The Internet

Vint Cerf Reflects On The Last 60 Years (computerworld.com) 66

Computerworld celebrated its 50th anniversary by interviewing Vinton Cerf. The 73-year-old "father of the internet" remembers reading the early issues of the magazine, and reflects on how much things have changed since he gained access to computers at UCLA in 1960, "the beginning of my love affair with computing." I worry 100 years from now our descendants may not know much about us or be able to read our emails or tweets or documents because nobody saved them or the software you need to read them won't exist anymore. It's a huge issue. I have files of text that were written 20 years ago in WordPerfect, except I don't have WordPerfect running anywhere...

Q: Do you think [creating the internet] was your greatest accomplishment?

No. Getting it turned on was a big deal. Keeping it running for the last some odd years was an even bigger deal. Protecting it from hostile governments that want to shut it down and supporting new applications at a higher capacity are all evolutions. The evolution continues... I don't know if I can point to anything and say that's the biggest accomplishment. It's one big climb up the mountain.

Looking ahead to a future filled with AI, Cerf says "I worry about turning over too much autonomous authority to a piece of software," though he's not overly concerned, "not like Stephen Hawking or Elon Musk, who are alarmists about artificial intelligence. Every time you use Google search or self-driving cars, you're using A.I. These are all assistive technologies and I suspect this is how it will be used."

He also acknowledges that "I probably don't have another 50 years left, unless Ray Kurzweil's predictions come true, and I can upload my consciousness into a computer."
Businesses

Tesla Factory Workers Reveal Pain, Injury and Stress: 'Everything Feels Like the Future But Us' (theguardian.com) 255

Workers at Tesla's California car factory have been passing out and requiring rides in ambulances, the Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday. The conditions at the factory suggest the lengths the company is going to in order to meet its extremely ambitious production goals, and the tension employees feel between their pride in being part of the company and the stress and exhaustion the company's goals are causing them, according to the report. From the article: Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues. In a phone interview about the conditions at the factory, which employs about 10,000 workers, the Tesla CEO conceded his workers had been "having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs," but said he cared deeply about their health and wellbeing. His company says its factory safety record has significantly improved over the last year. Musk also said that Tesla should not be compared to major US carmakers and that its market capitalization, now more than $50bn, is unwarranted. "I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve," he said, pointing out his company produces just 1% of GM's total output. "We're a money-losing company," Musk added. "This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It's just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?" The article also sheds light on the kind of manager Musk is. In early 2016, Musk slept on the factory floor in a sleeping bag "to make it the most painful thing possible. I knew people were having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs. I wanted to work harder than they did, to put even more hours in," he was quoted as saying. "Because that's what I think a manager should do."
Transportation

Elon Musk Posts New Video of 'Boring' Equipment and Company's First Tunnel (cnbc.com) 118

Elon Musk has posted a new video and several pictures of equipment that will be used to start digging tunnels beneath Los Angeles. There's a picture of boring machine segments that are being lowered into the start tunnel at SpaceX, a front view of the tunnel, an inside view of the tunnel, and a picture of the front of the boring machine that will cut through underground rock. Additionally, the video shows a version of the "skate" that will cary cars through the tunnel at a speed of 125 mph. CNBC reports: The project is one of Musk's latest ventures, which was inspired by a desire to alleviate "out of control" traffic in Los Angeles. He aims to first dig a tunnel from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to the nearby Los Angeles airport. Musk frequently flies from Los Angeles to the San Francisco area, where he runs Tesla. Eventually, he envisions a deep, multilayered network of underground tunnels spanning the city.
Businesses

Tesla's Highly-Anticipated Solar Roofs Go Up For Pre-Order Today (inhabitat.com) 143

Kristine Lofgren writes: Get ready: Tesla's ground-breaking Solar Roof tiles are available for order in the U.S. starting today. In typical fashion, CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that the anticipated tech would be available to order this afternoon with installation happening later this year. Tesla's tiles look like traditional roof tiles but they soak up all that delicious sunlight in order to power your home. According to the company, the tiles will be more affordable than typical roofing and can be paired with their Powerwall battery to power a home completely using solar energy.
The Internet

SpaceX Plans To Send the First of Its 4,425 Super-Fast Internet Satellites Into Space in 2019 (cnbc.com) 160

Elon Musk's SpaceX has laid out a plan to create a network of internet-providing satellites around Earth. The company hopes to start launching satellites into space in 2019, and will continue to send them in phases until 2024, when the network is expected to reach capacity. From a report:On Wednesday, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX's vice president of satellite government affairs, said later this year, the company will start testing the satellites themselves, launch one prototype before the end of the year and another during the "early months" of 2018. Following that, SpaceX will begin its satellite launch campaign in 2019. "The remaining satellites in the constellation will be launched in phases through 2024," Cooper said before the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology. [...] SpaceX argues that the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in broadband speed and price competitiveness, while many rural areas are not serviced by traditional internet providers. The company's satellites will provide a "mesh network" in space that will be able to deliver high broadband speeds without the need for cables.
Businesses

Tesla Executives Linked To Investment In a Startup That Focuses On 'Materials Recycling' (cnbc.com) 20

According to CNBC, "Two Tesla executives have been named as directors of a company called Redwood Materials, which appears to focus on technology to recycle and reuse manufacturing materials." From the report: Jeffrey Straubel, chief technical officer, and Andrew Stevenson, head of special projects at the auto firm, were on a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing highlighting a $2 million fundraiser for the Redwood Materials. The document was first uncovered by data platform CB Insights on Monday. Straubel and Stevenson are named as executive officers and directors of this company. Stevenson is also down as chief financial officer. Redwood Materials describes itself as making "advanced technology and process development for materials recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse," on its website. The SEC filing shows that the company was set up in 2017 and is based in Redwood City, California. It has raised $2 million from just one investor but the name of the backer is not disclosed. The extent of Tesla's involvement with Redwood Materials is unclear, but if it were a partner, customer or even investor, it would certainly make sense. The company, which is run by billionaire Elon Musk, has been focused on ways to make its supply chain more efficient in order to scale and meet demand. Using a company like Redwood Materials would allow Tesla to own more of the supply chain, potentially helping to boost production, and in a more sustainable way, given that it would be recycling materials to be manufactured into different parts.
Transportation

Why Elon Musk Doesn't Like Flying Cars (yahoo.com) 183

boley1 quotes Business Insider: According to Elon Musk, the main challenges with flying cars are that they'll be noisy and generate lots of wind because of the downward force required to keep them in the air. Plus, there's an anxiety factor. "Let's just say if something is flying over your head...that is not an anxiety-reducing situation," he said. "You don't think to yourself 'Well, I feel better about today. You're thinking 'Is it going to come off and guillotine me as it comes flying past?'"
AI

Wired Founding Editor Now Challenges 'The Myth of A Superhuman AI' (backchannel.com) 284

Wired's founding executive editor Kevin Kelly wrote a 5,000-word takedown on "the myth of a superhuman AI," challenging dire warnings from Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and Elon Musk about the potential extinction of humanity at the hands of a superintelligent constructs. Slashdot reader mirandakatz calls it an "impeccably argued debunking of this pervasive myth." Kelly writes: Buried in this scenario of a takeover of superhuman artificial intelligence are five assumptions which, when examined closely, are not based on any evidence... 1.) Artificial intelligence is already getting smarter than us, at an exponential rate. 2.) We'll make AIs into a general purpose intelligence, like our own. 3.) We can make human intelligence in silicon. 4.) Intelligence can be expanded without limit. 5.) Once we have exploding superintelligence it can solve most of our problems... If the expectation of a superhuman AI takeover is built on five key assumptions that have no basis in evidence, then this idea is more akin to a religious belief -- a myth
Kelly proposes "five heresies" which he says have more evidence to support them -- including the prediction that emulating human intelligence "will be constrained by cost" -- and he likens artificial intelligence to the physical powers of machines. "[W]hile all machines as a class can beat the physical achievements of an individual human...there is no one machine that can beat an average human in everything he or she does."
Transportation

Elon Musk Outlines His 'Boring' Vision For Traffic-Avoiding Tunnels (axios.com) 171

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed new details about his futuristic tunnel-boring project during his TED talk on Friday. Ina Fried, writing for Axios: In an appearance at the TED conference in Vancouver, Musk showed off a new video visualization of electric skates transporting cars in a narrow tunnel, then raising them back to street level in a space as small as two parking spaces. Inside the tunnels, Musk said cars could travel as fast as 200 kilometers per hour (roughly 130 MPH). "You should be able to go from say Westwood to LAX in 5-6 minutes," the Tesla and SpaceX founder said, adding he is spending only 2-3 percent on the tunnel effort. The Boring Company is currently building a demo tunnel in SpaceX's parking lot, but will need permits from the city of Los Angeles to extend beyond the property line. Musk added, "I'm not trying to be anyone's savior. I'm just trying to think about the future and not be sad." You can watch the video here.
Transportation

Tesla's German Automation Expert Klaus Grohmann Ousted After Clash With CEO Musk (reuters.com) 69

According to Reuters, "Tesla executive Klaus Grohmann was ousted last month after a clash with CEO Elon Musk over the strategy of Grohmann's firm, which Tesla had acquired in November." Grohmann Engineer's automation and engineering expertise is being relied upon by Tesla to help it increase production to 500,000 cars per year by 2018. From the report: Tesla planned to keep Grohmann on, and Grohmann wanted to stay, but the clash with Musk over how to treat existing clients resulted in his departure, the source said. Grohmann disagreed with Musk's demands to focus management attention on Tesla projects to the detriment of Grohmann Engineering's legacy clients, which included Tesla's direct German-based rivals Daimler and BMW, two sources familiar with the matter said. "I definitely did not depart because I had lost interest in working," Grohmann said, without elaborating. A Tesla spokesman, asked about Grohmann's departure, praised him for building an "incredible company" and said: "Part of Mr Grohmann's decision to work with Tesla was to prepare for his retirement and leave the company in capable hands for the future. Given the change in focus to Tesla projects, we mutually decided that it was the right time for the next generation of management to lead."
Power

In Preparation For Model 3, Tesla Plans To Double the Size of Its Supercharger Network This Year (fortune.com) 177

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Tesla says it will double the number of electric vehicle chargers in its network this year as the automaker prepares for the production of its mass-market vehicle the Model 3. The plan, announced Monday in a blog post on the company's website, will grow its global network of Superchargers from more than 5,400 today to more than 10,000 by the end of the year. Tesla, which had previously announced in its annual shareholder letter plans to double the network in North America, did not disclose the cost of such an ambitious expansion. Many sites will soon enter construction to open in advance of the summer travel season, according to Tesla. The company says it will add charging locations within city centers as well as highway sites this year. The goal is to make "charging ubiquitous in urban centers," Tesla says in its blog post. The company says it will build larger sites along busy travel routes to accommodate several dozen Teslas simultaneously. These larger sites will also have customer service centers.
Government

Ontario Launches Universal Basic Income Pilot (www.cbc.ca) 524

Reader epiphani writes: The Ontario Government will pilot universal basic income in a $50M program supporting 4,000 households over a 3 year period. While Slashdot has vigorously debated universal basic income in the past, and even Elon Musk has predicted it's necessity, experts continue to debate and gather data on the approach in the face of increasing automation. Ontario's plan will study three communities over three years, with participants receiving up to $17,000 annually if single, and $24,000 for families.
Communications

Inside Elon Musk's New Company Neuralink Which Aims To Fight Brain Conditions And Help Humanity Survive in the Age of AI (waitbutwhy.com) 63

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has confirmed plans for his newest company, called Neuralink Corp, revealing he will be the chief executive of a startup that aims to merge computers with brains so humans could one day engage in "consensual telepathy." In an interview with explainer website Wait But Why (36,000-word), Musk said Neuralink aims to implant tiny brain electrodes that first would be used to fight brain conditions but later help humanity avoid subjugation at the hands of intelligent machines. From the report: "There are a bunch of concepts in your head that then your brain has to try to compress into this incredibly low data rate called speech or typing," Musk said. "That's what language is, your brain has executed a compression algorithm on thought, on concept transfer. If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person." Musk says he expects the project to take eight to 10 years before being usable by people with no disability. He anticipates tons of regulatory challenges in his way.
Transportation

Toyota Unveils Plan For Hydrogen Powered Semi Truck (rdmag.com) 163

New submitter omaha393 quotes a report from R&D Magazine: Toyota announced a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at advancing its work in vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The automaker unveiled Project Portal, which is a novel hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy duty truck use at the Port of Los Angeles. A proof-of-concept truck powered by this fuel cell will be part of a feasibility study held at the Port this summer, with the goal of examining the potential of this technology in heavy-duty applications. The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks along with a 12kWh battery. Overall, the combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds that will be carried over 200 miles.

omaha393 adds: "While hydrogen fuel has been criticized due to high cost of production and safety concerns, recent advances in catalysis and solid storage systems have made the prospect of hydrogen fuel an attractive commercial prospect for the future."

Transportation

Tesla Will Reveal Its Electric Semi Truck in September (techcrunch.com) 273

From a report: Elon Musk just let us know when we'll get a look at the electric semi truck that he's teased in the past: The Tesla transport vehicle will be revealed in September, the CEO said on Twitter on Thursday, noting that the team has "done an amazing job" and that the vehicle is "seriously next level." Plans at Tesla for an electric semi truck have been in the works for a while now: The vehicle was first mentioned back in July of 2016, when Musk revealed part 2 of his fabled "master plan" for his electric vehicle company. The Tesla Semi, as Musk called it, is designed to help reduce the cost of cargo transportation, and improve safety for drivers, according to the CEO at the time.
Businesses

Neuroscientists Weigh In On Elon Musk's Mysterious 'Neural Lace' Company (ieee.org) 103

the_newsbeagle writes: Elon Musk has set out to change the world with SpaceX's reusable rockets and Tesla's electric cars, and now he plans to change your brain. His new company, Neuralink, will reportedly build delicate brain implants called "neural lace" to help people with neuropsychiatric disorders and to give healthy people strange new mental abilities. But the news announcements about the company contained scant details about what kind of hardware Neuralink might actually build, and what engineering challenges the company will have to overcome in pursuit of miniaturized and safe brain implants. Here, five neuroscience experts describe those challenges, and give hints on what to expect from Musk's neural dust. One of the neuroscientists is Mary Lou Jepsen, founder of the Openwater startup, which is looking for ways to develop a noninvasive BCI for imaging and telepathy. Jepsen was also "an engineering executive at Facebook working on its Oculus virtual reality gear; before that she spent three years at Google X, running advanced projects on display technology," reports IEEE Spectrum. She says that Neuralink will likely face many medical hurdles, even if their process doesn't require splitting open patients' skulls. "The approach as I understand it (not much is published) involves implanting silicon particles (so called "neural lace") into the bloodstream. One concern is that implanting anything in the body can cause unintended consequences," says Jepsen. "For example, even red blood cells can clog capillaries in the brain when the red blood cells are made more stiff by diseases like malaria. This clogging can reduce or even cut off the flow of oxygen to the parts of the brain. Indeed, clogging of cerebral capillaries has been shown to be a major cause of Alzheimer's progression. Back to neural lace: One concern I would have is whether the silicon particles could lead to any clogging."
The Almighty Buck

Tesla Tops GM by Market Value as Investors See Musk as Future (bloomberg.com) 289

Tesla became the largest U.S. auto maker by market value on Monday, overtaking General Motors -- a feat that would have seemed highly improbable 13 years ago when the electric-car maker first began tinkering with the idea of making a sports car. From a report: Tesla climbed as much as 3.4 percent in early Monday trading, boosting its market capitalization to about $51 billion. The company was valued at about $1.7 billion more than GM as of 9:35 a.m. in New York. The turnabout shows the extent to which investors have bought into Musk's vision that electric vehicles will eventually rule the road. While GM has beat Tesla to market with a plug-in Chevrolet Bolt with a price and range similar to what Musk has promised for his Model 3 sedan coming later this year, the more than century-old company has failed to match the enthusiasm drummed up by its much smaller and rarely profitable U.S. peer. No matter, say investors who like the stock. Tesla is a technology player with the ability to dominate a market for electric cars and energy storage. To those same investors, GM and Ford are headed for a slowdown in car sales that will erode profits. "Is it fair? No, it isn't fair," Maryann Keller, an auto-industry consultant in Stamford, Connecticut, said of GM ceding the market-cap crown. "Even if Tesla turns a profit, they will eventually have to make enough to justify this valuation."
Transportation

Musk Trolls Shorts as Tesla's Value Hits Record, Passes Ford (bloomberg.com) 251

Tesla's Elon Musk poked fun at short sellers as his electric-car maker's stock surged to a record, vaulting its market value past century-old rival Ford. From a report on Bloomberg: "Stormy weather in Shortville..." the chief executive officer tweeted Monday, as Tesla shares climbed as much as 5.8 percent. The maker of Model S sedans and Model X crossovers saw its capitalization surge to about $48.2 billion, $3.1 billion more than Ford, the No. 2 automaker in the U.S. after General Motors Co. Tesla has long been a popular target by short sellers such as Jim Chanos, who famously bet early on energy company Enron's failure -- and was proved right. Short interest in Tesla has risen to 29 percent of its free float from a 52-week low of 20 percent in mid-October, according to Markit data. Tesla's move past Ford came one day after Musk's company reported worldwide shipments of 25,000 cars and SUVs in the first quarter, exceeding analysts' estimates. While Ford delivered about nine times as many vehicles in just the U.S. last month, its sales missed projections and the shares fell.
Businesses

Bidding Website Rentberry May Be the Startup of Your Nightmares (gizmodo.com) 307

Renting is already fraught with pain, from annual rent hikes to extortionate lettings fees. But if a new service called Rentberry takes off, it could be about to get a lot worse. From a report: Rentberry has been operating in test cities and angering affordable housing advocates since 2016. But with its new expansion into 1,000 cities in the United States, the rental bidding website is about to piss off a lot more people. Alex Lubinksy, founder of Rentberry, seems to be pursuing an image that's closer to Uber's vilified Travis Kalanick than the do-gooder model of Elon Musk. Lubinsky courts the controversy that surrounds his startup and is known to include negative press when communicating his vision to reporters. But one big difference with Rentberry will be that if it takes off and becomes the new standard for renting apartments, most of its customers won't be able to run a #deleteRentberry campaign because landlords will have the control. The website essentially functions as a cross between CraigsList and eBay. A landlord lists a rental space and potential tenants bid against one another to claim the lease. Tenants' personal information is available to the landlord. The landlord then makes their final decision by weighing what the best offer is along with which bidder seems like they'd be the best tenant. For now, Rentberry charges users a $25 fee, but in the future, it plans to charge 25 percent of the difference between the asking price and the agreed upon rent. Whoever received the better deal pays the fee -- every month.
Space

SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Successful Launch, Landing of a Used Rocket (theverge.com) 260

Eloking quotes a report from The Verge: After more than two years of landing its rockets after launch, SpaceX finally sent one of its used Falcon 9s back into space. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this evening, sending a communications satellite into orbit, and then landed on one of SpaceX's drone ships floating in the Atlantic Ocean. It was round two for this particular rocket, which already launched and landed during a mission in April of last year. But the Falcon 9's relaunch marks the first time an orbital rocket has launched to space for a second time. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appeared on the company's live stream shortly after the landing and spoke about the accomplishment. "It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight," he said. "It's been 15 years to get to this point, it's taken us a long time," Musk said. "A lot of difficult steps along the way, but I'm just incredibly proud of the SpaceX for being able to achieve this incredible milestone in the history of space."

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