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Weekend tech reading: 3D printing metal in midair, heads up on CFAA bill, Nokia's return to mobile

By Matthew
May 29, 2016
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  1. Printing metal in midair "Flat" and "rigid" are terms typically used to describe electronic devices. But the increasing demand for flexible, wearable electronics, sensors, antennas and biomedical devices has led a team at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) to innovate an eye-popping new way of printing complex metallic architectures -- as though they are seemingly suspended in midair. Harvard

    Heads up internet: Time to kill another dangerous CFAA bill The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal "anti-hacking" statute, is long overdue for reform. The 1986 law --which was prompted in part by fear generated by the 1983 techno­thriller WarGames -- is vague, draconian, and notoriously out of touch with how we use computers today. Unfortunately, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Lindsey Graham are on a mission to make things worse. EFF

    Gchat was the future of messaging, but Google didn't know what it had Everyone has been talking about Slack lately. The chat app, which is primarily aimed at offices and productivity, is simple, well designed, fun to use, and powerful. Slack is also the company people were obsessed with in 2015. Whether you love the product or not, though, it’s time to admit something: Slack is just Gchat. Slate

    WiFi triangulation - Triangulate access points using an ESP8266 and a GPS module In my neighborhood there is a Wi-Fi router with a nasty name. While I was playing with my ESP8266 I saw it again... The AT+CWLAP (List Access Points) command return the AP names, their MAC address and the RRSI: Received signal strength indication. I had immediately the idea to try to triangulate that nasty router. So I hooked up a PIC18F25K22 with a GPS module, a ESP8266 (ESP-07 with an external antenna) and an OLED color display. Then I went for a walk... Hackaday

    In search for cures, scientists create embryos that are both animal and human A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal. The researchers hope these embryos, known as chimeras, could eventually help save the lives of people with a wide range of diseases. One way would be to use chimera embryos to create better animal models to study how human diseases happen and how they progress. Boise State Public Radio

    How the Internet works: Submarine fiber, brains in jars, and coaxial cables Ah, there you are. That didn't take too long, surely? Just a click or a tap and, if you’ve some 21st century connectivity, you landed on this page in a trice. But how does it work? Have you ever thought about how that cat picture actually gets from a server in Oregon to your PC in London? We're not simply talking about the wonders of TCP/IP or pervasive Wi-Fi hotspots, though those are vitally important as well. Ars Technica

    Researchers teaching robots to feel and react to pain One of the most useful things about robots is that they don’t feel pain. Because of this, we have no problem putting them to work in dangerous environments or having them perform tasks that range between slightly unpleasant and definitely fatal to a human. And yet, a pair of German researchers believes that, in some cases, feeling and reacting to pain might be a good capability for robots to have. IEEE

    Nokia is set to return to smartphones and tablets: What to expect? For several months now, the management of Nokia has been talking about the possible return of the brand to the smartphone market, but emphasized multiple times that the corporation itself is no longer interested in producing, or selling handsets itself. On Wednesday, the future of Nokia in the world or smartphones and tablets became more or less clear: Nokia-branded Google Android-based devices are set to return in the coming quarters. AnandTech

    How big an issue is the nausea problem for virtual reality products? I've been working with helmet mounted displays in military flight simulation for several decades - I am an expert in the field. IMHO - these devices should be banned - but that may not be necessary because after the first wave of early adopters I think it’ll go the way of 3D televisions. But that’s just my opinion. Let me explain why. Everyone thinks these things are new and revolutionary... but they really aren't. All that's happened is that they dropped in price from $80,000 to $500... and many corners have been cut along the way. Quora

    I've been waiting for the Oculus Rift my whole life, but now it's sitting in my closet I pre-ordered an Oculus Rift on day one, and after a mess of mixed messages and delays, it finally arrived at my house a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t just the conclusion of a prolonged ordering process, it was the completion of an impossible dream. I literally own a virtual reality headset. When I say I’ve been waiting my entire life for the Oculus Rift, I don’t mean the specific Facebook FB -0.10%product, I mean the ability to own magical goggles that can transport me into virtual worlds. And now I have such a thing. Forbes

    Boston Dynamics employees were frustrated with Google's plan for a household robot When Boston Dynamics posted a video of its humanoid robot, Atlas, walking in the snow and recovering from getting kicked, Google was not happy. As one former employee told Tech Insider, it "soured the soup" of a relationship that was already heading south. Bloomberg first reported the issues surrounding the video when it obtained an email posted on an internal Google forum. Tech Insider

    One fascinating reason cable companies won’t willingly compete against each other If you're like many Americans, you might live in an area that's effectively dominated by a cable monopoly. And maybe you were hoping that someday, another cable company might come in and start competing with the local incumbent to drive down prices and improve your service. Charter's recent takeover of Time Warner Cable made that a distinct possibility. The Washington Post

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  2. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 930   +354

    A robot feeling pain, totally ridiculous, they ought to know better. To 'feel' pain it must have a consciousness which it plainly does not. Acting like it's in pain, yes, totally possible. Robots are fairly easily taught to imitate humans, but to feel what being a human is, is totally beyond the state of the art.
     
  3. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,897   +940

    Considering our consciousness is made up of electrical signals we don't fully understand, I don't think anyone's qualified to say what is and is not actually conscious. I know a lot of people who I wouldn't consider to be conscious.

    However, that's not at all what they're trying to teach this robot. They're trying to teach a robot to realize when something it's doing could potentially damage it and react accordingly to prevent damage. Also, if a robot is damaged, yet continues to operate, it could damage itself further. The concept of "pain" is that your leg hurts when you break it so you don't walk on it causing further damage.
     
    mbrowne5061 and Reehahs like this.
  4. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,178   +72

    I'm wondering what's the simplest animal you'd consider conscious based on this criterion.
     
  5. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,309   +56

  6. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 930   +354

    I have absolutely no idea.
    My thought was that humans not only have consciousness, but self-consciousness. I don't believe in a computational theory of the mind at all. Anything driven by a current computer may be programmed to avoid things that would damage it, but it has no idea of what it is like to be in pain, no understanding of pain. As someone in the IEEE article states "A robot needs to be able to detect and classify unforeseen physical states and disturbances, rate the potential damage they may cause to it, and initiate appropriate countermeasures" This is a statement I can agree with wholeheartedly.
     
  7. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,178   +72

    That may be true, but not only humans feel pain. Animals, even some simple ones, react to pain and take steps to avoid it. Similarly, a human baby can feel pain even though it doesn't understand it or have the capability for that.

    So at some level 'feeling pain' might adequately describe things, assuming that you're willing to accept a definition that hinges on the behaviour associated with feeling pain, and if you don't, you might need to ascribe self-consciousness to simple animals or provide an alternate term for what happens when they feel pain.
     

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