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When Mercedes-Benz Starts Selling Self-Driving Cars, It Will Prioritize Driver's Safety Over Pedestrian's ( 365

From a report on Inverse: When Mercedes-Benz starts selling self-driving cars, it will choose to prioritize driver safety over pedestrians', a company manager has confirmed. The ethical conundrum of how A.I.-powered machines should act in life-or-death situations has received more scrutiny as driverless cars become a reality, but the car manufacturer believes that it's safer to save the life you have greater control over. "You could sacrifice the car. You could, but then the people you've saved initially, you don't know what happens to them after that in situations that are often very complex, so you save the ones you know you can save," said Christoph von Hugo, Mercedes' manager of driver assistance systems. "If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car. This moral question of whom to save: 99 percent of our engineering work is to prevent these situations from happening at all. We are working so our cars don't drive into situations where that could happen and [will] drive away from potential situations where those decisions have to be made."As long as they are better at driving and safety than humans, it is a progress, in my opinion.

Inventor of C Dennis Ritchie Honored With Second Death ( 90

An anonymous reader writes: Dennis Ritchie invented the "C" programming language, so a second round of honors comes as no surprise. Although five years ago he passed away, some confusion over a tweet started the social media avalanche known as "second death syndrome". The problem, especially if you look at it from Ritchie's perspective, is that he's been dead for five years -- exactly five years. That time gap seems to have escaped some of the biggest names in tech, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who late Wednesday tweeted out Wired's five-year-old obituary on Ritchie, thanking him for his "immense contributions." Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and the founder of tech site GigaOm, retweeted Pichai's tribute before soon recognizing his mistake and tweeting an apology for "adding to the confusion and noise." Craig Newmark, founder of the popular online bulletin board Craigslist, also paid his respects, saying, "this guy made a huge contribution to the world."

How Tech Companies Are Responding To Hurricane Matthew ( 38

South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Matthew at 11 a.m. EST, after the hurricane killed at least 300 people in Haiti (with Reuters estimating Haiti's death toll over 800). But as the U.S. declares a state of emergency for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and with the power out for more than a million people, an anonymous Slashdot reader looks at the role tech companies are playing in responding to the storm system: AirBNB "has been advertising free rooms in parts of Florida and South Carolina" reports Motherboard. AirBNB's Disaster Reponse Tool connects people needing shelter with volunteers who are offering their residences for free. Meanwhile, Uber promised to cap its "surge pricing" for the area, while Lyft promised its fares would rise no more than two times their normal rate.

But many escaped the path of the hurricane thanks to Shofur, a startup that books chartered buses and matches riders to low-cost tickets, according to the Daily Dot. "Through Thursday night and into the early morning hours of Friday, Shofur evacuated an estimated 10,000 Floridians and Georgians to areas such as Atlanta, Florida's west coast, and the panhandle."

NASA is also flying a huge 15,000-pound drone over the area to collect real-time weather data, while Verizon is testing a 17-foot drone which may one day provide LTE mobile connectivity to first responders. In addition, a Verizon spokesperson says drone-enabled connectivity has "set the stage" for connecting drones to their IoT platform next year.

New Study Suggests There's a Limit To How Long People Can Live ( 290

Life expectancies have risen in many countries around the world thanks to breakthroughs in medical treatment and sanitation in the last century. The maximum age of death has also increased. But as these numbers continue to rise, it raises the question as to how long can people live? ABC News reports: The record for the world's oldest person is 122 years and the odds of shattering that record are slim, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the journal Nature. In the new study, researchers [at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York] analyzed mortality data from a global database. They found that while there have been strides in reducing deaths among certain groups -- children, women during childbirth and the elderly -- the rate of improvement was slower for the very old, those over 100 years old. Next they examined how old centenarians were when they died. The record holder is Jeanne Calment, of France, who lived until 122 years old. Since her death in 1997, no one has broken her record. The researchers calculated the odds of someone reaching 125 years in a given year are less than 1 in 10,000. They think the human life span more likely maxes out at 115 years. Some aging specialists said the study doesn't take into account advances that have been made in extending the life span -- and health -- of certain laboratory animals including mice, worms and flies through genetic manipulation and other techniques. The goal is to eventually find treatments that might slow the aging process in humans and keep them healthier longer.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Remembers Steve Jobs On Fifth Anniversary of His Death ( 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MacRumors: As he has done over the past four years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared a tribute to the late Steve Jobs, touching on the importance of remembering the Apple co-founder and former CEO today, which marks the fifth anniversary of his death on October 5, 2011. In previous years, Apple also updated its website to remember Jobs, creating a two-minute slideshow of his various keynote presentations and most famous audio clips on the one year anniversary of his death. In the days following his passing, Apple started posting "Remembering Steve" comments from fans on its website. The company noted that well over one million submissions came in for the project, all from well-wishing fans in the wake of Jobs' losing battle with pancreatic cancer. "'Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.' Remembering Steve and the many ways he changed our world," tweeted Apple CEO Tim Cook with a picture of Jobs. In remembrance of Jobs, Recode has compiled several of Steve Job's best interviews conducted at the D: All Things Digital conference. You can watch Recode's reflection video directly on YouTube here.
The Internet

Author Says Going Offline For 24 Hours a Week Has Significantly Improved His Health, Sanity and Happiness ( 168

You don't need someone to point out to you that you probably spend too many hours on the internet. Maybe it's your job, maybe it's a growing habit, maybe it's both of them. An anonymous reader shared a link on Business Insider, in which an author named Roy Hessel shares what happened after he started to force himself to go offline for 24 hours every week. (He chose the duration between sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday as the time for disconnect.) From the article:No emails, no calls, no Tweets, no tech, no matter what. For anyone who's struggling with finding time for self and family, I'd like to share what I've learned. For health, sanity, and happiness, I think it can make all the difference. It's not enough to carve out time in your schedule. You need to approach this blackout period with an unwavering belief in its benefit and a commitment to see it through. For me, this means abstaining from work and, in the deepest sense, simply resting. It grounds me and allows me to re-energize and focus on what's really important in my life. The key is to be unapologetic rather than aspirational about unplugging. As soon my family and I get home from our workweek, there's nothing, with the exception of a life and death situation, that would cause me to compromise that time. As far as business and my income is concerned, it can wait.We understand that not everyone wants or afford to go offline for a complete day, but do you also ensure that you are offline for a few hours everyday or every week or every month?

Paul Miller, a reporter at The Verge, went offline in 2012 for a complete year and shared his experience when he got back. You might find it insightful.

Elon Musk: First Humans Who Journey To Mars Must 'Be Prepared To Die' ( 474

At a conference yesterday, Elon Musk outlined his company SpaceX's plan to send humans to Mars. The vehicle is called the Interplanetary Transport System and it is capable of carrying 100 tons of cargo (people and supplies). Musk added that this rocket ship could take people to Mars in just 80 days. But he also reminded that the first batch of people who are brave enough to go to Mars should be well aware that they are almost certainly going to die. The Verge adds:During the Q&A session that followed, the question inevitably came up: what sort of person does Musk think will volunteer to get strapped to that big rocket and fired toward the Red Planet? "Who should these people be, carrying the light of humanity to Mars for all of us?" an audience member asked. "I think the first journeys to Mars will be really very dangerous," answered Musk. "The risk of fatality will be high. There's just no way around it." The journey itself would take around 80 days, according to the plan and ideas that Musk put forward. "Are you prepared to die? If that's okay, then you're a candidate for going," he added. But Musk didn't want to get stuck talking about the risks and immense danger. "This is less about who goes there first... the thing that really matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. This is different than Apollo. This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure," he said.

US Regulators Issue Comprehensive Policy On Self-Driving Cars ( 239

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: On Monday, [The U.S. Department of Transportation] released a surprisingly far-reaching "Federal Automated Vehicles Policy." The policy attempts to do all sorts of things -- we'll get into the details below -- but the overarching motivation is that DOT wants to accelerate the development and adoption of AVs. DOT views AVs as a safety technology that could reduce some of the 38,000 traffic fatalities a year in the U.S., 95 percent of which are caused by human error. It also sees AVs as an accessibility technology that could provide personal transportation to whole populations (disabled, elderly, etc.) who have lacked it. The policy comes in four buckets: What the vehicles need to do to be safe; What federal and state governments need to do; How DOT will use its existing regulatory tools; DOT may need brand new regulatory tools to deal with AVs. The "vehicle performance" section lays out a 15-point safety assessment, so that AV developers and manufacturers know the sorts of things that federal regulators will expect. It covers everything from cybersecurity to data collection to crash response. And then there are "ethical considerations." AVs will have to make life-or-death decisions. The second section addresses the division of responsibilities and authorities between the federal government and state governments, and suggests a model policy that states can adapt for their own use. The feds will retain their authority to set and enforce safety standards, communicate with the public about safety, and occasionally issue guidances about how to meet national standards. States will retain their authority to license human drivers and register cars, set and enforce traffic laws, and regulate vehicle insurance and liability. There are three broad ways that DOT communicates about standards with automakers: letters of interpretation, exemptions and rule-makings. It is promising to speed up all of them in regard to HAVs. DOT is considering a range of new authorities that may be necessary to properly regulate HAVs. The report adds that "DOT has officially abandoned the NHTSA's own levels-of-automation classification in favor of SAE's, which is preferred by the industry. Vox has neat graphic you can view here. President Obama also wrote a piece about self-driving cars in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "In the seven-and-a-half years of my presidency, self-driving cars have gone from sci-fi fantasy to an emerging reality with the potential to transform the way we live..."

Lyft Says Robots Will Drive Most Of Its Cars in Five Years ( 274

A week after its rival Uber began rolling out self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Lyft has said it also expects to roll out its self-driving by next year. Its president John Zimmer outlined a "three-phase" plan for the company, noting that self-driving cars will be made available to Lyft users in the first phase. But in this phase, it only plans to roll out self-driving cars that can "drive along fixed routes" and that the "technology is guaranteed to be able to navigate." Recode adds: In the second phase, the self-driving cars in the fleet will navigate more than just the fixed routes, but will only drive up to 25 miles per hour. As the technology matures and the software encounters more complex environments, Zimmer wrote, cars will get faster. The third phase, expected to happen sometime in 2021 or 2022, will be when all Lyft rides will be completed by a fully autonomous car. Shortly after that phase begins, car ownership will see a steep drop-off, according to Zimmer. Zimmer, who has long been a vocal proponent of ending car ownership, set a date for the death of the personally owned car in major U.S. cities: 2025.

Right To Be Forgotten? Web Privacy Debate in Italy After Women's Suicide ( 424

The suicide of a woman who battled for months to have a video of her having sex removed from the internet is fuelling debate in Italy on the "right to be forgotten" online. The 31-year-old, identified as Tiziana, was found hanged at her aunt's home in Mugnano, close to Naples in the country's south on Tuesday, reports Agence France-Presse. From the report: Her death came a year after she sent a video of herself having sex to some friends, including her ex-boyfriend, to make him jealous. The video and her name soon found their way to the web and went viral, fuelling mockery of the woman online. The footage has been viewed by almost a million internet users. In a bid to escape the humiliation, Tiziana quit her job, moved to Tuscany and tried to change her name, but her nightmare went on. The words "You're filming? Bravo," spoken by the woman to her lover in the video, have become a derisive joke online, and the phrase has been printed on T-shirts, smartphone cases and other items. After a long court battle, Tiziana recently won a "right to be forgotten" ruling ordering the video to be removed from various sites and search engines, including Facebook.

Microsoft To Kill The Lumia Brand In Favor of a New Surface Phone, Says Report ( 177

It's no secret the Lumia brand is struggling to gain any significant market share these days. Earlier this year, it was reported that Microsoft's Windows Phone OS dropped below 1 percent mark share, all but confirming the death of Windows Phone. A new report suggests that, despite the irrelevance of Windows Phone, Microsoft will not be giving up on its mobile OS. Instead, the company plans to drop the Lumia brand by the end of the year and replace it with a brand new Surface Phone in an effort to breathe new life into its flagging smartphone business. The Next Web reports: There is some credibility to the claims. Microsoft's Lumia lineup has shrunk to just four models, and there's nothing to indicate it's working on a successor. In the U.S., where Microsoft has struggled to shift Lumia phones, it has removed the link to buy them from its website. On the retail side, stores have started removing units from display, and are trying to shift remaining stock by offering steep discounts. Further evidence comes from two since-deleted tweets from Laura Butler, engineering director at Microsoft, who posted "Surface iPhone ;-)" on September 6, and "Surface Phone not NOT confirmed. :-)" on September 7, in reply to questions posed by other Twitter users. Microsoft is expected to hold an event in October, where it's believed it will announce a new Surface all-in-one. As Ars Technica pointed out, this could be when Microsoft announces its new Surface Phone, just in time for Christmas.

Elon Musk Says Tesla New Autopilot Features Would Have Prevented Recent Death ( 160

An anonymous reader writes:Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Sunday the automaker was updating its semi-autonomous driving system Autopilot with new limits on hands-off driving and other improvements that likely would have prevented a fatality in May. Musk said the update, which will be available within a week or two through an "over-the-air" software update, would rely foremost on radar to give Tesla's electric luxury cars a better sense of what is around them and when to brake. New restrictions of Autopilot 8.0 are a nod to widespread concerns that the system lulled users into a false sense of security through its "hands-off" driving capability. The updated system now will temporarily prevent drivers from using the system if they do not respond to audible warnings to take back control of the car. Musk said it was "very likely" the improved Autopilot would have prevented the death of Brown, whose car sped into the trailer of a truck crossing a highway, but he cautioned that the update "doesn't mean perfect safety."

New Research Reveals Hundreds of Undiscovered Black Holes ( 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: New research by the University of Surrey published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has shone light on a globular cluster of stars that could host several hundred black holes, a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible. Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars which orbit around a galactic center such as our Milky-way galaxy. Using advanced computer simulations, the team at the University of Surrey were able to see the un-see-able by mapping a globular cluster known as NGC 6101, from which the existence of black holes within the system was deduced. These black holes are a few times larger than the Sun, and form in the gravitational collapse of massive stars at the end of their lives. It was previously thought that these black holes would almost all be expelled from their parent cluster due to the effects of supernova explosion, during the death of a star. It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena in which a companion star donates material to the black hole. This work, which was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), has shown that in NGC 6101 there could be several hundred black holes, overturning old theories as to how black holes form.

General Motors Recalls 4.3 Million Vehicles Over a Software Bug ( 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: If you own a GM vehicle from 2014-2017, listen up: General Motors is recalling nearly 4.3 million vehicles worldwide after discovering a software defect that prevents air bags from deploying during a crash. The software bug may also prevent the seat belts from locking properly. The flaw has already been linked to one death and three injuries. Vehicles affected by the recall include 2014-2016 car models of the Buick LaCross, Chevy SS, and Chevy Spark EVs. It also includes 2014-2017 models of the Buick Encore, GMC Sierra, Chevy Corvette, Chevy Trax, Chevy Caprice, Chevy Silverado. Additionally, the recall affects 2015-2017 models of the Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Silverado HD, Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, GMC Sierra HD, Cadillac Escalade, and Cadillac Escalade ESV. GM will notify owners of affected vehicles and update the software for free, according to the NHTSA. "In the affected vehicles, certain driving conditions may cause the air bag sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) software to activate a diagnostic test," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a statement. "During the test, deployment of the frontal air bags and the seat belt pretensioners would not occur in the event of a crash."
Open Source

Is Apache OpenOffice Finally On the Way Out? ( 137

Reader JImbob0i0 writes: After almost another year without a release and another major CVE leaving users vulnerable for that year the Chairman of the Project Management Committee has started public discussions on what it will entail to retire the project, following the Apache Board showing concern at the poor showing.
It's been a long battle which would have been avoided if Oracle had not been so petty. Did this behaviour actually help get momentum in the community underway though? What ifs are always hard to properly answer. Hopefully this long drawn out death rattle will finally come to a close and the wounds with LibreOffice can heal with the last few contributors to AOO joining the rest of the community.


Early Human Ancestor Lucy 'Died Falling Out of a Tree' ( 123

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: New evidence suggests that the famous fossilized human ancestor dubbed "Lucy" by scientists died falling from a great height -- probably out of a tree. CT scans have shown injuries to her bones similar to those suffered by modern humans in similar falls. The 3.2 million-year-old hominin was found on a treed flood plain, making a branch her most likely final perch. It bolsters the view that her species -- Australopithecus afarensis -- spent at least some of its life in the trees. Writing in the journal Nature, researchers from the U.S. and Ethiopia describe a "vertical deceleration event" which they argue caused Lucy's death. In particular they point to a crushed shoulder joint, of the sort seen when we humans reach out our arms to break a fall, as well as fractures of the ankle, leg bones, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, arm, jaw and skull. Discovered in Ethiopia's Afar region in 1974, Lucy's 40%-complete skeleton is one of the world's best known fossils. She was around 1.1m (3ft 7in) tall and is thought to have been a young adult when she died. Her species, Australopithecus afarensis, shows signs of having walked upright on the ground and had lost her ancestors' ape-like, grasping feet -- but also had an upper body well-suited to climbing. The bones of this well-studied skeleton are in fact laced with fractures, like most fossils. By peering inside the bones in minute detail, the scanner showed that several of the fractures were "greenstick" breaks. The bone had bent and snapped like a twig: something that only happens to healthy, living bones. "The Ethiopian ministry has agreed to release 3D files of Lucy's right shoulder and her left knee. So anyone with an interest in this can print Lucy out and evaluate these fractures, and our hypothesis, for themsleves." You can find the files here.

'Longest Living Human' Says He Is Ready For Death At 145 ( 314

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes an article from The Telegraph: An Indonesian man who claims to be the longest living human in recorded history has described how he "just wants to die". Mbah Gotho, from Sragen in central Java, was born on December 31, 1870, according to the date of birth on his identity card. Now officials at the local record office say they have finally been able to confirm that remarkable date as genuine. If independently confirmed, the findings would make Mr Gotho a staggering 145 years old -- and the longest lived human in recorded history.
"One of Mr Gotho's grandsons said his grandfather has been preparing for his death ever since he was 122," according to the article. Though he lived long enough to meet his great-great grandchildren, he's already outlived four wives, all 10 of his brothers and sisters, and all of his children.

Second Confirmed Death In Japan Involving Pokemon Go ( 153

An anonymous reader writes: The Japan Times reports another death. This time a 20 year old woman has died after being hit by a car while riding her bicycle. The man driving the car claimed he was distracted changing the battery because it was nearly flat from playing Pokemon Go. Police have already charged him with negligence resulting in injury. The penalty for causing death is a maximum 7 years jail. The Japanese National Police agency said there have been 79 bicycle and car accidents linked to the game. Another death was reported yesterday

Windows 10 Computers Crash When Amazon Kindles Are Plugged In ( 259

It appears that many users are facing an issue with their Windows 10 computers when they plug in an Amazon Kindle device. According to reports, post Windows 10 Anniversary Update installation, everytime a user connect their Amazon Paperwhite or Voyage, their desktop and laptop lock up and require rebooting. The Guardian reports:Pooka, a user of troubleshooting forum Ten Forums said: "I've had a Kindle paperwhite for a few years no and never had an issue with connecting it via USB. However, after the recent Windows 10 updates, my computer BSOD's [blue screen of death] and force restarts almost as soon as I plug my Kindle in." On Microsoft's forums, Rick Hale said: "On Tuesday, I upgraded to the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10. Last night, for the first time since the upgrade, I mounted my Kindle by plugging it into a USB 2 port. I immediately got the blue screen with the QR code. I rebooted and tried several different times, even using a different USB cable, but that made no difference."

Driver Killed a Pedestrian in Japan While Playing Pokemon Go ( 175

An anonymous reader writes: One woman was killed and another injured. In what police are calling Japan's first death linked to Pokemon Go, a driver playing the smartphone game hit two pedestrians on Tuesday night, officials said. The collision broke the neck of one woman, killing her, and left another woman with a broken hip, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police in Tokushima, on the western Japanese island of Shikoku, told the Wall Street Journal the women were crossing the street when the car struck them. The man driving the car did not see them because was playing Pokemon Go.

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