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Sat, 29 Apr 2017
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Science & Technology


'Curating' the news: Tech firms training AI software to block social media violence

© Reuters / Edgar Su
Graymatics employees pretend to fight as they record footage to be used to 'train' their software to watch and filter internet videos for violence, at their office in Singapore April 27, 2017
Companies from Singapore to Finland are racing to improve artificial intelligence so software can automatically spot and block videos of grisly murders and mayhem before they go viral on social media.

None, so far, claim to have cracked the problem completely.

A Thai man who broadcast himself killing his 11-month-old daughter in a live video on Facebook this week, was the latest in a string of violent crimes shown live on the social media company. The incidents have prompted questions about how Facebook's reporting system works and how violent content can be flagged faster.

A dozen or more companies are wrestling with the problem, those in the industry say. Google - which faces similar problems with its YouTube service - and Facebook are working on their own solutions.

Most are focusing on deep learning: a type of artificial intelligence that makes use of computerized neural networks. It is an approach that David Lissmyr, founder of Paris-based image and video analysis company Sightengine, says goes back to efforts in the 1950s to mimic the way neurons work and interact in the brain.


Artificial intelligence to take over half of all jobs in next decade, says China's top techie

© Francois Lenoir / Reuters
New recruit "Pepper" the robot, a humanoid robot designed to welcome and take care of visitors and patients, Ostend, Belgium, 2016
Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will replace humans in 50 percent of all jobs in just ten years, says Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures and a reputable Chinese technologist.

Comment: Automation, economic collapse, basic income slavery: Our dystopic future?

Heart - Black

Female dragonflies fake being dead to avoid male advances

© Janet Ridley/Alamy Stock Photo
Playing dead is a favored ploy.
Female dragonflies use an extreme tactic to get rid of unwanted suitors: they drop out the sky and then pretend to be dead.

Rassim Khelifa from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, witnessed the behavior for the first time in the moorland hawker dragonfly (Aeshna juncea). While collecting their larvae in the Swiss Alps, he watched a female crash-dive to the ground while being pursued by a male.

The female then lay motionless on her back. Her suitor soon flew away, and the female took off once the coast was clear.

"I was surprised," says Khelifa, who had never previously seen this in 10 years of studying dragonflies.


No bones? No problem: DNA left in cave soils can reveal ancient human occupants

© Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Matthias Meyer, shown working in a clean room, helped find a way to fish out human DNA from ancient soils.

Fifty thousand years ago, a Neandertal relieved himself in a cave in present-day Belgium, depositing, among other things, a sample of his DNA. The urine clung to minerals in the soil and the feces eventually decomposed. But traces of the DNA remained, embedded in the cave floor, where earth falling from the cave's ceiling and blowing in from outside eventually entombed it. Now, researchers have shown they can find and identify such genetic traces of both Neandertals and Denisovans, another type of archaic human, enabling them to test for the presence of ancient humans even in sites where no bones have been found.

"It's a great breakthrough," says Chris Stringer, an anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London. "Anyone who's digging cave sites from the Pleistocene now should put [screening sediments for human DNA] on their list of things that they must do." Adds Svante Pääbo, the head of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where the work was done: "I think this will become a standard tool in archaeology, maybe even like radiocarbon dating."


Future of beach warfare: US Marines test 'HyperSub,' machine-gun toting robots and more

© AiirSource Military / YouTube
Around 50 advanced weapons are being tested by the US Marine Corps, from a speedboat-submarine to smart robots able to carry 600lbs. The new technology could revolutionize amphibious armed conflict.

Testing has been ongoing for the past two weeks at Camp Pendleton in California, as part of the Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017, Fox News reported Thursday.

From quadcopter drones to surf and sand-ready weaponized autonomous vehicles, the US Navy and Marines are seeking to avoid detection, conduct surveillance, free up manpower and ultimately lessen the risks that come with storming beaches. They are expected to narrow down what's needed most from roughly 50 machines being tried out.


Amazing Earth-sized planet dubbed the 'iceball' discovered by NASA with 'microlensing'

OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, a planet discovered through a technique called microlensing.
NASA has discovered a planet the same size as Earth, and the same distance from its star as our planet is from the sun.

Due to its small size, the host star does not produce enough heat to support life on the planet. This has prompted scientists to label the world - nominally called OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb - the 'iceball' planet.

An international team of researchers found the planet using a technique known as 'microlensing,' which uses background stars as flashlights that mark out planets as dark dots when they cross the field of light.

"This iceball planet is the lowest-mass planet ever found through microlensing," said Yossi Shvartzvald, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.


The End is Nye - @BillNye the "Science Guy" loses his last shred of credibility - implosion imminent

From the "if Bill's genitals could talk, what would they say?" department...and Josh.

First up, Bill led the march for science with Mike Mann recently....

...and then had a bizarre episode of his Netflix show that immediately followed. From Natural News:


Surgeon claims cryogenically frozen brains will be 'woken up' and transplanted in donor bodies within three years

Dr Xiaoping Ren and Professor Sergio Canavero, who believes a brain will be transplanted in the near future
People who have had their brains cryogenically frozen could be 'woken up' within three years, a pioneering Italian surgeon has claimed.

Professor Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, is aiming to carry out the first human head transplant within 10 months and then wants to begin trials on brain transplants.

If the procedures are successful, he believes that frozen brains could be thawed and inserted into a donor body.


'Cassini' captures 'closest look ever' at Saturn in new photos

Image showing features in Saturn's atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on April 26.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has re-established contact with Earth, sending back extraordinary new photographs as it ventures where no spaceship has traveled before - between Saturn and its rings.

The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn's atmosphere is about 2,400km (1,500 miles) wide. Cassini passed through the gap at speeds of about 123,000kph (77,000mph) on Wednesday as part of the craft's final exploratory mission dubbed the 'Grand finale.'

The craft used its dish-shaped antenna as a shield against oncoming particles while it travelled through the region as scientists feared that even small particles could have disabled the spacecraft. Using the dish in this way forced Cassini to lose contact with Earth.


Age of the machines: Robotic dog can tidy the house and deliver packages

© Boston Dynamics
Boston Dynamics' robotic dog Spot has been trained to deliver packages
Boston Dynamics has been putting its robotic dog to work delivering packages in Boston as it part of a mission to find commercial uses for the machine.

The company, owned by Google, has been testing ways to use the dexterous machines in different settings. Until now, the robots have only really been used in military settings.

Called Spot, the four-legged version of Boston Dynamics' automaton can jump, run, climb stairs, get back up if it falls, and perform human tasks such as house work. It can also now deliver packages strapped to its back, the company said.