By BeauHD from Slashdot's self-driving-labs department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: In a laboratory that overlooks a busy shopping street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a robot is attempting to create new materials. A robot arm dips a pipette into a dish and transfers a tiny amount of bright liquid into one of many receptacles sitting in front of another machine. When all the samples are ready, the second machine tests their optical properties, and the results are fed to a computer that controls the arm. Software analyzes the results of these experiments, formulates a few hypotheses, and then starts the process over again. Humans are barely required.
The setup, developed by a startup called Kebotix, hints at how machine learning and robotic automation may be poised to revolutionize materials science in coming years. The company believes it may find new compounds that could, among other things, absorb pollution, combat drug-resistant fungal infections, and serve as more efficient optoelectronic components. The company's software learns from 3-D models of molecules with known properties. Kebotix uses several machine-learning methods to design novel chemical compounds. The company feeds molecular models of compounds with desirable properties into a type of neural network that learns a statistical representation of those properties. This algorithm can then come up with new examples that fit the same model. To strain out potentially useless materials, Kebotix uses another neural network and "then the company's robotic system tests the remaining chemical structures," reports MIT Technology Review. "The results of those experiments can be fed back into the machine-learning pipeline, helping it get closer to the desired chemical properties. The company dubs the overall system a 'self-driving lab.'"Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's like-it-or-not-it's-happening department
Samsung is one of the biggest smartphone makers to hold off on releasing smartphones with display notches. But at the company's developer conference today, Samsung confirmed that it's soon going to join in on the trend. "A slide during the keynote showed several notch designs that are almost certainly coming to Samsung-branded devices in 2019 and beyond," reports The Verge. From the report: Hassan Anjum, a director of product marketing at Samsung, took the stage to highlight Samsung's previous breakthroughs in reducing bezels and maximizing display size year after year. "We're going to keep going. The bezels are going to shrink even further," Anjum said. "We're going to push the limits with our new lineup: the Infinity U, V, and O displays. These are new concepts that are just around the corner, and I can't wait to tell you more about them." Infinity U: This basically looks identical to the Essential Phone's notch design. It's a small half oval that cuts down into the top middle of the display.
Infinity V: Similar to Infinity U, but with four edges instead of a curved half-oval.
Infinity O: This is a full circular cutout of the display and not so much a "notch" the top edge of the screen. Still, it seems like an eyesore and it's hard to imagine reaction to this being very positive. What's gained by that little area of display above it? Asus seems to be exploring a similar idea for its ZenFone 6, and feedback has been overwhelmingly bad.
New Infinity: This looks to be a completely notchless display. Anjum didn't discuss this one onstage, and the technology isn't quite there to allow for this design just yet. That said, Samsung could be exploring the idea of a slider phone that would house the selfie camera and other components somewhere outside their usual location.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's heads-up department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Police in the Netherlands said they decrypted more than 258,000 messages sent using IronChat, an app billed as providing end-to-end encryption that was endorsed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. In a statement published Tuesday, Dutch police said officers achieved a "breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication" in an investigation into money laundering. The encrypted messages, according to the statement, were sent by IronChat, an app that runs on a device that cost thousands of dollars and could send only text messages.
"Criminals thought they could safely communicate with so-called crypto phones which used the application IronChat," Tuesday's statement said. "Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. As a result, the police have been able to watch live the communication between criminals for some time." Blackbox-security.com, the site selling IronChat and IronPhone, quoted Snowden as saying: "I use PGP to say hi and hello, i use IronChat (OTR) to have a serious conversation," according to Web archives. Whether the endorsement was authentic or not wasn't immediately known. The site has been seized by Dutch police.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's extreme-measures department
Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool: "gait recognition" software that uses people's body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras. From a report: Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, "gait recognition" is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go. Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, even with their back turned or face covered. This can fill a gap in facial recognition, which needs close-up, high-resolution images of a person's face to work. "You don't need people's cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity," Huang said in an interview in his Beijing office. "Gait analysis can't be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we're analyzing all the features of an entire body."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's happy-diwali department
Unannounced, unadvertised freebie lands ahead of Microsoft's X018 conference. PUBG, the game that kicked off an international "battle royale" gaming sensation, is currently free for all Xbox One owners. From a report: Even if you do not have a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can head to this link and claim what appears to be a permanent copy of the game for your Microsoft Account. Timed trials of Xbox One games tend to be exclusive treats for XBLG subscribers. Bizarrely, the Konami soccer game PES 2019, which launched at a standard $60 retail price point in August, is also free to claim as of today. (Here's that link.) Of course, there is the caveat that these games' giveaways could be yanked from accounts by Microsoft at any moment. In the meantime, we suggest clicking first, asking questions later.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
puddingebola shares a report: WLinux is a $20 open-source, Debian-based distribution, designed to run on Windows 10's Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The WSL allows Windows 10 to run various GNU/Linux distros inside Windows as Microsoft Store apps, providing access to Ubuntu, openSUSE, Debian, Fedora, Kali Linux, and others. The WSL has disadvantages over a running a dedicated GNU/Linux system. For example, there's no official support for desktop environments or graphical applications, and I/O performance bottlenecks, but it is being improved over time. The developers of WLinux describe it as a "fast Linux terminal environment for developers", saying it is the first distribution to be "pre-configured and optimized to run specifically on Windows Subsystem for Linux". Announcing WLinux's availability, Microsoft program manager Tara Raj, called out the wlinux-setup tool, "which allows users to easily set up common developer toolchains, and removes unsupported features like systemd."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cutting-carbon department
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via MIT Technology Review: A lumpy disc of dark-gray steel covers a bench in the lab space of Boston Metal, an MIT spinout located a half-hour north of its namesake city. It's the company's first batch of the high-strength alloy, created using a novel approach to metal processing. Instead of the blast furnace employed in steelmaking for centuries, Boston Metal has developed something closer to a battery. Specifically, it's what's known as an electrolytic cell, which uses electricity -- rather than carbon -- to process raw iron ore.
If the technology works at scale as cheaply as the founders hope, it could offer a clear path to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from one of the hardest-to-clean sectors of the global economy, and the single biggest industrial source of climate pollution. After working on the idea for the last six years, the nine-person company is shifting into its next phase. If it closes a pending funding round, the startup plans to build a large demonstration facility and develop an industrial-scale cell for steel production. The process to produce steel results in around 1.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere annually, "adding up to around 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to a recent paper in Science," MIT Technology Review reports.
The electrolytic cell that Boston Metal developed was realized after it was proposed to be used to extract oxygen from the moon's surface. "The by-product was molten metal," the report says. "But producing something like steel would require an anode made from cheap materials that wouldn't corrode under high temperatures or readily react with iron oxide. In 2013, [MIT chemist] Sadoway and MIT metallurgy researcher Antoine Allanore published a paper in Nature concluding that anodes made from chromium-based alloys might check all those boxes."Read Replies (0)