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Scientists Turn Docile Mice Into Ruthless Hunters ( 76

BenBoy writes: A couple of years ago, a story surfaced about smarter mice: Scientists Create Super-intelligent Mice, Discover They're Also Very Laid Back. Well, implicit challenge accepted! 2017 brings us a report from Cell, via The Scientist: "Neural circuits in the amygdala are responsible for predatory behavior in mice, according to a study published January 12 in Cell. Using optogenetics, a technique that uses light to turn neural circuits on and off, a group of researchers led by neuroscientist Ivan de Araujo of Yale University was able to turn docile mice into ruthless hunters. Earlier research revealed that the amygdala, an almond-shaped brain structure most commonly linked to fear, was active when rats were hunting and feeding. To see whether this brain region was actually controlling predatory behavior, Araujo and colleagues decided to use optogenetics to selectively activate specific neurons in mice, with light. When the researchers activated the amygdala, docile mice attacked everything from bottle caps to live insects. Even when there was no prey in sight, the mice displayed feeding behavior -- moving their jaws and lifted their paws as if holding a piece of food. Once the light was switched off, the animals went back to peacefully strolling around their cages." Nuclear death-mice are, we assume, right around the corner.

Amazon, NVIDIA and The CIA Want To Teach AI To Watch Us From Space ( 60

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Satellite operator DigitalGlobe is teaming up with Amazon, the venture arm of the CIA, and NVIDIA to make computers watch the Earth from above and automatically map our roads, buildings, and piles of trash. MIT Technology Review reports: "In a joint project, DigitalGlobe today released satellite imagery depicting the whole of Rio de Janeiro to a resolution of 50 centimeters. The outlines of 200,000 buildings inside the city's roughly 1,900 square kilometers have been manually marked on the photos. The SpaceNet data set, as it is called, is intended to spark efforts to train machine-learning algorithms to interpret high-resolution satellite photos by themselves. DigitalGlobe says the SpaceNet data set should eventually include high-resolution images of half a million square kilometers of Earth, and that it will add annotations beyond just buildings. DigitalGlobe's data is much more detailed than publicly available satellite data such as NASA's, which typically has a resolution of tens of meters. Amazon will make the SpaceNet data available via its cloud computing service. Nvidia will provide tools to help machine-learning researchers train and test algorithms on the data, and CosmiQ Works, a division of the CIA's venture arm In-Q-Tel focused on space, is also supporting the project." "We need to develop new algorithms for this data," says senior vice president at DigitalGlobe, Tony Frazier. He goes on to say that health and aid programs are to benefit from software that is able to map roads, bridges and various other infrastructure. The CEO of Descartes Labs, Mark Johnson, a "startup that predicts crop yields from public satellite images," says the data that is collected "should be welcome to startups and researchers," according to MIT Technology Review. "Potential applications could include estimated economic output from activity in urban areas, or guiding city governments on how to improve services such as trash collections, he says."

Password Sharing Is a Federal Crime, Appeals Court Rules ( 165

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Motherboard: An appeals court ruled Wednesday that sharing passwords can be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a catch-all "hacking" law that has been widely used to prosecute behavior that bears no resemblance to hacking. Motherboard reports: "In this particular instance, the conviction of David Nosal, a former employee of Korn/Ferry International research firm, was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who said that Nosal's use of a former coworker's password to access one of the firm's databases was an 'unauthorized' use of a computer system under the CFAA. In the majority opinion, Judge Margaret McKeown wrote that 'Nosal and various amici spin hypotheticals about the dire consequences of criminalizing password sharing. But these warnings miss the mark in this case. This appeal is not about password sharing.' She then went on to describe a thoroughly run-of-the-mill password sharing scenario -- her argument focuses on the idea that Nosal wasn't authorized by the company to access the database anymore, so he got a password from a friend -- that happens millions of times daily in the United States, leaving little doubt about the thrust of the case. The argument McKeown made is that the employee who shared the password with Nosal 'had no authority from Korn/Ferry to provide her password to former employees.' At issue is language in the CFAA that makes it illegal to access a computer system 'without authorization.' McKeown said that 'without authorization' is 'an unambiguous, non-technical term that, given its plain and ordinary meaning, means accessing a protected computer without permission.' The question that legal scholars, groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and dissenting judge Stephen Reinhardt ask is an important one: Authorization from who?"

Google Patents Self-Driving Car That Glues Pedestrians To The Hood In A Crash ( 203

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Google just got a patent for a special kind of coating on self-driving cars that could help prevent pedestrian injuries. The company wants to coat autonomous vehicles with a sticky substance so that if they hit a pedestrian, the person would be glued to the car instead of flying off. "[The pedestrian] is not thrown from the vehicle, thereby preventing a secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object," says the patent, granted on Tuesday. Google explains that an "adhesive layer" would be placed on the hood, front bumper and front side panels of a car. A thin coating would protect it until an impact occurred. Google is paying Arizona residents $20 per hour to test its self-driving vehicles.

Comment Re: wonder why (Score 1) 688

And the radical right had Hitler

I'd be tempted to put Stalin on the right

Hitler rose on the foundations built by socialists. If you think Stalin rose on the foundations laid by Lenin then that would put him in the same category with Hitler. Check out "The Road to Serfdom" for an informed account.

Socialists break down social order and bring poverty. It all goes downhill from there.

Comment Re: Nope (Score 1) 341

Your riposte tells me you might not be aware of just how much the commies spied on their own.

The Stasi are just one example of a practice that is/was a hallmark of all communist states.

These guys didn't abuse their power, their entire purpose was to take snitching and spying on your own to an industrial level.

Comparing current US security institutions' spying to commie spying can be rightfully construed as insulting to the employees of said institutions.

The woman is spot on.

Comment Re: If you can't open it, do you really own it? (Score 1, Interesting) 381

Screw my mod points; had to answer.

"Just Works*" that Apple provide over being able to fix something that is broken.

I have had many laptops, tablets and phones over the years, including: Toshiba laptop, Dell XPS, Dell Latitude x4 over the years, Lenovo Thinkpad x2, Mac Book Pro and Air, Nokia phones galore, iPhones galore, iPad, Samsung Tab, Sony Netbook, Asus Eee, early Samsung smartphone.

Of all these, by far and away the Apple, Thinkpad, and Asus products have been problem free in terms of reliability. The rest have had different components and/or software die on them, sometimes this could be fixed and sometimes not. Overall, some of the worst offenders were Sony, Toshiba, and some of the early and the later Nokias.

The only Apple product failures I have had were due to physical damage. The Mac Air took a swim in champagne (yes), several iPhones shattered/drowned. I have mostly been able to fix these devices on my own, but I would not be angry if I couldn't as long as I could take them in to get fixed somewhere. They have still proved to be more robust than most competition.

While I appreciate that other manufacturers make things that can be fixed, I have to admit that I prefer stuff that doesn't break in the first place. Say what you will, I have lately opted to buy only Apple stuff and make sure I buy Apple Care or other insurance for the accidents that I know can happen. I'm not worried about them breaking on me. Even without serviceability, they still beat the competition on reliability.

Comment Re:icehouse earth (Score 2) 393

The tricky part is-- we've sort of built our civilization around the climate we currently have. Flooding the seacoast, turning farmland into desert (and tundra into farmland) all these would disrupt our civilization abruptly.

Thinking that this is any different than in prehistoric times is naive. As it turns out, much of Middle East's cities were erected around waterways that no longer exist. They didn't disappear because of man-made climate change. This is not a new problem, only this time around we can influence the rate of change to a small degree. What is debatable is whether the degree of control that we do have is enough to matter, and even if it is, is it good value for money and good use of our limited science/engineering resources relative to bigger problems, like pollution and garbage.

Comment Re:Faithfully? (Score 4, Interesting) 158

Mod this up. Any lawyer will have had this in their first class on witnesses. Memories are known to be very unreliable.

Years ago, I taught myself hypnosis, based on reading a book about it. One thing that struck me in that book was the statement that on a subconscious level, our brain cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy. It is only our consciousness (the linear reasoning part) that filters the fantasy bits and supplies appropriate metadata. As any beginner hyptnotist will learn, consciousness is off much more often than we realize.

From my own experiments, erasing someones memory of something while they are under is one of the best working mechanisms that become available to the hypnotist. When I told folks to forget my name and planted a different name in its place, the information persisted even past the session. I had to show my ID to convince the person that their memory of my name has been manipulated.

The ethical implications of this mechanism are obvious. In fact, I haven't been able to proceed in my "studies" of the phenomenon precisely because I wasn't able to deal with using the mechanism without the subject's knowledge.

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