Science

'Rogue Scientists' Could Exploit Gene Editing Technology, Experts Warn (theguardian.com) 67

A senior geneticist and a bioethicist warned on Friday that they fear "rogue scientists" operating outside the bounds of law, and agreed with a US intelligence chief's assertion this week that gene editing technology could have huge, and potentially dangerous, consequences. Recent advances in genetics allow scientists to edit DNA quickly and accurately, making research into diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and cancer, easier than ever before. But researchers increasingly caution that they have to work with extreme care, for fear that gene editing could be deployed as bioterrorism or, in a more likely scenario, result in an accident that could make humans more susceptible to disease rather than less.
AT&T

Apple And AT&T Sued For Infringement Over iPhone Haptic Patents (computerworld.com) 19

Haptic technology company Immersion has accused Apple and carrier AT&T of infringement of three of its patents in the latest iPhone models and Apple watches. Immersion, which claims over 2,100 issued or pending patents worldwide covering various aspects and commercial applications of haptic or touch feedback technology, has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of the specified iPhone and Apple Watch models in the U.S., besides suing for damages in a Delaware federal court, company CEO Victor Viegas said in a conference call Thursday. Immersion decided to include AT&T and subsidiary AT&T Mobility in the action because the carrier is the most significant distributor of the iPhone in the U.S.
Wikipedia

Reluctant Wikipedia Lifts Lid On $2.5M Internet Search Engine Project (theregister.co.uk) 28

The Wikimedia Foundation has finally disclosed details of its controversial Knowledge Engine grant -- and it confirms that Wikipedia is getting seriously into search, despite Jimmy Wales' categorical denial that WMF is "doing a Google." After a Wikipedia signpost article, and coverage at El Reg this week, the WMF caved and posted the Knight Foundation's approval of the $250,000 grant. The grant provides seed money for stage one of the Knowledge Engine, described as "a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy information on the Internet." The discovery stage includes an exploration of prototypes of future versions of Wikipedia.org which are "open channels" rather than an encyclopedia, analyzing the query-to-content path, and embedding the Wikipedia Knowledge Engine "via carriers and Original Equipment Manufacturers."
Facebook

Seeing Beyond The Hubris Of Facebook's Free Basics Fiasco (techcrunch.com) 40

Facebook's Free Basics was an ill-conceived effort to bring Internet access to the poor in India. It created a walled garden in which Facebook and the Indian telecom providers selected which websites people could visit. The users of Free Basics would find that Facebook was the center of their virtual universe and would experience only what it allowed them to.

The Free Basics project originated from an idea that Zuckerberg had about connecting the next 5 billion people. He documented this in a paper titled Is Connectivity A Human Right? He wrote that in the U.S. "an iPhone with a typical two-year data plan costs about $2,000, where about $500-600 of that is the phone and $1,500 is the data." What Zuckerberg and his U.S. team didn't understand was that in India you can buy computer tablets and smartphones for as little as $50, and that 100MB of data -- which is more than a Free Basics user will consume in a month -- costs much less than a dollar. So the entire basis of the paper was flawed.
AMD

CERN Engineer Details AMD Zen Processor Confirming 32 Core Implementation, SMT (hothardware.com) 67

MojoKid writes: AMD is long overdue for a major architecture update, though one is coming later this year. Featuring the codename "Zen," AMD's already provided a few details, such as that it will be built using a 14nm FinFET process. In time, AMD will reveal all there is to know about Zen, but we now have a few additional details to share thanks to a computer engineer at CERN. CERN engineer Liviu Valsan recently gave a presentation on technology and market trends for the data center. At around 2 minutes into the discussion, he brought up AMD's Zen architecture with a slide that contained some previously undisclosed details. One of the more interesting revelations was that upcoming x86 processors based on Zen will feature up to 32 physical cores. To achieve a 32-core design, Valsan says AMD will use two 16-core CPUs on a single die with a next-generation interconnect. It has also been previously reported that Zen will offer up to a 40 percent improvement in IPC compared to its current processors as well as symmetric multithreading or SMT akin to Intel HyperThreading. In a 32-core implementation this would result in 64 logical threads of processing.
AI

Would You Bet Against Sex Robots? AI 'Could Leave Half Of World Unemployed' 239

Machines could put more than half the world's population out of a job in the next 30 years, according to a computer scientist who said on Saturday that artificial intelligence's threat to the economy should not be understated. Vardi, a professor at Rice University and Guggenheim fellow, said that technology presents a more subtle threat than the masterless drones that some activists fear. He suggested AI could drive global unemployment to 50%, wiping out middle-class jobs and exacerbating inequality. "Humanity is about to face perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the end of 'in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread'," he said. "We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge."
Technology

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate To An Inch (gizmodo.com) 90

A team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that's been tried before, but in the past it's required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude. In turn, that allows GPS systems in a mobile device to calculate position with an accuracy of just an inch.
Spam

BT Announces Free Service To Screen Nuisance Callers (thestack.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: British telco BT is launching a free landline service for UK customers which promises to divert millions of unwanted calls. A dedicated team at BT will monitor calls made to UK numbers, across its network of over 10 million domestic landlines, to identify suspicious patterns, which could help to filter out nuisance callers. The flagged numbers will then be directed to a junk voicemail box. The company has estimated that the voicemail 'net' will catch up to 25 million cold calls every week. It explained that to achieve this success rate, it would be deploying enormous amounts of compute power to monitor and analyse large amounts of data in real-time.
Earth

New Metallic Glass Creates Potential For Smart Windows 37

frank249 writes: A B.C. engineering lab has created metal-coated glass that transmits up to 10 per cent more light than conventional glass and opens the door to windows that function as electronics. The most immediate use of the technology is to create windows that can be programmed to absorb or reflect heat, depending on the needs of a building's occupants. Adding electronic control to windows will allow you to change the amount of light and heat passing through to more effectively use the energy provided by the sun naturally, Lead investigator Kenneth Chau credit films like Iron Man or Star Trek with providing them inspiration. "There is a dream that we can make glass smarter," he said. "These films give us concepts to strive for; the hard work is uncovering the science to make it happen." All those hours spent watching Star Trek are now starting to look like a "pretty good investment," he said. The results were published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.
Social Networks

LinkedIn Is Open Sourcing Their Testing Frameworks (github.io) 65

destinyland writes: LinkedIn is open sourcing their testing frameworks, and sharing details of their revamped development process after their latest app required a year and over 250 engineers. Their new paradigm? "Release three times per day, with no more than three hours between when code is committed and when that code is available to members," according to a senior engineer on LinkedIn's blog. This requires a three-hour pipeline where everything is automated, from committing code to releasing it into production, along with automated analyses and testing. "Holding ourselves to this constraint ensures we won't revert to using manual validation to certify our releases."
Graphics

Ubisoft Talks Splitscreen and the Division 48

SlappingOysters writes: Ubisoft's next entry in the Tom Clancy series is pushing at the boundaries of three genres, mixing the RPG, the squad-based shooter and the MMO into The Division. The game features drop-in, drop-out co-op in a near-future, post-pandemic New York that seamlessly allows players to transition from PvE to PvP environments without any menus or lobbies. However, despite its co-op gameplay, The Division does not support splitscreen. Finder.com.au recently ran an extensive hands-on with the game, as well as an interview with Ubisoft Massive's creative director Magnus Jansén regarding the decision to forgo splitscreen co-op.
Cellphones

Smartphones May Soon Provide Earthquake Warnings (sciencemag.org) 62

sciencehabit writes: When it comes to an earthquake, just a few seconds' warning could make the difference between life and death. But many earthquake-prone countries lack the seismic networks that would give their citizens the lead time to find cover or shut down critical utilities. Now, a group of enterprising engineers is looking at a substitute network: smartphones. Using smartphones' built-in accelerometers, researchers have invented an app, released today, that they say can detect strong earthquakes seconds before the damaging seismic waves arrive. MyShake, as the app is called, could become the basis for an earthquake warning system for the world's most vulnerable regions.
Earth

Researchers Improve Efficiency of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles By Almost 12% (dispatchtribunal.com) 59

hypnosec writes: A new study has put forward claims that by working on and improving the energy management system (EMS) that decides when the switch from 'all-electric' mode to 'hybrid' mode in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, efficiency of these vehicles can be improved by as much as 12 per cent. Researchers have shown in their lab tests that blended discharge strategies wherein power from the battery is used throughout the trip, have proven to be more efficient at minimizing fuel consumption and emissions.
Social Networks

French Court Rules That Facebook Can Now Be Sued in France (thestack.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: A Paris court of appeal has ruled in favor of a French complainant whose account was suspended, because he linked to an image of the 1866 Gustav Courbet nude 'L'Origine du monde', currently residing at the Musee d'Orsay. The appeals court not only agreed that the user's suspension by Facebook constitutes censorship, but the ruling itself negates Facebook's insistence that all legal challenges take place in its native California.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Have a Pager? Do You Find It Useful? 276

New submitter Chance Callahan writes: I am starting a business, helping a friend with his own startup, and volunteering regularly with a major political campaign (#feelthebern). One thing I have noticed is that my phone likes to die at the most inconvenient times and leaves me out of touch with people. With the business I'm starting requiring clients to be able to get ahold me quickly, I have been seriously considering getting a two-way pager. It's much easier swap out a AA battery once a month then to worry "will client X be able to get ahold me in the event of an emergency?" So, Slashdot, the million dollar question is, in the age of cell phones, do you have a pager? Do you still find it useful? Do any other "dead-tech" tools still play a big role for your communications? For example, fax machines are still big in Japan, and a lot of people keep landlines, too.
GUI

Fresh Wayland Experiences With Weston, GNOME, KDE and Enlightenment 110

jones_supa writes: Software developer Pavlo Rudyi has written a blog post about his experiences with the various desktop environments currently supporting Wayland. The results are not a big surprise, but nevertheless it is great to see the continued interest in Wayland and the ongoing work by many different parties in ensuring that Wayland will eventually be able to dominate the Linux desktop. To summarize, Pavlo found Weston to be "good," GNOME is "perfect," KDE is "bad," and Enlightenment is "good." He also created a video from his testing. Have you done any testing? What's your experience?
Bug

iPhones Bricked By Setting Date To Jan 1, 1970 (theguardian.com) 158

lightbox32 writes: Beware of a hoax circling the interwebs, which can be seen by setting your iPhone's date to January 1, 1970. Many people are reporting that doing so will brick the device. It's unclear what exactly causes the issue, but could be related to how iOS stores date and time formats. Jan. 1, 1970 is a value of zero or less than zero, which would make any process that uses a time stamp to fail. Apple is aware of the issue and is looking into it.
Technology

Did a Timer Error Change the Outcome of a Division I College Basketball Game? 138

New submitter javakah writes: Controversy has erupted from the February 10th basketball game between Boise State and Colorado State, and speculation is that a timer may have made an incorrect assumption about the number of frames per second the game was recorded in, and ultimately lead to an erroneous result. With the game tied in overtime, Boise State had the ball out-of-bounds with 0.8 seconds left on the game clock. The ball was thrown in-bounds, the shot went in, and the game clock showed that the Boise State player got the shot off with 0.4 seconds left. However there was a problem: the game clock did not start until a fraction of a second after the in-bounds player touched the ball. Referees decided to use video replay to examine whether the player had gotten the shot off within 0.8 seconds or not. To do this, they used a timer embedded in the video replay system. This embedded timer indicated that 1.3 seconds had passed between the time that the in-bounds player touched the ball and when he got the shot off. (Read more, below.)
AI

Google Brain Researchers Make Significant Progress On Language Modeling (arxiv.org) 32

New submitter integralclosure writes: Using neural networks, Google Brain researchers have significantly improved a computer's ability to model English (achieving extremely low perplexity score on a large dataset). Using the model they were able to generate random sentences, such as the following: 'Yuri Zhirkov was in attendance at the Stamford Bridge at the start of the second half but neither Drogba nor Malouda was able to push on through the Barcelona defence.' The sentences are generally coherent and mostly grammatically correct. Advances seem to be a replay of neural networks' dominance in the Imagenet competition.

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