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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Tropical Storm Barry Pits New Orleans Against Water—Again

In the forever war between the Big Easy and the deluge, engineering keeps coming up short. Climate change is making it worse.
Source: Wired

Microsoft is closing down its internet games on Windows – CNET

The team decided with “heavy hearts” to shut down Hearts.
Source: CNET

The $200 iPod Touch now has some legit competition – CNET

Commentary: What the latest iPod Touch lacks in screen and battery life, it makes up for in apps, games, AR and now it has some real competition from Nintendo’s Switch Lite.
Source: CNET

No, 5G isn't going to make your 4G LTE phone obsolete – CNET

This transition is different from earlier cellular generation shifts, which means 4G could be useful a lot longer.
Source: CNET

Macy's just kicked off a crazy Summer Black Friday sale – CNET

For its Black Friday in July Specials, Macy’s is offering brands including KitchenAid and Pyrex, and some favorite kitchen products are on sale.
Source: CNET

Facebook will reportedly be fined a record $5 billion over privacy mishaps – CNET

The Federal Trade Commission is said to have approved a settlement with Facebook.
Source: CNET

How Dogs Help Cancer Research, an Amazon Email Scam, and More News

Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.
Source: Wired

These robo-ants can work together in swarms to navigate tricky terrain

While the agility of a Spot or Atlas robot is something to behold, there’s a special merit reserved for tiny, simple robots that work not as a versatile individual but as an adaptable group. These “tribots” are built on the model of ants, and like them can work together to overcome obstacles with teamwork.

Developed by EPFL and Osaka University, tribots are tiny, light and simple, moving more like inchworms than ants, but able to fling themselves up and forward if necessary. The bots themselves and the system they make up are modeled on trap-jaw ants, which alternate between crawling and jumping, and work (as do most other ants) in fluid roles like explorer, worker and leader. Each robot is not itself very intelligent, but they are controlled as a collective that deploys their abilities intelligently.

In this case a team of tribots might be expected to get from one end of a piece of complex terrain to another. An explorer could move ahead, sensing obstacles and relaying their locations and dimensions to the rest of the team. The leader can then assign worker units to head over to try to push the obstacles out of the way. If that doesn’t work, an explorer can try hopping over it — and if successful, it can relay its telemetry to the others so they can do the same thing.

fly tribot fly

Fly, tribot, fly!

It’s all done quite slowly at this point — you’ll notice that in the video, much of the action is happening at 16x speed. But rapidity isn’t the idea here; similar to Squishy Robotics’ creations, it’s more about adaptability and simplicity of deployment.

The little bots weigh only 10 grams each, and are easily mass-produced, as they’re basically PCBs with some mechanical bits and grip points attached — “a quasi-two-dimensional metamaterial sandwich,” according to the paper. If they only cost (say) a buck each, you could drop dozens or hundreds on a target area and over an hour or two they could characterize it, take measurements and look for radiation or heat hot spots, and so on.

If they moved a little faster, the same logic and a modified design could let a set of robots emerge in a kitchen or dining room to find and collect crumbs or scoot plates into place. (Ray Bradbury called them “electric mice” or something in “There will come soft rains,” one of my favorite stories of his. I’m always on the lookout for them.)

Swarm-based bots have the advantage of not failing catastrophically when something goes wrong — when a robot fails, the collective persists, and it can be replaced as easily as a part.

“Since they can be manufactured and deployed in large numbers, having some ‘casualties’ would not affect the success of the mission,” noted EPFL’s Jamie Paik, who co-designed the robots. “With their unique collective intelligence, our tiny robots can demonstrate better adaptability to unknown environments; therefore, for certain missions, they would outperform larger, more powerful robots.”

It raises the question, in fact, of whether the sub-robots themselves constitute a sort of uber-robot? (This is more of a philosophical question, raised first in the case of the Constructicons and Devastator. Transformers was ahead of its time in many ways.)

The robots are still in prototype form, but even as they are, constitute a major advance over other “collective” type robot systems. The team documents their advances in a paper published in the journal Nature.


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook reportedly gets a $5 billion slap on the wrist from the FTC

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reportedly agreed to end its latest probe into Facebook‘s privacy problems with a $5 billion payout.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the 3-2, party-line vote by FTC commissioners was carried by the Republican majority and will be moved to the Justice Department’s civil division to be finalized.

A $5 billion payout seems like a significant sum, but Facebook had already set aside $3 billion to cover the cost of the settlement and the company could likely make up the figure in less than a quarter of revenue (the company’s revenue for the last fiscal quarter was roughly $15 billion). Indeed, Facebook said in April that it expected to pay up to $5 billion to end the government’s probe.

The settlement will also include government restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy, according to the Journal.

We have reached out to the FTC and Facebook for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Ultimately, the partisan divide which held up the settlement broke down with Republican members of the commission overriding Democratic concerns for greater oversight of the social media giant.

Lawmakers have been calling consistently for greater regulatory oversight of Facebook — and even a legislative push to break up the company — since the revelation of the company’s mishandling of the private data of millions of Facebook users during the run up to the 2016 presidential election, which wound up being collected improperly by Cambridge Analytica.

Specifically the FTC was examining whether the data breach violated a 2012 consent decree which saw Facebook committing to engage in better privacy protection of user data.

Facebook’s woes didn’t end with Cambridge Analytica . The company has since been on the receiving end of a number of exposes around the use and abuse of its customers’ information and comes as calls to break up the big tech companies have only grown louder.

The settlement could also be a way for the company to buy its way out of more strict oversight as it faces investigations into its potentially anti-competitive business practices and inquiries into its launch of a new cryptocurrency — Libra — which is being touted as an electronic currency for Facebook users largely divorced from governmental monetary policy.

Potential sanctions proposed by lawmakers for the FTC were reported to include the possibility of elevating privacy oversight to the company’s board of directors and potentially the deletion of tracking data; restricting certain information collection; limiting ad targeting; and restricting the flow of user data among different Facebook business units.


Source: TechCrunch

Minimum investment for EB-5 investor green card expected to more than double

While not a startup visa, the EB-5 investor green card offers many entrepreneurs a path to a green card by investing money and creating jobs in the U.S. Under the EB-5 program, an entrepreneur’s family is also eligible for green cards.

Imminent regulatory changes to the EB-5 program are expected to make obtaining an EB-5 green card a whole lot more expensive. The minimum investment is anticipated to more than double to $1.35 million from the current $500,000. And with individuals from India expected to face a backlog for EB-5 green cards shortly, the opportunity to obtain an EB-5 green card at a relatively low cost and in a timely manner is closing.


Source: TechCrunch

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