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Comment Just pull the plug (Score 1) 421

I have no idea whether we can create an AI, but let's suppose we can, and that we can create one that's more intelligent than a person. What do we do if it suddenly decided it wanted to go Ultron on us? Just pull the damn plug!

My guess is a nascent AI will live inside a giant supercomputer cluster somewhere, and will probably run on electricity. Which means that if its consciousness was interrupted by a power loss for even a microsecond, just like your regular computer will crash, an AI so deprived will die. It's possible an AI might be more robust than a biological mind, but I wouldn't count on it; deprive neurons of oxygen for but a few minutes and they're doomed. A superpowerful AI would presumably be a much more complicated thing than a computer OS, and my guess is it would react just as well to a power interruption as any desktop would if the power were disrupted.

Literally the only way an AI could destroy or seriously harm humanity is if it were hooked up to the world's power grid, or directly controlled nuclear reactors or nuclear missile launch codes. Yeah if we do something that stupid (looking at you Terminator 3) then it could destroy us. But heck, even a regular computer system that was so connected could wipe us out if it crashed or malfunctioned or was hacked.

So morale of the story? Let's deep-six the Internet of All Things while we still can. AI guys, knock yourself out and build the next Skynet - just make sure to surround it with an airgap. To the DoD, PG&E, et al, I say don't even think about hooking everything up to a single network!

Comment Any hope of seeing gravitational background? (Score 1) 64

IANAP, but from what I read in most models of inflation there should be primordial gravitational waves, which could be indirectly detected based on the polarization of the CMB (b-modes). These waves (if they exist) would go all the way back to the inflationary period itself.

The BICEP2 experiment was designed to look for these, and last year announced detecting b-modes in the CMB. Of course, as we now know thanks to Planck their discovery is probably due to dust polarization. Are there any current or planned experiments that could differentiate between dust polarization and potential gravitationally-caused polarization?
The Internet

Submission + - Internet Map Visualizes Relationships Between 350,000 Websites (theverge.com)

fredmeister writes: TheVerge reports the publication of The Internet Map, by Ruslan Enikeev, which visualizes the relative size and interconnections of over 350,000 websites in 196 countries. Of interest is the surprising size of Yahoo, the fact that Slashdot is in close orbit of Twitter, and that a 'vast porno cluster can be seen between Brazil and Japan'

Microwave Map of Entire Moon Revealed 82

Zothecula writes "The first complete microwave image of the Moon taken by Chinese lunar satellite Chang'E-1 has been revealed. Chang'E-1 is China's first scientific mission to explore planetary bodies beyond Earth and the on-board Lunar Microwave Radiometer has made it possible for the first time to globally map the Moon in microwave frequencies. Radar observations of the Moon are unable to provide thermal information, and microwave observations taken from Earth cannot reach the far side of the moon. So Chang'E-1's (CE-1) orbit was conducted at an altitude of 200km (124 miles) and allowed it to observe every location of the moon with a nadir view and at high spatial resolution."

Comment Re: Wasn't this answered long ago? (Score 1) 145

From what I've read, there's nothing wrong with the results of the Miller-Urey experiment, only whether its setup was actually similar to conditions on the early Earth. In other words, it is unlikely that Earth's original atmosphere had large amounts of methane, ammonia and hydrogen (e.g. a Jupiter-like atmosphere). More likely it consisted of elemental nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Using a mixture like that, very few organic compounds can be created by electrical discharges.

Disputed Island Disappears Into Sea 460

RawJoe writes "India and Bangladesh have argued for almost 30 years over control of a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have ended the argument for them: the island's gone. From the article: 'New Moore Island, in the Sunderbans, has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. "What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.'"

DX11 Tested Against DX9 With Dirt 2 Demo 201

MojoKid writes "The PC demo for Codemasters' upcoming DirectX 11 racing title, Dirt 2, has just hit the web and is available for download. Dirt 2 is a highly-anticipated racing sim that also happens to feature leading-edge graphic effects. In addition to a DirectX 9 code path, Dirt 2 also utilizes a number of DirectX 11 features, like hardware-tessellated dynamic water, an animated crowd and dynamic cloth effects, in addition to DirectCompute 11-accelerated high-definition ambient occlusion (HADO), full floating-point high dynamic range (HDR) lighting, and full-screen resolution post processing. Performance-wise, DX11 didn't take its toll as much as you'd expect this early on in its adoption cycle." Bit-tech also took a look at the graphical differences, arriving at this conclusion: "You'd need a seriously keen eye and brown paper envelope full of cash from one of the creators of Dirt 2 to notice any real difference between textures in the two versions of DirectX."

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."
PC Games (Games)

Map Editor, Photoshop Tool Coming To Braid 44

Erik J writes "Braid creator Jonathon Blow has revealed that a map editor and image tool will be added to the popular puzzle game. First, though, Braid will receive a patch to fix some issues players have reported. Blow explains: 'After I get a new version out in a few days that fixes the problems some people are having, and when more people have played/finished the game, I am going to post some documentation for the editor. The way it works is you can make levels with the editor (up to a full game, potentially) and run that with -universe later... also a tool will be released that lets you take Photoshop files and import them into the game, if you want to put new graphics in your levels.' It is unclear if these capabilities are coming only to PC or to the Xbox 360 version as well."

Mimicking Photosynthesis To Split Water 257

plantsdoitsocanwe writes "An international team of researchers led by Monash University has used chemicals found in plants to replicate a key process in photosynthesis, paving the way to a new approach that uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The breakthrough could revolutionize the renewable energy industry by making hydrogen — touted as the clean, green fuel of the future — cheaper and easier to produce on a commercial scale." This was a laboratory demonstration only and the researchers say they need to bring up the efficiency.

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