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Use of Forced Labor "Systemic" In Malaysian IT Manufacturing

samzenpus posted 8 hours ago | from the passing-on-the-savings-and-the-misery dept.

Businesses 120

itwbennett (1594911) writes "The use of forced labor is so prevalent in the Malaysian electronics manufacturing industry that there is hardly a major brand name that isn't touched by the illegal practice, according to a report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and undertaken by Verité, a nonprofit organization focused on labor issues. The two-year study surveyed more than 500 migrant workers at around 200 companies in Malaysia's IT manufacturing sector and found one in three were working under conditions of forced labor."

Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

Soulskill posted 12 hours ago | from the water-under-the-bridge dept.

Power 164

the_newsbeagle writes: One of the leading companies developing wave power devices, Ocean Power Technologies, has dramatically scaled down its ambitions. The company had planned to install the world's first commercial-scale wave farms off the coast of Australia and Oregon, but has now announced that it's ending those projects. Instead it will focus on developing next-gen devices. Apparently the economics of wave power just don't make sense yet.

The Case For a Federal Robotics Commission

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the heading-up-the-anti-singularity-committee dept.

Robotics 69

New submitter hmcd31 writes: In a new paper for Brookings' series on the future of civilian robotics, University of Washington Law Professor Ryan Calo argues the need for a Federal Robotics Commission. With advancements such as driverless cars and drones taking to the roads and skies, Calo sees a need for a government agency to monitor these changes. His paper details many benefits a robotics commission could bring, from funding to assisting in law and policy issues. The policies developed by this FRC are argued to be particularly important, as their impact in creating an early infrastructure for robotics could create an environment that lets the technology grow even more.

Micron Releases 16nm-Process SSDs With Dynamic Flash Programming

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the march-of-progress dept.

Data Storage 58

Lucas123 writes: Micron's newest client flash drive line, the M600, uses its first 16nm process technology and dynamic write acceleration firmware that allows the flash to be programmed as SLC or MLC instead of using overprovisioning or reserving a permanent pool of flash cache to accelerate writes. The ability to dynamically program the flash reduces power use and improves write performance as much as 2.8 times over models without the feature, according to Jon Tanguy, Micron's senior technical marketing engineer. The new lithography process technology also allowed Micron to reduce the price of the flash drive to 45 cents a gigabyte.

Developing the First Law of Robotics

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the thou-shalt-not-kill-all-humans dept.

Robotics 159

wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm. At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole. Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions.

MIT's Cheetah Robot Runs Untethered

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the because-skynet-totally-needs-cheetahs-too dept.

Robotics 90

An anonymous reader writes: It's easy to make a robot walk, but hard to keep it from falling over. We've seen a number of crazy robot prototypes, but they're usually tethered and/or stuck on a treadmill. Now, researchers from MIT have developed an algorithm that allows their giant robot cheetah to run around outdoors at up to 10mph. They expect the robot to eventually hit speeds of 30mph. "The key to the bounding algorithm is in programming each of the robot's legs to exert a certain amount of force in the split second during which it hits the ground, in order to maintain a given speed: In general, the faster the desired speed, the more force must be applied to propel the robot forward. ... Kim says that by adapting a force-based approach, the cheetah-bot is able to handle rougher terrain, such as bounding across a grassy field." The MIT cheetah-bot also runs on a custom electric motor, which makes it significantly quieter than gas-powered robots. "Our robot can be silent and as efficient as animals. The only things you hear are the feet hitting the ground."

SparkFun Works to Build the Edison Ecosystem (Video)

Roblimo posted 2 days ago | from the more-tiny-electronics-for-makers-and-builders-to-make-and-build-with dept.

Intel 75

Edison is an Intel creation aimed squarely at the maker and prototype markets. It's smaller than an Arduino, has built-in wi-fi, and is designed to be used in embedded applications. SparkFun is "an online retail store that sells the bits and pieces to make your electronics projects possible." They're partnering with Intel to sell the Edison and all kinds of add-ons for it. Open source? Sure. Right down to the schematics. David Stillman, star of today's video, works for SparkFun. He talks about "a gajillion" things you can do with an Edison, up to and including the creation of an image-recognition system for your next homemade drone. (Alternate Video Link)

New Data Center Protects Against Solar Storm and Nuclear EMPs

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the playing-it-safe dept.

Cloud 59

dcblogs writes "In Boyers, Pa., a recently opened 2,000-sq.-ft. data center has been purpose-built to protect against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), either generated by a solar storm or a nuclear event. The company that built the facility isn't disclosing exactly how the data center was constructed or what materials were used. But broadly, it did say that the structure has an inner skin and an outer skin that use a combination of thicknesses and metals to provide EMP protection. Betting against an EMP event is a gamble. In 1859, the so-called Carrington solar storm lit the night skies and disrupted the only telegraph communications. William Murtagh, program coordinator at U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center, said there is ongoing concern that the earth may see an solar storm that could impact electronics on the ground. "We're concerned that can happen," A 2012 solar storm, that missed the earth, "was very powerful, and some have suggested it would have been on par with a Carrington-level event." One researcher put the odds of a catastrophic solar storm by 2020 as one in eight.

Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the watch-and-learn dept.

Displays 182

jyosim writes "Oculus Rift isn't just for gaming. Brendan Iribe, CEO of the VR company, says the immersive tech will be "one of the most transformative platforms for education of all time." In an interview with Chronicle of Higher Education, he imagined laser-scanning every object in the Smithsonian for students to explore, and collaborating in shared virtual spaces rather than campuses. "The next step past that is when you have shared space, and not only do you believe that this object is right there in front of me, but I look around and I see other people just like we see each other now, and I really, truly believe that you’re right in front of me. We can look at each others’ eyes. If you look down at something, I can look down at the same time. And it’s every bit as good as this. And if we can make virtual reality every bit as good as real reality in terms of communications and the sense of shared presence with others, you can now educate people in virtual classrooms, you can now educate people with virtual objects, and we can all be in a classroom together [virtually], we can all be present, we can have relationships and communication that are just as good as the real classroom," he says.

Solar Powered Technology Enhances Oil Recovery

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the odd-couple dept.

Earth 81

mdsolar writes with this story of a company that uses solar energy to recover crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell has teamed with a sovereign investment fund from Oman to invest $53 million in a company that manufactures solar power equipment designed for increasing oil production. Glasspoint Solar Inc. installs aluminum mirrors near oil fields that concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. This concept of enhanced oil recovery. involves high pressure injection of hot fluids to recover heavy crude oil. The use of renewable energy like solar power makes great economic sense, as the fuel cost associated with this enhanced oil recovery technology is practically zero. Shell hopes to employ this technology in its oil fields in Oman. The company hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with enhanced oil recovery operations. A large-scale successful implementation of this technology could be a game changer for major consumers like India and the U.S.. Both have substantial oil reserves, but are unable to tap them due to high costs involved in heavy oil recovery.

Robot Operating System To Officially Support ARM Processors

Soulskill posted 4 days ago | from the more-cpu-options-for-your-terminator dept.

Operating Systems 33

DeviceGuru writes: The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), which maintains the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), has announced its first formal support for an ARM target. The organization will add support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, a smartphone-oriented, quad-core, Cortex-A15-like system-on-chip running up to 1.7GHz. The Linux version of ROS for Snapdragon 600 will be available in Q4 of this year, with the Android version due in the first half of 2015. The OSRF will test, refine, and fully integrate support for the ARM instruction set architecture into ROS development efforts. OSRF will also perform ongoing maintenance to support ROS on the Snapdragon 600.

The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

Soulskill posted 4 days ago | from the surgical-masks-become-high-fashion-in-2018 dept.

AI 119

An anonymous reader writes: Speech recognition has gotten pretty good over the past several years. it's reliable enough to be ubiquitous in our mobile devices. But now we have an interesting, related dilemma: should we develop algorithms that can lip read? It's a more challenging problem, to be sure. Sounds can be translated directly into words, but deriving meaning out of the movement of a person's face is much more complex. "During speech, the mouth forms between 10 and 14 different shapes, known as visemes. By contrast, speech contains around 50 individual sounds known as phonemes. So a single viseme can represent several different phonemes. And therein lies the problem. A sequence of visemes cannot usually be associated with a unique word or sequence of words. Instead, a sequence of visemes can have several different solutions." Beyond the computational aspect, we also need to decide, as a society, if this is a technology that should exist. The privacy implications extend beyond that of simple voice recognition.

Early iPhone 6 Benchmark Results Show Only Modest Gains For A8

Soulskill posted 5 days ago | from the find-a-way-to-make-this-fit-your-narrative dept.

Cellphones 207

MojoKid writes: Historically speaking, we typically see impressive performance gains each time Apple releases a new custom processor for its mobile products. Certainly that was true of the A7 SoC, the world's first 64-bit smartphone processor. So, can we expect the same kind of performance bump from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which sport the new custom A8 SoC? Maybe not. The iPhone 6 recently surfaced in results for the Basemark X benchmark and armed with a dual-core 1.4GHz Cyclone CPU and A8 GPU, the iPhone 6 scored 21,204.26 and a earned a place at the top of the chart, though not by much. By comparison, the iPhone 5s scored 20,253.80 in the same benchmark. In other words, the iPhone 6 is currently less than 5 percent faster than the iPhone 5s, at least as far as the Basemark X benchmark is concerned.

SanDisk Releases 512GB SD Card

Soulskill posted 5 days ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

Data Storage 210

Lucas123 writes: SanDisk has announced the world's highest capacity SD card, a 512GB model that represents a 1,000-fold increase over the company's first 512MB card that it shipped a decade ago. The SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I memory card has a max read/write rate of 95MB/s and 90MB/s, respectively. The card is rated to function in temperatures from -13 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. The 512GB model retails for $800. The card also comes in 128GB and 256GB capacities.

Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

Soulskill posted 5 days ago | from the solid-sponges-are-so-2013 dept.

Power 113

New submitter gaelfx writes: Researchers at Glasglow University have an interesting method for separating the hydrogen out of water: Liquid Sponges. Most methods of extracting the hydrogen involve some form electrolysis, but these generally require some pretty expensive materials. The researchers claim that they can accomplish this using less electricity, cheaper materials and 30 times faster to boot. With both Honda and Toyota promising hydrogen fuel cell cars in Japan within the next few years (other manufacturers must be considering it as well, if not as publicly), does this spell a new future for transportation technology?

Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

timothy posted 5 days ago | from the not-that-they-should-need-to-ask-for-that dept.

Businesses 149

The new battery factory that Tesla has announced it will build in Nevada comes with some nice perks: specifically, with a package of tax incentives, road construction, and legislative protection from the kind of dealer cartels that have hindered Tesla's ability to sell cars in some other states. A Bloomberg wire story gives some details about the size of the deal that Nevada made to attract the company: The biggest chunk of the deal, Tesla's sales tax exemptions, is worth an estimated at $725 million. In addition, the company would save more than an estimated $300 million in payroll and other taxes through 2024. ... Among the bills approved in both houses was a provision phasing out and eliminating 1970s-era tax credits for insurance companies, which backers said would free up about $125 million over five years beginning in 2016 for transferable tax credits to Tesla. The package would also gut a pilot program approved just last year giving tax credits to the film industry, freeing up about $70 million for Tesla. ... Lawmakers also agreed to buy right of way to build a road connecting I-80 and U.S. 50, a project estimated to cost $43 million that will improve access to the industrial park from other regions of the state.

If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

timothy posted about a week ago | from the situations-vary dept.

Power 444

Lucas123 writes Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said his company's Gigafactory battery plant, the world's largest, will be "self contained" and run on solar, wind and geothermal energy. The obvious problem with renewable sources is that they're intermittent at any given location, but on a larger scale they're quite predictable and reliable, according to Tom Lombardo, a professor of engineering and technology. Lombardo points out that Tesla isn't necessarily going off-grid, but using a strategy of "net metering" where the factory will produce more renewable energy than it needs, and receive credits in return from its utility when renewables aren't available. So why can't other manufacturing facilities do the same? Is what Tesla is doing not necessarily transferable to other industries? Sam Jaffe, principal research analyst with Navigant Research, believes Tesla's choice of locations — Reno — and its product is optimal for using renewable and not something that can be reproduced by every industry.

The State of ZFS On Linux

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the ready-for-the-big-show dept.

Data Storage 366

An anonymous reader writes: Richard Yao, one of the most prolific contributors to the ZFSOnLinux project, has put up a post explaining why he thinks the filesystem is definitely production-ready. He says, "ZFS provides strong guarantees for the integrity of [data] from the moment that fsync() returns on a file, an operation on a synchronous file handle is returned or dirty writeback occurs (by default every 5 seconds). These guarantees are enabled by ZFS' disk format, which places all data into a Merkle tree that stores 256-bit checksums and is changed atomically via a two-stage transaction commit.. ... Sharing a common code base with other Open ZFS platforms has given ZFS on Linux the opportunity to rapidly implement features available on other Open ZFS platforms. At present, Illumos is the reference platform in the Open ZFS community and despite its ZFS driver having hundreds of features, ZoL is only behind on about 18 of them."

First Intel 14nm Broadwell Core M Benchmarks Unveiled

samzenpus posted about a week ago | from the check-it-out dept.

Intel 51

MojoKid writes Intel Execs out at IDF this week in San Francisco have let slip some actual benchmark run results on Intel's just-released Broadwell Core M processor platform. Intel has gone into detail on Broadwell's architecture and features previously and has discussed power consumption and performance expectations. However, now we finally have some cold, hard numbers, rather than just percentage comparisons versus previous generation Intel platforms. Intel was demonstrating a 12.5-inch Broadwell-based, Core M 5Y70-powered Windows tablet live and the benchmark runs look promising, with 3DMark scores in the 50K range. The Cinebench results shown place the CPU on par with full-fledged Core i5 notebook variants in the 15 Watt power envelope, but powered by the new 4.5 Watt Broadwell Y Core M processor that will be employed mostly in 2-in-1 hybrid devices and high end tablets.

To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the sounds-good-everybody-go-out-and-buy-an-electric-bus-ok dept.

Transportation 485

An anonymous reader writes: All the EV attention these days is going to Tesla and other sedan manufacturers, but this article makes the case that it's far more important to switch our buses over to electric power than our cars. "Last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association, buses hauled 5.36 billion passengers. While usage has fallen in recent years, thanks in part to the growth of light rail and subway systems, buses still account for more rides each year than heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail combined—and for about half of all public transit trips." This, while managing around 4-5 miles per gallon of gas, and public buses usually average about 50,000 miles per year. The electric buses themselves are significantly more expensive, but the difference is made up dramatically lower fuel costs. And there will be difficulties: "The range—up to 30 miles—limits Proterra buses to certain routes, so it's hard for an agency to go all in. Drivers have to be trained to brake and accelerate differently, and to maneuver into the docking stations. And Doran Barnes of Foothill Transit notes that some of the cost advantage of using electricity instead of diesel can dissipate. Electric cars can be charged at night, when power prices are low. But buses have no choice but to recharge in the middle of the day, when utilities often impose higher peak usage rates."

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