By BeauHD from Slashdot's robots-rule department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: A new survey on Europeans' attitudes towards technology found that a quarter of people would prefer it if policy decisions were made by artificial intelligence instead of politicians. The Center for the Governance of Change at Spain's IE University polled 2,500 adults in the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands in January. The results reflect an intense anxiety about the changes brought about by advances in tech, with more than half of respondents worried that jobs would be replaced by robots, and 70% saying that unchecked technological innovation could do more harm than good to society. Respondents also expressed concerns about the impact of digital relationships replacing human contact as more people spend time online. Perhaps most interestingly, a quarter of the respondents said they would prefer AI to guide decisions about governance of their country over politicians.
Around the world, citizens have expressed a growing disillusionment with democracy, and an increased skepticism that their voice has an impact on political decisions. But algorithmic decisions aren't a problem-free solution: they can be embedded with the prejudice and bias of their programmers or manipulated to achieve specific outcomes, making the results as potentially problematic as the ones made by humans. The study also found that respondents expected governments to reduce the disruption that technology might have on their lives with regulation, limits on automation, and support for people affected by job losses. This "highlights the paradox in which we live," the authors wrote. "People are disillusioned with governments, yet at the same time ask them to tackle the societal and economic negative effects that emerging technologies might have."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's denting-demand department
China's fleet of electric buses appear to be denting oil demand more than electric cars. "By the end of this year, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand will have been displaced by electric buses, most of it in China," reports Bloomberg, citing a new report published by BloombergNEF. "That's more than three times the displacement by all the world's passenger electric vehicles (a market where Tesla has a share of about 12 percent)." From the report: Despite rapid growth, the impact on the oil market from electric vehicles remains relatively small. Collectively, buses and electric vehicles account for about 3 percent of oil demand growth since 2011, and 0.3 percent of current global consumption, according to BloombergNEF figures and data from the International Energy Agency. Buses matter more because of their size and constant use. For every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day, BloombergNEF estimates. By comparison, 1,000 battery electric vehicles remove just 15 barrels of oil demand.
Still, the EV market's impact on oil consumption is only going to grow. By 2040, electric vehicles could displace much as 6.4 million barrels a day of demand, while fuel efficiency improvements will erase another 7.5 million barrels a day, according to BloombergNEF's May 2018 long-term EV outlook.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
Oculus VR unveiled the Oculus Rift S, a higher-resolution pair of virtual reality goggles that remove the need for external cameras by incorporating built-in tracking. The company partnered with Lenovo "to help it speed up manufacturing and to improve upon the design of the original Rift," reports The Verge. From the report: The result is a new VR device that is more comfortable, sports 2560 x 1440 resolution (or 1280 x 1440 per eye), and features the same inside-out tracking system that will ship on Oculus' upcoming standalone Quest headset, which the company calls Oculus Insight. That way, you won't need cumbersome cameras to enable full-body movement. In another twist, both the Quest and Rift S device will cost exactly the same at launch: $399, with the same pair of slightly modified Touch motion controllers included and the same integrated audio system (plus a headphone jack for external audio). That decision makes it clear that Oculus wants its VR platform to offer a choice not between two vastly different pieces of hardware, but by the more simple determination of whether you have the hardware to power PC-grade VR. The Rift S will support every existing and future game on the Rift platform. "The company is also enabling cross-buy and cross-play features," the report adds. "That way, you can buy a Quest and, at a later date, upgrade to a Rift S and still have your entire library intact. Additionally, multiplayer games that support both platforms will let players play one another, regardless of whether you're playing on a Quest or Rift device." The Rift S and Quest will be shipping this spring.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Services like Google's Stadia seem convenient, but they could completely change the past and future of video games, writes Rich Whitehouse, a video game preservationist and veteran programmer in the video game industry. From the story: For most of today's games, modding isn't an especially friendly process. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, people like me are digging into these games and reverse engineering data formats in order to create tools which allow users to mod the games. Once that data starts only existing on a server somewhere, we can no longer see it, and we can no longer change it. I expect some publishers/developers to respond to this by explicitly supporting modifications in their games, but ultimately, this will come with limitations and, most likely, censorship. As such, this represents an end of an era, where we're free to dig into these games and make whatever we want out of them. As someone who got their start in game development through modding, I think this sucks. It is also arguably not a healthy direction for the video game industry to head in. Dota 2, Counter-Strike, and other massively popular games that generate millions of dollars annually, all got their start as user-modifications of existing video games from big publishers. Will we still get the new Counter-Strike if users can't mod their games?
< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
To the casual observer, Britain -- an island nation that's no stranger to rain -- could not get much wetter. From a report: But, as it turns out, that's a fallacy. And if preventive steps are not taken, in less than three decades, Britain might run out of water, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, a public body responsible for conservation in England, said on Tuesday. "On the present projections, many parts of our country will face significant water deficits by 2050, particularly in the southeast, where much of the U.K. population lives," the agency chief, James Bevan, said at a conference on water use.
In about 20 to 25 years, demand could close in on supply in what Mr. Bevan called "the jaws of death -- the point at which, unless we take action to change things, we will not have enough water to supply our needs." The reasons, he said, were climate change and population growth. And he called for a change of attitude toward water conservation to help tackle the problem. "We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea," Mr. Bevan said. Many in Britain, citing the often rainy weather and expressing frustration with the infamously high levels of leakage from underground pipes, tend to belittle warnings about water shortages.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's getting-to-the-bottom-of-things department
As the Lion Air crew fought to control their diving Boeing 737 Max 8, they got help from an unexpected source: an off-duty pilot who happened to be riding in the cockpit. Bloomberg reports: That extra pilot, who was seated in the cockpit jumpseat, correctly diagnosed the problem and told the crew how to disable a malfunctioning flight-control system and save the plane, according to two people familiar with Indonesia's investigation. The next day, under command of a different crew facing what investigators said was an identical malfunction, the jetliner crashed into the Java Sea killing all 189 aboard.
The previously undisclosed detail on the earlier Lion Air flight represents a new clue in the mystery of how some 737 Max pilots faced with the malfunction have been able to avert disaster while the others lost control of their planes and crashed. The presence of a third pilot in the cockpit wasn't contained in Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee's Nov. 28 report on the crash and hasn't previously been reported. The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize. Further reading: Flawed Analysis, Failed Oversight: How Boeing, FAA Certified the Suspect 737 MAX Flight Control System.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-here department
After being delayed for the better part of one month, LLVM 8.0 officially is finally available. From a report: LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg announced the release a few minutes ago and summed up this half-year update to LLVM and its sub-project as: "speculative load hardening, concurrent compilation in the ORC JIT API, no longer experimental WebAssembly target, a Clang option to initialize automatic variables, improved pre-compiled header support in clang-cl, the /Zc:dllexportInlines- flag, RISC-V support in lld. And as usual, many bug fixes, optimization and diagnostics improvements, etc."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A recent experiment by Josh Frantz, a senior security consultant at Rapid7, suggests that users are taking few if any steps to protect their private information before releasing their used devices back out into the wild. From a report: For around six months, he collected used desktop, hard disks, cellphones and more from pawn shops near his home in Wisconsin. It turned out they contain a wealth of private data belonging to their former owners, including a ton of personally identifiable information (PII) -- the bread and butter of identity theft. Frantz amassed a respectable stockpile of refurbished, donated, and used hardware: 41 desktops and laptops, 27 pieces of removable media (memory cards and flash drives), 11 hard disks, and six cellphones. The total cost of the experiment was a lot less than you'd imagine. "I visited a total of 31 businesses and bought whatever I could get my hands on for a grand total of around $600," he said.
Frantz used a Python-based optical character recognition (OCR) tool to scan for Social Security numbers, dates of birth, credit card information, and other sensitive data. And the result was, as you might expect, not good. The pile of junk turned out to contain 41 Social Security numbers, 50 dates of birth, 611 email accounts, 19 credit card numbers, two passport numbers, and six driver's license numbers. Additionally, more than 200,000 images were contained on the devices and over 3,400 documents. He also extracted nearly 150,000 emails.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's prototype-software department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: AI is going to be huge for artists, and the latest demonstration comes from Nvidia, which has built prototype software that turns doodles into realistic landscapes. Using a type of AI model known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), the software gives users what Nvidia is calling a "smart paint brush." This means someone can make a very basic outline of a scene (drawing, say, a tree on a hill) before filling in their rough sketch with natural textures like grass, clouds, forests, or rocks. The results are not quite photorealistic, but they're impressive all the same. The software generates AI landscapes instantly, and it's surprisingly intuitive. For example, when a user draws a tree and then a pool of water underneath it, the model adds the tree's reflection to the pool. Nvidia didn't say if it has any plans to turn the software into an actual product, but it suggests that tools like this could help "everyone from architects and urban planners to landscape designers and game developers" in the future. The company has published a video showing off the imagery it handles particularly well.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Opera has added a free VPN service to its Android browser. The Norwegian browser maker, which went public last year, also addressed concerns about potential hidden costs of using its free VPN offering. From a report: As users become more cautious about their privacy, many have explored using VPN services. According to a GlobalWebIndex estimate, more than 650 million people worldwide use such tools to mask their identity online and fend off web trackers. Opera has long recognized this need; in 2016, it launched Opera VPN, a standalone VPN app for iOS and Android. A few months later, it baked that feature into its desktop browser. Last year, however, the company discontinued Opera VPN. Now, Opera is integrating the VPN service into its Android browser. Opera 51 for Android enables users to establish a private connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server using 256-bit encryption. Users can pick a server of their choice from a range of locations. Unlike several other VPN apps, Opera's offering does not require an account to use the service.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
"Ancient hunter-gathererers often had front teeth that met together, unlike today's more common alignment where the upper front teeth 'overbite' the lower front teeth," writes Slashdot reader omfglearntoplay. "This malocclusion is a result of changes to the ancestral human diet and introduction of soft foods, according to a new study published in the journal Science." ABC News reports: More than 2,000 different sounds exist across the roughly 7,000 to 8,000 languages that humans speak today, from ubiquitous cardinal vowels such as "a" and "i" to the rare click consonants found in southern Africa. Scientists had long thought this range of sounds was fixed in human biology since at least the emergence of our species about 300,000 years ago. However, in 1985, linguist Charles Hockett noted that labiodentals -- sounds produced by positioning the lower lip against the upper teeth, including "f" and "v" -- are overwhelmingly absent in languages whose speakers are hunter-gatherers. He suggested tough foods associated with such diets favored bites where teeth met edge on edge, and that people with such teeth would find it difficult to pronounce labiodentals, which are nowadays found in nearly half the world's languages.
< article continued at Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's let's-try-this-again department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: California State Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman on Monday announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 1163, which will require manufacturers like Apple to "make service literature and equipment or parts available to product owners and to regulated, independent repair shops." "For nearly 30 years California has required that manufacturers provide access to replacement parts and service materials for electronics and appliances to authorized repairers in the state. In that time, manufacturers have captured the market, controlling where and when we repair our property, and inflating the electronic waste stream," Eggman said. "The Right to Repair will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, creating a competitive market that will be cheaper for consumers and reduce the number of devices thrown in the trash."
The bill, officially filed as legislation relating to electronic waste, is Eggman's second try at right to repair legislation. Her first attempt, 2018's Bill 2110, was introduced last March and subsequently died in assembly that November. Like the pending Bill 1163, last year's tendered legislation was crafted as a play to reduce e-waste. Eggman's announcement includes a word-for-word reproduction of an explainer included in 2018's press release for the now-dead Bill 2110. In it the lawmaker argues that customers who are unable to pay for manufacturer repairs are forced to replace broken equipment like smartphones, TVs and home appliances. Beyond financial benefits, Eggman also says that the repair and reuse of electronics is more efficient than purchasing a new device, noting that such measures can "stimulate local economies instead of unsustainable overseas factories."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's working-together-for-a-better-future department
Bill Gates said he talked to Google researchers about the application of artificial-intelligence technology in healthcare. "While Microsoft and Google are arch-competitors in many areas, including cloud computing and artificial intelligence research, the visit is an example of how Gates' broad interest in technology trumps Microsoft's historical rivalries with other tech companies," reports CNBC. From the report: Gates talked about the use of AI in weapons systems and autonomous vehicles before arriving at the subject of health care. "In the medical field, you know, we just don't have doctors. Most people are born and die in Africa without coming near to a doctor," said Gates, who is co-chair of the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which concerns itself with improving global health among other things. "We're doing a lot of work with analyzing ultrasound, and we can do things like sex-blind the output, because we're not having anybody actually see the image. We can tell you what's going on without revealing the gender, which is, of course -- when you do that, it drives gendercide. And yet, we're doing the analysis, the medical understanding, in a much deeper way, and that's an example where it's all done with a lot of machine learning."
"I was meeting with the guys at Google who are helping us with this this morning, and there's some incredible promise in that field, where, in the primary health-care system, the amount of sophistication to do diagnosis and understand, for example, "Is this a high-risk pregnancy?' 'Yes.' 'Let's escalate that person to go to the hospital level,' even though you couldn't afford to do that on a widespread basis. So this stuff is going to be very domain-specific."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-from-the-dead department
So if you're a heavy MoviePass user, the plan may not be truly unlimited. In addition, you'll only be able to reserve tickets three hours before showtime, and you'll need to check in to the theater between 10 and 30 minutes before the movie starts. Worth noting: the $9.95 per month rate is available only if you pay for a full year, otherwise it will cost $14.95 for a limited time. The regular price will be $19.95 per month.Read Replies (0)