2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-12-06 13:46:56 UTC
2018-12-07 12:02:58 UTC
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Facebook AI Research is open-sourcing some of the conversational AI tech it is using to power its Portal video chat display and M suggestions on Facebook Messenger.
The company announced today that its PyTorch-based PyText NLP framework is now available to developers.
Natural language processing deals with how systems parse human language and are able to make decisions and derive insights. The PyText framework, which the company sees as a conduit for AI researchers to move more quickly between experimentation and deployment, will be particularly useful for tasks like document classification, sequence tagging, semantic parsing and multitask modeling, among others, Facebook says.
In the 1980s oceanographer and Naval Reserve commanding officer Robert Ballard found the resting place of the Titanic. It turns out that as part of the deal to get funding for the search from the US Navy, he was to first find the two missing nuclear submarines, the Thresher and the Scorpion, both of which sank in the 1960s. After finding both submarines, he located the remains of the Titanic in only 8 days by finding and following its debris trail, leaving the last 4 days of the mission to examine the wreck.
It starts in 1982, when Ballard, who had performed a number of top-secret Naval missions during the Cold War, was developing his own remotely-operated underwater vehicle.
Unable to get science grants, he asked Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Ronald Thunman if the Navy would help fund his project. "He said, 'All my life I've wanted to go find the Titanic.' And I was taken aback by that," Thunman recalled. "I said, 'Come on, this is a serious, top secret operation. Find the Titanic? That's crazy!'"
Thunman did say yes, but only if Ballard used the funds and the time to find two missing U.S. nuclear submarines – the Thresher and the Scorpion – which had sunk in the Atlantic in the 1960s.
Earlier on SN:
Titanic Engineering Facts (2015)
Blizzard may only have seven active games listed on its Battle.net launcher at the moment, but that list includes some of the biggest in the gaming world. So when the company announces it's shifting its development priorities away from one of those ongoing online titles, it's a big deal.
So it is with last night's surprise update on the status of Blizzard-universe MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard now says "we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects," and thus have "made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams."
This doesn't mean the immediate end of the game or anything of the sort. Blizzard promises continued active support, "with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change." We're guessing that last part means the "cadence" will get less frequent, for what it's worth.
When does the risk of a publisher dropping support for an online game platform hurt the chance that gamers will pony up in the first place?
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On Nov. 26, NASA's InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight's exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
The InSight lander, its heat shield and parachute were spotted by HiRISE (which stands for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) in one set of images last week on Dec. 6, and again on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The lander, heat shield and parachute are within 1,000 feet (several hundred meters) of one another on Elysium Planitia, the flat lava plain selected as InSight's landing location.
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Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and [provide] speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved functionality in a material called molybdenum ditelluride. The two-dimensional material stacks into multiple layers to build a memory cell.
Chip-maker companies have long called for better memory technologies to enable a growing network of smart devices. One of these next-generation possibilities is resistive random access memory, or RRAM for short. [...] A material would need to be robust enough for storing and retrieving data at least trillions of times, but materials currently used have been too unreliable. So RRAM hasn't been available yet for widescale use on computer chips. Molybdenum ditelluride could potentially last through all those cycles.
"We haven't yet explored system fatigue using this new material, but our hope is that it is both faster and more reliable than other approaches due to the unique switching mechanism we've observed," Joerg Appenzeller, Purdue University's Barry M. and Patricia L. Epstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the scientific director of nanoelectronics at the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
Electric-field induced structural transition in vertical MoTe2- and Mo1–xWxTe2-based resistive memories (DOI: 10.1038/s41563-018-0234-y) (DX)
It's not often you open a mathematical research paper and find a Pablo Neruda poem. But a new study in the journal Nature Human Behavior begins just like that: "Es tan corto el amor, y tan largo el olvido." Translation? "Love is so short, forgetting is so long."
The paper, titled "The universal decay of collective memory and attention," is an ambitious attempt to turn the slow slippage of cultural memory—the way a hit song lingers, or doesn't—into a quantitative method for measuring the way our attention to various cultural products declines. It seeks, in other words, to turn the most abstract cognitive phenomenon into a cold, hard equation.
[...] The process of decline was similar among all of the artifacts the researchers studied, but the amount of time it took for each to fade varied by domain. Biographies lasted the longest, circulating in the collective memory for 20 to 30 years. Music disappeared the fastest, lasting just 5.6 years on average.
[...] The work could fuel research into our species' tendency to forget large spans of history, with landmark events tucked away into our cultural memory, sans context of the surrounding years and minus the perspective of characters we don't care for. Perhaps understanding how quickly these historical moments fade—morphing from the truth we lived to the condensed narrative we save for posterity—could keep us from constantly repeating ourselves.
Sorry for the long link to the paper. The shorter link gives access to the abstract.
[Paper - Abstract] The universal decay of collective memory and attention
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As President Donald Trump threatened to allow a government shutdown if Congress did not provide funding for his proposed wall along the Mexican border, a Republican congressman from Ohio offered up alternative routes to getting the wall built: through Internet crowdfunding or through an initial coin offering.
During an interview with NPR's Morning Edition on December 12, Rep. Warren Davidson said that he had offered what he referred to as a "modest proposal" in the form of his "Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act." The bill, which he submitted on November 30, would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to accept monetary gifts from anyone "on the condition that it be used to plan, design, construct, or maintain a barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico." The funds would go into an account called the "Border Wall Trust Fund," and a public website would be set up to process donations electronically.
Rep. Davidson told NPR's Steve Inskeep that the donations could come from anyone and be gathered in a number of ways."You could do it with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site," Davidson explained. "Or you could do it with blockchain—you could have Wall Coins."
Each day in India’s capital, New Delhi, hundreds of thousands of people take a quiet subway across the crowded suburbs to reach their work. The relative calm is interrupted every few minutes as the train reaches a station and an ever-growing population jostles to find a seat. Seconds later, everyone returns their attention to their smartphone screen, resuming the comedy sketch they were watching on YouTube.
More than 7,500 miles away, executives at Netflix are scrambling for new strategies to court this audience. Earlier this year, CEO Reed Hastings, who has identified sleep as the biggest competition to his service on multiple occasions, wondered out loud if the next 100 million Netflix subscribers are in India.
They probably are, but YouTube, not sleep, has already claimed them.
The story posits that YouTube is overtaking Netflix because it is more mobile-friendly.
After going missing on Christmas Day five years ago, deep ocean measuring equipment belonging to the UK's National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has just been found on a beach in Tasmania by a local resident after making an incredible 14,000 km journey across the ocean.
In 2011, this deep-ocean lander instrument was deployed by NOC scientists in the northern Drake Passage, which is a narrow section of the ocean between South America and Antarctica. Measuring ocean bottom pressure here helps provide information on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is the largest ocean current in the world. The instrument was due to spend two years collecting data at a depth of 1100 metres, before being recovered on Christmas Day in 2013 by a research expedition on the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Clark Ross, operated by British Antarctic Survey. However it did not return to the surface as planned for reasons that are not clear, possibly due to something getting tangled up with the release mechanism.
After being presumed lost, the deep ocean instrument frame was discovered washed up on a beach on the western tip of Tasmania. After being made aware of the find, the manufacturers were able to use the serial numbers on two of the sensors on the frame to trace the NOC as the owners and contact them.
The image in the article serves up robust testimony to the differential ability of the probe's materials to resist marine fouling.
Over the years, there has been considerable discussion of Google's "filter bubble" problem. Put simply, it's the manipulation of your search results based on your personal data. In practice this means links are moved up or down or added to your Google search results, necessitating the filtering of other search results altogether. These editorialized results are informed by the personal information Google has on you (like your search, browsing, and purchase history), and puts you in a bubble based on what Google's algorithms think you're most likely to click on.
The filter bubble is particularly pernicious when searching for political topics. That's because undecided and inquisitive voters turn to search engines to conduct basic research on candidates and issues in the critical time when they are forming their opinions on them. If they’re getting information that is swayed to one side because of their personal filter bubbles, then this can have a significant effect on political outcomes in aggregate.
This is a moderately long read, as web pages go. IMO, it's well worth the time.
The code that we wrote to analyze the data is open source and available on our GitHub repository.
duckduckgo-filter-bubble-study-2018_participants.xls contains the instructions we sent to each participant, as well as basic anonymized data for each participant.
duckduckgo-filter-bubble-study-2018_raw-search-results.xls contains a separate sheet for search results per query and per mode (private and non-private). The results are listed as they appeared on the screen for each participant, showing both organic domains and infoboxes such as Top Stories (news), Videos, etc.
[...] Assuming these electric aircraft could be built, would they actually lower emissions? At present, no. Given the average emissions involved with powering the US grid, the emissions involved with powering an electric aircraft (including losses during transmission) would be about 20 percent higher than those generated by a modern, efficient jet engine. That doesn't mean they'd be entirely useless from a climate perspective, though. Once the additional warming effects of aircraft are taken into consideration, the electric aircraft comes out ahead by about 30 percent.
Future considerations complicate things pretty quickly, though. The price of renewable energy is expected to keep dropping, which will make renewables a larger part of the grid, lowering the emissions. The authors estimate that the vast majority of charging will take place during daylight hours—the peak of solar production—as well. Assuming future solar production leads to a discount on electric use during the day, it could help the economics of electric aircraft; currently, they only make sense economically with fuel at about $100/barrel.
How all of this would affect air travel is very sensitive to the capacity of future batteries. The authors estimate that an effective range of about 1,100 kilometers would allow electric aircraft to cover 15 percent of the total air miles (and corresponding fuel use) and nearly half the total flights. That would raise the total electricity demand by about one percent globally, although most of that would affect industrialized nations. Upping the range to 2,200 kilometers would allow 80 percent of the global flight total to be handled by electric aircraft.
Zeppelins still don't seem to figure into the answer.
[...] only 17% of their [elderly] clients currently access the internet. As Jack explains: "Family and friends often use technology to find out things for me when I am stuck. However, most of my friends do not have internet access. They did not use technology in their working lives, as they were either farmers or manual workers. They still just ring people up or ask their children or grandchildren to use technology for them."
Technology can help, as long as it focuses on helping older people with overcoming the concerns that hold them back from meeting people outside the house. Using the insights from the research, we developed an app that draws on open data about events and volunteering opportunities nearby.
Older people can create user profiles to set their preferences for events according to cost and location. They can then review the transport options and routes to the event on an age-friendly map which includes the location of bus stops and car parks as well as nearby toilets and benches. If they select an event they want to attend, it's recorded in a calendar. The app can also be accessed by family, friends or carers who can search and plan on their behalf. This allows for the app to also be beneficial to older adults that do not have internet access.
But, even with this support, it's striking how few listings of events and transport options were available for older people over the festive period. Without more efforts to remedy the crisis of loneliness and isolation in the elderly, the festive season may still be anything but a season of cheer for many.
If kids and grandkids can't go to grandma's house, an app can help grandma come to them?
Microbes could become key allies in global efforts to curb carbon emissions and avoid dangerous climate change. A group of microbes called chemolithoautotrophs consume CO2 through their natural metabolism, spitting out small organic molecules as a byproduct. These microbes could be enlisted to convert industrial CO2 emissions into valuable chemicals, thanks to a new concept developed by Pascal Saikaly and his team at KAUST.
[...] To harness chemolithoautotroph capabilities for recycling CO2 emissions into useful chemicals, researchers supply electrons to the microbes in a process called microbial electrosynthesis (MES). Typically, MES reactors have grown chemolithoautotrophs on a submerged flat-sheet cathode and bubbled CO2 gas into the solution, but this setup has two key limitations, explains Manal Alqahtani, also a Ph.D student in the team. Flat-sheet cathodes are difficult to scale up and CO2 gas has poor solubility.
The team developed an alternative MES reactor using cathodes made from stackable, cylindrical porous nickel fibers that Saikaly's group had previously applied to recover water and energy from wastewater. CO2 is pumped through each cylinder, and electrons flow along it. "Using this architecture, we directly deliver CO2 gas to chemolithoautotrophs through the pores in the hollow fibers," Alqahtani says. "We provided electrons and CO2 simultaneously to chemolithoautotrophs on the cathode surface."
Will the microbes demand minimum wage for remediating our excess carbon dioxide?
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You're probably used to the presence of facial recognition cameras at airports and other transport hubs, but what about at concerts? That's the step Taylor Swift's team took at her May 18th show at the Rose Bowl, in a bid to identify her stalkers. According to Rolling Stone, the camera was hidden inside a display kiosk at the event, and sent images of anyone who stopped to look at the display to a "command post" in Nashville, where they were cross-referenced with other photos of the star's known stalkers.
As the target of numerous death and rape threats, Swift arguably has a valid motivation for leveraging such technology. However, it's unclear who has ownership of the photos of her concertgoers, or how long they will remain on file. Her representatives have also not yet responded to queries as to whether fans knew about the cameras.
Nearly two years before the U.S. government's first known inquiry into the activities of Reddit co-founder and famed digital activist Aaron Swartz, the FBI swept up his email data in a counterterrorism investigation that also ensnared students at an American university, according to a once-secret document first published by Gizmodo.
The email data belonging to Swartz, who was likely not the target of the counterterrorism investigation, was cataloged by the FBI and accessed more than a year later as it weighed potential charges against him for something wholly unrelated. The legal practice of storing data on Americans who are not suspected of crimes, so that it may be used against them later on, has long been denounced by civil liberties experts, who've called on courts and lawmakers to curtail the FBI's "radically" expansive search procedures.
The government does store information indefinitely that can be used against you later at a more convenient time.