Tag: death

Robot kills fellow worker

In what could be a first, a robot is being sued for killing a human colleague.

In July 2015, Wanda Holbrook, “a maintenance technician performing routine duties on an assembly line” at an auto-parts maker in Ionia, Michigan, called Ventra Ionia Main, “was ‘trapped by robotic machinery’ and crushed to death”.

On March 7, her husband, William Holbrook, filed a wrongful death complaint in Michigan federal court, naming five North American robotics companies involved in engineering and integrating the machines and parts used at the plant. These included Prodomax, Flex-N-Gate, FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric.

Holbrook’s job involved keeping robots in working order. She routinely inspected and adjusted processes on the assembly line at Ventra, which makes bumpers.

Holbrook was performing her regular duties when a machine acted very irregularly, according to the lawsuit reported in Courthouse News.

Holbrook was in the plant’s six-cell “100 section” when a robot unexpectedly activated, taking her by surprise. The cells are separated by safety doors and the robot should not have been able to move. But it somehow reached Holbrook, and was intent on loading a trailer-hitch assembly part right where she stood over a similar part in another cell.

The machine loaded the hardware onto Holbrook’s head. She was unable to escape, and her skull was crushed. Co-workers who eventually noticed that something seemed amiss found Holbrook dead.

William Holbrook seeks an unspecified amount of damages, arguing that before her gruesome death, his wife “suffered tremendous fright, shock and conscious pain and suffering”.

He also names three of the defendants — FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric — in two additional claims of product liability and breach of implied warranty.

The case argues that the robots, tools, controllers, and associated parts were not properly designed, manufactured or tested, and not fit for use.

“The robot from section 130 should have never entered section 140, and should have never attempted to load a hitch assembly within a fixture that was already loaded with a hitch assembly. A failure of one or more of defendants’ safety systems or devices had taken place, causing Wanda’s death,” the lawsuit alleges.

Facebook flaw declares users to be dead

Dead-End-286A flaw on the social notworking site,Facebook started to decide that users were dead.

When some users logged on they discovered that they had joined Leonard Cohen, and the Norwegian Blue Parrot and become one of the many who had developed a  Life-Impairment disability.

The flaw caused Facebook to display a small memorial message above users’ regular homepage profile.  Which caused many to have to post signs saying they “ain’t dead yet”.

It appears that the bug is spreading quickly to others in the media, and has reportedly even affected the pages of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who many expected had been undead for some time.

The social network does offer a function that allows people to turn the profile pages of loved ones into a “Memorial” which is fine so long as someone does not exploit it.

Facebook said that a message meant for memorialized profiles was briefly posted to other accounts.

“This was a terrible error that we now have fixed. We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it,” said a company spokesperson by email.

Snowden ain’t dead yet

snowden_2912545bA bizzare conspiracy theory started over the weekend claiming that the spooks had finally offed Edward Snowden.

It all started when Snowden posted a tweat saying: “its time” and then followed by another one which had a long hex string.  The two tweets were mysteriously deleted and conspiracy nuts thought that it was a deadman’s switch. An automatic code releasing more secret documents in the advent he was bumped off.

Snowden had not been heard of since and the posts were deleted.  However his made and co-conspirator in the whole leaking game Glenn Greenwald  tweeted the Snowden was fine.  However he didn’t provide any details either, although it is hard to prove a negative.

For some reason people have not thought “oh, he must have sat on his mobile” or tweeted by mistake.  Happens to me all the time and no one thinks I have been offed by the CIA or a desperate Apple fanboy.


Selfies more dangerous than sharks

maxresdefaultThe narcissistic act of taking a selfie is more dangerous to your health than a Great White Shark.

More people have died while trying to taking a ‘selfie’ than from shark attacks this year, according to the Huffington Post. 
This year eight people have been killed by sharks, but 12 have lost their life while trying to take a photo of themselves.

A 66-year-old tourist from Japan recently died after falling down some stairs while trying to take a photo at the Taj Mahal in India.

In July, a woman from Mississippi was gored to death by a bison while visiting Yellowstone National Park. She had been trying to take a selfie in close proximity to the animals.

Some people just suffered near death experiences. In May when a 21-year-old woman survived accidentally shooting herself in the head while posing for a selfie with a gun in Moscow, the BBC reported.

Of course we don’t think that these people removing themselves from the gene pool have done humanity much harm, but the the situation is worrying Russian officials so much that it distributed an illustrated booklet to warn people of dangerous scenarios involved in taking such pictures as part of its Safe Selfie campaign.

In a statement, campaign organiser  Yelena Alekseyeva said: “Our booklet reminds you of how to take a safe selfie, so it is not the last one you will ever take.”

The campaign’s motto is: “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being”.  We suspect the sort of people who need to read the booklet are the last people who will do so.

Ray Dolby dies

The man who brought an end to tape hiss, Ray Dolby, has died. He was 80 years old.

Dolby was the inventor and engineer who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered noise-reducing and surround-sound technology.

Dolby had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years and was diagnosed in July with acute leukaemia.

Dolby Laboratories president and chief executive Kevin Yeaman said in a statement that his company had lost a friend, mentor and true visionary.

Ray Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon and started inventing when he was attending high school in San Francisco and then at Stanford University.

Dolby first worked at Ampex, where he was the chief designer of the first practical videotape recording system. Following his time as a United Nations adviser in India, he returned to England and founded Dolby in London. In 1976, he moved the company HQ to San Francisco.

Dolby founded his own company in 1965 and grew it into an industry leader in audio technology. His work in noise reduction and surround sound turned Dolby into a rich man with an estimated fortune of $2.3 billion.

Ray Dolby held more than 50 patents and had received two Oscars for scientific and technical achievements, several Emmys and a Grammy.

He once said: “To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in the darkness and grope toward an answer, to put up with the anxiety about whether there is an answer”.

David Dolby, his son and a member of Dolby Laboratories’ board of directors said his father was a thoughtful, patient and loving man, determined to always do the right thing in business, philanthropy, and as a husband and father.

Ray Dolby is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons Tom and David, and four grandchildren. 

World of Warcraft is dying

The age of World of Warcraft is finally coming to an end.

Activision Blizzard’s cash cow is bleeding subscribers faster than a decapitated troll with 1.3 million defecting the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone.

In its earning press release, Blizzard said that the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) saw a decline of over 14 per cent subscribers in the first quarter of 2013, the total now standing at 8.3 million.

This is probably a sign that the long running game is on its way out. Launched back in 1994 as Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. It fell from fashion and then in 2012 had a boost when the version of Mists of Pandaria sold over 2.7 million copies in a week.

Now it seems that Blizzard is prepared to admit that WoW is finally going the way of all flesh and that numbers will continue to decline as time passes.

It is predicting that the subscriber base of WoW will dip further as more and more free-to-play games emerge on the internet.

Blizzard does not care too much. It is making cash from other franchises like the Diablo 3 and StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm alongside the Call of Duty series.

Activision registered sales of $1.32 billion in its first quarter as compared to $1.17 billion year-on-year and made a net income of $456 million which is an improvement of $72 million year-on-year. 

Is it ok to howitzer a hacker?

The US military is wondering if it is OK to kill hackers who are using their skills to bring down important infrastructure.

The military is used to shooting enemy operatives who damage property and key infrastructure and it is wondering if they should be treating hackers in the same way as a soldier with an assault rifle.

As seen on Slashdot, since 2009, when the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence commissioned a panel of experts to produce a report on the legal underpinnings of cyber-warfare, the debate has been raging in the Pentagon.

What makes it tricky is that if you are at war you can justify all sorts of things, but most people will be a little cross if you wasted a 16 year old Russian script kiddie with a drone strike for breaking into a US nuclear power station to show his mates he could do it.

Current thinking is that a cyber attack that produces immediate destruction and death is likely to be viewed by the target state as a “use of force”.

Other factors, including the “military character” of the operation and whether the actual cyber-attack violated international law also play into the decision. We do wonder international law’s position on the use of drone strikes.

The US seems to be thinking that the means of attack is “immaterial” to whether an operation can be considered an armed attack. An engineered virus or a pound of plutonium left in an airport bathroom would trigger the “right of self-defense”.

But this would mean that your cyber warrior will have to start seeing themselves as being the same as any front line grunt. Their offices could be subject to bombing or direct assault. All this might sound obvious, but many cyber warriors probably don’t expect this. Their mums probably would not approve either. 

Aaron Swartz death must spark legal re-think

The suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz could provide the US with a wake up call about its US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The 29-year-old law has been used by the US government to hit hackers with draconian court cases over what should be legal technicalities and misdemeanors.

Swartz faced years in prison and ridiculous fines for downloading millions of academic articles from a private database through a network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His defence was handicapped by bullying prosecutors who were threatening to use the full force of a law which could jail you for lying about your identity on Facebook or delete files from your work laptop before you quit.

The US attorney’s case was based on the 1984 CFAA law, which some legal experts contend has been amended so many times that some portions of it no longer make sense. For example the penalties for minor offences can exceed those for more serious crimes.

Eric Goldman, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, told Yahoo Finance that so much has changed and become more complicated, and the law has kept Frankenstein-ing.

Other legal experts said that US Attorney Carmen Ortiz followed the dodgy law too closely in bringing charges against Swartz.

For example, courts across the US are split about what constitutes illegal access, which, you would have thought, would be pretty important in a hacking case.

Despite this, US prosecutors have cheerfully bought 297 federal criminal cases under the CFAA and related computer fraud laws from 2010 through 2012. This often scares the beejesus out of people who probably would not be charged with anything.

Take, for example, the man who was charged because he deleted files from his company’s laptop after he was fired, or the woman who set up a fake Facebook account. Some of these face millions of dollars of fines and long stretches in jail.

But it is not just the government prosecutors who are addicted to the nebulous law. There have been more than 300 civil lawsuits which were brought in during private disputes citing the CFAA and related laws.

Marcia Hofmann, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that prosecutors have taken advantage of the vague terms to add huge penalties to lesser cases.

They make an aggressive reading of what unauthorised access means to try to throw the book at somebody, she said.

Often prosecutors use that aspect of the law to punish something else the person did that the prosecutor didn’t like, but would have a harder job getting a court to bring in any penalty. 

US hounds "hacker" Aaron Swartz to death

The Land of the Free, which is famous for hounding people to death, has yet more blood on its hands after web prodigy Aaron Swartz killed himself under the weight of bogus court actions.

Desperate to prove to Hollywood that its lobbying dollars have paid off, the US government has been carrying out a campaign against people it identifies as hackers.

Evidence, or even a crime is not necessary, all that is required is to play the legal system until the “hacker” folds and accepts a “deal” and time inside for a crime he or she did not commit.

Swartz, 26, was an internet activist, and co-founder of Reddit. The fact that he was not your normal script kiddie can be seen by the huge outpouring of tributes to him from some great names in the industry.

In July 2011, the US government indicted Swartz for downloading 4.8 million documents from online academic journal library JSTOR. Swartz had legal access to JSTOR’s files, however, he broke into the networks of nearby MIT to pull the materials – and that gave the DOJ  the excuse to throw the book at him.

In September 2012, he returned to court to plead not guilty to charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer. The DoJ was threatening him with 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Ironically, JSTOR, which never acted against Swartz, began offering limited free access to its materials.

Swartz was a prodigy. At 14, he co-authored an early version of RSS and later helped to build Reddit. After the site was purchased by Conde Nast in 2006, Swartz engineered his own dismissal and got cashed out.

But he miffed some powerful heads in government. In 2009, he hacked into a free trial of Pacer, an online database of court records. He managed to download 20 million documents. At the time no charges were filed, after all, he had not done anything.

Security spooks were also unhappy about his work for the Avaaz Foundation, a non-profit web movement to “bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere”.

In 2010, he founded Demand Progress, a people powered lobby that worked hard to defend web freedoms against bills like SOPA and PIPA. He was, by now, clearly on the radar.

The case against Swartz was just silly. As Demand Progress’ executive director, David Segal, put it, it was like trying to jail someone for taking too many books out of the library.

The government characterised what Swartz did in the most extreme and absurd way, claiming that the “property” Swartz had “stolen,” was worth “millions of dollars”.

Everyone knew that anyone who thought there was money to be made in a stash of academic articles was either out of their mind or spinning something. Yet the DoD proudly trumpeted his arrest as if it had caught Osama Bin Laden.

The idea appears to have been to force the victim to confess to a lesser crime in return for most of the charges being dropped and the person not having to do jail time. This saves the US from having to carry out an expensive trial, but also removes the need to prove to a jury that a crime has been committed.

This also leads to legal negotiations, and the continuous threat of jail time and the stress that came with it is believed to be what led Swartz to kill himself. Swartz wrote about bouts of depression on his personal blog.

It was fairly clear that someone like him would not be able to cope with the legal game that the DoJ was playing. The paperwork suggests it really was a game.

Turing may not have topped himself

Professor Jack Copeland, who is penning a biography of Alan Turing, claims that the father of the computer might not have killed himself after all.

He thinks that evidence gathered after the death of the scientist from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41 in 1954 was “overlooked.”

Turing was found dead with a half eaten apple beside his bed which was thought to have been laced with cyanide.

However Copeland said that the Apple was never tested for cyanide, it was just assumed that it was on it.

He said that the inquest was conducted in a very superficial way and the coroner didn’t really investigate the evidence at all.

The Coroner just seemed to have cobbled together his conclusion based on statements in newspapers at the time.

The coroner in Turing’s death case ruled he committed suicide “while the balance of his mind was disturbed”, adding: “In a man of his type, one never knows what his mental processes are going to do next.”

Turing was found guilty of gross indecency with another man in 1952 and to avoid going to prison agreed to receive injections of oestrogen for a year, which were intended to reduce his libido.

Copeland, who is a Professor at the University of Canterbury Christchurch in New Zealand said medical evidence suggested Turing died from inhaling cyanide rather than drinking or ingesting it.

Turing used cyanide in his amateur experiments.

Copeland said Turing had shown no signs of being depressed about anything and was generally pretty cheery about life. His friends said he was not too concerned about his conviction either.

Of course Copeland is going against the Turing legend which is particularly powerful. Namely that after saving the British from the Germans, Turing was destroyed by the anti-gay establishment and topped himself.