Slashdot
Indianapolis Motor Speedway To Host Autonomous Car Race On Saturday

New submitter Motard writes: Dallara Indy Lights racing cars outfitted as autonomous vehicles by Clemson University and programmed by various international collegiate teams will participate in a 20-lap race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 23rd 2021. The event will be livestreamed by the Indy Autonomous Challenge website. Nine teams representing 21 universities from 9 different countries will compete for a $1 million prize. [The second and third-placed teams will receive $250,000 and $500,000 respectively. Only those that complete the race in 25 minutes or less will be eligible for prize money.]

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Sony Patent Lets Viewers Vote and Pay To Boot Players From Games

Sony has been granted a patent that would allow livestream spectators and participants to remove players from a game. "Besides removing unskilled players, the system would allow spectators to pay for the privilege of removing players," reports Kotaku. From the report: In the patent document, Sony outlined a system in which spectators to a livestream can vote to remove a player from an ongoing game. The player would have no veto power over this decision, and they may be reassigned to a different match. The system would display the skill level of the current players and their statistics for the game, such as time played, ratings, and achievements. All of this would take place through "the cloud gaming system," whatever that means. To avoid audience abuse of this system, a 60% voting threshold needs to be met in order to bench a player from a game. Spectators with a higher skill level will also have their votes counted more heavily in the election. Despite Sony claiming that this system would be beneficial for removing disrespectful "griefers" from matches, the patent also includes the ability for spectators to pay a fixed price or bid for the ability to remove players from a game. The text also mentions a system in which spectators can warn active players to improve their gameplay. Damn.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

TV Prices Are the Highest They've Been In At Least Nine Years

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Pricing right now on TVs is the highest since at least 2012," says Stephen Baker, vice president of Industry Analysis at NPD group. "Holiday pricing overall is likely to be at least $100 above normal. Last year the average price of a TV was $363 during the fourth quarter, which is fairly typical over the last few years. This year our forecast is for the average price to be approximately $500." For a lot of shoppers a $500 TV sounds pretty affordable, but that's the average of every TV sold in the US. The majority are entry-level models with small screens and modest features that bring down the average. [...] TVs come in a wide range of prices and sizes, and the higher average selling price will impact smaller, cheaper models more than larger, more-expensive ones. In fact, high-dollar TVs are selling better than ever, which of course helps drive up the average price. "Sales of TVs over $1,500 are at record levels, and sales of TVs 75-inch and above are performing much better than the overall market," says Baker. The good news£ Inventory this holiday season likely won't be a problem. "Right now we don't expect significant shortages in TVs," says Baker. "While the port blockages are a concern, there are a lot of choices in the TV market. So if consumers can be flexible around brand and screen size, availability should be sufficient." He adds that over the last few months TV sales have been tepid, which allows TV makers to build up enough inventory to deal with the holiday rush. So what does all of this mean for TV shoppers£ Traditional holiday price drops will still happen, but maybe those $100 doorbuster deals won't be as common. "There will be price drops, there will be promotions, the calendar does not disappear," says Baker. "But all of those pricing activities will happen on products priced substantially higher than in previous years." In other words, midrange and higher-end TVs, the ones selling at a historic clip, are still likely to see plenty of price reductions in the next couple months. In fact, some are happening already.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Elon Musk's Boring Company Gets Green Light For Las Vegas Tunnel System

Elon Musk's Boring Company just won approval from local officials to move forward with building a network of vehicle tunnels underneath Las Vegas. The Verge reports: Elon Musk's Boring Company just won approval from local officials to move forward with building a network of vehicle tunnels underneath Las Vegas. The Boring Company already operates a small version of this "Teslas in Tunnels" system underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center, which opened earlier this year and involves two 0.8-mile tunnels. But Musk's startup proposed a massive city-wide expansion in December 2020 that largely lines up with what Clark County officials approved Wednesday. The system that was approved involves 29 miles of tunnels and 51 stations. Clark County says as many as 57,000 passengers will be able to travel through it per hour and that no taxpayer money will be spent to build it. The Boring Company previously said that it would foot the bill for building the main tunnels but planned to ask hotel casinos or other businesses that want a station to pay for those construction costs. Each one of those stops has to go through its own permitting process, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Fossil Fuel Drilling Plans Undermine Climate Pledges, UN Report Warns

Even as world leaders vow to take stronger action on climate change, many countries are still planning to dramatically increase their production of oil, gas and coal in the decades ahead, potentially undermining those lofty pledges, according to a United Nations-backed report released Tuesday. From a report: The report looked at future mining and drilling plans in 15 major fossil fuel producing countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada, China, India and Norway. Taken together, those countries are currently planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Scientists and world leaders increasingly say that holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if humanity wants to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change, such as ever-deadlier heat waves, large scale flooding and widespread extinctions. The world has already heated up roughly 1.1 degrees since the Industrial Revolution. But the planned global expansion of fossil fuel extraction clashes sharply with those climate goals, the report found. If the world remains awash in oil, gas and coal for decades to come, then many countries could find it more difficult to shift to cleaner sources of energy. At the same time, many of the oil wells and coal mines now being approved and developed could prove deeply unprofitable if demand for fossil fuels shrinks, creating economic disruption. By 2030, the report found, the world's nations are planning to produce 240 percent more coal, 57 percent more oil and 71 percent more natural gas than would be needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Raspberry Pi Suffers First Ever Price Increase

For the first time, the price of a Raspberry Pi single-board computer is increasing and we have the global supply chain shortages to thank for it. PCMag reports: Eben Upton, chief executive of Raspberry Pi Trading, made the announcement today, but also made it clear the price increase is only temporary and only impacts one model of the Raspberry Pi 4. In February last year, the price of the Raspberry Pi 4 2GB dropped from $45 to $35 "permanently" and the 1GB model was discontinued. The 2GB model is reverting back to $45 and the 1GB model is making a comeback for industrial customers at its previous $35 price. The reason for this is one of supply chain challenges, with Upton confirming they will only manage to match 2020's shipments of around seven million units this year. The main shortages have been for the Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi 4 2GB. We don't know how long the price increase will last, but Upton was upbeat: "The good news is that we've been able to hold the line on pricing for all but one of our products; that we expect to have enough 28nm silicon over the next twelve months to support both our existing Raspberry Pi 4 and Compute Module 4 customers, and customers migrating from Raspberry Pi 3B+; and that we see early signs that the supply chain situation is starting to ease."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

WHO Asks South African Startup To Replicate Moderna's mRNA Vaccine

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The World Health Organization has hired the company, called Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, as part of a $100 million plan to figure out how to make an mRNA vaccine against COVID that is as close as possible to the version produced by Moderna. Until recently, Afrigen specialized in developing veterinary vaccines using fairly traditional methods. Now, says Afrigen's managing director, Petro Treblanche, the company's labs are a hive of research into the cutting-edge technology behind mRNA vaccines. Once Afrigen has sorted out all the complicated steps to make Moderna's shot on an industrial scale, WHO and other partners plan to pay Afrigen to become a teaching center. "We call it a 'technology transfer hub,' " says Martin Friede, the WHO official in charge of this effort. "Manufacturers from around the world will be invited to come and learn the entire process. So this will accelerate the availability of the technology, not to one manufacturer but to many manufacturers." Friede says it makes sense to set up more manufacturers of mRNA vaccines in particular because the technology appears so effective against COVID -- and because it shows promise against other diseases including malaria and tuberculosis. As to why WHO has chosen to try to copy Moderna rather than the other mRNA COVID vaccine, which is made by Pfizer BioNTech, Friede says the choice was practical. "Moderna has reiterated on several occasions that they will not enforce their intellectual property during the pandemic," says Friede. In other words, a manufacturer probably won't face a lawsuit for producing a vaccine that's virtually identical to Moderna's. Also, says Friede, compared to Pfizer's vaccine, there just happens to be a lot more information in the public domain about how Moderna's vaccine is made. But Afrigen's Petro Treblanche says there are still a lot of unknowns. Take Moderna's patent. "It's written very carefully and cleverly to not disclose absolutely everything," says Treblanche. So while Afrigen has been able to determine most of the equipment and specialized ingredients that are needed, "what we don't know is the exact concentrations," says Treblanche. "And we don't know some of the mixing times -- some of the conditions of mixing and formulating." A particularly vexing question is how to replicate Moderna's "lipid nano-particle" -- a special casing around the mRNA strand at the heart of the vaccine that keeps it stable as it travels through the body to, as Treblanche puts it, "essential places like the spleen and lymph nodes." "We understand other encapsulations," says Treblanche. But for all the expertise at Afrigen, "my team has never formulated a liquid nanoparticle."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Drone Will Rescue Three Dogs Trapped By La Palma Volcanic Eruption

Three dogs that are trapped near the erupting Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Islands may soon be saved by a drone. Gizmodo reports: The poor, emaciated pups have been stuck in a yard surrounded by lava for a month. The volcano began erupting in September for the first time in 50 years, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, and the eruption is still ongoing. Spanish drone operator Aerocamaras said last Thursday that it had a plan to rescue the dogs. It could fly drones over to the yard with food for the pups and a camera that could help operators on the ground find the best to airlift them. Once the animals had some time to get used to the machines, the drones would drop cargo nets over them to pick them up one by one and carry them to safety. On Wednesday, Aerocamaras' Jaime Pereira confirmed that the company had officially received permission from authorities to carry out the rescue mission. To get the state's blessing, the firm had to complete a test mission that consisted of a quarter-mile (1.2-kilometer) flight with the drone supporting a load of 33 pounds (15 kilograms), which it did successfully. Still, the mission will be treacherous. "It is very difficult, technically it is the most complicated thing we have done by far," Pereira told the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco. "We are risking a lot." For one, the cargo net for the rescue mission is designed to hold about 50 pounds (24 kilograms), enough to transport one dog at a time. The operators have to be sure to time their lift-off perfectly to avoid picking up more than one dog and having them fall. Pereira also told Reuters that the drone only has 8 minutes of battery life, meaning the trips will have to be meticulously planned and executed: The operator will have only 4 minutes to get the dog into the net, and another 4 minutes to fly them back to safe ground. "What we don't want is to run out of battery when flying over the lava," he said. The expedition will mark a series of high-stakes first. "It's the first time an animal is being rescued with a drone and the first time it has to be captured," Pereira told Reuters.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Investors Use AI To Analyze CEOs' Language Patterns and Tone

CEOs and other managers are increasingly under the microscope as some investors use artificial intelligence to learn and analyze their language patterns and tone, opening up a new frontier of opportunities to slip up. Reuters reports: In late 2020, according to language pattern software specialist Evan Schnidman, some executives in the IT industry were playing down the possibility of semiconductor chip shortages while discussing supply-chain disruptions. All was fine, they said. Yet the tone of their speech showed high levels of uncertainty, according to an algorithmic analysis designed to spot hidden clues in -- ideally unscripted -- spoken words. "We found that IT sector executives' tone was inconsistent with the positive textual sentiment of their remarks," said Schnidman, who advises two fintech companies behind the analysis. Within months of the comments, companies including Volkswagen and Ford were warning about a severe shortage of chips hitting output. Share prices in auto and industrial firms fell. IT executives now said there was a supply squeeze. Schnidman holds that computer-driven quant funds accessing scores assigned to the tone of the managers' words, versus scores assigned to the written words, would have been better positioned before the industry turmoil. Some investors nonetheless see the technology -- known as natural language processing (NLP) -- as one new tool to gain an edge over rivals, according to Reuters interviews with 11 fund managers that are using or trialling such systems. They say traditional financial data and corporate statements are so heavily mined nowadays that they offer little value.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Man Arrested For Uncensoring Japanese Porn With AI In First Deepfake Case

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Japanese police on Monday arrested a 43-year-old man for using artificial intelligence to effectively unblur pixelated porn videos, in the first criminal case in the country involving the exploitative use of the powerful technology. Masayuki Nakamoto, who runs his own website in the southern prefecture of Hyogo, lifted images of porn stars from Japanese adult videos and doctored them with the same method used to create realistic face swaps in deepfake videos. But instead of changing faces, Nakamoto used machine learning software to reconstruct the blurred parts of the video based on a large set of uncensored nudes and sold the content online. Penises and vaginas are pixelated in Japanese porn because an obscenity law forbids the explicit depictions of genitalia. Nakamoto reportedly made about $96,000 by selling over 10,000 manipulated videos, though he was arrested specifically for selling 10 fake photos at about $20 each. Nakamoto pleaded guilty to charges of copyright violation and displaying obscene images and said he did it for money, according to NHK. He was caught when police conducted a "cyber patrol," the Japanese broadcaster reported. "This is the first case in Japan where police have caught an AI user," Daisuke Sueyoshi, a lawyer who's tried cybercrime cases, told VICE World News. "At the moment, there's no law criminalizing the use of AI to make such images." For example, Nakamoto was not charged with any offenses for violating the privacy of the actors in the videos.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FDA Approves Mixing COVID Vaccines

U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially. The Associated Press reports: The Food and Drug Administration's decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month. But before more people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel later this week before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when. The latest moves would expand by tens of millions the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allow "mixing and matching" of shots -- making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination. Specifically, the FDA authorized a third Moderna shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions -- six months after their last shot. One big change: Moderna's booster will be half the dose that's used for the first two shots, based on company data showing that was plenty to rev up immunity again. For J&J's single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients should get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Removes Support for FTP and Old-gen U2F Security Keys in Chrome 95

Google today released Chrome v95, the latest version of its popular web browser and a version that contains several changes that will likely cause problems for a considerable part of its users. The problematic changes include: removing support for File Transfer Protocol (FTP) URLs -- ftp:// removing support for the Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard, used in old-generation security keys (Chrome will only support FIDO2/WebAuth security keys going forward) adding file size limits for browser cookies removing support for URLs with non-IPv4 hostnames ending in numbers, such as http://example.0.1 In addition to breaking changes, Chrome 95 also comes with a new UI component called the "Side Panel," which can be used to view the Chrome browser's Reading List and Bookmarks.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook is Planning To Rebrand the Company With a New Name

Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, The Verge reports, citing an unnamed source. From the report: The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company's annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant's ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Giant Retailers Pledge To Leave Fossil-fueled Ships Behind

Major retailers, including Amazon and Ikea, are beginning to clean up their shipping pollution. From a report: A group of companies pledged yesterday that by 2040, they'll only contract ships using zero-carbon fuels to move their goods. Both Ikea and Amazon were among the 15 companies responsible for the most maritime import pollution in 2019, according to one recent analysis. Joining Amazon and Ikea in the commitment are Unilever, Michelin, and clothing retailer Inditex, which owns Zara and other brands. German retailer Tchibo, Patagonia, sports gear company Brooks Running, and FrogBikes are part of the deal, too. The aim is to leave behind heavy fuel oil in favor of alternatives that don't release planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions. But there will still be plenty of hurdles ahead to rein in shipping pollution. "This will be a catalyzing force and a game-changer for the industry to really push for the decarbonization of the sector," says Kendra Ulrich, shipping campaigns director at the environmental nonprofit Stand.earth, which was one of the authors of the 2019 import pollution report.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Eco-friendly, Lab-grown Coffee is On the Way, But It Comes With a Catch

Beanless brews can cut deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions dramatically -- but what will happen to workers in traditional coffee-growing regions£ From a report: Heiko Rischer isn't quite sure how to describe the taste of lab-grown coffee. This summer he sampled one of the first batches in the world produced from cell cultures rather than coffee beans. "To describe it is difficult but, for me, it was in between a coffee and a black tea," said Rischer, head of plant biotechnology at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which developed the coffee. "It depends really on the roasting grade, and this was a bit of a lighter roast, so it had a little bit more of a tea-like sensation." Rischer couldn't swallow the coffee, as this cellular agriculture innovation is not yet approved for public consumption. Instead, he swirled the liquid around in his mouth and spit it out. He predicts that VTT's lab-grown coffee could get regulatory approval in Europe and the US in about four years' time, paving the way for a commercialized product that could have a much lower climate impact than conventional coffee. The coffee industry is both a contributor to the climate crisis and very vulnerable to its effects. Rising demand for coffee has been linked to deforestation in developing nations, damaging biodiversity and releasing carbon emissions. At the same time, coffee producers are struggling with the impacts of more extreme weather, from frosts to droughts. It's estimated that half of the land used to grow coffee could be unproductive by 2050 due to the climate crisis. In response to the industry's challenges, companies and scientists are trying to develop and commercialize coffee made without coffee beans. VTT's coffee is grown by floating cell cultures in bioreactors filled with a nutrient. The process requires no pesticides and has a much lower water footprint, said Rischer, and because the coffee can be produced in local markets, it cuts transport emissions. The company is working on a life cycle analysis of the process. "Once we have those figures, we will be able to show that the environmental impact will be much lower than what we have with conventional cultivation," Rischer said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Feed Fetched by RSS Dog.