2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-05-30 21:55:59 UTC
2020-05-31 00:19:09 UTC
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Uber self-driving test vehicle that struck and killed an Arizona woman in 2018 had software flaws, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday as it disclosed the company’s autonomous test vehicles were involved in 37 crashes over the prior 18 months.
NTSB may use the findings from the first fatal self-driving car accident to make recommendations that could impact how the entire industry addresses self-driving software issues or to regulators about how to oversee the industry.
The board will meet Nov. 19 to determine the probable cause of the March 2018 accident in Tempe, Arizona that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle across a street at night.
In a report released ahead of the meeting, the NTSB said the Uber Technologies Inc vehicle had failed to properly identify her as a pedestrian crossing a street.
That accident prompted significant safety concerns about the nascent self-driving car industry, which is working to get vehicles into commercial use.
In the aftermath of the crash, Uber suspended all testing and did not resume until December in Pennsylvania with revised software and significant new restrictions and safeguards,
A spokeswoman for Uber's self-driving car effort, Sarah Abboud, said the company regretted the crash that killed Herzberg and noted it has “adopted critical program improvements to further prioritize safety. We deeply value the thoroughness of the NTSB's investigation into the crash and look forward to reviewing their recommendations.”
The NTSB reported at least two prior crashes in which Uber test vehicles may not have identified roadway hazards. The NTSB said between September 2016 and March 2018, there were 37 crashes of Uber vehicles in autonomous mode, including 33 that involved another vehicle striking test vehicles.
Scientists in Sweden and Belgium have discovered a new material that expands (or contracts) by orders of magnitude in response to application of a weak electric current.
When placed in an electrolyte solution, the material expands by a factor of 100 in response to a weak positive electrical pulse. A negatively charged pulse causes the material to return to its original volume.
In follow up experiments, scientists insulated a wire with the new material. When electricity was run through the wire, the thin film of polymer absorbed water and converted to a rapidly expanding gel. When scientists repeated stronger electrical pulses, the gel expanded to a volume 300 percent larger than the film's original size.
Until now, researchers have not been successful in creating a material that was able to change volume anywhere near this significantly in response to an electric current.
There are myriad potential applications for such a substance across disciplines.
If integrated into a sponge or filter, scientists suggest the new material can manipulate via electricity to control the passage of different sized particles.
"We can control the pore size of a filter electronically, and potentially actively control the size of particles that pass through," Magnus Berggren, professor in organic electronics and director of the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköping University, said in a news release.
"This means that the properties of this smart filter can be dynamically changed to allow different types or different sizes of particle to pass through. This function can be used for sieving, filtration, purification, and in process chemistry. It may also have applications in medicine and biochemistry," said.
Another possibility might be in synthetic muscles for robots and prosthetic limbs, where current research relies on activation using other methods such as heat.
J. Gladisch et al., Reversible Electronic Solid–Gel Switching of a Conjugated Polymer, Advanced Science, p. 1901144, Oct. 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/advs.201901144
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A pair of California Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a tough privacy bill that would significantly curtail Silicon Valley's control over all Americans' personal information.
The bill [...] would create a new federal agency to oversee how the country's largest and most powerful tech companies amass and use data about their millions of users across the U.S. It would also grant all users expansive rights over their data.
"Our congressional districts are the epicenter of the technological revolution and our constituents in Silicon Valley have brought forward incredible advances, improving the lives of billions of people, but we believe that great missteps have been made," Eshoo said during a press call on Tuesday. Both lawmakers represent Silicon Valley.
"The American people have been left vulnerable — the private information we share online has been stolen, abused, used for profit, and it's been grossly mishandled," Eshoo added.
The Online Privacy Act would create a federal agency to "enforce users' privacy rights and ensure companies follow the law," according to a summary of the bill. The Digital Privacy Agency would be modeled after similar government bodies in Europe.
Also at The Verge
Microsoft has teamed up with Warner Bros. to store a copy of the 1978 movie "Superman" on a small glass disc about the size of a coaster. The collaboration, which will be officially unveiled at Microsoft's Ignite 2019 conference in Orlando, Florida Monday, is a first test case for a new storage technology that could eventually help safeguard Hollywood's movies and TV shows, as well as many other forms of data, for centuries to come.
"Glass has a very, very long lifetime," said Microsoft Research principal researcher Ant Rowstron in a recent conversation with Variety. "Thousands of years."
[Image] The piece of silica glass storing the 1978 "Superman" movie, measuring 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm x 2 mm. The glass contains 75.6 GB of data plus error redundancy codes.
Microsoft began to investigate glass as a storage medium in 2016 in partnership with the University of Southampton Optoelectonics Research Centre. The goal of these efforts, dubbed "Project Silica," is to find a new storage medium optimized for what industry insiders like to call cold data — the type of data you likely won't need to access for months, years, or even decades. It's data that doesn't need to sit on a server, ready to be used 24/7, but that is kept in a vault, away from anything that could corrupt it.
This is not the Superman memory crystal we need.
Also at The Verge.
GlobalFoundries and SiFive announced on Tuesday that they will be co-developing an implementation of HBM2E memory for GloFo's 12LP and 12LP+ FinFET process technologies. The IP package will enable SoC designers to quickly integrate HBM2E support into designs for chips that need significant amounts of bandwidth.
The HBM2E implementation by GlobalFoundries and SiFive includes the 2.5D packaging (interposer) designed by GF, with the HBM2E interface developed by SiFive. In addition to HBM2E technology, licensees of SiFive also gain access to the company's RISC-V portfolio and DesignShare IP ecosystem for GlobalFoundries' 12LP/12LP+, which will enable SoC developers to build RISC-V-based devices [using] GloFo's advanced fab technology.
GlobalFoundries and SiFive suggest that the 12LP+ manufacturing process and the HBM2E implementation will be primarily used for artificial intelligence training and inference applications for edge computing, with vendors looking to optimize for TOPS-per-milliwatt performance.
Related: Samsung Announces "Flashbolt" HBM2E (High Bandwidth Memory) DRAM packages
SK Hynix Announces HBM2E Memory for 2020 Release
GlobalFoundries Develops "12LP+" Fabrication Process
Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive
SiFive Announces a RISC-V Core With an Out-of-Order Microarchitecture
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
OpenTitan – an open-source blueprint for a Root of Trust (RoT) system-on-chip based on RISC-V and managed by a team in Cambridge, UK – was teased by Google along with several partners today.
Hardware RoT is a means of verifying the firmware and system software in a computing device has not been tampered with, enabling features such as secure boot. Hardware RoT can also verify the integrity and authenticity of software updates, and prevent a system from being rolled back to an earlier version with known vulnerabilities. It is the lowest-level security piece in a trustworthy system.
But can you trust the RoT itself? The goal of OpenTitan is to provide an open-source design for RoT silicon so that it is (as far as possible) open for inspection.
The OpenTitan SoC will use the RISC-V open-source CPU instruction set architecture, and will be managed by lowRISC, a nonprofit in Cambridge, which has "an open-source hardware roadmap in collaboration with Google and other industry partners," we're told.
Today's announcement comes from Google, Western Digital, the ETH Zurich university, chip maker Nuvoton Technology, and friends.
The Apache 2.0-licensed OpenTitan SoC will include the lowRISC Ibex microprocessor design, cryptographic coprocessors, a hardware random-number generator, volatile and non-volatile storage, IO peripherals, and additional defensive mechanisms. It can be used in any kind of device, from servers and smartphones to Internet-of-Things gadgets.
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A molecule of ammonia, NH3, typically exists as an umbrella shape, with three hydrogen atoms fanned out in a nonplanar arrangement around a central nitrogen atom. This umbrella structure is very stable and would normally be expected to require a large amount of energy to be inverted.
However, a quantum mechanical phenomenon called tunneling allows ammonia and other molecules to simultaneously inhabit geometric structures that are separated by a prohibitively high energy barrier. A team of chemists that includes Robert Field, the Robert T. Haslam and Bradley Dewey Professor of Chemistry at MIT, has examined this phenomenon by using a very large electric field to suppress the simultaneous occupation of ammonia molecules in the normal and inverted states.
"It's a beautiful example of the tunneling phenomenon, and it reveals a wonderful strangeness of quantum mechanics," says Field, who is one of the senior authors of the study.
Heon Kang, a professor of chemistry at Seoul National University, is also a senior author of the study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Youngwook Park and Hani Kang of Seoul National University are also authors of the paper.
The frequency-domain infrared spectrum of ammonia encodes changes in molecular dynamics caused by a DC electric field[$], PNAS (2019) (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1914432116)
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Toothless American consumer watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission, today agreed to let AT&T settle a five-year battle over phony "unlimited data" promises for just $60m. That's $40m less than expected, and less than one day of annual profit for the telco giant.
The agreement [PDF] lets AT&T claim it did nothing wrong; the settlement, as ever, comes with no admittance of guilt. The FTC's official announcement repeatedly stresses the fact that AT&T throttled millions of customers' mobile broadband access despite selling them "unlimited data" plans, are mere "allegations."
The settlement was agreed to by four of the five FTC commissioners, with Rebecca Kelly Slaughter recusing herself for some unknown reason. Another commissioner, Rohit Chopra, made it clear that he was not happy about the deal, despite agreeing to it.
In a statement [PDF], Chopra called AT&T's actions a "scam," "scandal," and "massive fraud," and noted he "would have liked to see AT&T pay more," but recognized "the risks and resources associated with litigation." He concluded: "The bottom line is that AT&T fleeced its customers to enrich its executives and its investors."
The original FTC complaint was filed in 2014 after it received numerous gripes from AT&T customers that their phones' mobile internet download speeds had slowed to a crawl despite being on "unlimited" data plans. It turned out that after people had fetched 2 to 3GB of information each month, AT&T simply throttled their accounts, making web browsing difficult and video streaming near-impossible.
Also at Forbes
A SpaceX launch set for Nov. 11 will mark the first Falcon 9 mission to use a payload fairing from a previous flight, the company announced Tuesday, shortly after SpaceX engineers at Cape Canaveral test-fired the mission's first stage booster, also refurbished and reused.
The Falcon 9 launch scheduled for next Monday — and previously planned for October — will loft 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, joining 60 other test craft deployed on a Falcon 9 flight in May.
The launch window opens at 9:51 a.m. EST (1451 GMT) Monday and extends for approximately 11 minutes. It will be SpaceX's first launch since Aug. 6, and the first ground-based launch from Cape Canaveral since Aug. 22.
[...] Last month, a senior SpaceX official said the Starlink flight would be the company's first mission to fly a Falcon 9 first stage booster for a fourth launch.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Chinese state media has urged authorities to take a "tougher line" against protesters in Hong Kong who vandalised state-run Xinhua news agency and other buildings at the weekend, saying the violence damaged the city's rule of law.
[...] In an editorial, state-backed China Daily newspaper criticised the "wanton" attacks by "naive" demonstrators, adding, "They are doomed to fail simply because their violence will encounter the full weight of the law."
Police fired tear gas at black-clad protesters on Saturday and Sunday in some of the worst violence in the Asian financial hub in weeks, with metro stations set ablaze and buildings vandalised.
Violence also erupted on Sunday after a man with a knife attacked several people and bit off part of the ear of a pro-democracy politician. Two of the victims are reportedly in critical condition, according to reports.
The past five months of anti-government protests in the former British colony represent the biggest popular challenge to President Xi Jinping's government since he took over China's leadership in late 2012.
Protesters are angry at China's perceived meddling with Hong Kong's freedoms, including its legal system, since the Asian financial hub returned to Chinese rule in 1997. China denies the accusation.
The widely-read Global Times tabloid on Sunday condemned the protesters' actions targeting Xinhua and called for action by Hong Kong's enforcement agencies.
"Due to the symbolic image of Xinhua, the vandalizing of its branch is not only a provocation to the rule of law in Hong Kong, but also to the central government and the Chinese mainland, which is the rioters' main purpose," it said.
On Friday, after a meeting of China's top leadership, a senior Chinese official said it would not tolerate separatism or threats to national security in Hong Kong and would "perfect" the way it appointed the city's leader.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is a planet hunter extraordinaire that gets to gaze deeply into space. This[*] circular image represents TESS' view of the southern sky, complete with a stunning appearance by the Milky Way.
NASA released the mosaic on Tuesday. It consists of 208 images taken in TESS' first year of operation through July 2019. The spacecraft trained its four cameras on 13 different sections of the southern sky and spent nearly a month watching each area.
TESS is looking for the telltale dimming of stars that shows exoplanets have passed in front of them.
[...] TESS is now focused on imaging the northern sky, where astronomers expect to find many more potential exoplanets.
The House of Representatives has just voted in favor of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) by 410-6 (with 16 members not voting), moving forward a bill that Congress has had no hearings and no debates on so far this session. That means that there has been no public consideration of the serious harm the bill could do to regular Internet users and their expression online.
The CASE Act creates a new body in the Copyright Office which will receive copyright complaints, notify the person being sued, and then decide if money is owed and how much. This new Copyright Claims Board will be able to fine people up to $30,000 per proceeding. Worse, if you get one of these notices (maybe an email, maybe a letter—the law actually does not specify) and accidentally ignore it, you're on the hook for the money with a very limited ability to appeal. $30,000 could bankrupt or otherwise ruin the lives of many Americans.
The CASE Act also has bad changes to copyright rules, would let sophisticated bad actors get away with trolling and infringement, and might even be unconstitutional. It fails to help the artists it's supposed to serve and will put a lot of people at risk.
The EFF also criticized the bill in a previous article, pointing out its potential for abuse.
The president of the American Bar Association wrote in support of the bill:
While the CASE Act will provide more cost-effective protection for plaintiffs, copyright defendants will also benefit from the proposed legislation. Currently, defendants can be burdened with significant legal costs and drawn out suits, even where their use is a fair use or otherwise lawful. Participation in a small claims proceeding would cap their damages and likely provide a faster resolution of the dispute.
Participation in the program would be entirely voluntary, and parties could proceed with or without attorneys. Proceedings could be held through phone or videoconferences. Lawyers well-versed in copyright and alternative dispute resolution would decide the claims.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
The British government called a halt Saturday to the controversial process of "fracking" due to fears it could trigger earthquakes in a surprise U-turn just weeks before a general election.
Until now, Britain had hoped that fracking—banned in many countries, but booming in the United States—could help secure its future energy independence.
But with just a few weeks to go before Britain goes to the polls—where environmental issues are expected to feature prominently—Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced a "moratorium" at what is currently the UK's only operational shale gas well in Lancashire, northwest England.
"I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect," Leadsom said.
"It is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community."
The U-turn follows a report by Britain's Oil and Gas Authority into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, a site operated by exploration and production company Cuadrilla.
[...] Protests broke out as[sic] last year as work began on Britain's first horizontal shale gas well at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site.
[...] Cuadrilla's first attempt at fracking seven years ago was ended after it triggered minor earthquakes, putting their plans on hold while more stringent measures were put in place.
[...] The British Geological Survey estimates that the site Cuadrilla is exploring holds up to 2,300 trillion cubic feet (90 trillion cubic metres) of shale gas.
The amount could theoretically fill Britain's natural gas needs for more than a thousand years.
[...] The government said Saturday it would "take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents" unless new evidence is provided.
The deadline of yet another, and perhaps the most insidious, element of the post-9/11 initiatives (a partial list of which includes the establishment of the Transportation Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and a never-ending international war against a nebulously-defined, noncorporeal enemy, "terror") is less than one year from coming to fruition. Beginning no later than October 1, 2020, citizens of all US states and territories will be required to have a Real ID compliant card or US passport to board a commercial plane or enter a Federal government facility. Pundits citing the inevitability of what amounts to a national ID card have, regrettably, been vindicated.
A gorgeous fish popular in aquariums, the lionfish was released into the Atlantic off of Florida in the 1980s and has since spread down to South America. The voracious Indo-Pacific fish has no natural predators here and so continues to increase in numbers, menacing reefs and native fish populations. To counter this marine misfortune, iRobot, not satisfied hunting down dirt and pet hair, has developed a lionfish hunting sea robot!
If you can’t beat them, eat them. That is the common wisdom of many scientists, conservationists, and fishermen who dream of ridding the western Atlantic of invasive lionfish [...] However, catching lionfish has never been simple; they are not easily targeted by line or net fishing. Now, a surprising new invention may bring lionfish hunting to the masses and help clear the seas of this invader: a submersible robot.
While tasty, nutritious, and salable, part of what immunizes Lionfish against human efforts is simple depth; they can be found as deep as 1000 feet although they tend to aggregate between 200–400 feet. Divers cannot reach these depths easily, but robots can.
The Guardian is a 20-pound remotely operated vehicle equipped with cameras, lights, and two paddles that can deliver a 20-volt shock to a lionfish. Once stunned, the lionfish are vacuumed into a water-filled chamber. From there, the exotic fish may land on restaurant menus – or at your local Whole Foods.
The Guardian was developed by iRobot's non-profit "Robots in Service of the Environment", which sounds far better than Omni Consumer Products.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally approved the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. The decision comes after a drawn-out, and at times contentious, review of T-Mobile's $26.5 billion bid to merge with Sprint.
The FCC believes the deal will close the digital divide and advance 5G in the US. T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to deploying 5G service to cover 97 percent of Americans within three years. They've also pledged to provide 90 percent of Americans with access to mobile service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps within six years. The FCC's approval is conditional on those promises, and the parties could be fined over $2 billion if they don't meet those goals.