Articles by "Technology"

UK spy agencies should be able to access encrypted content in online messaging applications to prevent terrorist attacks, says British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, warning that terrorists are hiding behind some of the most popular apps.
According to reports, Khalid Masood, the man behind the recent terror attack in London, had communicated with unknown parties through WhatsApp messenger two minutes before his assault that killed 4 people and wounded 50 others.
In an interview with BBC on Sunday, Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that terrorists have found a “place to hide” using these applications.
“It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide,” she said.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd (Photo by AFP)
“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” the secretary added.
Rudd said tech companies in charge of applications like the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which use end-to-end encryption, have a “responsibility” to hand over user messages upon government’s request.
“We have to have a situation where we can have our security services get into the terrorists’ communications. That’s absolutely the case,” she argued.
“These people have families, have children as well – they should be on our side,” Rudd further said of app developers, calling on Facebook, Google and Telegram owners to step up cooperation.
Echoing Rudd’s comments was Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said in a Sunday Times article that internet companies should come up with software that detect and remove extreme material.
Corbyn warns against ‘unaccountable’ access
In reaction to the remarks by Rudd and Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn raised concern over giving too much access to spying agencies.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks along Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017 after the bridge reopened following the March 22 terror attack. (Photo by AFP)
“I’ve been concerned about giving too much unaccountable power to anybody in our society, so could the security services go to court and make an application? I would have thought they probably could,” said the opposition leader, urging a balance between the “right to know” and “the right to privacy.”
Lib Dems did not like the idea either,  with home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick saying that the government would play into the hands of terrorists by “implementing draconian laws that limit our civil liberties.”

WikiLeaks reveals the CIA has been targeting the iPhone since 2008.
Whistleblower website WikiLeaks has claimed the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been hacking Apple products to spy on their owners.
The new WikiLeaks release, called Vault 7 “Dark Matter,” was released on Thursday.  It described a handful of programs that the CIA has apparently used for nearly a decade—in some cases to surreptitiously monitor Apple device owners.
It also claimed that another bug called NightSkies 1.2, a "beacon/loader/implant tool," has been specifically made for iPhones. The bug that runs in the background provides the CIA with command and control capabilities.
WikiLeaks said the malware has been installed on factory fresh devices since at least 2008 for surveillance. The website believes it's possible the CIA had redirected iPhone shipments to install the tool.
Julian Assange, founder of the online leaking platform WikiLeaks, is seen on a screen as he addresses journalists via a live video connection during a press conference on the platform's 10th anniversary in Berlin, October 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
"While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization's supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting, and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise," the organization said.
"Currently, NightSkies does not have stealth and persistence capabilities,” it said.
According to the report, the British and the US intelligence services have also been using smart televisions as spies and a covert microphone to collect information.

Electronic devices including iPads included in the ban.
The United Kingdom has followed the United States in banning electronic devices on passenger flights from several Muslim-majority countries, reports say.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a ban on large electronic devices from cabin baggage on flights from nine airlines in eight countries across 10 airports in the Middle East.
The measure came after the department claimed that terrorists are seeking "innovative methods" to bring down passenger planes amid fears that bombs could be hidden in laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games.
The list of countries includes Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.  
The list of airlines affected by the ban includes Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways.
The airports affected are:
  • Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  • King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International Airport
  • Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  • Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
  • Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
UK issues electronic devices ban for six countries
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
Following the US ban, the British government announced that passengers flying directly to the UK from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey will be banned from large electronic devices into the plane cabin.
The banned devices are laptops, tablets and phones which are larger than a typical smartphone, measuring 16 cementers by 9.3 cementers  by 1.5 cementers.
"The additional security measures may cause some disruption for passengers and flights, and we understand the frustration that will cause, but our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals," a government spokesperson said. 
"Direct flights to the UK from these destinations can continue to operate to the UK subject to these new measures being in place. Travelers are advised to keep up-to-date with the latest FCO travel advice and to check online with their chosen airline for further information," he added. 
The US Department for Homeland Security earlier said the ban was implemented because they were "concerned about terrorists' ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs.”
They said terrorists are "aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks.”
US President Donald Trump has been under fire by Muslim and human rights groups as well as his Democratic rivals and many of his Republican proponents since he started calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" during his presidential campaign.
Following his inauguration on January 20, Trump has twice issued executive orders, banning people from several Muslim-majority countries, causing widespread protests in the US and several world cities. American courts have blocked Trump’s travel ban but the president has said that he is still trying to find a way to impose it.

Google's release comes ahead of the first round of French presidential elections on April 23, 2017.
American tech company Google has released a set of tools it says are designed to protect elections globally.
Jigsaw, which is run by Google's parent company Alphabet, has been distributing the free suite, whose French version was released on Tuesday, more than a month before the first round of presidential elections in the European country.
Company officials maintain that the suite aims at protecting “free expression.”
"Defense of free expression is at the core of Jigsaw's mission," said Jigsaw Head of Communications and Senior Advisor Dan Keyserling. "And protecting elections websites is critical to that."
The suite includes tools to confront cheap digital attacks like phishing and distributed denial of service (DDoS).
Data breaches amid elections have raised concerns over the cybersecurity of elections globally.
“There’s a spike in the most common forms of digital attacks during elections,” Keyserling said, alleging that the tools helped protect a website coming under DDoS attack during the recent Dutch elections.
People prepare their ballots to vote in the Dutch general elections in The Hague on March 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Jigsaw and Google could not stop the attack; however, they managed to keep it online during the attack using a service named Project Shield, Keyserling said.
“We try to be very transparent about what the criteria are for signing up for Shield… We view DDoS attacks generally as sort of a bug in the internet—a tactic that shouldn’t be available to anybody.”
According to American tech magazine Wired, “The innovation here isn’t the tools themselves, but packaging them in a way that makes them accessible to the people who need them most.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, second from left, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington. Photo / AP
The United States announced charges against two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers, accusing them of a mega data breach at Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts.
The hack targeted the email accounts of Russian and U.S. officials, Russian journalists, and employees of financial services and other businesses, officials said.
"We will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies, or the security of our country," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord.
One of the defendants has been taken into custody in Canada, and another is on the list of the FBI's most wanted cyber criminals.
The charges arise from a compromise of Yahoo user accounts that began at least as early as 2014. Though the Justice Department has previously charged Russian hackers with cybercrime - as well as hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments - this is the first criminal case brought against Russian government officials.

Yahoo didn't disclose the 2014 breach until last September when it began notifying at least 500 million users that their email addresses, birth dates, answers to security questions and other personal information may have been stolen. Three months later, Yahoo revealed it had uncovered a separate hack in 2013 affecting about 1 billion accounts, including some that were also hit in 2014.The announcement comes as federal authorities investigate Russian interference through hacking in the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement, Chris Madsen, Yahoo's assistant general counsel and head of global security, thanked law enforcement agencies for their work.
"We're committed to keeping our users and our platforms secure and will continue to engage with law enforcement to combat cybercrime," he said.

Acting Assistant US Attorney General Mary McCord speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department March 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
The United States has indicted two Russian intelligence officers over a cyberattack, the first such move against Russian officials by Washington.
The Department of Justice leveled charges against two Russian security services officers and two hackers on Wednesday over a massive breach of Yahoo user accounts.  
According to AFP, the data breach compromised 500 million Yahoo accounts which is in one of the largest cyberattacks in history.
The indictment links Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) to the hacking operation which began in 2014 with the alleged goals of espionage and financial benefits.
At a news conference in Washington, the acting assistant attorney general for national security, Mary McCord said the FSB officers were identified as 33-year-old Dmitry Dokuchaev and 43-year-old Igor Sushchin.    

"Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, both FSB officers, protected, directed, facilitated and paid criminal hackers to collect information through computer intrusions in the United States and elsewhere," McCord told reporters.  
The indictment accused the FSB officers of hiring hackers Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov to accomplish the task, which continued until late 2016.
McCord also said the hack targeted the email accounts of Russian and US officials, Russian journalists, and employees of financial services and other businesses.
“The department of justice is continuing to send a powerful message that we will not allow individuals, groups, nation-states, or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies or the security of our country,” she stated.
This is the first time the US government criminally charges Russian officials for cyber offenses. The unprecedented cyberattack on Yahoo was disclosed last September and was believed to be state-sponsored.

Meanwhile, Yahoo on Wednesday warned users of potentially malicious activity on their accounts between 2015 and 2016.
“The investigation has identified user accounts for which we believe forged cookies were taken or used. Yahoo is in the process of notifying all potentially affected account holders. Yahoo has invalidated the forged cookies so they cannot be used again," a Yahoo spokeswoman said.

Powerful fast radio bursts are one of astronomy's most enigmatic phenomena and have intrigued scientists for years. Photo / 123rf
Harvard researchers have proposed a theory about the possibility of mysterious celestial phenomena known as fast radio bursts (FRB) being caused by alien space travel or advanced alien technology.
"Specifically, these bursts might be leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies," suggested astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Theoretical physicist Avi Loeb who works at the centre believes because science has so far failed to identify a natural source of FRBs, "an artificial origin is worth contemplating and checking."
Powerful fast radio bursts are one of astronomy's most enigmatic phenomena and have intrigued scientists for years.
They are pulses of radio energy that originate from an unknown cosmic address and last just milliseconds before seemingly disappearing forever. They can emit as much energy in a millisecond as the sun does in 10,000 years.

Now, Professor Loeb, along with fellow Harvard scientist Manasvi Lingam, have theorised about the possibility they could be the result of a massive power plant system used by an alien species for cosmic travel.Since first discovering the phenomena in 2007, fewer than two dozen have been recorded. Their existence has been attributed to all sorts of conspiracies and theories including alien broadcasting, stars collapsing into black holes and the explosion of a super-luminous supernovas.
The theory, as crazy as it sounds, explores how an immensely powerful solar radio transmitter could use photonic propulsion to power ships across the galaxy.
They examined the feasibility of creating such a radio transmitter and found that if you doubled the amount of sunlight to hit Earth, then that would be enough energy to theoretically power such a device, according to a statement released by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
"That's big enough to carry living passengers across interstellar or even intergalactic distances," Lingam said.
A powerful enough beam of light can propel a reflective surface in the vacuum of space, which is the basis for light sail technology that underpins the theory - something which astronomers have been experimenting with.
Such a capability theorised by the Harvard scientists is well beyond our technology, but within the realm of possibility according to the laws of physics.
It may all sound far-fetched (and is really an exercise in the power of imagination), but the theory is at least technically robust enough to have been accepted by the Astrophysical Journal Letters and is currently published online.
"The optimal frequency for powering the light sail is shown to be similar to the detected FRB frequencies. These 'coincidences' lend some credence to the possibility that FRBs might be artificial in origin," the researchers wrote.
Of course, it remains a mystery what causes these brief barrages of radio waves but earlier in the year researchers published an article in the prestigious journal Nature which, for the first time, pinpointed the location of the first known FRB to repeat itself.
FRB 121102, the only repeating fast radio burst know to science, emanates from a dwarf galaxy some three billion light years from Earth, scientists wrote.

China’s telecom giant ZTE has reportedly agreed to plead guilty and pay nearly $900 million to settle a US sanctions case involving Iran.
China’s telecom giant ZTE has reportedly agreed to plead guilty and pay nearly $900 million to settle a US sanctions case involving Iran. 
ZTE faced allegations that it had conspired to evade US embargoes by buying US components, incorporating them into its own equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.
The company was also facing allegations that it had attempted to obstruct the investigation – what some speculated could lead to a penalty significantly higher than in similar cases.
"ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran's, they lied ... about their illegal acts," the media quoted US Attorney General Jeff Sessions as saying said in a statement.
ZTE’s agreement to settle the case would prevent a fine by the US that was speculated to be larger than expected.   
It would also prevent a series of punitive measures by the US that could undermine its business significantly. 
The settlement includes a $661 million penalty to Commerce; $430 million in combined criminal fines and forfeiture; and $101 million paid to the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The action marks OFAC's largest-ever settlement with a non-financial entity, wrote
The Commerce Department will recommend ZTE be removed from a list of entities that US firms cannot supply without a license if it lives up to its deal and a court approves its agreement with the Justice Department, it added.   
The company agreed to a seven-year suspended denial of export privileges, which could be activated if there are further violations, as well as three years of probation, a compliance and ethics program, and a corporate monitor.
It also agreed to an additional penalty of $300 million that will be suspended during the seven-year term on the condition the company complies with requirements in the agreement.
ZTE is a key player in world's smartphone market.
When asked about the ZTE case, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said relevant departments of the government would continue to pay attention as to whether Chinese firms were receiving fair treatment.
"The Chinese government consistently opposes foreign governments putting unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies. At the same time, we have always asked our companies to operate legally abroad," he told a news conference without elaborating, as quoted by Fortune. 
The company's guilty pleas, which must be approved by a judge, will take place in US District Court in Texas.

A scene from Call of Duty: Black Ops III.
Playing violent computer games such as Call of Duty does not make people more prone to violence, according to a new study that debunks years of accepted wisdom and warnings.
Scientists using brain scans and psychological questionnaires discovered that levels of aggression and the capacity for empathy in people who never play violent games were the same as in those who play games for hours each day.
The research undermines decades of claims, partly prompted by academic studies, that anti-social behaviour is linked to "shooter" games.
In 2015, one politician even blamed a spate of gun violence in Salford on "a diet of war games and Grand Theft Auto".
Grand Theft Auto 5, where players are part of a virtual gang and can be challenged to commit ever more audacious and violent crimes, currently tops a list of bestselling games.

The new survey waited at least three hours before conducting tests to determine the long-term psychological effects on a group who had played for at least two hours a day (though in many cases nearer four hours) for the previous four years.However, academics at the Hannover Medical School say previous studies may have been skewed because they often assessed participants' psychological state immediately after, or even during, a stint of violent gaming.
These participants, and others from a control group who did not game regularly, answered psychological questionnaires. Then, while their brains were being scanned in an MRI machine, they were shown images designed to provoke an emotional response.
As the images appeared, the participants were asked to imagine how they would feel if they were involved in the depicted situation.
The questionnaire revealed no differences in levels of aggression between the two groups, while the MRI data revealed similar neural responses.
Dr Gregor Szycik, who led the study, acknowledged that it was partly prompted by a rise in patients seeking clinical help for game addiction, but added: "We hope to encourage other research groups to focus their attention on the possible long-term effects of video games."

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson speaks to HUD employees in Washington on March 6. Photo / AP
By now, many may be aware that Ben Carson likened slaves to immigrants during a staff speech Monday to mark his first full week as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The comparison did not play nicely on social media. (On Twitter, actor Samuel L. Jackson announced his disapproval with a phrase that cannot be reprinted here.)
But Carson's remarks about slavery were not his only statements to receive scrutiny.
As a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1987, Carson famously separated infant twins conjoined at the head. But on Monday, he told a factually wrong parable about the brain. Specifically, Carson said, the brain was incapable of forgetting and could be electrically stimulated into perfect recall - a statement that, even though made by one of the most famous former neurosurgeons alive, was far more fiction than science.

Ben & Candy Carson tweeted: ...the brain can process two million bits of information per second. It remembers everything you've ever seen, everything you've ever heard...It came in an anecdote meant to motivate the federal employees, a bit Carson developed on the public speaking circuit. He described the brain's surprising power as a way to show the audience that they were more capable than they believed.
Except his description did not hit the mark. "It remembers everything you've ever seen. Everything you've ever heard. I could take the oldest person here, make a little hole right here on the side of the head," Carson said, circling his left temple with a finger, "and put some depth electrodes into their hippocampus and stimulate. And they would be able to recite back to you, verbatim, a book they read 60 years ago. It's all there. It doesn't go away. You just have to learn how to recall it."
He went on: "It can process more than 2 million bits of information per second. You can't overload it. Have you ever heard people say, 'Don't do all that, you'll overload your brain.' You can't overload the human brain. If you learned one new fact every second, it would take you more than 3 million years to challenge the capacity of your brain."
Housing a Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson shares a laugh with his wife Lacena 'Candy' Carson as they are introduced to speak to HUD employees in Washington. Photo / AP

The insinuation that Carson could zap a patient into reciting, from cover to cover, a book read in 1957 was not true, experts said.
"Using electrodes placed in the human brain to implant memories or to recall forgotten memories is simply not possible at this time," Darin Dougherty, a psychiatrist and the director of Massachusetts General Hospital's neurotherapeutics division.
Dan Simons, a University of Illinois psychologist who studies attention and memory, told Wired that Carson's claim was "utter nonsense." Simons said it failed on nearly all counts: Humans cannot recall large swaths of text unless memorised for that purpose. Doctors cannot force patients to remember anything in crystal detail, even with deep brain stimulation. No human brain holds within it "a perfect and permanent record of our experiences," the psychologist said.
Exactly where the brain holds memories is a question with century-old roots, and is likely a function of the memory's age. The hippocampus is thought to play a part in long-term recall, but does not itself store old memories. And though recent studies indicate that electrically stimulating the hippocampus can boost performance on memory tests, this was not the same as triggering decades-old recollections.
(A technique called optogenetics has allowed scientists to implant false memories by shining light into altered brain cells via fibre optic cable. The same technique can restore memories in mice suffering from a chemically-induced approximation of amnesia. But the amnesiac brains on the receiving end of the fiber optic cable must belong to mice. And none of their lost mouse memories were ancient, or so detailed as a novel.)
This was not the first time Carson has made similar claims. The brain-as-perfect-recall-device also appeared during a speech Carson gave in 2011, at conference called the Celebration of Creation held by the Adventist News Network. In his book One Nation, Carson repeated the idea that he could stimulate an 85-year-old man into reciting an entire book that the man read in his 20s.
Carson's public opinions have not always aligned with his famous credentials in medicine. He has been criticised in the past for raising doubts about vaccine safety. He called climate change "irrelevant" in a November 2014 interview.
And Carson once proposed that the Old Testament prophet Joseph built the Great Pyramids of Giza to store grain, as The Post reported in 2015, based on the doctor's interpretation of the Book of Genesis when, in fact, the ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids, which are not hollow, for pharaohs to use as royal tombs.

AI will help shape the future, experts agree. Photo / AP
Artificial intelligence boosters predict a brave new world of flying cars and cancer cures. Detractors worry about a future where humans are enslaved to an evil race of robot overlords.
Veteran AI scientist Eric Horvitz and Doomsday Clock guru Lawrence Krauss, seeking a middle ground, gathered a group of experts in the Arizona desert to discuss the worst that could possibly happen - and how to stop it.
Their workshop took place last weekend at Arizona State University (ASU) with funding from Tesla co-founder Elon Musk and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Officially dubbed "Envisioning and Addressing Adverse AI Outcomes", it was a kind of AI doomsday games that organised some 40 scientists, cyber-security experts and policy wonks into groups of attackers - the red team - and defenders - blue team - playing out AI-gone-very-wrong scenarios, ranging from stock-market manipulation to global warfare.
Horvitz is optimistic - a good thing because machine intelligence is his life's work - but some other, more dystopian-minded backers of the project seemed to find his outlook too positive when plans for this event started about two years ago, said Krauss, a theoretical physicist who directs ASU's Origins Project, the programme running the workshop.

"There is huge potential for AI to transform so many aspects of our society in so many ways. At the same time, there are rough edges and potential downsides, like any technology," said Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft's Research Lab in Redmond, Washington. "To maximally gain from the upside we also have to think through possible outcomes in more detail than we have before and think about how we'd deal with them."Yet Horvitz said that for these technologies to move forward successfully and to earn broad public confidence, all concerns must be fully aired and addressed.
Participants were given "homework" to submit entries for worst-case scenarios. They had to be realistic - based on current technologies or those that appear possible - and five to 25 years in the future. The entrants with the "winning" nightmares were chosen to lead the panels, which featured about four experts on each of the two teams to discuss the attack and how to prevent it.
Turns out many of these researchers can match science-fiction writers Arthur C Clarke and Philip K Dick for dystopian visions. In many cases, little imagination was required - scenarios like technology being used to sway elections or new cyber attacks using AI are being seen in the real world, or are at least technically possible. Horvitz cited research that shows how to alter the way a self-driving car sees traffic signs so that the vehicle misreads a "stop" sign as "yield". The possibility of intelligent, automated cyber attacks is the one that most worries John Launchbury, who directs one of the offices at the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), and Kathleen Fisher, chairwoman of the computer science department at Tufts University, who led that session.
What happens if someone constructs a cyber weapon designed to hide itself and evade all attempts to dismantle it? Now imagine it spreads beyond its intended target to the broader internet. Think Stuxnet, the computer virus created to attack the Iranian nuclear programme that got out in the wild, but stealthier and more autonomous.
"We're talking about malware on steroids that is AI-enabled," said Fisher, who is an expert in programming languages. Fisher presented her scenario under a slide bearing the words "What could possibly go wrong?"
How did the defending blue team fare on that one? Not well, said Launchbury. They argued that advanced AI needed for an attack would require a lot of computing power and communication, so it would be easier to detect. But the red team felt that it would be easy to hide behind innocuous activities, Fisher said. For example, attackers could get innocent users to play an addictive video game to cover up their work.
To prevent a stock-market manipulation scenario dreamed up by University of Michigan computer science professor Michael Wellman, blue team members suggested treating attackers like malware by trying to recognise them via a database on known types of hacks. Wellman, who has been in AI for more than 30 years and calls himself an old-timer on the subject, said that approach could be useful in finance.
Beyond actual solutions, organisers hope the doomsday workshop started conversations on what needs to happen, raised awareness and combined ideas from different disciplines. The Origins Project plans to make public materials from the closed-door sessions and may design further workshops around a specific scenario or two, Krauss said.
Darpa's Launchbury hopes the presence of policy figures among the participants will foster concrete steps, like agreements on rules of engagement for cyber war, automated weapons and robot troops.
Krauss, chairman of the board of sponsors of the group behind the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic measure of how close we are to global catastrophe, said some of what he saw at the workshop "informed" his thinking on whether the clock ought to shift even closer to midnight. But don't go stocking up on canned food and moving into a bunker in the wilderness just yet.
"Some things we think of as cataclysmic may turn out to be just fine," he said.

This file photo, taken on October 27, 2016, shows visitors looking at a Samsung booth at an expo in Seoul during the Korea Electronics Grand Fair. (By AFP)
Two senior executives with South Korea’s Samsung company have reportedly offered to resign over allegations that the firm has been involved in a high-scale scandal linked to South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
South Korea’s Yonhap reported on Friday that Samsung’s President Chang Choong-gi and Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung had offered to resign.
Samsung Group did not immediately comment on the report.
Both executives were named as suspects by the South Korean special prosecution in a probe into allegations of bribery.
The Samsung Group’s de facto head, Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, was arrested as part of the investigation last Friday. He remains in custody awaiting trial.
This image shows Samsung Group’s de facto head and vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong, leaving the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, February 16, 2017. (By Reuters)
The scandal has led to the impeachment of President Park, who faces accusations that she colluded with her former confidante Choi Soon-sil to pressure big businesses, Samsung included, to “donate” money to companies run by Choi.
Park is presently awaiting a constitutional court verdict on the validity of the parliament’s impeachment vote against her. In the meantime, she retains her title as president but has been stripped of her presidential powers. As of December 9, 2016, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has been the country’s acting president, assuming presidential powers and duties.
The prosecution team probing the scandal says Samsung paid nearly 34.5 million dollars to institutions run by Choi.
President Park and Samsung Group have denied the accusations.

For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a nearby star - and these new worlds could hold life.
This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery Wednesday.
The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three are in the so-called habitable zone, where liquid water and, possibly life, might exist. The others are right on the doorstep.
Scientists said they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these rocky, terrestrial planets could support some sort of life. But it already shows just how many Earth-size planets could be out there - especially in a star's sweet spot, ripe for extraterrestrial life.
The takeaway from all this is, "we've made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there," said the University of Cambridge's Amaury Triaud, one of the researchers.

"There are 200 billion stars in our galaxy," said co-author Emmanuel Jehin of the University of Liege. So do an account. You multiply this by 10, and you have the number of Earth-size planets in the galaxy - which is a lot."The potential for more Earth-size planets in our Milky Way galaxy is mind-boggling.
Last spring, the University of Liege's Michael Gillon and his team reported finding three planets around Trappist-1. Now the count is up to seven, and Gillon said there could be more. Their latest findings appear in the journal Nature.
This compact solar system is reminiscent of Jupiter and its Galilean moons, according to the researchers.
Picture this: If Trappist-1 were our sun, all seven planets would be inside Mercury's orbit. Mercury is the innermost planet of our own solar system.
The ultracool star at the heart of this system would shine 200 times dimmer than our sun, a perpetual twilight as we know it. And the star would glow red - maybe salmon-coloured, the researchers speculate.
An artist's conception of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like. Photo / NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP
"The spectacle would be beautiful because every now and then, you would see another planet, maybe about as big as twice the moon in the sky, depending on which planet you're on and which planet you look at," Triaud said Tuesday in a teleconference with reporters.
The Leiden Observatory's Ignas Snellen, who was not involved in the study, is excited by the prospect of learning more about what he calls "the seven sisters of planet Earth." In a companion article in Nature, he said Gillon's team could have been lucky in nabbing so many terrestrial planets in one stellar swoop.
"But finding seven transiting Earth-sized planets in such a small sample suggests that the solar system with its four (sub-) Earth-sized planets might be nothing out of the ordinary," Snellen wrote.
Gillon and his team used both ground and space telescopes to identify and track the planets, which they label simply by lowercase letters, "b'' through "h." As is typical in these cases, the letter "A'' - in upper case - is reserved for the star. Planets cast shadows on their star as they pass in front of it; that's how the scientists spotted them.
Tiny, cold stars like Trappist-1 were long shunned by exoplanet-hunters (exoplanets are those outside our solar system). But the Belgian astronomers decided to seek them out, building a telescope in Chile to observe 60 of the closest ultracool dwarf stars. Their Trappist telescope lent its name to this star.
While faint, the Trappist-1 star is close by cosmic standards, allowing astronomers to study the atmospheres of its seven temperate planets. All seven look to be solid like Earth - mostly rocky and possibly icy, too.
They all appear to be tidally locked, which means the same side continually faces the star, just like the same side of our moon always faces us. Life could still exist at these places, the researchers explained.
"Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to that that we have on Earth, then we will know," Triaud said.
Chemical analyses should indicate life with perhaps 99 percent confidence, Gillon noted. But he added: "We will never be completely sure" without going there.


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