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Submission + - The problem with self driving cars: who controls the code? (theguardian.com)

schwit1 writes: The issue is with the "Trolley Problem" as applied to autonomous vehicles, which asks, if your car has to choose between a maneuver that kills you and one that kills other people, which one should it be programmed to do?

The problem with this formulation of the problem is that it misses the big question that underpins it: if your car was programmed to kill you under normal circumstances, how would the manufacturer stop you from changing its programming so that your car never killed you?

Comment Re:Why do they need ANY info? (Score 2) 423

1. Google says it is not true.
2. Adding things like current speed and wheel angle can really help with dead reckoning when GPS is having a problem getting a lock like going through a tunnel.
3. Knowing how much fuel you have left and your current mpg can help it find the cheapest gas along your route.

True, but to implement 2 or 3 only the navigation app needs that data. You don't need to send it all the way to Google (and TFA says so).

Submission + - Bolivian President's plane rerouted on suspicion Snowden on board

Barnoid writes: Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane was rerouted to Austria and had to land in Vienna after France and Portugal refused to let the plane cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board.
Note to France & Portugal: next time, try that with the American President and AirForce One on grounds of illegal CIA prisoners being on board.

Laser Fusion's Brightest Hope 115

First time accepted submitter szotz writes "The National Ignition Facility has one foot in national defense and another in the future of commercial energy generation. That makes understanding the basic justification for the facility, which boasts the world's most powerful laser system, more than a little tricky. This article in IEEE Spectrum looks at NIF's recent missed deadline, what scientists think it will take for the facility to live up to its middle name, and all of the controversy and uncertainty that comes from a project that aspires to jumpstart commercial fusion energy but that also does a lot of classified work. NIF's national defense work is often glossed over in the press. This article pulls in some more detail and, in some cases, some very serious criticism. Physicist Richard Garwin, one of the designers of the hydrogen bomb, doesn't mince words. When it comes to nuclear weapons, he says in the article, '[NIF] has no relevance at all to primaries. It doesn't do a good job of mimicking secondaries...it validates the codes in regions that are not relevant to nuclear weapons.'"

Comment Re:Tell me Professor (Score 1) 454

At our (national) university (not in the US, but similar living cost), a tenured professor shortly before
retirement has a salary of about $80'000. Assistant professors get ~$40K. (To be fair: profs at private
universities get about twice as much). I don't know about other departments, but at least in engineering,
both tenured and assistant profs put in a lot of hours.

If you're working in the systems area (low-level stuff such as OSes, compilers, etc), it's hard to write
even two papers per year and grad student, because we actually implement our ideas, debug them,
and may not be able to publish if the results are worse than expected. And most projects are too big
for one student, so a whole team is working on it.

In computer science, we compete with everyone who has has interet access and a computer. The guys
at, for example, Tsinghua University in Beijing work extremely hard and are at least as talented as your average
grad student in the US or Europe. If we publish something new, a framework, a new scheduling algorithm,
etc., for that first paper we do have some slack. Once it's out, anyone is free to improve the ideas there
and publish a follow-up paper. From that moment on, even though we have a good head start, it's either
publish fast or work on something entirely new. Unfortunately, not everybody has a new cool idea every day.

Comment Re:Switzerland (Score 3, Informative) 157

Note that providing copyrighted material is illegal, only possession (and downloading) is legal.

Of course, the USo*AA didn't like this and have put Switzerland on the 2012 International Piracy Watch List (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/congressional-report-adds-italy-switzerland-to-piracy-watchlist/). Switzerland took the spot of Canada after they changed their laws to the liking of our *AA overlords.

Comment Re:The USA is losing interest in science... (Score 1) 133

I totally agree - and it's not just the US.

I might also add that the technology helped quite a bit in dumbing us down in the sense that it enables us to know what's going on anywhere on the planet almost immediatly. Most (online) newspapers scramble to get those stories out as fast as possible which then leads to the situation where all news outlets present the exact same story by Reuters. I remember when newspapers still did their own stories. Now I even get live feeds from, say, the Apple-Samsung trial: "13:30 the judge entered the courtroom." aso.

And as you mentioned above, it's the dumbass stories that generate a lot of clicks. Some vampire celebrity cheats on her boyfriend with her director, gets kicked out, is depressed, will they get together, ....and even though I was born on a different continent and currently live in yet another continent - newspapers here and back home are full of this useless information.

Same goes for TV. Everything TV has to offer these days is braindamaged 'who's got talent', 'whatever factor' and 'survivor camp' "reality shows" and a million variants of CSI.

I research/teach at a university. We have trouble getting motivated students these days, very few kids are interested in science - they might have to sit down and actually use their brains. And it will get worse - a survey among middle school kids on what they would like to do later found that they want to become a celebrity, a lawyer, or a plastical surgon.


Submission + - Germany Sets New Solar Power Record (reuters.com)

An anonymous reader writes: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. ... The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world's leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.

Submission + - Male pill: gene discovery may lead to contraceptive (bbc.co.uk)

Jaktar writes: It may be possible to develop a new male contraceptive pill after researchers in Edinburgh identified a gene critical for the production of healthy sperm. Experiments in mice found that the gene, Katnal1, was vital for the final stages of making sperm. The authors of a study in PLos Genetics said a drug which interrupts Katnal1 could be a reversible contraceptive.

Submission + - SpaceX's Dragon Hatch Opens on ISS! (video) (youtube.com) 3

Hexydes writes: Early in the morning (EST) on May 26th, 2012, NASA gave the go-ahead for the Expedition 31 crew to begin the procedure to open the hatch on the Dragon capsule, now attached to the ISS. The video of the procedure can be seen in the linked video.

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