Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 5, 2020

in rsslog •  7 months ago 

The IEEE Spectrum weekly selection of awesome robot videos; An essay arguing that the history of artificial intelligence (AI) begins no later than 1912; A chrome extenstion that's stealing crypto keys and login passwords; A new paper suggests that the quantum Internet should be built in space; and a Steem essay discusses the benefits and drawbacks of modern technology


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  1. Video Friday: How to Train Your Robot to Pull an Airplane - This week, the IEEE Spectrum weekly selection of awesome robot videos has previously unpublished footage of ITT's HyQReal quadruped training to pull a 3.3 ton airplane (complete with barking dog); A 2019 year-in-review video along with another video, both showing off an agile biped from Agility Robotics; A belated holiday-themed video demonstrating a robotic arm's capabilities from Franka Emika; More belated holiday videos from the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab, the Autonomous Robots Lab at the University of Nevada, and the Georgia Tech Systems Research Lab; A video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with footage of the Mars 2020 rover; and more

    Here is my favorite, demonstrating a failsafe algorithm for quadrotor drones from Verity Studios:


  • AI Began in 1912 - Chess has often been hailed as a barometer for artificial intelligence progress. As such, the 1997 victory of Deep Blue over Gary Kasparov has been seen as a major milestone. A much earlier milestone has been almost completely overlooked, though. In 1912 Torres Quevedo began work on an electro-mechanical automaton with automatic chess end-game capabilities. The device was demonstrated in 1914, and it was able to checkmate an opponent's king with its own king and rook pieces. A second version was constructed in 1922 and it played against Norbert Wiener in 1951 and Heinz Zemanek in 1958. Zemanek described it as, "a historical automaton that was far ahead of its time".

  • Chrome extension caught stealing crypto-wallet private keys - The Shitcoin Wallet extension for Google Chrome launched on December 9. Security researcher, Harry Denley says that the code is dangerous for two reasons: (i) It sends the private keys from the ethereum wallet to a third-party web site; and (ii) It injects code into login screens and steals a user's login credentials when they are entered. -h/t Bruce Schneier, who adds that this is another example showing that cryptocurrency security often relies on single-points of trust.

  • Why the quantum internet should be built in space - Quantum entanglement is a property by which two particles share the same existence, even when separated by vast distances. Physicists would like to make use of this phenomenon on a global scale in order to send messages instantaneously and with perfect secrecy. However, when quantum messages are exchanged inside the Earth's atmosphere, they degrade after just a few hundred kilometers. Two approaches have been considered to get past this limitation. One approach would be to use quantum repeaters, placing devices within the reliable distance limit and repeating it across larger distances. A second approach is to use a network of satellites and send the messages outside the Earth's atmosphere. A new paper suggests that because of the number of repeaters that would be needed to cover the globe, the second method is likely to be more efficient and cost-effective. The researchers suggest that the best trade-off for cost and performance would involve a network of 400 satellites at an altitude of 3,000 km (1,864 miles). (Quantum Internet was previously discussed in Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 3, 2019.

  • STEEM Is Technology a boon or a bane? - In this essay, @bala41288 discusses the tradeoffs and wonders whether technology is net positive or negative in modern society. The post points out that technology is constantly improving many aspects of our lives to the degree that we have become dependent on it, giving the example of Google Maps. At the same time, however, it points out that technology also displaces humans from jobs and livelihoods and creates pollution in the environment. In closing paragraphs, the essay draws an analogy between the match stick and medical imaging, the article suggests that both can be both a benefit or a problem. The match stick can light fires to keep us warm and cook our food, for example, but it can also start forest fires and burn down our homes. Similarly, medical imaging can diagnose when we're ill enabling doctors to cure us, but it can also be used as a eugenic tool in cultures where boys are valued more than girls, or where people would want to abort children for other arbitrary reasons. In the end, it seems that technology is just a tool, and its how we use it that determines whether its helpful or harmful. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @bala41288.)


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