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  • How the Pentagon's Robots Would Automate War

    rossgneumann writes: Pentagon officials are worried that the U.S. military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China, and are willing to explore almost anything to stay on top—including creating robots capable of becoming fighting machines. A 72-page document throws detailed light on the far-reaching implications of the Pentagon's plan to monopolize imminent "transformational advances" in biotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence, information technology, nanotechnology, and energy.

    4 comments | 14 minutes ago

  • Raspberry Pi-Powered Body Illusion Lets You Experience Parkinson's

    hypnosec writes: Analogue, a theater/art group, has developed an interactive installation called "Transports," powered by the Raspberry Pi, that lets you experience symptoms of Parkinson's disease. In the illusion, a person's mind is tricked into believing that his/her hand is the hand shown in a point-of-view video, and the motorized glove worn by the user gives the feeling of tremors associated with Parkinson's. The glove recreates tremors, the ones experienced by patients, at 6 hertz – the upper limit of what is experienced by people with Parkinson's disease. Users are asked to follow instructions fed through headphones while using the glove, which creates an illusion of a virtual limb. They are supposed to mimic the movements of a man on the screen and manipulate real cutlery as he does.

    6 comments | about an hour ago

  • Big IT Vendors Mostly Mum On Commercial Drone Plans

    alphadogg writes: Word that the Federal Aviation Administration might take a very hard line on commercial drone use has those with designs on such activity nervous. But as for big enterprise IT vendors, it's really hard to tell what they think because they're keeping any plans in this field very hush-hush. More consumer oriented companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are active, but companies like IBM and HP are quiet, while Microsoft affirms it has nothing doing. A former FAA lawyer says sitting on the sidelines even during this unsure regulatory period is probably not a great idea. "I have a hard time believing they don't have some sort of programs in place," attorney Mark Dombroff says.

    14 comments | 1 hour ago

  • Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

    An anonymous reader writes Google today provided an update on its plan to remove Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) from Chrome, which the company says will improve the browser's security, speed, and stability, as well as reduce complexity in the code base. In short, the latest timeline is as follows: Block all plugins by default in January 2015, disable support in April 2015, and remove support completely in September 2015. For context, Google first announced in September 2013 that it was planning to drop NPAPI. At the time, Google said anonymous Chrome usage data showed just six NPAPI plugins were used by more than 5 percent of users, and the company was hoping to remove support from Chrome "before the end of 2014, but the exact timing will depend on usage and user feedback."

    51 comments | 3 hours ago

  • Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team About the Science and Future of Food

    samzenpus writes Hampton Creek is a food technology company that makes food healthier by utilizing a specially made egg substitute in food products. The company was selected by Bill Gates to be featured on his website in a story called, The Future of Food, and has raised $30 million in funding. Hampton Creek's latest product is called, Just Cookies, which is an eggless chocolate chip cookie dough, but it is their eggless mayo that has been in the news lately. Unilever, which manufactures Hellmann's and Best Foods mayonnaise, is suing Hampton Creek claiming that the name Just Mayo is misleading to consumers. Named one of Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Brilliant Companies and one of CNBC's Top 50 Disruptors, Hampton Creek has picked up some impressive talent including the former lead data scientist at Google Maps, Dan Zigmond. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Dan and the Hampton Creek team have agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

    121 comments | 7 hours ago

  • Nuclear Weapons Create Their Own Security Codes With Radiation

    Zothecula writes "Nuclear weapons are a paradox. No one in their right mind wants to use one, but if they're to act as a deterrent, they need to be accessible. The trick is to make sure that access is only available to those with the proper authority. To prevent a real life General Jack D Ripper from starting World War III, Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) Defense Technologies Division is developing a system that uses a nuclear weapon's own radiation to protect itself from tampering.

    88 comments | 8 hours ago

  • Ohio College Building Indoor Drone Pavilion

    First time accepted submitter Greenargie points out this story about an indoor flying pavilion for drones being built at a college in southwestern Ohio. An indoor flying pavilion for students to test and fly drones will be built at a college in southwestern Ohio. Sinclair Community College officials say the 40-foot high pavilion resembling a traditional aircraft hangar will be built adjacent to a building in Dayton that houses some of its education and training programs in unmanned aerial systems and aviation. The indoor pavilion will allow students to fly drones without having to deal with weather issues or Federal Aviation Administration restrictions on flying them outdoors, said Andrew Shepherd, director of Sinclair's unmanned aerial systems program. Congress has directed the FAA to integrate drones into civilian manned airspace by next fall. The agency currently allows unmanned aircraft to be flown only under controlled conditions.

    42 comments | 9 hours ago

  • Class-Action Suit Claims Copyright Enforcement Company Made Harassing Robo-calls

    An anonymous reader writes Morgan Pietz, one of the lawyers who took on Prenda Law, has a new target in his sights: copyright enforcement company Rightscorp. In a class action suit (PDF) Pietz claims the company made illegal, harassing robo-calls to people who were accused of illegal downloading and by doing so Rightscorp broke the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which limits how automated calling devices can be used. "They robo-called Jeanie Reif's cell phone darn near every day for a couple of months," Pietz said. "And there could be thousands of members of this class."

    62 comments | 10 hours ago

  • Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

    MojoKid writes After years of working on prototype vehicles, multiple car companies have announced a major push for hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. At the LA Auto Show last week, Toyota showed off its Mirai, a four-door passenger sedan with a $57,500 base sticker price and a hydrogen-only fuel system. Honda recently delayed its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle until 2016, while Hyundai is planning to build 1000 fuel-cell powered Tucson's by the end of the year. Currently, most proposed hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are actually combined hydrogen-electric designs. Hydrogen gas, under enormous pressure, is used to drive a generator, which then charges a lithium-ion battery. Toyota plans to sell up to 3,000 Mirai a year by 2017, which would put it well below Tesla's own sales projections for its Model S — but at a lower overall price point. The pressurized fuel tanks in the Mirai can hold a total of 122 liters of hydrogen for an estimated range of 300 miles. A standard gasoline-powered car with a 122L capacity at 30mpg would be capable of traveling 960 miles. Proponents of hydrogen point to the vastly improved fueling time (roughly equal that of gasoline) as opposed to the 20-60 minutes required to recharge a vehicle like Tesla's Model S.

    240 comments | 11 hours ago

  • Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

    An anonymous reader writes "Writer and professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley Alva Noe isn't worried that we will soon be under the rule of shiny metal overlords. He says that currently we can't produce "machines that exhibit the agency and awareness of an amoeba." He writes at NPR: "One reason I'm not worried about the possibility that we will soon make machines that are smarter than us, is that we haven't managed to make machines until now that are smart at all. Artificial intelligence isn't synthetic intelligence: It's pseudo-intelligence. This really ought to be obvious. Clocks may keep time, but they don't know what time it is. And strictly speaking, it is we who use them to tell time. But the same is true of Watson, the IBM supercomputer that supposedly played Jeopardy! and dominated the human competition. Watson answered no questions. It participated in no competition. It didn't do anything. All the doing was on our side. We played Jeopordy! with Watson. We used 'it' the way we use clocks.""

    387 comments | yesterday

  • Elon Musk Talks "X-Wing" Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones

    An anonymous reader writes Elon Musk sent a number of tweets recently in which he detailed a program to test the function of "X-Wing" style grid fins that could help spacecraft navigate upon re-entry. The tweets describing how it would work, also include an autonomous seafaring platform, which can hold its position within three meters even in a heavy storm, that would act as a landing pad. From the article: "The SpaceX reusable rocket program has been progressing with varying results, including an explosion over Texas back in August. While the incident didn't result in any injury or even 'near injuries,' Musk conceded in a tweet that this was evidence that '[r]ockets are tricky.' An earlier test flight from this summer involving an ocean splashdown was considered more successful, proving that the Space X Falcon 9 booster could re-enter earth's atmosphere, restart its engines, deploy its landing legs and make a touch down at 'near zero velocity.'"

    91 comments | yesterday

  • Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"

    An anonymous reader writes If you hate cat videos, personality quizzes, and endless list stories about a specific school or region, then you should blame the USA according to this story. From the article: "'In France, articles about cats do not work,' Buzzfeed's Scott Lamb told Le Figaro, a leading Parisian paper. Instead, he explained, Buzzfeed's first year in the country has shown it that 'the French love sharing news and politics on social networks – in short, pretty serious stuff.' This is interesting for two reasons: first, as conclusive proof that the French are irredeemable snobs; second, as a crack in the glossy, understudied facade of what we commonly call 'Internet culture.'....American audiences love animals and 'light content,' Lamb said, but readers in other countries have reacted differently. Germans were skeptical of the site's feel-good frivolity, he said, and some Australians were outright 'hostile.' Meanwhile, in France — land of la mode and le Michelin — critics immediately complained, right at Buzzfeed's French launch, that the articles were too fluffy and poorly translated. Instead, Buzzfeed quickly found that readers were more likely to share articles about news, politics and regional identity, particularly in relation to the loved/hated Paris, than they were to share the site's other fare."

    346 comments | yesterday

  • Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

    An anonymous reader writes "Corning introduced next-generation Gorilla Glass, which it said is ten times tougher than any competitive cover glass now in the market. The company says that the Gorilla Glass 4 so launched is to address the No.1 problem among the smartphones users- screen breakage due to everyday drops."

    194 comments | yesterday

  • DreamWorks Reveals Glimpse of "Super Cinema" Format For VR Films

    An anonymous reader writes Warren Mayoss, Head of Technology Product Development at DreamWorks Animation, spoke at the 2014 Samsung Developer Conference last week about the company's forays into the young medium of virtual reality. In addition to real-time experiences, DreamWorks is exploring ways to enabled their bread and butter in VR: high-fidelity pre-rendered CGI. One method the company is exploring is a "Super Cinema" format: pre-rendered 360 degree 3D frames to be projected around the user in virtual reality. On stage, Mayoss showed a video glimpse of the format using assets from the company's "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise.

    34 comments | yesterday

  • In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

    HughPickens.com writes: Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status. But according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."

    One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, its easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas. He adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"

    430 comments | yesterday

  • How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

    schnell writes: The New Republic is running a fascinating article that analyzes the changing state of foreign development. Tech entrepreneurs and celebrities are increasingly realizing the inefficiencies of the old charitable NGO-based model of foreign aid, and shifting their support to "disruptive" new ideas that have been demonstrated in small experiments to deliver disproportionately beneficial results. But multiple studies now show that "game changing" ideas that prove revolutionary in limited studies fail to prove effective at scale, and are limited by a simple and disappointing fact: no matter how revolutionary your idea is, whether it works or not is wholly dependent on 1.) the local culture and circumstances, and 2.) who is implementing the program.

    91 comments | 2 days ago

  • Great Firewall of China Blocks Edgecast CDN, Thousands of Websites Affected

    An anonymous reader writes: Starting about a week ago, The Great Firewall of China began blocking the Edgecast CDN. This was spurred by Great Fire's Collateral Freedom project, which used CDNs to get around censorship of individual domains. It left China with either letting go of censorship, or breaking significant chunks of the Internet for their population. China chose to do the latter, and now many websites are no longer functional for Chinese users. I just helped a friend diagnose this problem with his company's site, so it's likely many people are still just starting to discover what's happened and the economic impact is yet to be fully realized. Hopefully pressure on China will reverse the decision.

    125 comments | 2 days ago

  • Samsung Seeking To Block Nvidia Chips From US Market

    An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking them to block the import of Nvidia's graphics chips . This is part of Samsung's retaliation for a similar claim filed by Nvidia against Samsung and Qualcomm back in September. Both companies are wielding patents pertaining to the improved operation of graphics chips in cell phones and other mobile devices.

    89 comments | 2 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

    An anonymous reader writes: I'm a systems architect (and a former Unix sysadmin) with many years of experience on the infrastructure side of things. I have a masters in CS but not enough practical exposure to professional software development. I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can. I'm seeking advice on what you think are the best practices for running a software shop and/or good blogs/books on the subject.

    To be clear, I am not asking about what are the best programming practices or the merits of agile vs waterfall. Rather I am asking more about how to best run the shop as a whole. For example, how important is it to have coding standards and how much standardization is necessary for a small business? What are the pros and cons of allowing different tools and/or languages? What should the ratio of senior programmers to intermediate and junior programmers be and how should they work with each other so that nobody is bored and everyone learns something? Thanks for your help.

    168 comments | 2 days ago

  • Upgrading the Turing Test: Lovelace 2.0

    mrspoonsi tips news of further research into updating the Turing test. As computer scientists have expanded their knowledge about the true domain of artificial intelligence, it has become clear that the Turing test is somewhat lacking. A replacement, the Lovelace test, was proposed in 2001 to strike a clearer line between true AI and an abundance of if-statements. Now, professor Mark Reidl of Georgia Tech has updated the test further (PDF). He said, "For the test, the artificial agent passes if it develops a creative artifact from a subset of artistic genres deemed to require human-level intelligence and the artifact meets certain creative constraints given by a human evaluator. Creativity is not unique to human intelligence, but it is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence."

    67 comments | 2 days ago

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