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Nintendo

Nintendo NX Is a Portable Console With Detachable Controllers, Says Report (eurogamer.net) 152

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Eurogamer.net: We now have a good idea as to what the Nintendo NX will consist of thanks to a new report from Eurogamer. According to a number of sources, Nintendo's upcoming NX will be a portable, handheld console with detachable controllers. Eurogamer.net reports: "On the move, NX will function as a high-powered handheld console with its own display. So far so normal -- but here's the twist: we've heard the screen is bookended by two controller sections on either side, which can be attached or detached as required. Then, when you get home, the system can connect to your TV for gaming on the big screen. A base unit, or dock station, is used to connect the brain of the NX -- within the controller -- to display on your TV. NX will use game cartridges as its choice of physical media, multiple sources have also told [Eurogamer]. Another source said the system would run on a new operating system from Nintendo. It won't, contrary to some earlier rumors, simply run on Android. [...] The system will harness Nvidia's powerful mobile processor Tegra. Graphical comparisons with current consoles are difficult due to the vastly different nature of the device -- but once again we've heard Nintendo is not chasing graphical parity. Quite the opposite, it is sacrificing power to ensure it can squeeze all of this technology into a handheld, something which also tallies with earlier reports. Finally, we've heard from one source that NX planning has recently moved up a gear within Nintendo ahead of the console's unveiling, which is currently slated for September. After the confused PR fiasco of the Wii U launch, the company is already settling on a simple marketing message for NX -- of being able to take your games with you on the go."
Medicine

Can Computerized Brain Training Prevent Dementia? (newyorker.com) 49

"Researchers believe they have found a link between speed-of-processing training and a reduction in cognitive decline among the elderly," reports the New Yorker. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article about how this new long-term study actually contradicts much of the previous science. In October of 2014 a group of more than seventy academics published what they called a consensus statement, asserting that playing brain games had been shown to improve little more than the ability to play brain games... no brain game, nor any drug, dietary supplement, or lifestyle intervention, had ever been shown in a large, randomized trial to prevent dementia...until today, when surprising new results were announced at the Alzheimer's Association annual meeting, in Toronto.
Nearly 3,000 participants with an average age of 73.6 participated in the study, with some receiving "speed of processing" training -- and some later receiving four hours of additional training. "The researchers calculated those who completed at least some of these booster sessions were 48% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia after ten years than their peers in the control group." Signatories of the 2014 consensus statement panning brain games are now calling these new results "remarkable" and "spectacular".
Medicine

Neuroscientists Have Isolated The Part Of The Brain That Controls Free Will (extremetech.com) 280

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech: Free will might have been the province of philosophers until now, but we've cracked the problem with an fMRI. Neuroscientists from Johns Hopkins report in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics that they were able to see both what happens in a human brain the moment a free choice is made, and what happens during the lead-up to that decision -- how activity in the brain changes during the deliberation over whether to act. The team devised a novel way to track a participant's focus without using cues or commands, avoiding a Schrodinger's-like dilemma of altering the process of choice by calling attention to it. Participants took positions in MRI scanners, and then were left alone to watch a split screen as rapid streams of colorful numbers and letters scrolled past on both sides. They were asked just to pay attention to one side for a while, then to the other side. When to switch sides, and for how long to look, was entirely up to them. Over the duration of the experiment, the participants glanced back and forth, switching sides dozens of times. In terms of connectivity in the brain, the actual process of switching attention from one side to the other was tightly linked with activity in the parietal lobe, which is sort of the top back quadrant of the brain. Activity during the period of deliberation before a choice took place in the frontal cortex, which engages in reasoning and plans movement. Deliberation also lit up the basal ganglia, important parts of the deep brain that handle motor control, including the initiation of motion. Participants' frontal-lobe activity began earlier than it would have if participants had been cued to shift attention, which demonstrates that the brain was planning a voluntary action rather than merely following an order. A report from Fast Company details how technology is making doctors feel like glorified data-entry clerks.
Earth

Do You Have A Living Doppelgänger? (bbc.com) 142

HughPickens.com writes: Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there's a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother's eyes, your father's nose and that annoying mole you've always meant to have removed. Now BBC reports that last year Teghan Lucas set out to test the hypothesis that everyone has a living double. Armed with a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel and the help of colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Lucas painstakingly analyzed the faces of nearly four thousand individuals, measuring the distances between key features such as the eyes and ears. Next she calculated the probability that two peoples' faces would match. What she found was good news for the criminal justice system, but likely to disappoint anyone pining for their long-lost double: the chances of sharing just eight dimensions with someone else are less than one in a trillion. Even with 7.4 billion people on the planet, that's only a one in 135 chance that there's a single pair of doppelgangers. Lucas says this study has provided much-needed evidence that facial anthropometric measurements are as accurate as fingerprints and DNA when it comes to identifying a criminal. "The use of video surveillance systems for security purposes is increasing and as a result, there are more and more instances of criminals leaving their 'faces' at a scene of a crime," says Ms Lucas. "At the same time, criminals are getting smarter and are avoiding leaving DNA or fingerprint traces at a crime scene." But that's not the whole story. The study relied on exact measurements; if your doppelganger's ears are 59mm but yours are 60mm, your likeness wouldn't count. "It depends whether we mean 'lookalike to a human' or 'lookalike to facial recognition software,'" says David Aldous. If fine details aren't important, suddenly the possibility of having a lookalike looks a lot more realistic. It depends on the way faces are stored in the brain: more like a map than an image. To ensure that friends and acquaintances can be recognized in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. This holistic 'sum of the parts' perception is thought to make recognizing friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Using this type of analysis, and judging by the number of celebrity look-alikes out there, unless you have particularly rare features, you may have literally thousands of doppelgangers. "I think most people have somebody who is a facial lookalike unless they have a truly exceptional and unusual face," says Francois Brunelle has photographed more than 200 pairs of doppelgangers for his I'm Not a Look-Alike project. "I think in the digital age which we are entering, at some point we will know because there will be pictures of almost everyone online.
Medicine

Alzheimer's Gene Already Shrinking Brain By Age of Three (telegraph.co.uk) 62

schwit1 quotes a report from The Telegraph: The Alzheimer's gene, which dramatically raises the risk of developing dementia, is already affecting carriers by the age of three, shrinking their brains and lowering cognition, a new study suggests. Children who carry the APOEe4 gene mutation, which raises the chance of dementia by 15 fold, were found to do less well in memory, attention and function tests. Areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease, such as the hippocampus and parietal gyri, were also found to be up to 22 percent smaller in volume. [Around 14 percent of people carry the APOEe4 mutation. The research is the first to show that genetic changes which can lead to Alzheimerâ(TM)s are already affecting the brain extremely early in life. Scientists from the University of Hawaii, Yale and Harvard say screening for the gene could help doctors identify which children could benefit from early interventions, such as educational help, preventative treatments, health monitoring and increased exercise. The study involved 1,187 youngsters between the age of three and 20 who took part in genetic tests and brain scans as well as undertaking a series of tests to measure their thinking and memory skills.] According to research from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), infrequent use of a computer in later life could be an early sign of reduced cognitive ability.
Programming

Linus Torvalds In Sweary Rant About Punctuation In Kernel Comments (theregister.co.uk) 523

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: Linus Torvalds has unleashed a sweary rant on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, labelling some members "brain-damaged" for their preferred method of punctuating comments. "Can we please get rid of the brain-damaged stupid networking comment syntax style, PLEASE?" the Linux Lord asked last Friday. "If the networking people cannot handle the pure awesomeness that is a balanced and symmetric traditional multi-line C style comments, then instead of the disgusting unbalanced crap that you guys use now, please just go all the way to the C++ mode."Torvalds despises the following two comment-punctuation styles (with his comments):/* This is disgusting drug-induced
* crap, and should die
*/
and:/* This is also very nasty
* and visually unbalanced */
Torvalds prefers the following two styles:/* This is a comment */ and:/*
* This is also a comment, but it can now be cleanly
* split over multiple lines
*/

Bug

MRI Software Bugs Could Upend Years Of Research (theregister.co.uk) 95

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: A whole pile of "this is how your brain looks like" MRI-based science has been invalidated because someone finally got around to checking the data. The problem is simple: to get from a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain to a scientific conclusion, the brain is divided into tiny "voxels". Software, rather than humans, then scans the voxels looking for clusters. When you see a claim that "scientists know when you're about to move an arm: these images prove it", they're interpreting what they're told by the statistical software. Now, boffins from Sweden and the UK have cast doubt on the quality of the science, because of problems with the statistical software: it produces way too many false positives. In this paper at PNAS, they write: "the most common software packages for fMRI analysis (SPM, FSL, AFNI) can result in false-positive rates of up to 70%. These results question the validity of some 40,000 fMRI studies and may have a large impact on the interpretation of neuroimaging results."
Social Networks

Multitasking Drains Your Brain's Energy Reserves, Researchers Say (qz.com) 106

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Quartz: When we attempt to multitask, we don't actually do more than one activity at once, but quickly switch between them. And this switching is exhausting. It uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, running down the same fuel that's needed to focus on a task...

"That switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing," says Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University. "People eat more, they take more caffeine. Often what you really need in that moment isn't caffeine, but just a break. If you aren't taking regular breaks every couple of hours, your brain won't benefit from that extra cup of coffee."

Anyone have any anecdotal experiences that back this up?
United Kingdom

Will Brexit Hurt International Cyber-Security? (helpnetsecurity.com) 197

The Brexit shock continues to reverberate throughout the global economic and policy worlds. Andrea Limbago from the security company Endgame responds to a poll showing that most security professionals have concerns about Brexit: Will it weaken cybersecurity because of additional bureaucratic hurdles to information sharing with the EU, as well limited cross-national collaboration in fighting cyber criminals? There is also concern about the possibility of a brain drain -- in-demand security talent pool fleeing the UK -- which could increasingly impact security and data protection.
Limbago suggests tech workers in Britain's financial sector may feel the impact, "with Bitcoin surging and the pound dropping.... London's role as the financial hub is now threatened thanks to the Brexit, the rise of digital currencies, and the EU's move toward greater digital integration." And there's also the possibility of "a push for digital sovereignty and greater national control over the Internet." But another poll found that 64% of information security professionals didn't think Brexit would affect Britain's ability to defend against cyber-attacks. Can security professionals continue their inter-nation cooperation, elevating data and security concerns over new administrative differences between Europe and the U.K.?
Games

Activision Abuses DMCA To Take Knock Indie Game Entirely Off Steam 147

Reader He Who Has No Name writes: We've seen brain-dead, overzealous, and entirely over-automated DMCA takedown requests bring down music and videos, but this may be the first case of an entire video game being knocked out. Earlier today David Prassel, creator of Trek Industries and developer of the not-without-controversy ORION: Dino Horde / Prelude and the early-access Guardians of ORION, posted that his current project had been entirely removed from Steam after a questionable DMCA allegation from Activision. Prassel explains further, "We've made Steam our primary platform, but this has put a definite scare into us going forward considering our entire livelihood can be pulled without a moment's notice, without any warning or proper verification. I cannot even confirm that the representative from Activision is a real person as absolutely no results pop up in any of my searches." Image comparisons against at least two of the weapon models claimed to be infringing were posted by Prassel and in at least one thread on a forum.
What's more, it appears Activision is alleging not a vertex-for-vertex and texel-for-texel theft and duplication of the Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 2D -- 3D art assets, but in fact an infringing artistic similarity and design of separately created art content -- something that the DMCA does not cover (and which more would likely fall under copyright or possibly trade dress). Since this takedown falls directly in the middle of the Steam Summer Sale -- which probably is not a coincidence -- it will profoundly impact Trek Industry's potential sales.
Polygon has more details.
Education

Google Launches 'Project Bloks' Toys To Teach Kids To Code (thenextweb.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a hardware project dubbed 'Project Bloks' to help teach kids how to code. There are three components to the learning experience: Brain Board, Base Boards, and Pucks. The Brain Board features a processing unit that is based off of Raspberry Pi Zero, which controls and provides power to the rest of the connected components. It does also interact with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. The Base Boards are connective units that let users design instruction flows. Finally, the Pucks are the components you interact with. They're shaped with switches, arrows, buttons, dials and more, and can be programmed to turn things on or off, move avatars, play music, and more. What's neat is you can record instructions from multiple pucks into a single one. Some of them can be made with simple, inexpensive materials like paper with conductive ink. You can watch the official introduction video on YouTube. Google did release a subsequent video about the project called "Developing on Project Bloks."
AI

Drivers Prefer Autonomous Cars That Don't Kill Them (hothardware.com) 451

"A new study shows that most people prefer that self-driving cars be programmed to save the most people in the event of an accident, even if it kills the driver," reports Information Week. "Unless they are the drivers." Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes an article from Hot Hardware about the new study, which was published by Science magazine. So if there is just one passenger aboard a car, and the lives of 10 pedestrians are at stake, the survey participants were perfectly fine with a self-driving car "killing" its passenger to save many more lives in return. But on the flip side, these same participants said that if they were shopping for a car to purchase or were a passenger, they would prefer to be within a vehicle that would protect their lives by any means necessary. Participants also balked at the notion of the government stepping in to regulate the "morality brain" of self-driving cars.
The article warns about a future where "a harsh AI reality may whittle the worth of our very existence down to simple, unemotional percentages in a computer's brain." MIT's Media Lab is now letting users judge for themselves, in a free online game called "Moral Machine" simulating the difficult decisions that might someday have to be made by an autonomous self-driving car.
Privacy

Interviews: Ask Security Expert Mikko Hypponen A Question 133

Even if you pay only a fraction of your time on security news, you probably already know Mikko Hypponen (Twitter, Wikipedia). He is the Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, a security firm he joined over two decades ago. Hypponen has assisted law enforcement in the United States, Europe and Asia on cybercrime cases, and has also made several appearances on BBC, TED talks, TEDx, DLD, SXSW, Black Hat, DEF CON, and Google Zeitgeist among others. He has also written for CNN, The New York Times, Wired, and BetaNews.

Hypponen has closely watched computers, networks, and security spaces grow over the years. In 2011, Hypponen tracked down the authors of the first PC virus in history -- Brain.A. Whether you want to know about the early days of malware -- when they were mostly created by hobbyists, or get an inside view of the challenges security firms face today, or how exactly does one keep himself or herself safe in the increasingly terrifying world, use the comments section to leave your question.

Editor's note: We will be collecting some of the best questions and sending them to Mikko at 22:00 GMT, Monday.
Biotech

23 Seriously Ill MS Patients Recover After 'Breakthrough' Stem Cell Treatment (telegraph.co.uk) 74

schwit1 quotes a report from The Telegraph: Multiple sclerosis patients who were severely disabled are walking, working and even downhill skiing again following a breakthrough therapy which completely destroys, then rebuilds, the immune system. The trial, which is the first in the world to show complete long-term remission from the debilitating disease has been hailed by experts as "exciting" "unprecedented," and "close to curative." Although it is unclear what causes MS it is thought that the immune system attacks the protective coating which surrounds nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord leading to inflammation, pain, disability and in severe cases, early death. [The new technique, which is a treatment usually used to fight leukemia, involves using chemotherapy to entirely eradicate the damaged immune system, before rebooting it with a transfusion of bone marrow cells. Out of the 24 patients who were given the treatment at least seven years ago, the majority have seen significant improvements. 70 per cent of patients saw a complete stop to the progression of the disease, while 40 per cent saw a reversal in symptoms such as vision loss, muscle weakness and balance loss.] Last week, it was reported that a wheelchair-bound stroke victim was able to walk again after an "unprecedented" stem cell trial at Stanford.
Google

Google's AI 'TensorFlow' Software Is Coming To iOS (cnet.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: Google published an early version of TensorFlow that adds support for iOS. TensorFlow is "neural network" software that lets computers process data in a way similar to our own brain cells. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently said it advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations. With the software running on your iPhone, its capabilities will allow for more sophisticated apps to run on iOS. We can expect the apps to be released later this year and into next year from Google and others who use TensorFlow. Some of the tasks TensorFlow can allow for include being able to recognize subjects in photographs or being able to teach your phone what a particular object looks like, which is what another neural network software project called MemKite aims to do. Google has released its TensorFlow software as open source, where anyone can use or modify it for free.
Medicine

Wheelchair-Bound Stroke Victim Walks Again After 'Unprecedented' Stem Cell Trial At Stanford (washingtonpost.com) 92

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: Stanford researchers studying the effect of stem cells injected directly into the brains of stroke patients said Thursday that they were "stunned" by the extent to which the experimental treatment restored motor function in some of the patients. The results, published in the journal Stroke, could have implications for our understanding of an array of disorders including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and Alzheimer's if confirmed in larger-scale testing. The work involved patients who had passed the critical six-month mark when recoveries generally plateau and there are rarely further improvements. Each participant in the study had suffered a stroke beneath the brain's outermost layer and had significant impairments in moving their arms and-or legs. The one-time therapy involved surgeons drilling a hole into the study participants' skulls and injecting stem cells in several locations around the area damaged by the stroke. These stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow of adult donors. They suffered minimal adverse effects such as temporary headaches, nausea and vomiting. "Their recovery was not just a minimal recovery like someone who couldn't move a thumb now being able to wiggle it. It was much more meaningful. One 71-year-old wheelchair-bound patient was walking again," said Steinberg, the study's lead author and chair of neurosurgery at Stanford who personally performed most of the surgeries. Steinberg said that the study does not support the idea that the injected stem cells become neurons, as has been previously thought. Instead, it suggests that they seem to trigger some kind of biochemical process that enhances the brain's ability to repair itself. "Patients improved by several standard measures, and their improvement was not only statistically significant, but clinically meaningful," Steinberg said. "Their ability to move around has recovered visibly. That's unprecedented. At six months out from a stroke, you don't expect to see any further recovery."
Cellphones

Doubts Raised About Cellphone Cancer Study (vox.com) 100

Vox is strongly criticizing coverage of a supposed link between cellphones and cancer suggested by a new study, calling it "a breathtaking example of irresponsible science hype." An anonymous reader writes: A professor and research monitoring administrator at an American medical school reported that to get their results, the researchers "exposed pregnant rats to whole body CDMA- and GSM-modulated radiofrequency radiation, for 9 hours a day, 7 days a week," and the results were seen only with CDMA (but not GSM-modulated) radiofrequency. "[F]alse positives are very likely. The cancer difference was only seen in females, not males. The incidence of brain cancer in the exposed groups was well within the historical range. There's no clear dose response..."
An emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University in Britain also called the study "statistically underpowered..." according to Vox. "Not enough animals were used to allow the researchers to have a good chance of detecting a risk from radiofrequency radiation of the size one might plausibly expect."
Cellphones

Possible Cellphone Link To Cancer Found In Rat Study (nbcnews.com) 113

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A giant U.S. study meant to help decide whether cellphones cause cancer is coming back with confusing results. A report on the study, conducted in rats and mice, is not finished yet. But advocates pushing for more research got wind of the partial findings and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has released them early. They suggest that male rats exposed to constant, heavy doses of certain types of cellphone radiation develop brain and heart tumors. But female rats didn't, and even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation. The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is still analyzing the findings. But John Bucher, associate director of the program, said the initial findings were so significant that the agency decided to release them. A 29-year-old study published earlier this month from Australia reassures us that cellphones are reasonably safe, and do not cause cancer.
Science

American Scientists Working On Creating Chimeras: Half-Human, Half-Animal Embryos (ibtimes.com.au) 242

Researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on creating half-human, half-animal hybrid embryos dubbed chimeras to better understand diseases and its progression. But not everybody is thrilled about it. IBTimes reports: One of the aims of the experiment using chimeras is to create farm animals with human organs. The body parts could then be harvested and transplanted into very sick people. However, a number of bioethicists and scientists frown on the creation of interspecies embryos which they believe crosses the line. New York Medical College Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy Stuart Newman calls the use of chimeras as entering unsettling ground which damages "our sense of humanity." They are not alone in voicing their opinion against the idea. Huffington Post adds: The project is so controversial that the National Institutes of Health has refused to fund it. The researchers are relying on private donors. Critics of these experiments say they are too risky because there is no way of knowing where the human stem cells will go. Will they just become a pancreas? Or could they become a brain? And if they become a brain, will the pigs who house them have human consciousness?

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