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The Power of Crowds and "Human Computation" ( 155

An anonymous reader writes with this Vice article about the power of crowds when it comes to solving complex problems. "Forget artificial intelligence: The key to solving the world's most complex problems could be human-machine collaboration. That's the rallying cry of researchers who penned an editorial in the journal Science championing "human computation"—systems that combine the talents of computers and humans. The authors claim these systems could ultimately tackle issues such as climate change and geopolitical conflict, all without the existential risks posed by true AI and the technological singularity.

Authors Pietro Michelucci and Janis Dickinson imagine a system that would provide a technical framework for ideas to be shared, analyzed, and revised until the best bubble to the top; Michelucci envisages it as a 'dynamic Wikipedia.' The idea would be to develop our understanding of real-world issues online, and test potential solutions in this computational space, then applying new knowledge back in the real world so as to actually effect some change. 'Imagine something like the game SimCity, but a thousand times more detailed, and then link in real-time sensors attached to the internet,' said Michelucci. 'The more faithful that model of the real world becomes, the more accurate it would be for testing out solutions and predicting outcomes.'"

Is Carbon Fiber Going Mainstream? 152

cartechboy (2660665) writes "To date, carbon fiber has been expensive and presents different production challenges than traditional steel and aluminum. But now it seems as if the advanced material is about to become truly mainstream--BMW has announced it plans to triple carbon fiber reinforced plastic output at its Moses Lake facility in Washington state. Currently, the SGL Group plant, a joint venture partner of BMW Group, has the production capacity for about 3,000 tons of carbon fiber per annum. Two productions lines are currently going with the output dedicated to BMW's i3 and i8 plug-in vehicles. SGL is already working on a third and fourth production line which would double production to 6,000 tons per year, but a fifth and sixth are on the way, set to triple capacity to 9,000 tons every year. This extra output won't be reserved exclusively for BMW's i range. Several future BMW models will make use of the lightweight material. Now the only question is how long before carbon fiber vehicle construction becomes as common as aluminum?"

Microsoft Quietly Fixes Windows XP Resource Hog Problem 246

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft indicated this week that it has fixed a Windows XP resource-hog problem associated with the system's SVCHOST.EXE processes. Windows XP users affected by this problem typically found that the operating system was using up system resources for 15 minutes to an hour after startup, making it difficult to use the machine during that period. The Microsoft Update team had vowed last month to spend the holiday break tackling the issue, which has plagued some users for years. The fix involved stopping the system from perpetually checking Internet Explorer updates. Microsoft indicated that the fix was rolled out on Tuesday."

Comment 49% is not their profit margin (Score 1) 272

Per a link in that very article, Verizon made $1.83 billion profit on sales of $28.6 billion last quarter. That's not a 49% profit margin. That's a 6% profit margin. They had a "49.0 percent segment EBITDA margin on service revenues (non-GAAP)". I don't claim to know exactly what that means, but its not profit margin the way I (and I think most other people) understand profit margins.

Comment Re:Might be a bluff, otherwise we've a lot of work (Score 2) 186

Don't kill software patents just to use H.264 though. Kill software patents because it is ridiculous that an algorithm is patentable just because it executes on a computer.

I never understood this one. If anything, clever algorithms should be the ONLY software I am allowed to patent (one-click is not clever, GIF's compression was). These people worked hard to come up with a novel idea that they then want to make money from. What is wrong with that exactly? Why SHOULDN'T they be able to patent them? We let people patent novel ways of building a mousetrap. If my mousetrap is virtual, why is that any different?

Comment Re:Downright evil (Score 1) 535

They offered patent indemnification from patents that 'Google' holds. That's nice, but that doesn't protect you from the patents that anyone else holds. H.264 has been around long enough that it is unlikely their are anymore submarine patents out there (or if there are, it is likely they can brought into the patent pool). Also, Microsoft has agreed to indemnify any user using H.264 on their platform. Google refuses to do the same for WebM.

Software patents are evil, but they are also very painful if you are the one sued. Personally, I would rather deal with the devil I know than the devil I don't.

Comment Re:And Yet, No Ogg Theora in IE (Score 1) 535


More like feathering ones own nest.
After all, Microsoft is a member of the H.264 Licensors. They stand to profit by the continued adoption of H.264.

Actually, I can't even see Google getting all fussed about this, because they will not have to pay a license fee in 2016 because its not part of Chrome proper. Microsoft may not need to pay either, since as members they may get a free pass (just speculation on my part there).

They don't profit. Microsoft is on record saying they pay more into the patent pool then they get paid. That's why the add-on only works on Windows. The OS already comes with a license for H.264, so you don't need another to run video in any particular application.

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