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Biotech

After a Year of Secret Field-Testing, Brain-Controlled Bionic Legs Are Here 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today, an Icelandic prosthetic-maker announced that two amputees have been testing brain-controlled bionic legs for over a year. The devices respond to impulses in the subjects' residual limbs, via sensors that were implanted in simple, 15-minute-long procedures. "When the electrical impulse from his brain reaches the base of his leg, a pair of sensors embedded in his muscle tissue connect the neural dots, and wirelessly transmit that signal to the Proprio Foot. Since the command reaches the foot before the wearer's residual muscles actually contract, there's no unnatural lag between intention and action." This is a huge step forward (sorry) for this class of bionics. It may seem like a solved problem based on reports and videos from laboratories, but it's never been exposed to real world use and everyday wear and tear like this.
Encryption

Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the technophobes-writing-laws dept.
New submitter petherfile writes: According to Daniel Mathews, new laws passed in Australia (but not yet in effect) could criminalize the teaching of encryption. He explains how a ridiculously broad law could effectively make any encryption stronger than 512 bits criminal if your client is not Australian. He says, "In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare. Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it."
The Almighty Buck

Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour 1093

Posted by Soulskill
from the calling-all-armchair-economists dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Jennifer Medina reports at the NY Times that the council of the nation's second-largest city voted by a 14-1 margin to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Los Angeles and its almost 4 million residents represent one of the biggest victories yet for those pushing wage increases across the country. Proponents hope it will start to reverse the earning gap in the city, where the top 7% of households earn more than the bottom 67%.

Detractors point out the direct cost increase to businesses, which could total as much as a billion dollars per year. If a business can't handle the increased cost, the employees this measure was designed to help will lose their jobs when it folds. An editorial from the LA Times says it's vital for other cities nearby to increase their minimum wage, too, else businesses will gradually migrate to cheaper locations. They add, "While the minimum wage hike will certainly help the lowest-wage workers in the city, it should not be seen as the centerpiece of a meaningful jobs creation strategy. The fact is that far too many jobs in the city are low-wage jobs — some 37% of workers currently earn less than $13.25 an hour, according to the mayor's estimates — and even after the proposed increase, they would still be living on the edge of poverty."
Education

Microsoft To Teachers: Using Pens and Paper Not Fair To Students 387

Posted by samzenpus
from the are-books-still-allowed? dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Pens and paper have no place in the modern classroom, according to Lia De Cicco Remu, director of Partners in Learning at Microsoft Canada. "When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself?" De Cicco Remu, a former teacher, asked the Georgia Straight by phone from Toronto. "Kids don't express themselves with chalk or in cursive. Kids text." Given the Microsoft Study Finds Technology Hurting Attention Spans story posted to Slashdot in the last few days it would seem that Redmond's Marketing and R&D people are at cross-purposes.
Businesses

Here Comes the Keurig of Everything 270

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-the-lazy-people-who-only-eat-4-things dept.
Tekla Perry writes: Keurig made a huge business out of single-serving coffee machines. Now, as more complex machinery shrinks in size and cost, many companies are trying to duplicate that success for other types of food and drink. Startups are introducing the Keurig of cocktails, the Keurig of Jell-O shots, and the Keurig of dinner (it makes stir fries, stews, and risottos). The question is: does having a single- or limited-purpose device make really make sense for consumables that aren't coffee? Counter space is not infinite, and most people want more variety out of their lunches, dinners, and nightcaps than they do for their morning pick-me-up. (Also, let's retire this metaphor before we get a Keurig for cats.)
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.
Businesses

What's the Business Model For Commercializing Cyborgs? 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the whatever-the-borg-used dept.
An anonymous reader points out an article about Backyard Brains, a small company notable for turning cockroaches into cyborgs. The article explores how such an odd use of science and technology can actually form the basis of a business. They primarily work with educational organizations to bring their brand of DIY neuroscience to students and other interested parties. School budgets are often small, so a key part of Backyard Brains's goal is to make things inexpensive. "We want to inspire a generation of citizen-scientists. If we can lower the barrier to entry so the only limit is creativity, that might help with finding treatments for neurological disorders." As they find success, they're developing more research kits, and finding more ways to make cyborg insects into a business.
Debian

$9 Open Source Computer Blows Past Crowdfunding Goal 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the computer-chips-soon-to-be-cheaper-than-potato-chips dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A team of engineers and artists has launched a Kickstarter campaign for C.H.I.P., a small computer that costs $9. The campaign met and far exceeded its $50,000 goal on the first day. The device runs an R8 ARM CPU clocked at 1 GHz, 512 MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage. It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and runs a version of Debian. The price was enabled by two things: super-cheap Chinese tablets pushing down processor costs, and support from manufacturer Allwinner to make it even cheaper. The team is also building breakout boards for VGA and HDMI connections, as well as one with a tiny LCD screen, keyboard, and battery. Importantly, "all hardware design files schematic, PCB layout and bill of materials are free for you the community to download, modify and use."
Biotech

Apple's Plans For Your DNA 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the download-a-parkinson's-cure-from-itunes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Technology Review breaks news that Apple is working with scientists to create apps that collect and evaluate users' DNA. "The apps are based on ResearchKit, a software platform Apple introduced in March that helps hospitals or scientists run medical studies on iPhones by collecting data from the devices' sensors or through surveys." A source says Apple's plan is to enable users to easily share their DNA information with medical workers and researchers performing studies. "To join one of the studies, a person would agree to have a gene test carried out—for instance, by returning a "spit kit" to a laboratory approved by Apple. The first such labs are said to be the advanced gene-sequencing centers operated by UCSF and Mount Sinai."
The Military

US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-for-Neo dept.
mpicpp sends this report from The Independent: The United States Department of Defense has carried out what it says is its most successful test yet of a bullet that can steer itself towards moving targets. Experienced testers have used the technology to hit targets that were actively evading the shot, and even novices that were using the system for the first time were able to hit moving targets. The project, which is known as Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance weapon, or Exacto, is being made for the American government's military research agency, DARPA. It is thought to use small fins that shoot out of the bullet and re-direct its path, but the U.S. has not disclosed how it works. Technology in the bullet allows it to compensate for weather and wind, as well as the movement of people it is being fired at, and curve itself in the air as it heads towards its target.

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