Previewing 2017's Biggest Skywatching Events Using Mobile Astronomy Apps — Part 2 - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 7:07am
For people in or near the U.S., the biggest astronomical event for 2017 will be the Great American Total Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, but there are many more spectacular astro-events to watch out for this year.
Categories: Science

Spacewalk Photos: International Space Station Gets a Power Upgrade - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 7:00am
Two astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station today to complete the installation of six new lithium-ion batteries.
Categories: Science

Nintendo Switch Will Launch On March 3rd For $299, Won't Feature Region-Locking Software

Slashdot - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 7:00am
Nintendo has released more details about its upcoming Nintendo Switch gaming console. We have learned that the console will be launching on March 3rd worldwide, and in North America the console will be available for $299.99. What's more is that it won't feature region-locking for software, meaning you can play games from any region no matter where you buy your console. CNET reports: There will also be a Nintendo Switch online service that will be a paid service. It will launch as a trial with pricing to be announced later in 2017. For fans of imports of Japanese exclusives, it was announced the new system will have no region locking -- a big break from tradition for Nintendo. The Switch itself is said to have battery life from 2.5 to 6 hours and can be charged over USB-C. Nintendo says it will have portable battery accessories also available to charge on the go. The Joy-con is the name for new controller, usable in a combined controller style or separated into two halves to let two players play together. It will also be available in a range of colors for people who want to mix things up. The Joy-con has a whole bunch of clever tricks -- motion control, IR sensor, haptic feedback -- and a series of 'versus' game ideas called "1, 2, Switch" that let you play games (like a quick draw shooting game) without needing to look at the screen, just face each other down with the Joy-con controllers. Other games announced that need you to keep the full Joy-con all to yourself include 'Arms', a robotic boxing battle game, and Splatoon 2. Plus the new Mario game, Super Mario Odyssey, which aims to deliver a 'sandbox' experience across many realms outside the Mushroom kingdom, including the real world. And this time his cap has come to life. For the more serious RPG fans, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was also announced for the Nintendo Switch. Followed by a very small tease for Fire Emblem Warriors. All up, Nintendo says there are over 80 games in development for the Nintendo Switch. If you live in New York, "a limited quantity of pre-orders for the #NintendoSwitch will begin on 1/13 at 9AM while supplies last," Nintendo NY tweeted.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Alien Glow? Brilliant Light Pillars Appear Over Canada - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 6:45am
An amateur photographer captured brilliant images of light pillars in northern Ontario, revealing the beauty of these shafts of light reflecting off ice crystals.
Categories: Science

'Pineapple Express' Triggers Floods in California, NASA Animation Shows - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 6:30am
NASA satellites spied a so-called atmospheric river passing over the state.
Categories: Science

No Launch for NASA's NEOCam Worries Asteroid Hunters - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 6:02am
The B612 Foundation reacts to NASA's decision not to fully fund a hazardous asteroid-hunting mission, urging the next administration to pick an infrared space telescope that would seek out near-Earth asteroid threats.
Categories: Science

Synthetic stem cells offer benefits of natural stem cells without the risks

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 5:39am

A synthetic cardiac stem cell (left) mirroring a real cardiac stem cell (right), offering therapeutic benefits without the associated risks (credit: Alice Harvey/NC State University)

Scientists have created the first synthetic version of a cardiac stem cell, offering therapeutic benefits comparable to those from natural stem cells — but without the risks and limitations, according to researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University in China.

The newly created synthetic stem cells cannot replicate. That means they could reduce some of the risks associated with natural stem-cell therapies — including tumor growth and immune rejection. The synthetic stem calls would also avoid the fragility of natural stem cells, which require careful storage and a multi-step process of typing and characterization before they can be used.

Simulating cardiac stem cells with synthetic stem cells: a cargo-shell strategy

In an in vitro (test tube) experiment described in an open-access paper in Nature Communications, the scientists created synthetic “cell-mimicking microparticles” (CMMPs) and tested them on a mouse model with myocardial infarction.

The scientists found that the CMMPs’ ability to bind to cardiac tissue and promote growth after a heart attack was comparable to that of cardiac stem cells. But unlike cardiac (and other) natural stem cells, the synthetic stem cells have better preservation stability, and the technology is also generalizable to other types of stem cells, according to the researchers.

A cargo-and-shell strategy. The therapeutic potential of CMMPs was successfully tested in tissue repair of a mouse model of myocardial infarction. To create the synthetic stem cell, a microparticle (MP) was first fabricated from PLGA, or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) — a biodegradable, biocompatible polymer that serves as a dissolvable carrier. The MP contained conditioned media and growth factors* (the “cargo”) from cardiac stem cells (CSC) in its polymeric core — forming a synthetic cell-mimicking microparticle (CMMP). To prevent an immune reaction, the researchers also cloaked the CMMP with a coating from the cardiac stem-cell membrane (forming the “shell”). (credit: Junnan Tang et al./Nature Communications)

“The synthetic cells operate much the same way a deactivated vaccine works,” explains research-team leader Ke Cheng, associate professor of molecular biomedical sciences at NC State, associate professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC, and adjunct associate professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “[The synthetic cells'] membranes allow them to bypass the immune response, bind to cardiac tissue, release the growth factors, and generate repair, but they cannot amplify [and thus risk out-of-control growth, leading to tumors] by themselves. So you get the benefits of stem cell therapy without risks.”

Multiple stem-cell types and organs

The synthetic stem cells are also much more durable than human stem cells, they can tolerate harsh freezing and thawing, and they don’t have to be derived from the patient’s own cells, the researchers note.

“Although our first application targeted the heart, the CMMP strategy represents a platform technology that can be applied to multiple stem cell types and the repair of various organ systems,” the authors state in the paper.

The work was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, NC State Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, and University of North Carolina General Assembly Research Opportunities Initiative grant.

* Stem-cell therapies work by secreting “paracrine factors,” including proteins and genetic materials, that aid damaged tissue in repairing itself.

Abstract of Therapeutic microparticles functionalized with biomimetic cardiac stem cell membranes and secretome

Stem cell therapy represents a promising strategy in regenerative medicine. However, cells need to be carefully preserved and processed before usage. In addition, cell transplantation carries immunogenicity and/or tumorigenicity risks. Mounting lines of evidences indicate that stem cells exert their beneficial effects mainly through secretion (of regenerative factors) and membrane-based cell-cell interaction with the injured cells. Herein, we fabricated a synthetic cell-mimicking microparticle (CMMP) that recapitulates stem cell functions in tissue repair. CMMPs carries similar secreted proteins and membranes as genuine cardiac stem cells do. In a mouse model of myocardial infarction, injection of CMMPs leads to preservation of viable myocardium and augmentation of cardiac functions similar to cardiac stem cell therapy. CMMPs (derived from human cells) do not stimulate T cells infiltration in immuno-competent mice. In conclusion, CMMPs act as “synthetic stem cells” which mimic the paracrine and biointerfacing activities of natural stem cells in therapeutic cardiac regeneration.

Categories: Science

Intricate microdevices that can be safely implanted

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 5:22am

Fabrication and assembly of an iMEMS microdevice. Left: layer-by-layer fabrication of support structures and assembly of gear components. Right: the complete device after the layers have been sealed, with iron material (black) used for external magnetic control. (credit: SauYin Chin/Columbia Engineering)

Columbia Engineering researchers have invented a technique for manufacturing complex microdevices with three-dimensional, freely moving parts made from biomaterials that can safely be implanted in the body. Potential applications include a drug-delivery system to provide tailored drug doses for precision medicine, catheters, stents, cardiac pacemakers, and soft microbotics.

Most current implantable microdevices have static components rather than moving parts and, because they require batteries or other toxic electronics, they have limited biocompatibility.

The new technique stacks a soft biocompatible hydrogel material in layers, using a fast manufacturing method the researchers call “implantable microelectromechanical systems” (iMEMS).

iMEMS drug-delivery system. The payload delivery system was tested in a bone cancer mouse model, finding that the triggering of releases of doxorubicin from the device over 10 days showed high treatment efficacy and low toxicity, at 1/10th of the standard systemic chemotherapy dose. The device contains iron nanoparticle–doped components, which respond to external magnetic actuation. Actuation of the device triggers release of payloads from reservoirs. (credit: Sau Yin Chin et al./Science Robotics)

“Our iMEMS platform enables development of biocompatible implantable microdevices with a wide range of intricate moving components that can be wirelessly controlled on demand, and solves issues of device powering and biocompatibility,” says Biomedical Engineering Professor Sam Sia, senior author of an open-access paper published online January 4, 2017, in Science Robotics).

The researchers were able to trigger the iMEMS device to release payloads over days to weeks after implantation, with precise actuation by using magnetic forces to induce gear movements that, in turn, bend structural beams made of hydrogels with highly tunable properties. (Magnetic iron particles are commonly used and are FDA-approved for human use as contrast agents.)

Batteryless implantable medical devices or sensors

Sia’s iMEMS technique addresses several issues in building biocompatible microdevices, micromachines, and microrobots: how to power small robotic devices without using toxic batteries; how to make small, biocompatible, moveable components that are not silicon, which has limited biocompatibility; and how to communicate wirelessly once implanted (radio-frequency microelectronics require power, are relatively large, and are not biocompatible).

The researchers developed a “locking mechanism” for precise actuation and movement of freely moving parts, which can function as valves, manifolds, rotors, pumps, and drug delivery systems. They were able to tune the biomaterials within a wide range of mechanical and diffusive properties and to control them after implantation without a sustained power supply, such as a toxic battery.

“We can make small implantable devices, sensors, or robots that we can talk to wirelessly. Our iMEMS system could bring the field a step closer to developing soft miniaturized robots that can safely interact with humans and other living systems,” said Sia.

The team developed a drug delivery system and tested it on mice with bone cancer. The iMEMS system delivered chemotherapy adjacent to the cancer, and limited tumor growth while showing less toxicity than with chemotherapy administered throughout the body.

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation, NIH, and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (Singapore).

* The team used light to polymerize sheets of gel and incorporated a stepper mechanization to control the z-axis and pattern the sheets layer by layer, giving them three-dimensionality. Controlling the z-axis enabled the researchers to create composite structures within one layer of the hydrogel while managing the thickness of each layer throughout the fabrication process. They were able to stack multiple layers that are precisely aligned and, because they could polymerize a layer at a time, one right after the other, the complex structure was built in under 30 minutes.

Hydrogels are difficult to work with, as they are soft and not compatible with traditional machining techniques,” says Sau Yin Chin, lead author of the study, who worked with Sia. “We have tuned the mechanical properties and carefully matched the stiffness of structures that come in contact with each other within the device. Gears that interlock have to be stiff in order to allow for force transmission and to withstand repeated actuation. Conversely, structures that form locking mechanisms have to be soft and flexible to allow for the gears to slip by them during actuation, while at the same time they have to be stiff enough to hold the gears in place when the device is not actuated. We also studied the diffusive properties of the hydrogels to ensure that the loaded drugs do not easily diffuse through the hydrogel layers.”

Abstract of Additive manufacturing of hydrogel-based materials for next-generation implantable medical devices

Implantable microdevices often have static components rather than moving parts and exhibit limited biocompatibility. This paper demonstrates a fast manufacturing method that can produce features in biocompatible materials down to tens of micrometers in scale, with intricate and composite patterns in each layer. By exploiting the unique mechanical properties of hydrogels, we developed a “locking mechanism” for precise actuation and movement of freely moving parts, which can provide functions such as valves, manifolds, rotors, pumps, and delivery of payloads. Hydrogel components could be tuned within a wide range of mechanical and diffusive properties and can be controlled after implantation without a sustained power supply. In a mouse model of osteosarcoma, triggering of release of doxorubicin from the device over 10 days showed high treatment efficacy and low toxicity, at 1/10 of the standard systemic chemotherapy dose. Overall, this platform, called implantable microelectromechanical systems (iMEMS), enables development of biocompatible implantable microdevices with a wide range of intricate moving components that can be wirelessly controlled on demand, in a manner that solves issues of device powering and biocompatibility.

Categories: Science

Nintendo Switch Releases March 3 For $299

Wired News - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 3:30am
Nintendo's going to reveal everything about its new home-slash-portable game machine at 11 p.m. Eastern tonight. The post Nintendo Switch Releases March 3 For $299 appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Study Shows Wearable Sensors Can Tell When You Are Getting Sick

Slashdot - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 3:30am
skids quotes a report from Phys.Org: Wearable sensors that monitor heart rate, activity, skin temperature and other variables can reveal a lot about what is going on inside a person, including the onset of infection, inflammation and even insulin resistance, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Altogether, the team collected nearly 2 billion measurements from 60 people, including continuous data from each participant's wearable biosensor devices and periodic data from laboratory tests of their blood chemistry, gene expression and other measures. Participants wore between one and eight commercially available activity monitors and other monitors that collected more than 250,000 measurements a day. The team collected data on weight; heart rate; oxygen in the blood; skin temperature; activity, including sleep, steps, walking, biking and running; calories expended; acceleration; and even exposure to gamma rays and X-rays. "We want to study people at an individual level," said Michael Snyder, PhD, professor and chair of genetics. "We have more sensors on our cars than we have on human beings," said Snyder. In the future, he said, he expects the situation will be reversed and people will have more sensors than cars do. Slashdot reader skids adds: "IT security being in the state it is, will we face the same decision about our actual lives that we already face about our social lives/identities: either risk very real hazards of misuse of your personal data, or get left behind?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

New urine test can quickly detect whether a person has a healthy diet

Science Daily - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 2:59am
A urine test has been developed that measures the health of a person's diet. This test could be the first independent indicator of the quality of a person's diet, and what they are really eating, say the researchers.
Categories: Science

Dean Radin Talks About Approaching Magic as a Scientist

Underground Stream - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 2:40am

In the talk above, given at the Science and Nonduality Conference, Dr Dean Radin discusses 'magic' as being the substrate that religion and science both grew from - despite both subsequently making it a heretical subject:

Humanity's first grasp of reality was based on a magical worldview. Over millennia, magic evolved into a multitude of esoteric and religious ideas. Within the last five centuries our worldview has settled upon science as the arbiter of truth. Each of these major transitions has offered more comprehensive explanations of the natural world, but each new paradigm also suppressed useful elements of previous worldviews. Based on the historical record, as well as a growing body of new experimental studies, we can now gain a glimmering of what our next grasp of reality may look like, along with its pragmatic consequences.

Dean mentions that this entire subject is central to the new book he is currently working on - look forward to it!

Related stories:

  • Quantum Mind: Can Experienced Meditators Influence the Movement of Atomic Particles?
  • Review: Dean Radin's Entangled Minds
  • Entangled Minds and Beyond - Dr Dean Radin on Quantum Physics and Mystery of Consciousness
  • Synchronicity or Coincidence? Parapsychologist Dean Radin Tells a Strange Personal Tale
  • CVS Announces Super Cheap Generic Alternative To EpiPen

    Slashdot - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 2:10am
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Pharmaceutical giant CVS announced Thursday that it has partnered with Impax Laboratories to sell a generic epinephrine auto-injector for $109.99 for a two-pack -- a dramatic cut from Mylan's Epipen two-pack prices, which list for more than $600 as a brand name and $300 as a generic. The lower-cost auto-injector, a generic form of Adrenaclick, is available starting today nationwide in the company's more than 9,600 pharmacies. Its price resembles that of EpiPen's before Mylan bought the rights to the life-saving devices back in 2007 and raised the price repeatedly, sparking outcry. Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy, said the company felt compelled to respond to the urgent need for a more affordable alternative. "Over the past year, nearly 150,000 people signed on to a petition asking for a lower-cost epinephrine auto-injector option and millions more were active in social media searching for a solution," she said in a statement. The price of $109.99 for the alternative applies to those with and without insurance, CVS noted. And Impax is also offering a coupon to reduce the cost to just $9.99 for qualifying patients. Also in the press statement, Dr. Todd Listwa of Novant Health, a network of healthcare providers, noted the importance of access to epinephrine auto-injectors, which swiftly reverse rapid-onset, deadly allergic reactions in some. "For these patients, having access to emergency epinephrine is a necessity. Making an affordable epinephrine auto-injector device accessible to patients will ensure patients have the medicine they need, when they need it."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science

    Tesla To Power Gigafactory With World's Largest Solar Rooftop Installation

    Slashdot - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 12:45am
    Last week, Tesla announced that its Gigafactory has begun mass production of lithium-ion battery cells in Nevada. But the company failed to mention one thrilling detail in their January 4 announcement: the Gigafactory could be powered by the world's largest solar rooftop installation. According to an investor handout, a 70-megawatt (MW) solar array along with ground solar panels could let the factory operate entirely on clean energy. Inhabitat reports: The 70 MW solar array would be around seven times larger than any rooftop arrays currently installed, according to Tesla's exciting handout released by Electrek and confirmed as genuine by The Verge. The rooftop array currently boasting the title of world's largest is a 11.5 MW installation in India. The United States' biggest rooftop array is a 10 MW array atop a California Whirlpool distribution center. SolarCity will likely manufacture the solar panels, according to The Verge, as Tesla acquired the solar energy company in November. Powerpacks will store any excess energy generated by the vast solar installation. Tesla said in the handout the "all-electric" factory will be able to run with greater efficiency and will produce zero carbon emissions. Heating and water use at the Gigafactory will also be sustainable. In the handout, Tesla said a large part of heating for the building would come from waste heat obtained from production processes. Also, "Gigafactory's closed-loop water supply system uses six different treatment systems to efficiently re-circulate about 1.5 million liters (that's around 400,000 gallons) of water, representing an 80 percent reduction in fresh water usage compared with standard processes." Tesla even said they're building a recycling facility at the Gigafactory that will be able to "safely reprocess" battery cells, packs, and modules to obtain metal usable in new cells.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science

    Rural Americans At Higher Risk From Five Leading Causes of Death: CDC

    Slashdot - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 12:05am
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Americans living in rural areas are more likely to die from five leading causes of death than people living in urban areas, according to a new government report. Many of these deaths are preventable, officials say, with causes including heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. Approximately 46 million Americans -- about 15 percent of the U.S. population -- currently live in rural areas. According to the CDC report, several demographic, environmental, economic, and social factors might put rural residents at higher risk of death from these conditions. Rural residents in the U.S., for example, tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts, and have higher rates of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. People living in rural areas also report less leisure-time physical activity and lower seatbelt use than their those living in urban areas and have higher rates of poverty, less access to health care, and are less likely to have health insurance. Specifically, the report found that in 2014, deaths among rural Americans included: 25,000 from heart disease; 19,000 from cancer; 12,000 from unintentional injuries; 11,000 from chronic lower respiratory disease; 4,000 from stroke. The percentages of deaths that were potentially preventable were higher in rural areas than in urban areas, the authors report. For the study, the researchers analyzed numbers from a national database. The CDC suggests to help close the gap, health care providers in rural areas can: Screen patients for high blood pressure; Increase cancer prevention and early detection; Encourage physical activity and healthy eating; Promote smoking cessation; Promote motor vehicle safety; Engage in safer prescribing of opioids for pain.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science

    Switzerland Agrees To Its Own New Data Sharing Pact With the US

    Slashdot - Thu, 12/01/2017 - 11:43pm
    Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Switzerland has agreed its own new data transfer agreement with the United States, basing the framework on the deal struck by the European Union (EU) following the invalidation of Safe Harbour. The previous arrangement was invalidated because of concerns about U.S. mass surveillance but Switzerland says the new Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield will allow Swiss companies to transfer customer data without the need for additional contractual guarantees. The Swiss Federal Council, a seven member executive council that is effectively the head of government in Switzerland, claim citizens will benefit from additional protections and the ability to contact an ombudsman about data issues. Although not part of the EU, Switzerland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has several bilateral agreements with the EU that sees it adopt many of the bigger bloc's policies. The Federal Council says the alignment between the EU and the Swiss transatlantic data sharing partnerships is good news for multinational organizations.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science

    Consumer Reports Now Recommends MacBook Pros

    Slashdot - Thu, 12/01/2017 - 11:20pm
    Consumer Reports has updated their report on the 2016 MacBook Pros, and is now recommending Apple's latest notebooks. MacRumors reports: In the new test, conducted running a beta version of macOS that fixes the Safari-related bug that caused erratic battery life in the original test, all three MacBook Pro models "performed well." The 13-inch model without a Touch Bar had an average battery life of 18.75 hours, the 13-inch model with a Touch Bar lasted for 15.25 hours on average, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar had an average battery life of 17.25 hours. "Now that we've factored in the new battery-life measurements, the laptops' overall scores have risen, and all three machines now fall well within the recommended range in Consumer Reports ratings," reports Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports originally denied the 2016 MacBook Pro a purchase recommendation in late December due to extreme battery life variance that didn't match up with Apple's 10 hour battery life claim. Apple worked with Consumer Reports to figure out why the magazine encountered battery life issues, which led to the discovery of an obscure Safari caching bug. Consumer Reports used a developer setting to turn off Safari caching, triggering an "obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons" that drained excessive battery. The bug, fixed by Apple in macOS Sierra 10.12.3 beta 3, is not one the average user will encounter as most people don't turn off the Safari caching option, but it's something done in all Consumer Reports tests to ensure uniform testing conditions. A fix for the issue will be available to the general public when macOS Sierra 10.12.3 is released, but users can get it now by signing up for Apple's beta testing program.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science

    Trial finds oral iron drug safe, effective for treating anemia in kidney disease patients

    Science Daily - Thu, 12/01/2017 - 11:09pm
    In a phase 3 trial of patients with chronic kidney disease, 52.1% of patients receiving oral ferric citrate experienced a significant boost in hemoglobin levels (a reflection of red blood cell counts) compared with 19.1% of patients receiving placebo. A treatment effect was seen as early as 1-2 weeks after the start of treatment, and the response was durable.
    Categories: Science

    Fingerprinting Methods Identify Users Across Different Browsers On the Same PC

    Slashdot - Thu, 12/01/2017 - 10:40pm
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: A team of researchers from universities across the U.S. has identified different fingerprinting techniques that can track users when they use different browsers installed on the same machine. Named "cross-browser fingerprinting" (CBF), this practice relies on new technologies added to web browsers in recent years, some of which had been previously considered unreliable for cross-browser tracking and only used for single browser fingerprinting. These new techniques rely on making browsers carry out operations that use the underlying hardware components to process the desired data. For example, making a browser apply an image to the side of a 3D cube in WebGL provides a similar response in hardware parameters for all browsers. This is because the GPU card is the one carrying out this operation and not the browser software. According to the three-man research team led by Assistant Professor Yinzhi Cao from the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Lehigh University, the following browser features could be (ab)used for cross-browser fingerprinting operations: [Screen Resolution, Number of CPU Virtual Cores, AudioContext, List of Fonts, Line, Curve, and Anti-Aliasing, Vertex Shader, Fragment Shader, Transparency via Alpha Channel, Installed Writing Scripts (Languages), Modeling and Multiple Models, Lighting and Shadow Mapping, Camera and Clipping Planes.] Researchers used all these techniques together to test how many users they would be able to pin to the same computer. For tests, researchers used browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, IE, Opera, Safari, Maxthon, UC Browser, and Coconut. Results showed that CBF techniques were able to correctly identify 99.24% of all test users. Previous research methods achieved only a 90.84% result.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science

    Europe Calls For Mandatory 'Kill Switches' On Robots

    Slashdot - Thu, 12/01/2017 - 10:00pm
    To combat the robot revolution, the European Parliament's legal affairs committee has proposed that robots be equipped with emergency "kill switches" to prevent them from causing excessive damage. Legislators have also suggested that robots be insured and even be made to pay taxes. "A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics," said Mady Delvaux, the parliamentarian who authored the proposal. "To ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework." CNNMoney reports: The proposal calls for a new charter on robotics that would give engineers guidance on how to design ethical and safe machines. For example, designers should include "kill switches" so that robots can be turned off in emergencies. They must also make sure that robots can be reprogrammed if their software doesn't work as designed. The proposal states that designers, producers and operators of robots should generally be governed by the "laws of robotics" described by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. The proposal also says that robots should always be identifiable as mechanical creations. That will help prevent humans from developing emotional attachments. "You always have to tell people that robot is not a human and a robot will never be a human," said Delvaux. "You must never think that a robot is a human and that he loves you." The report cites the example of care robots, saying that people who are physically dependent on them could develop emotional attachments. The proposal calls for a compulsory insurance scheme -- similar to car insurance -- that would require producers and owners to take out insurance to cover the damage caused by their robots. The proposal explores whether sophisticated autonomous robots should be given the status of "electronic persons." This designation would apply in situations where robots make autonomous decisions or interact with humans independently. It would also saddle robots with certain rights and obligations -- for example, robots would be responsible for any damage they cause. If advanced robots start replacing human workers in large numbers, the report recommends the European Commission force their owners to pay taxes or contribute to social security.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

    Categories: Science