A Tesla model-S car crashed into a tree at high speed on 7 September in Baarn, The Netherlands, killing the driver. The impact caused parts of the battery to be scattered around, causing small fires that were difficult to extinguish. The car itself also caught fire after some time. The rescue team did not dare approach the wreckage for fear of electrocution. The driver was already dead (did the rescue workers know for sure?), but what if there had been survivors inside the wreck? Tesla stated within a day that telemetry showed that the speed at impact was 155 km/h (about 95 mph) and that the "autopilot" mode was not enabled. I want to make two points: 1. The battery of electric cars, not only Tesla's, presents a hazard in case of a violent accident that is only starting to be realized. In particular if the battery is severely damaged. 2. The fact that Tesla was able to provide detailed data from telemetry shows the extent to which they are following their cars. This should raise serious privacy concerns. And, of course, what guarantees are there that the manufacturer is telling the truth? If the car is somehow to blame, would they tell? [A little browsing turned up somewhat diverse reports. In any event, If the "autopilot" was not involved, this might reinforce Don Norman's argument that semi-automated cars are inherently dangerous, and that total automation is ultimately necessary. PGN]
In a paper in which very large bold-faced article titles can sometimes take up as much space than the article, the front page of today's Palo Alto and Mid-Peninsula *Daily Post* has this squib in The Update section: SELF-DRIVING CARS: When the self-driving car revolution takes hold, 4.1 million jobs will disappear, according to Wolf Richter of the Wolf of Wall Street blog, citing government statistics. Among the jobs to go will be those of chauffeurs, truck drivers and bus drivers. He said the jobs will go away faster than society is prepared to deal with it.
Commentary: Hospitals need better cybersecurity, not more fear http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20160914/NEWS/160919950/commentary-hospitals-need-better-cybersecurity-not-more-fear Kevin Fu, EECS Department, The U. of Mich. web.eecs.umich.edu/~kevinfu/
The disclosures ripped away the diplomatic jargon and political niceties of a former secretary of state with a sober and thoughtful reputation. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/us/politics/colin-powell-emails-hack-donald-trump.html
What's good for the goose is good for the gander; what took YOU Congresspeople so long to wake up? "There but for the grace of God go all of us" "In Pakistan, politicians often agree to speak to reporters in person only after removing phone batteries" The good news: expect quick action on an email security bill without back doors. The bad news: expect an all-out attack on FOIA, which requires saving govt emails for all time. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/16/us/politics/email-hacking-colin-powell-congress.html Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandossept. *The New York Times*, 15 Sep 2016 Concern Over Colin Powell's Hacked Emails Becomes a Fear of Being Next A panicked network anchor went home and deleted his entire personal Gmail account. A Democratic senator began rethinking the virtues of a flip phone. And a former national security official gave silent thanks that he is now living on the West Coast. The digital queasiness has settled heavily on the nation's capital and its secretive political combatants this week as yet another victim, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, fell prey to the embarrassment of seeing his personal musings distributed on The Internet and highlighted in news reports. "There but for the grace of God go all of us," said Tommy Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman for President Obama who now works in San Francisco. He said thinking about his own email exchanges in Washington made him cringe, even now. "Sometimes we're snarky, sometimes we are rude," Mr. Vietor said, recalling a few such moments during his time at the White House. "The volume of hacking is a moment we all have to do a little soul searching." The Powell hack, which may have been conducted by a group with ties to the Russian government, echoed the awkwardness of previous leaks of emails from Democratic National Committee officials and the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan. The messages exposed this week revealed that Mr. Powell considered Donald J. Trump a "national disgrace," Hillary Clinton "greedy" and former Vice President Dick Cheney an "idiot." The latest hack could well spur a new rash of email deletions across the country as millions of people scan their sent mail for anything compromising, humiliating or career-destroying. It adds to the sense that everyone is vulnerable. The soul searching is happening with a special urgency in Washington, where email accounts burst with strategies, delicate political proposals, gossipy whispers and banal details of girlfriends, husbands, bank accounts and shopping lists. [Long item truncated for RISKS. PGN]
Documents, published this week, showed Simone Biles and Serena and Venus Williams received exemptions to use banned drugs. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/sports/simone-biles-serena-venus-williams-russian-hackers-doping.html
New Documents Released From Hack of Democratic Party http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/us/politics/dnc-hack.html A hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, who American officials believe has ties to Russia, released a second batch of documents purportedly stolen from the Democratic National Committee.
Apparently the nozzles used in the fire suppression systems create sound with enough volume to damage hard disks! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37337868
The BBC reports that the test of a fire suppression system in the Romanian data center of ING caused many of its systems to fail, resulting in outages of ATM and other services. The root cause is thought to be the loud noise (about 130 dB) emitted by the high pressure gas discharge. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37337868
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/nyregion/internet-browsers-to-be-disabled-on-new-yorks-free-wi-fi-kiosks.html The operator is shutting off the Internet browsers because they have drawn people who linger for hours, sometimes drinking, using drugs or watching pornography. [Is this surprising? PGN]
The film documents a 1980 accident in a missile silo in Arkansas that showed just how vulnerable the nation’s most fearsome weapons can be. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/movies/review-command-and-control-common-errors-nuclear-arms-and-consequences.html
[Bloomberg, 15 Sep 2016] Hold on tight to that number. Federal law is supposed to protect the privacy of your Social Security number from government inquiries—but apparently that doesn't extend to a check on whether you've paid back taxes and child support. In a decision with worrying implications for those who oppose a single national identification number, a divided federal appeals court has rejected a lawyer's refusal to submit his Social Security number along with his renewal of Maryland bar membership. To read the entire article, go to http://bv.ms/2cLpZel Of course, Medicare numbers have for years been SSNs. Camouflaged wonderfully by addition of a tricky trailing letter.
,,, and U.S. safety regulators yesterday announced a formal recall of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after a spate of fires led to injuries and property damage ... [Here's why Samsung Note 7 phones are catching fire:] https://www.cnet.com/news/why-is-samsung-galaxy-note-7-exploding-overheating/
When one looks up non sequitur, one should find > ... PC makers have no obligation to offer you a machine without an OS, the > European Union's highest court has ruled. therefore > "Consumers have no right to buy a PC without an OS, European court rules"
Difficult to disagree that GMOs are beyond the scope of RISKS, but I feel that how these things are debated is very relevant. Trouble is, people look in terms of safe vs. dangerous, good vs. bad, wrong vs. right, etc. when of course in real life it's risks vs. other risks, not quite safe vs. slight danger, and possible conflicts between safety requirements and other considerations. > Trade-offs are fine—necessary to get anything done. Absolutely... Big problem with contentious subjects like GMOs (banned in the EU anyway), nuclear power, hydraulic fracturing for shale gas & oil, and so forth is that the actual issues are swamped by hysteria and political posturing (and any publicity document which starts with "let's look at the facts" is pretty sure not to contain any facts...). One example: in the UK, trains have a good safety record, but on the rare occasions when something bad happens, there are demands to spend huge amounts of money on improving safety. The railways only have two sources of money, fares and subsidies from taxes, so spending more money on train safety either means more-expensive fares, which may mean people deciding to travel by road instead, putting themselves at a much greater risk, or the Government diverting money from other health/safety-related budgets. But of course road deaths are just one of those things, while train crashes are a crime against humanity. (Most rail-related deaths are trespassers and suicides which are effectively intentional so difficult for railway operators to prevent.) Another point worth debating is "profit before safety", as however much is spent on safety, it's always possible to spend more, but money is not unlimited. A commercial organisation has to make a profit or it goes bust, but also has to avoid a poor safety reputation or customers will go elsewhere, while prices must also be competitive to attract customers in the first place. A fine balancing act, and when something does go wrong it's easy to be wise after the event. At least commercial organisations do have to worry about their reputations, which Government monopolies don't. The relevance of all this to RISKS is that more and more safety-related systems are becoming software-controlled, as well as Internet-linked, thus interconnected and potentially hackable.
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