<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Tech News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida https://www.nbcmiami.com en-usSun, 19 Aug 2018 15:39:34 -0400Sun, 19 Aug 2018 15:39:34 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Election Security and Regrets]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 19:34:57 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/201*120/JackDorseyAlexJones.jpg

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday defended the company’s decision this week to put Infowars’ Alex Jones in a seven-day “timeout” after Jones urged his viewers to ready their “battle rifles” against the media.

Dorsey said he resisted banning Jones, the embattled conspiracy theorist and radio host, despite calls to do so, some of which came from inside Twitter.

“We can’t build a service that is subjective just to the whims of what we personally believe,” Dorsey told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an exclusive interview.

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP, File
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<![CDATA[Google Ignores Privacy Settings, Tracks Users' Location]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 17:40:31 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NC_googletracking0813_1500x845.jpg

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones will store your location data even if you've used privacy settings that say they will prevent it from doing so.


<![CDATA[Musk Says He's Talking With Saudi Fund to Take Tesla Private]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 11:23:29 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/elon-muskGettyImages-855377504.jpg

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund would be the main source of money for Tesla CEO Elon Musk's grand plan to take the company private, but the deal isn't done yet, Musk disclosed in a blog on Monday.

The fund approached Musk about going private multiple times during the past two years, and Musk says he left a July 31 meeting with no question that the deal would be closed. That's why he tweeted on Aug. 7 that the funding had been secured, Musk wrote. The fund itself has not publicly commented on the possibility of a deal.

Under the proposal, only investors who don't want to remain with a private company would be paid and funding for the deal would come from Tesla stock, not debt. Musk wrote that he expects about one-third of shareholders to take an offer of $420 per share, making the buyouts worth roughly $23.6 billion.

Musk's blog was posted before the markets opened Monday, and there was little reaction from investors. Shares were up 2 cents to $355.51 in morning trading.

Musk wrote that at the July 31 meeting, the fund's managing director "strongly expressed his support'' for taking the electric car and solar panel maker private. "I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed,'' Musk wrote in the blog.

But the deal appeared to be far from finished. Since the meeting, the men have continued discussions and the managing director has expressed support "subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals,'' Musk wrote.

The wealth fund recently bought nearly 5 percent of Tesla's shares.

Musk wrote that he made the Aug. 7 announcement because he had talked to large investors about his desire to take the company private. "It wouldn't be right to share information about going private with just our largest investors without sharing the same information with all investors at the same time,'' he wrote.

He wrote that in the blog and the Aug. 7 tweet that he was speaking for himself as a potential bidder for the company.

Musk also wrote that the Saudis are interested in the company because they want to diversify away from oil.

He also is in talks with other investors because he wants Tesla to continue to have a "broad investor base,'' he wrote.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TSA Unveils 3D Scanners for Carry-On Bags]]> Fri, 10 Aug 2018 17:41:17 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+TSA+3D+SCANNERS.00_00_04_06.Still007.jpg

The TSA is implementing new scanners for carry-on bags that utilizes 3D images of contents to help TSA agents identify packed items. The scanners will allow passengers to keep electronics and liquids inside their carry-on bags while they're being scanned. The TSA plans to install up to 40 of the new scanners in airports around the country before the end of the year.

<![CDATA[Terraforming Mars Is Impossible Right Now, Study Says]]> Thu, 09 Aug 2018 10:48:06 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/mars-hubble.jpg

Before humans can colonize Mars, we'll need to figure out a way to make it a bit more hospitable. But a new study suggests that "terraforming" Mars into an Earthlike planet simply isn't possible with today's technology, NBC News reported.

The study, published July 30 in the journal Nature Astronomy, seems to throw cold water on those fictional terraforming schemes — along with some real-world ideas that sound like make-believe: In 2015, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said we could warm Mars and give it a thicker atmosphere capable of supporting agriculture by detonating nuclear warheads over the planet's icy poles.

There's no doubt that Mars' thin atmosphere and its soil and icy polar regions contain carbon dioxide. But the new research indicates that there's not enough of it for us to be able to trigger a sort of runaway greenhouse effect that would turn the red planet into a green one.

"The bottom line is that there just isn't very much there, and it's hard to put very much back into the atmosphere," said Bruce Jakosky, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the study's lead author. "Our conclusion is we can't do it with today's technology."

Photo Credit: Steve Lee/Jim Bell/Mike Wolff/NASA, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Joins Apple, Spotify in Banning Alex Jones' Content]]> Mon, 06 Aug 2018 13:19:59 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080618alexjones.jpg

Facebook has removed four pages that belong to conspiracy theorist and far-right radio host Alex Jones, explaining in a blog post Monday that content posted on the pages over the last several days violates the social media network’s community standards for "glorifying violence" and "using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants."

Facebook unpublished the Infowars page, the Infowars Nightly News page, the Alex Jones page and the Alex Jones Channel Page, according to NBC News. Jones can appeal the site’s decision, but if he doesn’t appeal or if the appeal fails, the pages will be removed permanently. 

Jones had been warned that repeated violations of Facebook’s community standards would result in having his pages unpublished. Infowars didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move comes after Apple and Spotify both removed Jones' podcasts from their platforms. YouTube also terminated Jones' main account Monday.

Photo Credit: John Minchillo/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Robotics Team That Helped With Thai Cave Rescue in San Diego]]> Sat, 04 Aug 2018 23:20:09 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/thai+robotics+team.PNG

Chinoros Nakthewan and his robotics team from Kasetsart University in Thailand are competing in the Robo Sub Competition at the Naval Health Research Center in Point Loma this weekend.

“I think that robots is a cool thing that everyone should know that it can help us, it can make our life better,” he told NBC 7.

And Nakthewan would know firsthand. His team was asked to help in the rescue of the boys soccer team trapped in a Thai cave last month.

“This is the first real mission that I used to and actually I am proud that I there and we do our best,” he said.

His team was onsite for six days with their vehicle and drone. The vehicle wasn't used because of the depth and muddiness of the water, but they were able to provide sonar imaging to create a map. All 12 boys and their coach were rescued alive from the cave.

Nakthewan’s is one of 47 high school and college teams competing for a total of $20,000 in prizes.

All of the teams have built submarines that navigate autonomously through an underwater course.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Google Glass Helps Kids With Autism Make Eye Contact: Study]]> Thu, 02 Aug 2018 10:16:05 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/autism-google-glass-study.jpg

Most children with autism who wore Google Glasses equipped with facial expression-interpreting software made improvements in holding eye contact with their families, according to a study published Thursday.

The lead author of the Stanford University School of Medicine study, Dennis Wall, told NBC News that the Superpower Glass trial — the first outside of a laboratory — used technology that turns emotion reading into a game that's "an opportunity for fun and engagement."

Donji Cullenbine said her 9-year-old son Alex didn't make much progress through therapy. But when he took part in the trial, he was suddenly making frequent eye contact.

"It was thrilling," she said. "I tried to incentivize him to look at me for so many years, but had no movement. Then in two weeks, it was like a flip switched. He said, 'Mommy, I can read minds.'"

Photo Credit: Steve Fisch/Stanford University School of Medicine]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Man Accused of Stealing $2M in Cryptocurrency]]> Wed, 01 Aug 2018 19:47:21 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1008963700.jpg

A college student from Boston was arrested last month after allegedly stealing at least $2 million in cryptocurrency and hacking phones owned by tech executives, according to prosecutors in California.

Joel Ortiz, 20, of Allston was ordered held on $1 million bail following his arraignment on 28 counts of grand theft, computer hacking and identity theft in the wake of his July 12 arrest.

He allegedly had $250,000 in cryptocurrency when he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on his way to Europe.

Prosecutors in California said Ortiz took control of his victims' cell phones using their SIM card, changed their passwords and then hacked into email, social media and cryptocurrency accounts, stealing millions in the digital currency.

Court documents show that Ortiz managed to take over the cell phones by impersonating victims for cell phone carriers such as AT&T, talking them into granting him access to his victims' phone numbers. In one case, Ortiz allegedly even walked into an AT&T reseller in Georgia to do a SIM swap.

One victim told investigators he was attending the Consensus NY cryptocurrency conference in New York City in May when he lost cell phone service and immediately knew he was being hacked because he had heard of this happening to others in cryptocurrency circles, according to court documents. Despite the victim immediately making efforts to get his cell phone back at an AT&T store across the street from the conference, investigators say Ortiz stole $1.7 million in cryptocurrency from him.

Ortiz, an information technology major at UMass Boston and a Boston high school valedictorian, also spent thousands on parties in rented mansions and on designer clothes, according to The Boston Globe.

He's due back in court on Aug. 9. The Santa Clara County public defender's office in California, which is representing Ortiz, declined to comment to the Associated Press Wednesday.

His family in Hyde Park and a woman at his apartment in Allston also declined to comment on the case.

Prosecutors say Ortiz also withdrew cryptocurrencies, holding them in a so-called "cold storage," which holds cryptocurrencies in a way not connected to the internet; the location of the withdrawn cryptocurrencies is unknown to authorities.

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Interactive: See Political Ads Targeted to You on Facebook]]> Thu, 02 Aug 2018 08:27:45 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ads-graphic-2.jpg

Political ads on television are easy enough to spot: anyone who lives in a battleground state or watches TV in late October can recognize the attack ads and candidate promos that blanket the airwaves, always with a disclaimer.

Facebook ads have been much different: Ahead of the 2016 campaign, each user saw a tailored set of advertisements and political ads that often appeared as just another post in the newsfeed.

Facebook has changed its rules to make political ads more obvious. New data released by Facebook and collected by researchers at NYU shows that Americans are still seeing plenty of political ads there — at least 2.2 billion times since May.

Use the tool below to explore political ads that were targeted toward your state, gender and age group, sorted by the advertisers who reached the most people in the demographic you select.

Some pages that Facebook announced this week had been banned for taking part in "coordinated inauthentic behavior" ahead of the midterm elections did not appear in the Political Ad Archive database.

Still, the database shows both the size and the continued murky nature of political advertising on Facebook, even after Facebook started requiring that ads disclose their source of funding.

While some ads clearly support political campaigns, others promote a cause and some sell politically charged merchandise — clothing brand American AF has the second-most impressions of all advertisers on the platform. And some of the biggest political groups in the country, like Democratic super PACs Priorities USA Action and Senate Majority PAC, run ads through "community" pages that don't appear political on their surface.

"Advertising is a deliberate and strategic behavior seeking to influence voters, and voters have a right to know who is influencing them," said Young Mie Kim, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied political advertising on Facebook. "In the 21st century digital media environment, it's incredibly difficult for voters to understand who is targeting them."

The new data comes from Facebook's Political Ad Archive tool, a transparency initiative the social media giant began after receiving bipartisan criticism over the spread of misinformation on its platform in 2016. The tool is one of several the company created to better regulate its own platform — social media is largely unregulated in the U.S., though lawmakers are considering ways to step in.

The database indicates that political advertisers spent between $21 million and $108 million between May 1 and July 18, receiving between 2.2 billion and 5.9 billion impressions in the time period. (Facebook does not provide precise numbers, instead offering a range for each figure to protect advertisers’ confidential information.)

Trump’s Make America Great Again Committee was the top overall spender in the period, spending between $344,000 and $2.3 million. Also included in the top 10 are advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood, companies like ExxonMobil and politicians like Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, who is running to replace Republican Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was one of the first political campaigns to use Facebook advertising on such a large scale, spending tens of millions of dollars on narrowly targeted ads. Sometimes each ad would have thousands of variants, with subtle tweaks in color or wording to test what would perform best.

After the election, Facebook executives internally praised the Trump campaign as an "innovator" in advertising on the platform, according to BuzzFeed News.

But this year, Trump-affiliated firm Cambridge Analytica was revealed to have obtained personal data of 87 million Facebook users through a personality quiz taken by only a few hundred thousand people. Authorities are investigating whether Cambridge Analytica used that data to influence the campaign.

Amid the fallout, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called before Congress to testify about how his platform was used in 2016 and to explain what it would do to ensure foreign actors couldn't influence future elections. Facebook was also hit with fines in the United Kingdom and could face more in the U.S. for allowing Cambridge Analytica to collect data without users permission, while the data firm eventually filed for bankruptcy amid investigators' scrutiny.

Cambridge Analytica wasn’t the only group to be accused of using Facebook unethically during the election.

In late 2017, the House Intelligence Committee revealed that Russian intelligence services had purchased thousands of Facebook ads in support of the Trump campaign, many of which promoted false news stories or aimed to suppress voter turnout among people who were likely to support Hillary Clinton. Russians created Facebook groups with names like "Secured Borders," "Blacktivist" and "Heart of Texas," according to an indictment filed in February by special counsel Robert Mueller.

And on July 31, the company announced that it had already discovered suspicious activity from bad actors who were running pages to try to influence voters ahead of the 2018 elections. Thirty-two pages and accounts with tens of thousands of likes were taken down. They had names like "Black Elevation," "Mindful Being," and "Resisters" and shared a variety of content to make their pages harder to identify than in 2016.

Nevertheless, the Trump campaign's Facebook strategy was effective, so other campaigns are now trying to learn from it. A New York Times report on an earlier version of the NYU dataset cited political consultants who said Republicans generally spent more on digital ads than Democrats did, but noted that trend may be changing — some prominent Democrats appear high in the lists of top spenders.

Boston University professor Tobe Berkovitz, a former political advertising consultant, told NBC that the Trump campaign's micro-targeting strategy has become an important tool for campaigns because traditional, unifying messages aren't as effective on social media.

"Very few people are persuaded by social media because it all comes from a highly partisan position," he said in an email. "It's better to reinforce existing attitudes or target people with weakly held positions and political affiliations."

This spring, Facebook announced a number of new policies, among them creating the Political Ad Archive, to protect the platform from misuse of data, misinformation and foreign interference.

In a blog post explaining some of the new rules, Facebook said it would apply extra scrutiny and disclosure rules for ads that have "the goal of either influencing public debate, promoting a ballot measure or electing a candidate." The policies aim to prevent malicious activity from interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.

This brings the platform more in line with rules for broadcast political ads, which require that advertisements state the candidate or group that paid for them. Yet there are no legal regulations on political advertising on the internet, which means it's up to companies to make rules it as they see fit.

Many of the advertisers whose activity Facebook has flagged as political are similar: generic-looking news or community pages that share local stories, memes and short viral videos.

But one top advertiser in many locations is shirt vendor American AF, which offers apparel with phrases like "Kill a commie for mommy," "Guns don't kill people, I kill people" and "Shut up Hillary."

Its products are broadly supportive of Trump — shirts shows him riding a T-Rex or pumping iron — while all 15 products on the website that appeared in a recent search for "Hillary Clinton" were critical of her, including one that alludes to a vulgar word for women.

The brand has a large national presence on Facebook with more than 1 million likes and appears in the database as a top advertiser for men in age groups from 18 to 44 for most states across the country.

In an email, brand founder Shawn Wylde told NBC his page spent approximately $900,000 in Facebook ads since May. He said the ads do "remarkably well," although he disputes why they should be included in the political ads database.

"We don't feel the majority of our patriotic products are political in nature," Wylde said in an email. "American AF is a humor page where we make fun of both parties; however, since we find President Trump so funny, we currently offer more products based on him."

Yet, American AF has had run-ins with Facebook's ad moderators, Wylde said: "We have had ad representatives revoked, patriotic ads and posts removed, profile accounts banned and were denied the blue checkmark verification badge. I think the page gets punished because some Facebook employees think it’s conservative."

Devon Kearns, a Facebook spokeswoman, said the company regularly bans fake accounts but will allow anyone who is approved by its verification process to post political ads. Facebook then evaluates each ad on a case-by-case basis, taking down ones that violate the rules — including an ad from American AF that contained a slur against Native Americans, which was removed when NBC brought the page to Facebook’s attention.

Many of these rules are recent, and Facebook is still working to balance free speech and regulations for ads on its platform. Berkovitz, the former political advertising consultant now with Boston University, explained that political advertising on the internet was once a free-for-all and the rules are still evolving today.

"There were basically no rules until Cambridge Analytica," he said. "Now there's an effort to create guidelines and procedures. ... I think increased transparency on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is a trend that will continue."

The election advertising researchers who spoke to NBC for this article said Facebook's disclosure requirements aren't stringent enough. Facebook requires that groups put their legal name in the "paid for" statement, which is sometimes vague: the database includes sponsors like "One Nation" and "American Action Network" which don’t provide much more context for the average viewer.

"Now we have one more layer of information," said Kim, who said the change is a step in the right direction, but she would prefer more. "We really need to look beyond not just the face of the ad but the pages and the sponsors – and the payer who could even be different."

It isn't always clear from looking at a page that it is being used for political purposes. That's the case for "Hoosier Country," a top advertiser in Indiana that calls itself "a community for anyone who wants to show their Hoosier pride" and has run attacks against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun.

The page appears at the top of the list of advertisers for most demographics in Indiana, and it spent between $78,000 and $384,000 in the state, according to the Facebook data. All of those ads are funded by the Democratic super PACs Priorities USA Action and Senate Majority PAC, a fact that Facebook now points out on the advertisements.

"Campaigns and political organizations have long created branded websites that share specific information with voters. These are locally focused pages for sharing articles and information from reputable news outlets and clearly labeled political sites that are of interest to voters in a specific region," Priorities USA Action spokesman Josh Schwerin said in an email.

As of Aug. 1, the Facebook page's "about" section did not mention its political aim or backers. 

Before May 24, when the political advertising rules went into effect, it would have been much harder to know these ads were funded by two of the largest super PACs in the country. And researchers say there are thousands of smaller "dark money" groups across the country who quietly spend on advertising campaigns.

Kim and her team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers looked at political ads on Facebook in 2016 and found that it was usually difficult to determine who was behind them.

"More than half the groups we examined were unidentifiable," she said, noting that if academic researchers had trouble identifying advertisers, voters would have an even harder time.

Her team found that in the six weeks before Election Day in 2016, some voters saw about 35 ads a day. "It's unfair and unreasonable to expect voters to figure out who are behind them," she said.

Facebook now says it's planning ahead and doing all it can to limit the misuse of political advertising on the platform for the upcoming midterm elections in November. In an interview with Recode's Kara Swisher this month, Zuckerberg admitted that the company was unprepared in 2016.

"This was a new thing," he said. "I think we understand that we were slow to it and need to do a better job ... defending against nation-states, which is not really a top-line thing that was a major focus before."

Now that Facebook has close to double the number of users as the population of China, this is the new reality the company will have to face. In the interview, Zuckerberg reiterated his commitment to doing better.

"A lot of people are using [Facebook] for a lot of good," he said, "but we also have a responsibility to mitigate the darker things that people are gonna try to do."

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<![CDATA[Facebook, Instagram Are Getting Time-Management Tools]]> Wed, 01 Aug 2018 11:46:57 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Facebook-tools-manage-time.jpg

In a bid to make Facebook and Instagram more "intentional," Facebook is giving users more ways to manage how much time they spend on the apps.

Upcoming versions will give users a way to check how much time they've been thumbing through Facebook and Instagram on their device through a dashboard that displays the average amount of time they spend on the apps. 

Users will also be able to set a reminder for when they've been using the app for a certain amount of time, like 30 minutes, and turn off notifications for a period of 15 minutes, 1 hour or longer.

"We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring. Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms and also foster conversations between parents and teens about the online habits that are right for them," two Facebook executives wrote in a blog post announcing the changes on Wednesday.

In December, Facebook acknowledged that social media can leave people feeling bad, if they "spend a lot of time passively consuming information" rather than interacting with people.

Researchers have wondered whether there's a link between a recent rise in rates of suicide and social media use. A 2017 study in the journal Clinical Psychological Science found that more teens were using electronic devices like smartphones for at least five hours a day, and that those teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported using such devices for one hour a day.

In its announcement Wednesday, Facebook pointed to other ways it's tried to help give users control their time on the platforms, like letting them prioritize or hide other users they follow on Facebook and adding a "You're All Caught Up" message to the Instagram feed.

The announcement also comes a day after Facebook said it banned 32 accounts on Facebook and Instagram for taking part in a coordinated campaign to influence U.S. politics.

SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: Here is information on suicide prevention from the National Institute of Mental Health. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting 'Home' to 741741.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Worry Rising Seas Could Knock Out the Internet]]> Wed, 01 Aug 2018 08:27:24 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-758281457.jpg

As climate-change related sea level rise is being blamed for coastal flooding and destructive hurricanes, researchers are now worrying that rising seas could flood the underground cables that carry the internet, potentially causing widespread outages, NBC News reported.

Seawater is likely to submerge more than 4,000 miles of internet cable in the U.S. and engulf more than a thousand data centers that house servers, routers and other hardware, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon said in a paper presented July 16 at an internet conference in Montreal.

The researchers identified New York, Miami and Seattle as the metropolitan areas at greatest risk for flooded internet infrastructures. Three carriers were identified as especially vulnerable: CenturyLink of Monroe, Louisiana; Chicago-based Inteliquent; and AT&T, which is based in Dallas.

For their research, the scientists compared maps of internet infrastructure along coastal areas in the U.S. with sea level rise projections made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The projections, which indicate a worst-case scenario, show a sea level rise of one foot over the next 15 years.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Blend Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook's New Revelation Excluded Most Divisive Rhetoric]]> Wed, 01 Aug 2018 07:32:34 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/resisters-facebook-page.jpg

When Facebook revealed on Tuesday that it had identified and stopped a covert new campaign to spread divisive political messages, it did not reveal some of the most divisive posts, NBC News reported.

A review of some of the deleted pages found efforts to target people with liberal politics or Hispanic and African heritage. One deleted event by a group called "Resisters" called for an occupation of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency; 131 people marked themselves as having attended the June 27 rally. 

Facebook declined to identify who was behind the campaign but did say it bore similarities to the efforts by Russia's Internet Research Agency to influence the 2016 election.

"The goal is to create fear in the audience that things are unstable and that democracy and its institutions are failing," said former FBI special agent and MSNBC contributor Clint Watts.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Hyperloop Tests in Nevada Desert, With Eye on North Texas]]> Tue, 31 Jul 2018 17:40:00 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Hyperloop+Tease.jpg

North Texas transportation officials are studying the feasibility of building a hyperloop between Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth. But many people still know little about the brand-new technology.

So NBC 5 traveled to the world’s first hyperloop in the desert outside Las Vegas and the headquarters of Virgin Hyperloop One, the company that built it.

The hyperloop test facility in Nevada is known as DevLoop. NBC 5's cameras weren't allowed to shoot video of the hyperloop's inner workings — it's top secret — but were shown the basics.

At first glance, it appears similar to a huge oil pipeline or water main. The gleaming white tube is about the length of five football fields. The pod-like hyperloop vehicle runs on a track inside the structure.

"It's a complete vehicle," said Dan Katz, head of North American projects at Hyperloop One. "What's amazing is there's no moving parts on the vehicle. Nothing turns."

Vacuum pumps remove the air from inside the tube, reducing wind resistance. Powerful magnets then levitate the pod above the track and propel it forward at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour.

"It'll feel like the best airplane you've ever ridden in," Katz explained. "It's going to feel incredibly smooth. There's no turbulence. The takeoff and landing will be about half the G-force on your body."

You can't ride in a hyperloop just yet because there's no air in the tube and developers haven't built a pod that has a life support system. Engineers say they do not believe that would be a complex challenge to overcome.

DevLoop has proven that the technology works, Katz said.

"We've seen some people come here as skeptics, but they never leave here as skeptics," he said. "This, of course, is only a prototype. But an actual system in Dallas-Fort Worth would probably look very similar; large tubes on top of concrete supports."

The next step for Virgin Hyperloop One is to build a longer test track that would eventually become part of a commercial system. Hundreds of people at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles are working to make that happen.

"Testing is the name of the game. We do a lot of testing here," said Kristen Hammer, a senior engineer.

They believe North Texas would be an ideal location.

The region is fairly flat, and the track could run in a straight line between the major population centers of Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth. A trip from one downtown to the other would take just six minutes at a speed of 360 miles per hour.

"That route in particular, Dallas-Fort Worth, is a great first route for us," Hammer explained. "Flat and straight is the favorite from the engineering side, so Fort Worth to Dallas is that."

Virgin Hyperloop One isn't the only company working on hyperloops.

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is credited with setting the idea for the technology in motion with a white paper in 2013. Musk's Boring Company hopes to dig a hyperloop tunnel to connect East Coast cities, NBC News reported. Musk's SpaceX has a track in Hawthorne, California, that has hosted pod competitions

And Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is also involved, aiming to bring hyperloop systems to China and France. 

Other cities and regions around the world that have expressed interest in building a hyperloop include Chicago, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Missouri and Colorado. India, Dubai and Saudi Arabia are also taking a serious look at being the first to build a fully functioning hyperloop system.

The high cost of setting up routes is still a challenge for companies, as is securing land rights and environmental approvals, NBC News reported.

Virgin Hyperloop One hopes to build its next project sometime in the early 2020s.

"To be one of the first ones is really to put your city on the map internationally as a center for transportation technology," Katz said. "Yes, this is going to happen. The question is, where?"

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Conspiracy Theorists Hijack YouTube Searches for Celebrities]]> Tue, 31 Jul 2018 08:57:30 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/073118youtube.jpg

Videos by a far-right conspiracy group appeared in YouTube searches for some A-list celebrities and at least one company Monday, underscoring that the site's effort to contain misinformation and propaganda on its website is a work in progress, NBC News reported.

The videos, featuring baseless accusations of pedophelia, were among the first to appear in searches for Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Mexican cement company Cemex. The videos were created by believers of Qanon, a conspiracy theory that centers on false allegations that Democratic politicians and celebrities are part of a child sex ring.

YouTube didn’t respond to a request for comment but some of the conspiracy video rankings dropped after NBC News reached out on Monday.

Several of the videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, which has faced repeated criticism for not doing more to tamp down conspiracy theories and false information on its site. 

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facial Recognition, Potent New Policing Tool, Raises Alarms]]> Mon, 30 Jul 2018 08:32:36 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/621632574-Grand-Central-commuter-crowd.jpg

"Real-time" facial recognition has tremendous potential for crime prevention but it's also raising alarms for over the risk that it makes mistakes, NBC News reported.

The FBI and law enforcement agencies around the country have been using facial recognition databases for years, but the technology is advancing to the point where police can pick suspects out of a crowd on live video — that's reportedly already happening in China, and U.S. security agencies are testing it at some airports and border crossings.

One tech executive vowed never to sell such technology to police departments while another called on Congress to enact regulations on facial recognition, which is already used to tag people in Facebook photos and unlock iPhones.

"We are at a moment where facial recognition is being marketed to communities while not being proven as public safety tools," said Matt Cagle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

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