Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future

Sept. 3 2015 10:50 AM

People Are Really Freaking Out About This Awesome Star Wars Droid Toy

Every once in a while something really great happens on a Thursday.

In anticipation of Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, out this December, robotic toy company Sphero just released a droid from the Star Wars universe. C-3PO and R2-D2 are cool and all, but this is BB-8, the adorable droid spotted in the first Force Awakens trailer. You'll be able to control it from your Android or iOS device because it pairs with Bluetooth, and it has three modes.

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You can drive it, record and watch Star Wars–style holographic messages in the app (sadly not emanating from the droid itself yet), or put the BB-8 in "patrol mode," its autonomous setting. The droid doesn't have any built-in "sight" sensors, so it will inevitably crash into things as it zooms around and explores. Patrol mode offers data on the BB-8's speed, path, and distance-traveled.

Disney's script is heavily guarded, but Sphero CEO Paul Berberian told Engadget that the company's BB-8 can evolve as Disney releases more information and eventually the movie itself. "It is a connected toy. It will only get better with time," he said. "As we get to learn more about the character, we can bring more to it."

Sphero's BB-8 costs $150, and you can buy it from these sellers. If you want it or know anyone who does, you should probably place an order now, because people are really going crazy for this thing, and it's hilarious. Never has the Internet been so earnestly positive. Bask in the revelry:

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Sept. 2 2015 3:45 PM

California to Ban Flying a Drone Over Someone’s Property Without Permission

Unmanned aerial systems—more commonly known as drones—have in recent years joined alien warships, pterodactyls, and the grim specter of death on the list of things no reasonable person wants to see hovering over his house. Though drones have many uses, they are most commonly associated with aerial surveillance: The devices are easily equipped with sophisticated cameras that can take high-resolution images from their vantage overhead. Every now and then, an aggrieved homeowner will grab a gun and try to blast a nearby drone out of the sky, and while I cannot condone these crude methods, I can understand the frustration behind them.

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In August, the California state legislature fired a shot of its own at the drone incursion when it passed a bill that would make it a trespassing violation to operate a drone over private property at altitudes below 350 feet without prior consent of the landowner. (Gov. Jerry Brown has not announced whether he intends to veto the bill or sign it into law.) The bill applies to all drones, whether or not they are equipped with cameras, and this blanket prohibition makes sense if you assume that the bill’s primary objective is to give the public peace of mind. After all, a ground-dweller usually can’t tell whether a drone in flight is equipped with a camera, which makes it hard to tell whether he should be worried about being spied on, or merely annoyed that some jackass is buzzing his house without permission.

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“People should be able to sit in their backyards and be in their homes without worrying about drones flying right above them or peering in their windows,” the bill’s author, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, told the Guardian. “We need to balance innovation with personal and societal expectations.” That last quote seems a direct response to the tech-industry lobbyists who opposed Jackson’s bill, claiming that, if signed into law, it would stifle innovation in the drone sector. The health of that sector is of particular importance to the state of California. According to data collected by the research firm CB Insights, six of the top 10 drone manufacturers, as measured by venture-capital funding levels, are based there. In a joint statement last month, the presidents of two relevant trade associations claimed that the drone industry would eventually bring California “roughly 18,000 new jobs and more than $14 billion in economic impact in the first decade once federal guidelines are implemented” and called Jackson’s bill “an unnecessary, innovation-stifling and job-killing proposal.”

But innovation counts for little if your innovative products are very, very annoying to the general public. This privacy bill is one in a suite of drone-related jackass-control measures that the California legislature has considered in recent months. In July, for example, lawmakers introduced a bill that would prohibit people from operating drones in a manner that interferes with emergency response operations—and would give emergency responders permission to dispose of drones that are in their way. The bill is a direct response to various incidents in which drones were spotted hovering in the sky above wildfires raging below; unfortunately, some emergency-response aircraft were forced to abort their missions in order to avoid mid-air collisions.

The California bills and others are efforts to fill the regulatory void left by the federal government. There are currently no comprehensive federal regulations to govern drone use by hobbyists. (“Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Got it!) People who want to use drones for commercial purposes—event photography, for instance—are supposed to obtain special FAA exemptions before doing so, but anecdotal evidence suggests that more than a few commercial drone pilots haven’t bothered to comply with that rule. The FAA, supposedly, will soon issue a set of regulations that will clarify the parameters of commercial drone use—but public hostility to the intrusive devices has flourished in the meantime.

In the face of this reflexive hostility, it would seem imperative that the drones’ operators act with excessive courtesy and caution, to reassure a suspicious public that the devices are being used responsibly. But the absence of any defined code of conduct has given implicit sanction to heedless operators, and this has done great damage to the reputation of the drone industry. Take the New York man who was recently caught flying a camera-equipped drone outside the examination room of a hospital, for example—not great PR. The California drone-privacy bill itself, Sen. Jackson told the Guardian, was inspired by an unpleasant experience she had on a Hawaiian vacation. “A neighbor’s drone flew right onto the balcony and was recording our conversation. It was very unsettling,” she said.

The biggest impediment to the growth of the drone sector isn’t bills like the California privacy measure, but the lack thereof; or, more specifically, the lack of a coherent and consistent code of conduct that would promote responsible operation, penalize reckless pilots, and help shift the general public sentiment from annoyance to acceptance. Bills like the California measures—imperfect as they might be—are efforts to do what the federal government has not yet done: to impose regulatory order on an unmannered sector that will never truly take off without it.

This article is part of a Future Tense series on the future of drones and is part of a larger project, supported by a grant from the Omidyar Network, that includes a drone primer from New America.

Sept. 2 2015 1:55 PM

Facebook’s New Spam-Killer Might Be the Evolution of Coding

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Louis Brandy pauses before answering, needing some extra time to choose his words. “I’m going to get in so much trouble,” he says. The question, you see, touches on an eternally controversial topic: the future of computer programming languages.

Brandy is a software engineer at Facebook, and alongside a team of other Facebookers, he spent the last two years rebuilding the system that removes spam—malicious, offensive, or otherwise unwanted messages—from the world’s largest social network. That’s no small task—Facebook juggles messages from more than 1.5 billion people worldwide—and to tackle the problem, Brandy and team made an unusual choice: they used a programming language called Haskell.

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In the early ’90s, a committee of academics built Haskell as a kind of experiment in language design, and all these years later, it remains on the fringes of mainstream programming. At GitHub—the primary repository for software code on the Net—Haskell ranks 23rd on the list of the most popular languages. Even so, Facebook chose it as the basis for its enormously complex anti-spam system, which went live earlier this year. As I chat with Brandy inside the new Facebook building in Menlo Park, California, I’m trying to understand what this choice says about the evolution of programming languages as a whole.

That may seem an innocent enough question, but any straightforward discussion of the merits of one programming language over another is inevitably met with at least a modicum of vitriol as it spills into the wider community of software developers. Coders choose programming languages for any number of technical reasons, but they also choose them for very personal reasons—and these personal reasons inevitably intertwine with the technical. If Brandy praises Haskell too heavily—or indeed criticizes it too heavily—so many others will cry foul. They’ll probably cry foul anyway.

What he does say is that Haskell is ideally suited to fighting Facebook spam because it’s so adept at executing many different tasks at the same time—and because it gives engineers the tools they need to code all these tasks on the fly. Facebook’s social network is so large and spammers are changing their techniques so quickly that the company needs a way of both building and operating its anti-spam engine at speed. “Latency is the most important thing. We want to be able to stop attacks immediately,” says Brandy, who worked with Facebookers such as Jonathan Coens and noted Haskell guru Simon Marlow in building the system. “We want to run as many checks in the shortest amount of time, and that’s where Haskell helps us.”

If you consider that companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon represent where the rest of the Internet is going—as the Internet grows, so many other online services will face the same problems it faces today—Facebook’s Haskell project can indeed point the way for the programming world as a whole. That doesn’t mean Haskell will be ubiquitous in the years to come. Because it’s so different from traditional programming languages, coders often have trouble learning to use it; undoubtedly, this will prevent widespread adoption. But Facebook’s work is a sign that other languages will move in Haskell’s general direction.

Indeed, they already are. Newer languages such as Google Go and Mozilla’s Rust are designed so that developers can build massively parallel code and build it at speed. And as Brandy points out, other projects are building Haskell-like software libraries for additional languages, including “reactive” programming projects like RxJava.

For some coders, languages like Go and Rust aren’t quite as proficient as Haskell. But they’re much easier to learn. And they at least approach the ideal that the Haskell community has sought so diligently over the last 25 years. “Haskell has pushed so many languages forward,” says Mathias Biilmann, a coder who has ample experience with Haskell and is steeped in a wide range of other languages. “And I’m sure it will continue do so.”

Biilmann builds software for running Internet sites, these days at a San Francisco startup called Netlify, and in previous years at an outfit in Spain. At one point, while building a tool that could automatically resize images when someone opened a site on their particular device, he found that Haskell was the ideal language, mostly because it was so adept at running tasks concurrently. In a world where sites handle so many different tasks for so many different people, this is a valuable quality. “You get so many requests for image resizing,” says the Denmark-born Biilmann. “You have to be able to manage lots of concurrent connections.”

Haskell is good at this because it’s a “purely functional programming language.” In essence, you build programs around a series of functions, and each function can operate independently of all the others. That means, among other things, that you can execute the functions in any order you like. You needn’t run them sequentially.

This can improve speed, Biilmann says, but it can also help coders wrap their heads around what they’re doing. “With most languages, you say: ‘First, you do this. Then, you do that,’ ” he explains. “And once you start doing this with hundreds of processes running at the same time, it becomes very hard for humans to reason about what’s actually happening and in what order things need to happen.”

These same basic characteristics are what made Haskell so attractive to Facebook. The company needed a language that could help engineers write “rules” for identifying spam on its social network. Identifying spam involves gathering data from a wide range of machines inside the company’s massive computing centers, and Haskell provided a way of doing this quickly. “It’s safe in Haskell to run two functions at the same time. You know there will be no side effects. And that’s not true of most other languages,” Brandy says. “It lets you take things that look serial and do them at the same time.”

What’s more, says Marlow, Facebook engineers can write these rules without worrying to much about how they’re be executed. “We wanted to abstract away from concurrency,” he says. “Even though concurrency is needed to get efficiency, we didn’t want our spam-fighting engineers to have to worry about it. Haskell is really good at abstracting things.”

John Edstrom, who uses Facebook’s system to fight spam on Instagram, the photocentric social network owned by Facebook, underlines how valuable this can be. “With a lot of these rules, we’re writing them as we’re being attacked. We’re like: ‘Oh crap. We have to get these out fast,’ ” he says. “If we’re working in a purely functional language that we know doesn’t have side effects, the faster we’re able to move.”

This too is important across the larger programming universe. Modern Internet services must evolve quickly, not only to serve their ever-expanding and ever-changing community of users, but to keep up with the competition.

The thing is: Biilmann no longer uses Haskell. It’s not entirely practical. Not enough people know how to use it, and this is unlikely to change. “Haskell is like a programming language from an alternate future that is never going to happen,” he says. “It solves all these problems it promises to solve. But it’s so different that there is no chance it will become common.”

Today, in building modern services that require extreme concurrency, Biilmann is more likely to use something like Go or Rust. These aren’t quite as powerful as Haskell, he says, but they’re on the right path. And they’re more suited to the mainstream programmer. “Today, if I were to rewrite my image resizer, I would probably rewrite it Go,” he says. “It probably solves 80 percent of the problems that Haskell solves for a service like that, and it basically has no learning curve.”

At Facebook, Brandy says, Haskell’s breed of parallelism isn’t suited to every task. And he acknowledges that it can be difficult for some coders to learn. But he’s confident that its techniques will become more important as the years pass. “There is certainly potential for this kind of thing,” he says. “Every company is basically writing code that is kinda like this. You have to. You see a lot of programming languages that pop up and feel like this, under the hood.”

What about Haskell itself? In the long run, could it evolve to the point where it becomes the norm? Could coders evolve to the point where they embrace it large numbers? “I don’t know,” Brandy says. “But I don’t think it would be a bad thing.”

Also in Wired:

Sept. 2 2015 11:00 AM

Meet the Twitter Bot Generating Unnervingly Plausible Think Pieces

The term think piece isn’t new, but you might be forgiven for thinking it is. Few concepts seem more central to our present intellectual moment, and fewer still encapsulate that moment’s discontents with such terse precision. “These days,” David Haglund wrote in Slate last year, “when you want to mock a piece of writing, think piece—also written think-piece or thinkpiece—is the go-to term.” To call something a think piece is to suggest that it reduces critical thought to a clickable headline—opinion in place of argument, contrarianism in place of conversation.

Here’s the problem: Any critique of think-piece culture—and there have been plenty of them—is bound to contribute to the category it challenges. Twitter, where pith is king, is especially subject to this paradox. On the one hand, its character restrictions encourage abbreviated terms like think piece that allow us dismiss an article without engaging it in detail. On the other, those same restraints make it an ideal venue for disseminating the very arguments its users so ably mock.

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Enter @thinkpiecebot, an automated Twitter account that embraces this paradox with a wink and a smile. Created by digital artist Nora Reed, @thinkpiecebot draws on a repertoire of typical provocative subjects—chemtrails, sexting, and pumpkin spice, for example. Reed told me that she has the bot randomly insert items from these lists into constructions such as “Is [SINGULAR THING] Why [GROUP] Can't [VERB THING]?” The results—pitches for essays that never were but sometimes feel that they could be—are at once familiar and alienating, perfectly capturing the formulaic vacuity of so many Internet-age articles.

Reed has created a handful of other Twitter bots, many of them with similarly satirical intent, including one that invents terrible luxury products and another that generates bad ideas for startups. In an email, she described bots as a “kind of cultural criticism,” one that helps reveal narrative patterns but “also makes me laugh while I do it.” She told me that she likes the Twitter bot format in particular, “because tweets come up without you directly seeking them out.” It’s a form of satire that seamlessly weaves itself into the world that it’s satirizing.

Reed, who is 27, says @thinkpiecebot arose out of her frustration with the way cultural commenters dissect her generation. “I keep seeing these articles about millennials that fit into two categories,” she wrote, “talking about how fragile and sheltered we are,and attempts to [explain] why we don't do things that require money. …” While she designed @thinkpiecebot to mock such stories, she says that it also serves as “a coping mechanism” by allowing her to push back against a parade of reductive assumptions.

In this regard, @thinkpiecebot shares a certain amount of its satirical DNA with Millennials to Snake People, the Chrome extension that, as its name suggests, replaces the word millennial with snake person whenever it appears on a Web page. As I wrote in in May, this extension and others like it are only pretending to mock millennials. Their real target is the way that the media reports on the young. These programs resist formula by pushing it to the point of absurdity.

Where Chrome extensions mock linguistic patterns, however, @thinkpiecebot gets at the self-consuming mechanization of journalistic discourse more generally. The best @thinkpiecebot efforts are often those that tumble into a tautological delirium. “We're Approaching The Y2K Bug All Wrong & How To Use The Y2K Bug To Fix It,” a recent tweet reads. Along similar lines, Reed told me that one of her own favorites was, “Cancer: The REAL Cause Of The Cancer Epidemic." In their circularity, these tweets point to the self-referential quality of think-piece discourse more generally. Think pieces, Reed’s bot might tell us, are the real cause of think pieces.

Sept. 1 2015 7:12 PM

Wikipedia Bans 381 Accounts Because They Were “Editing for Profit”

After an inquiry that started at the beginning of July, Wikipedia has banned 381 editors who were getting paid to post and maintain promotional content to the online encyclopedia.

Wikipedia announced the “Orangemoody” investigation, named for the first paid editor it discovered, Tuesday. The site’s CheckUser group found evidence of the “sock puppet” editors—people who appear unaffiliated with a group they are actually paid to promote—acting between April and August, though they suspect that the initiative started even longer ago.

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The play worked like this: Sock puppet accounts would seek out editors whose proposed changes had been declined by Wikipedia and offer to make the edits for them for a price. The Wikipedia admin board noted, “The use of declined drafts (and in some cases deleted articles) to identify and approach potential clients is a new wrinkle in the way paid editing is being conducted.”

The socks would make their accounts look legitimate, using a number of tactics including getting small changes approved to achieve “autoconfirmed” status. Once they identified amenable targets and got paid to make an edit, they would ask for more money every month to maintain and defend it.

In a blog post about the situation, the Wikimedia Foundation wrote:

Although it does not happen often, undisclosed paid advocacy editing may represent a serious conflict of interest and could compromise the quality of content on Wikipedia. ... Most of these articles, which were related to businesses, business people, or artists, were generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations. The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.

It seems like a scam that would barely be worth the effort (Wikipedia was able to confirm that in at least one case, socks asked for 30 dollars per month to maintain their edits), but they are clearly getting enough out of it to keep going. The Wikimedia Foundation has worked steadily to discourage paid editing, but there are always new approaches popping up.

Sept. 1 2015 6:52 PM

Despite His Climate Change Promises, Obama Is Basically Running a Petrostate

After seven years of failing to match his action to his rhetoric, Obama seems to have finally hit his stride in Alaska. Monday night’s speech in Anchorage will send chills down your spine, even as you fret about the melting Arctic:

The New York Times said Obama’s words “bordered on the apocalyptic,” and that the main takeaway is that “we’re not acting fast enough.” He repeated that point four times in 24 minutes. It’s quite clear that Obama deeply cares about climate change—likely more so than any other U.S. president before him. (Though that’s setting quite a low bar.)

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But his words—as powerful and compelling as they are—fall flat, given his record of expanding domestic production of fossil fuels. Lost in the debate over Arctic drilling is the fact that the administration has quietly set in motion a vast expansion of coal mining in Wyoming that could erase the cumulative impact of all his climate policies—three times over.

The United States, now planet Earth’s second biggest producer of fossil fuels behind only China, increasingly functions as a petrostate. Some have argued that this is a good thing—better to bring all that coal, oil, and gas out of the ground in a democracy that can apply environmental oversight. But it sends dangerous mixed messages to other countries that are considering whether to increase the ambition of their own climate policies.

Since the U.S. has long held a ban on oil exports, the crude we used to buy on the global market is now up for sale elsewhere, and prices have plummeted in response—counterintuitively strengthening the American oil industry. Lawmakers in Alaska, which derives about three-quarters of its tax revenue from oil and gas, are practically begging Obama to keep the tap flowing.

Obama mentioned none of this in his speech on Monday. Climate Obama is perfectly happy making grand speeches while Oil Baron Obama gleefully counts the money flowing in from industry. Behind the scenes, senior administration officials have acknowledged that they are trying to have it both ways.

The public is smarter than this. Americans—even Republicans—now overwhelmingly support action on climate. The president has little to lose, except the goodwill of the oil industry, by taking a harder stand.

Nearly every seemingly insurmountable fight in American history—slavery, civil rights, gay marriage—required an engaged and activist public to galvanize bold change. The fight to stop climate change is no different. It demands personal sacrifice, which I think Americans are willing to provide, within reason, if they see their leaders taking a tough stand.

Climate change is a deeply important human rights issue, as Pope Francis so eloquently described earlier this year. It’s no longer possible with a straight face for a leader to advocate both for increased fossil fuel extraction and for tighter regulations on its use. As Obama said Monday night, “It’s not enough just to talk the talk. We’ve got to walk the walk.”

Sept. 1 2015 6:10 PM

Google’s New Logo Isn’t Just About Looks. It’s About the Web’s Future.

Google unveiled a new logo on Tuesday morning, and it’s already been the subject of a slew of aesthetic critiques, including a positive review by Slate Web designer Derreck Johnson. When it comes to corporate logos, details like font and color matter, as do stylistic flourishes like an upward-tilted “e.”

But Google’s new logo isn’t just about looks. It’s about scalability and action, and it tells us a lot about the future of branding in a world of smartphones, smartwatches, GIFs, and mobile video.

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As Fast Company’s Mark Wilson explains, sans serif fonts like Google’s new “product sans” are more legible than serif fonts when shrunk to fit on tiny screens, like those on Google Glass or Android Wear devices. Phablets and the HoloLens notwithstanding, the screens on which we do our computing are not likely to be getting much bigger anytime soon.

It isn’t just Google that needs to adapt its marketing to the mobile age. As other brands follow suit, serifs may be headed the way of calligraphy.

It’s also worth noting that Google’s new logo isn’t just one logo. There’s a new version of the iconic four-color, six-letter “Google” logo that appears when you visit Google.com, yes. But there’s also a new, four-color “G” that will stand in for the full word in more compact settings, like the Google app icon. (It replaces the plain blue lower-case “g” in these contexts.)

Most interestingly, as you can see in the GIF at the top of this story, Google’s logos no longer just sit there on the page. Rather, they’re built to respond to certain actions with animations that convey the type of computing that’s going on. For instance, Fast Company’s Wilson notes, when you begin a voice search:

The Google logo will morph from “Google” into the dots, which undulate like water in anticipation of your query. As you talk, the dots will become an equalizer, reacting to the sound of your vocalizations. Then when you’re done talking, the waveform become dots again, which spin as Google looks up your results. Then once the results are presented, the dots return to good old “Google” again.

The animation is a clever touch, and one that makes particular sense for a brand like Google whose products are fundamentally interactive. Yahoo started down this path a couple of years ago with a new logo whose exclamation point dances. Dropbox has an animated box logo that opens and closes while you wait for something to happen. Among the first to animate its logo on the Web was Netscape, whose animated “N” became a symbol of the frustration involved in waiting for a bloated browser to load.

Google’s logo change is emblematic of the Web’s broader move from static, skeuomorphic, “page”-based design to something more fluid and adaptable. For better or worse, dancing logos could become as much a fabric of the mobile Internet as responsive design and autoplay videos. (Of course, Internet companies didn’t invent the animated logo—think of Pixar’s lamp, or even MGM’s roaring lion.)

In Google’s case, the animation is meant as a visual cue that something is happening: speakers listening, cloud servers processing. But I doubt other brands will feel constrained to limit their logo-motion to such apt use cases. For advertisers, animated logos may become just another way to grab an instant of your attention in a mobile landscape where it’s more precious than ever.

Sept. 1 2015 12:29 PM

Flash Might Really Be Dead This Time

Adobe Flash Player has been plagued by security issues and instability, and finally the tide is turning against it. In July Mozilla blocked Flash on Firefox, and now Google is doing the same for Chrome, which will have an even bigger impact, since Chrome is a much more popular browser.

Spotted by TechCrunch, Google posted on the AdWords Google+ last week that Chrome will will strongly favor HTML5 ads and begin pausing most Flash ads by default starting Tuesday. That's today!

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Google explained to ad customers:

To ensure your ads continue to show on the Google Display Network, please follow these steps before September 1:
1) Identify any Flash ads in your account that aren’t eligible for automatic conversion: https://goo.gl/I4186A 
2) Convert these ads to HTML5: https://goo.gl/ZBq5DR

That's it. In one fell swoop Google is taking the step we've all been waiting for. And with other companies like Amazon on board, too, this might actually happen. Eliminating all Flash Player components will probably still be a little bit of a whack-a-mole situation for a while, but if we lean on each other and believe, anything is possible.

Aug. 31 2015 3:25 PM

New iOS Malware Compromises 225,000 Apple Accounts

A new family of malware being called KeyRaider has been used to compromise 225,000 Apple accounts, including private keys and purchase histories, along with other personal data and device control. Though it is a huge breach—“We believe this to be the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware,” researchers wrote—the malware is only effective on jailbroken iDevices. So if you haven’t monkeyed with your iOS, you’re probably safe.

Palo Alto Networks published research about the malware on Sunday in collaboration with WeipTech. The malware seems to be coming from third-party distributors in China who specialize in software for jailbroken devices. Researchers estimate that about 20,000 people are taking advantage of the 225,000 compromised Apple accounts, and that there are affected users in 18 countries.

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Researcher Claud Xiao wrote:

The purpose of this attack was to make it possible for users of two iOS jailbreak tweaks to download applications from the official App Store and make in-app purchases without actually paying. Jailbreak tweaks are software packages that allow users to perform actions that aren’t typically possible on iOS. ... Some victims have reported that their stolen Apple accounts show abnormal app purchasing history and others state that their phones have been held for ransom.

Jailbreaking your iDevice comes with risks, because the software tweaks aren’t evaluated and protected by Apple. That doesn’t mean, though, that leaving your iPhone (or Apple Watch or whatever) intact is a guarantee that it will never have vulnerabilities. Stay educated about what you download, and keep installing software updates.

Aug. 31 2015 11:55 AM

Future Tense Event: Come Watch District 9 With Francis Fukuyama In Washington, D.C.

The critically acclaimed 2009 film District 9 from South African director Neill Blomkamp takes the classic alien-invasion genre in a radically different direction. Like all of the best science fiction, the film tackles very real, very pressing social questions by imagining a possible future. The New York Times considered the film’s takeaway to be that the “only way to become fully human is to be completely alienated.” 

What will Francis Fukuyama say about it? Fukuyama, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute and the author of The Origins of Political Order and The End of History and the Last Man, is hosting our next Future Tense “My Favorite Movie” night. The District 9 screening will be on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at Washington, D.C.’s Landmark E Street Cinema at 555 11th St. NW. 

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To attend, please RSVP to futuretensedc@gmail.com with your name, email address, and any affiliation you’d like to share. You may RSVP for yourself and up to one guest, and please include your guest’s name in your response. Seating is limited. 

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