AI, espionage, fake documents, cybersecurity
The author writes, “The ‘canary trap’ technique in espionage spreads multiple versions of false documents to conceal a secret. Canary traps can be used to sniff out information leaks or create distractions that hide valuable information. WE-FORGE, a new data protection system designed in the Department of Computer Science, uses artificial intelligence to build on the concept. The system automatically creates false documents to protect intellectual property such as drug design and military technology.” Photo credit: Brian Klug / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

After a Decade Without Executions, South Carolina’s Solution: Bring Out the Firing Squad (Dana)

From the New York Times: “Frustrated by the lack of drugs available to carry out lethal injections in their state, South Carolina lawmakers are on the cusp of a controversial solution: forcing death row inmates to face the electric chair or firing squad when lethal injection is not possible. A bill proposing that change, approved by the State House [last] week, appears almost certain to become law in the next few days, and is being lauded by Republicans, including Gov. Henry McMaster, who have been vexed by pharmaceutical companies’ refusal to sell states the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections. The lack of drugs, they say, is a key reason South Carolina has not executed anyone in 10 years.”

Syrian Refugees Fear for Future Without Asylum (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “An email brought Faeza Satouf’s world to a standstill. The 25-year-old Syrian refugee had fled the civil war with her family in an all-too-familiar journey across the sea to Europe, where they finally arrived in Denmark and were granted asylum in 2015. Yet six years later, she was being told she had to go back — alone, and soon. Ten years after the start of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Denmark has become the first European country to start revoking the residency permits of some Syrian refugees, arguing that the Syrian capital, Damascus, and neighboring regions are safe. Few experts agree with Denmark’s assessment.”

Do People Aged 105 and Over Live Longer Because They Have More Efficient DNA Repair? (Mili)

The author writes, “Researchers have found that people who live beyond 105 years tend to have a unique genetic background that makes their bodies more efficient at repairing DNA, according to a study published today in eLife. This is the first time that people with ‘extreme longevity’ have had their genomes decoded in such detail, providing clues as to why they live so long and manage to avoid age-related diseases.”

With His Collection of Americana, Alan Page Makes the Past Visible (Dan)

From ARTNews: “In 1981, after 15 years playing with the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, Alan Page left his career as a professional athlete to become a lawyer. This was a rare move for a Hall of Fame football player, but after finally coming to terms with a years-long inner conflict over sport and law, as Page recently told ARTnews, ‘it was time for me to move on.’ Since then, he has risen to the highest levels of the legal world. In 1993, he was appointed as a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the first Black person to obtain the position. Now an accomplished philanthropist at age 75, Page is reflecting on another commitment that has lasted nearly a lifetime: art collecting.”

Wine That Went to Space for Sale With $1 Million Price Tag (Dana)

The author writes, “The wine is out of this world. The price is appropriately stratospheric. Christie’s said [last week] it is selling a bottle of French wine that spent more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station. The auction house thinks a wine connoisseur might pay as much as $1 million to own it. The Pétrus 2000 is one of 12 bottles sent into space in November 2019 by researchers exploring the potential for extraterrestrial agriculture. It returned 14 months later subtly altered, according to wine experts who sampled it at a tasting in France.”

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