Tag Archives | Technology

First solar round-the-world flight will take 5 months, stop in 12 cities

Jessica Plautz reports at Mashable:

The team preparing for the first round-the-world solar plane flight announced the route they plan to take, which will bring a cutting-edge aircraft to cities from Muscat, Oman, to New York.

The Swiss cofounders and pilots of Solar Impulse 2, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, said at an event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday that they plan to begin the flight from Abu Dhabi at the end of February or beginning of March. From there, they will make 12 stops along a 35,000 km (21,748 miles) route.

The stops will include Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; Chongqing and Nanjing, China; Hawaii, Phoenix, a midwestern city to be determined by weather, and New York City in the United States; and a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa.

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Hydroponic gardener to raise plants that produce valuable medicines

 

Bob Shaw, St. Paul Pioneer Press writes at Duluth News Tribune:

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — For Dave Roeser, it’s not just about salad anymore.

St. Paul’s award-winning hydroponic gardener will still grow vegetables but is adding medicinal plants. He plans to raise 100,000 genetically modified plants to produce medicine for cancer, flu and — potentially — Ebola.

“This is exciting,” said Roeser, a retired controller for Hewlett-Packard.

Roeser has been operating a Maplewood greenhouse to produce vegetables for his company, Garden Fresh Farms. He will continue growing vegetables in a new location in St. Paul but has co-founded a new company — MnPharm — to convert the Maplewood greenhouse into a biological drug factory.

Scientists — and Roeser — see great potential in using plants to produce vaccines.

That’s because vaccines traditionally have been made by the cumbersome process of injecting weakened germs into chicken eggs.

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NSA Cyber War Will Use Internet of Things as Weapons Platform; Your Home is the Battlefield

Martin Beek (CC BY 2.0)

Martin Beek (CC BY 2.0)

Daniel Taylor at Activist Post writes:

World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” – Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970

New Snowden documents recently revealed that the NSA is getting ready for future digital wars as the agency postures itself in an aggressive manner towards the world. “The Five Eyes Alliance,” a cooperation between United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, is working hard to develop these weapons of Cyber Warfare.

So called “D” weapons, as reported by Der Spiegel, will paralyze computer networks and infrastructure that they monitor. Water supplies, factories, airports, as well as the flow of money are all potential targets.

The Der Spiegel report does not mention the wider issue of the expanding network of everyday objects and appliances that are connected to the Internet. According to CIA chief David Petraeus the Internet of Things will have a monumental impact on “clandestine tradecraft.” Richard Adhikari writes for Tech News World that the Internet of Things is “…ripe for exploitation by the NSA.”

Consumer appliances are now becoming activated and “smart.” RFID chips and wireless Internet connections enable devices like televisions, refrigerators, printers, and computers to communicate with each other and generally make life easier for us.

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Neuroenhancement and the Extended Mind Hypothesis

neuroenhancement

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

Consider your smartphone for a moment. It provides you with access to a cornucopia of information. Some of it is general, stored on publicly accessible internet sites, and capable of being called up to resolve any pub debate one might be having (how many U.S. presidents have been assassinated? or how many times have Brazil won the World Cup?). Some of it is more personal, and includes a comprehensive databank of all emails and text message conversations you have had, your calendar appointments, the number of steps you have taken on any given day, books read, films watched, calories consumed and so forth.

Now consider a question: is this information part of your mind? Does it form part of an extended mind loop, one that interfaces with and augments the mental processors inside your skull? According to some philosophers it does. They believe in something called the extended mind hypothesis, which goes against the neuro-physicalist wisdom and holds that the mind is not necessarily to be identified with the brain.… Read the rest

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Have We Been Tricked Into Fearing Artificial Intelligence?

Global Panorama (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Global Panorama (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Erik Sofge at Popular Science thinks that we’ve been duped into fearing artificial intelligence by the fear-mongering media. Are we being too cautious? Not cautious enough?

via Popular Science:

Earlier this week, an organization called the Future of Life Institute issued an open letter on the subject of building safety measures into artificial intelligence systems (AI). The letter, and the research document that accompanies it, present a remarkably even-handed look at how AI researchers can maximize the potential of this technology. Here’s the letter at its most ominous, which is to say, not ominous at all:

Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

And here was CNET’s headline, for its story about the letter:

Artificial intelligence experts sign open letter to protect mankind from machines

BBC News, meanwhile, ventured slightly further out of the panic room to deliver this falsehood:

Experts pledge to rein in AI research

I’d like to think that this is rock bottom.

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Security is Not a Crime—Unless You’re an Anarchist

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Jannes Pockele (CC BY 2.0)

Nadia Kayyali and Kattza Rodriguez write at Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Riseup, a tech collective that provides security-minded communications to activists worldwide, sounded the alarm last month when a judge in Spain stated that the use of their email service is a practice, he believes, associated with terrorism.

Javier Gómez Bermúdez is a judge of Audiencia Nacional, a special high court in Spain that deals with serious crimes such as terrorism and genocide. According to press reports, he ordered arrest warrants that were carried out on December 16th against alleged members of an anarchist group. The arrests were part of Operation Pandora, a coordinated campaign against “anarchist activity” that has been called an attempt  “to criminalize anarchist social movements.” The police seized books, cell phones, and computers, and arrested 11 activists. Few details are known about the situation, since the judge has declared the case secret.

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Elon Musk is spending $10 million to save us from an evil robot takeover

Via Quartz:

Elon Musk may be a tech guru, but it turns out he’s just as scared of robots taking over the world as anyone else who grew up watching Terminator movies. So the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX announced yesterday that he is giving $10 million to fund research that ensures artificial intelligence will be used for good, not evil.

He donated the money to the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit research group, which will distribute the money in grants. In a video that the organization released, Musk talks about his motivations [via the Verge]:

Read more.

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The EAGLE Project: A Virtual Universe Simulated Inside a Supercomputer

redditAbout a week ago, we published this article, “Astronomers Simulate Universe and Galaxies on Cosmology Machine.” Thanks to contributor Chaos_Dynamics, it’s been brought to my attention that the astronomers working on this project did an AMA on Reddit yesterday. You can read the entire Q&A here.

brien23 asks:

Hi,

I am a layperson, i.e. not a cosmologist. I have a few questions regarding EAGLE:

  1. Is it based on our universe or is it like an independently evolving universe?
  2. Does this simulation need human input at regular intervals or is it progressing completely on its own without the need of human interference at any point?
  3. Can you turn it into an infinitely stretched universe (infinite expanse of space)? Is it a stupid thing to ask?
  4. How likely is the presence of an earth-like planet there? By ‘earth-like’ I mean a planet that is similar to Earth in its chemical and physical construction.
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Uberize This: The “Uberization” of the economy is really about building a better trap for ideas

Via Quartz:

I can’t remember where I was—perhaps sitting in the back of a taxi cab—when I read a tweet from Anti-Fragility author Nassim Taleb that said, “To ‘Uberize’, remove the middleman, theme of the times.”

The thought struck me again this last week as I tried to find something out of CES in Las Vegas more interesting than a selfie stick. The energy and excitement, not to mention the valuations, in the economy lie in companies that ‘uberize.’ Even though those companies no longer make anything material, what they do seemed to follow a classic formula, an investing thesis that came out of the first generation of hyper valuation that took place in the 1990s.

I don’t think of Uber as a force that dis-intermediates—as we olds used to say—transportation, but one that creates value for itself, its drivers, and its users, by developing a new layer that integrates them all with maximum utility.

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How well can information be stored from the beginning to the end of time?

Plot of the transmissivity, η, of information as it travels through spacetime, shown as a function of the momentum, k, with which the universe expands. Credit: Mancini, et al. CC-BY-3.0

Plot of the transmissivity, η, of information as it travels through spacetime, shown as a function of the momentum, k, with which the universe expands. Credit: Mancini, et al. CC-BY-3.0

via Phys.org:

Information can never be stored perfectly. Whether on a CD, a hard disk drive, or a piece of papyrus, technological imperfections create noise that limits the preservation of information over time. But even if you had a perfect storage medium with zero imperfections, there would still be fundamental limits placed on information storage due to the laws of physics that govern the evolution of the universe ever since the Big Bang. But what exactly these fundamental limits are is still unclear.

In a new paper published in the New Journal of Physics, Stefano Mancini and Roberto Pierini at the University of Camerino and INFN in Italy, along with Mark M. Wilde at Louisiana State University, have investigated these to preserving on a literally cosmic scale.

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