Lasrick writes "Princeton's Mark Gubrud has an excellent piece on the United States killer robot policy. In 2012, without much fanfare, the U.S. announced the world's first openly declared national policy for killer robots. That policy has been widely misperceived as one of caution, according to Gubrud: 'A careful reading of the directive finds that it lists some broad and imprecise criteria and requires senior officials to certify that these criteria have been met if systems are intended to target and kill people by machine decision alone. But it fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last year, sci-fi author Neal Stephenson and a team of game developers set out to make video game swordfighting awesome. They set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of hardware and software tech that would make replace console controllers with something more realistic. Now, production on that tech and the game in which they showcase it has been halted. In an update on the Kickstarter page, Stephenson explains how they've sought other investments without success. The project is 'on pause,' and the team asks for patience. He says, 'The overall climate in the industry has become risk-averse to a degree that is difficult to appreciate until you've seen it. It is especially bemusing to CLANG team members who, by cheerfully foregoing other opportunities so that they could associate themselves with a startup in the swordfighting space, have already shown an attitude to career, financial, and reputational risk normally associated with the cast members of Jackass. To a game publisher crouched in a fetal position under a blanket, CLANG seems extra worrisome because it is coupled to a new hardware controller.'"
Rambo Tribble writes "As detailed by Ars Technica, Intel has introduced the Minnowboard, an SBC touted as more powerful and more open than the Raspberry Pi. At $199, it is also more expensive. Using an Atom processor, the new SBC boasts more capacity and x86-compatibility. 'It's notable that the MinnowBoard is an open hardware platform, a distinction that Arduino and BeagleBone can claim but Raspberry Pi cannot. Users could create their own MinnowBoards by buying the items on the bill of materials—all the design information is published, and CircuitCo chose components that can be purchased individually rather than in the bulk quantities hardware manufacturers are accustomed to, Anders said. Users can also buy a pre-made MinnowBoard and make customizations or create their own accessory boards to expand its capability. And being an open hardware platform means that the source code of (almost) all the software required to run the platform is open.'" Update: 09/20 22:31 GMT by T : Look soon for a video introduction to the MinnowBoard, and — hopefully not too long from now — a visit to their Dallas-area production facility.
mdsolar writes in with a story about the fallout from a nuclear plant closing on a small town in Maine. "In a wooded area behind a camouflage-clad guard holding an assault rifle, dozens of hulking casks packed with radioactive waste rest on concrete pads — relics of the shuttered nuclear plant that once powered the region and made this fishing town feel rich. In the 17 years since Maine Yankee began dismantling its reactors and shedding its 600 workers, this small, coastal town north of Portland has experienced drastic changes: property taxes have spiked by more than 10 times for the town's 3,700 residents, the number living in poverty has more than doubled as many professionals left, and town services and jobs have been cut. 'I have yet to meet anyone happy that Maine Yankee is gone,' said Laurie Smith, the town manager. 'All these years later, we're still feeling the loss of jobs, the economic downturn, and the huge tax increases.'"