posted 14 days ago on slashdot
sarahnaomi writes In 2013, researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of the Oxford Martin School dropped the bombshell that 47 percent of US jobs were at risk of computerisation. Since then, they've made similar predictions for the UK, where they say 35 percent of jobs are at high risk. So what will our future economy look like? "My predictions have enormously high variance," Osborne told me when I asked if he was optimistic. "I can imagine completely plausible, incredibly positive scenarios, but they're only about as probable as actually quite dystopian futures that I can imagine." In a new report produced as part of a programme supported by Citi, he and Frey outline how increased innovation—read: automation—could lead to stagnation.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "Good news for OpenStreetMap: the main website now has A-to-B routing (directions) built in to the homepage! The OSM website offers directions which are powered by third-parties using OSM data, providing car, bike, and foot routing. OpenStreetMap has a saying: 'What gets rendered, gets mapped' – meaning that often you don't notice a bit of data that needs tweaking unless it actually shows up on the map image. It will make OpenStreetMap's data better by creating a virtuous feedback loop."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: After the legalization of marijuana in multiple states around the U.S., many are worried about a corresponding uptick in car crashes as people drive while under the influence of pot. But according to a new federal study (PDF) commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those fears seem unfounded. They report that after adjusting for other factors (people who tend to drive after using marijuana also tend to be more crash-prone in general), there was no statistically significant increase in crash rates by drivers who tested positive for the drug. It's still a bad idea to drive high, but driving drunk is far, far worse: "One substance was shown to have a major influence on crashes: alcohol. The study confirmed the enormous danger of drinking and driving, even after age and sex adjustment: drivers with a 0.05% blood-alcohol level were found to be twice as likely to be in a crash. For a person weighing 180 to 190 pounds, that could be a single can of beer, glass of wine, or shot of liquor. At 0.08% (two drinks), the likelihood is quadrupled, and at .20% (four drinks or more), the risk is higher by 23 times."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Joe Doliner has done a statistical analysis of mistakes in rated chess games. He used a chess engine called Crafty, which is capable of not only finding mistakes, but quantifying how bad they are. After crunching all the matches on chessgames.com in 2014, which amounted to almost 5 million moves, Crafry found only 67,175 blunders that were equivalent to a 2-pawn deficit or worse. With a pair of graphs, Doliner shows how mistakes decrease as player rating increases, as you'd expect. According to the trendline, gaining 600 rating points roughly halves the number of mistakes a player makes. He made the data and tools available in a public repository for others to dig into.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Quanta Magazine: The physicist Freeman Dyson and the computer scientist William Press, both highly accomplished in their fields, have found a new solution to a famous, decades-old game theory scenario called the prisoner's dilemma, in which players must decide whether to cheat or cooperate with a partner. The prisoner's dilemma has long been used to help explain how cooperation might endure in nature. After all, natural selection is ruled by the survival of the fittest, so one might expect that selfish strategies benefiting the individual would be most likely to persist. But careful study of the prisoner's dilemma revealed that organisms could act entirely in their own self-interest and still create a cooperative community. Press and Dyson's new solution to the problem, however, threw that rosy perspective into question (abstract). It suggested the best strategies were selfish ones that led to extortion, not cooperation. [Theoretical biologist Joshua] Plotkin found the duo's math remarkable in its elegance. But the outcome troubled him. Nature includes numerous examples of cooperative behavior. For example, vampire bats donate some of their blood meal to community members that fail to find prey. Some species of birds and social insects routinely help raise another's brood. Even bacteria can cooperate, sticking to each other so that some may survive poison. If extortion reigns, what drives these and other acts of selflessness?"

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: A new metal-making process currently in testing at oil fields uses nano-scale plating to make metals like steel as much as ten times stronger than they would be without it. "[The process] uses an advanced form of electroplating, a process already used to make the chrome plating you might see on the engine and exhaust pipes of a motorcycle. Electroplating involves immersing a metal part in a chemical bath containing various metal ions, and then applying an electrical current to cause those ions to form a metal coating. The company uses a bath that contains more than one kind of metal ion and controls how ions are deposited by varying the electrical current. By changing the current at precise moments, it can create a layered structure, with each layer being several nanometers thick and of different composition. The final coating can be up to a centimeter thick and can greatly change the properties of the original material."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
Artem Tashkinov writes: Luke Wolf, a KDE developer, argues that PC-BSD might become a serious desktop OS contender by year 2020, since Linux so far has failed to grasp any serious market share. He writes, "Consider this: In the past 10 years has the distribution you run changed significantly in what it offers over other distributions? I think you'll find the answer is largely no. I do have to give a shout out to openSUSE for the OBS, but otherwise I've used my desktop in the same exact way that I have always used it within the continuity of distribution X,Y, or Z since I started using them. Distributions simply aren't focused on desktop features, they're leaving it up to the DEs to do so." He continues, "PC-BSD on the other hand in fitting with the BSD mindset of holistic solutions is focused on developing desktop features and is moving rapidly to implement them." What do you think?

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Y Combinator president Sam Altman writes about how the third great technological revolution — which he calls the software revolution — is affecting the world economy. He says, "It appears that the software revolution will do what technology usually does—create wealth but destroy jobs. Of course, we will probably find new things to do to satisfy limitless human demand. But we should stop pretending that the software revolution, by itself, is going to be good for median wages. Trying to hold on to worthless jobs is a terrible but popular idea. Trying to find new jobs for billions of people is a good idea but obviously very hard because whatever the new jobs are, they will probably be so fundamentally different from anything that exists today that meaningful planning is almost impossible. ... The second major challenge of the software revolution is the concentration of power in small groups. ... I think the best strategy is to try to legislate sensible safeguards but work very hard to make sure the edge we get from technology on the good side is stronger than the edge that bad actors get."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Amateur astronomers have spotted two clouds coming from the surface of Mars that are a mystery to the professionals. From Discovery: "The plumes extended over 500- to 1,000 kilometers (311- to 621 miles) in both north-south and east-west directions and changed in appearance daily. They were detected as the sun breached Mars' horizon in the morning, but not when it set in the evening. 'Remarkably ... the features changed rapidly, their shapes going from double blob protrusions to pillars or finger-plume-like morphologies,' scientists investigating the sightings wrote in a paper published in this week's Nature."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Based on 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring from places as remote as Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and as urban as New York City, scientists have created a map of noise levels across the country on an average summer day. After feeding acoustic data into a computer algorithm, the researchers modeled sound levels across the country including variables such as air and street traffic. Deep blue regions, such as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, have background noise levels lower than 20 decibels — a silence likely as deep as before European colonization, researchers say. That's orders of magnitude quieter than most cities, where noise levels average 50-60 decibels. The National Park Service is using the map to identify places where human-made noise is affecting wildlife.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
jfruh writes Many restaurants and other small businesses live and die by Yelp reviews. Revleap operates a paid service that it says can "create a large constant flow of positive reviews that stay on top of your [Yelp] profile, and remove fake reviews." But Yelp is suing Revleap for what it says are practices that are fraudulent and in violation of Yelp's terms of service; among other things, Revleap promises users gift cards in exchange for good reviews.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes Looking every bit like a weapon from a science fiction movie, the latest integrated assault rifle prototype being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is packed with some very smart weapons technology. Along with the ability to fire new lightweight telescoped ammunition, and a secondary effects module that adds either a three-round 40 mm grenade launcher or a 12-gauge shotgun, there is also a NATO-standard power and data bus to allow the attachment of smart accessories, such as electro-optical sights and position sensors that connect to command and control networks.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
sarahnaomi writes Unveiled at this week's AAAS meeting/conference in San Jose, the telescopic contact lenses are the creation of optics engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, with a bit of help from designs developed at DARPA. The technology involves a bit more than just the contacts. The system is based on the interaction between a pair of normal-looking eyeglasses and the lenses, which are embedded with what are really just a pair of supertiny aluminum telescopes. The contacts are still only about 1.5 millimeters thick, and feature 1 mm-wide channels or pores that allow the required breathability-maintaining airflow. This last part proved to be one of the biggest challenges, requiring years of experimentation.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
BarbaraHudson writes Researchers at the University of Kansas and Harvard are working to give men more choices for avoiding unwanted pregnancies. From the article: "H2-gamendazole keeps sperm from maturing. The unfinished sperm fragments are then reabsorbed into the testis, never ending up in the semen. 'If there's no sperm, the egg's not going to get fertilized,' says Joseph Tash, a reproductive biologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Almost two years ago, the FDA reviewed the compound, and now the agency wants Tash to investigate if the compound remains in the semen and whether that would harm a woman if it ends up in the vagina. Jay Bradner, working with other anti-cancer researchers at Harvard, discovered that the JQ1 molecule blocked a bromodomain in cancer cells, causing them to forget how to be cancer. One side effect is that JQ1 also obstructed a testicle-specific bromodomain called BRDT, making the sex cells that would otherwise produce sperm non-functional — mice treated with JQ1 can hump with abandon yet generate zero mouselings. Researchers are looking for a version of the molecule that works on the testicle protein only, to avoid any weird side effects."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Brian Chen writes in the NYT that two companies, Republic Wireless and FreedomPop, that reduce cellphone costs by relying on strategically placed Wi-Fi routers are at the forefront of a tantalizing communications concept that has proved hard to produce on a big scale, The concept championed by the two little companies in their nationwide services is surprisingly simple. They offer services that rely primarily on Wi-Fi networks, and in areas without Wi-Fi, customers can pull a signal from regular cell towers. "Wi-Fi first is a massive disrupter to the current cost structure of the industry," says Stephen Stokols. "That's going to be a big shock to the carriers." For $5 a month, customers of Republic Wireless can make calls or connect to the Internet solely over Wi-Fi. For $10 a month, they can use both Wi-Fi and a cellular connection from Sprint in Republic's most popular option. Republic Wireless's parent company, Bandwidth.com, a telecommunications provider with about 400 employees, developed a technique to move calls seamlessly between different Wi-Fi networks and cell towers. "You can't pretend these companies are major players by any stretch. But I think their real importance is proof of concept," says Craig Moffett. "They demonstrate just how disruptive a Wi-Fi-first operator can be, and just how much cost they can take out." In major cities, the Wi-Fi-first network makes sense. People use smartphones frequently while sitting around their offices and apartments, and Wi-Fi can handle the job just fine. But once people start moving around, it is not so simple. The benefit of a cell service is that your phone can switch among multiple towers while you are on the go which wi-fi is not designed to handle. Google may be experimenting with a hybrid approach similar to the small companies'. A person briefed on Google's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were private, says the company wants to make use of the fiber network it has installed in various cities to create an enormous network of Wi-Fi connections that phones could use to place calls and use apps over the Internet. In areas out of reach, Google's network would switch over to cell towers leased by T-Mobile USA and Sprint. Still many wonder if even the biggest companies could make a Wi-Fi-based phone network work. "There are just so many places where Wi-Fi doesn't reach," says Jan Dawson "and the quality of Wi-Fi that you can find is often subpar."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
mrspoonsi writes with the latest from Kim Dotcom. "Kim Dotcom's US lawyer has denied that a guilty plea by one of the Megaupload's former employees has major implications for his client's case. Andrus Nomm was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty on Friday to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement while working for the now defunct file-sharing site. The US is currently trying to extradite Mr Dotcom, who founded Megaupload, from New Zealand to stand trial. Mr Dotcom denies wrongdoing. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has alleged that Megaupload's staff had "operated websites that wilfully reproduced and distributed infringing copies of copyrighted works" over a period of five years, causing more than $400m (£260m) of harm to copyright owners. Nomm — a 36-year-old Estonian citizen — agreed to this damages estimate as part of his plea, according to a press release from the DoJ. He had been living in the Netherlands before he travelled to Virginia to make the deal with the US authorities. The DoJ added that Nomm had acknowledged that through his work as a computer programmer for Megaupload, he had become aware of copyright-infringing material being stored on its sites, including films and TV shows that had contained FBI anti-piracy warnings. It said he had also admitted to having downloaded copyright-infringing files himself. "This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history," said assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
blottsie writes Viscira produces videos and technology simulations for the healthcare industry, and the project I tested called "Mindscape" was created for a pharmaceutical company that wanted to give potential clients insight into what some schizophrenic patients might feel like in a real-life scenario. Unlike audio tests or videos that show you a first-person perspective of schizophrenic experiences, Viscira's demonstration uses the Oculus Rift headset and is entirely immersive. You can look around at each individual's face, and up and down the hallway. Walk through the elevator, and hear voices that appear to be coming from both strangers and your own head.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
hypnosec writes "The Mars One project has picked the final 100 candidates for the next round of the selection process. Initially, 202,586 people applied and ultimately around 40 will undertake a one-way trip to Mars. “The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes Jo Seong-jin, the head of LG's home appliance division, was indicted Sunday by prosecutors in Seoul for allegedly damaging Samsung Electronics' washing machines before the IFA electronics show in Berlin last September. The company says it was his regular practice to test the rival company's machines, something he has done while working for LG for the past 38 years, and has released closed-circuit television footage in his defense showing him testing Samsung products including washing machines, dish washers and refrigerators. Jo and two other employees are charged with vandalism, defamation and obstruction of business.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter infolation writes The UK justice system should receive a radical overhaul for the digital age with the creation of an online court to expand access to justice and resolve claims of up to £25,000, the official body that oversees civil courts has recommended. The report says existing services — such as eBay's disagreement negotiation procedure and Cybersettle's blind-bidding operations — provide prototypes worth studying. Only the judge need be legally qualified. If necessary, telephone hearings could be built into the last stage. Rulings by the online judge would be as enforceable as any courtroom judgment.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends this report from the NY Times: In an attempt to bring order to increasingly chaotic skies, the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight and keep their aircraft in sight. The rules, though less restrictive than the current ones, appear to prohibit for now the kind of drone delivery services being explored by Amazon, Google and other companies, since the operator or assigned observers must be able to see the drone at all times without binoculars. But company officials believe the line-of-sight requirement could be relaxed in the future to accommodate delivery services.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
dotarray writes It seems Valve is restricting just what you can talk about when using the Steam chat service. Specifically, any reference to a particular torrent site is being stripped from conversation, while mentions of other pages trigger a warning that the site is "potentially malicious." In the wake of website KickassTorrents being taken offline earlier this week, people quickly noticed that references to the torrent site were being stripped from chat - with no warning, notificiation, or acknowledgement that anything is missing. We've seen censorship before, with chat providers blocking certain words, replacing key letters with asterisks or simply substituting inoffensive words for those considered 'problematic.' That's not what Valve is doing here though - the entire message is disappearing, not just the troublesome domain.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
mdsolar writes Pilgrim Power Plant in Plymouth was taken offline in anticipation of the weekend snowstorm. According to a statement from Entergy, the owner of Pilgrim, the plant was taken off line in preparation of "a potential loss of offsite power or the grid's inability to accept the power Pilgrim generates." This is the second time this season the plant has been shut down due to storm conditions. On January 27 the facility was taken offline after the two main power transmission lines were knocked out by blizzard conditions. Although the transmission lines were restored within a few days, the plant remained offline until February 7 at which time it was reconnected to the grid.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
theodp writes During February, Bill Gates is playing Perry White at The Verge, expounding on the big bets the Gates Foundation is making to improve the world over the next 15 years. One of those bets is that online classrooms can help the world catch up. Gates' vision of universal online education extends to those who struggle with basic literacy and currently lack online access, far beyond the reach of MOOCs like Coursera, EdX, and Udacity, which have enjoyed their greatest success with higher-level courses aimed at the middle class. "Gates' vision — a wave of smartphones that can act as ubiquitous, cheap computers — is central to solving this problem," explains The Verge's Adi Robertson. "And unfortunately, we're not there yet." But eventually, Gates is betting that a world-class education will only be a few taps away for anyone in the world. And that's when things get really interesting. "Before a child even starts primary school," Bill and Melinda Gates wrote in their Foundation's 2015 letter, "she will be able to use her mom's smartphone to learn her numbers and letters, giving her a big head start. Software will be able to see when she's having trouble with the material and adjust for her pace. She will collaborate with teachers and other students in a much richer way. If she is learning a language, she'll be able to speak out loud and the software will give her feedback on her pronunciation."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
lkcl writes The introduction of systemd has unilaterally created a polarization of the GNU/Linux community that is remarkably similar to the monopolistic power position wielded by Microsoft in the late 1990s. Choices were stark: use Windows (with SMB/CIFS Services), or use UNIX (with NFS and NIS). Only the introduction of fully-compatible reverse-engineered NT Domains services corrected the situation. Instructions on how to remove systemd include dire warnings that "all dependent packages will be removed", rendering a normal Debian Desktop system flat-out impossible to achieve. It was therefore necessary to demonstrate that it is actually possible to run a Debian Desktop GUI system (albeit an unusual one: fvwm) with libsystemd0 removed. The reason for doing so: it doesn't matter how good systemd is believed to be or in fact actually is: the reason for removing it is, apart from the alarm at how extensive systemd is becoming (including interfering with firewall rules), it's the way that it's been introduced in a blatantly cavalier fashion as a polarized all-or-nothing option, forcing people to consider abandoning the GNU/Linux of their choice and to seriously consider using FreeBSD or any other distro that properly respects the Software Freedom principle of the right to choose what software to run. We aren't all "good at coding", or paid to work on Software Libre: that means that those people who are need to be much more responsible, and to start — finally — to listen to what people are saying. Developing a thick skin is a good way to abdicate responsibility and, as a result, place people into untenable positions.

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