Monthly Archives: May 2016

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ExxonMobil: Climate Change Is Real, But ¯\_(ツ)_ This story originally appeared on Grist and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. It’s impossible for fossil fuel executives to get some damn peace and quiet. At its annual shareholder meeting in Dallas, Texas, Exxon Mobil faced investors’ demands that the company get serious about climate change adaptation and regulation.Since 1997, Exxon Mobil has fended off similar demands from its shareholders, but not at this scale. Wednesday’s meeting included the largest coalition of climate-activist investors yet of two-dozen large shareholders representing $8 trillion under management. But eight of the nine climate shareholder resolutions still failed.The one proposal that passed, at 62 percent of the vote, allows shareholders who hold 3 percent or more of the company’s shares for more than three years to nominate up to a quarter of the board’s directors every year. In theory, this could allow for a climate […]

The Oracle-Google Case Will Decide the Future of Software The Oracle campus in Redwood City, California, on March 14, 2016. The legal battle between Oracle and Google is about to come to an end. And nothing less is as stake than the future of programming. Today lawyers for both companies are set to make their closing arguments in the fight over whether Google’s use of the Java application programming interface (API)—an arcane but critically important part of the Android mobile operating system—was legal. Regardless of how the jury rules, the case has already had a permanent effect on the way developers build software.For a case with such potentially great impact on the tech industry, it can be tough to follow. It’s dragged on for years, and the details, both technical and legal, can get deeply esoteric. But for anyone who cares about the future of business or technology, it’s a […]

Google answered some of our questions about its fancy new AI chip There’s something tucked under that heat sink. Justin Sullivan  On Thursday, we asked Google about its new custom-made chip for artificial intelligence called a Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU. Google politely declined to answer Recode’s questions, saying only that “more information is coming later.” Later in the day, after we posted our questions, Google changed its mind and gave us some short answers to a few — but not all — of our questions, via an email from a spokesperson. Here’s what we learned. 1. Is the TPU pre-trained? This is a big one that Google did not answer. It probably is pre-trained, but we don’t know for sure. It comes down to whether the TPU is executing an AI algorithm that has been “trained” on a separate system. To train an AI system to recognize what’s in […]

The Devils Hole Pupfish Just Can’t Catch a Break Hole in Death Valley.Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times One night late last month, three drunken idiots thought it would be a great idea to go off-roading in one of the world’s most carefully protected conservation sites. They brought a shotgun, which one of them used to obliterate the locks securing two gates and the motion sensors that otherwise would have kept them well away from Devils Hole, a deep, warm pool that is home to a critically endangered fish.The phrase critically endangered can seem abstract, but in this case, it’s easy to wrap your brain around. These tiny blue-silver Devils Hole pupfish, less than an inch long, live nowhere else but here, in this one spot in Death Valley National Park. At last count, in April, just 115 remained, in a long, narrow pool about the length of a shipping container. Although that pool is more […]

IBM’s Watson Has a New Project: Fighting Cybercrime IBM IBM’s Watson supercomputer hardly needs any more resumé-padding. It’s already won Jeopardy, written a cookbook, and dabbled in revolutionizing healthcare. The next stop in its storied career? Tackling cybercrime.Today, IBM announced that Watson is taking its cognitive learning chops to the cloud, where it’ll apply them to analyzing, identifying, and (hopefully) preventing cybersecurity threats. But first, it’s going to have to learn. Fast. Playing Defense There are already plenty of computer-enhanced approaches to combating cybercrime, most of which involve identifying outliers or abnormalities—like when a user logs a few too many failed password attempts—and determining whether those constitute some sort of threat. Collecting and analyzing this type of data can and does work. It’s not ideal, though. First, there’s simply too much of it; according to a recent IBM report, the average organization sees over 200,000 pieces of security event data […]

One Swede Will Kill Cash Forever—Unless His Foe Saves It From Extinction Nothing is more ordinary than a Monday morning at a Swedish bank.People go about their business quietly, with Scandinavian efficiency. The weather outside is, more likely than not, cold and gray. But on April 22, 2013, the scene at Stockholm’s Östermalmstorg branch of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken got a jolt of color. At 10:30 am, a man in a black cap burst into the building. “This is a robbery!” he announced, using one arm to point a gun at the bankers and the other to hold out a cloth bag. “I want cash!”If the staff was alarmed, no one much showed it. Instead, the employees calmly informed the stranger that his demands could not be met. The bank, they explained, had no cash on the premises. None in the vaults, none at the tellers’ windows, none at all. When […]