nature

Hackers gain access to power grid controls

Security firm Symantec has warned that a series of recent hacker attacks, which compromised energy companies in the US and Europe, resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid controls. The level of access the hacker acquired meant that they could have caused blackouts.

Source: Wired

Facial recognition could soon identify people with masks on

Using deep learning and a dataset of pictures of people wearing various disguises, researchers were able to train a neural network that could potentially identify masked faces with some reliability. The development means staying anonymous in public could become harder than ever before.

Source: The Verge

Hackers warn of vulnerabilities in German vote counting tech

White hat hackers from the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), a well-known hacking organisation in Germany, have claimed hackers could have manipulated the results of the upcoming election in Germany by using "trivial" attacks against a program used to count and transmit voting results.

Source: Motherboard

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC