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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

Portland Kicks Off Smart City Initiative With Traffic Sensor Safety Project
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Portland, Oregon officials claim its city has some of the best bike data in the United States -- data revealing how many people ride bicycles, where they're going and what streets they're using. Their collection of that data, however, has been as low-tech as it gets: city staffers and volunteers stand out on street corners for two hours at a time and count. Now, the city is aiming for more comprehensive, accurate data collection with the installation of 200 sensors installed on street lights on three of Portland's deadliest streets: Southeast Division St., SE Hawthorne Blvd. and 122nd St. The Traffic Sensor Safety Project, for a price tag of just over $1 million, represents the first major milestone for the Smart City PDX initiative. It relies on GE's Current CityIQ sensors, which are powered with Intel IoT technology and use AT&T as the data carrier. GE, Intel and AT&T have already worked together to deploy smart streetlight sensors in San Diego.

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New IBM Robot Holds Its Own In a Debate With a Human
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report: The human brain may be the ultimate super computer, but artificial intelligence is catching up so fast, it can now hold a substantive debate with a human, according to audience feedback. IBM's Project Debater made its public debut in San Francisco Monday afternoon, where it squared off against Noa Ovadia, the 2016 Israeli debate champion and in a second debate, Dan Zafrir, a nationally renowned debater in Israel. The AI is the latest grand challenge from IBM, which previously created Deep Blue, technology that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov and Watson, which bested humans on the game show Jeopardy. In its first public outing, Project Debater turned out to be a formidable opponent, scanning the hundreds of millions of newspaper and journal articles in its memory to quickly synthesize an argument on a topic and position it was assigned on the spot. "Project Debater could be the ultimate fact-based sounding board without the bias that often comes from humans," said Arvind Krishna, director of IBM Research. An audience survey taken before and after each debate found that Project Debater better enriched the audience's knowledge as it argued in favor of subsidies for space exploration and in favor of telemedicine, but that the human debaters did a better job delivering their speeches. The AI isn't trained on topics -- it's trained on the art of debate. For the most part, Project Debater spoke in natural language, choosing the same words and sentence structures as a native English speaker. It even dropped the odd joke, but with the expected robotic delivery. IBM's engineers know the AI isn't perfect. Just like humans, it makes mistakes and at times, repeats itself. However, the company believes it could have a broad impact in the future as people now have to be more skeptical as they sort out fact and fiction. "Project Debater must adapt to human rationale and propose lines of argument that people can follow," Krishna said in a blog post. "In debate, AI must learn to navigate our messy, unstructured human world as it is -- not by using a pre-defined set of rules, as in a board game."

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Shots Fired Again Between CPU Vendors AMD and Intel
Highdude702 shares a report from Tom's Hardware: AMD's feud with Intel took an interesting turn today as the company announced that it would swap 40 Core i7-8086K's won from Intel's sweepstakes with a much beefier Threadripper 1950X CPU. At Computex 2018, Intel officially announced it was releasing the Core i7-8086K, a special edition processor that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 8086, which debuted as the first x86 processor on June 8, 1978. Now AMD is offering to replace 40 of the winners' chips with its own 16-core 32-thread $799 Threadripper processors, thus throwing a marketing wrench into Intel's 40th-anniversary celebration. AMD has a list of the complete terms and conditions on its site. But it is also noteworthy that "winners" of AMD's competing sweepstakes will have to pony up for a much more expensive X399 motherboard with the TR4 socket, which currently retail for more than $300, instead of Intel's less-expensive 300-series motherboards. Regardless, those who do swap their Intel Core silicon for an AMD Threadripper chip will gain 10 cores and quad-channel memory, not to mention quite a bit of resale value. In response, Slashdot reader Highdude702 said: "AMD is shooting back at Intel like its easy for them, even though 40 out of 8086 is kind of stingy. They are acting like they have the horsepower now. I believe it is going to be an interesting time for consumers and enthusiasts coming soon. Maybe we will even get better prices." Intel responded via its official verified "Intel Gaming" Twitter account, tweeting: ".@AMDRyzen, if you wanted an Intel Core i7-8086K processor too, you could have just asked us. :) Thanks for helping us celebrate the 8086!"

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Kickstarter Bets On 'Wired' Arduino-Compatible IoT Platform
L-One-L-One writes: Most IoT home projects today are based on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and friends. But this is not always the ideal solution: you end up swapping batteries frequently, which becomes annoying quite quickly. You also have to deal with signal strength issues and interferences. To address this problem, a new Kickstarter campaign called NoCAN is proposing an Arduino-compatible internet-of-things platform based on wired connections that combine networking and power in one cable. The platform uses a set of cheap Arduino-compatible nodes controlled through a Raspberry Pi. The network uses CAN-bus and offers a publish/subscribe mechanism like MQTT and over-the-network firmware updates. It can also be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. Even with such features, can it succeed in going against the all-wireless trend? We'll know in a few weeks.

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Man Reports PillCam Stuck In His Gut For Over 12 Weeks
A Portland man appears to have a pill-sized camera stuck in his gut. That man is me... Let me explain. For the average Joe, the following statement might sound a bit peculiar: I have swallowed a pill-sized camera a number of times. You see, I have Crohn's Disease (CD) in the small intestine -- a 20 foot-long portion of the gastrointestinal tract that runs between the stomach and the large intestine (colon). A "PillCam" is the most non-invasive, detailed method to survey this area as it doesn't require a scope up the rectum or down the esophagus, nor does it require any tissue slicing. It's also one of the safest procedures available -- the retention rate is as low as 1%. Unfortunately, this most recent capsule endoscopy resulted in my admission to the 1% club. On March 27th, 2018, I swallowed the PillCam that is currently lodged in my small intestine. If you do the math, that's more than 82 days ago (over 12 weeks). After hiking Smith Rock and summiting Black Butte a couple weeks later, I thought for sure the pill would have exited. It didn't, as evident by the follow-up X-ray. It can be difficult to find research on such a what-if scenario that happens to so few, but I did manage to find a Motherboard article telling the story of Scott Willis, a CD patient that had a PillCam lodged in his gut for eight weeks. One of the key differences between him and me is that he had a partial block and endured more symptoms, prompting him to schedule a procedure to get it out quicker. I'm relatively symptom free. We have tried upping the dose of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and help the pill pass through the strictured areas, but that didn't seem to work. Most recently, I had two double-balloon enteroscopy procedures done within a week apart. They were able to locate the PillCam during the second procedure, but weren't able to retrieve it without risking the scope itself becoming stuck. The next step is to try again via the esophagus. The potential issue/complication here is the location. As my doctors warned, the PillCam is stuck 15 feet down and the scope is only 20 feet in length. There's little wiggle room if the pill is slightly further down the GI tract than estimated. I am sharing this story with the Slashdot community for two reasons. First, those entrenched in the world of cyborgs and/or modern-day medical procedures may find this experience particularly interesting. Second, the more people who know about the procedures and complications of Crohn's Disease the better. For those interested, I'll update this post after the next procedure. Have you or someone you know experienced a capsule endoscopy? Please share what you feel comfortable with.

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Sony's PlayStation 5 Will Launch In 2020 Powered By An AMD Navi GPU, Says Report
According to a new report from WCCFtech, citing "sources familiar with the entire situation," Sony's PlayStation 5 (PS5 for short) will launch in 2020 and be powered by AMD's Navi GPU chip. "While it was previously reported that the much-anticipated console will be using AMD's Ryzen CPU tech, it looks like the chip maker will have some involvement in the PS5's graphics chip, too," reports The Inquirer. From the report: The report also suggests this is the reason behind AMD not announcing a new GPU at Computex this year, because it has found custom-applications for consoles a much more financially attractive space. "Here is a fun fact: Vega was designed primarily for Apple and Navi is being designed for Sony - the PS5 to be precise," the report states, right before going on to explain AMD's roadmap for Navi and how it's dependent on Sony. "This meant that the graphics department had to be tied directly to the roadmap that these semi-custom applications followed. Since Sony needed the Navi GPU to be ready by the time the PS5 would launch (expectedly around 2020) that is the deadline they needed to work on." It's anyone's guess as to when the successor to the PlayStation 4 will be launched. While the source for this report is seen as reputable in the games industry, last month the head of PlayStation business said the next console is three years off.

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America's Nuclear Reactors Can't Survive Without Government Handouts
Slashdot reader Socguy shares an article from FiveThirtyEight:There are 99 nuclear reactors producing electricity in the United States today. Collectively, they're responsible for producing about 20% of the electricity we use each year. But those reactors are, to put it delicately, of a certain age. The average age of a nuclear power plant in this country is 38 years old (compared with 24 years old for a natural gas power plant). Some are shutting down. New ones aren't being built. And the ones still operational can't compete with other sources of power on price... without some type of public assistance, the nuclear industry is likely headed toward oblivion.... [I]t's the cost of upkeep that's prohibitive. Things do fall apart -- especially things exposed to radiation on a daily basis. Maintenance and repair, upgrades and rejuvenation all take a lot of capital investment. And right now, that means spending lots of money on power plants that aren't especially profitable... Combine age and economic misfortune, and you get shuttered power plants. Twelve nuclear reactors have closed in the past 22 years. Another dozen have formally announced plans to close by 2025. A professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University points out that nuclear power is America's single largest source of carbon emissions-free electricity -- though since 1996, only one new plant has opened in America, and at least 10 other new reactor projects have been canceled in the past decade. The article also describes two more Illinois reactors that avoided closure only after the state legislature offered new subsidies. "But as long as natural gas is cheap, the industry can't do without the handouts."

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Killer Robots Will Only Exist If We Are Stupid Enough To Let Them
Heritype quotes the Guardian's science correspondent:The idea of killer robots rising up and destroying humans is a Hollywood fantasy and a distraction from the more pressing dilemmas that intelligent machines present to society, according to one of Britain's most influential computer scientists. Sir Nigel Shadbolt, professor of computer science at the University of Oxford, predicts that AI will bring overwhelming benefits to humanity, revolutionising cancer diagnosis and treatment, and transforming education and the workplace. If problems arise, he said, it will not be because sentient machines have unexpectedly gone rogue in a Terminator-like scenario. "The danger is clearly not that robots will decide to put us away and have a robot revolution," he said. "If there [are] killer robots, it will be because we've been stupid enough to give it the instructions or software for it to do that without having a human in the loop deciding...." However, Prof Shadbolt is optimistic about the social and economic impact of emerging technologies such as machine learning, in which computer programmes learn tasks by looking for patterns in huge datasets. "I don't see it destroying jobs grim reaper style," he said. "People are really inventive at creating new things for humans to do for which will pay them a wage. Leisure, travel, social care, cultural heritage, even reality TV shows. People want people around them and interacting with them."

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Self-Driving Cars Likely Won't Steal Your Job (Until 2040)
The self-driving robots are coming to transform your job. Kind of. Also, very slowly. From a report: That's the not-quite-exclamatory upshot of a new report from the Washington, DC-based Securing America's Future Energy. The group advocates for a countrywide pivot away from oil dependency, one it hopes will be aided by the speedy adoption of electric, self-driving vehicles. So it commissioned a wide-ranging study by a phalanx of labor economists to discover how that could happen, and whether America might transform into a Mad Max-like desert hell along the way. The news, mostly, is good. For one, self-driving vehicles probably won't wreck the labor market to the point where gig economy workers are hired out as mobile blood bags. In fact, they'll eventually feed the economy, accruing an estimated $800 billion in annual benefits by 2050, a number mostly in line with previous researchers' projections. Two, robo-cars won't disappear the jobs all at once. "We have a labor market characterized by churning -- continual job creation and destruction," says Erica Groshen, a visiting labor economist at Cornell University and former Commissioner of Labor Statistics, who worked on the report. "The challenge is to make the transition as smooth as possible."

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Windows 10 is Adding SwiftKey, Laying the Groundwork For Dual-Screen Tablets
Sean Hollister, writing for CNET: Microsoft-owned SwiftKey was one of the first virtual keyboards to offer intelligent, predictive swipe-typing on Android and iOS phones, and now Microsoft has announced that it will become the default keyboard for touchscreen-equipped Windows 10 computers as well. "SwiftKey will now power the typing experience on Windows when using the touch keyboard to write in English (United States), English (United Kingdom), French (France), German (Germany), Italian (Italy), Spanish (Spain), Portuguese (Brazil), or Russian," reads a portion of Microsoft's blog post. Which could be pretty handy if the rumors are true: Microsoft is reportedly planning to ship several new Surface tablets this year, including a new low-cost Surface slate and the dual-screen "Andromeda." Dual screens were a theme among laptop manufacturers at Computex last week, too.

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Samsung Unveils Chromebook Plus V2
Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: Samsung announces its latest such laptop -- the premium, yet affordable, Chromebook Plus (V2). This is a refresh of the first-gen "Plus" model. It can run Android apps and doubles as a convertible tablet, making it very versatile. Best of all, you won't have to wait long to get it -- it will go on sale very soon. "The Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2) puts productivity and entertainment at consumers' fingertips and at the tip of the built-in pen. At 2.91 pounds, its thin design makes it easy to slip into a bag and carry all day -- or use throughout the day with its extended battery life. Flipping its 12.2-inch FHD 1920x1080 resolution screen transforms it from notebook to tablet to sketchbook -- and back -- with two cameras for making it easier to stay connected with friends and sharing with the world. Plus, Chrome OS helps users get more done by providing access to millions of Android apps on Google Play," says Samsung. The Chromebook Plus, powered by Intel Celeron Processor 3965Y and 4GB of RAM, goes on sale later this month at $499.

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On The Sad State of Macintosh Hardware
Quentin Carnicelli, the chief technology officer at Rogue Amoeba, a widely-reputed firm that produces several audio software for Apple's desktop operating system: With Apple recently releasing their first developer beta of MacOS 10.14 (Mojave), we've been installing it on various test machines to test our apps. The inevitable march of technology means Mojave won't install on all of our older hardware. There's no shock there, but the situation is rather distressing when it comes to spending money to purchase new equipment. Here is the situation, as reported by the wonderful MacRumor's Buyers Guide: At the time of the writing, with the exception of the $5,000 iMac Pro, no Macintosh has been updated at all in the past year. Here are the last updates to the entire line of Macs: iMac Pro: 182 days ago, iMac: 374 days ago, MacBook: 374 days ago, MacBook Air: 374 days ago, MacBook Pro: 374 days ago, Mac Pro: 436 days ago, and Mac Mini: 1337 days ago. Worse, most of these counts are misleading, with the machines not seeing a true update in quite a bit longer. The Mac Mini hasn't seen an update of any kind in almost 4 years (nor, for that matter, a price drop). The once-solid Mac Pro was replaced by the dead-end cylindrical version all the way back in 2012, which was then left to stagnate. I don't even want to get started on the MacBook Pro's questionable keyboard, or the MacBook's sole port (USB-C which must also be used to provide power). It's very difficult to recommend much from the current crop of Macs to customers, and that's deeply worrisome to us, as a Mac-based software company.

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Microsoft is Working on Technology That Would Eliminate Cashiers and Checkout Lines From Stores, Says Report
Microsoft is working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, in a nascent challenge to Amazon.com's automated grocery shop, Reuters reported, citing six people familiar with the matter. From the report: The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is developing systems that track what shoppers add to their carts, the people say. Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration, three of the people said. Microsoft's technology aims to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, a highly automated store that opened to the public in Seattle in January. Amazon customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter. Cameras and sensors identify what they remove from the shelves. When customers are finished shopping, they simply leave the store and Amazon bills their credit cards on file. Amazon Go, which will soon open in Chicago and San Francisco, has sent rivals scrambling to prepare for yet another disruption by the world's biggest online retailer. Some have tested programs where customers scan and bag each item as they shop, with mixed results.

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China's Ambitions To Power the World's Electric Cars Took a Huge Leap Forward This Week
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Future Mobility Corporation (FMC), the Chinese parent company behind electric car start-up Byton, has placed an order for a paint shop capable of handling 150,000 cars per year, German supplier Duerr said on Wednesday. China's Byton, a newcomer headed by the former head of BMW's i8 program, has already released plans for a premium electric SUV vehicle, the latest in a series of China-backed electric autonomous prototypes. Byton has financial backing from Chinese state-owned carmaker FAW Group and the country's dominant battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL) This is just one of the stories this week relating to China and the electric car industry. MIT Technology Review adds: In a public offering on June 11 in Shenzhen, battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) raised nearly $1 billion to fund ambitious expansion plans, and its stock has been shooting up every day since. Thanks largely to the company's new plants, China will be making 70 percent of the world's electric-vehicle batteries by 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Just seven years later, CATL has built up the biggest lithium-ion manufacturing facilities in the world, according to BNEF. The company can crank out around 17 gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion cells annually, placing it just ahead of Korea's LG Chem, the Tesla and Panasonic partnership, and China's electric-vehicle giant BYD. Flush with capital from its offering, CATL plans to build two new plants and expand existing facilities, pushing its capacity to nearly 90 gigawatt-hours by 2020. [...] Notably, it's the only Chinese battery company so far to line up deals to supply foreign automakers, including BMW, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

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Laptops With 128GB of RAM Are Here
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Brace yourself for laptops with 128GB of RAM because they're coming. Today, Lenovo announced its ThinkPad P52, which, along with that massive amount of memory, also features up to 6TB of storage, up to a 4K, 15.6-inch display, an eighth-gen Intel hexacore processor, and an Nvidia Quadro P3200 graphics card. The ThinkPad also includes two Thunderbolt three ports, HDMI 2.0, a mini DisplayPort, three USB Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and an Ethernet port. The company hasn't announced pricing yet, but it's likely going to try to compete with Dell's new 128GB-compatible workstation laptops. The Dell workstation laptops in question are the Precision 7730 and 7530, which are billed as "ready for VR" mobile workstations. According to TechRadar, "These again run with either 8th-gen Intel CPUs or Xeon processors, AMD Radeon WX or Nvidia Quadro graphics, and the potential to specify a whopping 128GB of 3200MHz system memory."

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