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This Google A.I. Can Guess a Photo's Location Better Than Humans Can

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There are lots of ways to figure out where a photo was taken. From architecture to wildlife to clothing styles, we've been conditioned to recognize certain clues that might indicate the location of a scene. Now Google has developed a new A.I. system that can outperform humans in this area using only the visual information in a picture.

According to MIT Technology Review, the new neural network, dubbed PlaNet, was fed 2.3 million images from Flickr to test its capabilities. By looking at the pixels in each image, the system was able to determine the picture's country of origin 28.4 percent of the time and the continent with a success rate of 48 percent. 

Instead of using GPS data, the software bases its guesses off a vast database of geotagged images collected from the Internet. It's even able to discern the location of images with no obvious clues, like those taken of objects indoors, by comparing them to other photos in the same album.  

The team behind the project says this database gives PlaNet a leg up over its human competitors, because it has seen and gathered data from more places on Earth than one person could ever possibly visit. This idea was supported when the program went head-to-head against 10 well-traveled individuals to see who could recognize the most locations. The A.I. beat out the human team in 28 of the 50 rounds. If you want see how your location recognition abilities stack up against PlaNet, you can play the Geoguessr game online. 

This new software is an exciting development in Google's artificial intelligence technology, which is already able to generate automatic email responses and produce some insane-looking artwork. And what's even more impressive about PlaNet is that it works without taking up too much memory. The program requires just 337 megabytes to run, which is small enough to fit on a smartphone.

[h/t MIT Technology Review]

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Use Wi-Fi? Your Device Is at Risk in the Latest Security Breach
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Another day, another way our personal data is being compromised. This time, the latest threat to your credit card numbers, social security information, and other personal data comes from a more-than-ubiquitous source: your Wi-Fi.

As Ars Technica and The Independent report, a computer security researcher has discovered a major issue with Wi-Fi that can be used to decrypt your data. The vulnerability is the result of weakness in the WPA2 protocol that secures modern Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can steal sensitive data that has been decrypted a method called KRACK, or Key Reinstallation Attacks. While we can't know yet if hackers have actually taken advantage of the vulnerability, its existence puts every Wi-Fi-enabled device at risk.

“If your device supports Wi-Fi, it is most likely affected,” Mathy Vanhoef, the Belgium-based researcher who discovered the exploit, said. That means your phone, your computer, and even your Wi-Fi light bulbs. The hacker only needs to be within range of your Wi-Fi—not logged into your network—to take advantage of it and steal your data. However, Ars Technica reports that Android and Linux users are more vulnerable to severe attacks than Windows or iOS users.

What should I do to protect myself?

Unfortunately, changing your passwords won’t help this time around. All you can do is wait for security updates for your devices. In the meantime, treat every Wi-Fi connection like it’s the public network at Starbucks. As in, don’t go sharing all your personal data. You can make yourself safer by using a VPN. According to cybersecurity expert Robert Graham, these kind of attacks can’t defeat VPNs.

Most companies will no doubt be releasing security patches to fix this issue ASAP, so keep a look out for any available updates.

[h/t The Independent]

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Dubai Plans to Outfit Police Force With Hoverbikes
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Dubai is home to plenty of flashy fashion and architecture, and it has over-the-top police gear to match. The department already is outfitted with some of the fastest cars on the streets, including a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. Now, Autoblog reports that police officers in the United Arab Emirates city are getting hoverbikes to access hard-to-reach places.

The bikes, which were developed by the Russian startup Hoversurf, debuted in early October at the Gulf Information Technology Exposition (GITEX) in Dubai. Like Hoversurf’s Scorpion-3 hoverbike, the police version is battery-powered and uses propellers at each corner to float like a drone. The newly-released model can reach maximum altitudes of 16 feet and move at speeds of up to 43 mph. Though the quadcopter can only carry one passenger at a time, it can withstand weights of up to 660 pounds. A fully charged battery is enough to fuel a 25-minute ride.

The futuristic addition to the force’s fleet of vehicles isn’t designed for chasing bad guys. Rather, the city hopes to use it to reach out-of-the-way spots during emergencies. If there’s a car wreck at the end of a traffic jam, for example, the Scorpion hoverbike could simply fly over the congestion and reach the scene faster than the department could with cars on the ground.

While cities around the world are still figuring out how low-flying drones and vehicles fit into pedestrian areas, Dubai has been quick to embrace the technology. In 2015, the city invested in jetpacks for first responders. While it's still unclear when the gadgets will be used in an official capacity, the CEO of Hoversurf has confirmed that mass production of the bikes is already underway.

[h/t Autoblog]

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