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+ - 192 Computer beats humans at Arimaa

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A computer engine has beaten humans at Arimaa, an abstract strategy game, in the official human–computer challenge of the year. Sharp, as the bot is called, had to beat each of three strong human players in a best 2-out-3 contest and managed to sweep the first two rounds, thereby already guaranteeing victory. Its developer David Wu will receive a $12,000 prize, contingent on him submitting a paper describing the program to the International Computer Games Association."

+ - 822 Mandelbrot zooms now surpass the scale of the observable Universe

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "You’re used to real numbers: that is, numbers that can be expressed as a decimal, even if it’s an arbitrarily long, non-repeating decimal. There are also complex numbers, which are numbers that have a real part and also an imaginary part. The imaginary part is just like the real part, but is also multiplied by i, or the square root of -1. It's a simple definition: the Mandelbrot set consists of every possible complex number, n, where the sequence n, n^2 + n, (n^2 + n)^2 + n, etc.—where each new term is the prior term, squared, plus n—does not go to either positive or negative infinity. The scale of zoom visualizations now goes well past the limits of the observable Universe, with no signs of loss of complexity at all."

+ - 946 ICANN and the MPAA

Submitted by rs79
rs79 (71822) writes "There has been widespread dissatisfaction that ICANN has been co opted by Intellectual Property types and this revelation from the Wikileaks Sony Email archive sheds some light on the matter: "The MPAA will be actively participating and working with the ICANN steering committee and the US government to make the LA meeting a meaningful event".

https://wikileaks.org/sony/ema...

There are 36 other references to ICANN in the Sony emails which makes for a fascinating glimpse on how a media giant sees and treats the organization."

+ - 240 K-12 CS Education Provider to Largest School Districts Eyes $200M in H-1B Fees

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Endorsed by the White House and bankrolled by tech's wealthiest individuals and their corporations, 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit Code.org has inked deals to bring K-12 computer science education to 7 of the largest US school districts. On Thursday, the group followed up on its earlier Congressional testimony, suggesting on Twitter and Tumblr that $200M in visa fees paid by its backers and others for H-1B workers be made available for CS education efforts. "With only 10% of all STEM graduates choosing to major in computer science," exclaimed Code.org in a blog post, "it’s no surprise the U.S. needs to bring in so many skilled workers from other countries!" Hey, it's also probably no surprise that many of Code.org's backers are also currently pressing for additional H-1B visas through Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC and other entities!"

+ - 284 DARPA Just Open Sourced All This Swish 'Dark Web' Search Tech->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Google appears to be an indomitable force. But, with today's release from the US military's research arm of its Memex search technologies and Europe's competition investigation into the Mountain View giant, it might be a propitious time for tech-minded entrepreneurs to start building a Google killer.

DARPA's Memex search technologies have garnered much interest due to their initial mainstream application: to uncover human trafficking operations taking place on the âoedark webâ, the catch-all term for the various internet networks the majority of people never use, such as Tor, Freenet and I2P. And a significant number of law enforcement agencies have inquired about using the technology. But Memex promises to be disruptive across both criminal and business worlds.

Christopher White, who leads the team of Memex partners, which includes members of the Tor Project, a handful of prestigious universities, NASA and research-focused private firms, tells FORBES the project is so ambitious in its scope, it wants to shake up a staid search industry controlled by a handful of companies: Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Putting those grandiose ideas into action, DARPA will today open source various components of Memex, allowing others to take the technologies and adapt them for their own use. As is noticeable from the list of technologies below, there's great possibility for highly-personalised search, whether for agents trying to bring down pedophiles or the next Silk Road , or anyone who wants a less generic web experience. Here's an exclusive look at who is helping DARPA build Memex and what they're making available on the Open Catalogue today"

Link to Original Source

+ - 215 How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works->

Submitted by minstrelmike
minstrelmike (1602771) writes ""At the core of Uber’s wild success and market valuation of over $41 billion is its data and algorithmically fueled approach to matching supply and demand for cars. It’s classic economics, supposedly....but is Uber’s surge pricing algorithm really doing what they claim? Do surge prices really get more cars on the road?

My analysis suggests that rather than motivating a fresh supply of drivers, surge pricing instead re-distributes drivers already on the road."

The writer goes on to analyze 4 weeks of pricing info from 5 areas in D.C. and plotted prices versus wait times. "Price surging can work in any of three ways: by reducing demand for cars (less people want a car for a higher price), by creating new supply (providing an incentive for new drivers to hit the roads), or by shifting supply (drivers) to areas of higher demand."

It moves current drivers from one side of town to the other. It does not put new drivers on the road. It can't because the prices change every 3-5 minutes."

Link to Original Source

+ - 156 Intent To Deprecate HTTP -> 2

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "A suggestion on the Mozilla Dev forum aims to deprecate HTTP in favour of HTTPS. Has it really come to this? Browser devs dictating the protocols we use? Of course, it is all in the name of freedom.
The basic idea is that HTTPS is more secure — it stops government agencies spying on what we do and it stops man-in-the-middle attacks. Hence there is a growing belief that all web traffic should be encrypted and hence the move to deprecate HTTP and phase out browser support for it.
The problem is that to use HTTPS you need to buy a certificate and this isn't cheap. The solution is to make use of a self-signed certificate which provides encryption but not authentication. At the moment this isn't an easy option, but initiatives like the EFF's Let's Encrypt promises a service that will provide free certificates with some automatic domain validation and a database of certificates. This is makes using "lightly validated" certificates a possibility, but at the moment browsers tend to put up warning messages when you encounter a website that has a self-signed certificate. This makes an HTTPS site using a self-signed certificate look more risky than an HTTP site that has no encryption at all!
This is a very complicated situation. It is clear that there are situations were HTTPS is essential and there are many situations were it is largely irrelevant and actually harmful.
Which to us is not a decision that should be left to browser developers."

Link to Original Source

+ - 240 New Nudge Technology Prods You to Take Action

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Natasha Singer reports at the NYT on a new generation of devices whose primary function is to prod people to change. This new category of nudging technology includes “hydration reminder” apps like Waterlogged that exhort people to increase their water consumption; the HAPIfork, a utensil that vibrates and turns on a light indicator when people eat too quickly; and Thync, “neurosignaling” headgear that delivers electrical pulses intended to energize or relax people. “There is this dumbing-down, which assumes people do not want the data, they just want the devices to help them,” says Natasha Dow Schüll. “It is not really about self-knowledge anymore. It’s the nurselike application of technology.” While some self-zapping gizmos may resemble human cattle prods, other devices use more complex cues to encourage people to adopt new behavior. For example, the Muse, a brain-wave monitoring headband, is intended to help people understand their state of mind by playing different sounds depending on whether they are distracted or calm. “Based on what it registers, it plays loud, disruptive wind or waves lapping or, if you are supercalm and you maintain it for a while, you get calm, lovely noises of birds tweeting,” says Schüll. “You do learn to calm your mind.

But do the new self-tracking and self-improvement technologies benefit people or just create more anxiety? An article published in The BMJ, a British medical journal, describes healthy people who use self-tracking apps as “young, asymptomatic, middle-class neurotics continuously monitoring their vital signs while they sleep.” Dr. Des Spence argues that many health tracking apps encouraged healthy people to unnecessarily record their normal activities and vital signs — turning users into continuously self-monitoring “neurotics.” Spence recommends people view these new technologies with skepticism. “The truth is that these apps and devices are untested and unscientific, and they will open the door of uncertainty,” says Spence. “Make no mistake: Diagnostic uncertainty ignites extreme anxiety in people.”"

+ - 204 Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Diane Cardwell reports in the NYT that many utilities are trying desperately to stem the rise of solar power, either by reducing incentives, adding steep fees or effectively pushing home solar companies out of the market. The economic threat has electric companies on edge. Over all, demand for electricity is softening while home solar is rapidly spreading across the country. There are now about 600,000 installed systems, and the number is expected to reach 3.3 million by 2020, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. In Hawaii, the current battle began in 2013, when Hawaiian Electric started barring installations of residential solar systems in certain areas. It was an abrupt move — a panicked one, critics say — made after the utility became alarmed by the technical and financial challenges of all those homes suddenly making their own electricity. “Hawaii is a postcard from the future,” says Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a policy and advocacy group based in California.

But utilities say that solar-generated electricity flowing out of houses and into a power grid designed to carry it in the other direction has caused unanticipated voltage fluctuations that can overload circuits, burn lines and lead to brownouts or blackouts. “At every different moment, we have to make sure that the amount of power we generate is equal to the amount of energy being used, and if we don’t keep that balance things go unstable,” says Colton Ching, vice president for energy delivery at Hawaiian Electric, pointing to the illuminated graphs and diagrams tracking energy production from wind and solar farms, as well as coal-fueled generators in the utility’s main control room. But the rooftop systems are “essentially invisible to us,” says Ching, “because they sit behind a customer’s meter and we don’t have a means to directly measure them.” The utility wants to cut roughly in half the amount it pays customers for solar electricity they send back to the grid. “Hawaii’s case is not isolated,” says Massoud Amin. “When we push year-on-year 30 to 40 percent growth in this market, with the number of installations doubling, quickly — every two years or so — there’s going to be problems.”"

+ - 275 Is iPhone's Lack of FM Support Increasing Your Chances of Dying in a Disaster?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""You may not know it," reports NPR's Emma Bowman, "but most of today's smartphones have FM radios inside of them. But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off. The National Association of Broadcasters has been asking mobile makers to change this. But the mobile industry, which profits from selling data to smartphone users, says that with the consumer's move toward mobile streaming apps, the demand for radio simply isn't there." But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says radio-enabled smartphones could sure come in handy during times of emergency. So, is it irresponsible not to activate the FM chips? And should it's-the-app-way-or-the-highway Apple follow Microsoft's lead and make no-static-at-all FM available on iPhones?"

+ - 209 DIA Polygraph Countermeasure Case Files Leaked

Submitted by George Maschke
George Maschke (699175) writes "AntiPolygraph.org (of which I am a co-founder) has published a set of leaked Defense Intelligence Agency polygraph countermeasure case files along with a case-by-case analysis. The case files, which include polygraph charts and the exact questions used, suggest that the only people being "caught" trying to beat the polygraph are those using crude, unsophisticated methods that anyone who actually understood polygraph procedure and effective countermeasures (like, say, a real spy, saboteur, or terrorist) would ever use. AntiPolygraph.org has previously published polygraph community training materials on countermeasures that indicate they lack the ability to detect countermeasures like those described in our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (PDF) or in former police polygraph examiner Doug Williams' manual, How to Sting the Polygraph . Williams, who was indicted last year after teaching undercover federal agents how to pass a polygraph, is scheduled to stand trial on May 12 in Oklahoma City."

+ - 206 Oklahoma says it will now use nitrogen gas as its backup method of execution->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, the Washington Post reports.

Fallin and other supporters of the procedure say it's pain-free and effective, noting that the nitrogen would render inmates unconscious within ten seconds and kill them in minutes. It's also cheap: state representatives say the method only requires a nitrogen tank and a gas mask, but financial analysts say its impossible to give precise figures, the Post reports.

Oklahoma's primary execution method is still lethal injection, but the state's procedure is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Tennessee suspended executions statewide following challenges to its own lethal injection protocol."

Link to Original Source

+ - 215 FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions."

Link to Original Source

+ - 216 Joseph Goebbels' estate sues publisher for Nazi war criminal's diary royalties->

Submitted by wabrandsma
wabrandsma (2551008) writes "The Guardian:
The estate of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda, is taking legal action against the publisher Random House over a new biography, claiming payment for the use of extracts from his diaries. Peter Longerich's biography of Goebbels is to be published in May (Random House/ Siedler).
Longerich, who is the professor at Royal Holloway's Holocaust Research Centre, maintains this case has important censorship implications. “If you accept that a private person controls the rights to Goebbels’ diaries, then – theoretically – you give this person the right to control research,” he said."

Link to Original Source

+ - 957 FTC calls for comments on the sharing economy

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "The FTC wants to talk about the ‘sharing economy’

And now the Federal Trade Commission wants to talk about what it means for consumers. The agency announced Friday it will host a public workshop to "examine competition, consumer protection, and economic issues raised by the proliferation of online and mobile peer-to peer business platforms" in June.

“We are seeing a dramatic growth in products and services that are built on peer-to-peer platforms, such as ride-sharing and property rentals, as more entrepreneurs harness the power of technology to reach more consumers,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release. “Through our workshop, we want to better understand the competitive impact of these new business models, as well as their interactions with existing regulatory frameworks.”

"

+ - 215 Good News! The DOJ Might Kill the Comcast-Time Warner Merger -> 1

Submitted by jriding
jriding (1076733) writes "The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger has been in the works for so long, itâ(TM)s starting to feel like the impending monopolistic telecom Frankenbaby was inevitable. But the Justice Department may kibosh the deal for violating antitrust laws, according to a report from Bloomberg.
http://gizmodo.com/good-news-t...
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/...
http://www.ft.com/fastft/31000..."

Link to Original Source