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Submission + - Study Reveals Bot-On-Bot Editing Wars Raging On Wikipedia's Pages (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years. Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply “bots," that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks. In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action. The findings emerged from a study that looked at bot-on-bot conflict in the first ten years of Wikipedia’s existence. The researchers at Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in London examined the editing histories of pages in 13 different language editions and recorded when bots undid other bots’ changes. While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the most intense battles played out between Xqbot and Darknessbot which fought over 3,629 different articles between 2009 and 2010. Over the period, Xqbot undid more than 2,000 edits made by Darknessbot, with Darknessbot retaliating by undoing more than 1,700 of Xqbot’s changes. The two clashed over pages on all sorts of topics, from Alexander of Greece and Banqiao district in Taiwan to Aston Villa football club.

Submission + - Google age-discrimination suit seeks class action for engineers (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Just over a year ago, two people who had been turned down after applying for jobs at Google filed a lawsuit against the company. They claimed they were rejected because of their age. Both were over 40. A federal court in San Jose is now being asked to decide whether many others who sought jobs at Google and were also rejected can join this case. On Wednesday, a motion for conditional certification of collective action status was filed. This motion, similar to a class action, seeks to include "all individuals who interviewed in-person for any software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position with Google in the United States during the time period from August 13, 2010 through the present; were age 40 or older at the time of the interview; and were refused employment by Google." A separate effort seeks to expand this to include people who were rejected after telephone interviews. A large number of people may be eligible. Google reportedly gets more than 2 million job applications a year. To build support for their cases, the plaintiffs are submitting additional statements. One woman seeking a job at Google said an "interviewer expressed concern about a cultural fit, noting that she might not be up for the 'lifestyle.'" According to the court document, this unidentified woman assured the interviewer "that she was willing to work long hours," but "the interviewer replied that he was still worried that she was not Googley enough."

Submission + - Smart Glasses for Dieters Could Monitor Every Bite (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: Say you're trying to lose weight with the aid of technology, but you're not satisfied with step-counters and apps where you log your food intake. Well, here's an experimental device that could keep monitor your every chew of food. These smart glasses record activity in the muscles linked to the jaw, and can tell the difference between foods with different textures, like crunchy cookies and soft bananas.

Submission + - The Most Feasible Way to Colonize Space May Be to Print Humans on Other Planets

Jason Koebler writes: Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on the NASA JPL's Curiosity rover mission, believes that to send humans to distant planets, we may need to do one of two things: look for ways to game space-time—traveling through wormholes and whatnot—or rethink the fundamental idea of "ourselves."
"Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet," said Steltzner.

Submission + - The POW Who Blinked 'Torture' In Morse Code

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: The LA Times reports on the passing of Jeremiah Denton, the US Navy pilot held by the Viet Cong, who let the world know in a TV interview that POWs were being tortured by blinking out the word "torture" in Morse code. From 1965 to 1973, Denton was held at the "Hanoi Hilton" and several other infamous Vietnamese prisons and was held in isolation for lengthy periods totaling about four years. At points, he was in a pitch-black cell, a cramped hole crawling with rats and roaches. His beatings opened wounds that festered in pools of sewage. Frustrated that Denton would not confess to alleged American war crimes or reveal even basic details of US military operations, jailers subjected him to horrific abuse. Taking command of fellow POWs he usually could not see, Denton fashioned a secret prison communication system using the sound of coughs, hacks, scratching, spitting and throat-clearing keyed to letters of the alphabet. "When you think you've reached the limit of your endurance, give them harmless and inaccurate information that you can remember, and repeat it if tortured again," he told his men. "We will die before we give them classified military information." Thinking they'd broken him, Denton's captors allowed a Japanese TV reporter to interview him on May 2, 1966. "The blinding floodlights made me blink and suddenly I realized that they were playing right into my hands," he wrote. "I looked directly into the camera and blinked my eyes once, slowly, then three more times, slowly. A dash and three more dashes. A quick blink, slow blink, quick blink ." While his impromptu blinks silently told the world that prisoners were being tortured, he was unabashed in the interview, which was later broadcast around the world, in his denial of American wrongdoing. "Whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it — yes, sir," said Denton. "I'm a member of that government and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live."

Submission + - Morse code test requirement to be reinstated for Amateur Radio License (kb6nu.com) 1

H0ek writes: One of the standards of excellence required to possess an Amateur Radio License was to pass a test of Morse Code sending and receiving capabilities. At the beginning of 1991 this requirement was removed for Technician Class licenses, and finally in 2007 this requirement was removed for General and Amateur Extra Classes. This will now be reversed and all new applicants will be required to submit to the Morse Code test again. Also, all previous no-code licensees will have a specific length of time to renew their license with the new code test requirements. This can either been seen as restoring a badge of honor to the venerable amateur radio license system, or the death knell for a crotchety old system fading away in a world of community-wide wifi and mobile communications.

Submission + - Your Car Will Tell You How To Hit The Next Green Light

cartechboy writes: Hitting that red light sucks. We've all been there, and you know what I'm talking about. But what if your car could tell you the ideal speed to maintain to hit the next green light? That's exactly what's going to happen in the near future thanks to car-to-car technology. Many automakers are already working on this new tech, and Honda's the latest to trial such systems. This is all part of what's known as Universal Traffic Management System which will eventually provide feedback on car-to-car and infrastructure systems before they go into practical use. The system will also be able to tell the driver if a red light is likely to show before reaching an intersection so the driver can slow down, or notify the driver when that red light will turn green. All of this may seem like something that's supposed to benefit the driver's temper, but in reality it's to help save fuel and lower emissions without any physical changes to the car. This is the future, and your vehicle will talk to other vehicles whether you like it or not.

Submission + - Onagawa: The Japanese nuclear power plant that didn't melt down on 3/11 (thebulletin.org)

Lasrick writes: This article really exposes TEPCO's sloppiness and, frankly, greed. Due to a completely different safety culture, the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Japan did not experience any of the problems that happened in Fukushima, and that is because the company that owns it, Tohoku Electric, had a completely different approach to safety: 'Most people believe that Fukushima Daiichi’s meltdowns were predominantly due to the earthquake and tsunami. The survival of Onagawa, however, suggests otherwise. Onagawa was only 123 kilometers away from the epicenter—60 kilometers closer than Fukushima Daiichi—and the difference in seismic intensity at the two plants was negligible. Furthermore, the tsunami was bigger at Onagawa, reaching a height of 14.3 meters, compared with 13.1 meters at Fukushima Daiichi. The difference in outcomes at the two plants reveals the root cause of Fukushima Daiichi’s failures: the utility’s corporate “safety culture.”'

Submission + - Major Scientific Journal Publisher Requires Public Access to Data (plos.org)

An anonymous reader writes: PLOS — the Public Library of Science — is one of the prolific publishers of research papers in the world. 'Open access' is one of their mantras, and they've been working to push the academic publishing system into a state where research isn't locked behind paywalls and subscription services. To that end, they've announced a new policy for all of their journals: 'authors must make all data publicly available, without restriction, immediately upon publication of the article.' The data must be available within the article itself, in the supplementary information, or within a stable, public repository. This is good news for replicating experiments, building on past results, and science in general.

Submission + - Astronomers catch meteorite striking moon on video (orlandosentinel.com)

spineas writes: A 4.5-foot-wide meteorite struck the moon in September 2013, and astronomers were lucky enough to catch the impact flash on video, now confirmed as the brightest ever witnessed from Earth.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the meteorite likely weighed nearly 900 pounds, and exploded on impact with the moon with the force of 15 tons of TNT.

Submission + - Apple Urges Arizona Governor to Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: NBC News reports that Apple has confirmed that it urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians. Last November Tim Cook announced that Apple was building a sapphire glass plant in Mesa, AZ, that would bring 2,000 new jobs to the state. "Apple is indisputably one of the world's most innovative companies and I'm thrilled to welcome them to Arizona," said Gov. Brewer said at the time. "Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years." According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt it sounds like Tim Cook may be having second thoughts about how "friendly" and "pro-business" the climate in Arizona really is.

Submission + - Google Impeding Distracted Driver Laws

Rambo Tribble writes: Reuters reports Google has initiated lobbying efforts to stymie attempts by some states to enact distracted driver laws aimed at wearable technologies, such as Google Glass. Given the toll on our highways shown to arise from distracted drivers, is this responsible corporate behavior or "doing evil"?

Submission + - Could a market for selling "whale shares" aid conservation? (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The world banned most whaling in 1986, but sometimes it's hard to tell. The number of whales killed by whalers has doubled since the 1990s, with so-called scientific whaling claiming roughly 1000 annually, and perhaps 600 more captured by scofflaw nations. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) appears stuck on developing new conservation agreements. Now several researchers are proposing a possible solution: Create a cap-and-trade market for swapping permits to kill whales. But critics of the “whale shares” idea have already sharpened their harpoons.

Submission + - Driver Privacy Act Introduced in US Senate (senate.gov)

greatgreygreengreasy writes: In 2005, then North Dakota Republican Governor John Hoeven signed into law a bill "ensuring drivers' ownership of their EDR (Electronic Data Recorder) data." Now as US Senator, he has teamed up with Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, to introduce similar legislation at the Federal level. "Under this legislation, EDR data could only be retrieved [for specific reasons]." The EFF has expressed concern in the past over the so-called black boxes, and their privacy implications. This legislation, however, would not address the recent revelations by a Ford executive on their access to data, since in those cases "The vehicle owner or lessee consents to the data retrieval." The bill has gained the support of about 20 Senators so far.

Submission + - Extinct Species Of Early Human Survived on 'Tiger Nuts,' Not Meat (ibtimes.com) 1

Philip Ross writes: Fresh analysis of an extinct relative of humans suggests our ancient ancestors dined primarily on tiger nuts, which are edible grass bulbs, settling a discrepancy over what made up prehistoric diets. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, the strong-jawed ancient hominin known as Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed “Nutcracker Man,” which roamed East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, survived on a diet scientists previously thought implausible.

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