Computer intelligence is getting more human every day. They solve problems like humans, they communicate like humans, and now, they're ruining the world's financial markets just like humans. NYSE Euronext, the trans-Atlantic regulatory body that monitors stock trading, has fined Credit Suisse's trading division for failing to monitor a computer trading algorithm that misconducted hundreds of thousands of stock transactions.
It's always the pretty ones who get the attention. Scientists trying to raise awareness about a mysterious illness affecting bat populations along the East Coast say that bats' sketchy reputation keeps them from getting the attention they deserve.
But being cute didn't help little puppies in Hungary circa 900-1200 AD. New research shows that sacrifices of adult and baby dogs was more widespread than previously thought. The domestic animals were thought to have been killed to protect against evil. (Although apparently not the evil of killing puppies.)
Also in today's links: why it's okay to read this at work, another study on testosterone and risk, and more.
Two of the great inventors of our time finally get their due: Wallace and Gromit have a museum exhibit devoted to their inventions -- from the snowmanotron to the crackervac -- as well as true but equally quirky inventions. Who knew someone cared enough about the canaries that went down into mines to build them a resuscitation chamber?
Also in today's links: an Egyptian hoax that will soon make the rounds of middle school slumber parties, hermit crab torture, and more.
An interesting theme has begun to emerge in Copenhagen: that the financial crisis might end up saving the world. Sure, it's painful now, this line of thinking goes, but it gives us a chance to build a low-carbon global economy that we might not have had otherwise. And in the meantime, greenhouse-gas emissions could fall sharply as a result of depressed economic activity -- factories closing, less driving, less flying, and so on.
"Socially interactive" robots are being developed that can interact naturally with people, such as turning toward a person to give the impression of paying attention. The goal is to have such machines perform assistive tasks from hugging to encouraging stroke victims to perform important exercises or children with autism to imitate behavior. Researchers designing what such robots will look like also have to avoid the "uncanny valley" -- a phrase based on the idea that people are most comfortable with robots that look either completely human, or identifiably not human.
Also in today's links: blaming quants, mapping science, imaging religion, and more.
In light of the ongoing world financial collapse, here's a tip to banks: take a look at your customers. A new study suggests that a person's creditworthiness can be seen in his or her face. And here's a tip to would-be borrowers: try not to look shifty. (Points off from the article, though, for not explaining what exactly that means, though.)
Also in today's links: hilarious species names, the next level of smart in phones, and more.
Apple announced last week that Steve Jobs was taking a medical leave of absence until June, leaving techies atwitter about the CEO's health. Now researchers argue that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require companies to disclose the health of CEOs to shareholders.
Uncertainty over Jobs' health has already stirred massive speculation and some angry rumor-backlash against news sites and blogs such as Gizmodo. PC World pointed out that the lack of information leaves journalists to rely on contradictory insider accounts and hearsay.
SEC regulations already require companies to disclose events and conditions that might affect a company's future or market value, such as financial risks from climate change, executive officer compensation, and uncertainty over liquidity and capital resources.