Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Scientists Create AI Program That Can Predict Human Rights Trials With 79 Percent Accuracy ( 41

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Computer scientists have created an AI program capable of predicting the outcome of human rights trials. The program was trained on data from nearly 600 cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and was able to predict the court's final judgement with 79 percent accuracy. Its creators say it could be useful in identifying common patterns in court cases, but stress that they do not believe AI will be able to replace human judgement. As described in a study published in the journal PeerJ Computer Science, the AI program worked by analyzing descriptions of court cases submitted to the ECHR. These descriptions included summaries of legal arguments, a brief case history, and an outline of the relevant legislation. The cases were grouped into three main violations of human rights law, including the prohibition on torture and degrading treatment; the right to a fair trial; and the right to "respect for private and family life." (Used in a wide range of cases including illegal searches and surveillance.) The AI program then looked for patterns in this data, correlating the courts' final judgements with, for example, the type of evidence submitted, and the exact part of the European Convention on Human Rights the case was alleged to violate. Aletras says a number of patterns emerged. For example, cases concerning detention conditions (eg access to food, legal support, etc.) were more likely to end in a positive judgement that an individual's human rights had been violated; while cases involving sentencing issues (i.e., how long someone had been imprisoned) were more likely to end in acquittal. The researchers also found that the judgements of the court were more dependent on the facts of the case itself (that is to say, its history and its particulars) than the legal arguments (i.e., how exactly the Convention on Human Rights had or had not been violated).

Largest Auto-Scandal Settlement In US History: Judge Approves $15 Billion Volkswagen Settlement ( 68

A federal just has approved the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history, a $14.7 billion settlement concerning Volkswagen Group's diesel car emissions scandal. USA Today reports: U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco approved the sweeping agreement between consumers, the government, California regulators and the German automaker in a written ruling a week after signaling he was likely to sign off. He said the agreement is "fair, reasonable and adequate." The settlement comes about a year after Volkswagen admitted that it rigged 11 million vehicles worldwide with software designed to dodge emissions standards. The company is still facing criminal investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and German prosecutors. The U.S. probe could lead to additional financial penalties and criminal indictments. About 475,000 Volkswagen owners in the U.S. can choose between a buyback or a free fix and compensation, if a repair becomes available. VW will begin administering the settlement immediately, having already devoted several hundred employees to handling the process. Buybacks range in value from $12,475 to $44,176, including restitution payments, and varying based on milage. People who opt for a fix approved by the Environmental Protection Agency will receive payouts ranging from $5,100 to $9,852, depending on the book value of their car. Volkswagen will also pay $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and another $2 billion for clean-emissions infrastructure.

The Phone Hackers At Cellebrite Have Had Their Firmware Leaked Online ( 23

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Cellebrite, an Israeli company that specializes in digital forensics, has dominated the market in helping law enforcement access mobile phones. But one apparent reseller of the company's products is publicly distributing copies of Cellebrite firmware and software for anyone to download. Although Cellebrite keeps it most sensitive capabilities in-house, the leak may still give researchers, or competitors, a chance to figure out how Cellebrite breaks into and analyzes phones by reverse-engineering the files. The apparent reseller distributing the files is McSira Professional Solutions, which, according to its website, "is pleased to serve police, military and security agencies in the E.U. And [sic] in other parts of the world." McSira is hosting software for various versions of Cellebrite's Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), hardware that investigators can use to bypass the security mechanisms of phones, and then extract data from them. McSira allows anyone to download firmware for the UFED Touch, and a PC version called UFED 4PC. It is also hosting pieces of Cellebrite forensic software, such as the UFED Cloud Analyzer. This allows investigators to further scrutinize seized data. McSira is likely offering downloads so customers can update their hardware to the latest version with as little fuss as possible. But it may be possible for researchers to take those files, reverse-engineer them, and gain insight into how Cellebrite's tools work. That may include what sort of exploits Cellebrite uses to bypass the security mechanisms of mobile phones, and weaknesses in the implementation of consumer phones that could be fixed, according to one researcher who has started to examine the files, but was not authorised by his employer to speak to the press about this issue.

Consumer Reports Ranks Tesla Model X Near Bottom For Reliability ( 126

Last year, Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation for the Tesla Model S after investigating its reliability. Today, the nonprofit organization released its 2016 Car Reliability Survey and found that, while the Tesla Model S has become more reliable, the Tesla Model X has proved to be unreliable overall. CNNMoney reports: CEO Elon Musk admitted that he wished he hadn't put so much new, complex technology on [the Model X] all at once when he unveiled the model last year. Apparently, he was right to worry. The Model X's complicated "falcon wing" doors have been a big trouble spot, said Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports' car testing unit. Even the front doors, which have electric motors that let them open on their own, have been a headache for customers, he added. As a result, Tesla ranks among the "Less Reliable" brands on Consumer Reports' list. The SUV's dependability is rated as "Much worse than average." Still, overall owner satisfaction with the vehicle is rated as "Excellent." For a long time, "dependability problems" have tended to be relatively trivial, said Fisher, as the industry has perfected the major mechanical aspects of the cars. In recent years, the problems have stemmed from the more high-tech additions to the newest cars, like the computer screens that work with phone, navigation and entertainment features, said Fisher. But now, with tougher fuel economy rules pushing more complex transmission technologies, dependability issues are once again starting to involve fundamental mechanical components. New eight- and nine-speed transmissions as well as dual-clutch and continuously variable transmissions have been suffering problems at a higher-than-average rate, Fisher said. It's been years since new car buyers would have to worry about things that could actually render their vehicle undrivable. But those concerns are coming back, Fisher said. As for the Model S, Consumer Reports says "Tesla's Model S has improved to average reliability, which now makes the electric car one of our recommended models."

Seth's Blog: Hardware is Sexy, But It's Software that Matters ( 77

American author and entrepreneur Seth Godin argues that though hardware is nice and dandy, it is the software that matters. And not just software that runs on a computer, "but the metaphorical idea of rules and algorithms designed to solve problems and connect people," he writes. Godin has used the piece to note how Apple has increasingly grown focused on hardware, and as a result, it's not putting much effort to fixing its software. He writes, "Automator, a buggy piece of software with no support, and because it's free, no competitors. Keynote, a presentation program that hasn't been improved in years. iOS 10, which replaces useful with pretty. iTunes, which is now years behind useful tools like Roon. No significant steps forward in word processing, spreadsheets, video editing, file sharing, internet tools, conferencing, etc. Apple contributed mightily to a software revolution a decade ago, but they've stopped. Think about how many leaps forward Slack, Dropbox, Zapier and others have made in popular software over the last few decades. But it requires a significant commitment to keep it moving forward. It means upending the status quo and creating something new." From the article: Software can change faster than hardware, which means that in changing markets, bet on software. It's tempting to treat the user interface as a piece of fashion, some bling, a sort of jewelry. It's not. It's the way your user controls the tool you build. Change it when it stops working, not when you're bored with it. Every time you change the interface, you better have a really good reason.John Gruber disagrees. He writes: Software, in general, is much better than it used to be. Unlike 1995, we don't lose data due to bugs very often. (For me personally, I can't even remember the last time I lost data.) But our hardware is so much better than our software, the contrast is jarring. An iPhone is a nearly perfect object. Sleek, attractive, simple. The hardware is completely knowable -- there are only five buttons, each of them easily understood. iOS, however, is effectively infinite. The deeper our software gets, the less we know and understand it. It's unsettling.

Microsoft Raises UK Cloud, Software Prices 22% After Brexit-Fuelled Pound Drop ( 195

Reader Mickeycaskill writes: Microsoft is to substantially increase its prices for software and cloud services prices offered in British pounds in order to accommodate the sharp drop in the currency against the US dollar in recent weeks. Beginning in January 2017 on-premises enterprise software prices will go up by 13 percent and most enterprise cloud prices will increase by 22 percent, bringing them into line with euro prices. Microsoft said it isn't planning to change its prices for consumer software and cloud services. The value of the pound has fallen by about 18 percent since the EU referendum on 23 June.

Slashdot Asks: How Can We Prevent Packet-Flooding DDOS Attacks? ( 340

Just last month Brian Krebs wrote "What appears to be missing is any sense of urgency to address the DDoS threat on a coordinated, global scale," warning that countless ISPs still weren't implementing the BCP38 security standard, which was released "more than a dozen years ago" to filter spoofed traffic. That's one possible solution, but Slashdot reader dgallard suggests the PEIP and Fair Service proposals by Don Cohen: PEIP (Path Enhanced IP) extends the IP protocol to enable determining the router path of packets sent to a target host. Currently, there is no information to indicate which routers a packet traversed on its way to a destination (DDOS target), enabling use of forged source IP addresses to attack the target via packet flooding... Rather than attempting to prevent attack packets, instead PEIP provides a way to rate-limit all packets based on their router path to a destination.
I've also heard people suggest "just unplug everything," but on Friday the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mim suggested another point of leverage, tweeting "We need laws that allow civil and/or criminal penalties for companies that sell systems this insecure." Is the best solution technical or legislative -- and does it involve hardware or software? Leave your best thoughts in the comments. How can we prevent packet-flooding DDOS attacks?

Amazon May Handle 30% Of All US Retail Sales ( 70

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: Amazon's yearly sales account for about 15% of total U.S. consumer online sales, according to the company's statements and the Department of Commerce. But the Seattle e-commerce company may actually be handling double that amount -- 20% to 30% of all U.S. retail goods sold online -- thanks to the volume of sales it transacts for third parties on its website and app. Only a portion of those sales add to its revenue.

"The punchline is that Amazon's twice as big as people give them credit for, because there's this iceberg under the surface, but you only see the tip," said Scot Wingo, executive chairman of Channel Advisor, an e-commerce software company that works with thousands of online sellers. When third-party sales are taken into account, Amazon's share of what U.S. shoppers spend online could be as high as $125 billion yearly...

Amazon's share will grow even larger when they can offer two-hour deliveries, warns one analyst, while another puts it more succinctly. "Amazon's just going to slowly grab more and more of your wallet."

VeraCrypt Security Audit Reveals Many Flaws, Some Already Patched ( 72

Orome1 quotes Help Net Security: VeraCrypt, the free, open source disk encryption software based on TrueCrypt, has been audited by experts from cybersecurity company Quarkslab. The researchers found 8 critical, 3 medium, and 15 low-severity vulnerabilities, and some of them have already been addressed in version 1.19 of the software, which was released on the same day as the audit report [which has mitigations for the still-unpatched vulnerabilities].
Anyone want to share their experiences with VeraCrypt? Two Quarkslab engineers spent more than a month on the audit, which was funded (and requested) by the non-profit Open Source Technology Improvement Fund "to evaluate the security of the features brought by VeraCrypt since the publication of the audit results on TrueCrypt 7.1a conducted by the Open Crypto Audit Project." Their report concludes that VeraCrypt's security "is improving which is a good thing for people who want to use a disk encryption software," adding that its main developer "was very positive along the audit, answering all questions, raising issues, discussing findings constructively..."

Canonical Names Ubuntu Linux 17.04 'Zesty Zapus' ( 65

"Linux distributions and silly names go together like peanut butter and jelly," notes BetaNews. BrianFagioli writes: One of the most well-known Linux distributions to use funny names is Ubuntu. It famously uses the convention of an adjective and a lesser-known animal, each starting with the same letter... For example, Ubuntu 16.10 uses the letter "Y" -- "Yakkety Yak". The next version of the operating system will use the letter "Z" [and] Canonical has chosen "Zesty Zapus"... It is apparently a type of jumping mouse...

"As we come to the end of the alphabet, I want to thank everyone who makes this fun. Your passion and focus and intellect, and occasionally your sharp differences, all make it a privilege to be part of this body incorporate. Right now, Ubuntu is moving even faster to the centre of the cloud and edge operations. From AWS to the zaniest new devices, Ubuntu helps people get things done faster, cleaner, and more efficiently, thanks to you...", says Mark Shuttleworth, CEO, Canonical... "we are a tiny band in a market of giants, but our focus on delivering free software freely together with enterprise support, services and solutions appears to be opening doors, and minds, everywhere. So, in honour of the valiantly tiny leaping long-tailed over the obstacles of life, our next release which will be Ubuntu 17.04, is hereby code named the Zesty Zapus".

My favorite was Xenial Xerus.
Classic Games (Games)

Super Mario 'Speed Runners' Are Setting New World Records ( 62

Virginia software engineer Brad Myers has played Super Mario 22,000 times, and just set a new speed record earlier this month -- 4 minutes and 56.878 seconds. An anonymous Slashdot reader summarizes a new article at FiveThirtyEight: "In this 31-year-old video game, there is a full-on, high-speed assault on Bowser's castle under way right now..." writes Oliver Roeder, describing a collaborative community of both theorists and experimentalists "who test the theories in game after callus-creating game... 'Everything in my run, so many people contributed so much knowledge at various points in the game's history,' Myers told me. 'Now someone can come along and use that as their starting point.'"

Online broadcasts form a kind of peer-review system, with an ever-expanding canon of tricks -- for example, intentionally bumping into objects for a slight increase in speed. But the success rate for the maneuver is estimated at 3%, meaning speed runners spend most of their time stating over. "On average, about 1 out of 1,000 times does a record-setting campaign continue beyond its halfway point..."


Rust Implements An IDE Protocol From Red Hat's Collaboration With Microsoft and Codenvy ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Developers of Mozilla's Rust language, devised for fast and safe system-level programming, have unveiled the first release of the Rust Language Service, a project that provides IDEs and editors with live, contextual information about Rust code. RLS is one of the first implementations of the Language Server Protocol, co-developed by Microsoft, Codenvy, and Red Hat to standardize communications between IDEs and language runtimes.

It's another sign of Rust's effort to be an A-list language across the board -- not only by providing better solutions to common programming problems, but also cultivating first-class, cutting-edge tooling support from beyond its ecosystem...

The Rust Language Service is "pre-alpha", and the whole Language Service Protocol is only currently supported by two IDEs -- Eclipse and Microsoft's Visual Studio Code. Earlier InfoWorld described it as "a JSON-based data exchange protocol for providing language services consistently across different code editors and IDEs," and one of the Rust developers has already developed a sample RLS client for Visual Studio Code.

Cisco Develops System To Automatically Cut-Off Pirate Video Streams ( 111

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Pirate services obtain content by capturing and restreaming feeds obtained from official sources, often from something as humble as a regular subscriber account. These streams can then be redistributed by thousands of other sites and services, many of which are easily found using a simple search. Dedicated anti-piracy companies track down these streams and send takedown notices to the hosts carrying them. Sometimes this means that streams go down quickly but in other cases hosts can take a while to respond or may not comply at all. Networking company Cisco thinks it has found a solution to these problems. The company's claims center around its Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) platform, a system that aims to take down illicit streams in real-time. Perhaps most interestingly, Cisco says SPP functions without needing to send takedown notices to companies hosting illicit streams. "Traditional takedown mechanisms such as sending legal notices (commonly referred to as 'DMCA notices') are ineffective where pirate services have put in place infrastructure capable of delivering video at tens and even hundreds of gigabits per second, as in essence there is nobody to send a notice to," the company explains. "Escalation to infrastructure providers works to an extent, but the process is often slow as the pirate services will likely provide the largest revenue source for many of the platform providers in question." To overcome these problems Cisco says it has partnered with Friend MTS (FMTS), a UK-based company specializing in content-protection. Among its services, FMTS offers Distribution iD, which allows content providers to pinpoint which of their downstream distributors' platforms are a current source of content leaks. "Robust and unique watermarks are embedded into each distributor feed for identification. The code is invisible to the viewer but can be recovered by our specialist detector software," FMTS explains. "Once infringing content has been located, the service automatically extracts the watermark for accurate distributor identification." According to Cisco, FMTS feeds the SPP service with pirate video streams it finds online. These are tracked back to the source of the leak (such as a particular distributor or specific pay TV subscriber account) which can then be shut-down in real time.

AI Platform Assesses Trump's and Clinton's Emotional Intelligence ( 181

FastCompany got an exclusive look at how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stacked up in terms of their emotional intelligence when analyzed by HireVue's artificial intelligence platform. The platform analyzes "video, audio, and language patterns to determine emotional intelligence and sentiment." The company also partnered with Affectiva for facial analysis "to measure the candidate's emotional engagement correlated down to the micro-expressions level." FastCompany reports the findings: Trump versus Clinton across all three debates. Here we see the range of emotions both candidates showed during all three debates. Clinton seemed to dominate the top-right area, which represented both "joy" and facial expressions like smiles and smirks. Conversely, Trump had a stronghold on the "sadness," "disgust," and "fear" quadrants, along with both "negative sentiment" and "negative valence." The third debate. Looking more closely at just this week's debate, negativity prevailed. Both candidates exhibited disgust during the 90-minute spectacle. Trump, however, seemed to dominate the strongest emotions with heightened scores for "fear," "contempt," and "negative sentiment." Clinton, according to the data, presented the only positive emotional elements, which included some "joy" and "smiles." Clinton's performance. Clinton's range of emotions and reactions seemed pretty consistent throughout all three debates, although she exhibited the most positive emotions during the second. What's more, according to the graph, she was most negative during this week's debate. Trump's performance. Similar to Clinton, Trump's range of emotions seemed relatively consistent throughout the three debates. The third one, however, was when he emoted the most negatively. He smirked a lot during this event, too. "Negative sentiment," "contempt," and "anger" were persistent throughout all three conversations.

Governor Cuomo Bans Airbnb From Listing Short-Term Rentals In New York ( 157

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New York Post: Gov. Cuomo on Friday bowed to pressure from the hotel industry and signed into law one of the nation's toughest restrictions on Airbnb -- including hefty fines of up to $7,500 for people who rent out space in their apartments. Backers of the punitive measure -- which applies to rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present -- say many property owners use Airbnb and similar sites to offer residential apartments as short-term rentals to visitors, hurting the hotel business while taking residential units off the Big Apple's high-priced housing market. Enforcement, however, will be a huge challenge, as thousands of short-term apartment rentals are listed in the city despite a 2010 law that prohibits rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present. Violators could be turned in by neighbors or landlords opposed to the practice, or the state could monitor the site to look for potential violations. But beyond that how the law would be enforced was not immediately clear. The new law won't apply to rentals in single-family homes, row houses or apartment spare rooms if the resident is present. But will apply to co-ops and condos. Airbnb mounted a last-ditch effort to kill the measure, proposing alternative regulations that the company argued would address concerns about short-term rentals without big fines. Tenants who violate current state law and list their apartments for rentals of less than 30 days would face fines of $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second and $7,500 for a third. An investigation of Airbnb rentals from 2010 to 2014 by the state attorney general's office found that 72 percent of the units in New York City were illegal, with commercial operators constituting 6 percent of the hosts and supplying 36 percent of the rentals. As of August, Airbnb had 45,000 city listings and another 13,000 across the state.

Microsoft Shares Hit All-Time High As Company Strengthens Its Cloud Grip ( 43

Marco della Cava, reporting for USA Today: Microsoft shares surged 5% in early trading Friday, and passed a high set in 1999, helped by enthusiasm for progress in its cloud business. The stock was at up at $60.11, breezing past the $58.72 mark set in December 1999. Friday's rally follows Microsoft's latest quarterly report, out late Thursday, that beat analyst expectations for adjusted sales and profit and showcased a doubling of growth in its Azure cloud business, while reflecting continued strain from consumers' pivot away from PCs and traditional software purchases.Microsoft reported its Q1 2017 earnings yesterday, noting a revenue of $20.5 billion, which was higher than Wall Street's expectations. Company's Intellgent Cloud revenue was up 8 percent, whereas Azure revenue observed 116 percent growth year-on-year.
PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro ( 71

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.

Television Needs To Be Reinvented, Says Apple SVP ( 199

Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Service at Apple, isn't happy with the current state of how people watch TV. He said we currently live with a "glorified VCR," the interface of our current TV is the problem and we need to reinvent it. Cue pointed out a number of other issues he has with today's TV:"It's really hard to use [a cable box or satellite TV]. Setting something to record, if you didn't watch something last night, if you didn't set it to record, it's hard to find, it may not be available. There may be some rights issues," Cue said. "It's great to be able to tell your device, 'I wanna watch the Duke basketball game, I don't care what channel it's on.' I just want to watch the Duke basketball game. Today you got to bring in the TV, go through the guide, find which sports programs or whatever -- it's just hard to do."

Yahoo Wants To Know If FBI Ordered Yahoo To Scan Emails ( 90

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: In an odd twist to an already odd story, Yahoo officials have asked the Director of National Intelligence to confirm whether the federal government ordered the company to scan users' emails for specific terms last year and if so, to declassify the order. The letter is the result of news reports earlier this month that detailed an order that the FBI allegedly served on Yahoo in 2015 in an apparent effort to find messages with a specific set of terms. The stories allege that Yahoo complied with the order and installed custom software to accomplish the task. Yahoo officials said at the time the Reuters story came out that there is no such scanning system on its network, but did not say that the scanning software never existed on the network at all. "Yahoo was mentioned specifically in these reports and we find ourselves unable to respond in detail. Your office, however, is well positioned to clarify this matter of public interest. Accordingly, we urge your office to consider the following actions to provide clarity on the matter: (i) confirm whether an order, as described in these media reports, was issued; (ii) declassify in whole or in part such order, if it exists; and (iii) make a sufficiently detailed public and contextual comment to clarify the alleged facts and circumstances," the letter says.

Stanford Researchers Release Virtual-Reality Simulation That Transports Users To Ocean of the Future ( 83

Tekla Perry writes: Stanford's Jeremy Bailenson and his Virtual Human Interaction Lab have for more than a decade been testing whether experiences from virtual reality can change real-world behavior. Now they are using their knowledge -- and expertise at developing VR software -- in what they hope will be a large-scale move towards making people behave better. The lab this week released, for free, a VR experience for the HTC Vive. It's aimed at giving people the sense of diving down to a coral reef -- but the real goal is getting them to consider how carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is killing the oceans. He hopes, with the dearth of good VR content available, this software will proliferate at least as fast as VR hardware does. Next up for the lab, a deep dive into homelessness. The experience is formally called "The Ocean Acidification Experience" and it's "intended to teach users about the chemistry behind ocean acidification, as well as the problems it causes, and what they can do to help prevent it," according to IEEE Spectrum. Bailenson describes the general story line by saying, "It starts with a globe. We talk about how we can see climate on the coastlines, but nobody can see how carbon dioxide affects the oceans. We then take you into a crowded city. You touch an exhaust pipe, and you then see carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere, and you're told to follow one particular molecule. Then you are in a boat, on the ocean, you see your molecule come towards you. You touch it and push it into the water; when it lands you see the chemical reaction that creates acid; that's the chemistry lesson. Then you are underwater, at this special reef in Ischia, Italy. This reef has naturally occurring carbon dioxide from underwater volcanoes; it shows how all our oceans will look by 2100. We take you to a normal reef, where you see coral, and count sea snails and species of fish. Then you go to an acidified reef; you see that algae have taken over the reef, there is no coral; there are fewer fish species, and no sea snails. The final scene tells you what you can do to help, prevent this future, including managing your own carbon footprint, talking to decision makers, and supporting research organizations."

Slashdot Top Deals