By BeauHD from Slashdot's point-A-to-point-B department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Wednesday, the city of Chicago opened a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an express train that would take passengers from the city's O'Hare airport to downtown. The system would have to be completely privately funded -- Chicago says no taxpayer money would be used for it. Elon Musk's Boring Company -- a tunneling company that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO started last year -- will respond to the request. Musk hopes to get to the second round when bidding will take place. On Wednesday evening, he tweeted that his company "will compete to fund, build & operate a high-speed Loop connecting Chicago O'Hare Airport to downtown."
Musk's reference to a "Loop" is explained more clearly on The Boring Company's FAQ page: "Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125-150 miles per hour. Electric skates will carry between 8 and 16 passengers (mass transit), or a single passenger vehicle." Unlike Musk's idea for a Hyperloop, a Loop won't draw a vacuum. "For shorter routes, there is no technical need to eliminate air friction," The Boring Company states. The company also clarifies the concept of an "electric skate:" that is "a platform on wheels propelled by multiple electric motors." The platform would operate autonomously without a rail or rails to which the skate would connect. The skate would operate in the tunnel's main artery, and it would enter and exit from side tunnels. With this system, The Boring Company says, the skate's average speed would theoretically be able to operate close to maximum speed.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-in-a-name department
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, writing for the Motherboard: Lately on the internet, people in the world of Bitcoin and other digital currencies are starting to use the word "crypto" as a catch-all term for the lightly regulated and burgeoning world of digital currencies in general, or for the word "cryptocurrency" -- which probably shouldn't even be called "currency," by the way. For example, in response to the recent rise of Bitcoin's price, the CEO of Shapeshift recently tweeted: "don't go into debt to buy crypto at these prices." "Crypto Stocks Rise," read a headline on Tuesday from the trade publication Investor Business Daily. But the financial blog Seeking Alpha outdid them all by publishing a post titled "Tales From The Crypto." Excuse me, "the crypto" what? As someone who has read and written about cryptography for a few years now, and who is a big fan of Crypto, the 2001 book by Steven Levy, this is a problem. "Crypto" does not mean cryptocurrency. The above are just three examples picked at random, but if you don't believe me, just search "crypto" on Google News or Twitter. On the internet, "crypto" has always been used to refer to cryptography. Think, for example, the term "Crypto Wars," which refer to government (originally the US government) efforts to undermine and slow down the adoption of unbreakable communications systems. By the way, the book Crypto isn't about Bitcoin. It's about cryptography, and more in particular, about the cryptographers who fought the government in the so-called Crypto Wars.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Alexis C. Madrigal, writing for The Atlantic: If the recent numbers are any indication, there is a bloodbath in digital media this year. Publishers big and small are coming up short on advertising revenue, even if they are long on traffic. [...] In a print newspaper or a broadcast television station, the content and the distribution of that content are integrated. The big tech platforms split this marriage, doing the distribution for most digital content through Google searches and the Facebook News Feed. And they've taken most of the money: They've "captured the value" of the content at the distribution level. Media companies have no real alternative, nor do they have competitive advertising products to the targeting and scale that Facebook and Google can offer. Facebook and Google need content, but it's all fungible. The recap of a huge investigative blockbuster is just as valuable to Google News as an investigative blockbuster itself. The former might have taken months and costs tens of thousands of dollars, the latter a few hours and the cost of a young journalist's time. That's led many people to the conclusion that supporting rigorous journalism requires some sort of direct financial relationship between publications and readers. Right now, the preferred method is the paywall. The New York Times has one. The Washington Post has one. The Financial Times has one. The Wall Street Journal has one. The New Yorker has one. Wired just announced they'd be building one. (Editor's note: CNN is building a paywall, too.) Many of these efforts have been successful. Publications have figured out how to create the right kinds of porosity for their sites, allowing enough people in to drive scale, but extracting more revenue per reader than advertising could provide.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's dnr department
A real-life case study, published on New England Journal of Medicine, documents the ethical dilemma that a Florida hospital faced after a 70-year-old unresponsive patient arrived at the hospital. The medical staff, the journal notes, was taken aback when it discovered the words "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" tattooed onto the man's chest. Furthermore, the word "NOT" was underlined with his signature beneath it. The patient had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, and atrial fibrillation. Confused and alarmed, the medical staff chose to ignore the apparent DNR request -- but not without alerting the hospital's ethics team, which had a different take on the matter. From the report: We initially decided not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty. This decision left us conflicted owing to the patient's extraordinary effort to make his presumed advance directive known; therefore, an ethics consultation was requested. He was placed on empirical antibiotics, received intravenous fluid resuscitation and vasopressors, and was treated with bilevel positive airway pressure. After reviewing the patient's case, the ethics consultants advised us to honor the patient's do not resuscitate (DNR) tattoo. They suggested that it was most reasonable to infer that the tattoo expressed an authentic preference, that what might be seen as caution could also be seen as standing on ceremony, and that the law is sometimes not nimble enough to support patient-centered care and respect for patients' best interests. A DNR order was written. Subsequently, the social work department obtained a copy of his Florida Department of Health "out-of-hospital" DNR order, which was consistent with the tattoo. The patient's clinical status deteriorated throughout the night, and he died without undergoing cardiopulmonary respiration or advanced airway management.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department
Science_afficionado writes: Are you a cat lover? A dog lover? If so, you may be interested in the first scientific study to actually count the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of carnivores, including cats and dogs. Bottom line: Dogs have about twice as many of these "little grey cells" as cats. These "little gray cells" are associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior. The study found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million. (For comparison, the human brain has 16 billion.) Another interesting discovery was that carnivores have about the same ratio of neurons to brain size as that of herbivores, "suggesting that there is just as much evolutionary pressure on the herbivores to develop the brain power to escape from predators as there is on carnivores to catch them," reports Vanderbilt University. "The study's findings also challenge the prevailing view that domesticated animals have smaller brains than their wild cousins. The ratios of brain size to body weight of the domestic species they analyzed -- ferret, cat and dog -- did not scale in a significantly different manner from those of their wild relatives -- mongoose, raccoon, hyena, lion and brown bear." The results of the study are described in a paper titled "Dogs have the most neurons, though not the largest brain: Trade-off between body mass and number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of large carnivoran species" accepted for publication in the open access journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-of-work department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: The McKinsey Global Institute cautions that as many as 375 million workers will need to switch occupational categories by 2030 due to automation. The work most at risk of automation includes physical jobs in predictable environments, such as operating machinery or preparing fast food. Data collection and processing is also in the crosshairs, with implications for mortgage origination, paralegals, accounts and back-office processing. To remain viable, workers must embrace retraining in different fields. But governments and companies will need to help smooth what could be a rocky transition.
Despite the looming challenges, the report revealed how workers can move forward. While the introduction of the personal computer in the 1980s eliminated some jobs, it created many more roles. Workers who are willing to develop new skills should be able to find new jobs. The authors don't expect automation will displace jobs involving managing people, social interactions or applying expertise. Gardeners, plumbers, child and elder-care workers are among those facing less risk from automation. The report says that 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations. Globally, up to 800 million workers could be displaced.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's never-before-seen department
Two teams of researchers have published papers [1, 2] in the journal Nature detailing how they were able to create unprecedented quantum simulators consisting of over 50 qubits. The University of Maryland team and National Institute of Standards and Technology team -- the two teams behind one of the two new papers -- were able to create a quantum simulator with 53 qubits. Motherboard reports: Quantum simulators are a special type of quantum computer that uses qubits to simulate complex interactions between particles. Qubits are the informational medium of quantum computers, analogous to a bit in an ordinary computer. Yet rather than existing as a 1 or 0, as is the case in a conventional bit, a qubit can exist in some superposition of both of these states at the same time. For the Maryland experiment, each of the qubits was a laser cooled ytterbium ion. Each ion had the same electrical charge, so they repelled one another when placed in close proximity. The system created by Monroe and his colleagues used an electric field to force the repelled ions into neat rows. At this point, lasers are used to manipulate all the ytterbium qubits into the same initial state. Then another set of lasers is used to manipulate the qubits so that they act like atomic magnets, where each ion has a north and south pole. The qubits either orient themselves with their neighboring ions to form a ferromagnet, where their magnetic fields are aligned, or at random. By changing the strength of the laser beams that are manipulating the qubits, the researchers are able to program them to a desired state (in terms of magnetic alignment).
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's subject-to-the-new-order department
Nearly a year after the case was initially filed, Coinbase has been ordered to turn over identifying records for all users who have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year. The digital asset broker estimates that 14,355 users meet the government's requirements. The Verge reports: For each account, the company has been asked to provide the IRS with the user's name, birth date, address, and taxpayer ID, along with records of all account activity and any associated account statements. The result is both a definitive link to the user's identity and a comprehensive record of everything they've done with their Coinbase account, including other accounts to which they've sent money. The order is significantly narrower than the IRS's initial request, which asked for records on every single Coinbase user over the same period. That request would also have required all communications between Coinbase and the user, a measure the judge ultimately found unnecessarily comprehensive. The government made no claim of suspicion against individual users, but instead argued that the order was justified based on the discrepancy between Coinbase users and U.S. citizens reporting Bitcoin gains to the IRS.Read Replies (0)