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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

DeepMind, Elon Musk and Others Pledge Not To Make Autonomous AI Weapons
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Yesterday, during the Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the Future of Life Institute announced that more than 2,400 individuals and 160 companies and organizations have signed a pledge, declaring that they will "neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade or use of lethal autonomous weapons." The signatories, representing 90 countries, also call on governments to pass laws against such weapons. Google DeepMind and the Xprize Foundation are among the groups who've signed on while Elon Musk and DeepMind co-founders Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman have made the pledge as well. "Thousands of AI researchers agree that by removing the risk, attributability and difficulty of taking human lives, lethal autonomous weapons could become powerful instruments of violence and oppression, especially when linked to surveillance and data systems," says the pledge. It adds that those who sign agree that "the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine." "I'm excited to see AI leaders shifting from talk to action, implementing a policy that politicians have thus far failed to put into effect," Future of Life Institute President Max Tegmark said in a statement. "AI has huge potential to help the world -- if we stigmatize and prevent its abuse. AI weapons that autonomously decide to kill people are as disgusting and destabilizing as bioweapons, and should be dealt with in the same way."

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Secretive Startup Zoox Is Building a Bidirectional Autonomous Car From the Ground Up
A secretive Australian startup called Zoox (an abbreviation of zooxanthellae, the algae that helps fuel coral reef growth) is working on an autonomous vehicle that is unlike any other. Theirs is all-electric and bidirectional, meaning it can cruise into a parking spot traveling one way and cruise out the other. It can make noises to communicate with pedestrians. It even has displays on the windows for passengers to interact with. Bloomberg sheds some light on this company, reporting on their ambitions to build the safest and most inventive autonomous vehicle on the road: Zoox founders Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson say everyone else involved in the race to build a self-driving car is doing it wrong. Both founders sound quite serious as they argue that Zoox is obvious, almost inevitable. The world will eventually move to perfectly engineered robotic vehicles, so why waste time trying to incorporate self-driving technology into yesteryear's cars? Levinson, whose father, Arthur, ran Genentech Inc., chairs Apple Inc., and mentored Steve Jobs, comes from Silicon Valley royalty. Together, they've raised an impressive pile of venture capital: about $800 million to date, including $500 million in early July at a valuation of $3.2 billion. Even with all that cash, Zoox will be lucky to make it to 2020, when it expects to put its first vehicles on the road.

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Video Raises Concerns About Excessive Thermal Throttling On 2018 MacBook Pro With Intel Core i9
Last week, Apple announced new MacBook Pros, including a 15-inch model that supports Intel's 6-core 2.9GHz i9 processor. YouTube Dave Lee managed to get his hands on this top-of-the-line device early and run some tests, revealing that the laptop gets severely throttled due to thermal issues. 9to5Mac reports: Dave Lee this afternoon shared a new video on the Core i9 MacBook Pro he purchased, and according to his testing, the new machine is unable to maintain even its base clock speed after just a short time doing processor intensive work like video editing. "This CPU is an unlocked, overclockable chip but all of that CPU potential is wasted inside this chassis -- or more so the thermal solution that's inside here," says Lee. He goes on to share some Premiere Pro render times that suggest the new 2018 MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip underperforms compared to a 2017 model with a Core i7 chip. It took 39 minutes for the 2018 MacBook Pro to render a video that the older model was able to render in 35 minutes. Premiere Pro is not well-optimized for macOS, but the difference between the two MacBook Pro models is notable. Lee ran the same test again with the 2018 MacBook Pro in the freezer, and in cooler temperatures, the i9 chip was able to offer outstanding performance, cutting that render time down to 27 minutes and beating out the 2017 MacBook Pro.

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System76 Linux Computer Maker Offers a Sneak Peek Into Its New Factory
BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: System76 has long been a Linux computer seller, but recently, it has transitioned into a Linux computer maker. What's the difference, you ask? Well, currently, the company doesn't really make its own computers. System76's laptops, for instance, are made by other manufacturers, which it re-brands as its own. No, System76 doesn't just slap its name on other company's laptops and ship them out the door. Actually, it works closely with the manufacturers, tweaks firmware, and verifies that both Ubuntu and its Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS will work well on the hardware. System76 then offers top-notch support too. In other words, the company isn't just selling a computer, but an experience too. Unfortunately, when you rely on other computer manufacturers, you don't fully control the experience. Ultimately, System76 cannot achieve its true vision without building its own laptops. And so, that is exactly what it is going to do! Yes, System76 will be building and selling the computers right here in the USA (Denver, Colorado to be exact). I mean, when your company supports open source ideology and takes pride in being "Made in America," how can you go wrong? Many folks in the Linux community are excited to see the fruits of System76's labor, and today, we get a small peek. No, the company isn't sharing any of its computer designs, but it is showing off its new manufacturing facility. In a new blog post by System76 customer service all-star Emma, she shares several photos of the new factory. [T]he space is absolutely massive! It seems System76 has very lofty goals. Exactly when these new computers both designed and manufactured by System76 will become available for purchase is anyone's guess. Quite frankly, based on the System76's blog post, it seems they are still at very early stages. With that said, it will be interesting to see what is born inside that factory in Colorado. The Linux community is anxiously awaiting something special.

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Rolls-Royce Is Developing Tiny 'Cockroach' Robots To Fix Airplane Engines
Rolls-Royce announced today that it is teaming up with robotics experts at Harvard University and University of Nottingham to develop tiny "cockroach" robots that can crawl inside aircraft engines to spot and fix problems. These robots will be able to speed up inspections and eliminate the need to remove an engine from an aircraft for repair work to take place. CNBC reports: Sebastian de Rivaz, a research fellow at Harvard Institute, said the inspiration for their design came from the cockroach and that the robotic bugs had been in development for eight years. He added that the next step was to mount cameras on the robots and scale them down to a 15-milimeter size. De Rivaz said that once the robots had performed their duty they could be programed to leave the engine or could simply be "flushed out" by the engine itself. Also under development are "snake" robots that are flexible enough to travel through an engine like an endoscope. These would enter through a combustion chamber and would inspect damage and remove any debris. The second "snake" would deposit a patch repair that would sit temporarily until the engine was ready for full repair. No schedule is placed on when the crawling robots will be available. You can view animations of each robot type here.

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Samsung Unveils World's First 10nm-class 8 Gb LPDDR5 DRAM
BrianFagioli writes: Today, Samsung announces yet another milestone, this time with its low-powered memory. You see, Samsung has created what it calls the "industry's first 10-nanometer (nm) class 8-gigabit (Gb) LPDDR5 DRAM." The company promises significant power reduction -- up to 30 percent over LPDDR4X DRAM. This should be important for the upcoming 5G explosion. "The 8Gb LPDDR5 boasts a data rate of up to 6,400 megabits per second (Mb/s), which is 1.5 times as fast as the mobile DRAM chips used in current flagship mobile devices (LPDDR4X, 4266Mb/s). With the increased transfer rate, the new LPDDR5 can send 51.2 gigabytes (GB) of data, or approximately 14 full-HD video files (3.7GB each), in a second," says Samsung. The Galaxy-maker further says, "The 10nm-class LPDDR5 DRAM will be available in two bandwidths -- 6,400Mb/s at a 1.1 operating voltage (V) and 5,500Mb/s at 1.05V -- making it the most versatile mobile memory solution for next-generation smartphones and automotive systems."

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D-Wave's Quantum Computer Successfully Models a Quantum System
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from Ars Technica: D-Wave's hardware has always occupied a unique space on the computing landscape. It's a general-purpose computer that relies on quantum mechanical effects to perform calculations. And, while other quantum-computer makers have struggled to put more than a few dozen qubits together, D-Wave's systems have already scaled to more than 2,000 addressable bits. But the D-Wave systems don't perform calculations in the same way and, despite all those bits, haven't clearly demonstrated performance that can outpace even traditional computing hardware. But D-Wave has come out with a research paper in Science that suggests that the system can do interesting things even in its current state. The company's researchers have set it loose modeling a quantum system that closely resembles the bits used in the hardware itself, allowing them to examine quantum phase transitions. While this still isn't cutting-edge performance, it does allow researchers full control over the physical parameters of a relevant quantum system as it undergoes phase changes.

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Samsung's Galaxy S10 To Come In Three Sizes, With An In-Display Fingerprint Sensor
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Samsung will launch the Galaxy S10 in three different sizes: 5.8 inches, 6.1 inches, and 6.4 inches. They are nearly the same sizes that Kuo expects Apple's next series of iPhones to come in. The Verge reports: The larger two S10 models will include in-display fingerprint sensors, Kuo says, while the smaller model will include a fingerprint sensor on the side. That suggests the smaller model will be Samsung's entry-level offering, while the larger two will potentially have higher-end specs and features. Another recent rumor says the S10 might include five cameras, adding an additional wide angle option to the back and another lens to the front for capturing portrait effects. It's very likely plans will change between now and when the Galaxy S10 launches, which should be early next year. The next flagship smartphone to come from the South Korean company will be the Galaxy Note 9. It's expected to make its appearance at an event on August 9th.

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Roku's New Wireless Speakers Automatically Turn Loud Commercials Down, Turn Show Audio Up
Roku announced today that it's getting into the audio business with the launch of its in-house Roku TV Wireless Speakers. The two HomePod-esque speakers work exclusively (and wirelessly) with Roku TVs, and feature software that will optimize audio from anything connected to the pair Roku TV, including cable boxes, antennas, and Bluetooth devices. The company also announced a new Roku Touch tabletop remote that's similar to Amazon's Alexa. Ars Technica reports: "Optimized" in this sense refers to the software-improved audio quality: automatic volume leveling will boost lower audio in quiet scenes and lower audio in loud scenes (and in booming commercials), and dialogue enhancement will improve speech intelligibility. Accompanying the Wireless Speakers is the Roku Touch remote, a unique addition to Roku's remote family. The company has a standard remote that controls its set-top boxes and smart TVs, and it also has a voice remote that processes voice commands to search for and play specific types of content. The Touch remote is most like the voice remote, but it can be used almost anywhere in your home because it's wireless and runs on batteries. It has a number of buttons on its top that can play, pause, and skip content playing from your Roku TV, and some of those buttons are customizable so you can program your favorite presets to them. There's also a press-and-hold talk button that lets you speak commands to your TV, even if you're not in front of it. Roku's Wireless Speakers and Touch remote will begin shipping this October, and the company is running a deal leading up to the release. For the first week of presales (July 16 through July 23), a bundle consisting of two Wireless Speakers, a Touch remote, and a Roku voice remote will be available for $149. From the end of that week until October, the price will be $179. When the new devices finally come out, the bundle price will be $199.

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Things Are Going From Bad To Worse For Apple In India
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Despite its increased focus on India, Apple is all set to see a slower year-on-year growth in iPhone sales in the country in 2018. "iPhone India sales were weak in the first half of 2018, and even if they show a big jump in the traditionally strong second half, Apple will still fall short of last year," Neil Shah, research director at market analytics firm Counterpoint Research, told Bloomberg. Apple has been struggling in India for some time now. In the year ended March 2017, its revenue growth fell to 17%, compared to 53% a year ago. This six-year-low growth was mainly due to a high base and a drop in the average selling price of each phone. Apple's biggest struggle in India has been its high price points. iPhones cost between Rs35,000 ($500) and Rs80,000 ($1,100) in India, compared to the average smartphone price of $157 in the country. Amid all this, the company is seeing a massive churn in its India leadership. Last December, India head Sanjay Kaul quit after a six-year stint. The company has now reportedly lost three more of its top executives, Bloomberg reported on July 15: national sales and distribution chief, Rahul Jain; head of commercial channels Jayant Gupta, and head of telecom carrier sales, Manish Sharma. The company is also overhauling its India sales team, Bloomberg said, quoting unidentified sources.

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Apple Won't Replace Faulty MacBook Pro Keyboards With Third-Gen Components
After determining that a "small percentage" of 2015-2017 MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards may experience sticky keys, Apple initiated a Keyboard Service Program. The company has been servicing affected keyboards for free, but the fix doesn't guarantee the problem won't emerge again. The new 2018 MacBook Pros feature third-generation keyboards that are intended to prevent the keys from getting stuck. "For this reason, some customers have been hoping that Apple will start swapping out second-generation keyboards with third-generation keyboards, as part of its service program, but MacRumors has learned that isn't the plan." From the report: When asked if Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers will be permitted to replace second-generation keyboards on 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models with the new third-generation keyboards, if necessary, Apple said, no, the third-generation keyboards are exclusive to the 2018 MacBook Pro. Hopefully, in that case, it means that Apple has quietly tweaked the second-generation keyboard to be more reliable. It wouldn't really make sense for Apple to replace keyboards with ones that are just as prone to break again, especially if the third-generation keyboards offer a fix. One possibility is that the third-generation keyboards aren't backwards compatible with 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models to begin with. The keyboard is actually one part of a larger component called the "top case," which also has a glued-in battery, and the internal design could be tweaked in 2018 models.

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Microsoft's Panos Panay Says Company is Exploring Several New Form Factors in Surface Category, But a Phone Isn't One of Them
Speaking on the sidelines of the Surface Go launch, Microsoft's Panos Panay, who heads the Surface division, once again very much reiterated that the company has moved past its smartphone ambitions. From a report: In an interview with Wired, Microsoft's Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that the company is working on new form factors. When questioned about whether this would include a new Surface Phone, Panay stated that the Surface Phone was not one that they are thinking about at this time. "I wouldn't say that it includes a Surface Phone," Panos answered in the interview. "I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you're thinking about your product road-map," he replied. "Of course, we're always inventing, of course, we're thinking about new form factors," Panos added. "The way people will communicate in the future will change. The form factors will wrap around that. And so when you say the phone form factor changes, I would flip it a little bit and say that communication changes."

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Lockheed Martin Creates Its Largest 3D-Printed Space Part To Date
Lockheed Martin has finished quality control tests for its largest 3D-printed space part to date: an enormous titanium dome meant to serve as caps for satellite fuel tanks. The component measures four feet in diameter. Engadget reports: Its previous largest qualified space part is an electronics enclosure that's around the size of a toaster. This dome is large enough to seal fuel tanks bigger than humans and, according to Lockheed Martin, big enough to hold 74.4 gallons of coffee or 530 donuts. Glazed, of course. Titanium is an ideal material for the industry, because it's lightweight and can withstand the harsh conditions of space travel. However, manufacturers end up wasting 80 percent of the material using traditional manufacturing techniques -- plus, each component could take years to build. Rick Ambrose, the company's executive VP, said they were able to cut down the total delivery timeline for a titanium fuel tank dome from two years to an incredibly impressive three months. "Our largest 3D-printed parts to date show we're committed to a future where we produce satellites twice as fast and at half the cost."

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Tesla Will Be First Automaker To Lose the Federal Tax Credit For Electric Cars
Tesla has confirmed to Jalopnik that its 200,000th vehicle has been delivered this month, meaning the full $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars will slowly be phased out. Tesla is the first automaker to reach this mark. "GM is close, too, while Nissan, Ford, and others still have a ways to go," notes The Verge. From the report: Tesla customers who take delivery of their cars -- regardless of whether it's a Model S, X, or 3 -- between now and December 31st, 2018, will still be eligible for the full $7,500 credit from the IRS. Customers who take delivery of their cars between January 1st and June 30th, 2019, will only be eligible for a $3,750 credit. And customers who take delivery of their cars between July 1st and December 31st, 2019, will be offered just $1,875. After that, the incentive is dead. Put in place early on in the Obama administration, the tax credit was seen as a tool that could be used to encourage customers to buy plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. This would simultaneously help advance the president's climate and clean energy goals while offering consumers a bit of a break while the cost of battery technology slowly came down. It was also meant to encourage manufacturers to push for greater advancements in that technology. The dollar amount was technically flexible; it was essentially a $2,500 credit with room to increase up to $7,500 depending on the battery capacity of the car being sold. The better the battery in a company's car, the better the rebate their buyers would get.

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The New MacBook Pro Features 'Fastest SSD Ever' In a Laptop
Last week, Apple refreshed the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, bringing newer Intel processors and quieter keyboards. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro also just so happens to feature the fastest SSD ever in a laptop, according to benchmarks from Laptop Mag. Mac Rumors summarizes the findings: The site's tests were performed on the $2,499 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar equipped with a 2.7GHz quad-core 8th-generation Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, Intel Iris Plus 655, and a 512GB SSD. A file copy test of the SSD in the new MacBook Pro, which Apple says supports sequential read speeds of up to 3.2GB/s and sequential write speeds up to 2.2GB/s, led Laptop Mag to declare the SSD in the MacBook Pro "the fastest ever" in a laptop. Higher capacity SSDs may see even faster speeds on disk speeds tests. A BlackMagic Disk Speed test was also conducted, resulting in an average write speed of 2,682 MB/s. On a Geekbench 4 CPU benchmark, the 13-inch MacBook Pro earned a score of 18,055 on the multi-core test, outperforming 13-inch machines from companies like Dell, HP, Asus, and Microsoft. That score beats out all 2017 MacBook Pro models and is faster than some iMac configurations. 15-inch MacBook Pro models with 6-core 8th-generation Intel chips will show even more impressive speeds. With that said, the 13-inch MacBook Pro didn't quite measure up to other machines when it came to GPU performance. "The 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro uses Intel's Iris Plus Graphics 655 with 128MB of embedded DRAM and was unable to compete in a Dirt 3 graphics test, getting only 38.8 frames per second," reports Mac Rumors. "All Windows-based machines tested offered much better performance."

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