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Pope Says Technology Causes Confusion Between Reality and Fiction 779 779

Pope Benedict XVI has warned that people are in danger of being unable to discern reality from fiction because of new technologies, and not old books. "New technologies and the progress they bring can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to confusion between reality and virtual reality. The image can also become independent from reality, it can give birth to a virtual world, with various consequences -- above all the risk of indifference towards real life," he said.
Transportation

Toyota Adds External Speakers To Warn Pedestrians 531 531

HockeyPuck writes "When I was a kid, playing with my matchbox cars, I used to say 'VROOOM VROOOM' to pretend my toy cars had big engines in them. Well it seems that Toyota has decided to do the same thing with the Prius by optionally installing, in Japan, external speakers to alert pedestrians of oncoming Priuses."
United Kingdom

UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards 334 334

mjwx writes "In what would seem to be a sudden outbreak of common sense for the UK, the Home Office has put forward a plan to scrap the national ID card system put into place by the previous government. From the BBC: 'The Home Office is to reveal later how it will abolish the national identity card programme for UK citizens. The bill, a Queen's Speech pledge, includes scrapping the National Identity Register and the next generation of biometric passports.' The national ID card system, meant to tackle fraud and illegal immigration, has drawn widespread criticism for infringing on privacy and civil rights. However, the main driver for the change in this policy seems to be the 800-million-pound cost. Also in the article, indications of a larger bill aimed at reforms to the DNA database, tighter regulation of CCTV, and a review of libel laws."
The Internet

Pope Rails Against the Internet and Transparency 840 840

tcd004 writes "At a conference on digital media at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI attacked the idea of transparency in the Internet age, warning that digital transparency exacerbates tensions between nations and within nations themselves and increases the 'dangers of ... intellectual and moral relativism,' which can lead to 'multiple forms of degradation and humiliation' of the essence of a person, and to the 'pollution of the spirit.' All in all, it seemed a pretty grim view of the wide-open communication environment being demanded by the Internet age."
Your Rights Online

Google Italy Execs Convicted Over YouTube Bullying Video 391 391

FTWinston writes "Three Italian Google executives have been convicted of privacy violations in Italy over the contents of a YouTube video showing a boy with Downs syndrome being bullied — despite the fact that the video was removed as soon as it was brought to their attention, and that Google assisted the authorities in locating those who posted it. Prosecutors argued that Google should have sought the consent of all parties involved with the video before allowing it to go online. Quite how they were meant to achieve this is another matter." Google has responded by saying this is a Serious threat to the web.
Robotics

When Will AI Surpass Human Intelligence? 979 979

destinyland writes "21 AI experts have predicted the date for four artificial intelligence milestones. Seven predict AIs will achieve Nobel prize-winning performance within 20 years, while five predict that will be accompanied by superhuman intelligence. (The other milestones are passing a 3rd grade-level test, and passing a Turing test.) One also predicted that in 30 years, 'virtually all the intellectual work that is done by trained human beings ... can be done by computers for pennies an hour,' adding that AI 'is likely to eliminate almost all of today's decently paying jobs.' The experts also estimated the probability that an AI passing a Turing test would result in an outcome that's bad for humanity ... and four estimated that probability was greater than 60% — regardless of whether the developer was private, military, or even open source."
Security

"No Scan, No Fly" At Heathrow and Manchester 821 821

An anonymous reader writes "It is now compulsory for people selected for a full body scan to take part, or they will not be allowed to fly from Heathrow or Manchester airports. There is no optional pat down. Also, a rule which meant that people under 18 were not allowed to participate in the body scanner trial has been overturned by the government. There is no mention of blurring out the genitals, however reports a few years back said X-ray backscatter devices aren't effective unless the genitals of people going through them are visible."
Communications

Police In Britain Arrest Man For Bomb-Threat Joke On Twitter 577 577

An anonymous reader writes "A British man was arrested under anti-terrorism legislation for making a bomb joke on Twitter. Paul Chambers, 26, was arrested under the provisions of the Terrorism Act (2006). His crime? Frustrated at grounded flights over inclement weather, he made a joke bomb threat on the social networking site Twitter."
Medicine

Wii Balance Board Gives $18,000 Medical Device a Run For Its Money 422 422

Gizmodo highlights a very cool repurposing effort for the Wii's Balance Board accessory. Rather than the specialized force platforms used to quantify patients' ability to balance after a trauma like stroke, doctors at the University of Melbourne thought that a Balance Board might serve as well. Says the article: "When doctors disassembled the board, they found the accelerometers and strain gauges to be of 'excellent' quality. 'I was shocked given the price: it was an extremely impressive strain gauge set-up.'" Games controllers you'd expect to be durable and at least fairly accurate; what's surprising is just how much comparable, purpose-built devices cost. In this case, the Balance Board (just under $100) was compared favorably with a test platform that costs just a shade less than $18,000.
GUI

Programming With Proportional Fonts? 394 394

theodp writes "Betty or Veronica? Mary Ann or Ginger? Proportional or Monospaced? There's renewed interest in an old blog post by Maas-Maarten Zeeman, in which M-MZ made the case for programming with proportional fonts, citing studies that show proportional fonts can be read 14% faster than fixed-width fonts. Try it for a couple of weeks, he suggests, and you might like it too. Nowadays, Lucida Grande is M-MZ's font of choice on OS X, and he uses Lucida Sans on Windows. Helvetica, anyone?"
Image

Police Called Over 11-Year-Old's Science Project 687 687

garg0yle writes "Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.' Apparently, the student violated school policies — I'm assuming these are policies against having any kind of independent thought?"
Science

Human Males Evolve At a Faster Pace Than Females 454 454

Tisha_AH writes "A report by the Whitehead Institute indicates that the human Y chromosome present in males is evolving at a furious pace. Across the chromosome there can be as much as a 33% difference within humans alone. The portions of the chromosome evolving fastest are related to sperm production."

Comment Re:Choosing the correct abstraction layer (Score 1) 542 542

... except that the application does have to worry about drawing itself.

Unless the app wants to look like something from 1987, it has to render all its own controls, icons, heck it even has to open the true-type font file, load the true-type interpreter, rasterise all its own font strings and send them as bitmaps to the X-server over a socket. There's so much stuff on the client-side, it's completely braindead. Just think how many times your computer loads bitstream-vera-sans.ttf. How many times should it load it? How many times does libgnome load its gnome icon cache?

Someone needs to make an XGTK extension that puts GTK object rendering in a module in the server. Then the client only needs to worry about making remote GTK objects. For example, gnome-calculator could make a display object, a dozen button objects, and register for clicks. Then all the gnome-calculator *process* needs to worry about is doing sums. It should be helloworld.c in size, not 128 KiB.

The good news is this could be done relatively easily within X's framework. The bad news it, no-one seems to care about fixing it.

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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