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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Robotics

Robots4Us: DARPA's Response To Mounting Robophobia 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the hug-your-robot dept.
malachiorion writes DARPA knows that people are afraid of robots. Even Steve Wozniak has joined the growing chorus of household names (Musk, Hawking, Gates) who are terrified of bots and AI. And the agency's response--a video contest for kids--is equal parts silly and insightful. It's called Robots4Us, and it asks high schoolers to describe their hopes for a robot-assisted future. Five winners will be flown to the DARPA Robotics Competition Finals this June, where they'll participate in a day-after discussion with experts in the field. But this isn't quite as useless as it sounds. As DRC program manager Gill Pratt points out, it's kids who will be impacted by the major changes to come, moreso than people his age.
Government

Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory 967

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes It will come as no surprise that Apple's CEO Tim Cook doesn't agree with so-called religious freedom laws. Cook says, "[they] rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear," and has penned an op-ed piece for The Washington Post which reads in part: "A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

+ - China's Foreign Ministry: China did not attack Github, we are the major victims.->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "At the Regular Press Conference on March 30, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying responded on the charge of DDoS attack over Github. She said "It is quite odd that every time a website in the US or any other country is under attack, there will be speculation that Chinese hackers are behind it. I'd like to remind you that China is one of the major victims of cyber attacks. We have been underlining that China hopes to work with the international community to speed up the making of international rules and jointly keep the cyber space peaceful, secure, open and cooperative. It is hoped that all parties can work in concert to address hacker attacks in a positive and constructive manner."
She obviously said nothing."

Link to Original Source
Robotics

Future Firefighters May Be Guided By "Robots On Reins" 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-bot dept.
Zothecula writes When firefighters need to enter smoke-filled buildings to conduct search or rescue, they frequently suffer from low visibility and often need to feel their way along walls or follow ropes reeled out by the lead firefighter. With a limited supply of oxygen carried by each firefighter, being slowed by the inability to see can severely limit their capacity to carry out duties in these environments. Now researchers from King's College London and Sheffield Hallam University have developed a prototype robot assistant for firefighters that can help guide them through even the thickest smoke.

+ - Apple's Tim Cook calls out 'religious freedom' laws as discriminatory

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "It will come as no surprise that Apple's CEO Tim Cook doesn't agree with so-called religious freedom laws. Cook says, "[they] rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear," and has penned an op-ed piece for The Washington Post which reads in part: "A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.""

+ - What kind of effective encryption will governments accept?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In the light of Europol director Rob Wainwright adding his voice [http://news.slashdot.org/story/15/03/30/0016259/europol-chief-warns-about-computer-encryption] to the chorus of government dissent against the rise of zero-knowledge storage and other 'too secure' methods of transmitting and storing data, this article asks how, in practical terms, governments and surveillance authorities can actually obtain their aims whilst keeping the concept of online security in any way meaningful."
Link to Original Source
Government

India Mandates Use of Open Source Software In Government 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-at-last dept.
jrepin writes The Indian government announced a policy yesterday that makes it mandatory to use open-source software in building apps and services, in an effort to "ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs." The new policy (PDF) states that all government organizations must include a requirement for their software suppliers to consider open-source options when implementing e-governance applications and systems. The move will bring the Indian government in line with other countries including the US, UK and Germany that opt for open-source software over proprietary tools.
Businesses

If You Want To Buy an Apple Watch In-Store, You'll Need a Reservation 188

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-the-discerning-time-enthusiast dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Good news for those of you thinking of buying an Apple watch but were concerned the experience wouldn't feel exclusive enough. According to MacRumors there will be no walk-in sales the first few weeks of launch. Instead, you'll have to call the store and make reservations. From the article: "Apple will begin offering online pre-sales of the Apple Watch starting on April 10th, with the first deliveries occurring on April 24th, the official Apple Watch launch date. During those two weeks, customers will be able to have hands-on 'try-on' appointments at Apple retail stores in order to help make up their mind. However, according to training documents that MacRumors has received, Apple is not allowing any walk-in retail purchases for the Apple Watch at launch. Instead customers must make an online 'Product Reservation' to hold a specific Apple Watch model at a retail store. This new 'Product Reservation' system is used instead of Apple's 'Personal Pickup' system for Apple Watches. Apple's retail training documents indicate that 'If a customer walks in and wants to purchase a watch, offer the option to try on a watch. Then help them place an order online or through the Apple Store app.'"
China

Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the or-you-know-stop-polluting-so-much dept.
knwny points out this lofty proposed power plan in China. "The battle to dispel smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve the energy crisis is moving to space. If news reports are to be believed, Chinese scientists are mulling the construction of a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above ground. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station and be the largest-ever space project."
Transportation

At the Track With Formula E, the First e-Racing Series 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the fast-and-quiet dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ars is running a story about the new all-electric racing car series and its first visit to the U.S.. "The pit lane we're standing in is unusual, and not only because it's a temporary setup placed in the shadow of American Airlines Arena (home of the NBA's Miami Heat). Garages are set up on both sides rather than being limited to one. A few things also appear to be missing. To start, a familiar smell from the usual mix of burning hydrocarbons is absent. And it's remarkably quiet. The occasional impact wrench bursts out in a mechanical staccato, generators drone here and there, but there are no V8s burbling, no V6s screaming....Welcome to Formula E, the world's first fully electric racing series. Miami is playing host to the first of two US rounds—the next being held in Long Beach, CA, on April 4—and it's the fifth race in this ePrix's inaugural season. Given we've got a bit of a thing about racing at Cars Technica, as well as an obvious interest in electric vehicles, we had to be on the ground in Miami to experience this for ourselves."
United Kingdom

Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can't-read-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes The law enforcement lobbying campaign against encryption continues. Today it's Europol director Rob Wainwright, who is trying to make a case against encryption. "It's become perhaps the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism," he explained. "It's changed the very nature of counter-terrorist work from one that has been traditionally reliant on having good monitoring capability of communications to one that essentially doesn't provide that anymore." This is the same man who told the European Parliament that Europol is not going to investigate the alleged NSA hacking of the SWIFT (international bank transfer) system. The excuse he gave was not that Europol didn't know about it, because it did. Very much so. It was that there had been no formal complaint from any member state.
Government

NSA: We Mulled Ending Phone Program Before Edward Snowden Leaks 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-meant-to-do-that dept.
Mark Wilson writes Edward Snowden is heralded as both a hero and villain. A privacy vigilante and a traitor. It just depends who you ask. The revelations he made about the NSA's surveillance programs have completely changed the face of online security, and changed the way everyone looks at the internet and privacy. But just before the whistle was blown, it seems that the NSA was considering bringing its telephone data collection program to an end. Intelligence officials were, behind the scenes, questioning whether the benefits of gathering counter-terrorism information justified the colossal costs involved. Then Snowden went public and essentially forced the agency's hand.
Earth

Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient 402

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
An anonymous reader points out that a long held goal of keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius might not be good enough. "A long-held benchmark for limiting global warming is 'utterly inadequate,' a leading U.N. climate scientist declared. Keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising past 2 degrees Celsius – a cap established by studies in the early 1970s – is far too loose a goal, Petra Tschakert, a professor at Penn State University and a lead author of an assessment report for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said in a commentary published in the journal Climate Change Responses. Already, with an average increase of just 0.8 degrees Celsius, she wrote, 'negative impacts' are 'widespread across the globe.' Tschakert called for lowering the warming target to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Comment: And on slashdot as well (Score 5, Interesting) 261

by phorm (#49354797) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

Yeah, this happens on Slash too, so apparently the Chinese astroturfing squad seems to lurk here as well. For example, in regards to cheating exams:

You have this guy mentioning that cheating test scores is also a big problem in China, followed by some more detailed posts as to why.

Then you have a response by an AC who basically says "oh it's just Westerners trying to make China look bad. We don't do that anymore! Look, I'm in the US now so I'm believable. Despite posting AC and having stereotypical Chinese grammatical mistakes common to non-landed Chinese astroturfers, modded +1

I point out that the previous response is an obvious astroturfer (aforementioned grammatical errors etc), and am modded down twice rather readily. But seriously, read the astroturfer's post out with a bad accent and it will sound like a Chinese villain from an old movie. The linguistic keys make it pretty clear the guy isn't somebody who's been living in the west for any length of time.

For the record, I have plenty of Chinese friends etc whom I've worked on language skills with. Missing pronouns is usually a fairly basic thing that gets fixed earlier on, as is the use of infinite verbs ("keep to spread" instead of "spreading"). So unless the poster had been living in Chinatown for the last few years, one would expect those language'isms to have cleared up by now.

Also, "flied lice", though attributed to a Chinese restaurateur in Lethal Weapon and added for humour, would be more of a Japanese/Korean language issue as they lack distinct "L" and "R" sounds in their language (or rather, "L" and "R" exist as single character/sound). Chinese don't really seem to have issues with consonant swaps in English.

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