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Robotics

Ethical Killing Machines 785

Posted by kdawson
from the i-for-one-welcome dept.
ubermiester writes "The New York Times reports on research to develop autonomous battlefield robots that would 'behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans.' The researchers claim that these real-life terminators 'can be designed without an instinct for self-preservation and, as a result, no tendency to lash out in fear. They can be built without anger or recklessness ... and they can be made invulnerable to ... "scenario fulfillment," which causes people to absorb new information more easily if it agrees with their pre-existing ideas.' Based on a recent report stating that 'fewer than half of soldiers and marines serving in Iraq said that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 17 percent said all civilians should be treated as insurgents,' this might not be all that dumb an idea."
Censorship

Politician Forces German Wikipedia Off the Net 569

Posted by kdawson
from the inconvenient-truth dept.
Stephan Schulz writes "A German Member of parliament for a left-wing party, Lutz Heilmann, has obtained a preliminary injunction against the local chapter of the Wikimedia foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., forbidding the forwarding of the popular http://wikipedia.de to the proper http://de.wikipedia.org. Apparently Heilmann is not happy with the fact that his Wikipedia article (English version) contains information on his work for the former GDR Stasi, the much-hated internal secret service. Wikimedia Germany displays a page explaining the situation, and has announced that it will file an objection to get the injunction lifted. The German Wikipedia has more than 800,000 pages, and is hosted, like all Wikimedia projects, by the Florida-based Wikimedia Foundation, and hence beyond the effective reach of at least German politicians and judges."

Comment: Limited Sample Size (Score 1) 243

by Death_Aparatus (#25098635) Attached to: New Diablo 3 Images; Design Wins Over Darkness
I dislike people bemoaning the art style of the screen shots and gameplay footage that have been thus far released for Diablo3. We have only been shown with a small number of environments. They are presumably from the early game levels, since that's likely the most polished and there fore most worthy of presentation. It's very possible that there is a progression towards darker, more edgy environments later in the game.

The president is there from its predecessors. The tile sets in the original Diablo became progressively darker, the deeper under the cathedral you went. Even the varied environments in Diablo2 showed a movement, the further you got in the game, toward a darker, more suffocating atmosphere.

I think people will find most anything to complain about, and there's really not enough details available yet to come to any sort of reasonable, informed option. We'll all just have to wait for more bread crumbs.
Communications

How Telcos and ISPs Are Preparing For a Pandemic 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the virus-protection-for-real-life dept.
alphadogg writes "Network operators and IT professionals already worried about how hurricanes and financial meltdowns will impact their work lives can add another potential catastrophe to their list of concerns: a global pandemic. During a panel sponsored by the FCC in Washington, D.C. this week, representatives from telecom carriers and ISPs discussed what steps they've been taking to prepare for the mass outbreak of a disease such as influenza, and also described the needs and challenges they would have to meet to keep communications up and running during a major global crisis. The most important tool at ISPs' disposal during a serious pandemic, panelists agreed, was that of network and bandwidth management controls."
Operating Systems

Inside VMware's 'Virtual Datacenter OS' 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the closer-look dept.
snydeq writes "Neil McAllister cuts through VMware's marketing hype to examine the potential impact of VMware's newly pronounced 'virtual datacenter OS' — which the company has touted as the death knell for the traditional OS. Literally an operating system for the virtual datacenter, VDC OS is an umbrella concept to build services and APIs that make it easier to provision and allocate resources for apps in an abstract way. Under the system, McAllister writes, apps are reduced to 'application workloads' tailored through vApp, a tool that will allow developers to 'encapsulate the entire app infrastructure in a single bundle — servers and all.' The concept could help solve the current bugbear of programming, parallel processing, McAllister concludes, assuming VMware succeeds."
Networking

Comcast Discloses Throttling Practices 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-took-a-year dept.
Wired reports that Comcast finally provided information on its network management practices late Friday. In a report to the FCC (PDF), the cable company admitted to targeting P2P protocols Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FasTrack, and Gnutella. Quoting: "For each of the managed P2P protocols, the [Sandvine Policy Traffic Switch] monitors and identifies the number of simultaneous unidirectional uploads that are passed from the [Cable Modem Termination System] to the upstream router. Because of the prevalence of P2P traffic on the upstream portion of our network, the number of simultaneous unidirectional upload sessions of any particular P2P protocol at any given time serves as a useful proxy for determining the level of overall network congestion. For each of the protocols, a session threshold is in place that is intended to provide for equivalently fair access between the protocols, but still mitigate the likelihood of congestion that could cause service degradation for our customers."
The Military

US Army To Develop "Thought Helmets" 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-than-"thought-pants"-i-guess dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Time Magazine reports on a $4 million US Army contract to begin developing 'thought helmets' to harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops that the Army hopes will 'lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone.' The Army's initial goal is to capture brain waves with software that translates the waves into audible radio messages for other troops in the field. 'It'd be radio without a microphone,' says Dr. Elmar Schmeisser, the Army neuroscientist overseeing the program. 'Because soldiers are already trained to talk in clean, clear and formulaic ways, it would be a very small step to have them think that way.' The key challenge will be to develop software able to pinpoint speech-related brain waves and pick them up with a 128-sensor array that ultimately will be buried inside a helmet. Scientists deny charges that they're messing with soldiers' minds. 'A lot of people interpret wires coming out of the head as some sort of mind reading,' says Dr. Mike D'Zmura. 'But there's no way you can get there from here.' One potential civilian spin-off: a Bluetooth Helmet so people nearby can't hear you when you talk on your cell phone."
Robotics

Inside the DARPA-esque Singapore Military Bot Contest 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the running-into-walls-on-the-government's-dime dept.
mattnyc99 writes "Earlier this summer we followed a war robot contest in England. But now, after the Russian onslaught in Georgia, this weekend's TechX Challenge in Singapore takes on a bigger meaning: can small countries keep up with military superpowers by upmodding existing robots for their own needs and then arming them? Researchers in the Far East seem to be struggling with their A.I. research right now, but this could just be the beginning of the 'little guys' fighting back. From the article: 'Chan says the agency wants to use more locally developed robots to help in homeland security and counterterrorist operations. The DSTA's goal is to improve robotic artificial intelligence so it can build machines to perform dangerous tasks — reconnaissance, surveillance and the handling of hazardous materials — that American robots already can. ... Back at Nanyang Technological University, Michael Lau acknowledges the urgency of the research but says the AI for urban warfare just isn't ready. "We don't really believe fully autonomous robots are possible yet," says the Evolution team supervisor. "How does a robot differentiate between friend and foe?"'" We've discussed similar projects from DARPA in the past. Reader coondoggie notes that enthusiasts will be able to participate in the lighter side of robot warfare next month in Texas.
The Almighty Buck

+ - SPAM: The Death of the Credit Card Economy

Submitted by
Anti-Globalism
Anti-Globalism writes ""We predicted there would be some degree of spillover from the mortgage meltdown," said Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com. "But the credit line reductions by big credit card companies in the last six months have been fairly unprecedented."

In the second quarter, credit giant MasterCard reported that the gross dollar volume, or GDV, of credit charges processed in the United States rose just 0.7 percent from 2007, while the GDV of debit charges rose 15.8 percent. The huge retailer Target in late August said that in the second quarter, for the first time in memory, the percentage of sales charged to credit cards fell, while the proportion of purchases made with debit cards rose. That's partially by design, since the company has undertaken an "aggressive reduction of credit lines and significant tightening of all aspects of our underwriting.""

Link to Original Source
Hardware Hacking

CC Companies Scotch Mythbusters Show On RFID Security 466

Posted by kdawson
from the next-comes-guns-and-money dept.
mathfeel passes along a video in which Mythbusters co-host Adam Savage recounts how credit card companies lawyered up to make sure the Discovery channel never, ever airs a segment on the flaws in RFID security. "Texas Instruments comes on [a scheduled conference call] along with chief legal counsel for American Express, Visa, Discover, and everybody else... They [Mythbusters producers] were way, way outgunned and they [lawyers] absolutely made it really clear to Discovery that they were not going to air this episode talking about how hackable this stuff was, and Discovery backed way down being a large corporation that depends upon the revenue of the advertisers. Now it's on Discovery's radar and they won't let us go near it."
Science

Mysterious Sound Waves Can Destroy Rockets 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the scientists-get-the-best-toys dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "Scientists believe that powerful and unstable sound waves, created by energy supplied by the combustion process, were the cause of rocket failures in several US and Russian rockets. They have also observed these mysterious oscillations in other propulsion and power-generating systems such as missiles and gas turbines. Now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a liquid rocket engine simulator and imaging techniques to help demystify the cause of these explosive sound waves and bring scientists a little closer to being able to understand and prevent them. The team was able to clearly demonstrate that the phenomenon manifests itself in the form of spinning acoustic waves that gain destructive power as they rotate around the rocket's combustion chamber at a rate of 5,000 revolutions per second. Researchers developed a low-pressure combustor to simulate larger rocket engines then used a very-high-speed camera with fiber optic probes to observe the formation and behavior of excited spinning sound waves within the engine. 'This is a very troublesome phenomenon in rockets,' said Professor Ben Zinn. 'These spinning acoustic oscillations destroy engines without anyone fully understanding how these waves are formed. Visualizing this phenomenon brings us a step closer to understanding it.'"
Role Playing (Games)

World of Warcraft - Wrath Of the Lich King Is In Alpha 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-think-we're-prepared-this-time dept.
simrook writes to tell us that World of Warcraft's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, has entered closed alpha testing, as reported by WoWInsider. Wrath of the Lich King, which we've discussed previously, will raise the level cap to 80 and introduce a new class: Death Knights. World of Warcraft remains the most popular MMORPG on the market with over 10 million subscribers. WoWInsider notes, "Various players are being invited to check it out, under a strict NDA."
Wii

Wii Outsells 360, PS3 Worldwide 491

Posted by Zonk
from the top-dog-has-a-waggle dept.
Wowzer writes "Despite confusing consoles produced, shipped or sold reports, the Nintendo Wii is now the best-selling system worldwide. Its sales exceed that of the Xbox 360 despite Microsoft's console having a year-long head start. And it's way ahead of the PS3. From the article: 'Sales figures from each console's launch date through the end of July (and the end of August in Japan) were added up, with the Wii just barely edging out the 360: 9 million for the Wii, 8.9 million for the 360, and 3.7 million for the PlayStation 3.'"
Red Hat Software

Airbus 380 To Have Linux In Every Seat 332

Posted by kdawson
from the no-access-to-the-tubes-though dept.
jpatokal writes "Singapore Airlines will be rolling out the A380 superjumbo on October 26th, and a surprise awaits in the seat of every passenger: their personal Linux PC, running Red Hat. In addition to running the in-flight entertainment, passengers can also use a full copy of StarOffice, and there's a USB slot for importing/exporting documents or plugging in your own keyboard/mouse. Screen size is 10.6" (1280x768) in economy, 15.4" in business and a whopping 23" in first class (along with free noise-canceling headphones). The system is already available on current B777-300ER planes and will also be outfitted on the upcoming B787 Dreamliners."
PlayStation (Games)

Sony to Add TV Tuner, DVR to PS3 255

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hardware-hackers-get-to-work dept.
pjhenley writes "Sony has announced that they will add digital TV and DVR capabilities to the PS3 in Europe. TV can also be watched on a PSP using 'remote play' over WiFi or via downloaded recordings. 'The new box will feature two 1080p tuners, which utilize the European Digital Video Broadcasting system (DVB-T) -- which should dash any US hopes for the time being. The system will allow you to store recorded broadcasts on your PS3 drive, and also transcode and transfer the saved files to your PSP.'"

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