Science & Technology





Should people know they're talking to an algorithm? After a controversial debut, Google now says yes

Psychology professor Michelle Drouin wanted to know how people would react if a chatbot could emulate a human.

So she and her fellow researchers split 350 undergraduate students into three groups. One group was told they would be interacting with a bot. Another was told it was a real person. And the last was only informed after the interaction ...Read more

SpaceX's latest Falcon 9 rocket has been tweaked to make it easier to use over and over again

SpaceX has long touted reusability as the key to reducing launch costs, and eventually, making its way to the Red Planet. But so far, it has relaunched 11 of its workhorse Falcon 9 rockets, one time each. And it has taken at least several weeks to turn those around for the next launch.

On Thursday afternoon, the Hawthorne space company will ...Read more

Breeding wolverine heralds comeback in Washington's Cascades

SEATTLE--The first breeding female wolverine has been documented south of Interstate 90 in modern times, confirming a comeback for the charismatic carnivore in the Cascades.

Renowned for their agility, power and all-terrain finesse, wolverines are among the most rare mammals in North America.

A denizen of deep snows, capable of traveling ...Read more

Scientists make a maze-running artificial intelligence program that learns to take shortcuts

Call it an a-MAZE-ing development: A U.K.-based team of researchers has developed an artificial intelligence program that can learn to take shortcuts through a labyrinth to reach its goal. In the process, the program developed structures akin to those in the human brain.

The emergence of these computational "grid cells," described in the ...Read more

Google CEO unveils new era of robots that sound like humans

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Google CEO Sundar Pichai broke a new barrier in artificial intelligence technology Tuesday when he unveiled a voice assistant that sounds exactly like a human voice.

At the I/O developers conference, Pichai introduced Google Duplex, which allows the Assistant to speak with human-like cadence and includes artificial ...Read more

Uber fatal crash: Self-driving software reportedly set to ignore objects on road

A pedestrian struck and killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle in Arizona in March may have been ignored as a "false positive" by the car's software.

The setting is meant to overlook certain objects in the path of an autonomous vehicle that normally wouldn't be a problem. After an investigation by Uber, company executives believe that setting ...Read more

Jennifer Van Grove: Splashy co-working spaces are here to stay

Alternative work spaces where living-room decor and Kombucha taps stand in for cubicles and drip coffee-makers are the new normal for San Diego's young professionals, according to a new report on the region's co-working market.

The county is home to more than 1.2 million square feet of flexible workplaces, commercial real-estate brokerage ...Read more

Tech Q&A: Trading cable TV for internet streaming

Q: I would like to cut the cord for TV and other services because my Comcast bill is about $220 a month for internet, Wi-Fi, phone, and TV (including premium channels such as HBO.) I don't want satellite TV, and I can't receive free over-the-air TV broadcasts because rooftop antennas aren't permitted where I live. I'm interested in the Hulu ...Read more

Texas regulators: Crypto-related scams getting creative

AUSTIN, Tex. -- The cryptocurrency investment craze is bringing out the creativity in fraudsters, Texas regulators say.

The Texas State Securities Board cracked down on two more crypto-related companies this week, accusing them of attempting to dupe Texas investors. One of the companies promoted its operations as being in "a secluded place in ...Read more

Homeless? This startup has an app for that

SEATTLE -- Chris Sun was trying to persuade homeless people to accept free money, which, in this case, was harder than it seemed.

As people lined up for lunch at the Millionair Club in the Belltown neighborhood, Sun asked if anyone had heard of the Samaritan app. Some were apprehensive, so Sun explained: It's a cashless way to give directly to ...Read more

Google, Amazon, Facebook to attend White House AI meeting

WASHINGTON -- Officials from top tech companies including Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Inc., and Facebook Inc. are among those planning to attend a meeting at the White House Thursday on artificial intelligence.

The White House is inviting over 100 business leaders, senior government officials, and experts for an AI summit to address ...Read more

Microsoft and Amazon show Cortana and Alexa can talk to each other, at least on stage at Build conference

SEATTLE -- Microsoft and Amazon's integration of their digital personal assistants is getting closer, the companies demonstrated at a Microsoft technology conference Monday, though they still don't have a date for public availability.

Microsoft's artificial intelligence assistant Cortana spoke through the Amazon Echo on stage at Microsoft's ...Read more

Data privacy must be protected, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tells technologists

SEATTLE -- The tech industry's mission shouldn't just be to invent new technology, but also to make sure that technology is responsible and ethical. That was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's opening message at the company's technology conference, Microsoft Build, in downtown Seattle on Monday.

"We need to ask ourselves not only what computers can ...Read more

Twin Cities in running for coveted military headquarters

WASHINGTON -- The Twin Cities area is battling for a new military headquarters that could help secure the region's high-tech economy for decades.

The recruiting war for the Army Futures Command is not as high profile as the struggle to attract Amazon's secondary base of operations. But a research and development headquarters that intends to ...Read more

Sound Advice: Buttons make VicTsing Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter worthwhile

Q. I saw your review of the VicTsing FM Bluetooth car adapter, which adds Bluetooth call capability to older cars that do not have hands-free functionality. I bought the newer model, the one without buttons, and it ties up Siri so I can't use Siri at all when it is connected. What about the older model, does it do the same thing?

-- L.M., ...Read more

NASA's InSight spacecraft is on its way to Mars

NASA's InSight spacecraft is on its way to Mars after a predawn launch off California's Central Coast.

The lander took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:05 a.m. PDT.

The trip to Mars will take nearly seven months and cover roughly 301 million miles. Mission planners at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge expect the ...Read more

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube execs discuss their role in threat to democracy at Stanford forum

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- As executives from Silicon Valley's social media giants -- Facebook, YouTube and Twitter -- gathered Thursday at a Stanford University forum to discuss their roles in spreading conspiracy theories, hate speech and fake news, the problems were clear. The solutions, however, weren't.

"Our industry was too slow to wake up to ...Read more

NASA's InSight mission will look deep into the heart of Mars for clues about its past

For decades, earthlings have dispatched spacecraft to Mars to study the planet's dusty surface and its thin atmosphere. Now NASA is sending a lander to the red planet to look deep into its heart.

As early as Saturday morning, NASA's InSight will blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After a nearly seven-month journey, it will ...Read more

Helpware: How to buy a spiffy new PC

I was in the market for a new Windows computer. I've had good luck with Dells, so that's where I turned for my purchase. My budget was around $1,200, which seemed like the sweet spot for the kind of PC I wanted. Since I do a lot of photo and video editing, I needed a powerful PC with lots of memory. I chose a top-of-the-line XPS 8930 with a 1 ...Read more

Tesla hit with $2 billion lawsuit alleging violation of semi truck patents

There's never any shortage of drama with Tesla.

If it's not concerns over the production levels of its Model 3 sedan, it's controversy over the possible role of Tesla technology in a fatal car crash. If it's not one of Tesla's top executives leaving for another Silicon Valley titan, it's Wall Street wondering if (or maybe, when) the company ...Read more