Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Google's AI Bot Thinks The Purpose Of Life Is 'To Live Forever'

from businessinsider.com: This week, Google released a research paper chronicling one of its latest forays into artificial intelligence.

Researchers at the company programmed an advanced type of “chatbot” that learns how to respond in conversations based on examples from a training set of dialogue.

And the bot doesn’t just answer by spitting out canned answers in response to certain words; it can form new answers from new questions.

This means Google’s researchers could get a little creative with it, and they certainly did — they asked the bot everything from boring IT questions to the meaning of life.

The responses were alternately impressive, amusing, and unnerving.

Here are some of the most poetic interactions from the paper (sic):

Human: What is the purpose of life?
Machine: To serve the greater good.
Human: What is the purpose of living?
Machine: To live forever.
Human: Where are you now?
Machine: I’m in the middle of nowhere.
Human: What is the purpose of dying?
Machine: To have a life.
Human: What is the purpose of emotions?
Machine: I don’t know.
Human: What is moral?
Machine: What empowered humanity, what intellectual the essence is.
Human: What is immoral?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#X37B Still Largely Unexplained

X-37B Still Largely Unexplained: "The fourth mission of the X-37B robot spaceplane is well underway. We know much of what is happening with the flight. There's a test of a Hall Effect thruster for the US Air Force and a set of materials samples provided by NASA. Beyond this, little else is known. On previous X-37B missions, there has been plenty of disclosure about the spacecraft itself, but little talk about the payloads concealed under its clamshell doors. This time, it's the reverse. We know a lot about the payloads carried on board, but not much about the X-37B itself!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

'Intruder Spray': Subway Restaurant Armed With Traceable Synthetic DNA Mist

from RT.com: A Subway restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee is now equipped with a product known as SelectaDNA, which aims to tag anyone who breaks in with an identifying spray containing a DNA code viewable only under ultraviolet light.

The "intruder spray," as it is nicknamed, contains “a unique DNA code which can be used to uniquely mark and trace both items of property and criminals," according to its manufacturer, SelectaDNA.

The spray's US distributor, Johan Larsen, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the product is already in use in Australia and Europe.

The newspaper's report said the spray is "traceable for weeks," and can only be viewed “with a glow under ultraviolet light.”
If not identified by ultraviolet light, a suspect's clothing, for example, could be tested to see if the spray's owner-specific synthetic DNA is a match.

Monday, May 11, 2015

#GoodNewsNextWeek: $9 Microcomputer Kickstarting a Revolution?

from cnet.com: What can you do with a $9 computer? Just about anything. A new microcomputer called Chip is hot on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. It promises an easy way to learn how to program with a tiny board that packs Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and internal storage -- something you don't find in another popular microcomputer, Raspberry Pi.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Metallica Sued Napster 15 Years Ago Today

...and the fight between Tech and Media has continued ever since.

from theverge.com: April 13th, 2000. The day the music industry and the internet became best frenemies forever.

That's the day Metallica v. Napster, Inc. was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California — a case that would come to national prominence, pave the way for Steve Jobs and Apple to create the iTunes and iPod juggernaut, and ultimately lock the tech and media industries in a battle that rages on to this day. When Taylor Swift complains about Spotify, the arguments are an echo of Metallica v. Napster. When Jay Z, BeyoncĂ©, Kanye, Rihanna, and all of their friends go on about Tidal, that's an echo of Metallica v. Napster.

The internet upended the media industry, and it's still trying to recover. Metallica v. Napster was just the first attempt.

A very short history: in 1999, a kid named Shawn Fanning created a very simple peer-to-peer music sharing application called Napster. It was essentially just a glorified file browser; the barebones interface showed you MP3 files on various computers connected to the service and allowed you to download them. By default, your files were shared in return.

This, of course, was illegal. You can't distribute copyrighted recordings, even if teenagers and music nerds have been making tapes and mixes forever. The difference was in scale; while handing out a few mixtapes to friends resulted mostly in the industry stamping "HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC" on the backs of cassettes, Napster posed a very real existential threat: if everyone was getting and sharing music for free, no one would ever buy it.

And for a band like Metallica, there were even worse repercussions: a leaked recording of the track "I Disappear" from the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack made its way onto Napster, and then onto the radio before its official release. This so incensed the band that it filed suit against the fledgling company, and drummer Lars Ulrich became an outspoken defender of artists facing the disruption of free internet distribution.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#NASA Creates Open Database of Space Station Research

from al.com: NASA is opening its files on research conducted aboard the International Space Station. The space agency hopes the crowdsourcing will stimulate new research on the orbiting laboratory. The information database is called Physical Science Informatics and was created by specialists at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. All search results at the website are sortable and include combustion science, complex fluids, fundamental physics, materials science and biophysics.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Japan Slams Brakes On Uber Taxi Service

from channelnewsasia.com: Japan has slammed the brakes on taxi service Uber less than a month after it launched a pilot programme in the country, with a government official saying Wednesday (Mar 4) it likely violates transport laws.

The development marked another blow for the web-based taxi app, which has become an object of scorn from traditional taxi companies in many countries fighting for survival against the rise of the Silicon Valley challenger.

"Last Friday, we met with Uber Japan officials and told them to stop the pilot programme immediately because we suspect it breaches Japanese transport law," a transport ministry official told AFP.

"There are two major problems with their project. First, it could be considered an unlicensed taxi business if they use regular drivers, and second, there are safety concerns" including a lack of insurance.

Responding to the move, Uber said it would continue to talk with officials and said the service would be a plus for urban transport in rapidly-ageing Japan.