Several experts explain key ethical issues about AI

Artificial intelligence has nearly unimaginable potential to shape the world, but it poses a number of significant ethical questions that need to be carefully examined at every step to reduce bias. Several experts give a rundown of the main concerns. Read the rest

A single unicode symbol can crash iPhone, iPad and Mac apps

Apple's been in the headlines over the past few months, for all of the wrong reasons. According to TechCrunch, their PR losing streak isn't going to stop any time soon.

TechCrunch reports that an IOS software development house has discovered that two unicode symbols, when inputted into a number of popular iOS apps, will cause the apps to crash. In many instances, once the apps crash, it's impossible to open them again. TechCrunch was able to recreate these crashes on a number of pieces of hardware running iOS and a Mac running the latest version of MacOS:

The bug crashes apps including Mail, Twitter, Messages, Slack, Instagram and Facebook. From our testing, it also crashed Jumpcut, a copy and paste plugin for Mac. While it initially appeared that the Chrome browser for Mac was unaffected and could safely display the symbol, it later crashed Chrome and the software would not reopen without crashing until uninstalled and reinstalled.

This isn't the first 'text bomb' issue that Apple's been confronted with. In January, it was discovered that it allowed a specific web address to crash any iPhone it was texted to.

Given that this bug effects so many different devices (all of which I use) I'm hoping that it gets sorted out fast.

Image courtesy of Pxhere Read the rest

Researchers encoded a film clip in DNA and store it inside a living cell

In an astonishing step forward in biomolecular computing, Harvard researchers encoded a 19th century film clip in DNA and stored it inside living bacteria. Later, they sequenced the bacterium's genome and decoded the film. From IEEE Spectrum:

To get a movie into E. coli’s DNA, (neuroscientist Seth) Shipman and his colleagues had to disguise it. They converted the movie’s pixels into DNA’s four-letter code—molecules represented by the letters A,T,G and C—and synthesized that DNA. But instead of generating one long strand of code, they arranged it, along with other genetic elements, into short segments that looked like fragments of viral DNA.

E. coli is naturally programmed by its own DNA to grab errant pieces of viral DNA and store them in its own genome—a way of keeping a chronological record of invaders. So when the researchers introduced the pieces of movie-turned-synthetic DNA—disguised as viral DNA—E. coli’s molecular machinery grabbed them and filed them away.

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Libratus poker AI beats several of the world's best players

In a first, an artificial intelligence named Libratus has bested top-tier players at no-limit Texas Hold 'em. This is especially notable because imperfect information games are notoriously challenging to program. Read the rest

Feminist Frequency celebrates the brilliant life of Ada Lovelace

As part of her Ordinary Women series, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency examines the impressive achievement of Ada Lovelace, the “mother” of computer programming.

You can also watch the Ordinary Women profiles on Ching Shih and Ida B. Wells:

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What does your writing say about you? IBM Watson Personality Insights will tell you.

"The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more." Watson found Trump "boisterous." Read the rest

“The Queen of Code,” new short documentary on computing pioneer Grace Hopper

My only objection is that it's not a full-length documentary.

Apple's building a solar farm in NV, for clean energy data centers

Reuters reports that Apple will build a new solar farm with NV Energy Inc, to power the computing giant's new data center in Reno, Nevada. The plan is seen as "a major step towards its goal of having its data centers run on renewable energy." Read the rest

Farewell, Ceefax: TV teletext service dies; nonsense pages immortalized in "Look Around You"

As Rob noted in an earlier Boing Boing post, the UK television teletext service known as Ceefax ("See Facts") has been terminated. So sad! It began in 1972. I remember staring at the chunky pixelly pages for hours in my hotel room, on my first visit to the UK in the 1990s.

Robert Popper, funnyman and Look Around You co-creator, says:

I thought I’d perk you all up by digging out the Pages from Ceefax, that Peter Serafinowicz and I made for our Look Around You DVD extras. They’re full of nonsense. Hope you enjoy the guitar I did too. Included here is an improvised modern classical piece. I was trying not to laugh while I played…

I remember these fake Ceefax screens well from the Look Around You DVDs. I had no idea Popper played the music, too. Brilliant. More below. Read the rest