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There’s little doubt in our minds that you’re familiar with Ed Cobb’s 1964 song “Tainted Love,” made insanely popular by the 1981 cover by Soft Cell.

What you’re not likely familiar with, however, is this cover of that cover from Gigawipf done by a series of hard drives. Press “Enter” to let this meta music cover load.

Tainted Love by harddrives

$17,000 Linux-powered rifle brings “auto-aim” to the real world. 1200

CES is about technology of all kinds; while we’re busy covering cameras, TVs, and CPUs, there’s a huge number of products that fall outside our normal coverage. Austin-based startup TrackingPoint isn’t typical Ars fare, but its use of technology to enable getting just the perfect shot was intriguing enough to get me to stop by and take a look at the company’s products.

TrackingPoint makes “Precision Guided Firearms, or “PGFs,” which are a series of three heavily customized hunting rifles, ranging from a .300 Winchester Magnum with a 22-inch barrel up to a .338 Lapua Magnum with 27-inch barrel, all fitted with advanced computerized scopes that look like something directly out of The Terminator. Indeed, the comparison to that movie is somewhat apt, because looking through the scope of a Precision Guided Firearm presents you with a collection of data points and numbers, all designed to get a bullet directly from point A to point B.


The view through the TrackingPoint’s computerized optics.

The PGF isn’t just a fancy scope on top of a rifle. All together, the PGF is made up of a firearm, a modified trigger mechanism with variable weighting, the computerized digital tracking scope, and hand-loaded match grade rounds (which you need to purchase from TrackingPoint). This is a little like selling both the razor and the razor blades, but the rounds must be manufactured to tight tolerances since precise guidance of a round to a target by the rifle’s computer requires that the round perform within known boundaries.


More here

(Source: Ars Technica)

Hackers hold Mitt Romney’s allegedly stolen tax returns for ransom

Mitt Romney’s tax returns are reportedly in the hands of a team of hackers who are planning on releasing them publicly at the end of the month unless a ransom is paid.

The group allegedly obtained the files from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Tennessee office on Aug. 25, in what was described as a Mission Impossible-like caper on PasteBin:

Romney’s 1040 tax returns were taken from the PWC office 8/25/2012 by gaining access to the third floor via a gentleman working on the 3rd floor of the building. Once on the 3rd floor, the team moved down the stairs to the 2nd floor and setup shop in an empty office room. During the night, suite 260 was entered, and all available 1040 tax forms for Romney were copied. A package was sent to the PWC on suite 260 with a flash drive containing a copy of the 1040 files, plus copies were sent to the Democratic office in the county and copies were sent to the GOP office in the county at the beginning of the week also containing flash drives with copies of Romney’s tax returns before 2010. A scanned signature image for Mitt Romney from the 1040 forms were scanned and included with the packages, taken from earlier 1040 tax forms gathered and stored on the flash drives.

The files are to be released to the public on Sept. 28, according to the PasteBin document.

The release, however, could allegedly be avoided if Romney’s camp were to wire transfer $1 million in Bitcoins—an online currency that is difficult both to trace and to identify—to the thieves.

“The keys to unlock the data will be purged and whatever is inside the documents will remain a secret forever,” states another PasteBin document. “Failure to do this before September 28, the entire world will be allowed to view the documents with a publicly released key to unlock everything. And the same time, the other interested parties will be allowed to compete with you.”

A call to to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Tennessee office was not immediately returned.

Romney’s tax returns have been a lightning rod for criticism from President Barack Obama and Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who claimed that the presidential hopeful hasn’t paid taxes for more than a decade.

“Never in modern American history has a presidential candidate tried so hard to hide himself from the people he hopes to serve,” Reid said in a speech at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday.

So far, Romney has released a tax return for 2010 and plans on doing so for his 2011 filing. He has refused to release any returns from before 2010.

“I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more,” Romney said in a debate in January, according to the New York Times. “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”


CV DAZZLE: Camouflage from Computer Vision

Created by Adam Harvey, this on-going project examines and experiments with creative ways to protect yourself from facial-recognition technology. I have posted about this before over a year ago, but it is interesting to see where the project has been going … hair and make-up could be the future hoodie …

CV Dazzle™ is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection.

Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook.

More about the project can be read about here

The future will be bright

Vicarious is building Artificial Intelligence Sensory Systems

Computers are currently unable to understand the sensory experience of a human. Sense data is almost always noisy, blurry, occluded, and an ultimately incomplete 2D snapshot of a 3D world. For the past three decades, these uncertainties have foiled our best efforts to create automated systems for understanding the world as we experience it.

However, there is one type of system that handles these problems with ease. The best general purpose reasoning system evolved millions of years ago, and comes preinstalled in every human brain. With a little help from neuroscience and biology, we are pioneering new algorithms that enable computers to become intelligent. For more background, below is a talk from the 2011 Singularity Summit:

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Initial focus

As the first step towards building intelligent machines, we are developing a vision system that understands the contents of images and videos the way humans do. Our technology automates pattern recognition and reconstruction problems in image and video search, surveillance, gaming, medical image analysis, robotics, navigation and geo-spatial image analysis. Please email us at partnerships (at) if you are interested in partnering with us in those or related areas.


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