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Comment Re:Goes Back To Kennedy (Score 1) 35

I once worked at Rockwell-Collins, which had been a supplier for the Space Shuttle programme. When I arrived, they were very stringent about how we handled our time reporting and billing. Why? Because apparently before I got there they had just gotten heavy slapped down for exploiting cost-plus Shuttle contracts. Whenever any project went over budget, they just had employees credit their time to the Shuttle programme.

Comment Re:It is in the nature of the business! (Score 1) 35

And before you go and say Blue Origin and SpaceX are doing it so much cheaper, yes, but that is because they are standing on a mountain of research & technology courtesy NASA.

Something both of them readily admit. SpaceX in particular has continually expressed their gratitude for all of the support they've gotten from NASA over the years. And they have an interesting cooperative model in place now for Red Dragon - no money exchanged, but they get access to NASA facilities and time working with NASA researchers, and in turn NASA gets all of the data they acquire from their missions.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 2) 35

I'm anyone but someone to defend SLS, but this report seems rather flimsy. It seems that they're calling anything that NASA does in-house "overhead". That's not really a fair measure. A rocket is not just its physical construction; there's a huge amount of cost in research, design, testing, and support infrastructure - in the case of SLS, particularly the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS). Part of the problem however is that every time NASA builds something new, they're rarely allowed to shut it down. Including major projects with contractors. Congress keeps mandating this inefficiency, when what NASA really needs is the freedom to put large amounts of infrastructure to the axe when it can't contribute toward competitive costs, and reallocate the funds as is needed. So long as they face mandates to keep everything open (both internal, and with specific production lines run by particular suppliers), they shouldn't be criticized for their high costs - congress should.

I really think NASA would fare better if it went back more to the NACA model - a research and support organization for other players, maintaining the common infrastructure and R&D used by others - with the addition of a scientific exploration program. NASA shouldn't be making anything that a private business case can be built for (for example, rockets reaching LEO / GEO), but they should be running the DSN, range support, creating a market for private industry to continually expand/improve its capabilities, nurturing startups to increase competition, and extensively working to bring more advanced technologies (that the market couldn't afford to sink money into due to the risk) from theory into real world - not trying to make "workhorses", but proof-of-concept systems that others will run with if merit and maturity can be demonstrated.

In short:
If there's a business model for it: private industry
If it's too risky or long-term for business: NASA proof-of-concept
If its a common need for multiple businesses in the field: NASA permanent infrastructure

Comment Re:Self-contradictory (Score 2) 99

I suspect by physical interface they mean something you interact with physically, rather than directly - ie you push buttons with your fingers on a keyboard, you receive images via a monitor that converts them into photons, etc. It's awkward language, but I'm not sure there's a "correct" way beyond calling the brain link something awful like "really, really, direct."

Comment Full article (Score -1, Troll) 99

Ok, so neither of those links were included in the summary when this was posted, but here is the full article:

Elon Musk Launches Neuralink to Connect Brains With Computers
Startup from CEO of Tesla and SpaceX aims to implant tiny electrodes in human brains
Neuralink is pursuing what Elon Musk calls 'neural lace' technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts.
by ROLFE WINKLER
March 27, 2017 3:24 p.m. ET

Building a mass-market electric vehicle and colonizing Mars aren't ambitious enough for Elon Musk. The billionaire entrepreneur now wants to merge computers with human brains to help people keep up with machines.

The founder and chief executive of Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has launched another company called Neuralink Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. Neuralink is pursuing what Mr. Musk calls "neural lace" technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts.

Mr. Musk has taken an active role setting up the California-based company and may play a significant leadership role, according to people briefed on Neuralink's plans, a bold step for a father of five who already runs two technologically complex businesses.

Mr. Musk didn't respond to a request for comment. Max Hodak, who said he is a "member of the founding team," confirmed the company's existence and Mr. Musk's involvement. He described the company as "embryonic" and said plans are still in flux but declined to provide additional details. Mr. Hodak previously founded Transcriptic, a startup that provides robotic lab services accessible over the internet.

Mr. Musk, 45 years old, is part businessman, part futurist. He splits his time between Tesla, which is under pressure to deliver its $35,000 sedan on time, and SpaceX, which aims to launch a satellite-internet business and a rocket that can bring humans to Mars. He is also pushing development of a super high-speed train called Hyperloop.

Somewhere in his packed schedule, he has found time to start a neuroscience company that plans to develop cranial computers, most likely to treat intractable brain diseases first, but later to help humanity avoid subjugation at the hands of intelligent machines.

"If you assume any rate of advancement in [artificial intelligence], we will be left behind by a lot," he said at a conference last June.

The solution he proposed was a "direct cortical interface"--essentially a layer of artificial intelligence inside the brain--that could enable humans to reach higher levels of function.

Mr. Musk has teased that he is developing the technology himself. "Making progress [on neural lace]," he tweeted last August, "maybe something to announce in a few months." In January he tweeted that an announcement might be coming shortly.

He hasn't made an official announcement, but Neuralink registered in California as a "medical research" company last July.

Mr. Musk has discussed financing Neuralink primarily himself, including with capital borrowed against equity in his other companies, according to a person briefed on the plans.

Neuralink has also discussed a possible investment from Founders Fund, the venture firm started by Peter Thiel, with whom Mr. Musk co-founded payments company PayPal, according to people familiar with the matter.

In recent weeks, Neuralink hired leading academics in the field, according to another person familiar with the matter. They include Vanessa Tolosa, an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and an expert in flexible electrodes; Philip Sabes, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, who studies how the brain controls movement; and Timothy Gardner, a professor at Boston University who is known for implanting tiny electrodes in the brains of finches to study how the birds sing.

Reached by phone, Dr. Gardner confirmed he is working for Neuralink, but declined to elaborate on its plans. Dr. Sabes declined to comment. Dr. Tolosa didn't respond to a request for comment.

It is unclear what sorts of products Neuralink might create, but people who have had discussions with the company describe a strategy similar to SpaceX and Tesla, where Mr. Musk developed new rocket and electric-car technologies, proved they work, and is now using them to pursue more ambitious projects.

These people say the first products could be advanced implants to treat intractable brain disorders like epilepsy or major depression, a market worth billions of dollars. Such implants would build on simpler electrodes already used to treat brain disorders like Parkinson's disease.

If Neuralink can prove the safety and efficacy of its technology and receive government approval, perhaps it then could move on to cosmetic brain surgeries to enhance cognitive function, these people say. Mr. Musk alluded to this possibility in his comments last June, describing how humans struggle to process and generate information as quickly as they absorb it.

"Your output level is so low, particularly on a phone, your two thumbs just tapping away," he said. "This is ridiculously slow. Our input is much better because we have a high bandwidth visual interface into the brain. Our eyes take in a lot of data."

Others pursuing the idea include Bryan Johnson, the founder of online payments company Braintree, who plans to pump $100 million into a startup called Kernel, which has 20 people and is pursuing a similar mission.

Mr. Johnson said he has spoken to Mr. Musk and that both companies want to build better neural interfaces, first to attack big diseases, and then to expand human potential.

Facebook Inc. has posted job ads for "brain-computer interface engineers" and other neuroscientists at its new secret projects division. And the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is investing $60 million over four years to develop implantable neural interface technology.

The technology faces several barriers. Scientists must find a safe, minimally invasive way to implant the electrodes, and a way to keep them stable in the brain. It also isn't yet possible to record the activity of millions of the brain's neurons to decode complex decisions, or distinguish when someone wants to eat a bowl of spaghetti or go to the bathroom.

Then there is persuading people to get elective brain surgery.

In comments published by Vanity Fair on Sunday, Mr. Musk said "for a meaningful partial-brain interface, I think we're roughly four or five years away."

If Mr. Musk indeed takes an active leadership role at Neuralink, that would raise more questions about his own personal bandwidth.

Tesla is building the largest battery factory on the planet to supply its forthcoming Model 3 electric vehicle, and it will need to produce hundreds of thousands of cars to meet its goal and justify its lofty market capitalization, which is approaching that of Ford Motor Co.
SpaceX has struggled to launch rockets fast enough to send satellites into orbit for its customers. Ultimately it wants to launch an internet-access business powered by more than 4,000 low-earth orbiting satellites, ferry space tourists to the moon and then bring astronauts to Mars.

Even so, Mr. Musk has proved many naysayers wrong. Traditional auto makers said he could never sell a popular electric car. Military-industrial graybeards scoffed at the idea he could even launch a rocket.

Write to Rolfe Winkler at rolfe.winkler@wsj.com

Comment Re:You don't want this to succed (Score 1) 334

Heh, I remember getting a copy of Solaris, oh, 16 or 18 years ago, they were doing a giveaway sort of thing.

Anywho, I really enjoyed reading the release notes and user agreement; notes about increasing TCP windows to deal with satellite communication, stern warnings that the software was not to be used in nuclear power stations, missile guidance or other weapons systems, I think on submarines.....

Comment Re:You don't want this to succed (Score 1) 334

Leaving aside the fact it's rarely the case you can just sign away liability..

The GPL only applies if you decide to accept its conditions. Just installing Ubuntu doesn't mean you've agreed to the GPL and, as such, Canonical has anything to point at if your Nuclear Reactor has a meltdown because a bug in Unity swapped the "Drop fuel rods/Raise fuel rods" buttons by accident.

Sure, you might give up your right to sue if you subsequently redistribute Ubuntu to others. But even then... like I said, it's rare you can just sign away liability.

Comment Re:Wow (Score 1) 334

Scrollwheels used to work fine. Then some idiots at Canonical and GNOME decided to redesign the scrollbar, on the grounds we don't need it any more because we have scrollwheels, despite the fact that, actually, no, quite often we don't, and in the course of effing up the scrollbar they managed to eff up the mousewheel at the same time.

I still don't know why they didn't just revert to how things were. They fixed a problem that doesn't exist, and appear to be too stubborn to admit they made a mistake.

Comment Ya, and that will hold up... not (Score 3, Informative) 334

Here's the deal: All proprietary software has that in there as well. Every piece of software has an EULA that says they are responsible for nothing. Have a look at the MS EULA if you wish, there's all kinds of shit that supposedly limits liability, requires arbitration, etc, etc https://www.microsoft.com/en-u....

You can say it all you like, doesn't make it true. I can write an EULA saying "By using this software you agree I get to take your first born child," and yet if I tried, I'd still go to jail because just saying it in an EULA doesn't make it so. You can't disclaim all warranties, all damages, etc by law. For some info on it look up the Uniform Commercial Code.

Ok well all that aside when it comes to an issue like this courts are not known for applying the law one way in one case, and a different way in another. They don't say "Oh we like this nice OSS" and give it one rule and "We don't like this mean commercial software" and give it another. Thus if courts find that software makers are liable for incidental data loss then it will apply to ALL software. OSS has no special get out clause. You don't get to have it both ways where OSS gets a magic liability shield just by putting something in a text document but commercial EULAs aren't worth the bits used to store them.

In fact, OSS will be MORE vulnerable. Commercial companies have lawyers to help them wrangle out of things. They also can always go the real contract route, where you sign an actual contract up front with them before buying (you see this with some enterprise software) which can enforce more stringent terms. OSS that is just distributed on the web doesn't have all that.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 144

2014 called -

Forget Makerbot - did you warn them about the Paris attacks? The Ankara bombings? The Metrojet bombing? Did you tell them to have Robin Williams visit a psychiatrist? Did you tell them to have Carrie Fisher visit a cardiologist? Did you have them warn Ukraine not to underestimate Russia in Donbass? Did you tell Germanwings to up their game on psych evals? Did you tell them to teach Podesta basic email security? Did you tell about Brexit? Did you warn them about Trump? Did you have anyone tell Clinton that she'll be best known for email servers and a conspiracy theory about a pizza parlor's occult child pornography dungeon? Did you warn Bowling Green about the horrific terror attack, and the cruel irony that people will forget about it?

Comment You don't want this to succed (Score 4, Insightful) 334

Even if you are a rampant MS hater, this would set a really bad precedent: That software companies could be liable for data loss caused by things only incidentally related to their software. Talk about a ripe field for bullshit lawsuits.

Don't think OSS would be immune either. The argument of "but I didn't charge for it" doesn't eliminate liability. In fact, it would be something companies could use to try and bully OSS out of existence through bullshit lawsuits.

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