DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
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) 61

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) 152

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) 271

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."
Science

Elon Musk Launches Neuralink To Connect Brains With Computers (businessinsider.com) 120

At Recode's conference last year, Elon Musk said he would love to see someone do something about linking human brains with computers. With no other human being volunteering, Mr. Musk -- who founded PayPal and OpenAI, thought of Hyperloop, is working on a boring company, and runs SpaceX, TeslaX, SolarCity -- is now working on it. From a report on WSJ: Internal sources tell the WSJ that the company, called Neuralink, is developing "neural lace" technology that would allow people to communicate directly with machines without going through a physical interface. Neural lace involves implanting electrodes in the brain so people could upload or download their thoughts to or from a computer, according to the WSJ report. The product could allow humans to achieve higher levels of cognitive function. From WSJ's report (paywalled): The founder and chief executive of Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies Corp.has launched another company called Neuralink Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. Neuralink is pursuing what Mr. Musk calls "neural lace" technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts. Mr. Musk didn't respond to a request for comment. Max Hodak, who said he is a "member of the founding team," confirmed the company's existence and Mr. Musk's involvement.
Mars

SpaceX Disappointed In Lack of NASA Mars Funding; Starts Looking For Landing Sites For Its Own Mars Missions 103

frank249 writes: Elon Musk says that the new NASA authorization legislation "changes almost nothing about what NASA is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars." From a report via Ars Technica: "Musk is absolutely correct on two counts. First, an 'authorization' bill does not provide funding. That comes from appropriations committees. Secondly, while Congress has been interested in building rockets and spacecraft, it is far less interested in investing in the kinds of technology and research that would actually enable a full-fledged Mars exploration program." In other news, SpaceNews reports that "SpaceX has been working with NASA to identify potential landing sites on Mars for both its Red Dragon spacecraft (starting in 2020) and future human missions." From the report: "Paul Wooster of SpaceX said the company, working with scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, had identified several potential landing sites, including one that looks particularly promising -- Arcadia Planitia. Those landing sites are of particular interest, he said, for SpaceX's long-term vision of establishing a human settlement on Mars, but he said the company wouldn't rule out sending Red Dragon spacecraft elsewhere on the planet to serve other customers. 'We're quite open to making use of this platform to take various payloads to other locations as well,' he said. 'We're really looking to turn this into a steady cadence, where we're sending Dragons to Mars on basically every opportunity.' The Red Dragon spacecraft, he said, could carry about one ton of useful payload to Mars, with options for those payloads to remain in the capsule after landing or be deployed on the surface. 'SpaceX is a transportation company,' he said. 'We transport cargo to the space station, we deliver payloads to orbit, so we're very happy to deliver payloads to Mars.'" Fans of the book/movie "The Martian" would be happy if SpaceX does select Arcadia Planitia for their first landing site as that was the landing site of the Ares 3.
Biotech

Tech Billionaires Invest In Linking Brains To Computers (technologyreview.com) 77

"To many in Silicon Valley, the brain looks like an unconquered frontier whose importance dwarfs any achievement made in computing or the Web," including Bryan Johnson, the founder of Braintree online payments, and Elon Musk. An anonymous reader quotes MIT Technology Review: Johnson is effectively jumping on an opportunity created by the Brain Initiative, an Obama-era project which plowed money into new schemes for recording neurons. That influx of cash has spurred the formation of several other startups, including Paradromics and Cortera, also developing novel hardware for collecting brain signals. As part of the government brain project, the defense R&D agency DARPA says it is close to announcing $60 million in contracts under a program to create a "high-fidelity" brain interface able to simultaneously record from one million neurons (the current record is about 200) and stimulate 100,000 at a time...

According to neuroscientists, several figures from the tech sector are currently scouring labs across the U.S. for technology that might fuse human and artificial intelligence. In addition to Johnson, Elon Musk has been teasing a project called "neural lace," which he said at a 2016 conference will lead to "symbiosis with machines." And Mark Zuckerberg declared in a 2015 Q&A that people will one day be able to share "full sensory and emotional experiences," not just photos. Facebook has been hiring neuroscientists for an undisclosed project at Building 8, its secretive hardware division.

Elon Musk complains that the current speeds for transferring signals from brains are "ridiculously slow".
AI

Ray Kurzweil On How We'll End Up Merging With Our Technology (foxnews.com) 161

Mr.Intel quotes a report from Fox News: "By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence," Kurzweil said in an interview at the SXSW Conference with Shira Lazar and Amy Kurzweil Comix. Known as the Singularity, the event is oft discussed by scientists, futurists, technology stalwarts and others as a time when artificial intelligence will cause machines to become smarter than human beings. The time frame is much sooner than what other stalwarts have said, including British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, as well as previous predictions from Kurzweil, who said it may occur as soon as 2045. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who recently acquired ARM Holdings with the intent on being one of the driving forces in the Singularity, has previously said it could happen in the next 30 years. Kurzweil apparently ins't worried about the rise in machine learning and artificial intelligence. In regard to AI potentially enslaving humanity, Kurzweil said, "That's not realistic. We don't have one or two AIs in the world. Today we have billions." He shares a similar view with Elon Musk by saying that humans need to converge with machines, pointing out the work already being done in Parkinson's patients. "They're making us smarter," Kurzeil said during the SXSW interview. "They may not yet be inside our bodies, but, by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud... We're going to be funnier, we're going to be better at music. We're going to be sexier. We're really going to exemplify all the things that we value in humans to a greater degree." You can watch the full interview on Facebook.
Businesses

Tesla To Raise Over $1.15 Billion To Help Offset Risk For Model 3 Production (techcrunch.com) 86

Tesla is looking to raise a total of around $1.15 billion from stock and convertible senior notes as a way to help "further reduce any risks" that it'll incur as it scales its business to handle its aggressive Model 3 production schedule, the company said. From a report: Tesla's decision to pad out its balance sheet with more capital was anticipated by many analysts, and a fair number of Wall Street watchers actually thought Tesla would seek more to help it grow based on recent comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The Model 3 is set to begin full production this year, with pre-production begun in February with a temporary production line pause to help get processes at its Fremont factory ready for the new vehicle. The split of the new funding efforts will see Tesla pursue $250 million in common stock offering, with $750 million raised via convertible notes due in 2022. Elon Musk himself will personally contribute by buying $25 million in Tesla stock.
Businesses

Hyperloop One Reveals Test Track Progress (computerworld.com.au) 223

Hyperloop One has released the first photographs of its "proof of concept" test track near Las Vegas, Nevada, and there's now also a couple short videos online. Slashdot reader angry tapir quotes Computerworld: The company revealed its progress on Tuesday at the Middle East Rail conference in Dubai, sharing pictures and footage of its Nevada development site dubbed "DevLoop." Taking Elon Musk's Hyperloop concept of a levitating pod in a low-pressure tube, Hyperloop One has developed what is so far the only full-scale, full-system Hyperloop test site...and says it plans to test the entire apparatus this year.
In addition, Investopedia reports that Hyperloop One has now also signed letter of intent agreements to investigate the feasibility of building more hyperloop systems in Finland and the Netherlands.
Space

Jeff Bezos' Spaceflight Company Blue Origin Gets Its First Paying Customer (nytimes.com) 32

Long-time Slashdot reader nickovs writes: Blue Origin was started as a "moon shot" company by Jeff Bezos and recently claimed that it would be offering an "Amazon-like" delivery service to the moon by 2020. In the mean time it seems their customers will be slightly closer to Earth: this week they announced that they now have a paying customer in the form of the satellite TV company Eutelsat. While this isn't a huge technical milestone, it is a major business milestone, turning Blue Origin from a hobby business into one which might eventually make a profit. According to a New York Times article, "The commercial partnership brings Blue Origin closer in line with SpaceX, created by Elon Musk, which has been launching satellites and taking NASA cargo to the International Space Station for several years."
Meanwhile, SpaceX announced last week that two space tourists have already put down "a significant deposit" for a week-long trip around the moon at the end of 2018, adding "Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow."
Power

Elon Musk: I Can Fix South Australia Power Network in 100 Days Or It's Free (theguardian.com) 274

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state's energy woes within 100 days -- or he'll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free. On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla's vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state. Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla's new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days. Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Atlassian, on Friday tweeted Elon Musk, asking if Tesla was serious about being able to install the capacity. Musk replied that the company could do it in 100 days of the contract being signed, or else provide it free, adding: "That serious enough for you?"
Transportation

Hyperloop Firm Eyes Indonesia For Ultra-Fast Transport System (cnbc.com) 58

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), one of the companies developing the futuristic transport service dreamed up by billionaire Elon Musk, said it was exploring Indonesia as a potential site to put one of its tracks. The so-called "feasibility study" contract is worth $2.5 million and will look into whether a hyperloop system would work initially in the capital Jakarta, and then connecting Java and Sumatra. A hyperloop would work by propelling pods through a large tube at speeds of 750 mph using magnets. It is seen as a solution to long distance travel, but also alleviating congestion in many cities. Jakarta is the world's third-worst city for traffic, according to a study by navigation from TomTom released earlier this year.
Advertising

Elon Musk Agrees To Hold Contest For Fan-Made Tesla Ads, At the Urging of a 5th Grader (adweek.com) 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Adweek: Elon Musk is well aware that Tesla's superfans love to make unauthorized commercials for the brand, given that Tesla doesn't make its own (and, given the power of word of mouth, doesn't really need to). But it has taken a fifth-grade girl to convince him to actually run a fan-made ad. "Dear Elon Musk, I'm Bria from Ms. Esparza's 5th grade class," she wrote to the Tesla founder in a letter that her father (a writer for InsideEVs.com) also posted to Twitter. "I have noticed that you do not advertise, but many people make homemade commercials for Tesla and some of them are very good, they look professional and they are entertaining. So, I think that you should run a competition on who can make the best homemade Tesla commercial and the winners will get their commercial aired." Within an hour of the Twitter post, Musk -- who apparently is as smart as a fifth grader -- brightened to the idea. "Thank you for the lovely letter. That sounds like a great idea. We'll do it!" he wrote. Two of the fan-made, cinematography-rich commercials mentioned in the report include the 2014 spot called "Modern Spaceship," and "Fireflies," which was directed by Parachute's Sam O'Hare. What's particularly neat about the "Fireflies" ad is that it was completely CGI.
Businesses

Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin To Offer 'Amazon-Like' Moon Delivery By 2020 (geekwire.com) 76

Less than a week after Elon Musk's SpaceX announced it would soon offer space tourists a cruise around the moon, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has announced that he would be launching an Amazon-like service shipping supplies, experiments, and crew to the Moon by 2020. From a report: Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture has proposed sending a robotic lander to the moon's south polar region by 2020, as an initial step toward an "Amazon-like" lunar delivery system and eventually a permanently inhabited moon base. The report says the company's seven-page proposal, dated Jan. 4, has been circulating among NASA's leadership and President Donald Trump's transition team. It's only one of several proposals aimed at turning the focus of exploration beyond Earth orbit to the moon and its environs during Trump's term.
AI

AI Scientists Gather to Plot Doomsday Scenarios (bloomberg.com) 126

Dina Bass, reporting for Bloomberg: Artificial intelligence boosters predict a brave new world of flying cars and cancer cures. Detractors worry about a future where humans are enslaved to an evil race of robot overlords. Veteran AI scientist Eric Horvitz and Doomsday Clock guru Lawrence Krauss, seeking a middle ground, gathered a group of experts in the Arizona desert to discuss the worst that could possibly happen -- and how to stop it. Their workshop took place last weekend at Arizona State University with funding from Tesla co-founder Elon Musk and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Officially dubbed "Envisioning and Addressing Adverse AI Outcomes," it was a kind of AI doomsday games that organized some 40 scientists, cyber-security experts and policy wonks into groups of attackers -- the red team -- and defenders -- blue team -- playing out AI-gone-very-wrong scenarios, ranging from stock-market manipulation to global warfare.

Slashdot Top Deals