Tech Billionaires Invest In Linking Brains To Computers

“To many in Silicon Valley, the brain looks like an unconquered frontier whose importance dwarfs any achievement made in computing or the Web,” including Bryan Johnson, the founder of Braintree online payments, and Elon Musk. An anonymous reader quotes MIT Technology Review:
Johnson is effectively jumping on an opportunity created by the Brain Initiative, an Obama-era project which plowed money into new schemes for recording neurons. That influx of cash has spurred the formation of several other startups, including Paradromics and Cortera, also developing novel hardware for collecting brain signals. As part of the government brain project, the defense R&D agency DARPA says it is close to announcing $ 60 million in contracts under a program to create a “high-fidelity” brain interface able to simultaneously record from one million neurons (the current record is about 200) and stimulate 100,000 at a time…
According to neuroscientists, several figures from the tech sector are currently scouring labs across the U.S. for technology that might fuse human and artificial intelligence. In addition to Johnson, Elon Musk has been teasing a project called “neural lace,” which he said at a 2016 conference will lead to “symbiosis with machines.” And Mark Zuckerberg declared in a 2015 Q&A that people will one day be able to share “full sensory and emotional experiences,” not just photos. Facebook has been hiring neuroscientists for an undisclosed project at Building 8, its secretive hardware division.
Elon Musk complains that the current speeds for transferring signals from brains are “ridiculously slow”.

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Microsoft Could Be First Tech Company To Reach Trillion-Dollar Market Value: Analyst

Microsoft’s $ 26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn could help the Redmond company become the first technology giant to reach a market value of $ 1 trillion, or so thinks a notable analyst. Analyst Michael Markowski believes that Microsoft will be able to leverage LinkedIn to become a leader in social media space and the emerging crowdfunding platform. So much so that it will beat Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook in becoming the first company to hit $ 1 trillion market value. From a report on GeekWire: Here are the market caps of these big tech companies as of Monday morning: Apple: $ 622.6B, Alphabet: $ 549.7B, Microsoft: $ 489.3B, Amazon: $ 358.7B, and Facebook: $ 337.6B. “The public has an insatiable appetite for making small bets and purchasing lottery tickets, etc., that provide the chance to make a big profit,” Markowski wrote. “The millennials will be a good example. Many will want to routinely invest $ 100 or even less into high-risk ventures that could produce returns of 10X to 100X.” Microsoft, through LinkedIn, will be able to take advantage of this trend because it has a monopoly on the business social media sphere. Markowski predicts that all the big tech companies will eventually build services to facilitate crowdfunding investments.

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Why Patent Law Shouldn’t Block the Sale of Used Tech Products

An anonymous reader writes: Lexmark is best known for its printers, but even more important to its business is toner. Toner cartridges are Lexmark’s lifeblood, and they’ve been battling hard in court to protect their cashflow. The NY Times has published an editorial arguing that one of their recent strategies is bogus: making patent infringement claims on companies who refill used cartridges. Think about that, for a moment: Lexmark says that by taking one of their old, empty cartridges, refilling it with toner, and then selling it somehow infringes upon their patents to said cartridges. “This case raises important questions about the reach of American patent law and how much control a manufacturer can exert after its products have been lawfully sold. Taken to their logical conclusion, Lexmark’s arguments would mean that producers could use patent law to dictate how things like computers, printers and other patented goods are used, changed or resold and place restrictions on international trade. That makes no sense, especially in a world where technology products and components are brought and sold numerous times, which is why the court should rule in favor of Impression.” The Times paints it as the latest attack on ownership in the age of DRM.

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Law Professor: Tech Companies Are Our Best Hope At Resisting Surveillance

An anonymous reader writes: Fusion has an op-ed where Ryan Calo, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Washington, argues Google, Apple, and Microsoft pushing back against government surveillance may be our only real hope for privacy. He writes: “Both Google and Yahoo have announced that they are working on end-to-end encryption in email. Facebook established its service on a Tor hidden services site, so that users can access the social network without being monitored by those with access to network traffic. Outside of product design, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft have sent their formidable legal teams to court to block or narrow requests for user information. Encryption tools have traditionally been unwieldy and difficult to use; massive companies turning their attention to better and simpler design, and use by default, could be a game changer. Privacy will no longer be accessible only to tech-savvy users, and it will mean that those who do use encryption will no longer stick out like sore thumbs, their rare use of hard-to-use tools making them a target.”

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Toyota To Spend $50 Million On Self-Driving Car Tech

An anonymous reader writes: Toyota is the latest automaker to see which way the wind is blowing; they’ve committed $ 50 million over the next five years to build research centers for self-driving car technology. They’ll be working with both Stanford and MIT, and their immediate goal is to “eliminate traffic casualties.” “Research at MIT will focus on ‘advanced architectures’ that will let cars perceive, understand, and interpret their surroundings. … The folks at Stanford will concentrate on computer vision and machine learning. … It will also work on human behavior analysis, both for pedestrians outside the car and the people ‘at the wheel.'” Toyota’s efforts will be led by Gill Pratt, who ran DARPA’s Robotics Challenge.

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Pioneer Looks To Laserdisc Tech For Low-Cost LIDAR

itwbennett writes: Pioneer is developing a 3D LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor for use in autonomous vehicles that could be a fraction of the cost of current systems (the company envisions a price point under $ 83). Key to this is technology related to optical pickups once used in laserdisc players, which Pioneer made for 30 years. From the ITWorld story: “The system would detect objects dozens of meters ahead, measure their distance and width and identify them based on their shape. Pioneer, which makes GPS navigation systems, is working on getting the LIDAR to automatically produce high-precision digital maps while using a minimum of data compared to the amount used for standard maps for car navigation.”

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Why Do So Many Tech Workers Dislike Their Jobs?

Nerval’s Lobster writes: So what if you work for a tech company that offers free lunch, in-house gym, and dry cleaning? A new survey suggests that a majority of software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are miserable. Granted, the survey in question only involved 5,000 respondents, so it shouldn’t be viewed as comprehensive (it was also conducted by a company that deals in employee engagement), but it’s nonetheless insightful into the reasons why a lot of tech pros apparently dislike their jobs. Apparently perks don’t matter quite so much if your employees have no sense of mission, don’t have a clear sense of how they can get promoted, and don’t interact with their co-workers very well. While that should be glaringly obvious, a lot of companies are still fixated on the idea that minor perks will apparently translate into huge morale boosts; but free smoothies in the cafeteria only goes so far.

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