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Autonomous Cars Aren't As Smart as They're Cracked Up To Be ( 258

Gill Pratt, executive technical adviser at Toyota, offers a note of caution, even as more car companies start putting AI elements into their cars. Speaking in Tokyo at the announcement of a Silicon Valley AI research center that Toyota is to open in early 2016, Pratt pointed out the big shortcoming in an AI system as applied to automobile: Autonomous cars might look great in controlled tests or on pristine highways, "but soon fail when faced with tasks that human drivers find simple." From the article: Drivers, for example, can pretty much get behind the wheel of a car and drive it wherever it may be, he said. Autonomous vehicles use GPS and laser imaging sensors to figure out where they are by matching data against a complex map that goes beyond simple roads and includes details down to lane markings. The cars rely on all that data to drive, so they quickly hit problems in areas that haven't been mapped in advance. ... A truly intelligent self-driving car needs artificial intelligence that can figure out where it is even if it has no map or GPS, and manage to navigate highways and follow routes even if there are diversions or changing in lane markings, he said. I regularly drive a stretch of road that's just a few miles long, but between construction, accidents, poor marking, bicycles, and heavy traffic I'd be nervous about letting an AI system navigate. In what real-world driving scenarios would you most want humans to take over?

Controversial Company Offers a New Way To Make a Baby ( 80

sciencehabit writes: A controversial fertility company called OvaScience is preoccupied by an enduring mystery in human biology--why eggs fail--and the palpable hope that we can do something about it. The company offers a new treatment, called AUGMENT, based on what it considers to be egg precursor cells found in a woman's ovaries. AUGMENT, which costs UP TO $25,000, along with thousands more in clinic fees and roughly $25,000 for the IVF cycle that must accompany it, relies on mitochondria from putative egg precursor cells to boost the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Seventeen babies have been born so far. The company, which has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, is poised to introduce a second treatment. But many scientists doubt that egg precursor cells actually exist.

The Diversity Issue Silicon Valley Isn't Trying To Fix: Age Discrimination ( 362

An anonymous reader writes: The tech industry has recognized it isn't as welcoming to women or minorities as it should be, and is loudly taking steps to solve that issue. Major companies are now releasing diversity reports to highlight their efforts. But as Stephen Levy points out, none of them seem interested in doing something about a different diversity issue that's been pervading Silicon Valley for years: age discrimination. He says, "One company, Payscale, does supply some estimates. Looking at its numbers in 2012, Payscale noted, 'The typical tech employee wasn't around for the original release of Star Wars. And as of last year, the average age at Google was 30; at Facebook, 28; LinkedIn, 29, and Apple, 31. In comparison, the average age in more traditional tech industries like data processing or web publishing was almost 10 years higher than Silicon Valley/Internet firms. In my view, age information should be included in those diversity reports, to underline the need for change— and, even more important, those in charge of company cultures should view age diversity as a plus. Right now, that's not happening."

Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going 130

An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.

Comment Re:Just Great...prices to increase now??? (Score 1) 418

Good points. I suppose I was using your points as a stand-in for a larger wave of sentiment I see on this site. Apologies.

Not sure where to set the 'good enough' point. I'm sure it'd vary depending on region and even culture. Though I'd argue that the difference between safety nets and basic income is that you don't lose the basic income after you pass a certain level.

Today we have somewhat perverse incentives against going back to work since making $1k over the welfare threshold makes you in effect lose several thousand in welfare benefits.

Comment Re:Just Great...prices to increase now??? (Score 5, Interesting) 418

Clue #1: a minimum wage job isn't something you should live off of. It is expressly for teenagers and for folks who use it as a stepping stone or fallback until something better comes along.
---Shouldn't be, but is. Reality sucks. We have people in their adult years working fast food. It is a fantasy that only teens should be 'flipping burgers'.

Clue #2: these jobs usually require little-to-no skill, and consequently do not bear the value of $15/hr at current inflation/valuation.
---Neither does working at a factory in many cases, but that seemed to be deemed 'middle class worthy' in the 60s-70s where a single worker could support an entire family. What you're saying is 'you deserve to be destitute, you unskilled scum'.

Clue #3: when you price human labor too high, automation becomes more attractive. There are already machines that can effectively replace fast-food cashiers, and are cheaper to operate and maintain than $15/hr people. There are also machines coming online that can operate the back-end of a fast food joint as well, which will also just come under the wire as being cheaper (but would come out ahead by being reliable, on-time, etc.)
---Can't argue with that. Automation is coming, regardless of where the minimum wage is. No doubt that raising it to $15 /hr would hasten that. All the more reason to support things like a basic income now (perhaps with some civil service requirement), since the mass unemployment problem is only going to get worse.

Clue #4: sucks to say it, but no one owes you a living -anything, let alone a "living wage" (whatever that means). Safety nets and charity are for those unable to help themselves, and obviously for those among us in temporary desperate situations, but that's it. Meanwhile, if you are able-bodied and not mentally defective, then it is up to you to better yourself by any legal means possible.
---Ah yes, the 'brutalist' libertarian view. I guess that's where we differ. I'm for treating all people with respect, and providing a safe place to live/eat/prosper. Not 'too bad, so sad, fuck off.' Ideally, regardless of borders, but that's more of a long term thing. You seem to still think that if you're 'able bodied' there is good work available, and you're just lazy if you don't grab it. I'd consider that pretty naive given the population explosion the world has experienced in the past 50 years alone.

Where/how do we pay for all of this idealism? It's pretty obvious that money is essentially made up and totally fiat. It's also pretty obvious that a tiny tiny percentage of people hoard a crazy-huge sum of that money. Arguably, keeping it out of circulation avoids hyperinflation and all that. Considering that over 70% of our economy is consumer-driven, wouldn't giving those consumers more money to...consume with...the economy would benefit immensely? I think such benefits would far outweigh any inflationary risks, but I'm no economist.

Comment Re:Just Great...prices to increase now??? (Score 4, Insightful) 418

Dear Douche,

Anybody working full time (or near full time) should be able to afford to live out of abject poverty without government assistance. What about the $4000+ an hour the CEO of said burger flippery makes? No outrage there, eh? Also, $15 an hour shouldn't be a benefit...more like a 'living wage'.

Submission + - Dice announces plans to sell Slashdot Media (

cjm571 writes: DHI Group—formerly known as Dice Holdings Incorporated prior to this April—announced plans this morning to sell the combination of Slashdot and SourceForge. The announcement was made as part of DHI’s 2Q15 financial results.

Comment Re:Blimey (Score 4, Insightful) 518

I'm with you man, but this was exactly the same thing that people said when NASA confirmed the results. I was with you then too. Skeptisisism and all that.

The fact that the Germans now have also confirmed this is pretty huge. I'd say this moves out of the 'anomalous experiment' territory and more into the 'can we devise more and newer experiments to understand what the flaven is happening here' zone.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken