Tag Archives | Technology

This Book Uses Facial Recognition to Judge Whether You Deserve to Read It

Can books afford to be so picky about who reads them? Yahoo investigates:

You might not want to admit it, but deep down every bookstore shopper knows that picking a new book to read is a fairly superficial process. We’re tuned to judge books by their covers, despite the advice of clichés. But what happens when the tables are turned, and the covers are judging us?

This is the question at hand for Thijs Biersteker, a Dutch artist who created a book that uses facial recognition to decide whether you are worthy of reading it. As demonstrated in the video below, the book scans your face for your emotional state; if it senses that you are either too excited or in a sour mode, it will lock itself shut, preventing you from reading in the wrong frame of mind.

It works like this: You first align your face with the book’s built-in screen, which intentionally resembles the face of a robot out of Fritz Lang‘s 1927 dystopian film Metropolis.

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Software That Helps Businesses Rid Their Supply Chains of Slave Labor

Daniel Oines (CC BY 2.0)

Daniel Oines (CC BY 2.0)

Issie Lapowsky writes at Wired:

Steve Jobs helped convince Justin Dillion he could change the way some of the world’s biggest companies do business.

It was 2008, and Dillon, a musician turned anti-forced labor activist, had just launched an online campaign called Chain Store Reaction that asked everyday consumers to write letters to their favorite companies, urging them to eradicate forced labor in their supply chains. On a whim, Dillon dashed off an email to Jobs, asking if the iPhone was made of tantalum, a material used to make mobile phones, that had been mined by forced labor. Dillon never expected a response, but four hours later, he got one. It looked like this:

I have no idea. I’ll look into it.

Steve
Sent from my iPhone

It was then that Dillion and his colleagues realized that his project might actually work. “We were like: ‘This isn’t that hard.

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The loneliness of the long-distance drone pilot

Aaron Sankin via The Kernel:

Bruce Black had been preparing for this moment for most of his life.

Growing up, he always wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 1984 with a degree in geology, Black was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He spent years as an instructor pilot before quitting to join the FBI, where he specialized in chasing down white-collar criminals, but the pull of military was too strong. He eventually found himself in the air above Afghanistan.

Black flew constantly. Once, in the spring of 2007, Black’s job was to serve as another set of eyes high above a firefight happening on the ground. An Army convoy had been patrolling near a site of a previous strike and gotten ambushed by Taliban fighters while returning to base. Black was acting as a crucial communications relay, sending life-and-death updates back and forth from the men and women on the ground to the Pentagon and a network of support staff located around the world through the military’s version of the Internet.

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A Review of the Best Habitable Planet Candidates

Image: This diagram illustrates how the boundaries of the HZ as defined in the work of Kopparapu et al. vary as a function of star temperature and planet mass. Several potentially habitable extra solar planets are included. Credit: Chester Harman/PHL/NASA/JPL.

Image: This diagram illustrates how the boundaries of the HZ as defined in the work of Kopparapu et al. vary as a function of star temperature and planet mass. Several potentially habitable extra solar planets are included. Credit: Chester Harman/PHL/NASA/JPL.

Paul Gilster writes at Centauri Dreams:

The fascination with finding habitable planets — and perhaps someday, a planet much like Earth — drives media coverage of each new, tantalizing discovery in this direction. We have a number of candidates for habitability, but as Andrew LePage points out in this fine essay, few of these stand up to detailed examination. We’re learning more all the time about how likely worlds of a given size are to be rocky, but much more goes into the mix, as Drew explains. He also points us to several planets that do remain intriguing. LePage is Senior Project Scientist at Visidyne, Inc., and also finds time to maintain Drew ex Machina, where these issues are frequently discussed.

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Man of science, man of faith: AP obit reveals both sides of Charles Townes

Charles Hard Townes (born July 28, 1915) via Wikimedia Commons

Charles Hard Townes (born July 28, 1915)
via Wikimedia Commons

Via Jim Davis at getreligion.com:

Whenever we play a DVD, watch a light show or have a clerk scan our groceries, we may not think of a religious thinker. Yet those modern marvels and many others are possible because of Charles H. Townes, inventor of the laser – and an eloquent believer.

We can thank the Associated Press for its obit reminding us of this man of brilliance and goodwill,who converged both parts of his life as well as he synchronized light beams.

And AP gets to the point right after the lede:

On the tranquil morning of April 26, 1951, Townes scribbled a theory on scrap paper that would lead to the laser, the invention he’s known for and which transformed everyday life and led to other scientific discoveries.

Townes, who was also known for his strong spiritual faith, famously compared that moment to a religious revelation.

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A waste of talent? Making space for autism in engineering

Notoriously difficult to get along with and ruthlessly focused, Isaac Newton is now believed to have been on the autistic spectrum.

Notoriously difficult to get along with and ruthlessly focused, Isaac Newton is now believed to have been on the autistic spectrum.

Via the ENGINEER

What would you think if I told you that there was a group of people within our society that probably contained amongst their members some of the greatest engineers, scientists and inventor’s humanity has ever produced? Amongst its members are likely to be Einstein, Tesla and Newton as well as many of the luminaries that were responsible for the dotcom boom and the explosion of Silicon Valley in the world’s most concentrated area of business wealth. I presume you would, as engineering companies would want a way to identify this group of people and to get them to work for their business if possible. What if I went on to tell you that only 15% of this group actually find full time work as adults? Would you think this was nonsense?

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The Cusp of a Transhumanist Renaissance, or the Eve of Dystopia?

Transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan joins Midwest Real.

When it comes right down to it, we have absolutely no idea what the future will hold. Yet, between 2014’s major advances in AI, VR, AR, quantum computing and longevity science, it sure as hell seems like we’re on the cusp of something huge.

ITUNES  STITCHER DOWNLOAD

IMG_6532Will these unprecedented breakthroughs usher in a utopian neo-renaissance? Will technological and medical innovation enable us to live practically forever so that we’re free to pursue our passions all day long? Or, will we find ourselves an Orwellian dystopia plagued by a broken environment, thought control and murderous AI oligarch overlords who’ll invade our minds in an effort to milk us for money and energy as we jump willingly into ultra-plush matrix pods of their design?

Who knows?

Our guest this week, Zoltan Istvan is the author of The Transhumanist Wager. He writes for practically every major technology website (Gizmodo, Huffington Post, Motherboard Wired etc.) He’s the founder of the Transhumanist Party, which aims to draw attention and dollars to cutting-edge science and technology.… Read the rest

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The Revolution of Everyday Life: The Decline and Fall of Work

JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

by Raoul Vaneigem at The Situationist International Text Library

The duty to produce alienates the passion for creation. Productive labour is part and parcel of the technology of law and order. The working day grows shorter as the empire of conditioning extends.In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create. What spark of humanity, of a possible creativity, can remain alive in a being dragged out of sleep at six every morning, jolted about in suburban trains, deafened by the racket of machinery, bleached and steamed by meaningless sounds and gestures, spun dry by statistical controls, and tossed out at the end of the day into the entrance halls of railway stations, those cathedrals of departure for the hell of weekdays and the nugatory paradise of weekends, where the crowd communes in weariness and boredom?

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U.S. to Develop DNA Study of One Million People

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

Antonio Regalado via Technology Review:

President Barack Obama is proposing to spend $215 million on a “precision medicine” initiative the centerpiece of which will be a national study involving the health records and DNA of one million volunteers, administration officials said yesterday.Precision medicine refers to treatments tailored to a person’s genetic profile, an idea already transforming how doctors fight cancer and some rare diseases.

The Obama plan, including support for studies of cancer and rare disease, is part of a shift away from “one-size-fits-all” medicine, Jo Handelsman, associate director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a briefing yesterday. She called precision medicine “a game changer that holds the potential to revolutionize how we approach health in this country and around the world.”

The White House said the largest part of the money, $130 million, would go to the National Institutes of Health in order to create a population-scale study of how peoples’ genes, environment, and lifestyle affect their health.

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