Tuesday, November 11, 2014

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Ice Age Now - Arctic Air Plunge Towards The South And East Sending Freezing Temperatures Across The United States; Minnesota Shatters Snow Record FROM 1898; Wyoming Windchill Warning Of 35 BELOW; Frostbite In 10 Minutes As Temperatures Get Slashed By Over 30 Degrees; Cold Outbreak To Last Well Into Next Week!

Teresa Goodson walks to work in ski goggles in downtown St. Paul during the first snowstorm of the season on Nov. 10, 2014.(Photo: Leila Navidi, AP)
November 11, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Arctic air will plunge toward the South and East on Wednesday and Thursday, after as much as 2 feet of record-breaking snow buried portions of the upper Midwest.

Temperatures only made it into the single digits, teens and 20s Tuesday across much of the north-central U.S. — 20 to 40 degrees below average for many areas, the National Weather Service said.

Wind chills were as cold as minus 20 in parts of western Montana. By Wednesday morning, wind chills could drop to minus 35 in some spots — low enough to cause frostbite in 10 minutes.

Source AccuWeather, As of Nov. 10.(Photo: Janet Loehrke, USA TODAY)

SOURCE AccuWeather, As of Nov. 10.(Photo: Janet Loehrke, USA TODAY)

Weather service meteorologist Paul Kocin said the cold air will reach the Appalachians to mid-South by Wednesday morning and then hit the East Coast by Thursday morning. The East Coast will see cooler temperatures but be spared from the dramatic lows in the middle of the country, Kocin said.

Freezing temperatures are still possible in parts of the South and East, AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

By Monday afternoon, areas of northwest Montana saw 14 inches of snow; parts of North Dakota saw as much as 8 inches.

The heaviest snow fell across Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Ishpeming in northern Michigan picked up 24.5 inches of snow as of late Tuesday afternoon, the highest total from the storm so far, according to the weather service.

WATCH: Minneapolis already covered in snow.

Marquette, Mich., got socked with 21.5 inches of snow so far, creating treacherous driving conditions.

At least two people were killed in Minnesota on icy roads, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

In Minnesota alone, there were reports of more than 180 weather-related crashes during the morning commute, including a 16-car pileup in Duluth, CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas reported.
"It's really bad," said Jonie Magnant, who works at a Walgreens in Marquette. "There are thick, whiteout conditions," she said.

Top snowfalls in other states included 18 inches in Mellen, Wis.; 16.5 inches in Cambridge and St. Augusta, Minn., and 14 inches in Whitefish, Mont.

St. Cloud, Minn., got 13.2 inches of snow Monday, breaking the all-time November calendar-day record of 12 inches set on Nov. 21, 1898.

Richard Anderson, a professional holiday decorator who was working on some small trees outside the Seven Steakhouse in Minneapolis, was downcast about the snow.

"It's wet, cold, sticks to you," Anderson said. "It's freezing on your jacket as it's raining. What do you call it?

Rain, sleet and snow. And it's bitter. It's really bitter. It's not very nice."

By Wednesday temperatures will be in the teens and single digits in Washington state and Oregon.

Snow was welcome in northern Wyoming, where firefighters were battling to contain a late wildfire.

Firefighters struggled with the blaze west of Buffalo, and by Sunday evening it had burned almost 2 square miles. Then came the arctic front, with snow and temperatures plunging from the 60s on Sunday to single digits by Monday morning.

“That’s the best fire control you can have is Mother Nature,” said John Garman, a firefighter with Johnson County.

A Duluth, Minn. resident shovels the snow from in front of a vehicle, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, following the season's first measurable snowfall
on Monday. Some areas of Minnesota recorded over one foot of snow. (AP Photo/WDIO-TV, Carl Sauer)

The National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Warnings and Advisories for Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle through 10 AM Wednesday.

As the polar airmass continues to surge southward, temperatures will fall below zero and winds will be breezy from the north at 5-15 MPH. This will send wind chill values as low as -35° over the Laramie Valley and down to -25° across the rest of the region.

With wind chill values as low as -35°, frostbite could set in within 5 to 10 minutes of exposure.

Arctic air continues to surge into the central U.S. on Tuesday. The cold wave will continue to slide south and east over the next couple of days, finally reaching the Deep South and East Coast by Thursday. VPC

Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for nearly two weeks in the Upper Midwest, Minneapolis included.


If you’re flying in the coming days, expect some delays. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport estimated roughly one-third of its arrivals and departures would be canceled by the end of Monday.

As far as driving, if you must do it in snow and sleet, be prepared: Have a full tank of gas, an emergency kit and exercise caution. Wind-blown snow can make it difficult to see, and ice underneath can make driving slippery.

Dangerously low wind chill values can threaten livestock and pets when left outdoors. Frostbite and hypothermia can develop in less than 10 minutes with wind chill values near 40 below in some read.

“It’s part of being in South Dakota,” said Nancy Miller, a manager at Mid-America Travel Plaza in Belle Fourche. “It’s just the topic of the day. It’s the first snowstorm of the season.”


The wintry blast stirred fears of a repeat of last year’s bitter season, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn’t expect it. Federal forecasters have predicted this winter will be fairly average.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be cold, and other private weather forecasters are predicting a slightly cooler winter than NOAA.

This week’s storm is part of a powerful system being pushed in by the remnants of Typhoon Nuri that hit Alaska’s sparsely populated Aleutian Islands.

Unlike chilly air episodes thus far this season, this particular cold outbreak will have staying power and is likely to last well into next week.

USA Today | CBS Seattle | AccuWeather | KGWN | Local News 8.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Arms Makers Have Crossed Into TROUBLING TERRITORY; New Arms Race For Weapons Are Now Being DIRECTED BY ROBOTS, Artificial Intelligence Decides What To Target And WHOM TO KILL!

November 11, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY
- On a bright fall day last year off the coast of Southern California, an Air Force B-1 bomber launched an experimental missile that may herald the future of warfare.

Initially, pilots aboard the plane directed the missile, but halfway to its destination, it severed communication with its operators. Alone, without human oversight, the missile decided which of three ships to attack, dropping to just above the sea surface and striking a 260-foot unmanned freighter.

Warfare is increasingly guided by software. Today, armed drones can be operated by remote pilots peering into video screens thousands of miles from the battlefield. But now, some scientists say, arms makers have crossed into troubling territory: They are developing weapons that rely on artificial intelligence, not human instruction, to decide what to target and whom to kill.

As these weapons become smarter and nimbler, critics fear they will become increasingly difficult for humans to control — or to defend against. And while pinpoint accuracy could save civilian lives, critics fear weapons without human oversight could make war more likely, as easy as flipping a switch.

Britain, Israel and Norway are already deploying missiles and drones that carry out attacks against enemy radar, tanks or ships without direct human control. After launch, so-called autonomous weapons rely on artificial intelligence and sensors to select targets and to initiate an attack.

 A Long Range Anti-Ship Missile prototype, launched by a B-1 bomber, is designed to maneuver without human control.
Credit Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Britain’s “fire and forget” Brimstone missiles, for example, can distinguish among tanks and cars and buses without human assistance, and can hunt targets in a predesignated region without oversight. The Brimstones also communicate with one another, sharing their targets.

Armaments with even more advanced self-governance are on the drawing board, although the details usually are kept secret. “An autonomous weapons arms race is already taking place,” said Steve Omohundro, a physicist and artificial intelligence specialist at Self-Aware Systems, a research center in Palo Alto, Calif.

“They can respond faster, more efficiently and less predictably.”

WATCH: Animation of how new missiles may work.

Concerned by the prospect of a robotics arms race, representatives from dozens of nations will meet on Thursday in Geneva to consider whether development of these weapons should be restricted by the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Christof Heyns, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, last year called for a moratorium on the development of these weapons.

The Pentagon has issued a directive requiring high-level authorization for the development of weapons capable of killing without human oversight. But fast-moving technology has already made the directive obsolete, some scientists say.

“Our concern is with how the targets are determined, and more importantly, who determines them,” said Peter Asaro, a co-founder and vice chairman of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, a group of scientists that advocates restrictions on the use of military robots. “Are these human-designated targets? Or are these systems automatically deciding what is a target?”

Weapons manufacturers in the United States were the first to develop advanced autonomous weapons. An early version of the Tomahawk cruise missile had the ability to hunt for Soviet ships over the horizon without direct human control. It was withdrawn in the early 1990s after a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

Back in 1988, the Navy test-fired a Harpoon antiship missile that employed an early form of self-guidance. The missile mistook an Indian freighter that had strayed onto the test range for its target. The Harpoon, which did not have a warhead, hit the bridge of the freighter, killing a crew member.

Despite the accident, the Harpoon became a mainstay of naval armaments and remains in wide use.

In recent years, artificial intelligence has begun to supplant human decision-making in a variety of fields, such as high-speed stock trading and medical diagnostics, and even in self-driving cars. But technological advances in three particular areas have made self-governing weapons a real possibility.

New types of radar, laser and infrared sensors are helping missiles and drones better calculate their position and orientation. “Machine vision,” resembling that of humans, identifies patterns in images and helps weapons distinguish important targets. This nuanced sensory information can be quickly interpreted by sophisticated artificial intelligence systems, enabling a missile or drone to carry out its own analysis in flight. And computer hardware hosting it all has become relatively inexpensive — and expendable.

The missile tested off the coast of California, the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, is under development by Lockheed Martin for the Air Force and Navy. It is intended to fly for hundreds of miles, maneuvering on its own to avoid radar, and out of radio contact with human controllers.

In a directive published in 2012, the Pentagon drew a line between semiautonomous weapons, whose targets are chosen by a human operator, and fully autonomous weapons that can hunt and engage targets without intervention.

Weapons of the future, the directive said, must be “designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.”

The Pentagon nonetheless argues that the new antiship missile is only semiautonomous and that humans are sufficiently represented in its targeting and killing decisions. But officials at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which initially developed the missile, and Lockheed declined to comment on how the weapon decides on targets, saying the information is classified.

“It will be operating autonomously when it searches for the enemy fleet,” said Mark A. Gubrud, a physicist and a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, and an early critic of so-called smart weapons. “This is pretty sophisticated stuff that I would call artificial intelligence outside human control.”

Paul Scharre, a weapons specialist now at the Center for a New American Security who led the working group that wrote the Pentagon directive, said, “It’s valid to ask if this crosses the line.”

Some arms-control specialists say that requiring only “appropriate” human control of these weapons is too vague, speeding the development of new targeting systems that automate killing.

Images from a computer showing a strike by a Brimstone missile, a British weapon, on an Islamic State armed truck in Iraq. The “fire and forget” missile can
distinguish among tanks and cars and buses without human assistance. Credit Ministry of Defense/Crown Copyright, via Associated Press

Mr. Heyns, of the United Nations, said that nations with advanced weapons should agree to limit their weapons systems to those with “meaningful” human control over the selection and attack of targets. “It must be similar to the role a commander has over his troops,” Mr. Heyns said.

Systems that permit humans to override the computer’s decisions may not meet that criterion, he added. Weapons that make their own decisions move so quickly that human overseers soon may not be able to keep up. Yet many of them are explicitly designed to permit human operators to step away from controls. Israel’s antiradar missile, the Harpy, loiters in the sky until an enemy radar is turned on. It then attacks and destroys the radar installation on its own.

Norway plans to equip its fleet of advanced jet fighters with the Joint Strike Missile, which can hunt, recognize and detect a target without human intervention. Opponents have called it a “killer robot.”

Military analysts like Mr. Scharre argue that automated weapons like these should be embraced because they may result in fewer mass killings and civilian casualties. Autonomous weapons, they say, do not commit war crimes.

On Sept. 16, 2011, for example, British warplanes fired two dozen Brimstone missiles at a group of Libyan tanks that were shelling civilians. Eight or more of the tanks were destroyed simultaneously, according to a military spokesman, saving the lives of many civilians.

It would have been difficult for human operators to coordinate the swarm of missiles with similar precision.
“Better, smarter weapons are good if they reduce civilian casualties or indiscriminate killing,” Mr. Scharre said. - NY Times.

SOLAR WATCH: The Largest Sunspot In Over 20 Years Erupts, As It Set To Return To Earth-Facing Position - Unleashed 6 X-Flares In October; High Chance For X-Flares Over The Next 48 Hours; Geomagnetic Storm Category G1 Predicted!

November 11, 2014 - SPACE
- The quieting of sunspot AR2205 has prompted NOAA forecasters to lower the odds of an X-class flare today to only 10%.

However, they are raising the odds again tomorrow when old sunspot AR2192 is expected to return from its two-week trip around the farside of the sun.

Our old friend AR 2192, the largest visible sunspot in over 20 years, is lurking behind the east limb and is making its presence known.

An eruption of plasma, presumably centered around whatever remains of the active region, is visible off the limb in the latest imagery courtesy of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

We should see the long lasting region begin to reappear during the next 48 hours.

In late October, AR2192 unleashed six intense X-flares. If it still possesses any of its former vigor, the old sunspot could bring a sharp uptick in solar activity.

NOAA estimates a 30% chance of X-flares on Nov. 12-13.


Here is an updated look at the visible solar disk on Tuesday.

Solar activity during the past 24 hours was low. Region 2205 continued to produce minor C-Flares, including a C6.7 at 11:22 UTC. The active region will remain a threat for an isolated M-Class flare.

In the southeast quadrant, region 2208 is showing new spot growth this morning, but remains remains relatively quiet for now.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) was observed off the east limb and is directed away from Earth. This looks to have been the result of activity surrounding old region 2192. The active region will begin to turn back into view during the next couple of days. Magnetic field lines towering high above the active region are now visible in the latest solar imagery.


Attached is another great image courtesy of Marketa Murray captured earlier this month from near Fairbanks, Alaska. Her husband Ronn Murray is pictured in the foreground capturing video of the event.

To view some of their work, please check out the following awesome video.

WATCH: Magic Morning - Alaska's Northern Lights in Real Time.

Geomagnetic Storm Category G1 Predicted

Space Weather Message Code: WATA20
Serial Number: 588
Issue Time: 2014 Nov 11 2331 UTC

WATCH: Geomagnetic Storm Category G1 Predicted

Highest Storm Level Predicted by Day:
Nov 12:  G1 (Minor)   Nov 13:  None (Below G1)   Nov 14:  None (Below G1)


Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 60 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
Spacecraft - Minor impact on satellite operations possible.
Aurora - Aurora may be visible at high latitudes, i.e., northern tier of the U.S. such as northern Michigan and Maine.

- Solar Ham | Space Weather | NOAA SWPC.

CONTAGION: The Ebola Crisis - Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Declares That "We Are Still Being Outpaced By The Epidemic,... Decline In Liberia Cases Does Not Signal End Of Crisis"!

November 11, 2014 - ENGLAND
- The Ebola epidemic is still outstripping efforts to contain it, according to doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières who have mounted most of the early response in west Africa.

Speaking to MPs from the House of Commons international development committee, MSF’s head of UK programmes said the apparent decline in numbers in Liberia did not signal the end of the epidemic.

“We are still being outpaced,” said André Heller-Perrache . ”There are far more actors on the ground but we are still being outpaced by it, with Sierra Leone being the most concerning case we have.”

Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, a UK-based doctor in emergency medicine who has recently returned from Sierra Leone where he was a volunteer with MSF, said there was “too little of everything being done in terms of intervention”.

He described how doctors in MSF’s treatment centre in Kailahun would don protective suits to meet an ambulance that could have been travelling across the country for 10 hours expecting dead bodies, which are highly infectious.

“Usually there is a patient who is dead,” he said. “There was [in one ambulance] one dead woman and two who were alive but terrified. They have watched this poor woman die a wretched death and they are thinking, ‘I’m now going to die as well.’”

Prof John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who in September called the outbreak a potential doomsday scenario, said he would not say that the nightmare had been averted.

“Things have improved dramatically in Liberia now – cases were doubling every two weeks. Now there is a turnaround and they are declining.

“The number of cases in Liberia has flattened out. The increase has stopped and come down, but we haven’t got rid of Ebola. In Guinea and Sierra Leone the rate of increase hasn’t really changed much at all.”

The improvements in Liberia have been seen as safe burials have increased in Monrovia and the numbers of treatment beds have gone up. MSF said the opening of new treatment centres could not be rushed, however.

“It may take time to build something but the most critical moment is the opening of the treatment centre,” said Abdelmoneim.

Rushing things could put health and sanitation workers at risk. “The opening is always going to be slow and needs to be done safely and effectively for the sake of the healthcare workers,” he said.

Justine Greening, the international development secretary, told the committee 1,000 NHS staff had volunteered to work in west Africa, although it is thought that few, if any, have yet left the UK. “Many are now going through a process of being trained up and will be heading out to Sierra Leone,” she said. They would help staff the UK treatment centres that are being constructed.

Abdelmoneim said some may face difficulties over their absence from their usual NHS jobs. “Whether they can get the time away from their trusts and their position backfilled is an altogether different question,” he told MPs.

Edmunds said more staff were critical to the Ebola response. “There are not many UK health workers out there at the moment. There is no point opening new treatment centres if there is nobody to staff them,” he told MPs.

“This needs to be much more urgent on the part of the NHS for our own good. If we don’t stop this epidemic in west Africa, we are going to get cases in the UK.” - The Guardian.

Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak

TERMINATOR NOW: The Dawn Of The Google Machines - Boston Dynamics Release Video Of Its Human-Like Robot, Atlas, Performing Karate Moves; NASA Hands Over Operations Of Airfield To Google For Space Exploration And Robotics As The Movement Towards Singularitarianism Accelerates!

Still from youtube video (DRCihmcRobotics)

November 11, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY
- Engineers at Google-owned Boston Dynamics have released a new video of its human-like robot, Atlas, and the machine’s demonstrated ability to maintain a karate stance may someday earn it a black belt in martial arts. Boston Dynamics isn’t exactly building a ninja robot by any means, but a video released this week of Atlas mimicking the maneuvers made famous by Ralph Macchio in 1984’s blockbuster Karate Kid is quickly raising questions about what sort of capabilities the world can expect from the next generation of automated androids.

Dawn of the Google Machine - DARPA’s Atlas robot learns karate

The latest video of Atlas, released over the weekend by the robotics team at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, is the latest example out of the lab to exhibit its 6’2”, 330 lbs mass of metal in action.

Unlike earlier examples, however, the latest YouTube clip of the robot, nicknamed “Ian,” shows the colossal creation balancing in a way that would be difficult for most anyone to execute, absent the utmost athletic ability.

WATCH: Atlas' Karate Kid.

As RT has reported previously, Boston Dynamics and DARPA, the Pentagon’s personal science lab of sorts, have helped supply Atlas models to institutions across the United States, including Florida’s IHMC, in hopes of seeing what the nation’s brightest robotics engineers are capable of when they port their own personalized software in the skin of the cyborg-like automaton.

And while select teams from coast to coast intend on perfecting Atlas in order to make it ideal for assisting with emergency situations and disaster reliefs in the future, IHMC engineers told the IEEE Spectrum that there isn’t all that much behind the unorthodox stance they’ve programmed Ian to adopt. According to the Spectrum’s Evan Ackermann, the IHMC team said they strived to have their robot emulate the iconic Karate Kid pose simply “For the fun and challenge of it.”

“Nobody is quite sure yet what robots are going to have to do in the [DARPA Robotics Challenge] Finals next year. But if part of the disaster scenario involves robots getting their legs swept by evil ninja robots (totally possible), IHMC’sAtlaswill be ready for that and more,” Ackermann wrote.

Additionally, he said the latest video is a vast improvement from what engineers unveiled last year when they publically operated the robot.

“We’re not actually expecting that Atlas will be jumping, but the balance that it’s demonstrating in this ‘Karate Kid’ video has us feeling a lot more optimistic about the DRC Finals, since in the DRC Trials, Atlas could literally be toppled by a gentle breeze,” Ackermann added.

On the IHMC website, the Atlas team says that their “focus on humanoid robots is rooted in a simple concept: Because the robots will be working in environments built for humans, a human-like robot is best-suited to the challenges involved.”

That isn’t to say Atlas is all that human, though. In addition to being made out stereo cameras sensors and a laser range finder, each model is made mobile by way of 28 hydraulically-actuated joints. - RT.

Google signs 60-year, $1 billion NASA lease... Projects involving aviation, space exploration, robots,...

Google has signed a long-term lease for part of a historic Navy air base, where it plans to renovate three massive hangars and use them for projects involving aviation, space exploration and robotics.

The giant Internet company will pay $1.16 billion in rent over 60 years for the property, which also includes a working air field, golf course and other buildings. The 1,000-acre site is part of the former Moffett Field Naval Air Station on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Google plans to invest more than $200 million to refurbish the hangars and add other improvements, including a museum or educational facility that will showcase the history of Moffett and Silicon Valley, according to a NASA statement. The agency said a Google subsidiary called Planetary Ventures LLC will use the hangars for "research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies."

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a well-known interest in aviation and space. The company has recently acquired several smaller firms that are working on satellite technology and robotics. But a Google spokesperson declined Monday to discuss specific plans for the property, which is located just a few miles from the company's main campus in Mountain View.

NASA plans to continue operating its Ames Research Center on the former Navy site. Google will take over operations at the runways and hangars, including a massive structure that was built to house dirigible-style Navy airships in the 1930s. NASA said the deal will save it $6.3 million in annual maintenance and operation costs.

Local officials praised Google's promise to restore the historic structure known as Hangar One, which is a San Francisco Bay Area landmark. U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, called the lease agreement "a major win for our region."

Google already has a separate lease for another portion of the former air base, where it wants to build a second campus. Page and Brin have also used the Moffett runways for their collection of private jets, under another lease arrangement that's been criticized by some watchdog groups who say NASA gave the executives a sweetheart deal. - Yahoo.

Robot Brains Catch Humans in 25 Years, Then Speed Right On By

An android Repliee S1, produced by Japan's Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, performing during a dress rehearsal of Franz Kafka's
"The Metamorphosis." Phototographer: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP via Getty Images

We’ve been wrong about these robots before.

Soon after modern computers evolved in the 1940s, futurists started predicting that in just a few decades machines would be as smart as humans. Every year, the prediction seems to get pushed back another year.

The consensus now is that it’s going to happen in ... you guessed it, just a few more decades.

There’s more reason to believe the predictions today. After research that’s produced everything from self-driving cars to Jeopardy!-winning supercomputers, scientists have a much better understanding of what they’re up against. And, perhaps, what we’re up against.

Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, lays out the best predictions of the artificial intelligence (AI) research community in his new book, “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.” Here are the combined results of four surveys of AI researchers, including a poll of the most-cited scientists in the field, totalling 170 respondents.

Human-level machine intelligence is defined here as “one that can carry out most human professions at least as well as a typical human.”

By that definition, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about these predictions. Robots and algorithms are already squeezing the edges of our global workforce. Jobs with routine tasks are getting digitized: farmers, telemarketers, stock traders, loan officers, lawyers, journalists -- all of these professions have already felt the cold steel nudge of our new automated colleagues.

Replication of routine isn't the kind of intelligence Bostrom is interested in. He’s talking about an intelligence with intuition and logic, one that can learn, deal with uncertainty and sense the world around it. The most interesting thing about reaching human-level intelligence isn’t the achievement itself, says Bostrom; it’s what comes next. Once machines can reason and improve themselves, the skynet is the limit.

Computers are improving at an exponential rate. In many areas -- chess, for example -- machine skill is already superhuman. In others -- reason, emotional intelligence -- there’s still a long way to go. Whether human-level general intelligence is reached in 15 years or 150, it’s likely to be a little-observed mile marker on the road toward superintelligence.

Superintelligence: one that “greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest.”

Inventor and Tesla CEO Elon Musk warns that superintelligent machines are possibly the greatest existential threat to humanity. He says the investments he's made in artificial-intelligence companies are primarily to keep an eye on where the field is headed.

“Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence,” Musk Tweeted in August.

“Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.”

There are lots of caveats before we prepare to hand the keys to our earthly kingdom over to robot offspring. First, humans have a terrible track record of predicting the future. Second, people are notoriously optimistic when forecasting the future of their own industries. Third, it’s not a given that technology will continue to advance along its current trajectory, or even with its current aims.

Still, the brightest minds devoted to this evolving technology are predicting the end of human intellectual supremacy by midcentury. That should be enough to give everyone pause. The direction of technology may be inevitable, but the care with which we approach it is not.

“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history,” wrote theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, in an Independent column in May. “It might also be the last.” - Bloomberg.

DARPA eyes converting large aircraft into drone carriers

A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber (Reuters / Tim Chong)

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a contest to find the best solution for large airplanes, such as C-130 transport planes, to carry small drones.

The agency has recently placed a “request for information” in order to explore the possibilities of launching swarms of small UAVs from already existing large aircraft.

“Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have limited range and responsiveness, however, compared to larger airborne platforms,”
DARPA stated. “Launching and recovering small UAS from those larger platforms could provide a cost-effective capability over a spectrum of operating environments to greatly extend the range of UAS operations, as well as enable an entirely new operational concept for mission sets that benefit from distributed employment.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is interested in the range of drones that would be able to carry out intelligence and military missions, thus limiting the risks that US pilots might otherwise take, DARPA officials said on Sunday, according to the Washington Post.

“We want to find ways to make smaller aircraft more effective, and one promising idea is enabling existing large aircraft, with minimal modification, to become ‘aircraft carriers in the sky,’”
said Dan Patt, a DARPA program manager.

“We envision innovative launch and recovery concepts for new [unmanned aerial systems] designs that would couple with recent advances in small payload design and collaborative technologies.”

DARPA is likely to use planes like the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, B-1B Lancer bomber or C-130 Hercules cargo plane.

According to DARPA’s statement, organizations or individuals that would like to participate in the project must submit ideas by November 26, and their concepts should be realizable within four years. They have to include “system-level conceptual designs” and “feasibility analysis.”

Perhaps Hollywood could pitch some ideas of its own:

WATCH: Scene from the movie Skyline.

WATCH: Scene from the movie The Avengers.

- RT.

"An entire platoon wearing wearable robots"

The military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) lab creates stunning inventions that could help our service members stay one step ahead when answering the call of duty.

Those creative and skillful minds gave "CBS This Morning" a sneak peek at technology you may have thought only existed in your dreams, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

When Jason Kerestes goes for a run, he gets a boost from a strange contraption he wears on his back. He calls it "Airlegs."

"It basically makes you feel like you have bigger muscles," Kerestes said.

Kerestes, a graduate student at Arizona State University, and Professor Tom Sugar, are developing the device for the Pentagon.

The power comes from a tank of compressed air which is connected by pulleys and electronic sensors to braces on the knees.

"We fire air and we pull up on the person's leg to give them assistance at the right time and then this goes back down and back up," Kerestes said. "It's helping you lift your leg so that it will help you run up stairs, it will help you run faster."

At this early stage it reduces the load by 10 percent. The goal is 25 percent, which they said will allow the average soldier or Marine to run a mile in four minutes.

"We do envision an entire platoon wearing wearable robots," Sugar said. "These robots will assist them while carrying 100 pound backpacks."

It's one of hundreds of projects at universities and companies across the country funded by DARPA -- an agency known as the Pentagon's team of mad scientists, that's a little like herding cats.

WATCH: "An entire platoon wearing wearable robots"

"Actually, if they're great scientists and engineers, that's exactly what it's like," DARPA director Arati Prabhakar said. "Because you want the people that have immense creativity and are off chasing great ideas."
DARPA was created in 1958 in response to the earth-shaking 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union.

"It was a huge wake-up call for the United States," Prabhakar said. "Our core mission is breakthrough technologies for national security."

For example, DARPA was behind some of the key, early research on stealth technology, allowing a U.S. aircraft to evade enemy radar.

But many of DARPA's brainstorms have had an enormous impact well beyond the military.

"Forty-five years ago DARPA did this crazy experiment which was to hook a couple of computers together and have them talk to each other," Prabhakar explained. "That was the beginning of the ARPAnet which became the internet today."

DARPA has played a vital role in hundreds of technologies ranging from sophisticated prosthetic limbs for wounded warriors to GPS. They even developed many of the components in today's smart phones, including SIRI.

Some of DARPA's wildest ideas come from nature -- like their research on mini-robots.

Just as armies of ants work together to accomplish amazing things, DARPA hopes to create armies of mini-robots for micro-manufacturing.

The gecko also caught DARPA's attention because of its ability to climb walls.

"It looks like he is hanging on with ten toes but when you zoom in what you find is there are about half a billion points of contact," Prabhakar said.

So DARPA created a gecko-like material that easily supports the weight of humans.

In a never-before seen video, a Special Forces soldier uses it to climb straight up a wall -- a technology that could one day be used in hostage rescue missions.

The inventors of the "Airlegs" device hope it will not only help the military, but also one day give people with disabilities greater mobility. - CBS News.

Robot courier delivers at Columbus medical center

Although the RoboCourier autonomous mobile robot in use at Midtown Medical Center arrived in September, Darrell Demeritt is still surprised by the machine.
"I will turn around and there it is," said the senior director of laboratory services for Columbus Regional Health.

The robot that delivers specimens by itself on the hospital's third floor might even address him with one of close to 50 phrases it has been programmed to say, such as "How is it going?", "When do I get a day off?" or "I can be bribed with electrons."

The more appropriate kinds of message it makes pertaining to its job are "I have a delivery for pathology" or "I am here to pick up for chemistry."

The $38,000 robot was purchased entirely through donations to the Columbus Regional Health Foundation.
Demeritt said it was money well spent.

"We are highly automated here. Robots can do all kinds of things, This is about transportation," Demeritt said.

The robot can deliver specimens, pharmacy supplies, surgical equipment and other items using an open container.

Demeritt said lab workers spend far less time walking and waiting because of the robot. They can stay focused and that means specimens and tests can be analyzed sooner which turns into faster results and better patient care.

"It is pretty cool," he said. - NewsOK.

Have This Artificially Intelligent Travel Agent Book Your Next Vacation

Fly without the hassles of travel sites (Wikimedia)
Just when we were all convinced that travel agents had become obsolete did we find out they’ve actually just gotten a hi-tech revamp for the next century.

A link on Reddit tipped us off this morning to Dobby, a service claiming to be an artificially intelligent travel agent that will take care of all of your flight accommodations for you. Simply send Dobby an email telling him where and when you want to go, and he’ll reply with three itineraries in five minutes or less. All that’s left for you to do is choose.

According to the service’s minimalist webpage, Dobby is currently in the “early access” stage. It’s unclear what company is behind this futuristic travel agent or when it will officially launch, but it seems that Dobby’s artificial intelligence might be more helpful than Expedia or Travelocity.

According to the site, he learns users’ travel preferences and habits over time and uses them to build a personalized travel portfolio for each user. He also connects with all airlines, is equipped to handle group trips and can even keep track of frequent flyer miles in order to get users the best deals for their schedules.

After you book, Dobby will automatically generate an expense report for your booking.

Currently, Dobby is only booking flights, but in the future he’ll book hotel and car accommodations as well.
The site indicates that users are charged a booking fee based on the frequency of their reservations, but exactly how much the service costs is unclear. Since booking sites like Expedia already help users find cheap flights, and don’t cost anything to use, it’s safe to say Dobby’s artificial intelligence better be pretty impressive, to justify whatever fee it ends up charging users.

This is the second time we’ve seen tech get disrupted in the past week. Last Friday saw the launch of Connections, a service that offers unused plane tickets to strangers with the same names as the people who originally booked them.

Now if only someone could make an app that could make flight delays go away. - Beta Beat.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Homes Evacuated After Massive 10 Feet Deep By 10 Feet Wide Sinkhole Swallows Car In Florida; Six Families Displaced!

November 11, 2014 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- Residents in central Florida on Tuesday monitored the threat of a hole that swallowed a car sitting in a driveway and forced six families to evacuate their homes.

The hole measured 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep as of Monday afternoon, but officials said they were not calling it a sinkhole, which is typically formed by water erosion, until that had been confirmed by engineers.

The hole was only 4 feet on each side when Pasco County Fire Rescue first arrived at a residential property in Holiday, Florida, about 45 minutes north of Tampa, authorities said in a statement.

Within 15 minutes, the hole grew big enough to swallow a car at its edge.

The mobile home in front of the hole has since been condemned. Families were told not to stay in five other nearby homes until the ground has been found stable, officials said.

Florida's porous limestone foundation makes it prone to sinkholes. The resulting cavities are a common feature of the landscape, forming springs, lakes and portions of rivers.

WATCH: Car falls into expanding sinkhole in Florida.

Most sinkholes occur as naturally acidic underground water flows through and dissolves the underlying limestone. Communities in north and central Florida, and particularly in the Tampa Bay area, are especially vulnerable.

The sinkhole affecting residents in Holiday on Tuesday was located about an hour from one that last year opened under a house and swallowed a man who was sleeping in his bedroom. His body was never recovered. - Chicago Tribune.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Floodlist – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Widespread Flooding, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

November 11, 2014 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms courtesy of Floodlist.

16,000 Displaced in Uganda after River Semliki Overflows

Floods in Ntoroko, Uganda, after the River Semliki burst its banks. Photo: UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced on Thursday 06 November 2014 that at least 16,000 people have been displaced by recent floods in Uganda. Around half of the displaced are thought to be children, according to UNICEF Uganda.

The floods occurred in the western Ugandan district of Ntoroko after the River Semliki burst its banks due to heavy rains. The areas worst affected are Bweramule sub county, Butungama sub county, Rwebisengo sub country and Rwebisengo town.

The river first overflowed around 01 November 2014. Initially around 500 people were displaced, but the affected area has since widened. Roads are submerged and many homes in the area have been damaged. Crops and livestock has also been badly affected.

The Ugandan newspaper The Monitor says that the area is frequently under water at this time of year.:
Floods are a chronic problem in Ntotoko which plague the district every rainy season, displacing hundreds of people and leaving a trail destruction.
The also point to human activities being responsible for the regular flooding of the River Semliki
Environment experts say overgrazing, and other alterations to the watershed have caused bank erosion and frequent changes to the course of River Semliki.
Aid and Relief
The Ugandan government have delivered some food aid for the victims after Vice President Edward Ssekandi visited Ntoroko last week.

UNICEF has prepositioned emergency medical supplies including 40,000 water purification tablets to health centres within the affected. However there is still need for additional support and relief items. UNICEF said “Affected population still need more items like food, non-food items, mosquito nets, soap, tents and emergency medicines.”

Floods Worsen in Somalia Leaving 21,000 Homeless

According to African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), the total number of people displaced by the recent flooding in Somalia has now risen to 21,000.

The flooding struck in Beletweyne, in the Hiiraan region, South-central of Somalia, after the River Shabelle burst its banks in late October 2014.

Further heavy rainfall over the last 2 weeks has forced thousands more to leave their homes for higher ground. The affected families have settled in temporary shelters at a camp close to the AMISOM base camp, North Eastern Beletweyne.

Shabelle River floods in Beledweyne, Hiran, Somalia, October 2014. Photo: Abdikarim Hussein / twitter

Make shift houses in Internal Displaced Camp outside of Belet Weyne Capital of Hiran Region, Somalia on November 05, 2014 AU/UN IST / Photo Ahmed Qeys

Make shift houses in Internal Displaced Camp outside of Belet Weyne Capital of Hiran Region, Somalia on November 05, 2014 AU/UN IST / Photo Ahmed Qeys

Major Ali Hussein, an AMISON spokesman said

“We are looking at how we can evacuate them or offer medication, but they need much more than that. On the side of the food and so on, they are being provided with clean water by the use of water tankers but they need food and medicines urgently. There is possibility of water borne diseases outbreak, and they don’t have sanitation facilities”

Aid agencies have warned that the floods are likely to worsen the already fragile food security situation, with at least 1 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Somalia. A statement by the Food Agriculture Organization released last week indicates that the floods have left large areas with crops submerged, further exposing the population to food insecurity.

High Tide Floods in Ca Mau Province, Vietnam

Some areas of Ca Mau Province in southern Vietnam are under 50cm (20 inches) of water after unusually high tides over the past few days.

The high tide season along this coastline usually runs from December to March. The floods over the last few days have caught a few buy surprise. The average water level is 30 cm higher than in previous years, officials say.

VNS are reporting that the entire coastline of the province – all 252 km (156 miles) of it – has been been flooded. Furthermore, areas inland have also seen some flooding, including Nam Can Town in Nam Can District. More than 2,000 hectares of aquaculture farms and 1,000 hectares of crops and orchards have been damaged by the tides. Saline intrusion has long been of major concern to local industries such as shrimp and rice farming.

say that local officials see the recent high tides as part of the effects of rising sea levels and climate change. As a response, the province is aiming to build a sea dyke along its eastern coastline, and also repair and make improvements to the existing western sea dyke.


Image: Google Maps.

Federal Aid for Nevada and Arizona after September 2014 Floods

FEMA announced on 06 November 2014 that federal disaster aid has been made available to the states of Nevada and Arizona to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding that hit parts of the two states between 07 and 09 September 2014.

The storm and flooding at the time was said to be caused by the remnants of former Hurricane Norbert that hit parts of Mexico in the previous days. Heavy rain and flash flooding was also seen in parts of southern California.

In Nevada the worst hit area was Moapa, which is about 70 km / 45 miles north east of Las Vegas, where 118 mm (4.67 inches) of rain fell on Monday 08 September 2014 – an extreme amount of rain in this desert area. Flood water was so high that vehicles floated along Interstate 15. Some flooding was also seen in the Las Vegas area.

Moapa after the floods in September 2014. Photo: Rlan Levi / Twitter

Phoenix was one of the worst affected areas. Around 84 mm (3.3 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours between 07 and 08 September 2014. This beats the previous high of 74 mm (2.91 inches), set in 1933, and was more than the combined total normally seen in the 3 months of July, August, and September.

A woman died after her car became submerged in 10 feet of flood water in a residential area in east Tucson. Rescue teams couldn’t reach the victim in time.

A second victim drowned in her car after it was caught in flash floods in Oracle Junction, north of Tucson. A second passenger, the victim’s husband, managed to escape from the vehicle and survived.

Floods in Arizona, September 2014. Photo: Ld Keith / Twitter

In their announcement on the Nevada flood aid, FEMA said:
The President’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by severe storms and flooding on the Moapa Band of Paiutes Reservation.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
- Floodlist.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Passenger Bus Collides With Truck In Southern Pakistan - Over 50 Killed, Including 14 Women And 8 Children!

Image from ‏@Faibyy

November 11, 2014 - PAKISTAN
- At least 50 people, some 14 women and eight children among them, were killed and 18 people were injured on Tuesday when a passenger bus collided with a truck laden with goods in southern Pakistan, officials said.

"The Karachi-bound passenger bus, which was coming from northwestern city of Swat went on the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with a goods container, killing 56 people,"
senior local police official Nasir Aftab told AFP.

Conflicting reports have come about the number of victims. AP reported the death and injury toll issued by police official Ghulam Jhokhio.

Image from ‏@Faibyy

Image from ‏@Faibyy

Image from ‏@Faibyy

AFP, however, estimates the body count at 56 people at least, with a much higher rate of kids – including 17 women and 18 children.

The latter death toll was confirmed by a senior doctor at the Khairpur civil hospital, who added that the condition of three of the injured was critical.

The accident happened in the morning, 450km north of Karachi, near the city of Khairpur, which is the capital of southern Sindh province.

A police official told AP, the most likely cause of the accident was heavy fog.

Bad road infrastructure, combined with reckless driving makes fatal accidents quite common in Pakistan. - RT.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Precursors To A Major Volcanic Eruption In Russia's Capital - Methane Outgassing As Mysteriously Massive Fog Smelling Like "Hell" Sparks Widespread Panic; "Toxic" Sulfur Odor Traveled Through Closed Windows; Geologists Says Sinkholes, Landslides And Geological Upheavals Points To An Ancient Volcano Under Moscow?! FLASHBACK: "Bottomless" Pits In Siberia - Leaves Scientists Baffled?!

November 11, 2014 - MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- Every spring and summer, when the ground warms up after winter frosts here and there parts of paved road go underground.

Moscow authorities can’t say what is the reason for those things to happen and usually can just suppose but don’t know for sure. But Moscow geologists seem to know the answer.

“Moscow city stands on the top of the giant ancient volcano”, says scientist, “we call often Moscow – the city on the seven hills (as well Rome and some other cities) but just a few know that those seven hill actually are the ancient volcano structure.

It doesn’t matter that it is not active for thousands of years already, still there are so called ‘fluid streams’ gases from the center of the Earth comes to surface through ancient volcanoes, they cause the tremors of the surface and ruining the roads and buildings in Moscow.”.

He also admitted that around 15% of Moscow city surface can get under the ground.

And there is still a chance that the volcano can wake up. “It’s not to clear what causes some old and forgotten volcanoes that were not active for years to wake up suddenly”. In this case all the city would be buried. - English Russia.

FLASHBACK: "Bottomless" Pits in Siberia - Leaves Scientists Baffled

A huge, mysterious crater spotted in remote Siberia has scientists scrambling for answers: Was it a meteor?

Was it a weapon? Or was it an explosive sign of global warming?

The seemingly bottomless pit was spotted by an oil-and-gas industry helicopter flying over northern Siberia — a region notorious for devastating events.

It might be Armageddon, seeing as the place where it was found is known as Yamal, meaning “the end of the world.”

The most deadly meteor impact of modern times — the Tunguska air burst — happened in the region in 1908. It flattened vast swaths of forest over a 775-square-mile area.

No such streak in the sky, explosive flash or seismic event has been recorded recently.

But this mysterious hole has nevertheless appeared.

The Siberian Times reports
that startled helicopter passengers talked their pilot into loitering over the mysterious crater. Engineer Konstantin Nikolaev then filmed the hole and uploaded the footage to YouTube.

They say the hole was big enough for their helicopter — a 60-foot-long Mi8 — to have comfortably entered without touching the sides.

Since the footage appeared online, the Internet has been abuzz with rumors of UFOs, secret entrances to the “hollow Earth” — as well as the more mundane weapon test sites and meteorite impact theories.

“We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite,” a spokesman for Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said.

Russian scientist Anna Kurchatova, from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Center, believes the cause is something more logical, such as global warming.

Siberia’s frozen soil — known as permafrost — contains millions of tons of methane gas. As the surface slowly warms, this gas begins to be released — and pools into highly volatile pockets.

A mixture of water, salt and gas may have ignited an underground explosion. Another possibility is that the gas pocket may simply have built up enough pressure to pop like a Champagne cork, she said.

Clues to the crater’s cause are not far away.

“A scientific team has been sent to investigate the hole and is due to arrive at the scene on Wednesday,” The Siberian Times reports.

The expedition includes experts from Russia’s Center for the Study of the Arctic, and the Cryosphere Institute of the Academy of Sciences.

They will sample the soil, water and air at the scene in order to determine the nature of the hole.

The crater was found in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, some 25 miles from the Bovanenkovo gas field. The peninsula, which sticks into Arctic waters, is the source of Russia’s vast gas export market to Europe. - NY Post.

Mystery fog, 'toxic' sulfur odor covers Moscow

A massive cloud smelling like 'hell' sparked a widespread panic in Moscow. Residents were afraid of a toxic gas after warnings to stay indoors.

The source of the rotten eggs smell turned out to be a leak from a sulfur dioxide processing facility at an oil refinery in Moscow, the Emergencies Ministry confirmed.

The city’s ecology watchdog and the Emergencies Ministry said that the level of hydrogen sulfide was over the permitted level for a short period of time, while the levels of sulfur dioxide remained within the norm. The two gases are byproducts of oil processing.

Still from YouTube video

The smell created a wave of panic on local social media.

“Guys, who knows what the reason for such a stink in Moscow? There has been a smell of hydrogen-sulfide in many parts of the city,”
wrote Twitter user Sergey Krasilnikov.

The smell even travels through [closed] windows,” wrote Twitter user Asya Zateeva.

Residents of the southeast of Moscow saw the buildings covered in smog in the morning.

WATCH: Mysterious fog over Moscow.

Many MP’s in the Russian parliament, whose building is situated right next to the Kremlin, also complained of the odor since Monday morning, but their work was not disrupted.

The Emergencies Ministry checked air samples in the southeast, east and center of Moscow following an avalanche of complaints from local residents.

A representative of the Russian Hydro-Meteorological Service, which monitors environmental pollution, told Tass that the cloud first appeared in Moscow's south-east Lublino region, where the concentration of hydrogen sulfide has exceeded normal levels. - RT.