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Teaching Calculus To 5-Year-Olds 231

Doofus writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story about opening up what we routinely consider 'advanced' areas of mathematics to younger learners. The goals here are to use complex but easy tasks as introductions to more advanced topics in math, rather than the standard, sequential process of counting, arithmetic, sets, geometry, then eventually algebra and finally calculus. Quoting: 'Examples of activities that fall into the "simple but hard" quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns. Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend "function box" that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).' I plan to get my children learning the 'advanced' topics as soon as possible. How about you?"

Google Buys UK AI Startup Deep Mind 113

TechCrunch reports that Google has acquired London-based artificial intelligence firm Deep Mind. TechCrunch notes that the purchase price, as reported by The Information, was somewhere north of $500 million, while a report at PC World puts the purchase price lower, at mere $400 million. Whatever the price, the acquisition means that Google has beaten out Facebook, which reportedly was also interested in Deep Mind. Exactly what the startup will bring to Google isn't clear, though it seems to fit well with the emphasis on AI that the company underscored with its hiring of futurist Ray Kurzweil: "DeepMind's site currently only has a landing page, which says that it is 'a cutting edge artificial intelligence company' to build general-purpose learning algorithms for simulations, e-commerce, and games. As of December, the startup had about 75 employees, reports The Information. In 2012, Carnegie Mellon professor Larry Wasserman wrote that the 'startup is trying to build a system that thinks. This was the original dream of AI. As Shane [Legg] explained to me, there has been huge progress in both neuroscience and ML and their goal is to bring these things together. I thought it sounded crazy until he told me the list of famous billionaires who have invested in the company.'"

CMU AI Learning Common Sense By Watching the Internet 152

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post "Researchers are trying to plant a digital seed for artificial intelligence by letting a massive computer system browse millions of pictures and decide for itself what they all mean. The system at Carnegie Mellon University is called NEIL, short for Never Ending Image Learning. In mid-July, it began searching the Internet for images 24/7 and, in tiny steps, is deciding for itself how those images relate to each other. The goal is to recreate what we call common sense — the ability to learn things without being specifically taught."

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Stop a Debt Collection Scam From Targeting You? 497

An anonymous reader writes "I'm currently being targeted by an overseas debt collection scam. My landline rings every 10-15 minutes all day every day. I considered getting a blacklisting device to block the incoming calls, but the call center spoofs a different number on my caller ID each time, and it's gotten to the point where I've just unplugged the phones. I'm already on the Do No Call Registry and have filed a complaint with the FTC. Aside from ditching my landline, changing my number, and/or blowing a whistle into the receiver anytime I actually pick up, are there any real solutions out there? Has anybody had luck with a blacklisting device?"

The Race To $1,000 Human Genome Sequencing 153

ericjones12398 writes "Just one decade ago, sequencing an entire human genome cost upwards of $10 million and took about three years to complete. Now, several companies are racing to provide technology that can sequence a complete human genome in one day for less than $1,000. 'A genome sequence for $1,000 was a pipe dream, just a few years ago,' said Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, 'A $1,000 genome in less than one day was not even on the radar, but will transform the clinical applications of sequencing."

Russian Scientists Revive Plant From 30,000-Year-Old Seeds 162

An anonymous reader writes "It was an Ice Age squirrel's treasure chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. From the fruit tissues, a team of Russian scientists managed to resurrect an entire plant in a pioneering experiment that paves the way for the revival of other species. The Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, the researchers said, and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds. ... 'The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,' said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. 'It's a natural cryobank.'"

William Shatner Answers, in 826 Words 189

You asked William Shatner questions, and Shatner replied. It's not the first time he's answered questions for Slashdot (that was in 2002), but Shatner's given a bit more insight this time into what makes an 80-year-old actor-author-sportsman-father-filmmaker tick as fast as ever. Did he mention that he's got a one-man show about to open? And a new album? Note: Typically Shatner, he's also chosen to ignore (or transcend) the usual Slashdot interview structure, and written his answers in his own style, which is why the format looks a little different from most of our interviews. Thanks, Bill. (Read on for his answers.)
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Uncovers Widespread FBI Intelligence Violations 268

An anonymous reader writes "EFF has uncovered widespread violations stemming from FBI intelligence investigations from 2001 — 2008. In a report released today, EFF documents alarming trends in the Bureau's intelligence investigation practices, suggesting that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed. Using documents obtained through EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, the report finds: Evidence of delays of 2.5 years, on average, between the occurrence of a violation and its eventual reporting to the Intelligence Oversight Board; reports of serious misconduct by FBI agents including lying in declarations to courts, using improper evidence to obtain grand jury subpoenas, and accessing password-protected files without a warrant; and indications that the FBI may have committed upwards of 40,000 possible intelligence violations in the 9 years since 9/11."

TSA To Make Pat-Downs More Embarrassing To Encourage Scanner Use 642

Jeffrey Goldberg writes for the Atlantic about his recent experiences with opting out of the back-scatter full-body scanners now being used to screen airport travelers. Passengers can choose to submit to a pat-down instead of going through the scanners, but according to one of the TSA employees Goldberg talked to, the rules for those are soon changing to make things more uncomfortable for opt-outs, while not doing much for actual security. He writes, 'The pat-down, while more effective than previous pat-downs, will not stop dedicated and clever terrorists from smuggling on board small weapons or explosives. When I served as a military policeman in an Israeli army prison, many of the prisoners 'bangled' contraband up their a**es. I know this not because I checked, but because eventually they told me this when I asked. ... the effectiveness of pat-downs does not matter very much, because the obvious goal of the TSA is to make the pat-down embarrassing enough for the average passenger that the vast majority of people will choose high-tech humiliation over the low-tech ball check."

Largest Simulated Cyber Attack To Date 71

Orome1 noted that the government will be running simulated cyber attacks as part of the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Storm III exercise. It says "The exercise will be controlled from the Secret Service headquarters, where organizers from various agencies will be sending out 'exercise injects,' information that a player will receive that indicates that a certain event has taken place as part of the narrative set up by the organizers. This goes a bit beyond a paper narrative, including fake log data, drives that may contain fake malware, and fake event history, and is dynamic, meaning that it can change dependent on the actions the players take." ...which makes me wonder how effective this test would actually be.

Hunters Shot Down Google Fiber 1141

aesoteric writes "Google has revealed that aerial fiber links to its data center in Oregon were 'regularly' shot down by hunters, forcing the company to put its cables underground. Hunters were reportedly trying to hit insulators on electricity distribution poles, which also hosted aerially-deployed fiber connected to Google's $600 million data center in The Dalles. 'I have yet to see them actually hit the insulator, but they regularly shoot down the fiber,' Google's network engineering manager Vijay Gill told a conference in Australia. 'Every November when hunting season starts invariably we know that the fiber will be shot down, so much so that we are now building an underground path [for it].'"

Comment Re:Blech (Score 1) 126

I disagree. I have my Blackberry 8110 provisioned with BIS/BES and swapping the SIM to a candy-bar style phone still allows data usage. Perhaps this is something different with the MUCH newer models? And I can't vouch for BES support as I don't have another device that would use BES with a SIM card. Perhaps this just a function of my carrier instead of the home office.

Submission + - Google Implements SSL Search, Not Just for Gmail (

sharsa writes: For years I've used "", redirected to "", as my home page, in an attempt to make sure that my first connection to the net is authentic. Google has recently implemented an upgrade to that HTTPS site, now supporting SSL protected searches for a bit of security. It doesn't encrypt the DNS requests, image search or links you get directed to, as their explanation site points out, but for those of you who are more paranoid about your ISP or employers looking over your shoulders, this may be what you're looking for.

Comment Re:They don't store your actual fingerprint (Score 1) 578

Another reason I've come across is when there are multiple employees that are short term, but require access to locked doors/areas/time clocks/whatever. It isn't practical or cost effective to give lots of temp people badges, keys, or complex ID numbers easily faked or forgotten. So biometics allows for a signature that they bring with them. The application of this I ran into was an optical iris scanner, not fingerprint, but the concept can still be applied.

2 pints = 1 Cavort