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Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

Study Confirms No Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 5:00pm
An anonymous reader sends word of a new study (abstract) into the relationship between the MMR vaccine and kids who develop autism. In short: there is no relationship, even for kids at high risk of developing autism. From the article: [Researchers] examined records from a large health insurer to search for such an association. They checked the status of children continuously enrolled in the health plan from birth to at least 5 years old during 2001 to 2012. The children also had an older brother or sister continuously enrolled for at least six months between 1997 and 2012. "Consistent with studies in other populations, we observed no association between MMR vaccination and increased ASD risk among privately insured children.We also found no evidence that receipt of either 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD among children who had older siblings with ASD." ... [An accompanying editorial said,] "Taken together, some dozen studies have now shown that the age of onset of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, the severity or course of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, and now the risk of ASD recurrence in families does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children."

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Learn About FIRST's New Embedded Linux Controller (Video)

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 4:18pm
Our interviewee today is Mike Anderson, an adviser to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Team 116 at Herndon High School in Virginia. He's here to tell us about the new embedded Linux controller FIRST is using this year. It is apparently a bit short of documentation at this stage, so team 116 and others have been posting what they learn at Chief Delphi, which is 'the' FIRST online discussion forum (and fun to read to keep up with all things FIRST). We've talked about FIRST before. We've taken you to FIRST competitions, and looked behind the scenes at the building of a FIRST robot, and will no doubt keep covering a selection of FIRST activities in the future.

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Protein Converts Pancreatic Cancer Cells Back Into Healthy Cells

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 3:39pm
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists working in the area of pancreatic cancer research have uncovered a technique that sees cancerous cells transform back into normal healthy cells. The method relies in the introduction of a protein called E47, which bonds with particular DNA sequences and reverts the cells back to their original state. The study (abstract) was a collaboration between researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, University of California San Diego and Purdue University. The scientists are hopeful that it could help combat the deadly disease in humans.

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Concerns of an Artificial Intelligence Pioneer

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 2:57pm
An anonymous reader writes: In January, the British-American computer scientist Stuart Russell drafted and became the first signatory of an open letter calling for researchers to look beyond the goal of merely making artificial intelligence more powerful. "We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial," the letter states. "Our AI systems must do what we want them to do." Thousands of people have since signed the letter, including leading artificial intelligence researchers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other industry hubs along with top computer scientists, physicists and philosophers around the world. By the end of March, about 300 research groups had applied to pursue new research into "keeping artificial intelligence beneficial" with funds contributed by the letter's 37th signatory, the inventor-entrepreneur Elon Musk. Russell, 53, a professor of computer science and founder of the Center for Intelligent Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, has long been contemplating the power and perils of thinking machines. He is the author of more than 200 papers as well as the field's standard textbook, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (with Peter Norvig, head of research at Google). But increasingly rapid advances in artificial intelligence have given Russell's longstanding concerns heightened urgency.

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Maglev Train Exceeds 600km/h For World Record

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 2:14pm
nojayuk writes: An experimental Japanese magnetic levitation train has reached a speed of 603 km/h, breaking the world speed record the same train set last week of 590 km/h. "Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027. The 280km journey would take only about 40 minutes, less than half the current time. However, passengers will not get to experience the maglev's record-breaking speeds because the company said its trains will operate at a maximum of 505km/h. In comparison, the fastest operating speed of a Japanese shinkansen, or "bullet train" is is 320km/h. ... Construction costs are estimated at nearly $100bn (£67bn) just for the stretch to Nagoya, with more than 80% of the route expected to go through costly tunnels, AFP news agency reports."

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Twitter Rolls Out New Anti-Abuse Tools

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:32pm
An anonymous reader writes: After facing criticism that it gives trolls and hatemongers a platform to intimidate people, Twitter has now rolled out a new set of tools and policies to handle abusive tweets. Previously, they only prohibited threats of violence that were "direct" and "specific," but now that's been expanded to all threats of violence or tweets promoting violence. They said, "Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior." Twitter has also added non-permanent bans, as well as this: "[W]e have begun to test a product feature to help us identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach. This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive." Twitter's general counsel recently said, "Freedom of expression means little as our underlying philosophy if we continue to allow voices to be silenced because they are afraid to speak up. We need to do a better job combating abuse without chilling or silencing speech."

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Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 12:50pm
bmxeroh writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that a police officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete the tasks related to that stop for the purposes of allowing a trained dog to sniff for drugs. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority (6-3) that police authority "ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed." The case, Rodriguez v. United States, 13-9972, all started with Rodriguez was stopped in Nebraska for driving out of his lane. After he was given the ticket for that infraction, he was made to wait an additional seven to eight minutes for a drug dog to arrive which promptly alerted to the presence of drugs in the car. Upon search, the officers found a small bag of methamphetamine in his possession.

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Optical Tech Can Boost Wi-Fi Systems' Capacity With LEDs

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 12:07pm
chasm22 writes: Researchers at Oregon State University have invented a new technology that can increase the bandwidth of WiFi systems by 10 times, using LED lights to transmit information. The system can potentially send data at up to 100 megabits per second. Although some current WiFi systems have similar bandwidth, it has to be divided by the number of devices, so each user might be receiving just 5 to 10 megabits per second, whereas the hybrid system could deliver 50-100 megabits to each user.

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OSGeo Foundation Up In Arms Over ESRI LAS Lock-In Plans

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 11:24am
Bismillah writes: The Open Source Geospatial Foundation is outraged over mapping giant ESRI's latest move which entails vendor lock-in for light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data through its proprietary Optimised LAS format. ESRI is the dominant company in the geospatial data arena, with its ArcGIS mapping platform boasting with over a million users and 350,000 customers.

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Copyright For Sale: What the Sony Docs Say About MPAA Buying Political Influence

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:35am
An anonymous reader writes: The linkage between political funding and the major copyright lobby groups is not a new issue as for years there have been stories about how groups like the MPAA and RIAA fund politicians that advance their interests. Michael Geist digs into the Sony document leak to see how the MPAA coordinates widespread buying of politicians with political funding campaigns led by former Senator Christopher Dodd to federal and state politicians. The campaigns include efforts to circumvent donation limits by encouraging executives to spend thousands on influential politicians, leading to meetings with Barack Obama, the head of the USTR and world leaders.

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The Logistics of an eSports Tournament

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:48am
An anonymous reader writes: Wargaming's hugely popular World of Tanks game sees its biggest tournament of the year, The Grand Finals, taking place this weekend. In an interview published today, the developer's eSports director, Mohamed Fadl, reveals just what goes into preparing a tournament for both thousands of spectators at the venue, and millions more streaming online. "The infrastructure behind such an event is the most challenging task," he reveals. "Ten highly qualified IT managers, 28 on-air casters and around 50 additional TV staff will be doing their best...A TV level production setup, 170 computers, a total of 1.3GB/s bandwidth and 16 cameras plus 14 player cameras." And all for just 12 teams playing one strategy game.

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'Mobilegeddon': Google To Punish Mobile-Hostile Sites Starting Today

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:07am
jfruh writes: Google has announced that it will be adding mobile-friendliness to the list of factors that will get a site bumped up in search rankings. Sites that have no mobile versions — which includes sites owned by Wikipedia, the BBC and the European Union — will find themselves with lower Google search placement, starting today.

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USPS Shortlists 'HorseFly' Octocopter Drone Delivery Service

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 8:33am
An anonymous reader writes: The likes of GM and Nissan are keeping unusual company in the bidding war to build and deliver the next generation of delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service. Workhorse Group Inc. have made it to the 16-company shortlist with their octocopter drone delivery system, developed by the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science. The self-guiding UAV 'HorseFly' has multiple hardware and software redundancy systems and launches from its special host van 'WorkHorse' to get the parcel the final hurdle to the door. The drone can recharge itself wirelessly in two minutes at base, and calculates its own routes from the van to the destination door.

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Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:51am
sciencehabit writes: In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge [Monday] granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals. Update: 04/21 21:39 GMT by S : Science has updated their article with news that the court has released an amended order (PDF) with the words "writ of habeas corpus" removed, no longer implying that chimps have legal personhood. The order still allows the litigation to go forward, but we'll have to wait for resolution.

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Judge Recognizes Research Chimps As "Legal Persons"

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:51am
sciencehabit writes: In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge [Monday] granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals.

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Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:10am
HughPickens.com writes: Zeynep Tufekci writes in an op-ed at the NY Times that machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who's in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. It turns out most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. "Machines aren't used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a "good enough" job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans," writes Tufekci. "Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency." According to Tufekci technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers' dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Optimists insist that we've been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills. Tufekci points out that one historical example is no guarantee of future events. "Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities," concludes Tufekci. "This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."

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Tor Is Building the Next Generation Dark Net With Funding From DARPA

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 4:10am
Patrick O'Neill writes: After years of relative neglect, Tor has been able to dedicate increasing time and resources to its hidden services thanks to funding in part by DARPA, as well as an upcoming crowdfunding campaign. DARPA's funding lasts 1-3 years and covers several projects including security and usability upgrades that close the gap between hidden services and the everyday Internet. "Next-generation hidden services may be run from multiple hosts to better deal with denial of service attacks and high traffic in general, a potentially big power boost that further closes the gap between the Dark Net and normal websites. ... Hidden services, which make up about 4 percent of the entire Tor network, have until recently been relatively neglected when it comes to funding and developing."

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AMD Publishes New 'AMDGPU' Linux Graphics Driver

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:13am
An anonymous reader writes: AMD has made available its new AMDGPU Linux graphics driver comprised of a brand new DRM/KMS kernel driver, a new xf86-video-amdgpu X11 driver, and modifications to libdrm and Gallium3D. This new AMDGPU driver is designed for supporting AMD's next-generation hardware with no support differences for currently supported Radeon GPUs. While yet to be released, this new AMDGPU driver is the critical piece to the new unified driver strategy with Catalyst where their high performance proprietary driver will now become limited to being a user-space binary component that uses this open-source kernel driver.

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AMD Publishes New 'AMDGPU' Linux Graphics Driver

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:13am
An anonymous reader writes: AMD has made available its new AMDGPU Linux graphics driver comprised of a brand new DRM/KMS kernel driver, a new xf86-video-amdgpu X11 driver, and modifications to libdrm and Gallium3D. This new AMDGPU driver is designed for supporting AMD's next-generation hardware with no support differences for currently supported Radeon GPUs. While yet to be released, this new AMDGPU driver is the critical piece to the new unified driver strategy with Catalyst where their high performance proprietary driver will now become limited to being a user-space binary component that uses this open-source kernel driver.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 11:11pm
An anonymous reader writes The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city's police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It's a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn't include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order.

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