Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The Air Force still used eight-inch floppy disks

October 19, 2019

Five years after CBS publicized the fact that the Air Force still used eight-inch floppy disks to store data critical to operating the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile command, the aerial and space warfare service branch decided it was time to officially retire them.

The system, once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), relied on IBM Series/1 computers installed by the Air Force at Minuteman II missile sites in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the contention by the Air Force at the time of the 60 Minutes report that the archaic hardware offered a cybersecurity advantage, the service has completed an upgrade to what is now known as the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS), as Defense News reports. SAACS is an upgrade that swaps the floppy disk system for what Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, described as a “highly secure solid state digital storage solution.” The floppy drives were fully retired in June.

But the IBM Series/1 computers remain, in part because of their reliability and security. And it’s not clear whether other upgrades to “modernize” the system have been completed. Air Force officials have acknowledged network upgrades that have enhanced the speed and capacity of SACCS’ communications systems, and a Government Accountability Office report in 2016 noted that the Air Force planned to “update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017.” But it’s not clear how much of that has been completed.

Source: SlashDot.org

DeepMind AI Beats Humans At Deciphering Damaged Ancient Greek Tablets

October 19, 2019

Yannis Assael at DeepMind and his colleagues trained a neural network, a type of AI algorithm, to guess missing words or characters from Greek inscriptions, on surfaces including stone, ceramic and metal, that were between 1500 and 2600 years old. The AI, called Pythia, learned to recognize patterns in 35,000 relics, containing more than 3 million words. The patterns it picks up on include the context in which different words appear, the grammar, and also the shape and layout of the inscriptions.

Given an inscription with missing information, Pythia provides 20 different suggestions that could plug the gap, with the idea that someone could then select the best one using their own judgement and subject knowledge. “It’s all about how we can help the experts,” says Assael. To test the system, the team hid nine letters of a Greek personal name from Pythia. It managed to fill in the blanks. In a head-to-head test, where the AI attempted to fill the gaps in 2949 damaged inscriptions, human experts made 30 per cent more mistakes than the AI. Whereas the experts took 2 hours to get through 50 inscriptions, Pythia gave its guesses for the entire cohort in seconds.

The arXiv paper is available here.

Source: SlashDot.org