The SETI program is still waiting to catch a sentient signal from deep space, but in the absence of data, people are free to speculate. Michael Dyer, a computer science professor at UCLA, is certain that the first aliens to visit Earth will be robots. He even attached a probability to it, according to Adam Hadhazy, a reporter published on Live Science. “If an extraterrestrial spaceship ever lands on Earth, I bet you that it is 99.9999999 percent likely that what exits that ship will be synthetic in nature.” Has Dyer watched too many science fiction movies, or does his prediction have any scientific grounding? His reasoning involves several ideas. For one, space travel is hard on biology. For another, robots are not as vulnerable to harsh environments and poison gas. A third is his belief, based on the inevitability of artificial intelligence (AI), that humans will eventually replace themselves on Earth by robotic progeny. That implies that advanced aliens will have already reached that point in their evolution. Seth Shostak was quoted in the article in agreement with Dyer’s idea that alien visitors will be made of hardware and software, not cuddly biology. While speculating about alien evolution (see also the 07/21/2010), Dyer continued wondering whether futuristic robots could ever have empathy. Will they be programmed, like Hal 9000 in A Space Odyssey to follow the mission, even if it means killing humans? (That idea seems so 2001). Will they destroy the freedom of the remaining humans, even if programmed with mercy? “I think the most we can hope for is to embed software into all intelligent synthetic entities to cause them to want to protect the survivability of biological entities, with humans at the top of the list for protection,” Dyer said. Every speculation brings new dilemmas, however. Dyer looked into his crystal ball: “I can foresee my robotic master not letting me do any activities that it deems will be harmful to my long-term survival,” he said, “so I’m no longer allowed to eat ice cream while lying on the sofa watching junk TV shows.” Or allowed to watch the latest Hollywood alien-invasion flick, Hadhazy added. Dyer did not explain if alien synthetic life implies intelligent design (12/03/2005). He also did not place a value on his bet, or explain how or when he would have to pay up. Presumably, there is a .0000001 percent chance it is not synthetic; that would give him an out. Question: why is this on Live Science? Are we to the point where, in the name of science, there are no restraints on speculation, no requirements to test ideas against evidence, no distinctions between science and science fiction, no epistemic modesty, no restraints on hubris? Has the mission of science been usurped by storytellers with limitless imaginations? Answer: “I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.” (see IMDB.com).(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Two cousins are fighting it out as the candidates of rivals Congress and BJP on Rajasthan’s Bikaner Lok Sabha seat. Both the candidates have served the government as civil servants in the past, while the elder one is at present a Union Minister. The younger cousin has made a debut in politics after taking voluntary retirement from the Indian Police Service.Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal is contesting as the BJP candidate for the third time, while his cousin Madan Gopal Meghwal is a Congress candidate for the first time. Mr. Arjun Ram had entered politics in 2009 after resigning from the Indian Administrative Service and won the Bikaner Lok Sabha seat.Mr. Madan Gopal, who left IPS before the 2018 Assembly election and unsuccessfully tried for a Congress ticket from Bikaner’s Khajuwala seat, has received support from an unexpected quarter in the Lok Sabha poll. Veteran Rajput leader of the BJP, Devi Singh Bhati, who has quit the party in protest against the ticket being given to Mr. Arjun Ram, has extended his support to the Congress.BJP State president Madan Lal Saini accepted Mr. Bhati’s resignation on Friday. Mr. Bhati, a seven-time MLA from Kolayat, had alleged that Mr. Arjun Ram’s political activities had harmed the party and led to its defeat in the Assembly election.While Mr. Madan Gopal affirms that he respects Mr. Arjun Ram as his elder cousin despite differences in their political ideologies, Mr. Bhati’s supporters have disrupted the latter’s public meetings several times during the ongoing election campaign. On Thursday, Mr. Bhati’s supporters showed black flags and raised slogans at a meeting, after which they reportedly clashed with the BJP workers in Bikaner city.The Bikaner seat has been a stronghold of the BJP since 2004, when film actor Dharmendra won it on the party’s ticket. It was reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the 2009 delimitation exercise, after which the caste equations changed and the Dalits and the OBCs shifted towards the Congress.The upper castes, which are in a sizeable number in the constituency, are reportedly unhappy with Mr. Arjun Ram following his support to the April 2, 2018, agitation of Dalits against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Mr. Arjun Ram was accused of inciting violence in Bikaner district during the protest.
Hearst Magazines is pulling back on wellness title Dr. Oz The Good Life, reducing its print frequency from 10 issues per year to four and laying off several staffers, multiple sources close to the situation tell Folio:. “Dr. Oz THE GOOD LIFE has been among the top ten best-selling brands on the newsstand since it launched in 2014. We’re always looking at new business models for our products, so we’re leaning into the magazine’s strong consumer franchise and pivoting to a quarterly frequency of high-quality bookazines. Dr. Oz THE GOOD LIFE content will also run in a variety of brands across our portfolio.” In response to an inquiry, a Hearst Magazines spokesperson provided the following statement: The news comes as a bit of a surprise, given Hearst’s own recent claims that ad sales for the three-year-old magazine rose 17 percent year-over-year in 2016, coupled with a 16 percent hike to the book’s rate base — to 925,000 — to start this year. That’s up from the 450,000 rate base at which Dr. Oz The Good Life debuted in 2014. The spokesperson did not confirm just how many staffers are being let go as a result of said pivot, nor whether editor-in-chief Jill Herzig or VP and publisher Kristine Welker are among them. This is a developing story.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern meets representatives of the Muslim community at Canterbury refugee centre in Christchurch, New Zealand 16 March, 2019. Photo: ReutersNew Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she would announce new gun laws within days, after 50 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on 5 April where police said he was likely to face more charges.”Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer,” Ardern said at news conference after her cabinet reached in principle decisions on gun reform laws in the wake of New Zealand’s worst ever mass shooting.In addition to the 50 killed, dozens were wounded at two mosques in the South Island city during Friday prayers.The owner of a New Zealand gun store the man charged with murder in the mosque shootings had bought firearms and ammunition online from the store, but it did not sell him the high-powered weapon used in the massacre.Gun City owner David Tipple said the alleged gunman bought four weapons and ammunition between December 2017 and March 2018.”The MSSA, military-style automatic, reportedly used by the alleged gunman was not purchased from Gun City. Gun City did not sell him an MSSA, only A-category firearms,” Tipple told a news conference in Christchurch.Under New Zealand gun laws, A-category weapons can be semi-automatic but limited to seven shots. Video of a gunman in one mosque showed a semi-automatic with a large magazine round.Tipple said the online purchases followed a police-verified online mail-order process and A-category firearms were bought in three or four purchases.”We detected nothing extraordinary about the licence holder. He was a brand new purchaser, with a brand new licence,” he said.The shock of the attacks has led to calls for an immediate tightening of laws to restrict access to some firearms, particularly semi-automatic weapons.Tipple said he supported Ardern’s call for gun law reforms as the Christchurch shootings had raised legitimate concerns.New Zealand, a country of only 5 million people, has an estimated 1.5 million firearms. The minimum age for a gun license is 16, and 18 to own a semi-automatic weapon.A Radio New Zealand report, based on police data secured through an Official Information Act request, said more than 99 per cent of people who applied for a firearms licence in 2017 were successful.A New Zealand standard A-category firearm licence is issued after a police and background check. No licence is required to buy a large round magazine, which can be illegally modified for use in such a weapon.Only firearm owners are licensed, not weapons, so there is no monitoring of how many weapons a person may possess.New Zealand’s top online marketplace Trade Me Group said it was halting the sale of semi-automatic weapons in the wake of Friday’s attack.BURIAL FRUSTRATIONSArdern was the first signatory of a national condolence book for the country’s worst mass killing that she opened in the capital Wellington on Monday.”On behalf of all New Zealanders, we grieve together. We are one. They are us,” she wrote in the book.Frustration was building among the families of victims as under Islam it is custom to conduct burials within 24 hours, but bodies will not be released until post mortems are carried out.Deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha said the first body was approved for release on Sunday night, but the family was yet to take the body because another relative was also killed and they wanted to collect them together. He said there would be no burials on Monday.”We’ve been working fairly hard through the night to ensure the process of returning the deceased to their loved ones is taking place expediently,” he said.The burial process, which usually involves washing with three kinds of water, salving wounds and scrubbing skin, would be complicated, volunteers in Christchurch said.Mo, a volunteer who had flown in from Brisbane to wash the bodies, said the people who died in the mosques were classified as martyrs. That meant there were different views as to whether they would be washed or not because he said Islamic jurisprudence said martyrs are not to be washed as their blood was witness to their martyrdom.”But some people have said because it was not a battlefield it is okay to wash the body. But it is at the discretion of the family,” said Mo. He asked to be identified by just one name. The two mosques involved in the shootings have been closed since the massacre, but are expected to reopen by Friday prayers after cleansing blessings were carried out, said Haumaha.Muslim leaders conveyed messages of love, compassion and appreciation for the community support they had received.Over the weekend and into Monday, tens of thousands of people flocked to memorial vigils around New Zealand and a victim support website raised more than NZ$5.5 million ($3.8 million).Hundreds visited the sites of the shootings, performing songs, bringing flowers and food, and offering condolences.”Through all of this we try to remember that what we are bringing back to this tragedy, this horror, is a sense of compassion,” Rehanna Ali, coordinator of women’s affairs’ at the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, told a news conference. “The response to so much hate, has been love.”
Share REUTERS/Dado RuvicA smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013.The news that Facebook’s Android app has been collecting call and text histories is yet another black eye for the social media giant. But just why was Facebook able to siphon off records of who its users were contacting — and when — in the first place?The short answer: Because Google let it. The longer answer: Well, it’s complicated.The social network acknowledged on Sunday that it began uploading call and text logs from phones running Google’s Android system in 2015 — first via its Messenger app and later through an option in Facebook Lite, a stripped-down version of its main app. Facebook added that only users who gave appropriate permission were affected, that it didn’t collect the contents of messages or calls, and that users can opt out of the data collection and have the stored logs deleted by changing their app settings.Facebook did not respond to multiple requests for more specifics. The kerfuffle over this data collection, first reported by the website Ars Technica , follows a week of turmoil for the social network involving charges that it allowed political consultants to steal the data of 50 million users in order to influence elections.There’s a reason Facebook’s actions were restricted to Android phones. Apple locks down app permissions tightly, which offers more privacy protection to iPhone users. “Apple’s fundamental approach is to collect the minimum amount of information to keep the service running, and keep customers in control of the information,” said Rich Mogull, CEO of the security firm Securosis.But Android has long been more indulgent.Until recently, in fact, Google let app developers gain access to a phone’s call and text logs. All they needed was an app that required access to user contacts. Once users agreed, Android would then also grant access to those communication histories.Starting in 2012 with its “Jelly Bean” release, Android would notify people installing such apps that they were also giving apps access to their call and text logs, but still required them to agree to all those permissions at once. Rejecting the request meant the apps wouldn’t work.It wasn’t until 2015 when Google released Android 6.0, dubbed “Marshmallow,” that Android phones finally split up those permissions. That meant users could agree to share contacts, but reject access to their messaging and phone histories.That’s the same year Facebook says its apps started collecting this information. But many Android users aren’t using the latest version of the software. In fact, they often can’t get it even if they want it.Apple owns both the software and hardware for iPhones, which allows it to push out new versions of its iOS operating software at will. Google, by contrast, is largely at the mercy of both mobile carriers and hardware makers when it comes to distributing new Android versions.There are nearly 20,000 Android phone models now in service, and carriers like to tweak the software for each to ensure that it will work as smoothly as possible on their networks. As a result, new Android versions reach users very slowly.As of January, about 65 percent of iPhone users were using the latest iOS software, introduced in 2017. Less than 1 percent of Android devices currently use the latest version of Android, known as “Oreo.” (Many of them are owners of Google’s new Pixel phones, which get software updates directly from Google.)Just over half of all Android users are using the two previous versions, which allow them to specifically reject the sharing of communication logs. Last October, Google began forcing all apps to follow the new rules when they issue updates, even on phones running older versions of Android.All that leaves two big questions unanswered. Why did Google set up Android permissions this way? And how many other apps have taken advantages of the same setup?Experts and privacy advocates say the answer to the first question is probably related to Google’s advertising-based business model, which — like Facebook — depends on collecting detailed information about users in order to target them with tailored ads. Apple, meanwhile, derives its profits from the sale of devices and services like Apple Music.Another possible factor: Android was playing catch-up with Apple for many years, and was eager to attract app developers in order to attain parity with Apple’s App Store. Some app developers may have found greater access to user data on Android attractive — as Facebook did.Experts say it’s not clear if other apps are going as far as Facebook in terms of tracking call history and texts, but it’s very possible.“In a lot of ways, Facebook is the tip of the iceberg,” said Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis Research. “There are plenty of other people doing this kind of data collection.”It is unclear how many apps gained access to call logs so far or how many users’ call logs had been sent to app developers. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.One major Android phone maker expressed uncertainty over its role in protecting user privacy. “At this time the nature of the data breach is unclear so it is difficult to comment on the cause or the solution,” LG Electronics Inc. said Tuesday in a statement.