By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels' has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants. Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the "dash for gas" in the 1990s. However, the amount of power from fossil fuels was still greater over the quarter, at about 40% of electricity generation compared with 28% for renewable sources. In total, 57% of electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations. In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's thanks-but-no-thanks department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Georgia's secretary of state and candidate for state governor in the midterm election, Brian Kemp, has taken the unusual, if not unprecedented step of posting the personal details of 291,164 absentee voters online for anyone to download. Kemp's office posted an Excel file on its website within hours of the results of the general election, exposing the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot -- including their reason why, such as if a person is "disabled" or "elderly."
The file, according to the web page, allows Georgia residents to "check the status of your mail-in absentee ballot." Millions of Americans across the country mail in their completed ballots ahead of election day, particularly if getting to a polling place is difficult -- such as if a person is disabled, elderly or traveling. When reached, Georgia secretary of state's press secretary Candice Broce told TechCrunch that all of the data "is clearly designated as public information under state law," and denied that the data was "confidential or sensitive." "State law requires the public availability of voter lists, including names and address of registered voters," she said in an email. "While the data may already be public, it is not publicly available in aggregate like this," said security expert Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, who lives in Georgia. Williams took issue with the reasons that the state gave for each absentee ballot, saying it "could be used by criminals to target currently unoccupied properties." "Releasing this data in aggregate could be seen as suppressing future absentee voters in Georgia who do not want their information released in this manner," he said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's patriotic-youngsters department
According to The South China Morning Post, "some of China's smartest students have been recruited straight from high school to begin training as the world's youngest AI weapons scientists." A total of 27 boys and four girls all under the age of 18 were chosen for the four-year "experimental program for intelligent weapons systems" at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) from more than 5,000 candidates. From the report: The BIT is one of the country's top weapons research institutes, and the launch of the new program is evidence of the weight it places on the development of AI technology for military use. "These kids are all exceptionally bright, but being bright is not enough," said a BIT professor who was involved in the screening process but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. "We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges," he said. "A passion for developing new weapons is a must ... and they must also be patriots."
Each student will be mentored by two senior weapons scientists, one from an academic background and the other from the defense industry, according to the program's brochure. After completing a short program of course work in the first semester, the students will be asked to choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics or overall weapon design. They will then be assigned to a relevant defense laboratory where they will be able to develop their skills through hands-on experience.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-good-thing-coming-to-an-end department
WFMU's Free Music Archive -- a digital library of high-quality and legal downloads that users could listen to, remix, and share -- is shutting down due to funding shortages. The Verge reports: "The future is uncertain, has been my mantra lately," says Cheyenne Hohman, who's been the director of the Free Music Archive since 2014. The shutdown date was initially the 9th, but has since been pushed back to November 16th because the FMA is in early talks with four different organizations that are interested in taking the project over. "The site may stay up a little bit longer to ensure, at the very least, that our collections are backed up on archive.org and the Wayback Machine." Even so, it's not a perfect solution. "If it just goes into archive.org, it's going to be there in perpetuity, but it's not going to be changing at all," Hohman says. "It's not going to be the same thing, that sort of community and project that it was for ... almost 10 years."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's serious-business department
According to Bloomberg, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "spent $200 million over seven years funding sanitation research, showcased some 20 novel toilet and sludge-processing designs that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert bodily waste into clean water and fertilizer." Gates told the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing on Tuesday that these technologies at the event "are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years." From the report: Holding a beaker of human excreta that, Gates said, contained as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder explained to a 400-strong crowd that new approaches for sterilizing human waste may help end almost 500,000 infant deaths and save $233 billion annually in costs linked to diarrhea, cholera and other diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. One approach from the California Institute of Technology that Gates said he finds "super interesting" integrates an electrochemical reactor to break down water and human waste into fertilizer and hydrogen, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells as energy.
The reinvented toilet market, which has attracted companies including Japan's LIXIL Group, could generate $6 billion a year worldwide by 2030, according to Gates. The initial demand for the reinvented toilet will be in places like schools, apartment buildings, and community bathroom facilities. As adoption of these multi-unit toilets increases, and costs decline, a new category of reinvented household toilets will become available, the Gates Foundation said.Read Replies (0)
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)