Edd Hifeng barely merits a second glance in “Second Life.” A steel-gray robot with lanky limbs and linebacker shoulders, he looks like a typical avatar in the popular virtual world. But Edd is different. His actions are animated not by a person at a keyboard but by a computer. Edd is a creation of artificial intelligence, or AI, by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who endowed him with a limited ability to converse and reason.
Source: Michael Hill, The Associated Press, May 19, 2008
Despite a court-ordered ban on the teaching of creationism in US schools, about one in eight high-school biology teachers still teach it as valid science, a survey reveals. And, although almost all teachers also taught evolution, those with less training in science — and especially evolutionary biology — tend to devote less class time to Darwinian principles.
Source: Bob Holmes, New Scientist, May 20, 2008
Major elements of the Bush administration’s proposed $17 billion “cyber security” initiative have little to do with protecting government networks, and a lot to do with spying, according to a budget report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. The so-called National Cyber Security Initiative is also wrapped in unnecessary secrecy, and would spend billions on unproven, embryonic technology, and possibly illegal or ill-advised projects, according to the analysis.
Source: Ryan Singel, Wired News, May 15, 2008
Where do videos go when they “die” or are booted off YouTube for copyright infringement? Meet YouTomb. Created by a group of MIT students, the virtual video graveyard combs through Google’s data and archives information about clips that have been removed from YouTube.
Source: Jenna Wortham, Wired News, May 20, 2008
You buy a television on eBay. When it arrives, you eagerly unwrap it, only to find it is badly scratched. You return it, and leave a negative comment about the seller on the site. The next day, you find the seller has retaliated by posting a nasty comment about you, branding you as a time-waster. Suddenly, no one wants to sell to you and your reputation is in tatters.
Source: New Scientist, May 21, 2008
If you were thinking of using your work e-mail for job hunting or online dating, think twice. A new survey finds that 41 percent of large companies (those with 20,000 or more employees) are paying staffers to read or otherwise analyze the contents of employees’ outbound e-mail. In the study, which was commissioned by e-mail security provider Proofpoint and conducted by Forrester Research, 44 percent of the companies surveyed said they investigated an e-mail leak of confidential data in the past year and 26 percent said they fired an employee for violating e-mail policies.
Source: Elinor Mills, CNET’s News Blog, May 22, 2008
Three years ago our cover story showcased the phenomenon. A lot has changed since then.
[Note: This is a must-read article.]
Source: Stephen Baker and Heather Green, BusinessWeek Magazine, May 22, 2008
The Senate housing bill approved by a committee this week was already drawing fire from fiscal conservatives and financially responsible homeowners opposed to bailing out housing speculators. […] Buried in the text of the revised legislation, approved by the Senate Banking Committee by a 19-2 vote this week, is a plan to create a new national fingerprint registry. It covers just about everyone involved in the mortgage business, including lenders, “loan originators,” and some real estate agents.
Source: Declan McCullagh, CNET’s The Iconoclast Blog, May 23, 2008