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Robotics

Robots Must Be Designed To Be Compassionate, Says SoftBank CEO 105 105

An anonymous reader writes: At the SoftBank World conference in Tokyo, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has made a case for robots to be developed so as to form empathic and emotional relationships with people. "I'm sure that most people would rather have the warm-hearted person as a friendSomeday robots will be more intelligent than human beings, and [such robots] must also be pure, nice, and compassionate toward people," SoftBank's Aldebaran tech group will make its empathic "Pepper" robot available for companies to rent in Japan from October at a rate of $442 per month.

Comment I doubt it is for *chips* themselves (Score 3, Interesting) 90 90

TFA is a bit light on details, but (having heard of GaN before), it is good at handling large voltages/currents, and they are probably talking about more efficient power supplies (saving 20%, apparently), not replacing Si in logic chips. Or maybe integrating power conversion onto processor die itself, but the latter is still made of good old CMOS. Currently, from what I've heard, a good chunk of pins on your processor are used to supply power -- if you think of it, 30W processor with 3V bias needs to get 10A of current.

Paul B.

Businesses

DHI Group Inc. Announces Plans to Sell Slashdot Media 550 550

An anonymous reader writes: DHI Group Inc. (formerly known as Dice Holdings Inc.) announced plans to sell Slashdot Media (slashdot.org & sourceforge.net) in their Q2 financial report. This is being reported by multiple sources. Editor's note: Yep, looks like we're being sold again. We'll keep you folks updated, but for now I don't have any more information than is contained in the press release. Business as usual until we find a buyer (and hopefully after). The company prepared a statement for our blog as well — feel free to discuss the news here, there, or in both places.
AI

A Programming Language For Self-Organizing Swarms of Drones 56 56

New submitter jumpjoe writes: Drones are becoming a staple of everyday news. Drone swarms are the natural extension of the drone concept for applications such as search and rescue, mapping, and agricultural and industrial monitoring. A new programming language, compiler, and virtual machine were recently introduced to specify the behaviour of an entire swarm with a single program. This programming language, called Buzz, allows for self-organizing behaviour to accomplish complex tasks with simple program. Details on the language and examples are available here. Full disclosure: I am one of the authors of the paper.

The Lone Gunmen Are Not Dead 70 70

He Who Has No Name writes: It may have been one of Slashdot's most memorable front-page gaffes, but apparently there's no harm and no foul — because the Lone Gunmen are set to ride again in the X-Files return. Comicbook.com reports, "The Lone Gunmen, the X-Files' trio of conspiracy theorists, are set to appear in Fox's six-episode event. The three characters were played by Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood. Haglund, who played the gunman 'Ringo,' confirmed his and his compatriots' return on Twitter today." We'll see how see how series creator Chris Carter handles their apparently greatly-exaggerated demise, and whether the explanation used in the print comics comes into play.

Comment Not obsolete if it meets specs (Score 4, Insightful) 617 617

It's not obsolete if it's still capable of performing its function within specifications.

The ability to *alter* it to match *new* specifications should be taken into account (if it's written in a language no one speaks any more), but that doesn't prevent it from functioning.

Systems that have to deal with altered specifications because the environment around (physical or virtual) them changes can become obsolete faster than systems that are disconnected from their environment.

Note: That's an excellent reason to keep your systems disconnected from the environment.

IT

What's the Oldest Technology You've Used In a Production Environment? 617 617

itwbennett writes: Sometimes it's a matter of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' sometimes corporate inertia is to blame, but perhaps even more often what keeps old technology plugging away in businesses large and small is the sense that it does a single, specific job the way that someone wants it done. George R.R. Martin's preference for using a DOS computer running WordStar 4 to write his Song of Ice and Fire series is one such example, but so is the hospital computer whose sole job was to search and print medical images, however badly or slowly it may have done the job. We all have such stories of obsolete tech we've had to use at one point or another. What's yours?
Patents

Google Applies For Patents That Touch On Fundamental AI Concepts 101 101

mikejuk writes: Google may have been wowing the web with its trippy images from neural networks but meanwhile it has just revealed that it has applied for at least six patents on fundamental neural network and AI [concepts]. This isn't good for academic research or for the development of AI by companies. The patents are on very specific things invented by Geoffrey Hinton's team like using drop out during training, or modifying data to provide additional training cases, but also include very general ideas such as classification itself. If Google was granted a patent on classification it would cover just about every method used for pattern recognition! You might make the charitable assumption that Google has just patented the ideas so that it can protect them — i.e. to stop other more evil companies from patenting them and extracting fees from open source implementations of machine learning libraries. Google has just started an AI arms race, and you can expect others to follow.
The Almighty Buck

Is the Amazon-Led Economic Boom Wrecking Seattle? 410 410

reifman writes: Seattleites are struggling with massive traffic, rising housing costs and declining diversity. Amazon's building and acquiring enough office space to triple its local headcount by 2020. Facebook, Google and many other tech companies are now expanding here as well — it's the San Franciscoization of Seattle. Downtown is filled with 75 cranes — some blocks look like mining towns. Amazon's hired so many white males that King County is now the whitest in the nation and hate crimes against gays have shot up in a formerly LGBTQ neighborhood. Politicians can't agree on reforming impact fees and taxes to address these issues." An interesting piece of recent advice from a long time Amazonian to the company's interns: avoid full-time employment there.
Google

Chromecast Gets a Hardwired Ethernet Adapter 133 133

Mark Wilson writes: Google's Chromecast has gained quite a following of people looking for a cheap, simple way to stream content to their TVs. Part of the device's appeal is its easy of use and extensibility through the use of apps, but it is reliant on a steady Wi-Fi signal. If this represents a problem in your home, there's now a solution. The new Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast does very much what you would expect — it adds a wired Ethernet port to Google's streaming dongle. This is great news for anyone with a flaky Wi-Fi signal, or those looking to use Chromecast beyond their router's normal range.

Comment Re:Except if you pay with silver quarters... (Score 1) 940 940

Agreed, I think that we are saying the same thing -- measured in time or in silver prices stay the same (after all, someone has to spend time to mine that silver).

The real question is, where did productivity gains go? Probably "regressively redistributed" to top 1% and away from you and me... Too bad!

Paul B.

Government

Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage 1083 1083

The U.S. Supreme Court issued Friday a landmark decision, ruling that marriage is a Constitutionally protected right to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples. The New York Times notes that last year, by refusing to hear appeals to decisions favoring same-sex marriage in five states, the court "delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19." (In the time since, several more states have expanded marriage to include gay couples.) Reuters expains a bit of the legal and political history of the movement which led to today's decision, and points out some of the countries around the world which have made similar moves already.

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