Science

'Rogue Scientists' Could Exploit Gene Editing Technology, Experts Warn (theguardian.com) 78

A senior geneticist and a bioethicist warned on Friday that they fear "rogue scientists" operating outside the bounds of law, and agreed with a US intelligence chief's assertion this week that gene editing technology could have huge, and potentially dangerous, consequences. Recent advances in genetics allow scientists to edit DNA quickly and accurately, making research into diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and cancer, easier than ever before. But researchers increasingly caution that they have to work with extreme care, for fear that gene editing could be deployed as bioterrorism or, in a more likely scenario, result in an accident that could make humans more susceptible to disease rather than less.
AT&T

Apple And AT&T Sued For Infringement Over iPhone Haptic Patents (computerworld.com) 21

Haptic technology company Immersion has accused Apple and carrier AT&T of infringement of three of its patents in the latest iPhone models and Apple watches. Immersion, which claims over 2,100 issued or pending patents worldwide covering various aspects and commercial applications of haptic or touch feedback technology, has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of the specified iPhone and Apple Watch models in the U.S., besides suing for damages in a Delaware federal court, company CEO Victor Viegas said in a conference call Thursday. Immersion decided to include AT&T and subsidiary AT&T Mobility in the action because the carrier is the most significant distributor of the iPhone in the U.S.
United States

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Has Died (theguardian.com) 436

clovis writes: US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died in his sleep while on a hunting trip near Marfa, Texas. Justice Scalia was a Constitutional originalist and textualist. He did not believe the Constitution was a living document to be interpreted with the evolving standards of modern times.

I, for one, am very interested to see what happens next.

Wikipedia

Reluctant Wikipedia Lifts Lid On $2.5M Internet Search Engine Project (theregister.co.uk) 29

The Wikimedia Foundation has finally disclosed details of its controversial Knowledge Engine grant -- and it confirms that Wikipedia is getting seriously into search, despite Jimmy Wales' categorical denial that WMF is "doing a Google." After a Wikipedia signpost article, and coverage at El Reg this week, the WMF caved and posted the Knight Foundation's approval of the $250,000 grant. The grant provides seed money for stage one of the Knowledge Engine, described as "a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy information on the Internet." The discovery stage includes an exploration of prototypes of future versions of Wikipedia.org which are "open channels" rather than an encyclopedia, analyzing the query-to-content path, and embedding the Wikipedia Knowledge Engine "via carriers and Original Equipment Manufacturers."
Facebook

Seeing Beyond The Hubris Of Facebook's Free Basics Fiasco (techcrunch.com) 45

Facebook's Free Basics was an ill-conceived effort to bring Internet access to the poor in India. It created a walled garden in which Facebook and the Indian telecom providers selected which websites people could visit. The users of Free Basics would find that Facebook was the center of their virtual universe and would experience only what it allowed them to.

The Free Basics project originated from an idea that Zuckerberg had about connecting the next 5 billion people. He documented this in a paper titled Is Connectivity A Human Right? He wrote that in the U.S. "an iPhone with a typical two-year data plan costs about $2,000, where about $500-600 of that is the phone and $1,500 is the data." What Zuckerberg and his U.S. team didn't understand was that in India you can buy computer tablets and smartphones for as little as $50, and that 100MB of data -- which is more than a Free Basics user will consume in a month -- costs much less than a dollar. So the entire basis of the paper was flawed.
AMD

CERN Engineer Details AMD Zen Processor Confirming 32 Core Implementation, SMT (hothardware.com) 70

MojoKid writes: AMD is long overdue for a major architecture update, though one is coming later this year. Featuring the codename "Zen," AMD's already provided a few details, such as that it will be built using a 14nm FinFET process. In time, AMD will reveal all there is to know about Zen, but we now have a few additional details to share thanks to a computer engineer at CERN. CERN engineer Liviu Valsan recently gave a presentation on technology and market trends for the data center. At around 2 minutes into the discussion, he brought up AMD's Zen architecture with a slide that contained some previously undisclosed details. One of the more interesting revelations was that upcoming x86 processors based on Zen will feature up to 32 physical cores. To achieve a 32-core design, Valsan says AMD will use two 16-core CPUs on a single die with a next-generation interconnect. It has also been previously reported that Zen will offer up to a 40 percent improvement in IPC compared to its current processors as well as symmetric multithreading or SMT akin to Intel HyperThreading. In a 32-core implementation this would result in 64 logical threads of processing.
AI

Would You Bet Against Sex Robots? AI 'Could Leave Half Of World Unemployed' 250

Machines could put more than half the world's population out of a job in the next 30 years, according to a computer scientist who said on Saturday that artificial intelligence's threat to the economy should not be understated. Vardi, a professor at Rice University and Guggenheim fellow, said that technology presents a more subtle threat than the masterless drones that some activists fear. He suggested AI could drive global unemployment to 50%, wiping out middle-class jobs and exacerbating inequality. "Humanity is about to face perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the end of 'in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread'," he said. "We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge."
Education

Brown CS Department Hiring Student Diversity, Inclusion Advocates 95

theodp writes: Brown University's Department of Computer Science is seeking to hire student advocates for diversity and inclusion as part of its new action plan to increase diversity. The new hires, who will also serve as members of the CS Diversity Committee, will support students, plan inclusion activities, and educate TAs on issues of diversity. Also on the diversity front, Brown touted last weekend's Hack@Brown, the school's annual student hackathon, as being "unlike any other hackathon" -- welcoming, inclusive, and inviting to students of all experience levels." A cynic might point out that Hack@Brown's tech giant sponsors boast track records that are quite the opposite. By the way, Brown@Hackathon certainly upped the ante on conference Codes of Conduct, warning that those anonymously-charged with making others feel uncomfortable on the basis of "gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof)" will be "expelled from the event without travel reimbursement at the discretion of the event organizers." Brown explained that travel reimbursements were provided to promote "economic diversity", ensuring that students who couldn't otherwise afford to get to and from Providence could attend the Ivy League event. Hey, what "economically diverse" kid wouldn't want to go to a conference where rubbing someone the wrong way could leave them stranded in Rhode Island!
Technology

A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate To An Inch (gizmodo.com) 93

A team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that's been tried before, but in the past it's required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude. In turn, that allows GPS systems in a mobile device to calculate position with an accuracy of just an inch.
Science

Potentially Deadly Drug Interactions Found Mining FDA Complaint Bin (arstechnica.com) 50

Thousands of people are sent to the hospital each year from adverse drug-drug interactions that are difficult to predict and even trickier to track. To get around the problem, a team of researchers (working with the journalists at The Chicago Tribune) created a computer model to create side-effect profiles for prescription drugs. Then, they mined a massive database of drug-reaction complaints sent to the Food and Drug Administration, as well as 380,000 electronic health records. The results of the analysis so far suggest that four drug combinations "including the combination of the common antibiotic, ceftriaxone, with the over-the-counter heartburn medication, Prevacid (lansoprazole) may cause a potentially fatal heart rhythm.
News

Authorities Reportedly Question McAfee's Ex-girlfriend (networkworld.com) 42

netbuzz writes: While antivirus software pioneer John McAfee is in the media spotlight for his long-shot Libertarian presidential run, law enforcement authorities in Belize and the FBI have just this week reportedly questioned one of his ex-girlfriends as they continue to investigate the 2012 murder of McAfee's American neighbor. That probe prompted McAfee to flee Belize and eventually land back in the United States. McAfee has steadfastly denied any involvement in the murder.
Piracy

Sci-Hub, a Site With Open and Pirated Scientific Papers 123

lpress writes: Sci-Hub is a Russian site that seeks to remove barriers to science by providing access to pirated copies of scientific papers. It was established in 2011 by Russian neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, who could not afford papers she needed for her research and it now claims to have links to 48 million pirated and open papers. I tried it out and found some papers and not others, but it provides an alternative for researchers who cannot afford access to paid journals. After visiting this site, one cannot help thinking of the case of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide as a result of prosecution for his attempt to free scientific literature.
Math

Even Einstein Doubted His Gravitational Waves (astronomy.com) 123

Flash Modin writes: In 1936, twenty years after Albert Einstein introduced the concept, the great physicist took another look at his math and came to a surprising conclusion. 'Together with a young collaborator, I arrived at the interesting result that gravitational waves do not exist, though they had been assumed a certainty to the first approximation,' he wrote in a letter to friend Max Born. Interestingly, his research denouncing gravitational waves was rejected by Physical Review Letters, the journal that just published proof of their existence. The story shows that even when Einstein's wrong, it's because he was already right the first time.
Spam

BT Announces Free Service To Screen Nuisance Callers (thestack.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: British telco BT is launching a free landline service for UK customers which promises to divert millions of unwanted calls. A dedicated team at BT will monitor calls made to UK numbers, across its network of over 10 million domestic landlines, to identify suspicious patterns, which could help to filter out nuisance callers. The flagged numbers will then be directed to a junk voicemail box. The company has estimated that the voicemail 'net' will catch up to 25 million cold calls every week. It explained that to achieve this success rate, it would be deploying enormous amounts of compute power to monitor and analyse large amounts of data in real-time.

Slashdot Top Deals