Microsoft hits back at Google’s approach to security patches

Microsoft’s Windows security team haven’t been happy with Google for the past year. While the pair are bitter rivals for a number of different reasons, Google disclosed a major Windows bug before Microsoft was ready to patch it last year. It irritated the company so much that Windows chief Terry Myerson authored a blog post criticizing Google for not disclosing security vulnerabilities responsibly. That resentment still remains today.

Microsoft discovered a remote Chrome vulnerability last month and is now demonstrating what it feels is responsible disclosure. In a new blog post, Microsoft’s Windows security team outlines a remote code execution issue in Chrome, and criticizes Google’s approach to security patches. “We responsibly disclosed the vulnerability that we discovered along with a reliable remote code execution exploit to Google on September 14, 2017,” explains Jordan Rabet, a Microsoft Offensive Security Research team member. Google patched the problem within a week in its beta versions of Chrome, but the stable and public channel “remained vulnerable for nearly a month.”

That wouldn’t normally be an issue for most software patches, but Microsoft criticizes Google’s approach of making the source code for the fix available on Github ahead of the stable channel fix. That gave attackers a month to discover the flaw. Rabet calls it “problematic when the vulnerabilities are made known to attackers ahead of the patches being made available.”

Despite these jabs, Microsoft’s long and detailed blog post is more about reminding the industry about its position on disclosing security patches. Microsoft takes the opportunity, more than once, to point out that it disclosed the Chrome bug privately, and that it will continue to do this to promote its approach across the industry.

Google has been criticized for its approach to vulnerability disclosures, allowing engineers to disclose details seven days after they’re reported to vendors. The search giant regularly finds and discloses security issues in Microsoft’s software, and occasionally publishes details before products are patched. It’s this approach that has angered Microsoft so much, and it’s clear the company will take any opportunity to call Google out on it.


Walking could lower mortality risk in those who struggle to meet activity guidelines

walking New research suggests that walking could be enough to lower the risk of mortality even in those who fail to meet the recommended activity levels. (SolStock/

New U.S. research suggests that walking could be enough to lower the risk of mortality even in those who fail to meet the recommended activity levels.

Public health guidelines recommend adults take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

However, surveys show only half of U.S. adults meet this recommendation. We are even less likely to exercise as we age, with only 42% of those aged 65-74 years and 28% of those aged 75 years and older meeting the minimum requirements.

The new research now suggests that walking could have a beneficial effect on mortality when compared to inactivity.

Several studies have already linked overall moderate-vigorous physical activity to a reduced risk of death, however few have looked at a link specifically with walking, the most common type of physical activity.

Walking has also been associated with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and breast and colon cancers.

Foe the new study the researchers gathered data from nearly 140,000 participants.

A small percentage (6-7%) reported doing no moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.

Around 95% of the other participants reported some walking, and nearly half reported that walking was their only form of moderate-vigorous physical activity.

After taking into account other risk factors for mortality, including smoking, obesity, and chronic conditions, the study found walking-only with no other physical activity, for less than 2 hours per week, was linked with lower all-cause mortality compared to no activity at all.

Meeting 1 to 2 times the minimum recommendation of physical activity (2.5-5 hours/week) through walking-only was associated with 20% lower mortality risk, with similar results found for those who met and exceeded the recommendations.

Walking-only appeared to have the greatest effect on risk of death from respiratory disease, reducing the risk by around 35% in those who walked for more than 6 hours/week when compared to the least active group.

Walking-only was also associated with about 20% less risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and with about 9 percent less risk of cancer mortality.

“Walking has been described as the ‘perfect exercise’ because it is simple, free, convenient, doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and can be done at any age,” said Dr. Patel. “With the near doubling of adults aged 65 and older expected by 2030, clinicians should encourage patients to walk even if less than the recommended amount, especially as they age, for health and longevity.”

The study can be found published online in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Warmer oceans set to hit global marine diversity: Scientists

As the oceans get warmer, fish, which seem to be better predators in warmer waters, will extend their range from the equator to feed in colder latitudes where the number of large invertebrates is higher.

Warmer oceans set to hit global marine diversity: Scientists

Sydney: Climate change and warmer oceans are likely to change reef ecosystems worldwide, reducing the diversity of invertebrates such as crabs, lobsters and sea urchins, Australian scientists have revealed.

As the oceans get warmer, fish, which seem to be better predators in warmer waters, will extend their range from the equator to feed in colder latitudes where the number of large invertebrates is higher, Australia’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies said in a statement on Thursday.

The findings were made using data collected by a research team under the institute, which is based at the University of Tasmania, reports Xinhua news agency.

“As fish extend their range further from the equator with warming water, their advantage as predators will affect the abundance and diversity of large mobile invertebrates,” the institute quoted the study’s lead author, professor Graham Edgar, as saying.

“Broad changes will likely spread across the ecosystem, affecting human activities such as fishing.”

The “tropicalisation” of marine life is already happening in southeastern Australia and Tasmania, “but similar effects have not yet been detected in New Zealand”, he said.

The southern island state of Tasmania exports much of Australia’s seafood, including crustacean and mollusc products, to Asian consumers, industry figures showed.

AI WARNING: Robots will be SMARTER than humans by 2045, Google boss says

ARTIFICIAL Intelligence (AI) will exceed human intelligence by 2045 in a sci-fi future outlined by one of Google’s high-ranking chiefs.

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering, has maintained his view over the years that AI will reach human intelligence by 2029, but now the search engine expert has said machines will exceed humans intelligence 16 years following that.

The point where robots become smarter than humans is known as the ‘singularity’, and that is a little less than two decades away, say experts.

The year 2045 will be where AI comes into its own and become the most intelligent species on the planet, according to Mr Kurzweil.

He told Futurism: “2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence.

Ray Kurzweil made the claims
“I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.”

Mr Kurzweil has also said that the process is already underway, and soon humans will begin merging with machines.

The Google boss said the process is already underway and our reliance on smartphones is just the beginning of the dawn of us becoming part machine.

Mr Kurzweil said at a recent SXSW event: “That leads to computers having human intelligence, our putting them inside our brains, connecting them to the cloud, expanding who we are. Today, that’s not just a future scenario.

“We’re going to get more neocortex, we’re going to be funnier, we’re going to be better at music.”
Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil on “immortality”
Play Video

“It’s here, in part, and it’s going to accelerate.

“What’s actually happening is [machines] are powering all of us.

“They’re making us smarter. They may not yet be inside our bodies, but, by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud.

The Jobs Robots Are Already Stealing From Humans
Fri, February 17, 2017

CHEF: A start-up called Moley Robotics has invented a 100% automated, intelligent robot chef. The cooking automaton can learn recipes and techniques, whip up gourmet meals and even clean up after itself. GETTY IMAGES1 of 9
CHEF: A start-up called Moley Robotics has invented a 100% automated, intelligent robot chef. The cooking automaton can learn recipes and techniques, whip up gourmet meals and even clean up after itself.
CHEF: A start-up called Moley Robotics has invented a 100% automated, intelligent robot chef. The cooking automaton can learn recipes and techniques, whip up gourmet meals and even clean up after itself.
SECURITY GUARD: Robotic security guards are already patrolling businesses. Knightscope’s K5 robot constantly monitors its surroundings for suspicious behaviour and can detect potentially criminal ‘audio events’ such as glass breaking or people screaming.
RETAIL SALES ASSOCIATE: Nestle uses Pepper robots to sell Dolce Gusto coffee pods and machines in department stores in Japan, as well as answer customer queries.
SOLDIERS: Weaponized drones have taken the place of hundreds of soldiers in combat situations, the US Army has used the technology extensively in the ongoing ‘War on Terror’.
SURGEON: Surgical robots are already taking over the operating theater. Da Vinci launched its range of operating robots in 2000, they have since performed two million procedures.
FACTORY WORKER: Earlier this year Apple and Samsung supplier Foxconn replaced 60,000 employees with robots, and China’s Everwin Precision Technology is in the process of replacing 90% of its factory workforce with automatons.
TAKEOUT DRIVERS: Online delivery service Just Eat have already started to deliver orders using a robot. The self-driving robots, which have been engineered by Anglo-Estonian company Starship Technologies, are fitted with GPS to navigate the capital’s fare
“We’re going to get more neocortex, we’re going to be funnier, we’re going to be better at music. We’re going to be sexier.

“We’re really going to exemplify all the things that we value in humans to a greater degree.”

How to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch
By Mike Wuerthele
Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 10:54 am PT (01:54 pm ET)

Starting with macOS Sierra and above, Apple implemented the ability to unlock your Mac when you are in proximity, and wearing your Apple Watch. Sounds simple enough —but there are a few pre-requisites to fulfill before it works reliably. AppleInsider spells it all out.


When we initially tried this out at launch, we weren’t careful about the specs. The features requires an Apple Watch with watchOS 3 or later (which we had), and macOS Sierra (which we had) running on a mid-2013 or newer Mac (we had a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro).

Plus, there’s a new requirement. If you have a Series 3 Apple Watch, your Mac must not only be mid-2013 or newer, but must also be running High Sierra.

All of this seems obvious —but even advanced users sometimes get tripped up by the simple stuff.

Two-factor authentication

Two-step verification has been deprecated by Apple, and is no longer recommended. In fact, most Apple services require two-factor authentication now, so if you haven’t switched over, now’s the time.

Consider, though, that if you have older devices, like a second- or third-generation Apple TV or Mac stuck on an older system by accident or design, you’ll have to append a six-digit code at the end of your iCloud password to authenticate the device in the future. You’ll get prompts, but it’s still a pain.

If this isn’t an issue, or you don’t care, then:

On your Mac:

In System Preferences, open up iCloud
Select “Account Details”
Click “Security”
Click “Turn on Two-Factor Authentication”

And/or on your iPhone:

Open Settings
Tap on your iCloud account
Tap on “Password and Security”
Tap “Turn on Two-Factor Authentication”

Setting pre-requisites

Make sure your Mac has Bluetooth and wi-fi on. Also, verify that your Mac and your Apple Watch are signed into iCloud with the same Apple ID. Your Mac must not be using internet sharing to other devices.

Obviously, auto log-in on your Mac must be disabled and a password must be set. If you haven’t set one, best passcode practices suggest it not be the same as your connected iPhone’s.

Your Apple Watch must also have a passcode —otherwise the whole procedure fails.

One last step

In the Security & Privacy control panel, select Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.

Among brainy sea creatures, killer whales are some of the smartest
Dolphins and whales with the largest brains for their size do the highest-level thinking.

Big-brained cetaceans, such as the sperm whale, show sophisticated behaviors, including babysitting. (David Loh/Reuters)
October 17 at 5:53 PM
Whales and dolphins — both members of the cetacean family — are among the brainiest beings. Scientists have now identified differences among them that are tied to relative brain size.

A study of 90 cetacean species published Monday found that those with larger brains exhibit more complex social structures and behaviors, with the killer whale and the sperm whale leading the way.

Dolphins and whales “are extremely playful; they learn from each other, have complex communication,” said biologist Susanne Shultz of the University of Manchester in Britain. “One problem for understanding just how smart they are is how difficult it is to observe them and to understand their marine world. Therefore, we have only a glimpse of what they are capable of.”

Researchers created a database of brain size, social structures and cultural behaviors across cetacean species. The group of species with the largest brain relative to body size were large dolphins, such as the killer whale and the pilot whale, Shultz said. Killer whales’ food preferences are one of their complex behaviors.

Other big-brained cetaceans also show sophisticated behaviors. Mother sperm whales, for example, organize babysitting duties to protect their young while they hunt for food. Bottlenose dolphins use sea sponges to protect their beaks while foraging for food, and they live in structured communities.

Some of the largest cetaceans — including the blue whale — were on the low end of relative brain size.

— Reuters

Scientists report first detection of gravitational waves produced by colliding neutron stars
A cosmic sound-and-light show
October 16, 2017

Astronomers detect gravitational waves and a gamma-ray burst from two colliding neutron stars. (credit: National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet)

Scientists reported today (Oct. 16, 2017) the first simultaneous detection of both gravitational waves and light — an astounding collision of two neutron stars.

The discovery was made nearly simultaneously by three gravitational-wave detectors, followed by observations by some 70 ground- and space-based light observatories.

Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known to exist and are formed when massive stars explode in supernovas.

MIT | Neutron Stars Collide

As these neutron stars spiraled together, they emitted gravitational waves that were detectable for about 100 seconds. When they collided, a flash of light in the form of gamma rays was emitted and seen on Earth about two seconds after the gravitational waves. In the days and weeks following the smashup, other forms of light, or electromagnetic radiation — including X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio waves — were detected.

The stars were estimated to be in a range from around 1.1 to 1.6 times the mass of the sun, in the mass range of neutron stars. A neutron star is about 20 kilometers, or 12 miles, in diameter and is so dense that a teaspoon of neutron star material has a mass of about a billion tons.

The initial gamma-ray measurements, combined with the gravitational-wave detection, provide confirmation for Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which predicts that gravitational waves should travel at the speed of light. The observations also reveal signatures of recently synthesized material, including gold and platinum, solving a decades-long mystery of where about half of all elements heavier than iron are produced.

Georgia Tech | The Collision of Two Neutron Stars (audible frequencies start at ~25 seconds)

“This detection has genuinely opened the doors to a new way of doing astrophysics,” said Laura Cadonati, professor of physics at Georgia Tech and deputy spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. I expect it will be remembered as one of the most studied astrophysical events in history.”

In the weeks and months ahead, telescopes around the world will continue to observe the afterglow of the neutron star merger and gather further evidence about various stages of the merger, its interaction with its surroundings, and the processes that produce the heaviest elements in the universe.

The research was published today in Physical Review Letters and in an open-access paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.


KurzweilAI has assembled this timeline of the observations from various reports:

About 130 million years ago: Two neutron stars are in their final moments of orbiting each other, separated only by about 300 kilometers (200 miles) and gathering speed while closing the distance between them. As the stars spiral faster and closer together, they stretch and distort the surrounding space-time, giving off energy in the form of powerful gravitational waves, before smashing into each other. At the moment of collision, the bulk of the two neutron stars merge into one ultradense object, emitting a “fireball” of gamma rays.
Aug. 17, 2017, 12∶41:04 ET: Virgo detector in Pisa, Italy picks up a new strong “chirp” gravitational wave signal, designated GW170817. The LIGO detector in Livingston, Louisiana detects the signal just 22 milliseconds later, then the twin LIGO detector in Hanford, Washington, 3 milliseconds after that. Based on the signal duration (about 100 minutes) and the signal frequencies, scientists at the three facilities conclude it’s likely from neutron stars — not from more massive black holes (as in the previously three gravitational wave detections). And based on the signal strengths and timing between the three detectors, scientists are able to precisely triangulate the position in the sky. (The most precise gravitational-wave detection so far.)
1.7 seconds later: NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the European INTEGRAL satellite detect a gamma-ray burst (GRB) lasting nearly 2 seconds from the same general direction of sky. Both the Fermi and LIGO teams quickly alert astronomers around the world to search for an afterglow.
Hours later: Armed with these precise coordinates, a handful of observatories around the world starts searching the region of the sky where the signal was thought to originate. A new point of light, resembling a new star, is found by optical telescopes first. Known as a “kilonova,” it’s a phenomenon by which the material that is left over from the neutron star collision, which glows with light, is blown out of the immediate region and far out into space.
Days and weeks following: About 70 observatories on the ground and in space observe the event at various longer wavelengths (starting at gamma and then X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and ending up at radio wave frequencies).
In the weeks and months ahead: Telescopes around the world will continue to observe the radio-wave afterglow of the neutron star merger and gather further evidence about various stages of the merger, its interaction with its surroundings, and the processes that produce the heaviest elements in the universe.
“Multimessenger” astronomy

Caltech’s David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory puts the observations in context: “This detection opens the window of a long-awaited ‘multimessenger’ astronomy. It’s the first time that we’ve observed a cataclysmic astrophysical event in both gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves — our cosmic messengers. Gravitational-wave astronomy offers new opportunities to understand the properties of neutron stars in ways that just can’t be achieved with electromagnetic astronomy alone.”

caltech | Variety of Gravitational Waves and a Chirp (audible sound for GW170817 starts ~30 seconds)

B. P. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration), “GW170817: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Neutron Star Inspiral,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 161101 (2017).
B. P. Abbott et al. Gravitational Waves and Gamma-Rays from a Binary Neutron Star Merger: GW170817 and GRB 170817A.The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Oct. 16, 2017 (open access)
A Century of Gravitational Waves, Astronomy Magazine, February 11, 2016 (free e-book)
Topics: Physics/Cosmology