Education

Wisconsin Speech Bill Might Allow Students To Challenge Science Professors (arstechnica.com) 438

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: There have been some well-publicized incidents in which student groups or other protesters have interfered with scheduled appearances by right-wing speakers at U.S. universities. In response, a number of states have considered "campus free speech" bills based on model legislation produced by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank. Different bills introduce specific penalties for students who shout down the speech of others and prevent college administrators from disinviting speakers, to give two examples. One such bill is being debated in Wisconsin. Faculty and university officials in the state are concerned about what else might be prevented by the bill's overly vague language, according to the local Cap Times. As often happens with bills relevant to science education, the debate has also elicited some rather bizarre comments from the bill's sponsors. The trouble comes from this section of the bill: "That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy." While the bills' scope is focused on public events involving invited speakers, there are a couple key questions here. University officials want to know how far this requirement "to remain neutral" extends. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has spoken out against proposed bans on stem cell research on campus. Would the university run afoul of this law if it did so again?
Bitcoin

Why Ethereum Is Outpacing Bitcoin (venturebeat.com) 150

Even as Bitcoin hits its all-time high, people's interest in other cryptocurrencies hasn't waned, especially Ethereum. But what makes Ethereum popular among some? From an article on VentureBeat: Despite its recent appreciation in value, as a technology, Bitcoin has stagnated over the last three years. Two rival factions have emerged with violently opposing views on what should be done to allow the Bitcoin network to handle more transactions than it can right now. While Bitcoin has been paralysed by indecision, Ethereum has raced ahead with technology that not only does everything Bitcoin can do faster, in higher volume, and at lower cost -- it does a lot more besides. [...] Bitcoin is really only useful as a store of value. Even then, its usefulness for actually transacting value is limited. In a world where people are used to online payments being confirmed instantly, Bitcoin transactions can take anywhere from tens of minutes to several hours, depending on how busy the network is. It's also expensive -- especially if you're only sending small amounts. The average transaction currently costs about $1.50. Ethereum, on the other hand, was never intended as a Bitcoin competitor. Ethereum is actually a platform for new kinds of decentralized (often financial) applications (dApps) that run on a peer-to-peer network of computers. These dApps are designed to disintermediate the kinds of relationships and transactions for which we have traditionally required things like banks, public registries, and the legal system. For technologists, this is exciting stuff, and a vibrant community of software developers has enthusiastically embraced it. Hundreds of projects, startups, and companies at every scale -- including the likes of Intel, Microsoft, and Samsung -- are building software using Ethereum.
The Almighty Buck

Report Reveals In-App Purchase Scams In the App Store (macrumors.com) 48

In a Medium article titled How to Make $80,000 Per Month On the Apple App Store, Johnny Lin uncovers a scamming trend in which apps advertising fake services are making thousands of dollars a month from in-app purchases. The practice works by manipulating search ads to promote dubious apps in the App Store and then preys on unsuspecting users via the in-app purchase mechanism. MacRumors reports: "I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft," said Lin. "That was to be expected. But what's this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity app (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called 'Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN.' Given the terrible title of this app (inconsistent capitalization, misplaced colon, and grammatically nonsensical 'Clean & Security VPN?'), I was sure this was a bug in the rankings algorithm. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app's revenue, which showed ... $80,000 per month?? That couldn't possibly be right. Now I was really curious." To learn how this could be, Lin installed and ran the app, and was soon prompted to start a "free trial" for an "anti-virus scanner" (iOS does not need anti-virus software thanks to Apple's sandboxing rules for individual apps). Tapping on the trial offer then threw up a Touch ID authentication prompt containing the text "You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription starting Jun 9, 2017." Lin was one touch away from paying $400 a month for a non-existent service offered by a scammer. Lin dug deeper and found several other similar apps making money off the same scam, suggesting a wider disturbing trend, with scam apps regularly showing up in the App Store's top grossing lists.
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If You Were To Put a Computer Inside a Fridge? 181

dryriver writes: This is not asking what would happen if you were to place your iMac inside your kitchen fridge. Rather, what if a computer casing for a high-powered graphics workstation with multiple CPUs and GPUs, lets say, worked just like a small fridge or freezer, cooling your hardware down without using any CPU fans or liquid cooling and similar. How much would such a fridge-casing cost to make and buy, how much electricity would it consume, how much bigger would it be than a normal PC casing, and would it be a practical solution to the problem of keeping high-powered computer hardware cool for extended periods of time? Bonus question: Is such a thing as a fridge-casing or "Fridgeputer" sold anywhere on the world market right now? Linus Tech Tips tackled this question in a video a couple of years ago, titled "PC Build in a Fridge - Does it Work?"
The Almighty Buck

US Banks Launching Answer To Peer-To-Peer Payment App Venmo (reuters.com) 43

The U.S. banking industry is about to launch its answer to the popular mobile payments app Venmo. "Over the next week, five of the largest U.S. banks will light up their segments of a new payments network called Zelle, executives said in interviews," reports Reuters. "They plan to announce details of the launch on Monday, and expect another two dozen banks and credit unions to join over the next year." From the report: The long-awaited network will allow tens of millions of bank customers to send money to each other instantly - known as person-to-person payments - with a few taps on their smartphones. That is an improvement over Venmo, which immediately alerts users that a money transfer is in progress, but takes time to shift funds between bank accounts. Customers who use existing bank payment apps may not notice much of a change beyond marketing. Transfers will simply happen faster because the banks are finally linking to each other, executives said. JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, U.S. Bancorp and Capital One Financial Corp will be the first to plug into Zelle.
Businesses

Wordpress Parent Automattic Is Closing Its San Francisco Office Because Its Employees Never Show Up (qz.com) 92

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Automattic, the technology company that owns WordPress.com, has a beautiful office in a converted San Francisco warehouse, with soaring ceilings, a library, and a custom-made barn door. If you like the space, you're free to move in. The office at 140 Hawthorne went on the market after CEO Matt Mullenweg came to the realization not enough employees used it. As he explained on the Stack Overflow podcast earlier this year: "We got an office there about six or seven years ago, pretty good lease, but nobody goes in it. Five people go in it and it's 15,000 square feet. They get like 3,000 square feet each. There are as many gaming tables as there are people." Automattic has always given its 550 employees the choice of working remotely; the San Francisco space was an optional co-working space, spokesman Mark Armstrong said. The company maintains similar offices in Cape Town, South Africa, and outside Portland, Maine, and gives employees a $250-a-month stipend if they want to use commercial co-working offices elsewhere. And if they'd rather work at Starbucks, Automattic will pay for their coffee.
Power

Researchers Reveal Malware Designed To 'Power Down' Electric Grid (securityledger.com) 42

chicksdaddy writes: A sample of malicious software discovered at the site of a December, 2016 cyber attack on Ukraine's electrical grid is a previously unknown program that could be capable of causing physical damage to the electrical grid, according to reports by two security firms. The Security Ledger reports: "Experts at the firm ESET and Dragos Security said on Monday that the malicious software, dubbed CrashOverride (Dragos) or Industroyer (ESET) affected a 'single transmission level substation' in the Ukraine attack on December 17th, 2016 in what appears to have been a test run. Still, experts said that features in the malware show that adversaries are automating and standardizing what were previously manual attacks against critical infrastructure, while also adding features that could be used to physically disable or damage critical systems -- the first evidence of such activity since the identification of the Stuxnet malware in 2010. The Crash Override malware 'took an approach to understand and codify the knowledge of the industrial process to disrupt operations as STUXNET (sp) did,' wrote Dragos Security in a report. The malware improves on features seen in other malicious software that it knows to target industrial control systems. Specifically, the malware makes use of and manipulates industrial control system-specific communications protocols. That's similar to features in ICS malware known as Havex that targeted grid operators in Europe and the United States in 2014. The Crash Override malware also targeted the libraries and configuration files of so-called 'Human Machine Interfaces' (or HMIs) to understand the environment they have infected. It can use HMIs, which provide a graphical interface for managing industrial control system equipment, to connect spread to other Internet connected equipment and systems, Dragos said."
Wireless Networking

Logitech Reveals Mouse Mat That Is a Giant Wireless Charging Pad (theverge.com) 62

Logitech has just revealed a new Powerplay technology that builds wireless charging directly into its mouse pad, allowing compatible wireless mice to charge constantly while on the pad. The Verge reports: The wireless charging tech built inside the Powerplay mouse mat is proprietary to Logitech, and the company claims it took more than four years of research and development to make it a reality. I asked Logitech why it didn't go with something more ubiquitous like the Qi standard, and the answer I received was that it wouldn't have been possible to cover the whole surface (275mm x 320mm) of the pad with Qi. Alongside the Logitech G Powerplay, which is to be priced at $99.99 and released in August, Logitech has also announced the first two mice officially compatible with it: the G903 and G703. The G903 is a very modest upgrade from the G900 while the G703 is practically identical to the well liked G403; both of the two new models use the PMW3366 optical sensor and just add improved switches rated to last longer. The G903 will cost $149.99 and the G703 will be $99.99 when they go on sale later this month.
Government

'COVFEFE Act' Would Make Social Media a Presidential Record (thehill.com) 322

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced legislation Monday to classify presidential social media posts -- including President Trump's much-discussed tweets -- as presidential records. The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act, which has the same acronym as an infamous Trump Twitter typo last month, would amend the Presidential Records Act to include "social media." Presidential records must be preserved, according to the Presidential Records Act, which would make it potentially illegal for the president to delete tweets. "President Trump's frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference. Tweets are powerful, and the President must be held accountable for every post," said Quigley in a statement. Most people took the "covfefe" tweet to be a typo, although press secretary Sean Spicer told the media that the term was used intentionally. "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant," he said.
The Courts

Microsoft Wins Xbox Class-Action Fight at US Supreme Court (reuters.com) 26

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of Microsoft in its bid to fend off class action claims by Xbox 360 owners who said the popular videogame console gouges discs because of a design defect. From a report: The court, in a 8-0 ruling, overturned a 2015 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed console owners to appeal the dismissal of their class action lawsuit by a federal judge in Seattle in 2012. Typically parties cannot appeal a class certification ruling until the entire case has reached a conclusion. But the 9th Circuit allowed the console owners to voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit so they could immediately appeal the denial of a class certification. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing on behalf of the court, said such a move was not permitted because a voluntary dismissal of a lawsuit is not a final decision and thus cannot be appealed. The approach sought by the plaintiffs would undermine litigation rules "designed to guard against piecemeal appeals," Ginsburg wrote.
Security

Researchers Have Found a Way To Root Out Identity Thieves By Analyzing Their Mouse Movements With AI (qz.com) 62

An anonymous reader shares an article: In the study, published recently in PLoS One, the researchers quizzed 40 respondents about their personal details. Half of the respondents were asked to answer the questions truthfully, but the other half were given details about fake identities they had to memorize and use in the quiz. The computer quiz kept track of the movement of each respondent's mouse as they answered the questions, and noted how the fakes differed from the truth-tellers when they moved the cursor from the bottom of the screen to the answers at the top. The quiz consisted of 12 questions like, "Do you live in Padua?" and "Are you Italian?" That covered details an identity thief could easily remember and answer, but then the quiz threw them a curve ball. "What is your zodiac sign," it asked in the second series of 12 questions, which were designed to be easy for the genuine respondents, but more difficult for the fakers to work out. After the researchers took the mouse-movement data collected from the quizzes and trained a machine-learning algorithm to analyze it, they found that was indeed the case. It was able to discern the fake responses from the real ones 95% of the time.
Security

The Internet Of Things Is Becoming More Difficult To Escape (npr.org) 165

An anonymous reader writes: After a long day, many of us try to set down our technology and unplug from the world around us. But, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, over the next few years, that will become much more difficult to do. The Internet of things will continue to spread between now and 2026, until human and machine connectivity becomes ubiquitous and unavoidably present, according to experts who participated in what Pew described as a "nonscientific canvassing." About 1,200 participants were asked: "As automobiles, medical devices, smart TVs, manufacturing equipment and other tools and infrastructure are networked, is it likely that attacks, hacks or ransomware concerns in the next decade will cause significant numbers of people to decide to disconnect, or will the trend toward greater connectivity of objects and people continue unabated?" The answers they gave were telling: 15 percent said significant numbers of people would disconnect while 85 percent said most people would just move more deeply into connected life. Unplugging is futile, and plugging in is unavoidable. It's already difficult to create distance from the technology that surrounds us, but as connectivity increases, it might become impossible to do so.
Businesses

Apple To Soon Let Podcast Creators and Advertisers See What Listeners Actually Like (sixcolors.com) 23

Big changes are coming to the podcasting world: Apple is going to let the people who make podcasts learn what podcast listeners actually like -- and what they ignore. A new version of Apple's Podcasts, which is by far the most popular podcast app, will provide basic analytics to podcast creators, giving them the ability to see when podcast listeners play individual episodes, and -- more importantly -- what part of individual episodes they listen to, which parts they skip over, and when they bail out of an episode. From a report: New extensions to Apple's podcast feed specification will allow podcasts to define individual seasons and explain whether an episode is a teaser, a full episode, or bonus content. These extensions will be read by the Podcasts app and used to present a podcast in a richer way than the current, more linear, approach. Users will be able to download full seasons, and the Podcasts app will know if a podcast is intended to be listened to in chronological order -- "start at the first episode!" -- or if it's more timely, where the most recent episode is the most important. [...] Apple is also opening up in-episode analytics of podcasts. For the most part, podcasters only really know when an episode's MP3 file is downloaded. Beyond that, we can't really tell if anyone listens to an episode, or how long they listen -- only the apps know for sure.
IOS

Apple's App Store Guidelines Now Allow Executable Code in Educational Apps and Developer Tools (macstories.net) 13

An anonymous reader writes: Apple made several changes to the App Store Review Guidelines during WWDC last week, including an easing of the prohibition against downloading and executing code on an iOS device. The ban on executable code remains intact, but rule 2.5.2 now also provides that: "Apps designed to teach, develop, or test executable code may, in limited circumstances, download code provided that such code is not used for other purposes. Such apps must make the source code provided by the Application completely viewable and editable by the user.
Businesses

E-cigarettes 'Potentially As Harmful As Tobacco Cigarettes' (uconn.edu) 362

An anonymous reader shares a report: A study by chemists at the University of Connecticut offers new evidence that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are potentially as harmful as tobacco cigarettes. Using a new low-cost, 3-D printed testing device, UConn researchers found that e-cigarettes loaded with a nicotine-based liquid are potentially as harmful as unfiltered cigarettes when it comes to causing DNA damage. The researchers also found that vapor from non-nicotine e-cigarettes caused as much DNA damage as filtered cigarettes, possibly due to the many chemical additives present in e-cigarette vapors. Cellular mutations caused by DNA damage can lead to cancer.
Bitcoin

Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web To Send Deadly Drugs by Mail (nytimes.com) 175

Anonymous online sales are surging, and people are dying. Despite dozens of arrests, new merchants -- many based in Asia -- quickly pop up. From a report on the New York Times: In a growing number of arrests and overdoses, law enforcement officials say, the drugs are being bought online. Internet sales have allowed powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl -- the fastest-growing cause of overdoses nationwide -- to reach living rooms in nearly every region of the country, as they arrive in small packages in the mail (syndicated source). The authorities have been frustrated in their efforts to crack down on the trade because these sites generally exist on the so-called dark web, where buyers can visit anonymously using special browsers and make purchases with virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The problem of dark web sales appeared to have been stamped out in 2013, when the authorities took down the most famous online marketplace for drugs, known as Silk Road. But since then, countless successors have popped up, making the drugs readily available to tens of thousands of customers who would not otherwise have had access to them. Among the dead are two 13-year-olds, Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, who died last fall in the wealthy resort town of Park City, Utah, after taking a synthetic opioid known as U-47700 or Pinky. The boys had received the powder from another local teenager, who bought the drugs on the dark web using Bitcoin, according to the Park City police chief.
Businesses

Amazon Sues Former AWS VP Over Non-Compete Deal (geekwire.com) 76

Reader joshtops shares a report: Amazon.com is alleging that one of its former high-ranking executives violated a non-compete agreement when he accepted a job at Bellevue-based Smartsheet, GeekWire has learned. In a lawsuit filed Friday in King County Superior Court, Amazon alleges that Gene Farrell, who served as Vice President of the AWS Enterprise Applications -- EC2 Windows team, violated a non-compete agreement when he took the new job as head of product June 1 at the heavily-funded Bellevue online workplace collaboration platform. "This move is unthinkable," Amazon wrote in a motion for a temporary restraining order that would bar Farrell from working at Smartsheet. "he cannot possibly forget everything he knows about AWS's products and plans while he is working to develop products for its competitor." The suit also notes: "Farrell's role as "Head of Product" at Smartsheet will necessarily involve development of and strategy regarding competing cloud-based productivity products, including but not limited to those for project management, collaboration, and/or automation, and will therefore breach the Noncompetition Agreement and threaten the disclosure of Amazon's highly confidential information," Amazon wrote in its lawsuit.
AI

Artificial Intelligence Can Now Predict Suicide With Remarkable Accuracy (qz.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Colin Walsh, data scientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and his colleagues have created machine-learning algorithms that predict, with unnerving accuracy, the likelihood that a patient will attempt suicide. In trials, results have been 80-90% accurate when predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next two years, and 92% accurate in predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next week. The prediction is based on data that's widely available from all hospital admissions, including age, gender, zip codes, medications, and prior diagnoses. Walsh and his team gathered data on 5,167 patients from Vanderbilt University Medical Center that had been admitted with signs of self-harm or suicidal ideation. They read each of these cases to identify the 3,250 instances of suicide attempts. This set of more than 5,000 cases was used to train the machine to identify those at risk of attempted suicide compared to those who committed self-harm but showed no evidence of suicidal intent.
United States

Sharp To Americans: You Don't Want to Buy a Sharp-Brand TV (wsj.com) 115

Sharp has sued China's Hisense Electric, which licensed the Sharp brand for televisions sold in the U.S., accusing Hisense of putting the Sharp name on poor-quality TVs and deceptively advertising them (alternative source). From a report: The court action is the latest effort by Osaka-based Sharp to retrieve the right to use its own name when selling TVs in one of the world's largest markets. Sharp is trying to recover its position as a global maker of consumer electronics. Hisense rejected the allegations and said it was selling high-quality televisions under the Sharp name. The dispute illustrates the risks when the owner of a well-known brand name gives up control over products sold under that name.
United States

Trump-Style Tactics Finally Stopped Working For Uber (buzzfeed.com) 238

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith describes a three-year-old meeting that Uber held -- which saw several influencers including actor Ed Norton among attendees -- as the beginning of the ride-hailing company's long slow meltdown. Later today, the company is expected to announce that its CEO Travis Kalanick would be temporarily stepping away, and his closest lieutenant is all set to hand his resignation. On Sunday, the company held a board meeting, which according to several journalists, lasted for nearly seven hours. The meeting capped a difficult stretch for the ride-hailing company, which is trying to weather an investigation into its workplace culture, a lawsuit by Google parent Alphabet over the alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets, a federal probe into its business practices, and the recent departures of top executives. Back to Ben: At the dinner (which took place three years ago), Emil Michael, the right hand of CEO Travis Kalanick, heatedly complained to me about the press. The company, he told me, could hire a team of opposition researchers to fight fire with fire and attack the media -- specifically to smear a female journalist who has criticized the company. I suggested to him that this plan wouldn't really work because the story would immediately become a story about Uber behaving like maniacs. "Nobody would know it was us," Michael responded. "But you just told me!," I replied. [...] Instead of making any meaningful changes, Uber simply pressed on for years. It found both continued growth and accumulating scandals. Many of its crises, like those remarks to me, were tinged with misogyny, whether sexual harassment of its engineers or pulling a rape victim's medical files. After one of those engineers, Susan Fowler, stepped forward with a blog post detailing systemic sexual harassment and discrimination -- a post that was followed up by a series of devastating stories by The New York Times, Recode, and others -- the company invited former Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an internal investigation. Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Michael is set to resign, and Reuters reported Kalanick will take a leave of absence ahead of what's expected to be a deeply damning Holder report. (Kalanick is also coping with a family tragedy.) They will leave having built the most valuable private company in the world. But it is a company whose cultural darkness is inseparable from its place as the icon of the tech boom. Uber -- and the boom -- have been defined both by massive new conveniences and by a corporate culture that is aggressive, paranoid, and dismissive of, in particular, complaints from women; a culture of enemies lists and cavalier approaches to the law. Emil Michael told Uber employees Monday that he has left the company.
Businesses

US Tech Companies Start To Become Copycats of Chinese Peers (foxbusiness.com) 86

hackingbear quotes Dow Jones Newswire: Chinese technology companies have long had a reputation of being copycats of Western peers, but U.S. companies have recently begun to return the favor, said a partner at prominent venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz... China's internet titans such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. are influencing U.S. startups and majors alike, and many Chinese models are being replicated in the U.S., said Connie Chan, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture firm. LimeBike, a startup at San Mateo, Calif., adapted China's dockless bike-sharing model, first rolled out by Beijing-based Ofo Inc. and Beijing Mobike Technology Co., for U.S. consumers... Also, Apple Inc. recently added payment services to its iMessage chat service, taking a page from Tencent's playbook. "I love this reversal of what 'China copycat' can mean," she said. "It no longer just means a Chinese company copying the States, it can mean a U.S. company copying China."
Python

Ask Slashdot: Will Python Become The Dominant Programming Language? 808

An anonymous reader shares their thoughts on language popuarity: In the PYPL index, which is based on Google searches and is supposed to be forward looking, the trend is unmistakable. Python is rising fast and Java and others are declining. Combine this with the fact that Python is now the most widely taught language in the universities. In fields such as data science and machine learning, Python is already dominating. "Python where you can, C++ where you must" enterprises are following suit too, especially in data science but for everything else from web development to general purpose computing...

People who complain that you can't build large scale systems without a compiler likely over-rely on the latter and are slaves to IDEs. If you write good unit tests and enforce Test Driven Development, the compiler becomes un-necessary and gets in the way. You are forced to provide too much information to it (also known as boilerplate) and can't quickly refactor code, which is necessary for quick iterations.

The original submission ends with a question: "Is Python going to dominate in the future?" Slashdot readers should have some interesting opinions on this. So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Will Python become the dominant programming language?
AI

Microsoft's AI Is the First to Reach a Perfect Ms. Pac-Man Score (theverge.com) 59

Maluuba, a deep-learning team acquired by Microsoft in January, has created an AI system that has achieved the perfect score for Ms. Pac-Man. According to The Verge, the AI system "learned how to reach the game's maximum point value of 999,900 on Atari 2600, using a unique combination of reinforcement learning with a divide-and-conquer method." From the report: Though AI has conquered a wealth of retro games, Ms. Pac-Man has remained elusive for years, due to the game's intentional lack of predictability. Turns out it's a toughie for humans as well. Many have tried to reach Ms. Pac-Man's top score, only coming as close as 266,330 on the Atari 2600 version. The game's elusive 999,900 number though, has so far only been achieved by mortals via cheats. Maluuba was able to use AI to beat the game by tasking out responsibilities, breaking it up into bite-sized jobs assigned to over 150 agents. The team then taught the AI using what they call Hybrid Reward Architecture -- a combination of reinforcement learning with a divide-and-conquer method. Individual agents were assigned piecemeal tasks -- like finding a specific pellet -- which worked in tandem with other agents to achieve greater goals. Maluuba then designated a top agent (Microsoft likens this to a senior manager at a company) that took suggestions from all the agents in order to inform decisions on where to move Ms. Pac-Man. The best results came when individual agents "acted very egotistically" and the top agent focused on what was best for the overall team, taking into account not only how many agents wanted to go in a particular direction, but the importance of that direction.

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