Facebook Quietly Enters StarCraft War for AI Bots, and Loses

In the distant Koprulu Sector of the Milky Way, Facebook’s Zerglings lingered in a restless swarm outside the enemy’s base. After the commander ill-advisedly opened the gate, the social network’s alien horde stormed in and slaughtered forces stationed inside, in a battle fought on the frontiers of artificial-intelligence research.

The bloody incident was part of an annual competition of the videogame StarCraft for AI software bots that wrapped up Sunday. Facebook quietly entered a bot called CherryPi designed by eight people employed by or affiliated with its AI research lab.

The social network’s stealthy space war suggests Facebook is serious about competing with Google and others to set showy new milestones in AI smarts. Google’s London-based DeepMind AI research unit made headlines last year when its AlphaGo software defeated a champion at the board game Go. In August, DeepMind declared StarCraft II, the latest version of the game, as its next target.

The read more

Marvel Keeps Making TV—But With ‘Runaways’ on Hulu, How Many Networks Is Too Many?

Deep into the marathon that was this year’s New York Comic Con, Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb hit the main stage at the Javits Center to lead a panel for Runaways, Marvel’s newest small-screen foray and the company’s first team-up with Hulu. He bantered with the crowd, led attendees in an enthusiastic if awkward chant of the show’s name—”Hulu!” “Marvel’s” “Runaways!”—and showed them the as-yet-unaired first episode. The pilot got a warm reception, and after the credits rolled Loeb celebrated the fans who had stuck around for the Friday evening panel. “Those of you that are sneaking out now,” he continued with just a hint of sarcasm in his voice, “I know you gotta get home and watch the second half of Inhumans, but you might want to stick around.”

For Marvel’s television chief to fire a shot at one of his read more

Hacking North Korea Won’t Stop Its Nuclear Program

As tensions with North Korea escalate into a full-on cold war, a cold cyberwar is playing out in tandem: Beneath the very public nuclear standoff, both the US and North Korea have privately ramped up their digital aggression, the Kim regime’s hackers rampaging through networks around the globe and the US answering with its own attacks on the systems used by those hackers.

But despite the US government’s dominating powers in the digital realm, security experts and former intelligence officials believe that battlefield favors North Korea. US hackers can take bites out of the edges of North Korea’s infrastructure. But getting to its core—and anywhere close to disrupting or even delaying its nuclear capabilities—will be extremely difficult, they say, if not impossible.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that US Cyber Command had read more

In Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria, No Power Means No Telecom

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is still mostly an island deleted from the present and pushed back a century or so—with little clean water, little electric power, and almost no telecommunications. For telecom, the biggest problem is the lack of power, because most of the island’s transmission lines were knocked out. “We have to reconstruct the power grid as if we were dropping into the middle of the desert and starting from scratch,” says Luis Romero, vice president of the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Alliance. “Then on top of that would go the telecommunications services.”

As of Monday, here’s where things stand: Of 25 main central offices for wired telephone service, two are out of commission due to lack of power, which means roughly 20 of 78 remote switching units are also out of service. Of 1,600 cellular sites, at least 1,300 are out of service. Of four fiber-optic providers in Puerto Rico, one is read more

Comic Con Gallery 2

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social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit from https://www.wired.com/gallery/nycc-dedicated-cosplay

This New Alzheimer’s Test Looks Beyond a Single Problem Gene

America is entering a period that may one day be known as The Great Forgetting. Alzheimer’s, a disease defined as much by the accumulation of mental lapses as by tangled proteins in the brain, is an ailment of the aging. Sixty-five-year-olds have a one in 10 chance of a positive diagnosis. By age 85, the odds jump to one in three. And with the nation’s baby boomers just beginning to enter their eighth decade, as many as 28 million of them—about 10 percent of the US population—are expected to develop Alzheimer’s between now and the middle of the century.

And yet, it’s impossible to know who will succumb to the disease. Genetic tests pioneered in the last decade have managed to shed some light on people’s relative risk. But the science is still a long way from providing any measure of certainty.

Right now, you can mail a tube of spit to 23andMe and get back a report on how likely your DNA read more

From Cersei to Pennywise, the Most Devoted Cosplayers at This Year’s New York Comic Con

Ruby Taki goes full Metal Gear in this Skull costume.

This is Tank. He’s Marv from Sin City. He’s on a smoke break.

Dan Schmidt (left) and Andrew Ouellette (right) show off their crazy Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp edition) looks.

Geisha Vi brought an original character—”one of many”—to NYCC. This is Elunis, daughter of Poseidon and Queen of the Ocean.

Fans of the podcast The Adventure Zone gather for a group photo.

Laura Spineti, in full Eleven-from-Stranger Things garb, will not leggo her Eggos.

Amanda Dawn is Marceline the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time.

Pennywise: Perpetually scary, even in full daylight.

Jaclyn Fox participates in Cersei Lannister’s favorite pastime: day drinking.

Davaughn does some fence-scaling as Blade.

Elektra and Raven Kirby are Pokémon’s Team Rocket.

Deadpool came to NYCC to kick Captain America’s ass and eat chimichanga. He ran out of chimichangas.

Joe McCoy is X-Men’s Beast.

Bill Johnson is here to defend NYCC as Steel.

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Retracting Bad Science Doesn’t Make It Disappear

Imagine you’re a scientist. You published a paper in a reputable journal a couple of years ago, and that paper has made an impact in your field of study. It has shaped your own research and has inspired others to pursue similar lines of investigation. Thanks to that paper, you’re enjoying a certain status among your peers. Now you find out that one of the works you cited in that paper has just been retracted. Whether it was an honest mistake, total fabrication, or something in between, that work has now been flagged and no longer stands up to scientific scrutiny.

What do you do?



Jerome Samson is a data science, media, and research communication consultant. He’s principal at 3.14 Research Management Group, a research and communications agency, and was previously managing editor of scientific publications at Nielsen.

Modern science is a group effort. It’s slow, it’s complicated, it often involves multiple disciplines, and it’s almost read more

The Race to Secure Voting Tech Gets an Urgent Jumpstart

Numerous electronic voting machines used in United States elections have critical exposures that could make them vulnerable to hacking. Security experts have known that for a decade. But it wasn’t until Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential campaigns and began probing digital voting systems that the topic took on pressing urgency. Now hackers, researchers, diplomats, and national security experts are pushing to effect real change in Washington. The latest update? It’s working, but maybe not fast enough.

On Tuesday, representatives from the hacking conference DefCon and partners at the Atlantic Council think tank shared findings from a report about DefCon’s Voting Village, where hundreds of hackers got to physically interact with—and compromise—actual US voting machines for the first time ever at the conference in July. Work over three days at the Village read more

Slow iPhone? Don’t Blame Apple. Blame Your Apps

Each year, fall ushers in a few certainties. Leaves change color and fall gently to the ground. Pumpkin spice flavors turn up in unlikely foodstuffs. And iPhone owners feel pretty sure that Apple has intentionally slowed down their smartphone, in a dastardly attempt to get them to upgrade to the latest model. That last one? It’s not a thing.

Hue and cry about Apple’s “planned obsolescence” has burbled up for years, at one point gracing even the pages of The New York Times Magazine. But a new look at historic iPhone performance data disproves the notion for good. Does your iPhone run a little slower than it used to, just in time for the iPhone 8? Maybe. If you’re blaming Apple, though, you’re barking up the wrong corporate monolith.

3DMarks the Spot

The data that disproves any malicious intent on Apple’s part comes from Futuremark, the company behind a popular benchmarking app called 3DMark. The app runs a series of tests that measure your phone’s performance.

“The read more