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Submission + - Robots Are Strong: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence ( 1

malachiorion writes: When it comes to robots, most of us are a bunch of John Snow know-nothings. With the exception of roboticists, everything we assume we know is based on science fiction, which has no reason to be accurate about its iconic heroes and villains, or journalists, who are addicted to SF references, jokes and tropes. That's my conclusion, at least, after a story I wrote Popular Science got some attention—it asked whether a robotic car should kill its owner, if it means saving two strangers. The most common dismissals of the piece claimed that robo-cars should simply follow Asimov's First Law, or that robo-cars would never crash into each other. These perspectives are more than wrong-headed—they ignore the inherent complexity and fallibility of real robots, for whom failure is inevitable. Here's my follow-up story, about why most of our discussion of robots is based on make-believe, starting with the myth of robotic hyper-competence. Bishop

Submission + - Why Hollywood's Best Robot Stories Are About Slavery (

malachiorion writes: On the occasion of Almost Human's cancellation (and the box office flopping of Transcendence), I tried to suss out what makes for a great, and timeless Hollywood robot story. The common thread seems to be slavery, or stories that use robots and AI as completely blatant allegories for the discrimination and dehumanization that's allowed slavery to happen, and might again. My analysis for Popular Science, including a defense (up to a point!) of HAL 9000's murder spree.

Submission + - Why Microsoft's New CEO Needs to Get Mobile Right and Fast (

An anonymous reader writes: Need figures show in 2014 tablets will make up 50% of the entire PC market. In 2014 Windows will make up just 5% of that huge tablet market. This, in just two sentences, show just why the new Microsoft CEO needs to make mobile work....and fast

Submission + - Why Netflix is one of the most important cloud computing companies (

Brandon Butler writes: Netflix, yes the video rental company Netflix, is changing the cloud game. During the past two years the company has pulled back the curtains through its Netflix OSS program to provide a behind-the-scenes look into how it runs one of the largest deployments of Amazon Web Services cloud-based resources. In doing so, the company is creating tools that can be used by both entire business-size scale cloud deployments and even smaller test environments. The Simian Army, for example randomly kills off VMs or entire availability zones in Amazon's cloud to test fault tolerance, Asgard is a cloud resource dashboard and Lipstick on (Apache) Pig, is a data visualization tool for the Hadoop program; there are dozens of others that help deploy, manage and monitor the tens of thousands of VM instances the company company can be running at any single time. Netflix is also creating a cadre of developers who are experts in managing cloud deployments, and already its former employees are popping up at other companies to bring their expertise on how to run a large-scale cloud resources. Meanwhile, Netflix does this all in AWS’s cloud, which raises some questions of how good of a job it’s actually doing when it can be massively impacted by cloud outages, such as the one on Christmas Eve last year that brought down Netflix's services but, interestingly, not Amazon’s own video streaming system, which is a competitor to the company.

Submission + - Sex and NSFW clips flood new Vine app from Twitter. Will Apple respond? (

An anonymous reader writes: Just a few days ago, Twitter unveiled a new app called Vine for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The app enables users to record 6 second videos and embed them within tweets.

The Vine app, much like Twitter, lets users explore and discover content via hashtags. However, it didn't take long at all for hashtags for words like #sex and #porn to take center stage. Indeed, any NSFW term one can think of likely has a listing on Vine already. And while Vine enables users to flag videos as inappropriate, this only serves to provide a warning to users before a video begins playing.

So why is this a problem? After all, the web is chock full of pornography. Well, it may be a problem for Apple given that it has taken a staunch anti-porn stance regarding the iTunes App Store since it first launched back in 2008. Indeed, Steve Jobs used to tout the iTunes App Store over competing Android app stores, effectively calling the latter a repository for porn.

Recently, Apple removed a popular photo sharing app called 500px because it was rather easy for users to browse around and find nude photos.

Will Apple take similar action with Vine? If not, is Vine receiving preferential treatment because it's an app from a big name developer? As always, Apple's consistency with respect to app store removals is being called into question.

Submission + - IT salaries are on the rise - especially in Pittsburgh, San Diego, and St. Louis (

tsamsoniw writes: "Silicon Valley remains home to the highest-paid IT professionals in the nation with average salaries over $100,000 — but employers in cities such as Pittsburgh, San Diego, and St. Louis are paying techies as much as 18% more than they were a year ago, according to recent salary data from Dice. What's more, IT pros with Big Data skills are out-earning those focused on mobile and cloud computing."
The Internet

Submission + - How the Internet Makes the Improbable Into the New Normal 1

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "A burglar gets stuck in a chimney, a truck driver in a head on collision is thrown out the front window and lands on his feet, walks away; a wild antelope knocks a man off his bike; a candle at a wedding sets the bride's hair on fire; someone fishing off a backyard dock catches a huge man-size shark. Now Kevin Kelly writes that in former times these unlikely events would be private, known only as rumors, stories a friend of a friend told, easily doubted and not really believed but today they are on YouTube, seen by millions. "Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today," writes Kelly. "As long as we are online — which is almost all day many days — we are illuminated by this compressed extraordinariness. It is the new normal." But when the improbable dominates the archive to the point that it seems as if the library contains only the impossible, then the "black swans" don't feel as improbable. "To the uninformed, the increased prevalence of improbable events will make it easier to believe in impossible things," concludes Kelly. "A steady diet of coincidences makes it easy to believe they are more than just coincidences.""

Submission + - Lawyer taps Google Books, finds 18th century argument against death penalty (

An anonymous reader writes: When all else fails, use Google Books. A public defender trying to save his client's life stumbles upon a very important Italian nobleman who just might save a murderer from the gas chamber. Without Google Books, the lawyer said, 'I have no idea how you’d do this research.'

Submission + - Report predicts IT in 2030: A world of cyborgs with Asia as top power ( 1

colinneagle writes: Yesterday the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which is made up of 17 U.S. government intelligence agencies, released the 140-page report Global Trends 2030 (GT2030) Alternate Worlds. In all four of the alternative visions of the future, U.S. influence declines and it may be regarded more as a "first among equals." By 2030, the West will be in decline and Asia will wield more overall global power than the U.S. and Europe combined. "China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030," the report states.

'Megatrends' include an overall reduction of poverty and the "growth of a global middle class." NIC also sees a potential world of scarcities as the demand for food and water increase as the world's population swells from 7.1 billion to 8.3 billion people. Advances in health technologies will help people live longer, but 60% of the world's population is expected to live in an urban environment. Technological breakthroughs will be needed to meet the world's food, water and energy demands.

"Without completely disengaging, the U.S. no longer tries to play 'global policeman' on every security threat," the report states. However, that collapse or sudden retreat of U.S. power could lead to global anarchy, according to "Potential Black Swans that would cause the greatest disruptive impact."


Submission + - Cookie-stealing Exploit on Sale for $700 (

tsu doh nimh writes: A zero-day vulnerability in that lets attackers hijack Yahoo! email accounts and redirect users to malicious Web sites offers a fascinating glimpse into the underground market for large-scale exploits. writes that the exploit, being sold for $700 by an Egyptian hacker on an exclusive cybercrime forum, targets a “cross-site scripting” (XSS) weakness in that lets attackers steal cookies from Yahoo! Webmail users. Such a flaw would let attackers send or read email from the victim’s account.

Submission + - TSA Moving X-ray Body Scanners To Smaller Airports (

OverTheGeicoE writes: If you're concerned about possible health effects from TSA's X-ray body scanners, you might be pleased to learn that TSA is making changes. TSA is removing X-ray body scanners from major airports including Los Angeles International, Boston's Logan, Chicago's O'Hare, and New York City's JFK. Then again, these changes might not please you at all, because they are not mothballing the offending devices. No, they are instead moving them to smaller airports like the one in Mesa, AZ. Is this progress, or is TSA just moving potentially dangerous scanners from 'Blue' areas to 'Red' ones right before a presidential election?

Submission + - Research Proves Patent Trolls Harming The Economy (

WebMink writes: "It used to just be speculation, but the numbers are now in — patent trolls are costing America jobs and economic growth. Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls. Other papers show that jobs are being lost and startups threatened, while VC money is just making things worse by making startups waste money filing more patents. Worst of all, it's clear this is just the tip of the iceburg; there's evidence that unseen pre-lawsuit settlements with patent trolls represent a much larger threat than anything the research can easily measure.

At least there is a little good news though; the fact Congress commissioned research on patent trolls means there are legislators taking the problem seriously at last,"


Submission + - Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech ( 4

concealment writes: "In the face of the violence that frequently results from anti-religious expression, some world leaders seem to be losing their patience with free speech. After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”"


Submission + - Microsoft Prohibits Gamers from Profiting from in-Game Video, Other Content (

hypnosec writes: Microsoft has revised its game content usage rules prohibiting content creators from cashing in on their in-game clips by posting them on online video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo and others. The new set of rules explicitly prohibits anyone from using in-game videos or other material to make money if the content in question is produced through a game that was published by Microsoft Studios. The Game Content Usage Rules restrict gamers from generating revenue through games like Halo, Fable, and Age of Empires.
United States

Submission + - Why Isn't Election Day a National Holiday? ( 4

pigrabbitbear writes: "Voting is a pain in the ass. First of all, there are lines, unpredictable lines that leave some out in the November cold while they’re waiting to do their civic duty. Then, with all of these new voter ID laws popping up, there’s all kinds of red tape. “Do I need to bring my Social Security card?” you might ask yourself. “How about my passport, a copy of my most recent utility bill, an expired library card? What’s it take to prove you’re American these days?” And inevitably, you’re going to miss some work since Election Day is always a Tuesday. For salaried employees, this is probably just annoying — or a relief depending on how much you like your job. But for hourly employees, this means lost wages. So in a way, you have to pay to vote. No wonder voter turnout is so low."

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.