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Zuckerberg To Build Personal AI For Help At Home and Work (facebook.com) 115

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is planning on building his own personal assistant AI, recreating a system similar to that of the Jarvis butler featured in Marvel's Iron Man franchise. Zuckerberg commented that as a personal challenge for 2016, he would construct a "simple AI" to assist him at home and at work, and share his progress the course of the year. The Facebook founder said he build on existing technology to develop his AI, before teaching it to understand his voice to be able to control home appliances, such as a music system, lighting, and air conditioning.

Google: Poor Kids Might Grasp Macbeth If They Code Like Kids At $43K/Yr School 144

theodp writes: While the CollegeBoard warned against drawing a causal link between learning computer science and improved learning in other subjects, Google has no such qualms. "CS is much more than computer programming and coding," writes the Google for Education blog in a post announcing a new gateway for Google's CS education opportunities. "It's a gateway to creativity and innovation not just in technology but in fields as diverse as music, sports, the arts, and health." Among the technology showcased at the gateway is Pencil Code, a programming tool for beginning coders that Google boasts is already helping kids attending the $43K-a-year Beaver Country Day School to brush up their Shakespeare by having students create interactive chatbots that play the part of characters like Lady Macbeth. "After completing this code I knew more and understood more of the play," begins one student's featured testimonial. "It allowed me to interpret Macbeth in a new way that I had never thought of before. I really enjoyed using Pencil Code because it made coding simpler for me and helped me try something new." Elsewhere on its CS gateway, Google laments that a new Google-Gallup Research Study shows that 'Blacks and low-income are less likely to have access' to such computer science opportunities.

Uber Revises Privacy Policy, Wants More Data From Users 144

itwbennett tips news that Uber has amended its privacy policy, making it much simpler to read and understand. But the policy also includes changes to what data Uber collects about its riders. Beginning July 15th, the Uber phone app will keep track of a rider's location while it's running in the background. Uber says riders will be able to opt out of this tracking. The policy changes also allow for advertising using the rider's contact list: "for example the ability to send special offers to riders' friends or family." The revision of Uber's privacy policy followed complaints at the end of last year that the company was overstepping its bounds.
United States

Reason: How To Break the Internet (in a Bad Way) 489

Widespread public sentiment favors the FCC's move to impose rules intended to establish "net neutrality"; an anonymous reader writes with a skeptical viewpoint: "No decent person," write Geoffrey Manne and Ben Sperry in a special issue of Reason, "should be *for* net neutrality." Across the board, the authors write, letting the FCC dictate ISP business practices will result in everything they say they're trying to avoid. For instance, one of the best ways to route around a big firm's brand recognition is to buy special treatment in the form of promotions, product placement and the like (payola, after all, is how rock and roll circumvented major label contempt for the genre). That will almost certainly be forbidden under the FCC's version of neutrality.

Police Use DNA To Generate a Suspect's Face 100

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times has a pair of articles about a technology now being used in police investigations: computer generation of a suspect's face from only their DNA. Law enforcement in South Carolina had no pictures or descriptions of a man who murdered a mother and her daughter, but they had some of his DNA. From this, a company named Parabon NanoLabs used a technique called DNA phenotyping to create a rough portrait of the suspect's facial features, which the police then shared with the public.

The accuracy of these portraits is still an area of hot debate — most of them look rather generic. The NY Times staff tested it with a couple of their employees, circulating the DNA-inspired portraits and seeing if people could guess who it was supposed to be. None of the ~50 employees were able to identify reporter John Markoff, and only about 10 were able to identify video journalist Catherine Spangler. But even though the accuracy for a person's entire face is low, techniques for specific attributes, like eye color, have improved greatly. Of course, the whole situation raises a slew of civil liberties questions: "What traits are off limits? Should the authorities be able to test whether a suspect has a medical condition or is prone to violence should such testing be possible?"

Facebook Targets Office Workers With Facebook At Work Service 112

An anonymous reader writes "Facebook unveiled its rumored "at Work" service to a handful of partners today. Facebook at Work puts co-workers into a standalone social network and allows them to share posts and images appropriate for the workplace but looks and acts just like regular Facebook. "We have found that using Facebook as a work tool makes our work day more efficient," Lars Rasmussen, Facebook's director of engineering, tells WIRED. "You can get more stuff done with Facebook than any other tool that we know of, and we'd like to make that available to the whole world.""

Eric Schmidt: To Avoid NSA Spying, Keep Your Data In Google's Services 281

jfruh writes Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told a conference on surveillance at the Cato Institute that Edward Snowden's revelations on NSA spying shocked the company's engineers — who then immediately started working on making the company's servers and services more secure. Now, after a year and a half of work, Schmidt says that Google's services are the safest place to store your sensitive data.

VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding 225

theodp writes: Back in 2012, Computerworld blasted Vice President Joe Biden for his ignorance of the H-1B temporary work visa program. But Joe's got his H-1B story and he's sticking to it, characterizing the visa program earlier this month in a speech to the National Governors Association as "apprenticeships" of sorts that companies provide to foreign workers to expand the Information Technology industry only after proving there are no qualified Americans to fill the jobs. Biden said he also learned from his talks with tech's top CEOs that 200,000 of the jobs that companies provide each year to highly-skilled H-1B visa holders could in fact be done by Americans with no more than a two-year community college degree.
United States

NSA General Counsel Insists US Companies Assisted In Data Collection 103

Related to yesterday's story about the NSA, Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes with this excerpt from The Guardian: "Rajesh De, the NSA general counsel, said all communications content and associated metadata harvested by the NSA under a 2008 surveillance law occurred with the knowledge of the companies – both for the internet collection program known as Prism and for the so-called 'upstream' collection of communications moving across the Internet. ... nearly all the companies listed as participating in the program – Yahoo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL – claimed they did not know about a surveillance practice described as giving NSA vast access to their customers’ data. Some, like Apple, said they had 'never heard' the term Prism. De explained: 'Prism was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term,' De said. 'Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive.'"
The Military

Military Robots Expected To Outnumber Troops By 2023 177

Lucas123 writes "Autonomous robots programmed to scan city streets with thermal imaging and robotic equipment carriers created to aid in transporting ammunition and other supplies will likely outnumber U.S. troops in 10 years, according to robotic researchers and U.S. military officials. 5D Robotics, Northrop Grumman Corp., QinetiQ, HDT Robotics and other companies demonstrated a wide array of autonomous robots during a display at Ft. Benning in Georgia last month. The companies are already gaining traction in the military. For example, British military forces, use QinetiQ's 10-pound Dragon Runner robot, which can be carried in a backpack and then tossed into a building or a cave to capture and relay surveillance video. 'Robots allow [soldiers] to be more lethal and engaged in their surroundings,' said Lt. Col. Willie Smith, chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning, Ga. 'I think there's more work to be done but I'm expecting we'll get there.'"

Neuroscientist: First-Ever Human Head Transplant Is Now Possible 522

dryriver writes "Technical barriers to grafting one person's head onto another person's body can now be overcome, says Dr. Sergio Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group. In a recent paper, Canavero outlines a procedure modeled on successful head transplants which have been carried out in animals since 1970. The one problem with these transplants was that scientists were unable to connect the animals' spinal cords to their donor bodies, leaving them paralyzed below the point of transplant. But, says Canavero, recent advances in re-connecting spinal cords that are surgically severed mean that it should be technically feasible to do it in humans. (This is not the same as restoring nervous system function to quadriplegics or other victims of traumatic spinal cord injury.)"

Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings 1388

New submitter Bugs42 writes "CNN.com has an opinion piece on the possibility of cramming guns full of computers and sensors to disable them in certain buildings or around children. The author, in true mainstream media fashion, completely fails to see any possible technical problems with this. Quoting: 'How might this work? Start with locational "self-awareness." Guns should know where they are and if another gun is nearby. Global positioning systems can meet most of the need, refining a gun's location to the building level, even within buildings. Control of the gun would remain in the hand of the person carrying it, but the ability to fire multiple shots in crowded areas or when no other guns are present would be limited by software that understands where the gun is being used. Guns should also be designed to sense where they are being aimed. Artificial vision and optical sensing technology can be adapted from military and medical communities. Sensory data can be used by built-in software to disable firing if the gun is pointed at a child or someone holding a child."

USPTO Head: Current Patent Litigation Is 'Reasonable' 153

elashish14 writes "David Kappos, head of the USPTO, today provided a strong defense of the patent system, particularly in the mobile industry. In his address, he implored critics, 'Give the [America Invents Act] a chance to work.' He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry and that the U.S. patent system is 'the envy of the world,' though he was likely only referring to the envy of the world's lawyers. Perhaps the most laughable quote from his address: 'The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.'"

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