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Elon Musk: Tesla's Autopilot Software Could Save Half a Million Lives Every Year ( 265

An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of a deadly crash involving a Model S that was driving with its Autopilot software turned on, Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a few interesting remarks on the technology to Fortune. Notably, the publication recently ran a piece attempting to portray Tesla in a bad light by noting that Musk sold more than $2 billion worth of Tesla stock just 11 days after the aforementioned May, 2016 accident. And all the while, shareholders were kept in the dark up until recently. "Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.

Microsoft President Brad Smith: Computer Science Is Space Race of Today 171

theodp writes: Q. How is K-12 computer science like the Cold War? A. It could use a Sputnik moment, at least that's the gist of an op-ed penned by Senator Jerry Moran (R., KS) and Microsoft President Brad Smith. From the article: "In the wake of the Soviet Union's 1957 Sputnik launch, President Eisenhower confronted the reality that America's educational standards were holding back the country's opportunity to compete on a global technological scale. He responded and called for support of math and science, which resulted in the National Defense Education Act of 1958 and helped send the country to the moon by the end of the next decade. It also created the educational foundation for a new generation of technology, leadership and prosperity. Today we face a similar challenge as the United States competes with nations across the globe in the indispensable field of computer science. To be up to the task, we must do a better job preparing our students for tomorrow's jobs." Smith is also a Board member of tech-bankrolled, which invoked Sputnik in its 2014 Senate testimony ("learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment") as it called for "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund [...] to support the teaching and learning of more computer science," nicely echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy. Tying the lack of K-12 CS education to the need for tech visas is a time-honored tradition of sorts for Microsoft and politicians. As early as 2004, Bill Gates argued that CS education needed its own Sputnik moment, a sentiment shared by Senator Hillary Clinton in 2007 as she and fellow Senators listened to Gates make the case for more H-1B visas as he lamented the lack of CS-savvy U.S. high school students.

Clinton Tech Plan Reads Like Silicon Valley Wish List ( 355

theodp writes from a report via USA Today: "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate," writes USA Today's Jon Swartz, "Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for connecting every U.S. household to high-speed internet by 2020, reducing regulatory barriers and supporting Net neutrality rules, [which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing content.] It proposes investments in computer science and engineering education ("engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade"), expansion of 5G mobile data, making inexpensive Wi-Fi available at more airports and train stations, and attaching a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning STEM degrees." dcblogs shares with us a report from Computerworld that specifically discusses Clinton's support of green cards for foreign students who earn STEM degrees: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to "staple" green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates "from accredited institutions." Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's "staple" idea isn't new. It's what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.

Amazon Unveils Inspire Online Education Service For Teachers and Schools ( 32

Amazon on Monday launched a new site called Amazon Inspire where K-12 teachers and schools can upload and access unlimited education and classroom resources such as videos, tests, projects, games, lesson plans with their peers across the country for free of charge. In a statement, the company said, "Our ultimate goal is for every teacher in every single subject to benefit from Amazon Inspire. When they walk into a classroom, we want every teacher to benefit from the collective knowledge, the collective insights and the experience of every single one of their peers." GeekWire reports:It's the latest in a series of moves by Amazon in the education technology market. The company acquired the TenMarks online math startup in 2014, and separately markets e-books and tablets for teachers and school districts. The company describes the project as an outgrowth of its involvement in the U.S. Department of Education's GoOpen initiative. Amazon also provides technical resources and support for the department's Learning Registry open database.

Kickstarter Just Did Something Tech Startups Never Do: It Paid a Dividend ( 103

Joshua Brustein, reporting for Bloomberg: In early March, Kickstarter quietly sent shareholders a dividend. In the wider world of business, such an action would be unremarkable. More than 80 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 pay dividends, and many smaller companies do, too. But divvying up quarterly profits with shareholders is unheard of among tech startups. People who follow the venture capital industry were hard-pressed to come up with a single example of a VC-backed startup that has ever paid regular dividends. Doing so would be a rejection of the industry's basic math. VCs bet that they can find the few companies that will generate enormous payouts by going public or getting acquired; the rest fail. There's not supposed to be anything in between. "It sounds strange for a VC-backed company as it means they're taking out and distributing money versus investing it in the business," said Anand Sanwal, the chief executive officer of research firm CB Insights. Paying a dividend, which the company didn't make public, is just the latest example of Kickstarter's heterodoxy.

The World's Oldest Computer May Have Predicted the Future ( 143

Gizmodo reports: Discovered in an ancient shipwreck near Crete in 1901, the freakishly advanced Antikythera Mechanism has been called the world's first computer. A decades-long investigation into the 2,000 year-old-device is shedding new light onto this mysterious device... It wasn't programmable in the modern sense, but it's considered the world's first analog computer.
schwit1 shares a report from the Associated Press:: For over a century since its discovery in an ancient shipwreck, the exact function of the Antikythera Mechanism -- named after the southern Greek island off which it was found -- was a tantalizing puzzle.... After more than a decade's efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text -- a quarter of the original -- in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains. They say it was a kind of philosopher's guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world's oldest mechanical computer.

Ready CEO: Coding Snobs Are Not Helping Our Children Prepare For The Future ( 342

jader3rd writes: Quartz has an article written by the CEO of Ready, David S. Bennahum, about how public education should be embracing computer science, and how existing programmers don't like these efforts because they feel that doing so will result in kids being exposed to programming in a manner different then how they were introduced to it. Bennahum writes: "Writing software today is eerily similar to what it was like in the late 1950s, when people sat at terminals and wrote COBOL programs. And like the late 1950s, the stereotype of the coder is largely unchanged: mostly white guys with deep math skills, and minimal extroversion. Back in the Sputnik-era, people thought of programmers as a priesthood in lab coats: the sole keepers of knowledge that ran these exotic, and mysterious room-sized machines. Today the priesthood is a little hipper -- lab coats have long given way to a countercultural vibe -- but it's still a priesthood, perhaps more druidic than Jesuitic, but a priesthood nonetheless, largely comprised of white men." "Instead of attempting to lure code-literate teachers away from Silicon Valley, we need to revolutionize the way coding is done. Rather than fit the person to the tool, let's fit the tool to the person. Pop computing can help us get there, offering a gloriously diverse array of tools to match our gloriously diverse species. It's only a matter of time before the process of making software itself is transformed, from one that requires a mastery of syntax -- the precise stringing of sentences needed to command a computer -- to the mastery of logic. Logic is the essence of software creation, and the second step after mastering syntax.'

$30M Stampede 2 Supercomputer To Provide 18 Petaflops of Power To Researchers Nationwide ( 44

An anonymous reader writes: Funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and built at the University of Texas at Austin, the Stampede 2 supercomputer looks to contend with the global supercomputer Top 5. With 18 petaflops of processing power, it aims to help any researcher with a problem requiring intense number crunching. For example, atomic and atmospheric science simulations would take years to work-out on a desktop PC but only days on a supercomputer. Texas Advanced Computing Center director Dan Stanzione said in a UT press release, "Stampede has been used for everything from determining earthquake risks to help set building codes for homes and commercial buildings, to computing the largest mathematical proof ever constructed." The Stampede 2 is about twice as powerful as the original Stampede, which was activated in March of 2013. Instead of the 22nm fabrication tech in the original Stampede, the Stampede 2 will feature 14nm Xeon Phi chips codenamed "Knights Landing" forming 72 cores compared the original system's 61 cores. With double the RAM, storage and data bandwidth, the Stampede 2 can shift up to 100 gigabits per second, and its DDR4 RAM can perform fast enough to work as a third-level cache as well as fulfill ordinary memory roles. In addition, it will feature 3D Xpoint non-volatile memory. It will be at least a year before the Stampede 2 is powered up since it just received funding.

Universe Is Expanding Faster Than We Thought ( 146

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmodo: The Hubble Space Telescope has released some new numbers indicating that the rate of expansion of our universe is approximately 45.5 miles per second per megaparsec. It calculated this by measuring the distance between 19 faraway galaxies. Conceptually, the calculations show that space is expanding fast enough to essentially double the distance between our galaxy and our nearest neighbors in about 10 billion years. The new Hubble constant, which is 5 to 9 percent higher than previous estimates, does not match estimated expansion rates from the energetic leftovers of the Big Bang, thus causing a headache for cosmologists. It could mean that Einstein's theory of relativity is incomplete and/or there are processes pushing space apart that we have yet to account for.
United States

US Death Rate Rises, Health Officials Aren't Sure Why ( 607

New submitter Ungrounded Lightning writes: According to The New York Times, the U.S. death rate has risen for the first time in more than a decade (or several decades if particular). The rise is across the whole population, though whites, especially the less educated among them, were recently (and separately) documented to be particularly hard hit. The article speculates about drug abuse (prescription as well as illegal), suicides, and Alzheimer's, though it notes that heart disease -- which had been consistently dropping -- has also risen. No mention was made of whether the cutover to Obamacare might have had some effect. The aging of the population was mentioned, though the rise is present even within particular age groups. The National Center for Health Statistics shows the adjusted death rate went up from 723 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014 to nearly 730 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. We do know that the suicide rate in the U.S. has surged to its highest level in almost three decades.

Computer Generates Largest Math Proof Ever At 200TB of Data ( 143

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A trio of researchers has solved a single math problem by using a supercomputer to grind through over a trillion color combination possibilities, and in the process has generated the largest math proof ever -- the text of it is 200 terabytes in size. The math problem has been named the boolean Pythagorean Triples problem and was first proposed back in the 1980's by mathematician Ronald Graham. In looking at the Pythagorean formula: a^2 + b^2 = c^2, he asked, was it possible to label each a non-negative integer, either blue or red, such that no set of integers a, b and c were all the same color. To solve this problem the researchers applied the Cube-and-Conquer paradigm, which is a hybrid of the SAT method for hard problems. It uses both look-ahead techniques and CDCL solvers. They also did some of the math on their own ahead of giving it over to the computer, by using several techniques to pare down the number of choices the supercomputer would have to check, down to just one trillion (from 10^2,300). Still the 800 processor supercomputer ran for two days to crunch its way through to a solution. After all its work, and spitting out the huge data file, the computer proof showed that yes, it was possible to color the integers in multiple allowable ways -- but only up to 7,824 -- after that point, the answer became no. Is the proof really a proof if it does not answer why there is a cut-off point at 7,825, or even why the first stretch is possible? Does it really exist?

Billionaire Technologist Accuses NASA Asteroid Mission of Bad Statistics ( 207

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Science Magazine: Nathan Myhrvold, ex-CTO of Microsoft, is accusing NASA of providing bad statistics on asteroid size. Mr. Myhrvold alleged that scientists using a prominent NASA space telescope have made fundamental mistakes in their assessment of the size of more than 157,000 asteroids they have observed. In a paper posted to the e-print repository on 22 May, Myhrvold takes aim at the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a space telescope launched in 2009, and a follow-on mission, NEOWISE, which together are responsible for the discovery of more asteroids than any other observatory. Yet Myhrvold says that the WISE and NEOWISE teams' papers are riddled with statistical missteps. "None of their results can be replicated," he tells ScienceInsider. "I found one irregularity after another" Myhrvold says the NASA teams have made mistakes, such as ignoring the margin of error introduced when extrapolating from a small sample size to an entire population. They also neglected to include Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation in their thermal models of the asteroids. Based on his own models, Myhrvold says that errors in the asteroid diameters based on WISE data should be 30%. In some cases, the size errors rise to as large as 300%. "Asteroids are more variable than we thought they were," he says. He has submitted the paper to the journal Icarus for review. However, the WISE and NEOWISE teams are standing by their results, and say that Myhrvold's criticism should be dismissed. "For every mistake I found in his paper, if I got a bounty, I would be rich," says Ned Wright, the principal investigator for WISE at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wright says that WISE's data match very well with two other infrared telescopes, AKARI and IRAS. To find out how accurately those infrared data determine the size of an asteroid, scientists have to calibrate them with radar observations, other observations made when asteroids pass in front of distant stars, and observations made by spacecraft up close. When they do that, Wright says, WISE's size errors end up at roughly 15%. Wright says his team doesn't have Myhrvold's computer codes, "so we don't know why he's screwing up." But Wright archly noted that Myhrvold once worked at Microsoft, so "is responsible in part for a lot of bad software."

Girls From Progressive Societies Do Better At Math, Study Finds ( 280

An anonymous reader writes: (edited and condensed)Research by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has found that the 'maths gender gap', the relative under performance of girls at maths, is much wider in societies with poor rates of gender equality. Published on Monday in the American Economic Review, the research shows that the performance gap between girls and boys is far less pronounced in societies that hold progressive and egalitarian views about the role of women. The researchers analyzed the relationship between maths scores of 11,527 15-year-old living in nine different countries and the Gender Gap Index (GGI) in their country of ancestry. The GGI measures economic and political opportunities, education, and well-being for women. The researchers found that the more gender equality in the country of ancestry, the higher the maths scores of girls relative to boys living in the same country. The findings were significant and robust even when the researchers controlled for other individual factors that may affect youths' maths performance. In particular, the results show that an increase of 0.05 points (or one standard deviation) in the GGI is associated with an increase in the performance of girls in maths, relative to boys, of 7.47 points -- equivalent to about one and a half months of schooling.

Seattle Seventh Grader Wins National Math Bee ( 106

Edward Wan, a Seattle-based seventh grader has won the national math bee. Wan, who studies at Lakeside Middle School, beat 224 other middle school students nationwide to win the 2016 Raytheon Mathcounts National Competition. From an Associated Press report: Competition officials said in a news release the 13-year-old won the final round by answering the question, "What is the remainder when 999,999,999 is divided by 32?" Wan gave the correct answer of 31 In just under seven seconds.Deadspin reports about the live streaming of the event: Today's Mathcounts national championship for middle-school mathletes aired on ESPN3, and it was definitely the best live sports anyone could be watching at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning. We couldn't agree more.

Airline Delays Flight Over Passenger's Suspicious Math Equations ( 512

Earthquake Retrofit shares this article from the Associated Press: "An Ivy League professor said his flight was delayed because a fellow passenger thought the math equations he was writing might be a sign he was a terrorist... He said the woman sitting next to him passed a note to a flight attendant and the plane headed back to the gate. Guido Menzio, who is Italian and has curly, dark hair, said the pilot then asked for a word and he was questioned by an official... "They tell me that the woman was concerned that I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper..." He was treated respectfully throughout, he added. But, he said, he was concerned about a delay that a brief conversation or an Internet search could have resolved. "Not seeking additional information after reports of 'suspicious activity'... is going to create a lot of problems, especially as xenophobic attitudes may be emerging."

Are We Alone In the Universe? Not Likely, According To Math ( 267

An anonymous reader writes: An equation, which calculates the probability of the evolution of other technological civilizations, has found that it's wildly unlikely we're the only time advanced society in the universe. Adam Frank from the University of Rochester and Woodruff Sullivan from the University of Washington base their new equation on the Drake equation, used for calculating the probability of extraterrestrial civilisation, written by astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake in 1961. The scientists also take into account Kepler, which suggests that one in five stars have planets in the habitable zone. Frank and Sullivan calculated that human civilisation is only unique if the odds of a civilisation developing on a habitable planet are less than one in 10 billion trillion. "One in 10 billion trillion is incredibly small. To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology producing species very likely have evolved before us," Frank said. Frank said: "Of course, we have no idea how likely it is that an intelligent technological species will evolve on a given habitable planet. But using our method we can tell exactly how low that probability would have to be for us to be the ONLY civilization the Universe has produced. We call that the pessimism line. If the actual probability is greater than the pessimism line, then a technological species and civilization has likely happened before."

How 'The Jungle Book' Made Its Animals Look So Real With Groundbreaking VFX ( 152

An anonymous reader shares an article on Inverse that looks into how The Jungle Book movie was made. Following are some of the interesting tidbits from the story: Directed by Jon Favreau, this version of The Jungle Book, which borrows from both Disney's 1967 cartoon and the original Rudyard Kipling novel, sets a new standard for life-like CGI animals. Shot entirely on a soundstage in downtown Los Angeles, it is sort of a hybrid of Avatar and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with one human performer surrounded by animated creatures -- the difference being that every effort was made to trick the audience into believing the animals were real. [...] For the most complicated scenes, the computational power required was astounding. "It would take 30-40 hours per frame, and since it's stereo [or 3D], it requires two frames to produce one frame of the movie -- at 2K, not even 4K," Oscar-winning visual effects director Rob Legato said. "So you can tell how much the computer has to figure out, exactly what it's doing, how it's bouncing, how much of the light is absorbed, because when it hits an object, some gets absorbed and some gets reflected." The math there is mind-boggling; it takes a full 24 frames to make up a single second of the movie, and most shots are between five and ten seconds. That required "literally thousands of computers," Legato said, and eventually, some creative solutions. "I think they started using the Google cloud, which has tens of thousands of computers, and sometimes it would take two or three days to render a shot, he said, exasperated at the mere thought of the process. As powerful as the computers were, they ultimately were just taking cues from the human innovators who spent years on the film. "In all this," Legato said, "there's no real computer that replaces the skill of the operator, of the person who is pushing the buttons."

DARPA's Latest Chip Is Designed To Be Bad At Arithmetic ( 192

Reader holy_calamity writes: Pentagon research agency DARPA has funded the creation of a chip incapable of correct arithmetic, in the hope of making computers better at understanding the real world. A chip that can't guarantee that every calculation is perfect can still get good results on many problems but needs fewer circuits and burns less energy, says Joseph Bates, cofounder and CEO of Singular Computing. The S1 chip can process noisy data like video very efficiently because it doesn't need the extra circuits or operations needed to ensure every mathematical operation is performed perfectly. This summer DARPA will put five prototype computers, each equipped with 16 of the inexact S1 chips, online for researchers to experiment with.

Golden State and the Mathematical Magic of Seventy-Three ( 102

Charles Bethea has written a fascinating piece on the number '73' for The New Yorker. Below are some tidbits from the story but I urge you to hit the New Yorker link and read the story in entirety there. Bethea writes: "I am aware of the Warriors's push for seventy-three wins," Ken Ono, a professor of mathematics at Emory University and the author of "The Web of Modularity: Arithmetic of the Coefficients of Modular Forms and q-series," said recently. [...] Professor Ono worked as a math consultant on a film called "The Man Who Knew Infinity," which stars Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, and which screens this week at the Tribeca Film Festival, in New York. The movie centers on the friendship of the legendary Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (Patel) and his Cambridge University colleague G. H. Hardy (Irons), and it depicts a famous story that Hardy once told about Ramanujan. "I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney," Hardy said. "I had ridden in taxicab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. "No," he replied. "It is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways." One cubed plus twelve cubed, and nine cubed plus ten cubed. This was the first of what came to be known as "taxicab numbers." [...] So what does Professor Ono think of seventy-three? "I really like the number seventy-three," he said. "It is the sixth 'emirp.'" An emirp, he explained, is a prime number that remains prime when its digits are reversed. (Emirp, of course, is 'prime' spelled backward.)

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