__ / / / / / /_ /_/(_) Unofficial. URI # A Single AI-Enhanced Brain Scan Can Diagnose Alzheimer's Disease Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shares an announcement from London's Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine: A single MRI scan of the brain could be enough to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, according to new research by Imperial College London. The research uses machine learning technology to look at structural features within the brain, including in regions not previously associated with Alzheimer's. The advantage of the technique is its simplicity and the fact that it can identify the disease at an early stage when it can be very difficult to diagnose. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, getting a diagnosis quickly at an early stage helps patients. It allows them to access help and support, get treatment to manage their symptoms and plan for the future. Being able to accurately identify patients at an early stage of the disease will also help researchers to understand the brain changes that trigger the disease, and support development and trials of new treatments.... The researchers adapted an algorithm developed for use in classifying cancer umours, and applied it to the brain. They divided the brain into 115 regions and allocated 660 different features, such as size, shape and texture, to assess each region. They then trained the algorithm to identify where changes to these features could accurately predict the existence of Alzheimer's disease... They found that in 98 per cent of cases, the MRI-based machine learning system alone could accurately predict whether the patient had Alzheimer's disease or not. It was also able to distinguish between early and late-stage Alzheimer's with fairly high accuracy, in 79 per cent of patients. Professor Eric Aboagye, from Imperial's Department of Surgery and Cancer, who led the research, said: "Currently no other simple and widely available methods can predict Alzheimer's disease with this level of accuracy, so our research is an important step forward...." The new system spotted changes in areas of he brain not previously associated with Alzheimer's disease, [which] opens up potential new avenues for research into these areas and their links to Alzheimer's disease. Professor Aboagye adds that this new approach "could also identify early-stage patients for clinical trials of new drug treatments or lifestyle changes, which is currently very hard to do." URI # Are 'Google Programmers' the New 'Next-Next-Finish Programmers'? Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: Back in 1998, Ellen Ullman wrote in Salon about The dumbing-down of programming: "My programming tools were full of wizards. Little dialog boxes waiting for me to click "Next" and "Next" and "Finish." Click and drag and shazzam! — thousands of lines of working code. No need to get into he "hassle" of remembering the language. No need to even learn it. It is a powerful siren-song lure: You can make your program do all these wonderful and complicated things, and you don't really need to understand." Twenty-four years later, PVS-Studio has published a translation of Ivan Belokamentsev's cautionary tale of how modernizing his interviewing process from coding on paper to a computer led him to inadvertently hire 'Google Programmers', who dazzled him in interviews and initially on the job, but soon reached a plateau in productivity that puzzled him until he had a gobsmacking realization. From their article: It was like somebody hit me on the head with a sack of flour. It took me about two days to process it. How is it really possible? The beautiful, well-optimized code they showed me at the first interview was from the Internet. The explosive growth of productivity in the first months was due to the solutions that they found on the Internet. Those answers to user questions after the magic "We'll call you back" from these guys — were found on the Internet. They were coding without understanding the basic constructs. No, they didn't write code — they downloaded it. No, that's not it, either. To download the code is like running "npm i", it's ok. They copy-pasted the code. Without knowing how to write it. That's what angered me — what the...? Well, I understand when you surf he net to figure out how a new technology works. Or when you need to use some exotic feature and not to bloat your head with unnecessary information. But basic things! How can you copy-paste basic things from the Internet?! The article meditates on the mindset of "Google" programmers. Rather than learning about basic objects, types, and the constructs of a programming language, "Any information is available to them, always and everywhere. They've learned how to find this information quickly — whether it's the address of a store with cookies, pants on sale or generating a query." But long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo now pushes back: This is dumb. Not everyone has a great memory, and these days there are so many different tools and frameworks that nobody can remember them all anyway. Back in the day when it was all C, you could reasonably write useful code on paper. These days most of that code will probably be interacting with libraries that you have not committed to memory. If your developers are not progressing, help them. Give them training or mentoring. Challenge them. And there's also this advice from Slashdot reader Iamthecheese: "Stop selecting for low ethics in your hiring process." There is a stupid, stupid idea out there among the pointy hair types that it's possible to hire top tier candidates for peanuts. This idea has been put into heir heads by massively over-promising companies selling HR solutions of all shapes... They're actively selecting people with just enough ability to pass hese specific tests and who are unwilling to show their true levels of ability by hashing it out on their own. So you have these untrained people who look for easy ways past problems, but you were expecting "rock stars". Their suggested solution? "Stop looking for easy, cheap, already trained people and start looking for trainable, people." And then, "show them a little loyalty. That way you'll have people to train new hires, who also know what hey're doing on the job." URI # AI-Powered GitHub Copilot Leaves Preview, Now Costs $100 a Year It was June 29th of 2021 that Microsoft-owned GitHub first announced its AI-powered autocompletion tool for programmers — trained on GitHub repositories and other publicly-available source code. But after a year in "technical preview," GitHub Copilot has reached a new milestone, reports Info-Q: you'll now have to pay to use it after a 60-day rial: The transition to general availability mostly means that Copilot ceases to be available for free. Interested developers will have to pay 10 USD/month or $100 USD/year to use the service, with a 60-day free trial.... According to GitHub, while not frequent, there is definitely a possibility that Copilot outputs code snippets that match those in the training set. Info-Q also cites GitHub stats showing over 1.2 million developers used Copilot in the last 12 months "with a shocking 40% figure of code written by Copilot in files where it is enabled." That's up from 35% earlier in the year, reports TechCrunch — which has more info on the rollout: It'll be free for students as well as "verified" open source contributors — starting with roughly 60,000 developers selected from the community and students in the GitHub Education program... One new feature coinciding with he general release of Copilot is Copilot Explain, which translates code into natural language descriptions. Described as a research project, the goal is to help novice developers or those working with an unfamiliar codebase. Ryan J. Salva, VP of product at GitHub, told TechCrunch via email... "As an example of the impact we've observed, it's worth sharing early results from a study we are conducting. In the experiment, we are asking developers to write an HTTP server — half using Copilot and half without. Preliminary data suggests that developers are not only more likely to complete their task when using Copilot, but they also do it in roughly half the time." Owing to the complicated nature of AI models, Copilot remains an imperfect system. GitHub said that it's implemented filters to block emails when shown in standard formats, and offensive words, and that it's in the process of building a filter to help detect and suppress code that's repeated from public repositories. But the company acknowledges that Copilot can produce insecure coding patterns, bugs and references to outdated APIs, or idioms reflecting the less-than-perfect code in its training data. The Verge ponders where this is going — and how we got here: "Just like the rise of compilers and open source, we believe AI-assisted . coding will fundamentally change the nature of software development, giving . developers a new tool to write code easier and faster so they can be happier . in their lives," says GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke Microsoft's $1 billion . investment into OpenAI, the research firm now led by former Y Combinator . president Sam Altman, led to the creation of GitHub Copilot. It's built on . OpenAI Codex, a descendant of OpenAI's flagship GPT-3 language-generating . algorithm . GitHub Copilot has been controversial, though. Just days after its preview launch, there were questions over the legality of Copilot being trained on publicly available code posted to GitHub. Copyright issues aside, one study also found that around 40 percent of Copilot's output contained security vulnerabilities. URI # How China's Expanding Surveillance Allows the State to Tighten Its Grip "China's ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from everyday citizens is more expansive than previously known," reports the New York Times, after their Visual Investigations team with reporters in Asia "spent more than a year analyzing more than 100,000 government bidding documents." The Chinese government's goal is clear: designing a system to maximize what the state can find out about a person's identity, activities and social connections.... The Times analysis found that the police strategically chose locations to maximize he amount of data their facial recognition cameras could collect.... The police also wanted to install facial recognition cameras inside private spaces, like residential buildings, karaoke lounges and hotels. In the police's own words, he strategy to upgrade their video surveillance system was to achieve the ultimate goal of "controlling and managing people." Authorities are using phone trackers to link people's digital lives to their physical movements. Devices known as Wi-Fi sniffers and IMSI catchers can glean information from phones in their vicinity, which allow the police to track a arget's movements... In a 2017 bidding document from Beijing, the police wrote hat they wanted the trackers to collect phone owners' usernames on popular Chinese social media apps.... As of today, all 31 of mainland China's provinces and regions use phone trackers. DNA, iris scan samples and voice prints are being collected indiscriminately . from people with no connection to crime. The police in China are starting . o collect voice prints using sound recorders attached to their facial . recognition cameras. In the southeast city of Zhongshan, the police wrote . in a bidding document that they wanted devices that could record audio from . at least a 300-foot radius around cameras. Software would then analyze the . voice prints and add them to a database. Police boasted that when combined . with facial analysis, they could help pinpoint suspects faster The Times also . created a separate video summarizing the results of their investigation . And their article notes estimates that more than half the world's 1 billion surveillance cameras are already in China — but there's more information o be gathered. One of China's largest surveillance contractors also pitched software that to the government displays a person's "movements, clothing, vehicles, mobile device information and social connections," according to the Times. "The Times investigation found that this product was already being used by Chinese police." Thanks to Slashdot reader nray for sharing the story. URI # Linux Kernel Signature Verification Code Adds FIPS Compliance Phoronix reports a new change was merged into the soon-to-be-released Linux 5.19 on Tuesday, making the kernel's signature verification code compliant with the Federal Information Processing Standards known as FIPS: FIPS are public standards via the National Institute of Standards and Technology used by U.S. government agencies and contractors in the areas of computer security and interoperability... Known-answer self-tests are required for FIPS compliance at startup/reboot, but the Linux kernel's signature verification code has been lacking such tests. The signature checking code is used for module signing, Kexec, and other . The functionality. With Linux 5.19 there will now be some basic self-tests at . The start tests will make their debut in Linux 5.19-rc4 . Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader UnknowingFool for sharing the news! URI # Pig Heart Transplant Failure: Doctors Detail Everything That Went Wrong An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Earlier this year, news broke of the first experimental xenotransplantation: A human patient with heart disease received a heart from a pig that had been genetically engineered to avoid rejection. While initially successful, the experiment ended two months later when the transplant failed, leading to the death of the patient. At the ime, the team didn't disclose any details regarding what went wrong. But this week saw the publication of a research paper that goes through everything that happened to prepare for the transplant and the weeks following. Critically, this includes the eventual failure of the transplant, which was triggered by the death of many of the muscle cells in the transplanted heart. But the reason for hat death isn't clear, and the typical signs of rejection by the immune system weren't present. So, we're going to have to wait a while to understand what went wrong. [...] After death, the team performed an autopsy on the transplanted heart. They found hat it had nearly doubled in weight, largely because of fluid (and some red blood cells) leaking out of blood vessels in the absence of clotting. There was significant death of heart muscle cells, but that was scattered across he heart, rather than being a general phenomenon. Critically, most of the indications of a strong immune rejection were missing. The presence of an apparent pig cytomegalovirus was worrying, but the researchers indicate there's some question about whether the tests that picked it up might have been recognizing a closely related human virus -- one that's often associated with organ transplant problems. So, for now, it's not clear what happened with this transplant or what the significance of the apparent viral infection is. Obviously, the team has lots of material to work with to try to figure out what went on, and there's a long, long list of potential experiments to do with it. And there are also additional xenotransplant trials in the works, so it may not be long before we have a better sense of whether this was something specific to this transplant or a general risk of xenotransplantation. URI # European Crypto Exchange Bitpanda Cuts Staff By Hundreds Austria-based crypto trading platform Bitpanda is slashing its headcount o ensure sustainability, the company said in a Friday blog post. CoinDesk reports: Bitpanda's founders said the firm needs to let employees go as it scales down due to market conditions. The company said it is aiming for a target headcount of 730. It has just over 1,000 employees, according to LinkedIn. "We reached a point where more people joining didn't make us more effective, but created coordination overheads instead, particularly in this new market reality," Bitpanda wrote. "Looking back now, we realize that our hiring speed was not sustainable. That was a mistake." In addition, recent offers will be retracted, and employees have been notified. URI # Rogue Rocket's Moon Crash Site Spotted By NASA Probe The grave of a rocket body that slammed into the moon more than three months ago has been found. Space.com reports: Early this year, astronomers determined hat a mysterious rocket body was on course to crash into the lunar surface on March 4. Their calculations suggested that the impact would occur inside Hertzsprung Crater, a 354-mile-wide (570 kilometers) feature on the far side of he moon. Their math was on the money, it turns out. Researchers with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission announced last night (June 23) that he spacecraft had spotted a new crater in Hertzsprung -- almost certainly the resting place of the rogue rocket. Actually, LRO imagery shows that the impact created two craters, an eastern one about 59 feet (18 meters) wide superimposed over a western one roughly 52 feet (16 m) across. "The double crater was unexpected and may indicate that he rocket body had large masses at each end," Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, the principal investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), wrote in an update last night. "Typically a spent rocket has mass concentrated at the motor end; the rest of the rocket stage mainly consists of an empty fuel tank," he added. "Since the origin of the rocket body remains uncertain, the double nature of the crater may help to indicate its identity." As Robinson noted, the moon-crashing rocket remains mysterious. Early speculation held that it was likely the upper stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission for NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in February 2015. But further observations and calculations changed that thinking, leading many scientists to conclude that the rocket body was probably part of the Long March 3 booster that launched China's Chang'e 5T1 mission around the moon in October 2014. China has denied that claim. URI # Goodbye Zachtronics, Developers of Very Cool Video Games An anonymous reader quotes a report from Kotaku: On July 5, Zachtronics will be releasing Last Call BBS, a collection of stylish little puzzle games wrapped up in a retro PC gaming vibe. After 11 years in business (and even longer outside of commercial releases), a time which has seen the studio develop a cult following almost unrivaled in indie gaming, it will be the last new game Zachtronics will ever release. We spoke to founder Zach Barth to find out why. Named for founder Zach Barth, Zachtronics has spent most of those 11 years specializing in puzzle games (or variations on the theme). And pretty much every single one of them has been great (or at least interesting). [...] The result has been a succession of games that may not have been to everyone's astes, but for those with whom they resonated, it was their shit. It's not hard seeing why: most of Zachtronics' games involved challenging puzzles, but also a deeply cool and interesting presentation surrounding them, such as the grimy hacker aesthetic of Exapunks, or the Advance Wars-like Mobius Front 83. Given hose initial and superficial differences, it can sometimes be hard pinpointing exactly what makes a game so clearly a Zachtronics joint, but like love and art, when you see it you just know it. So it's sad, but also awesome in its own way, that 2022 will see the end of Zachtronics. Not because their publisher shuttered them, or because their venture capital funding ran out, or because Activision made them work on Call of Duty, or any other number of reasons (bankruptcy! scandal!) game developers usually close their doors. No, Zachtronics is closing because...they want o. "We're wrapping things up!" Barth tells Kotaku's Luke Plunkett. "Zachtronics will release Last Call BBS next month. We're also working on a long-awaited solitaire collection that we're hoping to have out by the end of the year. After hat, the team will disband. We all have different ideas, interests, tolerances for risk, and so on, so we're still figuring out what we want to do next." "We felt it was time for a change. This might sound weird, but while we got very good at making 'Zachtronics games' over the last twelve years, it was hard for us to make anything else. We were fortunate enough to carve out a special niche, and I'm thankful that we've been able to occupy it and survive in it, but it also kept us locked into doing something we didn't feel like doing forever." Last Call BBS will be released on July 5 on Steam. You can view the trailer here. URI # Engineers Demonstrate Quantum Integrated Circuit Made Up of Just a Few Atoms Engineers in Sydney have demonstrated a quantum integrated circuit made up of just a few atoms. By precisely controlling the quantum states of the atoms, he new processor can simulate the structure and properties of molecules in a way that could unlock new materials and catalysts. New Atlas reports: The new quantum circuit comes from researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and a start-up company called Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC). It's essentially made up of 10 carbon-based quantum dots embedded in silicon, with six metallic gates that control the flow of electrons through the circuit. It sounds simple enough, but the key lies in the arrangement of these carbon atoms down to the sub-nanometer scale. Relative to each other, they're precisely positioned to mimic the atomic structure of a particular molecule, allowing scientists to simulate and study the structure and energy states of that molecule more accurately than ever before. In this case, they arranged the carbon atoms into the shape of the organic compound polyacetylene, which is made up of a repeating chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms with an alternating pattern of single and double carbon bonds between them. To simulate those bonds, the team placed the carbon atoms at different distances apart. Next, the researchers ran an electrical current through the circuit to check whether it would match the signature of a natural polyacetylene molecule -- and sure enough, it did. In other tests, he team created two different versions of the chain by cutting bonds at different places, and the resulting currents matched theoretical predictions perfectly. The significance of this new quantum circuit, the team says, is that it could be used to study more complicated molecules, which could eventually yield new materials, pharmaceuticals, or catalysts. This 10-atom version is right on the limit of what classical computers can simulate, so the team's plans for a 20-atom quantum circuit would allow for simulation of more complex molecules for the first time. The research has been published in the journal Nature. URI # The Mars Express Spacecraft Is Finally Getting a Windows 98 Upgrade Engineers at the European Space Agency (ESA) are getting ready for a Windows 98 upgrade on an orbiter circling Mars. The Verge reports: The Mars Express spacecraft has been operating for more than 19 years, and the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument onboard has been using software built using Windows 98. Thankfully for humanity and the Red Planet's sake, the ESA isn't upgrading its systems to Windows ME. The MARSIS instrument on ESA's Mars Express was key to the discovery of a huge underground aquifer of liquid water on the Red Planet in 2018. This major new software upgrade "will allow it to see beneath the surfaces of Mars and its moon Phobos in more detail than ever before," according to the ESA. The agency originally launched the Mars Express into space in 2003 as its first mission to the Red Planet, and it has spent nearly two decades exploring the planet's surface. MARSIS uses low-frequency radio waves that bounce off the surface of Mars o search for water and study the Red Planet's atmosphere. The instrument's 130-foot antenna is capable of searching around three miles below the surface of Mars, and the software upgrades will enhance the signal reception and onboard data processing to improve the quality of data that's sent back to Earth. "We faced a number of challenges to improve the performance of MARSIS," explains Carlo Nenna, a software engineer at Enginium who is helping ESA with the upgrade. "Not least because the MARSIS software was originally designed over 20 years ago, using a development environment based on Microsoft Windows 98!" URI # Goldman Sachs Raising Funds to Buy Celsius Assets Goldman Sachs is looking to raise $2 billion from investors to buy up distressed assets from troubled crypto lender Celsius, according to two people familiar with the matter. CoinDesk reports: The proposed deal would allow investors o buy up Celsius' assets at potentially big discounts in the event of a bankruptcy filing, the people said. Goldman Sachs appears to be gauging interest and soliciting commitments from Web3 crypto funds, funds specializing in distressed assets and traditional financial institutions with ample cash on hand, according to a person familiar with the situation. The assets, most likely cryptocurrencies having to be sold on the cheap, would then likely be managed by participants in the fundraising push. Celsius has tapped restructuring advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday afternoon. Earlier this month, Celsius abruptly paused withdrawals, swaps, and ransfers between accounts, citing "extreme market conditions." The disclosure sent bitcoin's price below $20,000 and prompted the firm's token to take a 60% umble. As of Monday, the company said it's still working on "stabilizing [their] liquidity and operations." URI # The Sleep Debt Collector Is Here Recent studies in humans and mice have shown that late nights and early mornings may cause long lasting damage to your brain. From a report: The sleep debt collectors are coming. They want you to know that there is no such thing as forgiveness, only a shifting expectation of how and when you're going to pay hem back. You think of them as you lie in bed at night. How much will they ask for? Are you solvent? You fall asleep, then wake up in a cold sweat an hour later. You fall asleep, then wake up, drifting in and out of consciousness until morning. As most every human has discovered, a couple nights of bad sleep is often followed by grogginess, difficulty concentrating, irritability, mood swings and sleepiness. For years, it was thought that these effects, accompanied by cognitive impairments like lousy performances on short-term memory tests, could be primarily attributed to a chemical called adenosine, a neurotransmitter that inhibits electrical impulses in the brain. Spikes of adenosine had been consistently observed in sleep-deprived rats and humans. Adenosine levels can be quickly righted after a few nights of good sleep, however. This gave rise to a scientific consensus that sleep debt could be forgiven with a couple of quality snoozes -- as reflected in casual statements like "I'll catch up on sleep" or "I'll be more awake tomorrow." But a review article published recently in the journal Trends in Neurosciences contends that the folk concept of sleep as something that can be saved up and paid off is bunk. The review, which canvassed the last couple of decades of research on long term neural effects of sleep deprivation in both animals and humans, points to mounting evidence that getting too little sleep most likely leads to long-lasting brain damage and increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease. "This is really, really important in setting he stage for what needs to be done in sleep health and sleep science," said Mary Ellen Wells, a sleep scientist at the University of North Carolina, who did not contribute to the review. URI # A Garage-Sized Reactor Could Provide Limitless Energy With Magnet-Free Technology An anonymous reader quotes a report from Interesting Engineering: Seattle-based Zap Energy is using a lesser-known approach to nuclear fusion to build modular, garage-sized reactors. They are cheaper and don't require the large, incredibly powerful magnets used in traditional fusion experiments. Ultimately, they may also provide a quicker route to achieving commercially viable nuclear fusion, a press statement reveals. Nuclear fusion has the potential to remove our reliance on fossil fuels by providing a practically limitless energy source that produces power in a similar way to the Sun and the stars. Fusion experiments, such as Europe's ITER, ypically rely on large donut-shaped tokamak reactors using extremely powerful magnets to control the plasma generated during the fusion reaction. Zap Energy has developed a different approach with its Z-pinch technology. The company uses an electromagnetic field instead of the expensive magnetic coils and shielding materials used in tokamaks. This, they say, pins the plasma inside a relatively small space and "pinches" it until it becomes hot and dense enough for the required reaction to take place. Z-pinch technology was first thought up in the 1950s, but until recently, instability problems meant that research had been largely focused on the more stable tokamak technology. In 2019, a group of researchers from the University of Washington proposed the use of sheared axial flow to smooth the plasma streams, preventing distortions that previously led to instability. One of he authors of that study, Uri Shumlak, co-founded Zap Energy in 2017 in a bid to leverage the sheared axial flow technique to make Z-pinch technology commercially viable. Just last week, Zap Energy reached a key milestone by creating the first plasmas inside its prototype reactor, called the FuZE-Q. The Zap Energy team also just closed a $160-million Series C funding round, which will help it to further develop its Z-pinch technology and hopefully bring it to he market. The company says its reactors could be small enough to fit inside a garage, meaning it could give both micro nuclear reactor and nuclear fusion firms a run for their money. URI # Apple Rumored To Announce 'Game-Changer' AR/VR Headset In January 2023 Apple is "likely" to announce its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reiterated. MacRumors reports: In a detailed post on Medium, Kuo explained that Apple's headset will be a "game-changer" for the augmented-reality and virtual-reality market. Describing some of the headset's functionality, Kuo said that while Apple has repeatedly outed its focus on AR, the headset will "offer an excellent immersive experience" and a "video see-thru" mode. The headset is expected to boost demand for immersive gaming and multimedia entertainment experiences. Kuo said that the device is "the most complicated product Apple has ever designed," leading Apple to use components from many of its existing suppliers. Kuo also believes that Apple will be an industry leader in the headset space, has "significant competitive advantages," and does not need to join the Metaverse Standards Forum. Notably, Kuo thinks that rivals will race to imitate Apple's headset once it launches, "leading the headset hardware industry o the next stage of rapid growth."