A while ago you had the chance to ask mathematician and theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson about his work in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear propulsion, and his thoughts on the past, present, and future of science. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
Attila Dimedici writes "I am in the process of implementing an Email Encryption Gateway for my company. I checked with my various contacts in the industry and came away with Voltage as the best solution. However, as I have been working with them to implement a solution, I have been sadly disappointed by their lack of professionalism. Every time I think I am one question away from being ready to pull the trigger, I discover something that my contact with them had not mentioned before that has to be ironed out by the various stakeholders on my end. So, my question for Slashdot readers is this: what is your experience with implementing an Email Encryption Gateway for your company and what solution would you recommend?"
An anonymous reader writes "We're seeing a new revolution in artificial intelligence known as deep learning: algorithms modeled after the brain have made amazing strides and have been consistently winning both industrial and academic data competitions with minimal effort. 'Basically, it involves building neural networks — networks that mimic the behavior of the human brain. Much like the brain, these multi-layered computer networks can gather information and react to it. They can build up an understanding of what objects look or sound like. In an effort to recreate human vision, for example, you might build a basic layer of artificial neurons that can detect simple things like the edges of a particular shape. The next layer could then piece together these edges to identify the larger shape, and then the shapes could be strung together to understand an object. The key here is that the software does all this on its own — a big advantage over older AI models, which required engineers to massage the visual or auditory data so that it could be digested by the machine-learning algorithm.' Are we ready to blur the line between hardware and wetware?"
First time accepted submitter edwardins writes "TED has teamed up with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the New York public broadcaster WNET to create an hour long special called, 'TED Talks Education.' From the article: 'The Corporation for Public Broadcasting paid for the show's $1 million costs under the auspices of an initiative that addresses the high school drop-out problem in the United States. "It was the perfect marriage of ideas that matter and our core value of education," said Patricia Harrison, the corporation's chief executive.'"
John McAfee was best known as a software designer and founder of the computer anti-virus company McAfee Associates until his saga in Belize began. McAfee's works on producing natural antibiotics commercially in Belize was quickly overshadowed by police raids, murder allegations, and a month of evading Belizean authorities while maintaining his innocence. He was eventually captured and deported back to the United States in December 2012 without being charged with any crime. "Boston George" Jung (a man who has lived quite an unusual life himself) has been tapped to write McAfee's biography titled, No Domain. Now that things have mostly settled down, John has agreed to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
mikejuk writes "If you are a fan of the Sci-Fi sub-genre of robot apocalypses, you may well not want to give a robot a chainsaw to wield. If, on the other hand, you are a creative artist, then it seems well worth the risk, as this video demonstrates. In this case the robot is a standard industrial arm with an electric chainsaw mounted where the gripper would normally go. Exactly what the robot is doing isn't obvious to the viewer, but once it is finished the whole thing is disassembled to reveal two wooden stools and some interesting shapes. A robot with a chainsaw is just a subtractive 3D printer."
Antipater writes "Disney parks and resorts have long had a system that combined your room key, credit card, and park ticket into a single card. Now, they're taking it a step further by turning the card into an RFID wristband (called a 'MagicBand'), tracking you, and personalizing your park experience, targeted-ad style. 'Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park,' wrote Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a blog posting on Monday. 'With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that's better for everyone.' Disney does go on to talk about all the things you can opt out of if you have privacy concerns, and the whole system seems to be voluntary or even premium." With a theme park, at least, you can also choose to avoid the place entirely; that makes it, however creepy, a bit different from compulsory education settings, or mandatory car tracking.
another random user writes "According to the BBC, 'Europe is on the cusp of approving a gene therapy for the first time, in what would be a landmark moment for the field. ... The European Medicines Agency has recommended a therapy for a rare genetic disease which leaves people unable to properly digest fats. The European Commission will now make the final decision. The idea of gene therapy is simple: if there is a problem with part of a patient's genetic code then replace that part of the code. The reality has not been so easy. In one gene therapy trial a U.S. teenager, Jesse Gelsinger, died, and other patients have developed leukaemia. There no gene therapies available outside of a research lab in Europe or the U.S.' They have considered the use of Glybera to treat lipoprotein lipase deficiency, which leads to fat building up in the blood, abdominal pain and life-threatening pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). 'The therapy uses a virus to infect muscle cells with a working copy of the gene.'"
jmcbain writes "I'm a former Microsoftie, and one thing I really despised about the company is the 'stack ranking' employee evaluation system that was succinctly captured in a recent Vanity Fair article on the company. Stack ranking is basically applying a forced curve distribution on all employees at the same level, so management must place some percentage of employees into categories of overperforming, performing on average, and underperforming. Even if it's an all-star team doing great work, some folks will be marked as underperforming. Frankly, this really sucked. I know this practice gained popularity with GE in the 1980s and is being used by some (many?) Fortune 500 companies. Does your company do this? What's the best way to survive this type of system?"
An anonymous reader writes "In response to the still-raging MPAA & RIAA, a kind of reverse piracy campaign has arisen. The "Send Them Your Money" campaign urges pirates and landlubbers alike to send scanned images of American currency to these agencies. According to the campaign's webpage, 'They've made it very clear that they consider digital copies to be just as valuable as the original.' The operation gained fame via sites like Reddit and Tumblr, inspiring citizens of other countries to send their legal tender to the MPAA and RIAA."
New submitter mkwan writes "The open-source X Server for Android has hit beta and is now available for download through the Android Market. On Australian networks at least, smartphones are assigned publicly-accessible IP addresses, so it should be possible to display many Linux applications on an Android smartphone simply by setting the DISPLAY environment variable to the phone's IP address followed by :0" The source is available under the MIT license (or Apache; the project page and story disagree) over at Google Code. It doesn't support all of the X protocol and there's no Xlib implementation (i.e. no X11 apps on the device yet except via the NDK if you're lucky), but it is a reimplementation of the X server in Java for Android. You can run remote applications at least.
First time accepted submitter dylan_k writes "In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a lot of buzz about ideas like 'hypertext literature' and 'electronic literature.' Nowadays, it's easier to create those things than ever before, and there are plenty of digital texts but it just doesn't seem like authors are writing any new 'hypertext' literature these days. Why?"
wiedzmin writes "A Colorado woman that was ordered by a federal judge to decrypt her laptop hard-drive for police last month, appears to have forgotten her password. If she does not remember the password by month's end, as ordered, she could be held in contempt and jailed until she complies. It appears that bad memory is now a federal offense." The article clarifies that her lawyer stated she may have forgotten the password; they haven't offered that as a defense in court yet.
An anonymous reader writes "Clement Lefebvre, the Linux Mint founder, has forked Gnome 3 and named it Cinnamon. Mint has experimented with extensions to Gnome in the latest release of their operating system, but in order to make the experience they are aiming for really work, they needed an actual fork. The goal of this fork is to use the improved Gnome 3 internals and put a more familiar Gnome 2 interface on it."
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have discovered the fossil remains of a 94-million-year-old squirrel-like critter with a long, narrow snout and a pair of curved saber-fangs that it would have likely used to pierce its insect prey. The creature, pieced together from skull fragments unearthed in Argentina and dubbed Cronopio dentiacutus, was not ancestral to us or any living mammal. Instead, it belonged to an extinct group called dryolestoids, a cadre of fuzzy mammals that scurried about in the shadow of long-necked dinosaurs."