Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for August 26th, 2017

Japan is already known for being at the forefront of humanoid robots that take over traditionally human jobs ( hotel concierge and elderly companions , for instance). Now they can add robot funeral priests to their list. Japan’s telecommunications company SoftBank just unveiled “Pepper,” its robot priest, dressed in Buddhist robes, that can chant Buddhist scriptures, play the drum, and livestream the ceremony for people who can’t attend the funeral in person. The demo took place at Japan’s “Life Ending Industry Expo” in Tokyo last Wednesday. According to The Guardian : The robot was on display on Wednesday at a funeral industry fair, the Life Ending Industry Expo, in Tokyo, shown off by plastic molding maker Nissei Eco. With the average cost of a funeral in Japan reaching in excess of £20,000, according to data from Japan’s Consumer Association in 2008, and human priests costing £1,700, Nissei Eco is looking to undercut the market with Pepper available for just £350 per funeral. Pepper (not a name I’d expect a Buddhist priest to have, but this is a robot we’re talking about after all) has not yet been hired for a real funeral.

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Wikipedia’s mindblowing timeline of the far future

Posted by kenmay on August - 26 - 2017

Wikipedia’s prediction of far-future events really makes me wish I could stick around to see the red supergiant star Antares go supernova in 10,000 years. “The explosion is expected to be easily visible in daylight.” I’m happy I’ll miss the 1km asteroid that’s likely to hit Earth in the next 500,000 years. Looking farther out, the moon Phobos will collide Mars in 50 million years. Anything alive 2.8 billion years from now will need good air conditions because “Earth’s surface temperature, even at the poles,” will be 300 °F. This list “Technological Projects” below is just one of the many different tables in the Wikipedia article:

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 CarPlay and Android Auto can only really be described as what you’d call a ‘slow burn.’ They both debuted quite a few years ago, but getting access to them via first-party infotainment systems didn’t happen with the pace early adopters might be accustomed to. Luckily, a variety of third-party aftermarket in-car audio and infotainment decks offer an option for those… Read More

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Germany, in a First, Shuts Down Left-Wing Extremist Website

Posted by kenmay on August - 26 - 2017

An anonymous reader shares a report: An influential website linked to violence at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg last month has been ordered to shut down, in the first such move against left-wing extremists in the country (alternative source), the authorities in Germany said on Friday. Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister, said that the unrest in Hamburg, during which more than 20, 000 police officers were deployed and more than 400 people arrested or detained, had been stirred up on the website and showed the “serious consequences” of left-wing extremism. “The prelude to the G-20 summit in Hamburg was not the only time that violent actions and attacks on infrastructural facilities were mobilized on linksunten.indymedia, ” he said, referring to the website. The order on Friday was the latest move in a long battle against extremism in Germany. It comes in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., this month and amid worries about “antifa” factions that use violence to combat the far-right in the United States. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Enlarge / Marcus Hutchins. (credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images) Marcus Hutchins, the popular British security researcher, has a new legal headache beyond the criminal charges against him. Hutchins, AKA “MalwareTech,” pleaded not guilty two weeks ago to criminal charges in Wisconsin that accuse him of creating and distributing the Kronos malware that steals banking credentials. Now comes word that his legal defense fund was riddled with illicit donations. At least $150,000 in donations originated from stolen credit cards or fake credit card numbers, according to Tor Ekeland, a  criminal defense attorney who is not on Hutchins’ defense team. Ekeland, who became popular in hacking circles for successfully defending Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, had started a legal fund on Hutchins’ behalf. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ancient Tablet Reveals Babylonians Discovered Trigonometry

Posted by kenmay on August - 26 - 2017

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Trigonometry, the study of the lengths and angles of triangles, sends most modern high schoolers scurrying to their cellphones to look up angles, sines, and cosines. Now, a fresh look at a 3700-year-old clay tablet suggests that Babylonian mathematicians not only developed the first trig table, beating the Greeks to the punch by more than 1000 years, but that they also figured out an entirely new way to look at the subject. However, other experts on the clay tablet, known as Plimpton 322 (P322), say the new work is speculative at best. Consisting of four columns and 15 rows of numbers inscribed in cuneiform, the famous P322 tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, antiquities dealer, and diplomat Edgar Banks, the inspiration for the fictional character Indiana Jones. Now stored at Columbia University, the tablet first garnered attention in the 1940s, when historians recognized that its cuneiform inscriptions contain a series of numbers echoing the Pythagorean theorem, which explains the relationship of the lengths of the sides of a right triangle. (The theorem: The square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the square of the other two sides.) But why ancient scribes generated and sorted these numbers in the first place has been debated for decades. Mathematician Daniel Mansfield of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) realized that the information he needed was in missing pieces of P322 that had been reconstructed by other researchers. He and UNSW mathematician Norman Wildberger concluded that the Babylonians expressed trigonometry in terms of exact ratios of the lengths of the sides of right triangles, rather than by angles, using their base 60 form of mathematics, they report today in Historia Mathematica. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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