Submission + - Richard Dawkins has (minor) stroke.

RockDoctor writes: Controvery-stirring biological scientist and anti-theist Professor Richard Dawkins is reported to have suffered a (minor) stroke on Saturday.

He is reported to be back at home already and recovering. However he has been forced to postpone a planned promotion tour to Australia and New Zealand in support of his recent autobiographical book "Brief Candle in the Dark"

I would like to say that we all send Professor Dawkins our heart-felt best wishes, but knowing the number of Christians on Slashdot, I am sure that the death threats, bile, fear and contempt will spew forth below, in the true spirit of Christian kindness. Other religions can at least curse his scientific contributions and atheist activism without such hypocrisy.
AI

Debating a Ban On Autonomous Weapons (thebulletin.org) 5

Lasrick writes: A pretty informative debate on banning autonomous weapons has just closed at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The debate looks at an open letter, published In July, 2015, in which researchers in artificial intelligence and robotics (and endorsed by high-profile individuals such as Stephen Hawking) called for 'a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.' The letter echoes arguments made since 2013 by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which views autonomous weapons as 'a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and to international human rights and humanitarian law.'

But support for a ban is not unanimous. Some researchers argue that autonomous weapons would commit fewer battlefield atrocities than human beings—and that their development might even be considered morally imperative. The authors in this debate focus on these questions: Would deployed autonomous weapons promote or detract from civilian safety; and is an outright ban the proper response to development of autonomous weapons?

Government

Senate Passes Bill Making Internet Tax Ban Permanent (consumerist.com) 37

kheldan writes: Nearly two decades ago, Congress passed the first Internet Tax Freedom Act, establishing that — with a handful of grandfathered exceptions — local, state, and federal governments couldn't impose taxes on Internet access. Problem is, that law has had to be renewed over and over, each time with an expiration date. But today, the U.S. Senate finally passed a piece of legislation that would make the tax ban permanent.
United Kingdom

Google Settles Decade-Long Tax Dispute In UK (thestack.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: Alphabet, Inc., parent company to Google, has agreed to pay $185 million to settle UK taxes going back to 2005. The company has also agreed to adopt a new approach to taxes in the UK going forward. While this is a sizeable figure, many believe it is too little, and constitutes a sweetheart deal between the government and Google. Matt Brittin, the President of EMEA Business and Operations for Google, was a participant in a televised hearing today in which UK lawmakers questioned the $185 million settlement. He stated, "We find ourselves in the position where we are paying the tax that the tax authorities told us to pay."

Submission + - Senate Passes Bill Making Internet Tax Ban Permanent (consumerist.com)

kheldan writes: Nearly two decades ago, Congress passed the first Internet Tax Freedom Act, establishing that — with a handful of grandfathered exceptions — local, state, and federal governments couldn’t impose taxes on Internet access. Problem is, that law has had to be renewed over and over, each time with an expiration date. But today, the U.S. Senate finally passed a piece of legislation that would make the tax ban permanent.
Biotech

Self-Propelling Microparticles Spot Ricin In Minutes (acs.org) 17

ckwu writes: Tiny rocketlike particles that move around on their own in a hydrogen peroxide solution can detect trace amounts of the lethal toxin ricin within minutes. The tube-shaped, microsized particles--made of graphene oxide lined with platinum--carry sensor molecules that glow when they bind to ricin. In a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution, the platinum catalyzes the breakdown of the peroxide into water and oxygen. The oxygen bubbles shoot out one end of the tube, propelling them in the liquid like little rockets. The swimming motors could actively seek out ricin in a sample and speed up detection, paving the way towards a quick, easy way to detect the bioterrorism agent in food and water samples (without having to bring them back to a lab).

Submission + - Even Einstein doubted his gravitational waves (astronomy.com)

Flash Modin writes: In 1936, twenty years after Albert Einstein introduced the concept, the great physicist took another look at his math and came to a surprising conclusion. “Together with a young collaborator, I arrived at the interesting result that gravitational waves do not exist, though they had been assumed a certainty to the first approximation,” he wrote in a letter to friend Max Born. Interestingly, his research denouncing gravitational waves was rejected by Physical Review Letters, the journal that just published proof of their existence. The story shows that even when Einstein's wrong, it's because he was already right the first time.
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 121

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.
Businesses

Time Inc. Buys MySpace Parent Company Viant (theverge.com) 32

Today, in a surprising turn of events, Time Inc. went back in time 10 years and bought MySpace. Just kidding - there was no time travel. But Time did announce today that they acquired Viant, a company that has a large ad tech business, but also owns other properties, including the old networking site MySpace. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but Time described the acquisition as "game changing," most likely in regards to Viant's ad-tech business. It remains to be seen what this will do for the future of MySpace ...

Submission + - Boeing Installs World's Largest 'Reversible' Renewable Energy Storage System (computerworld.com)

Lucas123 writes: Boeing announced that it has installed a first-of-its-kind 50MW Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system on a naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif. The fuel cell system, which can scale to 400KW, is unique in that it uses solar power to generate hydrogen gas from seawater, which it then stores until power and it releases the gas into a fuel cell stack to produce electricity, heat and water. Because the system can both store energy and produce electricity, Boeing is calling the fuel cell system "reversible." The Navy's Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center is testing the fuel cell system on a microgrid to determine its viability for use at both remote bases and during overseas military missions.
Earth

Our Hidden Neanderthal DNA May Increase Risk of Allergies, Depression (sciencemag.org) 97

sciencehabit writes: Depressed? Your inner Neanderthal may be to blame. Modern humans met and mated with these archaic people in Europe or Asia about 50,000 years ago, and researchers have long suspected that genes picked up in these trysts might be shaping health and well-being today. Now, a study in the current issue of Science details their impact. It uses a powerful new method for scanning the electronic health records of 28,000 Americans to show that some Neanderthal gene variants today can raise the risk of depression, skin lesions, blood clots, and other disorders.
Businesses

Qualcomm Promises Gigabit LTE Speeds and New Chips to Power Smartwatches (google.com) 35

Qualcomm may have been losing steam (and jobs and sales), but it looks like the major telecommunications corporation is back in the lead when it comes to pushing out new LTE technologies. Qualcomm announced today the new Snapdragon X16 modem, which together with the WTR5975 transceiver, boasts Category 16 LTE download speeds of up to 1Gbps. Qualcomm also announced new chips that will power the next generation of wearables. Although you shouldn't hold your breath just yet, the implications could be huge!

Submission + - Dallas Buyers Club abandons fight against Australian pirates (theage.com.au)

aphelion_rock writes: It's a happy day for Aussie pirates: The Hollywood studio behind the film Dallas Buyers Club has abandoned its fight to extract huge sums of cash from alleged copyright infringers.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC had until midday Thursday to lodge a second appeal against an August Federal Court decision which effectively prevented it from engaging in so-called "speculative invoicing" in Australia.

Earth

Drivers Need To Forget Their GPS 380

HughPickens.com writes: Greg Milner writes in the NYT that an American tourist in Iceland directed the GPS unit in his rental car to guide him from Keflavik International Airport to a hotel in nearby Reykjavik, and ended up 250 icy miles away in Siglufjordur, a fishing village on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. Mr. Santillan apparently explained that he was very tired after his flight and had "put his faith in the GPS." In another incident, a woman in Belgium asked GPS to take her to a destination less than two hours away and two days later, she turned up in Croatia. Finally disastrous incidents involving drivers following disused roads and disappearing into remote areas of Death Valley in California have became so common that park rangers gave them a name: "death by GPS." "If we're being honest, it's not that hard to imagine doing something similar ourselves" says Milner. "Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating."

Could society's embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps? Julia Frankenstein, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg's Center for Cognitive Science, says the danger of GPS is that "we are not forced to remember or process the information — as it is permanently 'at hand,' we need not think or decide for ourselves." "Next time you're in a new place, forget the GPS device. Study a map to get your bearings, then try to focus on your memory of it to find your way around. City maps do not tell you each step, but they provide a wealth of abstract survey knowledge. Fill in these memories with your own navigational experience, and give your brain the chance to live up to its abilities."

Submission + - CHAI3D - The Open Source Haptics Project (chai3d.org)

francoislconti writes: The CHAI3D team has just announced the release of the 3rd edition of the CHAI3D open source framework for haptic simulation. The new release introduces some of the latest research developments in haptics, in such areas as medical simulation, volume rendering, point cloud data and haptics audio. This version also supports additional haptic devices, as well as stereoscopic and immersive displays including the Oculus Rift.

Leveraging years of research at the Stanford Robotics Laboratory, CHAI3D builds on solid development experience and user feedback. The framework implementation combines the expertise of both academic and industrial partners, who contributed over the years to a wide collection of research and production projects in such diverse areas as games, simulators, educational software, interactive art, scientific visualization, robotics and medical applications.

Written in C++, CHAI3D is designed to make it easier and more intuitive for developers to produce applications that combine 3D modeling with force-feedback rendering capabilities. By transparently supporting a variety of different haptic interfaces and trackers, CHAI3D offers a unified framework to easily link applications with any compatible devices. For hardware designers, the 3.0 release provides extensive documentation, templates and examples to assist developers in easily integrating new haptic device prototypes with sophisticated haptic simulations.

Support for third party components is also provided via extension modules that augment the capabilities of the CHAI3D core foundations. Extension modules currently include various dynamics engines and robotic frameworks.

CHAI3D 3.0 is available for download on the project website (http://www.chai3d.org).

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