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Self-Driving Cars Will Boost the Job Market, Says Marc Andreessen
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 08:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's different-perspective department:
A future with self-driving cars has induced a lot of anxiety about a resulting loss of jobs, but in fact, they'll create tons more jobs, Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen (Wikipedia) said at Recode's annual conference on Tuesday evening. "The jobs crisis we have in the U.S. is that we don't have enough workers," he said. From a report: "It's a fallacy," Andreessen said (specifically citing the lump of labor fallacy and the luddite fallacy). "It's a recurring panic. This happens every 25 or 50 years, people get all amped up about 'machines are going to take all the jobs' and it never happens." Andreessen used the example of the rise of the automobile industry a century ago, which many thought would cost the livelihood of everyone whose jobs were to take care of horses. But "the car then created not only a lot of jobs creating cars" but everything else that happened because of the car: Paved streets, restaurants, motels, movie theaters, apartment complexes, office complexes, the entire buildout of suburban America, etc. "The jobs that were created by the automobile on the second, third, and fourth order effects were 100X, 1000X the number of jobs that blacksmiths had," he said.

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Andy Rubin Says Essential's Ambient OS Will Be Open Source, Hints at Better Update Cycle
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Playground CEO Andy Rubin, whose new company Essential unveiled a new premium Android smartphone and Amazon Echo competitor yesterday, says his company's Ambient OS smart home platform will be open source. That means that Rubin, who rose to fame in the tech industry for co-founding Android, essentially wants to apply the same open source philosophy that made Android the most dominant mobile operating system to the smart home. [...] Rubin did agree that Android's upgrade rate was much lower, but said that his new venture's Ambient OS had "a solution for that." He stopped short of describing what that solution was, however, noting only that it was "more of a managed service on the back-end."

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Trump Is Pulling US Out of Paris Climate Deal: Sources
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shocker department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: President Trump has made his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision. Details on how the withdrawal will be executed are being worked out by a small team including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. They're deciding on whether to initiate a full, formal withdrawal -- which could take 3 years -- or exit the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, which would be faster but more extreme. Pulling out of Paris is the biggest thing Trump could do to unravel Obama's climate legacy. It sends a combative signal to the rest of the world that America doesn't prioritize climate change and threatens to unravel the ambition of the entire deal. News agency Reuters has corroborated the report with its own source. Further reading on Politico (which has also corroborated the news) and BBC.

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DNA From Ancient Egyptian Mummies Reveals Their Ancestry
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department:
HanzoSpam quotes a report from Washington Post: Ancient Egyptians were an archaeologist's dream. They left behind intricate coffins, massive pyramids and gorgeous hieroglyphs, the pictorial writing code cracked in 1799. But there was one persistent hole in ancient Egyptian identity: their chromosomes. A study led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tubingen in Germany managed to plug some of those genetic gaps. Researchers wrung genetic material from 151 Egyptian mummies, radiocarbon dated between Egypt's New Kingdom (the oldest at 1388 B.C.) to the Roman Period (the youngest at 426 A.D.), as reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Johannes Krause, a University of Tubingen paleogeneticist and an author of the study, said the major finding was that "for 1,300 years, we see complete genetic continuity." Despite repeated conquests of Egypt, by Alexander the Great, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Assyrians -- the list goes on -- ancient Egyptians showed little genetic change. "The other big surprise," Krause said, "was we didn't find much sub-Saharan African ancestry."

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AI Could Get Smarter By Copying the Neural Structure of a Rat Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-than-ever department:
the_newsbeagle writes: Many of today's fanciest artificial intelligence systems are some type of artificial neural network, but they bear only the roughest resemblance to a biological brain's real networks of neurons. That could change thanks to a $100M program from IARPA. The intelligence agency is funding neuroscience teams to map 1 cubic millimeter of rodent brain, looking at activity in the visual cortex while the rodent is engaged in a complex visual recognition task. By discovering how the neural circuits in that brain cube get activated to process information, IARPA hopes to find inspiration for better artificial neural networks. And an AI that performs better on visual recognition tasks could certainly be useful to intelligence agencies.

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Sony Ships Its Last Ever PlayStation 3 In Japan
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 11:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-line department:
After 11 years, Sony has stopped shipping the PlayStation 3 to retailers in Japan. The country stopped production on the 500GB model in December last year, but now a recent update on PlayStation Japan's website suggests that the other lingering units have all been shipped as well. It's only a matter of time before the console stops being produced altogether in other parts of the world. Engadget reports:
Selling over 70 million units in just seven years, the PlayStation 3 was certainly a console to be reckoned with. Yet, for all its achievements, the long-surviving gaming machine initially made a name for itself for all the wrong reasons. With Sony riding high on the PlayStation 2's market-leading sales numbers, its successor launched at the eye-watering price of $499 -- and consumers weren't too happy about it. Luckily for Sony, publishers stuck with the pricey console, and exclusive games like Uncharted, Heavy Rain, The Last Of Us and Metal Gear Solid 4 helped to right the course of Sony's initially water-riddled ship. With the sun-setting on the aging console in the East, the news doesn't bode well for the future of the PlayStation 3 across the rest of the world. Sony has previously announced that PS Now will soon move exclusively to PS4 and PC. While few players will be mourning the loss of the pricey service, there are many PS3 owners still benefitting from free games on PlayStation Plus and downloading new content from the PS Store. As Sony slowly begins to start winding the console down, it's unlikely that gamers will be able to continue to use these services for much longer on the aging gaming system.

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Experts Call For Preserving Copper, Pneumatic Systems As Hedge For Cyber Risk
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's old-vs-new department:
chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: The United States should invest resources in preserving aging, analog infrastructure including telecommunications networks that use copper wire and pneumatic pumps used to pump water as a hedge against the growing threat of global disruption resulting from a cyber attack on critical infrastructure, two researchers at MITRE argue. The researchers, Emily Frye and Quentin Hodgson with The MITRE Corporation, note that critical infrastructure is increasingly run from converged IP (Internet Protocol) based networks that are vulnerable to cyber attack. That includes so-called "lifelines" -- essential functions like water, electricity, communications, transportation and emergency services. That marks a critical departure from the past when such systems were isolated from the internet and other general purpose networks. "Each lifeline rides on, and is threaded together by, digital systems. And humans have yet to design a digital system that cannot be compromised," they write. With such civilization-sustaining functions now susceptible to attack, the onus is on society to maintain a means of operating them that does not rely on digital controls, Fry and Hodgson write. In many cases, that means preserving an older generation of analog infrastructure and management systems that could be manually operated, The Security Ledger reports. From their article: "In the case of communications, for instance, what is required is the preservation of a base core of copper-enabled connectivity, and the perpetuation of skills and equipment parts to make analog telephones work. Today, we see a move to decommission the copper-wire infrastructure. From a pure business standpoint, decommissioning copper is the right thing to do; but from a public-safety and homeland security perspective, we should reconsider. Decommissioning copper increases homeland security risk, because failover planning calls simply for relying on another server, router, or data center that is also subject to compromise."

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Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google Lobby Against Texas 'Bathroom' Bill
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tech-critics department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Executives from some of the globe's leading technology firms are demanding that Texas not adopt "discriminatory" bathroom legislation. On the table in Texas is a law similar to one enacted -- and later partially repealed -- in North Carolina. The tech companies have aligned themselves with critics of the bill who believe the legislation is unfair to the transgender community. "As large employers in the state, we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas' reputation as open and friendly to businesses and families," the companies wrote Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "Our ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent, encourage new business relocations, expansions and investment, and maintain our economic competitiveness would all be negatively affected." Pending Texas Senate legislation would prohibit transgender people in Texas from using restrooms matching their gender identities. The House on Sunday passed its own bill that would apply the bathroom limitations solely at schools. The tech companies, however, aren't threatening to pull out of Texas, like some did over the same issue in North Carolina. The letter sent to Gov. Abbott was signed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon chief Jeff Wilke, IBM head Ginni Rometty, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Google's Sundar Pichai. There were 14 companies -- including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Silicon Labs, Celanese Corp., GSD&M, Salesforce, and Gearbox Software -- signing on to the letter. "Discrimination is wrong and it has no place in Texas or anywhere in our country," the companies wrote.

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Conch Shells Inspire Next Generation Helmets, Body Armor
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-gen department:
New submitter omaha393 writes: Researchers at MIT used a 3D printing approach to develop a biomimetic composite capable of withstanding 70-85% more resistance than typical helmet designs. The material was manufactured using a composite of hard and soft printable polymers called VeroMagenta and TangoBlackPlus. The polymers were printed to overlay in a specific pattern that mimics conch shell molecular hierarchy, thus preventing cracks from spreading and offering a substantially more crack-resistant material. The researchers propose the material can be custom tailored and readily printed for future helmets and body armor manufacturing. The study has been published in Advanced Materials.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose a News Source?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's so-many-options department:
Obfiscator writes: Journalism has long had potential to change the world. The latest elections in the United States demonstrated new dimensions of this, with the rise of "fake news" and "echo chambers," as well as a president who has few reservations in expressing his thoughts of the media. The Christian Science Monitor has been a favorite news site of mine for years, due to their objective and balanced reporting, as well as their tendency to avoid "breaking news" and provide detailed analysis a few days later. Very few stories are going to impact my world to the point where waiting a couple days to read about them will make a difference. Despite the name, the vast majority of articles have no religious context (they address this in their FAQ). CSM has recently switched to be completely behind a paywall, as well. In their words, "We hope the Monitor Daily addresses both those trends. It is pushed to where our readers are and offers this pact: We will deliver our distinctive view of the world and you support financially our ability to produce that news." Is this the next trend: moving away from advertising revenues? Will this create more balanced journalism, as there is no need to attract clicks? Or will it deepen "echo chambers?" How do Slashdotters choose their news sites?

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Google Chrome Bug Lets Sites Record Audio and Video Without a Visual Indicator
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's visual-learning department:
New submitter aafrn writes: "Ran Bar-Zik, a web developer at AOL, has discovered and reported a bug in Google Chrome that allows websites to record audio and video without showing a visual indicator," reports BleepingComputer. "The bug is not as bad as it sounds, as the malicious website still needs to get the user's permission to access audio and video components, but there are various ways in which this issue could be weaponized to record audio or video without the user's knowledge. The bug's central element is a 'red circle and dot' icon that Chrome usually shows when recording audio or video streams." Bar-Zik discovered that if the JavaScript code that does the actual audio and video recording is launched inside a small popup, the icon is not shown anymore. This opens the door for various types of scenarios, where an attacker that has tricked a user into granting him permission to record audio and video records user data but when the user doesn't expect this (no visual indicator). For example, an attacker could disguise audio/video recording code inside popup ads. If the user doesn't close the popup, the popup continues to stream audio and video from the victim's house. Google declined to consider this a security bug.

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Windows XP Computers Were Mostly Immune To WannaCry
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Windows XP isn't as vulnerable to the WannaCry ransomware as many assumed, according to a new report from Kryptos research. The company's researchers found that XP computers hit with the most common WannaCry attack tended to simply crash without successfully installing or spreading the ransomware. If true, the result would undercut much of the early reporting on Windows XP's role in spreading the globe-spanning ransomware. The core of WannaCry is a vulnerability in a Windows file-sharing system called SMB, which allowed WannaCry to spread quickly across vulnerable systems with no user interaction. But when Kryptos researchers targeted an XP computer with the malware in a lab setting, they found that the computers either failed to install or exhibited a "blue screen of death," requiring a hard reset. It's still possible to manually install WannaCry on XP machines, but the program's particular method of breaking through security simply isn't effective against the older operating system. The worst-case scenario, and likely scenario," the Kryptos report reads, "is that WannaCry caused many unexplained blue-screen-of-death crashes." While they cut against much of the early analysis of WannaCry, Kryptos' findings are consistent with early research from Kaspersky Lab, which found that Windows XP accounted for an "insignificant" percentage of the total infections. Kaspersky found the bulk of infections on machines running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008.

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Intel's Super Portable Compute Card Could Be Your Real Pocket PC
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's miniature-computers department:
An anonymous reader writes (edited and condensed for length): Smartphones are already computers in our pockets, but Intel's new Compute Card turns an actual PC into something you can take with you wherever you go. Equipped with a range of processor options -- including an ultra-efficient Celeron, and notebook-class Core i5s, this slap that looks like a USB backup battery is attracting a range of interest from Intel OEM partners hoping to use it for everything from smart signage to modular notebooks. The Intel Compute Card, which was originally revealed at CES earlier this year, will come in a range of configurations that include up to 4GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage, as well as built-in AC 8265 wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, the company said today at Computex. Intel also announced availability of the Compute Card Device Design Kit today, which will let OEM partners create devices that work with the modular computing core. LG Display, Sharp, Dell, HP and Lenovo are already working on accessory solutions for Compute Card, Intel said.

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European Union Will Fund Public Wifi
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's connectivity-for-all department:
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union is moving towards getting free public wifi into unconnected locations around the bloc. A new agreement will provide 120 million euros to "fund equipment for public free Wi-Fi services in 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities" across the E.U.

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How Facebook Praises and Pressures a Country's Leader To Get Exactly What It Wants
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-Facebook-does department:
The Irish Independent has published correspondence between Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, obtained through a freedom of information law request. Facebook's European headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland. The document reveals that Sheryl Sandberg lobbied Irish Prime Minister to influence Ireland's choice of official who would regulate them. From a report: The documents provides a rare window into how one of the world's most powerful technology companies conducts its business. In one email, after a meeting between Sandberg and Kenny at the annual World Economic Forum conference in Davos in early 2014, the Facebook executive praises the Irish politician's position on a set of sweeping, new, Europe-wide data privacy laws. "You and your staff really internalized our concerns," she writes. "And were able to present them in a reasonable way, which has had a positive impact." After that compliment, Sandberg turns to the matter of global tax law reform at the OECD, which Kenny was also involved in. Here, she raises the prospect of Facebook shifting its investment strategy in Europe. After noting that the tax discussions would be "very complicated," Sandberg wrote: "We hope to be helpful to you identifying the implications with different options for future investment and growth in Europe." That suggestion came as Facebook was in the process of expanding its Dublin office and headcount.

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US Interceptor Missile Successfully Intercepts Test ICBM, Says Pentagon
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mission-accomplished department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Pentagon has confirmed that the U.S. interceptor missile it launched has successfully intercepted the test ICBM fired from the Marshall Islands. From an ABC News report detailing the intercept test: "The ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly after 3:30 p.m. EST Tuesday. The U.S. will launch an ICBM-class target from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, 4,200 miles away. If successful, the kill vehicle, or intercept, will collide with the ICBM test target midcourse over the Pacific Ocean later today. The ground-based interceptor system is mainly designed to counter a North Korean missile threat, but a U.S. official said Tuesday's test has been planned for years and is coincidental to North Korea's increased missile testing this year. This will be the 18th test of the ground-based interceptor. The last one, in June 2014, was the first success since 2008. The system is nine for 17 since 1999 with other types of target missiles. An ICBM target has never been tested before."

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Essential Home is an Amazon Echo Competitor That 'Puts Privacy First'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
In its bid to take on Apple, Google and Amazon, Essential has unveiled "Home," a new intelligent assistant that it hopes owners will be proud to show off. From a report: Essential Home is the new intelligent assistant with round "auto-display" just announced by Andy Rubin's new venture. It can be activated with a question, a tap, or even a "glance," according to Essential, and it's designed to never intrude upon the home. In that way Essential calls it "an entirely new type of product" but it mostly borrows ideas from existing products in an attempt to outdo them. Essential Home lets your control your music, ask general interest questions, set timers, and control your lights -- capabilities we've seen from Google and Amazon -- only Essential promises to do it better, somehow. It's like Google Home or Amazon's Echo series of assistants only without the "boxes, tubes, or strange lights." It's like Nest but it doesn't try to make your home smart by anticipating your needs -- it suggests certain behaviors instead. "In the end people decide," says Essential. Earlier today, the company also announced the Essential Phone. Unlike the Essential Phone, however, much about the Essential Home is not know. It is expected to ship in a few months.

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Uber Fires Executive Accused of Stealing Google's Self-Driving Car Secrets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 12:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you're-fired department:
According to The New York Times, Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the former head of its self-driving car project who is accused of stealing some 14,000 documents from Google's Waymo and using that information as the technological basis for Uber's self-driving cars. TechCrunch reports: During the court proceedings, Levandowski exercised his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid providing testimony or handing over evidence regarding his use of proprietary data from his time at Google. Uber had previously warned that Levandowski could face consequences for his lack of compliance with his employment requirements at the company. Uber confirmed via a spokesperson that Levandowski was terminated following months of the company attempting to have him comply with and assist its own internal investigation into the matter, and had set a clear deadline for him to do so. Uber also noted that Eric Meyhofer, who stepped in when Levandowski was removed from his role leading ATG in April, will continue to lead the team and take over Levandowski's direct reports.

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For Video Soundtracks, Computers Are the New Composers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Reader jader3rd writes: NPR has a story about computer composed soundtracks being used for small video projects. Ed Newton-Rex, the company's founder, is a composer who studied computer programming, and says he started to ask himself: "Given what we know about how music's put together, why can't computers write music yet?" "You basically make a bunch of choices that really anyone can relate to," Rex says. "That's one of our aims. We wanted to make it as simple as possible, [to] really democratize the process of creation." Despite the successes there's been limited investment, because audiences and producers are uncomfortable with it. "On the credits they don't want to see 'Composed by Computer Program Experiments in Musical Intelligence by David Cope,' " he says. "It's the last thing they want to show their audience." But how much longer will that last, until audiences are comfortable with seeing that a movies soundtrack was computer composed?

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Microsoft's Looking To Reboot Mobile with New Software and Hardware: Sources
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-dead-yet department:
Long time Microsoft watcher Brad Sams, reporting today: Two independent sources inside of Microsoft have told me that there is a new hardware device being tested internally and that there is also a separate branch of Windows Mobile for this device. I have been hearing about the software update for some time and the added hardware component makes sense as the company is pursuing "new experiences" with this device. Additionally, the UI is expected to be different than what we know today as Windows Mobile but the exact changes are still evolving as we are in the early days of development of this experience. There may also be another 'cut' in the support for older applications with the new mobile experience. I have heard, but am not able to fully confirm at this time, that Silverlight applications may not longer work with the updated OS.

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