Eleven Countries Studied, One Inescapable Conclusion – The Drug Laws Don’t Work

October 31st, 2014

Oh, drug laws work great if you’re a corporation that turns a profit on locking people up.

Via: Guardian:

The UK government’s comparison of international drug laws, published on Wednesday, represents the first official recognition since the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that there is no direct link between being “tough on drugs” and tackling the problem.

The report, which has been signed off by both the Conservative home secretary, Theresa May, and the Liberal Democrat crime prevention minister, Norman Baker, is based on an in-depth study of drug laws in 11 countries ranging from the zero-tolerance of Japan to the legalisation of Uruguay.


Brain Decoder Can Eavesdrop on Your Inner Voice

October 30th, 2014

Via: New Scientist:

TALKING to yourself used to be a strictly private pastime. That’s no longer the case – researchers have eavesdropped on our internal monologue for the first time. The achievement is a step towards helping people who cannot physically speak communicate with the outside world.

“If you’re reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head,” says Brian Pasley at the University of California, Berkeley. “We’re trying to decode the brain activity related to that voice to create a medical prosthesis that can allow someone who is paralysed or locked in to speak.”


Google’s Secretive DeepMind Start-Up Unveils A “Neural Turing Machine”

October 30th, 2014

Via: MIT Technology Review:

DeepMind has built a neural network that can access an external memory like a conventional Turing machine. The result is a computer that mimics the short-term memory of the human brain.

Related: “With Artificial Intelligence, We Are Summoning the Demon”


Swiss Company to Build Utility-Scale Batteries in North Carolina

October 30th, 2014

Via: Fortune:

A Swiss maker of giant storage batteries for wind and solar farms is taking over a giant Philip Morris plant.

The Philip Morris plant in Concord, North Carolina used to manufacture a billion cigarettes a year. But Americans are smoking less, and in the tobacco giant shuttered the factory’s doors years ago and announced plans to sell the 2,100 acre, the 3.5 million square foot facility. In a sure sign that the U.S. economy is changing for the better, the empty space is not being turned in an outlet mall or water park but into a giant manufacturing site for utility-scale batteries that will store wind and solar electricity. Alevo, the Swiss maker of the battery technology, plans to open the plant Tuesday, and says that within three years they will create 2,500 high paying jobs.

Research Credit: almaverdad2


Verizon Launching Tech News Site that Bans Stories on U.S. Spying

October 29th, 2014

Via: The Daily Dot:

Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong?

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

Unsurprisingly, Verizon is deeply tangled up in both controversies.


Verizon Wireless Injects Identifiers that Link Its Users to Web Requests

October 29th, 2014

Via: Ars Technica:

Cellular communications provider Verizon Wireless is adding cookie-like tokens to Web requests traveling over its network. These tokens are being used to build a detailed picture of users’ interests and to help clients tailor advertisements, according to researchers and Verizon’s own documentation.

The profiling, part of Verizon’s Precision Market Insights division, kicked off more than two years ago and expanded to cover all Verizon Wireless subscribers as part of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising service. It appends a per-device token known as the Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) to each Web request sent through its cellular network from a particular mobile device, allowing Verizon to link a website visitor to its own internal profiles. The service aims to allow client websites to target advertising at specific segments of the consumer market.

While the company started piloting the service two years ago, privacy experts only began warning of the issue this week, arguing that the service is essentially tracking users and that companies paid for a fundamental service that should not be using the data for secondary purposes.


Google Pill to Diagnose Disease

October 29th, 2014

How about a Google suppository?

Via: Wired:

Google is attempting to develop a pill that would send microscopic particles into the bloodstream in an effort to identify cancers, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases.

Andrew Conrad, the head of life sciences inside the company’s Google X research lab, revealed the project on Tuesday morning at a conference here in Southern California. According to Conrad, the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body. The idea is that patients will swallow a pill that contains these particles, and after they enter the bloodstream—attempting to identify molecules that would indicate certain health problems—a wearable device could use their magnetic cores to gather them back together and read what they’ve found.


Lowe’s Hires Robots for the Holidays

October 28th, 2014

If you think it’s just for the “Holidays”, I got a bridge to sell ya.

Via: PCMagazine:

Lowe’s is hiring some new workers for the holiday season, but they’re not human.

The hardware store just announced plans to test customer service robots, which will be able to help you locate items in the store, and share real-time information about product promotions and inventory. Dubbed OSHbot, the robots can speak multiple languages and remotely connect with expert employees in other locations to answer project-related questions.

Unfortunately, the robots won’t yet be making an appearance at Lowe’s stores nationwide. Lowe’s will deploy two of the bots at its Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, Calif. to see whether customers and employees embrace the technology.

The OSHbots roll right up to you, say hello, and ask what you need. They also feature 3D-scanning technology, so you can bring in a spare part, scan it under a 3D-sensing camera, and OSHbot will identify the product, tell you how much it costs, and then guide you to where you can find it on store shelves.


Taco Bell Unveils Mobile Ordering

October 28th, 2014

“Cashiers and food service workers: You’re pretty much screwed.”

Seattle Hikes Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

Via: USA Today:

Food used to be what drove folks into restaurants. But these days, it’s also increasingly the technology behind it.

That’s why two major restaurant chains, Taco Bell and Outback Steakhouse, made marketing waves on Tuesday, not with new product rollouts, but with industry-leading technology announcements.

Taco Bell went way outside the bun to unveil an advanced mobile app that lets folks order and pay on their smartphones and then walk or drive in and pick up their food.


‘Ambulance Drone’ Prototype Unveiled in Holland

October 28th, 2014

Via: AFP:

A Dutch-based student on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of an “ambulance drone”, a flying defibrillator able to reach heart attack victims within precious life-saving minutes.

Developed by Belgian engineering graduate Alec Momont, it can fly at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour).

“Around 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the European Union every year and only 8.0 percent survive,” Momont, 23, said at the TU Delft University.

“The main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,” he said in a statement.

“The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 square kilometre (4.6 square miles) zone within a minute, reducing the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent.”

Painted in emergency services yellow and driven by six propellers, the drone can carry a four kilogramme load — in this case a defibrillator.

It tracks emergency mobile calls and uses the GPS to navigate.

Once at the scene, an operator, like a paramedic, can watch, talk and instruct those helping the victim by using an on-board camera connected to a control room via a livestream webcam.

The prototype has already attracted the interest of emergency services including that of Amsterdam, the Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad said.


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