Tag Archives: motherboard

There’s a Good Chance You Won’t Get Local TV Networks on Hulu Live TV

People have been talking about Hulu's live TV service for months. How many channels will it offer? What will the deal be with local content? How much will it cost? All those questions have been answered with the beta launch of live TV on Hulu.

The service includes about 50 live channels plus the Hulu on-demand content you're already used to for $39.99 per month. As with the the traditional Hulu service, you can pay a bit more for no commercials on content in the on-demand library. It also comes with a cloud-based DVR, which allows you to record 50-hours of live TV (you can add extra storage for an additional $15 per month).

All that sounds good, but as with other services, it's not perfect. Live service isn't available on all devices yet. For instance, it will work on Xbox One, Apple TV (4th gen), Chromecast, and mobile devices, but Amazon Fire devices and Roku do not yet have the available support.

Continue reading on Motherboard.

The Climate Change Deniers in Congress

What would you think if your government didn't believe in gravity? If your senator alleged that, because they couldn't see it, perhaps it didn't exist. To many, this might seem absurd—the science is enough to know that it's real.

Like gravity, climate change isn't always obvious, but its forces on Earth are increasingly clear. Yet, more than half of America's 115th Congress are climate change deniers, according to a Motherboard survey of their personal testimonies and voting records.

The majority of climate scientists—at least 97 percent—agree that climate change is happening, and is a consequence of human activity. Government and independent climate scientists alike have published abundant evidence showing our impact on Earth's climate. Meanwhile, task forces like the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have underscored the necessity of significantly reducing our global emissions.

Continue reading on Motherboard.

Millions of Canadian Lakes Could Hold Clues About Ancient Life

Some lakes in Canada look like the oceans on our planet that existed some 2.5 billion years ago, when microbial life thrived in an oxygen-free environment. And what's living in those lakes today could help scientists understand what early life forms on Earth were like, too, an important piece of the puzzle in understanding how all of us came to be.

A new study in Scientific Reports describes lakes in northern Canada's Boreal Shield that are similar to oceans during the Archean Eon period, when microbial life on Earth was still in a primordial stage, and could exist essentially without oxygen.

These microbes will be useful in studying the formation of harmful algal blooms, like the one that temporarily shut down a Lake Erie water treatment plant in 2014. Microbes are believed to metabolize iron compounds with the help of sunlight, and iron plays an important role in algal bloom formation.

Continue reading on Motherboard.

Open Internet Advocates Vow to Fight Trump FCC’s Plan to Kill Net Neutrality

Ten years of fighting for internet freedom, potentially out the window because Donald Trump was elected president and chose as his top telecom regulator a former Verizon lawyer who's hell-bent on killing federal rules safeguarding net neutrality, the internet's open access principle.

That's the prospect facing open internet advocates following Wednesday's announcement that Trump's Federal Communications Commission chief, Republican Ajit Pai, intends to dismantle the legal basis for the FCC's landmark 2015 policy protecting net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be treated equally.

Open internet advocates slammed Pai's proposal as just the latest in a long list of brazen Trump-era giveaways to multi-billion dollar corporations at the expense of consumers. And they vowed to organize a massive grassroots effort to resist Pai's plan, which is set to be voted on next month by the Republican-controlled FCC.

Continue reading on Motherboard.

Four Hundred People Microdosed LSD for a Month in the Name of Science

In late 2015, Rolling Stone wrote about an unlikely "hot new business trip" taking Silicon Valley by storm: microdosing LSD. It was the post that launched a thousand blogs, and in the year and a half since, nary a media outlet hasn't written about microdosing at least once.

As its name suggests, microdosing involves regularly taking hits of acid that are so small (between 1 and 10 micrograms, or below a tenth of a regular dose) that users won't feel any of the trippy effects. Still, the microdosing community swears by the practice and reports boosted creativity, energy and a sense of wellbeing, as well as lower levels of depression. But despite the growing popular interest in microdosing over the last year and a half, there was little scientific evidence to back up the experiences that microdosers were reporting. Could it all be placebo and SV technohipsters are chewing scraps of blotter paper for nothing?

Enter Jim Fadiman, a pioneer of psychedelic studies who was researching the effects of LSD right up until it was federally banned in 1966 (although his informal research never seems to have stopped). For the last five years, Fadiman has been laying the groundwork for a science of microdosing, and last weekend during the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) psychedelic science conference, he revealed some surprising initial results from his independent microdosing study.

Continue reading on Motherboard.

No American Has Spent More Time in Space than Commander Peggy Whitson

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has logged more cumulative time in space than any other American, overtaking the previous record-holder, Jeff Williams, at 1:27 AM EDT on Monday, April 24. To mark the occasion, on Monday morning, President Donald Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins phoned her aboard the ISS.

Whitson, who is the current commander of the International Space Station (ISS), has spent 534 days orbiting our planet (and counting), over the course of three long-duration stays on the ISS.

In the 20-minute phone call, Whitson said that it was "a huge honor" to become the most experienced American astronaut, and that she was proud to represent "all the folks at NASA who make spaceflight possible [and who make] setting this record feasible."

Continue reading on Motherboard.

Salty Food Doesn’t Make You Thirsty After All

Ask pretty much anyone and they'll tell you that eating salty foods makes a person thirsty. Alas, here's a reminder that just because a belief is held by basically everyone you can and will ever know doesn't mean it's actually true.

Now, a pair of studies, the results of which both appear in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation, has found that eating salty food doesn't actually make you thirsty in the long run—but it can make you hungry.

And all it took to find that out was a simulated mission to Mars.

A group of researchers—from institutions including the German Aerospace Center, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and Vanderbilt University—put two groups of ten male volunteers into a sealed mock spaceship for two simulated flights to Mars. Group number one was examined over a period of 105 days, and group number two was studied over 205 days. The men all ate identical diets, except they were fed different levels of salt in their food.

The results showed that those who ate more salt had a higher salt content in their urine and produced a higher quantity of urine—no surprise there. What did surprise the researchers was this: The subjects who ate more salt did not actually drink more water—in fact, those who ate the saltier diets actually drank less water. In addition, the human "cosmonauts"—the scientists' term, not ours—who ate the saltier diets complained more about being hungry. So salt made the test subjects feel hungrier, but not thirstier.

Read the full story at Munchies.

I Talked to Four Humanoid Robots and They’re Mostly Dumb as Doornails

Over the last 18 months, I've found myself in the strange habit of hanging out and interviewing English-speaking humanoid robots. I was able to chat with four machines, each which possessed some level of artificial intelligence. Even though none of them could fully carry on normal conversations, they all had something to say. And sometimes, what they say and how they say it, is a piercing glimpse into the future of humanity.

Three of the robots I talked to were mass-production models: Pepper, Meccanoid, and iPal. The fourth was Han, which was presented by AI expert Dr. Ben Goertzel, chief scientist at Hanson Robotics. The various price tags of these bots range from $200 on Amazon, to potentially many millions of dollars for something like Han. The production robots are all between three to four feet tall and are mobile. Han is just an upper body, the torso of which rests against whatever he's placed upon.

Prof. Youngsook Park stands in front of the Han robot. Image: Zoltan Istvan/Motherboard


What Han is lacking in body, though, he makes up for in intellect. He's the smartest of the bunch by a long shot. I first saw Han at the 2016 Global Leaders Forum in Seoul, South Korea. The event was organized by Futurist Professor Youngsook Park and hosted by Korean channel TV Chosun. Han was helping to formally open the event in front of hundreds of Korean onlookers. Everyone in the audience, including myself, was immediately impressed with the robot's sophisticated articulation and level of understanding.

On stage, Ben Goertzel asked, "Han, can you tell us a little more about this conference we're at?" Here's how the conversation followed:

Han: This year's Global Leadership Forum features six sessions: biology, artificial intelligence, creative education, virtual reality, and future government.

Goertzel: And out all these exciting sessions, which one interests you the most?

Han: They are all exciting, but the one I'm most interested to see is what the speakers have to say on artificial intelligence.

Read the full story at Motherboard.

How VHS Tapes and Bootleg Translations Started an Anime Fan War in the 90s

In the nineties, before broadband modems became widely available—and before anime streaming services like Funimation and Crunchyroll—staying up-to-date on anime was an arduous process. North American fans who wanted more than televised runs of Sailor Moon had to buy expensive subtitled VHS tapes from fan groups, who translated anime tapes themselves and then redistributed them after importing them, untranslated, from contacts in Japan.

Buying anime this way meant sending money to people without distribution licenses, who were technically engaging in international copyright violation, and trusting them to send your tape in the mail. The Wild West mentality of the fansub industry led to members of the Ottawa-based Anime Appreciation Society (AAS) taking matters into their own hands after one of their favourite fansub groups, Tomodachi, refused to release its version of the final 20 episodes of the much-loved show Fushigi Y ûgi—all because of its war with another fansub.

This bizarre episode, which the tight-knit Ottawa community still remembers, led to the AAS hosting one of the city's first anime conventions, and created a very active community which is consistently represented today in the region's pop culture industry.

"The process of fansubbing was so difficult back then," said Mark Legault, a web developer for a Toronto cybersecurity company, and founding member of the AAS. Fansub groups would need a device called a genlock, he explained, which would synchronize two different video signals, allowing the user to add subtitles, before recording it and sending it off to the clubs—a huge time investment.

The Fushigi Yûgi opening. Video: Alyssa marie Ranoco/YouTube

Binge-watching a show was pretty much impossible.

"You were spending twenty bucks for an illegally copied tape with only four episodes," he continued. "A lot of the time, these subtitles were not great. People took a lot of liberties."

In 1996, the AAS—which would host 20-30 person meetups in a community centre in suburban Ottawa—began watching Fushigi Y û gi, which ran from 1995 to 1996 in Japan. (For those who aren't familiar, the plot centres around two middle school students who find themselves transported to another world by a magical book when one of them finds out she's destined to gather seven celestial warriors.)

Read the full story at Motherboard.

Banned Pesticides Keep Turning Up in Canada’s Medical Weed

Now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that marijuana will be legal for adult use in Canada by July of 2018, it's up to agencies like Health Canada to make sure cannabis users will get high-quality, untainted products. But recent weed recalls over banned pesticides have put licensed producers in the spotlight, and raised questions about how federal agencies will ensure weed is safe when it becomes much more widely available.

Health Canada regulations currently mandate that licensed producers have cannabis tested for its potency, cannabinoid profile (mainly, how much THC and CBD is in a given plant product), the presence of heavy metals, and microbes like bacteria or mold. They also plan to "standardize" the amount of THC that is sold in a single portion of cannabis and make sure THC amounts are on product labels. Beyond that, they're working on it.

"The regulations for the non-medical system are being developed, and in developing the rules that will apply to testing, Health Canada will take into consideration the requirements that are in place today," said a spokesperson.

Continue reading on Motherboard.