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The Almighty Buck

World's Rudest Robot Set To Simulate the Fury of Call Center Customers 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-thousand-different-kinds-of-angry dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based company called Touchpoint Group has unveiled the world's angriest robot, which is designed to help train call center employees in the art of dealing with frustrated customers. The project, named Radiant, will involve one of Australia's biggest banks, which is providing researchers with recordings of real-life interactions with customers. Once finished Radiant will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions, helping companies better understand what triggers heated calls.
Education

How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers 634

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-than-million-dollar-signing-bonuses dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Lina Nilsson writes in an op-ed piece in the NY Times that she looks with despair at estimates that only about 14 percent of engineers in the work force are women. But there may be a solution to the disparity that is much simpler than targeted recruitment efforts. "An experience here at the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, suggests that if the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves," writes Nilsson. "That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering." Nilsson says that Blum Center for Developing Economies recently began a new program that, without any targeted outreach, achieved 50 percent female enrollment in just one academic year. In the fall of 2014, UC Berkeley began offering a new Ph.D. minor in development engineering for students doing thesis work on solutions for low-income communities. They are designing affordable solutions for clean drinking water, inventing medical diagnostic equipment for neglected tropical diseases and enabling local manufacturing in poor and remote regions.

According to Nilsson, women seem to be drawn to engineering projects that attempt to achieve societal good. She notes that MIT, the University of Minnesota, Penn State, Santa Clara University, Arizona State, and the University of Michigan have programs aimed at reducing global poverty and inequality that have achieved similar results. For example, at Princeton, the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders has an executive board that is nearly 70 percent female, reflecting the overall club composition. "It shows that the key to increasing the number of female engineers may not just be mentorship programs or child care centers, although those are important," concludes Nilsson. "It may be about reframing the goals of engineering research and curriculums to be more relevant to societal needs. It is not just about gender equity — it is about doing better engineering for us all."
Earth

Giant Survival Ball Will Help Explorer Survive a Year On an Iceberg 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the rolling-the-seven-seas dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Ben Yeager reports in Outside Magazine that Italian explorer Alex Bellini plans to travel to Greenland's west coast, pick an iceberg, and live on it for a year as it melts out in the Atlantic. It's a precarious idea. Bellini will be completely isolated, and his adopted dwelling is liable to roll or fall apart at any moment, thrusting him into the icy sea or crushing him under hundreds of tons of ice. His solution: an indestructible survival capsule built by an aeronautics company that specializes in tsunami-proof escape pods. "I knew since the beginning I needed to minimize the risk. An iceberg can flip over, and those events can be catastrophic." Bellini plans to use a lightweight, indestructible floating capsules, or "personal safety systems" made from aircraft-grade aluminum in what's called a continuous monocoque structure, an interlocking frame of aluminum spars that evenly distribute force, underneath a brightly painted and highly visible aluminum shell. The inner frame can be stationary or mounted on roller balls so it rotates, allowing the passengers to remain upright at all times.

Aeronautical engineer Julian Sharpe, founder of Survival Capsule, got the idea for his capsules after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. He believes fewer people would have died had some sort of escape pod existed. Sharpe hopes the products will be universal—in schools, retirement homes, and private residences, anywhere there is severe weather. The product appeals to Bellini because it's strong enough to survive a storm at sea or getting crushed between two icebergs. Bellini will spend almost all of his time in the capsule with the hatch closed, which will pose major challenges because he'll have to stay active without venturing out onto a slippery, unstable iceberg. If it flips, he'll have no time to react. "Any step away from [the iceberg] will be in unknown territory," says Bellini. "You want to stretch your body. But then you risk your life."
Space

Mystery of the Coldest Spot In the CMB Solved 45

Posted by timothy
from the also-known-as-the-wet-spot dept.
StartsWithABang writes: The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern of overdensities and underdensities in the very early stages of the Universe. It's fluctuations just like these that give rise to the stars, galaxies, groups and clusters that exist today, as well as the voids in the vast cosmic web. But effects at the surface of last scattering are not the only ones that affect the CMB's temperature; if we want to make sure we've got an accurate map of what the Universe was born with, we have to take everything into account, including the effects of matter as it gravitationally grows and shrinks. As we do exactly this, we find ourselves discovering the causes behind the biggest anomalies in the sky, and it turns out that the standard cosmological model can explain it all.
Robotics

Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-can-do-your-job-and-won't-complain-about-the-coffee dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Zeynep Tufekci writes in an op-ed at the NY Times that machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who's in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. It turns out most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. "Machines aren't used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a "good enough" job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans," writes Tufekci. "Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency."

According to Tufekci technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers' dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Optimists insist that we've been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills. Tufekci points out that one historical example is no guarantee of future events. "Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities," concludes Tufekci. "This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."
Medicine

Acetaminophen Reduces Both Pain and Pleasure, Study Finds 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the pills-that-turn-you-into-a-robot dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers studying the commonly used pain reliever acetaminophen found it has a previously unknown side effect: It blunts positive emotions (abstract). Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol, has been in use for more than 70 years in the United States, but this is the first time that this side effect has been documented.
Input Devices

Finding an Optimal Keyboard Layout For Swype 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the designed-for-2015 dept.
New submitter Analog24 writes: The QWERTY keyboard was not designed with modern touchscreen usage in mind, especially when it comes to swype texting. A recent study attempted to optimize the standard keyboard layout to minimize the number of swype errors. The result was a new layout that reduces the rate of swipe interpretation mistakes by 50.1% compared to the QWERTY keyboard.
Japan

Japanese Court Orders Google To Remove Negative Reviews From Google Maps 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-there's-definitely-nothing-worse-on-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As reported by TechCrunch, the Japenese Chiba District Court issued a preliminary injunction forcing Google to delete two anonymous reviews for a medical clinic. Although negative, neither review violates Google policies. "The decision is based on a defamation suit from the clinic, a key part of which included an affidavit from the doctor who interacted with the anonymous reviewers and denied their claims." And here is the key part: "The court ruled that Google not only removes the content in Japan, but across the entire globe too." Google is currently considering it's options including an appeal.
Moon

Collision With Earth's "Little Sister" Created the Moon 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-that's-left dept.
astroengine writes The primordial planet believed to have smashed into baby Earth, creating a cloud of debris that eventually formed into the moon, was chemically a near-match to Earth, a new study shows. The finding, reported in this week's Nature, helps resolve a long-standing puzzle about why Earth and the moon are nearly twins in terms of composition. Computer models show that most of the material that formed the moon would have come from the shattered impactor, a planetary body referred to as Theia, which should have a slightly different isotopic makeup than Earth.
Security

Heartbleed One Year Later: Has Anything Changed? 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the vulnerability-names-have-gotten-a-lot-more-annoying dept.
darthcamaro writes: It was on April 7, 2014 that the CVE-2014-0160 vulnerability titled "TLS heartbeat read overrun" in OpenSSL was first publicly disclosed — but to many its a bug known simply as Heartbleed. A new report from certificate vendor Venafi claims that 76% of organizations are still at risk, though it's a statistic that is contested by other vendors as well as other statistics. Qualys' SSL Pulse claims that only 0.3 percent of sites are still at risk. Whatever the risk is today, the bottom line is that Heartbleed did change the security conversation — but did it change it for the better or the worse? A related article explores how Heartbleed could have been found earlier.

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