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Game You Can Control Mind

Designed by Neurable, a small start-up founded by Ramses Alcaide, an electrical engineer and neuroscientist, the game offers what you might call a computer mouse for the mind, a way of selecting items in a virtual world with your thoughts.

Incorporating a headset with virtual reality goggles and sensors that can read your brain waves, this prototype is a few years from the market. And it is limited in what it can do. You cannot select an object with your mind unless you first look in its general direction, narrowing the number of items you may be considering.

But it works. I recently played the game, which has the working title Awakening, when Mr. Alcaide and two Neurable employees passed through San Francisco, and a few hundred others tried it this month at the Siggraph computer graphics conference in Los Angeles.

The prototype is among the earliest fruits of a widespread effort to embrace technology that was once science fiction — and in some ways still is. Driven by recent investments from the United States government and by the herd mentality that so often characterizes the tech world, a number of a start-ups and bigger companies like Facebook are working on ways to mentally control machines. They are also looking for smoother ways to use virtual reality technology.

“Neurotechnology has become cool,” said Ed Boyden, a professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the M.I.T. Media Lab who advises one of those start-ups.

 The increased interest in neurotechnology is partly a result of an effort the Obama administration started in 2013. The initiative helped create significant government financing for brain-interface companies and related work in academia. Then Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, began promoting the idea and his latest company, Neuralink. That combination has attracted the interest of private venture capital firms.

“With the smartphone, we’re starting to reach the limits of what we can do,” said Doug Clinton, the founder of Loup Ventures, a new venture capital firm that has invested in Neurable. “These companies are the next step.”

The Neurable prototype shows what is possible today. Using electroencephalography, or EEG — a means of measuring electrical brain activity that has been around for decades — the company can provide simple ways of mentally interacting with a game. Some companies hope to go much further, and want to build ways of performing nearly any computing task with the mind. Imagine a brain interface for rapidly typing on a smartphone.

Even for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Mr. Musk, setting that goal pushes technological optimism to new heights. Some efforts seem particularly quixotic. Mr. Musk said in one interview that Neuralink planned to develop ways of implanting hardware in the skulls of completely healthy people.

At Neurable, which is based in Boston, Mr. Alcaide and the members of his team are pushing the limits of EEG headsets. Although sensors can read electrical brain activity from outside the skull, it is very difficult to separate the signal from the noise. Using computer algorithms based on research that Mr. Alcaide originally published as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Neurable works to read activity with a speed and accuracy that is not usually possible.

The algorithms learn from your behavior. Before playing the game, you train them to recognize when you are focusing your attention on an object. A pulse of light bounces around the virtual room, and each time it hits a small colored ball in front of you, you think about the ball. At that moment, when you focus on the light and it stimulates your brain, the system reads the electrical spikes of your brain activity.

After you do this for a few minutes, the game learns to recognize when you are concentrating on an item. “We look at specific brain signals,” Mr. Alcaide said, “and once we understand them, we can use them.”

When you play the game, the same light bounces around the virtual room. When it hits the item you are thinking about, the system can identify the increase in brain activity.

The technique works with equipment that already exists. Neurable’s prototype uses virtual reality goggles from HTC, a consumer electronics company, and seven EEG sensors placed at specific spots around your head. But given the physical limits of what these sensors can read, an EEG-based game is unlikely to do more than slowly and simply select digital objects

Some companies are working to move beyond that. Facebook, for example, is exploring methods for optically reading brain activity from outside the skull. Such a system would shine light into the brain to directly read chemical changes.

That is well beyond the realm of current research, and a number of neuroscientists question whether it will ever be possible, arguing that such speed will only come with devices planted inside the skull.

Several start-ups are now working to do just that. But some, including a Silicon Valley start-up called Paradromics, hope to do this as a way of treating people with medical conditions like blindness, deafness and paralysis.

Implanting hardware in the brain is dangerous, but the reward for patients could outweigh the risks. For companies like Paradromics, the goal is to significantly refine and expand the current methods, providing a faster and more complete way for patients to operate machines with their thoughts.

Mr. Musk’s Neuralink is moving in a similar direction, but the company’s ambitions appear to stretch much further, to eventually implanting chips in healthy people’s brains

Protect Information Online

How do I know if my personal information has been taken?

Unfortunately, you may want to assume that it was. Cyberattacks happen all the time.

As for this most recent Equifax breach, the company is directing consumers to its website to see whether their information had been stolen, though as of Thursday night, Equifax declined to comment beyond what it had already posted on its website.

What if I’m certain my data has been stolen from Equifax?

Set yourself up with fraud alerts in case someone tries to apply for credit in your name. To be safe, do this at all three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Then, consider spending a few dollars to set up security freezes at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This will lock down your credit files permanently, so that only companies that you currently do business with can see them. That way, if a thief applies for credit in your name, the company getting the application will not be able to access your credit file. No file means no new account. You will be able to temporarily open them each time you want to apply for new credit.

Should I change my passwords?

Regardless of the type of breach or the company involved, it’s always a safe bet to change passwords for sites that contain sensitive information like financial, health or credit card data. Do not use the same password across multiple sites and do not use your Social Security number as a username or password, especially in the wake of the recent Equifax breach.

And if you were not doing so already, you will have to treat everything you receive online with an abundance of suspicion, in case hackers are trying to trick you out of even more information.

How do I create stronger passwords?

Try a password manager like 1Password or LastPass.

These sites create a unique password for each website you visit and store them in a database protected by a master password that you create. Password managers reduce the risk of reused passwords or those that are easy to decode.

The Wirecutter, a product recommendations site owned by The New York Times, provides a helpful explanation of why password managers are so essential. They also maintain an updated guide to what it considers to be the best password managers.

If you must create your own passwords, try creating long, complex passwords consisting of nonsensical phrases or one-sentence summaries of strange life events and add numbers and special characters.

 Are passwords enough?

Passwords are not enough. If a site offers additional security features, like secondary or two-factor authentication, enable them. Then, when you enter your password, you will receive a message (usually a text) with a one-time code that you must enter before you can log in.

(Here’s a link to turn on two-factor authentication for Gmail accounts. Here’s one for Yahoo accounts, and here’s one for Outlook accounts.)

Many bank sites and major sites like Google and Apple offer two-factor authentication. In some cases, the second authentication is required only if you are logging in from a new computer.

Won’t security questions protect my data?

Sites will often use common security questions to recover a user’s account if the password is forgotten.

These questions are problematic because the internet has made public record searches simple and the answers are usually easy to guess.

In a study, security researchers at Google found that with a single guess, an attacker would have a 19.7 percent chance of duplicating an English-speaking user’s answer to the question, “What is your favorite food?” (It was pizza.)

IPhone X and 8 Models as It Upgrades TV Set-Top Box

Apple unveiled iPhone X, its first premium-tier phone, at an event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. Here’s what else the company had to say.

• iPhone X is priced at $999, the most expensive ever for a new iPhone model. It will ship on Nov. 3. (Pro tip: The X is pronounced 10, and not “ex.”)

• The phone has a newer screen technology known as OLED, a type of display that can be made thinner, lighter and brighter with better color accuracy and contrast than its predecessor, LCD.

• The screen on the X has a so-called edge-to-edge display that takes up the entire face by eliminating the borders around the screen. Apple also eliminated the physical home button that has been a signature feature of the iPhone for a decade.

• iPhone 8 is also here, as well as its bigger sibling, the iPhone 8 Plus. The models include a glass body and a faster chip.• Apple TV, the company’s set-top box that has never been a blockbuster hit, got an upgrade. The device will now be able to stream so-called 4K resolution, which refers to screens with two times the vertical resolution and twice the horizontal resolution of older high-definition TVs.

• Apple took the wraps off a new Apple Watch. Called Apple Watch Series 3, it has cellular capabilities. There’s also a new Watch OS.

iPhone X Pushes Apple Into New Territory on Price

With the $999 iPhone X, Apple moved to a new premium level of pricing. The smartphone will cost $300 more than the iPhone 8 and $200 more than the iPhone 8 Plus.

While that will be too expensive for many people, the company said it saw the iPhone X defining a new era for the smartphone, much like the original iPhone did 10 years ago. Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the device would “set the path for the next decade.” That’s because Apple will likely build on some of the iPhone X’s most notable features, including infrared facial recognition, wireless battery charging and sophisticated camera effects.

Consumer reaction to the new phone will have a big impact on the company’s revenue and stock price. Right now, analysts are betting on a slow uptake of the top-end phone, both because of production delays and the high price. But if it turns out to be an unexpected hit, like the iPhone 6 Plus and 7 Plus, the company’s sales — and stock price — could surge.

Wall Street wasn’t immediately dazzled by Apple’s presentation, however, with the stock price down more than 1 percent by the end of the event.

The iPhone X is the first redesigned iPhone in three years, and Apple says it is the blueprint for “the future of the smartphone.” Many of the design details had leaked to the press before today’s unveiling — we’d heard that it would have a new display that stretched across much more of the phone’s front, and that it would do away with the trademark home button.

Much of that turned out to be true. The iPhone X is essentially the same size and overall shape as the iPhone 7, but because the screen occupies all of the front of the phone, it is far larger than that of older models. The screen uses a technology new for Apple (which many competitors already use), called OLED. It produces better image quality than Apple’s older LCD screens.

What we didn’t quite know was how Apple would integrate the new button-free design with the operating system — how would you navigate the phone without a physical button?

It’s quite simple: You swipe. To go home, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. To see other apps, swipe up from the bottom and pause — now you see the multitasking pane. And to unlock your phone, you look at it. The iPhone X eliminates Apple’s Touch ID, and replaces it with a facial-recognition system that Apple calls Face ID.

Whether people will adjust to the button-free system remains to be seen. For better or worse, Apple has used essentially the same interface for the iPhone for the last decade. Swiping is easy, but it isn’t as easy as hitting a button, and it may throw some people off at first. The learning curve will be interesting to watch

The brand-new feature in the iPhone X that has never existed on any other iPhone is infrared face scanning.

The technology, called Face ID, uses an infrared camera system on the front of the phone to scan the contours and shape of a person’s head to unlock the phone and authorize mobile payments. The technology works by spraying an object with infrared dots to gather information about the depth of an object based on the size and the contortion of the dots. The imaging system can then stitch the patterns into a detailed 3-D image of your face to determine if you are indeed the owner of your smartphone before unlocking it.

For Apple, Face ID has been years in the making. In 2013, the iPhone maker acquired PrimeSense, a company that developed sensors for Microsoft’s Kinect, a camera system that scanned people’s bodies so people could play Xbox games using body movements.

Face ID is a direct response to the face-recognition feature in smartphones offered by Samsung, Apple’s fiercest rival. Experts have criticized Samsung’s face-recognition feature, which could be tricked by holding a photo of the smartphone owner’s face in front of the camera.

The phones include a six-core processor that will handle more complex tasks and 3D games more quickly and efficiently than previous iPhones. The phones generally look the same as their predecessors, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, with the exception of glass bodies, as opposed to aluminum.

Apple improved the phones’ cameras with new sensors and added new motion sensors to better support applications made for augmented reality, which use data to digitally manipulate the physical world when people look through a smartphone lens.

In particular, the dual cameras in the iPhone 8 Plus take photos with sharp details in low light. Apple also added a new portrait mode to improve the lighting on faces regardless of the background.

Another notable new feature is the introduction of magnetic induction to the iPhones. Similar to Apple Watch, the iPhones can now be charged by being placed on a charging pad as opposed to being plugged in with a cable.

The new iPhone 8 line will be one of the most important for Apple. Wall Street analysts have estimated that more than half of iPhone buyers will buy the 8 and 8 Plus over the next year. The models have a slightly higher starting price than their predecessors: The iPhone 8 starts at $699, up from $650 for older iPhone models.

Apple unveiled an upgrade for Apple TV, its set-top box. While Mr. Jobs referred to Apple TV as a “hobby” because it was not a hot seller compared to the company’s smartphones, computers and tablets, the product is becoming increasingly important to Apple as it, along with other tech giants like Facebook and Google, moves into creating original video content.

The new Apple TV, called Apple TV 4K, it is an iteration of the last model, which introduced a touch pad remote control. The new box will now be able to stream so-called 4K resolution, which refers to screens with two times the vertical resolution and twice the horizontal resolution of older high-definition TVs. Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of internet software and services, added that 4K titles would cost the same to purchase as traditional high-definition titles, and those who previously bought high-definition titles would be upgraded to 4K at no additional cost.

Apple said the new Apple TV 4K is also two times faster than the last one and includes support for a new color technology called H.D.R., or high dynamic range. This software feature enhances the contrast and color profile of a picture. In bright colors, you will see brighter highlights; in dark colors, you will see more details.

Explore a City Like Using Your Smartphone

Sure, you can still ask a stranger where to find some good sushi, but there is no guarantee they will be interested in, or qualified to, help you.

Thankfully, there are several smartphone apps that cut out those potentially awkward moments but still provide valuable recommendations from those in the know.

The three I tested out recently while roaming the streets of New York all had something to offer — though some were more useful than others.

Like all of these apps, Spotted by Locals provides recommendations submitted by actual local residents on where to eat, shop, be entertained and more. The idea is to keep you away from tourist traps and steer you toward hidden gems.

I used it to explore a neighborhood where I used to be a local (Astoria, Queens) to see if it could deliver. The fact that it included a wide assortment of suggestions in a borough not named Manhattan was impressive enough, compared to the other apps I tested, but the recommendations themselves were also spot on.

For example, Astoria’s popular Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden was rightfully featured, but so was SingleCut Brewery, a lesser-known, but worthwhile, beer spot.

The advice for each location is the perfect length — detailed but not overwhelming, and the “Nearby” tab on the map makes it easy to scope out places wherever you are.

The app seems geared toward younger travelers — it feels like a cross between Facebook, Tinder and Foursquare — and most of the cousins themselves have an appropriately hipster look. For New York, this leads to a higher concentration of recommendations below 14th Street in Manhattan and several in Brooklyn (very few in Queens), and heavy in the food and night life areas.

But the app itself is easy to figure out, and the map includes the option to download and use offline (for free). No matter where you are, just hit the location arrow to see what’s nearby.

The recommendations themselves are solid and are written casually — think Yelp, minus the negativity. I added 26 of 55 available cousins in New York and was impressed with what was revealed, including free public gardens and lesser-known art galleries, as well as a wide variety of intriguing bars and restaurants.

Your new cousins will even message you through the app to say hello, and you have the option of writing them back to ask for more tips. You will also get a push notification every time you receive a new message, which you can turn off by adjusting your settings. After asking two of my paired cousins, I received additional restaurant recommendations.

Like a Local

Well-designed and easy to navigate, Like a Local has fewer contributors than the other apps (28, providing 197 tips for New York at the time of writing) but it is in more cities than the others (over 300) and best functions as a complementary tool.

The recommendations are detailed yet concise, giving an excellent general overview and a “special tip” for each location. For example, at the Brazilian restaurant Beco in Brooklyn, Kelly advises: “Come early because the restaurant’s seating space is limited. CA$H ONLY.”

Software Used to Monitor Lyft Drivers

The investigation is focused on Uber’s use of a special program internally called “Hell,” said people with knowledge of the proceedings, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Uber had used the program to gain an edge over Lyft in markets where both companies operated, these people said.

A spokesman for Uber confirmed that the ride-hailing company was cooperating with the investigation but declined further comment. A spokesman for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment, while the F.B.I.’s New York office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The investigation was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

While Uber appointed a new chief executive last month, the ride-hailing company continues to grapple with the fallout from past actions under Travis Kalanick, its former chief. Mr. Kalanick prized aggression in building Uber, which often resulted in tactics and practices that skirted the boundaries of the law — and that have led to multiple legal headaches.

The Justice Department is also looking into another Uber software program, named “Greyball,” which was used to evade law enforcement in cities where the company’s ride-hailing service was not allowed to operate. Separately, Uber is dealing with an inquiry over accusations that one of its employees bribed officials in India, and the company continues to be entangled in a legal battle over intellectual property theft with Waymo, a major competitor in the race to conquer self-driving car technology.

The “Hell” program was essentially a competitive intelligence initiative created by Uber to challenge Lyft for drivers and riders. According to the people familiar with the investigation, Uber employees used the program to monitor drivers who worked for both services. Uber would then use financial incentives to persuade drivers to work for Uber more frequently instead of Lyft.

The existence of the “Hell” program was uncovered this year by a technology news site, The Information, which said Uber ended the effort in 2016.

One key question, according to one of the people with knowledge of the investigation, is whether Uber engaged in some kind of unlawful computer access as part of its scheme.

Phones and Laptops at U.S. Illegal

Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, claims the plaintiffs’ First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated when United States agents searched, and in some cases confiscated, their devices without a warrant. The government has said those searches happen to fewer than one-hundredth of one percent of international travelers, and that they are authorized by the same laws that allow border agents to look through suitcases without a judge’s approval.

But privacy activists say the laws, which were crafted with luggage in mind, shouldn’t apply to digital devices that contain vast amounts of personal data related to the device owners and others they have contacted.

“I felt humiliated and violated,” Diane Maye, a professor, former Air Force captain and one of the plaintiffs, said in an interview.

The searches, which began under the George W. Bush administration and became more common during the Obama administration, have sharply increased in the past year. According to the most recent data available, there were nearly 15,000 searches from October 2016 to March 2017, compared with 8,383 in the same period a year before.

David Lapan, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said he could not comment on pending litigation but that “we absolutely believe the searches are lawful.”

In March, Joseph B. Maher, the acting general counsel for the agency, defended the practice in a USA Today opinion piece.

“These electronic media searches have produced information used to combat terrorism, violations of export controls, and convictions for child pornography, intellectual property rights violations and visa fraud,” he wrote. “This authority is critical to our mission, and Customs exercises it judiciously.”

While police officers on the street cannot compel you to hand over your phone without probable cause, border agents can search and confiscate digital devices as easily as they can your luggage. Courts have long held that customs officials have an interest in enforcing immigration laws and keeping contraband out.

But at least one major judicial case has acknowledged that cellphones are not the same as suitcases. In a 2014 Supreme Court decision that made it harder for police to search cellphones without a warrant, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that the devices contained “the privacies of life.”

The policies that direct border agents are written to allow the digital searches “with or without individualized suspicion.” But it’s not clear what, exactly, border agents are searching through when they seize devices.

In June, Kevin McAleenan, the acting commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, wrote in a letter to lawmakers that agents are not permitted to look at data stored solely in the “cloud.” According to the letter, which was first reported by NBC News, agents would be limited to data stored directly on the device, including photos, text messages, call histories and contacts.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed Freedom of Information Act requests in March to learn how the government was using its authority, but said that so far it has received only heavily redacted reports.

Jameel Jaffer, the institute’s executive director, said that the searches could have a chilling effect on journalists, lawyers and doctors, who often travel with their devices and have a professional obligation to shield the identities of their sources, clients and patients and the information they provide.

“It’s hard to see how the kind of unfettered authority that border agents have been invested with can be reconciled with the limits the constitution places on government power,” Mr. Jaffer said.

Of the 11 people who filed the lawsuit, 10 are American citizens and one is a permanent resident. They include journalists, students, a NASA engineerand an artist.

While the government cannot compel travelers to unlock their phones, several of the plaintiffs said they were intimidated. Four of them said their devices were confiscated; one of them, Suhaib Allababidi, a business owner from Texas, said the government kept an unlocked phone of his for two months, and hadn’t returned a locked phone after more than seven months.

Ms. Maye, an assistant professor of homeland security at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said she was detained at the Miami International Airport on June 25 as she returned from a European vacation. She was brought into a small room and watched as a border agent briefly inspected her laptop then took her phone for about two hours, she said.

Facebook Running on Objectionable Videos

In response to those concerns, Facebook released a new set of rules on Wednesday that outline the types of videos and articles that it will bar from running ads. It also said it would begin disclosing new information to advertisers about where their messages appear on the platform and on external apps and sites it is partners with.

The rules, which will be enforced by a mix of automation and human review, restrict ads from content that depicts, among other topics, real-world tragedies, “debatable social issues,” misappropriation of children’s show characters, violence, nudity, gore, drug use and derogatory language. Facebook is extending the guidelines immediately to videos — which the company hopes will become an increasingly lucrative part of its business — and, in the coming months, to articles.

Facebook said users who repeatedly violate its content guidelines, share sensational clickbait or post fake news may lose the ability to run ads.

“There have been concerns that marketers have had that are wide-ranging around digital, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that we are providing the safest environment for publishers, advertisers and for people that utilize the platform,” said Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions.

Facebook and Google were criticized during and after the presidential election for allowing misinformation to spread on their platforms. This year, YouTube had to address advertisers’ concerns after messages from major brands like AT&T were discovered on videos that promoted terrorism and hate speech. The Wall Street Journal found at least 50 acts of violence on Facebook Live broadcasts.

(On the other side of the advertising equation, Facebook disclosed last week that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of ads on divisive issues that ran from June 2015 to May 2017 and had been bought by fake accounts based in Russia.)

The companies are moving quickly to address such issues, particularly as they seek to attract a greater portion of the money earmarked for television advertising to the video content on their sites.

Facebook has enabled hundreds of publishers and individuals to run ads during live video broadcasts in the past year, and the company recently introduced a slate of new shows on a part of its site called “Watch.” If the new guidelines encourage people to post more G-rated video content, they are likely to bolster Facebook’s pitch to advertisers

That should be an advantage in policing content, Mr. Montgomery said, especially with the limits that Facebook is placing on who can make money from certain features. For example, the company required pages and profiles that wanted to run ads on live videos this year to have more than 2,000 followers. They could only show ads if they had at least 300 concurrent viewers after four minutes.

Facebook also said it would begin showing advertisers a preview of where their messages may appear before campaigns start, giving advertisers a chance to block undesirable destinations. The company will also report on where the ads actually run.

When brands use Facebook to target specific people with ads, they are able to select from a cornucopia of traits, including age, gender and how many lines of credit a person has. Many ads then show up in the main Facebook and Instagram feeds that people flick through, but they can also appear in articles and videos within Facebook and on outside apps and mobile websites that are part of Facebook’s “audience network.”

Brands have not been able to see beforehand what kind of content that might include, and some have had to contend with objections from consumers after being placed on sites like Breitbart News. Facebook said there were tens of thousands of apps and sites in its audience network and that more than 10,000 publishers displayed articles within its platform through a tool called Instant Articles.

As YouTube has moved to limit ads from running alongside unsavory content, many creators on the platform have complained that their videos have been unfairly penalized by automated systems. Facebook will probably have to grapple with similar complaints as it expands the number of people who can make money from video ads on the site.

”Facebook previously let advertisers opt out of a more limited list of topics, including sites and apps related to dating, gambling and “debated social issues” like religion and politics, Ms. Everson said. She added that the new rules would allow publishers to “understand where we’re placing ads” and make it easier for advertisers to avoid offensive content.

Russian Fake on Facebook Solved,

Russia created Facebook profiles of fake Americans to influence the 2016 American election, it could make up the names and biographical details. But it needed photos, too.

Now a salesman in Brazil has stepped forward to say that his own family photos were stolen to concoct the profile of “Melvin Redick,” one of many American impostors involved in the spread of Russian propaganda on Facebook and Twitter.

Last week, The New York Times featured Mr. Redick’s Facebook profile as an example of fake social media accounts that were used to attack Hillary Clinton, promote leaked emails obtained by Russian hackers and propagate the Kremlin’s political views.

The supposed Mr. Redick was an early promoter last year of a website, DCLeaks.com, that American officials believe was created by Russian military intelligence. But The Times could find no American who fit the details he provided on Facebook.

The Times had taken from the Facebook page, including pictures of the man and his daughter. “Do you know these people?” the headline said.

A reader spotted the photos and recognized her son-in-law, Charles David Costacurta, 36, of the city Jundiaí in southeastern Brazil. Mr. Costacurta was suspicious at first, said Carlos Dias, a G1 reporter, but eventually agreed to meet at a television station.

The photos, Mr. Costacurta told the site,were 2014 shots of himself and his daughter, then 3, now 6, that he had posted on Facebook. He was particularly disturbed that the images had been stolen, he told G1, because he used the privacy settings on Facebook to limit access to his profile.

“I was scared, and I asked my girlfriend to take a look because I do not understand much about social networks and the internet,” Mr. Costacurta said.

Before publishing the photos, The Times tried to find their source using Google’s image search function, but nothing turned up. This suggested that they might belong to a Brazilian Facebook user because Facebook blocks image searches of its profiles. The company declined to say whether it had searched internally and found the photos before Mr. Costacurta came forward

Amazon is to babysit several robots

Her new job at Amazon is to babysit several robots at a time, troubleshooting them when necessary and making sure they have bins to load. On a recent afternoon, a claw at end of the arm grabbed a bin off a conveyor belt and stacked it on another bin, forming neat columns on wooden pallets surrounding the robot. It was the first time Amazon had shown the arm, the latest generation of robots in use at its warehouses, to a reporter.

Complicating the equation even more, Amazon is also on the forefront of automation, finding new ways of getting robots to do the work once handled by employees. In 2014, the company began rolling out robots to its warehouses using machines originally developed by Kiva Systems, a company Amazon bought for $775 million two years earlier and renamed Amazon Robotics. Amazon now has more than 100,000 robots in action around the world, and it has plans to add many more to the mix.

The robots make warehouse work less tedious and physically taxing, while also enabling the kinds of efficiency gains that let a customer order dental floss after breakfast and receive it before dinner.

Dave Clark, the top executive in charge of operations at Amazon, said the company wanted the machines to perform the most monotonous tasks, leaving people to do jobs that engage them mentally.

“It’s a new item each time,” Mr. Clark said. “You’re finding something, you’re inspecting things, you’re engaging your mind in a way that I think is important.”

The robots also cut down on the walking required of workers, making Amazon pickers more efficient and less tired. The robots also allow Amazon to pack shelves together like cars in rush-hour traffic, because they no longer need aisle space for humans. The greater density of shelf space means more inventory under one roof, which means better selection for customers.

The Amazon warehouse in Florence shows the latest example of the kinds of jobs machines can do better thanpeople. Eight mechanical arms are in operation at the facility, a warehouse where large quantities of merchandise are broken down into smaller units and distributed to Amazon fulfillment centers across the country.

The arms go by the awkward name of robotic palletizers, but workers have given them a dash of personality, sticking signs on each one naming them after Stuart, Dave and other minion characters from the “Despicable Me” movies. Unlike the warehouse robots in Kent, which were based on the machines Amazon got through its Kiva acquisition, these arms come from an outside company.

Amazon began installing them late last year, not long after it opened the warehouse in Florence. The robot arm is configured to pick up only bins of a standard size, not objects of other dimensions. In a demonstration of future possibilities, Amazon showed a virtual reality simulation used to prototype new robot concepts, including an arm with a forklift attachment that moved pallets.

When Amazon installed the robots, some people who had stacked bins before, like Ms. Scott, took courses at the company to become robot operators. Many others moved to receiving stations, where they manually sort big boxes of merchandise into bins. No people were laid off when the robots were installed, and Amazon found new roles for the displaced workers, Mr. Clark said.

“The people didn’t go anywhere,” he said.

The question going forward is: What happens when the future generations of robots arrive?

For now, there are warehouse tasks — for example, picking individual items off shelves, with all their various shapes and sizes — where people outperform robots. Amazon has added 80,000 warehouse employees in the United States since adding the Kiva robots, for a total of more than 125,000 warehouse employees. And it says the

But start-ups and researchers are scrambling to overcome the many remaining technical obstacles. Amazon even sponsors an annual contest to encourage more innovation in the category.

Mr. Ford, the author, believes it is just a matter of time before the employment picture in Amazon’s warehouses changes.

“My assumption is this technology will eventually displace a lot of people in those warehouses,” Mr. Ford said. “I would not say that overnight huge numbers of jobs disappear. Maybe the first indication is they don’t get rid of those people but the pace of job creation slows down.”

Amazon’s Mr. Clark said history showed that automation increases productivity and, in some cases, demand from consumers, which ultimately creates more jobs. He said warehouse workers would continue to work in technologically rich environments.

Toshiba Closer Chip Unit

A goal, Toshiba says, is to sign a contract this month, but other bidders are still not excluded from talks (Toshiba had also been in discussions with bidders led by the American company Western Digital and Foxconn of Taiwan).

The company has been trying to unload its chip business as part of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet after huge losses at Westinghouse, its American nuclear unit, which filed for bankruptcy in March.

 Senate Democrats have said they would try to block any rewrite of the tax code that included these measures, arguing that they would make a mockery of Republican promises to provide relief for the middle class. And Republicans have to overcome their own disagreements before they can introduce their framework.

President Trump has been dining with senators from both parties, reaching across the aisle out of concern that it will be impossible to pass a tax bill with only Republican votes.

DowDuPont Revises Breakup Plan

The activists spoke and the chemicals giant (eventually) responded.

DowDuPont will still break itself into three businesses — an agricultural company, a materials science specialist and a specialty products business — but the allocation will be different.

It won’t be the six businesses that the hedge fund Third Point had pushed for in May, but it will take into account its warnings about units being “stranded” in the new materials science company. DowDuPont had faced a barrage of challenges from activists that also included Jana Partners, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Shares rose and three activist investors that pushed for changes — Third Point, Glenview Capital Management and Trian Partners — hailed the move.

The company also promised details of plans for share buybacks and dividend payments, The Financial Times reported.

Mike Cagney, the Social Finance chief executive who announced on Monday that he would step down, had always had the support of SoFi’s board, even as his behavior raised questions.

That backing allowed him to build the fast-growing start-up, now valued at more than $4 billion.

But there were costs. Among them were the complaints we detailed on Tuesday, and employees who spoke to The Times said that Mr. Cagney would brag about his genitalia and his sexual conquests at late-night, wine-soaked gatherings.

Other executives around him behaved in a similar manner:

• Nino Fanlo, the chief financial officer and a former executive at Goldman Sachs and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is said to have talked openly about women’s breasts and once offered female employees bonuses for losing weight. He also said that women would be happier as homemakers. (Mr. Fanlo said it was “patently false” that he did not respect women and said that his team included women who had received promotions and professional accolades.)

• Employees said they caught colleagues having sex with supervisors at SoFi’s office in Healdsburg, Calif. Yulia Zamora, who worked as an underwriter at SoFi from 2015 to 2016, described the company as a frat house: “You would find people having sex in their cars and in the parking lot. It was a free-for-all.”

Mr. Cagney has also been accused by colleagues of being too aggressive with the business.

He once decided to put customer service representatives in charge of lending determinations, despite their lack of experience in the area. SoFi also did not have enough money to fund all the loans it was making and employees who dealt with customers were told to lie and say that people would get the money within 72 hours.