By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An 18-year-old from Ohio who famously inoculated himself against his mother's wishes in December says he
attributes his mother's anti-vaccine ideology to a single source: Facebook [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: Ethan Lindenberger, a high school senior, testified Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and underscored the importance of "credible" information. In contrast, he said, the false and deep-rooted beliefs his mother held -- that vaccines were dangerous -- were perpetuated by social media. Specifically, he said, she turned to anti-vaccine groups on social media for evidence that supported her point of view. In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Lindenberger said Facebook, or websites that were linked on Facebook, is really the only source his mother ever relied on for her anti-vaccine information.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
A new computing tool developed by Google will let developers build AI-powered apps. The upside is it's doing so without sucking up all of your information. From a report: Google on Wednesday released TensorFlow Federated, open-source software that incorporates federated learning, an AI training system. It works by using data that's spread out across a lot of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to teach itself new tricks. But rather than send the data back to a central server for study, it learns on your phone or tablet itself and sends only the lesson back to the app maker.
Federated learning runs "part of the machine learning algorithm right next to where the data is on the device," Alex Ingerman, a product manager at Google Research, said in an interview. The algorithm applies what it already knows to the data on your phone, such as suggesting replies to emails, and creates a summary of what it learned in the process to send back.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fascinating department
Jessica Roy, writing for LA Times: Thirty years ago, Maxis released "SimCity" for Mac and Amiga. It was succeeded by "SimCity 2000" in 1993, "SimCity 3000" in 1999, "SimCity 4" in 2003, a version for the Nintendo DS in 2007, "SimCity: BuildIt" in 2013 and an app launched in 2014. Along the way, the games have introduced millions of players to the joys and frustrations of zoning, street grids and infrastructure funding -- and influenced a generation of people who plan cities for a living.
For many urban and transit planners, architects, government officials and activists, "SimCity" was their first taste of running a city. It was the first time they realized that neighborhoods, towns and cities were things that were planned, and that it was someone's job to decide where streets, schools, bus stops and stores were supposed to go.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's case-closed department
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine isn't associated with an increased risk of autism even among kids who are at high risk because they have a sibling with the disorder, a Danish study suggests. From a report: Concerns about a potential link between the MMR vaccine and autism have persisted for two decades, since a controversial and ultimately retracted 1998 paper claimed there was a direct connection. Even though subsequent studies haven't tied inoculation to autism, fear about the risk has weighed on parents so much in several communities across Europe and the U.S. that vaccination rates have been too low to prevent a spate of measles outbreaks.
In the current study, researchers examined data on 657,461 children. During this time, 6,517 kids were diagnosed with autism. Kids who got the MMR vaccine were seven percent less likely to develop autism than children who didn't get vaccinated, researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "Parents should not skip the vaccine out of fear for autism," said lead study author Dr. Anders Hviid of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark. "The dangers of not vaccinating includes a resurgence in measles which we are seeing signs of today in the form of outbreaks," Hviid said by email.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Gorilla-Glass-to-the-rescue department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: According to Wired, glass-maker Corning is "working on ultrathin, bendable glass that's 0.1 millimeters thick and can bend to a 5 millimeter radius" that may be usable for smartphone displays within two years. Corning produces Gorilla Glass used in Apple's iPhones, as well as in phones made by other manufacturers like LG, Asus, OnePlus, Nokia, Samsung, and more. Developing Gorilla Glass that can bend or fold like the materials used for the Samsung Galaxy Fold display or other foldable phone concepts could address some shortcomings endemic to these early designs.
The folding phones you see in headlines and gadget blog galleries today rely on plastic polymers that may scratch easier or have other undesirable properties. Generally, smartphone-makers that have announced foldable phones have not allowed us to test-drive these phones, which is otherwise normal practice for traditional smartphone product unveilings. That may be primarily because the software is not there yet, but it could also be that the companies anticipate negative reactions to the plastic displays, which have not been standard in flagship phones for a decade. [...] John Bayne, Corning's head of Gorilla Glass, and another expert Wired spoke with believe that Corning (or a competitor like ACG) will have foldable glass ready for use in foldable smartphones within a couple of years. But it's a difficult journey. "We have glasses we've sampled to customers, and they're functional," Bayne told Wired. "But they're not quite meeting all the requirements. People either want better performance against a drop event or a tighter bend radius. We can give them one or the other; the key is to give them both."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's learning-and-memory department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists have discovered that broken DNA builds up in brain cells in the daytime and repair work reverses the damage only during sleep. For an act so universal, sleep has enormous benefits. Found in organisms from flies to worms and jellyfish, it restores the body and helps learning and memory. But despite extensive research, the purpose of sleep is still mysterious. Lior Appelbaum from Bar-Ilan University and his student, David Zada, reasoned that if sleep had evolved in all organisms with a nervous system, then it might be working at the level of individual neurons.
To find out, they genetically engineered small, transparent zebrafish so the chromosomes in their neurons carried colorful chemical tags. The researchers then used a powerful, specialized microscope to watch how the chromosomes moved in the neurons, and how often DNA was broken, when the fish were awake and asleep. When the fish were awake, the chromosomes did not move much and broken strands of DNA built up in the neurons, as part of the normal wear and tear of life. If the fish were sleep-deprived, by tapping on their tank for example, some of the neurons accumulated so much genetic damage they were in danger of dying off. But, when the fish fell asleep, the picture changed. The scientists noticed that the chromosomes changed shape far more often in sleeping fish, and that DNA damage in their neurons plummeted. The same happened when the researchers added a sleep-inducing drug to the tank, causing the fish to fall asleep in the daytime. "Appelbaum said that chromosomes are constantly changing shape to allow the cells' natural repair mechanisms to mend DNA damage at different points," the report adds. "When awake, the repair work cannot keep up with the rate at which damage builds up, but in the calm hours of sleep, the repair mechanisms have a chance to get on top of the job." The study has been published in Nature Communications.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's off-the-hook department
Uber is not criminally liable in a March 2018 crash in Tempe, Arizona, in which one of the company's self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian, prosecutors said on Tuesday. "The Yavapai County Attorney said in a letter made public that there was 'no basis for criminal liability' for Uber, but that the back-up driver, Rafaela Vasquez, should be referred to the Tempe police for additional investigation," reports Reuters. From the report: Vasquez, the Uber back-up driver, could face charges of vehicular manslaughter, according to a police report in June. Vasquez has not previously commented and could not immediately be reached on Tuesday. Based on a video taken inside the car, records collected from online entertainment streaming service Hulu and other evidence, police said last year that Vasquez was looking down and streaming an episode of the television show "The Voice" on a phone until about the time of the crash. The driver looked up a half-second before hitting Elaine Herzberg, 49, who died from her injuries. Police called the incident "entirely avoidable."
Yavapai County Attorney's Office, which examined the case at the request of Maricopa County where the accident occurred, did not explain the reasoning for not finding criminal liability against Uber. Yavapai sent the case back to Maricopa, calling for further expert analysis of the video to determine what the driver should have seen that night. The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are still investigating.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
Slashdot reader and Motherboard writer dmoberhaus was the final participant in the world's first brain imaging study on salvinorin A, the psychoactive chemical in salvia divinorum. He wrote about what it's like to participate in a psychedelic drug trial, and why he volunteered to smoke the world's least favorite hallucinogen for science. Here's an excerpt from his report: I was first introduced to salvia when I was a freshman in high school, and by the time I graduated I had smoked it about a dozen times. In retrospect, I would not describe a single one of those experiences as "pleasant," "enjoyable," or "fun." The last time I used salvia was almost a decade ago, and during that trip I became convinced that I had been irreversibly transformed into a suspension bridge. Good times. Despite a history of bad experiences with the substance, I volunteered for the Johns Hopkins salvinorin A study out of a suspicion that salvia probably had more to offer than what I experienced in high school. As a teen, each of my salvia experiences was under less than ideal conditions -- usually at a party or in a park after curfew. These sorts of situations lend themselves to paranoia and anxiety, which don't mix well with a strong dissociative hallucinogen. I figured if the settings were changed to a relaxed environment where I was surrounded by medical professionals, perhaps the nature of the trip would as well.
< article continued at Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's heads-up department
Google Maps is warning drivers in Canada as they approach some photo radar camera locations. "The feature, which is currently being rolled out by Google, allows users to see speed limits, speed cameras and mobile speed cameras on the map before they leave," reports HuffPost Canada. "It also gives a verbal warning -- an automated voice saying 'speed camera ahead' -- when drivers are near a fixed speed camera." From the report: Police in Calgary say the feature is useful to them. "The biggest thing we love ... is we place those (cameras) by collision statistics," said Sgt. Joerg Gottschling of the Calgary Police Service traffic section. "If we do a new site, if we are going to install a new camera, the next site is always selected by the next highest crash site. "Our intersection locations are all determined where we are trying to eliminate collisions."
Gottschling said they've had up to a 50 per cent reduction in collisions in some areas where those cameras are stationed. With Google Maps, he noted, all drivers approaching the fixed camera intersection get the warning. "That camera is only facing one way," said Gottschling. "Let's say it's only facing northbound, but you can approach southbound or eastbound ... you are still going to get Google telling you caution. "So you're going to go slowly and cautiously through there which, lo and behold, is actually what we want." Google said in an email that there will also be an ability for android users to report mobile speed cameras and stationary cameras.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-ready department
Slashdot reader Lije Baley writes: As the unusually long cold snap in the Pacific Northwest has both increased electric demand while decreasing snow melt and stream flows needed for hydroelectric generation, local power companies are asking their customers to conserve energy. Meanwhile, the region's last remaining nuclear plant has been a critical low-carbon resource for keeping the lights and heat on, as Forbes reports. "As reported by Annette Cary of the Tri-City Herald, the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets the electricity produced at the nuclear plant near Richland, asked Energy Northwest, the operator of the power plant, not to do anything that would prevent the plant from producing 100% power at all times during an unusually cold February across the state that increased the demand for electricity â" no maintenance activities, even on its turbine generator and in the transformer yard," reports Forbes. "Don't do anything that would stop the reliable and constant power output of nuclear."
"'No Touch' is requested by BPA when unusually hot or cold weather increases the demand for electricity, notes Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest," the report adds. "Many regional transmission and system operators across the United States ask nuclear plants to keep running during extreme weather because nuclear plants are the least affected by bad weather. Columbia Generating Station has the capability to produce 1,207 MW, which is enough energy to power Seattle. And it is usually putting out all of this power at all times. Energy Northwest already has a diverse mix of non-fossil fuel generating systems that, in aggregate, produce over 10 billion kWhs of electricity each year while emitting less than 20 gCO2/kWh. The No Touch order at the Columbia Generating Station is expected to be lifted soon, although continued cold weather could require it to keep producing max power."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's just-outta-reach department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Encryption should have limits. That's the message FBI Director Christopher Wray had for cybersecurity experts Tuesday. The technology that scrambles up information so only intended recipients can read it is useful, he said, but it shouldn't provide a playground for criminals where law enforcement can't reach them. "It can't be a sustainable end state for there to be an entirely unfettered space that's utterly beyond law enforcement for criminals to hide," Wray said during a live interview at the RSA Conference, a major cybersecurity gathering in San Francisco. His comments are part of a back-and-forth between government agencies and security experts over the role of encryption technology in public safety. Agencies like the FBI have repeatedly voiced concerns like Wray's, saying encryption technology locks them out of communications between criminals. Cybersecurity experts say the technology is crucial for keeping data and critical computer systems safe from hackers. Letting law enforcement access encrypted information just creates a backdoor hackers will ultimately exploit for evil deeds, they say.
Wray, a former assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice who counts among his biggest cases prosecutions against Enron officials, acknowledged Tuesday that encryption is "a provocative subject." As the leader of the nation's top law enforcement agency, though, he's focused on making sure the government can carry out criminal investigations. Hackers in other countries should expect more investigations and indictments, Wray said. "We're going to follow the facts wherever they lead, to whomever they lead, no matter who doesn't like it," he said. To applause, he added, "I don't really care what some foreign government has to say about it."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's spot-the-differences department
Last December, Microsoft announced that it has embraced Google's Chromium open source project for Edge development on the desktop, a move that shocked many. We now have some leaked screenshots of the browser in its current state, and they appear to show a browser resembling Google Chrome. Neowin reports: A lot of the design language and icons have remained similar to what they were like before, but there are definitely many changes that will be familiar to Chrome users. For one, the options to see all your tabs and to set aside the currently open tabs have been removed compared to the current version of Edge. To the right of the address bar, you'll be able to find your extensions, as well as your profile picture similar to what Chrome looks like. Bing is integrated into the browser -- as you'd expect of a Microsoft-made browser -- and the New Tab background can be set to rotate based on Bing's image of the day. Scrolling down will reveal a personalized news feed powered by Microsoft News, similar to the old Edge. The layout of the feed can be customised based on your preference from among a number of options.
The settings options for the browser have also changed. While Edge settings are currently available via a slide-out menu from the right, the new Edge's settings are accessible through a new tab similar to Chrome. It'll show the Microsoft account you're logged into, as well as the usual array of toggles and tidbits you'd expect. Ominously, the about page for the browser now acknowledges the contributions of the Chromium project, as well as other open source software, a stark reminder that this isn't the Microsoft of yesteryear. This is a new browser, and a new Microsoft.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's virtual-grave department
Facebook is rolling out a new "Tributes" section for memorialized accounts that will allow people to leave messages that are separate from the rest of the profile's timeline. "Depending on a memorialized account's privacy settings, friends can currently still post on its timeline, including in the comments of posts the person made before they died," reports TechCrunch. "If a memorialized account has a Tributes section, however, posts made after the day it was memorialized (which prevents anyone else from logging in) will be placed there." From the report: Some Facebook users who have designated "legacy contacts" to manage their accounts after they die were alerted to the new feature by a notification today that contained the euphemistic phrase "if your account is memorialized." A page on Facebook's Help Center describes the new tributes section "as a space on memorialized profiles where friends and family can post stories, commemorate a birthday, share memories and more."
"Legacy contacts" will have more leeway over tribute posts than they do over the rest of the account. For example, they have the ability to decide who can see and post tributes and can delete posts. They can also change who can see posts the deceased person is tagged in or remove the tag. If the account had timeline review turned on, the legacy contact will be able to turn it off for tribute posts. Posts made to a profile after it is memorialized will be separated into the tributes section. The feature's help page says "we do our best to separate tribute posts from timeline posts based on the info we're given." Legacy contacts still can't log into accounts, read private messages or remove and add friends.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google's AI research division today open-sourced GPipe, a library for "efficiently" training deep neural networks (layered functions modeled after neurons) under Lingvo, a TensorFlow framework for sequence modeling. It's applicable to any network consisting of multiple sequential layers, Google AI software engineer Yanping Huang said in a blog post, and allows researchers to "easily" scale performance. As Huang and colleagues explain in an accompanying paper ("GPipe: Efficient Training of Giant Neural Networks using Pipeline Parallelism"), GPipe implements two nifty AI training techniques. One is synchronous stochastic gradient descent, an optimization algorithm used to update a given AI model's parameters, and the other is pipeline parallelism, a task execution system in which one step's output is streamed as input to the next step.
Most of GPipe's performance gains come from better memory allocation for AI models. On second-generation Google Cloud tensor processing units (TPUs), each of which contains eight processor cores and 64 GB memory (8 GB per core), GPipe reduced intermediate memory usage from 6.26 GB to 3.46GB, enabling 318 million parameters on a single accelerator core. Without GPipe, Huang says, a single core can only train up to 82 million model parameters. That's not GPipe's only advantage. It partitions models across different accelerators and automatically splits miniature batches (i.e., "mini-batches") of training examples into smaller "micro-batches," and it pipelines execution across the micro-batches. This enables cores to operate in parallel, and furthermore accumulate gradients across the micro-batches, thereby preventing the partitions from affecting model quality.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Microsoft's next iteration of the Xbox One may not have a disc at all, and it might be coming sooner than you think. From a report: That's at least according to rumors from Windows Central, which says a disc-less Xbox One S "All-Digital Edition" will be offered for preorders in April. The new device, said to be code-named Maverick, will offer a "disc-to-digital" program, letting fans turn in physical game discs and convert them to digital downloads, Windows Central added.
One benefit of this new Xbox, Windows Central said, would be that it could push the price of an Xbox down. The Xbox One S starts at $299 and is typically bundled with a game. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment. The move could mark a turning point for the video game industry, which has sold video games on discs and cartridges for decades. Some people still prefer to buy physical copies of their games, in part to share them with friends or trade them in at retailers like GameStop.Read Replies (0)