National / International News

Don't tase me, drone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-12 13:36

This final note in which we've seen the future and it tases you from the air. There's a company that makes drones showing its wares down at SXSW, in Austin, Texas.

Drones with tasers on them. And, of course, they had to demonstrate their product. So they got an intern to volunteer to be zapped by the thing.

It's called the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone.

The company's slogan for the drone: "Amazon delivers packages. We deliver 80,000 volts of awesome."

It should be noted that the company says: "Chaotic Moon built CUPID to raise awareness of technology that's outpacing everything from regulatory agencies to social norms. We have no plans to develop drone type or commercialize this in any way."

Italy PM proposes sweeping tax cuts

BBC - Wed, 2014-03-12 13:33
Italy's new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi proposes a sweeping package of tax cuts, in a bid to revive the country's economy.

HIV protection gel 'a step closer'

BBC - Wed, 2014-03-12 13:12
A gel that can be applied by women after sex to protect against HIV is a step closer, following animal studies, research suggests.

Foul Weather Begets Foul Moods Online

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 13:12

Bad moods — and good ones — can infect social networks at the speed of a keyboard click, according to researchers who gauged the effect of a rainy day on the emotional spin of Facebook posts.

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Health Care Law Helps Entrepreneurs Quit Their Day Jobs

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:59

Employer-provided health care can deter people from leaving their jobs to start their own businesses. Analysts say Obamacare could alleviate so-called entrepreneur lock.

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Senate Panel Clears Ukraine Aid Package

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:54

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill, which now goes to the full Senate for a vote. The House has its own version.

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US launches Herbalife investigation

BBC - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:48
US regulators launch an investigation into nutrition and weight-loss firm Herbalife, following allegations it has been operating a 'pyramid scheme'.

Missing plane: Last message revealed

BBC - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:29
Malaysia says the last message from a Malaysia Airlines plane suggests everything was normal on board before it vanished over the South China Sea.

Third horse dies at Cheltenham

BBC - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:25
Akdam and Stack The Deck are put down after suffering injuries and jockey Bryan Cooper breaks a leg on day two of Cheltenham.

How A Series Of Mistakes Hobbled Minnesota's Health Exchange

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:06

The difficulty states have had getting their marketplaces working has been one of the biggest setbacks for Obamacare. Miscommunication, technology failures and management errors all hit in Minnesota.

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We're losing the man versus machine battle

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

It was supposed to be the next chapter in the struggle of man versus machine. In what sounded like the premise of a startup fever dream, KUKA, a German robotics company, pitted their ping pong playing robot against German champion Timo Boll. Would humankind reign victorious, or would KUKA's machine crush the dreams of rec room wunderkinder everywhere?

Boll ended up winning...sort of.

It's pretty clear from watching the final product - as well as this behind the scenes video - KUKA did in fact build a robot that could play ping pong, they just had no intention of actually testing its ability against a human. Instead, they produced a terminator-esque tribute to man's ability to overcome the machine. Those anticipating the game were disappointed. Some called out the robot company for misleading advertising, while others called the match a "glorified commercial."

Clearly, people were looking forward to seeing how someone at the top of their field would fare against a machine designed to be better than the best. It's a tale as old as (computer) time. So how has humankind fared in the past when matched up against their robot foes? Let's get this robocage match underway.

Chess is considered the ultimate game of strategy, so what better arena to test a battle of wits. The first reported instance of a computer defeating a human happened in 1956, when a program called MANIAC was able to best a novice player. Though the development of the technology would continue to be tested throughout the next couple of years, it was in 1997 that robot-human matches garnered mass attention in the pairing of World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov against IBM's supercomputer Deep Blue.

Spoiler alert: Kasparaov lost. Though the chess playing computer craze hit fever pitch in 1997, advancements in programming continue to be developed. In 2009, a chess program running on a mobile phone was able to reach the grandmaster level of chess at an international tournament in Spain. At least we have computers beat on sportsmanship

Robots - 1, Humans - 0

It only gets more depressing from here on out. Olympian Ussain Bolt holds the record for the fastest human being in the world, with an average running speed of 23.35 miles per hour. Robotics company Boston Dynamics, however, has him beat.

With a speed of 28.3 miles per hour, the Cheetah Robot edges out the world record holder. Even at his fastest, Bolt runs at 27.44 miles per hour, giving robots another win.

Robots - 2, Humans - 0

There's no need to beat a dead horsebot. We all know how IBM's Watson did in its two day appearance on Jeopardy. That didn't stop Alex Trebec from getting in a dig at Watson's expense in the first couple minutes of the supercomputer's appearance on the tv quiz show. Watson got back at him by thoroughly defeating his human competitors by a margin of $23,213. That's cold, Watson.

Robots - 3, Humans - 0

It's pretty obvious that we're losing the battle. Robots are getting more and more advanced, while the human body can only do so much. So why did people get so angry when KUKA tried to score one for humankind by rigging the match? At the end of the day, people don't like to be lied to. That ping pong playing robot probably has us beat, fair and square.


Ruling On Gay Juror May Cause Ripples In Same-Sex Marriage Cases

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

In a dispute involving two drugmakers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an attorney can't dismiss a potential juror because of that juror's sexual orientation.

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FTC Investigates Herbalife, Following Claims It's A Pyramid Scheme

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

Herbalife shares dropped on news the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the company. After shorting Herbalife's stock, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman's been lobbying politicians to investigate.

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Obama Rolls Out White House Welcome Mat For Ukrainian Prime Minister

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is visiting the White House Wednesday. The meeting comes days before a vote in Crimea over whether to secede from Ukraine.

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A Very Special Proposal Anniversary For The World Wide Web

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

Wednesday marks the 25th anniversary of a big tech moment: A physics researcher first proposed the idea of the World Wide Web. Aarti Shahani of KQED speaks with Tim Berners-Lee about his big idea.

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In Oscar Pistorius Trial, All Eyes Turn To A Battered Door

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

Robyn Dixon has been covering the trial of former Olympian Oscar Pistorius for the Los Angeles Times. She explains the latest details, as well as what's different about South African trials.

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Would-Be Shoebomber Testifies Against Bin Laden's Son-In-Law

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

The Osama bin Laden's son-in-law is on trial in New York City, accused of complicity in a shoe-bombing plot. Benjamin Weiser, who is covering the trial for The New York Times, explains the latest.

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President Obama Moves To Expand Overtime Pay

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

President Obama is asking the Labor Department to begin a rule-making process to expand the number of workers who are eligible for overtime pay. It's part of his effort to address income inequality.

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Government's Empty Buildings Are Costing Taxpayers Billions

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-12 12:00

Taxpayers are footing the bill for the upkeep of 77,000 empty or underutilized federally owned buildings. And a faulty database means the government doesn't know just how many properties it owns.

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G7 warns Russia on 'annexing' Crimea

BBC - Wed, 2014-03-12 11:57
The G7 group of industrial nations calls on Russia to stop moves to "annex" Crimea, otherwise, says US President Obama, they will be "forced to apply costs".

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