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Robotics

Cyborg Cockroach Sparks Ethics Debate 512

sciencehabit writes "A do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own 'cyborg' insects is sparking controversy amongst scienitsts and ethicists. RoboRoach #12 is a real cockroach that a company called BackyardBrains ships to school students. The students fit the insect with a tiny backpack, which contains electrodes that feed into its antennae and receive signals by remote control — via the Bluetooth signals emitted by smartphones. A simple swipe of an iPhone can turn the insect left or right. Though some scientists say the small cyborg is a good educational tool, others say it's turning kids into psychopaths." Fitting the backpack requires poking a hole in the roach's thorax and clipping its antennae to insert electrodes.
Businesses

Is Apple Turning Into the Next "Evil Empire"? 722

jira writes "'You may think you own your iPad or iPhone but in reality an invisible string links it back to Apple HQ' writes John Naughton. He adds: 'Umberto Eco once wrote a memorable essay arguing that the Apple Mac was a Catholic device, while the IBM PC was a Protestant one. His reasoning was that, like the Roman church, Apple offered a guaranteed route to salvation – the Apple Way – provided one stuck to it. PC users, on the other hand, had to take personal responsibility for working out their own routes to heaven.'"
Robotics

Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man 652

Strudelkugel writes "The NY Times has an article about a conference during which the potential dangers of machine intelligence were discussed. 'Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society's workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone. Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.' The money quote: 'Something new has taken place in the past five to eight years,' Dr. Horvitz said. 'Technologists are replacing religion, and their ideas are resonating in some ways with the same idea of the Rapture.'"

Microsoft Plans Flickr Competitor 156

An anonymous reader writes "Judging by newly posted job calls, Microsoft is now working on a Flickr-like online photo service. ZDNet reports: '"This feature team is building a next-generation photo and video sharing service that will compete with Flickr, SmugMug and other photo web solutions today. This is a 'v1' opportunity," the ad said. And video will be a part of the effort, too: "This role will work across the new Windows Live division with teams like Spaces, SkyDrive, Messenger and Hotmail to construct a winning strategy for Microsoft in photo and video sharing." Evidently, Microsoft sees the effort as an online extension of its current desktop technology.' Gundeep Hora, at CoolTechZone, feels that such a service is unlikely to succeed, and lays out the numerous challenges the company will face upon entering the market."

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