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Robotics

What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers? 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the fewer-wrong-orders-at-the-drivethru dept.
Paul Fernhout writes: An article in the Harvard Business Review by William H. Davidow and Michael S. Malone suggests: "The "Second Economy" (the term used by economist Brian Arthur to describe the portion of the economy where computers transact business only with other computers) is upon us. It is, quite simply, the virtual economy, and one of its main byproducts is the replacement of workers with intelligent machines powered by sophisticated code. ... This is why we will soon be looking at hordes of citizens of zero economic value. Figuring out how to deal with the impacts of this development will be the greatest challenge facing free market economies in this century. ... Ultimately, we need a new, individualized, cultural, approach to the meaning of work and the purpose of life. Otherwise, people will find a solution — human beings always do — but it may not be the one for which we began this technological revolution."

This follows the recent Slashdot discussion of "Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates" citing a NY Times article and other previous discussions like Humans Need Not Apply. What is most interesting to me about this HBR article is not the article itself so much as the fact that concerns about the economic implications of robotics, AI, and automation are now making it into the Harvard Business Review. These issues have been otherwise discussed by alternative economists for decades, such as in the Triple Revolution Memorandum from 1964 — even as those projections have been slow to play out, with automation's initial effect being more to hold down wages and concentrate wealth rather than to displace most workers. However, they may be reaching the point where these effects have become hard to deny despite going against mainstream theory which assumes infinite demand and broad distribution of purchasing power via wages.

As to possible solutions, there is a mention in the HBR article of using government planning by creating public works like infrastructure investments to help address the issue. There is no mention in the article of expanding the "basic income" of Social Security currently only received by older people in the U.S., expanding the gift economy as represented by GNU/Linux, or improving local subsistence production using, say, 3D printing and gardening robots like Dewey of "Silent Running." So, it seems like the mainstream economics profession is starting to accept the emerging reality of this increasingly urgent issue, but is still struggling to think outside an exchange-oriented box for socioeconomic solutions. A few years ago, I collected dozens of possible good and bad solutions related to this issue. Like Davidow and Malone, I'd agree that the particular mix we end up will be a reflection of our culture. Personally, I feel that if we are heading for a technological "singularity" of some sort, we would be better off improving various aspects of our society first, since our trajectory going out of any singularity may have a lot to do with our trajectory going into it.
Blackberry

Boeing and BlackBerry Making a Self-Destructing Phone 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-wait-for-that-protocol-to-be-hacked dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: It sounds like a Mission: Impossible scenario, but aerospace company Boeing is teaming with Canadian phone maker BlackBerry to produce an ultra-secure mobile phone that "self-destructs." The phone uses encryption on calls and is intended to serve the high-security needs of government and industry. As Blackberry CEO John Chen said, "We're pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform. That, by the way, is all they allow me to say."

No word yet if you'll need the services of the bomb squad when you go over your minutes.
Science

Birds Fled Area Before Tornadoes Appeared 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the didn't-tweet-about-it dept.
SternisheFan sends a report from scientists who were tracking a group of birds — golden-winged warblers — in the Appalachian mountains. Just a few days after the birds completed their seasonal migration, they did something odd — they picked up and moved again. Shortly thereafter, a series of storms swept through that area of the U.S., which led to a destructive tornado outbreak (abstract). After the storm had blown over, the team recaptured five of the warblers and removed the geolocators. These are tiny devices weighing about half a gram, which measure light levels. Based on the timing and length of the days they record, these gadgets allow scientists to calculate and track the approximate location of migratory birds. In this case, all five indicated that the birds had taken unprecedented evasive action, beginning one to two days ahead of the storm's arrival. "The warblers in our study flew at least 1,500km (932 miles) in total," Dr. Streby said. They escaped just south of the tornadoes' path — and then went straight home again. By 2 May, all five were back in their nesting area."
Earth

Massive Volcanic Eruptions Accompanied Dinosaur Extinction 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the some-say-dinosaurs-can't-swim-in-magma dept.
schwit1 writes: A careful updating of the geological timeline has shown that massive volcanic eruptions aligned with the extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago (abstract). "A primeval volcanic range in western India known as the Deccan Traps, which were once three times larger than France, began its main phase of eruptions roughly 250,000 years before the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, extinction event, the researchers report in the journal Science. For the next 750,000 years, the volcanoes unleashed more than 1.1 million cubic kilometers (264,000 cubic miles) of lava. The main phase of eruptions comprised about 80-90 percent of the total volume of the Deccan Traps' lava flow and followed a substantially weaker first phase that began about 1 million years earlier.

The results support the idea that the Deccan Traps played a role in the K-Pg extinction, and challenge the dominant theory that a meteorite impact near present-day Chicxulub, Mexico, was the sole cause of the extinction. The researchers suggest that the Deccan Traps eruptions and the Chicxulub impact need to be considered together when studying and modeling the K-Pg extinction event."
Music

The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the 50-Year Copyright Itch 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-get-by-with-a-little-help-from-their-lobbyists dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Victoria Shannon reports in the NY Times that fifty years ago was a good year for music, with the Beatles appearing on Billboard's charts for the first time, the Rolling Stones releasing their first album, the Supremes with five No. 1 hits, and Simon and Garfunkel releasing their debut album. The 50-year milestone is significant, because music published within the first half-century of its recording gets another 20 years of copyright protection under changes in European law. So every year since 2012, studios go through their tape vaults to find unpublished music to get it on the market before the deadline.

The first year, Motown released a series of albums packed with outtakes by some of its major acts, and Sony released a limited-edition collection of 1962 outtakes by Bob Dylan, with the surprisingly frank title, "The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. I." In 2013, Sony released a second Dylan set, devoted to previously unreleased 1963 recordings. Similar recordings by the Beatles and the Beach Boys followed. This year, Sony is releasing a limited-edition nine-LP set of 1964 recordings by Dylan, including a 46-second try at "Mr. Tambourine Man," which he would not complete until 1965. The Beach Boys released two copyright-extension sets of outtakes last week. And while there's no official word on a Beatles release, last year around this time, "The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963" turned up unannounced on iTunes.
Crime

65,000 Complaints Later, Microsoft Files Suit Against Tech Support Scammers 148

Posted by timothy
from the not-enough-acid-in-the-world dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes Tech support scammers have been around for a long time and are familiar to most Slashdot readers. But last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had issued lawsuits against several culprits responsible for tech support scams. Now Microsoft has announced that it too is going after tech support scammers. According to the company, more than 65,000 complaints have been made about tech support scams since May of this year alone. Bogus technicians, pretending to represent Microsoft, call the house offering fake tech support and trick people into paying hundreds of dollars to solve a non-existent issue. If successful in their ruse, the scammer then gains access to a person's computer, which lets them steal personal and financial information and even install malware. I managed to keep one of these guys on the phone for about 20 minutes while I stumbled through his directions, over and over, "rebooting," pretending to be using Windows, etc; the next one caught on my quickly. Have they called you? If so, how did the call go?
Communications

Tor Network May Be Attacked, Says Project Leader 70

Posted by timothy
from the routing-around-the-routing-around dept.
Earthquake Retrofit writes The Register is reporting that the Tor Project has warned that its network – used to mask peoples' identities on the internet – may be knocked offline in the coming days. In a Tor blog post, project leader Roger 'arma' Dingledine said an unnamed group may seize Tor's directory authority servers before the end of next week. These servers distribute the official lists of relays in the network, which are the systems that route users' traffic around the world to obfuscate their internet connections' public IP addresses.
Medicine

How a 3D Printer Let a Dog Run For the First Time 20

Posted by timothy
from the dogs-have-been-running-since-forever dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Ever since 3-D printing began to enter the mainstream, people have discussed the technology's potential for building prosthetic arms and legs for human beings. But what about doing the same for dogs? In one of those videos that ends up circulated endlessly on the Internet, a dog named Derby, born with a congenital deformity that deprived him of front paws, is outfitted with a pair of 3-D-printed prosthetics. With those "legs" in place, the dog can run for the first time, at a pretty good clip. Both the prosthetics and the video were produced by 3D Systems, which builds 3-D printers, and it seems likely that other 3-D-printing companies will explore the possibility of printing off parts for pets. And while the idea of a cyborg pooch is heartwarming, it will be interesting to see how 3D printers will continue to advance the realm of human prosthetics, which have become increasingly sophisticated over the past decade.
Security

Hackers Used Nasty "SMB Worm" Attack Toolkit Against Sony 136

Posted by timothy
from the forewarned-is-forearmed dept.
wiredmikey writes Just hours after the FBI and President Obama called out North Korea as being responsible for the destructive cyber attack against Sony Pictures, US-CERT issued an alert describing the primary malware used by the attackers, along with indicators of compromise. While not mentioning Sony by name in its advisory, instead referring to the victim as a "major entertainment company," US-CERT said that the attackers used a Server Message Block (SMB) Worm Tool to conduct the attacks. According to the advisory, the SMB Worm Tool is equipped with five components, including a Listening Implant, Lightweight Backdoor, Proxy Tool, Destructive Hard Drive Tool, and Destructive Target Cleaning Tool. US-CERT also provided a list of the Indicators of Compromise (IOCs), which include C2 IP addresses, Snort signatures for the various components, host based Indicators, potential YARA signatures to detect malware binaries on host machines, and recommended security practices and tactical mitigations.
Businesses

Staples: Breach May Have Affected 1.16 Million Customers' Cards 83

Posted by timothy
from the your-name-here dept.
mpicpp writes with this excerpt from Fortune: Staples said Friday afternoon that nearly 1.16 million customer payment cards may have been affected in a data breach under investigation since October. The office-supply retailer said two months ago that it was working with law enforcement officials to look into a possible hacking of its customers' credit card data. Staples said in October that it had learned of a potential data theft at several of its U.S. stores after multiple banks noticed a pattern of payment card fraud suggesting the company computer systems had been breached. Now, Staples believes that point-of-sale systems at 115 Staples locations were infected with malware that thieves may have used to steal customers' names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and card verification codes, Staples said on Friday. At all but two of those stores, the malware would have had access to customer data for purchases made between August 10 and September 16 of this year. At the remaining two stores, the malware was active from July 20 through September 16, the company said.
Cellphones

T-Mobile To Pay $90M For Unauthorized Charges On Customers' Bills 50

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-wanted-honesty dept.
itwbennett writes T-Mobile US will pay at least $90 million to settle a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suit that alleged it looked the other way while third parties charged T-Mobile subscribers for services they didn't want. The settlement is the second largest ever for so-called 'cramming,' following one that the FCC reached with AT&T in October. It came just two days after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Sprint for the same practice.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games? 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-blocks-of-fun dept.
Mr. Jones writes: My 11-year-old son is fascinated by games — game mechanics in particular. He has been playing everything from Magic to WarFrame since he was 5 years old. He seems mostly interested in creating the lore and associated mechanics of the games (i.e. how a game works). If it was only programming I could help him, but I am lost when it comes to helping him learn more formal ways of developing and defining gameplay. I really see a talent for this in him and I want to support it any way I can. Can you suggest any conferences, programs, books, websites, etc. that would help him learn?
Transportation

Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-free-of-charge dept.
cartechboy writes: Remember 18 months ago when Tesla promised it was going to launch battery-swap stations? Well, it's finally happening, sort of. It seems Tesla's about to announce a battery-swap pilot program that will launch next week. The swap site will be located across the street from a Tesla Supercharger site in Harris Ranch, California — 184 miles south of San Francisco and about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. The pilot program will involve an unspecified number of Model S electric-car owners, who will be invited to take part in the test. For now, the battery-swap service will be offered by appointment only, at a cost of roughly a tank of gas in a premium sedan. Tesla's using words to describe this pilot program like "exploratory work" and "intended to test technology and assess demand" for a swapping service. While originally pitched that the battery swap would take less time than it would to take to refill the gas tank of a comparable luxury sedan, the company says now that "for this specific iteration" the swap process will take "approximately 3 minutes" — though it adds Tesla has "the ability to improve that time with future iterations." Is this test going to show that battery swapping is or isn't a realistic initiative?

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe

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