Most of the robocalls you get aren't coming from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile numbers

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A new report suggests that the United States’ top mobile carriers are making headway in the fight against annoying robocalls.

The data analytics company Transaction Network Services (TNS) released its bi-annual “Robocall Report” on Thursday, and some of the emerging unwanted call trends included an increase in hijacking mobile numbers and a shift to spoofing toll-free numbers.

However, the most promising news for consumers was that only 12% of high-risk calls received during the first six months of 2019 originated from numbers owned by AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

These carriers account for 70% of the nation’s overall call volume.

Bill Versen, the chief product officer at TNS, said in a statement that means top-tier carriers are successfully blocking more robocalls. He added that regulatory and policy action, as well as the adoption of AI and advanced data analytics, have made it “more difficult for bad actors to place scam and fraud robocalls.”

Versen also warns that it’s too soon to call that a victory.

“The report suggests the need for diligence as the battlefront may shift to smaller regional and rural carriers further behind on their path to a call authentication framework and utilizing call data analytics,” Versen said.

On average, Americans received 200 million unwanted calls per day during the first half of the year, the report found, and nuisance calls—which include prank calls, telemarketing calls and silent calls—are on the rise.

Overall, nuisance calls increased 38% from the third quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019, TNS found by analyzing a billion daily call events across hundreds of carriers.

High-risk calls, which are likely made by scammers, grew 28% over that period.

If your smartphone has been ringing off the hook with calls from supposed local numbers, then you may be the target of a neighbor spoofing, which happens when scammers try to trick you into picking up a call that seems like it’s coming from a neighbor.

Not only are these types of spam calls on the rise, but they’re also getting “more sophisticated,” according to TNS. Neighbor spoofing now accounts for 25% of all negative calls—up 6% from 2018.

And high-tech spammers are now spoofing calls over several telephone numbers in low volumes and then churning through them quickly to evade being detected—a tactic known as snowshoe spamming.

Telemarketers have been known to use local phone numbers to mask their calls, and the likelihood of them using an actual number that belongs to someone is still pretty low. But it’s happening more often.

Robocall hijacking of mobile numbers more than doubled at the start of this year, according to TNS. One in 1,700 mobile numbers is being hijacked by robocall spoofers every month, which is more than double last year’s figure of 1 in 4,000 mobile numbers.

Robocallers are also shifting to toll-free numbers, which presents a challenge to legitimate companies as customers don’t know which incoming calls are real, TNS reports.


Major carriers, state AGs will work to combat robocalls

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Google Photos partners with CVS and Walmart for prints

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Google Photos, far and away the most used photo sharing app, with over 1 billion users monthly, has partnered with CVS and Walmart to offer on-demand, in-store prints from the app.

The 4×6 photo prints directly from Google Photos and will be available for same day pick up at the stores, which have a combined 11,000 locations. Consumers order the prints from within the app, and the retailer gets the photo directly from Google. You’ll get a notification when they’re ready for pickup in the app itself.

Many retailers currently offer apps to order prints and then pick them up later, but none has the worldwide gravitas of Google Photos.

In an age when many people share their phone to do display images, Google is pushing back to help get them back on refrigerators, office desks and the like, hoping it will be easier to click a few buttons in a widely used app than just let them sit there in the digital cloud.

In 2017, Google said some 2 billion photos and videos were being uploaded to the service daily, a number that hasn’t been updated by Google, but product lead David Lieb says the numbers have clearly grown from there.

Beyond the prints, Google Photos, which added photo books in 2017, is now also offering the ability to make canvas prints, in three sizes, 8×8, 1×14 and 16×20. They start at $19.99 for the 8×8 and cost $29.99 for the 11×14 and $44.99 for 16×20.

Photo prints are $0.25 each from Walmart or $0.33 from CVS.

Unlike the prints, which have to be picked up at retail, the canvas prints are available via mail order.

Lieb says that Google didn’t offer shipping services for the prints because its research showed that consumers wanted the prints instantly, so this way made more sense.

Google Photos has been all about using machine learning to recognize images and find them instantly, with searches like “bridge,” “Eiffel tower” and the like. Now Google is bringing text search to photos, and if there’s text in a photo—like a picture of a recipe—Google Photos will find it.

Google is adding a Memories feature to the app, with machine learning picking out your best shots from a year ago, similar to Facebook’s memories feature.

In a blog post, Shimrit Ben-Yair, Google Photos Lead notes the difference between a Facebook memory and a Google Photos one. “These memories are your personal media, privately presented to you so you can sit back and enjoy some of your best moments.”

She credits Google’s robots for sifting through duplicate shots and poorly exposed ones. And for those of you who have moved on from certain relationships, “We understand that you might not want to revisit all of your memories, so you’ll be able to hide certain people or time periods, and you have the option to turn this feature off entirely,” she writes.


Google releases app to digitize boxes of old photo prints

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New augmented reality head mounted display offers unrivaled viewing experience

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New augmented reality head mounted display offers unrivaled viewing experience

Cambridge engineers have developed a new augmented reality (AR) head mounted display (HMD) that delivers a realistic 3-D viewing experience, without the commonly associated side effects of nausea or eyestrain.

The device has an enlarged eye-box that is scalable and an increased field of view of 36º that is designed for a comfortable viewing experience. It displays images on the retina using pixel beam scanning which ensures the image stays in focus regardless of the distance that the user is fixating on. Details are reported in the journal Research.

Developed by researchers at the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) in collaboration with Huawei European Research Centre, in Munich, the HMD uses partially reflective beam splitters to form an additional “exit pupil” (a virtual opening through which light travels). This, together with narrow pixel beams that travel parallel to each other, and which do not disperse in other directions, produces a high quality image that remains unaffected by changes in eye focus.

The results of a subjective user study conducted with more than 50 participants aged between 16 and 60 showed the 3-D effect to be “very convincing” for objects from 20 cm to 10 m; the images and videos to be of “vivid color” and high contrast with no observable pixels; and crucially, none of the participants reported any eyestrain or nausea, even after prolonged periods of usage over a few hours or even all day.

Credit: Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge YouTube

The HMD is of high brightness and suited to a wide range of indoor and outdoor uses. Further research is progressing on exploring its potential use in areas of different applications such as training, CAD (computer-aided design) development, hospitality, data manipulation, outdoor sport, defense applications and construction, as well as miniaturizing the current head mounted prototype to a glasses-based format.

Professor Daping Chu, director of the Centre for Photonic Devices and Sensors and Director of CAPE, who led the study, said: “Our research offers up a wearable AR experience that rivals the market leaders thanks to its comfortable 3-D viewing which causes no nausea or eyestrain to the user. It can deliver high quality clear images directly on the retina, even if the user is wearing glasses. This can help the user to see displayed real world and virtual objects clearly in an immersive environment, regardless of the quality of the user’s vision.”


Nano-magnets produce 3-D images

More information:
Pawan K. Shrestha et al. Accommodation-Free Head Mounted Display with Comfortable 3D Perception and an Enlarged Eye-box, Research (2019). DOI: 10.34133/2019/9273723
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Guidelines needed to protect VR users at risk of harassment, warns academic

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Guidelines needed to protect VR users at risk of harassment, warns academic
Dr Sarah Jones. Credit: Birmingham City University

Government guidelines should be introduced to protect gamers and those using virtual reality or immersive technologies from an increased risk of sexual harassment or bullying, a leading academic has warned.

Dr. Sarah Jones, Head of Birmingham City University’s School of Media, said almost half of female virtual reality users (49 percent) had been sexually harassed, and that the experience was the same as being accosted in the outside world.

However she noted that no guidelines were currently in place to explain how people should behave in virtual environments, or to highlight the increased intensity of the immersive experience and how it impacts users.

Dr. Jones’ comments have been published in a new report unveiled by the government’s Department for Culture, Sport and Media titled Immersive and addictive technologies.

The report noted the risks of cyber-bullying, harassment and grooming online—and experience which is heightened for females.

Dr. Sarah Jones said: “It is the same as harassment that you would feel in everyday life.

“If you are reading a book, you have this barrier. If you are watching a film, you have a barrier. When you are talking about an immersive experience, when you are talking about virtual reality, you are talking about jumping into that frame, you are actually part of the environment.

“You might not have active agency so much in the world, but you are really part of it. That means that the whole experience is intensified massively.”

The report published this week (Thursday 12 September) looked at the impact developing technology could have on citizens, and called for input from a range of experts and academics.

Dr. Jones, who has previously spent 48 hours living in virtual reality to experience its impact on her life, highlighted the fact little data currently existed to advise people on how best, and safely to use the technology.

She also noted that no guidelines were in place to detail the dos and don’ts when using immersive technologies.

She said: “As far as I’m aware, there are currently no guidelines associated with VR to help people understand the intensity of the experience, how it can impact them and what kind of length the experience should.

“So it is little surprise we see reports of people experiencing harassment or bullying, and it is important that we see the introduction of some guidelines or legal parameters in order to stamp this out.

“It is great that so many of us have been invited to feed in to this report, which can help improve things for everyone making use of immersive technology in the future.”


Does greater immersion in virtual reality lead to a better experience?

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How ants, bees, and fruit flies can be the next big buzz in artificial intelligence

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Space. The final frontier. And on Nov. 2, 2018, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft crossed into the vastness of interstellar space, following Voyager 1, which made the leap six years earlier. Since their launch in 1977, the two probes have traveled more than 11 billion miles across the solar system, lasting much longer than scientists anticipated.

Powered by plutonium and drawing 400 watts of power each to run their electronics and heat, the probes still snap photos and send them back to NASA. After 42 years, though, only six of Voyager 2’s 10 instruments still work, and NASA scientists expect the probe will go dark in 2025, well before it leaves our Solar system.

But what if Voyager 2 needed only a couple of watts of power? Could it survive long enough to continue its explorations far into the future?

These are the types of questions that scientists are asking at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. Here, Angel Yanguas-Gil, principal materials scientist in the Applied Materials division, is leading an interdisciplinary team that is rethinking the design of computer chips to not only perform and adapt better, but to do so using a minuscule amount of power—around one watt.

For inspiration, the team is looking to the brains of insects, such as ants, bees, and fruit flies—which offer a new frontier in a type of artificial intelligence known as neuromorphic computing. What they have found could turn artificial intelligence on its artificial head.

How ants, bees, and fruit flies can be the next big buzz in artificial intelligence
This team took steps in physics, computer science and materials science in order to design and test a new computer chip that can perform and adapt well on a minuscule amount of power. From left to right: Anil Mane, Prasanna Balaprakash, Angel Yanguas-Gil, Sandeep Madireddy and Jeff Elam. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

Inspired by biology, the team’s newly designed computer chips, which rely on new blueprints and materials, can bypass the “cloud” to learn on the fly, radically conserve power and adapt to extreme environments, such as deep space and radioactive areas—all while delivering reliable, accurate results.

The soft underbelly of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence pervades our lives, providing countless benefits such as powering voice-activated digital assistants, guiding self-driving cars, recognizing our faces, and helping us automatically respond to texts and emails. AI, however, has some limitations: it relies on reams of data and ever-faster hardware—to which it must always be connected—demands a great deal of power and has limited flexibility.

How is artificial intelligence inflexible? The answer lies in how a popular form of AI, called a neural network, spots meaningful arrangements in data. Most neural networks, which uncover patterns and relationships in data without explicit programming, are static, designed for a specific task, such as recognizing images. Once a network learns that task, it can’t switch gears and start driving a car.

“The scene changes, the distribution of data is slightly different than before, and what you learned no longer applies,” explained Sandeep Madireddy, a computer scientist in Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science (MCS) division, who has joined Yanguas-Gil’s team.

Insects, on the other hand, are versatile and can solve problems in different ways, said Yanguas-Gil.

“In a biological system, the network can learn by itself and offers a much higher degree of flexibility,” he said. “Evolutionary pressure on insects produces very efficient, adaptive computing machines. Bees, for instance, exhibit half the number of distinct cognitive behaviors of dolphins, just in a much smaller volume.”

Accurate under pressure

To prove this point, Yanguas-Gil and Argonne chemists Jeff Elam and Anil Mane designed and simulated a new neuromorphic chip inspired by the tiny brain structure of bees, fruit flies and ants. The team created a network from scratch that contains two pivotal discoveries:

  • Dynamic filters and weights that change the strength of various neural connections, depending on what the system finds important in real time.
  • Tungsten‐aluminum oxide, an award-winning nanocomposite material created by Elam and Mane, which would allow the chip to operate at power levels far below one watt. (By contrast, graphics processing units [GPUs], based on conventional silicon semiconductor processing, can consume 100 watts or more per chip.)

Testing of the new chip design revealed that it was as accurate as the standard design, but it learned much more quickly and retained its accuracy—even under 60 percent error rates in its internal operation.

“With neural networks, error rates of 20 percent erode the system’s accuracy,” said Yanguas-Gil. “Our system can tolerate much higher error rates and sustain the same accuracy as a perfect system. This makes it a good candidate for machines that spend 30 years in space.”

With these results, the team won the Best Paper Award in August at the 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society’s Space Computing Conference.

Building the hive mind

After his team developed the blueprint for the neuromorphic chip, Yanguas-Gil enlisted Madireddy and Prasanna Balaprakash, also a computer scientist in the lab’s MCS division, and tapped Argonne’s powerful computing tools to maximize its performance.

Using the Theta supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility—a DOE Office of Science User Facility—the duo ran the neuromorphic blueprint through a software package they developed called DeepHyper, which performs automated machine learning for neural networks. DeepHyper tests thousands of different insect brain configurations, generating better variations until it identifies the right one for a particular task.

With each set of configurations, DeepHyper learns—evaluating and then generating the next configuration set based on what it has seen. “It works in much the same way humans learn to play a game, “said Balaprakash. “You play, you get a score, and then—based on the feedback and your mistakes—you slowly get better and better.”

In a production scenario, all of this learning will be encoded onto the neuromorphic chip, and the chip itself will be able to adapt, shifting gears to solve each type of task.

How to change the game

These advances are only the beginning. Once Yanguas-Gil and his team uncover the best-performing chip design, they must agree on its best uses. Fortunately, there seems to be endless demand for a chip that combines computer intelligence—right where it’s needed—with low power requirements.

What if, for instance, scientists could place low-power sensors in national forests to act as an alert for wildfires?

Both Yanguas-Gil and Balaprakash also point to urban areas, where the chip might monitor for potential dangerous chemicals. Argonne, in partnership with the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago, has already installed 120 smart sensing devices around the city to measure factors such as air quality, traffic and climate—a National Science Foundation-funded project known as the Array of Things.

These smart devices use Argonne’s Waggle technology platform, which include remotely programmable high performance computing devices so that AI capabilities can be embedded with the sensors. In this way, for instance, image analysis can yield insights into the amount and character of street activities and even human interactions. In a real sense, these devices can use AI techniques to “learn” about their environments in order to detect new or unusual events or patterns.

“Imagine if those sensors could learn in real time and detect poisonous gas?” asked Balaprakash.

In theory, Yanguas-Gil agrees that neuromorphic chips could act as mass spectrometers to learn in real time to recognize different molecule fragments without being explicitly programmed. “That would be a game changer,” he said.


Self-learning neuromorphic chip that composes music

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Chrome 77 keeps it simple

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Google Chrome 77 feature lets you fly pages over from one device to another.

Phandroid, Android Headlines, 9to5Google, just a few of the sites highlighting this, regarding one of Chrome’s browser update.

Android Central was also in the reporting lineup; the new update will become available on all platforms in time. Also, Ben Mason posted this on September 11 on the Chrome Releases page. “Hi, everyone! We’ve just released Chrome 77 (77.0.3865.73) for Android: it’ll become available on Google Play over the next few weeks.”

So, out of all those visual changes to Chrome this time, the majority of Google watchers expressed their good vibes for a Chrome 77 feature that simply involves sending web pages along to different devices.

Google will now begin to make the page-sending Chrome 77 browser update feature available to Windows, Mac, Android & iOS this week. You can right-click on a link and a new context menu will appear that lets you send links to other devices where you use Chrome, said Darren Millar in Phandroid.

Chris Smith, Trusted Reviews, said page-sharing in Chrome 77 was to make it much easier to send open webpages from the Google Chrome browser to other devices.

Mark Wyciślik-Wilson in BetaNews picked up on that last point with resonance for the author and no doubt readers. “If you’re reading a website on your laptop and want to finish off a story on your journey to work, there’s no need to email a link to yourself anymore.”

How this works: “The method to send a web page from one device to another using Google Chrome differs depending on whether you’re using a desktop device or mobile device. Either way, you’ll need to be signed in to your Google account on all of the devices you want to use,” said Dave Parrack in MakeUseOf. “On mobile devices, the option can be accessed through the sharing feature,” said BetaNews.

Millar in Phandroid said, “If you’re moving from browsing on a PC or laptop to a phone or vice versa you’re life just got way easier.”

Chris Smith, Trusted Reviews: “This feature will be handy if you’re hoping to transfer a page from your phone or tablet to your laptop or desktop PC, or vice versa. We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out this was already possible within Google Chrome, but this does make it less necessary to piddle about within the share menu.”

Brandon Hill in HotHardware: “One of the biggest features is the addition of tab sharing, which will allow you to send pages to multiple devices. While you have the ability to browse open tabs on your other signed-in devices, this new feature makes it a bit easier to send over tabs if you want to switch from your desktop to say, your tablet for lounging on the sofa.”

“This is a new super-speedy way of sending the page you’re browsing without all that tedious mucking about in the Share menu. All it takes is a right-click (or a long touch on mobile) and you’ll find a new context option bringing up all the devices linked to your account. Choose the one you want and you’re done,” said Chris Merriman in The Inquirer.

Mozilla’s Firefox had a similar favor for its users which was announced in February. “Stop texting yourself links. With Send Tabs there’s a better way.”

According to the post, “Firefox’s Send Tab feature lets you send pages to and from your computer, iPhone or iPad, so you can continue browsing wherever you are. You will no longer have to text or email yourself links.”

In 2019, said the post, “We don’t have to keep emailing and texting ourselves links. It’s fussy to copy and paste on a mobile device. It’s annoying to have to switch between apps to get information where you need it. The solution? Send Tabs which lets you instantly send tabs between devices without having to leave the browser.”

Jared Newman in Fast Company had responded favorably: “Send a tab to your phone (or vice versa): Sometimes you want to take an article with you, but don’t want to commit to a proper bookmark. If you have Firefox installed on other devices, you can send a tab over by pressing the three dots in the address bar, then choosing “Send tab to device…” This works with both the desktop and mobile versions of Firefox, and lets you send links from a phone to your computer as well.”

In Android Police, Corbin Davenport, on the new Google update, said, “One of my favorite features in Firefox is the ability to send the page I currently have open to any other device with Firefox installed with just a few clicks.”

He said that kind of functionality was now becoming available in Chrome. “Chrome 77 adds a new ‘Send to your device’ option to the system share menu. Tapping on it gives you a list of your recently-active devices with Chrome installed, and tapping on one will cause a notification to appear on the destination device. Pretty simple.”

All in all, the feature was highlighted by so many sites not because it is so earth-shattering (which it obviously is not) but rather because it is so handy. As Parrack commented, “The option to send web pages to other devices using Google Chrome is a small but potentially very useful one. Especially for people who regularly switch between different devices. You just need to have Chrome installed on all of them.”


Bringing Chrome to Android more than wishful thinking

© 2019 Science X Network

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Send this page: Chrome 77 keeps it simple (2019, September 13)
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Brain-inspired computing could tackle big problems in a small way

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Brain-inspired computing could tackle big problems in a small way
Brain-inspired Gaussian devices based on two-dimensional materials allow energy efficient and probabilistic computing. Credit: Saptarshi Das, Penn State

While computers have become smaller and more powerful and supercomputers and parallel computing have become the standard, we are about to hit a wall in energy and miniaturization. Now, Penn State researchers have designed a 2-D device that can provide more than yes-or-no answers and could be more brainlike than current computing architectures.

“Complexity scaling is also in decline owing to the non-scalability of traditional von Neumann computing architecture and the impending ‘Dark Silicon’ era that presents a severe threat to multi-core processor technology,” the researchers note in today’s (Sept 13) online issue of Nature Communications.

The Dark Silicon era is already upon us to some extent and refers to the inability of all or most of the devices on a computer chip to be powered up at once. This happens because of too much heat generated from a single device. Von Neumann architecture is the standard structure of most modern computers and relies on a digital approach—”yes” or “no” answers—where program instruction and data are stored in the same memory and share the same communications channel.

“Because of this, data operations and instruction acquisition cannot be done at the same time,” said Saptarshi Das, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics. “For complex decision-making using neural networks, you might need a cluster of supercomputers trying to use parallel processors at the same time—a million laptops in parallel—that would take up a football field. Portable healthcare devices, for example, can’t work that way.”

The solution, according to Das, is to create brain-inspired, analog, statistical neural networks that do not rely on devices that are simply on or off, but provide a range of probabilistic responses that are then compared with the learned database in the machine. To do this, the researchers developed a Gaussian field-effect transistor that is made of 2-D materials—molybdenum disulfide and black phosphorus. These devices are more energy efficient and produce less heat, which makes them ideal for scaling up systems.

“The human brain operates seamlessly on 20 watts of power,” said Das. “It is more energy efficient, containing 100 billion neurons, and it doesn’t use von Neumann architecture.”

The researchers note that it isn’t just energy and heat that have become problems, but that it is becoming difficult to fit more in smaller spaces.

“Size scaling has stopped,” said Das. “We can only fit approximately 1 billion transistors on a chip. We need more complexity like the brain.”

The idea of probabilistic neural networks has been around since the 1980s, but it needed specific devices for implementation.

“Similar to the working of a human brain, key features are extracted from a set of training samples to help the neural network learn,” said Amritanand Sebastian, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics.

The researchers tested their neural network on human electroencephalographs, graphical representation of brain waves. After feeding the network with many examples of EEGs, the network could then take a new EEG signal and analyze it and determine if the subject was sleeping.

“We don’t need as extensive a training period or base of information for a probabilistic neural network as we need for an artificial neural network,” said Das.

The researchers see statistical neural network computing having applications in medicine, because diagnostic decisions are not always 100% yes or no. They also realize that for the best impact, medical diagnostic devices need to be small, portable and use minimal energy.

Das and colleagues call their device a Gaussian synapse and it is based on a two-transistor setup where the molybdenum disulfide is an electron conductor, while the black phosphorus conducts through missing electrons, or holes. The device is essentially two variable resistors in series and the combination produces a graph with two tails, which matches a Gaussian function.


Researchers demonstrate all-optical neural network for deep learning

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Pennsylvania State University

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'Soft tactile logic' tech distributes decision-making throughout stretchable material

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decision
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Inspired by octopuses, researchers have developed a structure that senses, computes and responds without any centralized processing—creating a device that is not quite a robot and not quite a computer, but has characteristics of both. The new technology holds promise for use in a variety of applications, from soft robotics to prosthetic devices.

“We call this ‘soft tactile logic,’ and have developed a series of prototypes demonstrating its ability to make decisions at the material level—where the sensor is receiving input—rather than relying on a centralized, semiconductor-based logic system,” says Michael Dickey, co-corresponding author of a paper on the work and Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University.

“Our approach was inspired by octopuses, which have a centralized brain, but also have significant neuronal structures throughout their arms. This raises the possibility that the arms can ‘make decisions’ based on sensory input, without direct instruction from the brain.”

At the core of the soft tactile logic prototypes is a common structure: pigments that change color at different temperatures, mixed into a soft, stretchable silicone form. That pigmented silicone contains channels that are filled with metal that is liquid at room temperature, effectively creating a squishy wire nervous system.

Pressing or stretching the silicone deforms the liquid metal, which increases its electrical resistance, raising its temperature as current passes through it. The higher temperature triggers color change in the surrounding temperature-sensitive dyes. In other words, the overall structure has a tunable means of sensing touch and strain.

The researchers also developed soft tactile logic prototypes in which this same action—deforming the liquid metal by touch—redistributes electrical energy to other parts of the network, causing material to change colors, activating motors or turning on lights. Touching the silicone in one spot creates a different response than touching in two spots; in this way, the system carries out simple logic in response to touch.

“This is a proof of concept that demonstrates a new way of thinking about how we can engineer decision-making into soft materials,” Dickey says.

“There are living organisms that can make decisions without relying on a rigid centralized processor. Mimicking that paradigm, we’ve shown materials-based, distributed logic using entirely soft materials.”

The researchers are currently exploring ways to make more complex soft circuits, inspired by the sophisticated sensors and actuators found in biological systems.

The paper, “Materials tactile logic via innervated soft thermochromic elastomers,” is published in the journal Nature Communications.


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More information:
Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12161-1
Provided by
North Carolina State University

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‘Soft tactile logic’ tech distributes decision-making throughout stretchable material (2019, September 13)
retrieved 13 September 2019
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Google will promote original reporting with algorithm change

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Newspapers have often blamed Google's algorithm for plumenting online traffic and the industry's decline
Newspapers have often blamed Google’s algorithm for plumenting online traffic and the industry’s decline

Original reporting will be highlighted in Google’s search results, the company said as it announced changes to its algorithm.

The world’s largest search engine has come under increasing criticism from media outlets, mainly because of its algorithms—a set of instructions followed by computers—that newspapers have often blamed for plumenting online traffic and the industry’s decline.

Explaining some of the changes in a blog post, Google’s vice president of news Richard Gingras said stories that were critically important and labor intensive—requiring experienced investigative skills, for example—would be promoted.

Articles that demonstrated “original, in-depth and investigative reporting,” would be given the highest possible rating by reviewers, he wrote on Thursday.

These reviewers—roughly 10,000 people whose feedback contributes to Google’s algorithm—will also determine the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting, promoting outlets that have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes, for example.

It remains to be seen how such changes will affect news outlets, especially smaller online sites and local newspapers, who have borne the brunt of the changing media landscape.

And as noted by the technology website TechCrunch, it is hard to define exactly what original reporting is: many online outlets build on “scoops” or exclusives with their own original information, a complexity an algorithm may have a hard time picking through.

The Verge—another technology publication—wrote the emphasis on originality could exacerbate an already frenetic online news cycle by making it lucrative to get breaking news online even faster and without proper verification.

The change comes as Google continues to face criticism for its impact on the news media.

Many publishers say the tech giant’s algorithms—which remain a source of mysterious frustration for anyone outside Google—reward clickbait, and allow investigative and original stories to disappear online.


Google News shines spotlight on local coverage

© 2019 AFP

Citation:
Google will promote original reporting with algorithm change (2019, September 13)
retrieved 13 September 2019
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Google Earth leads to remains of missing Florida man in lake

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It took 22 years, but a missing man’s remains were finally found thanks to someone who zoomed in on his former Florida neighborhood with Google satellite images and noticed a car submerged in a lake, authorities said.

The skeletal remains were of William Moldt, who went missing in 1997 at the age of 40, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said on Thursday that a previous resident of the Grand Isles neighborhood in Wellington, Florida, was checking the neighborhood on Google Earth when he zoomed into the lake and saw what looked like a car .

The former resident contacted a current homeowner, who used a drone to confirm it was a white car on the edge of the pond behind his house. The man called the sheriff’s office on Aug. 28, and deputies later arrived to find the white sedan’s exterior “heavily calcified.” After they got the car out, they found the skeletal remains inside.

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System says Moldt went to a nightclub in November 1997 but did not appear intoxicated as he left alone before midnight. He had called his girlfriend from the club saying he would return to their Lantana home soon.

The subdivision was under construction when Moldt went missing, but the pond was already there. Barry Fay, whose home is near where the car was found, told The Palm Beach Post that he had never noticed anything from the shoreline.

“Never did I believe there would be a 22-year-old dead body,” Fay told the newspaper.


Orange fireball lighting Florida sky was Chinese space junk

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Google Earth leads to remains of missing Florida man in lake (2019, September 13)
retrieved 13 September 2019
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