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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

DNA analysis site that led to the Golden State Killer issues a privacy warning to users

As more details emerge about the arrest of the man suspected to be the Golden State Killer, it’s clear that one of the most infamous unsolved cases of all time was cracked using a popular free online genealogy database.

The site, known as GEDmatch, is a popular resource for people who have obtained their own DNA through readily available consumer testing services and want to fill in missing portions of their family tree to conduct further analyses. Compared to a polished service like 23andMe, GEDmatch is an open platform lacking the same privacy and legal restrictions that govern user data on more mainstream platforms.

To home in on their suspect, investigators used an intact DNA sample taken at the time of a 1980 Ventura County murder linked to the serial killer. The team uploaded data from the sample into GEDmatch and were able to identify distant relatives of the suspect — a critical breakthrough that soon led to the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, 72.

Given the high-stakes nature of DNA data and the popularity of voluntary online DNA databases, the case immediately raised a number of flags for data privacy advocates.

On Friday, GEDmatch confirmed on its landing page for logged-in users that law enforcement sifted through its DNA database in the case:

To correct a BIG misunderstanding, we do not show any person’s DNA on GEDmatch. We only show manipulations of data such as DNA [matches].

We understand that the GEDmatch database was used to help identify the Golden State Killer. Although we were not approached by law enforcement or anyone else about this case or about the DNA, it has always been GEDmatch’s policy to inform users that the database could be used for other uses, as set forth in the Site Policy

While the database was created for genealogical research, it is important that GEDmatch participants understand the possible uses of their DNA, including identification of relatives that have committed crimes or were victims of crimes.

If you are concerned about non-genealogical uses of your DNA, you should not upload your DNA to the database and/or you should remove DNA that has already been uploaded. To delete your registration contact gedmatch@gmail.com.

Though an initial misunderstanding raised suspicion that law enforcement used a major player in consumer genetic testing like 23andMe or Ancestry DNA in the Golden State Killer development, investigators instead leveraged another voluntary DNA database with no such hoops to jump through. Both 23andMe and Ancestry require law enforcement to create a legal request in the form of a search warrant or a court order before accessing any specific genetic or personal information.

23andMe explains its policies toward forensics in a special page dedicated to its relationship with law enforcement:

Use of the 23andMe Personal Genetic Service for casework and other criminal investigations falls outside the scope of our services intended use.

Therefore, it is a violation of our TOS for law enforcement officials to submit samples on behalf of a prisoner or someone in state custody who has been charged with a crime.

While the revelation that investigators have apprehended a suspect in the long-cold case is good news, the incident is reigniting justifiable concerns around consumer DNA testing.

In an interview with The New York Times, Paul Holes, the Contra Costa county investigator who helped crack the case, marveled at the power of GEDmatch. “I was blown away with what it could do,” Holes said.


Source: TechCrunch

HP reopens pre-orders for its first ‘always connected’ Windows 10 PC

After briefly appearing during February, HP’s first Windows on ARM PC, the Envy x2, is back to pre-order for $999. It’s the result of a new relationship between Qualcomm and Microsoft for Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs.

The post HP reopens pre-orders for its first ‘always connected’ Windows 10 PC appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Tesla shareholders will vote on replacing Elon Musk as board chairman – Roadshow

If he were outsted by shareholders, he’d be replaced with an independent chairman.
Source: CNET

This soft robotic arm is straight out of Big Hero 6 (it’s even from Disney)

The charming robot at the heart of Disney’s Big Hero 6, Baymax, isn’t exactly realistic, but its puffy bod is an (admittedly aspirational) example of the growing field of soft robotics. And now Disney itself has produced a soft robot arm that seems like it could be a prototype from the movie.

Created by Disney Research roboticists, the arm seems clearly inspired by Baymax, from the overstuffed style and delicate sausage fingers to the internal projector that can show status or information to nearby people.

“Where physical human-robot interaction is expected, robots should be compliant and reactive to avoid human injury and hardware damage,” the researchers write in the paper describing the system. “Our goal is the realization of a robot arm and hand system which can physically interact with humans and gently manipulate objects.”

The mechanical parts of the arm are ordinary enough — it has an elbow and wrist and can move around the way many other robot arms do, using the same servos and such.

But around the joints are what look like big pillows, which the researchers call “force sensing modules.” They’re filled with air and can detect pressure on them. This has the dual effect of protecting the servos from humans and vice versa, while also allowing natural tactile interactions.

“Distributing individual modules over the various links of a robot provides contact force sensing over a large area of the robot and allows for the implementation of spatially aware, engaging physical human-robot interactions,” they write. “The independent sensing areas also allow a human to communicate with the robot or guide its motions through touch.”

Like hugging, as one of the researchers demonstrates:

Presumably in this case the robot (also presuming the rest of the robot) would understand that it is being hugged, and reciprocate or otherwise respond.

The fingers are also soft and filled with air; they’re created in a 3D printer that can lay down both rigid and flexible materials. Pressure sensors within each inflatable finger let the robot know whether, for example, one fingertip is pressing too hard or bearing all the weight, signaling it to adjust its grip.

This is still very much a prototype; the sensors can’t detect the direction of a force yet, and the materials and construction aren’t airtight by design, meaning they have to be continuously pumped full. But it still shows what they want it to show: that a traditional “hard” robot can be retrofitted into a soft one with a bit of ingenuity. We’re still a long way from Baymax, but it’s more science than fiction now.


Source: TechCrunch

What does the Avengers: Infinity War post-credits scene mean? – CNET

Spoilers ahead! Avengers: Infinity War ends with one of the best after-credits scenes yet. Let’s break it down.
Source: CNET

T-Mobile is reportedly much closer to a merger deal with Sprint

It looks like a potential merger deal between T-Mobile and Sprint, two of the major telecom companies in the U.S., is getting closer and now has set valuation terms, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The deal could be announced as soon as Sunday, according to a report by CNBC. The proposed tie-up of the two companies was called off in November last year, but now that deal appears to be coming closer, with T-Mobile’s backer valuing Sprint at around $24 billion, according to Bloomberg. As part of the deal, Deutsche Telekom AG will get a 69% voting interest on a 42% stake in the company, according to that report. (Both reports, however, disagree on the valuation — with CNBC citing a $26 billion valuation.)

This deal seems to have been a long time coming, and consolidates two of the four major telecom providers in the U.S. into one larger entity. That could, in theory, offer it some more flexibility as they expand into 5G networks. Still, a deal of this scale could still fall apart and would be subject to regulation — with significant international ownership of both companies (Softbank for Sprint, and Deutsche Telekom for T-Mobile).

Sprint shares fell more than 8% in extended trading to under $6, while T-Mobile shares were largely unchanged. Shares of Sprint were up around 8% on the day up to $6.50 in early trading.

A representative from Sprint declined to comment. A representative from T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Source: TechCrunch

Apple is developing a combo VR-AR headset video – CNET

The headset, slated for 2020, would be wireless and use Apple’s own chips. Though the company has incorporated augmented reality into its phones, this would be Apple’s first big foray into virtual reality.
Source: CNET

Apple’s rumored wireless mixed reality glasses could launch in 2020

Apple is working on its own mixed reality headset. With an 8K display for each eye, the glasses, which combines augmented and virtual reality technologies, may arrive in 2020 with custom Apple components to deliver a wireless experience.

The post Apple’s rumored wireless mixed reality glasses could launch in 2020 appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Why the New Snap Spectacles Matter

Want to see the future? Try squinting through Spectacles.
Source: Wired

T-Mobile and Sprint could merge as soon as this weekend – CNET

The two US carriers could tie the knot sooner than we thought, according to a new report.
Source: CNET

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