Oregon Supreme Court Approves Measure To Limit Self-Checkout Lanes

nickwinlund77 shares a report from Corvallis Gazette-Times: A petition to limit each grocery store to two self-checkout kiosks can move forward to signature gathering for a state ballot measure. On Friday, the Oregon Supreme Court certified the attorney general's description of the proposed measure. Backers need 112,020 signatures to get to voters' ballots in November. Filed in July, Initiative Petition 41 is backed by the Oregon AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor groups representing about 300,000 Oregon workers. "We have been consistently concerned about the impacts of technology and automation on the livelihoods of working people, especially when they have no voice in how technology is used in their workplaces," Graham Trainor, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, said in a statement. "You can see expansion of self-checkout machines in stores across the country and in Oregon." He said jobs are lost as a result. The AFL-CIO contends self-checkout kiosks make customers feel socially isolated, particularly elderly people, and that the kiosks let stores rely more on part-time workers and leaves workers "feeling devalued." They also claim self-checkout stands make it easier for minors to buy alcohol and for people to steal from stores. The measure would give the state Bureau of Labor and Industries enforcement power and let it issue penalties for stores that provide too many self-service stations. "Today's customer wants convenience and less hassle when shopping," said Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association, an industry group. "This is evident in the growth of online shopping for local pick-up and home delivery. This measure is tone deaf to what the public is demanding in the marketplace." He said that self-checkout lets customers check out more quickly and privately. He said presuming that self-checkout machines would replace workers is "simply untrue." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-01-23 20:00:01 preview's
Germany Rejected Nuclear Power -- and Deadly Emissions Spiked

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: On New Year's Eve, while the rest of the world was preparing to ring in a new decade, employees of the German energy company EnBW were getting ready to pull the plug on one of the country's few remaining nuclear power plants. The license to operate the two reactors at the Philippsburg nuclear facility expired at midnight after 35 years of providing carbon-free power to Germans living along the country's southwestern border. The Philippsburg plant was the eleventh nuclear facility decommissioned in Germany over the last decade. The country's remaining six nuclear plants will go dark by 2022. To uncover the hidden costs of denuclearizing Germany, economists used machine learning to analyze reams of data gathered between 2011 and 2017. The researchers, based at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and Carnegie Mellon University, found that nuclear power was mostly replaced with power from coal plants, which led to the release of an additional 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or about a 5 percent increase in emissions. More distressingly, the researchers estimated that burning more coal led to local increases in particle pollution and sulfur dioxide and likely killed an additional 1,100 people per year from respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses. "Altogether, the researchers calculated that the increased carbon emissions and deaths caused by local air pollution amounted to a social cost of about $12 billion per year," the report says. "The study found that this dwarfs the cost of keeping nuclear power plants online by billions of dollars, even when the risks of a meltdown and the cost of nuclear waste storage are considered." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-01-23 19:15:02 preview's
After a decade of drama, Apple is ready to kill Flash in Safari once and for all

The change is just in the preview build so far, but it's likely to go public soon.
2020-01-23 15:00:04 preview's
How Dual-Screen Apps Will Run On Windows 10X, Android

Microsoft has published a blog post detailing exactly how it imagines dual-screen apps will run on devices like the Surface Duo and Surface Neo -- two foldable devices unveiled back on October that run Android and Windows 10X, respectively. The Verge reports: By default, an app will occupy a single screen according to Microsoft. Surface Duo or Surface Neo users can then span the app across both displays when they're in double-portrait or double-landscape layout. Microsoft envisions that app developers will experiment with different ways to utilize both screens. Some of these include simply using both screens as an extended canvas, having two pages of a document shown at once, using the second display as a companion or dual view of something, or having a master part of the app on one display and details on the second. These are "initial app pattern ideas," according to Microsoft, and the company could well extend them based on developer feedback in the coming months. Microsoft is also releasing an Android emulator for the Surface Duo today to allow devs to test mobile apps. A Windows 10X emulator for the Surface Neo will arrive next month at around the same time that Microsoft plans to detail more of its dual-screen plans during a developer webcast. Microsoft's Android emulator will naturally support Android apps, and the Windows 10X version will include support for native Windows APIs to let developers detect hinge positions and optimize their win32 or Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for these new devices. Microsoft is also proposing new web standards for dual-screen layouts, and is "actively incubating new capabilities that enable web content to provide a great experience on dual-screen devices." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-01-23 05:15:02 preview's
Facebook Trains An AI To Navigate Without Needing a Map

A team at Facebook AI has created a reinforcement learning algorithm that lets a robot find its way in an unfamiliar environment without using a map. MIT Technology Review reports: Using just a depth-sensing camera, GPS, and compass data, the algorithm gets a robot to its goal 99.9% of the time along a route that is very close to the shortest possible path, which means no wrong turns, no backtracking, and no exploration. This is a big improvement over previous best efforts. [...] Facebook trained bots for three days inside AI Habitat, a photorealistic virtual mock-up of the interior of a building, with rooms and corridors and furniture. In that time they took 2.5 billion steps -- the equivalent of 80 years of human experience. Others have taken a month or more to train bots in a similar task, but Facebook massively sped things up by culling the slowest bots from the pool so that faster ones did not have to wait at the finish line each round. As ever, the team doesn't know exactly how the AI learned to navigate, but a best guess is that it picked up on patterns in the interior structure of the human-designed environments. Facebook is now testing its algorithm in real physical spaces using a LoCoBot robot. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2020-01-23 02:15:01