Friday Five for June 30th, 2017

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 at 14:15

Now Accepting Nominations for the 2017-18 BruinTech Executive Board

Submit your nomination(s) today!
Open positions include:
  • President-Elect (3-year term)
  • Vice President for Events & Outreach
  • Vice President for Information Systems
  • Vice President for Programs & Projects
  • Vice President for Strategic Communications
  • Historian
Please visit the BruinTech website at https://bruintech.ucla.edu/news/2017-2018-bruintech-board-elections for details explaining the roles and duties of each position, or email bruintech@ucla.edu
To nominate someone (including yourself), fill out this short nomination form with the contact information of the nopminee AND the position of interest. We will contact each nominee to begin the process of putting together a profile for the BruinTech online elections.
The nomination period for the 2017-18 Executive Board will be from June 23, 2017 - July 07, 2017. 
Please submit your nominations no later than 6:00 pm on Friday, July 7th.

Princeton-Trained Computer Scientists Are Building a New Internet That Brings Privacy and Property Rights to Cyberspace

Muneed Ali and Ryan Shea are the co-founders of Blockstack, a project to rebuild the internet using blockchain technology so that individuals can reclaim direct control over their own identities, contacts, and data. The goal is to bring the property rights we enjoy in the physical world to cyberspace.
These two computer scientists believe that today's internet is fundamentally broken. Users are forced to trust companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook to maintain our online identities and personal information. They store our files in giant data centers that are increasingly vulnerable to hackers. And the Snowden leaks revealed that the National Security Agency has strong armed these tech giants into handing over users' personal data without bothering to obtain court-issued warrants.
So how does Blockstack propose to alter cloud computing, which has brought enormous efficiencies to the tech sector? Ali and Shea say they've worked out a way to break up internet data centers into virtual storage lockers that are fully encrypted, so individual users are the only ones who hold the keys to their own data.
Read more:
Decentralized security architecture.

Climate Change in Drones' Sights With Ambitious Plan to Remotely Plant Nearly 100,000 Trees a Day

An Australian engineer is hoping to use drones to plant 1 billion trees every year to fight an unfolding global catastrophe.
Deforestation and forest degradation make up 17 percent of the world's carbon emissions -- more than the entire world's transportation sector, according to the United Nations. Burned or cleared forests release their stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and land restoration experts say technology must play a big part in addressing the problem.
Read more:
The drones SHOOT the seeds into the ground every second!

How I Built an AI to Sort Two Tons of Lego Pieces

For many years as a child, I did nothing but play with Lego. Eventually I had children of my own, who had a nice Lego collection themselves, but nothing you'd need machinery to sort. That changed after a trip to Legoland in Denmark.
I noticed adults at the park buying Lego in vast quantities, despite its high price. Even second-hand Lego isn't cheap, sold as it is by the part on specialized websites, or by the boxed set and in bulk on eBay. I noticed that bulk unsorted Lego sells for roughly $11/kg, boxed sets go for roughly $46/kg, and collections of rare parts and Lego Technic pieces (the sort used to build complex mechanical creations) go for hundreds of euros per kilo. Consequently, there exists a cottage industry of people who buy new sets and bulk Lego and manually sort all the pieces into more valuable groupings.
I figured this would be fun to get into.
Read more:

The Mini SNES Classic Launches in September for $80

Nintendo has revealed details for the SNES Classic. The standalone mini console will feature 21 games, including Super Mario World, Earthbound, Super Mario Kart, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. But the most surprising inclusion is Star Fox 2, the unreleased sequel to the original Star Fox for SNES.
Read more: