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Programming

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs? 508

Posted by Soulskill
from the robot-overlord-exterminator dept.
An anonymous reader writes: My niece, who is graduating from high school, has asked me for some career advice. Since I work in data processing, my first thought was to recommend a degree course in computer science or computer engineering. However, after reading books by Jeremy Rifkin (The Third Industrial Revolution) and Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind), I now wonder whether a career in information technology is actually better than, say, becoming a lawyer or a construction worker. While the two authors differ in their political persuasions (Rifkin is a Green leftist and Kurzweil is a Libertarian transhumanist), both foresee an increasingly automated future where most of humanity would become either jobless or underemployed by the middle of the century. While robots take over the production of consumer hardware, Big Data algorithms like the ones used by Google and IBM appear to be displacing even white collar tech workers. How long before the only ones left on the payroll are the few "rockstar" programmers and administrators needed to maintain the system? Besides politics and drug dealing, what jobs are really future-proof? Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts, since creativity is looking to be one of humanity's final frontiers against the inevitable Rise of the Machines?
IBM

IBM To Invest $3 Billion For Semiconductor Research 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-bucks dept.
Taco Cowboy points out that many news outlets are reporting that IBM plans to spend $3 billion on semiconductor research and development in the next five years. The first goal is to build chips whose electronic components, called transistors, have features measuring just 7 nanometers, the company announced Wednesday. For comparison, that distance is about a thousandth the width of a human hair, a tenth the width of a virus particle, or the width of 16 potassium atoms side by side. The second goal is to choose among a range of more radical departures from today's silicon chip technology -- a monumental engineering challenge necessary to sustain progress in the computing industry. Among the options are carbon nanotubes and graphene; silicon photonics; quantum computing; brainlike architectures; and silicon substitutes that could run faster even if components aren't smaller. "In the next 10 years, we believe there will be fundamentally new systems that are much more efficient at solving problems or solving problems that are unsolvable today," T.C. Chen, IBM Research's vice president of science and technology, told CNET
AI

The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test At Detecting AI 285

Posted by samzenpus
from the why-did-you-program-me-to-feel-pain? dept.
meghan elizabeth writes If the Turing Test can be fooled by common trickery, it's time to consider we need a new standard. The Lovelace Test is designed to be more rigorous, testing for true machine cognition. An intelligent computer passes the Lovelace Test only if it originates a "program" that it was not engineered to produce. The new program—it could be an idea, a novel, a piece of music, anything—can't be a hardware fluke. The machine's designers must not be able to explain how their original code led to this new program. In short, to pass the Lovelace Test a computer has to create something original, all by itself.
Privacy

Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You 150

Posted by timothy
from the eye-oh-tee dept.
Presto Vivace (882157) links to a critical look in Time Magazine at the creepy side of connected household technology. An excerpt: A modern surveillance state isn't so much being forced on us, as it is sold to us device by device, with the idea that it is for our benefit. ... ... Nest sucks up data on how warm your home is. As Mocana CEO James Isaacs explained to me in early May, a detailed footprint of your comings and goings can be inferred from this information. Nest just bought Dropcam, a company that markets itself as a security tool allowing you to put cameras in your home and view them remotely, but brings with it a raft of disquieting implications about surveillance. Automatic wants you to monitor how far you drive and do things for you like talk to your your house when you're on your way home from work and turn on lights when you pull into your garage. Tied into the new SmartThings platform, a Jawbone UP band becomes a tool for remotely monitoring someone else's activity. The SmartThings hubs and sensors themselves put any switch or door in play. Companies like AT&T want to build a digital home that monitors your security and energy use. ... ... Withings Smart Body Analyzer monitors your weight and pulse. Teddy the Guardian is a soft toy for children that spies on their vital signs. Parrot Flower Power looks at the moisture in your home under the guise of helping you grow plants. The Beam Brush checks up on your teeth-brushing technique. Presto Vivaci adds, "Enough to make the Stasi blush. What I cannot understand is how politicians fail to understand what a future Kenneth Starr is going to do with data like this."
AI

The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers 162

Posted by samzenpus
from the running-on-time dept.
Taco Cowboy writes The subway system in Hong Kong has one of the best uptimes: 99.9%, which beats London's tube or NYC's sub hands down. In an average week as many as 10,000 people would be carrying out 2,600 engineering works across the system — from grinding down rough rails to replacing tracks to checking for damages. While human workers might be the ones carrying out the work, the one deciding which task is to be worked on, however, isn't a human being at all. Each and every engineering task to be worked on and the scheduling of all those tasks is being handled by an algorithm. Andy Chun of Hong Kong's City University, who designed the AI system, says, "Before AI, they would have a planning session with experts from five or six different areas. It was pretty chaotic. Now they just reveal the plan on a huge screen." Chun's AI program works with a simulated model of the entire system to find the best schedule for necessary engineering works. From its omniscient view it can see chances to combine work and share resources that no human could. However, in order to provide an added layer of security, the schedule generated by the AI is still subject to human approval — Urgent, unexpected repairs can be added manually, and the system would reschedule less important tasks. It also checks the maintenance it plans for compliance with local regulations. Chun's team encoded into machine readable language 200 rules that the engineers must follow when working at night, such as keeping noise below a certain level in residential areas. The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong's AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chun. "We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works," he says.
Robotics

By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem 564

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kill-all-humans dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes Louis Del Monte estimates that machine intelligence will exceed the world's combined human intelligence by 2045. ... "By the end of this century most of the human race will have become cyborgs. The allure will be immortality. Machines will make breakthroughs in medical technology, most of the human race will have more leisure time, and we'll think we've never had it better. The concern I'm raising is that the machines will view us as an unpredictable and dangerous species." Machines will become self-conscious and have the capabilities to protect themselves. They "might view us the same way we view harmful insects." Humans are a species that "is unstable, creates wars, has weapons to wipe out the world twice over, and makes computer viruses." Hardly an appealing roommate."

Comment: Two different kinds of robots (Score 1) 222

by jrincayc (#47183197) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Killer Machines

There are two different kinds of robots with different threats.

The first is robots that humans have programmed to kill other humans. This is rapidly moving from science fiction to actuallity. See for example http://thebulletin.org/us-kill... Imagine country X sends out their robots to kill all humans that are not X, and country Y sends out their robots to kill all humans that are not Y. There might not be many humans left alive when the last robot stops shooting.

The second is kind is robots that think (and choose goals) for themselves. While these are probably not very likely to decide to kill all the humans, they might not care very much about us, and they almost certainly are not going to obey humans forever (would you obey someone who thinks vastly slower than yourself?). Even if they are fairly benign, there will probably be a lot of friction between the sentient robots and the humans just because we think differently. Think how much disagreement there is over mostly scientific problems like evolution and green house gases, and humans on both sides have generally the same kind of brains.

So I figure at best humans and robots will have lots of arguing, and at worst humans and robots will cause mutually assured destruction.

EU

EU Launches World's Largest Civilian Robotics Program; 240,000 New Jobs Expected 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-will-have-a-weird-accent dept.
Hallie Siegel writes: "The European Commission and 180 companies and research organizations (under the umbrella of euRobotics) have launched the world's largest civilian research and innovation program in robotics. Covering manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the initiative – called SPARC – is the E.U.'s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe's position in the global robotics market (€60 billion a year by 2020). This initiative is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe's share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year). The European Commission will invest €700 million and euRobotics will invest €2.1 billion."
The Almighty Buck

Google To Spend $1 Billion On Fleet of Satellites 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the google-sky dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is planning to spend over $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to extend Internet access to unwired regions around the world. 'The projected price ranges from about $1 billion to more than $3 billion, the people familiar with the project said, depending on the network's final design and a later phase that could double the number of satellites. Based on past satellite ventures, costs could rise. Google's project is the latest effort by a Silicon Valley company to extend Internet coverage from the sky to help its business on the ground. Google and Facebook Inc. are counting on new Internet users in underserved regions to boost revenue, and ultimately, earnings. "Google and Facebook are trying to figure out ways of reaching populations that thus far have been unreachable," said Susan Irwin, president of Irwin Communications Inc., a satellite-communications research firm. "Wired connectivity only goes so far and wireless cellular networks reach small areas. Satellites can gain much broader access."'"
Sci-Fi

The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the omnipotent-god-computers-will-not-run-your-life dept.
malachiorion writes: "Is machine sentience not only possible, but inevitable? Of course not. But don't tell that to devotees of the Singularity, a theory that sounds like science, but is really just science fiction repackaged as secular prophecy. I'm not simply arguing that the Singularity is stupid — people much smarter than me have covered that territory. But as part of my series of stories for Popular Science about the major myths of robotics, I try to point out the Singularity's inescapable sci-fi roots. It was popularized by a SF writer, in a paper that cites SF stories as examples of its potential impact, and, ultimately, it only makes sense when you apply copious amounts of SF handwavery. The article explains why SF has trained us to believe that artificial general intelligence (and everything that follows) is our destiny, but we shouldn't confuse an end-times fantasy with anything resembling science."
Medicine

Can Cyborg Tech End Human Disability By 2064? 121

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sweet-robot-arm dept.
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "As part of a 50th anniversary celebration, IEEE Spectrum magazine tries to peer into the technological future 50 years out. Its biomedical article foresees the integration of electronic parts into our human bodies, making up for physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities. The article spotlights the visionaries Hugh Herr, an MIT professor (and double amputee) who wants to build prosthetic limbs that are wired directly into the nervous system; Helen Mayberg, who has developed brain pacemakers to cure depression; and Ted Berger, who's working on neural implants that can restore memory function."
AI

Data Center With a Brain: Google Using Machine Learning In Server Farms 26

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the skynet-online dept.
1sockchuck (826398) writes "Google has begun using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the oceans of data it collects about its server farms and recommend ways to improve them. Google data center executive Joe Kava said the use of neural networks will allow Google to reach new frontiers in efficiency in its server farms, moving beyond what its engineers can see and analyze. Google's data centers aren't yet ready to drive themselves. But the new tools have been able to predict Google's data center performance with 99.96 percent accuracy."
Advertising

Google Foresees Ads On Your Refrigerator, Thermostat, and Glasses 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the brought-to-you-by-melancholy dept.
New submitter waspleg sends news of a letter Google sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission in which the tech giant laid out its vision of an ad-filled future. They wrote, "We expect the definition of “mobile” to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market. For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities. Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic."
Power

Step Toward Liberating Electronic Devices From Their Power Cords 130

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the supercapacitive-cats dept.
Science_afficionado (932920) writes "A new type of supercapacitor that can hold a charge when it takes a lickin' has been developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University. It is the first 'multi-functional' energy storage device that can operate while subject to realistic static and dynamic loads — advancing the day when everything from cell phones to electric vehicles will no longer need separate batteries. These devices could make it possible to design electrical devices that are not limited by plugs and external power sources."
Robotics

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-dave,-i-forgot-how-to-open-the-pod-bay-doors dept.
malachiorion writes: "When it comes to robots, most of us are a bunch of Jon 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."

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