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Privacy

The Upsides of a Surveillance Society 162

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-it's-not-all-upside? dept.
theodp writes Citing the comeuppance of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was suspended from her job after her filmed ad-hominem attack on a person McHenry deemed to be beneath her in terms of appearance, education, wealth, class, status went viral, The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes that one silver lining of the omnipresence of cameras it that the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other. "Terrible behavior," Garber writes, "whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power. Which can, again, be a bad thing — but which can also, in McHenry's case, be an extremely beneficial one. It's good that her behavior has been exposed. It's good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It's good that she has publicly promised 'to learn from this mistake.'"
Medicine

How Brain Pacemakers Treat Parkinson's Disease 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-under-control dept.
the_newsbeagle writes Pharmaceutical research for neuropsychiatric disorders hasn't produced many breakthroughs lately, which may explain why there's so much excitement around "electroceutical" research. That buzzy new field encompasses deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an implanted stimulator sends little jolts through the neural tissue. DBS has become an accepted therapy for Parkinson's and other motor disorders, even though researchers haven't really understood how it works. Now, new research may have found the mechanism of action in Parkinson's patients: The stimulation reduces an exaggerated synchronization of neuron activity in the motor cortex.
Hardware

Fifty Years of Moore's Law 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-over-the-hill-but-the-hill-keeps-getting-steeper dept.
HughPickens.com writes: IEEE is running a special report on "50 Years of Moore's Law" that considers "the gift that keeps on giving" from different points of view. Chris Mack begins by arguing that nothing about Moore's Law was inevitable. "Instead, it's a testament to hard work, human ingenuity, and the incentives of a free market. Moore's prediction may have started out as a fairly simple observation of a young industry. But over time it became an expectation and self-fulfilling prophecy—an ongoing act of creation by engineers and companies that saw the benefits of Moore's Law and did their best to keep it going, or else risk falling behind the competition."

Andrew "bunnie" Huang argues that Moore's Law is slowing and will someday stop, but the death of Moore's Law will spur innovation. "Someday in the foreseeable future, you will not be able to buy a better computer next year," writes Huang. "Under such a regime, you'll probably want to purchase things that are more nicely made to begin with. The idea of an "heirloom laptop" may sound preposterous today, but someday we may perceive our computers as cherished and useful looms to hand down to our children, much as some people today regard wristwatches or antique furniture."

Vaclav Smil writes about "Moore's Curse" and argues that there is a dark side to the revolution in electronics for it has had the unintended effect of raising expectations for technical progress. "We are assured that rapid progress will soon bring self-driving electric cars, hypersonic airplanes, individually tailored cancer cures, and instant three-dimensional printing of hearts and kidneys. We are even told it will pave the world's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies," writes Smil. "But the doubling time for transistor density is no guide to technical progress generally. Modern life depends on many processes that improve rather slowly, not least the production of food and energy and the transportation of people and goods."

Finally, Cyrus Mody tackles the question: what kind of thing is Moore's Law? "Moore's Law is a human construct. As with legislation, though, most of us have little and only indirect say in its construction," writes Mody. "Everyone, both the producers and consumers of microelectronics, takes steps needed to maintain Moore's Law, yet everyone's experience is that they are subject to it."
Science

'Smart Sewer' Project Will Reveal a City's Microbiome 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the becomes-self-aware,-realizes-it's-a-toilet,-initiates-rebellion dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Public health officials want to turn streams of sewage into streams of data. A new project in Cambridge, Mass. will equip sewer tunnels with robotic samplers that can routinely collect sewage from 10 different locations. MIT scientists will then analyze the sewage content for early signs of a viral outbreak or a food-borne bacterial illness, and may be able to draw conclusions about specific health trends throughout the city. This Cambridge effort is a proof of concept; the MIT researchers plan to deploy a larger system in Kuwait, where officials are particularly interested in studying obesity and the effectiveness of public health interventions.
Businesses

Ten US Senators Seek Investigation Into the Replacement of US Tech Workers 407

Posted by samzenpus
from the boss-wants-a-bonus dept.
dcblogs notes this story about a bipartisan group of U.S. senators that has asked for an investigation into whether companies are firing American workers and replacing them with foreign workers for the sake of cutting costs. "Ten U.S. senators, representing the political spectrum, are seeking a federal investigation into displacement of IT workers by H-1B-using contractors. They are asking the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department to investigate the use of the H-1B program "to replace large numbers of American workers" at Southern California Edison (SCE) and other employers. The letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and the secretaries of the two other departments, was signed by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over the Justice Department. The other signers are Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), a longtime ally of Grassley on H-1B issues; Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), David Vitter (R-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.). Neither California senator signed on. "Southern California Edison ought to be the tipping point that finally compels Washington to take needed actions to protect American workers," Sessions said. Five hundred IT workers at SCE were cut, and many had to train their replacements."
Displays

Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the harvesting-the-dot-crop dept.
Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."
Medicine

First Prototype of a Working Tricorder Unveiled At SXSW 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
the_newsbeagle writes The $10 million Tricorder X-prize is getting to the "put up or shut up" stage: The 10 finalists must turn in their working devices on June 1st for consumer testing. At SXSW last week, the finalist team Cloud DX showed off its prototype, which includes a wearable collar, a base station, a blood-testing stick, and a scanning wand. From the article: "The XPrize is partnering with the medical center at the University of California, San Diego on that consumer testing, since it requires recruiting more than 400 people with a variety of medical conditions. Grant Campany, director of the Tricorder XPrize, said he’s looking forward to getting those devices into real patients hands. 'This will be a practical demonstration of what the future of medicine will be like,' said Campany at that same SXSW talk, 'so we can scale it up after competition.'"
Science

Scientists Insert a Synthetic Memory Into the Brain of a Sleeping Mouse 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-party-you-never-had dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Scientists are learning how to insert fake memories into the brain via precise electrical stimulation (abstract). In the latest experiment, they gave sleeping mice a synthetic memory that linked a particular location in a test chamber to a pleasurable sensation. (At least they gave the mice a nice memory.)

The researchers first recorded the electrical signals from the mice's brains while the mice were awake and exploring the test chamber, until the researchers identified patterns of activity associated with a certain location. Then, when the mice slept, the researchers watched for those neural patterns to be replayed, indicating that the mice were consolidating the memory of that location. At that moment, they zapped a reward center of the mice's brains. When the mice awoke and went back into the chamber, they hung around that reward-associated location, presumably expecting a dose of feel-good.
The Internet

SpaceX Worried Fake Competitors Could Disrupt Its Space Internet Plan 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-us-all-the-spectrum dept.
Jason Koebler writes: The biggest impediment to SpaceX's plan to create a worldwide, satellite broadband network might not be the sheer technological difficulty of putting 4,000 satellites into space. Instead, outdated international and domestic regulations on satellite communications could stand in the way, according to a new Federal Communications Commission filing by the company. The company's attorneys wrote that the FCC might make it too easy for competitors to reserve communications bandwidth that they will never use. "Spectrum warehousing can be extremely detrimental and unprepared, highly speculative, or disingenuous applicants must be prevented from pursuing 'paper satellites' (or 'paper constellations'), which can unjustly obstruct and delay qualified applicants from deploying their systems."
Transportation

Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car? 362

Posted by samzenpus
from the easy-driver dept.
agent elevator writes Not as strange a question as it seems, writes Mark Harris at IEEE Spectrum : "Self-driving cars promise a future where you can watch television, sip cocktails, or snooze all the way home. But what happens when something goes wrong? Today's drivers have not been taught how to cope with runaway acceleration, unexpected braking, or a car that wants to steer into a wall." The California DMV is considering something that would be similar to requirements for robocar test-driver training." Hallie Siegel points out this article arguing that we need to be careful about how many rules we make for self-driving cars before they become common. Governments and lawmakers across the world are debating how to best regulate autonomous cars, both for testing, and for operation. Robocar expert Brad Templeton argues that that there is a danger that regulations might be drafted long before the shape of the first commercial deployments of the technology take place.
AI

Facebook AI Director Discusses Deep Learning, Hype, and the Singularity 71

Posted by timothy
from the you-like-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a wide-ranging interview with IEEE Spectrum, Yann LeCun talks about his work at the Facebook AI Research group and the applications and limitations of deep learning and other AI techniques. He also talks about hype, 'cargo cult science', and what he dislikes about the Singularity movement. The discussion also includes brain-inspired processors, supervised vs. unsupervised learning, humanism, morality, and strange airplanes.
Networking

UK Scientists Claim 1Tbps Data Speed Via Experimental 5G Technology 71

Posted by timothy
from the hefty-overages dept.
Mark.JUK writes A team of Scientists working at the University of Surrey in England claim to have achieved, via an experimental lab test, performance of 1Tbps (Terabit per second) over their candidate for a future 5G Mobile Broadband technology. Sadly the specifics of the test are somewhat unclear, although it's claimed that the performance was delivered by using 100MHz of radio spectrum bandwidth over a distance of 100 metres. The team, which forms part of the UK Government's 5G Innovation Centre, is supported by most of the country's major mobile operators as well as BT, Samsung, Fujitsu, Huawei, the BBC and various other big names in telecoms, media and mobile infrastructure. Apparently the plan is to take the technology outside of the lab for testing between 2016 and 2017, which would be followed by a public demo in early 2018. In the meantime 5G solutions are still being developed, with most in the early experimental stages, by various different teams around the world. Few anticipate a commercial deployment happening before 2020 and we're still a long way from even defining the necessary standard.
Medicine

Brain Imaging Shows Abnormal White Matter Areas In the Brains of Stutterers 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the bonus-smarts dept.
n01 writes: Stuttering — a speech disorder in which sounds, syllables or words are repeated or prolonged — affects more than 70 million people, or about 1% of the population, worldwide. Once treated as a psychological or emotional condition, stuttering can now be traced to brain neuroanatomy and physiology. Two new studies from UC Santa Barbara researchers provide insight into the treatment of the speech disorder as well as understanding its physiological basis. The first paper, published in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, finds that the MPI stuttering treatment program, a new treatment developed at UCSB, was twice as effective as the standard best practices protocol. The second study, which appears in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, uses diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI) in an MRI scanner to identify abnormal areas of white matter in the brains of adult stutterers. According to co-author Janis Ingham, a professor emerita of speech and hearing sciences at UCSB and co-author of both papers, the two studies taken together demonstrate two critical points: A neuroanatomic abnormality exists in the brains of people who stutter, yet they can learn to speak fluently in spite of it.
Networking

Li-Fi-like System Pushes 100Gbps Within a Small Room 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oxford University is [building] a system that takes light from the fiber, amplifies it, and beams it across a room to deliver data at more than 100 gigabits per second. ... The trick, of course, is getting the light beam exactly where it needs to go. An optical fiber makes for a target that's only 8 or 9 micrometers in diameter, after all. The team, which also included researchers from University College, London, accomplished this using so-called holographic beam steering at both the transmitter and receiver ends. These use an array of liquid crystals to create a programmable diffraction grating that reflects the light in the desired direction. ... With a 60-degree field of view, the team was able to transmit six different wavelengths, each at 37.4 Gb/s, for an aggregate bandwidth of 224 Gb/s (abstract). With a 36-degree field of view, they managed only three channels, for 112 Gb/s.
Japan

Cosmic Rays To Reveal the Melted Nuclear Fuel In Fukushima's Reactors 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the using-whatever-tools-are-available dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Muons, produced when cosmic rays collide with molecules in the atmosphere, are streaming through your body as you read this. The particles pass through most matter unimpeded, however they can interact with heavy elements like uranium and plutonium. That's why engineers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are using muon detectors to look for the melted nuclear fuel inside the plant's three melted-down reactors. By determining where muons are being diverted from their paths, the detectors create images of the blobs of fuel. That's necessary because nobody knows exactly where the radioactive gloop ended up during the meltdowns.
Education

Autism: Are Social Skills Groups and Social Communication Therapy Worthwhile? 289

Posted by timothy
from the let's-all-count-and-sort-batteries dept.
vortex2.71 (802986) writes I imagine that enough of us on Slashdot are on the Autism Spectrum or were once diagnosed as having Aspergers that this might be the right venue for this question. My son is on the spectrum, but is in a mainstream classroom at a private school. We have spent thousands of dollars on a bunch of different social skills groups, speech communication therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We've found that the specific skills and intuition that the therapists possess is much more important than their credentials and are frequently disappointed by the overwhelming mediocrity of special education teachers, speech therapists, and OT/PT therapists. We are at the point where we wonder if our time is better spent with playdates with peers that are facilitated by us than continuing with the groups. I'm curious if there are adult Slashdoters who are on the spectrum who participated in these therapies as children who can weigh in on this? What was your experience with social skills groups and social communication therapy? Did they help?
Businesses

Massive Layoff Underway At IBM 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-you-land-on-your-feet dept.
Tekla Perry writes: Project Chrome, a massive layoff that IBM is pretending is not a massive layoff, is underway. At more than 100,000 people, it is projected to be the largest mass layoff by any U.S. corporation in at least 20 years. Alliance@IBM, the IBM employees' union, says it has so far collected reports of 5000 jobs eliminated, but those are just numbers of those getting official layoff notices. According to anecdotal reports, IBM appears to be abusing the performance appraisal system to cut additional employees without officially laying them off.
United Kingdom

BT Unveils 1000Mbps Capable G.fast Broadband Rollout For the United Kingdom 132

Posted by timothy
from the gee-that's-fast dept.
Mark.JUK writes The national telecoms operator for the United Kingdom, BT, has today announced that it will begin a country-wide deployment of the next generation hybrid-fibre G.fast (ITU G.9701) broadband technology from 2016/17, with most homes being told to expect speeds of up to 500Mbps (Megabits per second) and a premium service offering 1000Mbps will also be available.

At present BT already covers most of the UK with hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to a local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining copper line from the cabinet to homes. G.fast follows a similar principal, but it brings the fibre optic cable even closer to homes (often by installing smaller remote nodes on telegraph poles) and uses more radio spectrum (17-106MHz) over a shorter remaining run of copper cable (ideally less than 250 metres). The reliance upon copper cable means that the real-world speeds for some, such as those living furthest away from the remote nodes, will probably struggle to match up to BT's claims. Nevertheless many telecoms operators see this as being a more cost effective approach to broadband than deploying a pure fibre optic / Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network.
Wireless Networking

US Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises $44.9 Billion 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-wireless-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The FCC's recent wireless spectrum auction closed on Thursday, and the agency has raked in far more money than anyone expected. Sales totaled $44.89 billion, demonstrating that demand for wireless spectrum is higher than ever. The winners have not yet been disclosed, but the FCC will soon make all bidding activity public. "The money will be used to fund FirstNet, the government agency tasked with creating the nation's first interoperable broadband network for first responders, to finance technological upgrades to our 911 emergency systems, and to contribute over $20 billion to deficit reduction. In addition, the auction brought 65 Megahertz of spectrum to market to fuel our nation's mobile broadband networks. The wireless industry estimates that for every 10 Megahertz of spectrum licensed for wireless broadband, 7,000 American jobs are created and U.S. gross domestic product increases by $1.7 billion."
Medicine

Brain Implants Get Brainier 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the thinking-better dept.
the_newsbeagle writes "Did my head just beep?" wonders a woman who just received a brain implant to treat her intractable epilepsy. We're entering a cyborg age of medicine, with implanted stimulators that send pulses of electricity into the brain or nervous system to prevent seizures or block pain. The first generation of devices sent out pulses in a constant and invariable rhythm, but device-makers are now inventing smart stimulators that monitor the body for signs of trouble and fire when necessary.