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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Is Skynet Closer Than We Think?

In a Globe and Mail article today entitled One robot, one vote? Neil Reynolds brings attention to the fact that robotics has progressed beyond what most of us are aware and that as the result Asimov's 3 laws of robotics will not suffice, it's not 1942 after all... and the lawyers might be pushing the agenda here, but Reynolds raises some interesting questions. Did you know that South Korea currently has robots patrolling it's border with Kim Jong Il's North Korea? or that the South Korean government is aiming to have a robot in each household by 2020? There has been much press about Japan's aging population and a thriving robotics industry working on machines to assist the elderly, but who will be responsible for decisions made by these machines or for their expensive upkeep? 

"The American Bar Association runs a permanent expert committee on artificial intelligence and robotics. In April, the committee published a number of special reports – on the state of AI in telemedicine, on advanced wiretapping and on military drones. In the May issue of The ABA Journal, the association will publish “Robot Rules” – an analysis of pending U.S. legislation that will, for the first time, assign liability for the actions of robots."
Have a read, it's rather thought provoking.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Android Tablet With Flash! Oh Yeah!

According to this article in Google Watch we are about to see a whole bunch of Android powered tablets... this year! Check out the video:

Oh, and did you hear that Android will support Flash? :)

Facebook Privacy... SNAFU

Facebook has suffered a security bug just as many have questioned the companies new policies and how they relate to privacy concerns. It is being reported that the social networking site suffered from a bug yesterday which allowed users to view the private conversations of friends they were following. “While this breach appears to be relatively small, it’s inopportunely timed,” said Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester Research. “It threatens to undermine what Facebook hopes to achieve with its network over the next few years, because users have to ask whether it is a platform worthy of their trust.” Fortunately for Facebook they do have 400 million users, the breach was fixed within hours, and most people only use the site to play farmville and will be oblivious to the breach anyway!

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president for public policy had this to say in response to the problem,
“For a service that has grown as dramatically as we have grown, that now assists with more than 400 million people sharing billions of pieces of content with their friends and the institutions they care about, we think our track record for security and safety is unrivaled,” and “Are we perfect? Of course not.” 

I guess they've never really come out with any "do no evil" mantras, so, all's well... nothing to see here!

Source: NYTimes

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Reasons To Love Chrome

The latest beta version of the Chrome web browser, Google Chrome 5.0.375.29, is breaking speed records according to Google and it's testing. The performance has improved by 30 to 35% and the browser will support HTML 5 features such as geolocation APIs and drag-and-drop. The beta version is available for Linux, Mac and Windows and has integrated Flash support.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Teat Tweets

Ontario farmer Chris Vandenberg runs a hi-tech dairy farm where the cows are robotically milked and are monitored by RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags attached to their ears. The system allows Vandenberg to maximize milk productivity by denying access to the milking area until a cow is ready for optimal performance. If that weren't cool enough the University of Waterloo's critical media lab has tapped into the system to create Teat Tweet Dairy Diary, a Twitter account from the cows perspective.  

"I just squirted 20.4 kgs of milk out of my teats in 10:28 seconds. What did you do today?" offers Charge Gina (@chargegina) while Montgomery Mae (@montgomerymae)says "My RFID transponder must be dirty. I'll give it a lick and see what happens."

12 cows in all are participating. Got milk? 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Waiting for Stephen Hawking Documentary... Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.

"If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans," says Stephen Hawking in "Stephen Hawking's Universe." a documentary film to be broadcast in May on Discovery Channel. "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach." That's a pleasant thought...

All may not be lost however, Professor Hawking also expects that we'll some day build space ships that will travel through time. Hopefully that happens before the alien's arrive, if they're not already here!

Source: c|net's Chris Matyszczyk - Technically Incorrect blog.

UPDATE: cartoonist proves Hawking to be wrong.