Flight cancelled when “Al-Quida” Wi-Fi network became available

Flight cancelled when “Al-Quida” Wi-Fi network became available
Plane taxied to a remote section of airport and was held there for three hours.
By David Kravets
Oct 27 2014
<http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/10/flight-cancelled-when-al-quida-wi-fi-network-became-available/>

A Los Angeles International Airport flight bound for London was cancelled Sunday when a passenger’s phone picked up the Wi-Fi signal “al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork” (sic) that was emanating from a fellow flier’s hotspot minutes before the United Airlines flight was set to liftoff.

After a concerned passenger notified a flight attendant of the network at about 9:30pm, the plane taxied to a remote section of the Los Angeles airport and was held there for three hours. The plane was searched as passengers of Flight 136 were ordered to power off electronic devices, local media said.

“After an hour, (the captain) said there was a security threat and that we didn’t have clearance to take off,” passenger Elliot Del Pra told ABC7.com. The person responsible for the hotspot was not discovered, LaWeekly said.

“After further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken,”LAX said in a statement. American Airlines said the flight was cancelled “out of an abundance of caution.”

It was the second time in as many months that an Internet indiscretion caused an airline scare. An American Airlines flight from Dallas to San Diego was cut short in August following a tweet that there was a bomb on a plane carrying a Sony executive.

[snip]

The Grim Future if Ebola Goes Global

The Grim Future if Ebola Goes Global
By MARYN MCKENNA
Oct 27 2014
<http://www.wired.com/2014/10/ebola-endemic/>

If you listened hard over the weekend to the chatter around the political theater of detaining a nurse returning from the Ebola zone in a tent with no heat or running water, you might have heard a larger concern expressed. It was this: What happens if this kind of punitive detention — which went far beyond what medical authorities recommend — deters aid workers from going to West Africa to help?

As a reminder, the African Ebola epidemic is still roaring in three countries; two others have contained the disease, but it has now leaked to a sixth, Mali. The case count is 10,141, with 4,922 deaths. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that if the epidemic continued on its current course, cases would hit 1.4 million by next January. Last week, Yale researchers said in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases that even current promises of international aid will not contain the epidemic — so the volunteering of medical personnel such as that nurse becomes even more important.

But what if, because of this weekend’s events, volunteers are discouraged from going to West Africa, for fear of how they will be received on return? Or what if they do go, and their efforts are still not enough?

I wanted to be sure I wasn’t over-imagining what might happen next with Ebola, if it is not contained at its source now. For a fact-check, I turned to Jody Lanard and Peter Sandman, two risk-communication experts who have been involved in most of the big epidemic threats of the past decades. (I met them, I think, in the first run-up of concern over H5N1 avian flu in 2003.)

I hoped they would tell me not to be too worried about Ebola becoming a permanent threat in West Africa. Instead, they told me to be very worried indeed.

Lanard and Sandman wrote an entire essay in response to my query to them, and they have put it up on their website (which is worth visiting as a deep resource of reasonable thinking about how to approach infectious disease). They call our refusal to engage with the depth of the epidemic in Africa, and its possible consequences for the world, “Failures of Imagination.”

Here are some things they say:

Some of the world’s top Ebola experts say they are worrying night and day about the possibility of endemic Ebola, a situation in which Ebola will continue to spread, and then presumably wax and wane repeatedly, in West Africa…

Fewer experts refer publicly to what we think must frighten them even more (and certainly frightens us even more): the prospect of Ebola sparks landing and catching unnoticed in slums like Dharavi in Mumbai or Orangi Town in Karachi – or perhaps Makoko in Lagos.

[snip]

Snowden document isn’t proof of telco-spy deal, says UK agency as it squashes privacy complaint

Snowden document isn’t proof of telco-spy deal, says UK agency as it squashes privacy complaint
By David Meyer
Oct 27 2014
<https://gigaom.com/2014/10/27/snowden-document-isnt-proof-of-telco-spy-deal-says-uk-agency-as-it-squashes-privacy-complaint/>

SUMMARY:
Privacy International has failed in an attempt to get the OECD to censure multinational telecoms firms that reportedly helped UK spy agency GCHQ engage in mass surveillance around the world.

Last year the campaign group Privacy International tried to complain to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) about telecom companies – such as BT and Vodafone – being over-helpful to the British spy agency GCHQ in its mass surveillance efforts.

That attempt just failed. On Monday, the OECD’s U.K. national contact point (NCP), an agency run out of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, rejected the complaint because the only piece of evidence connecting the telcos with mass surveillance activities around the world — a presentation leaked by Edward Snowden and reported on by a German newspaper — didn’t provide sufficient proof of OECD guidelines being broken.

Snowden-derived presentation

The report in question came from Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung in August last year. It listed the codenames for carriers – BT, Verizon Business, Vodafone Cable, Global Crossing, Level 3, Viatel and Interoute – that work with GCHQ’s “special source” team as part of British surveillance schemes called Tempora and Mastering The Internet.

Privacy International (PI) used this article as a basis for its complaint to the OECD, saying that the companies had broken OECD guidelines that say multinationals must respect human rights, principally the right to privacy.

The OECD’s U.K. NCP conceded on Monday that the British government had “generally acknowledged” carrying out interceptions, that the privacy issues raised by this are relevant to the OECD guidelines, that Süddeutsche Zeitung saw the PowerPoint presentation it claimed to have seen, and that it had reason to trust Snowden as a source.

However, the NCP noted that the presentation “is reported to be an internal document and not a contract or other type of agreement” and said the agency “does not consider that this information substantiates a link between the activities of the enterprises identified and the issue raised.”

PI deputy director Eric King responded in a statement:

In collaborating with GCHQ in providing access to their networks, and receiving payment for their co-operation, the companies have knowingly contributed to the human rights violations that subsequently occurred. It is shameful that the Government refuses to hold companies accountable, especially by using a weak argument that the Snowden documents are not sufficient evidence of the cooperation between telecommunication companies and UK intelligence services.

[snip]

Scorpion

Note:  This item comes from friend John McMullen.  This all is in reference to the CBS TV show ‘Scorpion’.  DLH]

From: “‘John F. McMullen’ johnmac13@gmail.com [johnmacsgroup]” <johnmacsgroup@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [johnmacsgroup] Scorpion
Date: October 27, 2014 at 0:00:46 EDT

This seems to say that it is all true –
<http://www.scorpioncomputerservices.com/the_founder.html>

Walter O’Brien (hacker name: “Scorpion”) was diagnosed as a child prodigy with an IQ of 197 and at 13 years old started his company ScorpionComputerServices.com. Scorpion has mitigated risk for 7 years on $1.9 trillion of investments and has invented and applied Artificial Intelligence engines to protect United States war fighters in Afghanistan. Scorpion is now a think tank for hire that provides intelligence on demand as a concierge service for funded challenges throughConciergeUp.com. Since 1988, Scorpion’s team of world class experts partner with clients on a global basis, across industries, to add real measurable value in mission-critical initiatives from planning, to execution, to running the business. Scorpion’s senior management has a collective knowledge of more than 413 technologies, 210 years in IT, and 1,360 projects. Scorpion himself has created over 177 unique technology inventions including ScenGen and WinLocX and is one of the world’s leading experts in the application of computer science and artificial intelligence to solve complex industry challenges.

Scorpion was born and raised in Ireland, and at 16, ranked first in national high speed computer problem solving competitions. At 18, he competed in the World Olympics in Informatics and has ranked as high as the sixth fastest programmer in the world. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence with honors from Sussex University in the United Kingdom. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has certified Scorpion as being of National Interest to the United States economy and granted him an Extraordinary Ability EB 1-1 Visa (also granted to Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill). Scorpion is a frequent public speaker for IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and teaches as a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world’s largest idea-stage incubator, which has helped launch over 1129 companies across 33 countries. Scorpion has worked with the world’s largest mutual fund company, Fujitsu, Microsoft-Trados, Oracle Corporation, Baltimore Technologies, and Critical Path. Walter currently serves as chairman or board member for Indi.com, Strike Force Solutions,TalentorumAlliance, Lawloop, Pantheon Energy and previously has served on the boards of companies such as American Environmental Energy, Starglobe and Toin Corp. In addition, Scorpion is frequently called on by news media, the government and the federal court system for his technology expertise.

[snip]

————————

And this says not. — <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141004/07211128727/mythical-almost-certainly-made-up-legend-walter-obrien-continues-to-grow.shtml>

The Mythical And Almost Certainly Made Up ‘Legend’ Of Walter O’Brien Continues To Grow
from the make-it-stop-already dept
By Mike Masnick
Oct 6 2014
<https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141004/07211128727/mythical-almost-certainly-made-up-legend-walter-obrien-continues-to-grow.shtml>

A few weeks ago, we wrote about “Walter O’Brien,” the guy who is supposed to be the basis of the CBS TV show Scorpion. The problem we had was that O’Brien made a ton of absolutely fantastical claims and, after doing a little fact checking, none of them seemed to check out. At all. Since a few people brought this up, let me make it clear: I have no issue with exaggerating on a TV show for the sake of good entertainment. I don’t even mind bogus claims like “based on a true story” because, hey, Fargo was pretty awesome. If that’s all that was going on, it wouldn’t be a big deal and everyone could get on with their lives. 

What concerns me about the bogus Walter O’Brien story is twofold: (1) Gullible reporters simply repeat his claims without even the slightest bit of skepticism, which is just shameful reporting and (2) O’Brien and his friends aren’t just making a TV show: they’re trying to spin the TV show (which, as far as we can tell has close to no basis in reality) into a way to promote O’Brien’s “business” with claims that are wholly unbelievable — in that, literally, I don’t think most of the claims are true. It worries me that some people will take the TV show’s inflated claims at face value and think that throwing gobs of money O’Brien’s way will get them the clearly exaggerated solutions the show is pitching. 

Last week, O’Brien appeared with Scorpion producer (and Justin Bieber manager) Scooter Braun at the “Techmanity”* conference in San Jose, and I went to the show hoping to talk to O’Brien and/or the producers of the show to see if they could help clear up the inconsistencies in his story (many of which we detailed in the original post). Instead, despite multiple requests, I was denied an opportunity to interview them before or afterward. They did appear to show up right before going on stage, and then I was told they had to leave immediately after (though, at least one other conference attendee posted a selfie with O’Brien well over an hour after O’Brien got off stage). Despite the agenda specifically promising a Q&A with O’Brien and multiple producers, there was no Q&A (and those other producers weren’t even there). A microphone stand that had been present for Q&A during earlier sessions was removed prior to the panel, so it was clear that there was no intention of a Q&A at all. 

Instead, there were just more questionable claims from O’Brien, on a panel moderated by Fast Company’s Chuck Salter, an “award winning”reporter who didn’t seem interested in challenging a single claim from O’Brien, taking them all at face value. Fast Company, which co-produced the conference, and thus, perhaps, had business reasons for suppressing all skepticism, also wrote a big article again repeating the O’Brien myth, though that article appears to have been dropped behind a paywall.

O’Brien tells some of the same stories he’s told before — claiming the company only hires people with IQs over 150 and that people with high IQs have “low EQs” and they try to help them on that front. This leaves aside the whole fact that the concept of “EQ” is pretty questionable in the first place and that even IQ is a pretty limited and misleading tool, which may be useful for determining some innate problem solving skills in kids, but means little once they reach adulthood. Once you’re an adult, however, IQ is somewhat meaningless. That doesn’t stop O’Brien from continuing to assert that he has an IQ of 197, and multiple publications to claim that he’s either the “fourth smartest man” in the world or has the “fourth highest IQ ever recorded.” 

As we noted in our original post, there is no public evidence that O’Brien actually even has such an IQ, let alone that it’s the 4th highest ever recorded. In his Reddit AMA, Walter admits that the “4th highest” claim comes from just getting a 197 (still no proof shown) and using this table on the distribution of IQ to assume that he must be the 4th because a 197 IQ only should occur in 1 out of every 1.5 billion people, and then he estimated based on the number of people on the planet. Of course, for someone with such a high IQ, that shows a surprising lack of understanding how IQ actually works. He also notes that he took the Stanford-Binet IQ test, though he doesn’t say when. If it was while he was a child (as suggested by his claim to have been “diagnosed” as a “child prodigy”) then it’s likely he took an earlier version of the Stanford-Binet test — either the SBIV or the L-M, depending on when he took the exam. It seems noteworthy that modern research has noted that scales on the results of those two versions of the test should equal lowerscores on the current SB5. The 197 score (assuming it’s true), strongly suggests he took the L-M, which used a ratio scoring system, as opposed to the IV, which was standardized. As such, it also would mean that using the deviation chart Walter uses would be inaccurate, since the ratio score wasn’t based on the same scoring system (you’d think someone with such a high IQ would recognize that). And, about all that would suggest was that, at a young age, he was likely far ahead of his peers, but that’s about it. Either way, the whole “4th smartest man” in the world claim is clearly ridiculous. 

[snip]

Fed up, US cities take steps to build better broadband

Fed up, US cities take steps to build better broadband
Increasingly, cities control their broadband future—with both low- and high-tech methods.
By Jon Brodkin
Oct 27 2014
<http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/10/fed-up-us-cities-try-to-build-better-broadband/>

City and town governments aren’t typically known for leading the way on technology. Remember that West Virginia library that uses a $20,000 router for a building the size of a trailer?

But all that’s changing fast—and the demand for broadband is what’s driving this shift. No longer content to let residents suffer from poor Internet access, cities and towns saw a need to boost their tech savvy. Now many are partnering with technologists in order to take matters into their own hands.

While some municipalities have taken on the extraordinarily complex task of building their own networks, others have succeeded with lower-tech methods. Streamlining permitting processes and readying public infrastructure has helped some draw in new ISPs such as Google Fiber. Other cities and towns are taking advantage of legal processes to pressure incumbents into offering better and cheaper service. And still other cities are laying fiber conduits every time construction workers dig up the ground for unrelated projects, allowing quicker upgrades from cable and copper. In all these ways, cities and towns are showing that smart management can be just as important as high-tech systems when it comes to making broadband accessible and affordable to everyone.

“Hundreds [of cities and towns] have done something already and hundreds more are evaluating it now and are likely to take action,” Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told Ars. “I think thousands recognize a need but aren’t committed yet.”

Driving fiber fervor

It’s been obvious for years how important Internet access is in modern life and business. But a few new factors have helped convince municipalities that they have to take action now or risk being left behind.

Google Fiber has had an impact far beyond the few cities where it actually exists. “Google gives something credibility. I think all the cities that are not going to get Google investments are recognizing that they need to do something,” Mitchell said.

Besides the Google effect, growing frustration over a lack of competition is fueling city efforts, with the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger having “set off alarm bells in recognizing that things are getting worse in terms of monopoly,” according to Mitchell.

More than 1,100 cities applied for Google Fiber in 2010, but only Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah were successful.

[snip]

Re: Elon Musk Compares Rogue Artificial Intelligence to Demons. Yes, Really

[Note:  This comment comes from a reader of Dave Farber's IP List.  DLH]

From: Whitfield Diffie <whitfield.diffie@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Elon Musk Compares Rogue Artificial Intelligence to Demons. Yes, Really
Date: October 26, 2014 at 18:48:21 EDT
To: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne@warpspeed.com>
Cc: IP <ip@listbox.com>

… according to Musk, A.I. was as dangerous as nuclear war. Now Musk
is likening the possible battle between humans and computers in the
future, …

I don’t see much “future” about it; it seems to me that the
confrontation with machines is the most important phenomenon of the
era and that so far, humans are losing.  There are two major fronts:
employment and control.

Unlike earlier tools, such devices as ATMs and automated gas pumps
function pretty much like the people they replace and outright replace
people.

Control is more subtle and to me more threatening.  We have no
analog of Asimov’s law that robots must obey people.  Machines tell
people what to do at all the time, from cars that won’t start unless
the clutch is in to elevators that won’t close their doors until they
think they have waited long enough, no matter how much hurry their
human passengers are in.  Some of these controls are cheered by many
as a means whereby other people (often property owners or employers)
can exercise legitimate control over others but many are in the name
of more abstract notions like safety or decency or ethics.

Unfortunately for the prospects of any campaign against this
trend, it is an extension of a very old one.  Locks control human
behavior and go back to
pharaonic Egypt.

Whit