National / International News

Mother parking car kills daughter

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:54
A six-year-old girl dies after she is struck by a car being driven by her mother near a Tube station in west London.

Footballer collapses during match

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:54
The former Derry Gaelic football captain Kevin McCloy is being treated in intensive care in hospital after he collapsed on the pitch during a club match.

Fourth activist held in Azerbaijan

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:45
A court in Azerbaijan upholds the pre-trial detention of a top human rights lawyer, after similar charges are brought against other activists.

Suarez to find out bite appeal result

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:40
The outcome of Luis Suarez's appeal against a four-month ban from football for biting will be announced at 14:00 BST on Thursday.

AUDIO: 'Most of us know very little about mental illness'

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:37
Adrian Strain talks about his son, Martin, who recently took his own life.

Two cars submerged by incoming tide

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:36
Two cars are swamped by the incoming tide off Teesside within 90 minutes, the local lifeboat crew has said.

Russian convoy heads to Ukraine

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:34
More than 100 lorries with Russian aid head towards conflict areas in eastern Ukraine, as the Red Cross seeks urgent talks in Kiev and Moscow.

AUDIO: The great heels vs flats debate

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:33
Fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes and fashion journalist Hannah Rochell debate the best type of shoe to wear.

VIDEO: Workers carry out repairs on US tower

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:26
Workers carry out maintenance on the transmitter towers of the 1,127ft (344m) John Hancock Center in Chicago.

Star Trek Spock bride dies at 78

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:26
Actress Arlene Martel, who was best known for playing the prospective bride of Mr Spock in Star Trek, has died aged 78.

AUDIO: Pilot's arm 'came off while landing'

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:12
A pilot lost control of a passenger plane after his artificial arm became detached as he was coming in to land, an accident report has said. Steven Robinson, a pilot with a prosthetic limb, speaks to the Today programme.

NI students top in A-level results

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:10
Northern Ireland students outperform their counterparts in England and Wales in A-level A* and A grades.

Failing GPs: A Pandora's Box?

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:05
Nick Triggle on why tackling failing GPs may prove difficult

Reporter's Notebook: A Not-So-Grand Tour Of Ethiopia's Top Hospital

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:02

The reporter asks the nurse what the hospital needs. The nurse says, "If you don't help me, why do you ask me?" Welcome to Black Lion, said to be the country's best hospital.

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Min Headroom: Pop artificial intelligence t 30

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-08-14 01:00

For some reason, the 1984-born TV icon Max Headroom came up in conversation this week, and I immediately went down a very deep YouTube rabbit hole. Headroom was the star of a British sci-fi movie and TV show, talk show host and music video jockey, a David Letterman interviewee, and one of many Coke-hawking celebrities.

He was also one 0f the earliest forms of fictionalized artificial intelligence (along with the "Flight of the Navigator" spaceship and C-3PO) that I came in contact with as a kid. I am four years older than Max, but I wasn't even really conscious of him as a kind of AI. What I could discern: his glitchy and pitch-shifted vocal delivery, as well as his backdrop, was computer generated. Or at least it was meant to look that way. I was kind of scared of him. He yelled a lot and twitched and the lined walls of his rotating digital box of a room seemed weirdly prison-like. Here's an example. 

 

Kind of scary, right? The character's origin story is scary, too. In the 1985 television show, a TV reporter named Edison Carter has a bad accident after discovering a dubious television company's experiments and then gets his brain dumped into a computer program. The whiz-kid who does the dump tells a bad-guy network executive, "I could make a memory dump of his synaptic circuits...the brain is only a binary computer. A series of on-off switches. That's the basis of my computer generated people program." An interesting line to hear the same month IBM unveiled computer chips that mimic brain functions.

As a way to understand what was happening with lots of technologies in the 1980s, Headroom is a fascinating example in pop culture. While tape decks were first giving way to CD players, while popular music was featuring more synthesizers and digital drum sounds over their acoustic forbears, Headroom was also straddling the analogue-digital world. The rotating block that served to house Max's disembodied head was apparently first created with analogue animation technique, and later replaced with computer graphics. Max himself couldn't be made by a computer yet, so instead he was portrayed by the actor Matt Frewer and a ton of makeup. Max's visage also appeared in one of the strangest and most significant US cases of broadcast signal hijacking to date. Doubly strange because the intro to the show's first episode has network engineers talking about "intermittent loss" in a network link of some kind. 

I think what's most interesting to me about Max is how people in the 1980s were imagining AI, and how the character and the production compares to our current AI projects. These days a lot of our artificial intelligence work is embedded in faceless, voiceless algorithms and machine learning, while other forms, like Google Now and Siri -- whose inventors are right now working on a more powerful kind of AI -- are not disembodied heads but disembodied voices. Like a lot of the future we imagined in the past, Max delivers an entertaining picture. Definitely a 1980s picture. But is he as weird as his AI successors? 

21,000 council tax discounts checked

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:54
More than 21,000 people in Flintshire who have the 25% single person discount on their council tax are to have their claims checked against credit reference data.

VIDEO: Is politics risking space projects?

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:46
Collaboration between the US and Russia on the International Space Station (ISS) could be jeopardised as tensions between the two nations create political disputes.

Broadway lights dimmed for Williams

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:35
The marquees of Broadway's theatres are dimmed in memory of Robin Williams following the actor and comedian's death earlier this week.

India children die trapped in car

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:31
Police in India say four children have died from suffocation after they got trapped inside a car and could not open the door from inside.

Young Migrants May Request Asylum, But It's Hard To Get

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-14 00:30

Amid the emotional debate over the surge in unaccompanied minors from Central America, some migrants will be given refugee status while others can try for asylum.

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