AI

What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI 382

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-are-you-doing-dave? dept.
DaveS7 writes: There's been no shortage of high profile people weighing in on the subject of AI lately. We've heard warnings from Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking while Woz seems to have a more ambivalent opinion on the subject. The Epoch Times has compiled a list of academics in the field of AI research who are offering their own opinions. From the article: "A 2014 survey conducted by Vincent Müller and Nick Bostrom of 170 of the leading experts in the field found that a full 18 percent believe that if a machine super-intelligence did emerge, it would unleash an 'existential catastrophe' on humanity. A further 13 percent said that advanced AI would be a net negative for humans, and only a slight majority said it would be a net positive."
Sci-Fi

The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-when-you-want-to-travel-in-a-highly-inefficient-manner dept.
Dave Knott writes: Fans of 1980s cinema were disappointed when the year 2015 arrived without a practical version Marty McFly's hoverboard. Now, a Montréal-based man has brought it closer to reality by setting a new record for longest "flight" by hoverboard. In a filmed test recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records, Catalin Alexandru Duru pilots his somewhat cumbersome looking rig for 250 meters — five times the previous record — at a height of five meters above Quebec's Lake Ouareau. Duru and his business partner "hope to have a new prototype finished by the end of the year and then have hoverboards available for purchase across the country. He wouldn't say how much the prototype cost to build, but said that the first generation of the machine will likely be 'quite expensive.'" "This thing is still quite dangerous," he added, explaining that the pilot uses only his or her feet to fly the contraption. The commercial version's software will limit it to flying below a height of about one-and-a-half meters above the ground.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 97

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Music

Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the soothe-the-savage-student dept.
ErnieKey writes: A youth club in Germany, called Toolbox Bodensee, has created an unusual musical organ. It is constructed of 49 floppy disk drives all of which combine to play quite a unique sound. It has the ability to be played manually or act as a playback device. If you have a bunch of old floppy drives and want to assemble your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse.
Businesses

Take Two Sues BBC Over Drama About GTA Development 81

Posted by timothy
from the too-soon-too-soon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Take Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games, is suing the BBC for trademark infringement over its planned "making of GTA" drama, Game Changers. The 90-minute movie was created without the involvement of the studio, which rarely comments on the GTA series' development outside of organised press events. (It is expected that it will draw upon the public conflict between Sam Houser and notorious anti-gaming crank Jack Thompson, via the expose "Jacked" by David Kushner.) After direct negotiations with the BBC failed, Take Two brought suit to "ensure that [their] trademarks are not misused." The details of the suit, Rockstar's objections, and the penalties sought, are not yet known.
Sci-Fi

Secret Files Reveal UK Police Feared That Trekkies Could Turn On Society 214

Posted by samzenpus
from the live-long-and-riot dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Scotland Yard was worried that fans of shows like the X Files and Star Trek might run amok during the Millennium according to secret files. The file, called UFO New Religious Movements (NRMs) And The Millennium, reveals that anti-terrorism experts were also concerned about the brain-washing effect of Dark Skies, Roswell, Millennium and The Lawnmower Man on viewers. According to the Telegraph: "The secret briefing note was obtained from the Met under the Freedom of Information Act by Sheffield-based British X-Files expert Dr Dave Clarke while researching a new book, How UFOs Conquered the World. Dr Clarke, who teaches investigative journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, said: 'The documents show the police and security services were concerned about the export of some new religious movements concerning UFOs and aliens from the USA in the aftermath of the mass suicide by followers of the Heaven's Gate.'"
Canada

Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System 220

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-downloading-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Canada's copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. Yet reports indicate that piracy rates in Canada have plummeted, with some ISPs seeing a 70% decrease in online infringement.
Entertainment

Marvel's Female Superheroes Are Gradually Becoming More Super 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the superduper-heroines dept.
New submitter RhubarbPye writes: A new study shows an increasing trend in the power and significance of female superhero characters in the Marvel comic book universe. Several criteria were used to examine the trend, including cover art, dialog, and the actual superpowers. Over 200 individual comic books from Marvel's 50+ year history were compared for the study. What's of particular interest is the study's author is a 17-year-old high school student from Ohio.
Television

Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the team-shifted-to-smellovision-development dept.
Apple has been rumored to be developing their own line of HDTVs for years, but a new report from the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) says while those plans did exist, they've been abandoned. Apple began pondering the idea of jumping into the television market roughly a decade ago, as iTunes started hosting video content. The AppleTV made a foray into living rooms in 2007, and other devices reached the prototype stage. The company continued to do research and work on their ideas, but eventually gave up more than a year ago. Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through the set, they said. Ultimately, though, Apple executives didn't consider any of those features compelling enough to enter the highly competitive television market, led by Samsung Electronics Co. Apple typically likes to enter a new product area with innovative technology and easier-to-use software.
Star Wars Prequels

Learning About Constitutional Law With Star Wars 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the scalia-shot-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In an upcoming paper (PDF) for the Michigan Law Review, scholar Cass Sunstein draws on Star Wars to make a couple key points about how constitutional law evolves. He writes, "Human beings often see coherence and planned design when neither exists. This is so in movies, literature, history, economics, and psychoanalysis—and constitutional law. Contrary to the repeated claims of George Lucas, its principal author, the Star Wars series was hardly planned in advance; it involved a great deal of improvisation and surprise, even to Lucas himself. Serendipity and happenstance, sometimes in the forms of eruptions of new thinking, play a pervasive and overlooked role in the creative imagination, certainly in single-authored works, and even more in multi-authored ones extending over time. ... The misdescription appears to respond to a serious human need for sense-making and pattern-finding, but it is a significant obstacle to understanding and critical reflection. Whether Jedi or Sith, many authors of constitutional law are a lot like the author of Star Wars, disguising the essential nature of their own creative processes."
Firefox

First Smart TVs Powered By Firefox OS On Sale In Europe, Worldwide Soon 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first smart TVs powered by Firefox OS have gone on sale in Europe. Panasonic's line of Viera smart TVs includes six that are powered by Firefox OS — CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680 — including their first curved LED LCD TV. The full global launch of the TVs is expected “in the coming months.” From the Mozilla blog: "We’re happy to partner with Panasonic to bring the first Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS to the world,” said Andreas Gal, Mozilla CTO. “With Firefox and Firefox OS powered devices, users can enjoy a custom and connected Web experience and take their favorite content (apps, videos, photos, websites) across devices without being locked into one proprietary ecosystem or brand.”
Movies

Men's Rights Activists Call For Boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road 775

Posted by samzenpus
from the too-much-time-on-your-hands dept.
ideonexus writes: Aaron Clarey, author of the blog Return of Kings and prominent figure in the Men's Rights Movement, is calling for a boycott of George Miller's new edition to the Mad Max franchise "Mad Max: Fury Road," calling the film a "Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things..." and citing the fact that "Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler was brought in to coach the actresses on playing sex slaves who escape a warlord's possession. Critics have been applauding the film, which currently scores 98% on RottenTomatoes.
Sci-Fi

On the Taxonomy of Sci-Fi Spaceships 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the stay-classy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Jeff Venancio has done some research that's perfect reading for a lazy Saturday afternoon: figuring out a coherent taxonomy for sci-fi spaceships. If you're a sci-fi fan, you've doubtless heard or read references to a particular starship's "class" fairly often. There are flagships and capital ships, cruisers and corvettes, battleships and destroyers. But what does that all mean? Well, there's not always consistency, but a lot of it comes from Earth's naval history. "The word 'corvette' comes from the Dutch word corf, which means 'small ship,' and indeed corvettes are historically the smallest class of rated warship (a rating system used by the British Royal Navy in the sailing age, basically referring to the amount of men/guns on the vessel and its relative size; corvettes were of the sixth and smallest rate). ... They were usually used for escorting convoys and patrolling waters, especially in places where larger ships would be unnecessary."

Venancio takes the historical context for each ship type and then explains how it's been adapted for a sci-context. "Corvettes might be outfitted to have some sort of stealth or cloaking system for reconnaissance or spec ops missions; naturally it would be easier to cloak a smaller ship than a larger one (though plenty of examples of large stealth ships exist). In some series they are likely to be diplomatic vessels due to their small size and speed, particularly seen in Star Wars, and can commonly act as blockade runners (again; their small size and speed makes them ideal for slipping through a blockade, where a larger ship presents more of a target)."
Canada

Canadian Prime Minister To Music Lobby: Here's Your Copyright Term Extension 121

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-more-where-that-came-from dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. The extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage, but apparently all it took was a letter from the music industry lobby to the Prime Minister of Canada. Michael Geist reports on a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the music lobby on the day the change was announced confirming that industry lobbying convinced him to extend the term of copyright without any public consultation or discussion.
Stats

How MMO Design Has Improved Bar Trivia 22

Posted by timothy
from the want-to-double-down-on-greasy-bar-food? dept.
Polygon.com features a look at how (very) different computer game worlds can meet, in the form of game designer Ralph Koster's Kitchen Disasters-style rescue effort to revive a game quite unlike the ones he's famous for designing, like Ultima Online. Bar-trivia provider Buzztime has been putting electronic trivia games into bars for three decades -- and in that time, the number of options available to potential players has jumped. Bar trivia has crept into the domain of things like vinyl-based juke-boxes: not without appeal, but not exactly modern. Koster has tried to apply modern game design paradigms and objectives, and revamped the game: Koster's Jackpot Trivia is now being introduced in a few hundred locations. Buzztime operates in around 4,000 bars and restaurants, but already the new addition has increased game usage by 15 percent. Much of the improvements came from Koster's experiences of making and playing MMOs, and on the MMO's influence on all games. "These days, a lot of the qualities of MMOs are popping up on everything from social media to systems that sit outside and on top of games, like everything around Xbox Live and Steam," he says. The re-vamp means, for Buzztime, better matching of opponents, as part of an overall redesign of incentives and risks: players have also gotten finer-grained control over their plays, by being able to assign weight to their answers: that means they can guess with less penalty when answers are tough, or take advantage of confidence in knowledge about a category in which they're strong.
Music

What Happens To Our Musical Taste As We Age? 360

Posted by timothy
from the it-gets-righter-of-course dept.
An anonymous reader writes: New research from Spotify and Echo Nest reveals that people start off listening to chart-topping pop music and branch off into all kinds of territory in their teens and early 20s, before their musical tastes start to calcify and become more rigid by their mid-30s. "Men, it turns out, give up popular music much more quickly than women. Men and women have similar musical listening tendencies through their teens, but men start shunning mainstream artists much sooner than women and to a greater degree."
Television

Harry Shearer Walks Away From "The Simpsons," and $14 Million 214

Posted by timothy
from the folding-up-money dept.
Actor Harry Shearer, perhaps best known as the voice of several characters on The Simpsons, including that of Montgomery Burns, will be leaving the show's cast, according to CNN. Showrunner Al Jean said Shearer was "offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, but turned it down." ... Shearer is not just walking away from Springfield, but also a large sum of money. The actor was offered a guaranteed $14 million for two years of work, according to someone with direct knowledge of the matter. The proposed deal also allowed for him to do other projects if he wished." That last part, though, seems to be in dispute, and central to Shearer's decision to leave; Shearer tweeted that it's because he "wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work."
Star Wars Prequels

Rediscovered Lucas-Commissioned Short "Black Angel" Released On YouTube 121

Posted by timothy
from the low-budget-high-value dept.
eldavojohn writes: Youtube now offers Black Angel, a short film shown in UK theaters before ESB. What was once thought lost is now found; enjoy. This may be the best half-hour you spend today, even if you must "set your clocks back 34 years," as writer and director Roger Christian advises. (Christian is also known for directing 2000's Battlefield Earth .)
Piracy

Film Consortium Urges ISPs To Dump Ineffective "Six Strikes" Policy For Pirates 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the pluggin-the-sieve dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Internet Security Task Force, a group of businesses working to protect content creators and consumers from the negative effects of piracy, has called for an end to the Copyright Alert System, saying the anti-piracy initiative is not only ineffective but actually makes things worse. The group suggest that it be replaced with a new system based on Canada's Copyright Modernization Act. Mark Gill, ISTF chairman and President of member company Millennium films, says "We've always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it's a sham." The Copyright Alert System (CAS) is set to expire early July.
Music

The Music Industry's Latest Shortsighted Plan: Killing Freemium Services 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-we-get-rid-of-all-the-cars-and-bikes,-our-catapult-business-will-take-off dept.
An anonymous reader notes that there have been rumblings in the music industry of trying to shut down freemium services like Spotify's free tier and YouTube's swath of free music. The record labels have realized that music downloads are gradually giving way to streaming, and they're angling for as a big a slice of that revenue as they can manage. The article argues that they're making the same mistake they always make: that converting freemium site listeners (in the past, music pirates) to subscription services will be a 1:1 transfer, and no listeners will be lost in the process. Of course, that's no more true now than it was a decade ago. But in doing trying to do so, the labels will do harm to the artists they represent, and shoot themselves in the foot for acquiring future customers by getting rid of several major sources of music discovery.