Los Angeles Times


Elon Musk and AI experts urge U.N. to ban killer robots

Los Angeles Times

Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk has joined dozens of CEOs of artificial intelligence companies in signing an open letter urging the United Nations to ban the use of AI in weapons before the technology gets out of hand. The letter was published Monday -- the same day the U.N.'s Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems was due to meet to discuss ways to protect civilians from the misuse of automated weapons. "Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare," read the letter, which was also signed by the chief executives of companies such as Cafe X Technologies (which built the autonomous barista) and PlusOne Robotics (whose robots automate manual labor). Musk has long been wary of the proliferation of artificial intelligence, warning of its potential dangers as far back as 2014 when he drew a comparison between the future of AI and the film "The Terminator."


It's up to Trump country to integrate immigrants now

Los Angeles Times

According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, the diversity index at least doubled in 244 U.S. counties between 2000 and 2015, and more than half of those counties were in Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. The Wall Street Journal's analysis reported that Trump won two out of every three voters in counties where the diversity index rose by 150% or more. In earlier frontiers, public and civil society efforts focused on immigrants themselves --facilitating their language acquisition, their education, housing, healthcare and more general comfort. Immigration isn't just a coastal phenomenon: Middle American cities and towns are growing more diverse.


In new tactic, smugglers use drone to fly meth over Mexican border into San Diego, officials say

Los Angeles Times

A remote control-operated drone flew over the border fence from Mexico, heading for San Ysidro while a Border Patrol agent listened and watched. Ten minutes later, federal authorities had what they say is their first confirmed San Diego case of drug smuggling by drone. The complaint said Rivera told a Border Patrol agent and a Homeland Security Investigations agent that he normally would communicate with contacts in Mexico for instructions after retrieving the drone and drugs. While the drone smuggling arrest is a first in San Diego County, a 2015 case in Imperial County was the first in the Southwest region involving an unmanned aerial vehicle.


No one wants an arms race, but high-tech weapons are America's best shot at containing North Korea

Los Angeles Times

More advanced drones could potentially locate and destroy Pyongyang's nuclear arsenals, research facilities and missile sites. Computer viruses alone can't prevent North Korea from launching nuclear missiles, but they could degrade the Kim regime's ability to conduct research and development, test and control weapons and gather intelligence. United Nations officials, for example, attacked President Obama's drone campaign because it made it too easy to wage war. Developing and deploying more sophisticated robotic, cyber and space weaponry may amplify an arms race, but the key word is "amplify."


Friday's TV highlights: 'Dark Matter' on Syfy

Los Angeles Times

Killjoys As the Killjoys plan to execute a high-risk theft on a well-armored convoy, Aneela (Hannah John-Kamen) is distracted by her own to find Delle Seyah (Mayko Nguyen). Three, Five and Six (Anthony Lemke, Jodelle Ferland, Roger Cross) are ready to deal, but Ryo's negotiating position is undermined by treachery among his own ranks in this new episode of the science-fiction series. Room 104 Series co-creator and executive producer Jay Duplass also guest stars as a visitor who is seeking some much-needed advice concerning serious marital problems. Good Day L.A. Judith Owen performs; Grae Drake, Rotten Tomatoes.


The essential cookbooks to send to school with your kid

Los Angeles Times

I sent my daughter to school with Judy Rodgers' "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook," Waters' "The Art of Simple Food" and Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food" because she's a chemistry major at UC Berkeley and I figured the first two were local inspiration and the third would remind her that cooking is really just a chemistry experiment. Not only is "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" about as canonical as it gets, but it's a lot more utilitarian than the title suggests. Richard Olney's "Simple French Food," for one, which is a more prosaic approach. Of course, all these cookbooks may very well be languishing in my daughter's college kitchen, closed, under linear algebra textbooks and boxes of Top Ramen.


During Trump's present, it's hard to write the future, says science fiction writer John Scalzi

Los Angeles Times

Here is a very real and true thing: 2017 is making it really hard to be a science fiction writer. To be sure, these times -- by which I mean the Trump era to date, let's go ahead and avoid cutesy winking allusions -- are making it hard for lots of writers, not just the ones who write science fiction. But as a science fiction writer, things are even more complicated. The thing is, science fiction has its setting in the future, but the people writing it and reading it live now, and the stories they're writing and reading reflect the hopes and fears of whatever age the story is written in.


Eyes in the sky: Inside the hunt for Islamic State fighters in Syria

Los Angeles Times

Over the past 20 years, unmanned aircraft were primarily used to collect intelligence or to launch Hellfire missiles at specific terrorist targets after extensive surveillance -- enemy strongholds or targeted killings of suspects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. The Air Force launched its first "danger-close" drone strikes while aiding local forces fighting Islamic State in Surt, a coastal city in Libya, last year. Drones subsequently launched more than 70% of 495 airstrikes against the militants, helping local Libyan militia fighters retake Surt by December, according to the Air Force. U.S. special operations forces face growing demands and increased risks The U.S. military is targeting Islamic State's virtual caliphate by hunting & killing its online operatives one-by-one


Women were the big winners at the 2017 Hugo Awards

Los Angeles Times

The Hugo Awards, widely considered the most prestigious science fiction and fantasy prizes, were announced Friday, with female authors dominating and N.K. Women won both editing awards, with Ellen Datlow taking home the prize in the short form category and Liz Gorinsky winning the long form category. The Hugo Awards also honor television and movies, and this year, the film "Arrival" won for dramatic presentation, long form, beating "Ghostbusters," "Deadpool" and the first season of the television show "Stranger Things." The dramatic presentation, short form, award went to "Leviathan Wakes," an episode of the television series "The Expanse."


If you need someone to fly a drone, call a football manager

Los Angeles Times

Eric Sondheimer has been covering high school sports for the Los Angeles Times since 1997 and in Southern California since 1976. It's the hottest new toy in high school football: drones flying above practice fields filming practices. It's only a matter of time before someone has a drone football manager competition to see who can be the next F-16 pilot using remote control. At Loyola High, junior football manager Gabriel Danaj received a $1,500 drone from his grandmother as a gift and offered to use it to film Loyola practices.