Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 9, 2020

in rsslog •  7 months ago 

A software bug causes Boeing 737 display screens to go blank when landing on certain runways; A discussion of the potential for indomitable AI; Crossfit wins $4 million in court for retracted journal article; A faceless therapy robot for senior citizens; and a Steem essay running through many of the "reveals" at CES2020


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First posted on my Steem blog: SteemIt, SteemPeak*, StemGeeks.

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  1. Blackout Bug: Boeing 737 cockpit screens go blank if pilots land on specific runways - A bug exists in certain planes with certain software versions that causes the pilots' display screens to go blank when landing on seven runways, five in the US and two in South America. According to the FAA, the bug is triggered by particular latitude and longitude readings when crews try to follow "a selected instrument approach to a specific runway" with a 270° orientation (due West). The bug impacts 37-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900 and -900ER model aircraft, but the FAA confirms that the buggy software has been replaced on all such planes that are "conducting scheduled airline service into the affected airports". The article also comments that the aircraft that went down over Tehran on Tuesday night (US/Eastern) was a Boeing 737. According to the Iranian authorities, the plane came down due to an engine fire, but the country has refused to hand over the "black box" from the plane, and a linked article shows photos that seem to reveal shrapnel damage.

  2. Will AI take over? Quantum theory suggests otherwise - In this essay, Mauro Vallati discusses the notion of an artificial intelligence (AI) Singularity where AI systems surpass human intelligence and become " supreme, unstoppable and indefinitely growing intelligence". Vallati argues, however, that the laws of quantum physics seem to imply that there are limits to what can be accomplished with any form of intelligence, human, artificial, or otherwise. In particular, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle dictates that a particle's spin and position cannot both be known with perfect accuracy, and other phenomenon - like radioactive decay - are also inherently unpredictable. Additionally, the essay points out that at a practical level, AI is still very far from achieving any sort of generalized intelligence. However, the essay also notes that there may be a level of reality that's deeper than quantum physics to explain the apparent randomness that we observe at the quantum level. Overall, the essay gives the impression that the author views a supreme and unstoppable form of AI as very unlikely, but not entirely impossible. -h/t RealClear Science

  3. Crossfit wins $4 million sanction in lawsuit stemming from now-retracted paper - A 2013 paper by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The paper alleged, incorrectly, that Crossfit training was associated with an increased risk of injuries. In 2014, Crossfit sued the journal to retract the article. In 2015, the journal issued a correction, but did not retract it, and did not acknowledge that data fabrication had taken place. In 2017, the paper was retracted and its lead author resigned from his role as a professor at Ohio State University. Now, in a ruling, a judge has said that the journal "deceived and continue to deceive the public and consumers regarding the safety and effectiveness of CrossFit training", and also agreed with the plaintiff that the NSCA had destroyed relevant documents, perjured itself, and committed other legal violations. The parties to the suit, Crossfit and the NSCA, have until January 14 to report to the judge with terms for the $4 million payment. Beyond this case, Crossfit has displayed a pattern of aggressive legal action and demand for retractions in other cases, too.

  4. Hiro-chan Is a Faceless Robot Baby - The robot is made as a therapeutic device for seniors, and it uses sound recordings from actual babies to convey constantly changing moods. If it is motionless for periods of time, the sounds it expresses will become progressively more distressed until it advances to continuous crying. If it is picked up and rocked, it progresses through happier sounds until it starts laughing. The robot was intentionally left faceless to keep the product affordable, and also because any mismatch between the face and the sounds would be disconcerting to users, placing the robot firmly in the uncanny valley. With a static face, the expression would be wrong about half of the time, and the actuators that would be needed for dynamic expression are expensive. The robot is produced by Vstone, a Japanese robotics company. (The uncanny valley was previously covered in (i) Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for August 21, 2019, (ii) Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for November 10, 2019, and (iii) Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for November 17, 2019.)

    Here is a video of Hiro-chan:

  5. STEEM CES 2020 - Compilation of all the coolest tech releases from an ongoing conference - Sony's Car, Samsung's R2D2 and much more. - In this post, @wildcrafts offers brief descriptions and youtube videos from many CES 2020 product-reveals. There are too many diverse topics for me to summarize effectively, so I'll just suggest that you go ahead and click through. Be patient after clicking. It takes a while for all the video embeds to get populated. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @wildcrafts.)


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