Cisco researchers discover a new router malware outbreak that might also be the next cyberwar attack in Ukraine.
Cisco researchers discover a new router malware outbreak that might also be the next cyberwar attack in Ukraine.
Amazon bills its Rekognition image classification system as a “deep learning-based image and video analysis” system; it markets the system to US police forces for use in analyzing security camera footage, including feeds from police officers’ bodycams.
In a truly remarkable feat of innovation, scientists have figured out how to create “hybrid” solar cells that generate power not just from sunlight but also from raindrops. This means we may soon see all-weather solar panels that work when it is cloudy and even at night, if it’s raining.
Solar has soared in recent years, as panel prices have dropped so fast that solar keeps crushing its own record for the cheapest power “ever, anywhere, by any technology” — even without a subsidy.
But scientists and engineers around the world keep innovating, looking for ways to make solar panels more efficient and less expensive. Much of this innovation is now coming from China, the world leader in both manufacturing and deployment of solar energy.
For instance, China has developed “double-sided” solar panels that can generate power from light that hits their underside. That can enable a 10 percent boost in output, especially if you put the panels on a roof or other area that is painted white to help reflect the suns rays. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects these panels could capture a remarkable 40 percent share of the market by 2025.
In another remarkable advance, researchers at China’s Soochow University have demonstrated a solar cell that can generate electricity from falling rain. A recent article in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal Nano describes the innovation in an article titled “Integrating a Silicon Solar Cell with a Triboelectric Nanogenerator via a Mutual Electrode for Harvesting Energy from Sunlight and Raindrops.”
<div> <img width="250" height="398" src="https://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/two-sided-solar-panel-forecast-bnef.jpg?w=250&h=398&crop=1" alt=""></div> Two sided solar panel forecast<p>The device <span>makes use of a </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanogenerator#Triboelectric_nanogenerator">triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG)</a><span>, which converts mechanical energy — motion — into electricity. In this case, the solar cells harvest power from the movement of raindrops that fall on them. </span></p>
Since solar panels typically generate only one tenth of their potential output during rain, and virtually nothing at night-time, the advance could address one of the biggest problems facing solar power: its variability.
“Our device can always generate electricity in any daytime weather,” as Soochow’s Baoquan Sun told the UK Guardian. “In addition, this device even provides electricity at night if there is rain.”
Here is a video of the basic principle behind TENG from Georgia Tech Prof. Zhong Lin Wang, whose group first demonstrated this kind of nano generator in 2011:
The potential applications of TENG include generating power from walking and typing. The recent Chinese breakthrough was to figure out how to make it work in a simple and efficient manner for a solar cell.
It could be a while before the technology makes its way into a commercial product for widespread use, though. We are still 3 to 5 years from a prototype according to Sun. He told the Guardian, “the output power efficiency needs to be further improved before practical application.”
But if the technology takes off, we may actually have solar panels that work rain or shine.
Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 09, 2018: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality/ Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). (credit: Getty Images | Zach Gibson)
The US Senate today voted to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of net neutrality.
The Senate approved a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would simply undo the FCC’s December 2017 vote to deregulate the broadband industry. If the CRA is approved by the House and signed by President Trump, Internet service providers would have to continue following rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has scheduled his repeal to take effect on June 11. If Congress doesn’t act, the net neutrality rules and the FCC’s classification of ISPs as common carriers would be eliminated on that date.
A single bitcoin transaction requires as much electricity as the average Dutch household uses in a month
After 26 years, Boston Dynamics is finally getting ready to start selling some robots. Founder Marc Raibert says that the company’s dog-like SpotMini robot is in pre-production and preparing for commercial availability in 2019. The announcement came onstage at TechCrunch’s TC Sessions: Robotics event today at UC Berkeley.
“The SpotMini robot is one that was motivated by thinking about what could go in an office — in a space more accessible for business applications — and then, the home eventually,” Raibert said onstage.
Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini was introduced late last year and took the design of the company’s “bigger brother” quadruped Spot. While the company has often showcased advanced demos of its emerging projects, SpotMini has seemed uniquely productized from the start.
On its website, Boston Dynamics highlights that SpotMini is the “quietest robot [they] have built.” The device weighs around 66 pounds and can operate for about 90 minutes on a charge.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) May 11, 2018
The company says it has plans with contract manufacturers to build the first 100 SpotMinis later this year for commercial purposes, with them starting to scale production with the goal of selling SpotMini in 2019. They’re not ready to talk about a price tag yet, but they detailed that the latest SpotMini prototype cost 10 times less to build than the iteration before it.
Just yesterday, Boston Dynamics posted a video of SpotMini in autonomous mode navigating with the curiosity of a flesh-and-blood animal.
The company, perhaps best known for gravely frightening conspiracy theorists and AI doomsdayers with advanced robotics demos, has had quite the interesting history.
It was founded in 1992 after being spun out of MIT. After a stint inside Alphabet Corp., the company was purchased by SoftBank last year. SoftBank has staked significant investments in the robotics space through its Vision Fund, and, in 2015, the company began selling Pepper, a humanoid robot far less sophisticated than what Boston Dynamics has been working on.
You can watch the entire presentation below, which includes a demonstration of the latest iteration of the SpotMini.
When Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before House and Senate panels earlier this month, he explained how his company uses the data of millions of Americans. This particular set of hearings was urgent because our elected leaders have realized the power that lies in Facebook’s hidden trove of networked knowledge — its potential to violate privacy and the</span> menace it poses to the integrity of our democratic institutions.
Facebook is a business that sells social connection, its algorithms are made for targeted advertising. The data that we users provide via friends, likes and shares makes their model lucrative. But connecting a person to a pair of shoes cannot be the same engagement algorithm that we use to build a cohesive democratic society. Watch any hearing on Capitol Hill.
It’s a durable, if old fashioned bridge between leaders and citizens. Informed deliberation could be a lot more compelling, but it can never compete on the same turf with funny GIFs and targeted videos. Algorithms optimized for commercial engagement do not protect public goods like democratic discourse. They are built for shareholders, not citizens. To the contrary, they can exploit and damage democracy’s most precious resource– civic trust.
Congress is the world’s most powerful representative assembly. Yet, like much of the US government, it does not have adequate 21st century technology knowledge, nor modern digital infrastructure for citizen input, much less interaction. Until we have an alternative that protects civic engagement data, the prevailing business models that rely on selling social connection will continue to be the equivalent of strip-mining democracy.
If we think we can use a corporate profit model for civics, we will get an increasingly coarse and volatile public life. Malevolence is cheap and conspiracy scales quickly. Junk news costs little compared to credible journalism. When clicks are the currency, the shortest path to a sale is vulgarity or shouting, which often stops inclusive participation altogether. It’s true that crowds are sometimes rowdy. But our democratic institutions are supposed to moderate this behavior and they are decades behind the private sector who themselves are struggling with online civility standards.
Another challenge is the scant institutional capacity our democracy has for coping with a digital world. For decades, Congress has purged its own expertise, especially on technology. The result is that it can’t match the White House when it comes to policy and it relies on the narrow perspectives of lobbyists more than ever. Congress does make available a great deal of information but–like a banana republic of data-– it lacks the resources to purchase the analysis products for its own workflow, or to create a competitive version for itself.
The longer we wait to build modern engagement capacity for our democracy, the more citizens will pay the price. In a political system awash with anonymous money, Congress is not building an integrity engine to audit the supply chain of data into policy. It is not optimizing the underused capacity of public serving knowledge already on Capitol Hill. It’s actually not far beyond hot lead type. Even the computer science interns still carry around 3 ring binders full of hard copy letters to sign.
Congress got a lot of attention for the Facebook hearings–much of it negative. But instead of focussing on the inadequate interrogation of Mark Zuckerberg, Americans should consider creative possibilities to enrich democratic discourse.
What if ⅓ of the committee hearing questions were open to colleagues with subject matter expertise from either party in either the House or the Senate? How about a preparatory “question challenge” to the verified citizens of the districts of the committee members? What about a curation platform to vet and incorporate audience feedback within the hearing itself? How about a stack exchange for the fresh questions so the rest of us watching from afar could rank them? And, why doesn’t Congress already have a computational intelligence capacity for every committee– one that could assist human staff with complex input in real time or asynchronously?
This future-dream is a steep hill, but it is not impossible. Until our governing institutions develop public-serving standards and systems, let’s follow the lead of truly modern democracies and put the civic engagement data of our nation where it will be safe and not for sale – in our collective hands. The urgent task for Congress and the rest of us is to restore civic trust. How about a series of follow-up hearings on who should be the information intermediaries for 21st century democracy?
Given the current international political climate, multi-lateral talks are another steep hill to climb. But we’ve looked abroad for common good norms in the past. We can start now by recognizing that open democratic standards are a modern source of power and influence. Iceland created a civic non profit to engage citizens and protect their data.
Estonia already gives a digital identity to online businesses. Starting next month, Facebook will adhere to the European Union’s privacy rules for the US, Europe and Canada. Identifying and upholding these promising practices is vital in a world where the reputation of democracy is at stake.
In an unfortunate step backward, the Facebook hearings returned us to the old familiar Russia vs. the West framework. But it is worth remembering how –in the last century– democracy won the Cold War because of off-shored norms.
Forty three years ago, 35 national leaders gathered in Finland to collaborate on reducing tensions with the eastern bloc, then dominated by the Soviet Union. The resultingHelsinki Accords championed Rule of Law and Human Rights. These western democratic norms became the guide posts of eastern Europe’s dissidents. In Czechloslovakia, the Charter 77 movement drew strength from exposing the hypocrisy of their government, a signatory to the Accords. The norms were ultimately successful in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Democratic societies require trusted connection in order to survive. They also need credible, capable institutions. If we Americans want to rebuild our national confidence, we’ll need a digital engagement system that optimizes for human dignity, not corporate dollars. The first step is for Congress–our most democratic institution– to fund its own digital capacity. Even then, it will need trusted, privacy protecting partners.
There is no IPO that monetizes engaged citizens, there’s just a society that sticks together enough to keep talking, even when a lot of people are fed up and angry. Once we decide to protect the public trust, we can succeed and even lead again. But to be cautiously hopeful andparaphrase Benjamin Franklin, let’s offshore our democracy’s civic data norms until we can keep them ourselves.
As the fallout from the 2016 election continues and we learn more about how foreign agents (*cough*RUSSIA*cough) interfered in that election by exploiting weakness online, Google is the latest tech giant to announce new transparency measures ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
On Friday, senior vice president Kent Walker published a blog post that outlined Google’s new efforts, including verification of political ad buyers and transparency reports. According to Walker, for those wishing to publish political ads, Google will “require that advertisers confirm they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, as required by law.” Read more…