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Showing posts from October, 2015

Lonely on the road? What about a robotic driving companion?

Lonely on the road? What about a robotic driving companion?
Toyota is working on a 4-inch-tall robot that could gesture, read your mood and talk to you while you drive By Sharon Gaudin  Computerworld | Oct 29, 2015 2:25 PM PT
After testing human-robot cooperation in space with its Kirobo robot, Toyota is working on a smaller version – actually a cup-holder sized robot – that can keep people company while they drive.
Dubbed the Kirobo Mini, the nearly 4-in. tall robot is designed to detect and respond to the driver's emotions, speech and gestures.
The robot, which could be installed in future Toyota vehicles, would not only be aimed at keeping drivers alert and calm but could collect information about driving habits that engineers could potentially use to build better features for future cars.
"With people spending an average of 4.3 years of our lives in our cars, which equates to traveling to the moon and back three times, Toyota believes that much can be learned about our b…

Robot Buses Are Coming To America, To Pave The Way For Driverless Cars

Robot Buses Are Coming To America, To Pave The Way For Driverless Cars First, a quiet business park. Next, the world.
Self-driving buses are coming to America. The Bishop Ranch business park in San Ramon, California will be the first place in the U.S. to use French robo-buses to ferry passengers around.
Perhaps the best place for autonomous vehicles to start out is in this kind of training ground, although given the safety record of Google’s self-driving cars, the training might be for us humans in getting used to them. It’s hard to argue that preset routes and low speeds aren’t ideal for an introduction to driverless vehicles, and that’s just what the Easymile company specializes in.
The EZ10 is a driverless bus designed for short hops. It has been deployed in Europe—in Finland, France, and is just about to launch in Spain. The electric vehicles carry up to ten passengers, and have ramps for wheelchairs and strollers. The idea is that they carry you the "last mile" of your…

BuzzFeed and Vox may ditch SXSW over online harassment issues

BuzzFeed and Vox may ditch SXSW over gamergate drama
BuzzFeed, Vox threaten to pull out of SXSW over canceled panels
Two media organizations are threatening to withdraw from the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, next year after organizers canceled two controversial panels dealing with online harassment.
SXSW organizers this week said they would cancel the panels in response to threats of violence. In response, BuzzFeed and Vox Media said they would not participate in SXSW if the event does not find a way to address the online harassment issue.
One canceled panel centered on "Overcoming Harassment in Games" and the other was titled "SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community."
Organizers apparently feared the panels would become a flashpoint for the ongoing controversy in the video game community pitting those who say the games need to be more diverse and progressive against those who say games are being tainted by political correctness. This latte…

The Government Just Gave Everyone Permission to Unlock Smart TVs

The Government Just Gave Everyone Permission to Hack Smart TVs By Shane Ryan  |  October 27, 2015  |  2:29pm
In a decision that looks jaw-droppingly progressive from a technological standpoint, especially by government standards, the U.S. Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress granted an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that give Smart TV users the freedom to “jailbreak” their devices. This will allow “interoperability” between different TVs, and the installation of third-party software.
The decision, which can be read in full here, includes language that addresses the main concern of the movement’s opponents, who contended that it would promote the use of piracy programs like Popcorn Time:
The Register also found that the prohibition on circumvention is adversely affecting legitimate noninfringing uses of smart TV firmware, and that the proposed alternatives to circumvention, such as connecting a laptop computer to the TV, are inadequate, because they woul…

Wi-Fi device can see through walls...

Forget X-rays, now you can see through walls using WI-FI: Device captures silhouettes and can even identify people when they're stood behind CONCRETE·The RF Capture device was developed by researchers at MIT ·Wireless signals travel through the wall and reflect off the body behind it ·This creates a silhouette from which body parts can be identified ·Silhouettes can then be compared to a database of bodies to identify who they belong to - and it can even identify which hand their moving  · ByVICTORIA WOOLLASTON FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED:08:06 EST, 28 October 2015|UPDATED:10:28 EST, 28 October 2015 ·
X-ray vision is a staple of sci-fi films and comic books and now researchers have turned this concept into a reality. 
Using a wireless transmitter fitted behind a wall, computer scientists have developed a device that can map a nearby room in 3D while scanning for human bodies.
Using the signals that bounce and reflect off these people, the device creates an accurate silhouette and can even use …

Senate passes controversial cybersecurity bill Cisa 74 to 21

Senate passes controversial cybersecurity bill Cisa 74 to 21
Senate votes in favor of bill critics including Edward Snowden say will allow the government to collect sensitive personal data unchecked
By Sam Thielman Tuesday 27 October 2015 17.29 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 27 October 2015 22.31 EDT
The US Senate overwhelmingly passed a controversial cybersecurity bill critics say will allow the government to collect sensitive personal data unchecked, over the objections of civil liberties groups and many of the biggest names in the tech sector.
The vote on Tuesday was 74 to 21 in support of the legislation. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against the bill. None of the Republican presidential candidates (except Lindsey Graham, who voted in favor) were present to cast a vote, including Rand Paul, who has made privacy from surveillance a major plank of his campaign platform.
Ahead of the vote a group of university professors specializing in tech law, many from the…

No Bank Card Required: Citigroup Testing Eye-Scanning ATM

No Bank Card Required: Citigroup Testing Eye-Scanning ATM by JAMES ENG OCT 26 2015, 3:29 PM ET
No card reader, no PIN pad, no touch-screen display — how you bank at your ATM could drastically change in the not-so-distant future. Citigroup is testing an automated teller machine made by Canton, Ohio-based Diebold that relies on your smartphone and perhaps an eye scan to dispense your cash.
Diebold's so-called "Irving" system works like this: Let's say you want to get $100 from your ATM. Instead of taking your bank card with you, you schedule your withdrawal ahead of time on your phone via your bank's mobile app. When you walk up to the screenless machine, it identifies you in one of several ways: Near Field Communication (NFC, the same type of technology used in Apple Pay's mobile payment service), QR Code (for Quick Response Code, a machine-readable bar code that's been used extensively in Japan) or biometrics (scanning your iris, a technique that's c…

Tech spats spark US fears of 'digital protectionism'

Tech spats spark US fears of 'digital protectionism' By Rob Lever 4 hours ago
Tensions have been rising with the European Union on privacy, antitrust and other issues, impacting technology firms
Washington (AFP) - As American tech giants extend their global reach, fears are growing on their side of the Atlantic over trade barriers some see as "digital protectionism."
While China has long been a difficult market for US firms to navigate, tensions have been rising with the European Union on privacy, antitrust and other issues, impacting tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Uber.
In recent weeks, Europe's highest court struck down an agreement which allowed US firms to transfer personal data out of the region without running afoul of privacy rules.
In parallel, Brussels is looking to create a new "digital single market" simplifying rules for operating across EU borders -- but which could also include new regulations for online "platforms".
So…

Robot builder designed for construction sites

Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:33am EDT
Robot builder designed for construction sites BY JIM DRURY
Zurich-based architects and roboticists have created the In-situ Fabricator, an autonomous construction robot capable of laying bricks into pre-programmed structures. Designers at the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication laboratory believe a future generation of the robot could be used widely on building sites.
Matthias Kohler, of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich), is one of the supervising professors on the research team. According to Kohler, who is also an architect, it is "the first machine that can actually go on construction sites and build non-standard designs, meaning designs which can vary and adapt to the local conditions directly in the building site."
Professor Jonas Buchli supervises the research. He told Reuters that construction sites are fascinating to roboticists. "The construction site for us, as a rob…

Amazon and New York Times battle publicly over story's accuracy

Amazon and New York Times battle publicly over story's accuracy
By Brian Stelter October 19, 2015
Two months after a damning New York Times story about Amazon's corporate culture, the retailer has published a blistering response, accusing the paper of misrepresenting the company.
The Times responded with a tough, unwavering defense of its story and its reporter.
At the moment, Amazon is getting the last word with a rebuttal to the paper's rebuttal.
The original August 16 piece concluded that Amazon's many breakthroughs and innovations come from a "bruising workplace."
It bruised Amazon, and in recent weeks the company has been privately punching back, lobbying The Times to "correct the record."
"They haven't, which is why we decided to write about it ourselves," Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president for global corporate affairs, wrote in a Medium blog post on Monday morning.
Carney was a journalist at Time magazine for two de…

UK: Is this the end of traditional doctors? A third of over 65s use technology to manage their health

Is this the end of traditional doctors? A third of over 65s use technology to manage their health
As Brits continue to avoid a visit to their GP, new research reveals a third of over 65s are using technology to keep tabs on their health and wellbeing By Saffron Alexander 7:00AM BST 21 Oct 2015
We're living in the age of digital health according to new research.
In 2014, a study revealed that 65 per cent of people actively avoid going to their GP, with a further two thirds admitting they preferred to research health information online. Now new research has revealed more than half of all Brits use gadgets or technology to manage their health and wellbeing.
Research from Push Doctor, published in the UK Digital Health Report, found that checking medical symptoms, monitoring exercise levels, establishing individual BMI scores, monitoring heart rates and checking blood pressure are the top five most common ways we are now using technology to understand and manage our wellbeing.
Half o…

EU orders Starbucks, Fiat to pay up over tax deals

EU orders Starbucks, Fiat to pay up over tax deals
Published: Oct 21, 2015 7:39 a.m. ET
By TOM FAIRLESS
BRUSSELS--The European Union has ordered Starbucks Corp. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to pay back tens of millions of euros in unpaid taxes obtained through illegal tax deals, in an unprecedented decision by regulators that risks blowing open thousands of corporate tax structures across Europe.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said Wednesday that tax deals granted to Starbucks in the Netherlands and Fiat in Luxembourg amounted to illegal state subsidies that must be repaid.
The commission ordered Luxembourg and the Netherlands to recover the unpaid tax from Fiat and Starbucks, which it said amounts to EUR20 million to EUR30 million ($22.6 million to $34 million) for each company. The companies can no longer continue to benefit from the advantageous tax treatment granted by these tax rulings, the commission said.
The two tax deals "endorsed artificial and c…

Business School Course Replaces Teacher With Technology...

Can a Video Game Teach Just as Well as a Professor?
A team at Hult International Business School has developed a game that offers roughly the same educational benefit as an MBA class.
By Sarah Grant October 21, 2015 — 12:17 PM PDT
The chance to learn about leadership and management from top corporate strategists is part of the business school guarantee. But what if your B-School professor could be replaced by technology, without sacrificing any educational payoff?
An experiment conducted by John Beck, Ph.D., at Hult International Business School found that a business strategy video game proved just as effective in teaching students as a professor.
Beck recruited 41 undergraduate students to take an MBA-level course in that business strategy. Half of the group was taught by a professor. The other half spent the same amount of time playing a video game called One Day that Beck designed and developed with his consultancy, North Star Leadership Group.
When tested on class material, both…

Robot reporter Wordsmith begins its advance

Robot reporter Wordsmith begins its advance
By JOE POMPEO 6:06 a.m. | Oct. 20, 2015 96
The Associated Press made waves last year with its decision to use a technology that generates articles about public companies' quarterly earnings results as opposed to having reporters write such coverage.
Now the company behind that technology is making a push for its software to be used more widely among a broader array of news organizations, as well as other types of companies.
North Carolina-based Automated Insights is rolling out a new version of its 8-year-old Wordsmith technology, which can automate news coverage that is based on data like financial statements or sports statistics.
Until now, Wordsmith has only been available through expensive and complex custom packages like Automated Insights' project with the AP, which also was an investor in Automated Insights.
Tuesday marks the beginning of free trials of the new, simplified version of Wordsmith. (Think of it as buying Microso…

Facebook Data Transfers to U.S. Face Probe After EU Court Ruling

Facebook Data Transfers to U.S. Face Probe After EU Court Ruling
By Stephanie Bodoni  Dara Doyle October 20, 2015 — 5:02 AM PDT
Ireland will investigate a complaint about U.S. spies potentially accessing Facebook Inc. users’ private details after the European Union’s highest court overturned a trans-Atlantic pact that allowed the free flow of such data 15 years ago.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner agreed to probe the complaint by Austrian law student Max Schrems following the landmark Oct. 6 ruling by the EU Court of Justice, Paul Anthony McDermott, a lawyer for the authority, said in a Dublin court on Tuesday. The Irish data watchdog’s initial refusal to examine the complaint triggered the EU court case, which led to the banning of the so-called safe-harbor accord, struck between the EU and U.S. in 2000.
That original decision “must now fall” and the Irish regulator “must investigate,” McDermott said. He said the probe wouldn’t be delayed.
The EU’s top court based in Luxembo…