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Robotics

By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem 553

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."
Space

Draper Labs Develops Low Cost Probe To Orbit, Land On Europa For NASA 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the heading-out dept.
MarkWhittington writes Ever since the House passed a NASA spending bill that allocated $100 million for a probe to Jupiter's moon Europa, the space agency has been attempting to find a way to do such a mission on the cheap. The trick is that the mission has to cost less than $1 billion, a tall order for anything headed to the Outer Planets. According to a Wednesday story in the Atlantic, some researchers at Draper Labs have come up with a cheap way to do a Europa orbiter and land instruments on its icy surface.

The first stage is to orbit a cubesat, a tiny, coffee can sized satellite that would contain two highly accurate accelerometers that would go into orbit around Europa and measure its gravity field. In this way the location of Europa's subsurface oceans would be mapped. Indeed it is possible that the probe might find an opening through the ice crust to the ocean, warmed it is thought by tidal forces.

The second stage is to deploy even smaller probes called chipsats, tiny devices that contain sensors, a microchip, and an antenna. Hundreds of these probes, the size of human fingernails, would float down on Europa's atmosphere to be scattered about its surface. While some might be lost, enough will land over a wide enough area to do an extensive chemical analysis of the surface of Europa, which would then be transmitted to the cubesat mothership and then beamed to Earth.
Google

Portland Edges Closer To Google Fiber 106

Posted by timothy
from the bridge-and-router-city dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes Portland, Oregon has taken another step toward finalizing a franchise agreement with Google Fiber. In a unanimous vote, the city council has approved the prospective contract. While existing Internet Service Providers fume, Mary Beth Henry, manager of Portland's Office for Community Technology, pointed out that Google is prepared to make a major investment in the city's infrastructure, while the other firms are not. Ms. Henry also indicated that Google was not receiving any special treatment. Google spokesperson, Jenna Wandres, responded to events in an email, saying, "There's still a lot of work to do beyond this one agreement, but we hope to provide an update about whether we can bring Fiber here later this year."
Space

Aliens and the Fermi Paradox 686

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-me-to-your-leader dept.
First time accepted submitter sayhem (1842674) writes Various explanations for why we don't see aliens have been proposed—perhaps interstellar travel is impossible or maybe civilizations are always self-destructive. But with every new discovery of a potentially habitable planet, the Fermi Paradox becomes increasingly mysterious. There could be hundreds of millions of potentially habitable worlds in the Milky Way alone. This impression is only reinforced by the recent discovery of a "Mega-Earth," a rocky planet 17 times more massive than the Earth but with only a thin atmosphere. Previously, it was thought that worlds this large would hold onto an atmosphere so thick that their surfaces would experience uninhabitable temperatures and pressures. But if this isn't true, there is a whole new category of potentially habitable real estate in the cosmos.
United States

Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow? 346

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-we-give-you-a-ride? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ex-KGB Major Boris Karpichko says that spies from Russia's SVR intelligence service, posing as diplomats in Hong Kong, convinced Snowden to fly to Moscow last June. 'It was a trick and he fell for it,' Karpichko, who reached the rank of Major as a member of the KGB's prestigious Second Directorate while specializing in counter-intelligence, told Nelson. 'Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.'"
Education

Parents Mobilize Against States' Student Data Mining 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
theodp writes 'Politico reports that parents have mobilized into an unexpected political force to fight the data mining of their children, catapulting student privacy to prominence in statehouses. Having already torpedoed the $100 million, Bill Gates-funded inBloom database project, which could have made it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies, the amateur activists are now rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers. "The Education Department," writes Stephanie Simon, "lists hundreds of questions that it urges states to answer about each child in the public school system: Did she make friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he go to college? Did he graduate? How much does he earn?" Leonie Haimson, a NY mother who is organizing a national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy says, "Every parent I've talked to has been horrified. We just don't want our kids tracked from cradle to grave." For their part, ed tech entrepreneurs and school reformers are both bewildered by and anxious about the backlash — and struggling to craft a response, having assumed parents would support their vision: to mine vast quantities of data for insights into what's working, and what's not, for individual students and for the education system as a whole. "People took for granted that parents would understand [the benefits], that it was self-evident," said Michael Horn, a co-founder an education think tank."
United Kingdom

Life Sentences For Serious Cyberattacks Proposed In Britain 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-not-pass-go dept.
Bismillah (993337) writes 'The British government wants life in prison for hackers who cause disruption to computer networks, resulting in loss of life or threat to the country's national security. From the article: "The UK government will seek to amend the 1990 Computer Misuse Act "to ensure sentences for attacks on computer systems fully reflect the damage they cause. Currently, the law provides for a maximum sentence of ten years' imprisonment for those who commit the offence of impairing a computer. A new, aggravated offence of unauthorised access to a computer will be introduced into the Computer Misuse Act by the government, carrying far longer sentences."'
Editorial

Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds 1198

Posted by Soulskill
from the coming-to-terms-with-reality dept.
PvtVoid writes: "Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu pens a heartfelt takedown of misogyny in nerd culture: 'I’ve heard and seen the stories that those of you who followed the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter have seen—women getting groped at cons, women getting vicious insults flung at them online, women getting stalked by creeps in college and told they should be "flattered." I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder. I've heard it from acquaintances, I've heard it from friends. I've heard it come out of my own mouth, in moments of anger and weakness.

What the f*$# is wrong with us? How much longer are we going to be in denial that there's a thing called "rape culture" and we ought to do something about it? ... To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys — we are not the victims here. We are not the underdogs. We are not the ones who have our ownership over our bodies and our emotions stepped on constantly by other people's entitlement. We're not the ones where one out of six of us will have someone violently attempt to take control of our bodies in our lifetimes.'"
Science

Parenting Rewires the Male Brain 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the swearing-circuits-rerouted-and-patience-circuits-bolstered dept.
sciencehabit writes: "Cultures around the world have long assumed that women are hardwired to be mothers. But a new study (abstract) suggests that caring for children awakens a parenting network in the brain—even turning on some of the same circuits in men as it does in women. The research implies that the neural underpinnings of the so-called maternal instinct aren't unique to women, or activated solely by hormones, but can be developed by anyone who chooses to be a parent."
Facebook

Iran Court Summons Mark Zuckerberg For Facebook Privacy Violations 304

Posted by timothy
from the beacon-of-tolerance-and-privacy dept.
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "An Iranian judge has summoned Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer allegations that his company's apps have breached people's privacy, it was reported Tuesday. The court in Fars province ordered that Zuckerberg address unspecified 'violation of privacy' claims made by Iranians over the reach of Facebook-owned apps, ISNA news agency reported. 'Based on the judge's verdict, the Zionist manager of Facebook... should report to the prosecutor's office to defend himself and make compensation for damages,' Rouhollah Momen-Nasab, a senior Iranian Internet security official, told ISNA. Access to social networks, including Twitter and Facebook, are routinely blocked by Iranian authorities, as are other websites considered un-Islamic or detrimental to the regime."

Comment: Re:Amazon provides a service (Score 1) 218

by reve_etrange (#47089327) Attached to: Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers

Some pieces of software are intended to be feature-complete replacements for competitors. Others approach the same or similar tasks using very different methods. This doesn't change the relative merits of the software and soda analogies to books. Software is a much better analogy than soft drinks.

The rareness of feature-complete replacements for books, except in certain non-fiction areas, detracts from the software analogy to be sure. It still makes a lot more sense than 'coke vs. pepsi.'

Comment: Google Search just doesn't work very well (Score 2) 108

by reve_etrange (#47081505) Attached to: On MetaFilter Being Penalized By Google

The bottom line is that Google Search doesn't work very well - at least, not anymore. While it previously supported search expansions which could be taken advantage of by skilled searchers, it's since been focused on quick, lowest-common-denominator responses to the most common questions. As a result, searching for slightly abstract notions is virtually impossible, and some searches which should be straightforward also fail.

One example of a simple failure: "fireworks today" or "fireworks today san francisco" returned nothing after I chanced to see fireworks the other night. Using the date ("fireworks san francisco may 21 2014"), the only relevant result was a set of Coast Guard and DHS documents describing safety precautions for the event (Giants game). Of course, fireworks games are well publicized outside of interntal government safety documents.

A more abstract example: try to design a search for articles about names which are or have become insults, such as "Dick."

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