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Showing posts from September, 2015

Tesla's autopilot mode expected in October

Tesla's autopilot mode expected in October
Elon Musk says it should be here in about a month By Martyn Williams IDG News Service | Sep 29, 2015 3:11 AM PT
An autonomous driving mode that will take some of the strain off drivers during long trips should arrive in Tesla cars in the next few weeks.
Earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk promised the feature as part of a "summer" update, and while Tesla will miss that deadline by a couple of weeks, it is about to roll it out.
The company has been testing the software for several months on long drives, including from its Silicon Valley headquarters to Seattle. It keeps the car safely in lane and adjusts its speed to allow for other vehicles, akin to an autopilot for the car.
Describing the system in March, Musk said it relied on ultrasonic sensors that cover the area around the car to a distance of about 5 meters, as well as a forward camera and radar.
The software will be rolled out as an update to Tesla cars in the next few week…

Google unveils everything Apple just launched, but cheaper

Google unveils everything Apple launched, but cheaper
Published: Sept 29, 2015 6:08 p.m. ET
By JENNIFER BOOTON
iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Refreshed Apple TV. Enterprise-focused iPad Pro.
Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Refreshed Chromecast. Enterprise-focused Pixel C tablet.
Those lineups show the similarities between the new products Google Inc. announced Tuesday and those Apple Inc. announced earlier this month. The big difference between the two companies’ new offerings is price, with Google undercutting Apple across the board.
Smartphones
Google introduced two new Android smartphones, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, at a product event on Tuesday. Both phones — manufactured by LG and Huawei, respectively — will be sold as unlocked devices, meaning they can be purchased directly through Google’s digital store or at partner brick-and-mortar retailers and used with a wide variety of carriers. They will also be compatible with Project Fi, Google’s new WiFi program, part of a trend among Google, …

Computer algorithm created to encode human memories

Last updated: September 29, 2015 5:21 pm
Computer algorithm created to encode human memories By Clive Cookson, Science Editor
Researchers in the US have developed an implant to help a disabled brain encode memories, giving new hope to Alzheimer’s sufferers and wounded soldiers who cannot remember the recent past.
The prosthetic, developed at the University of Southern California and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in a decade-long collaboration, includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain.
The key to the research is a computer algorithm that mimics the electrical signalling used by the brain to translate short-term into permanent memories.
This makes it possible to bypass a damaged or diseased region, even though there is no way of “reading” a memory — decoding its content or meaning from its electrical signal.
“It’s like being able to translate from Spanish to French without being able to understand either language,” said Ted Berger of USC, the project leader.
T…

Americans shift away from traditional jobs: study

Americans shift away from traditional jobs: study
AFP By Rob Lever 7 hours ago
Washington (AFP) - More than 42 million Americans are part of the independent workforce, representing a shift away from traditional jobs as more people join sectors such as the "on-demand" economy, a study showed Tuesday.
The study by MBO Partners covers a variety of professions, but a growing portion of those are made up of young workers taking "gigs" with startups such as ride-sharing giant Uber or delivery services like Instacart.
The number earning a substantial part of their income from independent work was estimated at 30.2 million in 2015 -- 17.8 million full-time and 12.4 million part-time.
The survey found another 11.9 million Americans are "occasional independents," bringing the total number to 42.1 million.
The total includes many traditionally independent workers including accountants, doctors and real estate agents.
But much of the growth is coming from "shar…

Now that Windows has Device Guard, here's how to use its inspiration, Gatekeeper, on the Mac

Now that Windows has Device Guard, here's how to use its inspiration, Gatekeeper, on the Mac InfoWorld | Sep 22, 2015
Windows 10 is getting Mac religion, at least when it comes to how it manages apps. My colleague Fahmida Rashid recently explained the new Device Guard feature in Windows 10, a major step for the ubiquitous Microsoft desktop operating system to combat malware.
Apple introduced a similar technology called Gatekeeper in 2012's OS X Mountain Lion (and made its retroactive to the previous OS X Lion). Now that Microsoft has Device Guard, the two leading desktop operating systems have a similar approach to managing dubious apps -- and both let administrators control those settings.
It doesn't matter who had the technology first -- what matters is that there's now a consensus approach to managing computers to keep out malware. Most admins will quickly read up on how to use Device Guard for Windows, but few know how to use the Mac's Gatekeeper equivalent. T…

Aaron Sorkin Rips Apple's Tim Cook Over 'Steve Jobs' Critique: "You've Got a Lot of Nerve"

Aaron Sorkin Rips Apple's Tim Cook Over 'Steve Jobs' Critique: "You've Got a Lot of Nerve" by Alex Ritman    9/25/2015 11:35am PDT "If you've got a factory full of children in China assembling phones for 17 cents an hour, you've got a lot of nerve calling someone else opportunistic."
Aaron Sorkin has lashed out at Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent assertion that filmmakers were being "opportunistic" in making films about the late tech titan Steve Jobs.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter during a press junket roundtable for Universal's Danny Boyle-directed Steve Jobs in London, the writer claimed that he and those working at the top of the project had taken pay cuts to get it made.
"Nobody did this movie to get rich," he said. "Secondly, Tim Cook should really see the movie before he decides what it is."
But Sorkin's most stinging retort was reserved for last.
"Third, if you've got a factory full …

IBM Wants Watson to Teach Robots Some Social Skills

IBM Wants Watson to Teach Robots Some Social Skills Because language is only part of human communication, IBM is using machine learning to teach robots social skills like gestures, eye movements, and voice intonations. • By Will Knight on September 24, 2015 IBM is using some of the artificial-intelligence techniques that emerged from its Watson project to teach robots to better understand and mimic human communication. During a keynote speech at a conference called RoboBusiness held in San Jose, California, this week, Robert High, chief technology officer of Watson at IBM, demonstrated some of the techniques his team is working on using a small humanoid robot. The robot, a Nao model from the company Aldebaran, spoke with realistic intonation and made appropriate hand gestures during a conversation with High. It even exhibited a little impatience and sarcasm, miming looking at its watch, for example, when asking High to hurry up with his talk. Speaking with MIT Technology Review …

Army to enlist robots to pull Soldiers off battlefield

Army to enlist robots to pull Soldiers off battlefield September 23, 2015
By C. Todd Lopez
Army to enlist robots to pull wounded Soldiers off battlefield
One day, unmanned vehicles, similar to but larger than this small unmanned ground vehicle, may roll onto battlefields to rescue downed Soldiers, said the commander of the Army Medical Department Center and School.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 22, 2015) -- Most Americans have seen at least one war movie, where at some point a fresh-faced young private is hit with some shrapnel. From the ground, he calls out for the unit medic - another young guy, from another small town, whose quick reaction and skill just may save his life.
In the near future, however, it may no longer be another Soldier, who comes running to his side. Instead, it might be an Army-operated unmanned aerial or ground vehicle, said Maj. Gen. Steve Jones, commander of the Army Medical Department Center and School and chief of the Medical Corps.
"We have lo…

Apple under fire for factory conditions as iPhone launched

Apple under fire for factory conditions as iPhone launched 5 hours ago
Hong Kong (AFP) - A labour rights group marked the launch of Apple's latest iPhone Friday with a report accusing one of the smartphone giant's Chinese suppliers of exploiting factory workers.
Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) say Lens Technology, which makes touchscreen glass, used forced overtime, withheld wages and risked workers' health after a months-long investigation into three of its factories.
Company founder Zhou Qunfei, herself a former factory worker, became China's richest woman after Lens Technology's debut on the Shenzhen stock exchange in March.
As the iPhone 6s went on sale in markets including Hong Kong, Japan and mainland China on Friday, SACOM called for Apple to "apply immediate measures to rectify exploitations in its supply chain".
"We urge Apple Inc. to fulfil its corporate responsibility... to give workers a workp…

Pentagon Personnel Now Talking on 'NSA-Proof' Smartphones

Pentagon Personnel Now Talking on 'NSA-Proof' Smartphones By Aliya Sternstein March 30, 2015
The Defense Department has rolled out supersecret smartphones for work and maybe play, made by anti-government-surveillance firm Silent Circle, according to company officials.
Silent Circle, founded by a former Navy Seal and the inventor of privacy-minded PGP encryption, is known for decrying federal efforts to bug smartphones. And for its spy-resistant “blackphone.”
Apparently, troops don’t like busybodies either. As part of limited trials, U.S. military personnel are using the device, encrypted with secret code down to its hardware, to communicate “for both unclassified and classified” work, Silent Circle chairman Mike Janke told Nextgov.
In 2012, Janke, who served in the Navy’s elite special operations force, and Phil Zimmermann, creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP, in short), started Silent Circle as a California-based secure communications firm. The company is no longer based in…

DHS Wants Boeing to Test a Brain Chip in Firm’s Self-Destructing 'Black' Spyphone

DHS Wants Boeing to Test a Brain Chip in Firm’s Self-Destructing 'Black' Spyphone
By Aliya Sternstein September 22, 2015
The Department of Homeland Security is funding a Boeing company to create a "brain chip" for its self-destructing Black smartphone that could be adapted for any device, DHS officials say.
The technology powering the devices potentially could identify the user’s walking style, for example. Officials would be alerted if the gait does not match the authorized user’s walk – a red flag the phone might have fallen into the wrong hands, officials said.
The "secret sauce" of the mobile device is a so-called neuromorphic computer chip that simulates human learning, Vincent Sritapan, the program manager for DHS' mobile device security program, told Nextgov.
Gait recognition -- driven by the phone's accelerometer, GPS and the chip -- is but one of many kinds of continuous ID verification intended to tighten access controls on mobile device…

For Those Facing the AI Apocalypse

For Those Facing the AI Apocalypse
Global Affairs SEPTEMBER 23, 2015 | 01:45 GMT
By Joel Garreau
For almost a decade, the dominant Silicon Valley prediction has been Singularitarian utopianism. In this story about the future, the godlike powers afforded by the genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology revolutions rapidly cure stupidity, ignorance, pain, suffering and even death. We merge with our machines and thus transcend. This outcome is inevitable, according to this prediction, because technology is on its ever-increasing march, and it matters little what we try to do about it. Call this the Heaven Prediction.
In just the past few months, however, the fashionable prediction among the techno elite has changed to dystopianism — the imminent arrival of satanic artificial intelligences that will be the last invention humans ever make, or will be allowed to make. The word doom is used liberally. In this reading of the tea leaves, technology is in control and there…

Robot Revolution Sweeps China's Factory Floors

Robot Revolution Sweeps China's Factory Floors
By KELVIN CHAN, AP BUSINESS WRITER SHENZHEN, China — Sep 23, 2015, 3:27 AM ET
In China's factories, the robots are rising.
For decades, manufacturers employed waves of young migrant workers from China's countryside to work at countless factories in coastal provinces, churning out cheap toys, clothing and electronics that helped power the country's economic ascent.
Now, factories are rapidly replacing those workers with automation, a pivot that's encouraged by rising wages and new official directives aimed at helping the country move away from low-cost manufacturing as the supply of young, pliant workers shrinks.
It's part of a broader overhaul of the economy as China seeks to vault into the ranks of wealthy nations. But it comes as the country's growth slows amid tepid global demand that's adding pressure on tens of thousands of manufacturers.
With costs rising and profits shrinking, Chinese manufacturers …

Office of Personnel Mgmt: 5.6M estimated to have fingerprints stolen in breach

Office of Personnel Mgmt: 5.6M estimated to have fingerprints stolen in breach Everett Rosenfeld | @Ev_Rosenfeld 8 Hours Ago
The Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday that 5.6 million people are now estimated to have had their fingerprint information stolen.
That number was originally thought to be about 1.1 million, OPM said in a statement. About 21.5 million individuals had their Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information affected by the hack.
According to OPM, "federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited." The office acknowledged, however, that future technologies could take advantage of this information.
An interagency working group—to include FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Defense Department representatives—plans to review the implications of the stolen fingerprint data, according to OPM.
U.S. officials have privately blamed the breach on Chinese government hackers, but they have avoided…

U.S. Postal Service Has Not Earned a Profit in Almost a Decade-Lost $51.7 billion since 2007...

U.S. Postal Service Has Not Earned a Profit in Almost a Decade The government-owned enterprise has lost $51.7 billion since 2007 BY: Ali Meyer September 22, 2015 1:03 pm
The United States Postal Service has lost $51.7 billion between 2007 and 2014 and has not earned a profit since 2006, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.
“There is no turnaround in sight,” states the report. “The Postal Service will almost certainly register another multibillion dollar loss in 2015; for the first two quarters of 2015, it suffered a net loss of $2.8 billion.”
In addition, the report finds that USPS has failed to make legally required payments to the U.S. Treasury and will default on its statutory obligations, which include the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund.
“Although the Postal Service has not yet received an explicit taxpayer bailout, it has failed to meet its legal obligations for several years in a row,” the report states. “The odds that a bailout will eventually become unav…

Apple Speeds Up Electric-Car Work; Target ship date for 2019

Apple Speeds Up Electric-Car Work Consumer-Electronics Maker Aims to Finalize First Vehicle in 2019
By DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI Sept. 21, 2015 1:38 p.m. ET
Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.
The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan, have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple’s commitment …

Internet growth slows; most people still offline - U.N.

Internet growth slows; most people still offline - U.N. By Tom Miles | Reuters – 7 hours ago
GENEVA (Reuters) - Growth in the number of people with access to the Internet is slowing, and more than half the world's population is still offline, the United Nations Broadband Commission said on Monday.
Internet access in rich economies is reaching saturation levels but 90 percent of people in the 48 poorest countries have none, its report said.
The access growth rate is expected to slow to 8.1 percent this year, down from 8.6 percent in 2014. Until 2012, growth rates had been in double digits for years.
"We have reached a transition point in the growth of the Internet," the report said.
The commission, set up in 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union and UNESCO, the U.N. scientific and cultural agency, said the milestone of four billion Internet users was unlikely to be passed before 2020.
It said growth in Facebook subscribers was outpacing growth in the Internet…