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Submission + - Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews

meghan elizabeth writes: Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head here who wants to know about that time you took ketamine.

A recent study by psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment, published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, asserts that not only would a computer-generated interviewer be less “time consuming, labor intensive, and costly to the Federal Government,” people are actually more likely to admit things to the robot.

Submission + - Biohackers Are Engineering Yeast to Make THC 1

meghan elizabeth writes: How do you get weed without the weed? By genetically engineering yeast to produce THC, of course.
Once theorized in a stoner magazine column more than a decade ago, a biotech startup working in Ireland is actively trying to transplant the genetic information that codes for both THC and another cannabinoid called CBD into yeast so that "marijuana" can be grown in a lab—no plants necessary.

Submission + - SpaceX Wins FAA Permission to Build a Spaceport in Texas

Jason Koebler writes: SpaceX just got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a 56.5-acre spaceport along the Gulf of Mexico on the Texas-Mexico border—a huge step toward actually making the spaceport a reality.
Wednesday, the FAA, which handles all commercial space launch permitting in the United States, issued what's known as a "Record of Decision" that suggests the agency would allow the company to launch 10 Falcon 9 rockets and two Falcon Heavy rockets per year out of the spaceport, through at least 2025.

Submission + - The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test at Detecting AI (

meghan elizabeth writes: If the Turing Test can be fooled by common trickery, it’s time to consider we need a new standard. The Lovelace Test is designed to be more rigorous, testing for true machine cognition. It was named it after Ada Lovelace, often described as the world's first computer programmer.

An intelligent computer passes the Lovelace Test only if it originates a “program” that it was not engineered to produce. The new program—it could be an idea, a novel, a piece of music, anything—can’t be a hardware fluke. Now here’s the kicker: The machine's designers must not be able to explain how their original code led to this new program.

Submission + - A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest with 1,000-Foot Walls 1

meghan elizabeth writes: University of Drexel physicist Rongjia Tao has a utopian proposal to build three massive, 1,000-foot high, 165-foot thick walls around the American Midwest, in order to keep the tornadoes out.

Building three unfathomably massive anti-tornado walls would count as the infrastructure project of the decade, if not the century. It would be also be exceedingly expensive. So is Tao serious? Absolutely.

Submission + - Ocean Plastic Is Home to a Surpisingly Large Variety of Life

meghan elizabeth writes: The world's oceans are turning into hellish plastic-filled soups. As it turns out, ocean plastic is now home to a surprisingly wide variety of life.

In a survey of just 68 small (1.7–24.3 mm)pieces of floating ocean plastic harvested from across Australia's coasts, researchers at the University of Western Australia found a whopping 19 genera of microorganisms that had previously not been described as living on marine plastic. Combined with dozens of other genera previously described, it's becoming ever-clearer that ocean plastic has become its own ecosystem.

Submission + - 3D Bioprinters Could Make Enhanced, Electricity-Generating 'Superorgans'

meghan elizabeth writes: Why stop at just mimicking biology when you can biomanufacture technologically improved humans? 3D-printed enhanced "superorgans"—or artificial ones that don’t exist in nature—could be engineered to perform specific functions beyond what exists in nature, like treating disease. Already, a bioprinted artificial pancreas that can regulate glucose levels in diabetes patients is being developed. Bioprinting could also be used to create an enhanced organ that can generate electricity to power electronic implants, like pacemakers.

Submission + - A Hacker, Not John Oliver's Trolls, Took Down the FCC Website

meghan elizabeth writes: When HBO host John Oliver called for internet trolls to deluge the Federal Communications Commission with comments aboutnet neutrality, he may not have expected for the FCC's site to get shut down.That, however, is exactly what happened,but it wasn’tbecause Oliver’s viewers overwhelmed the site with public comments, as was widely reported. In fact, the website was compromised by attackerswho effectively shut down the site’s commenting system using a database Denial of Service attack.

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