[ futurism.com ] In D.C., Tens of Thousands March for Science — and Survival

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In D.C., Tens of Thousands March for Science — and Survival

As part of 500 marches worldwide, throngs of people braved soggy, rainy weather in the nation’s capitol on Saturday to both celebrate Earth Day and participate in a historic show of support for science. I attended the flagship march, which was held in Washington D.C., but demonstrations were worldwide, on every continent — even Antarctica.
It was the D.C. march that had some of the most high-profile speakers, all of whom came from diverse educational, social, and professional backgrounds. Hosted by Derek Muller and musician Questlove, the series of speeches that preceded the afternoon march covered a wide-range of inspiring topics, from astronomy to medicine to environmental science. 

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Speakers ranged from the aspiring to the esteemed figures in the scientific community.
One of the most inspiring of the former was Taylor Richardson, 13, who raised enough money for 1,000 young girls to go see the film Hidden Figures. Richardson, an aspiring astronaut herself, saw the film at a screening at the White House in December and was so inspired that she wanted to be sure her peers back home in Florida would have the chance as well. She ended up raising enough money for several screenings and over 700 copies of the book upon which the film was based.
Astronauts past and present joined the march, too: Leland Melvin (perhaps most well-known to Twitter for taking his official NASA portrait with his dogs) and Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American engineer who became the first female “space tourist” in 2006. Consequently, she was the first Iranian astronaut as well. At 91, Dr. Nancy Roman, known as “Mother Hubble”, was the oldest honoree. In addition to her work on the Hubble Telescope, Roman was also the first female executive at NASA.
Later in the day, Dr. Jon Foley and Dr. Michael Mann spoke about perhaps one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change and humanity’s impact on the environment. A topic that — despite hard evidence — is still being contested. Politicians and science-deniers have worked hard to discredit not just the work of scientists, but the scientists themselves.
This weekend, the world marched to show their support for these scientists and the work that they do.
There were also several special guest speakers who spoke about the value of science beyond the realm of researcg, highlighting its importance in relation to our everyday lives. After speaking about her work that ultimately connected the water in Flint, Michigan to elevated levels of lead sickening the kids in her clinic, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha introduced 9-year-old Mari Copeny — known throughout the country as Little Miss Flint — who spoke passionately to the crowd about how “when we reject science, kids get hurt.”
Artist Maya Lin, best known for creating Washington’s Vietnam War Memorial when she was just 21 years old, spoke of her latest — and final — memorial, entitled “What Is Missing?” The multi-site installation uses science-based artworks to convey the immediacy and profundity of mass extinction.
Denis Hayes, who organized the first Earth Day in 1970, was somewhat amazed to think that he was standing in front of a group assembled to fight the same battle he began over 40 years ago. “Our job is clear,” Hayes told the crowd, “Today is the first step in a longterm battle for scientific integrity, a battle for transparency, [and] a battle for survival.”
And, of course, one of the most anticipated speakers was science communicator Bill Nye, who reiterated the ongoing importance of scientific inquiry, discovery, and persistence. Nye then lead the fray as it spread exponentially through the streets of D.C., marching toward the Capitol.
I was lucky enough to be there marching myself and spoke with several scientists, all of whom came from diverse backgrounds not just in terms of their education and careers, but their life experiences. What everyone seemed to have in common, though, was their response when I asked how they felt about leaving their work for a day in order to attend the march (in chilly, damp weather, no less). Unanimously, their answer was some variation on, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
In truth, the world needs those tens of thousands of chanting, sopping-wet scientists. In any case, most of the marchers were well-prepared for the weather. After all — science predicted it would rain.

The post In D.C., Tens of Thousands March for Science — and Survival appeared first on Futurism.


[ gsmarena.com ] Sunday Q&A – Week 16

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Sunday Q&A – Week 16

Hello and welcome to the Week 16 edition of our Sunday Q&A! This week we talk Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia performance and Xiaomi battery tests.

Peter: I am very much interested in buying the Xperia X performance dual (64 GB). I heard it is only for the Asian market – is that true? Can I use it in Europe?

The Sony Xperia X Performance dual is indeed mostly officially available in Asian markets, but some European retailers are importing it so if you are willing to pay a bit of a premium you can still have it.

Its penta-band 3G and quad-band 2G support mean it will work anywhere in…


[ futurism.com ] Turn Your Entire Body into a Touchscreen

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Turn Your Entire Body into a Touchscreen

Soon you’ll be able to answer your cell phone by touching your tattoo. Researchers at Saarland University in Germany have developed iSkin, a sensor worn on the skin like a tattoo. Just in case tattoos and cell phones weren’t already cool.

The post Turn Your Entire Body into a Touchscreen appeared first on Futurism.


[ gsmarena.com ] Counterclockwise: Apple products that failed, but whose legacy lives on

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Counterclockwise: Apple products that failed, but whose legacy lives on

Apple may be the most powerful tech company today, but it went through a difficult period in the 90s. Without Steve Jobs at the helm, it was lost and tried entering every product category you can think of. Most of them failed commercially, though some have a legacy worth remembering.

Apple Newton

Long before the iPhone, Apple made the Newton – a Personal Digital Assistant or PDA. These days you may hear “digital assistant” and think “Siri”, but PDAs were like smartphones, except without the phone part. In fact, the term “PDA” was coined by Apple CEO John Sculley.

The Newton was…


[ singularityhub.com ] Google Says Machine Learning Chips Make AI Faster and More Efficient

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Google Says Machine Learning Chips Make AI Faster and More Efficient

Google recently bared the inner workings of its dedicated machine learning chip, the TPU, marking the latest skirmish in the arms race for AI hardware supremacy.

Shorthand for Tensor Processing Unit, the chip has been tailored for use with Google’s open-source machine learning library TensorFlow, and has been in use in Google’s data centers since 2015. But earlier this month the company finally provided performance figures for the device.

The company says the current generation of TPUs are designed for inference — using an already trained neural network to carry out some kind of function, like recognizing voice commands through Google Now. On those tasks, the firm says the TPU is 15 to 30 times faster than contemporary GPUs and CPUs, and equally important, they are 30 to 80 times more power-efficient.

For context, CPUs, or central processing units, are the processors that have been at the heart of most computers since the 1960s. But they are not well-suited to the incredibly high computational requirements of modern machine learning approaches, in particular deep learning.

In the late 2000s, researchers discovered that graphics cards were better suited for the highly parallel nature of these tasks, and GPUs, or graphics processing units, became the de facto technology for implementing neural networks. But as Google’s use of machine learning continued to expand, they wanted something custom built for their needs.

“The need for TPUs really emerged about six years ago, when we started using computationally expensive deep learning models in more and more places throughout our products. The computational expense of using these models had us worried,” lead engineer Norm Jouppi writes in a blog post.

“If we considered a scenario where people use Google voice search for just three minutes a day and we ran deep neural nets for our speech recognition system on the processing units we were using, we would have had to double the number of Google data centers!”

Nvidia, for its part, says the comparison isn’t entirely fair. Google compared its TPU against a server-class Intel Haswell CPU and an Nvidia K80 GPU, but there have been two generations of Nvidia GPUs since then. Intel has kept quiet, but Haswell is also three generations old.

“While NVIDIA’s Kepler-generation GPU, architected in 2009, helped awaken the world to the possibility of using GPU-accelerated computing in deep learning, it was never specifically optimized for that task,” the company says in a blog post.

To make their point, this was accompanied by their own benchmarks, which pointed to their latest P40 GPU being twice as fast. But importantly, the TPU still blows it out of the water on power consumption, and it wouldn’t be surprising that Google is already readying or even using a new generation of TPUs that improve on this design.

That said, it isn’t going to upend the chip market. Google won’t be selling the TPU to competitors and it is entirely focused on inferencing. Google still uses copious amounts of Nvidia’s GPUs for training, which explains the muted nature of the company’s rebuttal.

Google is also probably one of the few companies in the world with the money and the inclination to build a product from scratch in a completely new domain. But it is also one of the world’s biggest processor purchasers, so the fact that it has decided the only way to meet its needs is to design its own is a warning sign for chip makers.

Indeed, that appears to be part of the idea. “Google’s release of this research paper is intended to raise the level of discussion amongst the machine learning community and the chip makers that it is time for an off-the-shelf merchant solution for running inference at scale,” writes Steve Patterson in NetworkWorld.

This is probably not too far off, analyst Karl Freund writes in Forbes. “Given the rapid market growth and thirst for more performance, I think it is inevitable that silicon vendors will introduce chips designed exclusively for machine learning.”

Nvidia is unlikely to let its market leading position slip, and later this year Intel will release the first chips powered by the machine learning-focused Nervana technology it acquired last August. Even mobile players are getting in on the act.

Arm’s Dynamiq microarchitecture will allow customers to build AI accelerators directly into chips to bring native machine learning to devices like smartphones. And Qualcomm’s Project Zeroth has released a software development kit that can run deep learning programs on devices like smartphones and drones featuring its Snapdragon processors.

Google’s release of the TPU may be just a gentle nudge to keep them heading in the right direction.

Image Credit: Shutterstock


[ futurism.com ] Futuristic “Smart Bandages” Use 5G Data and Track Human Health

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Futuristic “Smart Bandages” Use 5G Data and Track Human Health

Injury-prone people, rejoice! A new technology could make it so you never need to redo your bandages again. The tech will use real-time 5G technology that can monitor treatment and track patient activity levels.

The work comes from Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science. The university has made a £1.3 billion-dollar deal to create a 5G test hub for digital innovation. The new bandages will allow for customized treatment due to their nano-technology sensors. 5G wireless data will be used to instantly transmit information about your health to your doctor, thereby allowing physicians to provide customized health care recommendations.

Bioprinting: How 3D Printing is Changing Medicine
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The constant flow of information to health care providers would allow patients to understand their own condition better. Since many people heal at different speeds, the 5G will provide, as the school’s professor Marc Clement told Engadget, “a resilient, robust bandwidth” that can notify patients immediately if they are due for health care changes from their physicians.

The university expects to hold trials within the next 12 months, but the 5G test hub and nanotech sensors still have some time until completion — meaning potential delays on testing.

If proved successful, the smart bandage could take the guesswork out of medicine, leaving doctors with more accurate data to work with rather than only relying on self-reported patient data. This could mean a health care regimen that is tailored to your location, activity, and overall lifestyle. As healthcare innovates other aspects of bandages, including design and rehabilitative time, we may see a new age of health.

The post Futuristic “Smart Bandages” Use 5G Data and Track Human Health appeared first on Futurism.


[ futurism.com ] The “Google of China” Is Releasing a Self-Driving Operating System for Free

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The “Google of China” Is Releasing a Self-Driving Operating System for Free

We’ve been hearing a lot about autonomous driving nowadays. Tesla’s leadership in the field seemingly spells the end times for standard driving practices. Now it looks like Baidu, the popular Chinese-American web services company, is taking a swing at mass-marketing its own autonomous driving software.

The president and chief operating officer of Baidu, Qi Lu, mentioned to MIT Technology Reviews that he wants to “innovate at a higher level.” By releasing their self-driving platform, “Apollo,” this July, the company hopes to lower the bar for developing advanced driver-assist systems while leading to a more collaborative approach for the future of driving.

Qi Lu believes that much of the tech in self-driving vehicles continues to “reinvent the wheel.” By supplying other companies with the Baidu self-driving software, the company can establish itself as the brains that power vehicles on the road.. This is similar to Google’s decision to release Android for free in 2008, making it one of the most popular operating systems in the world.

Many of China’s domestic car producers lack the resources to develop self-driving cars themselves. Baidu’s technology could provide these companies with the competitive edge they need while giving Baidu the data it needs. Baidu is confident that they will see their technology operating on highways and regular roads by 2020. Lu said, “The fundamental motivation is [to create] an open ecosystem that will accelerate the pace of innovation toward fully autonomous driving, which will have profound changes to our society.”

Autonomous Car Forecasts: When Will They Actually Be on Our Roads?
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This transparency in research could mean a lot for the normalization of self-driving cars. With more companies getting the jump on the tech, the quicker we’ll see the tech taking over.

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