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Transportation

In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars 454

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-if-they're-like-the-ones-in-maximum-overdrive dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status. But according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."

One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, its easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas. He adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"
Math

Mathematical Proof That the Universe Could Come From Nothing 429

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-are-a-long-term-fluctuation dept.
TaleSlinger writes: One of the great theories of modern cosmology is that the universe began in a "Big Bang", but the mathematical mechanism by which this occurred has been lacking. Cosmologists at the Wuhan Institute have published a proof that the Big Bang could indeed have occurred spontaneously because of quantum fluctuations. "The new proof is based on a special set of solutions to a mathematical entity known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. In the first half of the 20th century, cosmologists struggled to combine the two pillars of modern physics— quantum mechanics and general relativity—in a way that reasonably described the universe. As far as they could tell, these theories were entirely at odds with each other.

At the heart of their thinking is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This allows a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the metastable false vacuum. When this happens, there are two possibilities. If this bubble of space does not expand rapidly, it disappears again almost instantly. But if the bubble can expand to a large enough size, then a universe is created in a way that is irreversible. The question is: does the Wheeler-DeWitt equation allow this? "We prove that once a small true vacuum bubble is created, it has the chance to expand exponentially," say the researchers.
Government

Is Public Debate of Trade Agreements Against the Public Interest? 219

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-discuss-it-afterwards dept.
onproton writes The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently being negotiated in secret, has been subject to numerous draft leaks that indicate these talks are potentially harmful to everything from public health to internet freedom. So why isn't the public involved, and why are the terms of the agreement being debated behind closed doors? According to New Zealand's current Trade Minister, Tim Groser, full disclosure of what is being discussed would likely lead to "public debate on an ill-informed basis before the deal has been done." Leaving one to question how revealing the full context and scope of the agreement talks would lead to an increase in misinformation rather than clarity.
Cellphones

Florida Supreme Court: Police Can't Grab Cell Tower Data Without a Warrant 114

Posted by timothy
from the let's-hope-it's-catchy dept.
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Wired with some (state-specific, but encouraging) news about how much latitude police are given to track you based on signals like wireless transmissions. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person's location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called "stingrays" — sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects — sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from "confidential" sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling "a resounding defense" of the public's right to privacy.
Software

The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the grass-is-greener dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Milen Dzhumerov, a software developer for OS X and iOS, has posted a concise breakdown of the problems with the Mac App Store. He says the lack of support for trial software and upgrades drives developers away by preventing them from making a living. Forced sandboxing kills many applications before they get started, and the review system isn't helpful to anyone. Dzhumerov says all of these factors, and Apple's unwillingness to address them, are leading to the slow but steady erosion of quality software in the Mac App Store.

"The relationship between consumers and developers is symbiotic, one cannot exist without the other. If the Mac App Store is a hostile environment for developers, we are going to end up in a situation where, either software will not be supported anymore or even worse, won't be made at all. And the result is the same the other way around – if there are no consumers, businesses would go bankrupt and no software will be made. The Mac App Store can be work in ways that's beneficial to both developers and consumers alike, it doesn't have to be one or the other. If the MAS is harmful to either developers or consumers, in the long term, it will be inevitably harmful to both."

Comment: Re:True inventor of blue LED not awarded Nobel eit (Score 1) 276

by Eric Smith (#48106297) Attached to: No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED

Perhaps. IEEE Spectrum credits Maruska, as do several other histories of the subject.

http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-...

Maruska seems to have made the first working violet LED. Some people claim that it doesn't qualify as a blue LED, but as far as I know there's no agreed-upon hard distinction between violet and blue. Maruska developed the right materials and process to make it, even if RCA pulled the plug before he had solved all of the problems necessary for commercialization.

Science

Co-Founder of PayPal Peter Thiel: Society Is Hostile To Science and Technology 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the burn-the-witch dept.
dcblogs writes Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, billionaire investor and author, says "we live in a financial, capitalistic age, we do not live in a scientific or technological age. We live in a period where people generally dislike science and technology. Our culture dislikes it, our government dislikes it. The easiest way to see "how hostile our society is to technology" is to look at Hollywood. Movies "all show technology that doesn't work, that ... kills people, that it is bad for the world," said Thiel. He argues that corporations and the U.S. government are failing at complex planning.
Moon

Russia Pledges To Go To the Moon 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-tanks-they-promise dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, has announced it intends to bring humans to the Moon by roughly 2030. Russia plans a full-scale exploration of the Moon's surface. Agency head Oleg Ostapenko said that by the end of the next decade, "based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate [the] most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases.
Music

U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music' 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
Squiff writes U2 and Apple are apparently collaborating on a new, "interactive format for music," due to launch in "about 18 months." (A direct interview is available at Time, but paywalled.) Bono said the new tech "can't be pirated" and will re-imagine the role of album artwork. Marco Arment has some suitably skeptical commentary: "Full albums are as interesting to most people today as magazines. Single songs and single articles killed their respective larger containers. ... This alleged new format will cost a fortune to produce: people have to take the photos, design the interactions, build the animations, and make the deals with Apple. Bono’s talking point about helping smaller bands is ridiculous ... There's nothing Apple or Bono can do to make people care enough about glorified liner notes. People care about music and convenience, period. As for “music that can’t be pirated”, I ask again, what decade is this? That ship has not only sailed long ago, but has circled the world hundreds of times, sunk, been dragged up, turned into a tourist attraction, went out of business, and been gutted and retrofitted as a more profitable oil tanker."
Social Networks

Netropolitan Is a Facebook For the Affluent, and It's Only $9000 To Join 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-price dept.
MojoKid writes Facebook has become too crowded and too mundane. With around 1.3 billion Facebook users, it's understandable to be overwhelmed by everything and want to get away from it all. However, unlike Facebook which is looking to connect everyone to the internet, there is a new site called Netropolitan that focuses more on exclusivity and privacy. The site was founded by composer and former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra James Touchi-Peters who wanted to provide a social media site for affluent and accomplished individuals. People wishing to join need only pay a mere $9,000 to join. Of that amount, $6,000 is the initiation fee and the remaining $3,000 is for the annual membership fee which users will continue to pay. So what does the initiation and annual fee get you? For starters, Netropolitan will offer an ad-free experience and will not promote any kind of paid promotions to its members. However, it will allow the creation of groups by businesses in which members can advertise to each other under certain guidelines.

Comment: Re:Pricing? (Score 3, Interesting) 47

by Eric Smith (#47865953) Attached to: Intel Releases SD-Card-Sized PC, Unveils Next 14nm Chip

$49 only gets you the Edison module, which is useless by itself. You also need a base board of some kind. The Edison module with the Arduino-compatible base board shown in the photos will set you back $99. Still a pretty good price. 3x more expensive than a Raspberry Pi, but it is a lot more capable.

I'd get more excited about a 64-bit ARM embedded board, but those aren't available yet, other than a $6000 development board from ARM.

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