GeekSpeak for 2016-04-02

Tay Tweets on FBI’s Phone Via Roller Coaster

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Long, long virtual coaster, bad names for computers, AT&T wants CA $$, AI get’s racist, and more geek news of the week.

‘Rollercoaster Tycoon' Sadist Creates 210 Day-Long Hell Coaster

But at least one user is focusing on building coasters so slow, that take so long to complete, passengers would starve to death well before they reached the finish. One unnamed user recently posted his latest creation to 8chan. Named “Kairos – The Slow,” the coaster would theoretically take 210 real-life days and 3,000 years of in-game time to complete.

These unlucky people have names that break computers

Jennifer Null’s husband had warned her before they got married that taking his name could lead to occasional frustrations in everyday life. She knew the sort of thing to expect – his family joked about it now and again, after all. And sure enough, right after the wedding, problems began.

AT&T Wants $100 Million From California Taxpayers For Aging DSL

AT&T is asking California taxpayers to give them $100 million so that AT&T can provide several parts of the state with unreliable, slow and expensive DSL service. As Steve Blum’s blog notes, under Assembly Bill 2130 (written by AT&T lobbyists), AT&T would receive $100 million from state taxpayers. In return, AT&T would only need to provide 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload and would have little to no oversight over whether the $100 million is even being used for the DSL service.

Assembly bill 2130 was rewritten by AT&T lobbyists and re-introduced last week — Source

Tay, the neo-Nazi millennial chatbot, gets autopsied

Microsoft has apologized for the conduct of its racist, abusive machine learning chatbot, Tay. The bot, which was supposed to mimic conversation with a 19-year-old woman over Twitter, Kik, and GroupMe, was turned off less than 24 hours after going online because she started promoting Nazi ideology and harassing other Twitter users.

Apple likely can’t force FBI to disclose how it got data from seized iPhone

The US government isn’t saying whether it will divulge to Apple the method it used to access the locked iPhone seized by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The iPhone has been at the center of a bitter dispute between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But that legal battle—in which a judge last month had ordered Apple to write code to assist the authorities in unlocking the phone—came to a seemingly abrupt halt late Monday when the government said it “successfully accessed the data” on the phone without Apple’s assistance.

Engineers Break Record for High-Speed Fiber Data Transfer

While today’s fiber-optic networks are capable of supporting our Netflix and YouTube streaming demand, virtual reality and 4K video could place a strain on the system. But researchers are already finding ways to meet a future of increasingly big data: Engineers at the University of Illinois have set a new record for fiber-optic data transmission, breaking previous theories that fiber optics have a limit in how much data they can carry.

The engineers transmitted 57Gbps of error-free data at room temperature. The group, led by Professor Milton Feng, improved on its previous work in 2014, when it achieved 40Gbps. The keywords here are “error free,” which is what makes this research unique from other that claim faster speeds.

Saturn's Moons and Rings May Be Younger Than the Dinosaurs

“So the question arises — what caused the recent birth of the inner moons?” Cuk said in the statement.  “Our best guess is that Saturn had a similar collection of moons before, but their orbits were disturbed by a special kind of orbital resonance involving Saturn’s motion around the sun. Eventually, the orbits of neighboring moons crossed, and these objects collided. From this rubble, the present set of moons and rings formed.”

Stealthy malware targeting air-gapped PCs leaves no trace of infection

USB Thief gets its name because it spreads on USB thumb and hard drives and steals huge volumes of data once it has taken hold. Unlike previously discovered USB-born malware, it uses a series of novel techniques to bind itself to its host drive to ensure it can’t easily be copied and analyzed. It uses a multi-staged encryption scheme that derives its key from the device ID of the USB drive. A chain of loader files also contains a list of file names that are unique to every instance of the malware. Some of the file names are based on the precise file content and the time the file was created. As a result, the malware won’t execute if the files are moved to a drive other than the one chosen by the original developers.

Japanese AI Writes Novel, Passes First Round for Literary Prize

For the past few years, the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award has technically been open to non-human applicants (specifically, “AI programs and others”). This year was the first time the award committee received submissions that were written by AI programs. All in all, 11 out of the 1,450 submissions were written at least partially by non-humans. “I was surprised at the work because it was a well-structured novel. But there are still some problems [to overcome] to win the prize, such as character descriptions,” said Satoshi Hase, a Japanese science fiction novelist who was part of the press conference surrounding the award.