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The Courts

Anonymous Peer-review Comments May Spark Legal Battle 15

Posted by Soulskill
from the jig-is-up dept.
sciencehabit writes: The power of anonymous comments — and the liability of those who make them — is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts — provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says.
AI

CIA Tested Primitive Chatbots For Interrogation In the 1980s 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the after-their-human-interrogators-couldn't-pass-the-turing-test dept.
New submitter ted_pikul writes: Newly declassified documents reveal that, 30 years ago, the CIA pitted one of its own agents against an artificial intelligence interrogator in an attempt to see whether or not the technology would be useful. The documents, written in 1983, describe a series of experimental tests (PDF) in which the CIA repeatedly interrogated its own agent using a primitive AI called Analiza. The intelligence on display in the transcript is clearly undeveloped, and seems to contain a mixed bag of predetermined threats made to goad interrogation subjects into spilling their secrets as well as open-ended lines of questioning.
Censorship

DuckDuckGo Now Blocked In China 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the fowl-play-suspected dept.
wabrandsma sends this news from Tech In Asia: Privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo is now blocked in China. On Sunday DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to Tech in Asia that the team has noticed the blockage in China on Twitter. DuckDuckGo had been working fine in mainland China since its inception, aside from the occasional 'connection reset' experienced when accessing many overseas websites from within the country. But now the search engine is totally blocked in China. ... [T]he GreatFire index of blocked sites suggest that DuckDuckGo got whacked on September 4. DuckDuckGo joins Google in being censored and blocked in the nation. Google, after years of being throttled by China's Great Firewall since the web giant turned off its mainland China servers in 2010, was finally blocked totally in June this year.
The Military

US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the guess-they-ran-on-XP dept.
FreedomFirstThenPeac writes: As a former Cold Warrior (both launch officer side and staff analytical mathematician side), I now appreciate the bitterness I saw in former WW2 warriors when they would see a Japanese car. According to the NY Times, a new assembly plant in Kansas is "part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for 'a nuclear-free world' and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy." Mind you, Mutual Assured Destruction is a dangerous path, and one we managed to negotiate only because we were lucky (and we were) and because we were careful (and we were).

As a strategy, it only works with rational people (e.g., world powers with lots to lose) who might have irrational expectations that they will win in the long run. (The rapid fall of imperialist Russia was helpful — I have seen blackboard talks on this as a mathematical result in game theory. This speed minimized the time we spent in the high-risk regions while transiting from MAD to where we were in the 1990s). The Times article says, "The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads. Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return."
Technology

Assembling a Micro-scale Biochemistry Lab Like Snapping LEGOs Together 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-won't-hurt-as-much-when-you-step-on-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microfluidic systems promise to bring the same level of precision and control seen in the electronics industry to chemistry and the life sciences. Typically, devices are fabricated at substantial cost and using borrowed techniques from the semiconductor industry. Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have invented a system of discrete microfluidic elements akin to those found in electronic board design. It was inspired by the ease with which LEGO bricks are assembled into a larger structure, and finally allows for the rapid prototyping of "Lab-on-Chip" devices. The original paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Operating Systems

Outlining Thin Linux 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the tux-on-a-diet dept.
snydeq writes: Deep End's Paul Venezia follows up his call for splitting Linux distros in two by arguing that the new shape of the Linux server is thin, light, and fine-tuned to a single purpose. "Those of us who build and maintain large-scale Linux infrastructures would be happy to see a highly specific, highly stable mainstream distro that had no desktop package or dependency support whatsoever, so was not beholden to architectural changes made due to desktop package requirements. When you're rolling out a few hundred Linux VMs locally, in the cloud, or both, you won't manually log into them, much less need any type of graphical support. Frankly, you could lose the framebuffer too; it wouldn't matter unless you were running certain tests," Venezia writes. "It's only a matter of time before a Linux distribution that caters solely to these considerations becomes mainstream and is offered alongside more traditional distributions."
Government

Service Promises To Leak Your Documents If the Government Murders You 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-anything-happens-to-me dept.
Jason Koebler writes With all the conspiracy theories surrounding some high-profile deaths in recent years, how can you, theoretical whistleblower with highly sensitive documents, be assured that your information gets leaked if you're murdered in some government conspiracy? A new dark web service says it's got your back. "Dead Man Zero" claims to offer potential whistleblowers a bit more peace of mind by providing a system that will automatically publish and distribute their secrets should they die, get jailed, or get injured.
Build

The UPS Store Will 3-D Print Stuff For You 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the quick-print dept.
mpicpp writes with news that UPS will be expanding their 3D printing services. UPS announced plans Monday to bring in-store 3-D-printing services to nearly 100 stores across the country, billing itself as the first national retailer to do so. With the UPS system, customers can submit their own designs for objects like product prototypes, engineering parts and architectural models that are then printed on a professional-quality 3-D printer made by Stratasys. Prices vary depending on the complexity of the object; an iPhone case would be about $60, while a replica femur bone would be around $325. UPS can also connect customers with outside professionals who charge an hourly rate to help produce a design file for the printer. It generally takes about four or five hours to print a simple object, with more complex items taking a day or more. The program started as a pilot at six locations last year, and UPS says those stores "saw demand for 3-D print continuing to increase across a broad spectrum of customers."
Iphone

Apple Sells More Than 10 Million New iPhones In First 3 Days 168

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes Apple has announced that it sold over 10 million new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models, just three days after the launch on September 19. From the article: "Chief Executive Tim Cook said the company could have sold even more iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models if supplies had been available. Analysts had estimated first-weekend sales of up to 10 million iPhones, after Apple booked record pre-orders of 4 million on Sept. 12, the day pre-orders opened."
Science

Ancient Campfires Led To the Rise of Storytelling 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the pull-up-a-stump dept.
sciencehabit writes A study of evening campfire conversations by the Ju/'hoan people of Namibia and Botswana suggests that by extending the day, fire allowed people to unleash their imaginations and tell stories, rather than merely focus on mundane topics. As scientists report, whereas daytime talk was focused almost entirely on economic issues, land rights, and complaints about other people, 81% of the firelight conversation was devoted to telling stories, including tales about people from other Ju/'hoan communities. The team suggests that campfires allowed human ancestors to expand their minds in a similar way and also solidified social networks.
Privacy

Before Using StingRays, Police Must Sign NDA With FBI 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-first-rule-of-tracking-club dept.
v3rgEz writes Advanced cell phone tracking devices known as StingRays allow police nationwide to home in on suspects and to log individuals present at a given location. But before acquiring a StingRay, state and local police must sign a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI, according to documents released via a MuckRock FOIA request. As Shawn Musgrave reports, it's an unusual setup arrangement for two public agencies to swear each other to secrecy, but such maneuvers are becoming more common.
Robotics

New Long-Range RFID Technology Helps Robots Find Household Objects 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-signal dept.
HizookRobotics writes Georgia Tech researchers announced a new way robots can "sense" their surroundings through the use of small ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification (UHF RFID) tags. Inexpensive self-adhesive tags can be stuck on objects, allowing an RFID-equipped robot to search a room for the correct tag's signal, even when the object is hidden out of sight. Once the tag is detected, the robot knows the object it's trying to find isn't far away. The researchers' methods, summarized over at IEEE: "The robot goes to the spot where it got the hottest signal from the tag it was looking for, zeroing in on it based on the signal strength that its shoulder antennas are picking up: if the right antenna is getting a stronger signal, the robot yaws right, and vice versa."
Moon

Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-proves-nothing dept.
schwit1 writes Using its new top-shelf graphics processing unit, Nvidia tackles one of the most persistent conspiracy theories in American history: the veracity of the 1969 to 1972 Apollo moon landings. From the article: "'Global illumination is the hardest task to solve as a game company,' Scott Herkelman, Nvidia's GeForce general manager, said in an interview. 'Virtual point lights don't do a bad job when the environment stays the same, but a game developer has to fake shadows, fake reflections...it's a labor-intensive process.' So when a Nvidia research engineer used the company's new dynamic lighting techniques to show off a side-by-side comparison between an Apollo 11 photo and a GeForce-powered re-creation, the company knew it had a novel demo on its hands. 'We're going to debunk one of the biggest conspiracies in the world,' Herkelman said."
Space

"Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
An anonymous reader writes Scientists have shown that the swirl pattern touted as evidence of primordial gravitational waves — ripples in space and time dating to the universe's explosive birth — could instead all come from magnetically aligned dust. A new analysis of data from the Planck space telescope has concluded that the tiny silicate and carbonate particles spewed into interstellar space by dying stars could account for as much as 100 percent of the signal detected by the BICEP2 telescope and announced to great fanfare this spring. The Planck analysis is "relatively definitive in that we can't exclude that the entirety of our signal is from dust," said Brian Keating, an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of the BICEP2 collaboration.
Medicine

Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75" 388

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
HughPickens.com writes Ezekiel J. Emanuel, director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the US National Institutes of Health, writes at The Atlantic that there is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. "It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic." Emanuel says that he is isn't asking for more time than is likely nor foreshortening his life but is talking about the kind and amount of health care he will consent to after 75. "Once I have lived to 75, my approach to my health care will completely change. I won't actively end my life. But I won't try to prolong it, either." Emanuel says that Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. "I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop."

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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