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AI

NHTSA Gives Green Light To Self-Driving Cars 5

New submitter tyme writes: Reuters reports that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Google that it would recognize the artificial intelligence in a self-driving car as the "driver" (rather than any of the occupants). The letter also says that NHTSA will write safety rules for self-driving cars in the next six months, paving the way for deployment of self-driving cars in large numbers.

Submission + - NHTSA Gives Green Light to Self-Driving Cars

tyme writes: Reuters reports that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Google that it would recognize the artificial intelligence in a self-driving car as the "driver" rather than any of the occupants. The letter also says that NHTSA will write safety rules for self-driving cars in the next six months, paving the way for deployment of self-driving cars in large numbers.
Encryption

Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com) 15

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.

Comment Re:fire! (Score 1) 43

I would have thought similarly, but Wikipedia says otherwise (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerogel). Perhaps a flame-front can't advance fast enough through a rigid structure?

Heat cannot spread through aerogels quickly, nor can the expanding hot air front spread further into the fuel, so I'm guessing only the outermost surface can be thermally catalyzed, and thanks to their incredibly low density there's not going to be a lot of other fuel within range of a burning molecule to absorb the energy before convection carries it away from the surface.

Submission + - Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.

Comment Re:fire! (Score 1) 43

Has anyone actually managed to create a "vacuum-filled" aerogel? My understanding was that they were typically open-celled structures created by replacing the water in a gel with air. Though I suppose if the strength was sufficient you could encase it in an airtight skin and then pump out the air. That might have applications for rigid lighter-than-air craft, or as even more effective insulation. At least until a few days after a pinprick forms somewhere in the skin.

Of course the air can then be replaced by something else quite rapidly, giving them impressive absorption properties. Essentially they're an extremely low-mass sponge.

Comment Re:"you don't have to be very accurate" (Score 1) 98

I'm going with movie-knowledge. A nuke blast is only large compared to conventional weapons. Anything more than a few miles away from the blast will be virtually unscathed, and even much closer to the blast you're mainly talking broken windows and a bit of radiation damage. And hitting a relatively small and valuable target like a city requires precision aiming.

The only really credible threat from a poorly aimed nuke is a high-altitude blast, which would knock out radio communications and spread the fallout over a large area. Messy and expensive, but not really something that lives up to the visceral "Eeek! Nukes!" response.

Opera

Chinese Tech Group Offers To Buy Opera; Board Endorses 59

jones_supa writes: There's been plenty of speculation around the future of web browser maker Opera, and now that looks like it will soon be resolved. Today the Norway-headquartered company confirmed that it has received a $1.2 billion acquisition offer from a group fronted by Chinese consumer tech companies Kunlun Tech and Qihoo 360. The deal is for 100% of the company, and it represents a 53% premium on the company's valuation based on its most recent trading price. Opera's board said in a statement (PDF) that it has "unanimously decided to recommend" its shareholders to accept the bid. The final deal is subject to government and shareholders' approvals.

Submission + - NHTS Declares Google Self-Drive AI Is A 'Driver' (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has told Google that the artificial intelligence behind its driverless vehicles qualifies as a 'driver' for the purposes of highway regulation and testing. The Google experimental self-drive model omits fundamentals such as steering wheels, gas and brake pedals, with Google declaring that the opportunity for human intervention could prove detrimental to the safe functioning of the vehicle.

Comment Re:High altitude nuclear EMP (Score 1) 98

The problem is not North Korea - we could destroy what little threat they pose to anyone other than South Korea today in a matter of days, if that. And doing so would probably

The problem is that China would hardly sit quietly by while we decimate their ally, and *they* are a major threat. For China, the continued existence of North Korea is the best of a lot of bad options. While a land buffer has less military value than it used to, they still don't really want the US to have a stronghold right on their border. Plus they spent a lot of lives defending N.Korea from the US during The War, letting the US win now would dishonor that sacrifice. Neither do they want to lose cheap access to N.Korea's extensive mineral wealth Nor to absorb such a populous and dirt-poor region themselves.

So China is stuck in a similar can-kicking position - they keep propping up N.Korea while hoping that someone more tractable comes into power.

Submission + - Identity Thieves Obtain 100,000 Electronic Filing PINs From IRS System (csoonline.com)

itwbennett writes: In January attackers targeted an IRS Web application in an attempt to obtain E-file PINs corresponding to 464,000 previously stolen social security numbers (SSNs) and other taxpayer data. The automated bot was blocked by the IRS after obtaining 100,000 PINs. The IRS said in a statement Tuesday that the SSNs were not stolen from the agency and that the agency would be notifying affected taxpayers.

Submission + - Retired IT specialist shares inside story of botched National Park project (networkworld.com)

alphadogg writes: A retired IT specialist with the National Park Service delivered a fiery talk (“The Moose Project: What Went Wrong? An ICT Case Study from the National Park Service”) https://www.bicsi.org/uploaded... at the recent BICSI Winter cabling/wiring conference, describing a systemic problem with architectural, engineering and construction projects within the park service that overlook involving information and communications technology experts. The result is extra work, potential communications outages and big costs to taxpayers.
Advertising

Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers 96

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site. "The truth is: we don't care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won't, but we understand that some people just don't like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships." It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?

Submission + - Microsoft launches Windows 10 update history site to share update release notes (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Keeping up to date with the latest updates for Windows 10 can be something of a full time job — particularly if you're signed up to get Insider builds. To make it easier to keep track of what changes each update brings, Microsoft has launched the Windows 10 update history site.

The site is in response to feedback from Windows 10 users who have been looking for an accessible way of learning about updates. The site provides details of exactly what the updates delivered through Windows Update. It is something of a work in progress at the moment, but one of the recent updates featured fixes a bug that meant browsing sessions in Microsoft Edge's InPrivate mode were not necessarily completely private.

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