kelk1 sends this article from the Stanford News Service: "Stanford bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC (abstract). Kwabena Boahen and his team have developed Neurogrid, a circuit board consisting of 16 custom-designed 'Neurocore' chips. Together these 16 chips can simulate 1 million neurons and billions of synaptic connections. The team designed these chips with power efficiency in mind. Their strategy was to enable certain synapses to share hardware circuits. ... But much work lies ahead. Each of the current million-neuron Neurogrid circuit boards cost about $40,000. (...) Neurogrid is based on 16 Neurocores, each of which supports 65,536 neurons. Those chips were made using 15-year-old fabrication technologies. By switching to modern manufacturing processes and fabricating the chips in large volumes, he could cut a Neurocore's cost 100-fold – suggesting a million-neuron...

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An anonymous reader writes "In 2013, a startup called Outbox drew a lot of attention for its ambitious goal: digitizing everybody's snail mail. It was a nice dream; no more walking down your driveway six days a week to clear out the useless junk it contained. But less than a year later, Outbox shut down. This article explains how the United States Postal Service swiftly crushed their plan to make mail better. The founders were summoned to a meeting with the Postmaster General, who told them. 'We have a misunderstanding. You disrupt my service and we will never work with you. You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren't our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.' The USPS's Chief of Digital Strategy said Outbox's business model 'will never work anyway. Digital is a fad.'...

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We've pointed out a few times now, how the NSA seems unable to do basic cost-benefit analysis on its widespread surveillance. The NSA still seems to think that its surveillance is "costless" (perhaps beyond the $70 billion or so from taxpayers). However, as we've pointed out time and time again, distrust in US businesses thanks to the NSA's overreaching surveillance creates a very real cost for the economy.
And it seems to be growing day by day. Brazil, which has been one of the more vocal protesters concerning NSA surveillance, has just awarded a $4.5 billion contract for new fighter jets to Saab , rather than Boeing, which many expected to get the deal. And, Brazilian officials are making it clear that the NSA surveillance issue played a major role in throwing the contract from the Americans to the Swedes.
Until earlier this year, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had been
...

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Crime numbers are down. Police militarization is up. The War on Drugs continues to be fought with as much intensity as ever even as the country sides with legalization. So, when a lack of crime meets budgets, weaponry and expectations -- all primed for battle -- what's a poor law enforcement officer to do ?

Former deputies Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, have been charged with two felony counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and altering evidence, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Martinez faces two additional felony counts of perjury and filing a false report.
The two deputies had already had one charge -- possession of ecstasy -- but that apparently wasn't enough. Why settle for a low ball possession charge when you can add months or years to the sentence?
Before he got a search warrant, Martinez kicked a wall outlet
...

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A year ago, we wrote about filmmaker Brian Knappenberger's efforts to put together a documentary about Aaron Swartz . It wasn't going to be a "memorial," but rather an "investigative documentary" into Swartz's story and the lawsuit against him. Earlier this year, a very rough cut of the film made it to Sundance, where it received a tremendous reaction. In January, Knappenberger also put together some clips for a short trailer including some of Swartz's comments about the NSA, to help highlight "The Day We Fight Back." Now the film is finally getting close to an actual release, and a very powerful trailer has been released .
With so much going on in the world on a variety of issues that Aaron cared so deeply about, just this trailer should remind everyone how much the world has lost, and how much we're missing without Aaron around to help on these...

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Diamonds are a fascinating and unique material. So far, though, manufacturing large diamonds on a large scale isn't very economical, but there actually are a few processes that do make small, commercial synthetic diamonds. If cheap diamonds could be made to arbitrary dimensions, then all sorts of "Diamond Age" technologies could make things more durable or significantly better. (eg. Diamonds could replace silicon as a semiconducting substrate in electronics, and diamond touchscreens would be pretty scratch resistant.) Here are a few uses of diamonds that could provide a bit more value than gemstones.

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People are jumping on a story in the Financial Times, in which NBC Universal's research chief, Alan Wurtzel totally trashes Twitter for not being particularly important to television viewing . The basic claim about the relationship between Twitter and television may, in fact, be true, but the reasoning that Wurtzel presents for his conclusions makes no sense at all. In fact, it raises questions about what kind of "research" NBC Universal actually does.
NBCU had expected social media to have a dominating effect on viewership for the Games. However, during the 18-day period of coverage, just 19 per cent of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, the broadcaster found.
Frankly, that seems somewhat high to me. Part of the issue is that Wurtzel seems to think that everyone watching the Olympics and using social media would or should then express that fact to the public. That's bizarre....

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