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AI

AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us 414

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-the-tee-vee-said dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oren Etzioni has been an artificial intelligence researcher for over 20 years, and he's currently CEO of the Allen Institute for AI. When he heard the dire warnings recently from both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, he decided it's time to have an intelligent discussion about AI. He says, "The popular dystopian vision of AI is wrong for one simple reason: it equates intelligence with autonomy. That is, it assumes a smart computer will create its own goals, and have its own will, and will use its faster processing abilities and deep databases to beat humans at their own game. ... To say that AI will start doing what it wants for its own purposes is like saying a calculator will start making its own calculations." Etzioni adds, "If unjustified fears lead us to constrain AI, we could lose out on advances that could greatly benefit humanity — and even save lives. Allowing fear to guide us is not intelligent."
Biotech

Material Possiblities: A Flying Drone Built From Fungus 52

Posted by timothy
from the mushroom-treatment dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes What if you could construct an unmanned aerial vehicle out of biological material, specifically a lightweight-but-strong one known as mycelium? The vegetative part of a fungus, mycelium is already under consideration as a building material; other materials would include cellulose sheets, layered together into "leather," as well as starches worked into a "bioplastic." While a mushroom-made drone is probably years away from takeoff, a proposal for the device caught some attention at this year's International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Designed by a team of students from Brown, Spelman, and Stanford Universities in conjunction with researchers from NASA, such a drone would (theoretically) offer a cheap and lightweight way to get a camera and other tools airborne. 'If we want to fly it over wildfires to see where it's spreading, or if there's a nuclear meltdown and we want to fly in to see what's going on with the radioactivity, we can send in the drone and it can send back data without returning,' Ian Hull, a Stanford sophomore involved in the project, told Fast Company.
Advertising

AdNauseam Browser Extension Quietly Clicks On Blocked Ads 285

Posted by timothy
from the you-like-this-and-this-and-this dept.
New submitter stephenpeters writes The AdNauseam browser extension claims to click on each ad you have blocked with AdBlock in an attempt to obfuscate your browsing data. Officially launched mid November at the Digital Labour conference in New York, the authors hope this extension will register with advertisers as a protest against their pervasive monitoring of users online activities. It will be interesting to see how automated ad click browser extensions will affect the online ad arms race. Especially as French publishers are currently planning to sue Eyeo GmbH, the publishers of Adblock. This might obfuscate the meaning of the clicks, but what if it just encourages the ad sellers to claim even higher click-through rates as a selling point?

Comment: Re: America, land of the free... (Score 1) 717

by linear a (#48551013) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?
Hiring is often a big filtering process. Get all the resumes and go into a throw-away frenzy. Keep 10% of them at most. Felons very likely to end up in the throwaway pile. Even worse I suppose if a corporate HR department is pre-filtering resumes. My standard advice for ex-cons is to see if they can start and run a small business. Some businesses require background checks to be able to work in (government contracting, anything to do with schools, etc) but some don't have customers who check backgrounds (small IT repair shops). Unfortunately, this requires some capital to get going and also require some ambition and willingness to fail to try starting a business.
Power

Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies 460

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-some-infrastructure-reliability-investments dept.
JoeyRox writes: The publicized goal of Tesla's "gigafactory" is to make electric cars more affordable. However, that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the business model of utilities in peril. "The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose" comes from systems that include storage, said physicist Amory Lovins. "That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide."
Power

You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South 327

Posted by timothy
from the electrons-photons-and-all dept.
HughPickens.com writes In the U.S., a new solar project is installed every 3.2 minutes and the number of cumulative installations now stands at more than 500,000. For years, homeowners who bought solar panels were advised to mount them on the roof facing south to capture the most solar energy over the course of the day. Now Matthew L. Wald writes in the NYT that panels should be pointed west so that peak power comes in the afternoon when the electricity is more valuable. In late afternoon, homeowners are more likely to watch TV, turn on the lights or run the dishwasher. Electricity prices are also higher at that period of peak demand. "The predominance of south-facing panels may reflect a severe misalignment in energy supply and demand," say the authors of the study, Barry Fischer and Ben Harack. Pointing panels to the west means that in the hour beginning at 5 p.m., they produce 55 percent of their peak output. But point them to the south to maximize total output, and when the electric grid needs it most, they are producing only 15 percent of peak.
United Kingdom

Cameron Accuses Internet Companies Of Giving Terrorists Safe Haven 183

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-on-the-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from The Guardian: "Internet companies are allowing their networks to be used to plot "murder and mayhem", David Cameron has said in response to the official inquiry into the intelligence agencies' actions ahead of the killing of Lee Rigby. He demanded that internet companies live up to their social responsibilities to report potential terror threats and said there was no reason for such firms to be willing to cooperate with state agencies over child abuse but not over combatting terrorism. His comments to the House of Commons came after the parliamentary intelligence and security committee concluded that the brutal murder of Rigby could have been prevented if an internet company had passed on an online exchange in which one of the killers expressed "in the most graphic terms" his intention to carry out an Islamist jihadi attack.
Google

Google "Evicted" the Berlin Wall From Property It Bought 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
theodp writes Sunday marks the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which Google commemorates in today's Doodle. "Seeking inspiration for this doodle," notes the Google Doodle Team, "we took a short bike ride from our Mountain View, California headquarters to our local public library to study an actual piece of the Berlin Wall" (the Berlin Wall segments are featured in the Doodle). Interestingly, the post doesn't mention Google's connection to how the two sections of the Berlin Wall wound up at the library. After Google bought the Bayside Business Plaza in 2012, where the 12-foot-tall remnants had been kept for decades by German-born businessman Frank Golzen before his death, it reportedly gave the Golzen family until summer 2013 to get the Berlin Wall off its lawn. "Although the donating family has until next summer to remove the installation from the current location," reads a 2012 City of Mountain View Staff Report, "their preference (and the preference of the new owner of the property) is to remove it sooner." A recommendation to relocate the seven ton concrete slabs to remote Charleston Park, adjacent to the Googleplex, was nixed by the City Council, who voted instead to move the Berlin Wall sections to its current home in front of a downtown public library.
Science

New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-not-the-size-of-the-collider-it's-the-speed-of-the-particles dept.
Jason Koebler writes The CERN particle collider is 17 miles long. China just announced a supercollider that is supposed to be roughly 49 miles long. The United States' new particle collider is just under 12 inches long. What the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's new collider lacks in size, it makes up for by using plasma to accelerate particles more than 500 times faster than traditional methods. In a recent test published in Nature, Michael Litos and his team were able to accelerate bunches of electrons to near the speed of light within the tiny chamber."

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann

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