‘Athena’ is the first humanoid robot to be a paying airline passenger

Robots are becoming an ever-increasing presence in our lives, and today one will board a commercial airline as a passenger for the first time. According to the Los Angeles International Airport’s Twitter feed, a humanoid robot named Athena will take off on a commercial Lufthansa flight to Germany this afternoon as a paid passenger. Athena is going to be accompanied by two scientists and is a full humanoid robot with a head, arms, and legs. It remains to be seen if Athena is the kind of passenger you’ll want to sit next to, but at least on this flight it sounds like it’ll be flanked by scientists instead of normal jet-setters.

At the end of the day, though, Athena taking up a seat on a commercial airline isn’t wildly different than anyone else paying for an extra seat for large, bulky, or fragile cargo — musicians commonly will pay for a seat for their instruments, for example. Despite that technicality, however, passengers and other airport patrons probably got a kick out of seeing a robot head through the hellish process that is airport security.

In 1985, Steve Jobs predicted the internet would inspire everyone to buy computers

A 1985 interview between Steve Jobs and a magazine people read for the articles.

 

Longform republished a Playboy interview with Steve Jobs from 1985. Nearly 30,000 words long, the conversation is full of interesting ideas and anecdotes. The interview spans the tech of the time. At one point, while discussing the potential of computers, Jobs compares Pong quite favorably to the work of Aristotle. In another chunk of the interview, Jobs comments on the future of home computing, predicting the average person would spend a considerable amount of cash on a personal computer so they could connect to a national network — a little different than the internet of today.

Playboy: What will change?

Jobs: The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people-as remarkable as the telephone.

Playboy: Specifically, what kind of breakthrough are you talking about?

Jobs: I can only begin to speculate. We see that a lot in our industry: You don’t know exactly what’s going to result, but you know it’s something very big and very good.

Playboy: Then for now, aren’t you asking home-computer buyers to invest $3000 in what is essentially an act of faith?

Jobs: In the future, it won’t be an act of faith. The hard part of what we’re up against now is that people ask you about specifics and you can’t tell them. A hundred years ago, if somebody had asked Alexander Graham Bell, “What are you going to be able to do with a telephone?” he wouldn’t have been able to tell him the ways the telephone would affect the world. He didn’t know that people would use the telephone to call up and find out what movies were playing that night or to order some groceries or call a relative on the other side of the globe. But remember that first the public telegraph was inaugurated, in 1844. It was an amazing breakthrough in communications. You could actually send messages from New York to San Francisco in an afternoon. People talked about putting a telegraph on every desk in America to improve productivity. But it wouldn’t have worked. It required that people learn this whole sequence of strange incantations, Morse code, dots and dashes, to use the telegraph. It took about 40 hours to learn. The majority of people would never learn how to use it. So, fortunately, in the 1870s, Bell filed the patents for the telephone. It performed basically the same function as the telegraph, but people already knew how to use it. Also, the neatest thing about it was that besides allowing you to communicate with just words, it allowed you to sing.

I also found this bit about Jobs’ relationship with former partner Steve Wozniak humanizing.

Playboy: What happened to the partnership as time went on?

Jobs: The main thing was that Woz was never really interested in Apple as a company. He was just sort of interested in getting the Apple II on a printed circuit board so he could have one and be able to carry it to his computer club without having the wires break on the way. He had done that and decided to go on to other things. He had other ideas.

Playboy: Such as the US Festival rock concert and computer show, where he lost something like $10,000,000.

Jobs: Well, I thought the US Festival was a little crazy, but Woz believed very strongly in it.

Playboy: How is it between the two of you now?

Jobs: When you work with somebody that close and you go through experiences like the ones we went through, there’s a bond in life. Whatever hassles you have, there is a bond. And even though he may not be your best friend as time goes on, there’s still something that transcends even friendship, in a way. Woz is living his own life now. He hasn’t been around Apple for about five years. But what he did will go down in history. He’s going around speaking to a lot of computer events now. He likes that.

Source: The Verge

Pirate Bay co-founder hopes the site stays closed for good

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Infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB) and a number of its affiliated sites were shut down this week. Recent reports said the number of take down requests pertaining to the site skyrocketed over the last year reaching more than 1 million daily. It’s no surprise Swedish law enforcement cracked down on the network considering the escalating complaints, but the site’s co-creator Peter Sunde doesn’t appear to mind anyway.

Citing the network’s loss of vision over the years, Sunde would prefer if the site went away for good. After being released from prison, he took to his blog to express his feelings on what TPB has become, along with its distasteful ad selection. As anyone who has visited the site recently would know, it is littered with porn and other horrible ads, something Sunde says is a product of new management. He says it has become “ugly” and bug ridden, with the new owners having done nothing to improve the experience for the community:

The site was ugly, full of bugs, old code and old design. It never changed except for one thing – the ads. More and more ads was filling the site, and somehow when it felt unimaginable to make these ads more distasteful they somehow ended up even worse.

Sunde claims the original spirit and direction of the site is gone at this point. He said the original plan was to shut it all down on its 10th anniversary, but the current owners had other ideas. Instead new management threw a big party with a “sexist company that sent young girls, dressed in almost no clothes,” and charged money to get in. All things that go against Sunde’s beliefs and his original vision for the site/community.

While Sunde certainly would have rather seen the site remain what he considered tasteful, he seems confident that the current community will take the reigns and move in a new direction. At this point TPB still appears to be down, and there are no details regarding what the community members might do next.

Source: Techspot

A Kenyan kid turns his friends’ poop into clean energy

Originally posted on Grist:

In January 2013, Maseno School in western Kenya had just completed a brand new dormitory, but the building’s shoddy sanitation system was a stinky mess. Founded in 1906 by Christian missionaries, Maseno is the oldest English-language school in Kenya and counts President Obama’s pops among its notable alumni. The new dorm, home to 720 students, featured a pit latrine and malfunctioning sewer system that, predictably, smelled like shit. Periodic blockages brought on by lack of water made the foul odors even more putrid, and the faulty sewer system contaminated a nearby stream that provided freshwater to the community.

Meanwhile, using firewood for cooking fuel was causing more problems. Burning wood in the school’s kitchen poses a serious health risk, threatening the lungs and throats of those who prepare food. And cutting down trees for firewood fuel provokes conflicts between the school and the surrounding community as the forest is depleted…

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