Aug 18

Motherboard’s Matthew Gault provides another possibility for how OpenAI’s bots managed to beat professional human players in two consecutive games of Data 2. Gault argues that “it was only possible thanks to significant guardrails and an inhuman advantage” — not necessarily because the AI was more clever than the humans. From the report: The OpenAI Five bots consisted of algorithms known as neural networks, which loosely mimic the brain and “learn” to complete tasks after a process of training and feedback. The research company put its Dota 2-playing AI through 180 days worth of virtual training to prepare it for the match, and it showed. However, the bots had to play within some highly specific limitations. Dota 2 is a complicated game with more than 100 heroes. Some of them use quirky and game-changing abilities. For this exhibition, the hero pool was limited to just 18. That’s an incredible handicap because so much of Dota 2 involves a team picking the proper group composition and reacting to what its opponents pick. Reducing the number of champions from more than 100 to 18 made things much simpler for the AI.

The OpenAI Five bots also played Dota 2 by reading the game’s information directly from its application programming interface (API), which allows other programs to easily interface with Dota 2. This gives the AI instant knowledge about the game, whereas human players have to visually interpret a screen. If a human was able to do this in a competitive match against other humans, we’d probably call it cheating. Even with this AI advantage, Walsh and his team beat the bots in the third game, when the match organizers turned hero selection over to the crowd, which gave the AI a weak hero composition. Walsh thinks he and his team could eventually beat the AI in a fair right, even given the limited hero pool and other restrictions.

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Aug 17

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: The National Security Agency successfully broke the encryption on a number of “high potential” virtual private networks, including those of media organization Al Jazeera, the Iraqi military and internet service organizations, and a number of airline reservation systems, according to a March 2006 NSA document. The fact that the NSA spied on Al Jazeera’s communications was reported by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel in 2013, but that reporting did not mention that the spying was accomplished through the NSA’s compromise of Al Jazeera’s VPN. During the Bush administration, high-ranking U.S. officials criticized Al Jazeera, accusing the Qatar-based news organization of having an anti-American bias, including because it broadcasted taped messages from Osama bin Laden.

According to the document, contained in the cache of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA also compromised VPNs used by airline reservation systems Iran Air, “Paraguayan SABRE,” Russian airline Aeroflot, and “Russian Galileo.” Sabre and Galileo are both privately operated, centralized computer systems that facilitate travel transactions like booking airline tickets. Collectively, they are used by hundreds of airlines around the world. In Iraq, the NSA compromised VPNs at the Ministries of Defense and the Interior; the Ministry of Defense had been established by the U.S. in 2004 after the prior iteration was dissolved. Exploitation against the ministries’ VPNs appears to have occurred at roughly the same time as a broader “all-out campaign to penetrate Iraqi networks,” described by an NSA staffer in 2005.

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Aug 17

Amazon is turning up the volume in the music business. From a report: The world’s largest online retailer will mount the first national TV campaign for its music-streaming service, featuring ads with songs from Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Queen. They’re part of a larger effort that will extend to billboards, online video and radio, and to three countries — the U.S., U.K. and Germany. Music has ascended the priority list at Amazon.com because of the popularity of the company’s Echo speakers and the virtual assistant Alexa. Music is one of the most common requests of Alexa, and listening hours have doubled over the past year, the company said. “We’re pouring fuel on the fire,” Steve Boom, the head of Amazon Music said in an interview. “We have established ourselves as the leader in music services where voice is all you need to control it.”

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Aug 17

Are you attending VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, NV? If so, I invite you to add Datrium to your MUST SEE list of vendors. With so many vendors exhibiting Read more at VMblog.com.

Aug 17

SolarWinds MSP , a global leader in delivering comprehensive, scalable IT service management solutions to IT solution providers and managed service… Read more at VMblog.com.

Aug 17

IGEL , a world leader in endpoint management software for the secure enterprise, today announced that it is teaming with AMD to further enhance the… Read more at VMblog.com.

Aug 17

Are you attending VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, NV? If so, I invite you to add Paessler to your MUST SEE list of vendors. With so many vendors… Read more at VMblog.com.

Aug 17

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Hackers have uncovered and tested a screen-splitting “VR Mode” that has been buried in the Switch’s system-level firmware for over a year. The discovery suggests that Nintendo at least toyed with the idea that the tablet system could serve as a stereoscopic display for a virtual reality headset. Switch hackers first discovered and documented references to a “VrMode” in the Switch OS’ Applet Manager services back in December when analyzing the June 2017 release of version 3.0.0 of the system’s firmware. But the community doesn’t seem to have done much testing of the internal functions “IsVrModeEnabled” and “SetVrModeEnabled” at the time. That changed shortly after Switch modder OatmealDome publicly noted one of the VR functions earlier this month, rhetorically asking, “has anyone actually tried calling it?” Fellow hacker random0666 responded with a short Twitter video (and an even shorter followup) showing the results of an extremely simple homebrew testing app that activates the system’s VrMode functions.

As you can see in those video links, using those functions to enable the Switch’s VR mode splits the screen vertically into two identical half-sized images, in much the way other VR displays split an LCD screen to create a stereoscopic 3D effect. System-level UI elements appear on both sides of the screen when the mode is enabled, and the French text shown in the test can be roughly translated to “Please move the console away from your face and click the close button.” The location of the functions in the Switch firmware suggest they’re part of Nintendo’s own Switch code and not generic functions included in other Nvidia Tegra-based hardware.

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Aug 16

Written by Sagar Nangare, Digital Strategist at Calsoft Inc. Typically, in large scale data center deployment and management, different components of Read more at VMblog.com.

Aug 16

Untangle today announced the availability of Pay As You Go (PAYG) options in Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its NG Firewall software. This new… Read more at VMblog.com.

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