2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-01-12 01:33:11 UTC
2019-01-13 15:56:06 UTC
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It's been nearly three months since many Google employees—and the public—learned about the company's decision to provide artificial intelligence to a controversial military pilot program known as Project Maven, which aims to speed up analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people. Now, about a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the company's continued involvement in Maven.
[...] The employees who are resigning in protest, several of whom discussed their decision to leave with Gizmodo, say that executives have become less transparent with their workforce about controversial business decisions and seem less interested in listening to workers' objections than they once did. In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defense Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones. But some employees believe humans, not algorithms, should be responsible for this sensitive and potentially lethal work—and that Google shouldn't be involved in military work at all.
The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has revealed a manufacturing technique (called wafer-on-wafer or WoW) that could allow CPUs and GPUs to take their first step towards vertical scaling:
Instead of one wafer per chip, future GPUs may include two or more wafers stacked vertically, which would double the performance without the need to develop new horizontal designs every 2 years. A dual wafer setup, for example, would be achieved by flipping the upper wafer over the lower one, binding both via a flip-chip package. Thus, future GPUs could include multiple wafers in one die and the operating system could detect it as a multi-processor graphics card, eliminating the need for SLI setups.
One shortcoming for this technology would be its lower manufacturing yields for sizes lower than 16 nm. If one of the stacked wafers does not pass the QA, the entire stack is discarded, leading to low yields and poor cost effectiveness. TSMC is currently working to improve this technology so that sub-12 nm processes could equally benefit from it.
Not discussed is how to deal with the heat generated in such a stack.
A high-energy survey of the early Universe, an infrared observatory to study the formation of stars, planets and galaxies, and a Venus orbiter are to be considered for ESA's fifth medium class mission in its Cosmic Vision science programme, with a planned launch date in 2032.
The three candidates, the Transient High Energy Sky and Early Universe Surveyor (Theseus), the SPace Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (Spica), and the EnVision mission to Venus were selected from 25 proposals put forward by the scientific community.
Theseus, Spica and EnVision will be studied in parallel and a final decision is expected in 2021.
THESEUS would study gamma-ray bursts and x-ray emissions from the early universe, with the goal of making a complete census of gamma-ray bursts from the universe's first billion years.
SPICA would cover longer infrared wavelengths (12 µm "mid-infrared" to 230 µm "far-infrared") than the James Webb Space Telescope (0.6 µm "orange" to 28.5 µm "mid-infrared"), with two orders of magnitude more sensitivity than the Spitzer and Herschel infrared telescopes. The mission would be a collaboration between the ESA and Japan's JAXA.
EnVision would orbit Venus and look for volcanic, tectonic, and atmospheric changes.
Also at EarthSky.
Bloomberg writes about how Microsoft turned consumers against a once popular brand, Skype. Before its sale in 2011, Skype was quite popular despite many shortcomings. After its purchase, existing shortcomings have been amplified and new ones added.
In March tech investor and commentator Om Malik summarized the negativity by tweeting that Skype was "a turd of the highest quality" and directing his ire at its owner. "Way to ruin Skype and its experience. I was forced to use it today, but never again."
Microsoft Corp. says the criticism is overblown and reflects, in part, people's grumpiness with software updates. There are also other factors undermining users' affection for an internet tool that 15 years ago introduced the idea of making calls online, radically resetting the telecommunications landscape in the process.
The purchase price was $8.5 billion USD, which will be hard to recover from Skype itself, so other factors must be at play but are not mentioned.
Launched in 2016 with the sprawling ambition to build large genomes, the synthetic biology initiative known as Genome Project–write (GP-write) is now, slowly, getting down to specifics. Ahead of a meeting today in Boston, GP-write's leadership announced a plan to organize its international group of collaborators around a "community-wide project": engineering cells to resist viral infection.
GP-write's original proposal to design and assemble an entire human genome from scratch seems to have receded from view since the project's rocky launch, when a private meeting of its founders sparked accusations of secrecy and speculations about labmade humans. A proposal published weeks later in Science described GP-write as a decadelong effort to reduce by more than 1000-fold the cost of engineering and testing large genomes consisting of hundreds of millions of DNA letters.
The narrower project announced today—redesigning the genomes of cells from humans and other species to make them "ultrasafe"—represents "a theme that could run through all of GP-write," says geneticist Jef Boeke of New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, who leads the project along with Harvard University geneticist George Church, lawyer Nancy Kelley of Nancy J Kelley + Associates in New York City, and biotechnology catalyst Andrew Hessel of the San Francisco, California–based software company Autodesk Research.
In recent years [...] satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet's flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump's administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.
It's go time for that legal battle that refuses to die: Apple v. Samsung.
The two smartphone giants will meet in a San Jose, California, court for a week starting Monday to determine how much Samsung owes for illegally using three Apple design patents and two utility patents. The lawsuit, initially filed in 2011, made it all the way to the Supreme Court in late 2016 before being sent back to the lower court. This will be the third district court trial for the case.
Samsung has already been found to infringe Apple's patents. The argument centers on how much it owes Apple for copying some of its patented features, like the rectangular shape of the iPhone. Previously, Samsung paid $548 million, and $399 million of that is being reconsidered in this trial.
The South Korean company hopes to pay less by using a Supreme Court decision that changed how the parties may calculate the damages.
[...] Only $399 million of the $548 million paid to Apple -- considered the "additional remedy" amount under Section 289 of the Patent Act of 1952 (35 U.S.C. 289) -- is being examined in the 2018 retrial. The additional $149 million in damages Samsung paid Apple isn't at stake.
Now that the Supreme Court has said damages can be based on a portion of a product, not necessarily the entire infringing device, Samsung hopes the jury will award a smaller damages amount to Apple.
[...] In December 2015, Samsung asked the Supreme Court to examine the decisions reached by lower courts. It wanted the nation's highest court to determine whether design patent damages could be based on part of a device, not the entire gadget.
The court accepted the request and held a hearing in October 2016 -- the first time it had examined a design patent case since the 1800s. It ultimately agreed with Samsung and said damages could be determined differently than in the past.
Apple and Samsung faced off at the Supreme Court in October 2016.
That ruling reshaped the value of designs and how much one company may have to pay for copying the look of a competitor's product. Previously, an infringing "article of manufacture" was considered an entire device. Now an article of manufacture can be only a small portion of a device, which would limit the amount of damages that can be awarded.
Instead of making a decision on the damages themselves, the justices sent the case back to the lower court to determine the process for deciding how much money is owed for infringement.
That's the crux of this trial. Though the Supreme Court decision said an article of manufacture could be based on which part of a product infringes a patent, instead of the entire product, it didn't say how to decide that.
Famed hardware hacker Bunnie Huang announces his newest project and goes into detail about how trouble from the DMCA was the impetus. He comments that unchecked power to license freedom of expression should not be trusted to corporate interests. The project, NeTV2, is being crowdfunded.
I'd like to share a project I'm working on that could have an impact on your future freedoms in the digital age. It's an open video development board I call NeTV2.
It's related to a lawsuit I've filed with the help of the EFF against the US government to reform Section 1201 of the DMCA. Currently, Section 1201 imbues media cartels with nearly unchecked power to prevent us from innovating and expressing ourselves, thus restricting our right to free speech.
At Boing Boing : Innovation should be legal; that's why I'm launching NeTV2
Intel announced today that it is forming a strategic research alliance to take artificial intelligence to the next level. Autonomous systems don't have good enough ways to respond to the uncertainties of the real world, and they don't have a good enough way to understand how the uncertainties of their sensors should factor into the decisions they need to make. According to Intel CTO Mike Mayberry the answer is "probabilistic computing", which he says could be AI's next wave.
IEEE Spectrum: What motivated this new research thrust?
Mike Mayberry: We're trying to figure out what the next wave of AI is. The original wave of AI is based on logic and it's based on writing down rules; it's closest to what you'd call classical reasoning. The current wave of AI is around sensing and perception—using a convolutional neural net to scan an image and see if something of interest is there. Those two by themselves don't add up to all the things that human beings do naturally as they navigate the world.
[...] So we've been doing a certain amount of internal work and with academia, and we've decided that there's enough here that we're going to kick off a research community. The goal is to have people share what they know about it, collaborate on it, figure out how you represent probability when you write software, and how you construct computer hardware. We think this will be ... part of the third wave of AI. We don't think we're done there, we think there are other things as well, but this will be around probabilistic computing.
Intel embraces defective computing.
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
In a victory for privacy rights at the border, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled that forensic searches of electronic devices carried out by border agents without any suspicion that the traveler has committed a crime violate the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling in U.S. v. Kolsuz is the first federal appellate case after the Supreme Court's seminal decision in Riley v. California (2014) to hold that certain border device searches require individualized suspicion that the traveler is involved in criminal wrongdoing. Two other federal appellate opinions this year—from the Fifth Circuit and Eleventh Circuit—included strong analyses by judges who similarly questioned suspicionless border device searches.
Ars Technica is reporting that there are
critical PGP and S/MIME bugs which can reveal encrypted e-mails. Their advice is to uninstall the plugins, for the time being.
More information will be released tomorrow (Tuesday at 07:00 UTC, 3:00 AM EDT, midnight PDT).
Little is publicly known about the flaws at the moment. Both Schinzel and the EFF blog post said they will be disclosed late Monday night California time in a paper written by a team of European security researchers. Schinzel's Twitter messages used the hashtag #efail, a possible indication of the name the researchers have given to their exploit.
The EFF also published a warning, Attention PGP Users: New Vulnerabilities Require You To Take Action Now:
A group of European security researchers have released a warning about a set of vulnerabilities affecting users of PGP and S/MIME. EFF has been in communication with the research team, and can confirm that these vulnerabilities pose an immediate risk to those using these tools for email communication, including the potential exposure of the contents of past messages.
The full details will be published in a paper on Tuesday at 07:00 AM UTC (3:00 AM Eastern, midnight Pacific). In order to reduce the short-term risk, we and the researchers have agreed to warn the wider PGP user community in advance of its full publication.
The EFF also gives additional advice on disabling PGP in Thunderbird with Enigmail as well as other mail and mail-like clients.
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
Yup, this seems to be a very real game. Bum Simulator [Steam] is a game that's going to turn a few heads, with it [showing] off life as a homeless person. It could end up being a little controversial too, I'm sure a few people will have some interesting opinions on this one.
I'm not sure what to make of it, as it looks mildly amusing, but it makes me feel a little weird. Can't be much worse than the thousands of other violent games we have I suppose and highlights the issues some people have to go through. A modern-life survival sim? Could be interesting.
In a sane forum it should be entirely possible to have an interesting and rational discussion on the sociological statement and implications of this game. That just wouldn't be our style though, would it?
China's first domestically developed aircraft carrier left its northeastern port to begin sea trials on Sunday, state media said, the latest milestone in the country's efforts to modernise its military.
The still-unnamed carrier was launched this time last year but since then has been undergoing fitting of weapons and other systems and has not yet entered service.
[...] "Our country's second aircraft carrier set sail from its dock in the Dalian shipyard for relevant waters to conduct a sea trial mission, mainly to inspect and verify the reliability and stability of mechanical systems and other equipment," Xinhua said.
"A sea trial is the testing phase of a watercraft (including boats, ships, and submarines). It is also referred to as a "shakedown cruise" by many naval personnel. It is usually the last phase of construction and takes place on open water, and it can last from a few hours to many days."
Also at CNN.
Lab-grown meat is on its way, and the government is trying to figure out how to regulate it. This week, the US House of Representatives [pdf] released a draft spending bill that proposes that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate lab-grown meat and figure out how it should be labeled — which is a contentious topic since Big Cattle doesn't want it to be called "meat." Regulation is important, and there's plenty more to learn, but the USDA shouldn't be the only one regulating. And when the product comes to market, yes, it should be called "meat."
Traditional meat, of course, comes from animals that are raised and slaughtered. Lab-grown meat (also called "in-vitro meat," "cultured meat," or "clean meat") is made from animal stem cells grown in a lab. But because the stem cells are typically fed with a serum derived from the blood of calf fetuses, the product uses animal products and isn't vegan. Still, the pitch for lab-grown meat is that it saves animals and also helps the environment because lab-grown meat doesn't take much land or energy to grow. Plus, lab-grown meat doesn't directly create methane emissions, while methane emissions from cows accounted for 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.
Because of the way that government agencies work, it hasn't even been clear who should regulate lab meat. The USDA traditionally regulates meat, while the US Food and Drug Administration regulates food safety and additives. The proposal that the USDA be in charge of regulation is in line with what the [pdf] National Cattlemen's Beef Association wanted, but some lab-meat advocates fear that USDA will be biased against them in favor of traditional meat. If the USDA will be regulating lab meat, it should at least collaborate with the FDA. There are no slaughterhouses for the USDA to inspect anyway, and the FDA has already been regulating food technology, like the genetically engineered salmon it approved. It makes the most sense for the two to work together.
Related: Lab-Grown Chicken (and Duck) Could be on the Menu in 4 Years
Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021
'Soylent' Dawkins? Atheist Mulls 'Taboo Against Cannibalism' Ending as Lab-Grown Meat Improves
More and more phone service for the imprisioned population is run through a single company. The ACLU writes that the company which handles prison phone calls, Securus, is also surveilling people who aren't in prison. This last week Senator Wyden (D-Oregon) described Securus' ability to obtain and share the cell phone location information of virtually anyone who uses a phone.
Real-time cell phone location tracking of a suspect requires a search warrant under federal law and, as some courts have held, the Fourth Amendment. Normally, when police want to track a suspect's cell phone in real time, they provide a warrant directly to the phone service provider, which reviews the warrant to confirm that it is valid before complying with the request. The major cellular service providers have law enforcement compliance teams comprised of trained staff who review warrants and other law enforcement requests and regularly reject or narrow requests that are improper or overbroad.
However, major phone carriers appear to have allowed Securus to bypass these procedures. Government investigators contracting with the company upload documentation justifying a request for cell phone location data to Securus' system. Securus, functioning as a middleman, pays other middlemen, who then pay major telecommunications carriers for the location information.