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Scientists ‘hack’ into voting machines

India’s voting machines—considered to be among the world’s most tamper proof—can
be hacked, American scientists claim.

Researchers at the University of Michigan connected a home-made device to a voting machine and successfully changed results by sending text messages from a mobile.

“We made an imitation display board that looks almost exactly like the real display in the
machines. But underneath some of the components of the board, we hide a microprocessor and a Bluetooth radio,”said Prof J Alex Halderman.

He said: “Our look alike display board intercepts the vote totals that the machine is trying
to display and replaces them with dishonest totals—basically whatever the bad guy wants to show up at the end of the election”.

Moreover, they added a small microprocessor, which they say can change the votes
stored in the machine between the election and the vote-counting session.

However, India’s Deputy Election Commissioner, Alok Shukla, said: “It is not just the
machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely
impossible for anybody to open the machine”.

“Before the elections take place, the machine is set in the presence of the candidates
and their representatives. These people are allowed to put their seal on the machine, and nobody can open the machine without breaking the seals.”

Using sari to filter water and fight against cholera

Sari cloth is a simple, sustainable protector from cholera, a study conducted in Bangladesh has revealed.

Using the sari to filter household water protects not only the household from cholera, but
reduces the incidence of disease in neighbouring households that do not filter.

Rita Colwell,University of Maryland, College Park, said: “Asimple method for filtering
pond and river water to reduce the incidence of cholera, field tested in Matlab, Bangladesh, proved effective in reducing the incidence of cholera by 48 per cent. This follow-up study conducted 5 years later showed that 31 per cent of the village
women continued to filter water for their households, with both an expected and an unexpected benefit.”

In 2003, Rita and her colleagues reported the results of a field study that demonstrated by simply teaching village women responsible for collecting water to filter the water through folded cotton sari cloth, they could reduce the incidence of cholera in that group by nearly half.

Though the results were promising at the time of the research, there was concern that
the practice of sari water filtrationwould not be sustained in later years.

Five years later they conducted the followup study to determine whether sari water filtration continued to be practiced by the same population of participants and, if it were,
whether therewould continue to be a beneficial effect of reduced incidence of cholera.

Now, a software that detects sarcasm

Israeli researchers have developed a computer algorithm capable of identifying sarcasm in written text.

Devised by computer scientists at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the algorithm
could pave the way for more sophisticated communication between humans and computers—the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence.

The new formula has been programmed to recognise sarcasm in lengthy texts by analysing patterns of phrases and punctuation often used to indicate irony.

The researchers ‘trained’ the algorithm to recognise sarcasm by teaching it nearly 5,500
sentences from Amazon reviews that human volunteers had marked as either sarcastic or non-sarcastic.


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