Science & Technology

10 Tech Policy Issues the 45th U.S. President Will Face

September 28, 2016

With the U.S. general election coming up Nov. 8, it's a good time to take a forward-looking, party-neutral look at technology policy issues relevant in this election cycle. Cyber-security, as one might expect, tops any list of IT problems. If our personal and business information isn't secure -- and by most measures, basically nothing is completely safe at this time...

Eat Or Be Eaten: The Internet Has Reached Saturation

September 27, 2016

A new report from Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) indicates that Internet traffic has reached saturation, with an anemic 0.1% growth rate in North America. The implications for CMOs are huge, since nearly four of every 10 websites have seen a decrease in traffic over the past three years. “The free ride of increased traffic is over,” said Becky Tasker, managing analyst at ADI.

NASA sees evidence of water vapor plumes shooting out of Europa

September 27, 2016

Water vapor plumes estimated to be as tall as 125 miles are possibly erupting into space from the surface of Europa, a moon around Jupiter, NASA announced on Monday. The source of these potential plumes-- scientists haven't proven that they definitively exist yet-- is thought to be an enormous ocean beneath the icy surface of Europa, and that ocean, in turn, could possibly harbor life.

U.S. government releases safety guidelines for self-driving cars

September 22, 2016

The new guidelines detail how the vehicles should perform, and include a model for state policies. Traditionally, the federal government has regulated vehicles, and states have handled drivers. But with autonomous vehicles, the vehicle becomes the driver. The federal government wants to avoid a patchwork of different rules across states, which would hamper the rollout of the technology.

Controversial H-1B bill pulled from House committee

September 21, 2016

The House Judiciary Committee’s vote on the “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” the latest bill purporting to address problems with the H-1B visa program was pulled from the schedule late on Tuesday. Introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) over the summer, the bill is intended to “close a major loophole” in the non-immigrant visa program which both Indian and U.S. IT services firms use to bring foreign born technology professionals stateside to work.

Do trees have brains and talk to each other? They are intelligent, express emotions and make friends, claims a new book. Barking? Judge for yourself

September 20, 2016

There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn. If that's true — and my experience as a forester convinces me it is -- then they must be able to store and transmit information. And scientists are beginning to ask: is it possible that trees possess intelligence, and memories, and emotions? So, to cut to the quick, do trees have brains?

U.S. Congress Adopts Bill Calling For Human Colony On Mars

September 20, 2016

In this hyper-partisan era of Congress, one unearthly goal has brought Republicans and Democrats together: Mars. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to move forward this week with a bipartisan bill that, for the first time, calls on NASA to ultimately establish a human colony on the Red Planet. To aid the space agency, the bill aims to prevent any future president from interfering with a $19.5-billion authorization package or development programs for rockets and spacecraft destined for Mars.

Pentagon says killer robots have no place in US military

September 20, 2016

Hollywood may depict the next-generation battlefield as having fully autonomous killer robots but Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the U.S. military has no plans to ever use them. Carter, who this week made a trip to the tech cities of San Francisco and Austin, has been an advocate of high-tech weapon systems as a way to counter the growing military threat posed by Russia and China. These include cyber and smart weapon systems that use artificial intelligence.

Claire Parkinson: A Scientist Who Goes Beyond

September 20, 2016

“When you look at Claire Parkinson, you have a perfect example of an outstanding scientist who goes beyond just being a scientist,” said Dr. Franco Einaudi. As former director of Earth Sciences at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Einaudi knows a lot of scientists. “Many scientists just want to promote their number of refereed papers,” he said. “But Claire Parkinson is no longer just a scientist. In the atmospheric sciences, where there are a lot of very important scientific issues, she has the ability to work beyond the lab and do so much outreach.”

Facebook steps up fight against fake news

September 19, 2016

Facebook says it is working to fight the spread of fake news on its platform after false stories claiming the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy and that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was backing Hillary Clinton appeared among its “trending topics.” The trending section is supposed to include news stories that are popular among users, but the algorithms used to determine their selection have backfired on the company.

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