Mozilla’s New Open Source Voice-Recognition Project Wants Your Voice

An anonymous reader quotes Mashable:
Mozilla is building a massive repository of voice recordings for the voice apps of the future — and it wants you to add yours to the collection. The organization behind the Firefox browser is launching Common Voice, a project to crowdsource audio samples from the public. The goal is to collect about 10,000 hours of audio in various accents and make it publicly available for everyone… Mozilla hopes to hand over the public dataset to independent developers so they can harness the crowdsourced audio to build the next generation of voice-powered apps and speech-to-text programs… You can also help train the speech-to-text capabilities by validating the recordings already submitted to the project. Just listen to a short clip, and report back if text on the screen matches what you heard… Mozilla says it aims is to expand the tech beyond just a standard voice recognition experience, including multiple accents, demographics and eventually languages for more accessible programs.
Past open source voice-recognition projects have included Sphinx 4 and VoxForge, but unfortunately most of today’s systems are still “locked up behind proprietary code at various companies, such as Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.”

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Why is Comcast Using Self-driving Cars To Justify Abolishing Net Neutrality?

Earlier this week, Comcast filed its comments in favor of the FCC’s plan to eliminate the 2015 net neutrality rules. While much of the document was devoted to arguments we’ve heard before — Comcast believes the current rules are anti-competitive and hurt investment, but generally supports the principles of net neutrality — one statement stood out. The Verge adds: Buried in the 161-page document was this quirky assertion (emphasis ours): “At the same time, the Commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public… And paid prioritization may have other compelling applications in telemedicine. Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it. In other words, Comcast is arguing for paid prioritization and internet fast lanes to enable self-driving cars to communicate better with other vehicles and their surrounding environment, thus making them a safer and more efficient mode of transportation. The only problem is that autonomous and connected cars don’t use wireless broadband to communicate. When cars talk with each other, they do it by exchanging data wirelessly over an unlicensed spectrum called the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) band, using technology similar to Wi-Fi. The FCC has set aside spectrum in the 5.9GHz band specifically for this purpose, and it is only meant to be used for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) applications. That includes vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) — so cars talking to other cars, to traffic signals, to the phone in your pocket… you name it. Soon enough, all cars sold in the US will be required to include V2V technology for safety purposes, if the Department of Transportationâ(TM)s new rule goes into effect.

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Vintage SciFi Magazine ‘Galaxy’ Preserved Online – And Hopefully Also SoundCloud

Long-time Slashdot reader Paul Fernhout writes: Archive.org has made available 355 issues of Galaxy Magazine for free access. Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980 with stories from many sci-fi greats [including Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein]. At its peak, Galaxy greatly influenced the science fiction field. See also Open Culture and The Verge for more about the history of a magazine that help shape the imaginations of a generation of techies..
Meanwhile, Archive.org’s Jason Scott — who also founded textfiles.com — says his own group of preservationists “plans large scale backing up of Soundcloud soon” — or at least part of it. A placeholder page already informs visitors that “We are currently working on getting all the API data… We also are writing the scripts to get a good grab of everything we can.” Scott told Motherboard Saturday “Our main concern is artists and creators suddenly finding their stuff gone, and making it so it’s not in oblivion.”

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NASA Releases Juno’s First Stunning Close-Ups of Jupiter’s Giant Storm

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first photos from its close flyby over Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot. These images offer the closest ever view of the massive storm. The Verge reports: Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for a little over a year on a mission to study the planet’s interior, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Its elliptical orbit around the planet takes the probe close to the surface for a few hours every 53 days. These are called perijove passes — and on July 10th, Juno completed its seventh. A little after its closest approach, Juno’s camera, JunoCam, snapped a few shots of the storm from about 5,000 miles above. Typically, a team of NASA scientists chooses which images a spacecraft collects on its path around a planet. But with Juno, NASA’s opened up the process to the public: space fans can weigh in on the photos JunoCam shoots by ranking their favorite points of interest. After the photos are taken, NASA releases the raw images for the public to process. People can crop them, assemble them into collages, and change or enhance the colors. The results are mesmerizing. You can view even more photos here.

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EU Prepares ‘Right To Repair’ Legislation To Fight Short Product Lifespans

An anonymous reader writes: The EU is preparing legislation that would legalize a customer’s “right to repair,” and would force vendors to design products for longer life and easier maintenance, in an effort to combat electronic waste and abusive practices like manufacturers legally preventing users from repairing their devices. The legislation is in its earlier stages of public discussion, but it already has the backing of several EU Members of Parliament, along with support from organizations like Greenpeace. Currently, in the US only eleven states have similar laws, and they have been adopted after years of public discussions, and only for certain markets, and not for all types of products. It is unclear what leverage the EU will use to force manufacturers to produce longer lasting products, as this would mean lesser profits for big businesses, who often used tactics such as software DRMs, warranty contract lock-ins, and soldering components together, just to avoid users repairing products on their own.

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Getting Rid of Carpool Lanes Could Double Travel Times

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Eliminating carpool lanes could almost double drivers’ traveling times, according to a new study. The findings come thanks to an unusual decision made by the government of Jakarta last year. Following allegations that drugged babies from poor households were being used as “jockeys,” or passengers for hire, Indonesian lawmakers repealed the so-called three-in-one restriction. The law had required cars driving on the business district’s main roads to carry at least three passengers during rush hours. To determine the impact on the city’s drivers, Benjamin Olken, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and colleagues queried Google Maps for real-time driving-speed data before and after the new policy went into effect. Following the policy lift, travel delays, defined as the time it takes to travel 1 kilometer, increased by 46% in the morning and almost 90% in the evening, the team reports today in Science. But the most startling result is that phasing out the three-in-one policy led to worse traffic during times of the day and on roads where there had never been restrictions in place, Olken says. One possible explanation, he says, is that the three-in-one restriction led fewer people to drive into the city. “Maybe they carpooled, took public transit, or worked from home.”

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Court Blocks EPA Effort To Suspend Obama-Era Methane Rule

Michael Biesecker reports via PBS: A federal appeals court in Washington ruled Monday that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks. In a split decision, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the EPA to move forward with the Obama-era requirement that aims to reduce planet-warming emissions from oil and gas operations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in April that he would delay by 90 days the deadline for oil and gas companies to follow the new rule, so that the agency could reconsider the measure. Last month, Pruitt announced he intended to extend the 90-day stay for two years. In a detailed 31-page ruling, the court disagreed with Pruitt’s contention that industry groups had not had sufficient opportunity to comment before the 2016 rule was enacted. The judges also said Pruitt lacked the legal authority to delay the rule from taking effect.

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Vertu, Phone-Maker To the Rich, Says It’s Broke

A British-based luxury phone maker which made its name selling $ 50,000 smartphones decked out in alligator leather and titanium and fitted with sapphire screens, has applied to the courts to be placed in administration after running of out money to pay staff and suppliers, reports British outlet The Times. In a witness statement filed in the High Court in London yesterday, the report adds, the company’s last remaining director Jean-Charles Charki, said that Vertu was insolvent and unable to meet its June 30 payroll obligations of about 500,000 euros. From an earlier report: According to a juicy new report in the Telegraph, employees are worried about the future of the company after noticing that production had been running at reduced capacity. Employees are apparently worried about their unpaid wages, as well as pension contributions taken out of their paychecks without being added into the company’s retirement fund. Sources inside the company also told the Telegraph that Vertu has unpaid debts with suppliers such as Qualcomm and Microsoft, and bills from waste management, pest control, and other property services.

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China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces

China’s government is using facial-recognition technology to help promote good behavior and catch lawbreakers, reports the WSJ. From the article: Facial-recognition technology, once a specter of dystopian science fiction, is becoming a feature of daily life in China, where authorities are using it on streets, in subway stations, at airports and at border crossings in a vast experiment in social engineering (alternative source). Their goal: to influence behavior and identify lawbreakers. Ms. Gan, 31 years old, had been caught on camera crossing illegally here once before, allowing the system to match her two images. Text displayed on the crosswalk screens identified her as a repeat offender. “I won’t ever run a red light again,” she said. China is rushing to deploy new technologies to monitor its people in ways that would spook many in the U.S. and the West. Unfettered by privacy concerns or public debate, Beijing’s authoritarian leaders are installing iris scanners at security checkpoints in troubled regions and using sophisticated software to monitor ramblings on social media. By 2020, the government hopes to implement a national “social credit” system that would assign every citizen a rating based on how they behave at work, in public venues and in their financial dealings.

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The People GoFundMe Leaves Behind

citadrianne shares a report from The Outline: President Donald Trump’s proposed budget seeks to slash $ 54 billion from social services including programs like Medicaid and Meals on Wheels. As these resources dry up, crowdfunding websites will further entrench themselves as extra-governmental welfare providers in order to fill the gap. For a lucky few, these sites are a lifeline. For most people, they are worthless. Crowdfunding’s fatal flaw is that not every campaign ends up getting the money it needs. A recent study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that more than 90 percent of GoFundMe campaigns never meet their goal. For every crowdfunding success story, there are hundreds of failures. “As many happy stories as there are in charitable crowdfunding, there are a lot of really worthy causes when you browse these platforms that nobody has given a cent to,” Rob Gleasure, professor at the business school of the National University of Ireland, Cork told The Outline. “People haven’t come across them.”
Feller and Gleasure’s report highlighted how fickle crowdfunding can be. Of all the Razoo campaigns started in 2013, they found, more than a third didn’t receive any funding at all. According to their report, donors are more likely to give to campaigns that feature lots of pictures and accompanying text.

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