Saturday, September 5, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: MIT Mischief

"In latest MIT hack, a tribute to pranks of years past" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  September 04, 2015

It looked like someone used a catapult to fire a cow, a firetruck, and a large golden ring from the “Lord of the Rings” movies onto the top of a building at MIT. They all went “SPLAT,” explained a banner.

It was all part of this year’s annual “hack,” or prank, in which MIT students showcase their ingenuity and grab media attention at the beginning of another school year.

Tell it to Swartz (or was that another staged event so he could move on to his next career?).

Not only that, this "prank hack" being thrown in your face while the baby is being butchered can lead to only one conclusion. The hacking attacks are being carried out by:

1.) The Jewish Mafia (and by extension Israel)
2.) The U.S. government (and by extension Israel)
3.) Software security companies that stand to benefit (and by extension, but not always, Jewish interests. Think Chertoff and Giuliani as a Lifelock)

I wouldn't worry about the infant being killed in the crib.

The theme of this year’s hack was a tribute to past hacks. It was also a contrast to the usual hack, which features some incongruous object very carefully placed at the very top of the dome.


Aaron Weinberger, MIT’s assistant director for institute affairs, said the gag was a sure sign that summer was over.

Hell, Globe is telling me winter is already here.

“This is what is great about MIT, “ he said, staring at the dome as workers pulled apart the truck and its wooden frame. “There is a sense of creativity heresomething unusual occurs here all of the time.”

When asked if the school gets frustrated by the hacks each year, Weinberger said MIT “loves it.”

“This is at the heart of what MIT is about,” he said.


"Toyota gives $50 million to MIT, Stanford for smart car tech" Nidhi Subbaraman, Boston Globe  |  September 5 2015

Toyota has committed $50 million to smart car research divided equally between groups at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, the company announced Friday.

The Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center at MIT will receive $25 million over five years and is led by an all-star cast of artificial intelligence and robotics experts at the institute. CSAIL stands for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

The merry band on both coasts will be led by Gill Pratt, who until this summer was the program director at the US Defense Advanced Research Program Agency, leading an international robotics contest that wrapped up in June.

The MIT researchers include:

* Daniela Rus, CSAIL director who previously has described her vision for an autonomous taxi fleet
* Russ Tedrake, who led MIT’s team at the DARPA Robotics Challenge
* John Leonard, who has done something of a case study on Google’s self-driving car systems, and is developing mapping and navigation systems for robots

Safety is the preliminary target of the five-year program, with the goal of developing AI-assisted systems that could reduce accidents, according to a release from MIT.

Pratt told the New York Times that he aims to keep people “in the loop,” which means the assistive software will come to life and prevent accidents when humans err. In this way, he explained, his program differs from Google’s vision of an entirely autonomous, or self-driving vehicle.


"Traffic wrecks and deaths could well plummet in a world without any drivers, as some researchers predict. But wide use of self-driving cars is still many years away, and testers are still sorting out hypothetical risks — like hackers — and real-world challenges, like what happens when an autonomous car breaks down on the highway. For now, there is the nearer-term problem of blending robots and humans."

See the license plate they gave 'em?

RelatedDrivers’ suit against Uber to move ahead

Hitting the gas as they want to keep you from being an entrepreneur.

Coincidentally, just this week Google identified human-robot interactions on the road as the very thing that muddies the safety record of their own self-driving cars. 

You damn humans, you are always the problem. Best thing would just be to get rid of a whole pile of you.

The automatons are sticklers for traffic rules, the company reported, confused by the caprice of human drivers in other vehicles. It seems the Toyota-Stanford-MIT partnership wants to make the two play nice.

I live in a state where we are allegedly the worst drivers, so I suppose we will be one of the pilot programs, 'eh?


Also see: DARPA Projects Making MIT Students Depressed? 

Normally I'd go for a drive, but....

"Reaching for the stars, Part I

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Boeing already has the Dreamliner. Now it also has the Starliner. The aerospace giant revealed the name of its future space fleet Friday. More than 200 people, including a bevy of former astronauts, gathered at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to celebrate the grand opening of Boeing’s commercial crew and cargo processing facility. Once a space shuttle hangar, the transformed building will serve as home to the Starliner. Its first launch with a crew to the International Space Station is targeted for 2017. Until Friday, Boeing’s still-under-development capsule was known simply as the CST-100, an abbreviation for Crew Space Transportation and 100 kilometers, the threshold of space. Boeing is one of two private US companies contracted by NASA to transport space station astronauts. SpaceX is developing an enhanced version of its cargo-carrying Dragon capsule — a super Dragon.

Ignore the failures and begin the countdown.

Reaching for the stars, Part II

NEW YORK — The release of the new Star Wars movie may still be months off, but Disney is unleashing its full marketing ‘‘Force’’ behind the launch of hundreds of toys and other items related to the film. The massive marketing blitz, which Disney has named ‘‘Force Friday,’’ spans all kinds of media and included an 18-hour global ‘‘unboxing’’ streamed live on YouTube. Meanwhile, major toy retailers planned to be open and hold special events when the toys first became available just after midnight Friday. Among the first cities was Hong Kong, with toy stores open at midnight. The marketing push behind ‘‘Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,’’ is unique because it’s so far ahead of the movie’s US release, 116 days to be exact. But analysts say it can work because Star Wars is such a popular franchise. Leaked images of action figures of characters that have not even hit the big screen are only likely to fuel consumer demand, says Steve Pasierb, chief executive of the Toy Industry Association. Toy makers are gearing up for a big rush on Friday. Pawtucket’s Hasbro Inc., which has been making Star Wars toys for three decades, planned to unveil more than 100 items." 

I'm already sick of it -- and I'm a big, big fan!

Nothing funny about this:

"Adam Hirsch had seen it all in Harvard Square, until he could not see the basement floor. Hirsch, owner of the famous Curious George children’s store, arrived at the store at about 6:30 a.m. Friday to find the basement flooded, after a major water main burst a block away. “Part of the challenge of being in a place with old infrastructure is the old infrastructure,” Hirsch said. “It just comes with the territory.” Hirsch shrugged off the incident as another example of Harvard Square’s old charm. “We’ll endure, that’s what we do,” he said. “We love it here, and this is a minor blip.” Several businesses closed in the wake of the flooding, including Verizon Wireless, TIAA-CREF, Starbucks , Kaplan University, and Citizens Bank. Harvard bus routes were also being rerouted, police said."

Yeah, those are the breaks on Bo$ton.

"Harvard University would forgo $108 million of investment returns annually if it divested from the largest oil, gas, and coal companies, according to a study funded by the petroleum industry. The research is the latest in a debate about the best course for investors in the face of concerns about climate change. Opponents of divestment point to losses when institutions reduce diversification in their portfolios. Others warn of potential costs of holding shares in energy companies contributing to global warming. While dozens of schools have committed to stop buying fossil fuel company stocks, most wealthier institutions such as Harvard declined, saying it goes against their fiduciary duty to rule out such investments. They said they contribute to a better understanding of global warming through research and teaching while cutting the carbon footprints of their campuses. “If climate change is a first order problem, divestment is a very bad idea,” said Bradford Cornell, a visiting professor at California Institute of Technology who authored the report released Thursday. “This solution not only has a cost, it has no benefit.” Based on his calculations, Harvard’s loss of $108 million a year would equal about 7 percent of $1.5 billion in endowment funds made available to the university’s operating budget last year."

That will $ure take some $team out of their $40 billion (with a b) endowment (and the complete $ham surrounding the whole "debate" in my pre$$).

Also see:

Tarantula is on the loose at UMass
Coyote attacks dog, stalks hiker
Rare heron draws bird-watchers to park
Whale calf off Plymouth causes concern
A Lincoln field, a herd of hobby horses, and a whimsical mystery

Looks like today's top feature, that mystery.


"Police are advising motorists to avoid the area, and visitors to take public transportation, walk, or bike to the square. “I think it was just a combination of age, wear and tear,” Mark Gallagher, Cambridge’s city engineer, said Saturday afternoon."