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Robotics

Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots 514

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the human-workers-sent-to-protein-bank dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service. Foxconn said its new "Foxbots" will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their "final testing phase."
IBM

IBM Tries To Forecast and Control Beijing's Air Pollution 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the sisyphus-industries dept.
itwbennett writes Using supercomputers to predict and study pollution patterns is nothing new. And already, China's government agencies, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, publicly report real-time pollution levels to residents. But IBM is hoping to design a better system tailored for Beijing that can predict air quality levels three days in advance, and even pinpoint the exact sources of the pollution down to the street level, said Jin Dong, an IBM Research director involved in the project.
AI

The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the running-on-time dept.
Taco Cowboy writes The subway system in Hong Kong has one of the best uptimes: 99.9%, which beats London's tube or NYC's sub hands down. In an average week as many as 10,000 people would be carrying out 2,600 engineering works across the system — from grinding down rough rails to replacing tracks to checking for damages. While human workers might be the ones carrying out the work, the one deciding which task is to be worked on, however, isn't a human being at all. Each and every engineering task to be worked on and the scheduling of all those tasks is being handled by an algorithm. Andy Chan of Hong Kong's City University, who designed the AI system, says, "Before AI, they would have a planning session with experts from five or six different areas. It was pretty chaotic. Now they just reveal the plan on a huge screen." Chan's AI program works with a simulated model of the entire system to find the best schedule for necessary engineering works. From its omniscient view it can see chances to combine work and share resources that no human could. However, in order to provide an added layer of security, the schedule generated by the AI is still subject to human approval — Urgent, unexpected repairs can be added manually, and the system would reschedule less important tasks. It also checks the maintenance it plans for compliance with local regulations. Chan's team encoded into machine readable language 200 rules that the engineers must follow when working at night, such as keeping noise below a certain level in residential areas. The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong's AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chan. "We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works," he says.
China

Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-bad-apple dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about how Oculus is dealing with the reselling of dev kits in China. Bad news for those of you looking to get your hands on a preorder of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. A representative from Oculus recently confirmed that the company has had to stop selling its headsets in China as a result of an undisclosed amount of reselling. Which is to say, some of those preordering the developer edition of the virtual reality headset in China — not the consumer product, which hasn't been officially released in any capacity just yet — aren't actually looking to develop anything on the headsets. Nor are they even interested in getting a first look at the virtual reality capabilities of the $350 development kit. They're scalping, plain and simple, to take advantage of what appears to be a hefty amount of demand for the device.
China

Gov't Censorship Pushing Users To More Private Messaging In China 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-defense-is-a-really-really-good-defense dept.
An anonymous reader writes What happens when the Chinese government drastically restricts the type of speech that can be used in their country's most popular public forum? Users start migrating to more private options, naturally. Microblogging service Sina Weibo is bleeding users, while the semiprivate WeChat is growing expansively. It's growing so quickly that the government is stepping up its efforts to monitor and delete conversations that don't meet its exacting standards. The site's posting rules have developed in an interesting way, given the lack of free speech: "WeChat allows the creation of public accounts that anyone can follow, but limits posts to one a day. In addition, access to public accounts is not possible on cellphones, making it more difficult, for instance, to launch an incriminating photo of a public official into the blogosphere. Comments are also deleted after a few days, making long-term discussions challenging and erasing a historical record." Is this the natural result of government meddling in online conversations? What will chat services in China (and other speech-stifling nations) look like in another five or ten years?
China

Chinese Company '3D-Prints' 10 Buildings In One Day 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-haven't-seen-a-real-mcmansion-yet dept.
Lucas123 writes: A company in China has used additive manufacturing to print 10 single-room buildings out of recycled construction materials in under a day as offices for a Shanghai industrial park. The cost: about $5,000 each. The company, Suzhou-based Yingchuang New Materials, used four massive 3D printers supplied by the WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. Each printer is 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. Like their desktop counterparts, the construction-grade 3D printers use fused deposition modeling (FDM), where instead of thermoplastics layer after layer of cement is deposited atop one another. The cement contains hardeners that make each layer firm enough for the next. Yingchuang's technique builds structures off site in a factory one wall at a time. The structures are then assembled onsite. The technique is unlike U.S.-based Contour Crafting, a company whose 3D printing technology to form the entire outer structure of buildings at once, The Yingchuang factory and research center, a 33,000 square foot building, was also constructed using the 3D printing manufacturing technique. It only took one month to construct.
United Kingdom

Cambridge Team Breaks Superconductor World Record 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the light-as-a-feather dept.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
Censorship

Eric Schmidt and Entourage Pay a Call On Cuba 189

Posted by timothy
from the by-the-way-we-thought-you-might-like-this dept.
VentureBeat reports that the unofficial Google ambassador to the world has made another significant visit to a place where Internet access is either forbidden or impractical for most of the citizenry; hopefully it heralds change on that front. Continuing his tour of countries with authoritarian governments and less-than-favorable Internet access, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made a secret visit to Cuba yesterday. The U.S. government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba or spending any money within the country since cold war tensions in the 1960s. Even though the cold war is over, the ban remains in effect, which is why Schmidt’s visit is significant. Unofficially (meaning not on behalf of his company), the powerful Googler has also made controversial visits to North Korea and Myanmar to promote Internet freedom, and has previously spoken out against online censorship happening in both China and India. Schmidt, says the article, "was joined by a crew of former Google employees as well as author Jared Cohen."
China

China Starts Outsourcing From ... the US 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the wait-what dept.
hackingbear writes: Burdened with Alabama's highest unemployment rate, long abandoned by textile mills and furniture plants, Wilcox County, Alabama, desperately needs jobs. And the jobs are coming from China. Henan's Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group opened a plant here last month, employing 300 locals. Chinese companies invested a record $14 billion in the United States last year, according to the Rhodium Group research firm. Collectively, they employ more than 70,000 Americans, up from virtually none a decade ago. Powerful forces — narrowing wage gaps (Chinese wages have been doubling every few years), tumbling U.S. energy prices, the rising Yuan — up 30% over the decade — are pulling Chinese companies across the Pacific. Perhaps very soon, Chinese workers will start protesting their jobs being outsourced to the cheap labor in the U.S."
China

China Leads In Graphene Patent Applications 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-many-do-you-got? dept.
hackingbear writes According to British patent consultancy CambridgeIP, China has filed for more than 2,200 graphene patents, the most of any country, followed by the U.S. with more than 1,700 patents, and South Korea with just under 1,200 patents. In terms of institutions, Samsung, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and IBM lead the way of number of patent filing on this futurist materials with seemingly unlimited potentials, followed by Qinghua University of China. As China's moving its economy to be more innovation based and strengthening its IP laws, American companies will perhaps soon be at the receiving ends of patent law suits.
China

China Builds Artificial Islands In South China Sea 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the mine-now-I-take-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes about a Chinese building project designed to cement claims to a disputed region of the South China Sea. Sand, cement, wood, and steel are China's weapons of choice as it asserts its claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei have sparred for decades over ownership of the 100 islands and reefs, which measure less than 1,300 acres in total but stretch across an area about the size of Iraq. In recent months, vessels belonging to the People's Republic have been spotted ferrying construction materials to build new islands in the sea. Pasi Abdulpata, a Filipino fishing contractor who in October was plying the waters near Parola Island in the northern Spratlys, says he came across "this huge Chinese ship sucking sand and rocks from one end of the ocean and blasting it to the other using a tube."

Artificial islands could help China anchor its claim to waters that host some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The South China Sea may hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China has considered the Spratlys—which it calls Nansha—part of its territory since the 1940s and on occasion has used its military might to enforce its claim. In 1988 a Chinese naval attack at Johnson South Reef, in the northern portion of the archipelago, killed 64 Vietnamese border guards.
United States

Chinese Vendor Could Pay $34.9M FCC Fine In Signal-Jammer Sting 188

Posted by samzenpus
from the jam-cracker dept.
alphadogg writes A Chinese electronics vendor accused of selling signal jammers to U.S. consumers could end up leading the market in one dubious measure: the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. The agency wants to fine CTS Technology $34,912,500 for allegedly marketing 285 models of jammers over more than two years. CTS boldly—and falsely—claimed that some of its jammers were approved by the FCC, according to the agency's enforcement action released Thursday. Conveniently, CTS' product detail pages also include a button to "report suspicious activity." The proposed fine, which would be bigger than any the FCC has levied for anti-competitive behavior, or a wardrobe malfunction, comes from adding up the maximum fines for each model of jammer the company allegedly sold in the U.S. The agency also ordered CTS, based in Shenzhen, China, to stop marketing illegal jammers to U.S. consumers and identify the buyer of each jammer it sold in the U.S.
Japan

Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks 398

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mox-not-bombs dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, "Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons." It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia.
China

Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year 431

Posted by timothy
from the but-will-they-be-reliable-like-american-cars dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Made In China." It's a sticker we all know too well here in the U.S., and yet, it seems not everything we buy is made in China. To date, there haven't been Chinese-built cars in the U.S., but we keep hearing they are coming. Now it seems it's about to become a reality, as Chinese-built Volvos will be arriving in the U.S. as early as 2015. The first model to arrive will be the S60L. The payoff for Volvo if it manages to convince buyers that its cars built in China are just as good as those currently built in Europe is vast. Not only will it save on production costs, but it will help buffer against exchange rate fluctuations. Volvo's planning to make China a manufacturing hub, and that makes sense since it's now owned by Chinese parent company Geely. But will Chinese-built cars be just as good as European-built cars, and will consumers be able to tell the difference?
Microsoft

Chinese Gov't Reveals Microsoft's Secret List of Android-Killer Patents 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-it-and-weep dept.
walterbyrd (182728) writes "A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website. The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy."
Education

Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success 293

Posted by timothy
from the inopportunity-for-all dept.
theodp (442580) writes AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools," lamented The White House last December as President Obama kicked off CSEdWeek. "China teaches all of its students one year of computer science." And the U.S. Dept. of Education has made the AP CS exam its Poster Child for inequity in education (citing a viral-but-misinterpreted study). But ignored in all the hand-wringing over low AP CS enrollment is one huge barrier to the goal of AP-CS-for-all: College Board materials indicate that the average 11th grader's combined PSAT/NMSQT score of 96 in reading and math gives him/her only a 20%-30% probability of getting a score of '3' on the AP CS exam (a score '4' or '5' may be required for college credit). The College Board suggests schools tap a pool of students with a "60-100% likelihood of scoring 3 or higher", so it's probably no surprise that CS teachers are advised to turn to the College Board's AP Potential tool to identify students who are likely to succeed (sample Student Detail for an "average" kid) and send their parents recruitment letters — Georgia Tech even offers some gender-specific examples — to help fill class rosters.
Security

Clueless About Card Data Hack, PF Chang's Reverts To Imprinting Devices 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the 40-year-old-technology-will-save-us dept.
wiredmikey writes: After saying earlier this week that it was investigating reports of a data breach related to payment cards used at its locations, P.F. Chang's China Bistro confirmed on Thursday that credit and debit card data has been stolen from some of its restaurants. What's interesting, and somewhat humorous, is that the company said that it has switched over to manual credit card imprinting systems for all of its restaurants located in the continental United States. The popular restaurant chain said that on Tuesday, June 10, the United States Secret Services alerted the company about the incident. Admitting that it does not know the extent or current situation and impact of the attack, the company noted in a statement: "All P.F. Chang's China Bistro branded restaurants in the continental U.S. are using manual credit card imprinting devices to handle our credit and debit card transactions," the company said. "This allows you to use your credit and debit cards safely. If it's not obvious, anyone who has visited a P.F. Chang's and used a payment card in the last several months should monitor their accounts and report any suspected fraudulent activity to their card company.
Censorship

Behind the Great Firewall: What It's Really Like To Log On From China 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the crack-in-the-wall dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes China makes headlines every other week for its censorship of the Internet, but few people outside the country know what it's like to live with those access controls, or how to get around them. This IDG News Service writer has lived in China for close to six years and censorship has been a near constant, lurking in the background ready to "harmonize" the Web and throw a wrench in his online viewing. It's been especially evident this month. Google's services, which don't follow the strict censorship rules, are currently blocked. How long that will last is unknown, but it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests earlier this month — an event the Chinese government wants no one to remember.
Security

Credit Card Breach At P.F. Chang's 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day-another-breach dept.
schwit1 tips a post by Brian Krebs saying that P.F. Chang's China Bistro, a nationwide restaurant chain, is the latest victim of a massive data breach. The company is currently investigating. Krebs writes: On June 9, thousands of newly-stolen credit and debit cards went up for sale on rescator[dot]so, an underground store best known for selling tens of millions of cards stolen in the Target breach. Several banks contacted by KrebsOnSecurity said they acquired from this new batch multiple cards that were previously issued to customers, and found that all had been used at P.F. Chang's locations between the beginning of March 2014 and May 19, 2014. ... The items for sale are not cards, per se, but instead data copied from the magnetic stripe on the backs of credit cards. Armed with this information, thieves can re-encode the data onto new plastic and then use the counterfeit cards to buy high-priced items at big box stores, goods that can be quickly resold for cash (think iPads and gift cards, for example).
Earth

Fixing China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions For Them 322

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-got-to-do-it,-why-can't-we dept.
mdsolar writes: 'Paul Krugman, who won a Nobel Prize for understanding world trade, has proposed carbon tariffs as a way to get China to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He wrote, "China is enormously dependent on access to advanced-country markets — a lot of the coal it burns can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to its export business — and it knows that it would put this access at risk if it refused to play any role in protecting the planet. More specifically, if and when wealthy countries take serious action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they're very likely to start imposing "carbon tariffs" on goods imported from countries that aren't taking similar action. Such tariffs should be legal under existing trade rules — the World Trade Organization would probably declare that carbon limits are effectively a tax on consumers, which can be levied on imports as well as domestic production. Furthermore, trade rules give special consideration to environmental protection. So China would find itself with strong incentives to start limiting emissions." As I read it, Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade does indeed allow us to unilaterally impose tariffs on China.'

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