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Rice Professor Predicts Humans Out of Work In 30 Years 808

kkleiner writes "Rice University professor Moshe Vardi has been evaluating technological progress in computer science and artificial intelligence and has recently concluded that robots will replace most, if not all, human labor by 2045, putting millions out of work. The issue is whether AI enables humans to do more or less. But perhaps the real question about technological unemployment of labor isn't 'How will people do nothing?' but 'What kind of work will they do instead?'"

Why Your Next Phone Will Include Biometric Security 110

An anonymous reader sends this quote from Forbes: "... it is an almost certainty that within the next few years, three biometric options will become standard features in every new phone: a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, facial recognition powered by high-definition cameras, and voice recognition based off a large collection of your vocal samples. ... We store an enormous amount of our most intimate and personal information on cell phones. Businesses today are already struggling with policies regarding bringing devices from home, and it’s only going to get more difficult. A study by Symantec highlighted the depth of the problem – around the world, all different types of companies consider enterprise mobile device security to be one of their largest challenges. ... Ever since Apple purchased Authentec Inc in July of last year, there has been an endless stream of news stories obsessing over whether Apple will include a fingerprint scanner in their next release. In reality, Apple is one among many players, and whether they include a biometric sensor in the 5S or wait till the 6 is largely irrelevant, the entire mobile industry has been headed this way for years now. ... There are separate questions as to whether these technologies are ready for such a wide-scale deployment."

Three-Mile-High Supercomputer Poses Unique Challenges 80

Nerval's Lobster writes "Building and operating a supercomputer at more than three miles above sea level poses some unique problems, the designers of the recently installed Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Correlator discovered. The ALMA computer serves as the brains behind the ALMA astronomical telescope, a partnership between Europe, North American, and South American agencies. It's the largest such project in existence. Based high in the Andes mountains in northern Chile, the telescope includes an array of 66 dish-shaped antennas in two groups. The telescope correlator's 134 million processors continually combine and compare faint celestial signals received by the antennas in the ALMA array, which are separated by up to 16 kilometers, enabling the antennas to work together as a single, enormous telescope, according to Space Daily. The extreme high altitude makes it nearly impossible to maintain on-site support staff for significant lengths of time, with ALMA reporting that human intervention will be kept to an absolute minimum. Data acquired via the array is archived at a lower-altitude support site. The altitude also limited the construction crew's ability to actually build the thing, requiring 20 weeks of human effort just to unpack and install it."

Comment Re:C++ Standards (Score 5, Informative) 161

Yes and no. The signals and slots mechanism is still there and it's still using moc, but there's a new connection syntax available that's a lot more C++ like, allows C++11 lambdas in place of slots, and offers compile-time checking of connections that previously would just fail at run time. Won't please the purists, but it's a step in the right direction.

Comment Re:Identity theft or scraped card number? (Score 1) 244

The fraud detection heuristics must be very strange. In my case I've never had a problem using a card traveling in foreign countries (and I never tell them I'm going aside from usually having purchased the plane ticket months in advance), no problem buying industrial equipment, but attempting to buy groceries at a place I frequently buy groceries? Yeah, that's suspicious and worth declining the transaction and shutting down the card until I call to have it reactivated. I've never had a true positive detection and wish they'd just give up trying with me and instead let me tell them if something is wrong.

Comment Re:Amounts (Score 1) 294

Note that in a lot of cases the caffeine in pain killers come from coffee. Depending on how a coffee is decaffeinated, the caffeine can be removed from the binding agent, sold to pharmaceutical companies, and added to your pain killers. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a common source of caffeine for drinks with caffeine added. Tea, of course, produces its own caffeine as do several other plants.

I'd say keep telling your doctor you don't drink coffee (or take up coffee drinking) but mention the pain killers separately.


Why Do Programming Languages Succeed Or Fail? 201

magicmat writes "UC Berkeley EECS graduate researchers Leo Meyerovich and Ari Rabkin have compiled an interesting data set on the sociological aspects of programming language usage and adoption. 'Socio-PLT' is the result: compiling survey results from Berkeley's recent 'software engineering' massive online open course, SourceForge, and two years of The Hammer Principle online surveys, they have discovered some interesting phenomenon about what we, as programmers think about our languages, and why we use them. You can head over and explore the data yourself using cool interactive visualizations, and even fill out a survey yourself to have your say."

Comment Re:If you live in a state with no sales tax... (Score 1) 392

What the sales tax pays for probably varies depending on where you are, but one of the things I keep seeing in these sorts of stories are the assumption that it pays for infrastructure used by businesses not paying the tax. Is that really the case? It didn't match with my recollection on the matter so I did a bit of research. Anybody interested in doing similar should be able to find the information in the comprehensive annual financial reports from their state department of revenue.

In Wisconsin, sales tax makes up about 30% of the general purpose revenue for the state (about 18% of total state government revenue). This is used to fund several programs, most notably school aids, shared revenue paid to municipalities, medical assistance programs, the University of Wisconsin system, prisons, property tax credits, community aids, tax relief to individuals, other public assistance, and WI technical college system aids.

Since a big chunk of that is money paid to local governments, I then went to the budget for my city to see where that was going. It's paying for public safety (fire and police department), public works (planning, surveying, mapping, city engineering, emergency management, building inspection, trash removal, snow removal, bridge and street maintenance, weed cutting, street lighting, traffic signs), parks, recreation, and cultural services (several area parks, community centers, a museum, the zoo), and general administration. That public works section is about 16% of the city budget and street maintenance is about 23% of that, or about 3% of the total city budget. Looking at revenue for the city, shared revenue from the state would fall under intergovernmental revenue, making up a portion of 42% of city revenues.

So, while it's certainly possible that some sales tax money ends up funding local roads, the vast majority of that is paid for from a different fund through, for example, fuel taxes. Don't misunderstand me. There's a lot of good stuff that sales tax money goes to, but the suggestion that it's largely going to infrastructure that out of state businesses rely on doesn't seem to be true, at least where I am. YMMV.

Comment Re:Literate Programs (Score 1) 329

I wouldn't hold it up as any kind of example of great code (so there are certainly opportunities to improve it and it is still under active development), but another open source (MIT licensed) literate C++ program you can add to the list is some software I've written for data logging/record keeping in commercial coffee roasting facilities. I've tried to keep the generated source documentation reasonably easy to read and understand and the program is used daily at several coffee firms throughout the world.


Researchers Debut Proxy-Less Anonymity Service 116

Trailrunner7 writes "As state-level censorship continues to grow in various countries around the globe in response to political dissent and social change, researchers have begun looking for news ways to help Web users get around these restrictions. Now, a group of university researchers has developed an experimental system called Telex that replaces the typical proxy architecture with a scheme that hides the fact that the users are even trying to communicate at all."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Duke Nukem Forever Demo Released 188 writes "Gearbox Software released the demo for Duke Nukem Forever today, though it's only available to preorders and other promotions for the time being. After more than a decade, it looks like this game will actually hit stores this month. After 12 years in development, will it live up to the hype?" Included with the linked article is DNF's launch trailer. This should go without saying, but just in case: NSFW. Seriously.

Chinese Boy Sells Kidney For iPad2 Screenshot-sm 210

aquabat writes "According to Shanghai Daily, a boy from the Anhui Province desperately wanted to buy Apple's flagship tablet but didn't have enough cash. Rather than waiting to save up the money for the Apple product when it invariably gets marked down, the lad decided to sell one of his kidneys for 22,000 yuan (roughly $3,400) so he could afford one. But, surprisingly, the scenario in which the organ was harvested wasn't in the best of conditions, and the boy isn't feeling very well."

Comment Re:Excellent (Score 1) 241

It seems as though at least some airports are moving away from these things anyway. (warning, anecdotal evidence coming up) A few weeks ago I flew from Chicago to Houston. When going through security on the way out I didn't so much as see a porn scanner (there was one for the flight out of that airport I had taken before, but I went through a different security line this time). I also kept an eye out when leaving the secure area on the way back and again failed to notice one. Flying out of Houston, the security line split in two and I was free to choose either the long slow line with the porn scanner at the end of it (which was scanning everybody who chose that line) or the short fast line without it. I chose the short fast line, didn't get a groping, and was rather amazed at how many people chose the longer, slower line (I suspect most didn't notice the other line was available).

The sooner we stop wasting money on these things (and better yet, get them out of the airports so we can have room for more fast lines to get through security) the better.

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