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California "Green Lab" Volunteers Smoke Cannabis in Front of the Police

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 10:17 AM PST

Volunteers get high to help California police spot pot users

Even though recreational marijuana is legal in California, most people probably wouldn't be comfortable smoking around police officers. But that's exactly what Edson Villegas volunteered to do, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Villegas took part in a "green lab" to help officers, prosecutors and toxicologists identify signs of impairment as drugged driving becomes a growing problem on roads.

"Approximately 75 percent of the DUI arrests that I make nowadays are drug impaired -- more specifically to cannabis than alcohol," said Glendale Police Officer Bryan Duncan.

The volunteer users took field sobriety tests at the beginning of the evening, then went into a tent and smoked marijuana. When they went back and took the same field sobriety tests, officers could see if there were any changes in their mental or physical abilities.

See also: Girl Scout sells more than 300 boxes of cookies at San Diego marijuana dispensary

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GPU Cryptomining Hurting SETI and Other Astronomy Projects

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 08:43 AM PST

Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life'

Scientists listening out for broadcasts by extra-terrestrials are struggling to get the computer hardware they need, thanks to the crypto-currency mining craze, a radio-astronomer has said.

Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers want to expand operations at two observatories. However, they have found that key computer chips are in short supply. "We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em," said Dan Werthimer.

Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining. "That's limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'," Dr Werthimer told the BBC.

[...] Other radio-astronomers have been affected. A group looking for evidence of the earliest stars in the universe was recently shocked to see that the cost of the GPUs it wanted had doubled.

[...] Prof [Aaron] Parsons' radio telescope, the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (Hera), is an American, British and South African project located in South Africa's western plains. [...] Three months ago, the Hera team had budgeted for a set of GPUs that cost around $500 (£360) - the price has since doubled to $1,000.

"We'll be able to weather it but it is coming out of our contingency budget." added Prof Parsons. "We're buying a lot of these things, it's going to end up costing about $32,000 extra."

When the inevitable flood of cheap GPUs onto the market happens, will it be a boon to science?

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Richard Spencer Threatens to Sue Kent State

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 07:09 AM PST

From Cleveland.com:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Kent State University, facing the threat of a lawsuit, reiterated on Friday that it cannot accommodate a request to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak in early May as part of his campus tour.

The university, which is based in Kent but has regional campuses elsewhere in the state, said it had responded to attorney Kyle Bristow reaffirming its earlier response that no suitable space is available for Spencer to speak between April 30 and May 12.

Bristow had told Kent State it had until the end of business Friday to agree to rent space at an "acceptable date and time" or face a lawsuit. Several other schools, including Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati, are in litigation over Spencer.

Tour organizer Cameron Padgett wanted Spencer to speak at Kent State on the May 4 anniversary of Ohio National Guard shootings that killed four students during anti-war protests in 1970. The university said early May is too busy with activities around the end of the academic year.

Bristow said last year that Spencer planned to speak March 14 on the University of Cincinnati campus, but the university said there was no contract in place, and the two sides are now in a legal standoff over the university's demand for a security fee of nearly $11,000.

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Pressure Mounts On FCC To Provide Answers About Fake Net Neutrality Comments

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 05:35 AM PST

"We write to request information that will help both us and the public better understand how the Federal Communications Commission managed the record in its recent net neutrality proceeding," begins a letter sent today by all the Democratic representatives on the House Energy and Commerce committee.

The missive notes that the comment period was "notoriously replete with fake comments" and argues that as a result it "raises novel questions about how an agency can properly handle and interpret the public's feedback to make sound policy decisions."

The seven-page memo [PDF] contains no less than 16 pointed questions over how the FCC handled abuse of its comment system, while noting that its subsequent decision to approve the controversial repeal of the nation's net neutrality rules provided "scant detail" on that aspect.

The letter also makes it plain that the lawmakers believe that the legitimacy of the FCC's decision is in doubt. "While we may not support the outcome of this proceeding, we hope you agree with us that transparency in the process is crucial," it reads. "In order to restore public confidence in the integrity of the process and give the American people a better understanding of how the FCC analyzed the comments filed in this proceeding, we request that you provide us information on how the agency reviewed the public comments."

[...] While the letter is unlikely to provide a smoking gun, it does keep up political pressure on the FCC over how it handled the public comment process.

[...] So far, the FCC has demonstrated no intention of investigating what went wrong or how it can be mitigated in future. In fact, in an increasingly partisan atmosphere, even mentioning that the comment process was entirely undermined has become a political statement.

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U.S. Intelligence Agency Heads Warn Against Using Huawei and ZTE Products

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 04:01 AM PST

Intelligence agency heads have warned against using Huawei and ZTE products and services:

The heads of six major US intelligence agencies have warned that American citizens shouldn't use products and services made by Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE. According to a report from CNBC, the intelligence chiefs made the recommendation during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. The group included the heads of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the director of national intelligence.

During his testimony, FBI Director Chris Wray said the the government was "deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks." He added that this would provide "the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."

These warnings are nothing new. The US intelligence community has long been wary of Huawei, which was founded by a former engineer in China's People's Liberation Army and has been described by US politicians as "effectively an arm of the Chinese government." This caution led to a ban on Huawei bidding for US government contracts in 2014, and it's now causing problems for the company's push into consumer electronics.

Verizon and AT&T recently cancelled plans to sell Huawei's Mate 10 Pro smartphone.

Don't use a Huawei phone because it's too Chinese. Don't use an Apple phone because strong encryption is not "responsible encryption". Which phone is just right for the FBI?

Previously: U.S. Lawmakers Urge AT&T to Cut Ties With Huawei

Related: FBI Director Christopher Wray Keeps War on Encryption Alive
U.S. Government Reportedly Wants to Build a 5G Network to Thwart Chinese Spying

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Bank Accounts of World Chess Body Closed

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 02:27 AM PST

Dr. Adrian Siegel, the treasurer of the World Chess Federation (known by the French acronym FIDE) has submitted a letter to the body's executive board and other executives informing it that their bank, UBS, is closing the Federation's bank account. Since 2015 the President of FIDE, Kirsan Ilymzhinov, has been listed on the Office of Foreign Accounts Control sanctions list of the U.S. Treasury for financial support of Syria. According to Dr. Siegel, "...after more than two years of Kirsan Ilyumzhinow's [sic] presence on the sanction list... UBS has announced that they will immediately close our accounts."

Over the past two years there were reports of Mr. Ilymzhinov resigning from the presidency in favor of his vice-president, only to attempt to regain executive control, and dissension on the Executive Board of FIDE over the matter. Allegations of corruption have plagued Mr. Ilymzhinov for some years, but he has been re-elected twice over chess Grandmasters Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in separate elections. In 2010 he proposed building a chess center at the World Trade Center attack site.

The BBC reports that representatives of Mr. Ilymzhinov have denied the allegations as outrageous and false.

Story at chessbase.com by Macauley Peterson.

Checkmate, baby?

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Microsoft Working to Scale Blockchain for Grand Distributed ID Scheme

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 12:54 AM PST

Microsoft's wanted a really good federated identity scheme ever since the early 2000s, when it gave the world Project Hailstorm, aka ".Net My Services", to let a web of online services know a little about you and the information you are happy to share with others.

Hailstorm passed, swept back years later as Geneva Server and now seems to have found its way into a blockchain-powered conceptual heir that Microsoft's now named "Decentralized Digital Identities".

Alex Simons, director of program management in Microsoft's Identity Division has revealed that "Over the last 12 months we've invested in incubating a set of ideas for using Blockchain (and other distributed ledger technologies) to create new types of digital identities, identities designed from the ground up to enhance personal privacy, security and control."

Microsoft's identity ambitions, he wrote, now centre on user-controlled-and-owned Decentralized ID schemes so that a single data breach can't give crooks the keys to your kingdom.

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How Cockroaches Crash Into Walls And Keep Going

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 11:20 PM PST

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Anyone who's tried to kill a cockroach knows that the ancient pests have some world-class evasive maneuvers. Or at least they appear to.

The agility of cockroaches may owe less to lightning-fast reflexes and fancy footwork than their tough, shock-absorbent bodies. According to a new study, American cockroaches can run full-speed into walls and other obstacles because their exoskeletons allow them to recover quickly with hardly any loss in momentum.

"Their bodies are doing the computing, not their brains or complex sensors," said Kaushik Jayaram, a biologist at Harvard University and lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The findings -which were further validated by a tiny, cockroach-sized robot - could influence the design of the next generation of robots that run, jump and fly.

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Using Lego for Modular Microfluidics

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 09:46 PM PST

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists are using LEGO bricks to create a modular microfluid system that will work around the world.
When looking for a modular microfluid system, scientists at MIT landed on LEGO bricks. Because of the conformity and consistency of LEGO bricks, they allow systems to be replicated without much room for error.

For those unfamiliar with Microfluidics, it's exactly what it says on the tin: Manipulating fluids in very small quantities and with great precision. It's used in everything from medicine to inkjet printers.

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Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 08:12 PM PST

A Trump administration budget proposal would cancel NASA's flagship-class Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) as well as several Earth science related telescopes, as it focuses on the Space Launch System, Orion, and sending astronauts to an orbital space station around the Moon:

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 and put dozens of federal programs on the chopping block, including a brand-new NASA space telescope that scientists say would provide the biggest picture of the universe yet, with the same sparkling clarity as the Hubble Space Telescope. The proposal, released Monday, recommends eliminating the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), citing "higher priorities" at NASA and the cost of the new telescope.

"Given competing priorities at NASA, and budget constraints, developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the administration," the proposal states. "The budget proposes to terminate WFIRST and redirect existing funds to other priorities of the science community, including completed astrophysics missions and research."

Although the Trump administration wants to end funding of the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, it envisions private companies picking up the slack:

"The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform," according to a draft summary of NASA's ISS Transition Report required by Congress in the agency's 2017 Authorization Act.

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Facebook Patents Tech to Determine Social Class

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 06:48 PM PST

We've got great news this week for nation-state employees tasked with using social media to spark a class war in previously stable democracies! Facebook is patenting technology to decide if its users are upper, middle or working class -- without even using the usual marker for social class: an individual's income (the patent considers this a benefit).

Facebook's patent plan for "Socioeconomic Group Classification Based on User Features" uses different data sources and qualifiers to determine whether a user is "working class," "middle class," or "upper class." It uses things like a user's home ownership status, education, number of gadgets owned, and how much they use the internet, among other factors. If you have one gadget and don't use the internet much, in Facebook's eyes you're probably a poor person.

Facebook's application says the algorithm is intended for use by "third parties to increase awareness about products or services to online system users." Examples given include corporations and charities.


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A.I. Algorithm Recognizes Terrorist Propaganda With 99% Accuracy

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 05:14 PM PST

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

The UK-based company ASI Data Science unveiled a machine learning algorithm Wednesday that can identify terrorist propaganda videos with 99 percent accuracy.

This development marks one of the first instances of a company successfully using A.I. to flag extremist propaganda. The Islamic State group is notorious for its social media recruiting efforts, and this algorithm could help curtail them.

While the researchers at ASI wouldn't discuss any technical specifics of the algorithm, it appears to work like other kinds of A.I. recognition software. The algorithm can examine any video and determine the probability that the video is a piece of extremist propaganda. According to the BBC, the algorithm was trained on thousands of hours of terrorist recruiting videos, and it uses characteristics from these videos to assign probability scores.

Source: https://www.inverse.com/article/41273-uk-company-creates-algorithm-to-flag-propaganda

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Optalysys, Back in the (Press Release) News

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 03:40 PM PST

Optalysys, a company that has long promised "optical coprocessors" enabling up to exascale performance computing in a desktop form factor, has brought on some new science advisers:

Optalysys Ltd., a start-up commercializing light-speed optical coprocessors for AI/deep learning, today announced the formation of its first Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) comprising experts in AI/machine learning, bioinformatics/genomics and optical pattern recognition. The inaugural SAB members include Professor Douglas Kell of The University of Manchester, Professor Timothy Wilkinson of University of Cambridge and ex-senior NASA scientist, Dr. Richard Juday.

"Collectively, these experts have deep knowledge in areas most critical to our long-term success," said Dr. Nick New, founder and director, Optalysys. "We're excited to work closely with them through the process of bringing to market our unique optical approach to super-fast, low-power computing to enable more tech innovators and scientists to create a better world."

Dr. Juday is no stranger to vaporware.

However, Optalysys has apparently found a niche for its machines: genomic analysis:

Optalysys, a U.K company seeking to commercialize optical co-processor technology, today announced completion of its Genetic Search System (GENESYS) project conducted with the prestigious Earlham Institute (EI). Citing a dramatic power saving and performance speedup for computing a traditional genomics alignment problem, Optalysys says the work demonstrates the effectiveness and maturity of its optical processing technology, which the company promotes as a post-Moore's Law alternative.

[...] The benchmark GENESYS project aligned metagenomics reads sequenced from the Human Microbiome Project Mock Community (a well characterized microbial community) against a database consisting of 20 bacterial genomes totaling 64 million base pairs. "The optical system exceeded the original targets delivering a 90 percent energy efficiency saving compared to the same test run on EI's HPC cluster, with an accuracy comparable to the highly sensitive nucleotide form of BLAST, BLASTn (part of a family of Basic Local Alignment Search Tools used to compare query sequences with a library or database of sequences)," reported Optalysys.

Technology from the GENESYS project is launching in February 2018 as a cloud-based platform to a closed beta program of a select group of genomic institutes including EI, the University of Manchester, Oregon State University, and Zealquest Scientific Technology Co. in cooperation with the Shanghai Bioinformatics Center, Chinese Academy of Science.

Previously: Computing With Lasers Could Power Up Genomics and AI

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US Olympics Luge Team Looks To 3D Printing To Ice The Gold

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 02:07 PM PST

The USA luge team is using 3D printing in its quest for gold.

It's teaming with Stratasys to 3D print tools that're employed in the making of racing sleds, which means not only the sled's body but also the "tower" at the front of a doubles sled where athletes position their legs.

This sled was built directly from prototypes that Stratasys designed and 3D printed.

Luge is a sport involving one- or two-person sleds that can reach speeds of nearly 90 miles per hour. Athletes race face-up and feet-first down an icy track. They steer the sled by either using their calves to flex the runners or by using their shoulders to shift their weight.

When a sled part is being made, a mold, also called a tool, is created to form the part's shape. Any design change in the sled calls for a new tool, which can normally take several weeks to create. But Stratasys was able to 3D print the tools for a sled in less than a week.

One of the biggest advantages to using 3D printing is customization. Traditionally, athletes would all use one generic sled. Now sleds can be made as long or as wide as an individual athlete, and in a fraction of the time.

"We need precision and we also need the ability to make tweaks, and 3D printing is where it's at for this kind of thing," said Gordy Sheer, marketing director for USA Luge and a 1998 doubles luge silver medalist. "As we learn more about aerodynamics and optimizing our designs, it's nice to be able to have the ability to make those changes quickly."

[...] Printing tooling for sleds is just the beginning. Dahl says they envision the whole sled could be 3D printed in the near future.

"There could be a point where you take a scan of the athlete," he said, "and you're able to print a sled that is custom and tailored to their body shape in the most optimal aerodynamics possible."

It all makes Sheer wish he'd had a sled with 3D printed components back when he was competing.

"These sleds are so much more advanced than when I was racing," he said.

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Major Browser Vendors to Restrict AppCache to Secure Connections

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 12:34 PM PST

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Mozilla on Monday was the first to make an official announcement, but the developers of Chrome, Edge and WebKit (the layout engine used by Apple's Safari) said they plan on doing the same.

AppCache is an HTML5 application caching mechanism that allows website developers to specify which resources should be available offline. This improves speed, reduces server load, and enables users to browse a site even when they are offline.

While application caching has some benefits, it can also introduce serious security risks, which is partly why it has been deprecated and its use is no longer recommended.

Source: https://www.securityweek.com/major-browser-vendors-restrict-appcache-secure-connections

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NIH Contributed to Research Related to Every One of 210 Newly Approved Drugs

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 11:01 AM PST

An analysis of research papers has found that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided funding to the research of 210 new drugs that were approved from 2010 and 2016:

A new study makes a strong case for the importance of government support for basic research: Federally funded studies contributed to the science that underlies every one of the 210 new drugs approved between 2010 and 2016.

Researchers at Bentley University scoured millions of research papers for mentions of those 210 new molecular entities, or NMEs, as well as studies on their molecular targets. Then, they looked to see which of those studies had received any funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The authors say the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to capture the full scope of public funding behind FDA-approved drugs, both directly and indirectly. They also say it points to the need for continued federal funding for basic science — which the Trump administration has previously suggested slashing.

"Knowing the scale of the investment in the basic science leading to new medicines is critical to ensuring that there is adequate funding for a robust pipeline of new cures in the future," said Dr. Fred Ledley, one of the study's authors and a Bentley University researcher who studies the intersection of science and industry.

Contribution of NIH funding to new drug approvals 2010–2016 (open, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1715368115) (DX)

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